I grew up Mormon. Growing up, I couldn’t fit myself into the narrow box expected of me. I wanted a life that was more about marriage and children. I wanted a life that was more about judging others for their beliefs or lack of beliefs. I wanted a life that was more about the petty, small things, such as judging others for drinking coffee or wearing sleeveless shirts or not attending church on Sundays. I wanted a life that was open-minded and warm-hearted and fair for everyone, regardless of ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation or religious beliefs.
So I left Mormonism. I entered the World, which I told myself was a better place. A more humane place. I was grateful for this choice. I am still grateful for this choice.
And yet, during this past year, as Trump started on his ugly, hate-filled campaign, I’ve found myself losing faith in the goodness of the outside world. As Trump has spread his lies, stirring up hatred and mis-truths, attacking women, immigrants, Muslims and minorities, I’ve been veering ever closer to despair. I’ve watched him tell outright lies, only to refuse to take accountability for his actions. Now he is our President-elect, with the power to turn his words into action, and all indications are that he will. Between his appointment of known racists, such as Stephen Bannon and Jeff Sessions, as well as his appointments of lobbyists and insiders, it is becoming quite clear that Trump is committed to turning his ugly rhetoric into action.
In this way, I am reminded of the LDS authorities. I am reminded of how they’ve been actively promoting rumors, falsehoods and untruths. I’m reminded of their truth-twisting about Mormon history, and their words about the moral character of people who leave. I’m reminded of the very real damage they have enacted on gays, both with their words, as well as their actions. I’m reminded of the racist rhetoric they promoted all the way up until the priesthood ban on blacks and I’m also reminded of their refusal to acknowledge their past words and actions.
The outside world has started to feel like an enlargement of the Mormon culture I have tried so hard to escape.
As someone who grew up in this environment and left, this means that I've developed the tools for coping. I've developed the tools for seeing past the untruths, the half-truths, the fear-mongering, and the attempts to divide the world into us-vs-them. For many of us, this is how we escaped. Now, it turns out our escape needs to be on a bigger scope.
So I'm back, and ready to speak up. I hope you will all join me.