Pioneer Day - July 24

On July 24th, Mormons celebrate Pioneer Day. It is an important holiday for my church as well celebrate and remember the sacrifices of the people who came before us. Those thousands of individuals and families who left their homes- whether from persecution in Missouri, Illinois, or their homes in other countries to join the saints in Salt Lake- with a dream and a purpose: to live and worship freely and without fear. (sounds a little like the beginning of the history of the United States, doesn't it?)

I was born into a Mormon family, grew up as a Mormon and pretty much always able to be surrounded by Mormons until I got married and moved to the East Coast. On the West Coast, Mormons celebrate by wearing lots of clothing and parading around in the heat and when the children complain, they are told that the pioneers suffered for days on end the same way and it isn't meant to be 'fun'- we are meant to remember. But what we are meant to remember seems to be foolish in some regards as I grow up. Suffering for a few hours like our ancestors seems to me to not teach us the lesson that is most appropriate. Yes, we learned that they suffered and times were tough. We learned that they were persecuted and treated poorly for what they believed and how they lived.

But these lessons will fade because they are not the most important lesson we should be teaching to ourselves and the next generation. Yes, we will still revere and respect our ancestors and enjoy the stories of them... but life as we age/grow will teach us suffering. We will learn that times now are tough- even if the some of the challenges we face are different. Some of us will learn that our ancestors were not perfect and some even persecuted other innocent people. Some will learn that we still do it in some places where more qualified non-members are not given jobs because they are given to less qualified 'faithful'. (If anyone wonders why there are very few people in Utah that have a neutral opinion of the Mormon church that one example might cue you in.) While the lessons that we should learn and teach our children are the lessons of strength and bravery in the face of the unknown.... the faith to follow your convictions and your heart no matter where it leads you... the confidence in each individuals great worth and the courage to fight and continue in the face of great doubt or even when you realize that you have no choice... but to continue in happiness and faith. That is the lesson that we should be teaching and we need to know for ourselves. It is not an easy or superficial lesson- but it is the most important lesson that we can learn in this life.... and as a Mormon I am grateful to have the ancestry to look back on to remember and ponder these lessons. As a historian and a human, I have thousands of years of collective history to look over and learn from... and almost all roads lead back to these basic lessons.

So many Mormons these days celebrate their pioneer heritage with a few hours of suffering or playacting and the rest of the year with conformity and silence. They do not voice their doubts, fears or concerns about the church or church culture for fear of dishonoring their family and their ancestors (and in turn, their sacrifice.) In my opinion, our ancestor's sacrifice is dishonored by ignoring their example. The lessons that they have given us- sealed by their sweat, toil, tears, songs, and their entire lives and how they lived them... we waste and disregard them by not living up to them. So this special day, this pioneer's day, take a moment to remember the real reason we should celebrate and feel grateful for our heritage. Not that they suffered and died... but that they gave us lessons, examples, and their dreams and hopes to live on in us. Please let us not fail them! Be a modern day pioneer. Do not meekly submit to authority- even to the authority of the church when our ancestors took over a year in travel and struggle and tears to follow their dream and their beliefs and to try and make the world a better place by defying authority. Before you accept doctrines and belief, pray and fast and get revelation that it is right to do so. For I believe, that is what your ancestors would have you do.

PS: I am aware that these thoughts will be offensive to some, but our ancestors defied authority so that they could also practice a form of marriage that is considered unacceptable to many today (including Mormons). Before you decide that you are sure that Heavenly Father hates homosexuals, their families, and their children and they should not have rights because the church tells use that homosexuality is wrong, please pray and do not take that answer solely for granted simply because the church says so. People around the world are dying because they feel unaccepted and Mormons are too. Equal rights is something our ancestors wanted -to be able to live by their beliefs. Joseph Smith said that we respect others beliefs. Please.... this is a matter of life and death. Please think on it... Please.


  1. I hope that you have had the opportunity to pray, fast, and understand that Father in Heaven and His Son's church, as well as those who lead in their behalf certainly do not hate homosexuals or their families. Quite the contrary. The Plan of Salvation was presented and then we were given commandments. They love us by teaching what will help us to return to Them as families. It's Satan who tries to destroy the plan and make good look bad and bad look good. Ssa is a challenge just as any other challenge, but is necessary to overcome with Christ's help so that we may have true eternal joy.

  2. I have had the opportunity and have taken it- studying, praying, fasting, and asking for clarification. While I do not think I got the answer you were hoping I would. I am very comfortable with the answers and personal revelation that I have received and I move forward daily with personal goals and trying to help and serve others who need it.... especially my LGBTQI brothers and sisters. The comfort I feel when serving them is amazing. :)