Best way to roast the broomstick. Must try. Five Stars.

“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?

And thus, THE BEGINNING OF THE END OF THIS MORMON.

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?”

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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:

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

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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.

  • Kristen

    One of your best posts! Thank you!

  • e11even

    Those pictures brought a tear to my eye too – awesome

  • carey florentino

    Acceptance will make this world great.

    And donuts.

  • I saw that one straight away, too!!! Might as well of been “My gay child said there would be cake…cookies…punch…and on and on and on!”

    That’s the way to build a crowd!!!

  • Richard Morey

    As you said, hopefully Leta’s generation will look back at the current state of marriage laws, etc. and think “WTF” in the same way the laws regarding interracial couples are looked at now.

  • Tami

    I was thinking the same thing! Perfect picture of a lovely family!

  • Megan

    I had a Young Women’s leader I loved dearly who always told us “Remember who you are and what you stand for.” And now that (most of) my personal bitterness at the church has passed, that’s what I remember and get misty eyed over when I read about the Utah Pride Parade.

    I’m so glad that this is woven into who your girls are and what they stand for. 🙂

  • Heather Armstrong

    The Internet is batshit insane.

  • Jamie

    I love that quote “I was on the right side of history.” <3 <3 <3

  • Great post! I love the picture of Marlo holding the back of Leta’a shirt. My youngest does the same thing to his big brother.

    The Mormons are taking baby steps, but at least they’re steps! We had a couple of young Mormons on their mission at our door a little while back. I politely told them that I was happy in my own beliefs but invited them in for some just baked cookies. So far from home…

  • Mike

    So the multiple registries with your and Matt’s names on them aren’t real?

  • Debra

    It’s really amazing to witness the values you are installing in your children. I’m so proud of you and your girls!

  • That is really interesting! I’m in Canada and if you had asked me the one place I wouldn’t want to live if I were gay in the US, I would probably have said Utah… now I realize the southern states are probably the correct answer.

  • Bravo!

  • bethers

    My dad is gay, and took me to my first pride parade in Chicago when I was around Leta’s age. The funniest memory of the day was me learning that they were tossing condoms rather than candy.

  • Heather Armstrong

    No. But I really admire the work put into them!

  • MidLyfeMama

    I love this post.

  • misszoot

    I sob every time I see Mormon support for the LGBTQ community. My brother is one of those Mormons you speak about as well. He’s new to the church, but he vows to be on the rainbow side of the history and when I see he has others over there with him, I seriously do sob. I sob for my gay loved ones who need his support even of his religion as a whole is not supportive. Those Mormons at that parade let me see my brother is not alone and that warms my heart.

    Thanks for sharing that.

  • GrossedOut

    What about the Coachella photos from 2012?

  • Karen

    Best. Post. Ever.

  • emilyo

    What a lovely post. Thank you.

  • I’m a Mormon, and a supporter of LGBTQABCDEFG rights (sorry, but things keep getting added, and I have a hard time keeping track.) I’m especially a strong supporter of marriage equality. One of the things Mormons are taught at church is that we have free agency – the ability to choose for ourselves whatever path to follow. Some are right, some are wrong, but it’s our choice regardless. I believe that denying anyone their right to choose – whether it be who to love, who to marry, where to live, what to read, or what church to attend (which used to be a big one for us), is the same as telling people that they are wrong – that the government knows better than we do what is right for an individual. I know lots of people in the LGBT community – friends, coworkers, my sister’s brother-in-law… these people deserve to be treated as the humans they are – they deserve their right to choose.

  • Have you seen the picture of Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas next to his wife (who is white) with the caption “Dear Justice Thomas, Please don’t forget that your marriage was once illegal in many states.”

  • Tim Vitale

    Brilliant piece on all levels. Thanks.

  • Beth Rich

    I agree. It’s time the religious moderates spoke out in a very loud voice, “I’m Christian and I don’t agree!”

  • Sandra T

    And he ATE ALL THE DOUGHNUTS?!?

  • Amelia

    Hi Stephanie! This is a bit of a derail, but really, there’s a much bigger urban/rural split in attitudes towards tolerance across the US than there is north/south/east/west. I personally encountered far more bigotry in rural Connecticut than I ever did in Atlanta or Midwestern college towns.

  • Georgia Siltman

    Oh wow! Yes thank you! Reading my way through his ‘messing with people’ tab – cried laughing twice already

  • Mandy Britt

    Love, love this post, Heather!

  • Jackie D.

    Oh. My. Gosh. That site is KILLING me. The messing with people tab? Pure brilliance. The Snuggie Texts thing made me pee my pants.

    Nice post, Heather. It was good to read something uplifting today!

  • Jennie

    Really? No assless chaps at all? Confused. Probably because I’ve been going to SF Pride since 1983. There are ALWAYS assless chaps.

