This is the time of the year when people make promises to change. Change is good! Right? Change is great; but, not when you’re changing something good about yourself, something that defines who you are. Something about yourself that you can’t change. Not everyone understand this concept. It can awfully foreign to them. Whether a part of you is of nature, or nurture, it’s still a part of you. Many people attempt to change themselves for the fear that they will never be accepted. As a result the individual harms themselves, and most likely, those around them. How is that worth it, or okay?
Many people who come out as LGBT eventually face this kind of, change who you are to make everyone else happy, kind of situation. For some this happens sooner, rather than later. Many times the whole situation can be conflicting. First of all, one person is being asked, or forced, to change who they are. Second, the person demanding that one changes themselves may be making this demand with good intentions, which only convinces them that they are trying to change you for your own good. Their intentions may be good, but the demand is wrong. People can get so caught up in their religious doctrines that they are unable to comprehend that the Bibles might be wrong. They then experience their own inner conflict. How do you save someone when the religion you so strongly believe in condemns someone you love? Well, the only logical explanation is to change that person rather than admitting that your sacred passages could be flawed. Dan Savage put it eloquently. Savage says, “We ignore what the Bible says about slavery because the Bible got slavery wrong… [As Sam Harris says] If the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong, slavery. What are the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? 100 percent.”
I’ve witnessed this conflict take place within the mind of my own religious relatives. My dear grandmother loves all her grandchildren immensely (she has a heart of gold); but, what is she supposed to do about me, her condemned at birth grandson? Well she need not worry, her church has told her what to do. Or rather, it has scared her into action. No one wants their grandchild to be condemned to eternal damnation for the duration of the afterlife just for being gay. She must have been terrified for me after finding that I am under the influence of… Demons. For this I was asked by my grandmother to, one day in the future, change my homosexual ways in exchange for salvation. She did not asked me to change right away. She asked that I change one day so that I can join the rest of the family in heaven. All I needed to do was finish the phase in my life which is homosexuality. It’s not a phase; but, all I could do is nod my head and give her a false sense of relief.
I’ve never gotten mad at her for asking me that I change who I am. It can be hard to argue with ignorance. Besides, I know that the reason my grandmother told me that I need to change one day isn’t because she rejects who I am, or thinks I am disgusting (at least she doesn’t show it). It is because she genuinely fears for me. How can you hold resentment for someone who loves and cares for you? Even if the one manned intervention set up for you is treating you like you have a sickness.
I hadn’t always realized that my grandma wanted me to change because she is afraid for me. It wasn’t until she gave me The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ magazine, Ensign. She handed the magazine to me with it already open to an article written by Elder Keith K. Hilbig titled, Living for the Eternities. I accepted it and promised to read it later, and I did. As I read the article I noticed the many phrases that were included in the text to scare the readers into obeying. As I read I saw the phrases that I knew my grandmother highlighted in her head as she read, keeping me in mind all along. Apparently I am one of those young adult who, “likely know nothing of their premortal existence and little of eternity.” In the minds of the righteous I am one of the people who has accepted this moment in mortal life as the only life. I have accepted this moment in life, “which is a mere nanosecond in the scheme of eternity”, and I “dare not live for the moment; rather [I] must live for the eternities… ” By being born gay I have let Satan blind me. I have forgotten my premortal life and have been robbed of my “blessings of eternity”. And of course a religious magazine would not be complete without mentioning marriage. “[M]arriage is ordained of God between a man and a woman and that children have the right to be nurtured by a mother and a father.”
As far as Elder Keith K. Hilbig sees it, I have been tempted by the devil to live in the moment as a homosexual. Elder K. Hilbig pleads that “you visualize frequently your future celestial existence with your family in eternity.” I know that my grandmother read this, and that she is kept me in mind. Her hopes that I will change are in my best interest. After all, what kind of grandmother would she be if she didn’t care for her grandchildren? I know that the desire to change me comes from love, despite the fact that it is misplaced. Unfortunately the ignorance of religion creates factions between those who believe in the gospel, and those who know that the way they were born cannot be wrong. We were born this way, and if there is a god, we were born exactly as he intended. It just might take others longer to realize this.
Jerry Javier, an LGBT teenager born and raised in Puna, is a senior at the Hawaii Academy of Arts and Science. He is also an aspiring advocate for LGBT youth.