Earlier today, I went to Salt Lake. I dropped my sister and my friend E. off at Temple Square, and then went to meet a couple of friends for lunch. (Meeting friends = happiness!) After lunch, I headed back for Temple Square.
We went to the Visitor Centers -- first South then North. As much as I enjoy the historical stuff about the building of the temple at the South Visitor Center, my favorite place to be is in the room with the Christus statue in the North Visitor Center. I love that there are seats there where you can rest and meditate. I never go to Temple Square without taking time for that. I found a seat, and began to contemplate the statue, to contemplate creation and the work of Christ, and let the peace that comes with such contemplations fill my soul.
They were sort of making a typical missionary pass at me, trying to convert my interest in the Christus into an opportunity for a deeper religious conversation. I thought I would head them off at the pass by explaining that my friend and I attended the Lake Nokomis Ward in Minneapolis. They didn't let me off the hook. "So... Are you a member?" the Ukrainian sister asked. She did most of the talking. I surmised she was the senior companion.
"My friend is, but I am not," I admitted. "Though I guess you could say that I am as active in the Church as it is possible to be without being a member."
She looked a little puzzled. "How long have you been attending?" she asked.
"Six years," I said.
"Why haven't you joined the Church yet?"
"It's complicated," I smiled politely.
They weren't satisfied. "But why?"
"Because I'm gay," I finally clarified.
"Oh," the sister frowned. "I see."
"My husband and I will be celebrating our 18th anniversary in August."
"You are married? Really? When did you marry?"
"We married legally in California in 2008."
She frowned. "Oh, well that won't work. You can't join the Church."
"I know," I said. "That's why I've been attending for six years without becoming a member."
Both their faces registered frustration.
"Why do you attend Church then?" the Ukrainian sister asked.
"Because I feel the Spirit there. Because it helps me live my life the way I would like to live it. Because I have a testimony of the gospel."
She shook her head. "How long have you been this way?"
"As long as I can remember," I replied. "I've been aware of my attraction to others of the same sex since I was eleven. I was fourteen when I figured out this might mean I was gay."
"Oh," she frowned. "Did you want to change? Have you tried to change?"
"Oh, yes. I prayed, I fasted. I tried to live as faithfully as possible. I wanted God to change me. But it never worked out that way."
"How long did you try to change?"
"Oh." Sighs and more frustration.
"But what about your parents? What do they think of this?"
"This was difficult for my parents to accept at first. But they know me. They know what kind of a person I am. They love me and they love my husband, and they accept him as a member of the family."
"You don't want to leave him."
"No," I replied, "I don't want to leave him."
The sister frowned and shook her head again. "That won't work at all."
The sister from Mexico tried a different tack. "What brings you happiness?" she asked.
"My family. My faith."
At that point, the conversation sort of sputtered to an end. Neither of them seemed to have much more to say. I checked my watch, and noticed that we had less than ten minutes to get to the Joseph Smith Memorial Building, where we were going to watch Joseph Smith: Prophet of the Restoration. My dad had recommended it.
"I need to go..."
The Mexican sister smiled at me. "You want to see the movie..."
"Yes," I replied.
"Well," she offered, "Just keep going to Church. Just keep doing your best."
"I know," I smiled.