Last month we told you about a speech that Mormon leader Boyd K. Packer gave at the Mormon Church’s bi-annual general conference, where Packer stated that being gay is a choice, and that God wouldn’t make people gay, since homosexuality is a sin. This speech is part of the same old, same old for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. But in light of the recent media attention on LGTBQ youth suicides, it’s time to say that enough is enough.
The Phoenix GLBT Coalition for Mormon Action is planning a demonstration aimed at stopping gay Mormon suicides in Arizona, set for Friday, November 26th from 6:00-10:00 PM, coinciding with the Christmas lighting ceremony at the Mormon Temple in Mesa. The purpose of the demonstration is to make gay Mormons aware of The Trevor Project Suicide Prevention National Hotline and the local Gay and Lesbian organization for gay Mormons, Phoenix Affirmation. The demonstration will also continue the national message, “It Gets Better.”
Packer has been called upon to recant his words in a talk given to the 13,000,000 members of the church via satellite from Salt Lake City. The organizers of the November 26th rally believe these words have put the estimated 40,000-60,000 gay Mormons in Arizona in grave danger and may contribute to suicides. Utah, which is the stronghold of the Mormon faith, has a suicide rate 3 times the national average.Bobby Parker, one of the event’s coordinators, is a long time Mesa neighborhood activist, a gay Mormon, and a grandpa of 13. Parker explains that “I came out four years ago at the age of 62, and was immediately recommended by my LDS Church leader to a Mormon therapist for reparative therapy, which I rejected. There was nothing to repair! However, having lived a lifetime in the closet, I often slipped into utter despair and contemplated suicide as I agonized over the coming out process. Being gay and working for gay causes took an immediate toll on my relationships, and meant my long time Mormon friends and family had to distance themselves from me to remain active in the church. It was hard. Having been in the depths of depression, I am now doing all I can to reach out to other gay Mormons to say, it really does get better, and we’re here to love you, accept you, and support you.”
For more information, and to show your support for the upcoming rally, visit the coalition’s Facebook page. Please help get the word out about the rally by suggesting the Facebook page to your social networks. The more support we can show at the rally, the better!