Queer Mormon Women*: Caught Between Two Worlds

post secret lgbtby Anonymous

This is a post that is a part of the Queer Mormon Women* series.  Click HERE to see all the posts to date.

“We love you. We support you. We want you to come as you are. We want you to learn how to love yourself. We want to help you learn more about who you are meant to be.”

Growing up, you never think these are going to be the words you hear from the Great and Spacious Building. That Building is filled with the snooty girls from your high school, the guys who made fun of you for not swearing or drinking. You stand firm in your belief that no matter what your friends do, no lurid thing could ever tempt you away from a church where you have friends and feel happy and safe.

You never imagined that feeling could shake. But the Iron Rod seems to whack you at the back of your knees when you realize not everyone in the Great and Spacious Building is the same. There is certainly that seedy underbelly you imagined, but that makes up only a floor or two. You realize there aren’t just jeers or taunts or curses; there are affirming words of love, invitation, encouragement. That is when you realize how much you wish you could cast away the Rod which is burning words into your skin like “suffering,” “struggling,” “tolerance,” “deviant.”

At BYU, the only reason you care about the fact that you’re not dating much is because everyone makes you feel like you should be dating more. Every so often, you see a beautiful girl. You try to make her notice you. Meanwhile you’ve got some great guy friends; they are sweet and handsome and funny and smart, but dating them doesn’t seem right. “We were better off as friends,” you tell yourself, and your thoughts go back to that beautiful girl who lives in the apartment below yours and you strategize about how to strike up a long conversation if your paths ever cross in the laundry room again.

Your “girl crushes” subside eventually. Graduation is soon and you’re worried about how few guys have asked you out, but you’re not proactive about it because you don’t really care enough. But then, how will you meet the right guy to effectively make you forget about those feelings you have for girls if you never try?

You’re about to give up and figure a life alone won’t be so bad, but then you meet Her. It was an accident; you were friends, but then you fell (like a safe!) in love. Every cliché fell into place: her hand in yours led to butterflies. The songs all made sense. If you could just sit with your arm around her forever, you would be so happy. Your feelings are so strong you know they cannot be temporary, restricted to mortality. If you die and are separated in death, you would rather have the memory of her love and a life together than die and be confronted with the possibility that you’d learned false doctrine and spent a whole life alone for nothing.

(Strangely, it is a Disney princess who finally gives you the courage to tell this girl how you feel about her. Watching her Let It Go showed you the power in self-acceptance, and you can never look back. But ultimately your feelings are not reciprocated, and even if they were, you are far from a fairy tale ending.)

You can’t help but feel frustrated when your roommates’ little sisters gush about getting married and how long their three-month-engagements feel. You are a quiet, reserved person. It’s not in your nature to get angry. But you want to yell at these girls. You want to shake into them a consciousness of how truly lucky they are that they have only to wait a matter of weeks before being free to be intimate in every way with the love of their lives. Their anticipation has a pay-off. And yet they don’t imagine how impossible it must then feel to be you, when you must wait an entire lifetime for the chance to be made what your church deems morally acceptable.

Because at this time, it is still your church. It is a part of your heritage, your life. It taught you how to communicate with God. You have seen its members come together to selflessly serve those in need. Your Young Women’s leaders and Relief Society presidents and Visiting Teachers have lent you their ears, their embraces, their hearts. It is filled with your dearest friends. It is filled with so many beautiful memories. You cannot turn your back on that.

You wait for your chance to be Esther. To be vocal to your (ward) family about the persecution of your people. To stand as a witness among them, brave and unashamed of who you are and wanting to stay that way. For now you can say only to others and barely to yourself: “I am a queer Mormon woman.

But for now you are in limbo. You are stuck between two worlds and do not know which limb you would rather lose. You are praying for the day to come where you will not have to make that choice.

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23 Responses

  1. So lovely and so heartbreaking. Hold on sister. <3

  2. Libby says:

    Thank you for this. It is dismissive and insufficient to say, “Someday you’ll be whole.”

  3. EmilyCC says:

    Anonymous, I want every person who has said that a celibate life is good enough to read this. I mourn with you, my friend, and hope that this limbo will be resolved. Thank you, thank you for sharing this hard story.

  4. Liz says:

    This is haunting and beautiful. The imagery of deciding which limb to lose is particularly poignant. I’m so sorry that our church forces this horrible lack of choices right now. I also pray that it won’t always be that way.

  5. thank you for sharing this. Bless you for helping us to better empathize.

