motherDaughter

Mormon Mom/Lesbian Daughter– SLC 5th Sunday Meeting–June 2014

 

5th Sunday Meeting held in Murray Ward….SLC Area

On Sunday, June 29, 2014,  a 5th Sunday joint RS/PH meeting was held in Murray. The bishop there organized the presentation which took most of an hour. He divided the presentation into two parts, much the same as the presentations like this in Carol Lynn Pearson’s stake that were organized a few years ago.

The first part was to focus on faithful members who are gay/experience SSA and the 2nd part was a focus on members with family who are gay/SSA. He used several quotes from Elder Oaks, Elder Christofferson and Elder Holland from www.MormonsandGays.org to emphasize that being gay/SSA is not a choice. He then used a film clip from Michael Sandberg, a member of the same Murray Stake who some present knew personally and this clip is part of the voices of hope…NS film project. Michael had a rough teen period and was bullied, went on a mission and now is hoping…for marriage to a woman and a traditional LDS family.

The second part of the presentation was a member of the ward who has a lesbian daughter who came out to this mom about two years ago. This Mom really emphasized loving her daughter and explained how acceptance was a key to maintenance of the relationship.. It was really beautiful how love was emphasized for a daughter who has left church activity.

Love One Another— by Mormon Mom

I have been blessed with the privilege and sacred responsibility of being a mother to 2 beautiful daughters. One of them is gay, and it is with her permission that I am sharing part of our story today.

She was 20 years old, it was Christmas Eve of 2010, and both of my girls were home from college over the winter break. We sat down for what I thought would be a typical catching up kind of chat, when without warning she said, “Mom, I have to tell you I’m gay.” She had to repeat it for it to register. The closest thing I can think of to describe that moment is being hit in the gut with a sledgehammer. My mind was reeling as I tried to absorb what I’d heard. I don’t know how long I sat there unresponsive, but I remember my first coherent thought being “how will I ever protect her?” [Every horrible and insensitive thing I'd ever heard about gays and lesbians was clanging loudly in my head. And most of them I'd heard in church, in my neighborhood, from my friends!] I was immediately afraid for her. After all, she was my baby, my joy, my precious child. Parents are naturally protective of their children; but in that moment I went from being a Mama Bear to a Mama Dragon. I later discovered that this is a term many mothers of LGBT children use to describe themselves.

Of course I had many questions and concerns, and we talked and cried together for some time. I assured her that my love for her was unconditional, and that her being gay would not change our relationship. We stood and hugged each other tight, and as we did every cell in my body was permeated with an extraordinary sensation of peace and love. It was identical to experiences I’d had during my pregnancy with her. It assured me, yet again, that we were meant to be together, and that it was going be OK,

I had selfishly thought, and to my great shame said aloud, that telling me before Christmas would ruin the holidays; but it actually turned out to be the best Christmas. The Spirit of the Lord was so strong, and the feelings of love we shared went deeper and were more intense than ever before. So it felt appropriate to be celebrating the entrance into the world of our Savior and Redeemer whose greatest teaching would be to love one another.

The following months were a painful struggle, and I didn’t talk to a single soul about it. At that time we’d lived in our ward for almost 14 years. We’d only been there 2 years when my husband died very suddenly. The ward members were so kind and compassionate. Their generous service and expressions of love were overwhelming. They are good people. Latter-Day-Saints are good people, and we take the Savior’s call for service very seriously. During those 14 years many friendships had been forged. These peple knew and loved my children and me. But because of some things that had happened previously in the ward, I did not feel safe talking to anyone about my gay daughter, not even the Bishop. I had to protect my child, and my own heart. It would be 7 months before I felt prompted to contact a certain friend I hadn’t seen in a couple of years, who then told me her youngest son is gay. It was such a relief to finally talk to another LDS parent who had walked the same path and understood. [She also gave me a copy of Carol Lynn Pearson's book "No More Goodbyes", which gave me so much hope, knowing my daughter and others like her had a bold, fearless advocate in the Church.]

But during those 7 months the only person I could talk with was the Lord. Jesus said “Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” So that’s what I did. [I poured my heart out to him, shed many tears, and begged for understanding and direction, for peace and healing. I knew that being gay was not a choice; but how did this happen?? Answers didn't come all at once, but over time I gained new insights into some things said in my Patriarchal Blessing, found comfort in some long-forgotten teachings of the Prophets, was led to scriptures that offered new layers of meaning, and felt the Lord's infinite love for my daughter and His empathy for me.] I’d like to share with you some of the things He taught me:-

1. The fact that she was gay was not news to Him. He already knew. He’d always known. [She's not broken, and she doesn't need to be fixed.]

2. To Him this is not a tragedy. He has a plan for her, and it is in His hands. A statement by Bruce McConkie speaks to this. He said “there are as many plans of salvation as there are children of God.” That reminds us that each person’s journey through mortality is unique and personal, and it is not our place to judge, or to think we know what the Lord will put won’t do in the lives of any of His children in order to accomplish their salvation.

3. As to the question of what I could do to help her, the answers were simple and straightforward : love her UNCONDOTIONALLY, keep her close, and keep building our relationship. For several years I had observed what I thought to be an unusual tenseness and irritability in her, beyond what you would normally expect from adolescents as they mature and try to differentiate from their parents. But it seemed to go on too long, and anytime I tried talking to her about it she would become even more irritable, insisting she was “fine”. But after finally coming out to us, being accepted and feeling unconditional love from those who matter most to her, we could see that an enormous weight had been lifted, the light came back into her eyes, and it gave her the freedom and energy to move forward with her life, and make important decisions without the burden of our expectations. Unconditional love is the greatest gift we can give. Jesus said, “By this shall men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” Even though I’d told her our relationship would not change, I’m happy to say I wrong. The honesty and openness allowed us to deepen and strengthen our relationship in very significant ways.

4. He also instructed me to pray for her well-being continuously, and to trust Him to know what she needed. She is more precious to Him than I can even imagine, and He will not abandon her. I love the words of Paul to the Romans :-
“For I am persuaded that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor Powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Jesus Christ our Lord”. (Romans 8: 38-39). And I see the Lord’s hand in her life, even though she may not recognize it as such.

5. “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10). Meaning, surrender my grief and fears to Him, and listen for a his guidance, and receive His love and peace. This command includes honoring my covenants, and living my life in such a way as to be in tune with Him so that I can receive His guidance, and feel His love and peace.

During those months as I tried to understand, I realized that there were many experiences and people brought into my life, starting in my youth, that had prepared me for this. I was able to connect the dots of seemingly disparate events and people. And that was a tender mercy.

[This wonderful bit of philosophy from Carol Lynn Pearson gives us pause when we're tempted to categorize all we encounter in life as either black or white: "What if things are not always as they appear? What if, in the grand design of things, none of us is finally a victim? What if our Large Eternal Self actually agreed to certain general challenges that our small mortal self would experience in the service of profoundly vital understanding and growth? What if we are each in the correct classroom being assigned the correct homework, and what if the answer to the question on every test is to love a little more?"]

There are many reasons I wanted to speak about this today, but the most important one is concern for our youth. It is a struggle beyond your imagining for kids to grow up in this church and come to the realization that they are gay. Many beg and plead with the Lord for years to take the burden away, committing to be more faithful and righteous, serving missions, bargaining, offering up everything they can just so the Lord will make it go away. But for most, it doesn’t go away. Our homes, our families, our wards and our Church MUST be a safe place for them. Too many are kicked out of their homes, into the streets where they are vulnerable to all kinds of terrible things. And too many take their own lives because they feel so desperate, hopeless, and unloved. To borrow a phrase from Carol Lynn Pearson, “let us circle the wagons around our gay loved ones”, keep them close and make sure they can see and feel our love for them. In our interactions with them, let us be sure they can perceive Christ’s image in our countenances. No “I love you, BUT…..”. Just “I love you”.

