Thursday, January 10, 2008

Another MoHo in the works?

I was substituting for seminary this morning while our seminary teacher attended a stake inservice meeting (why they schedule seminary teacher inservice meetings during seminary is beyond me). My assignment was to review Judges 15-21, which includes the story of Sampson and Delilah. I asked the class "what can you tell me about Sampson?" and a young man sitting on the front row responded "he liked boys?".

Now, I know, he was just being a smart aleck; and, I just ignored his comment and moved on with the lesson. But, this isn't the first time I've heard him say little comments like that. Not really homophobic per se, but homo-centric. And, I hear these kinds of comments from him much more than I do the other young men in our ward. As I was driving back home this morning, I got to wondering if we have another MoHo in the works - he does 'fit the profile' in some ways.
  • Not real sports oriented. He likes playing church basketball; but, he jokes about how bad he is at it.
  • Sings in the high school choir.
  • Gets along well with girls; but, to my knowledge, has never had a real girlfriend nor been on a real date. Mind you, this young man will be turning 19 in a couple of months (his parents held all of their children back a year; so, he'll be 19 when he graduates).
  • Statistically, at least one of the young men in our ward is gay.

I know that none of this really means anything. He could be straight as an arrow - and just happens to have an affinity for rainbows. The thing is, if he is gay, he may not even realize it yet. His little homo-centric jabs may be him subconsciously trying to convince himself, and others, that he isn't gay.

If I were to express this to anyone else in my ward, I'm sure I would be met with vehement denials. He is one of our stronger youth and is well liked by everyone. He is already having discussions with the bishop and stake president about how soon he can put his papers in so that he can leave on a mission soon after high school graduation. But ... how many returned missionaries do we have here in the Mormon queerosphere? [raises hand] And, how many of them accepted they were gay before they left on their mission? [puts hand down]

I feel kind of bad thinking these things about him. I work a lot with our youth; and, I just don't look at them 'that way'. But, on the other hand, if he, or another of our young men, does turn out to be gay - I want to be there for them. I want to be the church member who will befriend him, even if no one else will.

The reality is: I'm probably not the only queer in my ward. According to Ron Schow, statistically there are 5-6 of us in each ward (I suspect the rate is even higher in singles wards). But, other than the fact that we like people of our own gender, we are just like everyone else. If you prick us, do we not bleed? if you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die?

OK, so I'm getting a little melodramatic - but I'm gay, I can do that. Oh wait, am I flaunting my gay attributes?


Beck said...

You personally know my association with a scenario similar to this. I speculated, but never said anything until my YM friend approached me. The point was that I was approachable and open to him "coming out" (post mission).

So, don't label him and be careful about stereotyping him, but be open to him in whatever way you think is appropriate, so that he can feel that you are one that he can approach for support - even if that ends up being post-mission.

Sean said...

*Sean sticks his hand up to the second question and says, "Choose me, choose me!"


Thanks for the good story. He might be one or he might not, I would have to see him and observe him before I could give my verdict. ;)

Sean said...

PS I am also seen as a very strong young man in my home ward (according to my bishop and some members in my ward who have talk with my parents), so it could be a very good sign that he is... well, you know... ;) hahaha!

GeckoMan said...

Kids often naively see adults as bastions of all knowing virtue, even though they sometimes speak with disrespect otherwise. I find it ironic that this kid was poking around the gay issue with the very guy who he probably least suspects has firsthand knowledge. Or maybe, Abe, he's really clever and is on to you!!

But I suspect you're right: "The thing is, if he is gay, he may not even realize it yet. His little homo-centric jabs may be him subconsciously trying to convince himself, and others, that he isn't gay." Ah, I was surely in this camp as a young man, and yes, my hand went down for question #2.

What you're scouting out in Texas is what I am doing in my ward, too. (And I'm the YM President!) There are a couple of kids I suspect may be 'Mohos-in-the-making' and I've thought about this dilemma of how to best support them. I think I agree with Beck, to let them come to their own terms without any coaching. Kind of like letting the chick peck itself out of the shell on its own. I only hope that I can be around for them, should they ever get to a point of trying to settle whether they're out or in, and need someone to talk to.

Abelard Enigma said...

Or maybe, Abe, he's really clever and is on to you!!

That thought has occurred to me - and I wouldn't put it past him.

But, I have no intention of saying anything to him. It is just an interesting observation I've made.

There is a young married brother in our ward of whom I have similar suspicions of being 'in the family', albeit for very different reasons.

Sean said...

i too have just discovered another moho in the works at my ward. like you i want to be able to be there for him to let him know that "it's ok" that "he is ok".

luvs and hugs

Beck said...

Interestingly, it was my YM friend who approached me with this issue of him being 'gay' and of coming to terms with it and he did so at the same time I was coming to terms with myself and he KNEW that I was "one of the family" before I knew myself. We laugh about it now, but it was funny how it all came about at essentially the same time.