The Sunstone Symposium is happening this weekend. I attended the free lecture with my girlfriend, mostly because I wanted to see the short film, "Families are Forever," featuring the Montgomery family. I had seen previews online and saw a few of my high profile gay Mormon Facebook friends promoting it.
I wasn't sure what to expect from the event. But being there was definitely a positive experience for me. It was an emotionally exhausting evening and I left with much to think about.
Ultimately, I was very impressed with Wendy Montgomery. What an amazing mother. It was an honor to meet her and talk with her. I found myself wanting to talk more with her, like spending hours conversing and sharing stories. Her son is very lucky to have the family that he does.
I also found myself wondering how different the Montgomery's experience would be if they lived in Utah instead of California. It's different here. The Church is different here. The people in the Church are different here. I'm generalizing, of course. But it has been my experience in meeting LDS people who weren't raised in Utah that even they feel like outsiders when they go to church on Sunday. I don't know what it is about Utah Mormons, but it sometimes feels like they are so stuck on themselves that they can't see anything else, and anyone who doesn't fit this perfect Promised Land mold is not as good as they are.
I think it's interesting to hear that LDS people from other states or other countries sometimes feel that way too. And it's sad. For a Church that preaches fellowship and Christ-like love, it's not always obvious to others.
So I think that it's lucky for the Montgomery's that they live in a place where their neighbors are probably more willing to see a different perspective. Is it easy to be gay in the Church, or to have a child who is gay in the Church? No. Regardless of where you live, it's not easy. I admire people like Dr. Caitlyn Ryan and Bob Rees who are working to help people understand that it isn't a choice, and more importantly, that parents don't have to choose between their faith and their child. There is much work to be done and we need people who are willing to help.
The other sad thing though is that, while parents don't have to make that choice, a gay Mormon does. We have to choose between faith and life. Do I want to spend my life with someone that I love? I can't be a Mormon if I do. Do I want to remain the the faith of my family and my youth, a faith that was everything I knew and is directly tied to everyone I know and love? Then I have to be alone. I can't date. I can't marry. I can't love.
What an impossible choice that is.
And I wonder sometimes how people can justify asking us to make that choice.