Welcome

Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Ricky Martin and his boys


Vanity Fair magazine (Spanish Edition) recently had a cover story about Ricky Martin and his partner, and their two sons.  Ricky Martin is showing off his almost-4-year-old boys, Matteo and Valentino. Ricky and his partner, financial analyst Carlos Gonzalez Abella, are raising the boys together.
Ricky says,
"Valentino is mister peace and love," says Martin. "He loves flowers and nature. If I ever wonder where he is, he'll be somewhere behind the bushes covered in mud. He's just at one with nature... he's very Zen and noble."
As for Matteo, Martin says he's "more alpha and a leader. He's like, 'You don't do that, this is what you do.' He tells his brother what to do and what not to do."
Martin, now appearing on Broadway in Evita, prides himself in being a hands-on dad; he even took the kids on tour last year while promoting his most recent album, and says the whole road crew embraced the toddlers.
"They are tools of healing, of love, these two," gushes Martin. "The crew would go back to focusing on their work and dealing with their stress, but those five seconds with the kids were very beautiful for them... the amount of love these kids have is crazy." 


 You can see more HERE

Sunday, March 25, 2012

Meeting with Stake President, again

Last night the Stake Executive Secretary called and asked me to meet with the Stake President this afternoon. I said OK. Then I spent most of the day Sunday, before the meeting, thinking about what he might say and imagining up all sorts of stuff. It has taken him 6 months to get back with me so I was sure he had been talking with headquarters in SLC about what to do. 
I don't enjoy confrontation. I know some people do, like my dad for example. But I've never been one who enjoys verbally pummeling people, even when I completely disagree with them. Nevertheless, I was prepared to give him some thoughts if he brought up the standard LDS gay comments. It's somewhat strange that I was nervous because I don't think there is anything else the Church can do to hurt me and I've resigned myself to the fact that they are what they are and while I may change a few opinions I'm not going to be able to change the Church. Years of interview conditioning, I guess.
I was wrong to worry and I was actually amazingly impressed with what he had to say. He said that he had taken to heart what I told him during our last meeting about the anguish and pain the Church causes it's gay members and about the high rate of suicide among gay Mormons. He said that after thinking about it for some time he decided that he needed to train all the Bishops in the Stake in how to respond to gays with love and compassion. He didn't try to probe into my life. He asked about my kids and wife with genuine concern. He didn't make any demands on me he just expressed that he appreciated my honesty and that he felt he was a better leader because of what we had talked about.   


I was very touched with his obvious love for me and for the other gay members of our Stake. He had purchased copies of "In Quiet Desperation", the book written by the parents of Stuart Matis, a gay member who committed suicide, and by Ty Mansfield. This is probably not the book I would have suggested, but hey, any progress is good. The Bishops of the Stake are studying it together. The President said they have had some "stimulating" conversions.  


He asked if I had read the book, I said I was familiar with it but had not read it.  The President gave me a copy and asked that I read it and that we could meet again and I could give him my thoughts. The book is published by Deseret Book and so it has a very LDS perspective on being gay, with a particular emphasis on living a celibate life in the Church. The President knows that I disagree that this is even possible or the best option for many gay members. In the early chapters of the book, Stuart Matis's parents acknowledge that they pretty much knew that eventually he would kill himself over being gay in the Church. How can anyone believe that suicide in the Church is better than leaving the Church and living with a same sex partner? It will be an interesting discussion when we get back together.
Overall, I was touched that he took what I said to heart, was not pushy or judgmental toward me, and that he was determined to do better as a Stake. I commented to my wife when I got home that if he kept that up he might win me back into activity.  
I really wish the General Church were more active in combating homophobia in it's leaders and members. It's too bad that it takes one or more members essentially going over the edge to get their attention. Baby steps...

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Living in our own world

I've been watching a British TV show called, "Amish World's Squarest Teenagers."  In the show 5 Amish teens from Pennsylvania travel to England for a month and spend a week each with 4 different families/groups of people. 


They have never experienced life outside their Amish community. The Amish teens have grown up working hard on farms and living without electricity, music, dancing, and the noise of modern life. In England they experience everything the modern world has to offer and the show records their reactions and interactions with British teens. It was fascinating. 


The show treats the Amish very respectfully and does not force anything but allows the kids to see a broad cross-section of British life and to experience and join in where they feel comfortable.


I can't begin to summarize the learning that happens on both sides as the Amish teens and the British teens learn about each other lives and become friends. The Amish are so completely innocent. The noise of dance clubs, the violence on the streets, seeing sex shops, and learning about drugs and everything else they see in London completely turns their world upside down. Then they go to live in the English countryside with a high-class family in a castle and then with a group of surfers on the coast. They are exposed to a world where the clearly defined roles for men and women don't exist and where they are exposed to other belief systems for the first time. The British kids are just blown away by the faith, discipline, and work ethic of the Amish teens. The Amish are blown away by the variety of experiences and the vast amount of free time available to the British kids.


