Friday, January 28

Bigoted, Hateful, and Homophobic

Last night I felt like I had been run over by a half dozen emotional Mack trucks. Part of me wished their human masquerade could disappear, and they really had been trucks... and then they could have seen the damage. But not... it's just hard when... I know my emotional needs are way beyond what they're willing to give. I've rewritten this paragraph five times because part of me wants to label them, and everyone else in the world who doesn't understand, as callous and unkind, insensitive and rude... But I can't.

I think that's a big difference in the way I perceive others and the way many in the gay community do. When pain strikes, it's easy to label those who don't understand or agree as bigots, hateful, spiteful, unChristian, homophobic... and in applying those labels I would apply the negative emotions, hatred and spite and insensitivity, as answer to the same. By labeling the people who have hurt me, it makes them less worthwhile, effectively making the pain subside, since those inflicting it are less human... and less worth my interest.

But I can't do that. Just as firmly as I know that I am a son of God, and that He loves me, I know that God loves all His children - including those who have hurt me, purposefully, beyond their own understanding. They aren't monsters, or hateful demons, or bigots, or spiteful, or homophobic. They are sons and daughters of God... and when I follow God, I feel His love for them. I can't curse or hate or think less of a son of God.

So that puts me in a bind. My pain would be a whole lot less if I were to label my "enemies" as such, piling on enough epithets that I could honestly question their humanity. But I know they are children of God - with divine potential - and so I can't demonize them. That leaves me with a whole lot of pain, though, and nowhere to put it. 

The next easiest way to deal with the pain would be to do nothing - to let people step on me and just "deal with it," "get over it," or "suck it up." It was what the guy who called me a creep and others who don't understand the implications have suggested - just ignore it and it will go away. But where demonizing others turns me into a demon, becoming a doormat could be worse. The pain doesn't go ever go away, only building up to a massive explosion of fire and passion - the "coming out" talks in Sacrament meeting, or the anti-Mormon books written in secret and published simultaneously with a letter asking for removal from the records of the Church... or the suicide letters simply asking for relief. It never works in the end. The day-to-day pain never ends, and rarely gets temporarily better. And when they have had as much as they can handle, something breaks and men and women find themselves scarred with eternal pain, wondering if their faith is worthwhile. And if this is all it brings, then the answer is no. No faith that only brings pain is worthwhile.

So last night I found myself wondering exactly what I was supposed to do with the pain that I've felt - the pain of being misunderstood, ignored, and outcast, on purpose or by circumstance. In both choices, nothing would change. Only really good people honestly listen to those who call them bigots and hateful, and the people who are really good love everyone anyway. There would still be pain. And being a doormat would make everyone think that I'm just like everyone else. There would still be pain. And nothing would change. And then I found a third way.

It's by far the hardest way... but I knew in an instant that it's what the Lord has taught me all along. It's the message of the gospel, and the power that can give men strength to weather any trial: Be the change you want to see in the world.

It means giving the Lord my pain and loving others unconditionally - no matter what choices they make. It means loving them when they hate me, ignore me, and make jokes in Elder's Quorum. It means loving them when they send me hate mail or post videos on YouTube or deride me in public forums. It means loving all men unconditionally - no matter who I am and no matter who they are - and without reserve. And it means showing that love by being a part of their lives, supporting them, standing at their sides, inviting and lifting them forever. Befriending others when I need a friend, sympathizing with others when I need a shoulder to cry on. And sharing my voice and my love, unconditionally.

So last night, through my tears, I gave the Lord my pain and asked Him to forgive the others - all the people in the world whose ignorant existence makes my life a living misery. Forgive them, for they know not what they do. And even if they do know, they are still children of God, still worthy of my love. And I again committed to actively loving them - to being an influence in their lives and following the words of Christ - loving those who despitefully use and persecute me.

But how far does it go? What does unconditional love mean? There's a guy I know who seems to absolutely hate me, or be afraid of me, or be jealous of me, or something. "If you had the opportunity to sacrifice your life for his," the question came, "Would your love be enough to do it?"

This was without direct commandment from God to do it. Without assurance that my sacrifice would be worthwhile. Without assurance that he or anyone would ever know. But in that question I heard the voice of God speaking to another of His Sons - a Son who had felt all of mankind's sins and seen the depth of their iniquity. A Son who spent His life picking up the pieces of those who callously, or ignorantly, discarded their fellow men. And, when God asked Him, He said yes.

That's the power of the pure love of Christ. It throws out hatred and spite and the labels of the world, and replaces a desire and willingness to do anything to bless the lives of others - hence the quote from the prophet Joseph - a man filled with the love of God is not content with blessing his family only, but goes through the entire earth, anxious to do everything in his power to bless all men.

In a moment, I saw all the people in my life - the good and the bad - dressed in white, standing as a family. I saw the good that they could do, and the change they could be in the world. But, most, I felt God's love for them.

So would I do it? Would I give my life for an enemy, a stranger, a friend, or a guy who hates me? Yeah, I would. Even if really loving people makes me an outcast, even if nothing ever came of it, even if no one ever knew. We are family here - brothers and sisters - children of God. He, I, and all of us were worth the life of God's Begotten Son... so he's worth mine as well.


