Tuesday, April 27, 2010
I think of that comparison more and more as I interact with homosexuals, homosexual Mormon men, gay Mormon men and Mormons generally. Even as a father, the qualities I want to instill in my boys (and, parenthetically, my girls) are the same characteristics that I claim to enjoy as a Homosexual man.
I want them to be kind to others – even when they are treated unkindly. I want them to honor and cherish every human, man, woman, child, Ute fan...every one of us deserve to be treated with respect. I want them to argue their point passionately and listen to the other side with as much passion. I want them to be able to give and accept responsible feedback.
No satan rock, please. (I would capitalize satan but it's not deserved) Not that there has do be Broadway standards blaring, as a standard, but head banging is for the Flintstones and other one dimensional characters.
Let's see, nice to elders, articulate, educated, cultured, humble, teachable and sensitive. Not too sensitive. Good personal hygiene, hard working (Missionaries, anyone?) Give the shirt off his back – and not just to show off abs.
This is a good kid! This is a terrific man.
Homosexual men should be a part of the Mormon church. For some reason or other, popular opinion is that Mormons and Homosexuals are at odds. This is not the case. The Priesthood of God (note the capitals) is available to all who follow the commandments of the Lord, not just straight guys or cool guys or rich guys or proud plaid wearers. My brain and my heart and my personal priesthood experiences shout this knowledge out-loud and in print to anyone listening/reading.
We have so much to offer - much that is overlooked and undervalued. We who play for the other team are team players. We will assert ourselves as the real men that we are.
We deserve the divine connection, blessings and responsibility that comes with honorably holding the Priesthood of God.
Friday, April 23, 2010
We are half-hearted creatures fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at the sea. We are far too easily pleased. -C.S. Lewis
It's clear to me that God wants more for us that we can imagine. Literally in this case.
My teenage son was explaining finances to me the other day. He sat me down on the couch, turned the game off and told me exactly what I needed to do to take care of the bills. His idea was to pick one bill to pay every month - just one of them, mind you - and send them a check. Then everyone would be happy and I would be in a better position to loan him money for a new x-box game.
Simple, easy and completely unrealistic. Well, he's young. He doesn't know yet.
In the same way, I feel that I am almost laughable when I try to explain the universe and everything - like whomever is behind the mirror is laughing their face off at me as I try to explain my limited take on, well, anything. There is so much that I don't know. And there is no way I am going to get the information in time to do anything about it. And, if I had the information directly implanted, my head would probably explode like in Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull Thing-y From Space.
I must tell you at this point that I believe with all my heart in my father in heaven. Some times I think that my homosexuality - being drawn to men is in part because of my need to be reminded of Him father to son. I yearn for his presence and his approval. I know he loves me. I just know it. I had to let someone know that tonight. I feel like painting it on walls and on doors and on my neighbors goat - who really gets around so a lot of people would see. I love Him and miss Him and hope to return to Him. And I love him more than I love being gay.
Or my son the financier.
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
Based on re-creations and eye witnesses, shortly after midnight on October 7, 1998, Matthew Shepard met A. McKinney and R. Henderson at the Fireside Lounge in Laramie, Wyoming who offered Shepard a ride in their car. After admitting he was gay, Shepard was robbed, pistol whipped, then tortured, tied to a fence in a remote area and was left to die. McKinney and Henderson had also discovered his address and intended to rob his apartment. Still tied to the fence, Shepard was discovered 18 hours later by a jogger who initially mistook Shepard for a scarecrow. At the time of his discovery, Matthew was still alive but comatose.
Matthew suffered numerous fractures to the back of his head and in front of his right ear. He had severe damage to his brain stem which affected his body's ability to regulate vital functions. Also, there were approximately a dozen smaller lacerations around his head, face and neck. His injuries were decidedly too severe for specialists to operate. Matthew did not regained consciousness, remaining on full life support for his time in intensive care. He was pronounced dead at 12:53 a.m. on October 12, 1998.
Matthews father describes him as "an optimistic and accepting young man who had a special gift of relating to almost everyone...very approachable and always looked to new challenges...a great passion for equality and always stood up for the acceptance of people's differences."
In February 1995, during a high school trip abroad. According to his mother, Matthew was beaten and raped causing him to withdraw and experience bouts of depression and panic attacks. One of Shepard's friends feared his depression caused him to become involved with drugs during his time in college. A few days prior to his death, Shepard had also admitted to one of his friends that he was HIV positive
Optimistic, accepting, special gifts, beaten, raped, depression, panic attacks, drug use, HIV, robbed, tortured, pistol whipped, tied to a post, left for dead, killed.
For me, the real “Meaning of Matthew”, all deference to him and his family, is that there was no meaning. His was a life, troubled certainly, that was just starting. And before it got there, it was over in so many ways.
