This is a picture of myself as a young child, smiling next to a piano at my Mormon grandparents’ house. At the time, I was living at home with my biological father who is a pedophile, and was visiting my grandparent’s house (on my mother’s side) where my biological grandfather lived, who was also a pedophile.
Why didn’t the Mormon church worry so much about my protection then? I was a young queer kid who was so closeted that I didn’t even know I was queer yet. And I was so injured by the abuse that I was unable to sleep at night for fear that I would be assaulted again. All I knew was that I was broken, and unsafe.
Fast forward a few years, when I told my bishop at BYU that I had been sexually abused by my father growing up, and he said “Don’t tell the police, they will just rip apart your family.”
Fast forward a few more years, when I was asking my bishop for support knowing whether or not I should call the police again, because I had just learned that my little sister was being currently sexually abused by my father. I was pregnant with my first son. This bishop, whom I will be forever grateful to, encouraged me to call the police.
And through no fault of his own, he demonstrated just how committed the church is to hiding abuse, and where their loyalties lie: MY BISHOP HAD A HOTLINE TO CALL, AND I HAD NOTHING. In fact, I had to ask several times just to get mental health services through LDS Family Services.
Fast forward a few more years, to 2 years ago. I am finally out of the closet, and partnered with a wonderful woman who loves my children like they are her own. I feel more whole than I have in my life.
Fast forward a few more years, and my two sons are 10 and 6. And the Mormon church wants to protect MY children from ME. A “lifestyle” I have clawed and scratched to fully embody and feel like I deserve. A life that was something I had to create out of my own power IN SPITE of the messages I got from my religious community and culture for my entire life. And now they insist that they are protecting my children.
What about me? What about the little girl that I was in that picture, 25+ years ago? What about her? What about all the other queer kids? What about all the other kids who are being abused? What about all the adults who have had to heal on their own without help from the Mormon church protecting them?
If any energy was to be spent by Mormon powers that be to make the church a better place, it could have been to create safety and resources for children to have help with real problems. It’s not a problem to have gay parents who love you.
Shame on you, Thomas S. Monson, Quorum of the Twelve, Church leaders, and The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I have been patient and persistent waiting for you to be better than this. There are many members, both current and former who have called for clear better treatment of children, women, people of color, and gender and sexual minorities. Please listen.
Why didn’t the Mormon church protect me? Why doesn’t the Mormon church protect children now?
Are there any more of you out there? Take a photo from your childhood, and add the text. Then, tell us your story. Use the hashtag #sufferthechildren when you share it on social media. I want this call to action to grow and be heard.