Tuesday, June 29, 2010


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 ...


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.