My only regret is that I missed the workshop that she is talking about here because I think it is exactly what I needed, but spending time with my kids that morning instead was more important for me and for them. I did get to talk to Emily later. The whole conference has given me a lot to think about on both sides of the issue. Some of my thoughts will be on my other blog within a few days.
The most compassionate people I met, though, are parents that are older. It is like imagining my own parents with that much understanding, and it is amazing! They have been speaking up for gay rights since the 80's or 90's, but are still very active in the church and temple recommend holders even though they never shrink at the chance to advocate for their kids regarding gay rights, including marriage. One of them (being honored at the banquet) spoke of a time when her bishop was not sure he wanted to give her a recommend. She stood up and firmly said, "Well, if I have to choose, I choose to love as our Savior did." Her husband then went in and told the bishop what's what, and she left with her recommend and has never been questioned since. I want to move into her ward. :)
Their advice to me was to stay active because there must be some of us there to fight from within. One of them cried with me as I shared my story, and I felt of her heartfelt compassion toward Scott and I even though she had never met us.
Even though I really needed some time to rest this weekend instead of being busy attending the conference, it has also been very timely with regards to what is happening in our lives. The Lord's timing with everything the last year and a half has been amazing, and I cannot deny that His hand is in our lives.
Gay Mormons seek to be LDS on own terms
By Lana Groves
Published: Saturday, Sept. 19, 2009 11:24 p.m. MDT
Alanna Farnsworth had no one to talk to when her son told her he was gay.
As a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Farnsworth wanted to discuss this new development with other LDS parents of children who had come out as gay.
She gained renewed hope Saturday while listening to Emily Pearson discuss her experiences and own ideas about staying true to yourself despite sexual identity.
Pearson's mother, Carolyn Pearson, is the author of "Goodbye, I Love You," which tells the story of her marriage to a gay Mormon man.
"I was on the whole church bandwagon about homosexuals," said Farnsworth, a Vermont woman who visited Salt Lake City on Saturday for the Affirmation Conference, an annual series of forums and lectures for gay and lesbian Mormons.
"I didn't believe it was right," she said. "But suddenly, my son, who's my most spiritual child, shares with me that he's gay. I know his heart. I went looking for as many stories about gay LDS men as possible."
Many LDS and former LDS men and women shared their experiences growing up in the church and their struggles to accept the church's position of denouncing same-sex marriage while being true to their own beliefs.
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Pearson described herself as "very Mormon" growing up, which made for a difficult reconciliation since her gay father died from AIDS, and her ex-husband later identified himself as gay.
"You're taught that anything outside the structure of Mormonism isn't right," Pearson said. "The idea of a God that makes you jump through hoops, that says you're not supposed to be gay, is just wrong. The truth is, not only does God not care, but he loves each and every one of us."
Pearson left the LDS Church awhile ago after what she called an epiphany in which she "gripped her desk at work," realizing that people have to follow what's in their heart, not what those around them tell them to do.
Pearson's advice that gay and lesbian Mormons have to be "Mormon on their own terms" struck a chord with several listeners.
Willy Star Marshall, a gay man who traveled from Big Water in Kane County for the conference, said he's thought about returning to the church. But just as Pearson advised, Marshall said he would want it to be on his own terms.
"I do know some people who've done that, but it's a hard idea after so many years," he said. "Orthodox Mormons would disagree, but you really do have to be Mormon on your own terms. The things you're not comfortable with, you have to let them go."