A courageous 12-year-old girl defied her Mormon church leaders and came out to her church in a moving speech shared to Facebook this week.
“I believe I am a child of heavenly parents. I don’t know if they talk to us, but I feel in my heart that they made me and that they love me. I believe I was made the way I am, all parts of me, by my heavenly parents,” said Utah resident Savannah Ward during a monthly testimony meeting where church members are encouraged to share their feelings about God.
“They did not mess up when they gave me brown eyes, or when I was born bald. They did not mess up when they gave me freckles or they made me to be gay. God loves me just this way because I believe that he loves all his creations.”
“I do believe [God] made me this way on purpose. No part of me is a mistake. I do not choose to be this way and it is not a fad,” she said.
“I cannot make someone else gay and being around me won’t make anyone else this way.”
“I believe that God wants us to treat each other with kindness, even if people are different. Especially if they are different.”
“I know these dreams and wishes are good and right. I know I can have all of these things as a lesbian and be happy,” she explained.
“[God] would want me to be happy. I want to be happy. I want to love myself and not to feel shame for being me,” Savannah said.
Two minutes into her speech, her pastor cut her mic and was told by church officials to sit down. According to her mother Heather, she left the stage in tears.
Her parents say that she had worked on her speech for months because she wanted it to be perfect.
Savannah finished her testimony in a separate recording and explained that she was told she would not be permitted to marry in the temple – a dream she had since she was little.
Savannah explained that she was now choosing to “find my joy outside of my old dreams”.
“I have new dreams and I know my earthly parents and my heavenly parents love and accept me just the way I am,” she finished.