At my darkest hours of loneliness when I shuddered in bed as I cried myself to sleep as a young gay Mormon kid, I had no one to turn to or ask for help.
I only knew a heavy self-loathing, fearing that I would disappoint my family and be shunned and hated for who I was and worse, cut off from the only community I knew and eternally damned and kept from the presence of God and all because I had simply been born.
Looking back on my life now I’m not ashamed of the things I did, but of the things I did NOT do. There were times I should have stuck up for the gay kids being picked on, but didn’t, lest my own dark secret be revealed. I think now of the young gay boy, sitting in his white shirt and tie next to his mother during church. He feels alone and lost and sad and prays every night for Heavenly Father to make him better, to take away the feelings. I know this kid because I was him, and I fight now to be the voice I never had.
Boyd K. Packer is wrong and is causing actual harm to actual people. Honest, thoughtful, Christ-like Mormons should be alarmed by this talk.
For those who don’t understand what it’s like to be a gay Mormon kid, just listen to this vicious talk by Boyd. K. Packer, an Apostle in the Mormon Church. I grew up listening to Packer speak, hearing his name and voice and reading his talks in church, seminary and as a missionary. His hostile tone, his total lack of empathy, and his ability to marginalize are just a few of his talents that some within the Mormon community thought would soften as he aged. Not so. He’s as hateful and divisive as ever. (Don’t forget this is the same man who advocated physical violence against gays in a talk called To Young Men Only (also called the “Little Factory Talk.” Read it to find out why.)
“I hit my companion.”
“Oh, is that all,” I said in great relief.
“But I floored him,” he said.
After learning a little more, my response was “Well, thanks. Somebody had to do it, and it wouldn’t be well for a General Authority to solve the problem that way.”
Twice a year, the Saints gather for General Conference to listen to these so-called “men of God” speak. Do not be fooled: the words spoken over the pulpit at General Conference are considered by Mormons to be latter-day revelation, scriptures straight from God’s mouth to your ear through God’s anointed leaders on earth. Yesterday, they heard this:
In a strange way I like this talk only because the true colors of the Church are flying high. No amount of PR ambiguities or half-assed apologies from other General Authorities will smooth this over. Even more shocking is this talk comes just days after so many suicides of young, gay men have been reported in the media. It is talks like this that fuel the self-hatred, self-abnegation and hopelessness that so many people feel. There have been hundreds (and I mean hundreds) of young gay Mormons who have taken their own lives. Boyd K. Packer has blood on his hands because this is a matter of life and death.
Being gay is not a choice. Being gay is not evil. It is who you are and as inherent to you as the color of your eyes. Never let any man (or woman) tell you otherwise. If you are gay, you are a beautiful person the way you are.
Boyd K. Packer is a cranky old man who is not a scientist and not an authority on biology or human development. He’s wrong. He’s wrong. He’s wrong.
Add your name to an open letter from the HRC to Elder Packer here.