Last week LBGTQ activists staged a die-in at the headquarters of the Mormon Church to protest LDS leader Boyd K. Packer’s comments at the biannual General Conference regarding LGBTQ individuals. Packer stated that being gay is a choice, and that God wouldn’t make people gay, since homosexuality is a sin. This statement is nothing new, of course. But in light of all of the media attention surrounding LGBTQ youth suicide, queer activists were understandably fed up with the Mormon Church’s stance, especially since the state of Utah has one of the highest suicide rates in the country.
Since today is National Coming Out Day, I’d like to issue my own response to Elder Boyd K. Packer.
Dear Elder Packer,
You don’t know me, but I’ve got news for you – the Mormon Church is missing out on a good thing by alienating queer folks from its congregations. I used to be your typical Molly Mormon. I went to church every week, I baked bread, did my genealogy, and participated in every little service project I could find. I even attended BYU for a semester . . . all in an effort to prove that I could be the perfect Mormon girl that God wanted me to be.
But then, something happened. Matthew Sheppard was brutally murdered in October of 1998 – by two Mormons, I might add – and I realized that I had to get out of the state of Utah in order to be who I truly was.
I am a lesbian, Elder Packer. You say that it is a choice, but it’s no more a choice than you having gray hair or a big nose. Being a lesbian is a part of who I am, but it’s not all that I am. I still bake bread. I still love doing my genealogy. And I still give service to others whenever I can. I am a daughter, a granddaughter, a pet-mother, and a wife. My partner and I live in our little house together, and we’re quite happy, thank you very much. In fact, Shannon is the best thing that ever happened to me. And yes, I prayed for Shannon, and God answered that prayer.
You’re missing out on a good one by excluding me from your church. I garnered many of the leadership skills that I have by participating in the Young Women’s organization at church. My sense of community building was also learned in church. And now I’m using those skills to serve lesbians, gays, bisexuals, transgender, questioning, and queer folks. I am using those skills to protect a woman’s right to control her own body. And I am absolutely unashamed of who I am.
God loves me just the way I am. If there really is a heaven, I think that a lot of people are going to be surprised when God doesn’t exclude anyone from the kingdom simply for loving another person. God is love. There are no limitations on that.
I hope that you and the rest of the leaders of the LDS Church will come to your senses. You’re killing a lot of people by making them hate themselves. I was lucky – I tried committing suicide twice while I was in high school, but it obviously didn’t work. I found my calling in life, which is serving the LGBTQ community. But there are many, many others who still struggle with their sense of self worth, all because you like to stand at the pulpit and tell them that God hates them. That’s not what God is about. And I pray that you’ll change your tune and apologize to all of your parishioners who are suffering.
Happy National Coming Out Day!
Serena is a freelance writer who enjoys baking, protesting, and playing with little dogs.