Thursday, August 31, 2006


Today is my last day of my current rotation, and the rotation I start tomorrow won't have quite the same amount of blog time. So, I decided to save what I was going to post today (it seemed too boring anyway) for some pensive rainy day down the road.

Such a shameful way to spend Blogday 2006.

It's probably good for me to get my mind on other things. I have 47 other hobbies that have been on the back burner thanks to blogging. Oh, and my future patients will probably appreciate me spending the lion's share of my time learning medicine as that will help their broken limbs and urinary tract infections more than having incisive insight into my sexuality and faith.

So, I have no idea what the new frequency of posts or comments will be. I'll still be hanging around though. See you around.

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Theology, etc.

I listened to the radio interview of Nielsen suggested by JD in yesterday's comments and was surprised to hear how much I like Nielsen. I mean, I didn't dislike him before (despite my flippant post tone), but he really appeals to me for his insights, his quick concessions on certain points, and his humility. I wasn't expecting the humility. I had him down as more of a martyr whistle-blower, confident in his pious sacrifice. I like to believe he and I would be great friends if given the chance (not -L-, but the quite distinct real person who masquerades as -L- online).

But then, on the other hand, I think I pegged him pretty well yesterday. I think the root problem with his view is that he doesn't believe the leadership of the church really has much relationship to God's will. He tries to make a distinction between criticizing theology and criticizing the politics of the church, but God is just as much an expert on politics as he is on theology.

Nielsen made an interesting reference to Jewish friends who aren't big fans of Noah because of his unhesitating acceptance that God was going to destroy the world with a flood. They are bigger fans of Moses, who actually argued with God a little more as an advocate for Israel. I really like that thought. And I recognize (and I think I've said so) that leaders aren't micro-managed by God on every issue and that the specifics are often subject to the limitations of an individual's ability to implement guidance on that issue. But while Nielsen calls for greater transparency and information sharing on the part of all organizations (which I can whole-heartedly applaud in the context of management positions I've held in the past), he seems not to understand that the organization of God's church--including ranked leadership and a certain lack of divine transparency--was God's own design.

Do we know then that Hinckley hasn't gone to blows with God regarding gay marriage? Do we know that he doesn't have deeply loving and ambivalent feelings for how gays can find some measure of happiness, but that his efforts ultimately ended with God laying down the law? How can we ever be certain that an "open dialog" about moral issues is supposed to end if we don't accept the prophet's final word on the subject?

I repeat my conjecture that "moral reciprocity" has already had every consideration in the private debates among the brethren. And I tentatively think there is no subject that doesn't have relevance to theology, politics or otherwise. I think it's central to truly believing the LDS church to believe that prophets truly speak for God.

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

Nielsen and Kierkegaard

The Nielsen saga has been interesting to me, but I haven't known exactly what to think of it all. He was at BYU in the philosophy department (which already endears him to me... I've spent some time there myself) and was fired for taking a public stand against the church on the gay marriage issue. Considering my own very conflicted feelings on the subject, I have to sympathize. We teach children to stand up for what's right, even when it means you might be unpopular (at least my mom did). And here's a guy who thought that's exactly what he's doing, and it's the LDS church that takes him down. Not that that's surprising or even inappropriate--it's pretty much a clear expectation of employment at BYU that you don't call your employer's owner immoral and publicly criticize them (at least, I think it is).

The latest piece in the paper from him has a curious effect on me. I agree with everything he says from a secular perspective, but I can't swallow it as one who believes the church is led by God. Never does he acknowledge that the leaders of the church are considered prophets--those who speak for God--in his comments. He compares the LDS church to "any organization" and cautions against considering the leaders infallible. That's all nice, Nielsen, but you seem to be a pretty bright guy for having missed such a central premise of the church.

"Unexamined belief is not faith, but superstition, and we must clear away superstition to make way for genuine faith," says Nielsen. Was it superstition, then, that led Abraham to submit to God's completely unacceptable commandment to murder his own son--a son He gave Abraham fair and square? How exactly did he rationalize that away? He examined it and, yup, it's still ridiculous. What was it about his obedience that was so significant then?

Back in my days studying philosophy at the BYU (hee hee-the BYU... I'm so old), I read some of Kierkegaard's thoughts on Abraham. I didn't really get it. But whatever the hell Kierkegaard really thinks, it ultimately left me with the impression that there's a paradox to faith. My take home point was that you can examine certain things rationally till the cows come home and they'll come up unexplainable, and that there's a particular power in accepting God's curious position anyway.

The real question is whether we are justified in viewing leaders of any organization, even those of the LDS Church, as infallible when they make a doctrinal or policy pronouncement.... If they want to be considered infallible, then they have every reason to worry about members like me who will always refuse to surrender those most precious divine gifts, namely mind and moral agency, to another human being....

Is the church led by human beings then or ultimately by God? You can believe either way, but Nielsen sure seems to want the latitude to take his pick for whatever issue du jour comes along. I've always been taught that being obedient gives us more moral agency, and that there's merit to obeying every word of command with exactness. To the extent a leader misleads, he is responsible and not me. Yes, I see the many problems with this oversimplification of the issue, but it seems a good rule considering the complexity (and ultimate failure) of the other ways people see to reconcile mistakes from priesthood leaders. Rules can have exceptions, but if I wrote them out trying to anticipate them, they would be part of the rule.

I can imagine the Israelites, "Hey Moses, do you honestly think going in and wiping out all the Canaanites is a good idea? I mean, they've got children in there. Aren't the children innocent?"

Moses: "What the hell do I know? God just said to do it."

"Well, I'm sorry, but I just don't think I can sacrifice my most precious gifts to you--my mind and my moral agency. Killing children is wrong."

"Umm... okay. I guess you've got to do what you've got to do. The whole walking across the Red Sea as if it were dry land didn't persuade you that God is captain here and not just me?"

"Well, you've got a point there, certainly. I'll think about it. But I think I've got to ultimately be true to myself and I was taught not to kill. It's one of the commandments."

"Yeah, I'm familiar with those."

Nielsen later lectures the leaders of the church on the Golden Rule. Does he think the comparison to polygamy has escaped them? Does he honestly think their belief on this issue is "unexamined"? Do I? Am I willing to stand up and criticize an unjust church, the very same one that taught me how important it is to stand for the truth! I suppose I would, if I thought the church really was unjust... if I thought it wasn't God's church. But I think it is. I don't get everything that's going on with gay marriage, but I'm working from limited information and God's not.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Pearson, 2

"What would have happened if—if you had just made yourself stay where you were with us? If you had just forced yourself to put your other needs away?"

Gerald thought a moment and then replied. "I would have become increasingly bitter and empty—just like Frank." Frank was an old friend whom Gerald had recently run into. He was a homosexual who married and stayed married and had gained eighty pounds in the last two years and hadn’t touched anyone during those two years, not even his wife. "I had to do what I’ve done. I haven’t done it perfectly. I would change a lot if I could, but I had to do it." Had to? All that we had, all that we lost… Could not other choices have brought us to some better destination?

Carol Lynn Pearson,
in Good-bye, I Love You

All I know about Gerald is what Carol Lynn Pearson has told me. I wonder what his blog would look like. What would he say when asked, "Could not other choices have brought us to some better destination?" There were several other quotes I considered discussing from the book, but (besides being a little sick of it) it all comes down to Gerald and his family as a single case example. A true story of a man and his choices. Of how it affected his family. Of where his choices led him.

Choices and destinations are the basis for life--finding the right ones, the best ones,... finding that a particular choice led to an unexpected destination and then making new choices in hopes of evading that destination. Look at the cast of characters I've met in my corner of the blogosphere. Look at their choices and their hopes and dreams and their common humanity. It's spectacular in a way I can't compare to anything else I've experienced.

