Episode 6: Being A Latter-day Saint Ally
Episode 6: Being A Latter-day Saint Ally
The Q.More podcast aims to help navigate and start healthy conversations around tricky-to-ask questions about culture and doctrine in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. The podcast interviews great minds about questions that are submitted by subscribers of the podcast. If you have a question you want answered, please send in questions via voice memo to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question discussed on this episode of Q.More-
In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, the topic of LGBTQ members can often be an uncomfortable topic to discuss, but Rosie wants to change that.
Calvin J Burke
Calvin J Burke is gay member of The Church of Jesus Christ. He served his mission in Mesa, AZ, and on his mission went through a lot of hard things, including coming to terms about his sexuality. He came out to his Stake President, who showed only love for Calvin. Sadly, this has not always been the case when Calvin has come out to friends and family. This motivates Calvin even more to stand up for his LGBTQ brothers and sisters, and he wants to help members of the church understand that there is a place for everyone.
It took a lot of work for Calvin to get where he is now, but one experience really shaped him. One day he left church feeling very frustrated, and began to pray to Heavenly Father in earnest about the difficulty he was experiencing, he then received the profound answer that, “You have not done the work required of you to understand my feelings about why I created you.” And Calvin realized, “Heavenly Father is right, I haven’t been doing anything in this regard.”
On the podcast, Rosie asks what is not helpful to a LGBTQ member, Calvin’s response was-
“One thing I want to make sure we touch on is when I was growing up, something that I heard all the time from people would be that they’d kind of teach that members of the LGBTQ community is kind of like a milady, like alcoholism, we don’t know why they have it, but we have to put up with it, and when they die in the next life they will be changed to be straight. That might sound benign to a number of people, and it might sound like it gives people a lot of hope. If you don’t understand what it’s like to be LGBTQ, when an LGBTQ child hears their young men/young women’s leader teach that, to be honest they’re thinking, ‘Ok, I’ve been praying, and I pray every night to be made straight so that I can fit in to this church that I love with all my heart.’ And that is when they start getting suicidal thoughts. Because they think if there’s something deficient with me, and I can’t change, it’s impossible for me, how can I endure this life?”
Anne Holliday grew up a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints and served a mission in Mesa, AZ (it’s a coincidence because both Calvin and Rosie served there, but none of them served with each other. Anne tried to live her life in alignment with the church, but after being engaged to a man and realizing it wasn’t going to work, she had to reconsider every aspect of her life.
“When I was actually considering trying to stay single for the rest of my life, that was the heaviest time, because it was such a burden to think about my long life and living it alone. And I’m a people person, I get so much from those close relationships, and it wasn’t a life I wanted to live, and that’s what it really came down to.
Since I stepped away from the church a few years ago it has been a pretty difficult journey figuring out what I believe in, and I don’t know. I think I hold onto, just the belief that we should all be good to each other, and I believe in learning and progress and science, and other than that, I don’t know, but I feel spiritual and, I guess I’m just on a journey.”
When asked how people can be better allies to the LGBTQ community and what people often get wrong, Anne responded-
“I think that there are things that Mormons say sometimes that can be hurtful, and I don’t think they’re meant to be. One is there’s this need to tell people that you love them, but you can’t support their choices or their lifestyle. Even referring to someone’s relationship as a lifestyle is a little bit disrespectful, I guess, or can be viewed that way (I’m speaking for myself, and only myself.)
Same-gender attraction is a hard one for me, it’s a very clinical term that I feel like people use because they’re so uncomfortable with homosexuality, and using words like gay, or queer, or LGBTQ. And it just feels like I’m being handled with surgical gloves when someone talks to me about my “same-gender attraction”.
One thing that I’m always afraid of, or have always been afraid of when coming out so someone, is that they’re going to look back on every interaction we’ve ever had, this especially applies with women, that they’re going to look back on every interaction we’ve had and wonder if I had a crush on them, or was flirting with them, or checking them out, or things like that, and generally over sexualizing queer folks. We are just people who have mostly platonic feelings about most other people.”
Anne also gives advice about how you can continue a relationship with someone after they have come out to you, especially if this makes you uncomfortable despite your best efforts not to be. Her advice is to try and maintain normalcy, like asking about their dating life. It doesn’t mean you’re giving them your blessing by asking, and it will show you are still emotionally involved in the relationship and care about them.
When asked about where she is now and how she feels about her sexuality, Anne said-