Lynnette has a PhD. in theology and pretty much runs the show at Zelophehad’s Daughters. She’s a longtime friend of BCC and one of the best people we know.
Last fall, I happened to be visiting Utah, and I made a last-minute decision to attend the annual Affirmation conference being held in Provo. It was my first time attending, and I was really struck by the optimism I encountered there, by the hope that it was possible to be both Mormon and LGBTQ. When the policy came to light just a few months later, I kept thinking about that. I saw way too many defenses of the policy that claimed that no one was getting hurt because gay people wouldn’t want anything to do with the church anyway. I found myself wishing that the people confidently making that assertion could have seen what I’d seen at that conference.
I was surprisingly detached when the policy came out. It was all a bit surreal, honestly, just because it seemed so ridiculous. And the usually well-polished PR machine of the church appeared to be scrambling, which was actually kind of fascinating to watch. It wasn’t too surprising when they modified it a week later, and I think I maybe hoped that this pointed to a trajectory in which it eventually disappeared.
What ended up hitting me the hardest was Elder Nelson’s talk in January, in which he explained how it was actually a revelation. Intellectually, I was skeptical (it certainly hadn’t been rolled out like a revelation). But emotionally, it got to me. It was deeply painful to hear that not only church leaders wanted me at best marginalized, and quite possibly gone altogether—but that God did, too. I don’t really have words to describe just how it feels to be directly told that the harm being done to people like you is divinely authorized.
Despite all of that, I haven’t left. I won’t say that option’s not on the table, but it hasn’t seemed like the right decision, at least not for me. The policy has, though, has changed my relationship to the church. To be fair, I was skeptical about a lot of things before this happened, but in its aftermath I feel an increased sense of wariness when it comes to church leaders. Also, I used to somewhat defiantly assert that this was my church, too, when people tried to suggest that I didn’t belong because I had feminist or less orthodox views on things, or because I was gay. I notice that I’ve lost that. I can’t confidently say that this is my church, that it’s a place I belong. I’m not actually sure there’s room.
I should add, though, on a more positive note, that on the local level, there have been people who have really been great. I was surprised by how moved I was when a number of members of my ward wore rainbow ribbons to church last year. One of the members of my stake presidency called me up when he heard about me, told me he had a gay nephew, and said to contact him if I ever needed anything. And I’ve deeply appreciated the LDS friends I have in various places who’ve spoken up about their concerns about the policy, and who’ve reached out to me.
What about the future? Before the policy, I had the perhaps naïve idea that things would eventually change when it came to LGBTQ issues. The church had definitely softened its positions over the years, after all. Now I’m not sure what I think, or whether it’s worth it to stick around and see what happens. I’m taking thing slowly, but I have no idea where I’ll be in another year.