I don't care that I'm being dramatic and sappy (call it an ode to Pearson). I can't believe the immeasurable humanity I've read in blogs lately. Sure, the literary quality is variable, the syntax occasionally with something left to be desired (ha ha), but just look at the raw intensity of so many people sorting things out. Look at them looking at the situation with clever eyes, critical eyes, frightened eyes, brave eyes because it matters. Look at the serious tenor that underlines even the casual comments. After all, it is the one thing our human chemistry tells us matters more than anything else in life (even if such a message is disguised).

In a way that social stigma and geographic boundaries have long prohibited, blogs seem to let me see choices and destinations with alarming clarity. And yet, there are so many variables that I can't really feel confidence in all the conclusions I'm inclined to draw. But I'm thankful for the things I can learn.

And so I continue the journey.

Index of Pearson posts
Pearson, 1
Buried Life
Pearson, 2

Saturday, August 26, 2006


“Gerald talked nonstop about how happy he is and how much he’s learning.”

“ Did you believe him?”

“Not entirely. He’s chosen a position now that he has to defend.”

“Chosen? Okay, Mario, just how much of all this did Gerald choose?”

“Not his homosexuality. I don’t believe he chose that. That part just came. Homosexuality is not a sin. But unchastity is. I know people who are as homosexual as Gerald is who have made other choices and are working out very satisfactory family lives.”

“Have they changed? Really changed?”

“Changed. Adapted. Made deliberate choices. I don’t know. But there is more than one way to deal with all of this. I love Gerald. You know that. I’ve always considered him a very great man. He taught me some of the most important things I’ve ever learned. I have thought about him—about both of you—at least once a day for the last ten years. But everything he was telling me about having to follow the ‘real’ him… I don’t know, I just can’t buy that. Listen. I have watched someone close to me go with the ‘the real him’ all his life. And in order to be ‘true to himself’ he destroyed lots of other people along the way. Sacrifice is sometimes not a bad principle. Sometimes it leads not to death but to life. When you don’t ‘follow the music that’s in you,’ if there’s a noble reason for putting it away, maybe you will find an even richer music. I will always love Gerald, but his light is not as clear as it once was. He’s dealing with a lot of sadness and guilt and confusion. I’m sorry.”

Carol Lynn Pearson,
in Good-bye, I Love You

So, which is it then? Be true to yourself, or forget yourself? I'm certain there are times when both are appropriate goals. Which is appropriate in the case of sexuality?

I was alarmed at the phrase "waste and wear out your life in service" when I was young, but it has grown on me like a fondness for ever darker chocolate. But there's also something hugely comforting in the words a friend of mine offered today: "you have to allow yourself the experience of being human."

I think the "real me" took a backseat when I got married. I signed up to give myself away. And I think the promise that, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it," rings true in this instance. I'm very happy even when I suck. Even when life sucks. My wife and my son make me so.

But I still wonder about the conflict between Emerson's, "See how the masses of men worry themselves into nameless graves, while here and there a great unselfish soul forgets himself into immortality," and Holmes', "Many people die with their music still in them. Why is this so? Too often it is because they are always getting ready to live. Before they know it, time runs out."

True to yourself, or forget yourself?

I really think God wants me to sacrifice certain things, and I'm game. Game to keep trying.

Friday, August 25, 2006


When I learned how many of the men I had been friends with in college were gay, I was astonished. I discovered that two women acquaintances were homosexual and eight long-standing male friends were also gay. Eventually I spoke to all these men. Two had married, had children, and divorced. One had been married briefly and then had the marriage annulled. One was in a committed gay relationship that had lasted fifteen years. Two had had various gay relationships and were still hoping for true love. One had been deeply involved in the gay lifestyle, found it was taking him nowhere, had made the decision to be celibate and said that he was very happy. Another had spent years pursuing a gay life and then surprised everyone by marrying and having children; he had counted the cost and decided that more than anything even if it was not always comfortable, he wanted a family. My life would be less without these good friends, and I shake my head with the irony of it all: I had thought that Gerald was the only homosexual man I had ever known. As the wife of a homosexual man, I had felt so alone. And so, I suppose, had the three wives of my friends—the women who had been left in the wreckage by men who only wanted to do the right thing. Why had we all been so alone?

Carol Lynn Pearson,
in Good-bye, I Love You

The first part I quoted yesterday of The Buried Life speaks of "lovers powerless to reveal to one another what indeed they feel." There is a sense in which this is necessarily true. Some feelings are impossible to fully verbalize. But in another sense, we only perceive that other feelings are too incriminating to be honest about. Happily, every time I've tried to be less alone by sharing my burdens with my wife, good has come of it. It's not always immediate. It's occasionally an emotional and messy disaster at first... but then there's the truth out in the open, manageable as only the truth can be.

Was it a good thing that I didn't hang out with gay friends in college? Was it a good thing that I didn't have a support group who may or may not have encouraged me to be true to my values? I don't know. Luckily, there are many supports available to gays these days along the entire spectrum of thought. One should be able find a group consistent with their own values without too much trouble, for what groups are worth (see my sidebar, for example).

There are books, movies, and news clips being produced with increasing frequency that shed light on gay Mormon issues, and I can only hope they reach some of the closeted folks who are trying to figure out how to deal. As for me, I do wish some of my gay bloggin' buddies were around every once in a while to sit down and share a cheese fry. But, luckily, sitting here by myself I don't feel lonely at all.

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Buried Life

"No one’s spirit is gay or straight, but right now, in this life, as Gerald Pearson, I am a homosexual. I have got to follow that. You’re right. I could be celibate. If I didn’t >need to know and feel and experience, if I were content to just live on the surface of things, I could give it all up. I could squash myself down and bind myself up and tell life to go around and not through me. But, Blossom, I’m a person who needs to live! I am not an empty person. I’ve got to plunge into a life and find out what’s there for me! If I don’t, I’ll gradually die, piece by piece by piece. And I’ll be of no value to anybody, not you or the children or myself!"

Carol Lynn Pearson,
in Good-bye, I Love You

I found this highly offensive. I tried not to. But, Gerald, am I then an "empty person"? Is life merely going around and not through me? Am I not truly living? [Makes obscene gesture at Gerald.]

Gerald isn't the first I've heard make this charge, and he's no doubt not the last. I can imagine if I were him I would quickly add that what I say applies to nobody but myself... that I mean only that I could not live such a life, but that others might (although secretly to myself I would doubt it).

Actually, I have said something very much like that. When people ask me if I think every gay Mormon man should get married I say that my path is only for me. And it's a constant theme in the gay Mormon blogs that each one must reach down deep inside one's self and decide how to deal with this difficult situation.

But then there's that nagging absolutist deep down inside of me trying to claw out. Trying to say, "No, the answer for EVERYBODY is to trust that God knows more about our happiness than we do ourselves. What we can feel is so limited. We're like young children screaming to get away from the needle coming at us, the needle that will save our life."

And then the pragmatic L steps in and sasses back, "People know what makes them happy. They know it more than they know that something unseen and unsure can improve on the here and now." And then the absolutist L violently assaults the pragmatic L with an anvil and the spectator L grabs the popcorn.

The two L's invariably come to a compromise. The absolutist L, being much older and stronger, lays down the law that I internally acknowledge that everyone will be better off following God, but the spry and resilient pragmatic L won't back down until the concession is made that everyone should be allowed to figure that out for themselves, even if it's a tragedy. Gerald, for example, got a lot less life than he expected. And that's not just because he died of AIDS. He was unhappy as a gay man (although I'll save the quote on that for a later post).

But, pragmatic L insists, plenty of gay guys are plenty happy. It's not all tragedies. Absolutist L mutters under his breath, "Yeah, in this life." And spectator L throws his popcorn at the two and says, "Shut up, the poem is coming up."

...Alas! is even love too weak
To unlock the heart, and let it speak?
Are even lovers powerless to reveal
To one another what indeed they feel?
I knew the mass of men conceal'd
Their thoughts, for fear that if reveal'd
They would by other men be met
With blank indifference, or with blame reproved;
I knew they lived and moved
Trick'd in disguises, alien to the rest
Of men, and alien to themselves--and yet
The same heart beats in every human breast!
There rises an unspeakable desire
After the knowledge of our buried life;
A thirst to spend our fire and restless force
In tracking out our true, original course;
A longing to inquire
Into the mystery of this heart which beats
So wild, so deep in us--to know
Whence our lives come and where they go.

