Early fall 2008. My brother-in-law and sister-in-law called from California and in the course of the conversation talked about how blessed they felt that they had been asked by local church leaders to go door to door campaigning for Prop 8, a proposition banning same-sex marriage in their state. I felt sick, but I stayed silent.
June 2015. I was sitting on the church floor, surrounded by Cheerio-covered toddlers when the other nursery leader turned to me and asked me a question.
“Have you told your kids yet?”
“Told my kids what?”
“About the legalization of gay marriage! We told our kids yesterday. I was so upset, I couldn’t stop crying. I can’t believe that this has happened. It’s so sad.”
I sat there, dumbfounded by what she had just said, appalled that she was assuming I agreed with her and knowing that I couldn’t say anything about my real feelings on same-sex marriage. That I was FOR IT. 150%. I felt sick, but I stayed silent.
November 2015. News broke that my church had just adopted a new policy that made same-sex marriage automatic grounds for ex-communication. It went even further by banning children of gay parents from being baptized. I felt sick, but I stayed silent.
June 2019. My husband I brought all seven of our kids to the Pride parade in downtown Denver. We both put on our “Free hugs” shirts and all nine of us looked like Rainbow Brite had picked our outfits. I hugged hundreds of strangers that day. I had kids whisper “thank you” in my ear. I was told stories of teenagers whose parents rejected them. Kicked them out for being gay. I witnessed nothing but an overwhelming outpouring of love that day. Love for everyone. No matter what they looked like. No matter who they loved. Just pure love.
At one point I saw a complete stranger across the crowd wearing a shirt that said, “I’m sorry for what I said when I was Mormon.” I ran through the masses and literally threw my arms around him and said, “I love your shirt!” And I started to cry. I was so overwhelmed at that moment. Overwhelmed with a feeling of pure love for everyone there. Overwhelmed with gratitude for the feeling of freedom to express my beliefs without fear of judgment or reproach. Overwhelmed with sadness for the years I had spent not being able to fight for what was truly right. I did not feel sick. I felt the spirit.
I knew that being there that day, with all those beautiful people, was the right thing for me to be doing. The stranger and I just looked at each other in this weird, shared moment of understanding and then I said thank you and went back to my family.