As usual, Blaire adds eloquence, truth and voice to this situation we often find ourselves in as members of our church: between the crossroads of progress and needed repair. This excerpt is in response to the announcements made today from the Mormon newsroom in regards to the reversal of some of the policies put into place in 2015 that affect LBGTQ+ members and their families.
Today’s guest post is written by Blaire Ostler. Opinions shared on guest posts may not completely reflect the positions of the blog’s author.
Blaire Ostler is a philosopher and leading voice at the intersection of queer, Mormon, and transhumanist thought. She is a board member and former CEO of the Mormon Transhumanist Association, the world’s largest advocacy network for the ethical use of technology and religion to expand human abilities. She presents and writes on many forums, and speaks at conferences promoting authentic Mormonism. Blaire holds a degree in design from the International Academy of Design and Technology-Seattle. She is currently pursuing a second degree in philosophy with an emphasis in gender studies. She is also an artist, and spends her spare time hiking, painting, writing, and bickering with her friends about almost any topic imaginable. Blaire and husband Drew reside in Utah with their three children.
Within regards to the most recent policy changes, there are some things I’d like you to know.
Please know that queer folks have been deeply injured by the Policy of Exclusion (POX) and so far as I’m concerned queer folks can take all the time we need in processing these most recent changes. These policies aren’t just theory or tangential for us. They are lived experiences for us and our children.
Please know, for some queer folks, this is a textbook abusive relationship. The abuser hits you, then they do something remorseful. They hit you again a few days later, then do something remorseful. Round and round we go. The queer community is experiencing whiplash. Allies, please be sensitive that when you celebrate the remorse of our abuser (which isn’t inherently wrong in and of itself) it feels like you forgot we are still healing from the last time they hit us.
Please know you don’t get to tell a victim of abuse when it’s time to forgive, move on, and celebrate. We will do that when we are ready, and each of us will do that differently. That pain and trauma doesn’t just disappear with a policy change, or even an apology (which still has not happened).
Please know I stand firmly that queer folks who have been excommunicated and/or disciplined for LGBTQ+ issues should have their excommunication repealed and issued a full re-instatement. I think the children who had to have their baby blessings and baptisms cancelled should be issued an apology. Yes, I think the brethren, as stewards of the Church, should apologize to the children effected by the POX.
Please know we need to learn to live in the paradoxical state of weeping and rejoicing (Romans 12:15). We are allowed a full range of emotions. You are allowed to feel anger, frustration, joy, elation, pain, sorrow, hope, skepticism, faith, and forgiveness. I am feeling all these emotions at this very moment, and they are not mutually exclusive.
Please know this policy still does not address concerns of gender. Trans men and all women (queer, straight, cis, trans, intersex, or otherwise) are still denied full participation in these rituals. Until all genders are ordained, our rituals will continue to be exclusionary even beyond the queer community and the POX.
Please know I celebrate this drop in the bucket, because that’s how buckets get filled. Change tends to be slow and painful for those of us that had to fight for every drop. Activism doesn’t come with a gold star for the activists who made it possible. Some will despise and ridicule us for our work to stop the abuse and then in the same breath praise the abuser who finally listened to us. Activism isn’t about popularity. It’s about filling the bucket with each essential drop even though people will despise you for it. I celebrate this drop with you, because this was our drop. It was our queer activism that made this specific drop possible.
Please know that overall these are good changes. This paves the groundwork for further improvement, if only in potential. It’s a step in the right direction. So far as these changes are laying the foundation for more inclusion, I support them.
As for the Church and its leaders, please know, that I thank you for listening. You did the right thing and I applaud your willingness to reverse these policies. But please, don’t hit me. Don’t take advantage of my willingness to reconcile with you as an opportunity to hit me again.
a queer Mormon sister
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org and runs an online practice, Symmetry Solutions, which focuses on helping families and individuals with faith concerns, sexuality and mental health. She hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex Info Podcasts, is the past president of the Mormon Mental Health Association and runs a sex education program, Sex Talk with Natasha. She has over 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.