When Gerald heard this poem on Music and the Spoken Word, it was the first moment he knew absolutely that he was gay. Spectator L munches on a handful of junior mints and chuckles at the irony of why the poem was probably included in that religious program vs. how Gerald interpreted it.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006


"I don't want to turn our children over to an organization that will teach them to hate their father," he said.

"Gerald," I responded quickly, "you know that there is no person or organization anywhere on this earth that could teach your children to hate you. You know they love and adore you, and they always will."

"But the Church will tell them that I am evil."

"Look, Gerald," I said. "I understand your feelings toward the Church, but without it you wouldn't have developed into the person you are, or have the spiritual interest you do. I think the Church has done a lot for you."

There were tears in Gerald's eyes when he answered me. "That's the trouble, Blossom. I love the Church. And the Church detests me. That's why it hurts so much!"
Carol Lynn Pearson,
in Good-bye, I Love You

I have to admit there's a lot here that I just plain don't get. Not that the actual words have obscure meaning, but the pervasive disagreement about the church's actual attitude toward homosexuality held among gays, members, and SSA practicing Mormons. The church says they love us. Gays say the church hates us.

I was interested to learn that the church had advocated electroshock aversion therapy at BYU and that priesthood leaders have said such offensive things as that it would be better to be at the bottom of the Great Salt Lake with a millstone around your neck than to be gay or that homosexuality is equivalent in depravity to bestiality.

Apologetic apologist or not, I come out with a kind take on the church. I'm inclined to think one can believe whatever one wants about the church in this regard. I wonder if it's one of those things that reflects on the interpreter more than the subject material itself.

For example, priesthood leaders are either plain wrong (not unheard of) or overemphasizing something for its rhetorical impact when they speak of death being better than sin. It's certainly a notion that has home in parts of the scriptures and makes sense in a tactical "how will you make it through life's tests" sort of way. It also has the unfortunate side effect of alienating the vulnerable person who already feels ashamed and desperate--of giving the false impression that the church wants the person dead. Not a strategic repentance-motivating discussion I would endorse, but also not literally technically inaccurate. Rhetorically stupid, yes, but stupidity is more easily excused than hatred.

I haven't given bestiality much thought, but my guess is that it is wholly different from homosexuality and that those who compare them are just plain wrong (and perhaps willfully ignorant, I don't know). I don't know that folks are actually attracted to animals, I've always thought it was kind of an elaborate form of masturbation. It's really disgusting though, and on that basis I can see how some people would compare it to their view of gay sex. Again, poor communication and ignorance are bad, but not necessarily the same as hatred.

Shock therapy doesn't bother me nearly as much as some people. Medical history is filled with unsuccessful interventions that made lots of sense on paper. We hurt people all the time in medicine to bring about some positive result. Surgery is "cut to cure". We literally flay a person's chest open with huge metal retractors and then rip pieces of their body out... and they let us because they're better off afterward. To the extent that participants were not compelled to undergo the shock therapy and the practitioners had reasonable hope that the outcome they all desired was possible, it's not as huge of a deal as it seems. It is grotesque to think about and unfortunate to say the least, but not some scene out of Frankenstein that it's painted to be by the activists I've seen describing it.

The church has repeatedly expressed its love for gays (although they stubbornly use their own language) and its desire based on that love that gays repent and enjoy all the happiness and blessings of the gospel. God, His prophets, and His organization don't "detest" us. However, there is still too much ignorance, still offensive language used, and still misunderstandings, and battling it all is worth a go.

Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pearson, 1

"I was not being dishonest with you when we married. I loved you. You were wonderful and I really did love you. I thought that the problem would be taken care of. They told me it would be. I did everything they said to do. And I thought for a few months that everything was changed."

"But, Gerald," I interrupted, "we were--I was--happy."

"And I was too, in many, many ways. Blossom, this is not your fault. Maybe you think it is, but it has nothing to do with you, only with me. Yes, we were happy. I liked being with you. I even liked being with you physically. But to me it was we were such good friends that we shared everything with each other, even sex. It was never quite like... like lovers. There is this other thing in me, Blossom, and it has never gone away and I know now that it never will. There is this thing in me that needs, that insists that my strongest feelings be for a man. It is a need that seems to be as deep in me as my need for food and breath. I tried to beat it to death, to strangle it, to smother it. And it has not died. Blossom, I know the anguish you've been through this last week. Can you understand that I have been in anguish too? And for more than a week."

"Gerald," I said, "it's wrong!"

"Wrong!" Gerald put his face into his hands and then looked up. "I have taken that word and used it like a whip on myself. I have flagellated myself with that word until I'm bloody. But it does not change things. I have fasted, I have prayed. How many thousands of prayers I have prayed! And it does not change things. If my homosexuality is wrong, then I am wrong, the fact of my being is wrong. Because that's what I am!"
Carol Lynn Pearson,
in Good-bye, I love you

I read Pearson's book about her gay husband dying of AIDS a few weeks ago. It was before I read the article about her daughter, Emily, having also married a gay man and thinking she could make it work. The book was strange to me. I kept reading it trying to assess Pearson's view of homosexuality. I tried to read it for the underlying message. It wasn't until I abandoned that approach and just appreciated that she was telling a story--a story with all the ups, downs, questions, and ambivalence left intact--that I really started enjoying it.

There were places she made me angry. There were many places she made me cry. I was in a public place and kept feeling self conscious. I recommend it to anyone interested in homosexuality and Mormonism.

As for the quote above, I have a few comments. I can agree that my wife and I are not lovers in a burning infatuation and lust sort of sense--something I miss greatly. But we are lovers in the most literal sense of the word. We "make" love of the true kind. We produce it from thin air by being what we are and what we want and what we can be for each other. Love is something I've been meaning to blog on but haven't gotten around to it (yes, I say this all the time!).

This passage brings out so many other issues--the hope for change, the futility of forcing the issue, the very real and unjustified self-hatred we experience, the confusion, the logical quandaries inherent in identity. Happiness without happiness. It makes me feel strangely close to Pearson.

Index of Pearson posts
Pearson, 1
Buried Life
Pearson, 2

Monday, August 21, 2006

Always the guest

Over the weekend I had an experience that interrupted my peace... brought up a rush of familiar angst. As I talked to my wife about it, my mind wandered to high school and an experience that may be meaningful.

The experience itself doesn't really have a story to it, it's more of a snapshot. I'm lying on my back in a field watching the stars with three guys from school that I really admire. Two of them are the co-captains of the soccer team, two are on the school's competitive academic team with me, one is a leader in band with me, and one is my best friend. All three are way smart, good looking, self confident, and all around nice guys. In short, I find them to be oddly appealing and incomprehensible. I want to be like them. I want... them.

And how does one have another person?

I think the healthy way to dispatch such feelings is to become good friends with people I admire. To come to know them well enough that they are at once a real person with real faults, someone who affirms my own humanity and value, and someone who is worth knowing even when I see they aren't as perfect as I thought.

That didn't happen for me in high school. Well, not enough, anyway. As we chatted under the stars about friends from school, astronomy (yeah, we were geeky like that), and everything else, I felt great. There was acceptance and an intangible affirmation for me. But ultimately, after the campout was all over I felt like an outsider. These guys had known each other longer than me. I felt like they had a friendship with each other that was more genuine than my own. I was the last invited on the campout. I hadn't been invited to others at all, but that was probably because I lived further away and was a relative new-comer. I was a guest.

I don't want to be a guest. I want to have them for myself. How can I satisfy that hunger? How can I be home?

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Eternal sex

There is, I admit, something definitionally inadequate about sex with my wife. I deny charges that we don't have adequate emotional intimacy or sexual intimacy or more intimacy than you can shake a stick at, but there is something there to be desired. And that's why I'm trying to objectively look at the data about changing my sexual orientation. It's actually quite difficult with the shrieking always in the background from people who (wrongly) claim that the question is already answered, or that I'm bound to end up suicidal if I undertake such an interest and hope.

