Looping it around his neck, his fingers flew intuitively through his Sunday morning ritual until the tie knotted just-so and tightened up under his collar.This particular tie had been a parting gift on Nick’s last Sunday in the Manoa Ward of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Honolulu.It’s no longer a sin to be Mormon and gay, but the church says it is a sin to act on same-sex attraction.Nick and Spencer are trying to navigate the largely uncharted territory of being gay and married and active in the LDS church. And when it’s practiced the way Christ practiced it, I think Mormonism is the most beautiful thing in the world.” On this Sunday, they were about to attend a new ward in Washington, DC.Watching their reflections move side by side in the bathroom mirror, Nick was filled with apprehension for the Sunday morning ahead.Nick and Spencer were born and raised Mormons in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.He realized he wanted and needed what seemed unfathomable: to be actively gay and an active Mormon.
A petite Hawaiian woman dressed in a colorful floral print dress, her skin pleasantly wrinkled in a smile, was the first. She stretched her thin arms up to place a lei of homegrown purple corn blossoms around first Nick’s neck and then Spencer’s, and left them with a faint squeeze of a hug. Lei of frayed maroon and gold ribbon that mimicked the blooms of some unclassified tropical flower. Would they find the same acceptance in a new ward miles across the ocean in the nation’s capital?
Although they were not able to hold callings, the bishop and other leaders in the ward found opportunities for them to serve. They were allowed to comment in classes and share their testimonies and life experiences as gay members of the church. On Nick and Spencer’s last Sunday morning in August, the Manoa Ward members gathered in a striking white meetinghouse nestled among the tall buildings and palm trees of downtown Honolulu to worship, and to say goodbye.
At the close of the first meeting, Nick and Spencer were invited to stand in front of the congregation while over three hundred members expressed their love through song.
They left well-loved friends and a church that became a refuge.
Before moving to Hawaii, Nick spent three years of Sundays not donning a dress shirt and not tying his tie, not going to church at all.