Saturday, September 24, 2011

I See You

I posted this link on facebook yesterday. 
Bryan Michael Egnew took his life on September 10th 2011. Just weeks before he had come out as a gay man to his family and church (LDS/Mormon). His wife took their 5 children to another state and refused to let Bryan see them. The church excommunicated him.

An LDS friend of mine commenting under the link:
I think there's always more to it than we will ever know."

...and I found myself typing out a pretty decent response. 

We can never know the whole story. The part that we do know (and we know from many other cases of gay members who have committed suicide after revealing their homosexuality whilst still remaining celibate and faithful) is that the lay leaders are not acting in unison. You have an openly gay Bishop (celibate) who is supported by the leadership of the church and is encouraged to tell his story. Then you have Bryan (and many others) who are excommunicated for being honest about their struggle, still living the commandments* but the treatment they receive is really rough. Excommunication is a big deal, especially if Bryan (and others) still believe in the church. 

The main leadership of the church needs to train the lay leadership in how to love and embrace the gay members of their wards. 

This is the very least I would like to see happen. 

My pipe dream is that the church will renounce their homophobic 'doctrines' since all 'revelation' on the matter has been developed through impressions of elderly men discussing the issue together based on how they FEEL bout it. None of them have actually spoken to god and anyone who knows the gospel and the history of the church knows this. 

People can only accept what they themselves perceive to be true. No one can make someone believe something else. We all ought to be free to live our lives the best we know how without any self-professed authorities lording over you. To condemn people to a life of misery based of how some men in power feel about homosexuality is really rotten. The delusions run deep and I understand how real it feels but when people are ending their lives because they have been rejected by their church and because they think they are evil and because they can't find happiness in the church then this is serious business that MUST be addressed by the church leadership and MUST be questioned by believing members as they are the only ones that the leadership will listen to. 

There is always more to any story but we have enough info from Bryans story (and others) to know 

that something needs to change.

*I realised after writing this comment that I had made an assumption that "[...] his Church immediately excommunicated him because he refused to denounce his sexual orientation." meant that he was excommunicated for admitting he was gay only. I made an assumption that he had been living faithfully as a husband and Mormon before that. Which may very well still be the case; I just want to point out that the article isn't very clear on it so my comments about him being faithful are an assumption. It doesn't change my opinions on the matter but it is important that I point out I made an assumption there. 

I noticed something else after writing this comment. The friend who had commented is a believing member who has supported me since the very first day I announced my disaffection from the church. I noticed that I was able to write down my thoughts in response to their comment in a more calm and reasonable way than what I may have done had someone else written the comment. I think that my friend and I have built up a good base of respect and friendship to be able to say what we think to each other and to really hear the other one. Although we believe very different things the lines of communication are open and I really think that we are taking in what the other is saying. I cant say that for so many other interactions that I have with LDS members. Most of those conversations seem like a complete waste of time. 

I am really encouraged by this relationship and the possibilities it in itself holds as well as what it means for me in how I want to speak to everyone I come into contact with.

As it turns out there is more to this story (there always is). My anonymous commenter motivated me to look a little further. The article in PRIDE in Utah is being called a slur. The only source that is named in the article is a friend of Bryan's (Jahn Curran). The article claims that Bryan's facebook page was censored to remove information about his homosexuality. So there are quite a number of questions left unanswered.  

The main reasons I wrote this post were a.) to give voice to Bryan and his struggle that so sadly ended in him taking his life. b.) to talk about how a believing friend and I were trying to see each others POV on it. 

At the end of the day this man was a member of the LDS church. He married and had a family instead of living true to himself as a gay man because he believed that was what god wanted him to do. He struggled through life because there are people who think they know God's mind and they have no qualms lying to people and destroying lives. 

This for me is the crux of the issue. I would like to get the full story but as I said before, we have enough of the story to say:
"The Church of Latter-​Day Saints still has no official guidelines for how to respond when someone comes out. "

... and that is making all the difference. 


  1. Unfortunately, you know nothing of this man. He told his wife 10 years ago that he was a gay man, and being gay had nothing to do with his excommunication.

  2. May I ask how you know that being gay had nothing to do with his being excommunicated? Are you saying that the article on PRIDE in Utah website is a total fabrication?

    The article does outline that Bryan's family tried to erase any links to homosexuality and excommunication on his facebook page and his obituary. How are we to know that you are not just attempting to do the same thing here?

    If you have pertinent information to this story it would be great to read your sources. The article above doesn't list it's sources either so I would like to look into it more myself.

    The point of my post was the conversation that flowed from it between a believing member and myself. I stand by my comments regarding the Mormon church and it's responsibilities to their gay members as well as the arrogance with which church leaders assert the will of god and severely impact on peoples lives.

    I would rather discuss the truth of the matter though so if you could point me to better sources then I would be happy to add them to the above post.

  3. Are you suggesting that we ought to have official guidelines about responding when someone comes out? I'm not sure this is really a one size fits all situation. I'd want the people in place to have the flexibility to respond individually, generally speaking.

  4. I would expect official guidelines to NOT be a 'one size fits all' plan. There are some current glaring problems that I think could be remedied or at least have a good chance of being improved IF the church leadership could give some guidance on the issue. To have one Ward where a bishop can be openly non-practicing gay and then have members of other Wards come out and be excommunicated is just such a massive difference in approach that I cannot understand why there is no official assistance from the top. Especially when there are people ending their lives soon after coming out.

    I'm thinking of there being and end to excommunications for only confessing to being gay (not practicing it) for a start. Time frames for counselling and communication, no rash excommunications. etc etc. things like that. Support to keep children in contact with both parents bcos unfortunately many Mormons view homosexuality as a perversion and then want to take the kids away, so some serious work needs to happen there!

    I dunno, I think we're actually wanting the same thing here Retief :)