“And in a political movement that aims at representing us, the fluidity of our experiences should be recognized, and none should be prioritized over another, or prescribed to the rest of us as the way to be simultaneously LGBTQ and Mormon.”
I wrote this in my post last week, which attempted to position myself in the LGBTQ Mormon movement and articulate the validity of my Mormon identity without church attendance. And this quote has resonated within me throughout this past week.
In terms of my sexuality and religion, I have been told all my life how I should be living. People, institutions, and norms have prescribed for me various ways on how to live my life. One such way was to stay closeted about my sexuality and be the good Mormon boy who goes to church, gets married in the temple, and has kids: a very normative life. And that whole gay thing? A phase I will work through. Desires I can put aside. Feelings that don’t define who I am.
Coming out and reclaiming my sexuality, and identity overall, was the ultimate “screw you” to norms and rules that sought to dictate the course of my life. Coming out was the ultimate act to forever repel any thoughts or advice from others on how to live my life.
And yet, these prescriptions keep on coming. Surprisingly, they come from allies in the LGBTQ Mormon movement—yes people aimed at supporting my own community.
In any movement, allies are an essential part in promoting effective change and tolerance. Their support makes a whole lot of difference, especially in movements by the minority aimed at changing the majority. However, being an ally means having to check oneself continuously as to make sure they are not abusing their position as the majority. And as of late, I’ve seen many allies within the LGBTQ Mormon movement profess their own insight and experiences as “the way for everyone to be ____” or “how we all should _____.” Yes, these non-LGBTQ identified people are telling ME, someone who is LGBTQ identified, how to live MY life within a movement aimed at resolving ME.
Running into these types of discussions this past week has only reminded me of the quote from my post last week. Because many of us who are LGBTQ and Mormon identified are and will continue to be at different positions in our lives, carrying out our intersecting religious and sexual identities in different ways. No way is better than the other, and there is enough room for everyone to express themselves how they would like to. Because coming out of the closet was the last time I subjected myself to anyone’s prescriptions. And in a movement aimed at representing US, the voices of those actually LGBTQ identified and Mormon should not be silenced, especially by our allies. Nor should our allies tell us how to express ourselves. Because once you tell me how to live my life again, you’re shoving me back into a closet.
Visually, the shift from our current ally culture to a better one would look like this: