Monday, June 29, 2009

A small moment?

After reading Sarah's recent post referencing a thread of comments on the Deseret News website, I visited the newspaper website and scanned through the over 300 comments and tried not to scream back at my screen. It is so interesting to me how emotional and obsessed so many people are, or become, when the words "gay" and "Mormon" are put together in a sentence. Why is this so? It is so discouraging to me to know how misunderstood guys like me are within my culture, and it just keeps pushing me further and further back into the closet.

There were a couple of posted comments, however, that got my interest. I don't know the authors, but I like the message, and felt the need to repeat them here.

The first one has a byline of "Imagine":

Imagine being told at a young age (about 12) that God did not love you because you were attracted to other men. It happened in a round-about way to me when a well-meaning mother told her son in a car we were riding in the God did not love gays.

Imagine trying to hold true to your religious principles for your entire life, while hearing people with whom you worship say demeaning things about people who have same-sex attraction, just like you do.

Imagine going through life knowing that you can't truly experience the type of love and relationships your other siblings have because for you it is wrong.

Imagine keeping secret something that is a part of who you truly are because you know that some of your "brothers and sisters in the gospel" will not accept you if that truth came out.

Imagine hearing the phrase "love the sinner, but hate the sin" over and over knowing that people are judging you a sinner.

How does it make you feel?

Imagine getting hit with the double whammy for choosing to abide by the principles of your church. You choose to live a celibate life, but you also get judged for being a single man. You hear comment all the time like "you should just find a nice woman and settle down."

Imagine overhearing comments that it will be unfortunate that I will be missing in the celestial kingdom because I am not married to a woman.

Imagine feeling like a second-class citizen wherever you go because you hear derogatory comments about gays on a daily basis.

Imagine hearing people say you must not have enough faith, because if you did you would have changed by now.

Imagine being grouped together with rapists and child molesters because if you are attracted to other men, you must do those vile things.


Imagine living around people who have put aside their natural judgmental tendencies and love you for who you are, without feeling the need to remind you whether they think it's natural, right, or wrong.

I think many of us who are homosexual and still feel a strong attachment to the church aren't asking for any policy changes. I can't speak for others, but all I am asking for is a stop to the constant comments that minimize who I am. I know that I am following the commandments the best I can, but comments like so many that have been posted on here prove that others judge that I do not. Do many of you realize that your comments and attitudes indicate that you think we are a problem that needs to be solved? We are not problems, we are just as important in God's plan as you are. I just want people to stop treating me as a problem, feeling the need to preach to me, and start treating me as a human being. Is that hard to understand?

And this one:

If you have been around as long as I have, you know that each person must work out their own salvation. Each person will face God and be judged. Each person will know that it is just.

I have learned to just love. I must allow all judgments to be Gods and allow each person their free agency to pick their own life. If I have not learned to love everyone, I have failed.

I need to look for the beam in my own eye before I try and pick any mote out of anothers.

I'm telling all you people, learn to love. That is why we have this new challenge - it is for us to learn to love everyone - and I mean EVERYONE!

Some respond: "you can still love someone without letting them destroy the world you live in."

This will not destroy the world. It will not even destroy "marriage." We are doing that quite well by ourselves. Look at all the people cheating on their spouses. Look at the quick marriages and divorces in Las Vegas. Look at the abandonment of spouses and children. Look at the physical and emotional abuse that is rampant in this world. Look at the suffering of women and children by those who think they are better because they have a "Y" chromosome.

We heterosexuals are 97% of the world's population. We are the ones who have screwed it up. We need to look for the beam in our own eye.

Now, go. Love your families and neighbors, be they black, white, straight or gay. Make this world better than you left it and that will not come from judging others and putting yourself above them.

For what it's worth...

