Another Life Lost

I received a moving letter from an old high school friend this evening about an event that I did not even know took place recently.  A young man here in Salt Lake City decided to take his life because of the perceived incongruence and irreconcilability of honoring who one truly is on the inside and sincerely believing that the God whom you have loved your entire life is incapable of loving you for who you are.

I did not know this young man, and so I can only speculate as to his personal struggle . . .

. . . but I have known that struggle personally.

It was the most difficult, soul-wrenching experience I have ever gone through, one that took me years to recover.

Along that path I had family, friends and loved ones that either pushed me back down into despair, or helped to lift me back up and celebrate all that I had to offer in life.

And so I simply ask you, are you pushing those in this literal life-and-death struggle down?

Or are you helping to lift them back up into a life of self worth and dignity?

Looking back it is surprising to acknowledge who was pushing me and who was lifting me.

To all of you who helped to lift me . . . thank you.  I love you.

Here is the text of the letter I received from my friend and my response to her:

I know this is random, as we were never great friends in high school and such, but this evening as I am pondering a lot of things surrounding the loss of Todd Ransom (his brother is a very close friend) I can’t help but think of you.

I just wanted to let you know that I look upon you with such great respect because you seem to carry yourself above all of the finger pointing and resentment that is tangled up between the LDS church and the gay community. I can’t imagine the hurtful struggle you must have endured as faith and nature fought inside you all those years ago. But there is now a peace about you that is a true example of where those on both sides need to be.

The issue itself is complex and sad, but I sincerely believe God loves us ALL — free of judgment. No one should suffer despair and isolation great enough to take their own life.

Thanks, Nate.

Dear Ariel,

Your words are so incredibly moving. Thank you so much for taking the time to write them and send them along. I didn’t really know Todd and honestly I didn’t even know what happened until I read your note a bit ago. Again, thanks for letting me know.

Being gay and having a Mormon background is more often times than not a seriously challenging and self-defeating relationship. I was lucky in some ways in that I was a convert back at Chatfield and didn’t have any familial/cultural pressure to go along with it all. Those that did grow up in that faith are really hit with almost incomprehensible inner conflicts for those of us that didn’t.

After I was excommunicated it took me 3 days to realize that I was a good person before I was LDS and that I was going to be a good person afterward. But there are so many that have never been anything else in their lives. Being anything else is borderline anathema/heresy, and at the very least they have no personal identity outside of the faith.

It is such a terrifying decision for so, so many young men and women that too many decide the easiest route is to end their lives.

I’ve been living here in Utah now for almost 9 years and the atmosphere between the GLBT community and the LDS Church is rarely constructive, kind or compassionate.

On both sides.

I have no answers to any of this, but I do know that there are no black and whites about this issue. The nuanced shades of gray in each life that faces this turmoil and conflict needs to be honored, recognized and celebrated by all.

I firmly believe that God loves us, wants us to be happy and honors our sincere efforts to lead meaningful lives.

And I’m certain that he doesn’t pick and choose who is eligible to be recipients of that love, for we all are . . .

Your letter clearly sparked a long overdue writing session on my part, so thanks for nudging me along.

There is a candlelight vigil tonight for Todd at the State Capitol, and while I’m not able to make it, my prayers and thoughts are with Todd, his brother and family and all that may be hurting on this evening of remembrance and honor.

It’s great to hear from you. You look amazingly well and you have such a beautiful family!

Thanks again for writing . . .


This entry was published on July 20, 2010 at 19:41. It’s filed under church, falling in love, Gay, gay, gay suicide, Hate, LDS, LDS Church, love, Love, Mormon, Mormon Church, religion, Salt Lake City, Suicide, suicide, Utah and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Follow any comments here with the RSS feed for this post.

13 thoughts on “Another Life Lost

  1. Bless you. Thanks for always being one to lift me up.
    Much love,

  2. Mike Thompson on said:

    So beautifully and thoughtfully articulated, Nate. I share Ariel’s sentiments, “I look upon you with such great respect because you seem to carry yourself above all of the finger pointing and resentment that is tangled up between the LDS church and the gay community.”

    Continue to lift up those around you,

  3. Brent on said:

    Looks like I’m not the only one who thinks Nate has got it goin’ on! 😀

  4. Nate, Thank you for a great response to this tragedy. I am also one unable to attend the vigil. Even if I were, I should have doubts about something almost glorifying (it seems, to me) the act of suicide that is intensely personal. I didn’t know Todd, but hurt silently and personally for him. In his memory, I will kneel and have a long discussion about it tonight, with my Heavenly Father. I hope He can communicate to me a direction for me to take my life, to be a help where I am needed, and to thank Him for saving me from the very literal brink of death myself. Life is so precious, and so fleeting.

  5. blessings of peace and understanding. There is a special place in my heart for Oklahoma because of my *past* boyfriend Sean who -while going back to finish school- also passed by his own hand there.

    They call it “the power of plastic” but these were not the reasons. He was refused who he was. We talked about it before.

    We may not know all the reasons but our thoughts and hearts (prayers) can bring peace to spirit.

  6. Jerry Warner on said:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts – and those of your friend. As you know, Todd was a good friend of mine. His decision to end his life yesterday morning has left me feeling sad, empty, angry…with my emotions all over the place. Todd was a very complex person and, although I know that he had issues with the LDS Church, I don’t believe that they really had any real role in his decision to take his own life. Of course, no one knows his real reasons…as far as I know he took those with him to the grave. To point fingers and paint blame is just pure speculation. At the end of the day, Todd chose to take his own life. It was his choice and his choice alone.

