If you're not familiar with The Trevor Project, it's worth checking out. It's an attempt to foster hope and curtail suicide among gay teens. There have been a lot of celebrities who have produced videos for the project. And then there are many, many more from "normal" folk who have lived it and want to assure young people struggling that it does get better.
Apparently an "It Gets Better" video has been produced by students at BYU and is making the rounds on Facebook. I finally broke down and watched it today. I have mixed feelings. I refused to watch it at first because the first time I saw it on Facebook it had "same-gender attraction" in the title.
<rant>I find that phrase extremely offensive. For starters, it perpetuates the myth the Mormon church is trying to establish as doctrine that sex and gender are equivalent, which is complete and utter bullshit. Anyone with a brain will tell you that sex is about your anatomical bits and gender is about the social roles assigned to you because of your bits. Gender roles are at the heart of homophobia.
It also completely denies the reality of what being gay is. This phrase allows the church to define homosexuality as a condition, a disease, a handicap. God created us all straight, gave males all the power and women all the child-rearing and cleanup duties. This is the very foundation of the Mormon church's opposition to homosexual rights. If you think it's just an innocuous phrase, you're totally missing the boat.</rant>
So anyway, I finally got past my visceral reaction to the Phrase Which Shall Not Be Named and watched the video. To say that I can relate to the struggles these students talk about would be an understatement. I briefly considered re-posting it to give my family some idea what it was like for me 20 years ago when a gay-straight alliance at BYU was absolutely unthinkable. In the end I decided not to. I imagine they'll find it on their own eventually.
On the one hand, I'm glad these students can actually express themselves and talk about their sexuality. That has got to make life much easier. On the other hand, I wonder how long it will be before their status as second class citizen wears on them. Admitting you're gay is one thing. Being allowed to live and love as comes naturally to you is something else entirely. How long can they live with the dissonance created by a gay-straight alliance at BYU and the Mormon church's continued efforts to fight LGBT equality?
Like those students—I keep wanting to call them kids. Probably has something to do with the fact that my own children are that age. <sigh>—I too had experiences where I felt like God was telling me I was okay, two of them actually. The first was when I was still married. I was having a particularly bad day struggling to keep it together. I don't even remember what I was thinking. I just remember a thought that intruded on the miasma that was my emotional state that day. Clear as a bell it said, "You're not broken."
The second time was right after my first boyfriend broke up with me to go back to the church, "confess his sins and put his life in order." It occasioned some soul searching on my part. One evening I sat on the floor wrestling with my thoughts. I tried to imagine myself going back to the church, getting remarried and doing my best to "endure to the end." That thought made me physically ill. I imagined going back to the church, staying single and trying to find someway to give my life in the church meaning. That just felt depressing. The third option I considered was to stay on the path that I was on and find someone else to love. Once again, a thought, clear as a bell that didn't feel like it was my own: "Yes. Do that."
I wonder how long it will take these young men and women to work out that God/Wisdom/Grace/Whateveryouwantotcallit exists independent of the Church™; that an experience that tells you you are not broken, that God doesn't care that you are gay is not the same as an endorsement of the Mormon church. What I fear is that increased tolerance in the Church will end up making it more difficult to make the break, to make the decision that they do not need to be punished because the Mormon Collective can't wrap their head around a God who doesn't have a stick up His Ass.