I am determined to find meaning, to give his life and death meaning. I want better for all of us. While his perpetrators are in jail tying to atone for their mistakes, let us look at ours.
How many more Matthews will it take to screw in a light bulb?
Monday, April 19, 2010
Case in my rather blunt point: I asked a group of kids the other day what they thought it meant to love God.
Now, that is not as weird as it sounds. We have my youngest boys football friends (hereby referred to as the YBFF) over often to play X-box and to stink up my living room.
The YBFF quickly gave me a laundry list of things not to do – as close to a laundry list as they have ever voluntarily been - being teen boys and all. And they were fast about responding because I would not plug the Internet back in until I got an answer.
Don't swear, don't drink, don't smoke, don't have sex, don't make fun of people. This is a good listing of stuff not to do. As a collection of "nos", it is a substantial presentation.
So..., here we are sitting around... not doing stuff. Right On! Heaven Bound!
There are two problems as I see it - if we automatically ignore the YBFF's socks. First, we have taken a decidedly positive activity, a pro-active approach and somehow flipped it into a giant negative. Didn't "christian love" ever mean to actually do anything? I used to think so. Back when I was young and smelly.
And two; is the popular road to heaven these days postered with luscious billboards depicting activities in which we can't engage? Being a Mormon (and a homosexual) I understand the principal of self denial. I am truly coming to understand it's wisdom. But denying ones self is not the end. It's not even that our increased ability to not-do is helping someone else, or that, by virtue of the fact that we are not doing anything, someone else will profit in any way. The idea, to my understanding, has never been to save up on stuff we're not doing in order to help anyone else. Just to deny for the sake of denial is, as so well put by the YBFF, really dumb.
And, yes, by the way. The path is postered with stuff we cant do. Especially in Europe.
To not have. This is not the Christianity of my understanding.
By the same token, downplaying the concept of self denial in the world of Mormondom is naive. It's here, and rightly so. A religion that does not require some sort of sacrifice is a club. But somehow, in our minds, repression or lack of obsession it has become the end-all.
So I asked my son's friends on an X-box break of my own making what they thought we are supposed to do.
Go to church. Pause. Not see R rated movies. And we're back to the do-not-do list.
We have come to equate our own enjoyment as unchristian-like behavior. And yet, "Man is that he might have joy...". There is virtue in finding the middle ground, the path through one and to the other. There is wisdom in the right combination of doing and not doing.
Grandma said that if there is a smile on their face they have to be doing something wrong. Even as a parent I look for the laughter level as an indicator that I might need to stop reading the paper and supervise. They are having too much fun. Something must be wrong. OK, poor example. With the YBFF its time to pull the plug if it gets too noisy...or too quiet.
Better off sitting in the middle of the room and playing X-box with the boys. At least I'm doing something.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
On my mission a hundred years ago, back before Hillery was president, I was teaching people who didn't have refrigeration or plumbing. There were times when I felt guilty trying to teach people about the gospel by candle-light, knowing they were using a weeks worth of wax on us. First things first, I thought.
We would finish a lesson, leave and they would extinguish the light. I wondered how many nights they would be dark because of our lesson, or what else they might have to go without because the gringos had asked to visit. We would sing while working our way back to the part of town that had light because everyone knows that bandit's don't attack anyone who sings. Buenas noches everyone.
My Spanish was horrible. My singing was better. My companions joked that I could say anything in Spanish and locals would nod their heads and ignore me out of kindness.
"Winter Snow Shoes," I would articulate to test the theory.
"Buenas Noches" they responded respectfully, nodding. Poor singing-non-spanish-speaking Elder Thompson.
Every so often I sit in my van sipping on a diet coke and I am grateful for the basics. A van. A house. A family. Diet coke. Many times in the gospel I get as caught up in the little things as I do with everything else and I forget about the basic principals that make everything else possible. Is the choice of hymn best, was the lesson prepared well, was the handout really necessary, does the shirt need to be white?
I forget why I am here. I forget where I want to be. I forget to take the people I love with me. Or maybe it's a big distraction ploy - get everyone so caught up with labels and shirts and hymns that we forget to remember the real stuff.
This blog, for example seems superfluous if I don't put first things first. Father is first. His son is first. My belief in everything else that matters is contingent on my belief that we are sons and daughters of our heavenly father. And that the Savior has claimed us as his own. For some reason, reasons I cannot comprehend, there was a price to be paid. The savior paid that price. Everything is based on that. That because we are his, we can move forward. We can be with him.
And while we argue on terms or preferences or interpretations and other important distractions we forget to remember. We are all His. And he loves us. And we are all eligible for blessings and guidance - regardless of prefference or placement.
