Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Harvey Milk

My wife and I went to see Milk yesterday.

First of all - Sean Penn was amazing! He became Harvey Milk. When I see pictures of the real Harvey Milk now - my first reaction is "no, no, that's not what he looks like - he looks like Sean Penn"

This morning my wife asked me how the movie affected me. In truth, I have to confess that it really didn't have much of an emotional impact on me. Although, I must say I'm a bit surprised at that. Given the other reviews I read, I expected it to have a great impact on me. The only time I started to get chocked up a little was when Harvey Milk was talking on the phone with a suicidal teenager who said his parents wanted to send him away to 'fix' him.

We saw the movie in the local mega cinema. Out of 30 screens - Milk was showing on the smallest - probably because there were only about 12 people in the theater. Not really surprising given that I live in one of the reddest parts of a very red state - and in the thick of the bible belt. It was, of course, dark in the theater; so, I couldn't get a good look at the other people. But, it seemed to be mostly male/female couples. In the row behind us was a threesome - a boy and two girls - who looked to be of high school age. I suspect he was probably gay and he had his flame dames with him.

I'm rather embarrassed to admit that, although I was of voting age at the time and from California, I don't recall anything about proposition 6 nor the resulting controversy. Probably because I wasn't actually in California at the time as I was serving as a missionary for the LDS church - in other words, I was pretty much cloistered and oblivious to current events. It's a miracle I was even aware that Elvis died a year prior to Harvey Milk being assassinated - and that was only because one of our investigators was totally distrait.

So, the movie served as a good history lesson for me in the gay rights movement. I also felt it depicted the gay culture of the time fairly accurately - warts and all. And, I think, that may be why it didn't have the impact on me that I expected. I believe one of the reasons it took me so long to accept my sexuality is because of my view of gay culture - frankly, I'm not comfortable with certain aspects of gay culture; and, I think, watching this movie reminded me of that discomfort, thereby negating the expected emotional impact. Although, I understand why such a culture exists. What else can be expected when you have a group of people living in a society that tells them that they are perverts, deviants, and that God doesn't love them.

I also realize that, as a closeted heterosexually married gay man, I owe a great debt of gratitude to people like Harvey Milk - and those who came before and after him in the gay rights movement. It is because of them that we have increased societal acceptance - which led to me being able to finally admit to myself that I am, in fact, gay. It is because of them that I do not fear losing my job were someone to find out that I am a homosexual. Were it not for their sacrifices - I wouldn't even dare think about having a blog and discussing my life as a married gay Mormon man.

The 70's is when gay culture began to evolve from an underground culture to one that is more open. That evolution is ongoing - but with that evolution, others have been able to come forward to show the world - and me - that gay people are everywhere. They/we represent a cross section of society - be it rich or poor, religious or atheist, republican or democrat - and that was the epiphany I needed to accept that I too am a homosexual. It showed me that I do not have to change who I am - I can be the same as I've always been. The only difference being that now I accept my true self.

But, the fight is not over, the war has not yet been won. There is still a lot of bigoted hate that needs to be eradicated. My particular circumstances do not allow me to step out of my closet - yet; but, I do agree with Harvey Milk - that is what it's going to take. People need to realize that we're not all just a bunch of sexual deviants out marching the streets in thongs. They need to know that we are their next door neighbor, the person in the next cubicle at work. They need to have the same epiphany that I did.

In particular, Mormon's need to realize that gay Mormon's exist. They need to know that we are sitting next to them in church, we are teaching their children. We might even be sitting on the stand presiding over a meeting.

So, I look forward to the day when I too will be able to step out of my closet to show the world that even slovenly old fat married Mormon dudes can be gay too.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

The spirit of the law

Our priesthood lesson in High Priests quorum this morning was based on a talk by President Eyring from the October 2008 general conference titled O Ye That Embark. As part of the lesson, the instructor went around the room and we were each to tell of some experience we had as part of a calling where we learned something.

