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Saturday, June 24, 2017

Resources for LGBTQ+ Mormons and their friends

Okay, here's a list of a few resources I've found that have been helpful to me, in no particular order. Some of these are things that I hope will help LGBTQ+ Mormons directly cause they've helped me feel like I'm not the only one like me, and others can help those who have LGBTQ+ loved ones to understand and empathize with that experience. 

Affirmation.org is a good site that has a bunch of resources for a bunch of LGBTQ+ people who are or have been associated with the LDS church. They have both online resources, some Facebook groups, and conferences and such.

MormonandGay.lds.org is a site maintained by the LDS church which I wish more people were more familiar with. It has several videos and stories from mostly lesbian, gay, and bisexual Mormons and their families. Church doctrine doesn't have many real answers for transgender people, unfortunately, so there's not much on their site in that regard. It's pretty good for what it is, and it tries to promote love and acceptance.

This essay contains a pretty comprehensive look at the LDS church's position and how it has changed throughout history towards specifically gay and lesbian people. He puts LGBT in the title, but again, it kind of leaves out trans people, and it doesn't really address bisexual people, either. There's not a ton to draw on from official church statements, but it is important to mention the omission. I haven't read the rest of the site where this essay is found, but it's MormonLGBTQuestions.com, and it might be useful, too.

This post on Josh Weed's blog was the first thing I ever read that talked about being Mormon and gay. His case is somewhat unique, given that he's married to a woman, though they're certainly not the only mixed-orientation couple around. At any rate, this was pretty eye-opening to me a few years back when I read it, and maybe it will be helpful for others, too.

Finally, my friend Ben has an awesome blog which has been a good resource for me as I first tried to understand what it might mean to be Mormon and LGBT. It also gave me a good example for what it might look like if and when I decided to come out. This post is a good place to start reading his story.


If you don't know, LGBT individuals are often at a higher risk for suicide. Several studies show this, including one from BYU, which you can find reported here in the Universe, BYU's newspaper. Therefore, here's a list of hotlines and suicide prevention resources.

National Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

TheTrevorProject.org is a suicide prevention program specifically for LGBT youth. 866-488-7386

Project Semicolon is another suicide prevention project tailored to people with a variety of mental illnesses. 

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has this page about how to recognize suicide warning signs. 

Friday, June 23, 2017

Labels and Identity: coming out


Image may contain: 1 person, standingI've been thinking about labels lately. Labels can be harmful when people apply them to others without their consent, like insults. Labels that people use to use for themselves are a different matter. Some labels we choose and some we simply discover and then can choose whether or not to use publicly. Sometimes, they can be really helpful as tools to help explain our identity. A psychologist once told me that I shouldn't want a diagnostic label for the symptoms I was experiencing because people would judge me for it. She was wrong. I need to know how to identify what's going on with my mind and my well-being so I can know how to manage my mental health. It's just as important as knowing what's going on with my physical health. Getting the diagnosis of anxiety was so helpful, and though I did not choose to have anxiety, I definitely want the label. Anxiety is a thing I have, so I definitely want to know about it. I choose to tell people about it because I think it helps those I care about understand me and it can help destigmatize mental illness when I talk about it.  

Saturday, June 17, 2017

About Dad

Tell me about your father (his name, birth date, birthplace, parents, and so on). Share some memories you have of your father.

My dad is Charles H. Lemon. He was born in Bermuda, on Davis Air Force Base. His parents' names are Boyd Reed Lemon and Ola Tess Lemon. Boyd was in the Air Force, which is what took them to Bermuda, Nebraska, the Philippines, and many other places during my dad's growing up years.

As I look back, the characteristic that stands out about my dad is his generosity. He and Mom took me and my brother with them when they took gifts of food and other things to friends and neighbors at Christmastime. I remember shopping with my dad while he picked out things to put in the gift baskets and realizing that my dad really cared about helping others. This is also obvious in his choice of profession as an emergency physician. Dad would work all hours of day or night.

When Alexander and I were little, Dad would choose to work night shifts so he could be home during the day. He would also make time to come to our music recitals and he would carry my violin and Alexander's cello. Now he works teaching a medical Spanish course at Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. No matter what he does, Dad puts lots of time and energy into it. He doesn't do anything halfway.

