Sunday, December 19, 2010

Four years and counting

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

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

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Blind obedience

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday, December 3, 2010

Reaping what you sow ... 2 years later

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Sunday, November 28, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

... um

Does anybody know how I can make this happen?

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Pity party

Pearls Before Swine

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

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

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It gets better ???


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Saturday, November 6, 2010

      Reader questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Friday, October 22, 2010

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

      Thursday, October 21, 2010

      Reader Question (part 1): How did you meet your wife?

      This is part 1 of an anonymous question that was asked in my sidebar
      How did you meet your wife? If you're gay, why did you marry her?

      How did I meet my wife?

      It's kinda a funny story ...

      We met in college - at Cal Poly in San Luis Obispo, California.  I was not yet a member of the church, she had just joined that summer.

      While waiting in line to register for classes (this was in the days before computers), someone went down the line and handed everyone a "religious preference card".  I had heard of Mormons and was curious - so I checked "Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints", filled out my name and local contact information, and handed it back to them.   I later learned that the people handing out the forms were LDS - this was the LDS institutes way of finding LDS students as quickly as possible.  It was intended as a service project, not a missionary tool; so, the cards of those that checked other religions were given to those other churches to do with as they pleased.

      I didn't think much of it until a few days later I got a call on the phone in my dorm room inviting me to a meeting.  The stake center was about a mile from my dorm, so I got directions and walked there on the evening of the meeting.  The purpose of the meeting was to organize the college students into family home evening groups.  Although, I really had no idea what they were talking about since it was all foreign to me.  I do recall the bishop, in his opening remarks, saying something to the effect of "I want to be a god - don't you want to be a god?" and thinking to myself "wow, these Mormon's have high expectations!"  It was just assumed that everyone in the meeting was LDS.

      Anyway, I was placed into a FHE group consisting of all of the students that lived in the dorms at school - about a dozen students.  There were only a handful in attendance at this meeting; so, we divided up the names; and, I was given 2 or 3 names of people to go visit and invite them to our first FHE meeting.  I dutifully went to visit the people I was assigned - really having no idea what I was inviting them to.

      I started attending FHE meetings every week.  We were all away from home and quickly became friends.  No one suspected that I wasn't a member and I really wasn't sure how to bring it up.

      My [future] wife also lived in the dorms and was part of that same FHE group.  At the urging of the other members of the FHE group, I also enrolled in a Book of Mormon class at the institute building.  I had to walk past her dorm on the way to institute class; so, we would often walk together, with another girl in the group, and then go have breakfast together afterward.

      On one such morning, she was talking about her roommate and referred to her as a "non-member investigator" - to which I replied "hmmm, I guess that's what I am".  After picking their jaws up off the floor, they started asking me questions to confirm that I actually said what they thought I had said.  They made sure I introduced to the missionaries the following Sunday.  So, I tell people my wife introduced me to the missionaries - in a very literal sense:  "Elders, this is Abelard - Abelard, these are the elders."

      To make a long story short, I took the discussions and was baptized a couple of months later.  Before finishing up the school year, I decided that I should serve a mission.  My family was displeased - but I was determined.  I took a leave of absence from school and worked to save up money for my mission.  It took me 2 years - but I eventually served my mission.

      During the time while I was saving up money, my [future] wife and I started dating.  We didn't live particularly close to one another so it was more of a long distance relationship.  We spent a lot of time talking on the phone; and, at least a couple of times per months, one of us would drive to the others home to spend the weekend together (we both lived at home - so it was also with family).  Although, we both realized that a lot can change in two years - so we formally broke up before I left on my mission.

      Having non-member family made it difficult to share some of my more intimate missionary experiences.  My [future] wife wrote to me throughout my mission - and it was her that I felt I could share all of my hopes and fears, my successes and failures.  Upon returning home we rekindled our relationship.  Nine months after returning home I asked her to marry me.  Well ... to be honest, I was so nervous that I never actually said the words.  I just showed her the ring and hoped she got the hint (which she did) :)

      We were married in the Oakland temple.  And the rest, as they say, is history ...

      Wednesday, October 13, 2010

      Reader question: How did you come to choose such dark and oppressive colors for the MoHo directory?

      A reader posed the following question in my sidebar
      How did you come to choose such dark and oppressive colors for the MoHo directory? 
      Answer:  Actually - I didn't.  A fellow MoHo volunteered their time and talents to redo the MoHo Directory.  Although, personally, I really like it.  It looks much more professional and polished than anything I could come up with on my own.

      Tuesday, October 5, 2010

      Why would God do this?

      Elder Boyd K Packers, now infamous, conference talk last sunday, included the following passage:
      Some suppose that they were pre-set and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural. Not so! Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, He is our Father.
       There are a number of things about this statement that bother me


      Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?
      that being homosexual tendencies.  The whole tone of this rhetorical question implies that would be one of the most horrific and unthinkable things a father could do to a child.

      Another problem with this statement is that it could be ask for any number of mortal conditions - conditions for which there is no question about their existence and immutability.  The simple fact of the matter is:  We don't know why God does most of the things that he does.  Why did he make roses red and violets blue?  We don't know!

