Mormons moving faster than leadership
It’s been two and a half years since I came out to my family. It was a big, awkward talk on a cold January evening in 2010. I purposely waited until after the holidays, fearing the experience would be a dark blight for my parents during an otherwise cheerful time of year.
There were tears and concerns. But no one was as distraught as I. My secret was finally out and I was vulnerable and felt judged. My parents were concerned for my spiritual and physical well-being, and my mother especially took the news very hard.
Over the course of the next year my family grew immensely. I was able to speak openly with my mother and feel comfortable in their home again. When I told them I had been seeing someone with regularity, they insisted on meeting him and welcomed him with open arms.
Simply put, my family has treated him with the utmost respect and dignity. They invite him to family functions, take an interest in his life and compliment my choice of boyfriend. He was even encouraged to take part in our family photo.
Like any family relationship, there’s always room to grow and we all have our faults, but from Independence Day barbeques to Thanksgiving dinner, we’re treated just like my brothers and their opposite-sex partners.
Just as I was beginning to feel encouraged by the progress of my family and even the Mormon Church, I came across a 2006 interview with one of the 12 top leaders of the church, Dallin Oaks. The extensive conversation delved into how Mormons should treat gay sons and lesbian daughters.
When asked how to treat holidays and family gatherings when the gay child wants to participate, Oaks responded, “In most circumstances the parents would say, ‘Please don’t do that. Don’t put us into that position.’ Surely if there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example, the answer would likely be that.”
Oaks went on to say gay couples should not be allowed to stay overnight or be treated like heterosexual couples and should not be introduced to family and friends when visiting.
His colleague Lance Wickman, a member of the Seventy, added, “It’s hard to imagine a more difficult circumstance for a parent to face than that one.”
Really? It’s difficult to imagine a more difficult situation than finding out your son or daughter has finally found someone to spend his or her life with? It’s difficult to imagine a more difficult situation than your child having an added measure of stability – financial, physical and emotional – through a supportive and loving partner?
And now, heaven forbid, they want to come and visit for Christmas? The gall of the damn homosexuals! Instead of complimenting your son or daughter for progressing in life, settling down and encouraging him or her to keep a healthy family relationship, Oaks wants parents to send their children to a hotel, pretend like they don’t exist and never introduce them to family and friends.
Perhaps Wickman could consider the devastating effects of drug habits or other illegal activity. Perhaps he could consider the terrible effects of unemployment, poverty and homelessness. Or maybe, he ought to consider how he would feel as a parent if his son or daughter were to be involved in gangs, illegal gambling, prostitution, sex trafficking, child slavery, embezzlement or spousal abuse.
My only hope is that my parents, and other kindhearted Mormons, don’t find his shockingly ignorant interview, and if they do, that they ignore their leaders’ counsels.