By Jill Rowe
I have been a Mormon my whole life. The Gospel has been my foundation. Every decision I have made in my life has been based on the Church. Would I go on a mission? Yes. Would I get married in the temple? Yes. Did I want to have a big family? Yes. Would I be a stay-at-home mom? Yes. Would I serve in every calling I was extended? Yes. This included being involved in Prop 22 in California to support marriage between only a man and a woman.
On November 6, 2011, my reality changed forever. That evening one of my six children told me he was gay. Those words changed everything for me. I went from feeling like I had all of the answers to knowing I had very few.
Being gay is hard but being a gay Mormon is impossible. I knew in an instant that my son being gay was not a choice. He was created perfectly by his maker. I could feel everything start to change. I felt alone and isolated. I really had no one to talk to at church. They certainly wouldn’t understand.
One experience, in particular, haunts me. My son had been out to me for three months. He didn’t come out officially for about a year and a half so no one knew my son was gay. It was my birthday and a few neighbors that I went to church with had a luncheon for me. These were women I admired and had served with. As we ate our lunch around a round table the conversation turned to this question: “Would you rather have a severely disabled child or a gay child?” My heart stopped and I couldn’t breathe. I sat and listened and discovered that my friends rejected the thought of ever having a gay child. To them, it was one of the worst possible scenarios. I sat in disbelief. I had to leave. I had to find air. I went home and cried for hours.
I started doing my own research. What was the church’s stance on the issue? I couldn’t find anything that would bring me comfort. I realized that the answers would only come from God and that I didn’t need a middle-person to tell me how I would proceed with my family.
The Church has been a struggle for me but the Gospel has been my anchor. So many things are good within the Gospel. I have been taught to love and to not judge. I have been taught to lift others’ burdens. I have been taught that we are all God’s children. I have been taught that personal revelation trumps all. I have been taught to serve. Everything I had been taught as a small child was making it easier to be an ally.
I feel like I must live my religion more than ever now. God expects me to make a difference in the world. I believe that God has given me the best training to make a difference in the lives of my LGBTQ brothers and sisters.
I find it an honor to march with Mormon Building Bridges during the Pride Parade every June. It is one of the most spiritual events I have ever participated in. I hug and weep with God’s children. I listen and many times I am listened to. I make eternal friendships with some of God’s most choice children.
Being Mormon and having a gay son has made my religion very easy for me. I judge less and love more. I don’t agree with many things the Church teaches but at the end of the day, I know my Heavenly Parents are in charge. My faith has never been stronger because I lay everything at His feet and just try to be a disciple.
Here are a few things I try to do:
- I attend church and speak up when I need to correct people about the LGBTQ community.
- I hold semi-monthly dinners to give a safe place for my LGBTQ friends and family to gather and meet.
- I reach out to mothers who are struggling so that I can share my experiences with them.
- I reach out to anyone that needs a listening ear.
- I go to events to meet others on this journey so we can connect and help each other.
I believe that you can be an ally and a member of the Church. I am learning every day how to do better at both but it’s liberating to know that, in time, I will receive all of the answers.