  6. Heather says:

    This is so beautifully written. I could see it all and feel the pain. Thank you for being willing to share this with me. I need my horizon’s stretched and to imagine walking in another’s shoes. It was a gift.

  7. Em says:

    My own thoughts this week have been really in sync with what you said. I was asked to give a talk on Lehi’s dream and I’ve been struggling and pondering how to make it relevant and say something really from my heart, not just the usual platitudes. One of the things that came to me was the realization that too often in studying the scriptures we assume we are the good guys. I’m not the Pharisee! THEY are the Pharisees! I’m not in the great and spacious building, I’m valiantly holding the rod! But that isn’t really true. We can in some ways be all of those people. Even as I cling to the rod, my words, actions or more likely in this case inactions and lack of words also put me in the great and spacious building. I can make it harder for other people to feel at home on the path, and that puts me in the jerk mansion. I appreciate the nuance you offer to this story and the perspective you add. Thank you.

  8. Alisa says:

    Oh, your opening about Lehi’s dream just kills me. I can just feel how you love the church and the people in it–that you are determined to see the good in others despite your own personal deep aches and longings. You are a better person than I could be. I support you in your loves and your heartaches: for others and for institutions, for communities. May you have the grace you show returned to you a hundredfold.

  9. Violadiva says:

    Thank you so much for this window to see into your perspective and heartaches. It reminds me, “Be kind, for everyone you know is fighting a harder battle.”

  10. Rachel says:

    I don’t have adequate words to respond to your post. Only tears. Only hope. Only (added) prayers. Thank you.

  11. Scoopy says:

    thank you for sharing this. it was beautiful. I also pray for a day you don’t have to choose.

  12. anonymous says:

    Oh sister. Your words capture the straddling of two worlds I know too well. I wish I had the answer for you. All I can say is that you are not alone. Thank you for sharing your words.

  13. spunky says:

    Thank you for sharing this. The isolation and limbo you describe is confronting, and has left me speechless. Instead of words, I can only send you love. Xoxo

  14. Jenny says:

    I am also in tears. Your story has touched me and helped me so much in understanding and empathizing with your experience. I hope we as a church can grow in empathy and understanding as well. I hope that you can find love and peace in your personal journey.

  15. EFH says:

    In one of my political philosophy classes (when we were talking about human freedom), the teacher asked: “How many of you are planning to not have sex at all until you die?” No hands were raised. Then he asked: “Then what gives you the right to tell others to do such a thing?” Nobody had an answer.
    This was the first moment in my life when I realized how difficult it is to be a homosexual in a society who firmly believes what one should do and how he/she lived their lives. Because we care more about morality – a notion that has changed even in the Bible – and not about love and freedom.

  16. Emily U says:

    I don’t think I’ll think of Lehi’s Dream in the same way again after reading this.

    “It is a part of your heritage, your life. It taught you how to communicate with God.” I can really relate to that. What happens when the church you were raised with and believe in turns out to hurt you as an adult? I haven’t figured that out yet.

    Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  17. Lindsay Killian says:

    I’m sorry. It is so real, and it is so impossible. The complete truth of seemingly irreconcilable paradoxes! The torment and yet the beauty of it. How is this all to be understood?!!!

    But your hope is a truth too, because Hope Is true! The day Will come when you don’t have to make the choice because it won’t be the same perspective then as it is now, it just won’t. It Is coming! It just Will!!! These things are Real, they Are for a reason, And they are completely known and understood by the divine attenders of Us! We are not forgotten. So far from it! We Are! That is Divine!

  18. Ziff says:

    Thanks for sharing this post, Anon. Like Alisa, I particularly love your opening. What an effective use of Lehi’s dream to explain your dilemma! I’m so sorry about the limbo you’re stuck in and I hope the Church can move enough that it can end soon.

  19. Janelle says:

    What an honest assessment of the voices of the world and how they lure each of us despite our sexual or gender identity. Why can’t more people grasp that this is common ground. The Iron Rod burns us all. One foot in Zion and one in Babylon. It is a crossroad that Christ knows well. Love to you on your journey.

  20. Suzette says:

    Oh sister. An impossible situation!
    But, God will guide you through. And know that you are loved by many, though we are unknown to each other.

    My favorite line: “The songs all make sense.” Isn’t that the truth. Love is wonderful. And when you fall in, the songs really do make sense. It’s crazy. And hard. And wonderful. And mixed up.

    Suzette

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