Reflection from a Day of Silence

A day of silence and listening to Maggie Gallagher testify in front of Congress has inspired this post:

Over the course of my life I have seen many examples of petitions and letters requesting change, from the classic letter to the editor to my personal favorite a YouTube video about United Airlines. Sometimes these petitions take the form of rants, other times humorous satire, the occasional rally, or today’s example of the Day of Silence. But for all these efforts getting mad doesn’t seem to work anymore. Why? because when you back a cat into a corner it will lash out at you.

This month former traditional marriage advocate Louis J. Marinelli, the guy whose idea was the 2010 Summer for Marriage Tour sponsored by Maggie Gallagher and the National Organization for Marriage, came out in support for marriage equality. Why? not because of the rallys and the chants of “Hey Hey, Hey Ho! Homophobia’s got to go” but because of conversations he had one-on-one with people his campaign would hurt. The issue of marriage equality went from a cause he must defend at all costs, to something that was hurting real people whose lives had meaning and weight behind them.

I have seen similar changes happen within my family and in my ward. People who may have donated to Prop 8 have come to me and told me that they are sorry, that they didn’t know that their words and actions caused so much pain. They thought they were defending marriage against the stonewall era of ‘free love’ promiscuous gays who would threaten their children. I am certain that we all remember the ads from Prop 8 that focused on how it would force homosexuality into the kindergarten classroom. My own sister has cited that ad before (and the Massachusetts case behind it) to me as part of her rationale for supporting Prop 8. What did that ad do? It attacked us and so naturally we attacked back. Remember the ad of the Mormon missionaries tearing up the lesbian couples marriage certificate? And what did that do for us? Not much.

Back in 1977 Harvey Milk realized this. His campaign against Prop 6 wasn’t filled with negativity but filled with the pleading cry to come out.

We must destroy the myths once and for all. Shatter them. We must continue to speak out, and most importantly every gay person must come out. As difficult as it is, you must tell your immediate family, you must tell your relatives, you must tell your friends if indeed they are your friends, you must tell your neighbors, you must tell the people you work with, you must tell the people in the stores you shop in, and once they realize that we are indeed their children and that we are indeed everywhere, every myth, every lie, every innuendo will be destroyed once and for all. And once you do you will feel so much better.

Louis changed his view because he was confronted with real people with whom he met on multiple occasions. People who took the time to speak to him, not yell at him. I have seen many attacks on Maggie Gallagher that have been humorous, that I’ve even laughed at. I have written in frustration and anger towards President Packer. Others have called out Elder Oaks as a liar. I think that it is time that we, as a community, emerge from our collective adolescence and reach out with invitations of civil discourse that points out that we are here, we are queer, and we are children of God.

How many of us have written letters to that effect to the brethren? Have spoken to our Bishops and Stake Presidents? Have spoken up in Elder’s Quorum or Sunday School to say that “I am a member of this ward and this church, and the words you have spoken against the “dreaded homosexual” are words spoken against me. Your depiction of homosexuality as an the greatest evil third only to murder and denying the Holy Ghost is talking about me, not just some glittered drag queen in the pride parade, but me, David Baker, home teacher, Child of God. I’d appreciate it if you stopped or at least talk with me and get to know me before you slung your barbed words at me.”?

Can we change the face of the world? Perhaps not at first, but if we committed to writing a letter to the brethren each week with a small picture of ourselves speaking rationally and calmly about how their words have moved us to suicidal thoughts and deep depression then, as their staff reads these letters their hearts might be softened, their eyes opened, and their minds changed. This can apply to your Church, a political organization, or your representative, but you have to come out. You have to meet these fountains of hateful rhetoric and talk to them. It has worked before and it can work again. So join me today and write a letter, make a phone call, stop by the office and come out. Heaven knows it is the only way we will exact any lasting change. After all, these allies did: