50 Minute Hour Book Three
Copyright © 2015 by Neil Sinclair
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
I wasn't sure what my father meant by a test. We were just going to
church on Sunday, and it wasn’t a challenge for me to both be gay
and go to church. I've been going to boring Sunday services
practically since birth. At school, I had the half-baked excuse that
I was too far away to go, even though there were several families who
would have happily driven me. There was only one LDS teacher, Mr.
Harrington, and he told me the way he'd discovered of keeping young
people in the church— "Leave them the heck alone until they
make up their own minds. A high school kid is not a baby, though I'll
admit, some of my students make me wonder." So there was little
danger from him. I could just show up, sing, say something to him
privately about God’s Plan, and call it good.
The service seemed to be standard stuff. I was going through the motions next to dad and Colleen, when suddenly my dad stood up to deliver his testimony.
I should have been better prepared. He started out sweet and sentimental, which is not his style. Polite, yes. Romantic, no. I doubt he knows how.
Maybe he had a speechwriter.
"I thank the lord for all of the beauty that has been brought to my life this week. I have been enjoying the small things. The sweetness of the chocolate milk I drink in the morning. The beautiful playdough creations of very creative children."
I rolled my eyes at
this, but Colleen was simpering. Dad had obviously worked in a
reference to Ammon.
"At first blush, there is nothing wrong with the joys I've been experiencing. I think they are emblematic of the family life that many would envy, or at least respect."
"But our way of life is under attack."
Even this didn't bother me. Surely, it was just another one of dad's lectures on secularism. There were plenty of those before I went off to boarding school, but at least in those days mom was around to fight them off.
"There are many men and women who call themselves 'gay' and use political correctness as a veil for their abhorrent behavior. And they will not stop their campaigns until our families have been attacked and compromised."
This caused some murmurs. We Mormons are fundamentally kind, and fire-and-brimstone really isn't our style. Much as the crowd might agree with the impassioned speaker, his terminology was a bit much.
He felt this, and modified his tone. "I'd like to offer a prayer today for all of our brothers and sisters, young and old, who have been victimized by this social force."
Alma Camden was the first to walk out. The fact that her hair is bright purple should probably tell you that her parents don't have much of a hold on her. All five of her siblings sit quietly like little dolls, but Alma was marching off at the first whiff of anti-gay anything, make no mistake.
A few of Alma's friends stood up, and their parents whispered at them frantically. They all looked like they were ready to go, but nobody made moves.
"We will help our own resist the temptation to act in a childish and unnatural manner," continued dad, "And we will welcome back those who have rectified their mistakes."
And then old Mrs. Wiggins got up and grabbed her walker. Her oldest son leapt to his feet to try and stop her, but her response was audible. In her husky smoker's voice, she told him, "No, thank you. I'm ashamed to sit here while anyone speaks against your sister. And if you had any sense, you'd feel the same."
Now even my father paused, and the entire crowd watched Mrs. Wiggins (some directly, most out of the corners of their eyes) as she clumsily made her way to the back of the church. The Alma crew nervously took their seats again.
I knew I had to do it quickly, like jumping into a cold ocean. I got up and strode all the way down the aisle to the back, my knees trembling. It didn't take me long to walk right past Mrs. Wiggins, who was either even frailer than she looked or determined to make the slowest exist possible. I cursed my family for being the type that has to sit in the front, looking pretty. The aisle had never been longer.
By the time I got outside, I had already let a tear escape. Which was strange, because I felt angrier than ever.