Not to worry, I'm not going to become suicidal. And even if I don't achieve certified straight sex in my life, the sex we do have will suffice quite nicely, I'm sure. And the happiness and intimacy we currently share in our marriage increases constantly and I have no reason to believe that will stop despite the expressed fears of some that marriages like mine end up like some prison sentence.

Even if, as the data seems to suggest, deliberately changing one's sexual orientation is unlikely in this life, I still think I'll achieve "full sexual expression" in the next life. I mentioned something about resurrection in the SLT article and it was quoted on some blogs and ridiculed savagely. (Savage ridicule is so... worthy of reciprocity.) Granted, I can't annotate a great concordance with all the scriptural references for my belief in this department, but my thoughts seem highly consistent with what I know about the gospel and our eventual destination.

I think the biological components of same sex attraction--the actual neurological pathways and genetics and brain imprinting--will be "healed" in the resurrection to be consistent with the actual purpose of the reproductive system. The psychological aspects like emotional ties and relationships I'm not so sure about (which is one reason I think chastity is an eternal true principle). Ties to men loved during mortality will no longer be supported by physical attraction nor sanctioned by legal or divine authority. A life of love and common experiences will end when we're set to whatever our eternal jobs will be. But the emotional ties will probably remain, and to that end gays will have inadvertently created an eternal situation ironically similar to the temporary one I'm in now--one in which they are not fully sexually compatible with the person with whom they've shared their life. I imagine this might be an instance in which my imagined explanation of why gay love is ultimately wrong applies... of why gay love is good, but not good enough.

Anyway, those musings are ancillary to the true point of this post. The point is, I look forward to a time when, if not in this life then the next, I will be fully sexually compatible with my wife. What a foolish thing, some believe, to gamble so much on faith in a situation after death. But, I'm happy to do it. Gambling on my spirituality has yielded nothing but returns so far.

Friday, August 18, 2006

How do you know?

A frequent refrain on this blog is the contrast between what seems to make sense about accepting one's sexuality and the tension I feel because of my understanding of what God expects of us. I acknowledge there are many worldviews that good people hold on the topic, but I also feel almost apologetic in asserting that I still think any particular lovely worldview may have no basis in reality. I'm bound by the truth that I know, and despite plenty of compelling arguments as to why my life would be better, more peaceful, and more satisfying heading down a different road, I don't think it's ultimately true.

The investigation is a balance between constant re-evaluation and learning, and not conceding what I already know. And, unfortunately, it's fraught with potential for misunderstandings and offense. I've posted obliquely about how there's an interplay between knowledge and faith, certitude and unsupported confidence, but the question always seems to return: how do you know? One small part of the puzzle is living prophets. I find comfort in prophetic guidance when I see so many people making different decisions for their lives in the name of being true to themselves. It's a bit of a puzzle to know how to respond when people claim to have reached an entirely different God-sanctioned direction for themselves than I think God has indicated is appropriate.

The interplay between rationality and faith, between personal confidence and informed skepticism, is always tricky. I think I'm on the right track even while I note what I think are mistakes in the approaches of others. Many apologies for the indecency of assessing such a thing. I know some will take it to be judgmental, but I find it a decidedly important part of determining how to live one's life (and how not to). In terms of revelation, I found the following information from an old professor of mine to be helpful:

Joseph Smith taught early in his ministry that God has a system, an order by which he communicates with his children and with his prophets; that to claim to receive revelation which in fact does not come from God, to speak in the name of the Lord when one is not authorized to do so, is essentially to take the name of the Lord God in vain ( Doctrine and Covenants 63:62). Members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints who have studied the tenets of their faith and the principles and doctrines associated therewith have come to know that:

  • A person claiming a revelation from God must be acting within the realm of his or her own stewardship. That is, one may receive revelation from God for himself or for those under his charge, but “it is contrary to the economy of God for any member of the Church, or anyone, to receive instruction for those in authority, higher than themselves” (TPJS, 21). In short, the early Saints learned that “revelations of the mind and will of God to the Church, are to come through the [First] Presidency. This is the order of heaven and the power and privilege of this Priesthood. It is also the privilege of any officer in this Church to obtain revelations, so far as relates to his particular calling and duty in the Church” (TPJS, 111).
  • A person claiming a revelation from God should be worthy to receive the same. That is, he or she must be living a life that is in keeping with the standards of the Church, must be in good standing before God and God’s people.
  • A supposed revelation must be in harmony with the teachings of scripture, prophets, and the law and order of the Church. If, for example, someone were to come to me and indicate that she had received a revelation to be dishonest in order to improve her financial situation, I would know at once that such a solution, though practical, was not inspired. If a person were to say to me that God had instructed him that the Church should go in a different direction entirely and that he was the one to lead the Church in that direction, I would know that the purported oracle was not of God. What, then, about such unusual scriptural commands as Abraham being asked to sacrifice Isaac? My suggestion has always been that we as rank-and-file members abide by the rules and leave the exceptions to the called and ordained prophets. A modern apostle, Boyd K. Packer, observed that “there are those who claim authority from some secret ordinations of the past. Even now some claim special revealed authority to lead or to teach the people. ... “There have been ... too many ordinations and settings apart performed before too many witnesses; there have been too many records kept, too many certificates prepared, and too many pictures published in too many places for any one to be deceived as to who holds proper authority. Claims of special revelation or secret authority from the Lord or from the Brethren are false on the face of them and really utter nonsense!” (CR, Apr. 1985, 43; see also Doctrine and Covenants 42:11).
  • The revelation will build one’s faith in Jesus Christ, in the Church and kingdom, and in the constituted authorities of the Church. That is to say, God will not work against himself

Thursday, August 17, 2006


We’re not talking about a unique challenge here. We’re talking about a common condition of mortality. We don’t understand exactly the ‘why,’ or the extent to which there are inclinations or susceptibilities and so on. But what we do know is that feelings can be controlled and behavior can be controlled. The line of sin is between the feelings and the behavior. The line of prudence is between the susceptibility and the feelings. We need to lay hold on the feelings and try to control them to keep us from getting into a circumstance that leads to sinful behavior.
There is a great underlying need in the human psyche to avoid blaming oneself. Otherwise rational people can become completely unreasonable after having done something regrettable. To the extent that my current situation is the result of my own poor choices in the past, I am certainly inclined to say "it's not my fault." I'm inclined to justify and explain why the circumstances conspired against me. Why anyone would have done the same. Why I'm still a good person.

Fully convinced that regardless of it all, I am still a good person, God still loves me, and my infinite value has not been compromised, I now want to step back and seek to understand more about myself without pulling any self-inflicted punches. Unfortunately, as I do so, I expect my conclusions to be extrapolated to others who will feel attacked, and I will probably be roundly criticized. But I'll go ahead and risk it.

Elder Oaks has long been one of my favorite speakers. He's articulate, logical, and just plain fascinating. His insight is astounding, and although I don't always understand immediately what he is saying, I'm always better off for having thought about it.

In particular I've struggled to understand his explanation of the distinction between inclinations, feelings, and behaviors and when one is responsible for each. My medical training inclines me to believe there are situations in which behaviors are not chosen (and the doctrine of the innocence of little children and developmentally disabled persons seems to support this), and I think there are certainly cases where negative feelings are fostered leaving the person culpable for them. But I think these are the exceptions and feelings are typically not chosen while behaviors are. Oaks, I think, agrees.

Feelings are another matter. Some kinds of feelings seem to be inborn. Others are traceable to mortal experiences. Still other feelings seem to be acquired from a complex interaction of “nature and nurture.” All of us have some feelings we did not choose, but the gospel of Jesus Christ teaches us that we still have the power to resist and reform our feelings (as needed) and to assure that they do not lead us to entertain inappropriate thoughts or to engage in sinful behavior.

