Why We Should Accept Straight Mormons For Who They Are
You know, straight Mormons didn’t ask to be straight. It’s not their fault that they go through their life attracted to members of the opposite sex. We shouldn’t blame them for who they are.
I know this probably seems silly, but I’m being serious here. A lot of times we look at straight Mormons with an “us” versus “them” mentality, even if we don’t realize it. I’ve done it. A lot. I’ve caught myself generalizing straight Mormons (especially straight Mormon guys) as intolerant and closed minded. I’ve even thought that straight Mormons needed to really change their attitudes in order to be real disciples of Jesus and by doing so I immediately became the type of person that I was criticizing.
Should more members of the Church be more accepting of people who are different? Absolutely, and first person in line for such a change should be me. And you. And everyone else.
One of my best friends in high school was my cousin. She was captain of every team she played on – including the cheerleading squad. She was an “A” student and was literally the most popular girl in school. I remember once she confided in me that she felt like an outsider and that no one really liked her. The most popular girl at our school was admitting that she didn’t feel as though she fit in. I was confused. How did she possibly feel as though she didn’t fit in? I mean if anyone didn’t fit in, it was me. I was one of only a handful of boys that didn’t play football, a closet gay, into computers and other nerdery, articulate (we are talking the rural south here), and I was a fan of the WB series Popular (this alone probably would have gotten me lynched had it been widely known). I felt that all this separated me from the popular kids and even though I put on an exterior of not caring about what people thought, on the inside I was desperate to be one of the cool kids. I didn’t fit in, but I wanted to.
Or did I fit in? As Mormons, we were part of a minority in a Baptist stronghold, but I was from a “good” family and this alone shielded me from a great deal of abuse by the other kids around me. “Their dad knew my dad” after all. I now think about the kids who didn’t have respected families. The kids who were even more awkward than I was, who were raised by their grandmothers in double-wide trailers, and always wore Wal-Mart brand jeans. I’d like to say that I was nice to those kids and that we lifted each other up, but I didn’t. More often than not, I’d give token kindness, only to abandon them when one of the cool kids showed passing interest in me.
Even now when I sit at Church, I sometimes have nagging feeling that I don’t belong there, that I am too different. I am the puzzle piece that got put in the wrong box and doesn’t fit in with any of the other pieces.
But I am wrong.
All the pieces fit do fit together. The problem was that we got caught up trying to make the picture of two kittens on the box. What we didn’t realize was that the puzzle was never meant to make those dumb kittens. It was meant to be swirls, giant splotches of color, and textures. It’s the picture on the box that is wrong, not the pieces. Crap, the picture isn’t even rectangular.
If we think of perfection as everyone conforming themselves to an perceived ideal, then we trying to make a couple of kittens from puzzle pieces that were never meant to make that in the first place. Perfection is completeness and wholeness: the complete and whole version of ourselves. In the last Conference, Elder Wirthlin gave a talk in which he urged those who felt themselves falling away because they felt different to stay. He explained that the Church not only accepts diversity but needs it. Instead of accepting me in spite of my differences, the Church needs me because of my differences.
Will I accept the challenge? Will I use the talents, gifts, and experiences that the Lord has blessed (yes, blessed) me with as a way to lift up those around me? Will I be a friend to those around me that feel different – be they the artsy kid sitting in the back row in jeans or the ward “power couple”? Will I show understanding to the gruff member of the Church who reacts negatively against gay people because he feels insecure in the current state of the world and what it all means for the future of him and his family? Will I be a true disciple of Christ?
Lord, please give me strength.