Bio: Jerilyn Hassell Pool was born and raised in Southern Oregon, the eldest of 8 children. She is the mother of five children, ages 7 to 23. She has been married for nearly 25 years. She has a calling as the pianist in the local Spanish-speaking branch (although she speaks no Spanish) and is active in feminist and LGBTQ communities as a Mormon advocate for inclusion and acceptance. She works from home as a freelance web and print designer.

I Am Your Ally

Recently, I had a dream. (Warning, my subconscious is completely self-indulgent.) I dreamt I saw a lovely house local to me online and I wanted a closer look, so my husband and I took a drive to see it. We pulled up to the house and I looked at it from the outside. The house was indeed lovely. Located on a hill overlooking the city, it was a cluster of buildings surrounding an amphitheater. While we looked at it from the curb, a woman came out and asked if I was there for the retreat. “No,” I answered, “I saw your house online and wanted to see it closer. It’s beautiful.” “Would you like to come inside?” she invited. We toured the house and while I don’t remember specifics of the interior, I remember it was stately and filled with windows that streamed sunlight. The woman invited me to stay for the retreat. I asked, “What kind of retreat?” She replied, “It’s a lesbian retreat.” “Oh, I’m not a lesbian. I’m an ally,” I explained. She persisted, “We’d still love to have you stay.” As we were talking, women started to arrive for the retreat. I recognized many of them, including women who I’d known in my childhood, even Mormon women who had been in heterosexual marriages. The women gathered around, quietly watching my interaction with this woman. “I really can’t stay. I’m just an ally.” She insisted, “We like allies.” I clarified, cautiously, ever so cautiously, “I’m a Mormon ally.” I recognized the surprise in her face and felt the immediate unease in the women gathered around us. I added, “My work is on the inside. I see you as God sees you and I want every other Mormon to see the divine in you.” She started to cry and we hugged. She insisted, “Now you need to stay. We would be honored.” And then I said the words that have given me goosebumps every time I recall them: “This is not my...

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All Are Alike Unto God

Apr 30, 15 All Are Alike Unto God

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality

  Over the last weekend, I attended the third annual All Arizona conference in Mesa, a conference for promoting greater love and understanding of LGBT/SSA Mormons. While I’ve been aware of the conference since its inception, this was the first year I was able to attend. Here’s the thing about these kind of Mormon conferences: they’re really just big family reunions. I may not have met many of these people face-to-face, but through Facebook groups, blogs, emails, personal messages, and even text and phone calls, many have become like sisters and brothers to me, so walking into a room full of people with whom I’ve laughed and cried and raged is like coming home. The conference is planned for people who are working to remain active in the church, but with the understanding that activity isn’t always the healthiest choice for everyone. There is no judgement about where one is in their faith or activity. I can’t communicate every moment that touched me, because there were so many, but here are the main points I took away from the participants: We have to be and create safe spaces for LGBTQIA+ adults and especially children. John Gustav-Wrathall, a member of the Board of Directors of Affirmation, spoke about being a young boy, knowing he was gay and keeping it a secret from everyone. He said, “I wonder how things would have changed if there had been an adult or leader I had trusted with my secret.” It’s not enough to claim to be an ally. It’s not enough to march in parades and change our Facebook profile photos. Our support cannot be hidden. Being vocal and brave about our love and support for our LGBTQ brothers and sisters saves lives. Allyship is earned through hard conversations with people who use phrases like “love the sinner, hate the sin” and “living the gay lifestyle” and “chooses to be that way” and “counterfeit marriages.” Allyship is earned through reading and listening and reflecting. Allyship is earned by speaking...

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Why I Liked What Elders Oaks and Christofferson Said

