BYU is failing the LGBT Community. Trust me, I don't say that lightly, and I am not simply throwing it out here for shock value. I firmly believe that Brigham Young University is failing the LDS LGBT community, in fact, I feel that it is appropriate to say that this university's core ideal of helping students reach God seemingly does not apply to me and those like me.
Lets start with some background. Three months ago I wrote a post about a mission companion who had made some mistakes. (If you're new to my blog, or need a refresher, click here) His Bishop was everything you could ever ask for.....understanding, caring, genuine, and ultimately, this inspired man did all he could to help my friend. I saw this story as both a testament to the church, and a tragedy, the tragedy being that I could not expect or even hope for the same treatment with my bishop, as Homosexuality in and of itself is a few gray millimeters away from eternal damnation.
The time has come when I need ecclesiastical advise. I have made mistakes. I do things I know I shouldn't, and regardless of how I feel about the church I know that God has standards that I need to keep, and I know I am not keeping them. (Where to find those standards is the topic of another post.) Leaving the church is something I have struggled with, and I understand that it is highly likely that I will eventually leave the Church. That isn't a problem, the problem is that I do not feel myself becoming distant from the church, rather I find myself being distanced from God himself. I can live with out the church but I do not want to leave God behind. What I need is someone to help me, someone I can talk to about my mistakes, feelings, and struggles. This is where BYU comes in.
Most of the time at BYU I feel like the main character of George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece 1984; Winston. I feel like I am a threat to the perfect society to which I lukewarmly belong. Due to this feeling, no matter how much as I want to talk to my religious leader and find peace and understanding, I know with that decision comes the opportunity for my expulsion from school. Not just school though, my life. Provo is monopolized by this school and getting kicked out of BYU would also mean getting kicked out of my home and losing my job. My life would be left in shambles, and what would my crime be? Seeking to draw closer to "God." Recognizing my mistakes and attempting to fix them. For this reason I will continue to hide. I will do what I need to. I will lie. I will attempt to the best of my feeble ability to draw close to God, and go through the motions, because I want to keep my life. Leaving BYU, as appealing as that sounds, does not feel like the right path for me, so I will continue with my current path until I feel it is time for a change. I will continue going to church, studying, and standing up for my personal beliefs where and when I can. What I won't do is progress. A goldfish will only grow as big as its tank, and my testimony will only grow as far as the red tape surrounding it will allow it to. I don't feel comfortable discussing my challenges with the world, or with the church. I don't have faith that my bishop would be concerned about my eternal welfare as much as he would be concerned about notifying the proper authorities. Instead of focusing on repentance and improvement I see him focusing on investigation and reprove. Maslow's Hierarchy of needs states that until someone's basic needs are satisfied, they will not be able to worry about self actualization. Self actualization refers to personal growth and progression, something the Church does very well at. To me, that religious self actualization will uproot my safety and security. By forcing me, and many other LGBT individuals into a situation like this, BYU fails. How can someone grow spiritually if the very steps the need to take to do so will violate their personal needs? It won't happen.