Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Dear Faithful, Active Mormon Pride Participant

Congratulations! You've decided to march in LGBT Pride, in order to visibly express your love and support for your gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender brothers and sisters.

As you probably know, suicide of LGBT youth is still a big problem throughout the country, but especially in places like Utah where Mormons are the majority. There's a lot of anti-gay violence and bullying throughout the country, and many of the perpetrators of this violence feel they have the blessing of religious people. So showing up and marching at Pride sends an important message that you stand with those GLBT folks who are bullied, isolated, and depressed, and who need friends and allies to help lift their spirits and defend them against the forces of misunderstanding and hate. You are sending a message to your LGBT brothers and sisters that you are there for them, that you love and support them, and you want to be there for them in whatever way you can be.

As you also probably know, many within your Church lack understanding of what it means to be gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. By marching in Pride you are also sending a message to your brothers and sisters in the Church that you believe LGBT people are deserving of greater understanding and support. You are also being an example to them of people who take seriously their baptismal covenants to bear one another's burdens, to care for one another and become the kind of Church where all are of one heart and one mind, and dwell together in righteousness.

So you are doing a wonderful thing! Blessed are you!

Before you march, however, I feel a couple of disclaimers are in order. It's only fair to let you know, so you can count the cost ahead of time and decide whether this is really what you want to do.

First of all, in doing this you may experience alienation from some of your friends and family in the Church. Some of your brothers and sisters in faith won't understand what you're doing. They may accuse you of succumbing to the world, or of being disobedient, or of lacking faith.

Second of all, you may not be well received by everyone in the LGBT community. Many, many of course will be very grateful for your presence. But at least some will be skeptical, and may doubt your motives. Some might even accuse you of participating in a cheap political ploy to help the candidacy of a certain Mormon presidential candidate -- whether or not you plan to vote for that candidate!

Lots of people will, ironically, accuse you of bigotry, at the same time that others, ironically, will accuse you of being insufficiently zealous for your religion. So at times it will feel as if you just can't win, and you'll wonder why you even tried to do anything that might make a difference at all.

So, if that sounds like something you can't deal with, you may want to think twice about marching.

But, you also need to understand... Doing the right thing is never easy. In fact, often the more right a thing is, the more painful the consequences for doing it. People are really hurting, and they need someone like you to step forward and make a difference for them. A lot of evil goes unchecked in the world because it's just so inconvenient to take a stand. And if you know what the right thing is, can you really afford to live with the knowledge that you knew what you ought to do, but chose not to do it?

That leads to the third, final, and most important warning: This will change you. By marching in Pride, you may learn things about yourself and about others that will surprise you, things you took for granted that you won't be able to take for granted any more. Some things you learn may feel liberating. But other things may make you deeply uncomfortable. You may have to wrestle. You may have to make changes in your life.

You see, doing the right thing always leads to more and greater challenges. It always leads to more ethical dilemmas that you will have to wrestle with.

Not fair, you say? Well, life isn't fair. I ought to know.

The good news is, if you do still manage to make it to Pride, you get to grow more into the kind of person our Heavenly Father wants you to become. You'll make new friends. You'll experience the joy of seeing others encouraged and lifted up. You'll make a difference.

Trust me. It's worth it. For what it's worth, I'll be there, marching.

Hope to see you at Pride!

Yours truly,



Anonymous said...

Great post... wish I had the guts to march.


J G-W said...

Bro. Ron: If there's anything I can do to encourage you to march, let me know!

Anonymous said...

Are you giving out free HUGS at pride this year?

J G-W said...

Always! :-)

Anonymous said...

Will the gay Mormon group have a booth at the Twin Cities gay pride this year? If so, when will John be manning the booth?

J G-W said...

We won't have a booth at Pride this year, but I'll be around! If you want to meet at Pride, just email me. (You can find my email through my blogger profile!)

KPW said...

Thank you, John and thank you, Jesus.

VICKI IN AZ said...

I am really moved by this. Thank you. I just told my husband that ever since the actual planning of my trip for Utah Pride got real I have been having fears. You hit the nail on the head here, or Jesus did ;)
It's 2013, I am bringing in my gay son from California to march with me. And one of my best friends from high school who I have reconnected with this past year because he has guided me in being there for my son, is now wanting to go AND has a friend who likes my story that wants to come.
So now is NOT a good time to get scared.
I prayed this morning for confirmation that I am doing to right thing, because I want a confirmation then I can push past the things that frighten me. You pretty much named them all here so thanks for that.
I am very thankful for this loving letter, the inspiration that caused you to write it, and the providence which led me to find it on this day.

J G-W said...

Vicki - thanks! I'm in the process of helping to organize another contingent of Mormon Allies to march in Twin Cities Pride this year.

Thank you for your desire to show love for your son in a concrete, public way. That will mean more to him than you can probably imagine.

Keep me posted how it goes for you... We had some incredible experiences marching last year, and I anticipate we will again this year. I can't wait!