Updated: Jun 3
I tried so hard to be strong yesterday. I did my best to spread love and make sure my friends knew they were not alone as the fear set in. By the time the evening rolled around I was spent. I had not one ounce of energy left to give to myself or anyone. Today has been one of deep depression and I finally understand why.
Last year at this same time it was revealed that the LDS church had begun a policy that kept the children of same sex couples from being baptized. This policy directly impacts ME AND MY CHILDREN. (Don't let the hunky male fiancé fool you. I'm still queer AF.) At the time I was knocked on my ass. Shocked. Hurt. Terrified. As I expressed my pain I was met with shame and criticism. Here is a sampling (from memory) of what was said to me:
-You deserve anything that happens to you since you decided to come out publicly.
-If anything harmful happens to your kids it's your fault. You should have thought of that before coming out.
-The Church is trying to protect your kids. (From me. These family members/friends felt the "The Church" needed to protect MY CHILDREN FROM ME.)
-I love you and your boys. This really is what's best for them. (Again implying, not so subtly, that I am somehow harming my children by being queer and transgender.)
-This is God's will. The prophet is receiving revelation from god. (Implying that god himself thinks I'm harming my children.)
-What do you care? You don't want to be LDS so walk away and leave us alone. (Sure. My kids are LDS. My neighbors almost all LDS. My family is almost all LDS. Almost every person I interact with through my children are LDS. The unexpected phone calls and people who show up at my door are almost always on LDS proselyting calls. Business dealings? Also almost all LDS. Our government leaders not only are almost all LDS but vote and make policy on LDS principles. The LDS church uses their money and lobbyists to set laws and state policies. So, I'll go ahead and never say a word about LDS policies when they stop impacting MY life. Deal?)
There were many more comments that ripped my heart to shreds and left me feeling like I was alone. A policy that directly, negatively impacted my life was revealed and I ended up spending my time trying to convince some of my "friends" and "family" that my pain was valid. Rather than my loving, Christlike community rallying around those that were hurting and scared, a good chunk of us ended up pushing away our pain in order to attempt to effectively educate those who were actively hurting us.
That turmoil died down, though for those of us affected it was still a daily issue. I ended up finding a lot of support with new friends and groups and activities. While my "unworthiness" still lingered, I was surrounded by people who didn't categorize me by my gender or sexual preferences. They see me, and love me, for who I am and how I treat them. I am free to be myself with them. I have grown in courage and strength over the last year. I've become more involved in politics and finding ways to work within my community to offer help and services to those who need it. While I know my "lifestyle" is still looked at as abhorrent, I felt safe in my community of old and new friends.
I clearly allowed myself to forget where I live because the election results for the state of Utah knocked me on my ass again. We had some incredible options for change on the ballot. Some people who were going to help with the ACTUAL health crises in the state. Who doesn't want clean air? Who doesn't want to fight the opioid crisis in the state? Who doesn’t want affordable health care? Turns out, lots of people. The numbers ended up being roughly 70% of Utahns who felt the current way of doing things was good enough to keep on going. When I saw that number my heart dropped. My soul deflated.
Seventy percent of my neighbors are probably not sexist, homophobic, racist, haters of those different from them. They voted for people who support policies and have spent our state's money to try to take my right to marry away. Seventy percent support leaders who will, and do, use their position to keep me as a "less than." As I drove down the freeway yesterday I was looking around at all the cars surrounding me knowing that the vast majority of people that interact with me support legislation that impacts MY life and they are cool with that. I felt very alone.
I then proceeded to do the same thing I did last year. I reached out to friends with love. I went on social media and spread support numbers and did my best to love and support those who were hurting. I was doing well until I noticed the same things that were said to me last year being said again. Not to me, thankfully. To my friends. My friends who are People of Color, part of the LGBTQ+ community, female, etc. Almost anyone that I saw expressing fear was met with animosity. I've seen quite a few generalized, "Whiny Liberal," comments and posts which are devoid of empathy and lack understanding, but I’m talking about personal attacks. Kicking someone who’s already down.
Meeting people's fear and pain with jeering and shame is low. Completely lacks any kind of empathy. Look around today at the news. Kids being bullied at school for being a POC (even here in Utah), Muslim citizens being harassed (even here in Utah), POC being met with racial slurs and threats, Transgender suicides, etc. Take a moment to realize, please, that some of us are not simply mad our candidate did not win as much as we are terrified for our lives and/or the lives of those we love. Sit with us in our pain and let us know we are safe, or if you can't do that, how about just scrolling past the post or article where someone is legitimately expressing fear and heartache and just let it be? If you can't say something nice...
I will continue to surround myself with those in my community who show love no matter a person's skin color, religious affiliation, gender, political views, sexual preferences, or anything other than who they are as a complete and total person. I will continue to use my art, my voice, my writing to move our State and Nation into a place of empathy and love. Who's with me?
National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255
Trevor Project: (866) 488-7386, or Text the word “Trevor” to 1-202-304-1200
Crisis Text Line: Text “Go” to 741-741
Trans Lifeline: (877) 565-8860