How is life different for today’s young gay Mormons than it was for me 40 years ago?
Today’s LDS Church is not the LDS Church I grew up in. Today’s gay-aware world is certainly not the myopic straight world I grew up in.
In my growing up years, a Mormon did everything possible to distinguish himself from any other form of Christian. After all, Catholic and Protestant Churches were all apostate! Today, the church desperately wants to be thought of as a branch of the very Christianity they used to condescendingly disregard. It’s no wonder that those of us from those days who have left it end up atheists or at least unaffiliated without any specific religion.
As a young man grappling with homosexuality there was no such thing as an out gay Mormon. Gay wasn’t a noun. It was only considered an endurable, sinful verb. Today, there is a small but vocal segment of Mormon allies and even gay Mormons who accept homosexuality as an unchangeable state and yet find the capacity to struggle and contort themselves to stay LDS. I still can’t fathom operating the required mental and emotional gymnastics to accomplish that, but it is undeniably a thing now.
In the past, my LDS Mom and wife took on leadership roles without any real freedom or power to manage objectives and staffing. They were merely operation coordinators. Programs and processes were directives from the males above and local decisions required male approval thus effectively rendering their own decisions mute. I haven’t heard of any substantive changes in this regard but
As a teen, I’d never seen a homosexual portrayed on TV or in the movies. I’d heard that the 70’s sitcom Soap had a gay character, but we weren’t allowed to watch that show. Homosexuality was never discussed in my home or in church. In fact, I didn’t even know what the words “gay” or “homosexual” actually referred to until I was in the 5th or 6th grade. When I did learn what it meant, I suddenly had a name for how I felt and it still felt very “bad”, very foreign and very unfathomable. I just shamefully sensed that I was all that, and that my safety and the cure lied in the church.
Today, a young preteen gay boy or girl has a rich source of gay themed media, gay Mormon blogs, gay ex-Mormon blogs or videos, and just plain gays in the media out and proud, not addicted to drugs and not living in a van down by the river!
Then there’s Mama Dragons.
These women are everything I dreamed my mother would have been. My own mother died before I came out. But had I any idea there were LDS women like Mama Dragons out there when I was a teen, I think I would have felt safe enough to come out earlier and thus prevent a whole slew of pain that later revealed itself on loved ones such as my ex-wife and kids. If you are one of our gay youth or the parent of one, talk to a Mama Dragon (You can e-mail them here: firstname.lastname@example.org). I’ve met a couple of them in person and even as a 50 year old man, my soul is refreshed and I feel love from those women. These are people with a moral compass that elevates everyone they interact with. This is what love is.
There was a movement a few years ago called, “It Gets Better”. I’m here to testify that is IS better. It’s better today even while religious leaders still cling tight to archaic bronze age opinions. The world, American society and some in the LDS fringe community are better today than they were 40 years ago..
You CAN do this, in or out of Mormonism.