Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thankful to be Gay

How do you steer this thing?
I made a decision some time ago that I was not going to pursue any further relationship with the gay lifestyle/way of life.  I would not pursue sexual relationships with men, nor would I remain tied socially to those of my friends who did.  Part of that promise, sadly,  became easier to follow through with as several of my closest friends died of AIDS related illnesses.  Most of the rest of them thought that either I would be back after a quick conservative Sunday sabbatical, or that I was a weak minded freak that actually could be lead away on whims - this time by the Mormon church.
When anyone makes a decision in his life, it becomes like jumping of a plane with a parachute.  The wind and currents, despite the best efforts of the one gliding will take one in directions never imagined once that first commitment was made.

Since I mad my commitment to not pursue that as a style of living or way of attraction, or even a culture, my life has taken twists and turns - many frightening, many lovely.  I am not where I saw myself to be in ten years, but neither am I in a wrong or bad place.  I am better off for the choices I made.  I hope my family feels the same.

This year my thanksgiving thoughts are not thinly veiled wishes or further needs discussed in prayer.  When I say thank you for what I have, I mean it.  I don't really need much more to make me happy.  Little more money, little more time perhaps, little more kindness shown and doled out from me certainly.  But I am happy.

Never thought I would ever say that when I was younger and in the throws of SGA.  Maybe the idea of given ourselves to Him was the thing to do and to continue.  It seems like he is willing to keep his promises when we do.

Being gay has given me a lot that I would never have developed had I bean born straight.  I believe that I am what I am today because of the challenges God gave me - all of them.  I believe that we grow from facing challenges head on, when we own them, when we embrace them.  I am thankful.

Happy Thanksgiving to you.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Absence of Normal

Not this obvious, but just about right, statistically
 There was no way to get information on SAME GENDER ATTRACTION when I was growing up.  SGA didn't exist.  Gay and Homosexual weren't terms bantered about either. No "on line", no subscriptions to anything liberal enough to explain things to me other than national Geographic, no USA Today in lovely colors. In other words, and let me be clear, there was nothing.  There was nothing and nobody to tell me not to worry about not being normal or not, or that I was more normal than I thought, or even that I had an unhealthy obsession with normal.  I was gay. Apparently 10%-ish of us were. 

Since 10%ish of the population is homosexual today - one out of every ten-ish persons, why don't we recognize Same Gender Attraction as part of normal - at least on tenth a part of it at least. (Again with the normal thing. Normal should be a non-issue. I think my Garfield bobble-head on the dashboard is normal. My wife would differ).

As far as the 10% is concerned, this figure comes from an analysis of interviews conducted from 1938 to 1948 under the supervision of Alfred Kinsey where 10 percent of men interviewed claimed to be homosexual. The study considered only male behavior and thus the 10 percent figure cannot be applied to the half of the population who are women. Mr. Kinsey bases his claims on his figures from a pool of 5,300 male subjects that he represented as your average "Joe College" student. Many of the men who gave him the data, it is claimed appear to be of suspect employment and moral behavior, consisting of sex offenders, prison inmates, etc. Dr. Judith Reisman, "Kinsey and the Homosexual Revolution," The Journal of Human Sexuality (Carrollton, Tex.: Lewis and Stanley, 1996)

The Kinsey study itself stated that less than 4 percent of men are homosexual based on long term behavior vs. adolescent experimentation. Other reports are much more conservative in number (2.3% - The National Survey of Men) (Stuart H. Seidman, and Ronald O. Reider "A Review of Sexual Behavior in the United States" The American Journal of Psychiatry. Vol. 151, Number . , 1994. Page(s) 330-339)

(1.8 to 3% - Harrell, R. et al (1999) A Co-twin Control Study in Adult Men" Archives of General Psychiatry. 56, 10: 867-874 Edward O. Laumann, John H. Gagnon, Robert T. Michael and Stuart Michaels, The Social Organization of Sexuality: Sexual Practices in the United States Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994. John O. G. Billy, et al., "The Sexual Behavior of Men in the United States," Family Planning Perspectives 25 (March/April 1993): 58. J. Gordon Muir, "Homosexuals and the 10 percent Fallacy," Wall Street Journal (March 31, 1993). Milton Diamond, "Homosexuality and Bisexuality in Different Populations," Archives of Sexual Behavior 22 (1993): 300) - More current studies indicate that homosexuals comprise between 1 to 3% of the population. (J. Gordon Muir, "Homosexuals and the 10 % Fallacy," Wall Street Journal (March 31, 1993)