      ... inborn tendencies toward the impure and unnatural
      Why are my tendencies towards members of my same gender impure and unnatural?  It feels natural to me.  And what's so impure about it?  Sure, I could objectify men - but heterosexuals do that all the time with members of their opposite gender, and we don't label their heterosexuality as impure and unnatural, only their thoughts and actions.  It's a double standard:  A heterosexual is impure and unnatural only in their thoughts and actions while a homosexual is impure and unnatural for mere possession of tendencies towards their same gender.

      Some suppose that they were pre-set ...
      Really?  Isn't that predestination?  Seriously, how many of us believe we were predestined to be gay?  I expect most of us will confess that we don't know why we're gay any more than we know why we came out of the womb with a particular hair color.  All we know is that we are gay - whether it be nature, nurture, or some combination of the two is water under the bridge.  I think the better question is if sexual orientation is immutable or not - but that's not what Elder Packer said.

      Anyway, I think I'm done whacking this dead cow - it's time for me to move on to bigger and better things and not get my panties in a knot - er ... not that I wear panties ... it's just that ... oh bother.

      Monday, October 4, 2010

      Now that I've had time to gather my thoughts ...

      Boyd K. Packer spoke in the sunday morning session of general conference - and before the morning session was even over my facebook newsfeed lit up.  It hasn't even been 36 hours since his talk and already much has been written.  His talk has caused a lot of emotion and anguish.  Not only for those of us who deal with this "problem" of homosexuality - but also for the families and friends of such individuals who may feel stronger in their conviction that we're simply not trying hard enough - that we lack sufficient faith.

      And I find myself asking the question "why?" - "why did the brethren feel it necessary to address this topic at all?"  Why stir this hornets nest?  And why choose to do it in such as caustic manner?

      The talks we hear in general conference are generally topics that address problems the brethren feel need to be addressed - problems that affect the membership of the church.  Some topics are addressed over and over - such as pornography.  The frequency that pornography is mentioned suggests that it continues to be a problem in the church showing no signs of abating - perhaps even increasing over time.

      Elder Packers talk suggests that the brethren perceive that, among the membership of the LDS church, there is increasing acceptance for their gay family, friends, and associates - to the point of accepting their gay relationships even knowing that such relationships go against the doctrine of the church.

      I think it's no mere coincidence that Elder Packers talk was preceded by President Eyring telling us that we need to trust in the brethren.  We need to trust our church leaders who are telling us that gay relationships are wrong - that homosexuality itself is wrong, it is merely a state of mind that is not immutable.

      The text of Elder Packers talk contains no surprises.  We all know how the church feels about homosexuality.  And, the brethren of the church are entitled to their opinions.  Whether those opinions are an accurate reflection of the will of God is a matter of discussion and debate.  But, just as we want our own beliefs respected - we need to respect the beliefs of others.

      What bothered me most about what Elder Packer spoke of wasn't so much the words - it was the tone in which it was delivered devoid of any compassion - bordering on ridicule of those who disagree when he, in effect, said "think gay people ought to be able to love those whom they are attracted too?  Well, why don't you go try to defy the law of gravity and see how that works out." Not his exact words, of course, but that's how I took it.

      An interesting, if not odd, comparison.  For, the simple fact of the matter is, as a species, we have learned to defy the law of gravity.  We didn't do it by trying to pass laws against it, we did it by finding other laws of nature and learning to harness those laws in such a way as to overcome the law of gravity. As the Flying Nun used to say: "When lift plus thrust is greater than load plus drag, anything can fly."

      The same can be said in the fight to recognize gay marriage - using laws granting fairness and equality to overturn laws banning gay marriage. 

      There is no question that LDS doctrine allows for some laws and commandments to supersede others.   We see that in the story of the Garden of Eden when Adam and Eve were given conflicting laws to "go forth and multiply" and "do not partake of the tree of knowledge of good and evil".  We see that in the Book of Mormon when Nephi was commanded to murder Laban in cold blood in order to obtain the brass plates so his descendants would not "dwindle in unbelief" (which they ultimately did anyway).

      In LDS doctrine, there is no question that marriage is ordained to be between a man and one [or more] women (only one woman while living, but a man can be sealed to multiple women).  This doctrine is not in question.  Gay relationships cannot be condoned in the church given it's current level of understanding - I get that.  But, can't we, at least, respect those who may disagree with our doctrine?  Can't we engage in civil discussions and disagreements?  Do we have to resort to brute condemnation?

      And, why can't we entertain the remote possibility that other laws may one day be revealed that, under certain conditions, supersede the doctrine of eternal marriage as it is currently understood?  We believe in continuing revelation.  Joseph Smith only translated one third of the gold plates - the other two thirds remained sealed (suggesting that even Joseph was not allowed to view them).  Are we so close minded of a people that we can't even allow for discussion that that God may yet reveal new doctrinal clarifications that allows for gay relationships?  I'm old enough to remember the days when blacks couldn't hold the priesthood - and I don't recall anyone ever being rebuked for discussing the possibility that one day that ban would be lifted.

      Is it really so terrible that some of us support our gay brothers and sisters who are in gay relationships - even rejoice in their happiness?  Is it necessary that we be demonized and ridiculed because of our support for such relationships?

      Homosexuality brings out the worst in Mormonism - it exposes the 'dark side' of our 'force'.

