Episode 2: Savannah’s Story

Our second episode is finally here! We talk about Brigham Young’s cross-dressing son, the November 2015 Exclusion Policy, and I answer the question “why do y’all come out? I never came out as straight!”

But the real reason to check out this episode: you hear about a young Mormon lesbian who tried to speak about her experience in church, her mike got cut, and she was made to sit down. Here’s what she wanted to say that day — and a few other things, too! — in her own words.

24 Replies to “Episode 2: Savannah’s Story”

  1. Astonishing. Talk about the young leading the old! Thank you for this podcast. I wish Savannah’s testimony could be turned into required listening for bishops and stake presidents *internationally*.

    Warm wishes. And big ups for the sensitive way she was interviewed.

    1. What’s the scripture, ” and the hearts of the chilxdren will turn to the fathers and the hearts of the fathers to the children.” I basically believe this precept to mean. In time this time of now! That times will change that the knowledge of the “sages” will be the childrens, I believe Savannah, u will and are the difference for many. I too have the same belief as you sweet girl. It’s time to stop being afraid of the “gay” and unsure of what importance we have and role to play. In this life. And in this church with Christ’s name on it. I’ll hold your hand. And live and support you from Australia. I’ll live u and your heart and your SPIRIT FOREVER.

  2. Should have asked her why her bishop wasn’t there. I suspect that maybe his absence may have been planned due to the fact that people knew she was going to bear her testimony. What a smart, intuitive girl.

  3. I’d like to read her actual testimony. Too small. I right clicked and opened it in a new tab, but still too small. Can you copy it into the text of the transcript?

  4. I’m LDS and people need to understand the purpose of Fast and Testimony meeting. It’s supposed to be impromptu, not written out, spoken from the heart, and certainly not something you invite others to come hear. She could have put out a public blog post, YouTube video, etc. instead of hijacking testimony meeting with what she knew would be controversial instead of stating intentions that go against the church. The purpose of testimony meeting is to testify that Jesus is the Christ. We don’t record anything during church, but it was planned out that she would come and speak with the attention being on her instead of on the Savior.

    I do wish her the best though.

    1. I’m LDS, too. There’s no requirement that the testimony given be impromptu or not written out, although it is true that it normally is in many places. Lots of people write things down to organize their thoughts, though; for example, on my mission in the Chinese-speaking branch I served in, writing some notes down beforehand was really common for the members. In this case, she wrote it down so she could get approval for what she planned to say from her parent who wanted to avoid a scene, and wanted to make sure it fit the place and forum, so, in that context, your criticism is rather odd. There’s also nothing against inviting others; in fact, we put the words “Visitors Welcome” on the sides of our buildings. I don’t think you actually think that her testimony wasn’t from the heart, and even if you do, you know that you can’t possibly know what was in her heart.

      I have to take issue with the idea of “hijacking testimony meeting”. If it’s “hijacking” to give a testimony, then that’s what everyone does. And that, pure and simple, is what she did.

      It doesn’t “go against the church” to state that God made her gay. The church now teaches that people aren’t gay because of any sin of theirs or their parents, and that it isn’t a choice. You may wish to look at more recent publications that the church has put out (like the church’s Mormon and Gay website) if you want your opinions on the matter to be in full harmony with the current teachings.

      It was recorded for her as a keepsake. In speaking to the family, they didn’t expect to have her interrupted, and expected to just do what everyone else does: get up, say what you want to say, and sit down. I actually didn’t even know it had been recorded until this morning; if I had, I might have posted it here. I’ve seen baby blessings recorded (in those cases, just audio) in sacrament meeting before upon request, too.

      And I know you’ve been in testimony meetings where people go on long, rambling tangents. Where the speaker gives reviews of their summer trips, or gives “thank-imonies”, and says little that could be thought to testify of Christ. There was an older gentleman in a ward I was in while at college that gave us twenty-minute synopses of how the past month went, and only would incidentally touch on gospel topics, for example. And no one gets up and cuts their mikes. Savannah did testify of Christ, and the thrust of her talk was that God, in His infinite wisdom, made her just the way she is. I’m sorry that you let your disagreement with her personal revelation on the subject make you miss that sweet and simple truth.

