I read this blog post by Myke Johnson this morning. I needed it. It was a good reminder.
“A young lesbian woman carried another poster that said, “Your signs are mean but we love you anyway.” No matter what happens next, such love releases an inner power that is indestructible. I think that is part of what Dr. King was talking about. It was visceral and immediate. By tapping the power of love through non-violent action, he felt first hand a new way of being in the world. He fully experienced his own dignity and the dignity of his people. After that, what else could matter? He had been to the mountaintop.”
Sometimes hurt, pain, and especially anger can get in the way of love. Yesterday was a difficult one for me. An article was published in our local newspaper about my decision to leave my ministry here in Utah and return to California. One of my reasons for leaving is the lack of marriage equality in Utah. Read it (here) The article was fair , and I have a long and very good relationship with the reporter.
The headline read:
“Activist Ogden gay rights minister fed up with Utah, moves to California,” which set up a certain tone that I do not think accurately reflects my feelings about leaving. I would have been happier if the words “fed up” were not included. Tired maybe, sad definitely, but there is much about Utah that I love. My leaving is about going to a place I will be happier, not escaping a place I hate. I am not leaving in disgust, I am going home. I also understand that being able to move is a privilege that is not available to everyone. Many people have family here that they do not or cannot leave. Most of our family is in California. We have no relatives who live in Utah. Other people stay here because of their jobs. Ministry however, by its very nature, is a profession where periodic geographic mobility is the norm. I promised the church I would stay five years, and I will have been here seven by the time I leave. While some ministers stay longer than that, seven years is by no reasonable measurement a short-term ministry. I know that I am very lucky to have the option of moving.
There was a video of the interview that was posted by the article, but most people didn’t seem to watch it. Or maybe they did. Virtually all of the people who actually know me, who had met me face to face and in person, expressed simple sadness that I was leaving. They also understood that I was not disparaging the all Mormons by criticizing the actions of its hierarchy. Many faithful LDS people have the same opinions about those actions as I do.
It was people who don’t know me who felt compelled to call me a quitter, to say they were glad I was going, or to make disparaging comments about my weight. I shouldn’t have been surprised, but I admit that it was painful. Many of comments were just mean and almost all were anonymous as well. I’d like to say to them, “Your words are mean, but I love you anyway.” I, too, have been to the mountaintop. I know that the Divine Spirit loves us all, just the way we are. Would that we all could understand that, and treat each other accordingly, to treat everyone with dignity and respect, especially when we disagree. I hope that my time and work here has served to bring that day just a little bit closer. If that is at all true, I am well satisfied.