Jan 31, 15 Why I Liked What Elders Oaks and Christofferson Said

Posted by in Featured, Homosexuality, Mormonism

A few weeks ago, in my continuing efforts to educate myself on LGBT issues, I started watching The L Word, a show that focuses primarily on the day-to-day lives of a Los Angeles-based community of lesbians. At first, I was taken aback because the glamorous lesbians depicted on the show weren’t anything like the lesbians I am lucky enough to know in my own social circles, but, in doing some research, I came across this quote from Leisha Hailey, an actress in the series who is also a lesbian: “It was just amazing to finally see yourself represented…I’m excited to be a part of it.” In the days since the news conference on Religious Freedom and Nondiscrimination, I’ve read and heard a lot of reactions. Many people I know are upset about what was said. I avoided listening to or reading the contents of the conference because I didn’t have the emotional bandwidth to deal with a range of emotions. But, as I listened today, I had a growing feeling of peace and joy at the words I was hearing. For the very first time—and to me, most importantly—the terms LGBT and gay were used in place of the usual: same sex attraction (or worse—people suffering from same sex attraction). I was delighted to hear those terms coming from the mouths of people I believe and hope to be prophets of God and apostles of Jesus Christ. What a huge and promising shift in our cultural rhetoric! What a kindness to our beloved LGBT brothers and sisters who have had to bear the microagression that is being mislabeled! I am so encouraged to hear the call for support towards anti-discrimination legislation, as well as a call for respect of religious beliefs. I am motivated by the call for compromise and respect for all sides of the issues at hand. I was moved to tears to hear Elder Oaks say in a subsequent interview, “We have nothing but feelings of love and compassion for LGBT...

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A Life-Saving Paradigm Shift

Sep 10, 14 A Life-Saving Paradigm Shift

Posted by in Compassion, Featured, Homosexuality

Last week, I had the opportunity to meet with several other Mormon and Mormon-esque friends to talk about the relationship between our LGBT brothers and sisters and the Mormon church. HRC sponsored the meeting in an effort to understand how they can better support those of us who are trying so desperately to see full equality between straight and gay Mormons within in the Mormon church. The meeting started with a prayer and introductions. I was thrilled to see so many dear faces and meet so many new friends. As is our way, we spoke about the injustice of the fight against gay marriage. In fact, gay marriage was the main topic of conversation in the meeting, all of us pouring out our hearts about how difficult it is to gain empathetic ground with traditionally-believing Mormons about the rights and happiness of our beloved gay friends and family members. As the meeting drew to a close, we went around one more time to discuss our final thoughts. Many of us spoke of the unending battle of standing up for marriage equality and of loving our fellow man, until we got to a mostly quiet young man, Samy Galvez, president of Understanding Same Gender Attraction at BYU (go like them on Facebook). He said, “Ninety-five percent of what we’ve talked about today is marriage equality. You all are completely ignoring the fact that a huge percentage of Mormon kids are killing themselves because they are gay.” His words hit me like a ton of bricks. Later, as I was recounting the story to my own gay brother, he said, “Yeah, you can’t get married if you’re dead.” Again with the bricks. Last weekend forced me to realize I have been wrong in my support of marriage equality. Setting up marriage as the end-all/be-all for my beloved gay and lesbian friends only perpetuates the same belief that people must have partners in order to be full people and to be happy. That is the message the Mormon church sends to straight people and it’s the same message I...

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A Disciple of the Lord

Aug 17, 14 A Disciple of the Lord

Posted by in Featured, Honesty, Radical Compassion, Truth

(Cross-posted at feminist Mormon housewives.) On Thursday, August 14, 2014, Elder Russell M. Nelson gave the commencement address at BYU. In it, he proclaimed that true disciples of Jesus Christ are those who defend traditional marriage. I am going to say a bold thing: Elder Nelson is wrong. His determination to draw hard lines around who he believes to be disciples is destructive and even venomous. I am a disciple of the Lord. I believe a disciple of the Lord seeks to be a conduit for God’s love for all of his people. God’s love is everlasting and unbound, and I believe it is my God-given responsibility to show every man, woman, and child, be they gay or straight, black or white or brown that they are a precious child of a Heavenly Father and a Heavenly Mother and they deserve everlasting and boundless love, regardless of who they love or the choices they make. This is the discipleship I’ve chosen for myself—to freely love *all* of God’s children and to stand in solidarity with them as they attain the full measure of their creation and joy. What is a Disciple? When Alma explained the covenant of baptism at the Waters of Mormon, he taught that it involves standing as a witness of God “at all times and in all things, and in all places” (Mosiah 18:9). It’s a standard the Savior’s disciples still strive to live today and a covenant renewed each week during the sacrament, when Church members promise to “always remember” the Savior (D&C 20:77). Doctrine and Covenants 103:28 says, “And whoso is not willing to lay down his life for my sake is not my disciple.” In my work as a Mormon LGBT ally, I have lost friends. I have lost relationships that were very dear to my heart. I have lost career opportunities and opportunities for church callings. I have lost a lot, but I lay those relationships and cares aside because I know I am doing the work God wants me to do. I...

