Recently, Dichotomy gave me Carol Lynn Pearsons' "No More Goodbyes" to read, encouraging me to extend the invitation to my wife to read it as well. I told him that I would read it first and then as prompted move to the next step in hopes of strengthening a dialogue between me and my wife. My cautious and hesitant motives are in being sure that such dialogue will be healthy and strengthening to our relationship and build positive connections as we go forward TOGETHER in this journey, this "pioneering trek" of ours.
I have not finished it yet, so I will withhold a "review" of the book. However, I was on an airplane yesterday and had a chance to get into more than 2/3 of the engaging and easy read. I had a row to myself and so I took advantage of this confinement and quiet time to concentrate and devour the words of compassion and examples of stories not too dissimilar to my own. Some stories are encouraging, most are readily identifiable, some are heart-retching.
I found myself at the end of the flight overcome with emotion. I was touched by the message that we are not alone in this, that we must "circle the wagons" around each other and strengthen each other and build a safer Community of Saints around ALL of us.
I started to shake and lose my composure. Embarrassed a bit, I let everyone else go ahead of me as they exited the plane as I tried to regain so kind of control of my emotions. When I was the last one off the plane I had to pass the mandatory smiles and salutations of the flight attendant and copilot. The flight attendant asked if I was okay and "to have a good day". I just shrugged and smiled back.
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"Circling the wagons." What a splendid, Mormon thing to say! That early pioneer, crossing-the plains trek is still in our blood, that awareness of danger, that efficient determination to protect the loved ones. We Mormons do it quite spectacularly and often. But sometimes we fail. Sometimes we don't quite know how to do it, or even if we should do it, particularly those sometimes when the loved one is a homosexual."
-- Carol Lynn Pearson
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I don't know how I'm feeling right now...
This whole "tough speech" of the recent Church message on the "DIVINE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE" released on Wednesday, though sprinkled with a few positive baby steps (as pointed out most effectively by MoHo Hawaii in his most recent post) - baby steps that I celebrate for what they are - positive developments of the Brethren to come to the table of discussion and accept normal vocabulary of the word "homosexual" and it's use in describing an individual, and in accepting the legal rights of civil unions etc.).
But, I can't help but feel, particularly in the context of this current political debate juxtaposed with the message of Carol Lynn's book, just how poorly we, as a Church culture, are NOT circling the wagons and strengthening our gay brothers and sisters in the Gospel; instead, how we are continuing, as a religious society, to build the cause of hate and disdain and tearing down family ties (implying the subtle subtext of bias and intolerance and acceptance even of our own family homosexual members, and keeping us closet-dwellers entrenched even further in our closets for fear of what may happen to us if we dare to come out), in the name of strengthening the "divine institution of marriage".
It feels to me like the few of us "fringes" who are in the Church as gay Saints are expendable. Since we are few, we can be statistically dismissed as collateral damage - for the higher cause is to protect the many and to preserve the bigger picture of the Church's message as the Church establishes its Zion.
This isn't a self-pitying "poor picked-on me" attitude here. But, help me to understand where is the pioneering spirit in today's religious society of working together to protect ALL in "circling the wagons" is to be found in today's rhetoric? I am not a political activist. I have no desires to pick a fight. But why do I feel more and more like the circle of wagons has just excluded me? And I'm left to fight and defend myself and my family alone without the benefit of the community as a whole?