Saturday, December 22, 2007

Merry Chrismahanukwanzakah

Every year it seems like the Christmas decorations go up earlier than before. Thanksgiving has all been but usurped by the Christmas holiday season; and, it seems as though Halloween won't be far behind. Christmas is the biggest shopping time of the year, and the corporate greed machine kicks in to full gear devising bigger and better ways to separate us from our money. It's easy to become discouraged during this time of year by the rampant commercialization that, at times, can overshadow the Christmas spirit.

But, despite all of the frenzied hustle and bustle, this is a special time of the year. It is a time for us to be with family and friends. It is a time for us to celebrate the single most significant event in the history of the world - the birth of the Son of God.

As you are driving around doing last minute shopping with cars honking and people pushing and shoving - Imagine what it must have been like in Bethlehem those many years ago with people from all around converging upon that small town and overwhelming its resources.

As you listen to Christmas music and attend one of the many holiday parties enjoying fellowship with family and friends - imagine how the shepherds must have felt when the heavens opened up with an angelic chorus, how they too wanted to seek after that lowly stable in fellowship with one another.

As you are out shopping for that perfect gift for a friend or loved one - remember the gifts of the maggi who traveled from afar seeking out the Christ child to present to him their most precious gifts.

As you see children lined up to sit on Santa's lap eager to tell him what they want - think of Joseph, a strong, silent, almost unknown man; a man chosen by God to raise the Christ child in mortality seeing to His wants and needs.

Most of the people who read this blog share a common bond - a certain affinity for people of our own gender. As such, we are misunderstood and maligned. At times it can seem like a tremendous burden, especially for those of us who consciously choose to suppress these feelings. Even those who have chosen a different path often feel reproof and condemnation from those who profess love of mankind.

But, it is also a gift - because it grants to us an ability to love our fellow men and women in a way that others cannot comprehend. I'm not referring to a sexual love, but a brotherly and sisterly love that transcends.

A number of months ago, as I was coming to grips with this part of me, a part that, for most of my life, I had tried in vain to deny existed, I wrote the following poem. I want to leave this with you as a gift to my fellow residents on the gay island of misfit Mormon's - my family.


The Way I Am by Abelard Enigma
I don’t know why I am the way I am
I don’t know if it is an inherent trait from birth
Or the culmination of experiences from my youth
But, one thing I do know
Is that I did not choose to be this way
The choice was made for me
By forces beyond my control
Conspiring together to make me who I am
And, I must believe that there is a purpose
God would not punish one of his children thus
Therefore, it must be part of His grand design
And, if it be from God
Then I must accept who I am
For, to do otherwise
Would be an insult to God
But, what grand purpose does He have
For making me the way I am?
What is it that He would have me do?
Life is an exploration
A journey
So, as I travel down the road of life
It is up to me to discover my purpose
My reason for being
And to seize upon the very essence of my existence
So that when I return to God
He will say to me “Well done, thou good and faithful servant”
And I will spend the rest of eternity
Praising God
For making me the way I am


May this holiday season bring you joy and happiness as you journey through life on your chosen path.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

One year later

Today, December 19th, 2007 marks the one year anniversary since I wrote my first blog post. A lot has changed in the last 12 months. But, before I get into that, let me include some interesting blogging statistics. (At least they are interesting to me. But, I'm a nerd - and proud of it!)
  • There have been 6,984 visits to my blog since May 1st when I started keeping web site statistics. The astute reader will note that number is much higher than the statistic that shows on my blog. The astute-er reader will note that the number which displays on my blog is since July 26, 2007. The astute-est reader will note that this number was obsolete as soon as I typed it.
  • December 4, 2007 set an all time record of 96 visits on a single day. That is the day after I ended my month long sabbatical (I was averaging about a dozen visits/day during that month of no posting).
  • Visitors to my blog come from 45 countries. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of visits originate in the united states; however, other countries which have a significant number of visits are: Austria, Canada, and Kazakhstan
  • Firefox is the browser of choice for my blog visitors with 48%. Internet Explorer accounts for 45% of the visits. The remaining 7% is made up of miscellaneous browsers, such as Opera, Safari, etc. Does this mean that Firefox is the official gay browser?
  • Counting this post, I've posted 164 times in the past year. My most prolific month was January 2007 (with 21 posts) followed by February and May 2007 (with 19 posts each). My least prolific month was November 2007 with zero posts.
  • My most popular blog post (number of hits) is The "M"word, which is also the post which generated the most comments (29 comments). Which begs the question, what are you guys going doing when you're not reading my blog?
  • February 15th marks my first blog post with an image attached. My most controversial image was this. I'm still a bit confused as to why it generated such negative feedback. I mean, I've used similarly edgy images before, such as this, this, this, this, and this with nary a "tsk tsk". I'm thinking it's because Beck posted this image the day before - and two edgy images in a 24 hour period was more than some people could handle.
  • When I first started blogging, I would receive an occasional email from some stray straight LDS guy who happened upon my blog - usually calling me to repentance for heading down a dangerous path towards embracing a deviant lifestyle. I was really bothered by these emails at the time; but, now I look back and laugh. I haven't received one of those emails in quite a while. While I don't miss them, I do wonder why they stopped. Did straight people stop visiting my blog? Are the straight people who visit my blog more tolerant and understanding? Have the straight people who visit my blog given me up as a lost cause?

I've changed a lot in the past year. I've gone from wringing my hands saying "I'm gay, woe is me" to "I'm gay - deal with it!" OK, I'm not really quite there yet - but I'd like to be. But, I am much more comfortable in my gay skin than I was a year ago. I still revert back to my "I'm gay, woe is me" phase occasionally, but I'm getting much better about it.

I got this idea from

Some of the language you've come to use and ideas you're growing to embrace are much more reminiscent of the Affirmation crowd than one who is as committed to the Church and your family as you say you are.
Ouch! That stings!

May 2, 2007 - In the gay world, but not of the gay world
There is a common axiom we often hear in the LDS church: We should be in the world, but not of the world. I've used this phrase with my children and when teaching lessons at church. It rolls off of our tongues so easily, but what does it really mean?

June 3, 2007 - Guidelines for Gay Mormons
There is an idea that has been brewing in the MoHo community for the past week or so. It started out in private chats, and became public in -L-'s blog; that is, the need for something like a "For the Strength of Gay Youth" pamphlet to help people with SSA understand what is OK and what is not in their unique situation. This has generated a whole lot of discussion over on -L-'s blog (here and here), with several interesting, and at times odd, tangents.

July 2, 2007 - Satisfying my urges
Lately I've been feeling an emptiness in my soul. I've been having these urges deep within my bosom, a burning desire to

o
o
o

resume practicing the piano.

August 1, 2007 - God Loveth His Children
I just read the pamphlet, God Loveth His Children, that seems to be generating some amount of controversy in the gay Mormon community. To be honest, I didn't have the same negative reaction that others had when I read this pamphlet. Is it perfect? No! Is it better than anything else we've seen to date? A most definite Yes!

