Ever since I interviewed Matt Mazzei about his grassroots organization, the Rainbow Delegation, (for GayFresn.com, read the article here), I have proudly worn my own rainbow bracelet. I don’t bother to take it off at that pool or in the shower. It has, like my support of the LGBT community, become an unavoidable part of myself.
|The bracelets symbolize support for the LGBT community.|
It gets noticed.
Once by a rude man who dumped water on my lap while I was sitting on a city bus for being a “queer lover.”
Earlier this week by a Mormon duo, which is the story I am going to tell today.
I was walking to the Starbucks in Clovis, fresh from my final in my grant writing class. (I aced the final by the way.) It was dusk, the sidewalk was wet and slippery and they were in front of me before I had time to think.
Two boys (I saw boys because I feel confident that they were a good 10 years younger than myself) in suits on two matching bikes pulled to a stop. I may not be the smartest cookie out there but I knew what was coming, sort of.
“Good evening!” the one in the rear sang out.
“Hi.” They were sort of blocking the sidewalk. I had to stop. I smiled to show them I bore them no ill will.
“Can we ask you something?” The one in the back again, he was the talker, the other hardly made any sounds. And then without waiting for permission: “Have you ever heard of the Book of Mormon?”
Who hasn’t? I thought, “Yes” I said.
“Great” He smiled. A Very Cute Smile.”How did you hear about it?”
My mind skipped over the numerous TV ads, the whispered scorn for Mormons in my childhood church, the books I have read, the people I have talked to in the last few years… my mind went straight to another boy with another Very Cute Smile.
“I had a crush on a boy in high school who was Mormon.” This is true. However, we never talked religion. Ever. We hardly talked. It was more of a thing that I liked him, followed him around a bit, and had a private moment with him post prom that I still feel embarrassed about.
“Oh, great!” back to the present. “So you know that we believe in God and that God loves us.”
Maybe it was the trip down memory lane but I suddenly felt a bit strange to be talking to these boys, wasting their time. “Yeah I know you believe that, but look guys, I’m sorry, I’m not your target audience.”
“What? What do you mean?”
“Well, I don’t really believe in God.”
“Really? Why not?”
“It just doesn’t make sense. It is easier to believe that there isn’t something God-like since there isn’t any proof of God. I mean, there’s no evidence. There’s jut faith, and that’s just people feeling all warm and fuzzy.” Not my most articulate moment. I felt the collective skeptical community at my back sigh in exasperation.
“Well…” He has officially put the brakes on his bike and is about to launch into something. I beat him to it.
“Warm fuzzy feelings are great, but they don’t mean God exists. Look, I was a Christian, I went to church. I used to feel…. Something, something huge and amazing during the singing. But I realized it wasn’t God, it wasn’t magic or spirit, it was a sense of community. I felt lost in my life and I liked the sense of community, of being in sync with other people.” This is also true and possibly beside the point. I think one of the reasons I was so happy in the Pagan community (where I fled after leaving the Christian community) was due in large part to the chanting and the social aspects.
I try to bring it back to the boys on bikes, “So, community, great. Bug God? No. That just seems so… silly.”
He changes tact. “Well, let me ask you, have you ever prayed?”
I think he missed my point, but okay. “Yeah, of course. I was a Christian for like half my life. I prayed a lot.”
“Do you think God ever answered your prayers?”
I don’t hesitate this time, “Heh, well I remember my cataclysm. God ALWAYS answers prayers, right?” I tick them off on my fingers, “He says “Yes’, ‘No’, or “Wait’, right? All answers, just not always the one you want.”
I actually think that the God Answers All Prayers conversation I had with my Lutheran school teacher in 5th grade is what started my slide away from Christ. Coupled with my realizations that same year that heaven sounded like an awfully boring place and that babies could be sent to hell for just being born in the wrong place, my faith was understandably shaken.
He concedes my point. “Yeah, that is how God answers prayer. But see we believe that God loves us, that we were with him before we were born…”
I cut him off “See, no, that reincarnation stuff? That sounds so… silly. And look, I’m sure you guys are nice guys and I understand you have your faith, but you have to understand that there are a lot of bad things associated with your religion too. A lot of hypocrisy. A lot of closed minded judgments. Which is ironic since your whole thing boils down to a dream and a warm and fuzzy feeling.” Yes, I have read how the Mormon Church got started. I might have over simplifies it a bit. But not by much.
“Actually, we are all about love. God’s love for us and our love for…” He starts in again, but I am tired of standing in a puddle on a sidewalk. I want my celebratory coffee drink and my new Russell book.
“And really guys, I mean, from everything I have read and seen… “ I hold up my left arm and point at my rainbow bracelet, “Y’all don’t seem too loving toward the LGBT community.”
There is a moment of silence.
“Ohhhh.” Sighs the one in front, who had until this point been alternating between watching our discussion and watching traffic.
“I, uhh, I didn’t see your bracelet.” My would-be-convertor has his foot back up on the pedal, “Yeah, I guess you aren’t our, what did you call it?”
“Your target audience?”
“Yeah, that.” It’s awkward now. I can see the wheels turning in his head.
The first one speaks up at last, “Okay then, well you have a good night miss.” He moves out of my way.
“You two guys, ride safe out there.”
“Wait,” The one in the back, persistent to the end, digs in his pocket, “Do you want a card? It has a website, you could go there, get help…”
I decide to ignore the “get help” part. “No, really. I would honestly just toss it. Give it to someone who might actually use it.” I smile so I don’t sound like too much of a wicked heathen.
“Okay…” He is hesitant to end the conversation.
I, on the other hand, am not. I sail between them with a final “Good night” tossed over my shoulder and continue on my way…
…to Starbucks where I am pleased to see both servers behind the counter wearing their own rainbow bracelets. We click them together, an instant bond and I order my drink.