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God made some Mormons just too fabulous

When I first met Ricky, the members of the Mormon congregation tried to stop us from interacting. One of the members of the Buenos Aires, Argentina branch tried to tell me that the ward members could handle him and that the missionaries weren’t necessary.

Ricky was a dancer and a singer, and he was obviously much too fabulous for the extremely poor neighborhood where we lived. He had the nicest house: a gated yard, a three-story, stucco building with a clean and functioning restroom, which was unusual for that area.

Everyone loved Ricky. He was the choreographer of all the church productions. The kids loved his work for their Christmas program, which included decorations, a parade and a reenactment of the birth of Jesus, complete with animals and a two-week old infant as the little savior. Each year he hosted a talent show with a 100-peso prize, which he donated. It attracted people from around the city and hundreds packed the small church while dancers, singers and magicians competed for the top prize.

It was a known fact that Ricky was gay. His boyfriend, while not Mormon, participated in all the activities and was a frequent performer. The members of the branch knew that the American missionaries wouldn’t approve of his being involved in church leadership positions and so they tried to keep Ricky as far away from us as possible. But being closeted, self-righteous and curious, I approached Ricky and asked him about the allegations of his sexuality.

“Sweetie, I am too fabulous to be straight!” Ricky said as he laughed. Clearly, this wasn’t the first time someone asked him about it. “And besides, God made us all. I just happen to more awesome than the rest of you.”

Feeling I had to do something to stop this openly homosexual from serving in any position of leadership, I took my concerns to the local leadership.

“We can’t let him continue to serve like this. What he’s doing is wrong,” I said, allowing my own insecurities to get the best of me. “We need to release him from all his callings immediately.”

“Elder, surely you’ve seen how much everyone enjoys his productions. He believes in God and is as faithful as you or I. He cannot help how he was born and he’s making the best of it,” the branch president responded. “This is not your place to decide. You do not get to make decisions for us.”

I was appalled that the branch of Mormons would accept, without any conditions, this openly gay man. I couldn’t believe that he was somehow as righteous as I was, because although no one else knew I was gay, I was staying celibate and fighting to turn straight.

Since coming out and dropping the religion, I’ve often wondered if and when the Mormon Church would begin to accept gays and lesbians. I’ve heard from many different people that the day is coming when gay couples will be as open as straight couples and opposition to same-sex marriage will be a blot on the record of the Church.

The opposition to equality stems not from the average Mormon who does not understand why Ricky and his boyfriend shouldn’t be involved in Christmas productions, but from the old hierarchy in the large and spacious building in Salt Lake City.

Luckily, Ricky and his boyfriend were allowed to lead the productions and be an integral part of the Church branch. They didn’t let my own insecurities stop Ricky from producing the best manger scenes in Argentina.

With three states likely voting on marriage equality this November: Maryland, Washington and Maine, I can only hope the stranglehold the religious leaders have on everyday people is slightly less obtrusive and absolute as before. Here’s to three more states with full equality.

Seth Bracken

Seth Bracken is the editor of QSaltLake

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