Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

I used to be nice

Maybe it was more like stupid than nice, but I've always been one to just go along and get along. I'm pretty much over the nice, probably less so the stupid. 
I was the ultimate in niceness growing up in a somewhat dysfunctional home in a culture where being nice was highly praised and getting along was a supreme virtue. I couldn't stand to hear my parents fight, which happened regularly, so I went out of my way to not cause any disharmony. I always did what I was told and was the perfect Mormon (ie: "really really nice to everybody", hint: see the musical).
Without consciously knowing it, my goal in life was to make sure everybody around me liked me. The best tool at my disposal was to be nice to them. Subconsciously, I equated being nice with being a righteous person. I've always wanted to be in God's favor, and I still want that. Now I know that there is nothing I can do to get more in or out of God's favor. He loves me no matter what.
It was discouraging for me as young person to feel that people didn't especially like me because I was different. I just didn't know how to be someone they would like.
I was older before I fully understood that being honest, especially with yourself, is more important than being nice to others. Being nice without being honest is very false and it's soul destroying. I was destroying myself while thinking I was doing the right thing.
For me it's much easier to be nice and false with people than to be honest and really care. I'm working on that and I love how I feel when I'm honest with myself. I love to let those around me who care about me know the truth about me. 
It's harder when I know that someone I love won't like what I have to say about myself and my situation. We Mormons are very good at ignoring the reality in our lives and saying the canned phrases. 
I can feel myself developing a thicker skin and disapproval that would have crushed me before just doesn't matter to me. I've struggled with the balance of being sensitive to others and being OK with me.
I'm moving away from being sensitive about others, not because I care about them less, but because I can see that they just don't get it. So I can say in my mind, fuck you, without hate but also without allowing their opinion to hurt me. 

I believe we have our own internal compass and knowing when to accept advice and when to ignore it is a very important life lesson. 

Now I enjoy the soul liberating pleasure of occasionally saying, "fuck you", and really meaning it.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Reason #XXX to Love the Book of Mormon Musical

I love many things about the Book of Mormon Musical. The music is great. It deadeye's the cultural realities of the church in many respects. But, I just learned another great reason to love it. It's a perfect way for a gay Mormon from Utah to break the ice! See my review of the BOM Musical HERE
I recently traveled to a distant metropolis and spent a few nights gay bar hopping. It was great fun and I met some cool guys. Almost any conversation starts with your name and where you're from (those that don't are usually headed a very different direction). 
As soon and I said, "I'm from Utah", the next question was "Are you Mormon?, or a statement of "I loved the Book of Mormon" (meaning the musical, not the book). 
This inevitably led to me talking about my background and beliefs. These conversations were a lot easier than when I did the same thing as a missionary! Unlike when I was a missionary, I didn't find anyone who hated the Mormons - just a lot of guys who wanted religion in general to leave them alone. 
I was amazed at how many guys, when confronted with a real live gay Mormon, wanted to know if what they had heard or read about the church was true. I had great fun telling some of the weirder stories of my life.
It's unfortunate that the Mormon church has spent so much time and money in media communications (and failed) to try and appear "normal" instead of celebrating our differences. Gay guys know what it's like to be treated as abnormal and many have a real interest in the peculiarities of Mormonism, which most don't view as peculiar at all, just different.
Everyone has a spiritual side of some sort and most gay men have a deep connection between their gay persona and their spirituality. For this reason, they feel deeply offended by religious intolerance that treats them as evil or somehow abnormal. I'm definitely in that group!

Oh Boy(d)

For some of us not particularly connected to the Mormon world, it's easy to forget that this is conference weekend. A lovely time in early April when, according to legend, it generally rains in Utah.
I try to keep up with conference by way of blog summaries and news articles (yes for those not in Utah, General Conference is ALWAYS front page news).
Anyway, it caught my eye that Boyd K spoke in the Saturday Morning Session. He was quite true to form. This quote from Elder Boyd K. Packer's talk was listed in numerous sources, 

"Tolerance is a virtue, but, like all virtues, when exaggerated it transforms itself into a vice. We need to be careful of the 'tolerance trap' so that we are not swallowed up in it. The permissiveness afforded by the weakening of the laws of the land to tolerate legalized acts of immorality does not reduce the spiritual consequences that result from the violation of God's law of chastity." 

A not so veiled warning about marriage equality.
Elder Packer is 88, and just about done. I think he knows it and seemed to say as much in his talk. I'll cut the old guy some slack because I have a general respect for anyone who has lived that long. But, I do wish he'd shut the fcuk up. For every very small step the church takes toward equality (ie: first women to pray in conference this session), he sets the church back 2 full steps.

His talk was about what "he knows". Just for reference, he doesn't know me or my life. Also, by the way, I KNOW he's wrong.
There were a number of talks on Saturday that is one way or another essentially said that the church leaders were helpless to change the divinely inspired programs and policies of the church. This always strikes me as a disingenuous excuse. They seem to be able to change just about anything they want, but throw this "divinely directed" smoke screen up when it's something they don't want to change.