Some have taken this assessment to be a condemnation of gays for not being able to control their feelings. I think this is an unkind interpretation. I, for one, am plagued by continued unwanted feelings of attraction for men around me. It's happened this morning already, actually. It happens all the time.

For example, during this morning's conference meeting I saw a resident physician that I'm particularly attracted to. When I see him or think about him, I'm faced with a choice of what my mind will do. I can imagine making out with him, or touching his chest, or something perhaps more graphic yet, or I can rummage through my brain and try to remember why it is that I chose to be married. To remember why I believe chastity is virtuous. Honestly, I've responded to attractive men both ways. Over time I believe the better response has become more frequent. It's something I've tried to make happen. Unfortunately, in the past the unworthy response has been fostered and entertained. It's something that has nudged me toward relapsing in porn. It's something I've controlled one way or another through effort or laziness... I either consciously direct my feelings and thoughts or I let them slide where they will. To be the man I want to be, I have a long way to go.

I think my response to these thoughts and feelings contributes to the "inclination" issue. If I have a very graphic fantasy, I'm likely to immediately gravitate to such thoughts next time I see a hot guy. My inclination toward homosexuality is increased. And, honestly, I think this is true for me. I think I've done this and it has contributed to my homosexuality. Even now, as I type this, I've had to consciously work to not absolve myself of blame because my mind keeps telling me such a failure reflects on my value as a person. But that's the fallacy I need to avoid, not the oft suggested fallacy that is actually a truth that my thoughts are largely my own.

I have a feeling God is going to bless me with a long life. I'll keep doing my best to eradicate unwanted feelings, and I think that's what Elder Oaks is suggesting I do. I still have those feelings, but I'm not a bad person.

Wednesday, August 16, 2006

A few newcomers

I've been excited to meet several interesting people over the last week. Three new blogs of men I admire after knowing for a very short time include:

I've also added Smurf's blog to my sidebar with his recent permission and Silus Grok, who I've known of since he was featured on nine moons, but wasn't sure whether to link.

Speaking of links, there are about a half dozen gay Mormon blogs that I know of that I haven't linked to. This is usually because the blog contents aren't focused on gay or Mormon issues and they seem to be more biographical. I don't want to presumptively put undue emphasis on this one aspect of a person's identity by linking to an otherwise unrelated blog. I mean, belonging to what my wife calls the Mormon Queerosphere should be voluntary! Having said that, sometimes I just link without asking anyway. I'll be happy to take down if you don't want a link. I'm kind of random like that, I guess.

I would be happy to link anyone's blog who faces similar challenges or discusses gay Mormon issues. That might change if the list gets too long, but for now, just let me know. Really. If you don't mind, I'll link.

Tuesday, August 15, 2006


Whether homosexuality is a disease or not doesn't matter to me for the typical reasons. But it's interesting to think about, and I do have a few opinions.

There are good reasons not to call it a disease separate from all the political and activist posturing. Historically diseases carry stigma (they shouldn't, but they do). A couple hundred years ago diseases were thought to have not a single etiological cause, but to result from any of several sufficient causes that were associated with character or moral weaknesses. Even now physicians get lots of training on not making value judgments about patient behaviors. If they're 500 pounds because they have no self control, you don't treat them any differently. If they come in every 2 weeks with a new STD, you just give them antibiotics and some advice on how to avoid a future problem. But, this clinical detachment doesn't always work, and even for diseases with etiologies completely outside the person's control, people sometimes judge. To the extent that homosexuality has long been characterized as a disease as indicative of moral deficiency and weak character, it has rightly been removed from the DSM as a psychiatric illness.

However, I think there are still good reasons to call homosexuality a disease too. Sure, I'm willing to concede that there's no necessary psychopathology, but what about just plain old physiologic pathology? It's rare to find professionals who connect the reproductive system with reproduction, for some reason, but you can't reproduce with a gay reproductive drive without some conscious intervention. I'd say that qualifies it for most definitions of disease I've seen. And mitigating a disease doesn't change it's status as a disease, it just changes its status to "controlled" or "cured". For those (like me) who would prefer to be sexually attracted to women for purposes of procreation, having righteously dissociated homosexuality from disease status or pathology of any kind effectively eliminates my access to relevant medical or psychiatric care, a crime all on its own.

Professional medical organizations spend a lot of time lobbying for or against CMS (Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services) designation of something as a disease because it always translates into reimbursement for medical services provided. For example, if obesity is a disease, you get reimbursed for someone coming in to your doctor's office and working out a treatment plan. If it's not a disease, you either don't get paid or you have to put down an associated diagnosis that is a disease (like diabetes, or high blood pressure, or sleep apnea). In the case of homosexuality, if I want professional help (rather than having a do-it-yourself and safety-be-damned attitude) I have to pony up the cash myself because everyone's so afraid I'll be stigmatized by being labeled as "diseased". For crying freaking out loud, label me and let me pay my $20 copay!!!

But, oh yeah. It's not about what's best for me. It's about pushing for civil rights. I'll just be a martyr then. Since I have no choice.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Brokering gays

Here's some logic that's guiding the rules on gays these days.
  • If homosexuality is a disease, it is not an intrinsic part of a personal identity and can't or shouldn't be the basis for civil rights discussions.
  • If homosexuality can be changed (or "cured" depending on the political spin you choose), then similarly it can't be compared to racial or gender-based civil rights arguments since it is not an intrinsic part of an identity.
  • If homosexuality is biologically determined (either genetically or environmentally), it might be comparable to race and gender for civil rights arguments even if it can subsequently be changed.
So, really, whether or not homosexuality is a disease has vast political consequences. And nobody is going to concede as long as a scientific opponent can be eviscerated, a religious group slandered, or a gay-rights activist lambasted for their "agenda". Everybody get those bumper-stickers that say "if you're not outraged, you're not paying attention" and then cluster in groups to strategize how best to vilify your enemies and promote your respective love-motivated agendas. But most of all, don't forget to put your best efforts into amassing your arsenal of gays that exemplify your view.

I feel like a commodity. Here I am trying to live my life in a self-actualized sort of way, making choices that are consistent with my values, working to build a family based on love and commitment, and battling my unique set of personal demons, when along comes medical societies, special interests, and churches trying to define the issues and filter my access to information and resources. They want me and my case to be a piece of evidence that promotes their goals. They want me as one of the cards they can play to trump the other side. I sort of get the feeling that my happiness doesn't interest people as much as how I can be used.

I wish people would acknowledge that it doesn't matter whether homosexuality is a disease or not or whether it is biologically determined or not. What matters is that I, as an individual, would like to make informed decisions about how best to live my own life. But all the finger-pointing, moral superiority, and declarations of an objectively scientifically backed view all conspire to decay my confidence in any information I find. And without good information, it's hard to feel informed. I feel like I have to be a pioneer and figure out everything for myself if I don't hop on some particular ideological bandwagon.

But, I'm trying to stay off the bandwagon regardless. I'd rather not be reduced to a chunk on someone's side of the scale. I'll just walk by myself.

Sunday, August 13, 2006


Last Friday I put a stat counter on my blog so that I would have a baseline of how many visitors I typically get before the Salt Lake Tribune article was published in Saturday's paper. This didn't work too well since the first time I looked at my stats I had already received traffic referred from the Tribune's site--the online article went up on Friday.

I've watched the flow of visitors on the blog skyrocket and now wane. I feel kind of relieved because there was a certain pressure when I knew hundreds of people would read what I had written. I thought I needed to convey anything I wanted to convey as effectively as possible for this one shot to... what? I think I wanted to let people know I'm not a crazy person and I'm not kidding myself. I wanted to let people know that there are plenty of great people who deal with homosexuality that need love and understanding. I wanted to let someone out there like me know that you shouldn't listen to nay-sayers who think they can tell you what's possible with your life.

But, really, let's be honest. This blog isn't exactly going to win a Pulitzer Prize for its insights and literary quality. It's really about my story, my journey, and my issues. And frankly, I'm kind of sick of the article and the associated speculation about why I got married or why my wife agreed to it or whether we have any real intimacy or whether we have any chance to stay married... I'm ready to move on.

