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GLBT Exmos

August 2010

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munia in glbt_exmormons

The day I have dreaded and hoped for has come

I was standing outside on my front porch this morning rinsing off a silk screen that I had just used to make a tee shirt, when two very young looking men, nearly boys, passed me on the sidewalk. They had on white shirts, ties, parkas and name tags. The name tags bore the title of "Elder" and their respective last names, and under that the black plastic tags read "The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints."

There was a feeling of dread, but it barely registered higher than that of mild annoyance. They approached me and introduced themselves. I shook their hands, introduced myself and started to listen to them, smiling politely at them.

I told them I had grown up in the mormon church and had left. They seemed unphased by that, as I'm sure the MTC trains them to not be daunted by such news. Plenty of people "leave" the church just out of complacency. I felt sorry for these boys. Not because I was about to give them a hard time; I wasn't going to. I was just going to be honest. It wasn't their meeting me that day that I felt sorry for them for. I felt sorry for them because they had chosen to do this, or that they didn't know any better than to do it (serve a mission and go tracting for the mormon church, I mean).

They asked me why I left the church. I told them that I was gay and I felt no personal shame in it, I was happy without the church. Again, relatively unphased, especially the young man whose accent and Asian last name indicated that English might be a relatively new language for him. He might not have understood what I was trying to communicate. However, he probably did, and was just very well MTC trained, probably just a naturally friendly and undaunted person anyway. As annoying as it is, and as much as they are putting it to work for something that I think of as "wrong", you have to appreciate that about them. The whole "midwest nice" that mormons exude. It's kind of phony, but it is also very well intentioned, for the most part.

I could have kept going, but really, I didn't want to have a long conversation or debate with them. Sure, what I was saying was pretty surface, not a great argument against the church, and in their minds nothing to deter them from continuing to try to convert me. It doesn't matter, I gave them enough to think about.

At this point, Alan (my room mate and ex-boyfriend. We maintain a good relationship as close friends) came out of the house onto the front porch. I turned around and looked at him, and I can't help but think that I must have been absolutely beaming.

Alan grew up RLDS, and most of his friends growing up were mormon. He told them that he's been exposed, he understands, and what he knows more than anything is that the church doesn't want him, so he doesn't need the church.

They asked if we had ever had a testimony of the book of mormon. I told them that I felt the same as Alan did. I told them that I grew up in the church, I loved my family, and I wanted to be a part of my family in the way that the church wants you to, and that the more I tried to have a testimony of all of that, the more it started to tear me up, and that I didn't need it. I can still have my family and not hate myself.

At that point, they started retreating a bit, but kept talking about wanting to do service in the community and help out if we needed it, but one of them at least was still sorta talking about testimony, trials, temptations and whatnot.

In a quiet way, he was trying to drive it home to us; "No, no, you don't understand. The church does want you, the church does love you."

It had lasted long enough and had accomplished very little. Alan then announced that he had to get going, which was true. I told him to have a good time and say hi to his friends, then I leaned forward and we kissed each other on the mouth in a friendly way.

Alan then asked if he could borrow some cigarettes for me, and I said "Oh yeah, let me go get you some".

At this point, they suddenly started to say quick "thank you"s and "good-bye"s and started walking away.

I was shaking with anxiety, but also excitement, and I had also had a bit of coffee that morning.

It was too much fun. I didn't feel bad, because I knew I didn't actually do anything jerky to them. I didn't fuck with them, I wasn't rude. I was myself, and I was honest. The dissapointment, the shock, if it was there for them, it was theirs alone. Poor kids, poor kids.