Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

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


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.