Facebook has taught me something recently that I didn't know about before. I guess June is "pride" month. Since when was that the case? And who decided to make it so? It's beyond me, and I really don't care to look it up.
One of the first questions that came to mind when I read this is "why on earth is a whole month dedicated to pride?". Because, let's be honest here. My strong feelings of dislike for the entire idea of a pride month aside, how many months are there in a year? Oh, well there's 12. Okay. So every year contains 12 months. Gotcha. Well, whoever decided to make June pride month (and what gives them the right to do so anyway?) dedicated 1/12 or 8.3% of the entire year to celebrating "pride". And as far as I know, it's every year.
I want to talk to whoever decided to make June "pride" month, because if we're dedicating months now, I want a Latter-day Saint month, a month for being Caucasian, Asian, Hispanic, etc. (since they already have a month dedicated to being African American), a month dedicated to unicorns, a month dedicated to electricity, a month dedicated to lazy people, etc. Oh wait, but wouldn't we run out of months to dedicate? My thoughts exactly... And why choose "pride" above the other alternatives? What if it makes me feel "oppressed" and "discriminated against" for the US to not have a month dedicated to being a faithful member of the LDS Church while dealing with a variety of challenges? Oh wait... probably because I'm not your desired minority. Catering to my needs doesn't help you get elected or retain power, and doesn't make you seem politically correct. Gotcha. Some minorities are more important than others. I'll keep that in mind.
My random soap box aside, I have some honest concerns and opinions relating to some of the things I have seen on Facebook and elsewhere regarding this "Pride" month. I'm a member of some groups on Facebook of people who reside somewhere on the spectrum of being LDS and same-sex attracted simultaneously. And in most cases, these people are trying to remain faithful. Some of the posts I've seen from these people recently have touched upon "pride" month, and they've talked about their feelings, plans, confusions, and questions relating to it. One common thing I've seen in these posts is a split conscience on whether or not to participate in "pride" month, and whether or not to celebrate. And it hasn't even just been those who are same-sex attracted posting this stuff. People through my normal Facebook feed, who are heterosexual and overall faithful Church members have expressed questions and split consciences.
Maybe I'm just insensitive, but I really don't get where the confusion or split feelings come in. In my mind, it's either do or don't. I've been called an extremist before, but to me, if you're a believing member of the Church, there should be no question of whether or not you'll participate in "pride" month. In my mind, the answer should be a resounding "no". Why should you? What good would that bring? If I saw someone at a gay pride parade or event who wasn't protesting, my instant thought would be that they support gay marriage. Maybe that makes me judgmental, but lets be honest here. You'd have to be a pretty fantastical person to honestly be able to say that wouldn't be your reaction to any number of situations. What I'm trying to say is, if you don't support gay marriage, or at the very least don't believe it's what will bring you closer to God, why would you go to a gay pride parade or event?
I've just honestly been perplexed by the whole thing... Yes, everyone is different, and my brain works differently than everyone else, and it's a good thing that there's diversity. But it still perplexes me that people think they need to celebrate pride month in some way even if they oppose gay marriage, or at least strive to live the teachings of God.
Is it just insecurity? Are people so afraid of being seen as mean, hateful, hypocritical, bigots, out-of-touch, old, immature, etc. that they are willing to bend over backwards to appear politically and culturally correct? And if insecurity is present, what's allowing it to be there in the first place?
One thing that's been a pretty consistent theme in the posts I've seen is the fear that by not supporting/celebrating pride month, you're making the LDS Church seem unloving, or you are not personally being as loving as Christ. There are sides to this argument I understand and agree with, and sides I don't. I get the walking on egg shells that often happens when you try to balance and talk about Christ-like love. But here's my two-cents on the whole thing. The LDS Church has some work to do culturally (not doctrinally) on learning to love and accept everyone. There have been times where I have not felt accepted in my congregation, and I'm someone who does my best to follow church doctrine. I get that the church has work to do to become more loving and understanding. But I'll tell you right now, I do not think the answer is to wear rainbow pins to church, march in pride parades, hold hands with a member of the same-sex, not out of love/friendship, but to prove a point at church, etc. In fact, if you want to make me really feel uncomfortable and unwelcome around you, wear a pride pin to church.
See, my big issue with wanting to prove your point while at church is that in the gospel, we believe and preach that we are all equal to God. Yes, some people need special attention and comfort at certain times, but wearing a pride pin is essentially isolating the majority in favor of the minority (a minority that is generally not very fond of the church), and is not consistent with the belief that we are all equal before God.
And you know what else? Celebrating pride month, if you're a faithful member, is essentially discounting my pains, my sacrifices, my contributions, my struggles, etc. that come from being a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who is same-sex attracted, yet actually decides to remain faithful. Because what you're communicating to me is that my hard work, my sweat and tears, isn't even noteworthy. Because it's more important to cater to and support people who have turned their back on the church. My life is not easy. I know that the lives of others who have made the same choice to remain faithful as I have do not have a cake-walk through life. We need your support too. And unlike many on the other side of the fence, we're trying, wanting, and sometimes actively advocating for the same beliefs that you hold dear. Recognize my contributions. Fight for me, and people like me. We need your support.
I feel like this post is long.
Honestly, I think it's fantastic that members of the church are trying to find ways to reach out and be more loving. But I don't think the approach of those I've seen on Facebook is the way to go... You don't need to jump off the cliff to help someone who has fallen. People within the LGBT community need to be loved and treated with respect, whether they're LDS or not. Don't misunderstand. But I think culturally the church first needs to focus on members who are trying to remain faithful, but may be struggling. Instead of using your limited personal understanding of same-sex attraction (assuming you're heterosexual), why not ask someone who's faithful to the church that's also same-sex attracted what it's like to be them? Ask them what you can do to help lighten their burdens. Ask them how you can be a friend, and how you can serve them. Look up conference talks that talk about the subject. Pray, ponder, read scriptures and ask God for answers to your questions about how best to help. Perhaps in doing so, we can better learn to truly love those outside of our faith, and learn how to share the gospel with them in a loving and appropriate way. Let's get to that point, and move onward from there.
I know that God loves all of His children. I have a testimony of the church and of Christ's restored gospel. I have a testimony of the priesthood. I have a testimony of the power that comes from loving and serving others. I have a testimony that the doctrines of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are true, and even thought I'm imperfect and struggle and sin, I know that following God's commandments to the best of my ability will bring me the greatest happiness.