There was a post on a gay Mormon Facebook group associated with Affirmation this past week. Instantly I felt a connection to the experience and feelings posted:
Well, this past Sunday I decided to head to church again, thought it would be a good idea. It started off really well but as the meetings progressed I began to feel very uncomfortable. I wound up heading home before sacrament meeting began. There wasn't anything anyone had said or done that made me feel that way, it just didn't quite feel right being there.I have been in that position too many times. As gay Mormons I think we have all been in that state of emotion. We are suppose to be apart of this community we grew up in, or joined later in life. Yet this community of Christ, the Church that bares his name in these latter days, has become a source of bitterness, loneliness, sadness or hatred.
For me, the church is still a part of my life, though it grows more distant each week that passes. I believe in the gospel, in the principles and the eternal truths taught in the church. There is no other ecclesiastical source I can find a truth that burns in my soul like the one I find in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Yet, that burning has begun to sting.
Part of the stinging comes from my own social shyness. I have allowed my insecurities to mask my desire to mingle and meet people. My lack of confidence and my shrinking courage to step outside of my circle of comfort disables me to do some things I want.
The second ingredient to my uncomfortable feeling at church is related to my disfellowshipment. It has almost been six years since I was disfellowshipped from the church and I have to say the stigmatism of the outward punishments are terrible. While I can somewhat understand the reasons to being barred from taking the sacrament in church the banishment from holding a calling or participating in classes is meaningless. All the secondary punishments further alienate myself from those of the church. Good intentions aside, church members feel a need to stay away (or at least keep distance) from those who are not in active, or in full participation in the church. Thus the actions meant to bring the "sinner" to a state of repentance instead mares the "sinner" in the eyes of the whole.
The final part of my feeling outside of my own community is the prospect of further incrimination. If I attend my local YSA ward, transfer my records and customarily meet with the Bishop, my current state of life is sure to come under suspicion and investigation. The result of which is excommunication. I have no desire for this result. I would break if my name was forcibly removed from the records of the church. I would be torn apart inside knowing my family believes I am no longer sealed to them for eternity. I would further be stigmatized, removed and disassociated from the church, people and faith I know and love.
To actively participate in what I want, I would face the head winds of being forcibly removed. This should not be. But it is what would happen. Aside from the rare caring and loving priesthood leader who would allow me to fill my spiritual needs at church, I would most certainly be subject to the discipline we all have too often feared, experienced of heard stories of.
I am left to show up late to Sacrament meeting. I am forced to sneak out before the closing song finishes. I am subject to feeling apart of a community—my community.
But, I want to try. I want to attend Sunday School. I want to see if I can be a part of my church without the social anxiety. Without the glare of a scarlet letter. Without the palpable fear of excommunication. I will try with courage. With strength. With God.