Been thinking about something today. Sorry this is a bit rambling but I’d really like some input. This morning a friend of mine tweeted that article about the Matis family that I posted yesterday. As a tag he complimented them and said that they must be good people. I knew he was from Utah and that he struggled with SGA and I texted back "You really need to meet them. They are wonderful people." He texted back that he knew them, he just didn't want to out himself. I wrote back that I understand and felt the same way. I did end up putting it on my profile but I struggled with it. He added that he really didn't want to be labeled by the misconceptions that such an association might bring.
I can't say that I don't totally understand and also struggle with that myself. I'm not really open to a lot of people. I am in this group and its 165 people and a couple other secret groups. But at work and at home and in my ward not really. I'll confide in people if I feel that it would be beneficial for me and also to them to know so they can better understand me. But in general I don't want to be defined by what I struggle with or worse be branded by stereotypes.
I know this is going to upset a lot of people. I'm sorry. I thought about this all the way to work. Part of me really thinks that these misconceptions and stereotypes in some respect are justified by what people see, but I also wonder if maybe I'm also at fault because I'm not brave enough to stand up and say. Look not everyone who struggles with this, is that way. There are some of us who choose to stay faithful to the church and our temple covenants. Who don't do the things that those who define themselves as gay do. But even saying that in the realm of this group may piss a few people off because they will jump to the conclusion that I think people who use their agency to act out and live that way are bad people. But the fact is that a lot of people judge the whole of the group of people on both ended of the spectrum rather we want to like it or not by the actions of a few extremes.
Who do we identify with? Who do kids see as examples? Are we providing them with good examples of good people?
What kinds of role models do youth growing up in the church who deal with this have? Ty Mansfield and the Matis Book is really one of the only books I can think of. Are there really any positive examples of faithful SSA guys who are public? So where do our youth look for people "like themselves?" The world and look at the message it gives them. I think that is sad. The recent "It gets better campaign" for instance may provide some comfort but what is their real message? It gets better when you get older and act on your feelings and put behind you all that you've been taught? I think a lot of people see religion as hatred because popular culture has used it as a scapegoat for a few hateful bigots who do use religion to bully people. But isn't that just as bad as saying all gay people are like those guys in their underwear or leather chaps and boas at Pride festivals?
Maybe our youth do need examples of real people who are trying. Who do make mistakes but who are doing their best. Most of us believe what we say in our testimonies right? But still sometimes while we may believe something our actions may not reflect that. Does that mean we don't believe it? Most of the time no, most of the times we are just being human and making mistakes and we need to repent. But are we telling kids that that's okay. Not so much that it’s okay to sin. But it’s okay to make mistakes. Do we put the fear of not being perfect in the way of their desire to repent or worse not give up?
Because of this I also think we need to be very careful about what kind things we align ourselves, I was reading some posts in another group, one member has posted that he felt that if the "gay agenda" could align themselves with groups like churches when it comes to things like suicide prevention that they could get the message out that this isn't just "those people" but it’s their kids too. Now yes, I believe this is true. That these are our kids too. But what is their underlying motive here? Is it to prevent these tragic deaths or is it to change the accepted beliefs of those religions by shaming them in order to do so? Have you ever noticed that these groups will laugh at you when you say there is a "gay agenda?" It's there, it's real and one of Satan's biggest tricks is to convince you it's not. So while I do think something needs to be done, I'm very careful about who is doing it.
On the flip side, are our best efforts maybe backfiring? Are our youth afraid so afraid of being imperfect that they hide stuff, repress stuff. Afraid that if they do confide in their parents or church leaders about how they feel, that they will be subject to church discipline and family shame? Just for those feelings? Are they so afraid of disappointing us that they don’t reach out. I honestly do think this is why teenagers do turn to things like drugs or seek out groups that provide the kinds of supports that make them feel better about themselves while advocating things that we know are wrong. This creates further conflict within the young person. Perhaps if we had some programs that we could implement or taught our parents things that they could do or say BEFORE their kids turned to these websites, chat groups or other sources of alternative information we could save a lot of kids from feeling this way.
I wonder if I'm failing to "be an example of a true believer?" I think I need to ponder that. I don't think it should be "be an example of a true believer" who is perfect. Because I’m not perfect and if you want an example of perfection don’t look at me. I love our church leader and General Authorities, but that's often how the come off. Our youth need examples whom don’t seem so far off and perfect that they are unreachable. Maybe I need to do more to be an example of the person I'm trying to be. Does anyone understand what I'm trying to say? Let me know. I think the real answer is that we need to be the change.