[In closing I'd like to share this challenge from Elder Quentin Cook: "As a church, nobody should be more loving and compassionate. Let us be at the forefront in terms of expressing love, compassion and outreach. Let's not have families exclude or be disrespectful of those who choose a different lifestyle as a result of their feelings about their gender."]

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Gay Mormons at BYU: USGA discussion group

Beginning on July 13, 2010, a discussion group was formed for BYU students, faculty, and friends who wish to foster improved understanding of same-gender attraction. The group meets weekly on BYU campus, but without endorsement or support from BYU. Join the Facebook group “Understanding Same-Gender Attraction (USGA)”!

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Description:

USGA is an unofficial group of Brigham Young University students, faculty, and friends who wish to strengthen families and the BYU community as a whole by providing accurate information about same-gender attraction. All too often, a lack of understanding has led families to reject their loved ones, or to blame themselves. We recognize that in our community there is no consensus about the causes of same-gender attraction. This is a scientific question on which the Church has no position [1]. We seek to provide helpful information from Church publications, from professionals, and from individuals whose families have been affected personally, to enable students to respond to this issue in appropriate, compassionate, Christ-like ways.

Although BYU welcomes celibate same-gender-oriented students as full members of the university community [2], it is unfortunate that some feel unwelcome because of harsh attitudes of ill-informed peers. Some leave BYU and the Church because they feel there is no place for them here. Others maintain their faith but, because of a lack of openness about this topic, feel compelled to deny the reality of their same-gender orientation, which may lead them into ill-fated heterosexual marriages [3]. We feel that in many cases these negative outcomes could be prevented if there were greater understanding, openness, and compassion.

We believe that open discussion and communication is sorely needed on this topic. We would therefore welcome BYU students, faculty, and friends of all viewpoints to join us in the weekly USGA meetings. In order to foster an environment of respect and understanding, we would simply ask all participants to be respectful of the Church, the Honor Code, and the beliefs and experiences of others.

Please note that USGA meets outside of any sponsorship, endorsement, or support by BYU.

We meet weekly on Thursday, 7:00pm, in 120 TMCB (or vicinity).

[1]. In an interview with the Church Public Affairs staff, Elder Oaks stated, “The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on.” (http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/same-gender-attraction)

[2]. “Brigham Young University will respond to homosexual behavior rather than to feelings or attraction and welcomes as full members of the university community all whose behavior meets university standards.” (BYU Honor Code)

[3]. “[R]ecognize that marriage is not an all-purpose solution. Same-gender attractions run deep, and trying to force a heterosexual relationship is not likely to change them. We are all thrilled when some who struggle with these feelings are able to marry, raise children, and achieve family happiness. But other attempts have resulted in broken hearts and broken homes.” (Elder Holland, “Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction”, Ensign, Oct 2007)

quillInk

Mission of Gay Mormon Forum

The mission of the Gay Mormon Forum is to provide a repository of information on educational and fireside efforts which have occurred or will soon occur in the LDS community on the topic of homosexuality.   A record of past efforts, particularly those held in chapels or sponsored by Stakes and Wards, can be found here.  These reports should provide ideas for Church leaders.   You can locate links to this information under the heading on the lower left bar labeled “Past Church Events/Firesides.”   Planned activities can be found on this site for those seeking to attend such events in the future. These will be listed below in a blog format with the most recent postings at the top.

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Hilton LGBT/SSA Gathering, Friday, April 4, 8 pm

Please join us in Salt Lake City,Friday, April 4 at 8 pm for the 2nd Annual Spring Pre-General Conference Gathering for LGBT/SSA Mormons, Families & Friends sponsored by Affirmation, Mormons Building Bridges, Family Fellowship, & Affirmation/Reconciliation FHE.