I gave a lesson in SS yesterday on D&C 121 and 122. The trials and tribulations and suffering that Joseph Smith and the Saints endured during the Liberty Jail period of Missouri persecutions were a result of extreme fear and intolerance from neighbors and fellow citizens of the community who were not part of the fold, who could not accept their differences and sought every way possible to destroy what they feared. The Lord states in both sections that this time of tribulation will be "but a small moment". Of course, that can be interpreted to mean "this entire earthly existence" for when one is believing in the concept of eternity, this life is "but a small moment".

I can't help but feel that gay Mormons are now being persecuted as a result of extreme fear and intolerance. But this time, not from neighbors and fellow citizen of the community not of the fold, but of those WITHIN the fold. When is this going to end? And what good am I when I won't even face my own fears and come out into the light?


santorio said...

i don't want to read the negative (or better yet, the ignorant) comments, but the very fact that this discussion is taking place anywhere, let alone in the deseret news, is utterly amazing.

Beck said...

SANTORIO: It is amazing that the discussion is happening, particularly at Deseret News' site, I agree! And I guess we should count our blessings where we find them, for such a debate wouldn't even be happening a few years ago...

but, geez, must it be so passionately negative?

I am not demanding anything here. I am not in the position to do so, as I sit here hiding behind my blog. I'm just amazed that even with the progress made, the negative passion is still so shrilling.

Yet, a few years ago, I wouldn't have thought that I would be blogging my thoughts of being a gay Mormon man to the universe either. So, I guess, in a way, that is "utterly amazing" as well, even if I do say so myself...

Alan said...

It's nearly a year since I came out and have been writing and speaking publicly through my blog about this issue. Wrestling at sometimes pedantic length with the conundrums the Church and society foist on us.

And I am still baffled and amazed by the depth of irrationality and fear this topic provokes, out of all proportion to other social issues that are demonstrably much more harmful. It's beyond my comprehension, really.

Beck said...

ALAN: It is the "proprotionality" of the response that baffles me as well. There is not the similar outcry for any other conceivable "social ill" out there that generates such a disproportionate reaction, and with such passion and gusto. Not abortion, not divorce, not out-of-wedlock couples, not even child abuse, spouse abuse, you name it!

Why is this?

Scott said...

Not abortion, not divorce, not out-of-wedlock couples, not even child abuse, spouse abuse, you name it!...

I think that partly it's because it's hard for people to wrap their minds around...

Most people can understand wanting to leave a spouse, or the passions and urges behind pre- and extra-marital sex. Most people can even comprehend the possibility of committing violence toward a spouse or child in a moment of anger.

... But straight people have a very hard time fathoming a romantic or physical attraction to others of the same sex (just as many gay people have a hard time comprehending opposite-sex attraction). Because it seems so foreign and alien, it's easy to assume that that means it's against nature or against God's plan.

Those who come to understand that my attractions toward men are as natural to me as their attractions toward members of the opposite sex have a harder time condemning those feelings, but few make the effort to understand, choosing instead to stubbornly cling to their prejudices.

Beck said...

SCOTT said: "Because it seems so foreign and alien, it's easy to assume that that means it's against nature or against God's plan."

I guess I can wrap my head around this as the reason, as it took me a while to accept it. But, the key is once one tries to understand, it isn't that hard, nor foreign or alien. It just is. So, it is still hard for this boy to see the disproportional response. I guess I need to "try harder to understand".

Karene said...

Beck, I'm going to de-lurk for a minute. For what it's worth, I've been following your blog, as well as some others, for the last 10 months or so. It started because of Prop 8. I live in California, and of course was asked to participate in the Yes on 8 campaign. My husband and I campaigned without questioning for awhile before we came to the realization that we needed to try to understand, as much as is possible, the perspective of those we were campaigning against. I had long held the opinion of many of those commenting on the DN article...that homosexuality was unnatural and perverted and absolutely, positively against God's plan. However, my opinion has changed dramatically because of people like you who are out here, blogging your experiences. I don't personally know anyone who is openly gay and Mormon. However, I feel like I have come to know you through your blog. I can feel the sincerity of your struggle through your posts, and reading your blog, as well as many others in the MOHO community, has opened my eyes.

