One Year of Protesting the Mormon POX

It has been one year now since the Mormon policy of exclusion, as it has come to be called, or POX. On November 5, 2015, a new policy leaked directing local leaders that same-sex married couples be considered apostates and excommunicated from the Mormon church, and that their children be denied saving ordinances like baptism until they are eighteen and disavow their parents' marriage. There have been other articles written about this anniversary, but this is a chance for me to write personally about the effect I've felt after writing an essay about protesting that went viral enough that I started introducing myself through the title of that article to those in the Mormon blogosphere and they knew me instantly from that.

I've spent a year wearing black to church as I suggested in that article (I admit, I allowed myself gray and some white, as well). I haven't bought any new clothes yet, so it has made my choices for church clothing a lot simpler on Sunday mornings. That black skirt or this one, that black dress or the one with the gray. Do I think anyone has noticed the change? Other than my husband, who is a conservative Mormon, probably not. I've never had someone ask me about the black clothing, though I continue to feel that I am in mourning for a church that I love for many reasons, but feel has made an enormous error here.

I've also worn a rainbow ribbon every Sunday to church since that day (and helped organize the Rainbow Mormon Initiative on Facebook to encourage other Mormons to wear ribbons, as well). The result? I've had a total of two Mormons talk to me about the rainbow ribbon, both a generation younger than me. Not a single older Mormon has asked me about the ribbon. I assume they all know what it means, support of LGBT issues. I've had much more success knitting hats for homeless Mormon LGBT+ youth who have been kicked out of their homes in the wake of the various Mormon attitudes about homosexuality. But the conversation has never gone beyond one simple question and answer. I admit, this has been disheartening to me.

A recent study shows that despite the negative publicity and resignation events, most rank and file Mormons are not bothered by the policy change. Like my father-in-law, they seem to think that it is "nothing new" and therefore they seem confused by any Mormons who disagree with it. When I've brought up the issue with those I consider close friends in Mormonism, I have less a sense of disgust about LGBT Mormons and more of a sense of shrugging the shoulders and wanting to "sustain the brethren." These devout Mormons tend to say that it is not up to us, the members, to direct the Lord's church. We have to trust the leadership above us to know what God wants, and once God tells us what is right, we simply follow in line. If it is coming from God, there can be no questioning the policies or doctrines of the church.

In the last year, I've found "defending traditional marriage" a topic of Sunday School classes, lessons and Sacrament Meeting talks. For someone who thinks the policy is wrong, I sometimes feel obliged to simply leave the room. I don't feel that I have the right to tell others to go against the policy of the leadership of the church. Sometimes I try to raise my hand and remind people of the message of love and inclusion that some of the Quorum of the Twelve have offered.

In November 2015, I knew that one year wasn't going to make a big difference. I still expect any change to be on a generational scale (twenty years or more). I might wish it were different, but revelation from God within the Mormon church seems to come slowly, and when we as a whole are "ready" to receive it.

But I admit, I am more tired of fighting this fight than I knew I could be. I am tired of seeing old friends turn on me. I am tired of people feeling they have to choose between showing love to a group of people who are often treated badly and "the Lord's word." I am tired of hearing about LGBT Mormon teen suicides, or of LGBT teens being kicked out of homes or forced out onto the street because of the abusive atmosphere of their homes. I am tired of waiting for what I believe will come, and tired of wondering what justifications will be used once we get there. I am tired of looking for the good all the time in people who say hateful things about those I love and care for. I am tired of defending Mormonism as a religion to my friends outside the church who can't understand why I would stay part of an organization that seems to them to be the very definition of hatred and prejudice.

Most of all, I am tired of trying to explain to Mormons why it is that saying you love LGBT Mormons isn't enough. It's not enough to treat people politely, as Mormons are well-known for doing. It isn't enough to teach your children not to use slurs, not to bully, or not to ostracize friends who have come out. It isn't enough for there to be SGAs at local schools when teens are afraid to join them because of the stigma. It isn't enough to say that God loves everyone, no matter what their "sins" are. It isn't enough to say that we all have to change in order to get to heaven when we are telling LGBT people that their identity will be erased there.

And for those Mormons who tell me that if God asked them to be celibate, they would do so, let me say that telling LGBT Mormons to be celibate isn't the same as asking cis-gender, heterosexual Mormons to be celibate. LGBT Mormons are told that they can never date, never hold hands, never fall innocently in love when they are teens--even if they are as chaste as their heterosexual friends. And worse than that, they can never marry someone they are naturally attracted to. They can never expect to raise a family with their beloved and be sealed in the temple as a sign of their culture approving of their choices. They are being forced to choose between the religion they love and have spent much of their lives devoting time and money to and a future happiness they are told is incompatible with God's commandments.

Of course what is happening is that most of these LGBT+ Mormons leave and find a community where they are embraced more fully. And I suppose I've reached a point where I think that's the wisest choice for them.