The show is much deeper than just religion but because it is such an integral part of the Amish life it becomes a focus for some of the experiences. Some of the Amish teens can only respond that what they see is wrong because it is so counter to what they have learned growing up. One girl wonders aloud, "How do you know what religion is the true one with so many religions in a society?" Later, when an English teenager discusses religion with her she is challenged for the first time in her life about her concept of hell.  She wonders aloud about her regrets that her new English friends will go to hell because of the way they've been raised. 


I saw many parallels to the sheltered lives of some Mormon children who only later experience the outside world. In the end, I was impressed with both the British and the Amish kids. They were all good people who appeared to live the best lives they could within the world as they knew it. It left me wondering if it was really possible to say which group was more moral. They each acted morally within their own vastly different worlds but it was impossible to compare their moralities because their worlds were so different. 


In the end, I felt that the only real immoral act would be for one group to force it's belief system and morals on the other group. I've commented before that we each tend to love the belief system that we grow up with, until it no longer works for us. We are comfortable with it and for most people in the community the belief system works OK. But for some, including some of the Amish kids in this TV series, after exposure to other cultures they seriously consider if they want to continue in the belief system they were raised with or if they would be better off to move on to something else. In most cases, it has nothing to do with right and wrong but is just a matter of preference or fit for the individual and their personality, interests, and their hopes and dreams.  Powerful stuff.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Quote for today

We are grateful in the Church that the freedom, dignity, and integrity of the individual is basic in Church doctrine. Here we are free to think and express our opinions. Fear will not stifle thought, as is the case in some areas which have not yet emerged from the dark ages. I admire men and women who have developed the questioning spirit, who are unafraid of new ideas and stepping stones to progress. We should, of course, respect the opinions of others, but we should also be unafraid of dissent - if we are informed.  


Thoughts and expressions compete in the marketplace of thought, and in that competition truth merges triumphant. Only error fears freedom of expression. Neither fear of consequence nor any kind of coercion should ever be used to secure uniformity of thought in the Church. We must preserve freedom of the mind in the Church and resist all efforts to suppress it.  
Hugh B Brown, Counselor in the First Presidency, Speech at BYU, March 1958.
Hum...my experience suggests perhaps we have drifted......








I don't hate you


Some have commented that sometimes I'm too hard on the Mormon Church.  I can't completely separate my emotions from my thinking but I do try to base my written posts on realities that I have experienced and observed.  
I feel damaged from my association with the Mormon Church, damaged because from a very young age the church planted in me powerful beliefs that conflicted with what I knew about myself. With the moral authority of God, the Church taught me to hate myself and to suppress who I am. How could I argue with God? I believed for a long time that the problem was me because it obviously could not be God or His church! Only years later did I finally come to the realization that the problem is not me and it's not God. The problem is the organization that got between us, the Church.


I fully acknowledge that I was probably more gullible than most, maybe because I was more faithful and believing than most people. I've always been a spiritual person. I should have been more challenging much earlier. I'm not typically too gullible in areas outside of religion, but when you have grown up believing that an organization is God's hand on the earth and can essentially do no wrong, it becomes easy to find other explanations for the organizations behavior. 


I don't believe that the Church intended to harm me or any of it's gay members or others who don't easily fit into the Church. But nevertheless, the fact is that I and many others have been deeply hurt. Just because there was no intent to harm does not mean that the Church is guiltless. Similarly, a careless driver who accidentally runs over and kills a small child is not guiltless, even though the driver had no intention to harm the child. The drivers of both powerful organizations and powerful vehicles need to be accountable for their actions, intended and otherwise.  


So very much could be accomplished by a humble admission of fault by the Mormon Church's leaders and an expression of willingness to change and to do better, followed up by actions demonstrating this new commitment. 
I don't ever expect the Church to be perfect just as I don't expect me or anyone else or any organization to be perfect. But, a key part of growth and development is a willingness to acknowledge mistakes and do what we can to make amends. When the driver of the car who killed the child is unwilling to acknowledge any error, the driver makes it harder for mercy to intervene. The driver just appears to be a fool. Is it any wonder that the Church is appearing more and more to be the fool, who though obviously in the wrong on any number of issues, continues to claim no fault. The Church has painted itself into a corner by continually emphasizing the near infallibility of the organization's leaders, which makes admitting fault all the more difficult.


So I don't hate you. If anything, I have some pity for the church leaders. No single leader has created the mess, but many by their inaction have allowed it to perpetuate. Now is the time to show some moral courage and stand up and do the right thing.

But seriously...

An honest, open, accepting, caring heart is the most attractive feature of any guy. 
 





Catching up on some posts....

 First some pictures of me for your entertainment......


 In my dreams ... after the application of appropriate chemical substances to my brain.

Monday, March 5, 2012

of course the church was mistreated.....??