  • Meg Griswold

    I laughed at Marlo pinching Leta’s nose. Then I was all smooshy at the photo of Marlo holding onto Leta’s shirt. Then you made me cry! Those families marching. Oh geez. This is perhaps my favorite post of your since I have been reading for the last 6 months.

  • Meg Griswold

    I am totally saying LGBTABCDEFG from now on.

  • Francesca Fine Jewelry

    I’m a lifelong resident of CT, and know many people all over the state.
    It’s not a big state by any means. I find the opposite to be true. We
    have gay marriage here, and same sex couples walk arm and arm. The
    majority of people in CT don’t care. Not much phases us. We go to NYC like some people go to the mall, because it’s so close. It’s not like we’re sheltered.
    One day the residents of CT woke up and heard that gay marriage was
    legal. Most of us weren’t even following it, and the responses were
    nothing more than “That’s a good thing.” There was no debate, arguing, or opposition. My elderly devout Catholic parents didn’t even care.
    Not sure what part of CT you encountered this in, but that is definitely
    not the norm here. A lot of us have friends here who are gay, myself
    included, and half the time we don’t even remember that they are gay.
    It’s not a big deal at all.

    Jean

  • Amelia

    I didn’t mean to paint all residents of the state with the same brush, and I sincerely apologize if I left that impression. I know many, many lovely and loving folks from and in CT – most of whom are from larger towns, as it happens. My point that the rural/urban cultural divide is much greater than the northern/southern cultural divide, in my own lived experience.

    Frankly, though, the teeny little village where we lived for 8 years (in Litchfield county, population < 3,000, 99% white, most folks not college educated) was absolutely, hands down, the most close-minded, bigoted place I've ever lived, where I was not alone in being bullied horribly throughout high school because my peers *suspected* that I *might* be gay. Again, I put that down to the fact that it was an eensy weensy teeny tiny insular community, not the fact that this particular tiny isolated town happens to be located in Connecticut. I still think it's a shame that a place so beautiful was filled with people so ugly.

  • funfettiahoy

    Heather, the light has returned to your face in that picture of you and your girls. My heart. Beautiful.

  • Tay

    Ugh.

  • giddypony

    Just a reminder, it is for GLBTQ folks to decide how the LDS church hierarchy
    should make amends to them, not straight people.

  • Heather

    I was raised catholic and am no longer catholic. When I saw the last few pictures, I started to cry. I totally get your reaction, it’s almost automatic. Acceptance is such a huge thing, even if it’s just for the donuts 😉

  • Jen Wilson

    1. Oh my word, “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.'” That is so my middle child. Exactly.

    2. That photo of you and your girls is just rad.

    3. How you just described Mormons is how I feel about being lumped with other Christians. We’re not all sign-toting pro-lifers, and we’re not all on board with Fred Phelps. I love that there were Mormons involved in that parade. So awesome.

    4. That donut sign. Oh my word.

  • Amity

    That’s a BEAUTIFUL pic of you and the girls!

  • Meg

    I keep rereading this post, because it makes me cry happy tears. The fact that your girls are growing up with such awesome gay men in their lives, every day, growing up with confusion at bigotry instead of bigotry . . . and Chuck’s gay collars. Love those.
    (Dear Tyrant : I can’t find a rainbow collar my dog can’t remove & chew into tiny pieces. Please advise. Thank you.)
    The day Marlo was born I was at Pride (in DC). I hate crowds and people but I can do Pride because, well, it’s MY people. And dogs and kids.

    And about the rural/urban divide being stronger than the red state/blue state — YES. Rural CT was, for me, much worse than urban TX.

  • Robyn Narayouski

    I am going to bookmark this post so that when I have a child of my own, I can go back to see what a perfect conversation on gay people for children should be. Very well done, Heather. You raised some pretty awesome girls there.

  • Shinetrue

    Love the pic of you and the girls! Love – ” You know what’s worse than first world problems? LITTLE KID PROBLEMS” – I would LOVE to go a day without my 4 year old screaming, “I LOST MY ANGRY BIRD! FIND IT, FIND IT, FIND IT! Waaaaaahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!”

  • Marlene Kaiser

    In the early 90’s our mormon friend had a gay son who was dying of Aids. This son was blessed and taken great care of by his LDS ward in Salt Lake City from the time they learned of it until his death, which wasn’t pretty. This was at a time when Aids was not understood and people were afraid of it. I think too often too much is associated with the Mormon church that is not the practice in reality. The first person I knew with Aids was a Relief Society sister who had gotten it from her husband. This was in 1984. We took care of her and her family even though her husband was not a church member and even after she died we took care of her children until he husband died. I haven’t read you for a long time, and I see you are softening in some of your positions. I expect you to lash back at me for that, but that is ok.

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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