You’re doing it wrong. Yeah, I said it. I’ve long felt it. There are myriad reasons why I feel this way, but today, let me tell you about just one.
I’m getting married to my partner in September 2013. I am indescribably happy and excited about our impending nuptials and I want to share my joy with my friends and family. A caveat to that however, is that the majority of my childhood friends are (or were) Mormon. Some of the “were” ones I have reconnected with and we seem to have independently traveled paths that have lead us to roughly the same destination. The “are” ones though…well, those are harder.
The 2012 Presidential Election season was an emotionally jarring time for me. It was the first time that a Mormon was the GOP candidate for President. Additionally, this particular GOP candidate happens to be someone that I had both met and interacted with (on a limited basis) during the Mormon mission I served in Boston Massachusetts. I didn’t like him then and I especially do not like him now.
Since I am no longer a Mormon for a whole bunch of reasons, not the least of which is my sexual orientation, I was really invested in seeing Obama triumph. I am an avid ‘Facebooker’ and on my Facebook I post extensively about politics and social issues, and sometimes these posts are offensive. I have always taken the stance of “my Facebook, my rules” because if I can’t have freedom of speech on social networking where no one posts but me, where can I have freedom of speech? I feel like I have to meter my language often, particularly in face-to-face settings so I pretty much refuse to do it with regards to my political beliefs on my Facebook page. I have lost friends because of my stances. My Mom won’t read my Facebook at all, that is a given, and I don’t read hers either. It’s just how we roll.
Sometime prior to the hottest points in the presidential election I reconnected with a childhood friend who happens to live a few hours’ drive from the Portland Metro/SW Washington area (where I reside) and through that re-connection we planned tentative plans to get together and have lunch or something, with another childhood friend who happens to live even closer than she does. The plans never materialized though, due to scheduling conflicts.
During the course of the election season, I ended up ‘unfriending’ both of those childhood friends because they were posting ‘Pro-Romney’ stuff in counterpoint to my ‘Pro-Obama’ stuff and since I have a ‘don’t like my Facebook, don’t read it’ point of view on the whole social networking thing, I hold myself to the same standard. Honestly, we weren’t all that close anymore anyway so it was not a net loss.
A couple days ago though, with the rancor of the election over with I ‘refriended’ both of them. The friend that lives a few hours away and I mutually apologized for the political stuff and agreed to be friends again. The following day, because I have fond memories of childhood events (like summer camp, etc) with this friend, I sent her a Facebook message and told her that I was getting married, and asked if she’d like to come to the wedding. I had been tentative about asking many of my friends simply because it feels like a ‘big ask’ to invite them since most of them live out of state and some out of country. The friend who lives a couple hours away though – and since we’d agreed to be friends again – I thought I’d throw the idea of an invitation to her and see if she would be into that.
2 days went by, still no response.
Feeling a little stung by her silence, and knowing that she is an avid Facebooker, as I myself am, I let her ‘off the hook’. I sent another message stating that I would take her non-response as ‘No’ and call it good, no hard feelings.
Except I have hard feelings. It hurts. I have lost most of …wait, no, *all* of my childhood friends, (save one, who was my neighbor for a few years and whom I have also reconnected with on Facebook and who is a lovely human being). I have also lost all of my mission friends since coming out as gay. The common thread there? Mormons all.
This is not to say that there aren’t really open minded Mormons in the world – in fact, it seems that a few Mormons are even starting to accept the idea of same-sex marriage. The LDS church even recently published a (hypocritical, in my opinion) website saying ‘Hey, we like gay people. You were born this way. Come to church with us (though we still want you to be celibate if you plan to be numbered among the herd)
However, this has not been my experience of the Mormons in my life. My experience has been framed around my Mom, who is still very Mormon (but we are mostly able to agree-to-disagree and look past the Mormon thing for the sake of our relationship) and all of these former friends have been judgmental to the extreme and seem to generally have a pretty nasty superiority complex. I’m not going to get into the discussion of the ‘cult mentality’ thing here – but I think that’s a reason for it. They feel like they are (and this is something that is said out loud in Mormon circles) The Chosen People (uhm…has anyone mentioned this to Jewish Community, because I’m pretty sure they were there first). They feel that they are superior to others that do not follow their religion and as a result of this superiority, feel that they are sanctioned by god to reject gay people openly and to vehemently fight (with their dollars) against same sex marriage.
I knew all of that and I’m (mostly) used to it. When confronted with it head on though, by someone who claims to be your friend, and who furthermore, has a gay little brother and uses him as a ‘See I’m open minded! My brother is gay!’ proof to how accepting she is (while still stumping for Romney, mind you), not only gives me whiplash but it also makes me nauseous. This is not the first time something like this has taken place among people whom I once called my friends and cared for. It’s just the most recent. And I am sick of it.
Nothing is going to taint my upcoming legal marriage to my partner whom I love more than I thought it possible for human beings to love.
I don’t hate Mormons (though I am not fond of their social and theological philosophies as I think they are completely wacko). In addition to my Mom, I have other family that are still Mormon – many of whom I deeply care for. What I will not tolerate in my life as an adult (because I do get to choose) are people that choose to act like jerks and justify this behavior by hiding behind their religion. This goes for any religious denomination that I should encounter going forward. However, this blog is directed at the leadership of the Mormon Church. So, I reiterate: To the leaders of the Mormon Church, if you are trying to cultivate compassion and Christ-like behavior among the following of your church, you are most definitely doing it wrong.
A Lesbian American