Monday, March 21, 2016

Alex Cooper Survived

When Alex Cooper told her Mormon parents back in 2009 that she was a Lesbian, they did what every good Christian parent does when facing that situation:

They kicked they fifteen-year-old daughter out of the house. And then they asked her to move back in because, you know, she needed fixing and stuff. So they took Alex to see fellow Mormons Tiana and Johnny Siale and there she stayed for eight months, held captive and tortured because she’s gay.

Alex Cooper has written of her ordeal in Saving Alex. In the book she talks about how the Siales — who are neither trained nor licensed to be counselors of any kind — would force her  to stand facing a wall holding a backpack full of stones so she would "feel the burden she was carrying by choosing to be gay."

And they told her, in that good Mormon way, that her family didn’t want her, that God didn’t want her, because she was gay. Alex developed sores on her shoulders and cramps in her back because of the backpack of stones. She tried repeatedly to escape, but when she was caught the Siales would beat her. She tried to take her own life. And she says other people came into the Siales home and knew of the abuse but did nothing to stop it because … God.

But the Siales made a huge mistake; they allowed Alex to go to a local high school where she found a Gay-Straight Alliance [GSA]; through that group she found a lawyer, Paul Burke, who fought for over a year to obtain a court order barring Alex’s parents from forcing her into reparative therapy. 

Alex Cooper became the first openly gay teenager to win such legal protections in Utah, and now, some seven years later, she lives, openly, happily, in Portland and is, surprise, no longer a Mormon;  and says she chose not to prosecute the Siales:
“As long as I was sitting in a courtroom looking at them I couldn’t move on with my life, and that’s what I needed to do.”
She’s a better person than I am, because I would have faced them in court, and I would have happily testified against them, and grinned broadly as they were lead off to jail. But we each have our own ways of “moving on” and Alex chose the right path for her.

She has also moved on with her parents, having reconciled with them, because she believes they were only doing what they felt was right, and following the tenets of the Mormon faith. 
"I think that's what a lot of parents are under the impression of, that they're doing the best thing for their child. I don't blame my parents. I am able to share my life with them, and it's awesome."
And while I know it must have been hard, and I wonder if i could have done so, I love that Alex forgave her parents for what they did to her; I love that the girl that would have been shunned as a Mormon for being gay, by her Mormon parents and her Mormon torturers, can forgive. It's a tenet of most religions.

And so I imagine it’s what God would have wanted, though it’s too bad her parents and the Siales weren’t listening to that God when they subjected Alex to all that abuse. 


Michael Dodd said...

And so I imagine it’s what God would have wanted, though it’s too bad her parents and the Siales weren’t listening to that God when they subjected Alex to all that abuse.

The amazing thing is that Alex was able to do this after all that happened. There are lessons for all of us in this story.

the dogs' mother said...

Unconditional love means UNCONDITIONAL! Your church has been wrong before (no African American priests, polygymy), you admitted it. You are wrong now. Stop it. NOW.

anne marie in philly said...


Martha said...

What an inspirational young lady. Even after all that abuse, she still has so much love in her heart.

Helen Lashbrook said...

I am unable to understand how Alex's parents could allow someone to torture their child. Unless of course they'd been magicked off to that secret planet of their's; can't recall the name, but I'm sure it's right next door to the Scientology one.

Unknown said...

Just finished the book. I am going to post for all my Christian peeps to see.

Unknown said...

Shame on those people for doing evil to a child. Love your children unconditionally...not because they are a gift...but a gift from God. He made us they way we are, not how people think we should be. That girl is just who she should be....and her living spirit has shown through all the torture and came out still full of love. Awesome!!!!

Unknown said...

She should of prosecuted so they dont do that to any other kids!! Sick people