  1. I love this post.

    I think it's truly takes a unique spirit to feel that way. Sometimes in life we have people who hurt us. And sometimes they aren't our enemies... sometimes they are those who are closest to us. Our friends. Our family. It takes a lot to forgive those who hurt us.

    I think it takes a strong individual to forgive others, even when they don't deserve it. I need to work on being more like the savior in that respect.

  2. The last 5 paragraphs of what you wrote are just beautiful. Thanks for that comparison with what the Savior did for us. Thank you for sharing your experience with healing and forgiveness; it's a great example of what we all need to work on.

  3. I'm sorry that you've been in pain again. While I appreciate your idealism in wanting to actively love those who have been cruel to you, I think another way of showing love is sometimes to just give someone the gift of leaving them alone. I'm not suggesting that you ignore them, but you don't have to show an increase of love to someone who is putting your well-being at risk. Your giving your tormenters some space, may not only calm them, but give you some quiet time to let your bruises heal, rather than subjecting yourself to re-injury.
    (((( big hugs ))))

  4. At some point, every one of us has to get to this place with regards to the Atonement. Usually, more often than once.

    (And you can't put too much stock in comment or follower numbers. They rarely tell the story we think they're telling.)

  5. I'm sorry that people can be so cruel. My sister lived in Salt Lake for awhile and her husband made some bad decisions and ended up in prison the 1st year of their marriage. One person who really helped her during that time was a gay Mormon guy. He went to the Temple with her once a week and was her friend. He truly was an answer to her(our) families prayers. I don't know his name but we our very thankful to him. He showed her Christlike love and compassion.

  6. Sarah:

    I don't think people are cruel... I just don't think they understand. I really wish they did, but for whatever reason they don't. And while I could claim that they should understand, I don't fully appreciate their circumstances either. I think that that is something this trial helps with. Some people say that gay guys are the nicest people they've ever met - if that's related and not just coincidental, then I would attribute part of it to understanding pain... and being willing to love others.


    I get your advice. And I see where you're coming from. But it's not the right path for me. I can give people space in personal things, but I can't exclude them from anything in my life that is public... and most of my life and the things I do are public in their own spheres. While I know it will probably be painful for me in the short run, I plan on eventually becoming invulnerable - from relying completely on God (not from losing my sense of caring). I think the blessings far outweigh any deficits.

  7. This is the first time I've read your blog, although I first heard about your blog several months ago from a relative.

    Thanks for being a kind, committed to Christ, individual with a great capacity to love others and with the ability to express your thoughts clearly and lovingly.

    I don't understand your challenge but I'm grateful for your common sense.

    Wishing you the best in everything and hoping that sometimes you'll take little breaks from such deep thoughts so you can have moments of little or no stress. Remember that we shouldn't run faster than we have strength. A little relaxation can rejuvenate us. :-)

  8. This reminds me of my thoughts on rejection. I've thought a lot about it, for obvious reasons; I've studied what the Savior did with rejection. He responded with questions, more vulnerability, not by building a wall around himself. That's what I see you doing.

    3 Nephi 18:25
    And ye see that I have commanded that none of you should go away, but rather have commanded that ye should come unto me, that ye might feel and see; even so shall ye do unto the world; and whosoever breaketh this commandment suffereth himself to be led into temptation.

    "Even so shall ye do unto the world" means to me that His strength plus vulnerability is the only healthy way to manage rejection/pain.

    What do you think?

  9. You are an incredible person! I stumbled on your blog while reading through all the various facebook posts about the church's new policy on children of parents who are homosexual. I know a very limited number of people who struggle with SSA. I have a brother-in-law who struggles with it, but is unable to find the peace and follow the path that you have. I am so humbled by your life and your dedication to the gospel. I struggle with major depression and anxiety. It is a serious trial- which you understand because of your bi-polar. I can in no way compare to the trial that you are faced with daily with SSA. Putting off what could make you happy here on earth, to wait for what you know will make you eternally happy. That is something I have NEVER had to do. While reading, I imagined what those of the gay community would have to say about you. It just isn't fair that you get hate from both sides. I admire you so much! You are a choice son of God! Your testimony shines through your words and you have touched my life. Thank you for being brave enough to stand up for what you believe in, and being so open! It helps those of us who have little experience with SSA to be more aware and accepting of people and behaviors that we do not understand.
    You're a good soul.

  10. Recently, "God Help the Outcasts" has become a religious theme for me. Your inspirational post reminded me of that song. The verse that stands out is stated:
    I ask for nothing
    I can get by
    But I know so many
    Less lucky than I
    Please help my people
    The poor and downtrod
    I thought we all were
    The children of God
    God help the outcasts
    Children of God

  11. Way to focus on things you can do to improve your own emotional and spiritual well being, rather than insisting that others change their actions to improve it. I agree that it's better to believe that others don't truly understand your situation than to assume they are cruel. I have read several of your posts now and am very impressed with your understanding of the gospel and willingness to follow it (and find joy in so doing). Many people have said being gay faithful in the church leaves it impossible for you to have any joy in life. But, I think you have shown that you can. Romans 8:38-39. "For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord." Being SSA in the church does not mean you are separated from the love of God. And, isn't that where true joy stems from? Thank you for your example.


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