Sunday, November 08, 2015

Book #45: No More Goodbyes

How ironic it was to be in the middle of reading this book when the news came out a few days ago that the LDS Church has new policies for how they will be handling membership decisions for same-sex couples and their children.

It was not ironic in an entertaining or thought-provoking way. It was deeply, painfully ironic.

I thought about reading a different book to write about today, but then I thought, no. This is too important.

The whole premise of No More Goodbyes, written by well-known LDS poet and playwright Carol Lynn Pearson, is that across religions, people of faith should be circling the wagons around our gay loved ones, not circling the wagons against them.

I do not want to write about the LDS Church's policies here, other than to say that the implications of them are much more far reaching than readily appear, and that it has been difficult to watch so many faithful Mormons share posts on social media that have minimized and even mocked the pain of their brothers and sisters who have been grappling with it all.

I do want to write about two experiences.

The first one I learned about over lunch with a dear friend of mine who is LDS and who has a gay son. She's very involved in the USGA group at BYU and had recently attended a meeting in which all the participants filled out a survey anonymously. The papers were gathered up and redistributed so that everyone ended up with a survey reflecting another person's answers. When each statement was read aloud, people silently stood if it was marked on their paper.

"I have considered committing suicide."

More than 90% of the 200 or so people in the room stood up. More than 90%.

Just sit with that a moment.

The second experience happened a month or so ago. I was honored to participate in a program at a local bookstore for a group called the Mama Dragons. These are LDS women who have LGBTQ children, and who are fiercely and lovingly navigating unknown and difficult paths with them.

After inspiring talks by author Carol Lynn Pearson and Tom Christofferson, a gay man who is also a brother of prominent LDS church leader D. Todd Christofferson, several Mama Dragons read essays about their experiences. These essays will be published in a book along with beautiful portraits of them by local photographer Kimberly Anderson.

Then I read the essay I was asked to share. It was written by a Mama Dragon who can't reveal her identity because her son is still closeted outside the family and is serving a mission for the LDS Church. The agony in her words was palpable.

"No one can see me because I am invisible," she wrote. "I still have to protect my son from the church that will eventually tear him apart. This is my darkness and my loneliness. This is being the Mormon mother of a gay son."

"No one can see me because I am invisible."

Please, please do not minimize or mock the pain. It is real. You may not see it, but it is there. Circle the wagons around.


Ann said...

So beautifully said, Margy.

Cath said...

Thanks for your post. You're right about all the controversy. It's hard to see the reactions and know the pain. There is so much to say and so much to not say. But I appreciate you sharing this.