    When I first heard of the vigil tonight, I was concerned that it might be a vehicle for some folks to advance their political causes or to turn into Mormon bashing. Which is why I asked to be one of the speakers. It didn’t turn out that way at all. Eric did a great job of planning the vigil and allowed those of us who knew and loved Todd to share that with a larger group of people – I don’t believe that the vigil “glorified” Todd’s suicide in any way. From listening to the other speakers…I learned a little more about him than I knew before. He was my friend and I will miss him terribly.

    That said, his is the third suicide of a gay man in SLC this month – that we know of. Three too many. I didn’t have the privilege of knowing the other two men and I can’t imagine what they must have been dealing with but I think that alot of people choose suicide as a result of feeling unloved, unworthy and very much alone…whether that is real or perceived. And that’s tragic. No one should feel that way. It’s my hope that, if anything, being more aware of these suicides and putting faces to “statistics”, helps those of us in the larger community to be more compassionate to other people. To talk to strangers, make people who go out by themselves feel welcome. Maybe just offer a smile to someone or a friendly “hello”. A little bit of compassion can go a very long way. I am not sure it would have made a difference in Todd’s life..but it might make all the difference to someone else.

    I’m tired and rambling so I’m gonna finish up here. Take care.

  7. Pancho on said:

    Hello Nate, I know I´m not much of a writer but I feel the need to pay respect to your words today. Our society is currently going through a mayor legal change about allowing marriage between homosexual couples, and as much as I wasn´t directly touched by the matter I thought it was a major breakthrough on a sluggish and outdated legal system such as ours. What surprised me the most was not the gay community struggle against bureaucracy (which was already hard taking over 3 years now) but the catholic people’s reaction to this movement. Suffice to quote Cardinal Bergoglio’s words (Our country’s highest church authority).
    “No seamos ingenuos: no se trata de una simple lucha política; es la pretensión destructiva al plan de Dios. No se trata de un mero proyecto legislativo (éste es sólo el instrumento) sino de una “movida” del padre de la mentira que pretende confundir y engañar a los hijos de Dios. (Don’t be naive: it is not about a simple political struggle, it is a destructive pretension against god’s plan. It is not a common legislative project (this is only the instrument) but a “move” from the father-of-lies that intends to deceive and mislead all of god’s children.).
    It is disgusting to see this (very nazi like) attitude explicitly taking over in manifestation’s “for a father and a mother” conducted by the vary same people that salute each other on behalf of peace and understanding every sunday at church. And it is actually funny – in a very sad way- to hear arguments saying that if we allow homosexual marriage now, the next thing is marrying cows or dogs… (I´m suspecting they might have some truth in that, as hearing this clever thoughts makes love my dog so much more!).
    Ok, it appears the devil has taken over Argentina, as the project has been approved last week and is becoming effective very soon. The aftermath leaves a better legislative system in terms of inclussion, a taste of victory for gay community that I´m happy to share and a lot more stray sheeps for the official catholic church.
    It is nearly impossible for me to imagine the inner struggle gay people has to go trough in a much more conservative society like yours. I only have to say you have my respect. I have come to realize it is not about impossed concepts of normality, but reaching a society where we can share life without masquerades.

    I sincerely hope we can make it.

    Salutations from Argentina!

  8. Indiana on said:

    You know, I think you are a strong, amazing and sensitive person. When we met I felt a real connection with you, sometimes we only had to saw on the eyes to knew what we was thinking. While I read those letters I feel it wasn´t wrong the imagen and feelings I have about that person I met one year ago. I hope we can see again, I hope that happen soon. Can you believe!! one year!! I send you a big and stong kiss and hug.

    LOVE YOU!!

  9. Witnessing the courage of this self-organizing community of compassionate, progressive, people is for me evidence of evolution. I seek this evidence everyday as an antidote to the spiritual entropy that keeps so many people from becoming their true, integrated selves.

    Your ramblings have nothing to do with a lesser shade of anything however; rather they are bright beacons illuminating dark, uncharted territory for many people.

    You should get a discount on your electric bill for feeding back into the social grid.

    Heartfelt thanks.

    • I’m with Stephen. Your words and YOU are a bright beacon illuminating the dark. Your love and your honesty shines from you in the way only living truthfully can.

      You radiate. 😀

      Love to you.

  10. carol currey on said:

    Nathaniel, That was a very touching and moving letter. It is so sad when someone feels
    so alone and an out cast. Just because people have their own thoughts and beliefs, they should never fail to love those who feel different. We are to love no matter what!. Isn’t that what Jesus said to do? He also said to help and support one another. Did not Jesus
    die for everyone?, period!!

  11. Paige Marie on said:

    Brother Currey,

    Your sensitivities on this subject always surprise me.

    I am always inclined to become frustrated and sad but you see clearly the matter with wisdom and love. You live a life imbued with compassion and free from bitterness.

    May we all have as much courage as you to unabashedly be who we are born to be. We cannot be conditioned, coerced, or guilted into fitting someone else’s mold for our lives. As a wise professor once told me, “We cannot be bred, we can only be born.” You two give me hope for this world.

    (And I agree with Stephen, call Rocky Mountain Power.)

    Your Wing-woman,
    Sister Pitcher

  12. Linda on said:

    Hi there…Another life lost…how many sacrificial lambs will it take to pay the price of admittance? Scott Peck in his book “The Different Drum” characterized the difference between clubs and communities as clubs reserving the right to exclude while true communities are all inclusive. When any church behaves like exclusive club it looses the vibrance of diversity and sometimes, as in the case of this young man, it looses the unimaginable potential of a precious life. Every one of us matters.
    You are such a brilliant addition to the human landscape. It’s hard for me to imagine you questioning your own value. I’ve so enjoyed getting to know you and watching your life unfold. I’m sure you will inspire many in your life time and your efforts to build community will help to make tragedies like this a thing of the past.

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