April 11, 2015

A Gay Mormon's Thoughts on the LDS Conference


This is the English Language channel for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. If you're experiencing technical difficulties please call the number located in your operator manual. Conference is not what it use to be. I mean, I remember going to church as a child and hearing that announcement 20 times before Conference started, waiting for the satellite broadcast in the chapel. Now a days, we stay in our pajamas at home. We listen to it on the radio in the car. We watch it over the internet or even listen to it on our iPhones. Conference certainly, is not what it use to be. 

Affirmation Fireside:

Thursday evening, my parents arrived from Oregon. Friday we went hiking up to Ensign Peak and that evening we attended the Affirmation fireside. At this fireside, the documentary, Families Are Forever was screened. This documentary talks about a family in California during the time of Proposition 8. This family, being an active participate didn't realize that their son, who was 13 at the time was in fact, gay. The documentary, mainly focuses on the mom, Wendy, and how she reconciles being an active LDS person with now coming to discover that her son was gay. 

It was a beautiful documentary and there was some really touching things that happened before and after, at this fireside for my parents and myself. 

After the documentary was introduced, the lights went low and the movie started. My dad, who was sitting on the other side of my mom, reached around and put his hand on my shoulder and just squeezed. To me it meant he was going to pay attention and that he knew this meant a lot to me. And that simple Squeeze on my shoulder made me feel so warm inside. 

Of course, during the documentary, I cried. A lot. My mom noticed and at one point put her hand on my leg. I squeezed her hand as well and then continued crying. A lot. 

As the documentary ended and the lights started to come back up, my dad once again, reached around my mom, put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed. I think this time to say, "I was listening". 

The documentary was a production of The Family Acceptance Project (I'll put a link down below so you can look into it). But they also have a pamphlet. This pamphlet is directed to church leaders and gives them instructions on how to be more accepting and loving to their gay children, friends and family. I wasn't expecting this but at the end of the Conference my dad asked how much it was. He went over, purchased the documentary and the pamphlet. On the car ride home I asked him, I said, "What are you going to do with this?" He said, "I have some Bishops I need to do some training with. And I think this documentary is going to be just what they need." 

I was flabbergasted. Here's my dad, a Stake President back in Oregon. And he was going to use this pamphlet, something I never thought he would do. I mean, don't get me wrong my dad's not a prude but I just always expected he was going to use some official church pamphlet or website. But he saw the value in this. He saw how strong and powerful the message of the documentary was. And I'm so proud that he's going to use it to train some bishops and make this stake in Oregon a little bit more welcoming to those LGBT people.  

So after this night of gay mormon apostasy... kidding. Totally kidding. We then spent the next two days being fully devoted to the LDS Conference. 

Boyd K Packer:

My mom is a sweetheart. She wants to be there, live, in person. And so Saturday morning we went and we stood in the standby line to try and get into the Conference Center. Granted we had both afternoon and Priesthood session tickets to conference. My mom still wanted to be there, live and in person. 

Now, I've got to say something about Boyd K. Packer. He is not my favorite apostle. I think I'll leave it at that, but my goodness I could not understand what he was saying. And I think I'm pretty ok with that cause I'm not sure I would have liked his talk. But many times, we were sitting in the tabernacle and I'd look over at my mom or dad and we'd all just kind of roll our eyes. My goodness, he needed an English translator. 

Now of course, the news of the day and of the month and of the year has been focused on gay marriage and particularly here in Utah. So I expected one, two maybe three talk about same sex marriage. But it almost seemed like every single talk was about gay marriage. Now maybe that's just because I'm listening for it and so I pick up on things I think could be related. But no. There was just a lot of talks about it. 

Now I'm not one to get offended easily and in fact I don't think I was offended, except one or two times. The few words that I could pick out of Packer's talk... let's just not even go there. 

Elder Sitati:

The second talk that really piqued my ears was from Elder Sitati (I think I'm saying that right). He spoke Sunday afternoon and in his talk he talked about the purpose or one of the purposes of marriage, is to multiply. He then said, almost quoted, "a same gender marriage does not multiply". What. Well, of course biologically not. I heard that quote and I thought, "ok that's probably not gonna be printed in the Ensign". 

I remember a few conferences ago, Elder Packer was talking about same gender attraction, and he said that God would not make someone like that. "Why would he do that" was the quote. And it wasn't printed in the Ensign. 

Now for all those who say that what the prophets and apostles and leaders say in conference is scripture, I think, "ok, but what about when they don't print what was said, verbatim, in the Ensign." Obviously someone can misspeak. I have a feeling that quote from Elder Sitati about same gender marriages don't multiple is not going to printed. I'm almost willing to put 5 dollars down. Anyone want to bet me?

Elder Andersen:

Now aside from all the uncomfortable same sex attraction talks, there were actually quite a few that I really enjoyed. Um, Elder Wilford Andersen spoke  Saturday afternoon. His was the talk about dancing to the music and how we look weird to those who can't hear the music. The music being the gospel. And then how some of us dance even though we can't hear the music just because of the social pressure we feel.

