On Speaking

I’m not sure when I lost my voice, or what caused it. But I do remember when I realized I had lost it. I was in a gem and mineral shop looking for a few rocks and enjoying the energy, as I often do when the cloudy monotony of winter depression and anxiety sets in. I was breathing deeply, handling the small smooth stones, probing the air and myself for shifts in feeling and energy.

I was drawn towards the blue stones, connected to the throat chakra; stones for manifesting, speaking truth, telling your story. I thought this was strange, I felt that I had opinions, strong ones that were known. I was clear about where I stood, but the stones continued in my thoughts throughout the coming months.

In November 2015 my Mormon faith declared that homosexual marriage was punishable by excommunication for apostasy and that their children could not participate in the most basic rituals and sacraments of the faith. I saw the mormon world turned upside down as everyone shared their opinions, my orthodox friends and family desperately trying to understand and make the new rules align with their paradigm, and my progressive mormon community speaking out  against it and working to provide care and help for our LGBT friends and their families during this time. It seemed everyone in my world was shouting over each other, desperate to make their opinion known, yet I was paralyzed. I was terrified. My mormonism compelled me to do what was right and let the consequence follow and at the same time demanded that I not speak out. The demand of adhering to the homogeny of the community had become a virtue unto itself.

In the end I chose to post others’ stories, to share the stories of my LGBT brothers and sisters who were suffering. I often pride myself on this, saying that at a time when everyone was shouting over each other I used my online space to project the voices that really mattered. But in truth, I found when I couldn’t speak I used their voices to fill the void.

I found myself using other voices to fill the void. Voices that I felt were more eloquent, more knowledgeable, voices that I believed had more merit than mine. Yet, not speaking had its own consequences. The words burn in my belly, collapsing the space, compressing my organs. I can’t breathe. I am so angry. I am so ashamed.

Virginia Woolf said that A feminist is any woman who tells the truth about her life. In the late 20th century mormon feminists seemed to adopted this as their motto, claiming the narrative essay and creating publishing platforms to tell their stories. Their stories are full of big messy emotions and complex experiences, seemingly at odds with a culture who values pleasantness as the only appropriate emotion and temperance of all others.But these women felt. They felt anger, agony, lust, exuberance, despair and, in an act of defiance, they stepped down from their pedestaled prisons and wrote them for others to read.

Reading their stories has made me want to join this sisterhood of women who choose to brave their humanity. And now I do. I want to be human. I want to live shamelessly.

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