Heater, Mother of Lance

“As I have loved you, love one another”

Saturday afternoon I was sitting at my desk working on a list of projects when Leta called my phone. She and her sister were with their father, and it’s always a little startling to say hello and hear my nine-year-old’s voice on the phone. Maybe it’s because she’s old enough now to have a meaningful conversation, whereas for so long she either wouldn’t say a word or like Marlo would jabber endless nonsense. I have a feeling that when Marlo is older people are going to see her name on their phone and think, “Oh god. There go the next two hours of my life.”

“Hi, Mom,” she said. “It’s Leta!”

“Hi, sweetie!” I responded. “What’s going on?”

“I was just thinking that I wanted a play date tomorrow with my friend. Can we do that? Can you call her mom?”

I had planned to take the girls to the Utah Pride Parade on Sunday, and Leta’s friend’s mother had mentioned that they were going to be participating in it.

“Well,” I answered. “We’re going to a parade in the morning, and I know your friend is going to be there. I’ll text her mom and see if we can meet up.”

“A parade?” she asked. “What kind of parade?”

I have been so damn swamped that I’d forgotten to mention to her that we’d be attending this event, and this was a conversation I wanted to have with her in person. It deserved more than a two or three word explanation.

“We’ll talk about it tomorrow when I pick you up, okay?”

This seemed to satisfy her which was my triumph of the day: she wouldn’t spend the rest of her afternoon panicking about tomorrow’s boredom. You know what’s worse than first world problems? LITTLE KID PROBLEMS. Boredom? UGH. All of the pink bowls are dirty? NO. STOP. THAT CANNOT BE. You’re letting HER push the buttons in the elevator and not me? I HATE YOU.

The following morning when I finally found parking a few blocks from where we had planned to meet up with our group, I turned to the backseat and got Leta’s attention. I asked her if she understood what it meant to be gay and the extent of her answer was, “John and Dane. They are gay.” I had to pull out some real life examples of women who are attracted to men and vice versa, and then explain that some men are attracted to men, some women are attracted to women, and some people are attracted to both. And then there’s Morrissey.

“But why is there a parade?” she asked.

“Well, some people don’t think that it’s okay for women to be with women or men to be with men. And this is a problem because in most states gay people cannot marry the person they love.”

“Why wouldn’t it be okay?”

I wanted rainbow confetti to shoot out of my ears when she asked that question. Because I did not know a single gay person until I was sixteen years old, a very good friend of mine who was terrified that when she came out to me I’d freak out. I don’t know why I didn’t, I’d been taught that it was wrong, that it was an abomination, that it was a sin she was choosing to live, but my honest, gut response was, what does that have to do with our friendship?


Here my children are surrounded by gay men. It will have always been a normal thing for them which is why I’m hopeful and confident that their generation will look back on these asinine laws about marriage and think, WTF you stupid old people.

I told her that some people are taught that it’s wrong and don’t want to believe differently. And that this parade was to celebrate the fact that being gay is no more a mark of one’s character than being straight. She nodded and then asked, “Is there going to be candy?”





Utah’s Pride Parade is a lot tamer than some of the parades I’ve attended in Chicago or Los Angeles which goes a long way in terms of not having to cover your children’s eyes when certain cars or floats drive by. Instead of topless women or men in assless chaps you get things like this:







And then, well… then you get things like this:





I did not know that I was going to start bawling right there in the middle of the street, but all of a sudden I was crying hysterically.

Let me back up a bit… some of you are probably thinking, NO. Stop. They cannot repair the damage they did with Prop 8, Heather. And I thought that, too. When Prop 8 passed I decided that I was going to have my name removed from the records of the church, a lengthy, complicated, painful process to have all of my membership records expunged. Except, my mother was in a bad place at the time and I wanted to wait until she could emotionally handle the idea of me taking this step. I wanted to make that distinct stand against the church’s bigotry, but having my name on the records at the time was less harmful that the damage it would have done to my mother.