      Sunday, October 3, 2010

      What I got out of general conference

      On Saturday, I just sort of pretended it wasn't conference weekend and went about my own business.  So, the first session of conference I watched was Sunday morning.  This is what I got out of it

      President Henry B. Eyring
      We must trust in the Lord - and in his duly called servants.  And, if we lack trust in said servants then it's our own darn fault because we don't have enough faith.  Implying that said servants have absolutely zero responsibility to do anything to earn our trust.  We're supposed to trust in them just because.

      President Boyd K. Packer
      God only approves of marriage between one man and one woman (I suppose we'll just ignore those pesky Brigham Young years) - and anybody who believes in same sex marriage is evil.  Anybody who believes the law of the land should be changed to recognize same sex marriages is doubly evil.  And God only approves of sex between a man and a woman who are married, preferably in the temple (I suppose if you're married, but not in the temple, then He merely tolerates you having sex with your spouse).

      o
      o
      o

      Concluding Speaker
      My name is President Thomas S. Monson - and I approve of the messages given in this session of conference.
       OK, I must admit, I did enjoy the rest of President Monson's remarks about gratitude.  But, Packers talk has just left a bad taste in my mouth - so, now I'm grumpy; and, at this point, I'm not sure I'll even bother watching the Sunday afternoon session.

      [sigh] I thought general conference was supposed to be uplifting

      Friday, October 1, 2010

      The Lost Son

      The recent losses of some young family members has brought to mind the lyrics of a song I've been working off and on for the past couple of years.  I'm not finished, but I felt moved to share this work in progress.
      The Lost Son by Abelard

      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.

      Monday, September 27, 2010

      A Man of God

      I taught the priesthood lesson yesterday at church.  I was given a talk by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf titled Continue in Patience as the basis for my lesson.  It's an easy topic to address - nothing controversial or uncomfortable for a struggling with ssa - gay - homo-queer - mormon dude like me. 

      I tried to offer a different spin on the topic.  I related the story of Steven Slater (the JetBlue flight attendant who go angry with a difficult passenger and ended up exiting the plane via the emergency escape chute) as an example of someone whose anger was understandable - even justified - but who, perhaps, could have exercised a bit more patience.  I talked about how we've all encountered people like the woman passenger in question - people who think the rules are for everyone else - people whose time is more important than ours so they cut us off in lines and/or traffic.  I then used that as a jumping point to discuss how we can learn to exercise more patience when dealing with difficult people.

      I felt the lesson went well.  A visitor to the quorum even came up to me after and thanked me for the lesson.  During the closing prayer, the person praying expressed gratitude for the lesson given by a 'man of god' - he referred to me as a man of god.  Although I felt good about the lesson - I felt uncomfortable being referred to as a man of god.

      Now, to be sure, when I give a lesson and/or talk in church, I choose my words very carefully.  I don't say anything I'm not comfortable saying - I only say things I sincerely believe.  But, I don't think of myself as a man of god.  Heck, I'm struggling with what do I really believe anymore - do I even believe in God? I'm not as certain as I once was.  So, I feel a little guilty for maintaining a facade that some, evidently, interpret as being godly.  If they only knew of the internal struggle waging inside of me.  Shouldn't a man of god be absolutely certain in his faith?

      It just makes me wonder if I've become so adept at maintaining a TBM (True Believing Mormon) facade at church that I do it without even thinking.  A rather disturbing thought as I don't want to wear a facade - I just want people to see me as I am, the real me.

      * * *

      On a completely different topic, I'm really liking Mondo Guerra in this season's Project Runway; and, I think he could win this season.  I like Christopher Collins too (not just because he's the cutest of the bunch), he could be the dark horse contestant.  Mondo seems a bit odd (he definitely marches to his own drum); but, he's so nice and likable - you just want to give him a big hug.  It's always fun to see what outfit he's going to wear next.

      I was glad to see Ivy Higa go last week; and, I'm hoping Gretchen Jones gets ax'd soon - but I think Gretchen will make it into the final 3.  Gretchen is just so manipulating and conniving and unlikeable.

      My wife and I are also enjoying the new show Top Chef Just Desserts - it's kinda like a cross between Top Chef and Project Runway - a gay Top Chef.  Although, I did feel a tad be uncomfortable when Seth Caro had his meltdown and started crying for his mommy.  I mean seriously, I know there is a lot of stress - but you're 34 years old, get a grip on yourself.

      Wednesday, September 22, 2010

      Maintaining convictions

      An anonymous person commented on my blog post Love the sinner - hate the sin with the following question:
      I'd like some input. I firmly believe the opposite, that homosexuality is wrong by God's standards. But I also believe that we should not judge, exactly as you have posted. That saying "love the sinner hate the sin" has always seem wrong. I agree we should all respect each other and let God judge. It's not our place. I'm willing to do that. But I still believe that homosexuality is wrong. How do I allow treat a homosexual person with the respect they want, but at the same time pass on my convictions to my children? This question may come across badly. I want to allow everyone the freedome to live their lives the way they want, but I want my convictions, that I feel deeply about to be passed to my children. How would you suggest I do this?
      I believe this is a very good question - and one that deserves some thought and discussion.  In fact, I invite other bloggers to post their thoughts on this topic as well.

      The issue, as I see it, is how can someone maintain their conviction that homosexuality (more specifically, homosexual intimacy) is wrong - yet love and accept their homosexual family, friends, and associates?  A corollary question might be:  How far should that acceptance extend?  For example, should you extend your love and acceptance to the homosexual partner?

