Today, one of my feeds came up with Michael Aron's article, "Build Up and Love Our Community in QSaltLake.
Sometimes comments in the gay press spew hatred and sometimes they try to build bridges. Sometimes comments in the Mormon press spew hatred and sometimes they try to build bridges.
On occasion I have posted comments to these articles defending or explaining Mormon beliefs. Sometimes I challenge the logic or accuracy of the article or that of a fellow poster. Although moderated, my comments were always posted in gay or conventional forums. By and large these were all positive experiences for me.
On one occasion, I had extensive communication with an author. Our dialog was civil and respectful. He provided additional information on his research and the origin of some of his sources. We respectfully disagreed with each other on a number of issues but I came away from the experience convinced he was sincerely trying to be accurate and fair in his articles.
Much of the conflict seems to stem from basic misunderstanding of Mormon beliefs and terms, especially when the terms have different meanings in other religions like "Bishop."
What am I getting at?
I'm trying to establish that although we will probably continue to disagree on these issues we don't need to fear each other but especially we don't need to fear talking to each other.
If gays and lesbians hate Mormons as much as we are all led to think why were all my comments in the overtly gay press published? Why were others so respectful of my comments? Why did they sincerely examine my arguments when they could have so easily attacked me or spewed invectives at me? Why was that author so civil and respectful to my concerns about his article if he really hated my guts? Why didn't he attack me or ignore me entirely?
These were not the actions of people who hate.
I've never known anyone Mormon who disowned any gay family member or kicked them out on the streets. I don't know anyone of my extensive Mormon acquaintance who treated anyone homosexual as anything other than a valued child of God.
I've had to rely on the news media and the rumor mill for all the negative stories. My personal experience suggests that most of the negative stories are exceptions.
Instead of relying on these negative stories to frame my understanding of the gay community, I think I'll continue to access the gay press and interact with the people directly.
I would recommend that others be guided by their personal experiences and not allow adversarial news coverage to cloud their actions, or their judgment, in dealing with people.