My point is, it is very likely to be a slow process, and who knows how small or large this "moment" may be. But know that your blog is serving this important purpose. My eyes have been opened, my heart is changing, and I'd be willing to bet I'm not the only one.

I don't comment much, but I'm reading what you write, and I wish you well in your journey. I'm betting on your destination being a happy one.

Beck said...

KARENE: Wow! This comes as a shock to me. I don't think of the "lurkers" out there as finding this blog worth reading or following, let alone being helpful in encouraging and facilitating understanding and change of opinions, particularly regarding gay Mormons. Wow...

This is really meaningful to me. I sometimes wonder why I blog at all, particularly when the path I've chosen is full of obstacles and lack of progress (or at least a sense of progress). You've given me an incentive to keep going and I appreciate that.

Please don't be such a stranger, but I appreciate you lurking out there.

Karene said...

Maybe that's the reason why reading your blog has been so mind-opening--because you're not actively trying to change opinions, you're just being honest about your own experiences. Most straight people want to believe that homosexuality is a choice. I always believed it was, until I started reading the various blogs...and suddenly there were real people with real stories and real struggles and clearly solid testimonies, and my concept of homosexuality and "choice" was blown out of the water. You didn't have to advocate understanding or acceptance or change, all you had to do was tell your story.

I haven't de-lurked earlier because I wondered how you (and others) would feel about a stranger, and not a real member of the MOHO community reading your blog. There are probably others, and we're all just lurking together! I will comment in the future if I find I have something useful to say. :)

Sarah said...


Thank you so much for sharing those wonderful comments. Like I said, after I commented, I refused to go back and see if anyone had responded to me negatively. But as a result, I missed these incredible, well-written comments.

Karene, welcome to the community! Your comments are valuable! Some of us (even those of us who are straight) are so wrapped up the "gay" side of things that sometimes I think I can't see and really understand the side that I was on a year ago.

Lurkers like you can help us remember that perspective. We are glad to have you here. Please feel free to comment!

Beck said...

KARENE: You're right. I'm not trying to change any opinions here, other than formulating my own. I use this blog to wrap my head around the reality in which I find myself. A few years ago, I wouldn't have been caught dead in a gay blogging community, and now over three years of blogging under my belt, I'm still here, trying to figure out what it means to be 1) married and committed to that marriage, 2) active in the Church with temple-recommend in hand and priesthood leadership responsibilities to boot 3)a family man with four beautiful children, and 4) very much gay - and I use "gay" in the sense of being without question attracted to men, and needing male bonding, romance, and affection in my life, while keeping the other three items in place!

I find it very easy to understand how the membership of the Church at large has no clue that such a person as myself can exist. And yet, here I am. I do exist. But because a person like me, truly known for all four aspects listed above, would be shunned and despised with item no. 4 being part of who I am, I get pushed in the closet and stay firmly in there for fear of losing the other three items of who I am. And so, how can I help them to see me for who I am, when I don't allow them to see the full and honest me?

I don't. And so, I hold myself responsible, at least partly, for keeping them in ignorance. If I were brave enough to "give face" to what it means to be a gay Mormon - active, and married, and faithful, yet, ever so gay, I wonder if it would have any value, or would I just be dismissed as being delusional, and something to be discarded, and not be excepted any longer as part of the fold? I don't know...

And so I blog. And if this blog can help even one, such as yourself, then I am movitivated to at least "give voice" if not "give face" to the gay Mormons out here who live and breathe and desire nothing more than to be able to figure out this dichotomy placed before us.

Thanks for giving me voice!

Beck said...

SARAH: It is you that should be thanked. Had you not commented on the DN site and had you not posted about it, I wouldn't have been aware of this dialogue. I appreciate understanding just how far this discussion has to be taken. I just don't feel like I can offer it much beyond this little blog here.