Come Out, Take Action

On the even of National Coming Out Day, this question came into the mailbox:

Dear Mormons for Marriage,
I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and would like to know what can be done now in the fight for equality for all. How can I get involved and what would I be able to do now?

Coming out is not just for GLBTQ people – there’s a role for everyone interested in creating equality and stamping out fear, misunderstanding, prejudice, bigotry and hatred.

There are even things Mormons can do with their own communities, believe it or not, including:

You are welcome to join our email list or our facebook group, and here are some things that you can do right now:

Speak up in your community. Tell people how you feel about equality. Meet them where they are and encourage them to learn more about what it’s like to be “outside the norm.” You may not change a mind, but you’ll definitely plant a seed. There are some ways to start conversations at Sometimes you can bring up a topic that’s been in the news media, internet, or TV/radio and “test the waters” to see where people fall on the continuum of acceptance. Consider the impact of Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks. Watch for some posts in the next week or two about some more specific ideas and “how-to” examples for speaking up in your community.

Speak up at church. Don’t let insensitive, bigoted or poorly informed comments go without a rebuttal. Statistically, there are probably at least a dozen families in your ward who have GLBT family members in them. The Church has no official position on whether same-sex attraction is inborn or not, and it does not officially condone anything but love toward GLBT members and their families. If you don’t feel comfortable or safe speaking out, consider finding a lapel pin or a bumper sticker that can be a conversation starter. Rainbows, equality signs, pink triangles, white ribbons are all subtle messages others can see and notice.

Consider talking with your local leaders about how to provide a safe space for gay members and their families in your ward and stake. The folks in the Oakland Stake have set a wonderful example of messages of love from stake presidency members, inclusive firesides and ongoing discussion groups and counseling to help their units try to understand one another better. If you haven’t heard what they folks in Oakland have been up to, you can read about it here.

Write to general church leaders to express gratitude when they show particular love and compassion and encourage them to do more. Tell them how you feel and how equality issues affect your church experience and ask them what they are doing to help GLBT members and their families.

If you are in a position of leadership, even if you’re “just a home/visiting teacher,” take positive steps to make sure those serving with you know GLBT members and their families are welcome in your organization. Encourage bishops and YM/YW presidents to tell youth that gay slurs (“that’s so gay”) are not appropriate for LDS teens. If you have a gay family member, let your Relief Society President and/or Bishop know that you can be a resource for other members who’s children/siblings/parents are coming out to them. Nobody should have to walk that path alone.

If you know GLBT people, encourage them to share their stories, either by writing them or videotaping them. If they have 3-5 minutes, have them sit down and record a message for the “It Gets Better” campaign. If they’re LDS, be sure to include a metatag “Mormon” so people can find it on that channel. If you’d like to share your story at Mormons for Marriage, we always welcome guest posts. If you don’t want to have a whole post all to yourself, add your story to this page

Get in touch with your other organizations. Some include your local PFLAG chapter or Family Fellowship or Affirmation or GLSEN or Family Acceptance and find out what they do and what kind of help they need.  Find out if your children’s school has a gay-straight student alliance or an anti-bullying program in place.  If not, suggest to the School Site Council or principal that it might be beneficial to the student community where you are.

If you’re feeling politically motivated, check out places like the Human Rights Campaign or Marriage Equality USA and find one of their action items that inspires you to get involved in your community. There are places in the country where it’s still legal to fire people just because they admit to being gay.

If you like podcasts, visit and listen to interviews with people like Carol Lynn Pearson or Bruce Bastian or others who’ve been actively working to make changes in LDS circles.

Which one of these sounds like something you could do this week? What could you do this month? What might you come up with on your own?

7 Responses to “Come Out, Take Action”
  1. Laura says:

    For an example of an “It’s Get Better” video from a woman with LDS ties, check this one out. Thanks Melinda!

    And from a couple of gay men, check this one out. Thanks Michael & Douglas!

  2. fiona64 says:

    As a straight ally for equality, I have been cyberstalked, threatened with grievous bodily injury by the “nice Mormon boy” from around the corner when I refused to take down a No on 8 sign from my own lawn, and more.

    The harassment that I have endured is only a tiny pinpoint compared to the harassment that GLBT people endure *daily.*

    Until people start standing up against hate speech, etc., just as Laura points out in her post above, there will always be a percentage of people who believe that their hatred is righteous and that their violence toward others (which includes bullying) is acceptable as a result.