Since then, the Mormon church has taken some steps in the right direction when it comes to their stance on homosexuality. Is it enough? No. Is it even in the ballpark? Not at all. But at least they are recognizing the fact that this is not an annoying little problem that people can just pray themselves out of, and that homosexuals deserve the love and respect that is due “any of God’s children.”

I’m not going to get into my feelings on God or how much more I think the church should make amends, but I will tell you this: the Mormons in that parade are the ones I wish more people had experiences with. I wish more people associated “Mormon” with people like my mother, with people like my brother and sister, people who have accepted and loved me despite all the ways I live and the choices I make that violate the rules of their religion. Maybe that’s why I had such an emotional reaction, because here were these Mormons saying, “I will not shun you for being you.”

These are the Mormons who are living the true spirit of the religion: generosity, compassion, service. I hope you have read about the love my family has shown me in the past year and understand that there are so many more of them out there who would show that kind of love and service to ANYONE who needed it. Some of the finest people I know in this world attend that church, and even though I cannot pick and choose who gets associated with my membership records, the idea that my name is any way in line with those who are living the fundamental principle of being a good person has been enough to make me pause when thinking about having it removed.

That and the gun my dad keeps in his sock drawer.

  • Gemmyner

    2013/06/05 at 3:55 pm

    Lovely picture of you and the girls 🙂

  • Elspeth

    2013/06/05 at 3:58 pm

    “My gay son said there would be donuts” might just be the best sign ever.

  • Diahn Ott

    2013/06/05 at 3:59 pm

    My gay son said there’d be donuts. I love that man.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/06/05 at 4:01 pm

    When I first saw that sign I didn’t see the “my” and thought, who is Gayson? Am I supposed to know who Gayson is?

  • Andrea Shipman

    2013/06/05 at 4:06 pm

    I just started BAWLING at the photos and I wasn’t even there. Also, “My gay son said there’d be donuts.” – HA! Well played Mormon Dad with a sense of humor. WELL-PLAYED.

  • Andrea Shipman

    2013/06/05 at 4:07 pm

    Agree! And that shot of Marlo holding on to the back of Leta’s shirt was too sweet.

  • CheeseburgerinLaradise

    2013/06/05 at 4:08 pm

    I had tears by the time I saw the boy scouts. No more gay scouts banned from scouting!

  • KimFunk

    2013/06/05 at 4:10 pm

    Heather, this is another one of those posts that I’m so happy to have read. I did not attend Pride last weekend. Didn’t have the time. But the pictures of those people in the parade made my heart happy.

  • Dee

    2013/06/05 at 4:15 pm

    We have a huge gay pride parade here in Atlanta but although I endorse it wholeheartedly, there are some things maybe not appropriate for kids… Having said that, I am proud to be an Episcopalian, since we have a gay bishop! We have always been the church of inclusiveness, which is why I love my church. Several of our churches have FLOATS in the gay pride parade!

  • Gem Wilder

    2013/06/05 at 4:15 pm

    Yes, I teared up too. Thank you for the beautiful photos. I especially like the pic of Marlo holding the back of Leta’s t-shirt. That illustrates little sisterhood perfectly.

    And, yet again, wonderful words.

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/06/05 at 4:25 pm

    Thank you. It was a wonderful experience.

  • Dena

    2013/06/05 at 4:35 pm

    I too bawled, out of joy, when I saw the photos of how supportive members of the community were being. You see, my son and his boyfriend just recently moved to Utah and while they haven’t encountered (or so they’re telling me…) any outright prejudice, I worry. I worry and worry and worry…. and these photos made me feel a little bit better 🙂 Thank you

  • Heather Armstrong

    2013/06/05 at 4:44 pm

    My assistant John doesn’t have a Disqus account, but he has said many times that he feels so much more accepted and safe here than he ever did when living in West Hollywood. He’d recommend living here to anyone.

