Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

Saturday, April 23, 2011

LDS Challenges

A few years ago the LDS church leadership was saying that the biggest challenge facing the church was dealing with the growth in membership.  I may be out of the loop but I 'm not hearing this as much as I used to.  Regardless, if it has not happened yet, it will, in my opinion.  

Growth may not be as large a challenge as a few other challenges I see ahead for the church that it should deal with sooner rather than later for the health of the church and it's members.  I don't see these issues as changes to church doctrine so much as changes to culture and operations.  

Challenge - honesty and transparency in it's objectives, policies, finances, and history.  I've blogged about this before so I won't belabor the fact but the days are gone when an organization that depends as heavily on volunteer work as the church can spin a web of half-truths to those it needs most to survive.   There will always be the "faithful ignorant" and bland crowd that stays within the lines but the church will continue to drive away the talented, unique, intellectual, creative, and outspoken with it's current practices.  These are the very people the church needs most to stay relevant and fresh and impactful to peoples lives.  

Challenge - Important for me and many other is the church's acceptance of gay people.

more later.....in the meantime enjoy this.........

The Big Gay Musical

I loved the show, "The Big Gay Musical"!  Fun, thought provoking, great musical numbers, and cute guys, a winning combination.  I can so relate to Paul to Eddie.  This is a story that any gay person (or gay person's family) can relate with, especially someone who was raised in a religious setting.  

Coming to love ourselves as "just the way God made em" is such an important part of a  healthy life.  See it if you haven't.  

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Darryl Stephens as Noah

So really, who does not love Darryl Stephens as Noah in the the series Noah's Arc?  

Set in Los Angeles, the show features the lives of four black gay friends dealing with everyday trials, tribulations, triumphs, and tragedies. The show premiered in October 2005, on the Logo cable-television network and quickly became the network's most popular program (Wikipedia).

I love Noah's character.  He is charming and sensitive and funny and a great friend.  Noah's amazing clothes are another thing I like about the show.  I hope that whoever did the costuming for this series won some kind of award. They fit the characters so perfectly.  

Being somewhat of a clothing diva myself I could not help but take notice.  I graciously allow my wife one shelf and one rack in our large walk in closet...the rest is MINE.  And in case you asked, no 50 pairs of shoes is NOT too many.  

No way in the world could I get away with most of his outfits...but they are great and perfect for him.  Below is a sampling.

 Oops...how did that get in there?

My special weakness is coats so I especially appreciate this one!  With red pants no less!

Damn it ... my fingers slipped up again... 

The one above is not Noah but his friend Ricky.  Just had to include it because I really like the shirt and tie! 

Is this like the coolest wedding coat ever?  It looks like something George Washington or Thomas Jefferson would have worn.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Don't Presume to Know Me

To Mormonville: 
You think you know me?  You don't have a clue.  You assume that because we live in the same community, culture, and religion that you have some idea of what I am, what I like, what I believe, and what I want out of life.  You are wrong.  

Because we associate at work, church, and in the neighborhood, you think you are part of my world and I am part of yours.  Wrong again.  We dance through an existence that is shallow and false.  You don't know me and I conversely don't know you.  I would like to know you better but in return I would need to let you know me better, that's how it works.  This I cannot do.  You must only know the world I create for you to believe about me.  The truth is so far from your reality that it would destroy our fragile shallow relationship if you knew the truth.  

I have become expert at presenting the false shell of my existence that you see everyday. You may say that you want to know the truth me but that is a lie.  Everything you have ever said, every expectation you have ever set, and every reward you have ever established has taught and reinforced to me that the real me is not what you want me to be.  So I have become what you wanted, at least in appearance.  Because, as you've taught me my whole life, appearance is more important than reality.  

Constant wearing of my false exterior has taken a tremendous toll on me.  I am scarred and shriveled up like a dried piece of fruit.  My true being can barely stand the light anymore.  For a long time I have loved to be alone because in being alone I can be free of this terribly heavy false exterior, the curse of my existence.  I feel like I am slowly dying.  

Before I died completely I became weak and slipped. I stumbled and fell and my false life began to crack along a few well worn seams. You called it sin. I called it blossoming.  My God it felt good!  The light poured in through those narrow cracks and slowly I began to sprout and grow.  A little rain even crept in through the crack.  I was very afraid of the rain.  To my surprise the rain increased the spouting and growth.  I began to experiment with prying open more cracks and letting in more rain.  The experiment worked.  I began to feel more like a watered garden and less dried and shriveled.  My heart expanded and tears flowed from my newly watered garden.  My God it felt good! 

I'm sure I don't know what fruit my sprouted tree will bear but I know it will be delicious.  How can it not when the planting and watering is so satisfying?  I'm still careful to make sure you can't see more than I want you to. Some suggest it would be best to just tear down the remaining false fronts and expose the real me, but once again you presume to know me.  I think I'd like to know me first.  

After all the pain you've cause me and the lies you've made me drink, I'm not sure you deserve me. Why would I open myself up to your hate and scorn?  I will be true to me, which may mean that I'm more false to you. Why do I care if I deceive you?  I don't.  I'm willing to let you live in your false thinking about me if it's to my advantage, and in our culture, I'm sure it will be.  

