So I did it. I had dinner with her. (You know, her). She was very gracious, and very kind. Almost too sweet, lol. She explained why the issue was so personal for her, and then asked about my experiences and the decisions that I have. She was specifically interested in the decision some make to stay in the Church despite strong feels of same gender attraction. She wants to encourage people to do that, and wants to know how that choice could be easier to make for them. We talked a lot about things members of the Church do that push gays away from the Church.
She talked about being very involved in the “protect family” movement, being close to high ups in the Southerland Institute and Narth, and being the president of BYU’s “protect family” club. (She’s an older graduate student). She said that one of the biggest problems they have is that a lot of the people involved in this movement lack compassion for gays because they don’t know gay people. She wants to move away from the fear tactics and the hatred and help her movement defend “truth” while still being compassionate to the undecided and to those who believe differently. She also wants to find a non-polarizing, moderate way to engage in dialog about sexuality.
And she wants me to help her.
She believes that by introducing me to people in her movement and letting me share my experiences with them, they will become more compassionate. She thinks that I can help her ensure that her club’s activities on campus don’t hurt people. She also thinks that I can help ground her by reminding her that real people are involved with this “battle.” Basically she wants me to humanize the other side.
Specifically, she wants me to attend a viewing of the debate between Equality Utah and the Southerland Institute tomorrow. Only 3 other leaders of her club would attend, and she has promised to protect me—she assured me that she doesn’t want to make me a dartboard. All she wants me to do is help these leaders see how their arguments and the way their arguments are structured are hurtful and push people away. But her goal is to then make better arguments and learn to be more respectful and informed in their delivery.
What should I do?
I want campus to be a safer place for gay students. I would love it if her club was less distracting—their booths during the prop 8 campaign made that semester hell for me. Really, though, I would just love it if her club ceased to exist, or if a counter club was permitted. So I don’t know how aligned our goals are. Plus, I maintain my studentship at BYU by walking a very fine line. The Honor Code forbids advocacy of homosexuality. I fear that I wouldn’t be able to say everything I believed in these settings for fear of my statements being misconstrued as advocacy. (I mean, I do personally support gay rights. Does merely saying so constitute advocacy?) Besides, I don’t want to help her make her political agenda more enticing to moderates or more likely to succeed in a shifting world. I want her political agenda to die in its outrageous extremism!
So to what extent should I help her/communicate with her/her club? I mean, the bridge has got to be made. We do need to have this conversation. But I don’t know that I’m in a position to do it.
Is there anyone out there who is in a more helpful position to communicate with them? Perhaps I could suggest a replacement, someone who is more warm towards the Church than I am, and yet secure enough to share with her what her groups are doing to us! Anyone out there? Help!