January 27, 2014

Power of Actions Over Words

My grandma leaned slightly toward my mother, "Does his brother still have that friend?" "Does he live with his—friend?" My grandma was referencing my dad's gay brother. Mark has a husband, but my grandma referred to him as a friend. I thought I should correct her.

"Actually grandma," I interjected, "they are married."

My mom attempted to correct me, "they aren't married."

I explained that Mark and his husband had been married a long time ago in Canada, but the marriage wasn't recognized in Texas.

"Well then they aren't married," my mom attempted to closed the conversation.

I could have furthered the conversation, but refrained. I could have countered that even though one state did not recognize their marriage, they were still, in fact, married. I could have debated with my mother in attempts to bring her ideological position to my side. I could have engaged in a back and forth recitation of our opposing opinions while getting angry at her opinion. I could have raised my voice as her voice raised to match. I could have festered all night in anger of her single mindedness on an issue I only came to support a couple years ago. I could have ruined a very special dinner she had made for my birthday this night and invalidated, temporarily, the love I have for her.  I could have done a lot of things at this point in the evening and conversation.

I stayed quiet and went to work on my scrabble game letting go of my angst.

I thought later how easily it could have been to engage in an argument with my mother. I then realized, she isn't going to change her opinion because of my steadfast opinion. She won't soften her views because of my hardened views. She won't listen because of my loudness. Why am I trying to change her thoughts with my thoughts?

I supported traditional marriage up until a couple years ago. I had good, self convincing reasons, logic and opinions. I had people argue with me, shout me down, call me names and speak diligently and honestly with me. Nothing anyone said changed my mind. Words did nothing.

On my mission in the England London South Mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we were encouraged to give service to those we were teaching. The idea was that through service, through our giving of ourselves, other's hearts would be softened. Through action, we could bring about positive change.

Words often do not change opinions. How many times have you heard someone say, "so-and-so talked me out of my convictions," or, "wow he spoke better than I do, he must be right." I have not heard anyone say things like that. What I have heard are examples of action changing opinions and beliefs: "I learned my son is gay and I realized I want him to be happy," or "I saw these two mom's and they were just as loving with their children as I am with mine." It is in action that great change can come.

I did not come to support marriage equality until I saw my best friend walk down the stairs to marry her beautiful bride. It wasn't until I felt the overwhelming love sweep into their wedding that I was convinced I wanted to be married, just like them, to a man one day. It wasn't until I was effected by action that I changed my opinion in favor of marriage equality.

The tens of people in the years previous to my changed stance never swayed my opinion. Their words never moved me. Little things got me thinking here and there; Hollywood got me thinking, but I wasn't convinced. The action of my best friend and her wife did. It was the active doing, the action, that finally moved me.

As the time I cried with my mom, discussing my desire to be married one day, words do little, but action does much. That is why I stopped and didn't further the argument over whether Mark and his husband are married or not. That is why I went back to my scrabble game without malice in my heart.

Mom, one day, I hope that my actions will bring you around to support my (future) wedding. I will not argue or try to verbally sway your mind, I am going to do it with my love for him. I will change you with my actions.


  1. 1. The guy in the picture at the top of the post - stunning (is it Hunter Parrish?)

    2. I'm constantly amazed by you and your ability to let things pass. You are the epitome of "actions speak louder than words," and I commend you for it. Our relationships with our loved ones are a lot more important than a belief in one issue. I have to keep reminding myself this (and I hope it gets easier).


    1. 1- Why thank you, it is a picture of me ;)

      2- Thank you Oliver. I try to be a peace maker. However sometimes I let things slide that really shouldn't be. I sometimes do not defend things that need defending, I can do better at that.

      3- THANK YOU!

    2. Thanks for making us shouters and screamers feel like crap! Just kidding!!

      Thanks for making me think...you're 100% right. I have never changed my mind because someone argued with me. And in the same way, I will not change anyone's mind by arguing with them. We'll just both walk away and be angry and rehash the argument in our heads to prove how wrong the other person was. It's better to just let it be and teach by example. It's just so hard when people say stuff that I find to be so idiotic! (And I don't just mean with gay marriage...)

    3. James, I too find it hard to let things pass when I am so personally affected by them. I am not perfect in following through on my own advice, but it is something I am trying to work on.

  2. I sure wish I had read this post this morning before I got an email from my mom telling me that there are a couple books in the mail for me that she thinks might help me on my "spiritual journey"... I watered my response down a lot, but I wish I had just let it slide now instead of telling her that being further into the church and building a testimony are not what I want. You're a good man, sir. You're definitely teaching me by your example. :)

    1. Thank you Rex. It is extremely difficult when the words come form family because they mean so much to us and their words hold a greater weight and meaning to us.

  3. I think your response is a sign of true conviction and personal respect. Silence to allow for different views demonstrates how far along you are on your personal journey to find happiness. Fighting and loud words only serve to undermine your position. Way to go!!! This shows a lot of personal strength and integrity.

    1. Thank you Drew. I never considered it as a step in my progression of my own beliefs but it makes sense. Now I feel all warm knowing I am progressing in the right direction.

  4. I did not know where else to write this- you have done such an amazing job with the new "MoHo Resources". I can tell that a lot of work has gone in to that. It was grand looking at the pictures and reading the stories (yes, I read every one!) of the people highlighted there. Thank you for ALL of the work you, and others, have done to make these stories available to us and the world. It is a good feeling having a community like this.

    You are wonderful. Thank you!! Happy night, and love, always. Duck

    1. Just to be clear I did not have any part in creating the Voices of Love website. It was all done by someone else.The MOHO Resources page will simply be a link to other gay Mormon sites, not necessarily of my own work.

      But I echo your words of thanks to the creator of the Voices of Love site, and the other sites that will soon be listed there.