Below is a link to an article from the Salt Lake Tribune today.  It starts out talking about Romney and contraception but ends up with quotes from Sen. Orrin Hatch.  I've quoted a few lines below.


Quotes from the article:

  • “This is discrimination masquerading as compassion, and I am going to fight it,” Sen. Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, argued during an impassioned floor speech. “My oath of office, an oath to protect the Constitution, compels me to.”  Later, Hatch said in an interview with The Salt Lake Tribune that he thinks his faith sometimes depends on Mormon politicians to fight for religious concerns.
  • “I can’t speak for the church,” Hatch said, “but I think [it] relies on people like my fellow members here in Congress to carry the ball for them on issues like this.”
  • While the senator wasn’t sure why LDS leaders were silent on the issue of contraceptive heath-care coverage, he wondered aloud whether it could be fallout from Mormon support of Proposition 8, a California ballot proposition that banned same-sex marriage and drew big-time financial backing from LDS adherents.
  • “And of course, the church has been badly mistreated on the Proposition 8 situation,” Hatch said, “so this is one where our friends in the Catholic Church were really carrying the load.”

So, I'm sitting here wondering why I'm paying for a senator to lobby for the LDS church.  Then I'm wondering about "discrimination masquerading as compassion".  Wow, talk about turning the truth upside down. Finally, I'm wondering what planet Hatch was visiting where the LDS church was "badly mistreated" on Prop 8.  


The extent of the LDS church and it's supporters playing the victim seems to know no bounds. When the aggressor claims to be the victim on Prop 8, and providing contraceptive health care to women is portrayed as discrimination against religion, the PR machine is working overtime to turn the truth upside down.


I seem to recall Isaiah saying something like, "woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness..."


Sunday, March 4, 2012

Authenticity


I am a big fan of Dr. BrenĂ© Brown.  She has written great stuff that has helped me a lot.  I love that she is a scientist at heart and as a researcher she is able to provide real data to support her ideas about living authentically and loving wholeheartedly.  I'm going to quote her and then explain how these ideas apply to some aspects of my life. 


The following are quotes from Dr. Bown's book, The Gifts of Imperfection.

  • Loving and accepting ourselves are the ultimate acts of courage.
  • Here's what is truly at the heart of Wholeheartedness; Worthy now. Not if. Not when.  We are worthy of love and belonging now.
  • We can only belong when we offer our most authentic selves and when we're embraced for who we are.
  • If we really want to live a joyful, connected, and meaningful life, we must talk about thing that get in the way.
  • Where perfectionism exists, shame is always lurking.  In fact, shame is the birthplace of perfectionism.
  • We need to believe that we can effect change if we want to live and love with our whole hearts.


These are only a few of her many great thoughts and I encourage you to get her book.

I lived for waaaay to long trying very hard to be what someone else thought I should be.  I even adopted this thinking myself to the point where I wanted to be what they wanted me to be.  The problem for me is that this often conflicted with who I am.  The relentless striving for perfection and never attaining it created a lake of shame where I struggled to stay afloat and alive.  


I wanted to be perfectly straight, when in fact I was gay. 
I wanted to be a perfect Mormon, when in fact it was slowing sucking the life out of me.
I wanted to fit into my community, when in fact I disagreed with most everything that was the norm. I was living a very unauthentic life.


The battle was lost from the beginning. The outcome was certain. It was impossible to live as I was doing and stay alive. Those who were supposedly my friends and spiritual advisers led me down the path of self hatred. "Just try harder, just be more perfect", they said. "It's you", they said, "who is not yet good enough or worthy enough". I gave it all I had but it was never enough. 
I gave up the church and now live my own brand of spirituality, which has helped tremendously. I'm trying to live more authentically by voicing my thoughts, dressing as I want, and being who I feel is the best me. I still feel exhausted some times. 
I still live in the same Mormon community and work at the same job (where my boss is member of the bishopric of an LDS congregation). I frequently feel judged as being "different" and out of step with the community norm. The feeling of being judged brings along with it the knowledge that my neighbors think I'm unworthy of belonging to their crowd.
I would love to hang a rainbow pride flag at my house and put up a political poster in my yard for my preferred candidate but honestly, I'm afraid of vandalism from my self righteous community or retaliation at work (neither Utah nor Mormonville have legal protections for anti-gay discrimination). Sometimes I feel hopelessly stuck in Pleasantville.  Pretty pathetic huh?
Dr. Brown's last quotation about the need to believe that we can effect change if we want to live and love with our whole hearts is pretty much where I'm hung up. I have little hope of being able to effect change at church, work, community, or family.  Momonville, UT will ultimately enter the modern age of enlightenment, I can see it coming, but I will be dead before it arrives.


I'm keeping an eye open for a job out of state and away from here. The only thing keeping me here is my family. With the right job I could travel back frequently enough to stay involved in their lives. I don't think it will happen soon but I will keep looking for the right opportunity. When it comes, I'll be moving too fast for the door to hit me on my way out.