      But I do wish you all the best, though.

      1. “I have to take issue with the idea of “hijacking testimony meeting”. If it’s “hijacking” to give a testimony, then that’s what everyone does. And that, pure and simple, is what she did.”

        This is not accurate. Actually, some months before this the Church read instructions specifically regarding giving testimonies. This was for the specific purpose of providing guidance so as many people could give their testimonies as possible, and for preventing people from “hijacking” fast and testimony meetings.

        “And I know you’ve been in testimony meetings where people go on long, rambling tangents. Where the speaker gives reviews of their summer trips, or gives “thank-imonies”, and says little that could be thought to testify of Christ. ”
        Yep. Exactly. This is exactly why the Church issued some guidelines regarding testimony meeting. Around this January-February we had a 5th Sunday lesson on this subject and a letter read to us that instructed us to avoid “thank-imonies,” travelogs, preaching and the like. Savannah’s parents should have been aware of this, but allowed Savannah to give her personal statement anyway. Fast and Testimony should not be used to announce one’s coming out of the closet. She could have recorded it in her home and posted it online or done a myriad other things rather than using testimony meeting as a public declaration of her personal beliefs.
        Probably most of us have personal beliefs which may run somewhat contrary to some church doctrine. Testimony meeting is not the place to discuss our differences, but our experiences with the truthfulness of the gospel.

        1. Why focus on rules and norms…. The church is evolving and yes improving with time constantly. The reality is, people are uncomfortable with her swirl orientation and feel upset because she chose to share it in church for a particular reason. These attacks on her decision prove exactly why a brave soul like Savanah needed to speak out, so others that are hiding in fear of these very judgements can finally have the weight of hatred and judgements lifted… Much like God desires for ALL his children, last time I checked without exception.

    2. Testimony meeting isn’t really about Testifying of Jesus. It’s about telling what you believe is true. Usually that means saying you “know mormonism is the only true church and all of it’s truth claims are accurate”
      I’ve never seen a testimony written down, but I can say if I had something controversial to say, I’d write it down.

      Source – 32 years in the mormon church.

    3. The problem is everyone always says “against the church”. As long as she is not going against God, Jesus, or the Holy Spirit, then it doesn’t matter if it’s against the church, the church is an abstract coalition of heavenly daughters and sons. Everyone always seems to think that against the church means against God and nothing is further from the truth.

      If the leaders truly exhibited Christ like qualities, they would have allowed her to finish, unobstructed, and return to her seat with no after thought, no calling her out on it, essentially not making a scene in public or private. When California passed the law to extend the right to marry to the LGBTQ community, my branch turned into a Trump political rally, minus the violence. When I joined, everything was follow the spirit and you have the God given right to choose, now it seems more like “we were chosen as leaders and this gives us the authority to dictate what goes.” I see this more and more as religious communities try to exert a dominance that they don’t have and isn’t theirs to exert anyway.

      I apologize if this seems, I forget the word, but trouble making.

    4. It’s enough with bigotry, if homosexuality exists there will be a reason, it will have the will of Heavenly Father.

  5. But making this into what it has become is the real story here. . .As sweet as her spirit is, it is sad that her heartfelt testimony is now being used as a hit piece on the internet and social media for those that have an agenda. . . .whatever it might be. . .

    But I do wish you all the best though

  6. I believe that when humans (people) get together & gather in their communities, whether that’s at their church or at a temple, or in our community in interacting social activities in our neighborhoods and even in our workplace, I believe that the purpose of these types of gatherings is to connect with other people on a higher level. To connect with our communities and share experiences together. To connect with their families and to connect with our friends in an elevated way to make us feel connected to each other and ourselves in the world. I think the only way that you can connect with your community and connect with your neighbors is by being your authentic self and allowing other people to express themselves as well. We’ve seen that successful communities that have diversity and open forums succeed with pride. Different thoughts and ideas challenge us to be better people.
    If we’re just repeating what we think people like to hear and makes us feel that makes “them” feel comfortable, then the ideal you are reenforcing is just morality pageantry.
    Why didn’t they just hand the girl a script of what they wanted to hear instead of asking her for her personal testimony? I assume they just want her to reinforce and endorse their own selective homogenized brand of “Christ like”. It appears they didn’t want to hear her own truth and they, like you said, cut her off to humiliate & judged her in front of her own family and congregation in a Church labeled “the church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints”. Obviously they should not be leaders of Christ’s teachings if they can’t duplicate his taught work.

