An Open Letter to A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman

This is an open letter to Kathryn Skaggs in response to her post, "Frozen: Not Gonna 'Let It Go' When Movie Advocates Gay Agenda" which appeared on her blog, "A Well-Behaved Mormon Woman" Dear Ms. Skaggs,

I appreciate your thoughtful post on the Disney film, Frozen, and its "gay agenda." You have obviously spent a lot of time and energy thinking and worrying about this issue, as have I. You have disabled the comments on your post. I understand. The internet can be an ugly place. Still, I felt the need to respond. You seem to have some misconceptions about gay people and I think I can help. You were brave to speak your mind on this sensitive topic. It's easy for people to get offended and say hurtful things and that doesn't help. It's also easy for people to misunderstand what you are trying to say when you aren't speaking face-to-face. To help avoid that, I want to be clear about what this letter is not: It is not an attack on you, your religious beliefs, your religion, or anyone who may believe what you believe.

Instead, it is an attempt to provide another viewpoint and an invitation to make another choice. I hope you will consider it with an open mind.

I grew up in the LDS church. My family comes from a long line of Mormons. Our genealogy can be traced back to those brave pioneers that crossed the uncharted territory to found the proud state of Utah. I am also gay, so I feel uniquely qualified to respond to some of your concerns about indoctrination from both perspectives.

First, Kathryn (may I call you Kathryn?), I would like to address this worry about "normalizing" homosexuality. Feeling ok about being different is a good thing for kids as they are growing up and learning about who they are and who they want to be. That is not the same as ignoring values, but it is also not the same as pretending to be something you are not. When I was growing up Mormon, the purpose of boys and the purpose of girls was communicated very clearly by the church. I knew early on that I didn't fit. I'm assuming that you are not gay, so you may not understand that being gay is not a switch that you can just turn off so that your parents, your church, yourself, and society feel more comfortable. After a while, trying to hide this starts to eat you from the inside. This is not an issue of my values versus your values. This is an issue of safety. Youth who are gay, or who think they may be gay, or who are perceived by others as gay, may be twice as likely to attempt suicide according to the Centers for Disease Control. When I was growing up, I wanted to kill myself. I had a plan. I knew I was gay. I knew I couldn't change it. I knew how the church felt about it. I thought I knew how my parents felt about it because they just repeated what the church said. I didn't feel like I had many options. I felt like a freak. I didn't dare talk to anyone about it. There were no movies or TV shows that showed anything close to "normal" for anyone like me. Even if there had been, I wouldn't have been allowed to watch them because my parents would've felt the same way you do. If I could have seen one example of a stable, normal, decent, gay person as just another character on a TV show or movie, that would have been a beacon of hope in a very dark time. I was lucky. I didn't go through with my suicide. Let's make it easier for future generations, ok? We don't need any more dead kids.

Second, you talk of this "Hollywood agenda" to normalize homosexuality as if this were invented by gay people to convert innocent children into homosexuals. If this were a viable plan, then I would've been converted to a heterosexual a long time ago, considering the overwhelming hetero propaganda continually churned out by Hollywood. For every gay love story (that didn't end in death and/or heartbreak--wait? does one even exist?) there are thousands of straight ones. You can pretty much guarantee that any movie, regardless of the plot, will have a hetero love interest put in there somewhere. Can you think of more than five movies with a functioning homosexual relationship as part of the main plot? Can you think of even one? Is this part of a heterosexual agenda to normalize heterosexuality? Yes, it is. Maybe not consciously, but it is. There used to be a time when heteros ruled the world all by yourselves. You got to pretend that we homos didn't exist or didn't matter. Not any more. Now, we're aren't afraid to step out of the shadows. That means that you'll have to answer some questions when your kids ask, "Why are those guys kissing?" The good news is, all you have to say is, "Because they love each other," and the kids will move on to, "when can we go to the park?" Kids don't care nearly as much as you think they do. The other good news is that bullies won't think gay kids are easy targets anymore, because gay kids won't be afraid to be gay kids.

Lastly, I'm getting really tired of this line:

"Let me be very clear about one thing, I am not anti-gay nor am I here to judge homosexuals not worthy of their rightful and respectful place among society. However, I draw the line at the idea of redefining traditional marriage to include homosexual relationships, as equal. Meaning, that as a Christian, I believe that acting on same-sex attraction is contrary to God's will, and therefore SSM should not be legalized." -Kathryn Skaggs

Kathryn, I'm going to be a bit harsh with you here. I've been reading your blog, so I think you can take it. There are three parts of this quote that I find hypocritical and offensive.

