Last night I was conversing with an individual who had asked me about my experience of being diagnosed as intersex (Gonadal Dysgenesis / Adrenogenital Syndrome). She also asked me about Dan Reynolds (Imagine Dragons) and the work that he is doing to bring awareness to the LDS LGBT epidemic of youth suicides, and general intersectionality. As I was explaining some of the oddities I faced in my physical development, I realized that I was no longer talking about myself, I was sharing my testimony of what it means to be, to serve, and to love the queer community.
Suicide is a growing concern for numerous reasons beyond that of an LGBTQ status or identity. My focus is exclusively on queer research within religious denominations, so I can only speak to that. I have lost numerous queer Mormon friends to suicide over the past 20 years. Religiosity is a known mitigator of suicidality. However, for youth who acknowledge a queer identity or orientation, religiosity is positively correlated with suicidality (as religiosity increases, suicidality increases, mediated by queer status). What’s fascinating in this research is that the dogma surrounding LGBTQ individuals in their respective religions is irrelevant. It’s the variables of social support, group cohesion, and inclusivity which are comprised in religiosity which predict the increased suicidality. It should be noted, many of these studies are conducted with youth who have survived a suicide attempt, with data collection occurring in clinical recovery settings. This isn’t just people talking or theorizing. It’s people that chose to die, and miraculously survived, telling us exactly why they decided to leave this realm.
This Is What I Wrote, My Testimony
I am completely in love with the upcoming generation. They seem to have an ingrained sense of simply loving people for who they are, and where they’re at. I think my daughter is built this way. I’m scared of her losing that. She’s received recurring messages of the “othering” that we as Mormons have historically excelled at. We do this all the time… Mormon Prom, no school dances, let’s play on our own sports teams, keep Mormon friends, let’s go to our own schools, let’s trick-or-treat in our churches, let’s go to girls camp with other Mormons, and so on. Each of these are fine when viewed individually. It’s the underlying theme which sends an implicit message to our kids, “the world is dark, don’t go there.” And then we wonder why Mormon youth endure disproportionately high depression and anxiety rates. I believe the world is beautiful! The very special light emanating from our youth will help it shine even brighter, serving as beacons guiding it towards that which is good… Get Out There! It’s not a suggestion, it’s a calling. Don’t let our traditions of distancing ourselves from others become a bushel to your flame!