I look forward to the day when I can be at home with those I love. If I recall correctly I loved everyone. First things first.
Bring Us Nachos.
Saturday, April 10, 2010
I am gay. And Married. Gay, gay and Married, married.
To a straight woman. And, though she is currently mad at me for putting the turtle in her good Tupperware bowl, she usually is okay with me.
I don't say much here about our sex life. I would be more open about it if there weren't someone else involved. Of course, if there were no one else involved there would not be much of a sex life to talk about. I figure this blog can be invasive enough without that element.
Like most marriages, we have our on-days and our off-days. I understand that in even the most hetero of hetero couples there are on and off-days. I don't feel deprived and she doesn't feel depraved, or vice-versa.
She went into our marriage with full disclosure. She told me she snored. I went into the marriage with full disclosure. I told her I was gay. I didn't tell her I snored. (She goes to sleep first, so I am safe) I had been her friend for some time and she knew me well. Convenience? Nope and none. I don't know of any marriage that is convenient. That is almost seems a nasty word. Ease, simple, handy, convenient. Sorry. That does not describe our relationship at all.
Yes, we have kids. Several of them. Good kids. Not one of them gay. No hereditary problems, or fodder for a nature/nurture argument. They listen to musicals and play softball/baseball both. If there had been a "gay gene"in the mix, it did not come to play ball.
My wife goes through periods where she thinks she is too fat, and I go through periods where I think I don't make enough money, but overall we are as bizarre ordinary as any oddly normal couple.
The main difference between us an other couples, other than absolutely everything, is, especially, our our pasts. I was an out and about flamer before we got married. And by that I mean, let me be clear, I had gay sex.
That had to stop. There are men on the Down Low in the church. I know several. It is absolutely not something priesthood holders should do - regardless of where the advise comes from. No. If you are contemplating marriage and think that you can just step-out on the side, think again. Real men with backbones do not do this. If this describes you, please stop now.
Even with full disclosure, marriage between mixed gender oriented couples (What an awful combination of words) doesn't get easier, but I do feel that our ability to deal with the specific set of problems increases. Many a wife has been known to feel, after several years of marriage, that she may have known that her husband was gay, but she didn't think he was gay! - as if her husband just didn't know, or hadn't really had the experience for solid judgement or basis for comparison. Maybe she thought that her love or testimony or down-home cooking would change him.
It doesn't just leave or stop, or end. The human sexual feelings stay for as long as we are human and sexual. Like a straight-guys feelings. We who wish it, want it bad enough change the behavior. The gay does not get prayed away, as many hope for. But our ability to deal with it strengthens to a point where we can live and breath and enjoy a full & productive life.
Gay is gay. Gay will probably not change after years of marriage. He may develop a sexual relationship with you, his wife, but he will be attracted physically to men.
I don't understand conversion therapy. I cant even imagine changing the type of person you are sexually attracted to, let alone the gender. If you have to plug someone into an outlet to discourage arousal then you are playing with something way beyond therapy. The only one I know that has the power for that kind of significant change is my Father. And he works here through his Son.
A scene in one of my favorite movies, Chicken Run, has two fowls arguing about the possibilities of escaping from captivity. The rooster says that there is only one in a million chance that they can do it. She calmly answers, "Well then, there is still a chance."
Can Men Change? Yes. Behavior can change. We all count on this - every last Christan gay or straight in the world counts on our own human abilities to change and repent. We also count on a loving God to have us back if we can manage. We all want to change the base nature of man in order to return home to father. Homosexual men have the rights to the same blessings of the Lord.
Can men change their sexual orientation? So far, I don't think so. Not without divine intervention. I think to realistically say anything else would be placating. But this is misleading, because I do believe in divine intervention. And if we really do want to change a humans disposition, who else would one go to but the Savior?
As a gay man, can I hold the priesthood, a temple recommend and change the behaviors that would put these in jeopardy?
I don't know the numbers. I don't know the odds. Odds were pretty slim to begin with if I recall. But there is still a chance.
Monday, April 5, 2010
More Than I Can Chew?
I love positive comments made on the blog. I even like the ones that are negetive - feedback can be a good thing. Silly as it is, I want to be liked. I have a wacko thing about being liked, which stems from my wacko childhood where I wasn't liked much and before the violins start, I need to say that there was no way I was ever going to be liked as much as I wanted to be liked because I was maniacally egocentric even as a young and boring boy-child with huge feet.
When I was on my LDS mission, my companion told me I was a fisher - not a fisher of men, which would have been a lovely thing to be told, but one who was constantly fishing for a complement. He obliged me as much as he could because he was a good hearted man from Georgia, God bless him. Dispute his best efforts to fill my cup, I remain a fisher to this day.
