By Madame Curie
In the wake of my recent disaffection, I have been much more vocal about my support of same-sex marriage. This cause caused a lot of contention, particularly on places such as Facebook where my apostacy is not so widely known. Tonight, I got to thinking about where my change on this issue occurred. It wasn't so long ago that I seriously started questioning what my response would be if Prop 8 were in Philadelphia, rather than in California. I recall in those days (it seems like ages ago, really) wondering whether it is better to vote your conscience or to vote in accordance with the Prophet. I think I had decided that it was best to abstain from voting, rather than to cause offense either way. Obviously my feelings have undergone a radical transformation. So, what effected the change?
When I was in high school, my best friend Mary* and I fell in love. We meant everything to one another, I believe. We attended prom together, and neither of us dated anyone else while in high school. Our relationship continued through our first few years of college, although we attended different universities. We would travel to visit one another, enormous distances. As our friends married their high-school sweethearts, I remember in my mind thinking of how wonderful it would be to set up a home with my Mary. We would talk about growing old together, no matter where else our life's paths took us, grey and wrinkly on rockers in a cottage by a stream. At times, the situation was somewhat confusing, since I felt that there was nothing at all wrong with our relationship, but she would occasionally feel guilty about it.
When I joined the Mormon church my senior year of college, in my baptismal interview the Elders asked me if I had ever been in a homosexual relationship (this is a standard question in the baptismal interview, I believe). I was a little surprised by this question, as I wasn't expecting it. I answered "no," since I wasn't currently in a relationship with Mary (I had been dating a guy for the past year). However, that question and its implications haunted me for a long time thereafter.
This was honestly the first time in my life that I had ever considered my relationship with Mary to be "bad" in any way. It seemed like such a strange thing, that something so special as the tender love that we had for one another could be wrong. The phrase "harrowed up" goes a long way to describing my feelings for the next several years whenever I would think about myself and how evil and depraved I must have been. Nevermind that when we were dating (although we never called it that), I knew God smiled on us and had sent her to me. I also tried hard to never, ever think back to my relationship with Mary, casting it aside as a confusing and "evil" time in my life.
When Prop 8 hit the scene at the beginning of 2008, and the Church started taking such a strong stand in it, many of the memories with my sweet friend Mary came back to me. It seemed unfair that the Church would try to forbid other homosexuals from marrying, although I frequently told myself that God (through the Prophet) must know better than I. However, as I started seeing myself within the LGTB community, I began to deeply understand where they were coming from, what they wanted, and why it was not only acceptable, but necessary and just. I understood their plight, because it was my plight. Understanding brought compassion, love, and eventually, acceptance - both of the right for gays to marry, and of myself for my relationship with Mary.
Compassion is a powerful thing. It changes a man from mere mortal to something better than himself. Thank God for that.
*Name has been changed