I've been pondering all sorts of things lately, mostly when the day is over and I'm trying unsuccessfully to sleep. Perhaps if anyone out there can put their own spin on my wonderings, it will help me either put my mind at ease or formulate a response I can live with.
For whatever reason, I've been thinking about my history as a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Maybe it's because I've been re-watching some of my favorite video blogs on YouTube and I wonder about what I would say if someone asked me about where I've been and what I've been through as a person who is both gay and Mormon.
As of this moment, sitting at my computer and typing these words, I am not an active member. I don't pursue any sort of affiliation with the LDS Church and I make no excuses about that fact. I try to live by my own morals and my own values and instead pursue a life I can feel comfortable with as I listen to my own conscience, which I believe to be given to me and influenced by a loving God and His Spirit.
Being a gay Mormon is a really interesting experience in my opinion. Across the blogging world you can read about the different types of gay Mormons, and really the thing that puts us into different categories is the level of activity we choose to have with the Church as a whole. There are some who are completely dedicated to "overcoming the temptations of same-gender attraction" and remaining faithful members. There are some who get excommunicated. There are some who voluntarily request that their names be removed from the records of the Church. There are some who just withdraw their involvement and quietly slip away. Really, there's a lot of variety, and I really like that.
As I think about personal experiences I had as an active member, I know that being gay was not the only thing that led me to withdraw my involvement. I think about how difficult it was when I was ten and we moved into a new area. I didn't feel very comfortable in my new environment. I didn't feel welcomed at Church. Instead I felt like a joke. There were two girls my age who were really nice to me and we became friends. There were a few girls who would be nice to me at Church and be mean to me at school. I hated feeling unaccepted and I really despised the hypocritical front that those girls exhibited.
I think about experiences I had at Church that were more damaging than good. I remember being told to leave my primary class because I wouldn't open the snowflake I made and everyone else had. I remember dreading every Sunday because I didn't feel good at Church. I counted the minutes until it was over. I remember my (ex)husband being so concerned about what the ward would think of him if I wasn't at Church with him, not really caring that I was afraid to be there.
And really, being gay was just the final brick on my pathway out of the the Church.
I know I'm not the only one who has had experiences like that, that made you almost question your faith and allegiance rather than strengthen it. I was talking to a friend not that long ago about how his patriarchal blessing was really amazing until he learned that it was almost word for word the same as someone else who had received their blessing from the same Patriarch. I have another friend who has decided to take a more agnostic approach to his life now, after being raised LDS, because of the experiences he's had with the Church.
So I guess I wonder about these experiences and the responsibility that goes with it. If I buy into the LDS principles and ideas about this life and the life to come, and we are put upon this Earth to be tested, have I somehow failed by letting my experiences lead me to a life that is not active in the LDS faith? Am I the one that will be solely responsible for my reaction to those situations, or will the other people have a part in that as well? Will the Church leaders who so encouraged the Yes on 8 Campaign, who got involved with their time and money and got other members to do the same, be held to the same accountability for their actions and I will for my reaction to their actions?
Ultimately I understand that I am responsible for my life, for my choices, and for the consequences that I receive because of those choices. But I make choices based on my situation. If Situation A wasn't created, I wouldn't have made Decision B, which led me to Situation R, which led me to Decision Y, and so on. But what if I wouldn't have created Situation A on my own? Does that get taken into account?
I really like where I'm at right now and I like how my life is turning out, and I have to admit that it's a lot easier to like myself when I'm not actively a part of a homophobic religion. As far as what I believe, I do believe there is life beyond this one. I believe there is a loving God who is watching over us and I can see His hand and influence in my life. I know He knows me. I know He understands me. I know He hears my parents prayers for me just as much as He hears my prayers for my parents.
I just wish I knew what His thoughts on cause and effect are.