Dear Church Family... Love, Your Lesbian Sister
Honorable Mention, 2000 Affirmation Writing Contest
I come every Sunday and teach the Book of Mormon in Gospel Doctrine class. I am also an Institute teacher, and each week I teach the Old Testament. You come to me after class with tears in your eyes and shake my hand, and tell me what a wonderful spirit you felt. You have called me a spiritual giant. You have touched my hand and with a swollen heart have told me that you feel there is much you can learn from me. I stand and teach and bear my testimony with a heart filled with love for my Savior, Jesus Christ. Tears of gratitude for all He is to me and all He has done for me fill my eyes when I speak. My heart is thick and swollen with the deep reverence and love I feel for my God and His beloved Son. I pray several times every day, and I also read my scriptures daily. I meditate as well, and in my meditation I pray that the Lord will use me as an instrument in His hands. I have made it my life's mission to be a person of love and peace. I have decided there is nothing greater I can do than to make sure that everyone whom I encounter will feel my unconditional love and acceptance. I practice my peace everyday, and I pray for the Holy Spirit to always be with me, that I may achieve my heartfelt desire to follow in the footsteps of His only begotten.
You have told me that you have never met anyone sweeter and with a greater testimony. You have told me that when you are with me, you feel peace and love. You seek me out when your heart is troubled and I share your burden with you, gladly, because I love you.
I am active in church. I pay regular fast offerings and tithes. (I know that you use my offerings against me politically, but I want God to know that I am willing to lay all that I have at His feet, and I trust Him completely and believe that He respects my humble offering. I am confident you will be accountable for what you have done with my sacrifices.) I hold callings and I am a current temple recommend holder. I am also a lesbian and I have a beautiful partner. I have other homosexual friends who are also working for the Lord among you; you don't see us, because you don't want to.
We are everywhere, spread in your midst. We are in your Relief Society presidencies, Primary presidency's, even bishoprics. We are in the Celestial room at the temple, when you are there. You shake hands with us, and we share the love that we feel for one another, and for the Savior in that sacred place. We have traveled a painful and difficult journey and have had to seek great gifts of the spirit in order to survive. But somehow we have come through our trail of tears with strength and love. We are determined to forgive and to grow. We teach in your schools, we serve you meals, we run your businesses, we work with your children. You are in contact with us everyday. You are our friends and we are yours.
We cannot tell you the truth about ourselves because as soon as we do, you will see us in a different light. You have known some of us for a very long time, years even, and you have loved us. But suddenly the new information changes how you see us. Your heart would tell you one thing, but you have been taught you should believe something different. You have been taught to believe that we are in Satan's power. If you were honest with yourselves you would know we are still spiritual and God-loving people because by your own doctrine, "by our fruits you would know us." But somehow, you discount what you have always known about us, in light of this new information, and determine that we are evil. You tell us we are evil, and you kick us out of our church and refuse to allow us to worship our beloved God in the way we have always known, and in the way which has always brought us comfort. You teach about the importance of free will, and how we all have the right to chose. And yet you fight ferociously to keep us from having the rights, dignity, free will and the opportunity to sanctify our unions.
I want to know why you are so threatened by us? Why does what we do affect what you do? Do you not teach that God alone will judge? Why are you so afraid to let us purify our lives? Why do you refuse to let us worship our God in your church? Why do you take away our voice once you know the truth, and yet moments before you heralded us as spiritual giants? I have not changed, from the time before you knew the truth, to the time after you know the truth. My fruits are still as sweet. But now you fear me.
I have a wonderful companion whom I love. We are monogamous to one another. We raise children in a loving home. We work hard and pay taxes. We read scriptures to our children and we pray at night.
I want to be with her for the rest of my life. I want to be able to marry her. How does that threaten you? What does it have to do with you? Why are you so insecure in your own vows and covenants that what I do affects what you do? I celebrate the families you have created. I celebrate your heterosexual unions. I rejoice with you in the covenants of love and commitment you make to one another as my brothers and sisters. How does my ability to marry my companion affect your relationship in any way? How does my right to work, to speak, to worship, alter your ability to do the same? Why would you take from me my free will? I will stand accountable to God alone for all that I do. If I marry in sin, then that will be between Him and me. If I take the sacrament unworthily, how does that affect you? If I speak out in church and bear my heartfelt testimony of the truthfulness of the gospel, and my deep love for the Savior, how does that hurt you? Why do you assume the responsibility of my actions upon your own head? You have told me what you believe and I want to exercise my free will to honor the communication I have had with God. I am not a threat to you, only in your mind. You are my brothers and my sisters and I love you. Your unions are sacred and beautiful. Nothing I do can take that away from you, so why do you fear me so much? You didn't fear me moments ago, before you knew the truth. I am still the same.
Let me live. Let me love. Let me sanctify my life. Let me live in a committed and monogamous relationship with the person I love. Give me back my free will. You will not be accountable for my sin. You have warned me that you feel it is wrong. Your garments are clean. I have talked with the Lord about my situation and I will stand accountable to Him for my decisions. You do not need to control me. I will not hurt you. I will continue as I have, going about doing good things, because you are my brothers and my sisters, and I love you.
We can love one another, (don't we sing it often enough?) and worship together side by side; we can honor our baptismal convenants and bear one another's burdens and celebrate one another's successes. We can live together harmoniously, with love in our hearts for each other and for our God. Jesus came and told the Sadducees and Pharisees the same message, but they would not either, because they did not understand the message of love, which our Savior proclaimed then, and still does. We are prepared to live the two great commandments; to love the Lord our God with all our hearts, might minds and souls, and then to love you (our brothers and sisters) as ourselves. We ask only that you prepare to live them as well.
We will love you until you can.