This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2015, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.
In 2012, my husband and I started Sit With Me Sunday to welcome LGBT Mormons to attend LDS Church meetings with an ally. We saw signs that the church was softening its message on LGBT issues, including the newly developed Mormons and gays website. We thought that if church members met our LGBT friends and neighbors, they would love them like we do.
We developed a list of wards and stakes that were gay friendly and posted it on the Internet. A separate list included individual members of the church who would welcome a gay person to sit by them in sacrament meeting even if the ward leadership was not especially friendly.
The church continued to show signs of increased acceptance in backing a Utah law making it illegal to discriminate against LGBT people in housing and employment. They donated to a program for homeless gay youth. The donation was small, but it seemed to show awareness and concern for the children who are ejected from their homes only because they are gay. Those small changes gave hope to us and many other church members that brighter days were ahead.
We had faith that once church leaders understood the plight of gay LDS members, they would come out with a creative solution that would save lives and support families. At the very least, we expected them to tell members to wait patiently for a revelation on this issue. There was precedent with the revelation in 1978 concerning black priesthood holders.
Alas, our hopes were dashed. All those small changes turned out to be red herrings to distract us from the real actions going on behind the curtain. When the curtain was abruptly pulled aside by John Dehlin, what we saw was shocking. Our church leaders removed the ability of local leaders to deal with this issue humanely and told them to excommunicate those gay members in legal marriages and to shun their children.
Some of you are now shaking your heads and asking, "What did you expect?" We expected kindness and charity. We didn't expect the Rev. Raphael Cruz to emerge from behind the curtain. I mention him only because we watched him deliver an old fashioned fire and brimstone speech on LGBT issues at the World Congress of Families. We didn't expect our church leadership to fall in line behind him.
We feel a need to apologize to all the people we invited to join us at church. Many gay former members of the church questioned our honesty when we first started down this path. They suspected us of being shills for the church. Actually, we were ordinary church members trying to read the decaffeinated tea leaves along with everyone else.
What we thought was progress was just sleight of hand as practiced by the church department of public relations. Our eyes have been opened, and we are starting down a different path. We are resigning from the LDS Church and plan to become more involved with secular groups such as Mama Dragons and the homeless youth shelter.
We are very grateful to those courageous church members and leaders who were willing to be publicly outed as LGBT allies. I worked closely with gay members who were seeking a friend at church as well as allies who were willing to be a friend. I discovered, over time, that I had actually developed a list of members who were leaving the church. Awareness of church policies on LGBT issues seems to lead inexorably to disillusionment with the church. It certainly did for us.
Sherri Park and her husband have been longtime faithful members of the LDS Church living in West Jordan.