Monday, September 26, 2011

Lightening up - a bit

It's conference time.  It didn’t sneak up on me this year because I have been rehearsing with the Priesthood Choir that will be singing in the Saturday PM, you guessed it, priesthood session.

Frankly I didn’t know if I could make it through the rehearsal process.  I have aged a bit since I sang in choirs, and I used to have a rule that I would only be in good ones.  As a MDT major at BYU that was an easy resolution to keep.  I know how snotty that sounds, but when you have sung for prophets and presidents it’s hard to get excited about being the entire bass section. A little something dies. I want to keep it alive and remember back when I sounded good: a go-out-on-top sort of thing.

This Priesthood choir isn’t bad, and we get to sit behind some general authorities that I admire so much as well as the prophet.  Plus, with 360 members I am not the only bass.

So I lightened up on the music/choir resolution a bit. 

I have also lightened up a bit in something else I used to feel so strongly about.  I used to feel that I had to broadcast my opinion of Gay/SGA rights so loudly that people had to either stand back or put ear plugs in. I think I was so brazen that people stopped listening to me.

I still think the same way – which gays/SGAs/homosexuals – whatever the popular label is these days - can thrive in the Mormon community. I am just not as in their face as I used to be.  I would rather get the information out there and let them come to their own realizations.  I can’t force anyone to do what I think is right regardless of how loud I yell or how cleaver I am in a blog.

I do feel that those SGAttracted can hold offices and can teach classes, and can use the priesthood power with the best of them.  I wont pull back on that stance even if I turn the volume down a little

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Another SGA/Gay Teen Suicide

Jamey Rodemeyer, a 14year old from Buffalo, N.Y. added his own video to the “It Gets Better Project” last May - the Internet video site where adults share with LGBT teens, a minority likely to be bullied and that suffers a disproportionately high suicide rate.

On Monday, he was found dead outside his home, having apparently taken his own life. 

"People would just keep sending me hate, telling me that gay people go to hell," Jamey Rodemeyer said in his video.

Predictably, the abuse Jamey reportedly suffered wasn't just in public school. On Formspring, an Internet outlet popular among adolescents, Jamey received such messages as “JAMIE IS STUPID, GAY, FAT AND UGLY. HE MUST DIE!” and “I wouldn't care if you died. No one would. So just do it :) It would make everyone WAY more happier!”

When friends reported the Formspring taunts to their middle school counselor, according to Jamey's parents, bullies seemed to back off.

Jamey, who continued to write on both Tumblr and Formspring about the bullying he received for being perceived as homosexual had started high school three weeks earlier.  His parents told local news that he seemed to be doing better. Suicide and bullying, however, remained at the forefront of Jamey's mind and in his writing.

On Sept. 8 he posted online about Suicide Prevention Week of September 4-10, "No one in my school cares about preventing suicide, while you're the ones calling me [gay slur] and tearing me down."

"I always say how bullied I am, but no one listens," he wrote the day after. "What do I have to do so people will listen to me?"

Both his family and friends were aware of Jamey's suicidal thoughts for some time. His mother told the Buffalo News, "He was totally against bullying. He has had issues since fifth grade. He had suicidal tendencies back then." 

Although James was just 14 years old, and in retrospect, still in a bad place, this is the project to which he contributed his video, now viewed over 100,000 times since the time of his death.
For youth between the ages of 10 and 24, suicide is the third leading cause of death, according to the Centers for Disease Control – who also state that more young people survive suicide attempts than actually die. 

"Each year, approximately 149,000 youth between the ages of 10 and 24 receive medical care for self-inflicted injuries at Emergency Departments across the U.S."

What happened to this young man was reprehensible.  Gay suicide is hardly a new issue, and is certainly an issue that needs to be spoken about in LDS circles. Suicide happens to LDS as well. It happens to people who are going through very difficult personal times. And, if suicide has touched your life, either in your own thought or by the attempt or loss of a friend or a relative to suicide, please understand that you are not alone.

Here is a quick list of some warning signs of suicide – though certainly not conclusive:
  • Talking about feeling trapped or in unbearable pain, about feeling hopeless or having no purpose, about being a burden to others
  • Increasing the use of alcohol or drugs
  • Acting anxious, agitated or reckless
  • Sleeping too little or too much
  • Withdrawing or feeling isolated
  • Showing rage or talking about seeking revenge
  • Displaying extreme mood swings
  • Actually looking for a way to kill oneself
The more of these signs a person shows, the greater the risk. Warning signs are associated with suicide but may not be what causes a suicide.
If someone you know exhibits warning signs of suicide:
  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Possibly remove any obvious firearms, alcohol, drugs or sharp objects that could be used in a suicide attempt.
  • Seek help from a medical or mental health professional, another family member or church leader.  Don’t just let someone sleep on it.  Do something – let someone know, talk to the individual, take action, listen to the spirit.
·         Suicide hotlines by US state:
·         US National suicide hotline: 1800 SUICIDE (1 800 784 2433) &;1-800-273-TALK (8255) 
·         Lifeline Australia: 13 11 14
·         New Zealand suicide hotline: 1800 999 9999
·         UK suicide hotline: 08457 90 91 92 or 08457 90 90 90
·         Ireland suicide hotline: 1850 60 60 90
·         Canada suicide hotline: 1800 273 TALK (1800 273 8255)

For online support for LGBT teens, visit:
The Trevor Project, a national 24-hour, toll free confidential suicide hotline for gay and questioning youth.

GLSEN: Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network, an organization for students, parents, and teachers that tries to affect positive change in schools.
There is no resource specifically for suicidal teens from the LDS church that I know of. A call to LDS Social services was not returned – though I will update if more information is found.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Happy Repeal Day

The military says it is ready for the lifting Tuesday of a ban on gays serving openly, while supporters of repeal applaud the historic change as a victory for equal rights - as per an article in

George Little, Pentagon press secretary, said on Monday that the U.S. military is prepared for the demise of the current "don't ask, don't tell," policy which allows homosexuals to serve in the military by not publicly acknowledging their sexual orientation.  

President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, and Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen have all certified that allowing openly gay service members will, in no way undermine the effectiveness of the military or its recruiting.

This repeal the current law takes effect at 12:01 a.m. EDT Tuesday.  Commanders and comrades of those serving in the military were previously not allowed to ask about their sexual orientation, and they were not allowed to speak of it openly. 

Oops.  Wrong Repeal Day
For several months all military services have been accepting applications from openly gay recruits - waiting for repeal to take effect on Tuesday before beginning to process their applications.

Last week, spokesmen from the Pentagon stated that 97 percent of the military has undergone training to be ready for the new statute. Obama signed legislation in January of this year that did away with the "don't ask, don't tell" policy.

The demise of the 18-year-old ban also will mean that all current investigations, discharges and other proceedings will be terminated. However, existing standards of personal conduct, such as public displays of affection, will continue to be disciplined regardless of sexual orientation.

Service members who were previously discharged under the original Clinton era "don't ask, don't tell" law will be allowed to re-enlist, and their applications will be given the same priority as those of any other with prior military experience seeking to re-enlist.

"Our nation will finally close the door on a fundamental unfairness for gays and lesbians, and indeed affirm equality for all Americans," said California Democrat Pelosi. (I cant believe I am quoting the woman. Surely she is allowed to do one good thing.)

Said Army veteran Aubrey Sarvis, "Through these events taking place in every state across the country, we will pay tribute to their service and sacrifice, honoring the contributions of all qualified Americans who have served and wish to serve."