“Come, Come, Ye Saints” as a “Coming-Out” Anthem

The Lord gave Brigham Young this encouragement to leave the East and cross the plains: “I am he who led the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt; and my arm is stretched out in the last days, to save my people Israel” (D&C 136:22).

There are three parts to each LGBT coming-out process, all of which match the Westward journey of the Saints: the closet experience (Kirtland, Missouri, Nauvoo), the coming out journey (crossing the plains), and living in freedom (Utah).

When the Saints lived in the closet of the Eastern US, they were not free to be themselves.  They were victims of identity-based hate crimes, including being beaten, being tarred and feathered, and even being killed.  The Saints were just trying to get on with their lives and be the special people who God called them to be, and they were horribly misunderstood and persecuted by everyone around them, even though they weren’t hurting anyone.  All of this happens to LGBT people as well.

“Exodus” literally means “coming out.”  Like God leading Israel out of Egypt, the Westward journey was a coming-out experience.   That is why the iconic LDS hymn “Come, Come, Ye Saints” is a perfect coming-out invitation and support.  Yes, coming out is hard work, and it’s scary, but the hymn encourages us not to fear “toil nor labor.”  One of the tendencies of people in the closet is to sink into the seductive and simple convenience of the closet.  The familiar oppression is less scary than the unfamiliar freedom.  “Come, Come, Ye Saints” gives us fresh courage to deal with the long, hard journey of coming out as LGBT into the Utah of open living. It’s better far to be ourselves than to live in shame and secrecy.

LGBT people long to come out into a world “where none shall come to hurt or make afraid” and we can finally shout what we knew about ourselves all along: “All is well!”  Yes, being LGBT is neither a sickness nor a sin.  For us, all is well.  Though all is not well with the world, and there is work to do, we must all press on anyway.  LGBT people must be pioneers, like the early Saints.  Pioneers are those who go in a different direction, do something new, and do something very hard.  That’s why LGBT activists rightly continue the heritage of Mormon pioneers.  Some of us will be killed along the way, but most of us will make it safely to the land of rest and refreshment that is promised to all LGBT people who come out.  Our God will never forsake us.

Listen to this hymn with fresh insight!  Every time I hear it, it gives me even more courage to fight homophobia.   It’s an amazing coming-out anthem:

  1. Come, come, ye Saints, no toil nor labor fear;
    But with joy wend your way.
    Though hard to you this journey may appear,
    Grace shall be as your day.
    ‘Tis better far for us to strive
    Our useless cares from us to drive;
    Do this, and joy your hearts will swell–

    All is well! All is well!

  2. Why should we mourn or think our lot is hard?
    ‘Tis not so; all is right.
    Why should we think to earn a great reward
    If we now shun the fight?
    Gird up your loins; fresh courage take.
    Our God will never us forsake;
    And soon we’ll have this tale to tell–

    All is well! All is well!

  3. We’ll find the place which God for us prepared,
    Far away in the West,
    Where none shall come to hurt or make afraid;
    There the Saints will be blessed.
    We’ll make the air with music ring,
    Shout praises to our God and King;
    Above the rest these words we’ll tell–

    All is well! All is well!

  4. And should we die before our journey’s through,
    Happy day! All is well!
    We then are free from toil and sorrow, too;
    With the just we shall dwell!
    But if our lives are spared again
    To see the Saints their rest obtain,
    Oh, how we’ll make this chorus swell–
    All is well! All is well!

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