Wednesday, June 21, 2006

Human Rights

I like to think that I would have been on the liberal side of the civil rights movement of the 50s and 60s. However, if I was a Mormon then, I probably would have been as obtuse as the rest of the church’s population.

Even now, the church continues to instigate a world of bigotry. When I was a true believing Mormon, I was no better, unquestioningly accepting the church’s position on gender roles and homosexuality. It infuriates me to know that I was being used as a tool of discrimination and hate.

The first presidency has very recently made its current political stance very clear. The first presidency (and thus, the church) believes that gays and lesbians, even those outside of the church, should not have the same human rights that heterosexuals do.

Letter from First Presidency of the Church to Church Leaders in the United States

We are informed that the United States Senate will on June 6, 2006, vote on an amendment to the Federal constitution designed to protect the traditional institution of marriage.

We, as the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, have repeatedly set forth our position that the marriage of a man and a woman is the only acceptable marriage relationship.

In 1995 we issued a Proclamation to the World on this matter, and have repeatedly reaffirmed that position.

In that proclamation we said: "We call upon responsible citizens and officers of government everywhere to promote those measures designed to maintain and strengthen the family as the fundamental unit of society."

We urge our members to express themselves on this urgent matter to their elected representatives in the Senate.

I was under the impression that the church’s modern political stance was only to interfere with the rights and privileges of its members, not everyone. Gordon needs to get a grip and stop perpetuating intolerance. Why should the church consider civil marriages sacred if they don’t hold any value in the Mormon religion?

As a side note, I went to the gay pride festival in Boise last Saturday with my sister and her friend. I actually enjoyed it *gasp*. I saw a total of two protestors. Both had similar signs calling everyone to repentance in the name of Jesus. They were the most miserable looking people I had seen all day.

I now have a bumper sticker that reads, “I’m Straight, Not Narrow,” which I now display defiantly. Now that my mind is free to think critically, I can say with relative certainty that I will never become the equivalent of a civil rights era racist again.

Monday, June 19, 2006

Restlessness

Feeling markedly overwrought by the trap my family is in, I paced back and forth with a restless need to act. I was blown away by how drastically things have changed for me in such a short time span. I knew it was going to be one of those restless nights. The driving need to act I experienced that night was tormenting. What was I to do past midnight in a small town to satiate my desire for change?

Rather than stay in and accept defeat, I slipped on my shoes, pushed the front door open, and started walking. With no destination in mind, I paraded north. A block and a half later, I stopped at a well lit intersection. A road to the east led to the southern parking lot of my old middle school. Next to me, a street lamp illuminated big black letters on a yellow sign that read, “Dead End.” I laughed, how poetic. A handful of thoughts left my mind before I could linger on them. I won’t be traveling down that road anymore. I continued walking, wondering if I was the only one in town wandering its empty streets so late.

As I continued onward I found myself taking the same route I had taken countless times as a child to my old elementary school. It brought eerie feelings from a time when I was a powerless child, when many adults in the community were too concerned with the upkeep of their overbearing temperaments to positively impact our young lives. It was like walking through a time capsule. Everything was as it had been a decade ago, causing so many latent memories to emerge: a stretch of road that had no shade on hot days; an uneven sidewalk that made for first-rate bicycle ramps; a busy intersection that had seemed so perilous to us; the small old church we peeled paint off of; the place where an old acorn tree used to be (the same place where a friend stole my Silly Putty before pedaling away in nervousness); an old fence notorious for delivering splinters; and finally, childhood indoctrination ground zero.

The church building I had attended from age eight to seventeen was only a block away from my elementary school. As I approached it, the only words I could force out were, “There’s the lie.” I sat on the curb next to the building to take off my shoes and massage my feet. I sat baffled at how underrated my life had been because of the church.

As I got on my feet and circled the perimeter of the building, more memories surfaced: All of the silly Sunday school lessons about giant boats, floating cities, and Jesus’s magic tricks; waiting in the car each week while my mother gossiped; being the first member baptized in the new ward; mischievously playing with the equipment in the clerk’s office; all of the ridiculously dumbed down priesthood lessons; and all the members in my ward whom I shared nothing in common with.

Somehow, remembering all those things allowed me to stamp out a part of my past that was still oppressing me. By the time I got home, I was more restless than before, but for a different reason. I don’t know how else to explain it, but I had an urge to run through endless wild fields. After lying on the wet grass in the backyard and staring at the sky, I poised myself, grasped for a moment at the soggy earth below me, and dashed to the front sidewalk. In my mind I ran free for hours.

I welcome the restless nights to come.