September 5, 2007 - It still sucks to be me
The other day I needed to go to the pet store to get some dog food. I opened up our A/C closet (which is where we happen to keep the dog leash) and there was water all over the floor of the closet - from a clogged condensation drain (another $250 down down the drain [pun intended]). Anyway, I walked into the pet store with my dog, and I felt really gay (in a good sort of way) - until she pooped on the floor. I sheepishly informed the clerk and ask for some towels to clean it up. Instead, she got on the PA and announced for all the world to hear "Service 92 near the ProPlan aisle, Service 92 near the ProPlan aisle". I don't think I'll ever be able to show my face in that store again.

October 2, 2007 - Maybe ...
A new pamphlet recently released.

December 3, 2007 - Can you believe it?
One of my responsibilities as a counselor in the bishopric is counting the tithing receipts. Yesterday, the financial clerk and I were concluding this task and were at the point in the process where we were just printing reports and sending the financial data to SLC (via modem). While we were waiting for it to complete, we were chatting.

December 19, 2007 - One year later
Today, December 19th, 2007 marks the one year anniversary since I wrote my first blog post. A lot has changed in the last 12 months. But, before I get into that, let me include some interesting blogging statistics. (At least they are interesting to me. But, I'm a nerd - and proud of it!)

Monday, December 17, 2007

Something to think about

Writers strike - a love story



Personally, I'm neutral on the strike. I really don't watch much network TV anyway. Plus, we have a whole season of "Flash Gordon" on our DVR waiting to be watched. And there is always the Food Network and BBC America. If all else fails, we have Flickr.

The Golden Compass

My wife and I went to see "The Golden Compass" Friday night. Frankly, I don't see what all of the fuss is about. I didn't see anything in it even remotely anti-religious. Without spoiling the movie, the basic premise of the storyline is about a group of people, the Magisterium, who are trying to dominate the world by taking away free will and the fight to oppose them. Isn't that a good moral lesson? What's so anti-religious about that?

Anyway, I wasn't even going to mention it in my blog as I don't have any strong feelings about it either way. Then, I read a comment by one of so many in response to Max Power's recent post - and it hit me. We have a Magisterium in this world too!

We have the zealots on the religious right who want to define how the world should be for all of us. They want to approve every TV show I watch, every movie I see. They want to approve what books I should read. They want to approve of what products I purchase. They want to approve of how I spend my free time. In essence, they want to remove my free will to live my own life as I see fit. By simply acknowledging I'm gay I am an abomination that shouldn't be allowed to exist.

But, we also have the wacko's on the left who seek to define how the world should be. They want to police my speech and the things I'm allowed to say. They want to take control of my money and how it is spent. They also want approval rights on the products I purchase, the books I read. In essence, they want to remove my free will to live my own life as I see fit. By acknowledging I'm gay and not acting on my natural passions, I am mocked and belittled and told that I am being dishonest with myself and everyone else.

Yes, we even have a Magisterium within the rank and file membership of the LDS church. These are people who would be utterly appalled and disgusted if they ever were to become aware of the Mormon queerosphere.

Overall, the movie was OK. Not bad, but not great either. I'm sure I'll go see the sequel (and, believe me, there will be a sequel - one of my beefs is how abruptly the movie ended). There were some continuity problems in the story that kind of bugged me (some things probably ended up on the cutting room floor that might have explained things better). Perhaps if I read the books. Although, apparently, the books upon which The Golden Compass is based are more blatantly anti-religious (anti catholic, to be more precise) than the movie; but, I only know this because the religious right Magisterium told me so.

BTW, does this remind anyone else of John Gustav-Wrathall?

And John, I hope you take this as a complement, as it is intended.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

More Christmas music

I can't believe I left this off of my list. The thing is, these are my son's CD's, and they are not in our possession since he no longer lives at home. But, what is Christmas without the Trans-Siberian Orchestra? But, I have corrected this void in our Christmas music collection. I went out last night and bought

The Lost Christmas Eve by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra

I'm listening to it as I type this. Unfortunately, this CD doesn't have Christmas Eve/Sarajevo; so, I think I'll also have to acquire the album titled Christmas Eve and Other Stories.

Tuesday, December 11, 2007

My favorite Christmas CD's

Over the years, we have amassed nearly 50 Christmas CD's. So, which ones do I enjoy listening to?

Handel - Messiah produced by The Academy of Ancient Music
A version arranged to sound as it likely would have at the time of Handel, meaning an all male chorus, using boys for the high treble parts (Women were only used for the solo parts) and authentic instrumentation

A Renaissance Christmas by The Boston Camerata

All of the Mannheim Steamroller Christmas albums (although, the one titled The Christmas Angel is my least favorite).

A Little Christmas Music by The Kings Singers

The Gift by Jim Brickman

A Family Christmas by John Tesh

This Is The Time by Michael Bolton

These Are Special Times by Celine Dion


And last, but not least

Rudy the Redneck Reindeer, Volume 2 by Mistletoe Music
Which has immortal favorites, such as "All I Want for Christmas is a Real Good Tan", "Santa Claus is Comin' on a Boogie Woogie Choo Choo Train", and "12 Readneck Days of Christmas"

Saturday, December 8, 2007

I love Miss Manners

Dear Miss Manners:
I am a 45- year-old mother of three, and about five years ago, I decided to start coloring my hair to cover up the gray. My color of choice is blonde.

The three hours I spend at the hairdresser every six weeks is the only luxury I have in my life. When I come out, I feel relaxed, young and beautiful. I get plenty of compliments. However, there are people who will point out to me that “that’s not your real color.” Usually, I laugh and say it’s part of my midlife crisis, but I don’t think I need to justify why I chose to go blonde, nor should these people be able to go away thinking that they were right in insulting a person.

Do you have any suggestions for polite, yet assertive responses that would gently yet firmly put these people in their place? I would never dream of commenting on a person’s hair or clothing unless it was a compliment.
Gentle Reader:
Would it be of any comfort to know that these busybodies are every bit as active advising those of us who do not color our hair to do so?

No, and it shouldn’t be. Having other people pick over one’s hair is revolting.

Miss Manners does not advise you to taunt a person who has just been proven to be rude. Your answer should be a soft, “Why, that’s very kind of you to point that out.”

The phrasing prompts the other person to say an automatic “thank you” that is choked off with the realization that gratitude is neither meant nor deserved.

I love Miss Manners - she is one classy lady. I just love her suggested response to rude comments about the womans hair color.

Can we put our collective gay brains together to come up with a similar response to rude comments about gays? Something that would make Miss Manners proud!

Friday, December 7, 2007

Happy rebirthday!

33 years ago today. I was a freshman in college; and, I was baptized and confirmed a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

Celibacy revisited

I posted about celibacy as on option for gay Mormons earlier this week. To be honest, I was a bit disappointed at how it was so readily disregarded as a valid option.

So, I want to follow up with some random thoughts about celibacy, in no particular order.