I'm not anti-gay, I'm just against gay marriage: Spoiler alert! Those are the same thing. I know, it doesn't feel like it. Maybe you have a gay son, or granddaughter, or friend. You love him or her, but you get an icky feeling when you think about the gay stuff and you know that she or he is going to hell and definitely shouldn't be able to get married because your church says that's wrong (and think of the children!). I have some friends and family members that probably feel that way. Here's the problem (*pay attention, because I'm going to reference this later). I have a loving husband of 13 years (yes, we are legally married. I hope that's not destroying your world.) We now live in a state that does not "recognize" our marriage. I have a disabling illness that is currently preventing me from working. If I were hospitalized, I'm not sure that my husband would be allowed to make medical decisions on my behalf, even though that is my wish and his right as my husband. If one of us were to die, the other would have no rights to anything as far as Texas is concerned, unless we pay out of our own pocket to hire a lawyer to draw up contracts to provide the legal protections that we already secured when we were married in California. Not only is it unfair, but I don't understand how it serves the interest of the state. When you deny me these benefits, you are sending a clear message that I don't deserve them like you do. If that doesn't mean you are anti-gay, then you are at least anti-me. Kathryn, why would it hurt your feelings so much for my marriage to be recognized by Texas (and Utah, for that matter)?

Redefining Traditional Marriage: You seem like an intelligent woman, yet you trot out this "traditional marriage" term as if it represents a real thing that hasn't been redefined countless times before as society has changed over time. I'm assuming when you say traditional marriage, you mean "one man-one woman" like this:

Wedding Time has arrived.  by  Anirudh Koul . Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a  CC BY-NC 2.0  license.

Wedding Time has arrived. by Anirudh Koul. Some rights reserved. This work is licensed under a CC BY-NC 2.0 license.

They do look happy, don't they? I'm so glad that they are able to get married. It's crazy, but it used be illegal for black people to marry white people because it wasn't traditional. The Bible was even used as a reason. It seems silly now that anyone would even care about those two lovely people in that photo getting married.

To call "one man-one woman" traditional is only true if you look back the last few hundred years or so, and only if you aren't Mormon. I get so irritated when Mormons have the nerve to promote "one man-one woman" when they can look at their own family histories and see examples of other types of marriages. If you go back more than a few hundred years, marriages were all sorts of things (and you know this, or you can look it up) so this whole "traditional marriage" argument is just a way to say "we don't want gay people to get married because we think our relationship is better than yours."

God's will: Let me be clear. We do not live in a Theocracy. We live in a Democracy. Your religious beliefs have nothing to do with me or my relationships or my family definitions. Your thoughts on God's will have no bearing on the law. The Constitution is very clear on this, and the nation is slowly realizing this to be the case. There was a dark time in our nation's history when some of us felt powerless and alone. Not anymore. We see that we have allies and realize that we are no longer outnumbered. We see that not all Christians believe that gay people should be denied basic legal rights from the government. We see outpourings of love and support when courageous people like Michael Sam and Ellen Page choose to live honestly and openly, so that those scared kids like me who are thinking about running into the street to end the pain might think that one day it will be ok. Remember the problem I referenced earlier about Texas not recognizing my marriage? How much of that had to do with God or your church? Zero. I get that you want to have a special covenant with God and that you call that marriage. You also have a legal agreement with the government that you also call marriage. The second one is what I want. It's not my fault you call them the same thing. Change the name of either one if you want to avoid confusion, but change it for straight people, too, to avoid confusion.

Kathryn, I believe that you are sincere when you say that you are concerned about the values we are teaching our children. I am, too. I spent over 15 years in the public school system as a teacher and administrator because I care about the future of our children. There has been a definite cultural shift in this country towards a more accepting view of a broader range of people, including homosexuals. I think this is good, but I'm biased. As it turns out, we have a case study that we can look to for comparison. Russia has been moving more in the direction that you seem to suggest, passing laws that restrict the rights of LGBT people and criminalize behavior that promote a supportive environment for LGBT families. The culture shift there has been pretty dramatic, but I'm not sure that it's better for the children. Take a look at this report from the Daily Mail about gangs in Russia tricking young gay people into going on dates, then assaulting them, filming it, and posting it on social media, all in the name of protecting the children. In contrast, here in the US, Missouri students formed a human wall to block a hate-group-who-shall-not-be-named (made up of a pitiful 14 people) when Michael Sam arrived with the rest of his team.

It seems like what we've been doing here in the US is creating a generation of loving, courageous, giving, and accepting young people who believe that everyone deserves a place at the table and are willing to stand up for each other, protect each other, and support each other.

It seems like what they are doing is Russia is creating a generation of violent, fascist, restrictive young people who are encouraged to punish anyone who dares to venture outside the lines.

I like our way, Kathryn. I know you don't, but for the sake of the kids, let it go.

Let it go and let us all live in peace.