I've been reading a book called "Victory" by Linda Hirshman which has been a very interesting and worthwhile read so far. And while the title makes it seem as if the fight is over, we all know that the fight is far from over- whether it is the fight within our own lives as we continue to struggle with apparent paradoxes of who we are and what we believe or whether it is the fight we have yet to win to gain full equality. But the book has made me ponder the current issues the gay Mormon community currently faces. I wanted to share these insights.
The gay movement has two choices:
1. They could ask society to ignore or tolerate their behavior, immoral or not, in the interest of higher values like freedom or privacy.
2. They could argue that their sexual practices were not wrong- Gay is Good.
But the dangers that are tempting are:
1. Separatism (by checking out of the social and political movement)
2. Dilution (by taking up every progressive cause)
There are several groups that have popped up recently among the MoHo community that I personally feel damage the movement as a whole. I won't name them, but these groups encourage a sense of commonality and orthodoxy and discourage any voice which demands equality and respect. They encourage people to lay down their quest for equality in an attempt to gain listening ears and distinguish hostility. As they do this, the movement as a whole loses its core purpose- to be equal and free in every way that a human in this country is guaranteed.
There has been a dilution in purpose. No longer do we demand respect and equality, now we only ask for understanding (which has no concrete methods of measurement). There is no voice that argues that homosexuals are good and their relationships and love are Godly. These groups stifle and dismiss voices that argue that Mormondom should tolerate gay relationships.
What has been the result? Silence from leaders. Leaders of the church are smart. Here are these groups that are touting all the understanding and love that is found within Mormonism as it pertains to gays. These stories enjoy wide circulation. Videos are made by people who have themselves been rejected by the Church and its entities but which are credited by the media to be production of the Mormon establishment. Uninformed people begin to think Mormons are progressive on the subject of gays due to the media attention these gay Mormon misfits receive as they try and earn understanding and artificial love. Meanwhile, nothing has actually changed.
We have opened the door to story after story of good gay Mormons who conform to orthodoxy and reaffirm in the minds of Mormons everywhere that a righteous gay will marry a woman like they are supposed to and that God will fix us in the end. This is what happens when you stop taking a stand. If we act like we are content, the establishment will take the lead. And since we have silenced our voices to whispers of mutual understanding and love, the voice of the establishment gets free airtime. Meanwhile, they are painted as the unheard voices of reason and truth- when in reality, this is the only voice that has been heard for decades. The world already knows about this "fix." It has been offered as the cured for years and years. Are we going to let it become the dominate message that the gay youth of our community hear once again? Haven't we learned that it isn't right?
In my opinion, love and respect and understanding will result in equal treatment. If someone truly understands me, they will support me in my relationship and encourage a strong marriage bond and happy family. If they truly respect me, they will stand up for what is right, even in the face of leaders who might teach otherwise. If they truly love me, they will not patronize me with their words of regret and uncomfortable words of encouragement... they will stand with me in my demand for equality. They will be like the couple that offers the first dance at their wedding to the gay couples in attendance who are banned from marriage or the football player who speaks out for equality in the face of a heterosexually dominated profession.
We live in a democracy, not a theocracy. We have every right to demand equality from our government and call out those who would fight against it. It is written in our constitution. It is a guarantee to us. It is ours to claim. We Are Equal. This is our purpose. This is the movement. Once we achieve this, the neigh-Sayers will follow. Once we are free, those that would bind us will have no power. Our equal-ness will become self-evident. Why are we opening up the option for an institution to simply SEE us rather than to ACCEPT us? Are we THAT DEFICIENT of self-respect? Are we THAT DEPENDENT on our mother's milk? Are we SO AFRAID that our voices may be sharp? And are we THAT HESITANT to accept the full love and approval of God?