I love the movie Gettysburg. I vividly recall the first time I saw it 17 years ago. There are many poignant moments in the movie, so many sermons on character, life, heroism, tragedy, idealism, defeat, victory.
Lately, I found my thoughts turning to a scene in the film involving Colonel Fremantle, an officer in the British army who was detailed to General Longstreet’s command as an observer. It was not an extraordinary scene, compared with others in the film. It was, rather, a vignette that made a simple yet profound commentary on what differentiated the southern states from those in the north.
In the vignette, Colonel Fremantle observes to General Longstreet that both sides spring from a common mother, that they are all, really, just transplanted Englishmen. “Same God,” muses Fremantle, “same language, same culture and history, same songs, stories, legends, myths … but different dreams … different dreams.” Here’s the scene:
My thoughts recently turned toward Colonel Fremantle's comments as I contemplated the plight of Mormon homosexuals. We are/were raised with the dream of growing up, going on missions, then coming home and finding an eternal companion, with whom we can then start and raise our own family. We are taught that this is the ideal, that this is what our Heavenly Father approves of and desires us to have.
The importance of the dream is emphasized in every General Conference and is the subtext of countless sacrament meeting talks, Sunday School lessons, seminary classes and firesides. Young Women are raised to prepare themselves to fulfill their part in the dream; young men as well.
For Mormon homosexuals, however, this dream often turns into a nightmare as we are haunted by our inability – to one degree or another – to fulfill it. We have been taught that beside this dream, there is no other. The dichotomies that fill the Mormon worldview reach their apex in this central dream, this central myth. Unless we subscribe to and fulfill this dream, we have not, according to what we are taught, fulfilled the measure of our creation and are, in effect, sub-human.
What has come forcefully to me, however, is that we have different dreams. We - all of us Mormons - share, to paraphrase Fremantle, the same language, the same culture and history, the same songs, stories, legends and myths. Yet, we who are homosexual have different dreams.
It is high time that we affirmed those dreams, that we let ourselves embrace them and live them with the same degree of purpose as our heterosexual brethren and sisters, and thereby fulfill the measure of our creation. And in so doing, we do not need to cede or abandon to those who espouse the “one, true dream,” our shared Mormon culture, history, songs, stories, legends and myths. We can hold on to these, keeping what we want, letting go of what we don’t, while we pursue our own dreams.
I have shared this song before, but I do so again because it so aptly speaks to what I am trying to convey: