Monday, June 1, 2015

"She Never Chose to be Gay"

Last month, I headed down to Riverton to meet with the Mama Dragons and one of our favorite people: Robert Kirby. Kirby is an active LDS columnist, who says his favorite church calling is the nursery, "because I'd rather smell s*** than listen to it in high priests." At our lunch meeting he explained that when he first started writing about LGBT issues, he didn't really care too much about same-sex marriage, but eventually he took an official stand. He suggested we try to maintain a sense of humor while working toward equality for those we love. 

That's Kirby being smothered by Mama Dragons
One of the Mama Dragons I met at Salsa Leedos was Nancy. We had a great conversation and shed a few tears together. She is just one of many typical, yet atypical Mormon moms I've met in recent years. Her passion for her daughter to have full rights is inspiring. The following story was written by Nancy. 


When you have four daughters you have to be ready for everything and I thought I was. I was ready for sibling rivalry, menstrual  periods at the same time, fighting over boys and much, much more. Having lived through four teenage girls I thought I'd survived the hardest part of parenthood. But nothing really prepared me for the events of the last seven years.
 I will start at the beginning.

My third daughter Megan, was born without fanfare. I had no premonitions about the kind of person she would mature to be. I did notice an extraordinary compassion in her, however. When she was only 18 months old and our fourth daughter was born, Megan's first words were "baby cute.” Unlike my two older girls, there was never any sibling rivalry between her and her younger sister.  Throughout her childhood she always seemed to befriend children that no one else would. In fact, she seemed to have a childlike innocence that lasted beyond her late puberty. She was always a faithful Latter-Day-Saint Girl. She went to BYU Idaho, the most conservative Mormon college. When she did not date I really didn't think much about it, since education then marriage was my motto. My suspicions started when she developed an extraordinary close relationship with another women she met at college. At one point her father and I made it clear we would love her unconditionally but it brought no declaration.

Then one day about a year after she graduated she was visiting this friend in Idaho. She had taken the bus up there and I was afraid she had missed it. (We had missed a collect call from her saying she was afraid she would miss the bus.) As she had no cell phone, I decided I would try to call her friend and see if she made it. I opened what I thought was her address book to find her friend's phone number. It wasn't an address book however, it was her diary. As it happened the entry I opened upon was one admitting she was gay. So began the journey.

I could never tell her I knew without telling her how I knew. I was afraid she would think I was deliberately  snooping. I could not tell any friends without violating her privacy. Forget telling anyone in our  ward, not only did I not want to violate my her privacy but I wanted no ones pity. I knew full well the church’s teachings on homosexuality. Boyd Packer had especially reiterated that gay was a choice and could be cured. Thus began the cognitive dissonance between what I was taught and what I observed to be true. The most faithful church wise of all my children I knew she never chose to be gay. I also  knew she was not an abomination, an affliction, or any adjective that would imply a defect. As the years passed and the church dug it's heels in over its opposition to gay marriage and any kind of reaching out to LGBT members, I  saw my daughter slowly drift away from us. She even talked about moving to Canada. I mistakenly attributed my deepening depression to a stressful job, but a break from working and a new job didn't fix me. I finally admitted the problem when a friend confided in me her nephew was gay. Finally not alone! 

After I confided to her, she had her sister get me into some support groups. The most influential of them was the Momma Dragon Council. The sorrow in this group was huge, many had lost their gay children to suicide. Yet the love and support I saw was more powerful than anything I seen before. They supported all gay children not just their own with the most Christ-like love I'd ever seen. All my pent up emotions, all the hurt I'd felt over church teachings were finally expressed. I was finally able to communicate love and acceptance to my daughter and finally able to rid myself of the conflict I felt over my religious teachings and full support for my daughter. What does my daughter need? She doesn't need compassion. She needs to be treated like everyone else and have all of the opportunities and obligations available to everyone, including the opportunity to choose a person to marry and spend the rest of her life with.