When I was a kid, we'd watch the Home and Garden channel together and he taught me how to do some of the projects we saw. We made lamps out of stacks of books from the thrift store that we painted to look like leather and a seat out of old doors. The hardware store reminds me of him.

He was also the only one who would watch Singin' in the Rain with me for the umpteenth time after it was the only thing I wanted to watch one summer. He's always been supportive of my interests, even if he doesn't share them.

Happy Father's day!

Monday, July 11, 2016

Therapy

I see a lot of memes about how ______ is better than therapy,  because _____. Or how _____ can replace medication. Now, lots of things can be therapeutic or play a role in someone's mental health. Unfortunately, those memes tend to add to the stigma against discussing and treating people with mental illness, so I thought I'd write about what therapy actually does for me.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

I will not be silent

Let me say again: I will not be silent

I've been putting off this post for a while. There's so much I want to say, and it's so hard to find words adequate to express these feelings. But it has to be said, because I cannot simply let it go.
What feelings do I need to express? Rage. Horror. Sorrow. Fury. Despair. Terror. 
Why? Shootings. Terrorism. Discrimination. Scapegoating of Refugees. Hate.
The world is a pretty terrible place in a lot of ways. Bad things happen everyday. I feel like nothing I do can make a lasting difference. But I believe that feeling is wrong. Bad things happen, but so do good things. The good things are just smaller, easier to miss. Why am I taking time from my final papers and pushing back my lunch hour to share my thoughts? Because I believe in hope and change. 

Shootings

People saying that more gun laws won't fix the problem of mass shootings. Well, maybe not, but since we currently don't research the subject on a large scale, and gun stores aren't required to publish their sales data, and we keep losing people to other people with guns, it's time we actually did something. I don't know what we should do, but I don't want to live in a place that has had more shootings than days in the year. Yes, this year. 2015. In our country that's supposedly at peace. And it's not the end of the year yet. There has to be a solution. Banning automatic, multiple shot weapons (assault rifles, sniper rifles, etc.) from sale to private individuals would be a good start. I don't care if someone wants to have a rifle, a shotgun or target pistol, even though I will personally never own one, but anything more is designed for killing people, not hunting or self protection. And note I said private individuals, not law enforcement agencies or military. Don't bring up the argument that if guns are illegal, only criminals will have them. Other countries with tough gun laws don't have mass shootings. Japan's laws are so strict that not even criminals have guns. Note that the guns used in most mass shootings are obtained legally, sometimes thanks to loopholes or mistakes in background checks. Those loopholes need to be closed, and background checks need to be much more thorough. And don't tell me that most shooters have mental illnesses. Some do, yes, but there's more to it than that, and if it were just mental illness, all the perpetrators would fit that profile, or all people with mental illness would be violent. They do not and they are not. This is domestic terrorism. The fact that we only discuss mental illness after a shooting where the perpetrator is mentally ill is another severe societal problem. The stigma surrounding mental illness needs to stop. 

Terrorism

It's happening everywhere. Syria. Paris. Beirut. Pakistan. It may not show up on Fox news, but people are dying every day. And of course the shootings I discuss above are domestic terrorism. Daesh (ISIS) is one of the perpetrators, and it's a mistake to confuse them with their victims. Most Muslims are shocked and horrified by the Paris attacks, and those who live in places where they experience such attacks with regularity can empathize even more. 

Discrimination

Some claim that we'll be safer if we turn away those who are different from "us". People try to set "us" against "them" in another attempt to create a scapegoat to blame for the world's problems. Muslims. Jews. Blacks. Native Americans. People of Japanese Descent. Muslims again. It's happened before, and this is how it starts. We forget history, we ignore its lessons, and we fall into the same trap. Again. The photo is of a sign at Auschwitz with a quote by Santayana, "Those who fail to learn from history are doomed to repeat it." In 1492, Spain exiled Muslims and Jews, and over the next centuries, Spanish society fell into the trap of trying to distance itself from anything Islamic or Jewish. People with the wrong names or the wrong ancestors (those who converted when they were forced to choose: convert, leave or die) were shunned. Purity of lineage and religious orthodoxy were highly esteemed. Severe economic problems were only one side-effect of this. Similar things happened during Francisco Franco's dictatorship. Franco, like Hitler, was fascist, and tried to squash independence among Basque and Catalan people, among other atrocities. 

