Thursday, June 21, 2012

"Your difference is the medicine the world needs"

A few years ago I attended ACTF, a college theatre conference. There were acting, tech and writing competitions, workshops on all things theatre and performances by colleges from the western United States. I was there as a new play dramaturge for the 10-minute play writing contest, and it was awesome.

While I was there, I saw a play called Dear Harvey. The title references Harvey Milk, the first openly gay politician. It was a mosaic piece about the history and experience in the gay community, and was of the most incredible pieces I've ever seen. Most of us walked out crying at the injustice and pain experienced by this community.

One line in particular stuck out to me, "Your difference is the medicine the world needs." Harvey Milk encouraged people to come out to their friends and family because he knew it was harder to hate a group of people, to deny them rights if a friend or family member is a part of that group. That has been true in my experience. I was never very comfortable with the church's stance on gay marriage, but I dealt with and defended it for a while because it was what my church told me to. But as friends came out to me, I started to realize I couldn't just sit on the sidelines. If I didn't speak up for my friends, I was siding with those who would deny them rights. It was knowing and loving my gay friends that turned me from a fence sitter to a gay rights advocate.

Recently on a Facebook thread (I spend way too much time on Facebook) someone posted his experience of coming out to a church friend and the reaction he got. I thought it was an awesome story, and share it with permission.

Nic D.
"Today at church in a Father's Day talk a member went off about how society is going down on the backs of the iniquity of homosexuals everywhere, gays are no better than animals and gay marriage will destroy families and gay parents destroy children. How evil homosexuality is and how ashamed they should be for corrupting things God intended otherwise. Given my internal compass I am not offended by this but I looked around at everyone and wondered who else could be gay and hearing this. I tried to be cured and was in a hetero marriage that ended in divorce but I am a Dad as well. After sacrament I took this brother, he is a good man btw, in the hall and talked with him. I just told him I was gay and started testifying of the deep struggles I had for years trying to be cured. How much I love my kids and try to be the best Dad to them. How I did not choose this and I have an undeniable testimony of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ including a strong relationship with them. And an even deeper testimony that they have always known i was gay, have never treated me differently and loved me even though I am gay. His face turned more and more pale white as I talked. I looked up at him to notice at the end tears streaming down his face. This is a brother I have befriended, helped through struggles, helped with his house and moving, helped him anytime he needed it and always smiled and asked how he was doing. He said, "I just can't stop crying I feel the spirit so strong right now. I am so, so sorry. I, I, I didn't know I mean you have kids, I mean I need to repent so bad. You're gay? That entirely changes everything I have ever felt or been taught about gay people." He hugged me and kept crying. And apologized several more times. I told him even more than me I worried about others who heard it and their thoughts and feelings. He said "I will go to the Bishop and ask him how I can correct this, so I can share what I have learned and my apology." So he did. Contention comes from one place, not God. We too easily politicize everything but souls are not political pawns to be played with. They are beautiful, intrinsically worth it children of God! Miracles happen as we reach out in love and understanding ONE soul at a time! I know this works as we have the courage to be ourselves and testify of tru principles"

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