Beliefnet

Before he committed suicide on February 25, Matis wrote a letter to his 18-year-old cousin, from which the following is excerpted.


So, you want my opinions regarding the Knight initiative? At the outset, I'll tell you that the events surrounding this initiative have been painfully difficult for me to endure. Last July, I read online that the church had instructed the bishops to read a letter imploring the members to give of their time and money to support this initiative. I almost went into a panic attack. I cried for hours in my room, and I could do very little to console the grief of hearing this news.

Furthermore, I read that the church had supported similar measures in Hawaii and in Alaska. In Alaska, the supporters of the measure had raised $600,000. Of this, $500,000 came from the church. Ads were aired on television describing the downfall of the Roman Empire and placing blame on Rome's tolerance of homosexuality. Its message was that a similar fate would occur to those who supported equality for gay Americans. ...

Apparently, the church has raised $1 million in support of this initiative. This is so disheartening because I feel that my own peers are attacking me. Caesar's Brutus comes to mind. In July, I realized that I was going to have to endure viewing millions of dollars of television ads designed with one intention in mind: to raise fear against gay and lesbian Californians. What's worse is that this fear campaign has been orchestrated by my own friends.

My mom is completely distraught over the issue. She told me that she is scared to read the papers or watch TV. When her bishop read another pro-Knight letter last Sunday, she wanted to cry. My gay friend [name removed by request] (I met him on my mission) has implored me never to mention anything regarding Knight in his presence. It causes him too much pain. He almost asked that his name be taken off the church records (indeed many have done just that).

I was at a party several months ago with about 15 gay men, and I mentioned to one that I was Mormon. Immediately, the room became deafeningly quiet. One guy looked at me and said, "Do you realize how hateful and destructive your church is?" The expression "By your fruits ye shall know them" is common in the church. Among gay men and women, the church's fruit is perceived as being hate. This is so unfortunate because many gay men and women become atheists when they are presented only with a God of hate.

Naturally, I have become very well-versed in the Knight initiative and the church's involvement. This is my world after all. I have met with my bishop to discuss the matter. He too disagrees with the Church's involvement in anti-gay politics. It's very disheartening for him as well, but his concurrence still does nothing to ease my pain. ...

Ironically, the church's positions on homosexuality have actually been anti-family. Several decades ago, it was church policy to advocate marriage as a cure for one's homosexuality. This inevitably resulted in many broken marriages and families. The church also postulated that men became gay because of a doting mother and an absent father. This inevitably cast blame on the grieving parents. The church's positions and outspoken frankness on this issue have nurtured a climate that is hostile to young gay Mormons. Kids have been thrown out of homes under the guise of Christian love. Brothers and sisters have broken off contact with their gay brothers and sisters....

Straight members have absolutely no idea what it is like to grow up gay in this church. It is a life of constant torment, self-hatred, and internalized homophobia. Imagine the young gay boy frightened to death to divulge his secret pain to his dad because he witnesses his dad tromping around the neighborhood putting up Knight signs. Imagine the young gay girl who listens to her mother profess her love for her as she writes a check to oppose "those filthy homosexuals." Imagine any young gay kid who is desperate to scrape together a sliver of self-esteem as he or she hears daily the pejorative "faggot" and the word "gay" used as a negative adjective (as in "that was such a gay movie").

The church has no idea that as I type this letter, there are surely boys and girls on their calloused knees imploring God to free them from this pain. They hate themselves. They retire to bed with their finger pointed to their head in the form of a gun. Every waking moment of every day they must be on constant alert not to divulge any clues that will identify themselves to their peers. "Was my glance at that boy too long? Does he think I'm gay? Will he now publicize my secret and beat me up?" They are afraid of their parents. They are afraid of their bishop. They are afraid of their friends. They have nowhere to go but to lay on the floor curled in a ball and weep themselves to sleep. ...

Join the Discussion
comments powered by Disqus