Scapegoating of Refugees

I worked with refugees from Burma for a few weeks in 2011. Cast out of their country, their cultures and languages despised, they'd spent up to years in refugee camps before coming to the USA. They struggled to learn English, they worked, and they opened their homes to three white girls who were there to share a message about Jesus. They had little and they welcomed us and fed us. They remain a marginalized group here, but at least they no longer fear for their lives. Hearing about the refugee crisis now reminds me of those people. They are good people who just want to live with their families somewhere that they don't have to be afraid. Most refugees have to apply for safe haven, and they don't get to choose where they go. It's the least likely way for a terrorist to try and get into the USA. 

HateLove

The world seems filled with hate, and that overwhelms me with despair at times. I wonder what I can possibly do to make a difference when so many people with power and influence transmit messages of hatred and divisiveness daily. Well, this is what I will do. I will not be silent. In the face of hate, I will share love. In the face of scapegoating, I will build bridges of understanding. In the face of discrimination, I will befriend those around me. In the face of terrorism, I will spread hope. In the face of pain and death, I will mourn with those who mourn and I will do everything within my power to stop the suffering. Let us learn from history and break the cycle of hate. We are more than our fears. We are more than hate. We can love one another and rejoice in our shared humanity. If we come together rather than let divisive rhetoric drive us apart, we have a chance. 

When I dwell on the hateful, terrible things in the world, I want to push back, and I get angry. No, furious. Rage fills me and my first impulse is to lash out. But hate only breeds more hate. The only way to overcome hatred is with love. We can make the world a better place. If each of us does one small thing each day, it will make a difference. Small, everyday, ordinary, simple deeds can change the world and push back the infectious power of hate. Learn from history. Learn from literature. Learn from one another. And keep fighting. 


Wednesday, October 21, 2015

How to survive an MA program

I graduate from Brigham Young University my MA this December, although I am already at the University of Kentucky working on my PhD. I have been meaning to write a list of advice for incoming MA students since I left BYU.
My specialty was literature, so my advice specifically applies to that area of study, but I think it's general enough that pedagogy and linguistics students could also benefit.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

My name and birthplace

What is your full name? Why did your parents give you that name? 

My name is Kiersty Lemon-Rogers. I was born Kiersty Lemon. My parents were going to name me Alexander, but thankfully they decided that I might be a girl so they picked a more typically female name shortly before I was born. One of my great-great-great-something grandmothers was named Kjerstina Trulson, and my parents liked the name enough that they wanted to name me after her. They decided that most Americans (United Statesians, to be more specific) wouldn't be able to figure out how to say Kjerstina, so they went with Kiersty instead. 

When and where were you born? Describe your home, your neighborhood, and the town you grew up in.
Well, I didn't grow up in just one town. I was born in Detroit, in Henry Ford hospital where my dad was doing his residency in Emergency Medicine. The main thing I remember about Detroit is that we had a garden and a tire swing. We moved to Valparaiso, Indiana, shortly after my brother was born. He was born at home, during the last nap I ever took. I was two and a half. In Indiana we had a blue house with a hill. We lived close to my Aunt Edna and her family, and they were the closest family I had. I remember going to Primary (the children's class at our church) there, and playing with my cousins. When I was five, we moved to Quincy, Illinois. I remember the first house we lived in there, a rental house right next to Madison park. We had a merry-go-round in the back yard, too, and there were plenty of room for playing inside. We lived there until the house we lived in next was built. That house had an awesome playset that my parents built for us. When my mom was called to be the president of our ward's Relief Society, my parents decided that it would be best to move to a house with a smaller yard and less upkeep, so she would have time to dedicate to her calling. That house used to be a duplex, and it had a huge attic. Our cats loved running up all the stairs and around the attic and back down and back up again. (I'll talk about all our pets in a future post). We moved to Idaho Falls, Idaho, when I was 16, and lived there until I was 17, when I went to college and my family moved to Iowa. If you're keeping track, we've lived in all of the "I" states. I went to BYU for my undergraduate, and I visited my family for at least a couple weeks each summer and for Christmas. I think that pretty much concludes the growing up years.