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Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Get over conference with a great Australian ad


Go ahead and laugh it off

What good is an invitation to come back if nothing changes?

There is a lot of commentary going around the internet and social media about the Mormon general conference going on this weekend. Particularly in the disaffected community, there is a lot of discussion of Dieter Uchtdorf's talk on Saturday inviting those who have left to return. He did not specifically talk about gay members but most of us definitely fall in the category of those who have left the church. He seems like a nice enough guy and I appreciate the European sensibilities and perspective he brings to the Mormon church. Definitely  a needed improvement.
For the first time in memory, Uchtdorf as a senior church leader, actually stated that church leaders make mistakes. In my opinion, this is nice to acknowledge but hardly constitutes a ground-breaking change in direction. It's a little like saying the sky is blue - so obvious that it does not need stating.

More important for the gay community it does nothing to repair the past wrongs and hatred the Mormons have expressed for decades against us. Being invited back with no significant changes to the teachings and practices of the church smacks of another invitation to be abused. 

Personally, I participated in the church for long enough to know that being gay and LDS is a spiritual and live sucking proposition. I will need some pretty strong evidence that I'm respected and accepted as I am before I would even consider going back.  



Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Loss of a friend ... to suicide

This past week a friend who worked at the same place that I work committed suicide. He was a very quiet, shy and reserved guy and I did not know him well. No one will ever know why he decided to end his life. I know this much about him; he was active LDS having served in many callings including in a bishopric. He served a mission, he was married in temple and he had several young children. 

I offer the following thoughts, not because they are true because I will never know, but because they are my feelings.

There is such a thing as gaydar and I got the vibes from him.  I can't help but think that he felt very trapped in an impossible situation. He had done everything he was taught to do as a good Mormon but inside he was deeply unhappy. Was he gay? I don't know. 

I'm out to anyone who cares to ask but no one at work has asked and so I have not outed myself to anyone there. I'm sure some suspect because I don't fit the straight Utah Mormon man mold too well.

I can't help wonder if I had been more out at work if I could have somehow helped him. He obviously needed a friend with whom he could talk about his innermost secrets. I was not that person because he did not know I was available.

Maybe I'm just grieving and making all this up in my head. I don't know, but there is enough of a pattern to make me wonder...and make me very sad.


Sunday, September 1, 2013

Movie Review - Yossi

Yossi (2012) is the sequel to the 2002 Israeli movie,Yossi and Jagger.  

Yossi and Jagger, a brief synopsis - This is a touching film about two Israeli soldiers stationed on the border of Lebanon during the winter. The film is in Hebrew with English subtitles. Ohad Knoller plays the unit commander, Yossi, who is in love with his second in command, Jagger. In the army they must keep their relationship a secret. Jagger who is more laid back, wants Yossi to quit the army and live with him. He tells Yossi that he wants them to go away together to the resort of Eilat on the Red Sea. However, after an argument Jagger is killed on a patrol during a nighttime mission. In the end Yossi does not tell Jagger's parents about their relationship, which he lives to regret.


The movie Yossi picks up the story of the commander 10 years later. He is now a single, closeted cardiologist at an Israeli hospital. It is an emotional movie about how he finally comes to terms with Jagger's death and begins to move on and find love again.  
The movie is a slow but engaging drama as Yossi sheds his past and begins to live again. He has a chance meeting with Jagger's mother but does not at first reveal himself to her. Eventually, after a painful explanation of his former relationship with Jagger to Jagger's parents he decides to visit the resort of Eilat where Jagger had wanted them to go together.

Another chance encounter leaves him transporting 4 solders who are also going to the resort on military leave. One of the soldiers is openly gay and Yossi gets a sense of how things have changed with the acceptance of gay men openly serving in the army.
If you like a quiet emotional drama with a great story line you will probably like this movie. It could have been dark and gloomy but instead it is engaging and hopeful. It's a short movie, only about 1.5 hours and worth your time. Ohad Knoller is a convincing actor and plays this part particularly well.