Our Keynote Speaker this year is Tom Christofferson and music will be by the Utah County Men’s Choir, Lisa Tensmeyer Hansen, Director.

7:30 Gather and Mingle
8:00 Fireside Program Begins Promptly
9:00 Desserts & Mingling

Hilton Salt Lake City Center
255 S West Temple, Salt Lake City, Utah 84101

About our speaker

Tom Christofferson

Tom Christofferson is the Chief Marketing Officer of J.P. Morgan Investor Services in New York City. Tom’s career in asset management and banking has given him opportunities to live and work in Europe and the US. Additionally, he has twice served on the global diversity council for his firm, and continues to be a senior sponsor there of its Pride business resource group. He is currently a member of the advisory board of his firm’s political action committee.

Tom was born in Utah and grew up in New Jersey, Illinois and Utah. He served as a full-time missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Canada Montreal Mission. Before and after his missionary service, Tom attended BYU. As part of his coming-out process he was an active member of Affirmation in Los Angeles in the late 1980’s before moving to New York.

In addition to his efforts with Affirmation, Tom has served on the boards of numerous non-profit organizations, on the finance committees of Senate and Presidential campaigns and is currently as a member of the National Advisory Council for the David Eccles School of Business at the University of Utah. Tom lives in New Canaan, Connecticut, with his partner of eighteen years, Clarke Latimer.

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7 pm LGBT/SSA Social Feb 22 in SLC

Affirmation, Family Fellowship, North Star, USGA-BYU, and Mormons Building Bridges would like to invite everyone to FEBRUARY COMBINED SOCIAL to be held in conjunction with the Circling the Wagons conference.

EVERYONE is invited. Bring your family, friends, and anyone you love.

After the workshops, presentations, and art displays come to an end, please meet us at the McGillis School for food, music, and fun.

The McGillis School
668 South 1300 East, Salt Lake City, Utah 84102

The food will be sandwiches and finger foods.

“Folks aren’t expected to bring any food — but for the over-achievers among us (you know who you are), please bring FINGER FOOD — that means no forks or spoons or knives needed. Thank you.”

There will musical entertainment–details to follow.

Attendance at the CTW conference is not required to participate in the social.

Winter Solstice Party! December LGBT/SSA social..Dec 21

Light Up the Dark Night – A Winter Solstice Party! Please come to our December LGBT/SSA social……bring family and friends! There will be music, bonfire, and sparklers to light up the dark night, and of course delicious food and good company!

Where: 6433 Bull River Rd. Highland UT

Time: 7:00 pm

Please bring a side dish, hors’d oeuvre, or dessert to share

Sponsored by Affirmation, Mormons building Bridges, Family Fellowship and Reconciliation

LGBT/SSA Thanksgiving social and service gathering-Salt Lake Nov 23

Please join us in an LGBT/SSA Thanksgiving social and service gathering on November 23 at 6:00. pm. Turkey and ham will be the main dish so please bring a potluck to go along with it!

The Social/dinner/service project will take place in American towers in downtown Salt Lake City. Go to the community room on the second floor. (Also enjoy beautiful views of the city from the sky rise

Service project: The Utah food bank needs donations for Thanksgiving dinner boxes they are preparing for families and individuals in need. Please bring one or more of the following food items to the social:
*black olives,
*dill pickles,
*French fried onions ( the kind you put in green bean casserole),
*gravy packets,
*hot cider packets, and
*hot chocolate packets

We will box up these items they will be donated to the Church at Liberty Park food bank.

Address for American Towers:
44 W. broadway. Salt Lake City. 84101. Park on the street broadway (300s) or in the American plaza parking under the building. Bring in your parking ticket for validation. Look for the American Towers entrance. Go to the community room on the second floor. There will be signs with directions.

