Protecting My Children by Honoring Their Privacy and Consent

TW: Mild themes of child sexual abuse and sexuality

MIRIAM: Just a few minutes after leaving the neighborhood pool, the summer sun had already dried my bare shoulders, but I still smelled the chlorine from the pool water on my skin and in my hair.  I trailed home with other children ahead and behind me as we passed the local gas station. The moment that I neared the station’s payphone, it rang. At seven-years old, I loved to answer phones, so I hopped to it and answered the ring.

The caller on the line did not ask for someone else, he just started talking to me. He asked me to say something. The words he asked me to say were strange, but I said them. He asked me to say them again. I did. After a few times, I decided the man sounded unpleasant, and I hung up the phone. Continue reading “Protecting My Children by Honoring Their Privacy and Consent”

Sitting with My Anger: a Queer Response to the Policy of Exclusion Reversal

LAURA: For three and a half years, queer Mormons in same-sex relationships have been classed as apostates “for purpose of church discipline” and their children excluded from full activity in the church. Yesterday, that policy was reversed during the General Conference Leadership Session.

As a queer woman, I’ve watched the reactions from across the spectrum of Mormondom and I’ve very slowly and carefully made space for my own feelings. What I’ve seen is that most straight Mormons, whether they’re more nuanced and on the fringes or they’re more traditionally believing, are happy. They are celebrating even. Meanwhile most queer Mormons are hesitant, hurting again, fearful of what comes next, and mourning the minimization of three and a half years of brutal pain. Continue reading “Sitting with My Anger: a Queer Response to the Policy of Exclusion Reversal”

A Bishop’s Authority, Sexual Harassment, and Me

JUNE: “Bishop, I’m scared…in my own home.” He sat silently. “My kids shouldn’t hear me called a ‘F***ing bitch’ by their father. I am being…coerced sexually. He kicks me out of the car and leaves me on the side of the road if I upset him. I…I don’t understand what’s going on. We need help…please.”

My plea hung in the air while his eyes raked me over. In ironic foreshadowing, I found myself foolishly and hopelessly wishing my husband, my abuser, was there to protect me. He sat in the foyer. He’d had an hour-long chat with the bishop ahead of me. When he exited the office, I was invited in. I begged for help. Continue reading “A Bishop’s Authority, Sexual Harassment, and Me”

The Silencing of Women in the Church

READER POST: At the foundation of the patriarchal culture of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is the silencing of women. Until recently, women were not allowed to speak in General Conference. Their voices are excluded from critical councils of the Church–the councils that make policies which determine the quality of a woman’s life and how a woman may participate in the Church. Under these conditions, women are expected to obey Church leaders without complaint. Those who refuse to do so are too often marginalized and shamed. Continue reading “The Silencing of Women in the Church”

What Comes Between My Husband and Me

READER POST: I sat in the Bride’s Room, listening to the temple matron, feeling very aware of my first pair of silky garments  beneath my temple gown. The bottoms felt baggy, but the top fit well, except for a seam that cut right across my breasts.  It felt a strange, having a bra on over the garment top, especially with that misplaced seam. I focused harder, trying to feel the spirit of what was happening. The temple matron quickly taught how to launder garments and told us when and when not to wear them. “Of course,” she said, “you’ll remove them for intercourse, but replace them right afterwards and always wear them overnight.” 

I did a double take. What did she just say? Continue reading “What Comes Between My Husband and Me”

You Are as He Meant You to Be

READER POST: I stand at the bathroom counter brushing my teeth. Three of my four children are in bed and the oldest, a 15-year-old girl, is on her way home. Our house is locked, the windows drawn. I feel at peace, knowing that this day, I have successfully checked off all the religious to-dos; prayers have been said, scriptures read. My temple recommend is valid, my faith strong. While we are not perfect as a family, I feel God is cognizant of our efforts and pleased with our work.

I hear the front door unlock, footsteps on the stairs, and the bathroom door opens. My eldest daughter, the one we prayed to have, the one we were blessed with after a miscarriage and years of trying, stands, not looking at me, defiant and, I see now, scared.

“I’m bisexual and I don’t want to talk about it.”

Continue reading “You Are as He Meant You to Be”

Life Bi the Closet

LAURA: When I was a kid, my grandparents lived in a house with a closet that had stairs and a hidden cubby inside. It captured my imagination (imagine! secrets in a closet!), and I loved to play in there. Now, of course, I’ve grown too big to fit inside, and even my very best imaginations can’t make me believe that a closet really is another world. I miss that sometimes–being able to make my real world disappear and let my play one be real for a while.

Continue reading “Life Bi the Closet”