Monday, July 1, 2013

Just a little gay

It's Saturday morning and the game is a-foot -- one game of many -- basketball or softball, or volleyball.  We just need a ball. 

After the game, we slap each other on the back or butt and there may be some hugging, some "whose ball is this," and some "thanks for letting me use your shoes and no, I won't forget to bring my own next week." 

Everyone says "good game whether it was or not, and all are smiling except the guy that got out of control. He pretends to text his wife on his way to the drinking fountain.  Then we pack up the baby and holler at the kids who are chasing each other on the stage or playing in the curtains, load up the van or SUV and get home in time to clean the garage, set the sprinklers on the garden, and get the girl to ballet.

Such men, these Mormons. I am one of them.

I looked much like one of these guys,
Only we stacked our books in milk
 crates, or something equally tacky.
There are A types and B types and just about every type.

We cry in church.  We cry at movies. We cry at testimony meeting because the feelings come at us fast the moment the podium raises up to accommodate out height. Not big crocodile tears or waterworks.  There is no huge outpouring of emotion because we release a little at a time all the time.

It is Modern Mormon Masculinity at it's finest, and these are the guys who are called to attend to the details of running the local  LDS church. 

I have heard Mormon men's land described as "a soft-spoken homo-sociality,"  or even well trained automitrons (Robert Redford's famous label)and I don't take offence, or have to struggle to understand what they are talking about.  After all, Mormon men work together in small groups that become larger groups that encourage two by two groups that perpetuate the everyday functions of the LDS church.

Frankly, it sounds a little gay to me.  As someone in the church, who has been in the church for forty years, it feels a little gay as well.  And that is OK with me.  Of course, some say gay and others say effeminate, and it doesn't really matter which as far as I am concerned. Sensitive is the correct word, I think. It is what it is, and I don't really care what outsiders think of it. 

Welcome to Mormon masculinity.  It's not a bunch of butch loggers or truckers, firemen or welders.  It's everyday sensitive types trying to get  and stay in touch with their feelings while listening for that still small voice that comes during quiet times, sometimes while kneeling quietly in prayer with another guy or guys.

Mormons have no paid clergy.  Those who donate their time do so with other men who feel as they do and also contribute to the church with not financial compensation. These men work together in sensitive situations where communication is often subtle and not verbal. Working friendships develop in priesthood groups that are unlike anything I have seen in any other organization.

Notice the hand on another. 
Happens all the time, folks
Mormon men work in teams from their youth on.  As boys, they are taught "the power of two."  Priesthood blessings are given usually in pairs.  Leaders select several councilors, and work with other local and area leaders in tandem. These men work with men and love doing it.

Mormon opposition to Gay Brethren?

So why are these men of the LDS church so oppose to gay rights as they support traditional gender rights -- father, mother, sister, brother, pants and dresses and suits and modest clothing.  If anyone should understand the plight of the gay man, it should be a Mormon.

The answer is both startling and obvious.  Mormon men don't have a problem with marriage rights for those who ask for them -- gays or straights.  If Bob wants to marry Bill, then its "congratulations on your union and if I am your friend, please invite me to your ceremony and I will eat some cake and hopefully some chicken salad with grapes and little bits of celery."  (yum!) 

Mormon men are not nervous to smack a guys butt in basketball.  They are not oppose to a sweaty hug, or even a non sweaty hug.  They are just fine with taking the baby out to change a diaper or teaching a primary class of screamers and criers. They have been around long enough, in priesthood meetings, to understand the difference between fellowshiping or brotherhood from a bromance.  They will give you a hanky when you blubber a bit about your family, and they don't expect it back, knowing that you will wash it and loan it to the next guy.

It is when couples that don't conform to the moral standard of sex after marriage -- a banner still carried by the LDS church --  ask for church endorsement that a wee problem pops up. No one who has sex before marriage can have a marriage endorsed by the LDS church without ceasing the behavior/activity;  Not straights, not gays.  Most in the LDS church are OK with that and do not expect that the moral standard will change to accommodate homosexuals. Yet they will still welcome you to church on Sunday.

I'll say that again.  Gays are willingly accepted into quorums with the understanding that everyone in the room strives for moral cleanliness -- straights and gays alike. (Some of the older ones raise an eyebrow, but this is due more to small town syndrem -- something new and different in town that the locals haven't figured out yet.

So, the brethren at the game may smack your butt or hug you and come to your wedding, but they will not hand you a temple recommend unless the rules have been followed -- morally clean or striving for such.   And, though the LDS people are becoming less staunch -- meaning that they are understanding of homosexuals and their lives and loves and leanings -- they will only give temple recommends to those who marry one of the opposite gender. 

Given the nature of the ordinance, it would take an edict from God -- literally -- to change that.

But, I can still slap your butt.

1 comment:

  1. Your insights of how "sensitive" Mormon men are may be why I am so comfortable in being a "sensitive" Mormon man in an environment that accepts, or sometimes tolerates my touchy-feely nature and my emotional expressive side. I never totally thought of it in the way you so aptly describe, but it's true: I am permitted to act more like my gay self and it is viewed as a worthy and "sensitive" priesthood man... but oh those slippery bromances... you got to be careful not to cross the line!