Today I’m happy to share the story of LMT, a queer 17-year-old who I met in Winston-Salem, N.C. She was raised in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, and is preparing now to serve a Mormon mission when she turns 19. She tells her story with a presence that amazed me, and gives lots of context about LDS theology and culture, for those who may not be as familiar. I’ve posted her story online here, and I highly recommend that you listen to the audio, to hear it in her voice.
In some ways, L’s story has been a challenge for me. Like me, she is attracted to men and women, and comes from a faith tradition that says heterosexual marriage is the only appropriate avenue for her sexual expression. And yet, as she articulates them, her experience of her faith and her understanding of God’s calling in her life are very different from what I understand for myself.
As I’ve listened and re-listened to L’s story, I have felt pride, awe, sadness, discomfort, admiration, condescension and respect. The thing is, these reactions all say more about me than they do about L. To hear what L has to say, I have to stop by reacting and truly listen to her words, her experiences, and the meaning she makes from them.
My own spiritual understanding has been shaped most recently by the Quakers, who emphasize the pursuit of truth, wherever it may lead us. They encourage us to listen deeply to others, as truth is being seen and understood in different and complex ways. I hope to offer this story in that spirit, as one account of truth.
I started the Queerituality project to get a broad view of the way that queer people are experiencing spirituality and being informed by their sexual orientations and gender identities. From the beginning, I knew that I wanted them to be able to share their stories in the first person – to be able to speak their full truths, even when they are complicated or evolving or unpopular. I wanted to include people of all faiths and none. I wanted this to be a space where we can come to listen and understand, and even be challenged. I hope you as a reader are looking for that, too.
I am incredibly grateful to LMT and her family for allowing me to record her story, and I wish her all the best in her journey forward. Keep me posted, okay L?