The scene keeps playing over and over in my mind. Then there are the comments, conversations and articles. Worst of all, there’s the deep, cutting harm caused when hateful speech or prejudice of any kind is spewed toward any individual or group of people.
On Aug. 26, a group converged on a patch of concrete to draw chalk messages of love and support for members of the LGBTQ+ community. As the day waned, a young man was recorded pouring water on the drawings. He was challenged by onlookers about appeasing his homophobia, and he responded by uttering a hateful comment which included a gay slur. Having an LGBTQ+ child, my heart hurt to see the blatant disregard so evident in the offender’s manner, actions and speech. It was wrong and his behavior was appropriately condemned.
As the weekend and following week unfolded, my sadness deepened. The vitriol leveled toward this young man was equally ugly and hateful. I don’t, in any way, condone his behavior. Nor would I, in any way want to minimize the potential power and reach of his hate speech toward an already marginalized and hurting community.
Yet — I must admit — my heart hurt for that young man too. He clearly has some harmful thinking inside of him. I don’t believe that the soul of someone with that kind of hate and judgment inside is getting by totally unscathed. Despite his horrific judgment and actions in this moment, I will never believe fighting hate and ignorance with anger, hate and retribution will ever bring about meaningful resolution.
I tell my LGBTQ+ child, “You can’t meet hate with hate. You have to be the love in the world.” If you have or have had similar thoughts about any individual, minority or community, it is up to you to root that out and replace it with love. No one can do that for you.
If you are marginalized, attacked, judged, forgotten, it is hard, but it is up to you to respond with love. There are many who love and support you and will join you in that fight.
In the book of 4 Nephi it describes the society at the time as one where “there was no contention among all the people, in all the land” (4 Nephi 1:13). In this society, there was no “manner of -ites; but they were in one, the children of Christ… and how blessed were they.” I look forward to the day where there is no longer a focus or separation by the “-ites” — Black lives, blue lives, LGBTQ+ — but rather to see and value all people as our brothers and our sisters and children of the same God. We don’t have to wait for Christ to return to achieve that in our own hearts and teach this in our own homes.
Director of Business Process at BYU