Hold on - we're going someplace.  The exact percentages of those SGA in the general population is, as you can imagine difficult to determine precisely because many feel reluctant or fearful to attach that label and identify themselves publicly. For decades, the percentage has been thought by many to be more than the nationally accepted number of 3%. At approximately nine to ten percent for men; Conservatives claim lower numbers, liberals claim higher. In the church the problem is magnified. No one knows with absolute certainty. I state here, for the record and with relative assuredly that I know more than twelve. ‘Most lesbian and gay people do not proclaim their sexuality – they are an invisible minority.” - U.S. Catholic: “An Interview with Sr. Jeannine Gramick, SSND,” August, 1992

Okay, so 10%-ish looks a bit over done. Honestly, does the percentage really matter? As long as there is one person dealing with SGA, we as a church and as individuals in the church will be there for them.

All this science and statistics is interesting enough. However, lets look at another figure that may hit closer to home. How many who deal with SGA are there currently in the Mormon Church?

Channel 2 News in a report done at the end of October of this year says that statistically, there are 6 to 8 members of each LDS ward who deal with SGA.

Six to eight.  In each ward.  In the entire LDS church.  Sounds normal to me.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

If Only, If Only...

A recent article concerning the LDS community and their recent stance on homosexuality states that...

"Rather than just embracing homosexuality and adjusting their religious beliefs to the realities of the world, they (The General Authorities) have decided that it is alright to send mixed signals and tell young women and men that it is alright to be something, but they have to hide that they are. Such attitudes lead to really idiotic and even very dangerous behaviors such as hooking up with complete strangers for sex, and a tendency to do drugs and alcohol. It even leads to suicides.

Normally I don't criticize these articles - my thought process being that any exposure is good exposure and we can change mind with all kinds of tools.  Miss information isn't a tool, however.  The church of Jesus Christ doesn't follow the whims of the world, nor does it adjust policy to coincide with changing "realities" of the world.    Also, No one gay or straight is being asked to hide who or what they are.  There are no secret underground meetings for gays and Mormons so that the general populace is not offended. And third, following moral standards set by the prophets in conjunction with coming out with Same Gender Attraction - as those LDS now call it does not make one prone to suicide.  We are saddened with all those who choose to end their life, and we pray to have created personal and lasting relationships with those considering it.
It also states that celibate lesbian and gay Mormons who are worthy and qualified should be allowed to have callings or church assignments, and to participate fully in the temple,” according to Peggy Fletcher Stack of the The Salt Lake Tribune. This version of the handbook repeats what Mormon leaders have been saying recently, making it more clear for members and interested others to understand.

This is not a new stance.  David Pruden of Evergreen International, support group that aims to help LGBT Mormons live by the church’s standards, noted that in the past, if a lesbian or gay Mormon told his bishop about her or his same-sex attractions, that the bishop may have called a “disciplinary council.” He also said “Many bishops didnt understand something that was new and possibly foreign to them.

Pruden believes that the new language “will bless people by making it easier for them to come forward.”

Mitch Mayne, an openly and actively gay Mormon, feels that the changes are “baby steps in the right direction”. “At least the handbook takes the damning terminology out of it.”  Mr. Mayne did note that so long as the Mormon church continues to make homosexuality something that is “subversive, taboo” that Mormon gays will have sex in parks and truck stops. He stated “We wrap being gay in so much shame and shame brings acting-out behaviors.

Are these comments contrary to anything read before on the matter?  If there is a cap placed on a behavior, will there be some to try to go around, or through it? 

Prohibition, anyone? Utah Fireworks?  Outside food in theatres?

There will still be close encounters in park restrooms, or in a bathroom at the Y.  Having free agency means that there may be a lot not to write home to mama about.  There will also be those who feel that they are "less that" and our job will be to get to these people and give them needed support and love.  With the new words comes more acceptance that we are all sinners, and that my sin my be just as weighty as yours.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Straight and Loving It! (Any Better?)

Super Butch isnt so convincing for me, but here is a shot.
My wife say my blog today and was a little upset with me.  Apparently, though she knew I was a freaky blogger and she knew the topic, the name of the blog had eluded her: GayMormonMan -Priesthood Men.