  • Leona Laurie

    2013/06/05 at 4:49 pm

    “living the true spirit of the religion” – this is something I am always so happy to see in anyone who identifies as any kind of Christian. And it’s something I don’t see as often as one might expect. Thanks for sharing this example of it, Heather. You made me tear up, too.

  • BarefootCajun

    2013/06/05 at 4:50 pm

    I wish I could say that this is the type of Mormon family that my husband comes from, but it isn’t. His parents have two gay grandchildren that they love at arm’s length. The oldest of the two even tries to defend her own father as he speaks of the sins gays are committing. I can’t wrap my head around it. I, on the other hand, have a gay brother and my Catholic family loves him no matter what. The Baptists in the family love to proclaim “love the sinner but hate the sin” and it breaks my heart. My husband and I are atheists. We both left the religions of our youth because of their bigotry. My husband did go through the painful process of having his name removed from the roles of the Mormon church and he is happy that he did so. I know that folks like those at the parade are making huge strides but there will have to be momentous changes in all the churches before we see true results.

  • klu

    2013/06/05 at 4:50 pm

    This post made me tear up a little when I saw the boy scouts. Also the picture of Marlo on your lap made my ovaries tear up.

  • BarefootCajun

    2013/06/05 at 4:53 pm

    Adding that I also cried when I read this post and saw the wonderful photos. I am so happy that Leta and Marlo’s generation will look at marriage equality in such a different light. I am also to see that there are good, generous people out there that understand that everyone should be able to love whom they love.

  • issascrazyworld

    2013/06/05 at 4:59 pm

    This was just awesome.

    I ADORE the photo of you and the girls.

  • KWSterling

    2013/06/05 at 4:59 pm

    It isn’t just Mormons. There are plenty of Christians – and some of them are over 60 (gasp!) – who want gays to have equal rights. We need to stop demonizing Christians and Mormons and just give them time to catch up. That’s all that’s needed.

  • issascrazyworld

    2013/06/05 at 5:01 pm

    Randomly as a person who doesn’t know you, but has read your blog for close to ten years….I wanted to say that in the last few weeks of posts you seem really happy. Like truly happy. And I hope you are. I know how hard divorce is and there does come that day where you come out of the other side and realize you’re okay. I hope you’re there or getting there.

  • KWSterling

    2013/06/05 at 5:02 pm

    P.S. I am a Methodist and you would not believe the number of people in my congregation – in Virginia, the SOUTH! – who want gays to be able to marry. The hysteria over Christians and gay marriage is overblown. More of us want them than don’t.

  • D J H

    2013/06/05 at 5:06 pm

    This is a beautiful post, and I too love the ‘Donuts’ sign, but um, do Leta’s mile-long legs and arms remind you of anyone? hee…hee…hee…

  • Thrift Store Mama

    2013/06/05 at 5:21 pm

    I am not even kidding for you – the way you write about your mother and some of your family has totally made me look at Mormons in a more positive light. In particular, the way you write about your mother’s love for you is a wonderful example of Mormonism. I’ve read a lot of the Mormon bloggers on the Internet and they creep me out with their perfect photos, beautiful crafts, and endless tutorials on sewing projects. Everything is just TOOO perfect. But these photos of Mormon families at the pride parade is so uplifting and encouraging !

  • AuntHo

    2013/06/05 at 5:28 pm

    Real Mormons (these ones) are so inspiring. I left the church years ago but am always so touched by the many, MANY amazing souls working for change from within.

    My cousin recently came out to his very popular, model Mormon family in St George UT. My mom sounded tired and sad when she told me, and I was all prepared to get righteously supportive of him … then she said “AuntHo, I’m just so tired of judging people for choices that have nothing to do with me.” The moment I heard my mother–Temple-going Mormon, Bishop’s wife, various other church titles–say that, I had to cry, say “You’re a good person, Mom”, save my Equality! rant for another day, and love her as she believes Jesus loves me. Religious or not, we can all use the reminders.