  • I do not consider celibacy to be synonymous with being single or being alone. The dictionary defines celibacy as: Abstinence from sexual intercourse, especially by reason of religious vows. There is nothing in that definition that says you have to remain single and alone the rest of your life.
  • All other things being equal (education, income, etc.), a single celibate man, being free of family obligations, will likely have more free time and more disposable income than his married counterpart. Perhaps it could become ones calling in life to use these towards the betterment of mankind (i.e. philanthropy).
  • Celibacy does not preclude fatherhood/motherhood. I believe many, if not all, states allow single men and women to adopt.
  • I've blogged about the Gay Christian Network before. The members of GCN divide themselves into two camps which are called, for lack of better terms, Side-A and Side-B. The Side-B folks believe that God calls gay Christians to lifelong celibacy. Side-B consists of Christians from all denominations (Baptists, Catholics, Methodists, Presbyterians, etc.). These are not ex-gays (often referred to as Side-X on GCN). They are not in denial; they acknowledge their sexual orientation and choose to not act on their attractions. Not surprisingly, Side-B is the minority group; but, at last count there are 300 people on GCN who identify as Side-B; enough such that celibacy should not be dismissed so easily. Side-B has their own forum on GCN; but, it's private. You have to join GCN and then request access to the Side-B forum to even be able to see it. But, in that forum they discuss topics that might also be of interest to celibate Mormon's, such as: Committed friendships, gay identity, porn and masturbation, how churches can do better, etc. Email me if you would like more information. Or, better yet, just go join GCN, it's free.

I'm sure we can all agree that celibacy is probably the most difficult of the options I discussed. We might even agree that it's not the right path for most. But those who choose this path deserve our respect and support. I see this on GCN, Side-A people (those who believe gay relationships are blessed by God) who support, even encourage, their Side-B counterparts. We need more of that here in the Mormon queerosphere.

Other resources
(much of the information on celibacy that I could find is directed specifically at women; however, most of what is discussed applies equally to both genders)

Is celibacy the new virginity? Living the single life without sex

Does Abstinence Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

How to Live a Life of Celibacy

The New Celibacy: A Journey to Love, Intimacy, and Good Health in a New Age

Platonic Partners

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Suicide

A number of years ago, there was a young man, a junior in high school about 16 years old. He was the youngest of 6 children, and the only one left living at home. His family had moved that previous summer; so, he was in a new school with no friends. His family was very active in an evangelical christian church; but, he had given up on God and had declared himself to be agnostic.

He was becoming painfully aware at how aroused he became in the locker room, yet he felt nothing when he looked at girls. He was forced to admit to himself that he might be a homosexual. All his life he had been taught that homosexuals were disgusting perverts who only sought to seduce unsuspecting boys. The idea that he might be one of them was frightening. This was in the days before the internet, before gay rights had become a political force; so, he had no where to turn. He became severely depressed, he started to withdraw within himself, his desire to live was waning. He was alone and scared - and he wasn't sure how much longer he could hold out.

Fortunately, for this young man, his parents recognized the warning signs. Although both of his parents worked, they did everything they could to minimize the times he was home alone by himself. They did everything they could think of to help him. Eventually, he found a friend in school, and life started to look up - he finally returned to a point where he wanted to live.

In case you haven't guessed already, that young man was me. I am no stranger to suicidal thoughts. There have been a number of times throughout my life where suicide seemed like the only viable option for me. Fortunately, for me, I'm a big wuss when it comes to pain - I've always gotten hung up on how to do it in a way that is quick, sure, and painless. The last time it happened was a few years ago - and the only thing that keeps my feet firmly planted on this earthly life are my antidepressants. It is a topic that is on my mind more than I care to admit. I've even been working on the lyrics of a song these past few weeks. Here is a rough draft
The Lost Son by Abelard Enigma
Oh please ne'er forget me though earth now lie o'er me
I was once young and handsome and my spirit ran free
But wretched confusion overcame my delusion
And a family in mourning for the son I couldn’t be.
A young lad with feelings too frightened to know
I was fearing and trembling for the loss of my soul
Amid struggle and fear my family did pray
That my demons would leave me, no longer to stay.

When I was a young boy with skin t’was so fair
And tussles of curls adorned my hair
I was thoughtful and timid, my books were my friends
I kept to myself for playmates were rare
Other boys would avoid as if I were unclean
To them I was different, another poor queer
Relentlessly teasing, they taunted and sneered
And thrashing while mocking and brought me to tears

Down trodden and saddened, I was in despair
For within me these feelings where none could compare
My family, they loved me, their souls were laid bare
But, to them I had fallen to the great tempters snare
At length, I made my choice - I wanted not to live
I dreamed of a peace only death could give
So one day when alone I found some pills
I finally found peace when laid on the hill

Oh please ne'er forget me though earth now lie o'er me
I was once young and handsome and my spirit ran free
But wretched confusion overcame my delusion
And a family in mourning for the son I couldn’t be.

My personal views are, in many ways, at odds with Affirmation (an organization for gay and lesbian mormon's). But, I do visit their suicide memorial page from time to time. And I say a little prayer for those who have given up hope.

In my last post discussing the last of the 3 main options available to gay Mormon's, playasinmar suggested a 4th option - suicide. I, rather flippantly, dismissed that as an option. But, playasinmar is right - suicide is the option of choice for many of our gay brothers and sisters, both young and old.

I have a great deal of respect for the Matis family. I feel they are a tremendous force for good in the gay Mormon community. But, I have to confess, I cringe every time I read her statement about how grateful she is that her son, Stuart, never violated his temple covenants. I'm sure it wasn't her intent; but, it seems to suggest that suicide is the preferable option to breaking ones covenants. I also cringe when I hear people say, from the pulpit, that they would rather their son come home from his mission in a casket than without his virtue intact.

I just cannot agree with that notion. Isn't taking ones life breaking covenants? Does anyone really truly believe that breaking the law of chastity is worse than murder? And isn't that what suicide is? Aren't you murdering yourself? Murder is defined as the premeditated killing of a human being by a human being. The only difference between murder and suicide is that the same person fills both roles.

Stuart Matis's bishop didn't agree with that idea either. Bishop Russell Hancock, who counseled Matis for several months, says he "pleaded with Stuart. I said if this is a choice between life and the church, he should choose his life." See "To be Gay - And Mormon" by Mark Miller.

If you are contemplating suicide, please please please talk to someone. Talk to me, I'll send you my phone number. Visit this page on the Affrimation website which contains contact information. Get yourself a boyfriend. Go to the local gay bar and apply to be a go-go boy. Join a gay affirming church. Anything is preferable to taking your own life. Your life is too precious to willingly give it up.

And, if anyone tries to tell you otherwise then they are just a poophead whose opinions are worth less than dog excrement! I pity the souls of anyone who advocates suicide as a viable option as I strongly believe they they will have to answer to God for their grievous sins.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Option 3 - pursuing a gay relationship

I've blogged about the two options for the gay Mormon which keeps them in the churches good graces: Mixed orientation marriage and celibacy. But, what about the 3rd option, leaving the church to pursue a gay relationship?

