I did not know Todd Ransom, nor the other gay Mormons who have given their lives up recently as their last measure of sacrifice. But I have talked to my friends, his friends, people whose lives he had touched for good, and seen the outpouring of love online in the days following the news of his suicide to know what a remarkable young man he was.
I cannot assume the reasoning for giving up his life was based purely on the conflict between being gay and Mormon. But it had to certainly play a large part. His last post “Sunrise - accept this offering - Sunrise” brings me to tears. I know all too well the clash of the mind, heart and soul while trying to reconcile one’s being with the seemingly incompatible spiritual beliefs the Mormon faith teaches. I was ready to sacrifice my own life in a different way, by forcing myself to marry a woman, in order to show my last measure of devotion to the eternal plan I had been taught. Hardly even knowing him, I would have been there for Todd in every way I possibly could before he made his final sacrifice.
As gay Mormons, we are extraordinarily familiar with the concept of sacrifice in order to find favor with our religion and our God. Many of us have denied who we are, our happiness and our well-being in order to find spiritual comfort and acceptance to a strictly held view of righteousness. Many of us would gladly pay a steep ransom for the sure knowledge that our souls were saved in the life to come. Unfortunately, too many think the heavy price of that ransom can only be paid with their lives.
Let’s give of our souls in service for that ransom. Let’s try harder to be a true friend to those who are struggling. Let’s try harder to be more open and express our own needs and weaknesses. Let’s try harder to help open the eyes of those we come in contact with to show them we are as deserving of God’s love and mercy as anyone else. Let’s try harder to provide refuge for the weary, for those who have known anguish, self-loathing and grief, for those who feel they have been rejected for no other reason than who they are.
We are all imperfect individuals, but that does not decrease our capacity to love. I know of no other group of people as needing of the loving embrace of acceptance and support as our fellow gay brothers and lesbian sisters in the Mormon church. Though we may rail about why the church and many of its members chose to ignore this issue as lives are lost, and though we may publicly march to send a loud message of tolerance and understanding, we must face the fact that change comes slowly.
Because progress is measured in glacial increments when it comes to the church and homosexuality, it falls to us to create the safe haven so many gay Mormons desperately need. It falls to us to not let our own insecurities and quick judgments get in the way of offering our friendship and love to every one of God’s children. It falls to us to convey to our fellow gay Mormons that they are not alone, that they are loved and that they are accepted because one suicide, let alone three, is too many.
Let’s give our lives for Ransom.