  • jara

    2013/06/05 at 5:42 pm

    I was one of those mormons marching. I did last year too, I made it a point to go hug people this year, (didnt have the kids with me this time). I hugged everyone I saw crying, and told them we loved them. Most importantly, I told the young people there, that its ok, and that we loved them. That was my spiritual high. I hated the show though, some things cant be unseen. I have been told I dont deserve to be a member of the church for doing this. If Im going to hell, its for far worse than telling gods children I love them.

  • Necole Kell

    2013/06/05 at 5:43 pm

    I loved the donut sign. Donuts truly can bring people together!

  • jara

    2013/06/05 at 5:45 pm

    The donuts sign was actually from a counter protest against the Westburough baptist church. The sign went out everywhere “I was promised donuts”. Along with “Build prisons on the moon”.

  • sarah

    2013/06/05 at 5:59 pm

    love. thanks for the reminder that goodness can be found amongst all sorts of people.

  • Mj Crites

    2013/06/05 at 6:02 pm

    Yeah. the donut sign was great.

  • Georgia Siltman

    2013/06/05 at 6:03 pm

    Love this! You give me hope. Organised religions can make me uncomfortable. I taught my first day as a relief teacher in a catholic school yesterday and was appalled when I saw the contents of the days planner – included were three prayer sessions and a half hour of religious education. But my fears were allayed when I heard the children’s prayers – all variations on hope’s for loved one’s health and well being, and found that the R.E. was a simple beautiful moral story. I feverently wish people with faith could focus on the messages of love and acceptance common to all religions, and learn in turn to love and accept each other

  • rebecca

    2013/06/05 at 6:03 pm

    ,,,this post made me happy! LOVE is LOVE plain and simple or…simply, simple. thanks heather i always enjoy your musings,,,

  • Mj Crites

    2013/06/05 at 6:06 pm

    Great post, Heather.

    I didn’t know any gay people until I was in my mid teens because I grew up in a community where kids were allowed, forced almost, to just be kids. Kids weren’t, for example, forced to self identify at 12 as straight or gay to join or stay in The Scouts.

  • Georgia Siltman

    2013/06/05 at 6:11 pm

    Also, I find it ironic that of the two blogs I read written by people linked with the Mormon faith – yours: a ‘naughty’ ex-Mormon blog, and Nienie dialogues: a “oh-so-perfect” practicing Mormon blog – yours highlights to me many of the beautiful and moving stories of Mormons, whilst Nie’s often makes me sad and frustrated with her very conservative views and traditions

  • naima801

    2013/06/05 at 6:18 pm

    I have to second this! I have read & enjoying your blog for over 5 years now. I find myself talking about you to others like we’re friends, and the other day I mentioned that it seems like you’ve got your groove back. Go Heather!

  • Ron

    2013/06/05 at 6:28 pm

    Beautifully expressed post, Heather.

    And as gay man, it was wonderful to read about Utah and the Morman faith being so open and accepting because I could actually feel the loving and open embrace in within your photos. And yes, perhaps it’s not how they all feel, but it’s start. And from that start, it will begin to alter other views. Like a ripple effect.

    ” But at least they are recognizing the fact that this is not an annoying little problem that people can just pray themselves out of, and that homosexuals deserve the love and respect that is due “any of God’s children.”


    And have to say, the more you share about Utah the more I get a sense that it’s got a wonderful energy.

    Thank you for sharing this, Heather. And yup…it made me very teary-eyed.

    Love the photo of you and your girls!

  • jara

    2013/06/05 at 6:44 pm

    Ron, as a devout mormon, it was my beliefs that drove me to be there, I was overwhelmed by the experience, and say it was one of the most spiritual moments of my life. Its pretty Gandhi esque to put yourself out like that in the face of something so unpopular with the masses. But marching in that parade , feeling the love of everyone there, feeling that yes this is gods love Im trying to show everyone, is something I wish I could have all the time. Yes it was a high, im still riding on it, it took me months to come down from last years parade. Ripple effect, yes, they cant dismiss us as just a handful of rebel mormons, we were a WARD out there, 400+. Didnt see any donuts though.

