Kimberly Anderson presented her yearlong work, “The Mama Dragon Story Project,” at Writ & Vision, a bookstore in downtown Provo on Tuesday, Sept. 29. The project contains photos and essays written by women who refer to themselves as “Mama Dragons.”
“Mama Dragon” is the the name that LDS women who are mothers of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and other children gave themselves. The idea behind Mama Dragons is that they love and support their children no matter what, and they protect their children from those who may not demonstrate kindness or understanding.
Anderson said these women’s stories all share similar themes: love, loss of expectations, grief, fear and guilt. Anderson said she hopes this project will be published into a book that will change the world.
Tom Christofferson, the openly gay brother of LDS apostle Elder D. Todd Christofferson, spoke about his mother at the event. Mama Dragons didn’t exist during his mother’s lifetime, but Tom Christofferson said he believed his mother was an “original Mama Dragon.”
Tom Christofferson also recalled his mother saying to one of his brothers, “If we only have Tom in this life, we’re going to enjoy every minute we have with him.” She eventually came to the conclusion that she would leave the resolution of his life and their eternal family to God.
During family prayer, Tom Christofferson’s mother would pray for him and his partner. “I’m ashamed to say I used to think we had the perfect Mormon family,” Tom Christofferson said, quoting his mother. “I thought we had it all figured out. But then life happens, and I realized there is no perfect Mormon family except those that are perfect in their love for each other.”
Carol Lynn Pearson, an author of several books about her experiences with having a gay family member, echoed this need for love in Mormon families.
“These Mama Dragons have had a vision,” Pearson said. “Visions seem to usually come to people’s minds because of a need. There’s something that is not OK … something in us says this is not the way it should be. I’m seeing a way it ought to be.”
Pearson expressed her despair at seeing LGBT+ people alienated from their families and said the vision that these women share is that the world will be a better place when people are able to love one another without reservations.
At the event, a few Mama Dragons shared their stories. Kathryn Harper Hueth, one of the Mama Dragons who shared her story during the event, grew up in a strong LDS family. Hueth said she thought she had a perfect idea of what her life would be like, until she found out that her son was gay. Though at times Hueth’s journey has been difficult, she counts “(her son) being gay as one of (her) most treasured blessings.”
“It is who he is, who he was created to be by his Heavenly Father,” Hueth said. “I am deeply grateful to have been entrusted with this unique and sacred calling of being a mother to an LGBTQ child of our Father in Heaven.”
Additionally, Jody England Hansen read an essay she wrote as part of the project. After learning her son was gay, she felt great despair for her son’s future. She prayed continually that her son would feel loved, but she received no answer.
Finally, the impression came to her to ask Heavenly Father a different question. She asked God, “Is he yours?”
“Love poured into me, through me, over me,” Hansen said. “However much I love my son, his Heavenly Parents love him more. He is theirs, now and always, as he is, was and will be. We all are. God would not, cannot answer a ‘fix this’ or ‘make this happen’ question. God loves.”
The event concluded with an anonymous essay, written by a mother who is severely depressed and despairing because of her son’s sexual orientation. Anderson said she hopes that this project will give hope to the women who are facing the challenge of having an LGBT+ child and feel hopeless.