Friday, August 23, 2013

Celestial Kingdom or bust


An acquaintance whom I greatly admire for his courage and activism recently commented that his deceased parent would probably not be happy in the Celestial Kingdom as typically described in Mormonism.
Likewise, I don't think I would be too happy in the commonly described Mormon heaven. Not because heaven, according to my thinking would not be nice, but because the descriptions of it are outdated. 
The descriptions of heaven for many religions throughout the ages have tended to focus on resolving the problems faced by believers at the time the description was written, envisioning a paradise where current day troubles would not exist. 

The Mormon heaven is typical. A majority of Mormon descriptions of heaven were written when polygamy was very important to Mormonism and deeply hated by their neighbors. It envisioned a place where polygamy was the law and where the more wives a man had the higher his exaltation. This has been downplayed by the church in recent years but there is still a heavy emphasis on heaven being only for married heterosexual couples, and the more children the better.

During a time a intense persecution (self induced or otherwise) heaven was envisioned by Mormons as a place where their enemies could not go regardless of their righteousness. If you were anti-Mormon you were not going to make it to heaven. This again has faded somewhat, but not entirely.

Anyway, my point is that heaven, like many things in religion, is described by religious leaders in a way that is appealing to believers to encourage further commitment to the religion. To be meaningful for believers heaven must solve their current problems and satisfy their wants and needs.
I have yet to hear an explanation of the Mormon Celestial Kingdom that satisfies my problems, wants and needs, as a gay 21st century man. I have a belief in the afterlife and I believe it will generally be a good life for me because I'm a good person. The Mormon version of heaven condemns me for no fault of my own so I have little use for it.  

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

The truth is ...


I love that quote. It's so often true.

 The truth is there are more questions in life than answers. Learn to love the unknowable.

The truth is that anyone who says they know for sure should not be completely trusted

The truth is that you will be OK if you keep going and try to be your best

The truth is that doors you don't expect will open and sometimes you will catch a brief glimpse of the future. You will find friends in places you don't expect.

The truth is that people you love will disappoint you. Don't take it personal. Love them anyway.

 The truth is that God loves you just the way you are

The truth is that you are awesome so don't be afraid to be yourself

Saturday, August 3, 2013

It's been a while ... sorry, I've been out being gay...

Wow, I've been away for a long time.  Sorry about that.  It's a great time to be gay in America and I've been out and about enjoying it.

I've supported the fight for marriage equality across the country and participated as more and more states have changed their outdated laws.  I celebrated the Supreme Court's recent decisions supporting marriage equality.
 I've attended Pride festivals and parades in several cities and participated in amazing gatherings of LGBT folk. 

I've met some really cool guys and gone on dates in many of the cities that I've visited. I continue to be amazed at the diversity, talent, and strength in gay communities across the US.

 I've continued to follow the pace of change within the Mormon church. For some, it probably seems like rapid change but considering where the organization started, they are still decades behind and I continue to believe that they won't catch up during my lifetime.
I am happier than I ever thought possible. There are still times when it's easier to cry than anything else but overall, I'm doing great and loving life.

I will try to do better at posting to this blog on a more regular basis...but don't hold your breath.  Love you all. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Wisdom of getting old

 Being gay is a wonderful experience known to only a blessed few

 Looking under the hood of the LDS GAs. More smoke than substance.
 
 Growing up Mormon and realizing that it can't hold up when critically challenged


Me trying to have a discussion about sexuality with the LDS Church. We both went about it wrong and the reconciliation was pretty much impossible.

Take advantage of whatever opportunities come your way

 The ultimate skill



BSA policy change is BS

Religions and conservative groups are trying like hell to avoid changing their historic sexist and bigoted policies. Sometimes it borders on the comically absurd. One example is the Boy Scouts proposed policy change that would allow gay scouts - but not gay leaders. 
There are so many things wrong with this and it's so inconsistent and illogical that it borders on the absurd. How are they going to explain this to a gay Eagle Scout who now wants to become a scout leader? Hum...it was OK if you were gay when you were younger, but if you haven't solved this by now, we don't want you... 
This policy change communicates that being gay is something that can be changed, is harmful, and that gay men should not be allowed around boys. It reinforces false myths and is truly BS.
The BSA is trying to craft a policy that acknowledges public pressure to change but that is really not a change at all in its core beliefs. To me this seems quite dishonest.

