Tuesday, July 9, 2013

"What do you need to tell me, Spencer?" (by Garrett)

Earlier that night... (in Niagara Falls, Ontario)

That’s what I said, and how he came out to me, a year ago today.

In one day I realized that social issues aren’t simply articles read or watched online; they are the stories and struggles of people you know and care about.

A year of knowing is a year of affirming Christ’s universal Atonement and universal blessings.

A year of knowing is a year of seeing how vague, general statements almost never fit with individual people, especially when those people cross two very contradictory stereotypes. What a tragedy to make a multi-dimensional person into a 2-D object.

A year of knowing is a year of being thanked and admired by strangers from Spencer's support groups. On one hand I appreciated all the thanks, but on the other, it sobered me. Their tone of voice indicated again and again that this was the first time they had seen someone simply be a straight friend.

A friend is the most powerful ordinary thing. 

In that year I made new friends, and kept old ones, and performed the balancing act that young, inexperienced, college guys perform. I worked 8 hours a day when I wasn’t in school, went on dates, read books, looked up funny cat pictures on the Internet, and had fun with my best friend who has same-sex attraction.

I attended firesides and made other friends in similar situations to Spencer's. I heard their stories and read how they lived faithfully to the covenants they made in the Church. And I learned lessons from those firesides good enough to put in my journal, such as the following:

When we let our bias do the talking, we end up “classifying” others, and in effect we put a gag on their voice before they even can speak up for themselves. We should instead let them own themselves, and let them liberate themselves from the chains of skewed thinking.

Out of all the roles we will play, a friend is one of the most crucial we can be. And now more than ever I can see why. There are too many people struggling with this, and too few "straight friends" that are stepping up. In that year I saw more than ever how we need those powerful, ordinary things--understanding, empathy, and friendship.

So here marks a year of accepting 100% of a person, 100% of a friend. Here’s to a year of being powerful, ordinary people.


  1. We all need a friend like you, Garrett.

  2. I am glad that I raised a son who is a kind person. I'd like to take credit for that, but he was pretty much born a sweetheart. (I hope that wasn't too embarrassing Garrett, but it's true.) I am inspired by Spencer's commitment to live the gospel as best he can, including his commitment to being temple-worthy. I am grateful for what I am learning because of Spencer. I never would have imagined a few years ago that a person with SSA could help me learn so much about the atonement. Now I realize that I had some personal growth to do, that is why I was in that boat. Thank you both, Mama Wilkes :)


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