My goodness… how in the world are you!? What great accomplishments have you racked up lately? How is your beautiful family? It’s been way too long since we last spoke!
In fact, this is my reason for writing. I first want you know how much I look up to you for being so open about your feelings, struggles, victories, and… just being you. Yet, I really owe you an apology. I feel like I’ve been distant and a bit quiet as of late. Please know you’ve been on my mind a great deal. I’m sorry for pretending the potential pain you may be feeling doesn’t really exist. I’m also very guilty of being woefully unprepared when it comes to connecting with you on certain emotional levels. I want to be better though. So, if you have a minute, I want to share what I’m learning. Maybe get some of your help too because if I’m honest… I’m scared.
As you may know, my faith, which is the center of my entire life, doesn’t support same-gender marriages or even physical expressions of affirmation between two people of the same gender – like that of a boyfriend and girlfriend. But… it’s hard. I really wish I could explain the “whys” behind much of what we do in a way that would satisfy the curiosity of the world – especially because “God said so” isn’t a valid reason for everyone. It may even trigger an emotionally driven conversation where it’s easy to lose sight of how much we have in common.
If I can now be a bit vulnerable and say I’m scared to talk and interact with you a bit because I’m worried I might say something that really upsets you. Or causes you to think lesser of your own life. So, I clam up – which I know doesn’t help because it most likely comes across as silent judgment or disappointment. Neither can I adequately know what it’s like being you, but I’m trying.
I recently got engaged to a girl who brightens every aspect of my life. Reading the notes she leaves on my car in the morning, watching her use her talents to change the world, and holding her in my arms on top of Buffalo Peak as we watch the sun dip below a fiery horizon has made life pretty awesome (I know I know, captain corny over here).
So, the idea of being told that not only am I not allowed to pursue the most powerful feelings in this mortal world with the people I want to, but that doing so is a sin in the eyes of God is overwhelming. And why not? Because God said so. The same reason another particular religious entity says their God encouraged two men to enter the Bataclan theatre in Paris and murder 89 people.
I know it sounds silly. Religion can be a silly thing sometimes. I’m sure Mormons even top the list of “silly religions” for many people, but it really is the center of my life. Maybe that’s naive of me, but I’ve simply witnessed far too many things specific to the beliefs I hold dear to cause me to renounce them any time soon. Thus, this topic gets wedged between two highly emotionally-driven perspectives. I don’t want to let that come between our friendship, though.
A Few Questions:
So, I have some questions for you that I think will help me get started if you’re willing to answer them:
What have been the most common situations in which you felt wrongfully judged by me? What can I do to fix them? And what can I do better so you feel loved and understood?
How can I talk about my faith around you in a way that doesn’t upset you? Should I not talk about it at all?
When you come to church, what does an uplifting, Sunday classroom discussion look like specifically when LGBT topics are brought up? I’d love to know more about what TO say here than what NOT to say.
When a LGBT person meets me and learns that I do not support same-sex marriage, how can I converse with them in a way that we walk away as better friends?
When you come to church, what I can do to help your life and future be bright, positive, and full of good things to come?
I’d really appreciate any help or advice you can give. Seriously. I’m always afraid I might lose a friend when he or she learns that some of my beliefs don’t align with theirs, so if you do decide to respond, I hope we can walk away from that conversation as better friends. I’d love to spend more time on discovering what we have in common rather than what makes us different.
Crossing fingers I’ll get to see and speak with you soon. You’re awesome!
– A Mormon