Saturday, February 13, 2010

A REMARKABLE STATEMENT


I found this remarkable statement at

http://www.sltrib.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.jsp?articleId=14342199&siteId=297 It was given by Mitch Mayne at an Oakland Stake meeting. For a background on the meeting see also http://www.sltrib.com/ci_14336708 .

"You know who I am. You have been seated next to me in meetings. You have greeted me with enthusiasm when you've seen me come to Church. You have heard my voice in prayer.

Yet, I wonder how many of you would treat me less kindly if you knew the truth. I wonder if you would judge me--however mildly, however inadvertently, however silently.

Being honest about who I am has seldom led to a positive outcome. In my home, my Father told me that my being gay was his ultimate fear, and my ultimate failure. My mother told me it would have been better for her if I'd been born dead than gay. Growing up, I was scorned on the playground, and ridiculed and bullied in the classroom. I have been fired from jobs because I am gay. I have been told by church leaders that I am unworthy of ever taking the Sacrament. I have been told that I will never work with the youth of the church. I have been told in meetings that it is because of people like me that the AIDS pandemic has come upon the Earth--that my sins are bringing punishment upon the wicked and the sinless alike.

It has not been an easy path, nor a path I would wish for anyone. But it is *my* path. And it has made me who I am today. I am, in fact, grateful for being gay. It has given me levels of compassion, understanding, patience and forgiveness that I would never have developed otherwise.

Many Sundays I look out across the congregation and watch you: Shawna and Raymond Lee, with their brood of wonderful and rambunctious boys; MJ and Katherine Pritchett with their fledgling children, offering them support as they leave the nest; Dick and Jackie Alder, with their deep, lifelong companionship and love for one another. And I know I will never have those things. If I am to live by church doctrine, I am relegated to a life of solitude, and my sentence is to grow old and leave this world alone.

Those are painful moments for me. Yet when the Sacrament is passed, and I bow my head and speak my sorrow to my Heavenly Father, something equally grand happens.

Almost without exception, a feeling washes over me from deep inside my soul. A tender, warm, yet powerful feeling--and a voice that tells me, "You belong here."Not when I have it all figured out, not when I am perfect, not when I know all the answers -- but today, right here, right now. With you. That, my dear brothers and sisters, is why I am Mormon. Because I belong here.

I had no choice whether or not to be a child of my Heavenly Father. And I had no choice whether or not to be gay. Both things simply are. Both things are intertwined into the DNA of my soul so deeply that you could not extricate one from the other without destroying who I am. They are, in fact, who I am.

Why do I speak to you today?

I don't want pity. To pity me is to make me a victim. I want understanding. To understand me, is to love me as an equal.

I don't want tolerance. If I am tolerated, I am disliked or feared in some way. I want respect as a fellow striving child of Go -- an equal in His eyes.

I don't want acceptance. To accept me is to graciously grant me the favor of your company. To accept me is to marginalize me with the assumption that I am less than you. I am your peer. I am neither above you nor below you.

I don't want judgment. My path may be different than yours, but it is a plan built for me by a power greater than any of us in this room. To judge me is to judge the designer of that path.

I do not want to be viewed as a mistake. My path on this Earth was prescribed uniquely for me, just as yours was. It was designed to give me the experiences I need to grow as a child of my Heavenly Father. To view me as a mistake is to view Him as a maker of mistakes.

We are very different, you and I -- on a cosmetic level. You have spouses, or the opportunity for spouses, I do not. You have children, or the opportunity for children, I do not. You are attracted to those of the opposite gender, I am attracted to those of my same gender.

What I want most of all is for you to look past the cosmetic. I want you to look at what makes us the same: the simple fact that we are all children of our Heavenly Father, and we are struggling day to day to understand how to best do His will, and how to return to Him. It is that similarity, brothers and sisters, that weighs more than all the cosmetic differences in His universe.

You know who I am. You have been seated next to me in meetings. You have greeted me with enthusiasm when you've seen me come to Church. You have heard my voice in prayer. And now, you have heard my truth."

I wish that we could hold such meetings throughout the Church.

4 comments:

santorio said...

wow. he really said that in an "official" church meeting (not Sunstone or anything like that)?

gentlefriend said...

Yes, in a general meeting called by his stake. That is why it is so remarkable!

Bravone said...

Beautiful.

Mitch Mayne said...

Thank you all. I've started my own blog (just today!), and the work marches on. Thank you for reposting and for the commentary! But most of all, for your support.