In his talk, I got the impression and I think he even said at some points that some people just can't hear the gospel. Now parents will teach their children the dance but if their kids can't hear the music they might not keep dancing. I thought that was such a beautiful olive branch. To my understanding, he was saying some people just aren't going to get it here and that's ok, because they can't hear the music. But that doesn't mean we don't love them. I thought, to me, that was the most beautiful, Christ-like, spiritual talk I've heard in a very, very long time.

All Opposed:

And then. The big news coming out of conference, Saturday afternoon. "Opposed. opposed. opposed." Yup. We were there for that. My parents and I. We were in the conference center and I knew it was coming. I had heard about it on the Cultural Hall podcast. And so I... I was a little uncomfortable because I knew I was going to hear it and didn't kinda, warn my parents before hand.

Now as a disfellowshipped member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints I can't sustain church leaders. So here I am sitting in the Conference Center, in front of these people and I'm not raising my hand, and that was extremely uncomfortable. But then, to have these people shout out, "opposed", I'm thinking, "Ok. Well I'm not raising my hand but I wonder if people maybe think I'm one of them? I donno." They didn't of course because we could hear the audio of the opposed shouts coming from the right side of the conference on the Terrace level. And then the right side on the bottom level, I think that's called the Mezzanine, I think.

Now, I couldn't see anyone stand. But I could definitely hear, I thought probably around 5 to 6 opposed shouts. Now, whether you agree with the opposed group or not I think something needs to be said about them. Cause, many people have said they disrupted the spirit, the don't appreciate the protesting in General Conference.

While I don't agree with the ideology of the group, I think there is some conversation that needs to be had but I don't agree with their methodology. The group was actually very peaceful and very respectful. Now think about it. In conference, in your stake in your ward, every single time there is a sustaining, it's asked if there are any opposed. Now culturally we never oppose. That's just something we don't do. But the time is given and sometimes they'll even look around the room just to check to see if anyone is opposed. So for this group to come to conference and oppose at the appointed time, that's not disrespectful.

Now some may say, "well they shouted. No one else shouts". Ok, but they're standing in a room full of 22,000 people. You really think someone, up at the podium, with lights on them and the audience lights dimmed is gonna see their hand raised? No. Of course not. So the only, the only rational way to be noticed in opposing is to shout it. This group, I've heard the reports of five to seven people shouted opposed. I saw in a picture later, they actually stood and raised their hand too. That was the given time for anyone to oppose, and they did. Now we watched. No one was ushered out of the conference. These people that opposed, opposed at the appointed time and then they sat. There was no long discourse of shouting their grievances with the church. They sat, and sat through conference just like the rest of us. I thought, while I don't agree with their ideology, I thought it was a very respectful and proper way to oppose something they feel they need to oppose.

The Real Distraction:

Now if we want to talk about something that's inappropriate and disrupts the spirit of conference, I've got something for you.

Sunday morning when we were in the Tabernacle listening to conference. I was sitting on the west side of the building directly across from me I could see on the other balcony side, three couples making out—during conference talks. And then after conference my friend who was sitting down on the south side of the balcony in the Tabernacle, said two couples in front of him were making out during conference, during the talks. Come on people, there's a time and place or that. But during conference? Why don't you just stay home in your pajamas and cuddle on the couch.


The last think I was impressed on with conference weekend is the lack of protesters. Now when I was a young kid, I'd say probably ten, eleven, twelve, my family traveled from Washington down to conference. And I remember crowds and groups of protesters shouting. Banners everywhere, signs everywhere. We literally had to walk through protestors. Now that wasn't based on any certain current event. There were just lots of protesters. Now conference this weekend, there were three people total, that I could see, in all the different sessions that I went to. One man with a sign and shouting. Another man who was kind of preaching from the corner and then one other person I saw from across the street. What happened to all the protesters? I mean, it's not like Mormons aren't the same that they use to be ten years ago. So, where are they. What happened to that. I was very struck by that this weekend, the lack of protesters.

What were your thoughts about Conference? Did you watch it? What did you think about the talks? Now I have a lot of friends that will complain about talks geared towards gay marriage. But they didn't watch the talks. They're only, They're only believing what they read in articles or what they've heard from second hand or third hand accounts. So if you watched it, what did you think? What were your impressions? Let me know, down below.

And thank you, for listening to, INSIDE – my life as a gay mormon.

This is Trevor. Till next time.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Trevor for sharing how your parents responded to the video, "Families Are Forever". Wonderful to see a Stake President take the lead and open his heart and mind to begin the healing that is so desperately needed in the church over S.S.A. I am often reminded where would this world be without the contributions of a Michelangelo, Aaron Copeland or Alan Turing, etc.... (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Alan_Turing). God has a purpose for all His children.

    Peace be with you and your loving family. And... remember you are not alone!