Nov 16 2008
I was born a 5th generation Mormon. Wilford Woodruff was my Great great grandfather.
Sixteen years ago, while attending grad school in DC, I saw the last complete showing of the AIDS quilt. It was a very enlightening experience for a straight, rural Mormon boy. Homophobia was a part of my culture.
I remember seeing a guy dressed in leather–he was everything I was taught to fear and, yes, hate. He was standing in front of his deceased partner’s panel, crying his heart out. I’ll never forget it. It was obvious that he loved that man, and that he loved him as much as I loved my wife. Sounds silly now, but it was a revelation to my younger self.
As I moved on, I came across another panel. It said, “To all the young LDS men who died alone, anonymously.” It hit me hard, because one of my own cousins was one of those young men. He died alone without his family, because we disapproved of his “lifestyle.” We denied him his family when he needed us most, simply because we did not approve of his love. I will live with that shame forever.
I resigned my membership a few months ago, when the Church officially joined the fight for prop 8 and other measures. I was late in doing so. I had vowed to do it when the Church refused to sign a letter condemning torture because it was “too political.” Seeing them come out for Prop 8 when they had declined to act on torture was all the extra motivation I needed.
I think of it as being a kind of redemption for me. I’ve finally embraced love and buried the hate forever.