This week I’ve been thinking about what the goal of this blog is. If I had my way, what changes would I make among the membership and what would I consider to be a success?
I realized that a lot of the attitudes that I’d like to see in the Church as a whole, I already experience in my own singles ward. It’s actually pretty rare to hear a homophobic remark at church or even by the members. Even when gay jokes are made, they usually lighthearted and lack the edge of “that’s gross”. Of those friends at Church I’ve told about my sexuality, I’ve universally been met with love and acceptance – even among those who are incredibly straight-laced. I’m sure there are those out there who are uncomfortable with homosexuality, but it seems as though they don’t make their discomfort known very vocally.
While not racially very diverse (it is in the suburbs, after all), the ward is very diverse in terms of people’s backgrounds and interests. When my straight-as-nails home teacher found out that I worked in television, he told me of his interest in acting and how he loved being in plays in college. Some of the artsy/choir-boy types have destroyed me while playing Smash Brother’s Brawl on the Wii. Even the Super Molly Mormon loves talking with me about quirky low-budget indie movies. Most everyone seems fairly well rounded and balanced and when I really sit down and think about it, I realize how lucky I to be around such great people.
It wasn’t quite the same in my previous ward in a small southern town. While the members were good people, I was definitely an anomaly. It was a family ward, but had a relatively large YSA population being set near a large university. The school drew a few “liberal Mormons”, but while I felt more accepted by them, I still didn’t find myself having too much in common because, while I give off a left-wing vibe, I’m actually fairly conservative. Most of my friends who knew about my sexuality were very loving, but it was obvious that some had a bit of a hard time reconciling it with their beliefs. I had my friends, but I didn’t feel very accepted by the ward as a whole.
Even though most of the differences are cultural, the biggest difference between my old ward and new is acceptance of people that are different – regardless of whether that difference is sexuality or voting for Obama. At my old ward, even among my friends who listened to the same kind of music and liked the same kind of movies as I did, my sexuality was sometimes still awkward and foreign. And that, I think, is the reason behind the acceptance of my sexuality – the experience of the members of the ward with gay people.
For most of the people at my old ward, their only experience with gay people was probably driving past that seedy club by the airport, but at my current ward, many of the members grew up around gay people in school and in their neighborhoods. While they might not be 100% “whoo-hoo, fairies!” they do have enough experience with gay people to know that they aren’t the boogeymen that they can sometimes be portrayed to be.
And that is why it’s important to talk about the issue. After putting up a post about gay marriage on a mainstream Mormon blog, one commenter chastised the author with, “Shame on you for bringing up such a controversial topic!”
In the vast majority of cases, talking is a good thing (and this is one of those cases). It helps people to look past the misconceptions and bad feelings to get to the truth. Opinions based on truth are a good thing. We encourage people of other faiths to talk to us directly before coming to a conclusion of our Christianity or beliefs. Shouldn’t we do the same for gay people? What’s the worst that could happen?