I want to be liked.
So, I think, how to make the blog something people like. It started off a bit more graphic. I can't be as graphic now. Though it was right for the time even just a few months ago, it doesn't feel right for now. A friend said to try to be more vulnerable and less secure. I'm not sure how to do that now that I seem to have the "secure" thing down. I may appear to be secure in all my stances. I may be off-putting in my beliefs. In taking a "stand" of sorts I am losing an audience. I don't feel as strong. In fact, I mostly pray for the ability to say what I think the Lord wants me to say - excepting the sarcasm and curmudgeonry which is all mine. But, other than hiring a guest blogger for sweeps week or writing without a shirt, I'm not sure what to do.
I listened to Conference-Mormon Church Style this last weekend. I heard middle-aged to older-aged men tell me that there was wisdom in following the Lord, in being kind, strong, humble, and moral. And then Monday morning I hop on my blog or my facebook page and see assaults on that way of being. Degrading comments to that lifestyle. Popular sentiments published and sent my way deriding a standard of morality I believe in.
I suppose I have asked for it myself - putting myself out there as the Gay Man Living What Is Essentially A Straight Life poster child in a blog and soon in a book. Either I need thicker skin, or I need to re-assess my stance. It is painful to see others ridicule what I believe in, especially sense I am the heart-on-sleeve-wearing, ego manic with tendencies to prostitute myself for affection.
First thing I am going to have to do is stop saying things like 'Prostitute Myself for Attention'. The next thing is to both re-assess my stance and grow thicker skin - both. Neither one is out of line for a Gay-Mormon-Priesthood-holding-wife-loving-man. Even a smarty pants, fishing one
Saturday, April 3, 2010
Now, though it is not as accurate as I would like it to be. It may have another change or to, but I think that the addition of "Priesthood Men" may be a help it to fit better now. Regardless of the challenge, we want to hold the priesthood weather we have a homosexual issue or another personal issue keeping us from what we want.
I don't know. The "Gay Mormon Man Sight That Doesn't Focus On Sex? Not too appealing. And, honestly, there is a lot here on how to keep sex from running a life - for those who want something else than the norm. So I'll try the addition of PRIESTHOODMEN for now.
Friday, April 2, 2010
Yes, I am going write a little on my underwear. And by "on" I mean "about". I haven't written "on" my underwear since the 4th grade where I had to print my name on them so my older sisters would not use them for craft projects.
It's better if you don't ask.
Clean sheets, clean underwear, a good book, lemon drops & skim milk. Um-hum. Add good reading lighting. Sounds like a good plan to me.
The underwear I wear are Mormon Garments. I have worn them since the day before I went though the temple when I was 19. The day before the temple because I was so excited that I slipped them on before I went to bed in anticipation of being a man. All the real men I knew wore them. It was a rite of passage for me – looking back on it. After I went through the temple, I felt differently. Nothing huge or shattering. But cleaner. More grounded. More purposed. The thrill I had for wearing garments developed into something a little more practical. They were symbolic of the love I felt from my Heavenly Father. They meant something. They still do.
I hear friends out of the church talk about the “Magic Mormon underwear”. Mitt Romney and his Magic Mormon Underwear. I've heard the jokes and unbelievable wedding night horror stories. I don't care. I'm in the know.
My Garments are a reminder to me that I have made promises to my Father. I did that the day I went to the temple and I am reminded of those promises every time I put on a fresh pair. If I follow my commitments to Father, he promises protection both physically and spiritually. Its not just a pair of underwear. It is a promise.
When I was in the Missionary Training Center my companion and I has a room with two other guys. Before bed we would, as a floor of missionaries, meet in the great room for prayer. Most, who just slept in their underwear showed up with sweats or pajama bottoms. After a week or so one of the elders pointed out, in a kind way, that out of respect for what the garments represented we should cover them more that we had been covering. And. Of coarse, he did so and had always been doing so. I respected him greatly. My companion and I respectfully made sure we were clad appropriately for the occasion – robes, pajamas, tee shirt etc. We honored our floor leader and the Lord be doing so.
They were holy. They were "magical", I suppose for lack of a better worldly term, for the strength we gathered from the wearing. Not a power to stop bullets or - plow through a defencive line - kind of strength. They made us want to be better men. All of us40 elders or so without a designated leader helping each other and praying nightly for guidance together One heart and mind. Shoulder to shoulder. There was/is "magic", or spirit, or power in that.
Gay Mormon Men of the priesthood, if you are able, wear your garments. Strive to obtain the protection promised to us as we fulfill our promises to Him. I may not understand the metaphysical involved. I do believe in priesthood power and that garments are a physical manifestation of it.
If we do as He asked, we will be better men.