Important Fireside in SLC Nov 17 –7 pm

OUTREACH FIRESIDE
All LDS/LGBT members, friends and family are invited
Sunday, November 17 at 7:00 PM
Liberty Stake 8th Ward building
500 S. 300 E. (near Liberty Park)
Salt Lake City

Lesson topic: Gratitude
Come prepared to share your thoughts, to sing, etc.
Teachers: Merrie and Jim Smithson

Social hour: Bring a treat to share.
There is a very important event this coming Sunday for those of you in the
Provo, SLC, Ogden area.  This fireside is being hosted in a very LGBT
welcoming stake in the very heart of SLC.    We are hoping to have a good
crowd in a stake where all LGBT are welcome and where there will be an open discussion.
Please spread the word.  Jim and Merrie Smithson have a gay son and they will be excellent.

October LGBT/SSA Social is Halloween Party Oct 26 7 pm

  • Nicholson Home 5342 Ted way West Valley City, UT 84120
  • Sponsored by LDS Family Fellowship, Affirmation, Mormons Building Bridges, USGA, and Reconciliation

    Costumes are enthusiastically encouraged—Or just come as yourself!

    Delicious hot soup and yummy rolls will be served!

    Please bring a potluck item to share!

    Directions:

    From the south, take I-15 to 2-15 then get off at 4700 South. Turn left (West) on 47th and then turn right on 2700 west or another road such as Bangerter Highway and head north to 4100 South. Turn left and drive West on 4100 for 5-10 minutes. Then turn left on 5240 West (John way–or 5310 west if you miss the first turn. There is a light at 5200 west so it is almost immediately after the light.) Turn RIGHT on 4160 south (Ted way) and the house is on the right, nearly at the end of the road before it turns.

    Coming from the north, take I-15 to highway 201 west, then take the 5600 West exit and turn left. Continue south to 4100 south and turn left. Take the second right onto 5310 West. Turn left, then right, then right again onto Ted Way. My house is a few houses down on the right.

Steve and Barb Young Speak at Affirmation Event in SLC

Saturday, September 14, 2013    6:15 pm  –Steve and Barb Young, and Judy Finch will speak at the “Evening of Affirmation” on Saturday, 9/14 in the Douglas Ballroom of the University of Utah Conference Center. 6:15-7:00 – Socializing over heavy meal appetizers/drinks
7:15-8:00 – Musical Performance & Spiritual Story Sharing
8:15-9:45 – Evening of Affirmation
9:45-11:00 – Socializing over a dessert buffet

Please RSVP at with a contribution of $15 at http://affirmation.givezooks.com/events/2013-annual-affirmation-international-conference and select the Saturday Evening Only option.

If you are interested in more of the Affirmation conference, you can also register for other portions at the same site.

LGBT/SSA Rooftop Social! THURSDAY AUGUST 1st 6:30 pm

Join us for a Rooftop Social!

All LGBT/SSA and Family and Friends invited! Special invite to those here for SUNSTONE! PLEASE COME!!!
THURSDAY AUGUST 1st 6:30 pm or whenever you get here!

Enjoy a BBQ on the 26th floor rooftop of American towers in down town SLC! ! Hamburgers and hot dogs will be provided. You are welcome to bring your own steak etc.. if you want! Bring a potluck salad, drinks, chips or dessert to share!

The view is spectacular and it’s a great place to hang out and chat. The community room will also be used as part of the social which is located on second floor. Meet on the roof!

Directions to 44 W Broadway:
Exit on 500 south and go east. Turn left (North) on West temple. Turn right (East) on 300 south. Enter the Republic parking garage on the left of American Towers.

There is parking underneath the building where you can park for $2. Let the guard know the party you are attending.

. You will find the entrance to the South Tower at the south end of the parking garage. Bring in your parking stub for validation. We will have signs posted to find the community room.
If you park elsewhere, enter the main entrance and use the intercom to tell the attendant you are here for a party.

Call Jamison if you have any problems 801-792-1517.

Presented by Affirmation, Reconciliation, Family Fellowship, Mormons Building Bridges, USGA-BYU, and others.