Something happened on November 5th. On the dawn of the Obama landslide, gays around the nation realized that we are still second-class citizens. And the queer uprising began. Across the nation gays took to the street. Even in Salt Lake City.
I have been flooded by text messages, emails and phone calls from folks thanking me for my talk at the Nov. 7 rally. I appreciate the kind words and support. I also know that for some my rhetoric was too “in your face” for their tastes. I understand their concerns. There are many gays who want to allow the LDS church to set the rules of polite “civil” discourse. In my opinion, they seem to be suffering from Stockholm Syndrome.
But there are many different opinions about what strategy is most effective. The truth is it takes multiple strategies and several diverse voices to push our movement forward. Some need to be outraged, while others need to be more cautiously political. But never underestimate the impact of the radical voice. They weren’t called the “Stonewall Riots” because people wanted to gather around and politely share their stories to educate the homophobic public. People tore through the streets because their basic rights as humans were being subjugated.
For my part, I’m tired of being nice. I’m not here to make “gay” trendy. And I’m not going to politely acquiesce as the Mormon Church and other religions bully their way into our private lives. We cannot afford to play by their rules anymore. If that makes some conservative folks uneasy, good! In the politics of the playground, the best way to deal with a bully is to boldly stand up to him or her. The following are my complete comments from the November 7th rally.
My name is Troy Williams and I am a gay Mormon. We are the queer children of Zion—and we have gathered here today to change the world!
Beyond being gay, we are first citizens of the United States of America! We believe that all men, women and trans people are created equal. We are endowed by our creator with certain inalienable rights. We stand here today to claim our right to Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness.
Our lives are not up for your vote!
Mr. Monson, the LDS church is on notice! We will no longer be shamed and we will no longer be silent. After years of being told that we were deviants—that we were perverts, that we were abominations before God—we have found our voice. We are politically organized, we are angry and we are going to continue to work for the freedom and equality of all people!
As children we were told stories of our Mormon ancestors. We were mobbed and murdered and driven across this country. We were hated for being different, for having a gold Bible—and yes, for our alternative marriage lifestyle. I am the descendent of Mormon polygamists.
How many of you are descendents of polygamy?
The LDS church is embarrassed by our polygamist history. They are eager to prove to the world that they are good honest, monogamous, gay-hating conservative Christians—just like the rest of their coalition! They don't want America to think they are like their fundamentalist cousins in Texas.
But here is the deal: If the LDS Church is going to keep lying about us, it’s time we started telling the TRUTH about them!
Mormons provided the largest funding for a campaign to amend the California constitution to define marriage as one man married to one woman. But polygamy is still an eternal doctrine of the LDS church. Mormons believe that families can be sealed for eternity in their temple. Mormon men can today—in this temple right here—be sealed to multiple women in heaven. In fact, three members of the Quorum of the Twelve who have denounced gay marriage are, right now, polygamists in heaven. Their first wives died and they have been sealed to their second wives for time and all eternity.
Russell M. Nelson is a polygamist in Heaven.
Dallin H. Oaks is a polygamist in Heaven.
L. Tom Perry is a polygamist in Heaven!
Russell, Dallin, and L. Tom: Don't speak to us about defending traditional marriage! You are polygamists—and you are all hypocrites.
Wait a minute! Wait a minute. I've just had a new revelation! How about we create a new referendum? Let’s work to pass a Celestial Marriage Amendment. Let’s pass a law that will define marriage in heaven as one man and one woman. Let’s nullify the celestial plural marriages of all Mormon General Authorities and members alike.
Outside of this temple we stand together. This is our Utah Stonewall! We are not going back into the closets! We are not going to stay out of the capitol! We will not allow you to make us strangers in our own state and in our own country!
This is just the beginning of our outrage. I encourage all of you to be public. Place your dissent in the center of public discourse. Write letters to the editors. Write op-eds. Lobby at the capitol. Run for political office. Work campaigns. Stir things up!
We will not hide our faces and we will not silence our voices any longer.
Today it is time to end the politics of exclusion. On Tuesday America elected our first African-American president. A man who 30 years ago was not considered worthy to enter into the Mormon temple. President-elect Obama said that we must “recognize ourselves in one another; to understand that we are our brother’s keeper; we are our sister’s keeper; that, in the words of Dr. King, we are all tied together in a single garment of destiny.”
Let me make this clear: I am proud of my Mormon heritage. I am proud of my Mormon ancestors who braved the long trek across the land. And let it be known that if the civil liberties of Mormons were ever in jeopardy, we would stand in their defense as well. Because that is what the human family must do for one another. Let’s stand together with our new president and fight passionately for a new politics of inclusion, of acceptance, of love, of equality and justice. Let us stand in partnership with all oppressed people around the world! Separate we are a minority, together we comprise an astonishing majority.
Are you ready to change the world?
THEN LET'S MAKE HISTORY! THANK YOU!
Troy Williams blogs at queergnosis.com.