Last week, Mike Norton, also known as NewNameNoah, released a video of 12 year old Savannah speaking in front of her Mormon congregation claiming that God loves her even though she is a lesbian and that he “did not mess up” by making her that way. After expressing these beautiful sentiments, the microphone was turned off and she was asked to sit down by the leaders of the congregation sitting behind her. This powerful video was getting a lot of attention and was even highlighted on CNN. But shortly after its near viral fame, it was taken down from YouTube. Not a whole lot is known at this time as to why it was taken down. We at MormonLeaks suspected this was going to happen and we were ready days in advance. We contacted Mike to tell him that we would host it on our server in Switzerland with a hosting provider that completely ignores all take down requests. As soon as it was taken down, Mike contacted us and we were able to get the video on our server within a matter of minutes. I don’t know when people will learn that the Streisand Effect is real.
I have heard a lot of criticism in regards to how Savannah approached the situation. There has been speculation about whether her parents put her up to it or if she decided to do it herself. Some have criticized her for leveraging the Mormon Fast and Testimony meeting to take a stand. And of course, some have said she is confused. But 100% of that criticism completely misses the point. Savannah’s action were brave and much needed in the political, cultural, and civil environment that we live in today. In Utah, Savannah’s home State, suicide is the number one killer of teens. Many of those killing themselves are from the LGBT community. Data shows that the more Mormons there are in a State, chances are that the youth suicide rate correlates with that percentage. But suicide is not the only delimma facing LGBT youth in the country, 20% - 40% of homeless youth around the country identify as LGBT. In Utah, that number is at least 50%. While I will always be one of the first to point out that correlation is not causation, in this situation, the evidence in pretty damning when during the year immediately following the infamous November policy banning children of gay parents from being baptized until age 18, 32 Mormon LGBT youth committed suicide.
This is an incredible cultural and civil issue. What Savannah did is on the same plane as Rosa Parks and other Civil Rights Movement Era heroes. It deserves to be seen by the world. This needs to stop. A message is being sent to these children that they are not enough, that something is wrong with them, when they are truly beautiful. I do not know who got the video removed, but they do not understand the enormous problem. Not only was the effort completely in vain thank you to the Internet, but their actions are assisting to squash a just movement that the entire country needs to see. I, as a straight white male, am proud to call myself an LGBT ally and republishing Savannah’s video is the act that I am most proud to have been a part of at MormonLeaks.