I'm gay, so naturally I've made some gay friends since moving down here to Arizona last month. These friends all know I'm a devout Latter-day Saint and some of them have become interested in knowing more about the Church. I happily share with them my testimony about the gospel, and strongly emphasize the eternal perspective we Mormons have and the blessings that can last forever. One of my gay friends asked me if he could come to Church with me on Sunday and I'll admit, I'm afraid to bring him. I don't think my ward is ready for an openly gay investigator.
I often hear less-than-inviting comments being said regarding gay people at church, but I'm also aware that ignorance is a major reason for such things being said (I'm always trying to raise awareness.) But what about gay investigators? Are we going to tell them to simply not take offense to such remarks? They'll just make this visit to the church their last.
Moving out here into a ward that doesn't already have openly gay members in it [other than me] has reminded me how homophobic members of the Church can be (though I know there are so many who truly care about us and I appreciate that so much.) When hearing something that's hurtful I do my best to hold my tongue until I could speak to an individual in private and let them know that something(s) they said were hurtful. But now I see that such behavior among some of my fellow Mormons is directly affecting missionary work in a very negative way, and I am not OK with this.
In the past few weeks I've already heard several gay jokes said by both members and leaders of my new ward. I've been the butt of a joke far too many times already. I would have been very embarrassed if a gay non-LDS friend of mine would have present during any of these taking place. Also, the nature of some of the activities have been specifically boy-girl based, which is fine and all (it IS a singles ward), but I'm glad I didn't invite one of my gay friends to attend any of these nonetheless.
So what's the big fix? I think awareness is all we can do, so here I am writing a blog post about it. I want my gay friends to have a positive experience when they attend church with us. But until we rid ourselves of these apathetic overtones, gay people aren't going to feel invited into our congregations.
When taking part in any sort of church activity, please know that there are gay people around you. I know they're (we're) there and that there are a lot more than you realize. When am I going to be able to confidently invite my gay friends to church and to other church related activities? Soon, I hope.