Todd Whitaker recently bore his testimony. The video of Todd testifying to his ward has now gone viral. As you may have seen, it was not your typical Mormon F&T meeting fare.
I caught up with Todd by email and he agreed to answer a few questions.
CB: Before we get started, I just wanted to mention a comment I noticed on another board that neatly described my own reaction the first time I watched your clip: “This video has many layers of win.” From your deadpan delivery of some harsh home truths about Mormon involvement in the Prop 8 campaign, to your calm side conference with the concerned bishop, to your not skipping a beat when the mike goes dead, all the way through to the calm exit with your escort in tow … The clip is a baklava of win. Did you have any idea – before you stood and bore witness at that meeting – that there’d be anything like the kind of response you’ve seen?
TW: I had no clue that it would become what it has … but I am pleased to have helped so many other closeted gay Mormons, as they seem to have derived some sort of courage from my testimony to stand up to their own bishops and friends and family members.
CB: What did the Bishop whisper in your ear when he got up?
TW: He said, “Todd, this is about Testimony, please step down.” My reply to him was, “I am almost finished. This is a Testimony, sir.”
CB: What thoughts were running through your head when you realized he had turned off the microphone?
TW: I was thinking to myself how one-sided this church really is. After all, I helped pay for that mic and the power to operate it. It also made me think about what my mother told me when I came out at the age of thirteen. She said, “I don’t want anyone to hurt you my son, and the Mormon Church will hurt you if they know who Todd really is. They will never accept you for who and what you are, so my advice to you is to not get too involved, as the rest of the Whitakers are deeply entrenched in this religion.”
I was also thinking that if I had any doubts before, I was absolutely certain now. I wanted to say a few words to the bishop but decided it wasn’t worth my time.
CB: Were further words exchanged in the foyer or outside the chapel as you left?
TW: Yes, a lady from the aisle in front of me followed me to the parking lot, grabbing my hand tightly as we walked to the rear of the building. She wanted to share her personal experience with me regarding her former husband of twenty-three years, who had left her for a man. She informed me that due to the animosity she had harbored towards him, she herself was disfellowshipped from the church. No one else dared to come near as they were all dismissed to go to their regular Sunday school meetings.
CB: What has the reaction been from friends and family?
TW: My immediate family, especially my father, has commended me for standing up for my rights, and I have unconditional support from my siblings and nieces and nephews. I am overwhelmed by the positive support they have all displayed. As for the Utah family members? I have sent a few emails to selected individuals and absolutely no reply. I haven’t heard a word from the Church or any Whitaker Mormons, interestingly enough. As for friends, again, I am overwhelmed by their unconditional love, respect, and support through all of this.
CB: Thank you, Todd.
And with that, we will now turn the remainder of the time over to Main Street Plaza for your comments.
And Todd, if you’re reading, please feel very welcome to join in!