Exponent II’s Spring 2012 LGBTQ issue is now available
Letter from the Editors
It’s been 16 years since Exponent II devoted an entire issue to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, or queer (LGBTQ) topics. The intervening years have brought progress (including more visible LGBTQ role models in society and the Church), contention as Mormons divide themselves regarding same-sex marriage bans in the United States, and ever more questions for the future of LGBTQ members of the LDS Church. Spending time with the overwhelming number of submissions we received has further convinced us that inclusion of our LGBTQ sisters and brothers in our Church institution and culture is essential to creating a true Zion people.
So few Mormon LGBTQ members have found peace in the Church; so few have felt valued in their congregations. Many who have come to understand that they are loved and accepted by God just as they are have had to leave the Church to create loving marriages and families of their own. What a loss for the Church which places family at the center of its theological framework.
For those LGBTQ members who have found (or are finding) a place in the Church, we feel grateful and protective. Some of their stories are here, but, unfortunately, they are the minority. Many who are still active in the Church are reticent to reveal a part of themselves that they have been taught to suppress or change because they fear acknowledging it would be destructive to their faith, their families, and their community.
As a Church culture, we can’t continue to force people into the closet by saying, “Be quiet. Be celibate.” Such messages often push people to the margins of our community and ultimately thrust them out. The effect such silencing has on individuals and families can be seen throughout the following pages. Furthermore, the inability to share a religious life with our LGBTQ sisters and brothers means that as a Church we don’t receive the spiritual gifts they could bring to our congregations, and we miss opportunities to cultivate a more complete understanding of Jesus’ commandment that we love one another as He loves each of us.
It is difficult, if not impossible, to reconcile Christ’s teachings with Church policies pertaining to LGBTQ issues. This tension can be felt in the following excerpt of a submission we received from Anna, an LDS mother of a gay son:
When Prop 8 rolled around, my husband and I both very kindly told our bishop and stake president that we would not be involved in the proposition on any level . . . . I explained that our family had nearly been torn apart when our gay son learned about his dad’s passive involvement during Proposition 22 several years earlier. After that we decided to never again let anything like that divide our family. . . . However, Proposition 8 left our son with definite scars and anger against the LDS Church at a level I don’t think he had felt prior to that. It has been very hard for our family. How could something we love so much, the Gospel, continue to cause such deep pain for our son?
Like Anna, we too love our LGBTQ sisters, brothers, parents, and children. We too love the Church. We believe that the Gospel of Jesus Christ is more expansive and merciful than is currently being practiced. President Uchtdorf’s April 2012 General Conference talk addressed how we can better emulate Christ’s love:
We simply have to stop judging others and replace judgmental thoughts and feelings with a heart full of love for God and His children. God is our Father. We are His children. We are all brothers and sisters. . . . We must recognize that we’re all imperfect, that we’re beggars before God. Haven’t we all at one time or another meekly approached the mercy seat and pleaded for grace? Haven’t we wished with all the energy of our souls for mercy to be forgiven for the mistakes we have made and the sins we have committed? Because we all depend on the mercy of God, how can we deny to others any measure of the grace we so desperately desire for ourselves?
We believe that we can share a measure of God’s grace by endeavoring to hear and earnestly understand the experiences of our fellow Saints who have felt silenced and persecuted because of their sexuality. We were heartened to hear about the success of a recent panel of gay Mormons at BYU and feel hopeful that we can look forward to a day when the Ensign will share spiritual experiences from our LGBTQ sisters and brothers.
This issue is by no means complete. We are particularly mindful of the absence of transgendered and queer voices in this issue. But we will continue to publish these stories in future issues, and hope that members of the LGBTQ community will continue to submit their essays, poetry, and art here. Exponent II is honored to be a messenger of such stories that can enrich us with their honesty and courage and sober us with their grief. That we may all find some understanding and solace in these pages is our sincere prayer.
-Emily Clyde Curtis and Aimee Evans Hickman