Dear leaders of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
In the next few days you will be receiving my official request to remove my name from your membership records. Today is the day I can no longer stand by and let you preach love and tolerance, while in the background destroying families and lives. Today is the day I will stand up to make sure that any LGBT youth or youth with LGBT parents know they don’t need you or the church. You almost took my life and my family, and this is where it stops.
Ever since I can remember, I knew that I was gay. While I didn’t grow up in what you would call a “traditional” Mormon family, I would attend church on the weekends with my Dad. I avoided what I could and made excuse after excuse for why I couldn’t go to church functions or even go on my mission. I lied for almost my entire life because I was taught that being gay is a sin. I was told if I thought this way that it was Satan trying to destroy my life and that these sins would keep me away from my “Heavenly Father.”
After coming out when I was 18, it destroyed my relationship with those closest to me. The church taught them I was a monster and that I had destroyed my life. In the winter of my freshman year of college I felt so alone and ashamed of myself that I walked out of my dorm ready to end my life. I didn’t see the point of living if my family was ashamed of how God made me. I am lucky a friend texted me or else I would have been a victim of the teachings of this church.
This week you released new “policies on ordinances for children of a parent living in a same-gender relationship.” In the addition to the official church handbook for your leaders, you have told them no child can be baptized into the church if their parents are members of the LGBT community and in a relationship. The only way for them to become members is:
“1. The child accepts and is committed to live the teachings and doctrine of the Church, and specially disavows the practice of same-gender cohabitation and marriage.”
“2. The child is of legal age and does not live with a parent who has lived or currently lives in a same-gender cohabitation relationship or marriage.”
All I have to say in response is how dare you? How dare you make a child choose you over their parents? How dare you say you are protecting families all the while tearing them apart?
I am happy to say I am happily married and now have a great relationship with some that were destroyed by the teaching of the church. It has taken almost 10 years, but my bond with my family has never been stronger. You should feel ashamed for your teachings that destroy families and lives. You should feel ashamed for almost destroying mine. These teachings are hateful, hurtful and have taken lives. Today is the day the Mormon Church has become nothing more than a hate group that teaches its members to destroy the lives of others.
Today is the day I let everyone know: Don’t let this church ruin you or your family because you or someone you know is gay. Don’t let their hate become your hate because it truly does get better.
Stephen Rutgers is marketing director for the Washington Blade. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.