Contrary to the impression I may have given by what I’ve posted previously, by coming out and leaving my previous belief system, I HAVE had positive, rewarding and nurturing experiences with:
Here are some of the good ones:
My Father – Dad was raised in Salt Lake City in a Jack Mormon family. He married my Mom in the temple and thereafter followed her lead in all things church related. I wouldn’t say I was incredibly close to him growing up. He worked most of the time and I just don’t think he knew what to do with 8 children, let alone one like me who was a budding gay boy. I was closer to my Mom and more into the church like her. My Dad went to church but you could always tell he wasn’t too impressed with it. While my Mom was called as Primary President, Relief Society President, etc… I can’t recall even one calling my Dad ever held.
It was obvious to us kids that church devotion caused tension in my parents’ marriage. But my Dad never said anything contrary to church that I can recall. He gave us blessings when we wanted them, but he didn’t hold a temple recommend long enough to attend at least 3 of his children’s temple weddings. He didn’t attend mine for that fact alone.
I think my Dad just saw the LDS church as a fact in his life. What he actually believed, I didn’t know.
Then my Mom passed away rather suddenly in 2002. All the kids were grown up.
My Dad couldn’t have been more kind, loving and supportive a few years later when I came out to him and talked to him about my feelings about God, my divorce and being gay. His first words to me when I tearfully and fearfully told him were, “I don’t care. Some of the best men I’ve ever met have been gay men. It doesn’t make any difference to me.” I don’t know what I expected but it wasn’t that.
Even today my Dad will attend church a couple of times a year for social reasons. He’s still Mormon, but more of the style of the family he grew up in than of the one he raised. He’s a good man. He raised and supported 8 kids operating his own business. He put 2 of us through college. He makes an effort to stay close to his kids and grandchildren the best he knows how. He’s one of the good ones.
Siblings – I’m #4 of 8 children. Out of 7 siblings, 2 have been not only accepting but also supportive and loving. The 2 youngest in the family, my brother and my sister have also left the LDS church for their own reasons. That doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to be automatically gay-friendly. But these two are. I’m fortunate to have good relationships with them. I always wish I were closer to my siblings, even these 2, but it’s comforting to know they have my back and that I can be myself with them.
The other siblings who remain LDS have really done nothing, good or bad, with regards to my leaving the church and coming out. Disapproval in our family is dished out with avoidance. The general sense in the family is apathy towards each other. I have no evidence to suggest that they don’t agree wholeheartedly with the LDS perspective on homosexuality or apostasy. A few of them I wouldn’t have much contact with anyway and I know they’re not calling and meeting up with each other, but the ones I used to be closest to are now essentially strangers.
35% acceptance in my family probably fits in with what most homosexuals encounter in the general population. Those 2 youngest siblings are the good ones.
LDS Friends – Most people are polite and won’t tell you how they really feel to your face. I’m courteous and respectful to them as most of them are to me. Yet, as open-minded and friendly as the best among these folks are, most will really make no outward signs of friendship and interest in your life after they’ve declared that they love you. The proof comes later.
I have an old girlfriend and her husband who follow through.
These 2 are about as solid of Mormons as you get, but they are anything but typical. Without revealing their identities, he teaches at BYU, writes LDS books, has served as a bishop, has visibility with art and media projects and groups at Temple Square and abroad. She has had the women leadership positions herself. Because of personal life experiences they are both less willing to render judgement and are just more compassionate than any other LDS person I’ve ever met. I know I’m welcome in their home as an open, gay apostate, around their kids and they are willing to talk frankly and sincerely. I hope they likewise know I have their backs because these two are two of the good ones.
LDS Acquaintances – Similarly, back in the ward I lived in when everything went down, there were 2 people who had a bit more class than the average Mormon. To ward members, my apostasy and coming out happened overnight. I went from baptizing my son one week to my wife filing for divorce and me resigning the next and never attending again. I never spoke with anyone but I’m sure the rumor mill was fed by my ex-wife for when I showed up for church activities with my children there was a lot of tension in the air. Two people with whom I had only slight connections with previously were friendly and not fake. These were people who I know had experienced their own personally painful times and seemingly didn’t care what the cause of my disaffection was but they weren’t going to be contributors to shunning or judgement. These are the ones who would shake my hand or wave to me in public and speak to me in the grocery store. It went beyond just being polite to everyone. They’re the good ones.