I’ve had the awesome privilege and blessing to be on tour with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir for the past couple of weeks. I have had the unique opportunity to musically share my heart with audiences along the Northeastern coast of the United States. I’ve also shared my heart with the Lord in ways I never have before. Aside from the many missionary opportunities, this tour has provided me with a healthy distraction from the events surrounding the Supreme Court action to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide. To be on tour at this point in time is no accident.
On Friday, June 26, 2015, I was on an awesome Segway tour of the National Mall with some friends from the Choir. One of our stops was at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial. This memorial featured fountains; some of which were smooth and quiet, symbolizing times of peace. Others were loud and rough, symbolizing World War II and other moments of toil. There were many wonderful quotes from President Roosevelt. They were about justice, equality and the pursuit of happiness. I was torn. Marriage redefinition made so much sense in a legal sense. And yet, we also have living prophets on the earth, as well as The Family: A Proclamation to the World. I’ve received rather clear instructions from my own personal journey that I’ve needed to support marriage between a man and a woman. I was also led to the final paragraphs of the Proclamation. It didn’t give me all the answers, and I still don’t have all the answers. But it did give me an understanding as to why the leaders of my church, as well as the leaders of many other faiths (including some figures in the secular world), have felt the need to speak out in defense of the traditional family unit.
After visiting the Roosevelt Memorial, we headed to the Lincoln Memorial. There, I finally caved in and whipped out my phone to see what was happening on Facebook (having forgotten about the debate that was occurring on Capitol Hill). There I saw it. Rainbows were everywhere. Many celebrated, many mourned. Some took extreme positions where others stood somewhere in the middle. The news wasn't really a surprise to me. I knew where we were headed. I don’t entirely know why I’ve had the experiences I’ve had or why I’ve posted everything I’ve posted. Maybe it is because all voices are needed, including those of gay people who are seeking to live in harmony with the gospel and gay people who have felt it necessary to defend the “traditional” family. For me, not speaking out in defense of the family would have been like breaking a covenant with God.
On Sunday evening, we were in New York City. A few of us went on a pleasant evening cruise around lower Manhattan, Brooklyn and the Statue of Liberty. I saw a few boats waving the rainbow flag. As the sun started to set, the lights on skyscrapers and other buildings began to turn on. The Empire State Building was radiant with the colors of the rainbow. The Intrepid aircraft carrier sported some projections of rainbow-colored bubbles. I soon learned that it was Pride Day. I used to feel repulsed, if not conflicted, when I saw the rainbow symbol. But this time, I felt at peace. I was happy. I was genuinely happy for those who have fought for so long and who have experienced intense ridicule, sometimes from people in my own faith community. I was happy for those who before felt oppressed but could now do what they felt would bring them happiness. I felt an overwhelming sense of love for them, and for everyone. I felt love for the people I was with. Later at dinner, I felt accepted for who I was: a son of God, a Latter-day Saint and a YSA Tabernacle Choir member who just so happens to be attracted to guys. As we walked along the streets of New York, I saw a gay couple (or a couple of straight guys with their arms around each other). I felt immense love for them. Heck, I just want to love everyone! This experience reminded me that in many ways, I already do love everyone. I love meeting new people and treating others with kindness.
What I just mentioned might be a shock to you, given my somewhat rigid stance on marriage and family. But alas, I was also rather surprised by my feelings in reaction to the Supreme Court ruling. Some might tell me I should feel horrible and defeated. Others might tell me that I should be jumping for joy, but I’m in the middle. I do not believe this is Sodom and Gomorrah, end of society material, nor to I believe it’s cause for outrageous celebration or akin to the Civil Rights Movement. I’m in the middle. Some might say I’m playing with fire or that I’m sitting on the fence, but these are just my raw feelings.
I intend to continue defending the Family Proclamation, and I seek to help clarify the teachings of the Church. I hope we will be able to keep our religious freedoms and practice marriage in the ways God has instructed. On the other hand, I think there can be a lot of good, positive steps forward in the Church, even with marriage remaining as it is. I hope this will evolve into better conversations about same-sex attraction within the Church. I hope for a more loving atmosphere, where even a respectful same-sex couple could come and worship and receive the blessings of the gospel that are currently available. I hope we can continue to focus on other issues attacking the family, including mending relationships that have been broken because of this complex trial. I hope more LGB members of the Church will feel comfortable coming out and soliciting support from their family members and church groups. Miraculously, I feel like I am in a better place to support my friends in each of their decisions. I feel like I would attend a same-sex wedding if I were invited (I still think it would be nice for one of my North Star brothers to come along and hold my hand). I did not feel this way before. Maybe some of it is because of the stress and anticipation leading up to the ruling. I believe some of it is divine intervention.
I do believe there are more trials ahead. I think there will be those who still cling to old ways of thinking about homosexuality…that the whole realm is an abomination. There will also be those on the complete opposite end who scream as loud as possible (figuratively speaking) to persuade church leaders to embrace same-sex marriage. The battle is not over.
I’m also still trying to figure out my own life (as we all are). I know that there are blessings that lie ahead. I hope I can be more open about who I am and that it will be a little less awkward. I also know there will be opposition. I know that if I pursue a relationship with a woman, I will have people judging me and warning me. I also know that if I pursue some sort of relationship with a man, I will have people judging me and warning me. I just have to accept that as part of my world. I’m hoping that I will have friends and support either way. I do want to keep my temple covenants, but I also have to remember that I shouldn’t be keeping my covenants to please others or earn respect from them. I need to keep my covenants for God. It has been wonderful to have support from other “covenant-keeping queers,” and I daresay that I will need that support in the future, but I also know my ultimate source of support needs to be my Heavenly Father and my Savior, Jesus Christ.
Once again, I am grateful for my circumstances. I’m grateful to be traveling with some of the best people in the world, declaring our testimonies in song. While much of the world is changing at a rapid pace, I know that God is there and that His love for His children does not change. I also know He is in charge and that He can make something good out of all this. I hope we can all strive to seek God’s will and follow Him.