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They Are the Ones That Put You In This Situation. Not Me.

roses-thornsEarly in November 2015, the Mormon church released a statement about a policy change.  Then they released a clarification on that policy change, which left the policy essentially unchanged.  All these statements came after a leak was posted online, showing that the Mormon church was changing it’s stance on same-sex marriage, and the ramifications for children with queer parents.  As LGBTQ Mormons struggled to react, absorb, and make sense of what had just happened, the media storm began to rage, and thoughts and feelings I had put away for years started to resurface.

This is one of those times where the apostate stereotype of “being offended” makes me giggle.  Because this is truly offensive.  I should be offended.  If I value who I am, as a queer person, a person who was abused by a pedophile as a child, a person who grew up Mormon, a person who grew up a woman…I am wholeheartedly offended.

There is another stereotype for people who leave the church.  It is that they can “leave the church, but they can’t leave it alone”.  This one is harder for me to laugh at, for two reasons.

  1. Growing up Mormon is a part of who I am.  It is perfectly normal for me to process how Mormon culture shaped and continues to affect my life.
  2. I have left the church, but they seem unwilling to leave me alone.

For days, I read, pondered, and started to notice a knot of righteous anger building in my chest.  That knot of anger did not turn inward to destroy me, but moved me to action.  I spoke loudly and clearly about how I saw the policy change.  I put the post on Facebook, and later, here on The Exponent.  Many people responded with support, and shared their own stories.  Many people stood with me in solidarity.  A handful of people expressed discomfort with my words.  And a smaller handful tried to call me to repentance, or shamed me for making the post public.

Later that day, I started to hear rumblings from my mother’s side of the family.  They didn’t like that I had named my grandfather, Ray Dutson, as a pedophile.  At his funeral, he was revered as an exemplary father, grandfather, husband, and community member.  People literally told stories about how he helped the widows in his ward and stake.  But here’s the uncomfortable truth about pedophiles: they can be kind, generous, friendly, and charismatic as they are targeting the children in your family, your neighborhood, or your ward.  They can also be family members that you would never suspect.  In fact, most of the time a pedophile harms a child they know, rather than a random child unknown to them.

As you can see from my original post, which was a commentary about the Mormon church’s Church Handbook of Instructions, this revelation of my grandfather being a pedophile merely served as context for my readers.  The meat of my post, and meaning of writing it at all, was to show that the Mormon church has a clear value system in place.  They value the temple marriage between a man and woman more than they value a child who has been abused by her father.  They value a same-sex policy more than they value the life of a queer person.

I did grow up with a father and a grandfather who are pedophiles.  This is a fact.  It is a fact for many, many people.  Too often we want to speak as if this is not the reality of our society.  But it is.  Pedophilia happens, and it is the responsibility of those who commit the violent sexual acts to take heat for their victims talking through their own stories, processes, and healing.  Too often we blame victims, even with a well-meaning “I just want to help keep them safe” assumption.  A few weeks after my Facebook post, I wrote an addendum:

When I shared this two weeks ago, there was some discomfort among my family members that I spoke openly about my father and grandfather being pedophiles. Let me be clear: The discomfort does not come from me speaking about it. The discomfort comes from my father and grandfather harming, molesting, and assaulting the children in their lives.

So if you feel mad at me, or like you don’t understand me, or you wouldn’t do it like I did it, or you feel I could have said it differently, consider channeling those feelings where they belong: to my dad Mike and my papa Ray.

They are the ones that put you in this situation. Not me.

Clarity always sets me free.  I knew in my gut that I didn’t create this problem, but it took me a few weeks to sort through all my reactions to come to the nugget of truth at the center.  My father is the one that created this mess with the abuse.  I get to do whatever I need to to manage that fallout and heal those wounds.

Similarly, the Mormon church is the one that put queer people, their children, and their families, in this situation.  I refuse to take responsibility for what is not mine.

It’s 2015.  Queer people don’t choose to be queer.  Their marriages, children, jobs, careers, beliefs, and lives matter.  Someday the Mormon church will see that.

Kendahl

kendahl is a queer fat left-handed INFJ synesthete mother warrior activist social worker abuse survivor unapologetically brilliant powerful witch

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14 Responses

  1. AuntM says:

    This is the sometimes hard truth: “They are the ones that put you in this situation. Not me.” Especially, as you say, the “they” can be kind and generous and loved by their friends, families, and communities.

    How we each choose to deal with and heal our wounds will vary. We also may not always be able to be present with our loved ones who are trying to heal, but I hope we can show ourselves and others compassion.

  2. Ziff says:

    I admire your courage, Kmillecam. I’m sorry that you’ve gotten pushback for being the bearer of uncomfortable news.

  3. Rob Osborn says:

    The church will continue to stand for truth and what is right. The church is actually on your side. The church absolutely condems pedophilia and has no room for it in the church. The church stands as a tall beacon of light and truth in the midst of the immoral abyss.

  4. Babs says:

    Kmillecam, I admire your strength and resilience. Thank you for speaking the truth. I’m cheering for you, sister.

    I agree that the church has good ideals, Rob. Unfortunately in practice leaders at all levels still use their authority to cover their vain ambitions (and silence victims). A simple google search for “Mormon church cover up sex abuse” will quickly remind you of the frailty of our very human leaders.

  5. Paul says:

    Rob,
    I get your point that pedophelia is acknowledged to be a bad thing. Can you understand that shaming, shunning, and dismissing queer people and their children is also a bad thing? Can the Church stand as a tall beacon of Gods love for all of His (Their) children? Or is the Church now getting inspiration from the same source as the Westboro Baptists in such matters?

    • Rob Osborn says:

      Paul,
      The church is doing whats right. We welcome all sinners into the church gay and hetero alike. To be a member there is a strict moral standard for both gay and hetero alike. The church is a traditionally Christian religion where families and marriage are paramount. I would ask you if you think we shun smokers and drug addicts also?

  6. Howard says:

    Great post! I’m glad to see you’re doing well and reclaiming yourself.

  7. Rob Osborn says:

    Babs,
    There may be some very isolated instances of a few leaders doing such but you will find that in every institution, every religion, every organization, etc. Its not the church covering it up, its people that cover it up.

  8. CatherineWO says:

    Thank you for you openness. These things need to be told and people held accountable, even if the church won’t do it. I am reminded of something Anne Lamott once said about writing:
    “You own everything that happened to you. Tell your stories. If people wanted you to write warmly about them, they should’ve behaved better.”

  9. Amanda says:

    This was brave and strong. I wish your family supported you and your pain better. Your courage is infectious. It is a good reminder to me that the policy is wrong and it doesn’t get any less wrong because some time has passed. Thank you.

  10. Jenny says:

    I loved your post before and I love this post now. Thank you for being brave and speaking up. That’s really hard to do, especially with the kind of push back you’ve had from your family.

  11. Laurie says:

    Very well said and clarified.

  12. EFH says:

    The point of one feeling uncomfortable with someone’s truth is a very interesting one. We as people feel more comfortable hushing the person that is speaking the truth rather than re-examining the past or the policy or whatever it is that shocks our belief system and ideas. No matter how politely one tries to engage this group into a conversation of truths, the reaction is almost always the same – anger at the person who speaks rather than acknowledging that the new truth has relieved some new information which needs time to be validated, processed and used to make changes and heal everyone involved.

    I am so sorry you have to walk this path alone again. But it is important to stand up for yourself with truth and compassion for yourself. And it seems to me that you are doing it quite well.

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