In 1965, Ernest Wilkinson, president of BYU stood before the student body of the university and openly admonished all homosexuals to leave the campus immediately. He offered to refund their tuition—in full—if they would immediately exit the school. He then assured the straight, cisgender student body that they would not be contaminated by the presence of gay people at BYU.
Wilkinson’s distain and bigotry for queer people did not end there. In speeches decades later he continued to use his position and pulpit to degrade the queer community.
In recent years, general authorities, apostles, and other church leaders have tried to invite the queer community back to their religious spaces. They have said there is a place for LGBTQ people in the church, they say the Church is a beacon of love and support, they have proclaimed safety, love, and non-prejudicial places of worship for you within their congregations.
All of this is, however, is conditional.
Latter-day love and acceptance are conditioned on your ability to “not act on it”, or “hide who you are”, or how faithful your ability is to “turn to God in righteous service so He can heal you of your struggles.” The church has claimed on multiple occasions that they are doing better, and they are only loving, kind, and supportive of ALL of God’s children.
Yet, the church annotates and flags the membership records of ALL transitioning transgender Latter-day Saints.
The Church is actively asking legally married, gay couples to “dissolve” their marriages or face excommunication.
The Church, under its banner of “religious freedom” openly discriminates against queer people at BYU and other CES campuses.
The Church proudly discontinued life-saving medical care for transgender clients at it’s BYU campus clinic. And affirmed that it will continue to do so in the future.
BYU’s Dean removed students from campus for wearing rainbow clothing on Rainbow Day.
You see, the church will accept you, as long as you aren’t you. They want you to contort to their version of what “gay” should look like. They use straight people to tell your stories to other Latter-day Saints. They discount the stories and experiences of queer people who have “fallen from the covenant path.
”It is difficult to feel loved and accepted when you aren’t loved and accepted.
Sending police cars and threats of arrest are not ways to follow the counsel of President Ballard who advised Latter-day Saints to do better at “listening to and understanding the LGBTQ community.”
Lighting the Y was never about changing the Church—or changing the bigoted, phobic traditions that thrive within its doctrine. Rather, it is an opportunity to show the LGBTQ community that despite the rhetoric there are communities of people who DO support you.
You are loved.
You are not alone.
I have witnessed pockets of love and support from many Latter-day Saints. There truly are some excellent, loving, and kind people within Mormonism. Many of you stay in an effort to change from the inside. Many of you fear leaving because of public shame or a loss of status. Some of you make the difficult decisions to defend what is right, and allow the consequences to follow. I have likewise seen the callous, emotionless, and archaic policies and doctrines that come from the highest of church leaders. Often too high—to distant—to see the harm they cause.
The church must do better.
To the LGBTQ community: you are not the awful things the Church has proclaimed (and continues to proclaim) you to be.
Every day I want to be contaminated by your presence.
Every. Single. Day.