Sunday, February 23, 2014

Hold to the rod - but do not hang upside down

I have some ideas for blog posts brewing in my head - but something else came up that I wanted to blog about.

At church, I am the instructor for the "Teaching For Our Times" lesson in the high priests group.  For those not in the know - this is where I teach a lesson assigned by either my stake president or bishop.  Today is the 4th Sunday - which is when I teach; and, my assigned topic this month is "Wayward Children".  I was also given a couple of links to conference talks to use to prepare.

This morning, an hour before church, I sat down to prepare my lesson - which itself kind of describes my feelings for the church.  Although I attend every week, my heart just isn't in it anymore.  I go more out of a sense of duty than of any sense of desire.

But I digress ...  That isn't what I wanted to discuss in this blog post.

As I often do, I used google to find other references for wayward children that I could possibly use in my lesson; and, I came across was a blog post titled To Parents of Apostate Children by an LDS stake president (at least, he was back in 2011, the date of the post). He tells the story of a divorced sister who was devastated because her daughter chose to live with her gay ex-husband rather than her.  She was embarrassed because her daughter then decided to live her fathers livestyle.

Now my first thought was:  "You would never accept your daughter as a lesbian - so, of course, she would rather live with her gay dad."  I was about to close the browser window since there was obviously nothing in this blog post that I would use in a lesson.  But then my curiosity got the better of me - I wondered what sort of comments were made on this post.  The first couple of comments were the sort of drivel one would expect - such as the guy (who goes by James) who, one day, saw a man wearing shorts and a pink tanktop carrying a poodle - and knew that he had just "seen the face of pure evil."

James later commented:
Hold to the rod, but do not rub or stroke the rod. Do not sit on the rod, lean against it, or put your mouth on it. Do not show the rod, or pictures of the rod, to your friends. Do not walk on the rod like a balance beam, and do not hang upside down from the rod. Do not look at the rod longingly.

As members of a Church run by worthy men who hold to the rod without playing with it, I urge us each to follow their examples.

If you don't currently have the rod, then please find someone who does, and grab hold.
Huh???  I had to go back and read this a few more times.  In all honesty, I have no idea what James is trying to say.

My first reaction was one of amusement at the homoerotic tones in his comment.  I even considered posting it to the MoHo facebook group so that others could share a laugh.

I thought of this comment more as I sat in church daydreaming - and my amusement turned to disgust.  What sort of pervert equates the rod in Lehi's dream as some sort of phallic symbol?  James is obviously a creepy guy that I hope I never see.

As I pondered further:  "me thinks James has a much more intimate understanding of what gay men like to do with their rods than is normal for a heterosexual male."  And I started to consider that maybe James is like me - a gay Mormon.  Obviously one is deep denial of his true self - but a brother none the less.

I don't have to look too far back to see a time when I was like James.  Well, the part about equating gay with evil, not the part about having a rod fixation - that's just weird.

James does not deserve my mocking nor my disgust.  If anything, he deserves my pity.


So, in case James, or someone like James, ever happens to come across this blog ...

James, you are in my prayers. I sincerely hope that you are able to accept yourself as the gay man God created you to be.  Being gay is neither good nor evil - it just is.  Yes, there are evil people in the world who happen to be gay - just as there are evil people who happen to be straight.  But most of us are good people.


Gay culture is far more diverse than many believe.  Even many gay members of society don't realize just how diverse it is.  Yes, it includes guys wearing pink tanktops carrying poodles.  But it also includes people like me - gay men who are married to women and choose to remain faithful to their wives - and everything in between.

In all honesty - I wish I were brave enough to walk around wearing a pink tanktop carrying a poodle.  But my particular situation makes it more prudent for me to remain in the closet and to blog using a pseudonym.  But that doesn't diminish the fact that I'm just as much a part of gay culture as the guys wearing thongs marching in gay pride parades.

And just because I choose to remain celibate doesn't mean that I think all gay men should choose my path.  Frankly, mine is an extremely difficult path - and not one that I would wish for anyone else. At times, I feel sad that I will likely never experience the love of another man.  And I celebrate those who find someone to share their life with.  Love is Love - and God is Love.  For that reason, I believe God accepts gay relationships just as much as straight relationships.

Now, I'm sure many would consider my views to be those of an apostate.  And they're probably right - at least in regards to current LDS theology.  But, I'm OK with that.

And James, maybe you just need to learn to play with your rod and not feel so guilty about it.



Monday, February 10, 2014

Resurrection

Hello?!?
.
.
.
Is this thing still on?
.
.
.
Is there anybody out there who reads this?

I've been contemplating starting up this blog again - and was just wondering if there was anybody who would even notice?

In the meantime, I'm still alive - still married - and still gay!

I still attend church regularly - but don't enjoy it like I once did.  But that would be a good topic for a blog post ...

If there is anybody who still reads this - is there anything in particular you would want me to blog about?

Monday, March 26, 2012

The Dallas gayborhood

The intersection of Cedar Springs Road and Throckmorton Street near downtown Dallas is is the center of the Dallas gay community - also known as the Dallas gayborhood. It's really not that large of an area, just a few blocks really. And, to an unsuspecting person who just happened to be driving down the street - they might not even notice anything different than any other area with restaurants, bars, and clubs.

I remember my first trip to the Dallas gayborhood. It was not long after I finally accepted myself as gay. I was in Dallas for some reason I no longer remember. I had heard of the gayborhood and was curious. I got out my map and realized it wasn't that far out of my way; so, I took a little detour and drove through it.

