“Hope is never silent.”
― Harvey Milk
I remember in 2008 when I was too afraid to write a blog post supporting Gay Marriage. I listened to the angry lessons in church. I listened to the comments made by friends, who didn't know my views, casually dismissing those too stupid to "follow the prophet." I sat in Relief Society meetings where the same woman who signed up to bring sick people dinner and babysit neighborhood kids for free railed against "those people." I was afraid of my own church, afraid of what I would find if I thought too hard about what I knew in my head to be right, and what I heard in my church. I was so afraid.
I remember my heart exploding when I read the letter from the First Presidency, read to Californians over the pulpit, urging them to fight against same-sex marriage.
It was the moment I knew I could never go home again. I would never be the same.
I could never be just a Mormon again.
Now, I was "a Mormon, but I support Gay Marriage!" A Mormon Feminist and LGBT ally. A Mormon advocate and friend, but never just a Mormon. Mormon stopped being enough.
It was sad, and it was hard, and it still hurts. I don't know if the pain of a lost religion ever goes away. I think I will mourn for the rest of my life. The huge, aching wound in my soul, that opened the moment I realized I could be a "good Mormon" or a "good person," but not both.* Not when others are hurting. Not when I had been commanded to love one another, and mourn with those that mourn. Not when I had been promised: "blessed are those who have been persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
But my pain is so small, and so insignificant in view of the greater picture.
Comparatively, it is easy to be a straight ally. It isn't me being denied the right to marry the person I love. I don't face dismissal without question from my job. No one can evict me from my house for being straight. The way I love, and the terms I use to identify myself, aren't hurled as insults on playgrounds. No one protests my existence. No one denies the reality of my soul, and who my soul seeks to love.
I've never had to wonder if it would be easier to just stop living than live in a society that often rejects me and threatens me based on the way I was born.
So it was hard at first, but then it became easy to be a straight ally. After the initial heart explosion, when there was nothing left in my chest except a small piece of the pain felt by millions of people all over the world, it became easy to do the right thing. That small piece of pain motivated me, and every day that wound heals as I consistently live my conscience. Now, I don't listen to old men at pulpits when they tell me how to live.
I listen to what my heart and my head and my entire being tells me is right. I lost something in 2008, but I've gained so much as I've learned to trust myself, and to risk doing the right thing, despite the hurt, despite the loss, despite the pain.
I can do the right thing, even when it is hard.
It is hard, and then it is easy. It is surprisingly easy, being yourself.
And that means so much more to me than being just a "good" Mormon.
It is cruel, and awful to think that I've gained anything from standing up, even in the smallest ways, against the much larger pain my LGBT brothers and sisters face. That's a terrible world to live in, but it is also a true world. We can change that.
Today I look over my Facebook friend page, the one-stop shop for easy "Profile Picture Activism." Most of the pictures are a red equal sign. Sometimes all you need is a small sign to remind yourself of something important:
I'm not afraid anymore, and from the looks of it, neither are you.
“Politics is theater. It doesn't matter if you win. You make a statement. You say, "I'm here, pay attention to me”
― Harvey Milk
* I know many "good Mormons" who are also "Good people," I speak only to my own experience.