Here I am–a gay Mormon Latino, feeling the same struggles from my fellow Americans and from my Mormon brothers and sisters
By Michael Amesquita
Michael wrote the following report about the historic interfaith prayer and rally held yesterday in Washington DC.
Early in the morning on Tuesday, I felt the Spirit of the Lord in the service held at the Lutheran Church of the Reformation. As we sung of hope and love, I couldn’t help but get emotional. Goosebumps ran up and down my arm when a couple of the African American ministers compared the LGBT struggle for marriage equality to the not-so-distant civil rights movement. At the conclusion of the service, the priest and ministers, dressed in robes, led our march to the Supreme Court as we sang the gospel hymn, “This Little Light of Mine.” As we started our march, we were greeted by people smiling and singing along the way.
In front the Supreme Court building, I could see and hear opponents of marriage equality staring us in the face. I do not think their signs and messages were inspired by love. This is when we began to really sing! Joined by those around on the sidewalk, our combined voices drowned out the opposition’s chants and music.
Supporters packed the sidewalks on both sides of the street to hear the various speakers. You couldn’t help but cast your gaze on all the clever and poignant signs that were being held above heads for all to see. Of all the signs, there was one that really put things in perspective for me: “DON’T BE ON THE WRONG SIDE OF HISTORY AGAIN!” It included images of signs that read things like, “WE SERVE WHITES ONLY – NO SPANISH OR MEXICANS” and “NO DOGS, NEGROES, MEXICANS.” One image showed on a map of the United States the states that once prohibited interracial marriage and those that had allowed it. Another one showed people at a past rally with signs stating, “STOP THE RACE MIXING.” After a couple of hours at the base of the steps, I had to move across the street to get some space, and that’s when it hit me.
Leaning against this half wall across the street, my emotions got the best of me. In a country that boasts so many freedoms, it should not be this hard to be able to love the person you want to, and to have that love be equal and validated. In addition to that thought, I became frustrated with our church. The Mormon pioneers were forced out of Ohio, Missouri, and Illinois because their neighbors thought they were different and wouldn’t allow them to be who they were or live how they wanted to live. How can our fellow sisters and brothers not see the irony? Yet, here I am–a gay Mormon Latino, feeling the same struggles from my fellow Americans and from my Mormon brothers and sisters. Again, it shouldn’t be this hard to be who I am and love who I want. Yet, I have hope.
I have hope that people will be able to judge me on my values of family, commitment, and love. I have hope that in our church we will see change in our wards and stakes, that we will be welcomed and invited to participate and serve–and not be disciplined and excommunicated. I have much hope for Affirmation, where a loving and organized leadership team is moving our cause forward. I have hope that our brothers and sisters will see how Affirmation can assist them if they are struggling with being Mormon and LGBT. I am certainly not blinded by hope that I don’t understand how much work this will take. It will take a lot of work, but it is not impossible. As I sat on the metro on my way home from the rally, a mom and her son –a smiling 5- or 6-year-old redhead— sat across from me. I was holding my sign from the rally. The mom read my sign and said, “We got your back.” Yes, I have hope.