The truth of the matter is, this is the path that most gay men and women in the church will ultimately take; and, at the risk of sounding like a heretic, I believe it is a viable option for some.

The sad fact is, in the LDS church, we don't set a place at the table for the gay man or woman. We tell them that they can stay in the church as long as they sit alone in the corner and don't bother anyone about their disgusting attractions. Some are OK with this, holding out for promises of eternal exultation. But, most are not.

I've mentioned before that our retention rate of gay saints is abysmally low. And, is anyone really surprised? It almost seems as if there are some who like it that way because then they don't have to deal with revolting people like us.

The thing is, just because a person decides to leave the church doesn't necessarily mean that they are totally turning their back on God. Even if we don't obey all of God's comments, we can still receive blessings by obeying those that we can obey - it doesn't matter which church we belong to, or even if we believe in God at all. The atheist who serves mankind is blessed for doing so.

It is extremely unfortunate (and, in my opinion, un-christlike) that we vilify those who make such lifestyle choices. With the exception of those who are in a position as a judge in israel (e.g. a bishop), none of us are justified in judging another person for their lifestyle choices. We may disagree with it. We may think they are making a huge mistake. But, in the end, we have no choice other than to accept it.. Our eleventh article of faith says we must
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

Consider also that the dictates of our own conscience includes those who decide to not worship God at all. Unfortunately, there are some who seem to think that, as members of the church, we forfeit our right to worship Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience. We are only allowed to worship as the brethren say we should worship, and anything short of that is deserving of the wrath of the general membership.

The fact of the matter is: If we choose to follow a path other than that taught by the church then we have to accept the consequences. And, those in authority have every right to administer those consequences. But, for the rest of us,

I, the Lord, will forgive whom I will forgive, but of you it is required to forgive all men. (D&C 64:10)

Who can say with utmost certainty that a person who gives up his membership in the church in this life to pursue a gay relationship forever forfeits any possibility of exultation? Joseph Smith only translated 1/3 of the gold plates - the other 2/3'rds were sealed. This tells me that the things we don't know eclipses the things we do know.

Lost by Abelard Enigma
Today, we lost another brother
He did not abandon us
But we abandoned him
And, with his departure
A part of each of us goes with him
We all become somewhat less than what we were
Because no one reached out to embrace him
To accept him for who he is
Instead, he was ignored along with others like him
Pretending that he and his soul mates don't exist
Forcing him and others to hide their true selves
Living in constant fear that their secrets will be discovered
Is it any wonder that we lost yet another brother?
How many more will be lost
Before we realize that these losses diminishes each of us?
How much more can we be diminished before we too are lost?

For the people who read this blog, I just want to say that there will always be a place for you at my table. Gay or straight, true believer or doubting thomas, member or simply curious.

Option 2 - celibacy

Young Stranger recently blogged about celibacy. While he and I sparred back and forth in the comments, we reached the conclusion that we were basically in agreement with each other and that more discussion is needed.

This is the option that our church leaders espouse. Unfortunately, there isn't much guidance on how to do it. It's something that sounds so simple in theory yet is nearly impossible in practice.

My personal opinion is that it should be possible for two gay men to live together in an intimate non-sexual relationship. But, it's unproven, and two gay men considering such a relationship would need the help and support of others to make it work.

There are many who would advise against such a relationship because of the temptations it would create. And it's true, some gay men might enter into such a relationship with the best of intentions yet ultimately give in to their passions. But, is that really justification for denying others the close intimate relationships that they crave so much? Heterosexual couples give in to their passions all the time and fornicate and adulturate - but we don't tell them that they should avoid intimate relationships because of the temptations it creates.

I agree with Young Stranger, much more discussion is needed on the celibacy option. And where else better to have such a discussion than here in the Mormon queerosphere? So, let's discuss.
  • How can we make lifelong celibacy a more attraction option?
  • How can a celibate satisfy his need for intimacy while remaining temple worthy?
  • Assuming two gay men can have an intimate non-sexual relationship, how do they find each other? How does a committed celibate find other committed celibates?
  • What could family and friends to do help the celibate?
  • What can the church do to help the celibate?

Option 1 - mixed orientation marriage

The first option for the gay mormon that I want to discuss is mixed orientation marriages. This is a topic that seems to come up here in the Mormon queerosphere with some regularity. I've even blogged about it myself, which hit a raw nerve with some people.

Last summer, Elbow blogged this subject which also generated some passionate responses. In his blog, he said
... I want every woman who is considering to marry a gay man to RUN FOR HER LIFE! And I sincerely mean that. There's no reason why a woman should try to force herself into a marriage that is full of homosexual thoughts, desires, and tendencies. It's not an environment for love to flourish and it's not an environment where self-esteem and self-worth can thrive.

At the risk of sounding like a hypocrite - I tend to agree with him. I believe that, in general, a gay man should not enter into a heterosexual marriage. There are, of course, exceptions (myself being one of them). But, I'm speaking in generalities.

The thing is, most mixed orientation marriages will end in divorce. No, I don't have any irrefutable statistics to back up this claim. But, consider

  • Church leaders have said on a number of occasions in recent years that men with same sex attraction should not enter into a marriage as a way of 'fixing' their SSA.
  • Try searching Amazon using "mixed orientation marriage". There are a number of books on this topic. And, all of them recommend against it (at least that's what I gather from the reader comments).
  • Carol Lynn Pearson approaches this topic briefly in her book "No More Goodbyes", and she recommends against it.
  • On the internet, there are numerous stories of mixed orientation marriages that haven't worked out. There are precious few stories of those that have. In fact, the only ones I'm aware of are in the Mormon queerosphere.

As I've said before: A gay man should marry a woman for the same reasons that a straight man should: Because he loves her. But, therein lies the catch - can a gay man truly love a woman? Being best friends is not the same as love. Being compatible is not the same as love.

The answer is yes, a gay man can love a woman. But, it's a different kind of love than the straight man experiences; and, when it does happen, our church leaders support the possibility of a mixed orientation marriage. But, you can't force it to happen. No matter how much you want it, no matter how hard you try, you cannot force yourself to love a woman for whom you feel no natural attraction. And, that doesn't mean you are any less of a man because you can't marry a woman. Those of us who are married are not better or more righteous in any way.

The thing about mixed orientation marriages, not only are you impacting your own eternal salvation, but you're impacting the eternal salvation of a daughter of zion. So, a gay man needs to be very careful about entering into such a relationship. A mixed orientation marriage can and does work for some of us; but, it is not the end all answer for every Mormon guy who likes guys.

And now, at the risk of sounding totally schizophrenic (I'm old now, I can do that) ...

The gay Mormon man should not totally dismiss the idea of marriage to a woman either. I think you should, at least, remain open to the possibility while accepting that it will likely never happen. But, you never know. You may, one day, meet a girl for whom you have feelings that you've never experienced about a woman before. It happened with my wife and I. The first time we met, we both knew that we would one day be married. And, she didn't even like me at the time! It was, at least, 6 months later before we even went out on a date. And, we broke up before I left on my mission - because we knew that 2 years is a long time and our feelings for each other might not be the same. But, after my mission, we rekindled our relationship and were married 9 months later.

A mixed orientation marriage carries with it a lot of unique challenges. Once you get past the honeymoon phase, physical intimacy will likely become a challenge. Even emotional intimacy may be difficult at times. There are some things you may never be able to do. For example, my wife and I don't kiss. She would love to be able to kiss me; but, I just can't do it - it's repulsive to me. To be honest, I don't really know if it is the act of kissing itself that I have a problem with, or is my problem with kissing girls. But the fact remains, we seldom kiss, and we've never made out. Other gay men may be able to get past this - I can't.

So, how can we make mixed orientation marriages work? How can we improve our success rate? We have a good mix of people here in the queerosphere. We have married people, divorced people, those considering marriage, those who have written off the possibility of marriage. I'm sure everyone has thoughts and ideas on this - so let's hear them!

I'm Mormon and I'm gay - now what?

There seems to be a lot of heated discussion in the Mormon queerosphere lately regarding how gay Mormon's should live their lives. I know I'm coming late to the party; but, I decided I would offer up my $0.02 on the subject.

For a gay man or woman in the LDS church, it all boils down to, essentially, three options
  1. Stay active in the church in a mixed orientation marriage.
  2. Stay active in the church and live a life of celibacy.
  3. Leave the church and pursue a gay relationship.

The sad truth is, each of these options suck to a certain degree. There are certain advantages to each of these, to be sure. But there are also definite disadvantages to each as well. There is no one size fits all answer that applies to everyone who is attracted to their own gender.

I'm going to blog about each of these individually.

And, I've put on my asbestos suit - let the flaming begin!

Monday, December 3, 2007

Can you believe it?

One of my responsibilities as a counselor in the bishopric is counting the tithing receipts. Yesterday, the financial clerk and I were concluding this task and were at the point in the process where we were just printing reports and sending the financial data to SLC (via modem). While we were waiting for it to complete, we were chatting.

I don't even remember how the topic came up; but, he started telling me about an email he recently received from a friend of his. It seems this friend, while attending college, had an institute director for whom he had a great deal of respect. The man was, evidently, a spiritual giant and a scriptorian. But, his friend had just learned that this man had since divorced his wife and had left the church - because he was gay.

"Can you believe it?" he kept repeating. "Can you believe there are people 'like that' in the church?"

I wanted to tell him that yes, I could believe it.

I wanted to tell him that my heart went out for that brother and his former wife.

I wanted to tell him that we shouldn't judge him - that we just can't understand what he has probably been going through his entire life.

I wanted to tell him that there were more people 'like that' in the church than he realizes.

I wanted to tell him that I was one of 'those people'.



But I didn't say any of that. I just nodded my head - like I always do.

Why do I feel like such a recreant right now?

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

First Dumbledore and now ...

Barely a week after Albus Dumbledore was outed came this shocking news
Fans Shocked at Bugs Bunny Gay Revelation
It's all falling into place now. How many times did we see Bugs Bunny in drag? How many times did he kiss Elmer Fudd on screen?

How many more closeted fictional characters are there? Will this give Bert and Ernie the courage to come out? What about Tinky Winky?

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Dating (girls)

There has been some discussion in the Mormon queerosphere regarding if our single MoHo brethren should be dating girls. My personal opinion is that it's OK as long as they are honest and disclose their sexual preferences at some point during the relationship. I don't even think they need to disclose it on date 1, just sometime before the relationship starts to turn serious.

Dating is pretty scary, even in the best of conditions. For a gay boy, it can be absolutely terrifying. So, as one who has graduated from dating into a successful mixed orientation marriage, I've compiled a collection of videos to help with your dating experiences:

First some general information about Mormon dating

Rules of Mormon dating


While dating, you may want to try your hand at kissing

Kiss the girl


At some point, you may want to bring your relationship up to the next level

Mormon Dating the DTR


Finally, dating doesn't always work out and it becomes necessary to break up. You need to learn how to break up without hurting the girls feelings.

Breaking Up

Monday, October 29, 2007

I am what I am

Perhaps this should be our official MoHo song.

“I Am What I Am” by Gloria Gaynor


I am what I am
I am my own special creation
So come take a look, give me the hook
Or the ovation
It's my world that I want to have a little pride in
My world and it's not a place I have to hide in
Life's not worth a damn till you can say
I am what I am

I am what I am
I don't want praise, I don't want pity
I bang my own drum
Some think it's noise, I think it's pretty
And so what if I love each sparkle and each bangle
Why not try see things from a different angle
Your life is a sham
Till you can shout out - I am what I am

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck
Sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces
It's one life and there's no return and no deposit
One life so it's time to open up your closet
Life's not worth a damn, till you can shout out
I am what I am

I am what I am

. . .

I am what I am
And what I am needs no excuses
I deal my own deck, sometimes the ace, sometimes the deuces
It's one life and there's no return and no deposit
One life so it's time to open up your closet
Life's not worth a damn till you can shout out
I am what I am

000 I am, ooo I am, I am I am I am good
I am I am I am strong
I am I am I am worthy
I am I am I belong

ooo

I am

I am

Who whoooo, who whoooo, who I am

I am I am I am useful
I am I am I am true
I am I am somebody
I am as good as you

Uh huh

Uh huh

ooo ooo ooo ooo Yes I am

ah ah ah ah Yes I am

. . .

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Gay zombie

Here is your halloween treat. A short film on LogoOnline titled Gay Zombie. It's about 20 minutes long.

Note: The few short films I've viewed on Logo seem OK. but some of the other videos and digisodes (e.g. Rick & Steve) may not be MoHo appropriate. If the beginning of the video has a content warning then I suggest you heed it.

Friday, October 26, 2007

New feature? Or am I oblivious?

While commenting on another blog today, I noticed a checkbox where I could request follow-on comments to be emailed to me.

Is this a new feature in blogger?

Or has it been there all along and I'm just a dunderhead for not noticing it before?

Or, maybe I don't want to know the answer to this question ...

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Yet another awkward moment

Last night my daughter and I were watching Stargate Atlantis together. Afterwards, we sat on the couch just talking about stuff. Then, out of the blue, she started talking about Lance Bass (of 'N Sync fame) and how he had come out as gay ("why are the cute ones are always gay?" I think is what she said). We then started listing off other gay celebraties. She talked about how she just doesn't understand how someone can determine that they are gay. Seeing this as a teaching moment, I started to say something. But, then she said

"but you know what would be really weird? Having gay parents!"
o
o
o
Suddenly I was speechless . . .
o
o
o
It was awkward . . .

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

A trip down memory lane ...

It seems growing up, everybody around me knew I was gay - except me. I was the kid they called 'faggot' and 'queer' at school - one time they even spray painted "faggot" on my locker door.

