Sunday, February 16, 2014

"I Am So Glad He is In the World and that He Is In My World!"

I first met Kade when he was in the 1st grade when my husband and I were teaching in the extreme rural community of Grouse Creek, Utah. Kade was one of 24 students grades K-10th. After he and his family moved, we lost track of Kade but facebook brought him back. I've loved hearing about his life via humorous and sometimes poignant posts. He's written the most insightful comments on this LGBT blog. The rest of this post is written by Kade's mother, Brenda Leigh Baxter. 


This is Kade showing off his bread creations, as I knew him in Grouse Creek.



Kade with his loving mother Brenda

By Brenda Leigh Baxter
I knew from when he was a very young age that Kade was different.  Living in a small ranching community, he never fit in with the boys who were into being cowboys and all things Western.  But he grew up with lots of cousins around and everybody seemed to accept him just as “Kade.”   He had such an outgoing personality and made friends wherever he went.   When we went to meetings in other Church wards, we would have to go round him up to come sit with us when meeting started because he had been going up and down the aisles meeting everyone he could.  When we moved into “town,” he knew all the neighbors on the block before the rest of us had even met anyone.  All through school, he had lots of friends, but usually only a few guy chums to hang out with.  When Kade was in 6th grade and we had just moved to Ogden, I gave him the opportunity to join both a touch football league and to take a modeling class.  Guess which one he liked better?!  The modeling class won hands down!  He hated getting dirty playing football and loved being the center of attention when he was modeling. 

I think in the back of my mind, I always knew Kade was gay, but he was in total denial, so I never pushed it, but just kind of observed him in different situations and always tried to be there for him.  One time we were camping with some friends and he and Lisa, the friends’ daughter, were hanging out in one of the tents, having a great time laughing and talking.  Our friends got very concerned that they were in the tent together.  I hadn’t given it a second thought because it was Kade.  I knew they were just friends and that there was nothing to worry about.  After Kade got home from his mission, he dated a couple of different girls, but as I observed him with them in my home, he never held hands with them or showed any other types of physical affection.  I kept thinking:  “Girls!  Get a clue!”  But he was so darn handsome that I didn’t blame them for trying!

I was very proud of Kade for serving an honorable mission.  It was his own idea – He didn’t go because family was pushing him, but waited until he felt ready to go.  Kade was an outstanding missionary and learned so many things from his mission, including how to budget money, get along with a great variety of companions, and he also improved his leadership abilities.  Serving in a Southern State, he met people of all ethnicities and social strata.  He loved everybody – It didn’t matter how poor they were or the color of their skin.  

Kade is a very giving and caring person.  He has helped out on various campaigns and fund raisers for different charities.  I would give him a bad time whenever we were walking around Ogden, because  somebody would invariably come up to Kade and ask him for change.  Somehow that “giving aura” radiates out of him!   I would tell him I couldn’t take him anywhere!
Over the years, I had talked to my sister and to my two daughters about whether they thought Kade was gay.  Everybody figured there was a pretty good chance he was, but none of us pushed the question on him.   He had been living with me for a couple of years, going to college, when he finally came out to me.  I think my first words were something like:  “What took you so long?”   It was a relief to finally have it out in the open.  But at the same time, it was also very sad to have it finally confirmed.   I was worried about how family and the world in general would treat my “baby boy”, and of course, I was disappointed knowing he would never have a traditional family, nor probably give me any grandchildren.  I knew Kade had a strong testimony of the Gospel, and that this was extra hard on his image of what kind of life he “should” be living – goodbye to a Temple marriage and all that goes with it. 

For my part, it probably came at a less traumatic time, as far as my Church activity was concerned.  Because I was divorced, I had had a hard time feeling like I belonged in church any more.  I had tried going to my home ward off and on, but never felt like I was even visible.  I started going to an older singles ward (age 40 and up) in Ogden, and was starting to make some girlfriends and starting to feel like there were others like me who understood what it was like to be single and in the LDS Church.  I was going pretty well every week and enjoying the classes and Sacrament talks, when the General Authorities decided to disband all the older singles wards and have everyone attend their home wards. I tried going to my home ward again and hung in there several months until my daughter Kodi went in for major surgery.  For the next four months, our lives revolved around keeping her and her little family afloat.  Even though I had mentioned Kodi’s upcoming surgery to some of the Relief Society ladies in the ward, it was several months before anyone called me to see how things were going and why I hadn’t been to church. Since then, it has just been too hard for me to try to go to meetings by myself.  I think all three of my kids and I are in about the same place as far as the Church is concerned. We believe in the Gospel of Jesus Christ and that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints is the restored Gospel on earth today. But we also know that the church leaders are only men, and that like all of us are human and therefore are fallible.

 I have a gay friend, Mike, who has had his name removed from the records of the Church, as have his mom and sister. That might have been the right choice for them – They didn’t want to belong to a church that was judgmental  because of sexual orientation, instead of just loving each individual for who they are.  I understand that, but feel there is much good in the Church and that it’s the best we have for right now. I have lived long enough to see the major changes in policy that have come about in the Church, from the Blacks holding the Priesthood to women saying prayers in General Conference. The Church’s stand on Gays has come a long ways from where it was, but there is still a strong stigma that keeps many outstanding, loving people from attending and participating in the Church. Kade tried being honest with his Bishop in Raleigh, but felt like he was still trying to be fixed. It was too uncomfortable for him to continue to attend. I hope that someday he and all the other LGBT members of the Church will feel accepted and loved enough that they will be included. It’s the Church’s loss as well as theirs that this isn’t the case now. The gay people that I have met are some of the most creative, loving, happy, giving people anywhere!  I have so enjoyed meeting Kade’s partner and his many gay friends in Raleigh when I’ve been there to visit.  They are awesome! 

I did have a hard time when Kade first started dating guys, and then when he met his partner, Doc. But it is so wonderful to see him happy and enjoying life! And it has been so fun meeting his friends.  My one regret: I had little idea of how much sadness and self-hatred Kade went through for all those years. I didn’t know how truly hard all of this had been for him over the years or how suicidal he became at times. I wish that he had felt he could talk to me about it. He tried counseling and reading and praying and fasting – anything to not be gay.  Guess what! None of that works!  I know Kade would never choose to be gay, but that’s the way things are.  And his accepting that has made all the difference in the world to his happiness. He is an amazing guy with so much energy and creativity and ability! He is talented at so many things, including his marketing job, his great ability to write and to express himself, and his creative ability with his crafts business and doggy businesses. He is great fun to go shopping with and always manages to find the best bargains! His taste is impeccable and he is my best shopping buddy. He has so many friends and so much to offer the world! I am so glad that he is still in this world and that he is in MY world!