The following is an open letter to the First Presidency of the Mormon Church. A year ago, I sent this letter directly to the First Presidency, but never received a reply.
To the First Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints:
In February, 2016, my son, Harry Fisher, committed suicide.
Harry was a student in his final year at Brigham Young University and he was a gospel doctrine teacher in his singles ward. He served a mission for the Mormon church in New York state and he was a believing Mormon most of his life. One month before his suicide, Harry posted on Facebook that he was gay.
When Harry came out as gay, I thought he was on his way toward choosing an alternative lifestyle. I was wrong. I now realize Harry was trying to both be gay and be a faithful Mormon. That contradiction must have been a contributor toward his death. Harry never left the church. Instead, he left his lonely apartment in Draper on a February night, drove to Israel Canyon west of Utah Lake, walked up a ridge in the snow and shot himself.
Since Harry’s death, I have soul-searched for all the ways I contributed to his death. I have enough soul-searching to last the rest of my life.
I ask you, the leaders of the Mormon church, to soul-search the same as I.
At Harry’s funeral in Orem, a woman came and held my hand a long, long time before telling me that her lesbian LDS niece had taken her life the day before we found Harry’s body. Her niece shared the pain my son shared. Her family shares the pain my family shares. But not us alone.
Every year, perhaps more LGBT Mormons take their lives than were massacred at a gay nightclub in Orlando.
On Facebook, Harry posted that “Being gay in Utah and while being a Latter-day Saint can be hard … every couple of Sundays I have to go out to my car to keep from crying at church.”
This is sad, but there is something much sadder for faithful, gay Mormons than cruel comments. That is the lack of a place for them in the church they believe in. Harry had a choice between marrying a person he was not attracted to, leaving the Mormon church or living alone. These are choices that you, the leaders of the Mormon church, don’t present to heterosexuals or to yourself.
Why am I writing you? I am not writing for Harry because he won’t be coming back. I am not writing for my family because we are healing. I am writing for every LGBT Mormon who is suffering and is dealing with the same choices Harry dealt with. The more faithful they are to the church, the more impossible these choices become.
Many LDS children grow up to be gay or lesbian. When young, these children learn to sing that they are children of God; they go to church every Sunday; and they are immersed in Mormon culture. When they reach puberty, they suddenly find they are different and are presented with struggles and choices that heterosexual Mormons never face.
I ask you to give a place in your church for your LGBT children. I ask you to give them the same choices you give yourself, to have love, to marry and to share their life in the faith they believe in.
I saw and touched Harry’s blood. His blood cried out. It didn’t cry out for vengeance; it cried out for acceptance and love; a place to belong. The cold, icy ground above Utah Lake accepted his blood. Can you do as much?
Please accept a request to fast and pray with me. I humbly wait for an answer.
Paul Fisher, Pleasant Grove, works as a software engineer in Sandy.