Looking back, I think even my family suspected that I might be gay. Just remembering little things they would say to me, such as telling me how manly I was. Another hint of their suspicions is from my senior year in high school. My brother in law (sister's husband) started loaning me his Playboy magazines - and my parents were OK with it. Even then I found that odd as they were devout christians and decried such things. When I turned 18, I was even encouraged to start buying my own Playboy magazines. What I don't think they considered is that not all of the pictures in Playboy magazine are exclusively girls - there is the occasional guy posing with a girl (at least there was back then, I don't know what Playboy is like these days).

Anyway, on a lighter note ...


Saturday, October 20, 2007

Venturing "out"

Some time ago I was wondering how gay's in other religions were dealing; so, I did some searching (googling) and, in May, I came across the Gay Christian Network (GCN). I was intrigued by their Side-A and Side-B; so, I joined and identified myself as Side-B, which believes that "that God calls gay Christians to lifelong celibacy." Being married, I'm not celibate, per se; but, I am 'gay celibate'. (You can read more about GCN Side-A and Side-B on The Great Debate page.)

Living in Texas, I am cut off from the other MoHos - my only connection is through the internet. So, when the members of GCN who live in Texas, Louisiana, Oklahoma, and Arkansas were planning to meet in Texas this last weekend - I decided to attend. I won't say I jumped at the opportunity because, truth be told, I was absolutely terrified at the idea. I talked to my wife; I won't say she was supportive of the idea; but, she wasn't adverse to it either. So, I signed up. They were meeting Friday evening for dinner and bible study. They also had activities planned for Saturday, and were planning on going to a local GLBT church on Sunday with a picnic afterwards. But, I decided for my first meeting, I would join them just on Friday for dinner and bible study.

Why was I so terrified? Well, you see, Abelard is pretty comfortable with his homosexuality; but, Abelard is my virtual persona who hides behind the anonymity of the internet. My real self is deeply entrenched in my closet and is presumed to be straight by all that meets me. This would be the first time that my real self ever acknowledged my homosexuality to anyone other than my wife. The meeting was held in a conference room at a hotel. When I walked into that room - I was basically announcing to everyone in the room that I'm gay. Of course, everyone in the room was also gay which tended to soften the blow quite a bit. But, it was still scary. My biggest fear was that I was going to drive all the way there and then not be able to get up the nerve to get out of the car and end up driving home again. But, I overcame my fears and walked into that room - head held high. Well, actually, I kinda slinked into the room and timidly asked "is this the GCN meeting?"

My fears were soon dispelled. I was greeted warmly by all who were there (there was a total of 13 people, including myself). We sat and talked while others arrived. We dined together on fajita's (from a local restaurant). And then we all got our bibles out for an hour of bible study. Afterwards, we talked briefly to see if anyone was interested in going to see For the Bible Tells Me So which was playing at a local theater; but, everyone declined; so, we just sat around and talked some more as people, one by one, bid their farewells. I stayed until there were just a few left, helped clean up the conference room we were meeting in, and then bid my farewell and drove back home. I think it was about 10:30pm when I finally left the hotel. As I drove home, I was on cloud 9 - I've never felt so good about being gay! This was my first time venturing "out", and it was good.

It felt really good to be in a room full of people who all have similar values to mine - and are gay. To be able to be myself without worrying about something I might say or do, some mannerism, that might tip off those around me that I might not be the straight arrow I pretend to be. When I first brought up this idea with my wife, she said that she doesn't understand that - and I'm having a difficult time explaining it to her. But, I expect that all of the gay people who read my blog know exactly what I'm saying. For the first time, in possibly my entire life, I didn't feel isolated. For the first time I fit in - I was with my own kind. I wasn't alone in a room full of people.

As we were chatting, we were just a group of friends talking about stuff. Most of the time, if someone were walking past the conference room and paused to listen to what we were talking about - I doubt they would even suspect it was a room full of gay guys (well, except for the sign on the door :) ). There were some gay related discussions; but, it was things like how to get greater acceptance from mainstream Christianity.

I wasn't really quite sure what to expect with "bible study". In the LDS church we have 'scripture study'; but, was this the same thing? Or was it going to be something entirely different? The person leading the bible study (a college student from Austin) selected 2 Cor 4:1-12; and, we spent an hour discussing those 12 verses and what they mean to us. I think I was the only person in the room using the King James version of the bible; so, when they read the verses, they didn't quite use the same words as are written in my bible. For example, one of the questions was "what are the 'jars of clay' referring to in verse 7?" - my bible doesn't say 'jars of clay', it says 'earthen vessels'. Although, all in all, I was blown away at the spiritual depth of these fine men. I came away feeling that I really need to work on improving my own spirituality.

There were some new experiences for me. For example, during dinner, I was sitting next to a gentleman who had come in later and missed my initial introductions. He noticed the ring on my finger and asked if I was married. When I replied 'yes', he then asked "to a man? or to a woman?" ... I'll have to admit, I've never been asked that question before. I, of course, answered "to a woman", which he was totally OK with, and we enjoyed pleasant conversation throughout dinner.

While I'm on the topic, I encourage you to, at least, check out the Gay Christian Network (GCN). They have public forums that everyone can see (even non-GCN members); and, they have private forums that only members can see. For example, they have a Side-B forum (for celibate gay christians); but, you have to be a member of GCN and have to request membership to that forum in order to see it. But, in the Side-B forum, they discuss things that would be of interest to MoHo's, such as Side-B relationships, films and novels that approach homosexuality from a Side-B perspective, Celibacy and the Big M, etc. They also have other special interest forums. For example, I am a member of: mixed-orientation marriages, 50-somethings, and gcn west south central (which is the group that met in Texas this weekend).

Thursday, October 18, 2007

It's all because

I've been pondering why there are so many problems in the world today. And then I happened across this video on YouTube:



It makes sense now. It's all so simple - I can't believe I didn't see this before.

Sunday, October 14, 2007

A better me

Sometimes, when I go back and re-read some of my previous blog posts, I think "man, I'm really a bitch". Sometimes I let my dark side take over and write my posts, and they come across as very negative. Sometimes, I let my dark side take over my real life too.

But, there is another side of me. A cheerful me, a happy me. And, sometimes he comes out to play too. Today my happy side is showing. Church always seems to recharge my spiritual batteries. I don't know why, but conference doesn't do that for me so much. I mean, conference was OK - but, I didn't have the spiritual experiences with it that others seemed to have. Perhaps it's the personal interaction with other saints coupled with inspirational talks - who knows? In any case, I'm feeling better today than I was when I last posted. So, I figured I better hurry up and post again before the feeling passes and I lapse back into my slump.

In other news, I think I've been watching too much British TV. Yesterday I was doing some yard work and was weed eating around the swimming pool. I have an electric weed eater and I'm always very careful to not let the extension cord slip into the water; but, some times things don't always work out as we plan. When the cord slipped into the water, I heard myself exclaim out loud "Oh buggers!"