My foundations are too deep and my connections are too strong to break completely away from you.  I know that I will never be able to walk away from you completely, as much as I want to some times. It would create too much pain for those I care about.  I'm actually perfectly OK with lying to you after all the lying you did to me.  My revenge will be leading you on and toying with you.  I know your heart too well.  I know your goals and plans and motives and objectives.  I can coexist in your culture very well and you won't even suspect how much I sometimes loath you.  I will take the benefits I deserve and the rewards I want and leave you with the hard work of deceiving the flock.  

So that's the plan for now.  Ultimately, the tree of life growing in me will by itself shatter the remaining walls I built.  It is certain to happen if the light and rain continue to filter in and it will because I have no plans to caulk the cracks.  The genie is out of the bottle and God it feels good!

I will choose when and where to let you into my true life. I want you to see me and understand me but I don't want it to be more painful than necessary for either of us so the timing and circumstances must be just right.  Perhaps, as you come to know me you will be more tender and I will let you in faster.  It's really all up to you now.  I'm OK with me and I'm not going back where I came from so don't ask me to.  I want to love you more deeply and more truly than before.  I can't do that with walls.  I will continue to tear them down but only as fast as you tear down yours and it becomes comfortable for both of us to do it.  

Friday, April 8, 2011

Dorian Blues

I'm making up for lost time and viewing some of the best of gay themed movies that I've never seen.  I'm guessing the most of you have seen the movie Dorian Blues.  I had not seen it before today.  It's charming and funny and poignant.  I recommend it.  

Sunday, April 3, 2011

A Jihad for Love, part 2

Some thoughts on the parallels between being gay in Mormonism and being gay in Islam.  Both Mormonism and Islam are much more than churches, they are both cultures with deep and often unspoken expectations and norms.  Both have a history (one short and one much longer) that contains contributions to humanity of both great worth and terrible tragedy.  

I was stuck by how both cultures now equate homosexuality with sin but both were much more tolerant in earlier centuries.  I'm sure this is an oversimplification, but both seem to have become more focused on the outward appearance of obedience than the inward conversion, spirituality, and connection to God.  

I wondered, as I was watching, if Mormonism had the same kind of total control over government than Islam has in some countries if the same harsh penalties (even death) would exist for homosexuality and other non-conforming lifestyles and activities.  Unfortunately, I'm afraid the truth is probably yes, based on a short experience of Mormon leaders having total control over the city of Nauvoo and early Utah history. I don't mean to imply that they did not do many good things but they also certainly did not hesitate to use their governing power to quash and punish dissent.  World history is so full of religions that have abused non-believers or non-conforming persons that I find it hard to believe the Mormons would be much better if they were in charge.

As Mormons we tend to believe that the freedom of expression and belief that has swept the world in the past 200+ years was the Lord preparing the way for the spreading of the restored gospel.  While I tend to think that is true, may it also have been to prevent the  restored gospel from being able to control governments in the way that religions of the past had done?

I was most impressed by the enormous spiritual struggle experienced by gay Muslims who wanted to be both true to their nature and obedient to their religion.  It was fascinating to me how these men and women came to the same conclusions as many of us after seeking to know God's will for many years.  Some left both their country and religion, some stayed and gave themselves space (either openly or in secret) to be true to themselves while fitting into their religion and culture as best they could.  Others stayed to openly work for change.  In the end, it seems we all need to come to a point where we are comfortable with ourselves and our relationship to God.  There are many paths to that end.

A Jihad for Love

Last night I watched an engaging documentary entitled "A Jihad for Love".  It tells the story of gay Muslims around the world and was very touching for me.  I highly recommend it.  There are many parallels to gay Mormons.  The following is taken from the movie website HERE 

In a time when Islam is under tremendous attack from within and without, "A Jihad for Love" is a daring documentary filmed in twelve countries and nine languages. Muslim gay filmmaker Parvez Sharma has gone where the silence is loudest, filming with great risk in nations where government permission to make this film was not an option.

"A Jihad for Love" is Mr. Sharma’s debut and is the world’s first feature documentary to explore the complex global intersections between Islam and homosexuality. Parvez enters the many worlds of Islam by illuminating multiple stories as diverse as Islam itself. The film travels a wide geographic arc presenting us lives from India, Pakistan, Iran, Turkey, Egypt, South Africa and France. 

In Western media, the concept of ‘jihad’ is often narrowly equated with holy war. But Jihad also has a deeper meaning, its literal Arabic being ‘struggle’ or ‘to strive in the path of God’. In this film we meet several characters engaged in their personal Jihad’s for love. The people in this film have a lot to teach us about love. Their pursuit of love has brought them into conflicts with their countries, families, and even themselves. Such is the quandary of being both homosexual and Muslim, a combination so taboo that very little about it has been documented.

As a result, the majority of gay and lesbian Muslims must travel a twisting, lonely and often dangerous road. 
As a result, many gay and lesbian Muslims end up renouncing their religion completely. But the real-life characters of A "Jihad for Love" aren't willing to abandon a faith they cherish and that sustains them. Instead, they struggle to reconcile their ardent belief with the innate reality of their being. The international chorus of gay and lesbian Muslims brought together by "A Jihad for Love" doesn't seek to vilify or reject Islam, but rather negotiate a new relationship to it.

A Jihad for Love’s characters each have vastly different personal takes on Islam, some observing a rigorously orthodox regimen, others leading highly secular lifestyles while remaining spiritually devout. As the camera attentively captures their stories, the film’s gay and lesbian characters emerge in all their human complexity, giving the viewer an honest rendering of their lives while complicating our assumptions about a monolithic Muslim community.