Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Chapter three of the Big Gay Mormon Book

This is chapter three of the book I wrote about being gay and Mormon. I am gay.  
And I am Mormon.  Neither one is going to change.

A word to the wise 
or Defining common terms

We are not defined by sexual attraction. We are not defined by sexual behavior. We are sons and daughters of God and all of us have different challenges in the flesh. There are many different types of challenges.”
- Elder David A. Bednar

Calvin: My child ran into the house the other day screaming that the neighbor dog was eating our beloved chicken, Peggy. Peggy has been in the family for some time and we have grown protective of her. She has one leg – as you may have inferred from the name Peggy. I ran out the door dropping whatever thing I was painting and yelled for the other children to join me in a group effort to hunt down the neighbor dog, Marcelle.
Marcelle is an acknowledged chicken molester in our neck of the woods and his human owners let him run around unfettered. We all hurried to save Peggy from being fast food. Well, not really fast food -- sort a slow food (slow, therefore food).
The mini-mob gathered and we quickly found Marcelle, who was laying in the shade licking Peggy like she was the sucker that I apparently am. I turned to my child and said to accompany a look of death, “Eating?”

My daughter grimaced, shrugged her little shoulders shrank two inches and muttered “I guess what I meant to say was... “Is bonding with.”

This leads me directly to the point of this chapter; Words are more important than most people realize. With Peggy the wet chicken properly perched in her place, let us do what we can to facilitate better communication.

Julie:  It’s always hard to understand one another if you think blue is periwinkle and we think blue is turquoise. The differences between periwinkle and turquoise may not stop traffic, but if we are talking about cummerbunds and flowers for my daughter’s wedding someone’s life may be at stake.  So we need to be clear about the definitions we will be using.

Calvin:  The LDS Church has been quite specific with their word choices in regards to homosexuality, and it is important to know why.  As a frame of reference, the Church supports the usage of the words homosexual, lesbian, and gay as adjectives to describe particular thoughts, feelings, or behaviors.  Use of these words to denote a condition (or noun) is discouraged because they feel it attaches yet another label.  But they are lightening up with that.

As authors we strive to follow this guideline as much as possible in general depictions.
In action it looks something like this:

I’m an alcoholic – vs. – I am addicted to alcohol
I’m a perfectionist – vs. – I like everything to be just-so
I’m homosexual – vs. – I have homosexual feelings

And we are lightening up with that as well. The difference is not a big issue to me, because I am gay and I am not offended at the label. The terms “Faggot”, “Queer”, and a slew of others I’m sure you can name don’t thrill me.  I am also a man, a painter, a BYU fan, a decent singer and the ward choir director. I do not define myself by any one of these labels – and there are many more: Master of the hot glue gun; Sacrament meeting sleeper; best neighborhood daddy; thrift shop shopper extraordinaire; man of many chins.
Julie: To this day I don’t like to use the word gay when referring to my son. It seems too permanent and decided. Maybe it’s just wishful thinking, but if he doesn’t become consigned permanently into the meaning of that word, perhaps he won’t always be doing the things he’s doing.

Calvin:  Julie, concerning your son; I think that the only thing to do in your case is to let the spirit guide you. The spirit can help you be supportive and respectful of your son, while still hopeful that he will choose to follow the prophet
A line from the Alexander Pope essay comes to mind …”Yet seen too oft, familiar with her face, we first endure, then pity, then embrace.”
There was a time when I was told by several in leadership positions that if I didn’t say I was gay and didn’t think about it then it wouldn’t be true. Can you imagine?
Today I am going to pretend that I am British and, suddenly, it will be so!
It’s not going to happen. No amount of positive thinking is going to make that glass slipper fit. So look for another shoe that can be just as valuable to you.

Things are what they are. I am the son of my heavenly father. He has put me here on Earth.  And here on Earth, I am from Idaho and I am gay.  Where I choose to go from here is the issue I should be concerned with.