She has known since I started writing the blog that I was subjecting being gay and Mormon and trying to make the two work.  She knows I have gone through a life of active, RM, BYU dude, Mormon Performer/entertainer/writer and now husband and father all while being homosexual.  This was not a surprise to her.  But the title of the blog was.

First things first.  I am a little concerned that she hasn't been reading my stuff, though this may not be so huge because she is helping me edit the book coming out next year.

I think its just seeing Gay and Mormon in a place of predominance on the blog.  Maybe she thought it would be on the second page at least.  The problem having the subject matter be on the second page is that who on earth would know what the blog was about.  There isn't much room for subtlety.  I added Priesthood Men onto the title because I wanted potential readers to know in what direction I was leaning - toward the church.

I am not well know enough to just use my name - like Oprah!  CAL THOMPSON!  just doesn't have the oomph to pull it off.  My book will come out, and that may help as its about Homosexuals in the church, and the church for homosexuals.  It is based on a lot of my own experiences.  Maybe then I will get to call the blog something less descriptive, like Happy Mormon Men.  ...ummmm, no.   How about "Thompson Time!

I don't know.  Maybe I'll just stick to Oprah.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Brothers Dumb

Not As Difficult as You Would Think
My younger brothers believed that their massive IQ’s were far over and above a regular board game, so they combined several of them to create something that they felt resembled a challenge for their dizzying, sometime dazzling intellect. While I was home from college they spent the entire Christmas break playing it in the basement. The game was rather convoluted and involved duct tape, dressing up in tunics, capes and other outfits they’d filched fro my box of Camelot costumes. (I am sure pasty skin and furs in medieval times were all the rage, but I will stick with Velcro and personal hygiene, thank you.)
There appeared to be many levels to this super-game, and many combinations of characters and possible scenarios. I only ventured down into their lair once over the holiday, and didn’t let go of the iron rod (the stair rail) incase I was swallowed up. I just remember being marveled at how their teeth looked so green under a black light.

Here is the point, and yes I have one. Does anyone think that there mortal existence is going to be any less complicated than my brothers basement board game? There are thousands of situations and locations and personalities and challenges and villains and heroes, and companions and countries to invade and the list goes on – even eliminate the weird stuff. Turn a corner and fight the sloth dragon, turn right and schmooze the alien ambassador of Muir. and his lovely wife, Ulla.

I am into options these days - bring me the most for my money, the best productivity for my time spent.  There are hundreds of combinations  of possible options available for the SGAttracted Mormon.  To knot acknowledge that there are more than just active, not active, name off records would be as dim as me hollering down to my brothers “So,...what’ch still doing down there?”

Categories, levels, personalities, social networks, spiritual beliefs, differences in SGA, and homosexuals of the church in and out. In this blog when we speak of options, we are speaking of the range of basic choices for those who are homosexual and believe that the Mormon Church is the organization to best assist them in their lives.

There are those SGAttracted who wish to remain in possession of, or strive to obtain a temple recommend. Homosexuality and church membership are not necessarily opposing in purpose.

Often the hold up is those watching the proceedings from the side. There is a need for black or white in our society, for yes or no, “for here” or “to go”. Case in point, try telling a cashier at a fast food restaurant that you want your cheeseburgers and onion rings “to go” but your fries, chicken wings and fry sauce on a “for here” tray. You will blow minds. Society is most comfortable with one or the other, pigeon hole A or pigeon hole B. Things that don’t fit, just don’t fit for us anywhere.

As far as SGAttraction goes, it may similarly be not all one or all the other. Can you imagine a guy in Lycra muscle shirt who believes the church is true? I can. A returned missionary dancing the night away who is still able to teach his quorum lesion with the spirit in the morning? It happens. Or imagine homosexuals in a commented relationship possibly with kids who want to go to fast and testimony meeting? I know several. Things that didn’t at first seem to fit are sometimes fitting - options and choices at every turn.

I try to consider all possibilities and options dealing with and writing about different avenues of living and the many categories of attraction – specificity, as you might imagine, for homosexuals. I don’t feel the need for a written disclaimer somewhere here – one that says that we recognize agency, and options acknowledged here are not to be considered an endorsement – except I just did.

So, where are you in life?  What options are you making use of?  Have you combined SGA (or its older or mor recent semantic incarnations) and activity in the LDS church?

How do you make it happen?