Monday, November 25, 2013

How and why to be an LGBT ally

     John Dehlin is such a hero of mine. This particular video is from an active mormon's POV on how to be an LGBT ally, but I think most any traditionally christian could relate with it. This video's message is just SO important.
     People ask me how I became an outspoken LGBT ally, which is rare (and frowned upon) in mormonism, when no one in my direct family or close friends at the time were LGBT. My answer is that I didn't need to be gay myself or to have a gay sibling or child for it to matter to me. I saw the hurt that my church's attitude and political actions were causing and decided to take it to the Lord myself. I chose to step out of the box of the culture I'd been raised in and objectively look at the issue attempting to see it through the eyes of a loving God. Then to try to see it through the eyes of a loving society. Then I went out of my way to listen, learn, and love without bias and my entire attitude changed about 4 years ago and I became an active ally about 2 years ago. When I wondered if it was wise to go against my church's stance on the topic, I only needed to look at our own history to see that mistakes have been made in what leadership has advised in the past in this and many other issues that were considered eternal and unalterable. Happily, most of those errors have been rectified, but they usually happened about 10-20+ years after the rest of society had changed for the better. I simply chose to be an ally now rather than later. I want my kids to know that I stood up for what was right from the get go. I want them to know that I did what I could to help make the world a better place for everyone.

     If people choose to take the hard line that Elder Oaks and other church leaders suggest, I understand why you would do that and I love you anyway. I do urge everyone however to listen to John Dehlin's talk, then look at the mormon's church's history concerning homosexual practices in this link, then ask yourself what your next step should be.
     I think that it is clear that church leadership and mormon culture as a whole have made mistakes on this subject. As such, I infer that they could very easily still be out of line. Line upon line, precept upon precept... it is changing for the better. For me, I'm choosing to be part of the solution right now.
     Something John didn't have time to touch on in his amazing TED presentation is HOW we can be an ally. Here are some of my suggestions:

  • If you meet and befriend someone who is gay, allow that friendship to grow and be incorporated authentically into your life on all levels, without discrimination or fear.
  • Never tell someone else that who they innately are is a sin in the eyes of God. Leave that up to God to tell to them on jugment day if that is indeed the case. Just tell people you love them, wish for their happiness, and that you know that God has a beautiful plan for them.
  • Remember that sharing the Proclamation to the Family with someone who is gay might be belittling and hurtful. Be VERY prayerful and careful when attempting to "share god's plan" with someone who doesn't currently fit into that plan as currently stated.
  • Respect someone else's claims that God is okay with who they are and how they live their life. It is never up to you to receive revelation on someone else's behalf. 
  • Consider the articles of faith. The 11th states: ""We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." The 12th article of faith states: "We believe in being subject to kings, presidents, rulers, and magistrates, in obeying, honoring, and sustaining the law." I submit that in these confines we should be free to openly support those who seek civil marriage equality. No, being gay or lesbian is not a religion, but many gays and lesbians feel completely confident that their union is approved of by God. Who are we to tell them they are wrong according to the 11th AoF? Also, those who do not believe in God are still deserving of the right to civilly marry, according to the constitution and also specific laws in a growing number of states. No, we do not have to perform gay marriages in our temples, but we should respect the rights of others to be civilly married. Mormons themselves were the first to ask for special marrying rights to fulfill our doctrine of polygamy. Who are we, of ALL people, to tell homosexuals that they cannot create a civil marriage?
  • Teach your children that families come in all shapes and sizes and that we should celebrate each type of family as long as love, support, and dedication to helping and uplifting all members of the family is at the core of their purpose.

1 comment:

Becca said...

Thank you for sharing how and why you became an LGBT ally. I watched the video and read your words, and I agree wholeheartedly, even as an active Mormon. I've been afraid to speak up in fear of being judged as "going off the deep end," but you have inspired me to speak up. This issue is too important not to.

Regardless of whatever any private religion wants to teach, we as a people have no right to deny civil liberties to any group of people. Allowing gays to marry (and call it "marriage" not merely a "civil union") hurts my rights in absolutely zero ways.

From my classes as a Marriage, Family, and Human Development major, I know that marriage is much more than a piece of paper. The benefits of marriage over cohabitation are profound - not only to the couple, but to their children and society as a whole.

We should all be actively working to strengthen families - however they are organized. If Mormon leaders want to teach that LGBT lifestyles are immoral, fine; they have that right. They can also argue how legislating immorality doesn't make the immoral become moral. Fine. But neither does prohibiting gays to legally marry make my heterosexual marriage any more or less moral in the sight of God. It threatens me and my marriage and my children and my religion not one bit. On the other side, legalizing it can do so much good for so many individuals, families, and for society as a whole. I would go so far as to argue that denying two adults to civilly marry solely based on their respective genders is immoral.

If a private institution (like a church) prohibits such unions from taking place on their property, that is their right as a private institution. But publicly, we have no right as a society to withhold civil liberties from any law-abiding citizen.

(p.s. I don't know if you remember me - we went to the same high school, but I was a year under you. I was/am friends with your sister Jenni. My maiden name is Simpson)