    In their testimony meeting, why should anyone speak if we’ve all heard it before? In addition, how do we know that the congregation wouldn’t embrace and possibly relate to what she was openly sharing?
    Honestly, we should be allowed to express our authentic selves in our own neighborhoods, regardless of the forum. You can’t connect with other people by projecting what you think other people want to hear. The whole purpose of your personal testimony is to speak your truth and she was speaking her truth and it was beautiful. I believe it was the perfect setting for her to share and it really saddens me that she was silenced for being her true authentic, spiritual (fully 12 year old) realized self. So proud of her!

  7. I feel immensely inspired by the courage and bravery of Savannah. What a leader. I will take this nourishment into my day and reaffirm my own deeply held and celebrated conviction that there is no shame in being LGBTQ. I celebrate her knowledge of who she is, and her clarity that her being is inherently welcome, healthy, normal, and a gift from God. I take inspiration also, that the tide is turning, that a 12 year old knows this truth of her inherent worth and loveliness. A gorgeous day indeed!!!

  8. This story made me so sad I had to comment, and I never do. This ceremony was about testifying about your beliefs and relationship with God to perhaps confess or seek help, support, and guidance. People literally starved themselves in preparation for this. Instead of Savannah confessing she had a deeply private immoral thought that is directly identified as immoral in the Bible, she used this as a stage for herself. Not only did she completely distract from the true purpose of these Sundays, she essentially stood before a group of people expressing her “hopes and dreams” of finding joy in acting on the sin she struggles with.

    At 12, I had a huge crush on one of my teachers and most of my brother’s friends that were 6 years older than me. My parents, rightfully so, guided me in knowing I was never to act upon those thoughts and to help me understand that these attractions wouldn’t last, which they didn’t, and someday I would have God-led attractions that could be acted upon and still Holy.

    I am not a member of the LDS church but am a Christian living in Utah. Yes, God does love you Savannah, just the way you are, and wants to be with you in Heaven someday and in your heart now. Loving and celebrating your sin and taking your focus off of God and putting it on issues of the world and justifying that sin is what makes this relationship weak. God has a plan and purpose for you and your life and you are right, the way you were “fearfully and wonderfully” made are part of that plan and purpose. It’s up to you to read, pray, and learn about who Christ was and his teachings to determine how to use all that is you to carry out that plan. Disrupting a church service to announce your decision to someday act upon a sin that tempts you is not following God. I’m so sorry your parents didn’t help guide you in that but perhaps you could talk to the church leader who smartly recognized how completely misguided your speech was for advice.

    1. Savvanah, I’m from Brazil. I was Mormon for 20 years … since I was born. I do not believe in God today, but that’s my problem. Believe me, you are perfect as God made you. So if God made it so, there is no sin in being as you are. Your parents are right to teach you that you are beautiful and perfect as you are. Do not let anyone make you believe that it is less than that. I’m not gay, but I also believed that there was more to the world than they told us in the Church. Loving, anyway, does not make you a horrible, dirty, despicable person as they want us to believe. In time, because you are still very young, you will understand that the truth is within your heart. It is good to know that you have the support of your parents. I wish you much happiness and light to light your way. Bye.

  9. Please tell Savannah that I love her too and I think she’s a perfect creation of Heavenly Parents too.
    I wish she were in my ward!!
    Now, I hope to hear from her parents and Young Women’s President on how proud they are of her and how she enriches and blesses all of lives.

  10. I left the LDS church because of the strict rules against homosexuality. I am transgender before that people thought I was a lesbian. A lot of the LDS churches do not accept transgender people.

    Savannah is very brave.

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