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Conversations

I was working in the yard yesterday when my former Bishop (now on the High Council) came by and stopped to talk. We had not talked for several months and it was nice to catch up. His oldest son just got married, his middle son is coming home from his mission soon, and his youngest son is leaving soon for a mission in England. We talked about the neighborhood and he asked how I was getting along. He never tried to draw me into a conversation about the church, which I appreciated. In fact, I prodded him about changes in the Ward and Stake. Apparently, my home teacher (I guess he's still my home teacher) was called to be the Ward High Priest Leader. 
Overall, I've been pretty amazed at the kindness and caring expressed recently by my good Mormon (and few non-Mormon) neighbors. It's refreshing to interact with them as individuals separate from the Corp. of the Pres., which seems unable to change direction, even as it's members move more and more toward tolerance and acceptance of human differences, including LGBT people.

Similarly, I ran into my current Bishop at the grocery store a few weeks ago. He was very genuine and friendly, and not the least pushy. I asked him to express my thanks to the Ward members for their kindness after my wife's recent passing. I told him that I was not quite ready to face sending out thank you cards. Word got back to me through friends that he expressed thanks to the Ward on my behalf the following Sunday. 
I'm not too sure where I'm going, and I'm not too concerned about it or in a hurry to get there. I'm going to do some traveling and make some new friends and enjoy some quiet time. I was a little astonished to hear myself tell my former Bishop yesterday that after things settle down a bit I might drop in on church occasionally, just to keep in touch. Things will never be the same and I don't want them to be. But, there is a very real spark of goodness and truth in the Mormon church and it's people. It's too bad that the bureaucracy and culture screw it up so much. I can't see myself ever doing much more than infrequently attending a meeting until systematic changes for gay members occur along with some acknowledgement of past wrongs. Nevertheless, for now I'm OK living among nice Mormons, even if they don't really understand me.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Book Review - Coming Out Under Fire


I'm currently reading, "Coming Out Under Fire: The History of Gay Men and Women in World War II," by Allan Berube. It's a fascinating narrative of the WWII generation in American history. I'm a bit of a fact nerd so I like the details and chronology he provides. My only complaint is that he could have provided more detailed narratives about the lives of some of the gay and lesbian GIs that he writes about. It can be a bit dry at times.

But my objective in writing this post is more to comment on what I've learned from reading it. I was aware that sodomy, etc., has generally been considered a crime in the military since the founding of the US and that prior to WWII guilty persons were subject to lengthy prison terms. I was also aware that this changed from prison sentences to dishonorable discharge during WWII. I was less aware of the reasons for the change. According to Berube, the volume of gay service members during WWII was such that the resource demand required for the courts martial and prisons for gay service members required a change in policy. 
The huge number of soldiers drafted for the war brought together a vast number of similar aged men in newly created training bases. Gays naturally found each and formed social circles beyond what most previously known. Most gays served undetected but the number who were found out, tried and discharged was large. Despite the hunt to eradicate them, gays were able to leave their small towns and experience a gay and lesbian culture they never knew existed.  
I was shocked to learn that queer stockades were constructed at military bases around the world to hold discovered homosexuals who were labeled as "sexual psychopaths". Often these stockades and brigs were similar to concentration camps without the starvation and gas chambers. The men were forced to live for months caged in terrible conditions and to wear labels of "D" for deviant or other marks indicating their homosexuality. 
Many soldiers, including straight ones, developed near romantic or even sexual relationships with other soldiers to fulfill their need for love and intimacy. Some commanders ignored the rules about confining and expelling gay soldiers because they provided important stress relief to combat soldiers in the form of campy drag queens, theater and comedy. In the stress of war many were accepted by their comrades who took care to look after them in battle. 

In short, the war created both increased tolerance and increased persecution of gays. It helped solidify gay and lesbian identity and solidarity.  World War II spawned many gay activists and allowed many men and women to live more openly about their sexuality than they could in their hometowns. The war helped set the stage for Stonewall and the resulting gay liberation movement.

It's a fascinating book and I recommend it if you are interested in history or especially gay history.