When it came to me, I spoke of an experience from my mission. My companion and I had just opened up a new area. The branch president had called us into his office and told us of a part member family where the husband was an inactive member and his wife was very anti-Mormon. He then gave us explicit instructions to not visit them. A few weeks later, my companion and I both had a strong impression that we should visit the family - and, to make a long story short, the husband became active and his wife was baptized. The thing I learned from that experience is the importance of following our own personal inspiration. To this day, we still exchange Christmas cards with this family.

As I sat there listening to others tell of their experiences, it occurred to me that many of them spoke of a time when they had been asked to do something which was difficult for them and the blessings they gained from following their leaders counsel. I began to reflect on the contrast of our experiences. While others spoke of the importance of obedience - I spoke of open rebellion and doing what we believe is right regardless of what others are telling us.

I began to think of other things I've done throughout my life where my actions were not in harmony with what I've been taught - nothing big, just little things - but I did them because I believed it was the right thing to do. I've always felt it was more important to live the spirit of the law rather than blind obedience to the letter of the law. Mind you, I don't advocate disobeying the law simply because I think it's dumb; but, when it comes down to doing what somebody else it telling me to do verses doing what I believe is the right thing to do - I will follow my heart.

Authoritarians believe following the spirit, but not the letter of the law, is the same as disobeying the law - arguing that allowing others to follow their own interpretation of the law results in anarchy. I've always had a problem respecting authoritarian type people - another character flaw of mine.

Friday, December 26, 2008

The Outcast

I was channel surfing and happened across a Startrek Next Generation episode The Outcast - where the crew of the enterprise visits the J'naii, a genderless society. Commander Riker falls in love with Soren, a J'naii who is experiencing female attraction -considered a deviant perversion in J'naii society. For this, she is taken into custody and 'treated' to remove her female attractions.

It was an obvious reference to the debate over homosexuality in our own society. Although, overall, I feel the episode fell short on social commentary. Perhaps this is why the Startrek franchise has floundered over the last few years - they've deviated from the formula that Gene Roddenberry used in the original series where many episodes had strong commentary on sexism, feminism, racism, as well as militarism and peace - all major social issues during the late 1960's.

The highlight of the episode was where Soren declares that she is female
I am tired of lies.
I am female. I was born that way. I have had those feelings...those longings...all my life. It is not unnatural. I am not sick because I feel this way.

I do not need to be helped, and I do not need to be cured. What I do need -- what all of those like me need -- is your understanding and your compassion.

We do not injure you in any way. And yet we are scorned, and attacked. And all because we are different.

What we do is no different from what you do. We talk and laugh...we complain about work and we wonder about growing old...we talk about our families, and we worry about the future...We cry with each other when things seem hopeless. All the loving things that you do with each other...that's what we do. And for that, we are called misfits, and deviants...and criminals.

What right do you have to punish us? What right do you have to change us? What makes you think you can dictate how people love each other?
I think this episode would have been much more profound had they not had Riker fall in love with Soren - and if Soren had not responded to the treatment in the end. Rather, how much more powerful would it have been if Soren had lost her position and standing in society, and becomes an outcast - as the enterprise departs, powerless to do anything to help lest they violate the prime directive.

A new Startrek movie coming May 8th. It looks promising; but, I hope they are able to return to the original vision of Startrek. If they simply try to mimic Star Wars - then they will fail.

btw, here is a site that contains non-explicit, (G to PG-13) stories, poetry, and art depicting a gay Startrek universe.


Some people have way too much time on their hands ...

Wednesday, December 24, 2008


I'll resume my regularly scheduled bloviating after the holidays. But, for now

C H R I S T M A S ! ! !

Friday, December 19, 2008

2 years and counting

To be honest, I've never understood blogging. Why do some people post intimate details of their lives for everyone to see? And why to other people read blogs? Yet, I find myself reading blogs, and now I am writing my own blog.
That is what I wrote on December 19, 2006 in my introductory blog post.

