The exclusion policy of November 5th 2015 rocked the world of LGBTQIA Mormons, their friends, families, and their many allies. At the two-year anniversary, hearts are still tender and Mama Dragons are still roaring for the continued pain this policy has caused their children and communities. While the exclusion policy has continued to impact our loved ones and our fellow Mama Dragons, each of us has taken our individual path on how to dig our talons deep to support our fellow mamas and protect our perfectly made queer children.
Climbing Off The Emotional Roller Coaster
By Neca Allgood, Mama Dragon President
It has been six and half years since we figured out my son was transgender. I was, and remain, both an active Mormon and totally supportive of my kid.
The very first day I knew he might be trans I looked online to see what my church had said about transgender people. I found nothing, absolutely nothing, and when my son first went to speak to our bishop he couldn’t find anything either. It took 6 months for his question regarding my child to crawl its way up through the channels of the LDS church hierarchy, and then back down again, before we knew anything about how the institutional church would respond to my devout and faithful child.
Even now, there isn’t much in the LDS church handbook about transgender people. My son and I have spent six and a half years climbing a hill of hope each time there is a positive statement or action from our church, and plummeting down with each legal brief or policy that treated the LGBTQ+ people I care about as the enemy.
November 5, 2015, was a big turning point for me. The policy of exclusion announced on that date didn’t have any direct impact on my son personally, but it still hit both of us very hard. I had looked forward with hope to the day when our church clarified some of their policies about transgender persons, and that day I realized any clarification was likely to make things much, much worse. As I wrestled with my post-policy anger and grief, I came to the conclusion that the race to a better, and more Christlike, LDS church for LGBTQ+ people was going to be a marathon, not a sprint, and that I needed to pay attention to my pacing if I was going to survive the race.
To use the earlier metaphor, I need to climb off the rollercoaster where my feelings are swinging wildly with every action the church, or one of its local units takes. I love roller coasters. They are a lot of excitement packed into about five minutes. I would not love a roller coaster that lasted as long as a marathon. I would quickly begin feeling nauseous; I would get a migraine; I would desperately want to get off.
How do I go about getting off the emotional roller coaster? For many of my dear friends, an essential action has been stepping away from the Mormon church. Stepping away has given them a bit of the buffer from the weekly injuries they received in homophobic wards, as well as from the rarer but deeper injuries from general authorities. But stepping away doesn’t feel like the best choice for me. I have not gone through a faith crisis. My faith in Christ, personal revelation, and indeed many of the doctrines that make Mormonism unique, has if anything, grown over the past six and a half years. Furthermore, my ward has been very kind, so the majority of Sunday’s I return home spiritually fed rather than wounded. I also feel that remaining active gives me a voice and an impact that I would lose if I left, so I stay.
I am trying to get off the emotional roller coaster by managing my expectations with regards to the church. I now EXPECT them to do hurtful things. When they do something positive, like speak in support of the LoveLoud Festival, I am pleased, but I do not celebrate. I do not allow myself to think that it is a sign of change in the church. When Elder Oaks doubles down on his claim that the Family Proclamation is revelation I do not cry. I EXPECT him to do that. I do not think that revelation to make Christ’s church more Christlike in how it treats LGBTQ+ people is imminent, because I think there is senior leadership whose hearts would not be open to such revelation. I haven’t had a faith crisis. I have gone through a trust crisis. I don’t trust them to be kind. I repeat to myself, “it is a marathon, not a sprint.”