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).


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.