  • Nick

    2013/06/05 at 6:57 pm

    Great post, but I think it’s important to make the distinction that these wonderful church members are not “The Church;” they are not the LDS church’s leadership and doctrine-interpreters.
    They are an awesome (and hopefully growing) minority—but one that is not particularly in line with the church’s *official* teachings.

    I’m a gay former Mormon in SLC, and while these marching members should be lauded… the church itself, as a whole, still should not be. The mother of a (gay) friend is still an active, “card-carrying” Mormon; she decided to volunteer at the Utah Pride Center working with GLBT youth and when her bishop found out, she lost her temple recommend.

    All that said, there is still much change needed, but it will need to be done from within. And these folks are the brave ones who can do it.

  • Kristan

    2013/06/05 at 7:08 pm

    YEP. That was the one. *melts*

  • Ari

    2013/06/05 at 7:10 pm

    If you have access to any resources about Pride-related events (a city paper, a friend who works on the events, anything), you might take a gander: I know that in my area, the main parade isn’t really kid-friendly, but there are a handful of satellite events that are explicitly welcoming to families, and they’re usually listed in the free city paper, just not as well publicized as the parade.

    And yay for Episcopalians!

  • nyll18

    2013/06/05 at 7:12 pm

    I thought I was the only one with a Dooce-NieNie cross over! I 100% agree with you. I am fascinated by Stephanie’s resillance after her accident (the main reason I read her blog), but her conservatism is hard to take.

  • Tamara Tipton

    2013/06/05 at 7:22 pm

    “Will there be candy?” That is just about the best thing ever. Your child has a good grip on what is truly important. Who cares who some stranger wants to marry?? How exactly does that impact my world? But candy…now candy is important! I love this. I love that we are (even if it is slowly) moving toward acceptance and tolerance. I love that people like you are raising children like her. It gives me hope for the future.

  • Necole Kell

    2013/06/05 at 7:23 pm

    I love that. Those Westboro people are complete nut jobs!

  • Sandra

    2013/06/05 at 8:22 pm

    You are the valedictorian of moms, Heather.

  • Kelli Anderson

    2013/06/05 at 9:14 pm

    Loved this. I have never had my name removed from the church because of my mom. anyway, I never would’ve known about this movement in the church had you not posted it. thank you.

  • J

    2013/06/05 at 9:31 pm

    Until they turn 18, at least.

  • WhyDoIHaveToPickAName

    2013/06/05 at 9:32 pm

    (Not sure how this Disqus thing works–may be a duplicate comment)
    What is on your finger? Engagement ring???? Hello, those Jonathan Adler and MoMA registries are fo’ real?!

  • Tanya Edwards

    2013/06/05 at 9:55 pm

    I grew up outside of SLC in the 80s. I am both thrilled and gobsmacked by this. Sending love and light.

  • KristenfromMA

    2013/06/05 at 10:03 pm

    Omg, you are a beautiful person. Heather said to remember people like her mom & siblings. I will, but I’ll remember you, too. 🙂

  • Daisy

    2013/06/06 at 2:54 am

    You’re amazing. Your kids are amazing. You’re doing a bang-up job, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

  • Lindsay

    2013/06/06 at 3:46 am

    Beautiful post heather. Thanks.

Heather B. Armstrong

Hi. I’m Heather B. Armstrong, and this used to be called mommy blogging. But then they started calling it Influencer Marketing: hashtag ad, hashtag sponsored, hashtag you know you want me to slap your product on my kid and exploit her for millions and millions of dollars. That’s how this shit works. Now? Well… sit back, buckle up, and enjoy the ride.

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