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Monday, January 7, 2013

LOSING MY RELIGION, STRENGTHENING MY FAITH: COMING OUT TO MY CHURCH, Part One (The Old Bishop)

The following is the contents of my Facebook Life Event post; First Coming Out At My Church/ Bishop Confrontation, followed by a post on a couple of things I forgot to include earlier, that really stuck in my craw. I added some final thoughts, and share my testimony, at the end. I feel that yesterdays event is significant enough to capture it here. I apologize to all those who have read this already.

I posted this yesterday as my LIFE EVENT STATUS: MY FIRST OUTING TO MY CHURCH/ BISHOP CONFRONTATION. My wife didn't speak to me on the 20 minute drive to church this morning. We walked into Sacrament, about 30 minutes early. She pointed her finger at me and told me, I don't want you sitting anywhere near me. It's not like we've ever sit that close together. There was always a highly visible chasm. Now there was an entire room. I sat in the back, realizing that the Bishop wanted to talk to me during Sunday School. That time came. I walked in to see the Bishop. I had been outed by my wife, but to me it wasn't that big of a deal, because this Bishop is being released next week, and we get a new Bishoprick. I never really felt the Spirit, and he seemed to want to get me to see that I should just live with the status quo, which to me is like unto a cuckholded spouse, without the adultery. I'm in a freezing basement, never with my family for anything, let alone holidays, or even meals. We have been celibate 17 years. He read to me from the policy handbook about gays and lesbians (our Church has no policy on how to deal with us). He said, that what you have are feelings, and you can just keep then in check, like you have been doing for the past 45 years. I brought up how I love the Gospel, Heavenly Father, Jesus, and the atoning sacrifice, and that I have honored out Temple covenants. I brought up the Proclamation on the Family, and how I believe it is a blessing to have, and that I am comforted that it is "gender" is what is sacred and eternal. He twisted that, and told me our society has misused the word sex, and that gender actually is male or female, not sex. I told him gender is between the ears, and in the heart, spirit and soul, while sex is between the legs. He would have none of it. He said, you will not be doing what Heavenly Father wants you to do, if you act on your feelings. I didn't want to argue or be defensive, because those are things everyone warned me about. I was surprised to see another transgender person, that outed herself to me this summer. She has long hair past her shoulders, so she was easy to spot in Sacrament. I went up to her and told her I was about to see the Bishop, after having told my wife and family on Monday. She hugged me, and wished me the best of luck. I told the Bishop every Ward in the Church has several of us, only closeted. Our Ward has others besides me, and that I know others who have retained membership, and are Bishops and Stake Presidents. He said that isn't true. He asked me who, I told him it's not for me to say. The Church needs to address this issue specifically, so we know where we really stand. We are everywhere, in far greater numbers than you can possibly imagine. He seemed to be in denial, like Iran's President saying, "there are no LGBT people in Iran". That made him a laughing stock to the world, and our Church is rapidly doing the same, unless we truly address us LGBTQIA people with inclusivity, and absolute validity. I felt he thinks I'm totally invalid in being who I am. The good news is, I get a total do over in the next few weeks. A new Bishop is coming next week, and I convinced this one to leave it to me to bring him the first words about myself. I will be so much better prepared, that much is certain. I am so tired, and very dysphoric now. This is the Epiphany and also my middle daughters 21st Birthday. So, Happy Day. All is Well.          

I believe it is a Commandment that we are to never judge people. The scriptures are replete with anti judging verses, hundreds of them. The couple of times we are given permission to make some discernments, are not in the context of judging a person. My Bishop tried to tell me we are commanded to judge one another. It took all my strength to not come back with, "You Gotta Be Shittin' Me!" He also tried to say there exists no Mormon women who believe there exists any sexism, or that males have any advantages. He went further, "I doubt if many women in our society believe that there is male privilege". I brought up that, "Why would I choose this transgender upon myself? Women are subservient in our society, they are considered lesser, denigrated, oppressed, taken advantage of, paid 75 cents to men, a 6 cent improvement in 45 years!, and generally have a lesser standing in our society. Why would I willingly choose to give up the advantages I experience every day I present as male? He proceeded to tell me I was full of it. "Oh no, that's not true. No one in our Church believes that, and only a few in the world believe that." Excuse me? (WTF....Over!) Those are two of the most asanine Church positions I have ever heard in my entire life. And I have to deal with such ignorance, that is bigotry, at the same time that I am called to the matt for being transgender, because my wife angirly outed me, before I could tell him? But I rant. Sorry. Like it says here.....Just don't judge anyone. Love everyone.