Friday, October 12, 2007

Quietus

I went in for a physical earlier this week. I had to change doctor's because my previous one moved out of the area. Last week I scheduled an appointment with my new doctor to get new prescriptions for my meds. He told me that it would be illegal for him to write prescriptions for me without first examining me - ergo the need for a physical. I'm not sure I believe the 'illegal' part, especially since I just had a physical earlier this year which he could just as easily have reviewed the results of. But, it's all water under the bridge now. I went, and he poked his hands into every orifice of my body.

Prognosis?
  • My blood sugar was a little high; so, I had to go in for another blood test this morning
  • My cholesterol was a little high; so, I have a prescription for Zocor and have to go back in a month to be tested again
  • And, I'm fat!

The blood sugar wasn't a big surprise, it's been on the upper side of 'normal' for a while now. The cholesterol is a surprise, I've never had a problem with high cholesterol (I was last tested 6 months ago). Regarding being fat, well, I knew that going into the physical. He told me that I need to exercise more and that I'm a candidate for weight loss surgery; he gave me the numbers for a couple of doctors that specialize in that area.

So, now I'm trying to decide what to do. The thing is, I'm not sure I care. Controlling of my blood sugar and cholesterol, exercising more, and losing weight would certainly give me a longer life expectancy - but, do I want to live longer? Overall, I've lived a good life. I've raised 4 children who are no longer dependent on me. I have a good life insurance policy; so, my wife would be well taken care of in the event of my untimely demise. So, perhaps, I've outlasted my usefulness.

I've had suicidal thoughts before; but, this isn't the same. I'm not thinking of ways to off myself, I'm just not sure I care if something were to happen to bring on my premature death. That's different - right? Or is it? I don't know? Does it matter? Do I care? I'm not afraid of death. Although, truthfully, I don't really know if that is because of my deep abiding faith - or because life sucks.

In any event, this isn't a suicide note. I'm not going anywhere. But, in case I suddenly, and without warning, stop posting to my blog - you'll know why. You can write my epitaph

Poor Abelard - he shouldn't have eaten that last donut

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

A rose by any other name

When I first starting coming to terms with my sexual orientation, I considered myself "struggling with same gender attraction". The SwSGA nomenclature is certainly more politically correct in our Mormon culture as well as the conservative american culture. It carries with it an underlying assumption that one doesn't want to be that way. Many people can relate with that - they cannot comprehend what it would be like to not be attracted to the opposite gender, and certainly wouldn't want to be that way. For them, it would be a constant struggle, trying to change from an unwanted proclivity to that of being 'normal'.

Yet, if I were to use the term "struggling with blindness" or "struggling with being short" then I would construed as being insensitive. I would come across as viewing someone different than I am with pity. It would be demeaning - as if being different meant that they were, somehow, inferior.

That is why I do not like the term "struggling with same gender attraction". I am attracted to guys - I don't struggle with it anymore than a heterosexual guy struggles with his attraction to girls. It's just part of what makes me be the unique person that I am. That's not to say I don't struggle - but my struggle is not with accepting me for who I am - my struggle is with lack of acceptance from others. My struggle is with living in a society and culture where having attractions like mine is viewed as perverted, revolting, even evil.

The question sometimes arises
If there were a pill to make you straight, would you take it?

There was once a day, in the not too distant past, when I would have said "yes" without giving it a second thought. That was back when I 'struggled with same gender attraction'. Today, my answer would be "no". As I've come to accept this part of me, I've realized that it is intricately interwoven into the very fabric of my being. Liking guys extends far beyond sexual attraction. It reaches out into my talents, my strengths, and my weaknesses. It influences my perception of love and other emotions. If you were to take this away from me - then what would be left? I would be like a piece of swiss cheese riddled with holes.

So, what should I call myself? If I I don't 'struggle with same gender attraction' then do I 'have same gender attraction'? Am I 'same gender attracted'? It is such an awkward term. In our american culture, the word 'gay' has been defined to refer to those who are attracted to their same gender. I am a simple man, and 'gay' is a simple word. Am I to reject a word simply because it is one that the world uses and not one that the brethren use? Much of the terminology used by the brethren is carefully chosen because their words are translated into multiple languages. That is not something I need to concern myself with.

The other argument against using words like 'gay' are the negative connotations they carry. But, this doesn't really apply to someone who is completely closeted like myself. People who know me (even if only through my blog) know that I do not engage in promiscuous sex, I do not take drugs, I've never been to a club (gay or otherwise), and I don't live a hedonistic lifestyle. If someone chooses to think these things about me then isn't that their problem and not mine?

So, I prefer to think of myself as simply 'gay'. We have been counseled to not use words like 'homosexual' and 'gay' to define ourselves - and I agree with that. My tag line says "An exploration of what it means to be Married, Mormon, and Gay" - the order I listed those is deliberate. Gay is not what defines me - it is just part of who I am.

Monday, October 8, 2007

What is it that we really want?

In my last post, Forester posed the following question
Why is it that we want so much from the church? And, what is it that we really want? Acceptance? More attention? More discussion? We know that gay sex is wrong, so where do we go from here?

Fair questions. I started to reply in a comment; but, I decided to blog about it as my comment was getting quite lengthy.

Why is it that we want so much from the church?

This question carries with it an assumption that suggests the church has already done a lot for us and that we still want it to do more (perhaps, even, more than is reasonable). So, what exactly has the church done for us? In the last five years we have seen

  • An article titled "My Battle with Same-Sex Attraction" by an anonymous author in the August 2002 Ensign
  • An article titled "Compassion for Those Who Struggle" by an anonymous author in the September 2004 Ensign
  • A pamphlet titled "God Loveth His Children" released April 2007
  • An article titled "Helping Those Who Struggle with Same-Gender Attraction" By Elder Jeffrey R. Holland in the October 2007 Ensign

This isn't counting the occasional reference to homosexuality in a talk on some other topic; nor responses to questions asked by the media, nor does it include the change to the BYU Provo honor code (which only affects a small subset - and then only while they are at BYU).

Is this a lot? Is it so unreasonable to expect more?

The single members of 'the family' who truly feel that marriage cannot be in their future are told that they must live out their lives in celibacy; all while enduring continuing talks and council about why marriage is so important. They are counseled that any sort of intimacy with a member of their same gender, however platonic, is strictly forbidden. Therefore, their only choice is to live a life of solitude and loneliness.

The members of 'the family' who are in, or are considering, a mixed orientation marriage are told that they must forever ignore their natural attractions. While celibacy is not required, they are taken to the fountain of sexual fulfillment but only allowed to take small sips, never allowed to quench their thirst.

In light of such strong demands, is it selfish to want a little more comfort and encouragement in return?

Why do we want so much from the church? Isn't the church asking a lot of us? In addition to everything that the church asks of all of its members (attend to family responsibilities, keep the commandments, pray, read the scriptures, attend church, magnify our callings, do our home/visiting teaching, be member missionaries, food storage, family history, render service, yada, yada, yada), they are also demanding that we put our natural proclivities on hold with a vague promise that, if faithful, we will no longer have those inclinations in the next life (a point that I'm not 100% convinced is even true, see Eternally gay?). Is it really so unreasonable to want more guidance and encouragement to do the things we are expected to do?

