Again, with feeling…
If there’s one thing that Mormons get, it’s that perfection is iterative. Line upon line, and all that.
A Little Splash
Mormons & Gays made a bit of a splash when it came out, back in 2012. No one saw it as the end-all-be-all resource for queer members or their families. No one thought it would bring an immediate end to the Church’s dogged embrace of its ill-informed anti-gay cultural baggage.
Many queer Mormons (and our allies) saw it as a well-dressed retrenchment, meant to placate detractors while ceding no ground to infidels and—gasp!—progressives. But I saw it a little differently. I saw it as a minor miracle—a sign of the Church’s growth in an area that really and truly needed it, an inward-facing document meant to bring the faithful up-to-date on what Church leadership felt was as an enlightened approach to a vexing doctrinal issue.
All too soon, the English-only site was lost in a sea of Church properties and initiatives. It was hard to find, and plenty folks openly questioned whether it was a real Church website at all.
Then, about two years back, there were whisperings: the Church was revisiting the site. It would be so much better. It would be linked to from the home page. It would be localized for members outside the US. So many rumors. So much hope.
But a year went by and nothing.
In the year that’s passed from that dark day, many just assumed that The Little Website that Could had fallen victim to the pogrom. But good ideas have a way of sticking around… especially the small ideas—the ones that get under your skin when you’re not looking.
And poof! this morning, a retooled and retitled website was born…
A Little Bigger Splash
This new website isn’t what anyone is looking for…
- It’s an inconvenient weapon for those among us insisting gays are destroying the world.
- It doesn’t promise a cure for the SSA itch.
- It doesn’t, to any great degree, budge* on any well-trod teachings of the 15.
- It doesn’t address (directly, at least) our trans brothers and sisters.
… and that’s fine by me.
(Well, “fine” may not be the right word…)
Instead, Mormon & Gay sets a new—and deeply (dare I say it?) authentic—tone to the conversation. It doesn’t shy away from the messiness of it all. It doesn’t wince when the mother of a gay son acknowledges that he may no longer be in the Church, five years down the road. It doesn’t flinch when an employee of the Church speaks candidly about their homosexuality—or blink when a returned sister missionary speaks about kissing another woman.
In fact, Mormon & Gay does what no other official resource for queer Mormons has ever done: it puts away childish things, and speaks as an adult—an adult that doesn’t see itself changing its mind any time soon, mind you… but one who values the people in its life and who’s making a solid effort at having the hard conversations. To borrow a quote from Affirmation Int’l president John Gustav-Wrathall:
“If we were to point to any single part of the site as praiseworthy, it would be its tone. It models the sorts of conversations that we hope to hear about between LGBTQ+ Mormons and their families and fellow Latter-day Saints. The release of the new web site comes just before the holiday season, when families around the world gather to celebrate. Perhaps this holiday season can be a time of healing.”
I have to give mad props to everyone who worked so hard to make it a reality. I have no doubt but there were many—to repeat myself—hard conversations in the halls of power. It’s not a perfect site, mind you. But I expect that it will (if given half a chance) continue to grow, to evolve. You know… line upon line, and all that.
But! But! But!
Look, the POX is its own battlefront.
I’m on record: it should be repealed and there should be an apology. It’s the right thing to do; it’s stain on the Body of Christ. Hearts and minds aren’t changed in a single-front war. And until the lion’s share of Church membership wraps its head around what’s found within Mormon & Gay—until coming out of the closet isn’t a death sentence for members in developing nations—the POX (or, at the least, its legacy) won’t be going anywhere. The future of the Church is in Africa… is in South America… is in the Asian sub-continent. Unless and until families in these places are having meaningful discussions about sexual orientation, we’re stuck. We’re stuck and our queer brothers and sisters are in danger.
This resource is currently being translated into 37 languages—including Spanish and Portuguese. Think about that, for a second. The branch president in Guatemala. The Relief Society president in Senegal. The young mens president in Sri Lanka. Read this site through their eyes…
Mormon & Gay gets members of the church to the starting place of change. To use a pioneer metaphor: we need to get the body of Saints to Winter Quarters before we can get them to the Promised Land.
And it’s out there, that Promised Land. I know this; the Spirit whispers it to me.