by Robert Moore, Affirmation Vice President
It is Thursday, April 19 and I am in a hotel room in Denver, Colorado at 10:30pm writing this Messenger article. Tonight is the night before the 2012 Soulforce Equality Ride leaves for Salt Lake City, Utah. I am feeling so many feelings but mostly scared, scared that I have not planned the events well enough, scared that no one will show up to the events planned and scared about our meeting with officials of the LDS Church on Monday. We leave Denver at 5:30 am to head to Salt Lake which is the city I am in charge of planning all the events and meals for the four days we are in town. As the Stop planner for Salt Lake I am busy sending out email after email to make sure everything is set up and ready to go. I am also getting very nervous about some of the events we have going on while in town.
Tonight the Co-Director of the Equality Ride, Jason Connor and I gave a two-hour training to the other riders about the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (The Mormon Church). It was very hard to hear the missionary discussions without thinking back to my childhood and starting to get emotional. A few times I started to tear up when the prayers and bearing of testimony where done by Jason and myself. For so many years I (and still do more then I like to admit most days) believed in the teachings of the church. Hearing so negative comments and harshly worded questions by the other riders still hurt and was very hard not to get offended or defensive from. As someone who grew up LDS and comes from a family that has been members of the church since 1845, I still hold many
parts very close to my heart even as a gay man.
When I was a teenager and my family discovered that I was gay, I was kicked out and disowned by my family. After spending several nights on the cold rainy streets of Portland, Oregon and being raped, I found a youth homeless shelter that helped me get connected to all the agencies to get me off the streets and into permanent housing. I have not been welcomed back into my family or church as I am still a “practicing homosexual”. Some parts of me still hold onto the hope that someday while
I am still alive on this earth that I will be accepted, affirmed and celebrated for the beautiful gay child of God I was made to be.
This hope makes me so happy that on Saturday at City Creek Park in Salt Lake City from 2-4pm the 2012 Soulforce Equality Ride, Equality Utah,
Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons, City of Hope Church, PFLAG of Salt Lake City, OUTReach Resource Center and others will be co-hosting a rally in celebration of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer (LGBTQ) people and our allies in Utah. Also on Monday, April 23 at 10:00 am five Equality Riders (including me) will be meeting with
church officials at the LDS Office Building to talk about some of our concerns around some of the church’s policies and to share our stories as
LGBTQ and allied people.
Other events in Salt Lake include a fundraiser at JAM on Saturday, April 21, from 9-12 (751 North 300 West Salt Lake City, UT 84103). Sunday,
April 22, we will be hosting, Stories from the Road – A Fireside by the 2012 Soulforce Equality Ride at Sacred Light of Christ (823 S 600 E, Salt Lake City, UT 84102) from 7:00-9:00 pm and a
concert on Monday, April 23 from 7 to 10 pm at All Saints Episcopal Church (1710 Foothill Drive, Salt Lake City, UT 84108). Donations will be
accepted for both events, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds. To see our whole schedule of events while the Equality Ride is in Salt Lake City, please check out our website here.
Affirmation: Gay & Lesbian Mormons
robert.moore at affirmation.org