Carol Lynn Pearson has
spent two decades as a kind of godmother to gays and lesbians.
She fell into that role after the 1986 publication of her
groundbreaking autobiography, Good-bye, I Love You: The True
Story of a Wife, Her Homosexual Husband and a Love That
Pearson's was a searing tale of her husband's battle
against his homosexuality, their attempts to create a faithful
Mormon family, his leaving to live as a gay man and his eventual
death from AIDS.
Her story of love, hope, betrayal, forgiveness and
reconciliation put a human face on gayness.
Nothing like it had ever been written for a national
audience, let alone a Mormon one. She was a guest on ''Oprah,''
profiled in People magazine, and, within weeks of its
publication, the LDS Church's own store, Deseret Book, ordered
1,000 copies of her book.
Now, on the book's 20th anniversary, Pearson is publishing,
No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved
"Progress has been made in Mormon culture and in
religious culture broadly," Pearson told The Salt Lake
Tribune in August. "But we still say too many goodbyes due
to suicide, ill-fated marriages and to family alienation."
The new book draws on Pearson's experience as confessor and
advice columnist to scores of homosexuals and those who love
them. During a time when many leaders in The Church of Jesus
Christ of Latter-day Saints still saw homosexuality as evil and
sinful, she preached love and acceptance, understanding and
empathy, openness and tolerance to anyone who would listen. Many
Homosexuals everywhere shared their spiritual struggles in
letters and e-mails or drove to her house in Walnut Creek,
Calif., to tell her their stories in person. Many were LDS, but
others were Jewish, Catholic and even Muslim.
She heard of families who shunned their gay children, and
others who embraced them.
"We - people of all religions and no religion - are called to
be one in love, but very often we trample love in our rush to
the familiar comfort of fear and judgment," Pearson writes in
the book's preface, "We are called to create relationships that
are enduring, but we allow our beliefs about homosexuality to
bring the most agonizing disruptions."
She tells of Jo, a Mormon lesbian from Chico, Calif., who
discovered her attraction for women while serving an LDS
mission; "Mark," a 35-year-old in Australia who, after praying
and fasting to be made normal, began to cut himself; and
"Jason," a man who has been celibate all his life and attends
church every Sunday. There's Brad Adams, who tried to kill
himself in the parking lot of the LDS temple in Provo, believing
that "around that holy place he would find kind spirits to take
Readers hear of a Muslim woman living in Egypt trying to find
her way as a lesbian; Mel White, ghost-writer to Billy Graham,
Pat Robertson and Jerry Falwell, who came out after a 25-year
marriage; and Mormon painter and sculptor Trevor Southey, who
"has never found a home for his homosexuality."
In No More Goodbyes, Pearson asks the question:
Does God love a homosexual person? Should the family? She
then answers with a resounding "Yes" to both questions.
The dust-jacket endorsement suggests that the issue of
homosexuality touches all religions.
"Thank you, Carol Lynn Pearson," writes Rabbi Harold Kushner,
famed author of When Bad Things Happen to Good People,
"for reminding us that the task of any religion is to teach us
whom we're required to love, not whom we're entitled to hate."
* PEGGY FLETCHER STACK can be contacted at email@example.com
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