At this point, I would like to insert my testimony, lest I be thought of as apostate, or a quitter, or a loser. I believe the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and that he came and lived a perfect example for us to follow. I believe everything in our lives should reflect favorably on living a Christ-Like life. That we are commanded to love one another above all else, save the love we have for our God. To live a Christ-like life means to unconditionally love, accept and validate all human beings for who and what they are. Christ came to serve the alienated, ostracized, denigrated, hated, despised, the different, oppressed, non-conforming people of the Earth. We are to serve one another, for in service of our fellow man, we are in service of our Lord. We are to treat every human being as if they actually are Jesus. For whatever we do unto the least valid, least affirmed, least loved, least successful, it is as if we are doing it unto Jesus. God is no respecter of persons, neither is he a disrepecter. God has no more respect for a heterosexual than any gay or lesbian or bi person. No more respect for a cis-gender person than a transgender person.

I believe in the atonement of Jesus, our Lord and Savior. That he died, in an atoning sacrifice for all of the sins of all the people that ever have lived, are living, or ever will live. I believe that Jesus is our supreme intercessor, who will plead our case before Heavenly Father and Mother, who will judge us. I personally, in my opinion, do not see Jesus as ever losing a single case, and he will defend everyone, without exception.

I believe Joseph Smith was a Prophet of the Lord, that he restored the Church, and translated the Book of Mormon for this dispensation. I believe in the Bible, Old and New Testaments, the Book of Mormon, Pearl of Great Price, and the Doctrine and Covenants, as far as they are all translated correctly. I believe Thomas S. Monson is our Prophet at this time. I have deep affectionate love for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. I am a Mormon, and I will always be a Mormon. 

I also know that I cannot abide my current Status Quo. I must make the necessary moves to become my Best True Self. To bring myself away from guile and continuing as a fake human being. I do know who I am, and I know that God knows I know who I am. My salvation would be in jeopardy if i were to continue along the old path of the past 45 years.  I will leave it to others to discern my sincerity of love for the Gospel, and my degree of faithfulness. Flawed men may see fit to punish me, to conditionalize my membership and participatory level in the Church. I will go through tremendous emotions, and very painful hurt. I will experience exclusionary practices, and yes, be subject to political prejudices, skewed religiosity, and the whims of local leaders. I must not let this bring me down. I pray to Heavenly Father, that I will not acquire enmity for my Church or any members thereof. I pray that I can maintain my testimony, my identity, and my love, empathy and compassion for all people, that my Faith, Hope and Charity will shine forth around me and within me. I pray that I may continue to serve others, and to edify them, and lift up all people. I pray that I can dig up my buried Talents, and utilize them for the benefit of others. My Heart is full, and I am thankful for my life, and this opportunity that I have been given. These things I pray in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

16 comments:

  1. Thank you for your testimony and the commitment you have of yourself. It is with a strong heart you take this on. I hope the best for you in all of your life pursuits. Ali

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    1. Thank you very much, Alasandra. I appreciate your kind and affirming words for me. Big Hugs for you, Ali, XXX.

      With Love, Leah.

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  2. Such a beautiful testimony, thank you. You have what it takes to make it. God bless. Amber

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    1. Thank you Amber, it is very nice of you to say so. I appreciate your kind, affirming words for me. God bless you too.
      With Love, Leah.

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  3. I wish you all the best, Leanorah. I am curious where you are geographically. Your bishop's attitudes seems exceedingly conservative and isolated, but I suppose such people live everywhere. You have a difficult road ahead of you. The Church has only very recently come out with an appropriately compassionate (if not inclusive) message regarding homosexuals. I think transgendered individuals are bit beyond our reach at present, but I am hopeful that we will find your place in God's Plan; although, it sounds like you have already found it. It might take us a very long time to catch up, but I hope not. ~Erin

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    1. Thank you for your kind remarks and affirming thoughts for me, Erin. I am in Akron, Ohio, the most Liberal city and county in a swing state, that mostly goes Republican. We have a population of at least 45% African American, and our Stake is less than .5% Black, same as my Ward. It is am embarrassing disgrace, that we do not reflect our community. Chances are we will get yet another ultra conservative Bishop. There are a couple people I would seriously consider voting against in sustaining votes. People that have told my friends directly, to not be friends with (me).

      The Church's latest response to lesbian and gay members is a stunningly unenlightened and short sighted measure that does nothing to assuage the anti LGBT bigotry spewing from our Church. I believe it is ludicrous to think that transgender people are out of reach of being acknowledged and addressed by the Church. The ancient Church dealt with us in a far more loving and accepting way. The repulsive regressivity of the Modern Church is not acceptable and should never be acquiesced to. I aim to push for sunshine in how we are dealt with, rather than being dealt with in secret combinational ways.