      I suppose an even more basic question is:  Is it even possible to love and accept a homosexual while maintaining a conviction that homosexual intimacy is wrong?

      I believe the answer is "yes" - it is possible - and, in fact, required by Christian teachings - to love and accept those whose lives are contrary to that which we believe to be correct.  The simple fact of the matter is that we all know people who do things that we believe are wrong, dumb, or stupid.  And, it goes both ways.  For example, there are those who believe it is wrong for me to accept myself as a homosexual while being married to a woman; there are others who believe it is wrong for me to remain married to a woman now that I accept myself as a homosexual.  And, it certainly isn't limited to sexual behavior.  We may believe people are wrong because they drink alcohol, smoke, or live beyond their means.  We may think people are wrong to believe in God - or not to believe in God.

      Just because someone has some aspect in their lives we believe to be wrong doesn't me we can't love and accept them - even consider them a close friend.  It would be a very lonely life if we only associated with those whose beliefs and actions were 100% in line with our own.

      But, is there a line between what we can and cannot accept?  For example, if a parent accepts their gay son who lives at home - does that mean they should allow him to bring home a different boy every night to have sex with?

      A few thoughts:

      First, there is a difference between accepting and condoning. Just because you accept a family member and/or friend as gay doesn't mean you must also condone their behavior.

      Second, there is a difference between how a parent should treat a 16 year old son still in high school and a 20 year old son in college.  When our children are under 18 we have a legal responsibility for them.  Once they turn 18 they are legally adults - and need to be treated as such.  As a parent of adult children, I've learned that while I may not agree with all of the decisions my children make - I do need to respect their decisions.

      Third, we have a right to dictate what happens in our own home.  For example, I know people who smoke and/or drink - but I don't allow it in my home.  I do allow smokers to step outside the house to smoke on my property - I just don't want it inside the house because of the smell.  But, I don't allow alcohol on my premises - either inside or out.  Likewise, I think it perfectly acceptable for parents to not allow activities in their home which they believe to be wrong (e.g. sex between unmarried couples).  For example, if a heterosexual son brings home a girlfriend to visit, I think it acceptable for parents to insist they sleep separate rooms - the same could be said for a gay son who brings home a boyfriend.

      Fourth, we need to take into consideration the level of commitment that a gay child or friend has with their partner. For example, if a gay child/friend has a boyfriend with whom they are not living with - I think it fair to treat them the same as if they had a girlfriend to whom they were not married; that is, you could insist they not sleep in the same room in your home (even if you know they are sexually active).  However, if they are in a committed monogamous relationship having gone through a ceremony of sorts to declare their commitment to one another - and would be married if it were a legal option available to them - then I think it fair and right to treat them as a married couple - even if you are morally against such unions.  In the not too distant past, some considered interracial marriage as immoral - yet they still had the same rights and privileges as other married couples.

      Anyway, these are my thoughts - I invite others to blog about their thoughts and ideas.

      Tuesday, September 21, 2010

      Update

      I didn't mean to go so long without blogging.  I just haven't felt like I had anything worthwhile to say.  I have several unfinished blog posts in draft status which I may or may not publish.

      Anyway, here is what's been on my mind of late

      My life of poverty
      It's been 18 months since I was laid off.  Now, to be fair, I'm not just sitting at home doing nothing.  I have found a data entry type job which both my wife and I can do from home.  It doesn't pay that much; but, between the two of us we are able keep our heads above water, just barely.  But, our CORBA health insurance has run out - so, we've joined the ranks of the uninsured.  I expect we're also part of that poverty statistic that's been in the news recently.  Life is difficult, but we're probably doing better than many others in a similar position.  I mean, we still have our home and we still have food in the pantry.  Without health insurance, we're really focusing on eating healthy.  For example, we've decided we're not going to buy any baked goods - if we want something (like bread, or a cupcake, or something) then we have to make it ourselves.  And, I always scour (what I call) the used meat bin (meat that is near it's 'sell by' date) for good deals I can put in the freezer.  My biggest problem is that I'm pretty much a food snob - I enjoy fine foods.  It's difficult for me to buy Great Value products at Walmart.
      My life of solitude
      The other day I made Chili Rellenos for dinner - which were tasty, but frying tends to smell of the kitchen.  Later that evening, when I walked into the kitchen, I quipped to my wife "good thing we don't have any friends who might drop in on us - because our house stinks right now."

      My attempts at humor stings with reality - we really don't have any friends.  Well, more to the point, I don't have any friends.  My wife has her quilting and sewing friends whom she visits with weekly.  Instead of friends - I have the husbands of my wife's friends.  And, when she's visiting with them during the day, while said husbands are at work, then there is no reason for said husbands to interact with me in any way.

      In a typical week - my only interaction with people, other than family, is 3 hours on Sunday while sitting at church.  And that's not really much interaction either since it mainly consists of sitting on my butt listening to some talk or lesson. 

      Most days I don't even leave the house. I do have my brief interactions during the week with the checker at the grocery store as I pay. But that conversation usually goes something like
      them:  "did you find everything OK?"
      me: [mumbling] "yes" (which I answer - even if it's not true)
      them: "have a nice day"
      How did this happen?  How did my life devolve into such a meaningless existence?