It is hard to believe that it's been two whole years since I first started blogging. I had only recently accepted myself as gay. I began searching the internet desperately looking for other people like me - gay Mormon's who were still active in the church. I had found and joined the q-saints yahoo discussion group, but was discouraged because it seemed so many of the people had not only left the church, but had very negative feelings towards the church. I was starting to think I was some sort of freak of nature.

Then someone posted to the group who expressed views similar to my own - views which prompted some negative objections to his opinions. On December 14, 2006, I sent him a private email telling him that I, for one, agreed with his comments. This led to a brief but momentous email exchange. He shared with me that he also blogged and gave me his blog address. And, then he audaciously suggested I consider doing the same.

I read his blog with rapt attention. His blog linked to other blogs which, in turn, linked to yet more blogs - at last I had found what I had so desperately been looking for - I had found other people like me. I was no longer a freak of nature. Not all blogs were by people still active in the church, but those who had left the church behind were respectful of those who were still in the church. I had been a stranger in a strange land - and now I found my long lost home. It was like finding a family I never knew I had.

I spent hours reading through these blogs, soaking everything in like a sponge. And then I did the unthinkable - I actually started considering creating my own blog. You see, before this, I didn't have anything to do with the blogging world. I didn't read blogs and certainly would have never in a million years thought that I, one day, would have a blog. I couldn't understand how people could divulge such personal information in such a public media - and I couldn't understand why they thought their lives were so interesting that others would want to read about it. I also couldn't understand why people would then read those blogs - it almost amounted to voyeurism in my mind.

But, here I am, two years later. My whole perception of blogging has been forever altered. And, I owe it all to one man - a man who dared to post an unpopular view on q-saints.

So, who is this mysterious blogger? Who is this person who got me started as a blogger? None other than the great and wonderful -L-.

-L- doesn't blog so much these days - and I, for one, miss his words of wisdom. But I understand, there is a time and a season for everything. Maybe it's time for him to move on with his life. Maybe one day it'll be time for me to move on with my life.

But, for now, hats off to -L-

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Christmas treats you want to like - but don't

Last night I made pressed cookies - you know, the kind where you put the dough into a cookie press and squeeze it out through metal plates in various shapes. The recipe is pretty simple, having only butter, sugar, egg, salt, flour, and flavoring; although, I opted to use pure coconut extract instead of vanilla.

They taste OK, but it's sorta like eating baked Play-DOH. Now I remember why I don't like pressed cookies.

Are there any Christmas treats that you feel like you want to like - but whenever you try it you're reminded that you don't like it?

btw, the cookie press I used looks exactly like the one pictured except the ends are the same metal as the body rather than being copper colored - it even has the same exact metal disks; so, I'm sure it's the same brand, just a different model or year. It belonged to my wifes grandmother. We have a newer one that has a trigger instead of a knob - but I found this one first.

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Brokeback marriages

There is an interesting article about Mixed Orientation Marriages that I read recently (or what the author calls "Brokeback Marriages"). Like most articles on this topic, it tended towards the negative; but, it's not as negative as others I've read. The author states that 80% of such marriage end in divorce - but that suggests that 20% do not.

Anyway, the author talks about a "coming out" process and the stages a couple typically goes through when one spouse reveals to the other that they are gay.
  • Humiliation - The Humiliation stage occurs when the gay partner finally reveals his or her secret and both spouses begin to agonize over the news. Typically, the straight spouse blames herself or himself for not being "woman enough" or "man enough" to keep their mate interested. Straight spouses may question whether they ever really participated in the marriage and whether the marriage was ever authentic
  • Honeymoon - The Honeymoon stage occurs when the partners agree to remain in their mixed-orientation marriage. Typically, gay spouses who want to remain in the marriage do so for one good reason: they love their straight spouses. With both partners feeling loved unconditionally, they renew their marriage vows on an emotional level.
  • Rage - The Rage stage occurs when both partners reach the limits of what is tolerable. The straight spouse may have felt satisfied with the way things were and wants to maintain the marriage as it was, but both partners realize that they cannot retreat back into the closet. At this point, they often feel the same sense of heaviness that descended upon them before the disclosure.
  • Resolution - During the Resolution phase, couples consider again whether to stay together or separate. This is a question each partner should ask individually, and the couple should broach it together. They need to express to themselves and to their partner the type of marriage they want. They also need to weigh what they have invested so far against what is at risk if they break up. Other considerations to weigh include the loss of heterosexual privileges for both of them.
I don't necessarily agree with everything the author has to say - but I think he does make some interesting points. Just wondering what others think about this

