I should like to tell you of three eighteen-year-old boys. In 1856 more than a thousand of our people, some of them perhaps your forebears, found themselves in serious trouble while crossing the plains to this valley. Because of a series of unfortunate circumstances, they were late in getting started. They ran into snow and bitter cold in the highlands of Wyoming. Their situation was desperate, with deaths occurring every day.
President Young learned of their condition as the October general conference was about to begin. He immediately called for teams, wagons, drivers, and supplies to leave to rescue the bereft Saints. When the first rescue team reached the Martin Company, there were too few wagons to carry the suffering people. The rescuers had to insist that the carts keep moving.
When they reached the Sweetwater River on November 3, chunks of ice were floating in the freezing water. After all these people had been through, and in their weakened condition, that river seemed impossible to cross. It looked like stepping into death itself to move into the freezing stream. Men who once had been strong sat on the frozen ground and wept, as did the women and children. Many simply could not face that ordeal.
And now I quote from the record: “Three eighteen-year-old boys belonging to the relief party came to the rescue, and to the astonishment of all who saw, carried nearly every member of the ill-fated handcart company across the snowbound stream. The strain was so terrible, and the exposure so great, that in later years all the boys died from the effects of it. When President Brigham Young heard of this heroic act, he wept like a child, and later declared publicly, ‘that act alone will ensure C. Allen Huntington, George W. Grant, and David P. Kimball an everlasting salvation in the Celestial Kingdom of God, worlds without end.’ ” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, November 1981)
So here, I stand. A five-year member of the Church. A return missionary. Someone so eager to get to Zion that he, too, didn't count the costs before leaving on the journey. One who left too late in winter and was caught in an early winter storm. Coming to terms with my homosexuality has left me standing on the icy banks of my own Sweetwater River. As I've confided in people, hoping for help, I've been continually let down. Many members of the Church try to understand, many do not. But their answer is always the same: "have faith and walk forward."
Unfortunately, I'm stuck. I don't have the energy, the confidence, the hope that I once had. I don't know how to overcome this battle. I need someone to carry me across--a modern-day Saint with the courage, faith and love to sacrifice their own interests, prejudices, desires to help carry me across this cold and icy stream.
People can ask me to make long and lasting sacrifices without thought. They ask me to lead a celibate, lonely life as if it were an easy thing to do. When I waiver or am apprehensive about their request, they tell me it is a lack of faith in God.
And yet, they are too afraid to help me at all--or more appropriately, to help when something significant is asked of them.