It was actually a bit underwhelming - the streets were not lined with rainbow flags. I didn't see same sex couples walking down the street holding hands. In fact, the only thing that seemed a bit out of the ordinary was a cafe with an outdoor eating area where there were only men sitting at the tables. Still I was nervous, even fearful - it all seemed so forbidden.  I felt like I was committing some great sin by just being there even though I never even got out of my car. The only time I actually stopped was for a traffic light. Still, I felt guilty for some reason; so, I left and drove back home.

I've since been to the Dallas gayborhood a few times to meet with MoHo's for lunch or dinner.  I've strolled down the street, checked out some of the stores. It's a safe area where you can talk without fear of being looked down upon. Same sex couples can walk down the street holding hands without disapproving glares.

The other day I found myself in that part of town while making a delivery for our embroidery business.   I didn't even realize it when I left my home.  I was just following the GPS directions and noticed I was in a familiar place.  After making the delivery, I needed gas in my car; so, I pulled into the parking lot behind Hunky's (a hamburger joint where I've met with other MoHo's) so I could look up a nearby gas station on my GPS.

After filling up my car with gas, I was contemplating the different feeling I had this time compared with my first visit.  There was no feeling of guilt or fear; in fact, it felt familiar - even comfortable.

I've come a long way during the last 6 years since I've accepted myself as I really am.  I'm gay - and I'm OK with it.  And, sometimes it's nice just being around other gay people - even if they don't know, or even acknowledge, me.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Utah Bound

I don't even know if anyone reads this blog anymore - especially since I haven't updated it in months.  But, I thought I'd throw this out there.



I will be driving through Salt Lake City in a couple of weeks and thought it would be fun to get together with some of the people I've known for years but have never met in person.



I'm on my way to Rexburg to help my son and his family move all of their stuff back to Texas.  My tentative plan is

  • April 8th (Easter Sunday), leave my house and drive to Farmington, NM
  • April 9th (Monday), leave Farmington and drive to Salt Lake City, UT
  • April 10th (Tuesday), leave SLC and drive to Rexburg

According to Mapquest, the drive from Farmington, NM to SLC is about 7-8 hours; so, I should be able to arrive in SLC by mid-afternoon.  I'm planning on getting a hotel there; so, I'm available for dinner and after.  Of course, if nobody responds, I may just keep driving to Rexburg

I thought about posting this to the MoHo facebook group - at least here, if nobody responds - I can rationalize that nobody reads my blog anyway. 

Anyway, let me know if interested ...  We can catch up on old (and new) times

Sunday, May 29, 2011

Charity

I've been meaning to post this, especially since May is almost over ... I was asked to speak in Sacrament meeting on mothers day; My assigned topic was "Charity".

I have to admit, I was a bit apprehensive about talking on mothers day as the usual talks include saintly pioneer ancestors, mothers, and grandmothers that are put on a pedestal so high that no woman could ever hope to match.  My parents are not members of the LDS church - so there are no LDS pioneer ancestors to talk about.  And, while I love my mother dearly, she is no saint.

Anyway, I felt the talk went well - as evidenced by the comments I received after the meeting.  So, here is my talk on charity given on mothers day



  • alms-giving
  • assistance
  • benefaction
  • contribution
  • donation
  • helping hand
  • offering
  • philanthropy
  • relief
What do these words all have in common?  They are all synonyms of “charity”.

So … what is charity?

In seeking to understand charity – I went to the experts:  Wikipedia, which states:

In Christian theology charity means an unlimited loving-kindness toward all others. The term should not be confused with the more restricted modern use of the word charity to mean benevolent giving.
It further says
Love, in this sense of an unlimited loving-kindness towards all others, is held to be the ultimate perfection of the human spirit, because it is said to both glorify and reflect the nature of God
So, in order to understand charity – we need to understand the “nature of God”
In our quest to become more Christ-like, we need to heed the words of the prophet Moroni who taught us “If ye have not charity, ye are nothing” (Mor 7:46). Moroni went on to explain that “Charity is the pure love of Christ” (Mor 7:47)

The apostle John taught us that “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13) Jesus Christ laid down his life so that we may be saved – which, as explained by John, is the ultimate expression of love.

Now, the reality is that none of us will likely ever be asked to give up our lives – but we can give in other ways
  • We can give of our money – through tithes, offerings, and charitable contributions
  • We can give of our worldly goods – through donations
  • But, most importantly, we can give of our time

We all have a finite amount of time on this earth. Our time here on earth is precious. When we give our time to others, we are giving a little of ourselves.

Edmund Burke has been attributed to saying “The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men (and women) to do nothing”

It’s been said that "Charity begins at home"; but, Horatio Smith went further to say “Our charity begins at home, And mostly ends where it begins.”

Mother Teresa once said “If you can't feed a hundred people, then feed just one”

And an unknown author shared “Charity sees the need, not the cause”

The apostle Paul taught us that “Charity never faileth) (1 Cor 13:8). He went on to explain “And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries, and all knowledge; and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not charity, I am nothing.” (1 Cor 13:2)

The apostle Matthew taught “But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.” (Matt 6:3-4)

I learned about charity from my mother through her examples.

My mother had a dry sense of humor. To a casual observer she might have even been judged as being harsh. As a child, when I was outside playing and hurt myself and came into the house crying – she was ask “are you bleeding?” and then send me back outside. But, she knew when the hurt and pain was real. I remember once laying sick in bed with a high fever – and she sat by my bedside all night dabbing my forehead with a damp cloth trying to keep my temperature down.

My mother was a visiting nurse by profession where she would visit people, mostly elderly, in their homes to check on them and administer to their needs. We lived near the coast outside of Santa Cruz, California at the time. During the summer months I would sometimes go with her on her route – and would play in the tide pools on the shore while she visited her patients. Sometimes she took me into their homes to visit with them while she went about her business

When she entered a patient’s home she would ask how they are doing – and they would often respond with “I’m dying” – to which she would reply “well, I’m dying too – you’re just going to die a little sooner than me.” – but she always knew the right things to say to help ease their mind; and, when she left their home, her patients usually said a sincere and heartfelt “thank you”

During my high school years, we moved to Moss Landing, a tiny town of 500 people on the coast outside of Watsonville, California. Watsonville is known as the “salad bowl” as that is the area where we get much of our salad type crops, as well as strawberries, apples, artichokes, and other fruits and vegetables. As such, it has a large population of migrant farm workers – many of whom struggled just to keep food on the table and a roof over their heads.

My mom believed that every little girl needs a baby doll. So she started finding old dolls at garage sales and thrift stores. She would bring them home and clean them up. She would then dig through her stash of cloth and sew new clothes for them. And, when she saw a little girl in need – she would give them a doll.

She never bragged about what she did; but, other people learned of what she was doing and started bringing her old dolls and scraps of cloth. And my mother would use her spare time to clean dolls and sew doll clothes – never seeking recognition for her efforts. It did not matter to her that many of these families were here illegally. She saw and responded only the need in the best way she could – never once considered the cause.

My mother was a voracious letter writer. She would often send a small note to people whom she had only met briefly. My parents are not members of the church and were most displeased with my decision to serve a mission; however, throughout the two years, I always knew there would be a letter from mom each week.

As her health declined and she was no longer able to help in ways she used to, she continued writing letters to everybody she knew. The letters stopped when we bid my mother goodbye a few years ago as she lost her battle with cancer.

I miss my mother; but, I am consoled by the fact that we will once again be joined in eternity.

So, how can we be charitable?
  • When we stay up all night helping a child with a science project, which they’ve know about for weeks but which we only just found out – we are showing charity.
  • When a child cleans their room or does the dishes without asking – they are showing charity
  • When a husband greets his wife with a hug – he is showing charity
  • When a mother prepares a favorite meal – she is showing charity
 Charity need not be grandiose – it does not need fanfare. It is those small simple acts of kindness we perform as we see and respond to a need – without any consideration of the cause.

All of us – regardless of our station in life - need charity. And all of us, need to show charity to others
in our quest to become more Christ-like.

In general relief society meeting of the October 2010 general conference, President Thomas S Monson said

Charity has been defined as “the highest, noblest, strongest kind of love,” the “pure love of Christ … ; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with [her].”

He went on to say:
“Charity never faileth.” May this long-enduring Relief Society motto, this timeless truth, guide you in everything you do. May it permeate your very souls and find expression in all your thoughts and actions.

I leave this same thought with you in the name of our elder brother – even Jesus Christ


Posting to my blog also gives me a chance to include a picture that I think illustrates my blog topic.  Charity is the pure love of Christ - what better way to represent this than to include a picture of two men in love ...


Sunday, May 22, 2011

I'm still here ...

The apocalypse came and went and I'm still here - so I guess I ought to write in my blog.  The year is nearly half over, and I think this is only my 2nd post in 2011.  A far cry from how I used to be with this blog.

I received a Scribit suggestion recently - which surprised me as I thought I remembered receiving an email that the Scribit gadget was going away.  Anyway, an anonymous reader asked

Does your wife know about your SGA now? If not, what advice do you give to wives to help?
First off, anonymous reader, I do not struggle with same gender attraction - I struggle with opposite gender attraction.  Being attracted to men feels natural and normal for me.  That said - yes, my wife is fully aware of my gayness.  Although, it isn't something we talk about much.  Often it's more the elephant in the room - something we're both acutely aware of but neither wants to bring it up.  But, I remain faithful and 100% committed to her.

I think every girl, at some point in her life, dreams of a fairy tale marriage where she meets her prince charming.  But, for some girls, instead of prince charming - they get a fairy.  It may not be fair, but that's just how life is - life isn't fair.

As far as advice I might have for wives - I think you need to look at the positives rather than the negatives.  Sure, we're not going to look at you the same way that straight men might - even sexual intimacy may be difficult for us (you're just not plumbed the right way - sorry, that's just how it is).  But, there are positive aspects to having a gay husband.  We probably like to shop more than a straight husband might, we are great cooks, we may even like watching chick flicks with you.  It's like having a gay best friend and a husband all wrapped up in a single package.

A couple of years ago I wrote a post titled Women who love men who love men which I think sums up my feelings pretty well.

I don't even know if any of the people who were once regular readers are even around any more - I've certainly not given them any reason to be.  But, just in case anybody cares ...

I'm still here - still gay - still married - still active in church - still unemployed (sort of)

But, I've been very very busy.  My wife and I started an embroidery business in our home (try doing that with a straight husband).  We have two 6-thread embroidery machines and have been working 12-14 hours/day trying to keep up with the demand.  Who knew there was such a big demand for custom embroidery?  Maybe we're just not charging enough ...

I certainly didn't expect us to be this busy, at least in the beginning.  I seriously don't even know if we're making money as I haven't had much time to delve into the bookkeeping aspects of a business.  I almost hate to say it - but I kinda hope business slows down a bit so that we have time to sit down and figure out how to work smarter, get our website up and going, and a bunch of other stuff that's been on the back burner.

I will have to say that being so busy has had a positive impact on my depression issues.  I feel stressed - but I'm not so depressed about it.  I guess just feeling like I'm useful and that I matter does a lot for my self esteem.

I was able to take a little time out of my schedule to take some engagement pictures for some friends - don't they make a cute couple?

I know you can't see their faces (I don't feel comfortable posting recognizable pictures) - but trust me, they were both smiling ear to ear.

And ... this pretty much sums up my feelings.  I believe in God - I believe in the LDS church - and I believe the LDS church is totally wrong in how they approach homosexuality.

Two men in love - true love.  And they are both happier now that they have each other in their lives.  And I believe God is happy with their union.

Many people do not understand how I can hold such conflicting views.  I can't explain it either; but, it is that very conflict which prompted the name of this blog - as I feel like an enigma.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Thou shalt not be gay

I attended the priesthood leadership session of our stake conference Saturday a week ago.  Our stake president began his talk by relating a discussion he had with his teenage son about the one answer that can be given for any question in seminary - no matter what the topic, you can always give this answer.  He then shared the following little ditty
Read your scriptures
Learn to pray
Go to church
And don't be gay

This is, of course, nothing new - I just never heard it put to rhyme before.  Needless to say, there were chuckles throughout the room.  I wondered if those around me noticed my stoic look - dumbfounded at what I just heard.

The main point of his talk was the need to get back to basics.  He went on to talk further about the first 3 lines in this ditty - thankfully never again mentioning the last line.

Since then, this little ditty has been going around and around in my mind - wondering just how much truth there is in it - truth in the sense that this is what is considered "basic doctrine" in the LDS faith.

Elder Boyd K. Packer once spoke of the The Unwritten Order of Things - stuff you won't read in any church handbook, but things we all just "know" - such as men wearing white shirts to church meetings.  I think "Don't be gay" is another of these unwritten principals in the LDS church.  Something that is never really said explicitly in official communications - but, nonetheless, something that everyone in the church just knows to be true.

I feel like I should be offended by the comments made by my stake president - instead I feel sadness, and I have an inkling of what I imagine the savior might have felt on the cross when he said "Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do."  My heart especially goes out to those young men and women who may be struggling with their own sexual identity and who are subjected to this sort of ridicule in a setting that is supposed to be 'safe'.

I expect my stake president probably felt that a priesthood leadership meeting was a safe environment in which to share his little ditty - certainly there wouldn't be any of those types of people in the room.  If only I weren't such a big coward and had the courage to say something to him.

Church leaders can bloviate all they want about how being gay in and of itself is not a sin - only when we act on our gay feelings do we sin.  And everyone can nod their head in agreement - because we all 'know' of the unspoken commandment:  "thou shalt not be gay."

So, in a return to basics - I guess I fail miserably at the "don't be gay" part.  Haven't really been all that great in the scripture reading and praying either - but I go to church!  1 out of 4 isn't that bad ... is it?  Yeah me!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Four years and counting

4 years ago (12/19/2006 at 7:48 PM CST) I posted my very first blog post.
Woop-De-Doo !!!

I've pretty much run out of things to say - so I'm wondering if it'll make it to 5 years ...

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blind obedience

Our stake has initiated a program where, without going into the nitty-gritty details,  we are to talk to every member in our ward to gather information about their their ancestors in their 5-generation pedigree.  Basically, we're getting the number who've had their temple work done from each ward member.  In a 5 generation pedigree chart, there are 30 direct line ancestors (not including children); so, we're asking for a number between 0 and 30 from each ward member which we'll enter into a spreadsheet and turn it into the stake in January

Now, I have to admit I was a bit annoyed when I first learned of this "request" from the stake.  The reality is that most of the people whose number is 30 (meaning all of their ancestors have had their temple work done) probably haven't lifted a finger personally to do any actual genealogy research - since their family has likely been in the church for generations and Aunt Matilda did it all.  By comparison, those of us who are first generation Mormon's - who have actually had to go out and do real research to find our ancestors, but haven't yet completed 5 generations resulting in a number less than 30 - will look like slackers.

But, trying to be the obedient son - and being the only member of the High Priest group leadership who has any actual family history experience, I tried to put my personal feelings aside and spent considerable time looking at this over the past week reviewing new.familysearch.org to figure out how we can help ward members derive the information the stake has asked for.  The more I looked at it the more I became convinced that whoever thought of this at the stake just hadn't thought it through.  While possible, it's not intuitively obvious how to derive the requested information on new.familysearch.org; plus, we were essentially going to go through a lot of work talking to all of the members to collect a useless data point.  When all is said and done, the only useful purpose of this data will be to show the stake that we were an "obedient" ward who did their bidding.

As I thought about it more, I came up with, what I thought, was a better idea.  I identified some alternative data points that were easy to derive from new.familysearch.org - and that would actually be useful to us in assessing where we needed to assist ward members in their family history and temple work. I discussed this with my wife (who has much more family history experience than I have) and she agreed that my idea had merit.  I was actually starting to feel some of the passion I once had for family history.

So, I drew up a proposal for my alternative and presented it to other members of the High Priest group leadership on Sunday - and I was shot down!  I was told that wasn't what the stake asked us to do.  When I countered with "do we want to fulfill the letter of the law of the spirit of the law?" - I was told that we needed to fulfill the letter of the law and do exactly what the stake asked of us.  It felt like a sucker punch to the stomach - and any passion I was beginning to feel quickly dissipated.  Now, this seems like a trivial thing - but I was angry when I left church on Sunday.  I was angry that my ideas were dismissed so readily because I wasn't towing the party line.  The frustrating thing is that it's possible the bishop and/or the stake president might have even liked my ideas - but we'll never know because they never made it past the first rung on the leadership ladder.

Today I'm OK.  I feel that I had a brief moment where I tried to actually think for myself - but I'm over it now.  Well ... the reality is that I just don't care anymore - Any passion I was beginning to feel is gone - and it just isn't worth fighting over. So, I'm just going to roll over (or maybe "bend over" would be a better metaphor) and do what is asked of us.

But, at the risk of sounding childish, I've decided that I personally will not participate - I will be the obedient son and do whatever I can to assist the HP Group Leader in collecting this information from ward members, but I will not be providing the stake with the information they asked for about my ancestors.  Since I created the spreadsheet that we will use to collect the information, I simply removed my name from the list of ward members.  That way, if anyone does happen to scan the list to see who hasn't yet provided the information requested - my name won't stand out, since it won't be there; and, my own little private rebellion won't reflect negatively on the ward.  And, in the off chance that someone does notice and asks about it - I'll just shrug my shoulders and say I have privacy concerns.  Which is not really the case - I just have no idea what they intend to do with the data and, therefore, have no inclination to share.

As I said, this is really a trivial thing - but I think what bothers me the most is that it drives home the notion that we are supposed to just blindly follow whatever our leaders ask of us.  If we're told to jump than our only response should be "how high?"  We can't question or even suggest better ways - I guess, because, if there were a better way then God would surely have "revealed" it to the stake leaders; so, our own ideas are obviously satanic in origin if they don't mesh 100% with those from the church hierarchy.  There is no opportunity for synergy to build upon the ideas of church leaders to come up with the better solution; and, the result is mediocrity, of which this is a perfect example - a collection of spreadsheets from each ward in the stake containing useless data.  And at such an enormous waste of time and energy which could have easily been channeled to collect data that would have been useful in assessing and promoting family history and temple work in the ward.

But, this being my gay blog - this post isn't really about family history.  It's about coming up with the best solutions to address the problems facing the LDS church.  Certainly, how to deal with gay members of the church is a problem for which the LDS church leadership is not prepared - evidenced by the dismal retention rate of gay members in the LDS church.  The straight membership can console themselves that we're simply being led astray by the adversary - but seriously, 99% of us can't keep a lid on our attractions to the same gender?  It's insulting to suggest that being gay equates to being weak!

I have to believe the answers are out there - answers which could be found with the help of people like those of us in the Mormon queerosphere.  But our culture doesn't allow for a bottoms-up approach - everything has to come from the top down.

Now, to be fair, there are islands of hope - a bishop here, a stake president there - local church leaders who seems to 'get it' and who demonstrate genuine interest in helping gay members.  But, for every island of hope - there are islands of despair, such as the bishop that TGD blogged about who counseled a family member who is having thoughts of suicide that "its best to follow through the suicide than to give into men."

In my previous blog post, I mentioned that I believe change will come - eventually.  I still believe that; but, my recent experiences have demonstrated to me that change will not come from within.  Good gay members of the church - who are an excellent source of ideas for how to best address the gay contingent in the church - will have little to no effect in changing the hearts and minds of the church leadership as a whole.  To even consider such smacks right in the face of our doctrine of priesthood leadership - because those of us in the trenches do not hold the "keys" to receive inspiration for anything other than ourselves and our families.  To even suggest that we might have the answers for the church as a whole is a sure indication that we are in league with the devil - the father of all lies who seeks the deceive the righteous.

I believe change will come - but it will have to come from outside of the church.  As society increasingly accepts homosexuality, the LDS church will increasingly come across as petty and vindictive towards that segment of society; and, this will force LDS church leadership to reconsider how to best address homosexuality in the church.

Some commentators to my previous blog post took issue with my statement that "the LDS church does not hate gays - they only hate what gays do in the privacy of their bedrooms." - countering that the actions of the LDS church speak louder than their words.  I understand what they are saying - but I still hold to my opinion.  The LDS church does not "hate" us - they "fear" us.  I believe actions by the LDS church to oppose anything 'gay' - such as proposition 8, or BKP's comments in general conference - are out of fear rather than hate.  And fear can make people irrational in their words and their actions.

Hate is such as strong word - and I believe church leaders have a genuine concern for the salvation of our souls; but, the very idea of two men or two women in a loving relationship smacks right in the face of our doctrine of the eternal family - and that scares the hell out of them.  It scares them enough that to even suggest that such loving same sex relationships could be acceptable to God is blasphemy.

Well ... maybe, just maybe, all it really means is that perhaps we don't understand the doctrine of eternal families as well as we think we do.

In the meantime, I've lost hope that I personally will be able to do anything that might make a difference in the lives of my family - my MoHo family.

And I find myself wondering - how did we get from teaching correct principals and letting the saints govern themselves to blind obedience and damn the consequences?

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reaping what you sow ... 2 years later

A lot has been written about recent changes to the LDS Church Handbook of Instructions prognosticating about the impact said changes have on gay Mormons. Organizations like HRC have claimed responsibility for the church instituting said changes because of their activism - which the church, of course, has denied.

Personally, I think people are reading too much into recent changes. The CHI is periodically updated to reflect policy tweaks and generally reflect changes that had previously been communicated via letters from the first presidency. (not all such letters are read over the pulpit - many are addressed directly to bishoprics and stake presidencies)

What I do believe is that the LDS church is finding itself in a very uncomfortable position where every word that is uttered from a pulpit - every word that is written - is meticulously examined and analyzed for possible impact to the GLBT community in general and gay Mormons in particular.

It didn’t always used to be this way.  It wasn’t that long ago when, except for a few disgruntled ex-Mormon’s, the LDS church was largely ignored by the GLBT community.  In fact, there was perhaps even a bit of cautious admiration due to the church’s position that God loves everyone – even the gay ones.  Something that raised the ire of other religious leaders – such as the esteemed Rev. Fred Phelps whose followers at the Westburo Baptist church protested the LDS church's tolerance towards homosexuals at President Hinkley’s funeral - since they want to believe that all fags have a one-way ticket straight to hell.

Then along came proposition 8 in California.  The LDS church believes that gay marriage poses a threat to the traditional family - a severe enough threat that it compelled the church to abandon it’s policy of political neutrality and rally the saints in California to campaign for the passage of proposition 8 denying gay couples of the right to marry.  Almost overnight the LDS church went from being largely ignored to public enemy number 1 to the GLBT community.

This wasn’t the first time that the LDS church got politically involved. 
  • 1980 – Although I don’t recall the details, there was some initiative on the California ballot concerning gay marriage.  I was living in California at the time and heeded the call from church leaders to go door to door.  I don’t actually remember if we were urging voters to vote for or against said initiative – but, I do recall being frustrated because many people I talked to assumed I was gay and was campaigning for the position opposite that of the LDS church.  (yet another testament of people seeing things in me that I refused to see in myself)
  • 1998 – The LDS church donated $500,000 to the Alaska Family Coalition to campaign for an amendment to the Alaska constitution banning gay marriages.
  • 1998 – The LDS church contributed to the “Save Traditional Marriage” campaign in Hawaii 
  •   2000- Proposition 22 in California “Protection of Marriage Act
But none of these had the same lasting effects as proposition 8 did in 2008.

I don’t claim to know what was different with Proposition 8 in California.  Perhaps it was the timing with the internet becoming more integral in our lives.  Perhaps it was the level of involvement with mormon’s contributing nearly half of the $39.9M raised to pass Prop 8.  Perhaps it’s because prop 8 was the most funded campaign on any state ballot.  Maybe its because of other campaigns such as “No H8” which keep prop 8 in our collective consciousness.  It could be some combination of all of these (plus other factors I haven’t thought of).

Whatever the cause, proposition 8 in California has had a major impact on the relationship the LDS church has with the GLBT community – indeed, american society at large.  Right or wrong, if you polled random people on the street with the simple question “does the Mormon church hate gay’s” – I expect, more than likely, many would answer “yes” - that certainly would be true if you polled the gay community.

The reality is - the LDS church doesn't hate gays - it just hates what gays do in the privacy of their bedrooms.  When discussions started among LDS church leaders regarding getting involved in the prop 8 campaign, I expect they probably assumed that there would be some opposition – but that it would eventually fizzle out as it has in the past.  I don’t think they were prepared for the onslaught of negative feelings towards the LDS church – both from within and without.  And, I imagine they are probably perplexed that such feelings continue to exist 2 years after the election showing little signs of abating.

The LDS church is very image conscious and objects whenever it is portrayed negatively.  So, this puts them into a very difficult position.  How can the LDS church repair it’s relationship with the GLBT community without coming across as softening on its stance towards homosexuality?  Essentially, the LDS church has painted itself into a corner with no idea how to get out of; and, it seems every thing they do gets them further embedded in the mire.

The answer, I believe, is that it can’t – it can’t change peoples attitudes towards the LDS church without major changes to it’s teachings about homosexuality.  I also believe that such changes will come – eventually; although, I don’t know if I’ll be alive to see it. I'm not suggesting that I think the LDS church will suddenly start sealing same sex couples in the temple.  But I think we will see increased tolerance towards people who happen to be attracted to those of their same gender - particularly those who embrace committed monogamous relationships.

In the meantime, the LDS church is reaping the bitter grains that it has sown. President Boyd K Packers talk in the October general conference suggests that (at least some) church leaders have yet to learn from past mistakes and are having to live with the consequences of their actions. The brouhaha over the changes to the CHI is just the latest volley of unwanted publicity – and it certainly won’t be the last.

So, hang on tight because I think it’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Reader suggestion for blog topic: food or photography. or distant friends in boise idaho :)

[not so] anonymous reader suggestion:  food or photography. or distant friends in boise idaho :)

I love food.  I love to cook food.  I love to eat food (and I have the physique to prove it).  But, I have another blog where I discuss food and recipes.  I'll give you a hint, it's linked in the left sidebar.

I love photography; but, I have to admit I haven't been doing much with it the last few months. I don't know, I just haven't felt very creative of late.

I love my distant friend in Boise, Idaho (even if he does live in [gasp] Idaho).  I love it that he calls me periodically just to see how I am doing.

But, I have to admit - I've been struggling with this blog topic suggestion.  No offense [distant friend in Boise] but it's just too enigmatic - which is saying a lot from someone who is, himself, and enigma.

So, I'm going to read between the lines - I think what [distant friend in Boise] is trying to tell me is that I need to blog about things that I am passionate about.

Now that's going to take some work because ... well ...to be brutally honest, my passion has fizzled - overshadowed by apathy.  But, deep down inside me is still a spark of passion.  I need to find that spark and nurture it, fan it to make it grow into a fire swelling inside of me.

... um

Does anybody know how I can make this happen?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pity party

Pearls Before Swine

I have my own problems with job (lack thereof), bills, etc. (no car problems, thankfully).  I know there are others far worse off than I am - but somehow that doesn't make me feel any better about my own problems.

Why can't I just be thankful for what I have?  Am I being selfish?  Am I wallowing in self pity?  How do I get out of this rut?

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It gets better ???


First off, I have to say that I really love the It Gets Better campaign.  The thing I like most about "It Gets Better" is the positive focus.  The gay community plays the victim so much that it's refreshing to see a positive perspective of being gay.

I love watching the videos.  It seems everybody who is anybody - and even a few nobodies and anybody wannbes - has made an "It Gets Better" video; although, my favorite - by far - is the one created by the LA Gay Mens Chorus - it brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.  It's beautiful and sad at the same time - sad because I just don't see myself ever being circled about by my straight family and friends.

And ... I find myself wondering:  What about those of us who accept our homosexuality much later in life?  "It Gets Better" is focused on gay youth - I get that and support it.  But, what about people like me who lived most of our lives pretending to be straight and have finally accepted who we are?  Does it get better?  Or is this as good as it gets?

I no longer have to deal with bullies trying to rip away my self esteem.  Echos of being called a queer and a fag are distant memories.  In that sense I guess it has gotten better ...

But ... my life is filled with diametrically opposed conflicts
  • A part of me regrets that I didn't accept myself much earlier in life and pursued a relationship that feels right.  Yet if I had - then I wouldn't have my wife and best friend; and, I wouldn't have my children who mean the world to me. 
  •  I am gay celibate.  Yet, a part of me regrets that I never took the opportunity to experience the love of another man when I was younger.
    • Part of me yearns for male companionship - yet I cannot - I must not - seek it as doing so would hurt those that are most dear to me.
    • I want to proclaim to the world that I'm gay - yet due to my personal circumstances I must remain in the closet. 
    • I attend a church that teaches me that these feelings I have are unnatural and impure - and that acting on them is a violation of God's most sacred commandments.  Yet - they don't feel unnatural or impure to me.  And, even though I have consciously chosen to deprive myself of a man-on-man relationship - I don't encourage others to choose the same path I have chosen.  In fact, I support them if they choose to live their lives to their fullest in a deeply committed relationship with someone of their own gender.
      • I continuously seek for answers - answers that always elude me - answers that I doubt even exist.

      So ... is this it?  Is this as good as it's going to get for me?  Am I doomed to spend the rest of my life seeking balance where none exists?

      And what happens when I die?  Religious leaders tell me that these feelings I have are only for mortality - that I will magically change into a heterosexual upon death.  I hear their words - but their words sound hollow and feel wrong.  What if I don't want to be a heterosexual in the afterlife?

      Yet ... if I remain a homosexual in the afterlife - am I doomed to spend eternity trying to reconcile the irreconcilable? Doesn't that sounds like a definition for hell?

      So ... does it get better?  Or, for people like me, is this as good as it's ever going to get?  Ever ...

      Saturday, November 6, 2010

      Reader questions

      Anonymous reader question (part 1): Where did you serve your mission?
      I was called to serve in the Missouri Independence mission.  About 6 months into my mission they formed the Missouri Saint Louis mission of which I became a part of and where I served the remainder of my mission.  The Saint Louis mission covered approximately the eastern half of Missouri and the southern half of Illinois; although, I spent my entire mission in the Missouri side of the mission.

      Anonymous Reader question (part 2):  Any companion stories to tell that you've never shared?
      I hate to admit it (because it makes me feel really old), but it's been 30 years since I returned home from my mission - much of my mission has become a distant memory.  I really don't remember much of my mission companions - but there are two that stick out in my mind.

      Elder E
      Elder E was my second companion.  Like me, he was older when he left.  Elder E was a very dedicated missionary - although, not in an annoying way.  He truly believed in and had a lot of enthusiasm for the work we were doing and his enthusiasm rubbed off on me.  I was very shy when I left on my mission; and, Elder E helped me come out of my shell.  I became very dedicated to Elder E - which, apparently, was obvious to other missionaries.  I remember one of our zone leaders once observing that I "followed him around like a little puppy"; although, I've never really understood what he meant in a mormon missionary sense since ... well ... isn't that how missionaries are supposed to be?

      Elder K
      I was companions with Elder K about midway through my mission.  He left on his mission a month after I did; so, we didn't really have a senior/junior companion relationship - we were just companions.  We were asked to open up a new area - well, reopen since the area had had missionaries in the past.  It was a small branch in rural Missouri, outside Saint Louis, that covered an entire county that was approximately a square 40 miles on a side.  And the real clincher - we didn't have a car, we only had our bikes to cover 160 square miles.

      The branch met in a town that was not the largest in the county, by any means, but was pretty much in the center of the county; and, we lived in a trailer park outside of town - so we were pretty much isolated.  But, the branch was very excited to have missionaries again and was willing to do anything to help us out.  With the help of the branch mission leader, we arranged to drive to work with members who worked in the various towns in the county and just spend the day in that town proselyting.  Then we would meet them at their place of work at the end of the day for the drive back home.  Of course, this meant that we had to get up and out of the house much earlier than usual and it was too early to go start knocking on doors - so we would find some place, like a library or a fast food joint, to sit down and study for an hour or two before starting out.

      Elder K and I became very close; although, it was an odd relationship since we didn't have hardly anything in common - he grew up on a farm in a small town in southern Utah and I was a city boy from California.  His dream was to own a farm of his own and my dream was to graduate from college with a degree in computer science.  He had mormon pioneer ancestors and I was a first generation mormon.  So, I don't really know why we clicked so well - but we did.  Although, we lost touch soon after returning home and haven't had any contact since.
      Now, if the question was intended to mean if I was attracted to any of my missionary companions ... I will have to admit that I did find several of my missionary companions physically attractive; but, never to a point where I had unholy thoughts about them.  Well, maybe a few with Elder K ... :)

      But, there was another elder that comes to mind (I can't even remember his name anymore).  We were never companions; but, we were in the same district and often went on splits together (probably 2 or 3 times per week).  Sometimes when we were meeting back at the apartment - we would arrive first and I would give him back rubs while we waited for our companions to return.  I had a definite attraction for him - if he had showed a similar interest in me ... well ... he's the one missionary I might have gotten sent home over ...

      Anonymous reader question: Can you add LDS Reconciliation to the moho directory http://www.ldsreconciliation.org
      I tried; but,the blogger gadget used on the MoHo Directory requires an RSS feed. If LDS Reconciliation has an RSS feed then please contact me privately so we can figure out how to add it.

      Anonymous reader question: Who's the tallest MoHo?
      I'm probably not the best one to ask that of as I've only met a couple in person. I will say that Evan is tall - at least he is taller than me; and, I'm 5'11½"

      Friday, October 22, 2010

      Reader question (part 2): If youre gay, why did you marry her?

      This is part 2 of an anonymous question that was asked in my sidebar
      How did you meet your wife? If you're gay, why did you marry her?

      If I'm gay, why did I marry a girl?

      I spent my adolescent years in the late 60's and 70's - which was a very different era.  I was raised to believe that homosexuals were perverts who hung out in mens restrooms waiting to molest boys.  So, while I knew I had an attraction to men - I wasn't like that so, obviously, I couldn't be gay.

      Add to that the bullying I received in Jr High and High School.  Although I was in deep denial - evidently I wasn't hiding it as well as I thought.  I had few friends in school and was often taunted with "fag" and "queer", as well as being pushed and shoved in the hallways.  I remember coming to school one day to find the word "FAGGOT" spray painted across my locker door.

      Bottom line, being gay was just the most horrible thing I could ever imagine.  And so, I somehow managed to block it out and convince myself that I wasn't gay.

      Upon joining the LDS church, I did everything that was asked of me.  I read the book of mormon.  I was baptized.  I received the priesthood.  I even served a mission (much to the chagrin of my family).  And, about 9 months after returning home from my mission I asked my wife to be sealed to me for time and all eternity in the Oakland temple.

      In short, I truly believed I had been healed of my "unnatural and impure tendencies".  Of course, I tried to block out the mini crushes I had on some of my missionary companions :)

      My wife became pregnant 3 months after we were married and our first child was born the day before our 1st anniversary.  She became pregnant with our 2nd child 6 months later.  It was during that second pregnancy that the realization that I had not been cured hit me like a ton of bricks.

      I was still in college (she had already graduated before we were married) and working to support my young family.  I was getting close to graduation and, upon checking to make sure I had met the requirements, learned that I was short some PE credits.  So, I enrolled in a PE class my last semester.  This was the first time I had been in a locker room since high school.  Seeing all of those naked men in the showers and walking around the locker room brought back all of those feelings I had suppressed. In particular, the guy whose locker was next to mine always dressed and undressed while standing facing me - giving me, 3 times a week, an up-close view of ... [ahem] ... his manhood.  I started having homoerotic dreams about him.

      Of course, by this time it was too late - I was already married and had a wife and children to support.  So, I resolved that this would be my dirty dark secret that I would never tell to anyone.  I had not done anything - so I saw no need to talk to my bishop or to tell my wife.

      I kept that dark dirty secret to myself for another 24 years.

      But keeping this dark dirty secret took it's toll on me.  I was diagnosed with clinical depression and given anti-depressants. But, even talking to a therapist, I couldn't tell him that I was attracted to guys.  This was my cross to bear - the thorn in my side - my dark and dirty secret that I was prepared to take with me to my grave.

      4 years ago I just couldn't take it anymore.  I started frantically searching the internet trying to find other people like myself.  I was getting more and more discouraged.  I found other gay Mormon's - but most had left, and felt bitter about, the church.  Those that had married had since divorced.  I felt like I was some sort of freak of nature with my desire to remain married and active in the church.

      Fortunately, I found the Mormon queerosphere.  I spent hours upon hours reading blogs.  Eventually I decided to create my own blog - and the rest, as they say, is history ...

      I've had some accuse me of lying to my wife about my homosexuality because I didn't tell her about my feelings for men prior to being married.  I disagree - lying implies a malicious intent.  When we first married, I sincerely believed that my unholy feelings for men were gone.  More than anything I wanted to make her happy - to tell her I liked guys was counter intuitive to that goal.

      In a sense, I think I'm as much a victim as she is - a victim of an extremely homophobic society and religious based oppression.  I was conditioned since I was a little boy that to be gay was a horrendous sin.  Being gay made you less of a man.  Everything I thought I knew about homosexuals made them out to be broken and inferior.  To be called a "queer" and a "faggot" was, and still is, the ultimate insult for a man.

      Looking back, all of the signs were there - clearly others were able to see in me what I refused to see in myself.  But, I somehow managed to convince myself that I was heterosexual. - a straight man with a dark dirty secret.  But, it was a house of cards that was doomed to come crashing down eventually.  And, when it did come crashing down, I told my wife shortly thereafter.