Of course, they didn't know they were talking about me. And I was too much of a coward I guess to stand up and say something. Even if I took a broad "we shouldn't judge" approach, people would suspect... and then what would they say about my family? I feel like I was ready to handle the personal repercussions, but I didn't want to throw my family to the dogs. My family is already a topic of gossip... no need to add a gay son into the mix.
But next time, I am standing up. What will I say? I suppose I'd say something like this:
My name is Jonathan Adamson. I grew up in this ward. Many of you taught me as a child. I am friends with many of your children. I have grown up in your neighborhoods under your watch. I have looked to you for guidance and love. I learned about God and about my relationship with him through you. You know me and the kind of person that I am. What you could never have guessed is that I grew up hating myself and believing that God had no love for me because deep down, I knew I was gay, though I would not accept it for many painful years.
I advanced in the priesthood, served a mission, I went to BYU, and still I was cursed. Enough lessons at church had taught me that much- it was a curse... a dirty, evil, abominable thing that held no place in the sight of God. When the prayers and service and counseling and fasting and bargaining with God failed to cure me, I came to the conclusion that based on what I heard about gays in church, it would be better to die than to be gay. It is impossible to convey the extent of the agony I felt over this issue, and still you believe I have chosen this.
Today I am happy to report that my life is full of joy. Happiness I never imagined I could experience. I found it because I finally embraced my whole self and allowed myself to love and to be loved. But your misinformed words continue to he heard by children like me. Chances are there is at least one other gay man or woman in this room and at least five in this ward. I can bare testimony to you, with no sense of fear or shame or guilt, that God loves his gay children and that the love they feel, while it may not be inline with your gender preference, is real and is good and that your fear and judgment is causing good faithful youth to grow up denying themselves that love. And when love is gone, hate sets in- and hate smothers the life and light out of the eyes of these children of God. Love is unconditional and equal. EQUAL. I am an equal in the eyes of God.
Of course, it probably would never come out like that. I'd probably get emotional and loose my train of thought and any eloquence that I might be able to muster in a normal setting would be destroyed by my fear of judgement. But, I'd stand up. I'd speak. I wouldn't sit quietly like a coward while fire burned my insides.... but I may have lost my chance. I hardly go home... and my words wouldn't have the same effect upon strangers in a random ward.