Specific verbiage

The verbiage regarding SGAttraction is becoming much more specific, right along with our awareness. With all the focus on selecting the right words I would encourage all to focus on the people rather than the specific phrases -- to choose words that help individuals on an individual basis.

Generally, the world community doesn’t have much need for the specificity between homosexual feelings and actions. But to those in the LDS community the semantics that surround gender issues and what they mean can be very important in understanding one another. If you’re not sure what words to use, rather than remain unspoken, it may be helpful to simply ask. This can generally be applied across the board in respect to most labels.

Case in point: My Gramma Ruby had twenty seven grandchildren and a very poor memory. We all lived several states away and weren’t able to visit often, and because of this she often forgot our names and our faces. To help her remember, she gave us all little nicknames. My nickname was Pale Green Pants. I don’t remember why.
One visit I remember her asking me, “So which one are you?”

“I’m Cal” I said, trying to help jog her memory. “You know, the one with a decent GPA, the one who’s not in jail, the one who spends most of his visit weeding the garden with you, the one who has a distinct personality and purpose in life.”

She just stared at me and jostled her false teeth.

I sighed and relented, “I’m Pale Green Pants.”

“Oh yes,” she smiled. “I’ve missed you. Come give me some love!”

Her manner of remembering her grandchildren was not an enlightened ideology, but it was somewhat effective and she meant no harm.  Because I loved her it was up to me to softly surrender my sense of semantics for the summer.

Julie: I have a good friend who’s African American and for a long time I avoided using any specific words when talking about his nationality. Eventually he noticed my hesitance, and we were able to have an open conversation about what terms he wanted me to use. I felt a lot better understanding his feelings.

Calvin:  Excellent point. With that in mind, let’s run over a few teams.

List of common terms which we may agree or agree to agree on for the sake of discussion

Acronyms, Gender Based:  SGA, SGB, SGI

SGA: Same Gender (sexual) Attraction

SGB: Same Gender (sexual) Behavior
SGI: Same Gender (gay) Identity

OGA: Opposite Gender (sexual) attraction
OGB: Opposite Gender (sexual) behavior
OGI: Opposite Gender (heterosexual) identity.

Affirmation: 1) A positive assertion. 2) An organization for LDS homosexuals and the people that love them, but not affiliated or supported by the LDS Church.
Air Quotes, Air Quotation Marks: Tool used to set apart a word or phrase in conversation. For our purposes here - generally speaking-- using quotation marks to denote words such as “gay” or “homosexual” sets these people apart as ”the others not like us”. In this book Julie and I would like to include all people in our discussion.  

Bisexual:  A sexual behavior or an orientation involving physical, mental or romantic attraction to both males and females.

Choice:  A decision between two or more option often referred to as agency, personal rights and freedom.

Closet: 1) Upright storage space for often used for storage of clothing; 2) Slang reference to the status of an individual wishing to remain private about his/her sex life and who hasn’t acknowledged their SGA feelings yet to friends and family members.

Coming Out:  1) The act of leaving a building or structure; 2) The process of informing others about an issue that is often considered private. Publicly acknowledging one’s homosexuality is often referred to as coming out.

Conversion therapy, or Reparation therapy or Reorientation therapy: An attempt at remediation of a mental or physical problem -- in this case an endeavor to change sexual orientation of a person from homosexual or bisexual to heterosexual. In the past techniques have included psychoanalytic group therapy involving averse conditioning, electric shock, nausea-inducing drugs and may have included forms of sex therapy. Today this type of therapy takes a more subtle and genteel approach.  Regardless, there has been no documented supportable success. 

Down Low or DL: 1) Connotes keeping a fact hidden or camouflaged.  2) A term for men who discreetly have sex with other men while in marital relationships with women. Often these men do not consider themselves homosexual or bisexual, and their female partners are generally not aware of these infidelities.

Ex-Gay:  Term for those who have experienced SGAttraction and who, for religious or other reasons, have chosen not to embrace a gay identity or to engage in SGA behavior.

Folk Doctrine:  A pretend at doctrines that develop from prevailing rumor. 

