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.

My Rainbow shawl won honorable mention at the county fair in 2011.

My rainbow shawl at the county fair in 2011.

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!

Rainbow Initiative Facebook page and Event page

Rainbow Initiative Web page


TopHat is putting her roots down in the Bay Area with her husband and three children. She loves the earth, yarn, and bicycling.

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12 Responses

  1. Carolyn Nielsen says:

    I live so far away from Mormon Central that I don’t know if anyone will notice or understand the rainbow necklace I’ll be wearing Sunday. If I am lucky, it will be a conversation starter.

  2. EmilyCC says:

    It was scary for me to wear my pride flag pin at first after the policy, and some weeks, I wear my rainbow ring instead when I go to church. I love the ribbon idea!

  3. Ziff says:

    Awesome, TopHat! I hope to follow in your footsteps (although not in the sense of actually making something; I’m not *that* cool. 🙂 )

  4. Jenny says:

    Love this!

  5. Rixa says:

    Right after the November policy change I started embroidering at church–subversive rainbow embroidery that said “Love makes a family.” Great conversation starter (because nobody would suspect anything subversive about a female doing embroidery). Also kept me sane during those weeks/months of rage.

  6. Tessa says:

    What pattern and yarn did you use? It’s gorgeous.

  7. Carly says:

    How do you separate the image you are portraying of supporting/encouraging gays to indulge in their attractions, from the knowledge that this goes against the will of our Father in Heaven? How do you let them know that although you love them unconditionally, you don’t condone their actions? It seems as though one ideal cancels out the other. The two beliefs aren’t mutually compatible.

    • Rixa says:

      It’s simple–I don’t believe that having relationships or getting married or starting families with the person you love is wrong.

      It’s really that easy.

      And it’s prideful to assume you know the will of God regarding other people’s relationships, or that it’s up to you to “condone” or “condemn” their actions.

      • Carly says:

        So you believe our prophet and other leaders of the church are prideful? Or in other words they don’t really speak for God?

      • Rixa says:

        Yes, I believe it’s entirely possible that they are dead wrong. I look at it from a pragmatic perspective: by the church’s own admission, it was dead wrong about the priesthood/temple ban for people of African descent. With how deep prejudices run against LGBT+ people, I would not be at all surprised that the church is wrong yet again, too blinded by centuries of homo/transphobia to be even willing to hear another answer.

        I also have a gay brother. I look at the fruits of the church’s teachings on LGBT issues, and they are rotten and poisonous. Suicide, disastrous mixed-orientation marriages, years of silent suffering, denial of joy in this life in the hope that somehow they’ll be “fixed” in the next life. There is no God in that .

  8. Carly says:

    I respectfully disagree. The Church did admit that personal opinion may have played a bigger part in Black’s original denial of the priesthood than it originally appeared. But the LDS church was not the only entity with some members who carried prejudicial sentiments. All of the southern states were still carrying remnants of it. (Still do in some cases.) And perhaps the “people” who would embrace the Gospel in the South in those early days just weren’t ready for it to include Blacks. I don’t know the will and mind of the Lord in all things, but I also don’t question when our leaders pray with all their hearts and receive revelation about something this important. I see that you come from a different perspective than I do but as I read what the leaders have said about homosexuality I have felt the Spirit confirm their words and have felt a great peace about it. I have had many many deep discussions with gay people so I do know somewhat of where they are coming from. Suicide, mixed orientation marriages, silent suffering and years or denial of joy are not what the Lord wants or expects from people who have same sex attraction. All that is brought on by their own minds, not thrust upon them by the leaders of the church. I don’t deny at all that controlling one’s tendencies is an extremely difficult thing to do. but many many people do it daily, joyfully and with full support and approbation from our Father in Heaven. Once we start encouraging them with a rainbow ring or even defiantly crocheting with rainbow colored yarn during sacrament meeting, we start enabling them in a sinful practice and lose the companionship of the Holy Ghost for ourselves to truly see them as our Father in Heaven sees them… As His children with greater potential than giving in to their sexual desires will produce. We still love them unconditionally. But participating in the artificial ” culture” gays have created doesn’t seem to be a step in helping them grow closer to our Savior or to the eternal safety of the commandments given by a loving Father. JMO

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