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Radical Compassion: I Am All In

In May of this year, Oregon became one of the avalanche of states to open up marriage to all couples. I had signed up for text alerts from a news service so I’d know right away and the message came at noon—gay couples who wanted to be married could go to the courthouse and get a wedding license that very day. Shortly afterward, I stood on the steps of the courthouse and officiated the first recorded gay wedding in Oregon. I spoke to the media and declared myself a Mormon who believed in marriage equality. In the weeks and months since, I’ve spoken at length with many people about my actions that day. Many people disagree with what I did. I’ve read comments about me, calling for my excommunication. I knew there would be repercussions of my actions, and many of my worries that day have since been realized, but I was and am unapologetic and without regret. I’ve been asked why I couldn’t just support gay marriage, why I had to go all the way to actually officiating a wedding. My answer is this: When I recognize a marginalization and find it is in my power to correct it, I will not stop part way. If I believe in marriage equality, it’s not right for me to support it up until the moment I am asked to officiate and then quit my support. I am all in, all of the way. It’s why I work so hard with Mormon feminism. It’s why I support the actions of Ordain Women. It’s why I advocate for marriage equality and why I study issues of racism. It’s why I work so hard to identify my own areas of privilege and use my privilege to amplify the actions and voices of the marginalized. From the scriptures, we know that Jesus was all in. He gave and gave until he gave his life. He sought out the sinners and the sick. When asked what he could do to inherit eternal life, Jesus told the...

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Holy Saturday

Apr 20, 14 Holy Saturday

Posted by in Featured

HOLY SATURDAY by Jerilyn Hassell Pool Tonight, on the eve of Easter Sunday, our ward held a candle ceremony to observe of the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We gathered as a ward family in the parking lot of our ward building and waited for the darkness of night to fall.  Candles were distributed to everyone who wanted one. We formed a circle and opened the ceremony with a prayer. Our bishop spoke about the Savior. Scripture passages were read by three girls from our ward. Isaiah 55:1-13 was read by Milayna, a 12 year old girl.  1 Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. 2 Wherefore do ye spend money for that which is not bread? and your labour for that which satisfieth not? hearken diligently unto me, and eat ye that which is good, and let your soul delight itself in fatness.  3 Incline your ear, and come unto me: hear, and your soul shall live; and I will make an everlasting covenant with you, even thesure mercies of David. 4 Behold, I have given him for a witness to the people, a leaderand commander to the people. 5 Behold, thou shalt call a nation that thou knowest not, andnations that knew not thee shall run unto thee because of the Lordthy God, and for the Holy One of Israel; for he hath glorified thee. 6 Seek ye the Lord while he may be found, call ye upon him while he is near:  7 Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts: and let him return unto the Lord, and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon. 8 For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your waysmy ways, saith the Lord.  9 For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my wayshigher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. 10 For as the rain cometh down, and the snow from heaven, and returneth not thither, but watereth the earth, and maketh it bring forth and bud, that it may give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: 11 So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that...

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Celebrating Passover

Apr 20, 14 Celebrating Passover

Posted by in Featured, Old Testament, Theology

CELEBRATING PASSOVER by Jerilyn Hassell Pool On Thursday night, our ward held a Seder meal as part of our celebration of Holy Week performed by Ayala Sarah Zonnenschein, the Executive Director at Havurah Shir Hadash, a Jewish community in Ashland, Oregon. In the interest of full disclosure, I’d read several articles about the wrongness of Christians holding a Seder, and, being very conflicted, I spoke to Ayala beforehand about my reservations. She assured me that she felt our ward had gone to great lengths to be respectful of the ritual and she was honored to be a part of the evening. I was struck by the beauty of the Seder ritual and Ayala’s words, so I took lots of notes. Ayala spoke to and for us using the all-encompassing terms of “us” and “we” and I will copy that form as well. The Seder is an opportunity for us to tell our story of slavery and liberation, not as victims, because we do not place responsibility for our enslavement on someone else. During the Seder, we must imagine ourselves at every step of the way, as if we were there. The Exodus is symbolic of the bondage of the soul, wherein we move from the slave consciousness to the consciousness of a free people. We start in a narrow, tight place—another birth canal—and we must move into a healthy and free life. We have an inner Pharaoh or a Taskmaster. This represents the elements in our life that keep us in bondage. We have an inner Moses, that drives us to freedom and a state of wakefulness. We have an inner Israelite, fearful, insecure and even after experiencing miracles and freedom, we find comfort in the past. We are fearful of what lies ahead. We must perform our own inner Exodus, moving from our narrow places, rejecting the Pharaoh of Me with his constricted ideas and trusting the Moses of Me who will lead us with light into the free places. The food of the Seder...

