Saturday, September 30, 2006

Talk shows

Peter luce had appeared on Phil Donahue along with two hermaphrodites and a transsexual to discuss both the medical and psychological aspects of these conditions. On that program, Phil Donahue said, "Lynn Harris was born and raised a girl. You won the Miss Newport Beach Contest in 1964 in good old Orange Coutny, California? Boy, wait till they hear this. You lived as a woman to the age of twety-nine and then you switched to living as a man. He has the anatomical characteristics of both a man and a woman. If I'm lyin', I'm dyin'."

He also said, "Here's what's not so funny. These live, irreplaceable sons and daughters of God, human beings all, want you to know, among other things, that that's exactly what they are, human beings."
p. 410, The Oracular Vulva

I put in a video application for Survivor after the first season. This was back when Real World and Survivor were pretty much alone in the reality TV arena. Since then I have thanked my lucky stars I never got a response. People are made to look like demons on TV. It amazes me time and again that anybody is willing to be interviewed for The Daily Show. And if it's good entertainment, nobody seems to care how it affects the lives of the people who are on the show. Did anybody else watch that show My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance? That show was so painful. And I hear there were lawsuits afterward.

I imagine people look to being on TV to find legitimacy for themselves (and some prize money, no doubt). But I never had much respect for the Phil Donahue show. I never watched it much, but imagined it as being something like Jerry Springer, and I don't see a discussion on transsexualism there advancing their legitimacy much. I hope it did, it's horrible to think a 20/21st century person wouldn't treat them as a human being.

I think, though, and this may just be conditioning, that there's no such thing as bad publicity. If your idea gets air time, it gets advanced. If you're an elementary teacher who has sex with your 14 year old student, don't worry, the publicity will ensure you a book deal that will secure early retirement (as soon as you get out of prison... if you go at all).

So, for me, the contention is between being on Dr. Keith to talk about a point of view that is more often than not censored or forgotten, and avoiding TV altogether because the odds are vastly in favor of personal humiliation. Luckily for me, there are more courageous folks to do the dirty work. Maybe some day I'll be called on to do something hard but really worthwhile, but this isn't it. :-)

Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Why should I have thought I was anything other than a girl? Because I was attracted to a girl? That happened all the time. It was happening more than ever in 1974. It was becoming a national pastimte. My ecstatic intuition about myself was now deeply suppressed. How long I would have managed to keep it down is anybody's guess. But in the end it wasn't upt o me. The big things never are. Birth, I mean, and death. And love. And what love bequeaths to us before we're born.
Pg. 388, The Gun on the Wall

Every once in while Eugenides seems lazy to me. There was a passage (although I can't find it now) where Cal admits finding breasts attractive, but the narrating Cal dismisses it as consistent with every other person with testosterone. I can see how most people would skim right over this, but doesn't it seem on point with the whole book that not everyone with testosterone finds breasts attractive?

And then there's the passage quoted above. Sure the rhetorical ambiguity of love is a great literary device, but why even stick it in that paragraph? I'm sold on the unchoosable nature of birth and death, but love? I'm reminded of Fiddler on the Roof where Tevye and Golde sing "Do You Love Me?"

(Golde)Do I love you? For twenty-five years
I've washed your clothes
Cooked your meals, cleaned your house
Given you children, milked the cow
After twenty-five years, why talk about love right now?

(Tevye)Golde, The first time I met you
Was on our wedding day
I was scared

(Golde)I was shy

(Tevye)I was nervous

(Golde)So was I

(Tevye)But my father and my mother
Said we'd learn to love each other
And now I'm asking, Golde
Do you love me?

(Golde)I'm your wife

(Tevye)"I know..."But do you love me?

(Golde)Do I love him?
For twenty-five years
I've lived with him
Fought him, starved with him
Twenty-five years my bed is his
If that's not love, what is?

(Tevye)Then you love me?

(Golde)I suppose I do

(Tevye)And I suppose I love you too

(Both)It doesn't change a thing
But even so
After twenty-five years
It's nice to know

The crucial aspect of love in question, of course, is attraction. That's Eugenides meaning I wouldn't dispute, but I'm not sure it's a meaning that is always consciously attributed to the word "love" in passages like the one I quoted above.

One of the parts of Oaks interview on I found interesting was his discussion of whether SSA members should enter heterosexual marriages. He said:

...Persons who have this kind of challenge that they cannot control could not enter marriage in good faith.