The other side effect of the spotlight that I'm trying to mitigate by writing about it now is the pressure I've felt to change the way I present myself. I find that I don't want to write about how I haven't looked at porn since that post a good while ago, and I don't want to say that I've been feeling particularly tempted. I don't want to get back to the 12 step posts that I intended to write as a workbook of sorts. I don't want people looking at my issues and saying, "See? He's a nut-job. There's no way that marriage is going to work!" In short, some of the personal benefit of the blog has been threatened. I don't care if people write "I told you so!" every time I post on something that I'm struggling with. I'm going to post anyway. And then I'll swear at them.

And so, I'm a little happy that my visitors today are only one fifth what they were a week ago. The pressure (imaginary or real) is relieved, and I'm glad.

Thursday, August 10, 2006

Marriage advice

Our marriage started normally enough. High-stress wedding planning with a variety of mishaps and offended relatives was followed by a wedding we had hoped would take place during a cool sunny time surrounded by content smiling relatives. What we got was packs of sticky crabby children running around uncontrollably in a blistering humid swelter, and a set of adults who look in our photos as if they would rather be at the dentist.

That night I lost my virginity in an experience that could be described variously as wonderful and traumatic. We settled in finding out what each other was really like, and realizing that marriage involves seeing disgusting personal aspects you would otherwise never have to tolerate. We learned over the course of months how to make sex work, and with what I assume is a typical number of spats and apologies we now find ourselves comfortably acclimated to married life.

But there's more to the story than that. Much more.

We went to a marriage counselor before we were even married. I see this as a key decision. We talked through my homosexuality and my wife's willingness to accommodate me. We talked about what was possible, what was fair, what we feared and what we hoped. Our counselor knew very little if anything about our religious values, but he did a commendable job of working through the issues with us realistically.

I've been in personal counseling off and on since before we were married. I don't remember if there was anything in particular that precipitated my first visit. The first time was very difficult. I distinctly remember sitting in the waiting room before my appointment. I felt so self-conscious. I thought everyone must be looking at me wondering what I was doing in the office. Is he a wife-beater? A psycho? Suicidal? I hadn't started medical school yet, so I hadn't enjoyed formal training on mental health and the terrible problems with stigma and misunderstanding that go with counseling, but I consciously recognized in my mind that there was nothing wrong with my getting some professional help despite the strange feeling I was having. It felt like I was weak, but I recognized the self-awareness was actually more indicative of strength. I think it always is.

Over the years I've had a variety of counseling experiences. I've had an LDS therapist in a secular practice, a church employed counselor, phone counseling, student counseling, and couples counseling. Once I filled out all the paperwork in a counselors office and then had an uneasiness that I interpreted to mean I should look elsewhere. So I did. I just told them I changed my mind and walked out.

My wife has also enjoyed seeing a counselor. I don't know what exactly she works through during her sessions, but I know she's happier when she's had the chance to talk through things with a professional. I can think of at least one issue that she probably discusses with some regularity. [ha ha]

I've heard enough counseling horror stories to know that it is not a panacea. You have to be somewhat discriminating in finding a therapist. You have to do a lot of work on your own. And it can be expensive.

But my advice to anyone who is gay (and probably everyone else too) is to get comfortable with the idea of counseling. Get comfortable with the idea that living in this society with that particular issue is difficult no matter how you slice it. Get comfortable with the idea that it is not a sign of weakness but of strength to accept help. This advice is doubly emphatic if you are gay and in a straight marriage. And it's emphatic to the nth degree if you have found yourself happily married for years, but have never been fully honest about your sexuality with your spouse.

To every married person who reads this, I recommend you speak with your spouse to institute the following rule: either partner can request that either partner or both see a therapist and the other will agree without feeling defensive. That's what we've done, and I think we're a pretty damn good example.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Individual paths

I try to keep my posts on the short side. I think it's because I anticipate that everyone has an attention span about the same length as mine. But it's impossible to really put all the background information necessary into some of the discussions I want to have. Short of teaching the entire missionary discussions on my blog, I don't see how to change that.

But, I want people to understand something about my confidence in God and the Mormon church. I mean no disrespect to others when I say I believe that God speaks through individuals He has chosen, and that anyone else who tries to figure out what God is thinking by some other method is at a serious disadvantage. I end up following the church and the men who lead it because through various means I've come to understand the truth of what they say bit by bit. I'm not constrained to believe, I'm not forced to follow, and I'm not uncritical as I know I have yet to learn many things. Experience and an indescribable intuition sometimes called the still small voice lead me to become more and more certain that these guys (leaders of the LDS church) know what they're talking about.

That's not to say they know everything, or that they can't be wrong, or that they don't make mistakes. But it is to say they're the ones I need to be paying attention to for the, umm, "straight dope".

There are those who believe not only that the prophets and apostles are not, in fact, prophets and apostles, but that they know they aren't, and that their whole lives are an exercise in deception and fraud. These men spend every ounce of energy testifying of Jesus and the truths He taught. They plead for people to be more honest, for people to love one another. They waste and wear out their lives in service to follow the example of their ostensible leader the Savior... and this is all a crafty cover up of their secretly venomous and dishonest natures and for their diabolical scheme to... what, exactly?

You may have noticed in my sarcasm that I have a pretty firm opinion of those who maintain this line of thinking. They are stupid.

A more compelling argument is that these men honestly believe they are following God and receiving His revelation, but that they are in fact working from their own prejudices combined with various indistinct warm fuzzies. The people who believe this are smarter (and kinder) but I think they are still wrong.

Perhaps the most perplexing group are those that believe they are indeed prophets (or that the church is true) but that they're wrong not only on little things where one could imagine God left it to their own judgment, but on things big enough to warrant statements from the First Presidency, proclamations, and explicit positions on civic matters. I've had my difficulties reconciling my views on some of the issues, but one that seems particularly unequivocal is that gay sex is wrong. I can acutely appreciate misgivings about the best form of governance on this matter, but I can't see how the morality of gay sex is up in the air for anyone who has any confidence in the church whatsoever. And since romantic affection with the same gender leads to gay sex, it is also not such a good thing (as opposed to affirming platonic friendships). As I've said before, it's not that they're bad, it's that they're not good enough for the ultimate end God wants for us.

And that leaves someone like me in an unpleasant and lonely predicament. One that I've, after many years, miraculously been relieved of. But my solution (marriage) is not the same miracle God has for everyone similarly situated. In fact, I firmly agree with church leaders that marriage should never be a form of therapy to try to change a guy straight, and I attribute the high divorce rate of mixed orientation marriages to wedding out of desperation rather than full love and carefully measured honest heart and soul searching. The absence of easy answers leaves a lot of people in an uncomfortable limbo. I was there for a long time, and I realize the waiting is the hardest part. But waiting, changing, and searching can be worth it.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006


It’s kind of surreal to read about yourself in the news. The comment banter weighing out your worth and wisdom is another experience altogether. I mistakenly thought that I would get lots more comments on my own blog after the Tribune article was published, but I’ve found most people come quietly to read and then go somewhere else to whisper their incredulous disbelief at the spectacle that is me.

But, folks, this is the good ol’ WorldWideWeb. I can hear you. I will now indulge in sarcastically responding to your stupidity.

The unforgiveable part is the fact that they are *breeding*... I feel very, very sorry for their children.

Excuse me, I was out for a moment beating my son. You were saying? Oh yes, discussing my breeding habits… like I’m a dog. Well, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve successfully avoided DHS for 2 years now. I’ll pass along your condolences to my brilliant and well-adjusted toddler.

If you are gay and must get married--have a vasectomy. Children should not be made to pay for the ups and downs of your personal fullfillment odyssey.

I certainly hope you will do the same. Children should not be raised by ignorant bigots with Hitler-like agendas.

It is something else entirely to gamble with the emotional well-being of the children who are brought into the situation.

And yet I’ve seen in all the comments thus far not one shred of actual evidence that what we’re doing is bad for the kids. Even if the numbers were out there, it wouldn’t be a “gamble”. Where you fall in the distribution of a bell curve is not necessarily random.