      I try to convince myself that I'm OK with the life of a hermit - a hermit that lives a life of solitude in plain sight.  But, it's not true.  I want friends!  I want people I can hang out with.  I want people who call me once in a  while just to talk - and whom I'm comfortable calling, just to talk.  Am I really that much of a pariah to be avoided?

      I tried joining a photography club this year.  I go to the meetings, but I just sit there and listen to whatever program was planned for the evening - I don't know anyone, I don't even know the names of the people conducting the meeting.  I don't talk to anyone.  I go, I sit, I leave.  Gee, that kinda sounds like what I do at church.  It's just so difficult for me to strike up a conversation with people I don't know.

      Intellectually, I know that to have friends I have to be a friend - and I just really suck at being a friend. So, I guess I just have to learn to accept that I'll live out my life friendless and, apparently, penny-less.
      Stake Conference
      As I was sitting in stake conference recently, I looked around at some of the missionaries serving in the wards in my stake and, I don't know why, but I started to wonder if they might be gay.  With 13 wards in our stake and, on average, one set of missionaries per ward - it's likely that, at least, one or two of them are family.  If only there were some way to reach them and let them know that they're not alone.  But, alas, it seems that coming to terms with our sexuality is something we all have to go through alone before we are able to find and reach out to find others.
      On an unrelated topic, there was one statement by our new Stake President that has really been bugging me.  He was addressing those who suffer from depression.  He didn't call it depression per se, he was using words like "those who are feeling hopeless".  But, then he said something to the effect of "I'm not suggesting anyone go off their medications - but I firmly believe that we can be in complete control of our thoughts." [worded as best as I can remember]  As one who suffers from clinical depression, perhaps I'm just being overly sensitive - but it just doesn't come across as being compassionate - 'mourning with those that mourn and comforting those that stand in need of comfort', if you will.  Perhaps that's not what he meant - but if that's how I interpreted it - chances are I was not alone.  It really doesn't matter what he said exactly or even what he meant - what matters is how it was perceived by others.  And, I didn't perceive it very favorably - I certainly wouldn't feel comfortable talking to him about my depression issues.  
      A recent lesson in priesthood meeting
      When we were studying lesson #15 "The Lord's Covenant People", one of the older members of my priesthood quorum made a comment that was really out in left field (having nothing to do with the lesson content nor what the instructor was saying).  He blurted out "what about all of those TV shows with 'homosexuals'" - the last word being spit out in a tone of utter disgust. Fortunately, the instructor was able to quickly get the lesson back on track; but, not before I saw nods and heard sounds of agreement from other quorum members.  It served as a bitter reminder of what some of my quorum members really think of the me - the real me that they don't know
      Glee
      It is weird for a middle aged man to be so excited for the return of Glee this week?  Is it odd for a middle aged man to own the Glee music CD's?  Is it creepy for a middle aged man to be tooling around in his blue Nissan Cube rocking to the music of Glee?

      To be fair, my life isn't all grim. I had a photograph win honorable mention at this months Fort Worth Camera Club competition. Well, OK, maybe I'm mildly bummed it didn't score higher because, seriously, I felt my photo was better than the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners. But, at least it's something. I've attached the image - although it doesn't do it justice. I think the 16x20 print looks just stunning - simple, yet elegant.

      Anyway, this pretty much sums my thoughts and feelings about the Mormon Queerosphere



      Guess this means you're sorry
      You're standing at my door
      Guess this means you take back
      All you said before
      Like how much you wanted
      Anyone but me
      Said you'd never come back
      But here you are again

      [CHORUS]
      'Cause we belong together now, yeah
      Forever united here somehow, yeah
      You got a piece of me
      And honestly,
      My life (my life) would suck (would suck) without you

      Baby I was stupid for telling you goodbye
      Maybe I was wrong for tryin' to pick a fight
      I know that I've got issues
      But you're pretty messed up too
      Either way, I found out I'm nothing without you

      [CHORUS]

      Being with you
      Is so dysfunctional
      I really shouldn't miss you
      But I can't let you go

      [CHORUS]

      [CHORUS]

      Thursday, August 26, 2010

      Loneliness

      According to Wikipedia
      Loneliness is a feeling in which people experience a strong sense of emptiness and solitude. Loneliness is often compared to feeling empty, unwanted, and unimportant. Someone who is lonely may find it hard to form strong interpersonal relationships.
      Yup, that about sums it up for me.

      In its chronic form, loneliness is considered a life threatening condition with an increased risk of cancer, stroke, and cardiovascular disease.  It also affects sleep quality thus resulting in diminished restorative processes.  Of course, being jobless only adds to my feelings of emptiness, unwanted, and unimportant - which leads me to having trouble sleeping - and so on and so forth as I spiral ever downward.

      For instance, the other day I was having a bad day:  I woke up with a sore back, then my phone quit working, it was hot (got up to 107 degrees F).  But, the thing that just really set me off was when I went to get gas in my car.  The local QT gas station had 32 oz drinks for 49¢ all summer - so, I would fill up and then go in and get a diet coke.  But, when I went in, the 32 oz drinks were now 99¢.  Evidently, that was a summer special that had ended. I walked out empty handed feeling really depressed - and I haven't been able to get over it.  It sounds so stupid and juvenile - but that's just my state of mind right now.  The silliest things can set me off.  My back is feeling better - I have a service plan on my phone; so, it didn't cost me anything to get a replacement - the heat wave has broken, yesterday it only got up to the mid 80's - just pay the extra 50¢ for the damn drink if it would make me happy.  So, why am I still feeling depressed about it?

      Intellectually, I know what the problem is; and, I don't like feeling this way - I just don't know what to do about it.  I've quit doing things I used to enjoy - even this blog post will be lucky to see the light of day.  Lately I've been having dreams of suicide.  I don't mean to scare anyone because I'm not on the verge of doing anything rash during my waking hours - but is it only a matter of time before my dreams become reality?

      Most doctors recommend therapy.  Problem is, my health insurance runs out next month; so, if I don't find a job (which seems unlikely since I've been looking for the past 17 months without result) I'll be entering the growing ranks of the uninsured.  Therapy just isn't an option for me right now.

      Some days I just want someone to talk to - but then I don't want to be a burden on anyone.  I don't want to be a high maintenance 'friend'.

      Maybe we need some sort of MoHo virtual home teaching - we could each have a 'route' of a few other MoHo's whom we keep in regular contact with (email, phone, text, personal visit, whatever).  Any volunteers for the role of virtual MoHo EQ Pres?

      Saturday, July 10, 2010

      DADT survey

      OK, I've reviewed the 2010 DoD Comprehensive Review Survey regarding DADT - and I just don't see what the hoopla is all about.  I mean, I'm certainly no expert - but it seems to be a legitimate survey to me.  Yet many in the GLBT community are weeping, wailing, and gnashing their teeth claiming that it contains derogatory and insulting wording, assumptions, and insinuations.

      The issues addressed in the survey are legitimate concerns; for example, some service members might feel uncomfortable sharing an open bay shower with a gay colleague.  That doesn't make it right - but I think it is legitimate to gauge the extent that these concerns exist in the rank and file military.

      It's sort of like a company asking its employees how they feel about working with blacks or asians.  Discrimination is discrimination - it's not up for grabs based on popular opinion.  But, knowing that such concerns exist could help with education and training.

      I'm more disappointed in congress for essentially washing their hands of DADT repeal - leaving it up to the white house and military.  And, I'm disappointed in our president who shouldn't be asking IF DADT should be repealed - when he should be asking how soon can it be repealed.

      Tuesday, June 29, 2010

      Barbecue

      One year ago yesterday - coincidentally, the 40th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots - the Fort Worth Police and agents from the the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) raided the Rainbow Lounge, a newly opened gay bar in Fort Worth, Texas. Several customers were arrested for public intoxication and one customer received a severe head and brain injury while in custody. The police also claimed the customers made sexual advances and contact with them. Other customers were detained and later released without arrest.

      Yesterday , the Fort Worth police once again came to the Rainbow Lounge - only this time by invitation, for a barbecue dinner.  Because that's what we do here in Texas.  While people in other parts of the country might break bread together - we consume barbecue together, preferably in large quantities.  And this happened in the midst of one of the reddest parts of a very red state.

      It was, at times, a tumultuous journey to get to where they are today.  There were angry protesters.  Members of both the Fort Worth police and the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission were fired.  The Fort Worth police department named their first ever LGBT liason.

      But, it got me to wondering.  Maybe we should just start inviting the James Dobson's, The Jesse Helm's, the Sally Kerns, the Orson Scott Cards of the world to a big barbecue.  The purpose being to put aside our differences and to celebrate our similarities.

      Any takers ???

      And let me tell just say - I can smoke a mean brisket; and, I have my own recipe for a Texas BBQ sauce that is to die for.

      Monday, June 21, 2010

      Happy birthday Kris

      Today is Kris Allen's birthday - he is 25 years old.

      For anybody new to this blog - Kris Allen (2009 American Idol winner) is my imaginary boyfriend.  Of course, in my imaginary world, I am young and skinny and hot looking and single and ...

      [SIGH]

      Sunday, June 20, 2010

      8: The Mormon Proposition

      Thoughts before seeing the movie

      First off, I did have someone contact me with whom I will be attending the movie.  We are going to the 11:15am showing on Saturday and lunch after in the nearby Dallas gayborhood.

      I don't actually have high expectations for the movie.  I very much doubt I'll learn anything I didn't already know.  And, I don't expect it to be very balanced.  Although I disagree with the involvement of the LDS church in the prop 8 battle in California - I don't hate my church leaders for it.  I just think they are misguided.  I know a few in the Mormon queerosphere were interviewed (although, all didn't make it into the final cut).  Hearing what they have to say is my primary reason for wanting to see the movie.

      I was surprised to see the movie reviewed in our local newspaper.  Although, the film critic didn't particularly like it, giving it 3 stars (out of 5).  He felt it was overly dramatic showing crying gay Mormon's and church leaders in unflattering photo's and film clips.  But, he did like the last 30 minutes of the movie - saying that is the documentary that should have been made.

      Thoughts after seeing the movie

      I had difficulty finding the theater in Dallas.  Although I live in the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, I don't live in Dallas proper.  I guess I'm just not cut out for urban life - the traffic, the one-way streets, the "no U turn" signs at intersections.  Anyway, I did finally meet up with my friend and we bought our tickets and made it into the theater with literally just a few minutes to spare.  There was, perhaps, 18 people in the theater, although about 4 more people came in after the movie started.  We were sitting there talking when the lights started to dim and a familiar voice came from the speakers.  We both stared at the screen both thinking "wait, is it starting already?  No previews or anything?".  On the screen was a grainy picture of a recognizable figure (I don't actually remember who it was)

      In some ways the movie followed a predictable course.  It wasn't exactly what one would call "balanced" - but it wasn't as harsh as I expected.  In many ways it just presented the facts and let the viewer draw their own conclusions.  Of course, those conclusions could be manipulated by the selection of facts they chose to present.  But, I will have to say that some of the actions of LDS church leaders are very disturbing.

      What I didn't expect was the emotional impact it would have on me - and on other people in the theater.  Throughout the film I could hear audible gasps in the room.  At one point it sounded like someone behind me was quietly sobbing.  I even felt moved to tears at points in the movie.

      I was moved by the stories of gay couples expressing their love for their partners - the rejection by family, friends, and members of the community - the very real fear, from those who were married during the brief interim, that their marriage could be ripped from them by being invalidated.  I think I have to agree with our local reviewer that the film ended better than is started; although, I was disappointed that our very own David Baker didn't get more screen time.

      That said, there are some things I did not like about the movie
      • I felt they did an unfair portrayal of the Matis family - they selected quotes from the book "In Quiet Desperation" which, presented out of context, portrayed them as monsters.  Although I don't necessarily agree with their views - I personally have a lot of respect for Fred and Marilyn Matis.
      • In talking about the suicide of Stuart Matis, they didn't make it clear that it was over 10 years ago - making it seem like his suicide was directly related to the proposition 8 battle in California. 
      •  It addressed the alleged "aversion therapies" that were conducted at BYU - making it seem that they continue to this day.  While the LDS church and BYU vehemently deny such 'therapy' was ever conducted at BYU - there are enough first hand stories to make me believe that it did occur - mostly back in the 70's, perhaps even into the early 90's.  But I've seen no evidence that it has been done in the last 10-15 years - at least on the BYU campus.
      In summary, the film is not going to change any minds.  In many ways, it was preaching to the choir as those who are inclined to view it are probably already in agreement with its message.  TBM's (True Believing Mormon's) will view this film as further evidence of Satans work and the biblical persecution of the righteous in the last days.  But, I'm glad I went to see it.

      And, I'm glad I don't live in Dallas - $8 to see the afternoon matinee?  Sheesh, I could go see the afternoon matinee of "Toy Story 3" for $4 at the local theater in my home town.  And, just so you know, I don't live in some tiny hick town.  We have two theaters - one with 17 screens and the other with 30 screens.

      I was glad to have someone to talk to about the movie after.  We drove over to the Dallas gayborhood - which really isn't a gay section of town, more of a 'gay tolerant' area where couples can feel safe walking around holding hands.  It's not like there are rainbow flags hanging in front of the store fronts.

      We ate at the Cafe Brazil - which didn't seem very authentic brazilian to me.  But, I will have to say that my Chili Relleno crepe was quite delicious.  There are a couple of blocks in the gayborhood with gay bars (and a lesbian bar) and stores that cater to the gay community.  We went in some of the stores.  In the first couple of stores, the gay influence was quite subtle.  In fact, you could put that same store in some other part of town and most wouldn't notice a difference.  The last store we went to, however, was quite overt in who they were catering to.  This is the store to go to if you want a rainbow tie, a rainbow bumper sticker, or a naked man sculpture for your living room.  As I was walking towards the back of the store, I noticed that the merchandise was starting to take on a decidedly naughty tone.  Becoming slightly embarrassed, I turned around and headed towards the front of the store, grateful that they put that stuff together in the back of the store, but not before noticing the selection of sex toys hanging on the back wall.  I will have to say that some of "those things" are big - and don't look very comfortable.

      When I returned home, three of my children were there (with spouses) playing a game.  We went to dinner together and enjoyed one another's company.

      All in all, it was a good day.

      But, I am curious to see if any mention will be made of this movie in church today.  I'm sure most probably weren't even aware that the film existed - but being reviewed in the local newspaper, I'm sure a film with "mormon" in the title is sure to catch their eye.

      Saturday, June 19, 2010

      Blog makeover

      As anyone who frequents this blog will notice, I've been playing with the new blog templates.  Let me know what you think.  I'm looking for some honest critique here - I'm a big boy, don't be afraid to tell me if you hate it, or some aspect of it.

      Wednesday, June 16, 2010

      Field trip

      A while ago I posted about 8: the Mormon Proposition playing at the Angelica theater in Dallas and asked if anyone in the Dallas area might be interested in attending.

      Nobody has responded.  I'm not sure what to think about that.  Either there aren't any MoHo's in Dallas or none of them wants to be seen with me.  For the sake of my self esteem, I'll go with the former (even though I know, for fact, it's not true).

      Anyway, the Angelica has posted their show times.  It will only be here for a week; so, it's now or never.