On the other hand, persons who have cleansed themselves of any transgression and who have shown their ability to deal with these feelings or inclinations and put them in the background, and feel a great attraction for a daughter of God and therefore desire to enter marriage and have children and enjoy the blessings of eternity — that’s a situation when marriage would be appropriate.

Feel a great attraction? What kind of attraction? This seems confusing to me. If it's a strong sexual attraction he's talking about, then why is it even an interesting topic? To marry someone you love to whom you have a strong sexual attraction isn't particularly problematic, is it? It's when the attraction is strong, but not sexual, that things get complicated--when the strong sexual attractions are likely to never be there. But Oaks doesn't get quite that specific.



Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Good guys

I like stories that don't have definite good guys and bad guys. Life isn't really made up of people who are either good or bad, but rather of complex people, all of whom have value. One part of Middlesex that I liked was that the physician and the religious guy were the two (almost) scummiest characters in the book. I like being a physician and a religious guy, and I can't help but believe that I choose those parts of my character because I think they are good. It's a nice reminder that they aren't necessarily good.

On the other hand, I do get a little annoyed when there are no contrasting characters to give a little balance. In contrast to Dr. Luce was Dr. Philobosian, a great doctor. But where was the parallel character to Father Mike? I don't remember one. He was just the villain of the book and, in this tale of sexual ambiguity that already has plenty of spiritual controversy built in, we'll make him the ultimate antagonist as well. Did anyone else catch the filthy description of the baptismal font? The slimy water with a band-aid in it? Sounds like hepatitis waiting to happen. Oh, and tricknology? That's the view of religion I got from the book, and it's one of the very few complaints I have. I'm not against religious villains, but I am against the next step in which it gets to be too categorical.

Monday, September 25, 2006


It occurred to me today that I'm not as far along as I thought. Writing my story isn't the courageous act of liberation I had hoped it would be. Writing is solitary, furtive, and I know all about those things... Still, you can only do what you're able. If this story is written only for myself, then so be it. But it doesn't feel that way. I feel you out there, reader. This is the only kind of intimacy I'm comfortable with. Just the two of us, here in the dark.
pg. 319 in my edition (The Obscure Object)

The thing I liked most about Middlesex is the amazing way the author is able to cram so much actual information about the humanity of intersex individuals, the science, the politics, the individual heritage... into a story that is fun all in itself with writing that is almost poetry. I've thought in the past it would be fun to write a book in a similar style. I could call it "the secret lives of gay Mormon bloggers" and make up characters whose personal lives would commonly bring them to blog about their experiences and meet each other online. Their circumstances would be unique and take advantage of parallelism to contrast choices, ideas, and paths. Of course, I would have a hard time thinking of anything nearly as compelling as the real life examples I already have!

And then there's the other problem. I'm not such a great writer. I decided long ago when I started this blog that it was more of a journal than a place to publish good writing. If I waited until an idea was well-formulated and well-articulated to get it out there, there would be precious little to publish. And I wanted to share ideas in the raw and get advice back in the raw. It has worked pretty well overall. But I do long to join Fob's writing group. Or even spend a little more deliberate effort in making my story more enjoyable to read... more engaging.

There were times in Middlesex when I wanted him to just get on with things. He would take pages and pages to describe something and I would be inpatient to move the story forward. Once I accepted his style for what it is and slowed down, I enjoyed it a lot more. And his style does have the advantage of stirring and stimulating parts of my brain that would otherwise lie idle. Take this passage:
From the slender wrists of these girls, tiny silver charms were chiming together. It was the ringing of tiny tennis rackets against tiny snow skis, of miniature Eiffel Towers against half-inch ballerinas on point. It was the sound of Tiffany frogs and whales chiming together; of puppies tinkling against cats, of seals with balls on their noses hitting monkeys with hand organs, of wedges of cheese ringing against clowns' faces, of strawberries singing with inkwells, of valentine hearts striking the bells around the necks of Swiss cows... The Charm Bracelets: they were the rulers of my new school.

If I were conjuring an image of the ruling class of girls in the school I might say something about charm bracelets and lip gloss and think I had done a great descriptive job. But something about the unnecessary detail is just... enjoyable and stimulating.

Anyway, more posts to come on Middlesex...

Book club, 2

I hereby convene the first book club meeting. I'm sort of excited to see what happens after that sentence as I don't have a how-to.

