This is a blog of news and essays aimed toward gay Mormons who wish to hold the Priesthood of God honorably (Men) or to remain active members of the LDS Church (Men or Women), their family and friends, or anyone who has questions about what it is to be a faithful Mormon, or a Mormon questioning... and gay.
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 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
an alcoholic – vs. – I am addicted to alcohol
perfectionist – vs. – I like everything to be just-so
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?
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
Choice: A decision between two or more option
often referred to as agency, personal rights and freedom.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Doctrine: A pretend at doctrines that
develop from prevailing rumor.
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
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.
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.
Term to describe sexual and romantic desire between females.
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.
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
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
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
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...
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
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).