Dear Rama, Quetzal, and Paul,
Today marks an anniversary of something I wished had never occurred. A year ago my Church – my Church that I loved, defended, sacrificed for, and served, rejected my family and the children of my family. It declared that those who entered into a same-sex marriage would be excommunicated and that their children could not participate in the salvific ordinances of Mormonism.
Rama and Quetzal, my two beautiful lesbian sisters, I know this doesn’t effect you directly as you no longer are Mormon, but this broke my heart. The Church policy came shortly after we started talking and beginning a relationship that I was deprived of as we had not grown up together. Both of you had reached out to me before, but I rejected you two. I didn’t return phone calls. I did this because you were gay. I thought this was what my Church wanted me to do. I’m so sorry.
I’m sorry I rejected you.
I’m sorry it took me so long to love you two.
I know you two have forgiven me, but I ask again for your forgiveness.
Cathy told me to return your phone calls, but I didn’t listen to her.
Although my Church rejects you, I accept you just as you are. God made you perfect. The LDS Church just isn’t big enough for your two hearts. The LDS Church is wrong.
Paul, I knew as soon as the November 5th policy came out, you would resign your membership from the Church. When you called me and told me that is what you had done, I cried. I cried for a few days. I cried like I had cried when I learned that dad had died in an ICU in Puebla, Mexico. I didn’t cry because I was worried about your salvation or something like that. I cried because you have been the one constant in my life. We have been with each other through dad’s three marriages. You are my only sibling who shares the same father and mother. We relied on each other. When we were small, you used to crawl in bed with me, reach over and find one of my ear lobes and rub it between your fingers while sucking your bottom lip. I watched once, completely helpless, as dad beat you. I once punched you in the mouth and you forgave me. I beat up Chris Tribuzi once because he was picking on you. You used to want the same school shoes I would get when we were in elementary school. We both served missions and because of that, we both speak Spanish – a language that is almost sacred to me. So why did I cry and why am I crying now as I write this letter? I cried because Mormonism is something that you and I have shared for 40 years and now it is something we no longer share. I hate the Church for that.
I have asked myself several times since last November, why I didn’t also leave. At times I think it is because I don’t have your courage. At times I think it’s just because I like a good fight and want to see if I can stay. At times, I fool myself into thinking I am making Mormonism safer for LGBTQ people. At times, I feel this is where God wants me. I love you. And although the Church has forced you out, I also accept you and embrace you. I always will.
Quetzal, I received the wedding thank you card that you and your new wife (and now my new sister), Tina sent me. When I learned of your wedding, I will admit, I was nervous. When I decided to come, I was full of all types of feelings, but mostly feelings of self-doubt. I worried that when we met, I would somehow fail your expectations of what an older brother should be. I was worried that because our lives were so different, that I would feel out of place in your life. I only felt love and acceptance. The card you and Tina sent was so gracious and it was no sacrifice to come be with you and Tina on such a beautiful day in North Carolina. I’ve read your card over and over again.
Rama and Quetzal, Even though our lives’ narratives have been different, their Genesis share a similar beginning – a very independent mother who immigrated from Guatemala, had two failed marriages, and now suffers from mental illness.
There’s something beautiful and heartbreaking and redeeming to look into your almost-lost siblings’ eyes and see your eyes; run your hand through your sibling’s hair and feel your thick course hair; see your sibling’s lips and see your lips; see your sibling’s dimples when they smile and see your dimples; see your sibling’s toes and see your toes; see your sibling’s brown eyes and see your brown eyes; see your sibling’s brown skin and see your brown skin; kiss your sibling’s cheek and feel life; share the dance floor with them and know that their Latin hips are gonna move too – it can’t be stopped; hear your siblings’ voices rise to heaven in beautiful song like angels; talk about God and feel God; be with them and wonder why you kept them at a distance for so long; share your heart and they overwhelm you with theirs and at that moment know they have already forgiven you of your sin. Their love has baptized you and redeemed you.
I live in a very conservative part of Oregon (yes such a place does exist). The rights of LGBTQ people are not very important here. In a weird paradox, if I wasn’t Mormon, I would most likely still be clinging to my more conservative leanings as there would be nothing to challenge them. But Mormonism has taught me that families can be forever. My Mormonism moved me to love my family. In this weird paradox it was my Mormonism that taught me to elevate myself above the rejecting behaviors of those around me and to embrace you, Rama and Quetzal, and accept the love you offered me. Because of you, I feel whole. As I discarded my old self and old condemnations, I became complete. This is sacred to me. This is grace.
As you two reached out and I finally accepted, I did not lose anything. I gained two sisters, and now with Tina, a third. I now have another brother too, Miles; I have four new siblings.
The Prophet Joseph Smith once said that he and his wife would be together after death, even “if he had to go to hell for her.” When you are in heaven and if perhaps I am not there, will you please come find me and pull me up with you?
“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” – Revelation 21:4
With undying love,
Your brother Mike
I don’t have any words. Just hugs.your family journey is why we are all here. Wrestling and grappling with the natural, scared man, into the kind of Godly love that pushes us to perfection. Isn’t it the best feeling when you realize that your sibling is yours and nobody BUT God can tell you differently?
Thank you LaShawn. And thank you of pushing myself to look at other dark corners of my life – racism.
Beautiful, Mike. A beautiful statement in the face of something truly, deeply wrong.
That was so incredible to read, thank you. I don’t know you, but I know Paul, and he’s one of the nicest, respectful, and most intelligent people I know. I don’t attend church much anymore because of these same reasons. I’m Catholic, I’m Latino, and spent some of my life in the U.S., and some in Mexico. My wife’s younger brother is gay, and married his husband just over a year ago. I can’t support any institutions that tell me my family isn’t good enough to be a part of it. I’m sure this is hard, and you’ve had so many emotions going through your journey. Good luck, one thing I do know, is that love conquers all.
Ya, Paul is pretty incredible.
Thank you for making your letter an open one.
And I am glad you still feel called to be in the church. I appreciate our voice.