The poor wife
This is a marriage that we know (and the partners know) is almost certain to fail.

No, we’re quite confident that we won’t fail, actually.

And I thought the women who married death row prisoners were nuts. I can't imagine marrying a guy who is openly gay. I just can't.
-Jennifer in Ohio

Well, if being nuts is a requirement, you’re well on your way.

Essentially, these are marriages of social convenience….
Would you want your daughter to enter such a marriage?

No, Mike, I can only hope she’ll be lucky enough to find a death row prisoner instead.

Ben in the article said he chose his heart over his libido. Sounds noble, sure, but it’s wishful thinking.

Following your heart… dreaming the impossible dream… such stupid concepts. Don Quixote is such an ass. I hope the windmill chops him in half. We realists know there are no happy endings ever.

I think that the folks who enter into these marriages are probably somewhat naive about what they’re dealing with.

What the hell? I just married a straight woman? What was I thinking? Why didn’t I actually give this some thought and research a little bit first? Why didn’t I ask the advice of every cynic on the web first? Why, why, why???

There is conservative critique, and then there is moving into outright self-hatred manifesting as political expression.
-Jason Pitzl-Waters

Okay, this wasn’t about me, but it does show the profoundly stupid notion that anyone who feels anything less than disdain for ex-gay therapy is filled with self-hate. Please.

Seriously, he's gay - great! He should live his life that way and not spend a life-time feeling guilty and trying to make it match what a man-made religion thinks he should be doing with his life. HIS life. Not theirs, as much as they make think so.

Can you please highlight the part of the article that says that our church dictated anything, anything at all about our decision, and send it over?

Wow. Repression-o-rama. I can't imagine how hard it would be to be told that your natural, normal attractions are wrong, and immoral and you must (should?) marry someone contrary to that attraction. Sad for all involved.

Again, highlighter? Must/should where? Just because we did something you don’t understand doesn’t mean we were coerced.

So I can understand why the two of them would want to try a mixed-marriage like this, but it was done "right" by the church for all the Wrong reasons.
The wrong reasons being love and commitment? Cuz that’s where we started from.

The confused gay

Has it never occurred to you that God created you homosexual for a reason, perhaps to help others of His creation become more honest, more compassionate, and more loving? And that, by living your life either in control of your "same-sex attraction" and closeted, or "openly gay" yet married to someone of the opposite sex for the sake of procreation was actually living a life contrary to God's plan for you?

I sincerely hope that the road ahead for you is far less painful than the obvious mine field I see you've laid out for yourself. Remember, it's never too late to be true to your authentic self. And by doing so, only then will you be true to God's plan for you.

I'm always amazed at the silly argument that God created us this way for a reason. Did he create someone with six fingers that way for a reason? (They're in big trouble for lopping of the spare, first chance they get!) What about someone stupid, should they feel satisfaction at maintaining allegiance to their true ignorant self by trying not to open their mind to new points of view? Are they more "authentic" as a dumbass? Maybe what God wants us to learn from being gay is humility, not complacency and self-justification.

Eventually, these gay people who are married to straights will either decide to accept they are gay and leave their current relationships or be very miserable up to and including suicide.

Says the Oracle of Delphi. I've seen examples of great mixed-orientation marriages, and I've seen the bad ones. But they're not me, and so really I have to go by the specifics of our situation, something you know nothing about. I have a healthy attitude toward counseling and professional assistance, as does my wife. Our marriage by every measure imaginable is more harmonious and nurturing than 99% of my coworkers and friends as near as I can tell. We’re both happy. We both laugh like hell. And I think we’ll be fine.

I acknowledge a lot of this is out of context, but it gives you a feel for the discussion. And it's been cathartic for me to indulge in a little sassiness directed at what I see occasionally as rancorous ignorance.

Monday, August 07, 2006

My favorite color

In moving closer to God, will I have to be homogenized? Will we all eventually shine the same bright white, or can I shine golden, or spring green, or vivid tangerine? Will my dark desires be the catalysts that make me more like God, or will they keep me different? Do I give off my own wavelength of light just by moving close to God, a cosmic Doppler Effect that somehow allows my movement to shine my own color of beauty to the stationary viewer, even as I draw closer to the center of the Universe, where gods and matter end? Is my individuality burned up beautifully like a meteor as I draw closer to my goals? Is the incredible journey to sameness the thing that sets us apart in the end? Are our scars what make us beautiful?

My favorite color was red for a while as a kid. Then it was blue. I leveled off at green during high school and college and now I'm leaning toward vivid tangerine. I bought a rainbow tie over the weekend. I asked my wife if she thought it looked too gay but then decided I shouldn't worry. I like rainbows and I always have.

If God tells me the favorite color I should have, I'll agree. But in the mean time, I'm enjoying my scarlet couch cover.

I'm pretty sure He never will.

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Perfect empathy

I’m fasting today. It’s nice. During the sacrament I shed a few tears when I thought about the Savior—about what He knows about me and how He is the perfect man.

When I posted a series on my beliefs, I never wrote about the Savior. I noticed it then, and I noticed again when I was putting together my blog index. I think I hesitated for multiple reasons, foremost among them that I had nothing to say that I considered to be particularly insightful. (Not that that’s stopped me most of the time!) It also seemed to be slightly inappropriate for some reason. But I’m not sure why.

In The Miracle of Forgiveness, President Kimball does not distinguish between same sex attraction and sin. I think this is why his writings there in particular have offended many men who struggle with this issue. I, personally, love President Kimball and his huge heart in encouraging us all to be repentant and receive the blessings of the atonement in our lives.

In that book though, he asks rhetorically if people can possibly believe Jesus was “that way”. He suggests it is abhorrent to even consider, but on a topic that is so important to me, I need to understand why. If, as subsequent church leaders have taught, the inclination itself is not a sin, then how do we know Jesus was not in fact inclined “that way”? I do not mean to be sacrilegious, but to contemplate whether those who agree with the brethren that the attraction itself is not a sin will find themselves balking at the suggestion that Jesus himself could have been sinless under just such circumstances. If you squirm, ask yourself, why? When the church can unflinchingly consider this, we will have grown remarkably in our tolerance, and there will be far less need for someone like me to be anonymous.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Half a year

I'm coming up on my 6th month blog anniversary and it seems like an especially appropriate time to put together a blog index of sorts. Here's a series I wrote as a snapshot of my experience in medical school with discrimination as a gay Mormon. It's probably as good as any place to start. Or you can go back to one of my first posts that was a basic introduction to my thoughts and feelings.

I started this blog with 2 main purposes in mind:
  1. For me to journal through my issues. I enjoy getting feedback on my thoughts, but I'm not quite ready to brainstorm with the Elders' Quorum. I've reviewed a couple books on reparative therapy, opined on guilt, happiness, and morality from both the LDS and secular gay perspective. I have a lot to learn and I reserve the right to waffle!
  2. To advocate for issues relevant to homosexuals and Mormons so that I can perhaps be of service to others who are in a similar situation. I've written on my beliefs, my faith, scientific and political fallacies, and intolerance.
I think my wife and I have done a lot of things right. And I think we're reaping the benefits. Naysayers abound, and nobody should naively believe that a straight/gay mixed marriage is without its problems. But it was God's will for us. I can't say what others should do, but you may have your own miracle in store.

Friday, August 04, 2006

Out, honest, and anonymous

There's a thread on Times and Seasons in which Ben (Master Fob) is lauded for his courage in attaching his name to a recent Salt Lake Tribune article. Overly self-critical, I'm prone to take this as an indictment of my lily-livered reluctance.

I've been asking myself why I'm so inclined to stay anonymous. I feel good about myself and I truly believe I have nothing to be particularly ashamed of. I've mentioned a fair number of sins on this blog (being gay is not one of them), but none that have been unaddressed, and I suppose that's part of the beauty of blogging about it--it moves me toward resolution. I get value from being frank in this blog. I enjoy the candid exchange on topics that matter to me.

