Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Giving Our Lives for Ransom

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.

8 comments:

  1. This was a beautiful post. Thank you, Horizon, for your timely and poignant writing. You have touched me greatly. I commit to better loving and caring for all those around me, especially those who may feel saddened and burdened.

    Happy night!

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  2. One is far too many... and in the shadow of one are a thousand who still need help. As I reach out to others among us I find that resolving this issue - feeling accepted, loved, valued, and understood - can help men and women to regain hope. I agree - we should each do our part to share the light and turn the night into day.

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  3. I knew Todd. I loved Todd. His actions came as a shock but I was not surprised. I understand that need to escape. I know all too well what it feels like to be surrounded by friends but feel completely empty and alone. All he wanted to feel was whole. He could never find that peace. I only hope that the peace actually exists. Or perhaps it doesn't, which is why he decided to leave us.

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  4. Horizon...I found this intersting:

    My first kiss was in June of 1975. I was a 15 year old boy living in Ft. Collins CO. My best friend was another 15 year old boy, shorter than me, but with the same blond hair that wouldn't comb into any semblance of order. His name was Billy. I loved him, but I dared not tell him. By this time I knew my attractions, sexually, romantically and emotionally were for other boys, but I was scared to death to voice them to anyone, much less him.

    It was only a few months before that a county clerk in Boulder Colorado issued a marriage license to a gay couple. It was all over the news. The vitriol being spread all over the TV and in the newspapers ("why don't we start marrying men to horses!" is one comment I still remember 35 years later from someone on the TV). It did nothing but make me feel even more frightened.

    Billy and I spent pretty much every day together. One warm summer day in June we were both swimming in his apartment complex pool, having a blast. When we finished, we went inside, got dressed and were sitting on the floor in his room. He looked at me and said "I love you." Just like that. I didn't know what to say so I replied "I like you too." "No," he repeated "I love you." I just sat there stunned and silent.

    Billy was much more outgoing than I. He was the the one that instigated the train-jumping rides to Denver, the jumps off the cliffs at the reservoir and the late night horror shows. So I guess it only made sense that he was the one that bent over and kissed me. I let him, but then started crying, the emotions overwhelmed me. He must have understood, because he just slid closer, put his arm around me and kissed me gently again. It was sweet and loving. I returned the embrace and the kiss. By this time we were both crying. We lay there embraced in a kiss for a long time.

    Eventually, I pulled away and said "I love you."

    We were together as young lovers, friends and inseparable companions for 2 more years. He killed himself in 1977. It sent me into a suicidal spiral that almost ended my life too. . I became a Mormon and immersed myself into reparative therapy, religion and family. It wasn't till 1990 that I finally came out, and not until 1996 that I kissed again. That man 20 years after my first kiss is now my beloved husband of 14 years with whom I am raising 2 daughters.

    That kiss in 1975 though has lasted 35 years. I don't think it's hyperbole to say that the memory of that kiss, the love and sweetness of it, is what got me through some pretty dark times.

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  5. Thank you for another eloquent post. As always you've managed to express into words that which I thought only I felt and thought.

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  6. I miss you... Are you going to start blogging again?!

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  7. Hi! Your blog was recommended to me as a great one for a project I am working on for a digital publishing company - gathering the best of blogs written on the topic Homosexuality and the Mormon Church. If you are at all interested in being included, and for more information, please email me at emily.pearson@gmail.com

    We are moving forward with this ASAP.

    Thanks!
    Emily Pearson

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