Friday, December 12, 2008

Random thoughts

Just some random thoughts meandering around in Abelard's brain today
  • I'm still not feeling very Christmasy, but I did start Christmas shopping.
  • Is it just me, or was that "Day without Gay" thing kinda goofy? I wonder how that worked out for them?
  • I didn't realize that Dustin Lance Black, the screenwriter for "Milk", is family (gay and raised Mormon).
  • I'm playing hooky from our ward Christmas party this evening, although my wife went (alone).
  • I'm going to play hooky from stake general priesthood meeting tomorrow to take the grandkids to a Christmas train exhibit this guy has setup in his backyard. Cost of admission is canned goods which are donated to a local food bank. So, it counts as a good sabbath day activity (feeding the poor) - right?
  • People keep asking me what I want for Christmas - and I don't know!
  • I'm planning on going to see "Milk", and my wife is going to go with me (yeah!) - but I don't know when yet. It's playing in a few more theaters now, and one of them is in my hometown.
  • I've read "Milk" can be a real tearjerker, so I better take a handkerchief. Although, my wife has never seen me cry in a movie - so this could get awkward.
  • We watched "Stardust" on DVD last night - I thought it was OK, but my wife didn't like it at all.
  • I was unaware that the film "Stardust" had such gay overtones.
  • Only one more week of work - then I'm off for the rest of the year - yeah!
  • I'm still pissed off at the other ward we share the building with. When I arrived Friday morning to teach seminary - there were no chairs in the seminary room - they had taken them to the cultural hall to setup for their ward Christmas activity Friday evening. Mind you, there are plenty of classrooms between the cultural hall and the seminary room they could have pulled chairs out of; and, it was pretty obvious the room was being used for seminary since I had pictures displayed all over the room and they had to remove scriptures from the chairs in order to move them. - but they wanted the padded chairs - wusses!! I came home and wrote a scathing email to my bishop - I'm sure they'll all be shaking in their boots tomorrow.
  • There will only be 5 of us for Christmas dinner - so we decided to have a standing rib roast. I need to watch that Alton Brown "Good Eats" episode again - and then go to Home Depot to get a big clay flower pot.
  • I was appointed as an officer in the "I buy random grocery items because Alton Brown says it's good" Facebook group.
  • I'm pretty sure I'm in love with Alton Brown <3
  • I'm getting a lot of hits on my blog from people googling "doll that says allah is light" (or some variation) and "homo for romo" - I'll bet my blog isn't quite what they were expecting :)
  • Another year, and nobody will go to Tuba Christmas with me :(

Gay cowboys

Bizarro, December 12, 2008

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas - NOT!!!

I'm having a really hard time getting the Christmas spirit this year. I'm dreading going shopping and dealing with the crowds. Putting up Christmas decorations seems like a chore. We're just now getting our Christmas tree up; and, I don't know if I'll even bother putting lights up outside this year. It all seems so futile.

Sunday, in fast and testimony meeting, a sister talked about how a lot of members disagree with the church's involvement in prop 8 in California - and some have even left the church because of it. She then went into how we just need to follow the prophet. As she spoke, I thought of a line from the film "Star Trek: First Contact"
Captain Jean-Luc Picard: The crew is accustomed to following my orders.
Lily Sloane: They're probably used to your orders making sense!