      I say, go ahead and put transgender and everything about us, and what is acceptable for us to accept about ourselves. We need to know where we stand. Are we loved or despised? There can be no middle ground. Last night I saw a perfect saying, "I would rather be hated for being my true self, then loved for being a fake". I'll be danged if I'm going to acquiesce to being told I should remain a fake, and maybe, just maybe, my family and Church will love me.

      I hope you that your hope for the Church is more true than not, in that we will catch up to what Heavenly Father has felt about us since he created us, that we are valid people to be loved in full fellowship, unconditionally. The most sickening thing to me is that my degree of fellowship hinges solely on my degree of acquiescing to be fake and guileful, perditional sins!

      I thank you for finding my blog, and I hope you will come back, as a regular friend.

      With Love and Hugs,
      Leah

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  4. Hi Leah,

    We're members of a lot of the same groups on Facebook and that's how I came to find your blog.

    I'm sorry that your wife isn't more positive about your decision to be open about being transgender- are you getting enough support?

    Thinking of you and wishing the best!

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    1. Hi Epicepileptic,

      That's quite a name. Thank you for finding my blog and following. I appreciate your friendship, and kind thoughts for me. Yes, I believe I am getting enough support, locally, with my trans support group, and University of Akron, LGBT club. I have people wanting to go with me to see my Bishop, and offering help in finding a therapist. I am very appreciative of all the online support, especially from Facebook that I have gotten.

      With Love and Hugs,
      Leah


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  5. Leah, it was your comments from your bishop about how "no women exist" who think we have any sexism that caused me to go ahead and decide to do my project on feelings after receiving temple rites. Over 40 people have provided statements so far, and I expect I'll get permissions from almost 80 by the time I'm done.

    Of course we have such feelings regarding the sexism in the church, and the bishop's use of what he chooses to deny AGAINST you got me riled up. This bishop has a residency in Denial, USA if he really thinks that there are not LBGT people all over in the church.

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    1. Dear Kuato,

      Thank you for your remarks. 'I know', my Bishop floored me several times, but I prayed beforehand, and the biggest thing I felt from the Spirit, was advise from all my fb friends to not go on the attack or be defensive, or argumentative in any way. When he said these things I either just let the Spirit take them away, or said, "okay, Bishop, you are right".

      I studied Political Psychology and the propensity to insert politics into religiosity, and I could smell his GOP indoctrination, that was pervading his 'magnifying of his calling'. The Gospel doesn't have this in any form whatsoever, it is pure political ideology. An ideology anchored firmly in the bigotry of "my (and our) stuff don't stink", exclusivity, intolerance, alienation, wall-building, cliquishness, klanishness, and certainly Denial. A more befitting name for people like this is; "The Reorganized Church of Mormon Trogladitic Tribalism". It's what happens when you combine Regressivism and Denial.

      Your project on feelings after receiving Temple rites is a wonderful idea. I am so happy you are getting a well received response for it. I could tell you how I, as a woman, felt about receiving male-centric and dominance rites. It was notable and very uncomfortable. I wish you all the best for this project of yours.

      With Love, Always,
      Leah

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  6. I'm glad you stood up to him. I once told my Bishop that he was full of bunk! And he was! Some of these folks, while well meaning, just don't get it.

    Hope the next one has eyes, ears, and a brain...

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    1. Thank you for your remarks, Neal. I hope the same for my new Bishop and Stake President too. I just have to wonder, what will be going through his mind when when he realizes everything I said was right?Ignorance is NOT bliss...it's an abominable sin.

      Always Love,
      Leah

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  7. That bishop is either in denial or is full of it!! Please don't think that all church leaders believe as he does. They don't!! I'm so glad that there are loving local leaders that do welcome us and strive to understand us. I think I can see why he's being released!! Evidently it's time for a new bishop (and bishopric *no k) to take over and to encourage the whole ward to 'love one another' and to not judge one another. You should've asked him to point out where it says that we are commanded to judge one another!! Yes, he is a "judge" in Isreal but that doesn't mean he gets to lie to someone in that judgement. He is practicing 'unrighteous dominion' and for this reason he is being released.

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    1. Thank you Kriss. I appreciate your support. I hope and pray that you are correct. Thanks also for the spelling correction, I needed it. Anyway, that's probably why I didn't feel of the spirit. Also, this is one of the only Bishop's that never invoked, or invited the spirit, by opening with prayer, in all of the 6 years. Thanks again.

      Love Always,
      Leah

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  8. Hi Leah, You brave girl! Keep your head high, keep loving you, and we will too!! :)

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    1. Hi Dean,
      Thank you for your sweet words, which edify me. Thank you for your interest in me, and your kindness for me.

      I will keep on Loving Me, at least I'm learning to do that.
      Love Always,
      Leah

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