Celebrate the Possibilities with Us in Seattle!
by Randall Thacker, Affirmation Senior Vice President
I sat in church today counting my blessings, feeling embraced by not only the people with whom I worship but also by the warmth of the Spirit I felt as I listened to the speakers and musical numbers. I was nearly moved to tears as I reflected on the past year of becoming integrated again into my Mormon faith community. It’s been almost a year since I decided to return to the LDS church authentically as a gay man in a relationship. I am overwhelmed by the outpouring of love I feel as the leadership and membership have woven me back into the fabric of fellowship.
When I first returned to church and told the Bishop my story, he said, “I am not a gatekeeper for the Lord. My role is to bring people to Christ. Please continue to come and I hope you will feel welcome here.” No mention of discipline or church courts, but of a genuine interest in my individual welfare and spiritual growth.
Those first months were difficult as I struggled with internal thoughts such as, “Why would you want to worship with people who probably really don’t want you there?” or “At some point they will turn on you and excommunicate you.” I became bound and determined to prove these internal statements as false – and thus has been the case. All the previous stereotypes I had of how Mormons would respond to me have been broken.
About six months after returning, the bishop invited me to serve as the primary pianist, followed a few months later with an invitation to help run the church’s inner-city tutoring program, and then an invitation to speak in sacrament meeting on Father’s Day. My recently assigned home teachers (husband and wife) have also been so welcoming and they can’t wait to meet my other half!
I realize that I am extremely fortunate to live in a very progressive area of the Church and that experiences vastly differ worldwide for gay Mormons. I mourn when I hear of stories in other areas of this country and the world where gay Mormons are immediately disciplined, mistreated, or even cast out of their churches and homes. If I were an angel and had the wish of my heart, I would go forth and speak with the trump of God and let all my gay Mormon brothers and sisters and their families know that God loves them. I would let all bishops see how my bishop has treated me.
I have a dream that one day LGBT Mormons who want Mormonism and the LDS Church as part of their spiritual path will feel welcome in every LDS Ward around the globe. In my dream I see them contributing their talents and gifts with their ward community and I see straight ward members opening up their homes to them. I see the gay couple sitting together in the pews with a straight couple next to them, while both couple’s children crawl around together below the pew. I see them speaking in sacrament meeting, helping care for the sick and afflicted, mentoring youth, singing in the choir, and receiving and giving home teaching visits. I see them using their understanding of what it feels like to be outcast as a balm for reaching down and helping the least of God’s children. This is my dream, and for me it is beginning to come true.
Please come and join us in Seattle, Washington October 19-21 to Celebrate the Journey that is leading to greater acceptance and inclusion of LGBT individuals within Mormonism and the LDS Church. To register, just visit this link. I look forward to meeting you in Seattle.