Friday, November 10, 2006

MY TAKE ON "WHAT MATTERS"

I've been pretty silent on the "change" topic that tends to float around. I've enjoyed the takes that everyone has to one degree or another. And I try to keep an open mind.

But in this last week, KSL RADIO (the LDS church-owned radio station) has been doing a week-long "in depth report" on reparative therapy and whether men can "change" their sexual orientation. Though I've listened with intent on seeing what kind of spin the church employed reporter would put on the investigation, trying to find a hint or slant, I must admit overall it's been "fair and balanced". The reporter has interviewed both sides of the story. I just find it interesting that it is being reported at all. Following the FOX NEWS report, it seems to be a "trendy" thing to discuss.

Is there really news here? Nothing new was brought to my attention. That's because I don't think there is anything "new" to report about reorientation of one's sexual preference. I guess I should look at it as a good thing that KSL even broadcasted the series and did so in an unbiased manner.

However...

Am I the only one, or does it give anyone else the creepy crawly heebie jeebies when someone from Evergreen starts speaking??? I feel like lies are spewing forth as soon as their representatives open their mouths, like they are selling me something, like they want me to enlist in their program almost as bad as trying to sell me a used car. It makes me sick! In yesterday's report, the Evergreen guy stated something to the affect that "it will be difficult, but that CHANGE is definitely possible - though everyone's path is unique". And then in this morning's report, I just had it! An Evergreen guy stated "playing sports with men and making that connection will create positive relations with other men that will make the difference".

All I can say to this is: BULL CRAP! I'm not a 18-25 year old "struggler" here new to this game! I have a track record of "struggling" for over 30 years! This idea of "change being possible" is a JOKE! At least for me! The idea of "playing sports" will improve my relations with men is even a BIGGER JOKE! I hate playing sports... And making me dribble a basketball and shoot a lay-up, or spiking a volleyball over the net into the face of another man and receiving an appreciative slap-on-the-butt male bonding, (as nice as that may be) isn't going to CHANGE me one iota!

I fear that such reporting as 'fact' causes me (and those like me who are married) grief, because it gives people such as my wife, the false hope that there is a NEED for change, and that change is desireable. So far, my wife hasn't said anything to me about the reports. We listen to KSL in the morning for the news and weather at the start of each day. I'm sure it will come up. Maybe that will lead to positive discussions between us, I don't know...

You know... I'm sorry, but I don't feel any NEED TO CHANGE! Have I made that clear? Is that blasphemous??? I've tried that for two decades (in many ways even not knowing fully that that was exactly what I was trying to do). I AM WHO I AM! I have no desire to be anyone else! My characteristics that make me a gay man are beautiful, admirable, and praiseworthy.

Now, don't get me wrong. I know very well that another word for REPENTANCE is CHANGE. I've taught countless priesthood and sunday school lessons that teach the simple equation: REPENT = CHANGE. I know very well that "change" is part of the gospel plan and that Christ expects a broken heart and humble spirit of me as I come kneeling before Him.

But, I don't think He wants me to CHANGE what has been God-given - those characteristics or talents that I need to use in helping others and in losing myself through their use. It is my task to take my weaknesses and make them strong.

As the letter to Elder Oaks states in last month's conference address: "Some profess that change is possible and therapy is the only answer... There is NO NEED to determine why I have this challenge. I don't know if I was born with it., or if environmental factors contributed to it. The fact of the matter is that I have this struggle in my life, and what I do with it from this point forward is what matters".

To have this quoted in a conference address is very significant to me. There are many things in my life that I need to work on and repent/change for the better. But... the fact of the matter is that I have this struggle in my life, and what I do with it from this point forward is what really matters to me!

10 comments:

Kengo Biddles said...

Aw, come on, Beck, you know that if we all just played a lot of basketball it would "straighten" us right up! ;)

I agree...Evergreen gives me the heebie-jeebies. I've heard some attendees speak of it as if it were a meat-market. Others have loved the experience, but frankly, I'm leery of it.

Anonymous said...

Hey, there are more than enough guys here to start a basketball team. I’m just say’n.

Anyway, I’m with you on the Evergreen guy, of course :-).

This reminds me of a quick anecdote one of our friends told us about his time in Evergreen (and, yes, he definitely described it as meat market, but with extra the guilt). I guess there was one therapist, a very handsome guy, everyone wanted… for their therapist. He was booked. Still, this straight man was quite cold and belittling to the gay masses.

