And yet nearly 20 years later things seemed to come full circle as I sat sobbing on the bathroom floor of a dirty missionary apartment where, after taking a knife from my hands and calling for help, my mission companion took me in his arms and began singing in a soft trembling voice “I am a Child of God.”
I had struggled since childhood to combat what I felt was my true nature in favor of what my church taught was the plan of God. Weary, beaten, and worn, I couldn’t fight anymore.
I was lucky. I failed.
But sadly there are those we love who do not fail. Tearfully we learn of and mourn those whom we cannot judge for being weary of the fight and succumbing to the constant barrage of lashes coming from Utah’s predominant religion and dominant political party; their invariable actions declaring that we are not worthy of the same treatment as everyone else — that we are less than.
When will we learn that this is not a game?
The harsh rhetoric is not something to be used to score political points or to climb the rungs on the ladder of piety.
When the stripping of legal status and protections from gay relationships is celebrated like a Super Bowl victory, what does the gay person feel? When a state senator tells gay adolescents they shouldn’t come together to talk about their struggles in accepting their sexuality, what message does that send?
When a bishop stands at the pulpit and preaches to ward members that loving, committed gay relationships will destroy their families and asks for time and money to “defeat” them, what unimaginable fear shakes the soul of the gay child in the pews?
We must normalize gay relationships. Every day that passes in which being gay is viewed as undesirable and gay relations viewed as abnormal is one more day that pushes our loved ones one step closer to the edge — to the point of no return.
I’ve said it before and I reaffirm it now: This is a fight for life!
As an LDS missionary I was taught that my purpose was to “Invite others to come unto Christ.” The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints has admittedly done much good and provided legitimate hope and peace to many, but my dear Latter-day Saints, your actions as members and the actions of your church when it comes to your LGBT children, brothers, sisters and friends has done anything but invite me to come unto Christ.
Gandhi put it beautifully: “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”
Your message on LGBT-related issues is a message of intolerance, a message of hatred — both external and internal self-loathing — a message of torment and death.
And regrettably, too many children of God are hearing that message loud and clear.
Isaac Higham is a political activist involved in the fight for LGBT equality as well as a graduate student at Utah State University