      Friday, June 18, 2010
      11:15 am 1:15 pm 3:15 pm 5:15 pm 7:15 pm 9:15 pm
      Saturday, June 19, 2010
      11:15 am 1:15 pm 3:15 pm 5:15 pm 7:15 pm 9:15 pm
      Sunday, June 20, 2010
      11:15 am 1:15 pm 3:15 pm 5:15 pm 7:15 pm 9:15 pm
      Monday, June 21, 2010
      1:15 pm 3:15 pm 5:15 pm 7:15 pm 9:15 pm
      Tuesday, June 22, 2010
      1:15 pm 3:15 pm 5:15 pm 7:15 pm 9:15 pm
      Wednesday, June 23, 2010
      1:15 pm 3:15 pm 5:15 pm 7:15 pm 9:15 pm
      Thursday, June 24, 2010
      1:15 pm 3:15 pm 5:15 pm 7:15 pm 9:15 pm

      Tickets are $8.00.  So, again, if anyone is interested then email me.  Otherwise, I guess I'll just go by myself.

      Monday, June 14, 2010

      A pleasant surprise

      Our high council speaker yesterday is a former stake president (from another stake) and mission president.  In other words, he was a talker.  Our sacrament meeting starts at 1:00pm.  At 2:10 I noticed he glanced at the clock - and kept talking.  A few minutes later I glanced at the clock, it was 2:15pm.  At 2:20pm the bishop was starting to squirm and the congregation was visibly becoming restless.  At 2:25pm the bishop finally got up and reminded him of the time - to which he apologized explaining that his home ward starts at 1:30pm; so, he thought he had until 2:35pm to fill.  I have no doubt he would have kept talking until 2:35pm (or even later) had the bishop not intervened.

      Anyway, at one point in his talk he brought up Sodom and Gomorrah - I braced myself.  Then he said that the sin of Sodom and Gomorrah was that they did not take care of the poor among them.  He continued, "many believe that they were destroyed because of sexual sins.  While it's true that sexual sins abounded - that is not why God destroyed them - they were destroyed because of their pride and ignoring of their poor and needy." [paraphrased as best as I can remember].

      While that has been my understanding of the scriptural accounts of why Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed - that is the first I've ever heard it explained that way from the pulpit.

      Friday, June 4, 2010

      A voice from the past

      My daughter called me recently.  Seems she is giving a talk in sacrament meeting on Fathers Day; and, she wanted to talk about my conversion to the LDS church.  During the course of the conversation I mentioned that I had written a detailed account of my conversion in my journal and would make a copy to send to her.  Locating and copying said story afforded me a chance to reread it
      [after my 1st discussion with the missionaries]
      I took a long walk on the way home.  I was lonely and frightened, yet I felt contented.  I recognized that what I had been told was truth; I also recognized that I could never again be the same.  I knew that a change would have to take place in me - and I was very reluctant to change.  I was afraid to take the second discussion because I knew that it would verify the feelings.  But I was even more afraid not to continue because I knew that I could could not let this out of my grasp.

      [after my baptism]
      Being a member of the Lords church means everything to me.  I now have something more valuable than anything else in the world.
      Whatever became of that lonely and scared 18 year old from so many years ago?

      That young 18 year old man child was gay. He knew it deep within his heart at the time - but he was afraid to admit it, even to himself.  The very thought of being gay was the most horrible thing he could imagine.  This was his ticket to a hetero-normal life.  He immersed himself in his new found beliefs.  He was like a sponge soaking up everything he could get his hands on.  Just a few months after he was baptized he even made the fateful decision to serve a full time mission for the church - something that his family was dead set against.  But, he was determined - he needed to do whatever it took so that God would look upon him with favor and take these feelings away.

      It would take him three more decades before he could finally accept the real truth and utter the dreaded g-word in reference to himself.

      Now, as an middle aged man, who has more years behind him than ahead, he sits at a crossroad - again feeling lonely and frightened.  He reflects on the decisions he made:  To get married - to a woman, to raise a family, to continue to be actively involved in a religion that has since become his way life.  He once believed that if he exercised enough faith then God would take away those awful and shameful thoughts and feelings - for men.  But God let him down.

      Just as he once recognized truth when he was 18 - he again recognizes another truth.  He knows without a shadow of doubt that it's OK for a man to love another man - even to consummate such love in a sexual relationship.  It's not bad or evil or shameful - it's just different.  It is beautiful - it can even be virtuous, lovely, and of good report and praiseworthy.  And, while he has no plans to change his status quo - he is OK with other gay men seeking after these things.

      But, as a gay man, he also knows that the church, which he once held so precious, doesn't take too kindly to people like him.  Sure, there are words of love - words often tinged with conditions.  But, actions speak louder than words.  He hears his fellow saints refer to people like himself with a tone of disgust.  At best, his new found beliefs would be met with skepticism.  Many would brand him a heretic for daring to think such things. 

      He questions those things which he once accepted as truth; but, what about those feelings from yesteryear where he just knew he had found truth?  What about those heartfelt testimonies he bore to others while serving a full time mission?  Can those be so cavalierly dismissed, like throwing junk mail into the trash?  If those things which he once held so dear are no longer true - how can he be certain of his new found beliefs?

      Is truth not so rigid as he once believed?  Can truth evolve?  Can truth change?  How long can he hold onto this paradox - these conflicting truths?  Will one truth eventually dominate and consume the other?  Or is he destined to live with this paradox for the remainder of his days?

      * * * * * * * *

      Sometimes I miss that naive 18 year old boy on the road to manhood.  I miss being able to exercise pure and simple faith, like a child.  Some days I wish things could go back to the way they were.

      But, alas, time marches forward.  Those days are long gone.  And now I am faced with an uncertain future - feeling like I have no where to turn for answers - wondering if the answers are even out there to begin with.