What is it that we really want?

My employer has the following nondiscrimination policy:

Business activities such as hiring, training, compensation, promotions, transfers, terminations and [business]-sponsored social and recreational activities are conducted without discrimination based on race, color, genetics, religion, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, national origin, disability, age or status as a special disabled veteran or other veteran covered by the Vietnam Era Veterans Readjustment Act of 1974, as amended.
Is it really so unreasonable to expect at least as much from my church? As I stated in my previous post, when I read God Loveth His Children, what I get out of the pamphlet is
It’s OK to be gay as long as we: don’t have gay sex, don’t think about gay sex or have other gay thoughts, don’t act gay or exhibit gay attributes, and don’t have gay friends (and don't use words like 'gay', although not explicitly stated in the pamphlet).
To further summarize, it's OK to be gay as long as we're not gay. Or, in other words, as long as we don't do anything to suggest to others that we're different - as long as we can pretend to be a typical straight Mormon then everything is hunky doorey.

I'm OK with the no gay sex prohibition - I really am. But, why do I need to suppress everything gay about me in order to be considered a good Mormon? I've been doing that my entire life, and I've paid a stiff price in terms of depression, anxiety, feelings of unworth - and I cannot continue down that path; to do so will only lead to my early demise (in a very literal sense).

Do we want Acceptance?

No gay sex - we get it! Now, can you please accept us for who we are and not demand that we pretend to be something else? Why must being gay be so shameful? Why must it be considered so abhorrent that we are not even supposed to call it by it's common name? Why is being gay 'that which shall not be named?'

Do we want more attention?


When sufficient numbers exist, the church often makes special provisions for members who are single, speak a different primary language than the surrounding community at large, have special needs, etc. Would it be so terrible to make special provisions for gay members? Why can't there be a gay ward in Salt Lake City? What would be wrong with a gay Mormon tabernacle choir? Rather than discourage, why not encourage platonic same sex relationships? We have marriage relations and family relations sunday school classes, why not a mixed orientation marriage relations class? Or a gay couple relations sunday school class that focuses on how to make a platonic relationship work? Instead of a pamphlet that tells us that God loves us as long as we don't do anything that makes the straight membership uncomfortable, why not a "For the Strength of Gay Members" pamphlet that focuses more on the do's and less on the don'ts (we got those already - you really don't need to keep hammering them into us).

Do we want more discussion?


We all know the do's and don'ts. What we need is more discussion on 'how'. How can we make a life of celibacy be meaningful? How can we build a strong relationship with our spouse when we are not sexually attracted to them? We need more frank discussion with the general membership to educate them that the, so called, 'gay lifestyle' is not as the media portrays it (anymore than the 'straight lifestyle' being as the media portrays it). We are not a bunch of perverted monsters out to corrupt their children with our evil ways. We need to teach tolerance for those who have different views than us - even if those views are diametrically opposed to our beliefs. The 11th article of faith says "
We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may." - it doesn't say "except if you're gay."

We know that gay sex is wrong, so where do we go from here?

Exactly! No gay sex - we get it! Many of us are not having gay sex. Some have tasted of the forbidden fruit and have gone through the repentance process. Now what? Is that is? Is that all we get? A pat on the head while saying "no gay sex, good boy."


I'm sorry if this is all coming across so negative. I love the church - I really do. I love being a Mormon. I have a testimony. But, I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated with being that which shall not be named. I'm frustrated that I can't just be myself - having to constantly be on guard with everything I say or do, every little mannerism. But, most of all, I'm frustrated with myself for cowering in my closet.

One of the purposes of the church is to help "bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). However, if we consider the retention rate of the gay membership - we ain't doing so good.

Thursday, October 4, 2007

Barrier of silence

I watched the YouTube video titled Spirituality of the Rising LDS Generation Pt1: "Flexibility" - an interview of BYU senior John Kovalenko. In the interview, John said that he hates labels; so, I'll just say that he is 'in the family' (or, in other words, he's one of 'us'). Much can be said about the things in this interview; however, one thing, in particular, stuck with me - he talked about the barrier of silence.

A lot has been written about the recent pamphlet God Loveth His Children (including in my blog). Overall, I think the pamphlet is a good evolutionary step towards where the church needs to be in regards to ministering to the saints who happen to be attracted to other saints of the same gender. But, the underlying message I get when I read the pamphlet is that it’s OK to be gay as long as we: don’t have gay sex, don’t think about gay sex or have other gay thoughts, don’t act gay or exhibit gay attributes, and don’t have gay friends. (Although not explicitly stated in the pamphlet, others would add - and don't use words like 'gay'.) These words may seem familiar because I used them in a comment in Beck's blog and they were further elaborated on in Foxx's blog.

When I heard 'barrier of silence', these words of mine came rushing back - that is the barrier of silence John Kovalenko refers to. In his commentary, Foxx asked the poignant question: Well, if I can’t have sex with a man, can’t think homosexual thoughts, can’t act gay, and can’t have gay friends, what is there left that’s gay about me? Perhaps that is the intent - we are to purge ourselves of every visage of 'gay' from our very being. Recent statements by church authorities have said that the church does not advocate any particular form of therapy. However, isn't this 'purging the gay out of ourselves' essentially the treatment advocated by ex-gay groups like Exodus International?

Some have asked "Short of changing it's doctrine, what else would you have the church do?" I agree that changing the doctrine is an unreasonable expectation; however, questions like these carry with them an underlying arrogance implying that the church has already done everything it can for it's gay members short of changing it's doctrine; so, we should just shut up and live out our lives in silence - and alone.

Mormonism is as much of a culture as it is a religion. What I believe we are witnessing is the dark side of Mormon culture. The, so called, 'gay problem' is viewed as a threat to the Mormon culture - so the mormono-fascists lash out. They tell is that we should avoid the very appearance of evil; and, since 'gay' is evil then we should have nothing to do with it. They tell us we have become ensnared in the devils trap, Some have even suggested that by merely questioning, we are lying in our temple recommend interview when we say that we support our church leaders.

Mormon culture expects us all to fit into a certain mold - when some of us do not fit then we are rebuked to be silent, vilified, even ostracized if we fail to conform. And, it's not just gay Mormon's who feel the wrath of the mormono-fascists. Watch how some members react if a person walks into church with long hair, tattoos covering their arms, and wearing jeans. Anyone who does not make an attempt to fit into that 'perfect Mormon' mold is inherently evil.

The church needs more people John Kovalenko. People unafraid to say "I'm attracted to guys - and that's OK." Unfortunately, some of us are so deeply entrenched in our closets that our cries are too muffled to be heard. It may be up to the rising generation to tear down the barrier of silence that is so deeply ingrained in our Mormon culture and to silence the mormono-fascists. And maybe, just maybe, one day those of us trapped in our closets may feel safe to come out.