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Wrong Message – A Response to: FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)

Sep 04, 13 Wrong Message – A Response to: FYI (if you’re a teenage girl)

Posted by in Featured, Feminism, Modesty

This is a reply to an article that was published on No. Just no. First, when we tell boys that their thoughts and actions cannot be controlled unless girls behave or dress a particular way, we teach boys that they do not need to be responsible for their thoughts and actions. We teach them it’s okay to make judgements of a girl based on her clothing and her body language. We set arbitrary guidelines on clothing and poses we deem appropriate. Saying “men of integrity don’t linger over pictures of scantily clad high-school girls” means we as parents, are responsible for teaching our boys how to be men of integrity. There is no need to police the bodies of young girls in order to teach this to our sons. Second, imagine you are a young girl who was recently blocked by the Hall family. You’ve been told by Mrs. Hall, in the most public way possible, that you’re behaving inappropriately. Rather than speaking to you directly, she has chosen to block you and blast the internet with her judgment, saying there are no second chances in her family. You have no chance at redemption or forgiveness. Can you imagine how horrifying it must be to see this posted all over the internet? My heart breaks for these girls. These young girls are finding their way in a world obsessed with sexualizing women’s bodies for the male gaze, combined with the technology for instant publication at their literal fingertips. They are learning to navigate these difficult waters compounded by the complexities involved in discovering their own sexual identity. They are going to make mistakes. They need all of the support, grace and kindness we can muster. Third, when we treat a young girl as a sex object, no matter how smart or kind she is, she sees herself as a girl who only has worth in her physical appearance. When we treat a young girl with respect and kindness, no matter what she looks...

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Conference Pong

Apr 06, 13 Conference Pong

Posted by in Featured, Mormon Humor, Mormonism

Before we introduce Conference Pong, a bit of news for you twitter peeps – RationalFaiths will be live tweeting General Conference this weekend. So if you are on Twitter follow us, here is our twitter handle @rationalfaiths. Conference Bingo is old and tired. It’s time for a new game and this time I’ve combined trivia and a college drinking game (but there will be no drinking as I am WoW observant). It’s time for There are three levels of game play; Celestial, Terrestrial, and Telestial. There are four sessions of conference (five if you’re not a lady), so you can use one session for warmup and ramp up your play with each session. To play, you will need: Ping Pong balls labeled with topics such as: First Vision, Prayer, Heavenly Father, Scriptures, Word of Wisdom, Baptism, Joseph Smith, Motherhood, Jesus Christ, Children, Music, Resurrection, Love, Family, Family History, Priesthood, Missionary Work, Faith, Pioneers, Prophets, Temples, Scriptures, Marriage, Repentance, Atonement, Sustaining Leaders, Second Coming, Tithing, Children 30 cups (If you are feeling particularly Celestial, you might want to use Mason jars. Everyone knows those are the Celestial vessel for liquids.) You need to label the cups and fill them with the corresponding item as follows (make one set for each team): Cup 1: Thomas S. Monson When Thomas S. Monson was a teenager, he was swimming in the Provo River and saw a crowd of vacationers shouting frantically that a member of their party had fallen into the river and was likely to drown in the whirlpools toward which she was being swept. At just that moment, she thrashed her way into Thomas Monson’s view. He swam to her side, took her in tow, and made his way to the bank. He saved her from drowning. Fill cup 1 with one of the following: Celestial: Provo River Water Terrestrial: Tap Water Telestial: Cookie Dough Cup 2: Henry B. Eyring Until the start of World War II President Eyring’s family attended LDS meetings at the branch in New Brunswick, New Jersey, but with the gasoline rationing of the war they received permission to hold meetings in their home, which often only consisted of the Eyring family. Fill cup 2...

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