Gay: 1) A happy and joyful mode or method of celebrating often sung about in English carols and Fred Astaire films; 2) A common term for an individual attracted to their same gender. Gay has been a widely used synonym of "male homosexual." It’s meaning is rapidly evolving to refer to both male and female homosexuals. Some people differentiate between homosexual and gay - the term homosexual referring to sexual orientation and the term gay as a political identity, i.e.; an advocate for equal rights for persons of all sexual orientations.  However, the terms are often interchangeable.  

Gender:  The set of characteristics that distinguish between female and male members of a species. The word gender is often used interchangeably with the word "sex" to denote the condition of being male or female.  

Heterosexual: 1) People whose emotional, sexual and romantic feelings are primarily for those of the opposite sex; 2) Having to do with opposite sex attraction.

Homophobia:  An irrational fear, prejudice or discrimination towards homosexuals. 
Homophobia can take many forms, from name-calling and teasing to serious crimes like assault and murder. Homophobia like other irrational fears is most often based on ignorance.

Homosexual: People who have emotional, sexual and romantic feelings primarily for those of the same sex, or having to do with same sex attraction.
In: See out.

Lesbian: Term to describe sexual and romantic desire between females.

Lifestyle: The term lifestyle (as in gay lifestyle) has become a polarizing term though it is used by gay and lesbian people as well. “Those in the lifestyle” usually means “those who identify as gay", though it may refer to behavior as well as identity - much as LDS lifestyle would mean those living the teachings or those in the LDS culture, or rural lifestyle may suggest animal husbandry or farming.

Mixed Marriage: For our purposes here, a union between one of “heterosexual” orientation and one who identifies as SGAttracted.

Out:  See in.

Prophet:  One called of God who holds the keys to direct the Church and to speak for Jesus Christ. The President of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is a chosen prophet, seer and revelator.

Sexting:  Porn on the phone either in photos or text communications.

SSA: Acronym for Same Sex Attraction. The LDS Church prefers this term.  SGA. SSA and SGA are terms not highly favored among the gay community. Neither, for that matter, is the phrase “gay community”.

Sin: To behave in a manner that is contrary to the revealed commandments of God.

Straight: A direction which veers neither to the left or the right;  2) A slang term used in the place of heterosexual.

Transgendered:  A designation of person whose identity does not conform to conventional notions of male or female gender roles.

It is important to note that the words homosexuality, heterosexuality and bisexuality can refer either to feelings of sexual attraction to another person, or to the actual sexual practice or behavior between people.  This is one of the reasons the LDS church prefers certain words over others. Julie and I don’t much care for arguments over terminology.

Words as weapons

Most terminologies dealing with homosexuality are assigned different meanings from different political or religious organizations. Historically, meanings and terms have often been chosen to promote specific belief systems, and this is certainly the case for this writing. We wanted to choose wording that assisted the greatest amount of people reading. By doing so we hope to empower people to treat people like people… who need people... who are the luckiest people...

Superficial arguments preceding most religious/moral discussions exist, in our estimation, for the same reason beautiful plumage is used in nature: to show off and draw attention. Add sexuality to the mix and feathers often fly. Families are torn and are left to follow the wind of public opinion. People we love are being squandered. It is a war of words, but a war none-the-less. Where relationships are at stake, where families are threatened, where people feel unaccepted or unloved, there will be war. Some of us are no longer content to lose those we love. Some of us are gearing for a fight - a reclamation of sorts - to gather our loved ones.

At its core it is a fight to the finish.

May we all take a page from the Savior teachings methods and choose to use verbiage understood by those we wish to communicate with. Hopefully with common terms and better understanding of the vernacular we can keep from strangling an innocent Marcelle and protect slow and soggy Peggy (slow, therefore soggy).


  1. Great article, Thanks for your great information, the content is quiet interesting. I will be waiting for your next post.

  2. Wow. The process all of us have to go through when we have to sort through our own bias and bigotry. �� It is long, sad, painful, and filled with lots of vocabulary evidently.