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In this episode of RiseUp, Nick Galieti interviews a Young Women from Southern Californa named Mikalya.
Mikayla’s parents were members so she was born into the church and baptized when she was 8. But it wasn’t until she turned 13 that she really dove into the gospel. Before that, she was relatively inactive for a few years. She now lives in Southern California where she is currently the Laurel Class President but because her ward is so small, she is effectively the overall Young Women’s Class President. She loves to play guitar, but is not good enough to consider myself anything beyond a beginner. She loves to read, especially anything that involves history, fiction, or both. She love to write and currently writes for her school newspaper and designs a page of the newspaper. She also loves to draw, but her skills are limited to Disney Characters and Looney Toons. She comes on the RiseUp podcast to talk about a poem she wrote for an online contest where she declared her experience as a member of the Church defending traditional marriage. Here is the poem she submitted and the original link for the poem:
The “H Word”
“Did you know he’s a homophobe?”
It felt like one of those moments in movies where
Yet emotions, thoughts, and feelings hit me at 3×10^8 meters per second.
I’m not one to swear.
I never liked the anger and harshness associated with the words,
Didn’t like the feeling of such unnecessary words rolling off my tongue,
Nor did I enjoy the taste they left behind.
Yet those words no longer gave me
The strange jolt-in-your-chest feeling
That young children get
When they’re young enough to feel uncomfortable at the sound of an infrequently heard “bad word”,
Yet old enough to know it’s bad.
Those words, though I still discouraged the use of them,
Didn’t have the same effect on me
As this “H word” did.
This “H word”, used so casually, carried heavy baggage of hatred.
I knew the “he” they spoke of.
I knew his name, his face,
And I knew his church,
Because his church was my church too
And I had an idea why people might give him such a label.
His church, my church, our church
Did not support gay marriage,
And to some people, wearing a BYU sweatshirt
Or an “I’m a Mormon” pin
Was equivalent to putting an “I supported Prop 8” sign on your back.
And this wasn’t always okay.
This feeling isn’t always there, out in the open,
But it’s never gone.
It’s hiding somewhere in the corner of the room, and comes into the light
When you hear that another state legalized gay marriage
And the person next to you turns toward you and says
“Doesn’t your church hate gay people?”
And whether or not there’s a joking undertone or a serious air to their voice,
It feels like time freezes as their words hit you,
Yet the clock ticks faster as you scramble for the right words.
Because how you explain to this person, whether they be a stranger, acquaintance, or friend,
Whether they be joking or absolutely serious,
That your church doesn’t support gay marriage because of biblical reasons
Without pulling out the bible and throwing out religious doctrine.
And how do you explain to them that just as it says in the Bible that marriage is between a man and a woman,
It says to love thy neighbor,
Whoever they are, whatever they believe
And that you don’t see why people assume that you can’t love someone who is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
As much as someone who isn’t
And simultaneously not agree with gay marriage?
How do you incorporate that your uncle is gay
And happily married to a great man
To provide the ethos-influenced evidence that your English teacher praises in arguments
To show that even though your church doesn’t support gay marriage,
You’re still capable of being happy that your uncle is happy
Because you love him so much?
How do you emphasize that you’ve met people
Who are gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender
And absolutely great people?
Because that’s exactly what they are.
How do you tell them that there’s much more to not supporting gay marriage
Than is shown on the surface.
That it runs deeper and intertwines with doctrine and beliefs
That rest close to your heart.
And that no matter how unpopular they may seem,
You believe them without a doubt.
I don’t remember how I responded to the statement phrased as a question
That labeled a fellow church goer as “a homophobe”
After I unfroze and my emotions, thoughts, and feelings
I don’t remember if I shrugged in an uninterested way that changed the subject,
Or if I looked up and tried to give a Spark Notes-worthy explanation
Of what “he” and I believed
Without seeming like a religious fanatic
Or if I asked the reasons for distributing such a label.
I don’t remember if we were sitting outside with a group of friends,
Sunlight streaming through nearby trees,
Or talking alone in a crowded classroom lit by fluorescent lights.
But I do remember looking down at my shoes at the end of the school day,
Perched on the edge of the sidewalk, waiting to cross
With music blasting through my earbuds
And the “H word” lingering in my mind.
And I remember secretly hoping that that word
Would never be placed as a label above my head,
Yet more than that,
I prayed that I would stand up for what I believed in
No matter what the consequence.