Rainbow Mormon Initiative
I moved to California in 2010, two years after Proposition 8. Previously, I had lived in Provo for school. Proposition 8 had forced 3 of my friends from my home stake to come out and I tried to lend them validation and support, but I was cowardly relieved that I was safely away from the politics happening in California. I didn’t have to take a stand. I could just smile and be Mormon-y.
But the move to California changed that. I had a chance to make a new identity in a new ward. I was ashamed of the Church’s involvement in Proposition 8 and I wanted to show that I supported LGBTQIA people, but I also needed to do it in a Mormon-y way because I didn’t want to throw all my possible social capital out the window.
For the past decade, I’ve always had the pleasure of living within walking distance of a local yarn store and so it was not long before I walked down to the local yarn store and found the most wonderful rainbow yarn. It was lace-weight and would make a lovely shawl. And I could wear it to church. After all, what is more Mormon than handknitting a shawl? And what is more LGBTQIA-friendly than rainbows? So I bought it and started working on said shawl.
One night at the ward knitting group, another knitter saw me working on my shawl. “Be careful wearing that, you don’t know what message it might send.”
“Yeah…” I nodded, knowing exactly what message it might send. And I intended to send it.
I’ve worn my rainbow shawl many times since then. I’ve worn it at all the San Francisco Pride parades in which there has been a Mormon contingent. I wore it June 26, 2013 when the Supreme Court overturned Proposition 8. I wore it the Sunday after the awful November 5 exclusion policy. And I’m going to wear it this upcoming Sunday, along with a ribbon for the Rainbow Mormon Initiative.
On their site, the Rainbow Mormon Initiative declares their aim to be “to show solidarity for LGBTQIA youth and adults–let them know you can provide a safe, non-judgmental space and that you support them unconditionally.” And if you learned to knit in your YW class like I did, they add, “Also, crochet/knit scarves, hats, or blankets (at church or anywhere) for homeless gay youth–excellent conversation starter for the person sitting next to you–and share your creations with #rainbowmormon.”
I don’t know if my wearing the shawl or ribbon will really mean much in my ward- there are so many supporters there, but I’m going to look up the organizations near me that support to the local homeless youth and see if they need anything knitted or if they need support in other ways. Join in!