I've discussed through comments the pros and cons of coming "out" to my family and decided that it's not what I want or need right now. I'm here. I'm on the blog and I'm real. I'll do my advocating that way--advocating for gays and for Mormons to one another. There may be some future time when I want to put my name behind my words. I can see how that has potential to be more effective.

However, this blog contains the good the bad and the ugly. It's what I would have said, had I been Mel Gibson drunk. Everyone might say, "See, there are his true colors, we hate him, he's trash," instead of saying, "perhaps he fights every day to deliberately shape his thinking into what he wants to believe rather than the prejudicial way he's inclined." Well, I don't know much about the Mel Gibson fiasco, except I've seen no such charitable assessment. Blood is in the water and it ain't pretty. Do I want some version of that for myself in which people I look in the eye on a regular basis judge my suitability as a parent, my decisions, my beliefs, and my sexual situation?

Even though I love and trust them, I'm not too excited to have my family read this blog either. It's not how I would present myself to anyone who knows me regardless of the fact that it is completely honest. Unrestrained honesty is not always the best thing. When we confess and forsake certain sins, we don't do so before the whole world. So, I'm keeping with our family decision to stay anonymous while hoping to hang on to the value journaling through this journey gives me. And if, by chance, you think you know me, please respect our wishes by keeping it to yourself.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

A live-oak growing

I SAW in Louisiana a live-oak growing,
All alone stood it, and the moss hung down from the branches;
Without any companion it grew there, uttering joyous leaves of dark green,
And its look, rude, unbending, lusty, made me think of myself;
But I wonder’d how it could utter joyous leaves, standing alone there, without its friend, its lover near—for I knew I could not;
And I broke off a twig with a certain number of leaves upon it, and twined around it a little moss,
And brought it away—and I have placed it in sight in my room;
It is not needed to remind me as of my own dear friends,
(For I believe lately I think of little else than of them;)
Yet it remains to me a curious token—it makes me think of manly love;
For all that, and though the live-oak glistens there in Louisiana, solitary, in a wide flat space,
Uttering joyous leaves all its life, without a friend, a lover, near,
I know very well I could not.

-Walt Whitman

Being the artistic type, I made my own Christmas cards for friends one year in high school. They were pretty great cards, actually. They were a watercolored painting with a calligraphied poem, both chosen because they reminded me of that person. I gave a painting of a tree with this Whitman poem to my best friend. I didn't mean anything gay by it. I just meant that I loved him. I think he took it just the right way (but now that I know Whitman was gay I sometimes wonder what his parents thought of it!).

I like this poem because, despite how Whitman may have intended it, it describes well the visceral yearning I have for a man's love. It's something reparative therapists describe just as gay advocates do. There's a need there for companionship and love irrespective of sexuality. But in my case (and some would argue every case), the need is a paradoxical need of sorts. Ideally, one's companion could be everything to that person, including sexually. But a man could never give me a family. And a woman could never fulfill me sexually. My yearnings for mutually exclusive ends need a little cognitive oversight.

Despite how hard it has been to give up on my desire for a fully deep and sexual relationship with a man, I took the step to build a relationship with someone who my feelings never told me was ideal. Because, despite that I loved to be around her, and she was my best friend, she was a woman. The decision took a long time coming. And the relationship building has a long way to go. But I'm delighted to find myself uttering joyous leaves of dark green. I love her more every day. And although I'm getting used to the nay-sayers, it's sometimes scary to think about the terrible possibilities for future failure.

Perhaps I'm less like an oak in Louisiana, and more like a juniper on the coast of California. For whatever reason, I find myself growing on a hard craggy slope, I'm windswept and bent, water is scarce. Anyone might have a hard time uttering joyous leaves under such circumstances, but my friend and lover brings me water, helps prune at times, and together the design we're pursuing is God's.

And for now, I grow.

Tuesday, August 01, 2006

My impotence

My impression was that Drescher's opposition to reparative therapy centers around three main points

  1. It doesn't work
  2. It is unethical
  3. It is harmful
However, when pressed, I think he would acknowledge that none of these are proven to be true.

It doesn't work
The efficacy of reparative therapy has never been shown in a scientifically rigorously way. Some have said (wrongly) that if change were really possible it would have been demonstrated long ago. I don't remember Drescher taking this stance, but he did criticize the theories and studies in support of reparative therapy. Perhaps the most widely known study is Spitzer's. Drescher edited an entire book of responses to Spitzer's work, all attempting to discredit the conclusions. Drescher's own opposition (again, based on my poor memory only) was centered around follow up and failure to document actual sexual orientation through objective testing. More specifically, these men who claimed to change orientation, did they stay changed or was it just temporary? Were they able to persist in their "new" orientation? Long term follow up was not measured, and that is a weakness in the conclusion that change is possible. However, to the extent that Spitzer acknowledged this limitation in his discussion, it doesn't make the study invalid, just limited. That's a big difference.

Drescher also asked Spitzer why he didn't verify orientation with plethysmography (what GayMormon calls a "boner-detector"), and he was unhappy with the candid answer Spitzer provided: he didn't have the funding. Drescher seemed to irrationally believe this was a personal failure on the part of Spitzer. I was quite confused. Again, plethysmography would have improved the study, but its omission does not make the study invalid.

It is unethical
You are probably familiar with the medical aphorism "do no harm." Doctors haven't done a very good job of following that advice without some regulation here and there. For example, regulation of research involving human subjects has greatly improved ethical practices. And "informed consent" is an important part of every medical or psychiatric therapy--research based or not.

Drescher had a list of 6 criteria that must be followed for a therapy to be ethical. I don't remember what they all were, but properly informing the patient about potential benefits and harms, respecting autonomy, etc., were central. Drescher went through the list point by point and made his case that reparative therapy did not meet the criteria. However, I was not convinced. I have actually been in reparative therapy sessions, and the way he described the dialog was simply not reflective of my personal experience. I was indeed given a thorough explanation of potential benefits and risks. My consent was documented carefully. Confidentiality and specific therapeutic goals were discussed. It was all quite professional. I wondered where Drescher was getting his information.

It is harmful
Drescher stated unequivocally that not a single reparative therapy book or practicing therapist was honest in disclosing the risks. Not one. My vast readership [hee] may remember a recent series of posts in which I reviewed a couple books on reparative therapy (Nicolosi and Parks). They were library books, so I can't go back to find pages, but I believe I recall a discussion of theoretical risks in both of them. Regardless, I know my therapist and I discussed the issue. Therefore, I had to restrain myself from standing up and calling Drescher a pig-faced liar. Actually, restraining myself wasn't hard, because the crowd had proven themselves to be completely tolerant of blatantly anti-religious hate-speech. I felt like a mole.

Despite the fact that his own handout specifically noted that the only data regarding risks in reparative therapy are anecdotal (i.e. not scientifically meaningful), he was standing there condemning anyone who would not discuss the harms as if they were real. His take became more and more clear: reparative therapy is an extension of conservative religious fanatics who speak of loving gays publicly, but call them an abomination privately. They have no interest in the individuals, only their own political agenda.

You can imagine how such generalized moral condemnation turned me off. But everyone else seemed to be eating it up. The picture was painted to show down-trodden gays hustled into therapy they didn't choose for themselves, psychologically abused by self-promoting "ex-gay for pay" quacks, and then condemned personally for any poor outcome. Such an exaggerated caricature was so far from my personal experience that I wondered if I would be able to tolerate the discussion. Had he cited examples as examples I would have had no objection, but vilifying an entire demographic whose views differs from your own? Generalizing motivations and unethical conscience?

If this is the national leader in opposing reparative therapy, I must admire the ingenuity of gay activists in getting medical professionals to swallow such swill. It was patently ridiculous. And I was impotent in commenting because of my concerns for personal privacy. It makes me rethink my desire for anonymity. But, not surprisingly, it did not make me rethink my decision to attempt reparative therapy.

And, no, I'm not worried about any other kind of impotence at the moment. :-)