    “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.” (Edmund Burke)

  3. Laura says:

    So, fiona64, what positive steps are you taking to combat hate speech, violence, and bullying. I know you’ve got a lot of experience on the issue – what is one concrete thing a “newbie” could do? What things build bridges between communities? Do you have an experience where speaking up against hatred made a difference (either for you as a speaker or for your listener or for someone on the receiving end of hatred)?

    Certainly being religious is no guarantee of Christ-like, loving behavior, but neither is it a guarantee of prejudice and bigotry. In order to shake a hand, I have to put down a weapon. What weapons do we need to bury so our hands are free to lift one another up?

  4. says:

    Hi, Laura. Thanks for asking. There are a lot of easy “baby step” things.

    In the case of the rather hulking teenage LDS boy who came to try to “teach me the error of my ways,” he got sent away with an education about the US Constitution that he had lacked when he arrived on my doorstep, as well as a very clear understanding that I do not take orders from some kid whose parents’ politics differ from my own. He was pretty flustered by the time it was over; apparently he expected that his mere existence (to say nothing of looming over me in a threatening fashion) would make me change my mind and take down the sign from my own lawn. Be armed with facts in cases like that, and don’t back down to intimidation (it’s just a different kind of bullying).

    On my own Facebook page and my personal blog, I do not tolerate hate speech (e.g., terms that equate gay people with kindling wood or a slang term for a woman’s anatomy with weakness). I have spoken up to my own family members who feel that their “free speech” includes the right to use those terms on my page. I don’t care what they do in their own space, but bullying speech like that is not acceptable in my speech or in my home (and yes, I’ve had to speak up against it there, too). I don’t care whether the speaker is a friend, an acquaintance or a relative. I don’t hesitate to call people out on it and let them know why it’s not okay. If they can’t handle that simple boundary, I block them from posting there. What they do in their own space is up to them; what they do in my space is up to me.

    So, it starts by not accepting “Hey, man, I was just joking — where’s your sense of humor” in response to a gay or ethnic joke, for example. It starts with telling one person that you don’t accept their hate speech and telling them how it impacts others.

    The people who tend to express hate speech are those who feel threatened or angry, and that they have a guaranteed right to an audience. You don’t have to give them one.

    Another step? Tell your own story. Were you bullied, either as a kid or an adult (schoolground bullies grow up to be workplace bullies)? Stand up and tell the truth. The shame isn’t on you; it’s on the bully.

    Are you the bully? Stop to think about why you feel that you have the right to treat those different from you with anything other than human kindness. What gives you the right to treat others less well than you would like to be treated?

    If you need professional help, get it — victim or bully.

    If you are a parent, stop taking the “kids will be kids” attitude. Talk to your kids about the importance of treating others as well as they would like to be treated. And remember that kids learn from example. It does no good to deliver this lecture to your kids while you tell ethnic jokes or talk smack about GLBT people. It doesn’t make your son a “big man” if you hear him boasting of picking on some kid whom he perceives to be gay, for example. It just makes him a bully and a bigot — and kids don’t learn this in a vacuum.

  5. fiona64 says:

    PS to my earlier post:

    I find that telling my own story is a huge help to many. I am not GLBT, but I have been the victim of bullying. Letting people know that they are not alone is huge.

    Also, know that (despite popular theory), those who are in pain will not reach out to you. Instead, reach out to them. If you see someone being bullied, don’t stand around and figure it’s none of your business; make it your business.

    Like the one starfish being returned to the ocean, it will matter to the person being victimized even if you feel like it’s just a drop in the bucket.

  6. cowboyphd says:

    Thanks Fiona. Just to know you are there, the work you do to further equality. Know that I greatly appreciate all you do.

  7. Megan says:

    As a very active Mormon youth (I’m 17) who has recently ‘come out’ (to all of my friends and family, and one church leader), I am so thrilled to see this article and to have found this website. I don’t know what it’s like in Utah, but in Jersey where I live, the LDS members seem to just have so much hatred and fear towards gay people. I know the church is supportive of gay rights (aside from marriage), but it seems like the individual members (espcially around here) are disgusted by the sheer idea of ‘gay’.

    I hope to be able to continue to stay active in the church as I live my life and (hopefully) find my wife some day. I don’t know if that’s possible, but I’m going to try. I expect to be faced with a lot of bigotry and fear, because I see it all around me.

    I went to a protest last night in support of gay rights, and in talking to people we shared some details about ourselves, and I of course mentioned that I’m Mormon. I was expecting outrage from my new LGBTQ friends for assosciating myself with a church that has very anti-gay members, and all I got from them was love and acceptance. I wish it worked the same way vise versa.

    Anyway, thanks for this website. Keep spreading the love. :)

    ~ Meg