Sunday, March 13, 2011


Friday March 10, 2011 I was invited to speak on a LGBTQ Christian Panel discussing the intersection of our faith and sexuality and a bit of our journey.  This was on what would have been my mother's 74th birthday. She would have been so proud (not).  It was though, fantastic  for me to be able to share my experience, my feelings and a part of my journey.


MY 'SPEECH' is below
I deviated a bit from my prepared words, but just a bit.



My name is Tonya Miller.

I am going to share a bit of my journey as I discovered my bisexuality while I was an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, also known as the LDS or Mormon Church.

- I have 4 wonderful children (ages 17, 15, 12 and 10)
- I have 1 wonderful husband
- I am a foster parent and have had almost 90 foster children in the past 7 years
- I attend Lethbridge College full time.
- I am taking a sociology and psychology diploma and will eventually be getting my Master of Social work in Clinical Counselling
- I am very family oriented and I love children
- I believe in God
- I used to be a very faithful member of the LDS Mormon church
- Today I am no longer a member of that religion
- Today I identify as bisexual and Christian

Like many Christian religions, the Mormon Church is quite homophobic. They use the Bible as their authority for God's disdain for gays and reinforce homophobia among their members by having their Prophets and leaders actively campaign against the rights of the LGBTQ community.

As a Mormon you believe that what the LDS Church teaches you is direct from God. You believe that God speaks to the world through His Prophet in Salt Lake City just as I am talking to you now face to face. 

Like many homophobic religions, the Mormon Church goes to great pains to explain that they are not actually homophobic per se, and that they are merely sharing God's Will...while their members suffer from God's Will by having extremely high rates of suicide and depression, especially gay LDS members.

I’d like to share two sentences of a speech where God’s word was given through a LDS Prophet to the world. This exemplifies LDS teachings on homosexuality.

In this talk this Prophet said:
"Some suppose that gay people cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and the unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?”

He declared being gay is a choice, that these are only tendencies and that they can be overcome and that God does not make gay people. He further said gay people’s desires are “impure and unnatural”, this is Mormon code for Evil and Sinful.

Sadly, this talk did not occur 50 years ago prior to scientific enlightenment showing that being gay is NOT a choice but is very much a natural human condition, just as heterosexuality is a natural human condition.  This talk occurred just 5 months ago in October 2010.

In the LDS Church sexual sin (meaning: sex outside of marriage, petting or even masturbation) is taught to be a sin so evil that it is considered just below murder in seriousness. They also teach that gay sexual sin is worse than heterosexual sex.  This teaching dehumanizes and demonizes gay people.

Today the LDS Church says that gay people are entitled to whatever rights the law of the land gives them. And then the LDS Church gets to work to ensure that the laws of the land do not give them any rights.  They also teach that gay people are welcome in their religion so long as they never, ever, during their entire lives, act on being gay. No hugs, no hand holding, no kissing, no sex, no marriage, no family. Just be single and celibate and we will welcome you with open arms and a closed mind.

- I was born in London Ontario to a LDS Family
- I grew up knowing that God spoke to the world, and directly to me, through his prophets in Salt Lake City
- As a teenager I would about 1 or 2 times a year feel rather intense desires towards women.
- I would instantly be repulsed at myself and shut down.
- I’d tell myself that Satan was tempting me, that I was an evil freak and that I was a bad person. 
- I would suppress these thoughts and feelings with great effort and with great success for most of my life.
- I got married at the young age of 18 and started to have my wonderful babies
- I did what was encouraged of LDS mothers, to stay home and raise the children (which I loved to do, I always wanted to be a stay at home mother)
- I had my children, my husband, my religion, my LDS friends, I had God on my side and I knew that I belonged to the only true church on earth.
- Life was good…though I had always had a constant low-level depression and never truly felt good enough; no matter how many rules I obeyed, no matter how many hoops I jumped through or how faithfully I devoted my life to the LDS religion.

- In 2007 my husband began to see that the LDS Church was not telling the truth to its membership and he eventually left the church. 
- This caused a huge rift in our relationship as I was still a believer.
- Over time I too began to see that there were issues with the LDS Church and I began to distance myself a bit from the church.
- This was hard though because it was all I knew for all my life.
- The LDS Church was my social life, my family life and even my future Eternal Life depended on LDS teachings. It was my entire existence.
- After a bit of time and distance (I was still active in the LDS church), my suppressed bisexual thoughts and desires bubbled up with greater intensity and frequency and despite my best efforts to suppress my real self I couldn’t bury them anymore and I realized that I was a bisexual woman
- I came out to my husband, and this was also a rocky time for us as he didn’t know what to do with my revelation and the ‘new me’.
- After a lot of talking and learning and growth we came through stronger than ever as a couple.
- I also came out to my 4 children, one by one. I sat each of them down and explained to them that I was bisexual, what that meant and that it was not changing anything in my marriage or in their lives
- I wanted my children to know the real me and who I really was as a whole and complete person. 
- My children all hugged me and told me they loved me. It was very powerful and emotional for me.
- After coming out though, I spent months on a roller coaster of being depressed and despondent and condemning myself to Hell for I still had one foot in the LDS church, culture and belief system.
- I was still sure that I was a freak, that I was evil and that if I died God would send me to Hell.
- Thankfully this self hatred and self condemnation went away, when I left the LDS church. 
- After consulting with LDS leaders about the inconsistencies in LDS teachings and doctrine and after experiencing the abusive way they treat people who question LDS beliefs, and after I saw the dehumanizing way they treated the gay community with Proposition 8 and then blatantly lied about it, that was my last straw and I left them for I knew that the God of Love could not be behind so much elitist hatred and dehumanizing.
- I left the church in 2008.
- Within weeks of leaving I found my lifetime of depression mostly disappeared.
- Unfortunately so too did my entire social life, my friends and even some of my close family.
- We visited several other religions but found they too had homophobic beliefs.
- Eventually we found the United Church and found they were pro-gay, did not use guilt as a control tactic and that people were free to come and go without fearing the wrath of God. Most importantly we found it was a place of love and acceptance without any reservations or hoops to jump through.
- Today I don’t attend church regularly at all.  I still pray.  I still believe in God, but not the same vengeful God who hated me for simply being who I was
- Today I know that I am simply who I am and I accept and love me for who I am.
- I am Tonya, a daughter, a mother, a wife, a student, a foster parent, an ex-Mormon, a humanist, a social worker, an advocate, I am a human being worthy of love and acceptance who happens to be bisexual.

Thank you.