They That Be With Us
Wednesday, November 30, 2016
The book! Preview the Introduction
I finally wrote the book: The Big Gay Mormon Book.
Be forewarned that it's not the Big Gay Ex-Mormon book. It's for those who are gay and Mormon; Full-fledged and true blue. I am going to post each chapter on this blog starting with the intro. I am happy for comments either at the end of each post or sent to my Gmail account firstname.lastname@example.org.
They That Be With Us
They That Be With Us
Acknowledging the connection between Gay and Mormon
By Calvin Thompson and Julie Martin
By way of introduction
No righteous person will be denied any blessings which come from God. We have no control over the heartbeats or the affections of men [or women], but pray that you may find fulfillment. And in the meantime, we promise you that insofar as eternity is concerned, no soul will be deprived of rich and high and eternal blessings for anything which that person could not help, that the Lord never fails in his promises, and that every righteous person will receive eventually all to which the person is entitled and which he or she has not forfeited through any fault of his or her own. - Spencer W. Kimball
Calvin: First on the list of qualifications to write this book, were I hiring someone, is that the author would have to be a Mormon -- a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. He couldn’t be someone who doubted, who was half in or half out, who was fine with doctrine as it currently stands, but could see the day when “things from Salt Lake get a little out of control”.
A returned missionary would be nice -- one who knows his way around a road-show, a stake conference, and who has been battered around in church ball. Being born in the church would be a plus, or the budding author could make up for it by being a quick study.
He must believe in the divinity of Jesus Christ and in the restoration of the gospel. He should have gone to BYU on a musical theater scholarship as well. Knowing the cultural vernacular would be crucial to help him connect with his readers, and a love for the priesthood is not optional. He should be able to keep his sense of humor in check and his tongue occasionally in cheek.
And he would need to be gay.
I have waited years for someone to write that book -- one that sheds light on my situation. Surely, I thought, someone owning a pen or a printer has shared my same state of affairs and could put in writing their wisdom so I wouldn’t have to reinvent the proverbial wheel.
I would have worn a clever disguise into the bookstore and purchased that book. Then I would have ripped off its cover and duct taped it into my Especially for Mormons anthology and hidden it behind the oak paneling in my room. I would not have taken the chance that anyone could have seen me carry such a book around or found it in my possession and pegged me an issue man. I would have been mortified.
Issue man -- that’s what I call those like me. I gave the status that label so that I wouldn’t have to say the word “gay” even in my head. We issue men were rarely spoken of as I was growing up and when we were we were considered a fringe element. When I did hear the word “gay” it was associated with “perverted”, “distorted”, or “defective”. And the word “excommunication” was never far behind.
So I became silent on the issue of issue men. I bottled up whatever it was that I was, and sat in on a low shelf -- not the high one where my dreams were all laid out -- my dreams of a mission call, a wife and family, and a “happily ever after”.
When it blew up there was no time for setting issues on shelves or hiding them in closets. There were no shelves or closets left. Slowly I had to deal with facts. As I slowly came out it was just as shocking for my “issue” friends to discover that I had a testimony of the gospel as it was for my church friends to discover that I had this issue. The big gay issue.
While I waited for someone to write the book I quite unintentionally became a subject-matter expert. I became the poster child for gay married Mormons. If I were a bit nicer looking I might have considered putting my face on the book cover. But that is not necessary. You have someone in your life already who could be on the cover. Picture them.
Today I hold a temple recommend and I try to be worthy every day to actively use the Lord’s priesthood. I want the blessings my Father in Heaven intended for me and every other man and woman to have. When I read the scriptures or listen to conference and hear the promises made to those who follow the commandments, I count myself in. I am the kind of person that hopes that the prodigal son can return.
So I will write of the atonement or at least my personal knowledge of it; I could jump on that trampoline all day. And, I will write of a few of the challenges I have faced as a gay Mormon man using the words I have.
The pitfalls in putting this to paper are many. I am a little nervous.
Introducing Julie Martin
If you met me at Church I probably wouldn’t stand out as any one unusual. Like most of you I struggle with my weight, worry about my children, love and support my husband and try to get my visiting teaching done before the last week of the month. I don’t always get two prayers in a day, but I try really hard to at least open my scriptures before I start cleaning up the breakfast dishes. And, I have a son who is homosexual.
For years before Sean officially came out, there were lots of signs that should have alerted his father and I to the fact that something was up, but we didn’t want to see them or even think of it as a possibility. And when at last we were confronted with the undeniable truth, my world fell apart, crashing around me like a thousand piece jigsaw puzzle that had suddenly been turned on its side.
I love my son with all my heart, and yet I did everything in my power to rescue him from this homosexual thing. I argued with him, bribed him, threatened, teased, mocked and harassed. I justified these behaviors because I felt I was trying to save his life and protect our eternal relationship as a forever family. In the process I nearly destroyed my relationship with him. Eventually I had to accept the fact that there was nothing I could do to change Sean or make it all better.
I carry this secret inside of my heart, and I mourn the loss of my dreams and desires for him. I try hard to understand the choices he is making in his life, and have learned great lessons in patience and hope. But mostly, I just love my son, and I hope that however this story plays out tomorrow and for the eternities, this will be enough.
There are a lot of mothers and fathers just like me - I am finding out - trying to faithfully raise their families in righteousness while struggling with a child who’s dealing with feelings that I don’t understand. Parents who have children who are homosexual, can feel particularly isolated. There’s a perceived dark shadow associated that is difficult to see through, and a sense of secrecy that forces us to keep our child’s problems safe from the judgment and censure of those around us.
“Sure Sean, you can bring one of your friends to the ward pool party, but please choose one who looks more… well, one who doesn’t wear a tight tank top… okay, and wear your boring shoes. Oh, my.”
My objective in writing this book is to share the things I’ve learned over this journey, and outline a few things I still don’t get. Perhaps I can save other parents some of the needless heartache I’ve suffered through, and maybe share comfort with those who are hurting.
And now, together
According to the information we have been privy to, and based on our own personal experience, there seems to be many more in the LDS Church who are dealing with homosexuality in some respect than had been previously realized.
In 2010, LDS Family Services estimated that there are four or five members in every ward of the Church dealing with what they called “…same-sex attraction problems”. Usually half of those individuals are married (most are temple marriages) and have children. From experience, Julie and I feel that these are conservative estimates. Individuals dealing with same gender attraction in the LDS church when interviewed tend to be less vocal than their counterparts outside of the church. And these numbers do not deal with those affected by someone SGAttracted, such as a friend or relative.
Calvin: This is a good time to make it plain that both Julie and I write under pseudonyms. Personally, I am happy to be both “out” and “in”; “out” as a Mormon man who is same gender attracted, and “in” the Mormon Church with all my heart. However, we both have families who aren’t all that comfortable putting their lives on display for public examination where they would be susceptible to the whims and whines of the world. Our family’s safety, comfort, and well-being is worth more to us than any credit/blame or personal recognition positive or negative.
Our families come first.
We don’t know why some individuals have a propensity toward same gender attraction -- read; are gay. We do know that like any other challenge, Heavenly Father is willing to support and help His children as they seek to overcome or work through anything in life considered an obstacle. We make a point of this because there are those who consider homosexuality an obstacle in some way and it is to them that we write.
Regardless of your current vantage, we hope that your outlook will widen and your understanding will be increased – that you will discover something you didn’t know before reading this book, and that something will be good. There may be no amazing or startling new concepts, quick fixes or cures contained in these pages. But we can promise a lot of ideas, ways to cope and an interesting relevant story or two.
You wouldn’t be wrong in feeling that we are all in this together.
Next is the Preface