Then they took the members to play basketball. Our friend is quite a good player and put everyone to shame. At that he gained the friendship of the therapist. That guy would only be friendly to the athletic, masculine gays in a social setting; some sort of carrot and stick thing?

Anyway, it didn’t work; neither did the basketball. :-)

Beck said...

KB: As for meat-market, I have no idea. I have no personal knowledge of Evergreen and so maybe I shouldn't even address it here... but I know how I feel when I hear those guys speak about what they "know". And all I feel is "sick to my stomach!"

SCOT: As for your anecdote, it made me laugh. I guess I'd never make it without improving my lay-up shot. Now, I have been known to have a decent 10-footer... maybe there's hope for me after all???

Anonymous said...

My characteristics that make me a gay man are beautiful, admirable, and praiseworthy

The only characteristic that truly makes you gay is being attracted to men, and I don't really see how that's so beautiful, admirable, and praiseworthy. It just is. I'm just curious how that adds up.

Evergreen guys usually come off poorly, I agree. But I wonder if that's because they're forced to be defensive in a society that scoffs and is disrespectful and questions every motive and every statement as disingenuous. I have no doubts some of the folks who defend reparative therapy are disingenuous, and that makes me doubly sorry for those who aren't and are genuinely persecuted for promoting a program that they know from personal experience has value for some men.

As for basketball, it may be helpful for some guys to change their view of themself. But, I doubt they make any claim that it's useful for everyone. I'm not ready to start basketball therapy either! ;-)

Anonymous said...

I don't live in Utah so I don't have any experience with the "headquater" Evergreen folks, but I did have experience last year after my confession with my local Evergreen support group and overall it was a positive experience. It helped me get through the roughest time in the beginning. The group consisted of guys ranging in age from 19 to 40 something with a variety of interests (no one was overly into sports :) ).

I learned that Evergreen support groups are not run by Evergreen directly, they are organized and run on a local level by those who agree to abide by the Evergreen principles. Each group is different. It really depends on the guys in the group. I left the group when I felt that I was strong enough. Those groups are not intended to stay in forever.

Beck said...

I didn't mean for this post to be an indictment or condemnation of Evergreen. However, it just seems to me like they're "selling" something. I feel hesitant about any therapy groups that are more interested in recruitments than in healing hearts. Maybe it's just me. I don't want to judge anyone who has benefitted from the program... it's just not for me!

L: Your concern about my statement has triggered thoughts for another post. Stay tuned.

Eric: Great to see you back in the blogging world. I missed your updates and have enjoyed learning from your story. Your example is inspirational. I look forward to more exciting developments.

santorio said...

L said: "The only characteristic that truly makes you gay is being attracted to men"

L, i think you're out on a limb here with an arbitrary [though appealing because of its simplicity] definition about what makes one gay. certainly, attraction to men--their bodies, odors, voices--is central, but whatever combination of genetic and environmental factors led to this gay state, has influenced other parts of the personality. assume for a minute that reparative therapy worked for the male attraction part of things--would it also mean being less artistic/creative/compassionate/aggressive etc.? i don't know, no one does. but many of us fear that if we were to lose the attraction to men, we would also lose valued parts of ourselves. better the known demon than the unknown devil. i sense a good science fiction story coming here.

Anonymous said...

I would normally side with L here, and I still do, in part. Being atracted to men, not artistic, is what classifies us as gay. I think I’ve a post on standby saying near the same thing. But, santorio, you make a good point, they may share a cause, be symptoms of the same disease :-).

Also, in looking back on some of the research I have, there may be supporting data. It’s fair to wonder if “fixing” what makes one find men attractive would “fix” you in many other ways.

Beck said...

Santorio and Scot: What you add to this dialog is perfect! I've been thinking a lot about this topic of how to separate what one "is" verses just being "gay". The two are more integrated within me and I can't seem to separate the two.

More to come...

Anonymous said...

What reparative therapy seeks to fix is incompleteness and undeveloped parts of our identity. I don't see how that applies to being artistic or sensitive (and I may misunderstand what parts of person are being presumed to be necessarily attached to their gayness).

Ultimately, I don't buy it. Gay is a sexual thing by definition, not a social, cultural, pesonality, or whatever categorical thing that extends necessarily to other parts of a person. The fact that there is a high association is interesting, but clearly it's not a necessary connection, and I don't see how anything other than a necessary connection should cause anyone concern about what would happen if they un-gayed themself.

It's a fallacy I see all the time, and I'm surprised you guys are going for it.