I've read and reviewed books on the blog in the past, and for me this usually involves neither specific criticism of the literary quality nor reviewing the book as a whole. Rather, I've posted on my interest in particular passages that impressed me or made me think and are relevant to my situation. I've come to enjoy this format, so that's what I'm going to stick with for now. But this time there will be the added fun of other people having recently read the same book and being familiar with the context.

Anyone who has read Middlesex recently, feel free to post anything you like on the topic in any manner that you find interesting. You have a ready audience familiar with the material, and the discussion group shouldn't be monopolized by the convener.

So... besides the current book of discussion, there are a few other details. According to a highly scientific sidebar blogpoll, most clubbers want to vote each month on a new book club title. So, I'm opening this post's comments up for suggestions for October's book which should specifically include a book's title, author, and a brief blurb as to why we're all going to love it. The folks who have already suggested a title should re-provide that information, and they are:
  • Samantha: And They Were Not Ashamed
  • UDude: Stephenie Meyer trilogy
  • JohnGalt: The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay

Sunday, September 24, 2006

The missing option

When the second season of The Office ended with Jim finally telling Pam he loved her, I had to wonder what they would do with the third season. There was no way they were getting rid of either of two of the best characters and there was no way they were going to get together. Getting together equals living happily ever after (and no more advertising revenue) while staying apart with lots of torment and sexual tension brings the hearts and spending dollars of the masses back for more and more (but would be unbelievable). I couldn't imagine the show going forward with them together or apart. There had to be a third option. When I finally saw what that option was... it was brilliant. Yet obvious enough that I felt really stupid.

Subject change to ex-gay efforts. Criticisms of ex-gays often focus on the therapy that is supposed to have accomplished it for them. Reparative therapy is extremely inefficient, even by the most favorable data, succeeding in only a fraction of the folks who undergo the therapy. Those whose blogs I've read who have tried reparative therapy in one form or another haven't found much (if any) change in their sexual orientation. But some folks reportedly have changed, and I'm left to wonder if the therapy was incidental--a confounder in the real journey that only obscures the actual events that contributed to change.

Through Sam's blog I found a great blog that discusses ex-gay ministries. The author describes her objections to reparative therapy and the psychological theories behind it in a post that concludes with a description of an alternate approach that she found more effective. While I appreciate her approach and agree that it could be workable for lots of folks, I wonder if there's not something better... something brilliant that I haven't run across yet. Maybe it hasn't even been figured out yet. There may be an option for someone like me that I'm not even aware of. I'll try to put my finger on it, but if any of you find a missing option, let me know.

Friday, September 22, 2006


I don't have a lot of knowledge of the Levay experiment in which the structure of a hypothalamic nucleus was found to be morphologically distinct in straight men, women, and gays. I only know what I've read, and I have not read the primary sources. They are supposed to be significant for the impact the conclusion has on homosexuality being a choice. Because some believe this topic actually has some merit, I googled some responses, and they sound like a mix of legitimate and stupid concerns, but you can find those as easily as I can.

My impression is that nobody should be surprised if there are brain morphology differences between gays and straights and there should be no surprise if there are genetic contributors to personality and other aspects of human identity. Big fat hairy deal.

All this scientific effort will have shown that people are indeed not "created equal" but that we have to work within our unique set of personal circumstances. It's not fair, true, but a perceptive toddler could conclude as much about life. Hell, make that an UNperceptive toddler. You deal with it the best you can rather than expecting the world to somehow make it up to you by redoing expectations of behavior and morality.

That's not to say that there aren't plenty of non-biological issues related to the morality and social circumstances of gays. But the biological arguments I've never found compelling in the least.

At the same time, the biological experiments wouldn't be as big a deal if it weren't for the monumentally stupid idea that sexual attractions are chosen. But, neither the far right nor the far left feel served by putting the issue in just such precise terms. It's better to discuss the idea that "being gay" is chosen so that both sides can indignantly battle for the broad political implications that follow from affirming or denying that statement, vague as it is.

Misinterpreting the science for a political agenda, most often inadvertently, is the standard practice. The gay rights movement (bless their little hearts) have bought in to the philosophical approach that the end justifies the means, a hair slow in noticing that strong advocacy for aims popular to some gays is harmful to other gays. Much (if not all) of the published scientific data is influenced by bias at some point in the scientific process (largely from advocates--sometimes the scientists themselves), despite all the best efforts to mitigate it (or disguise it).

There's a fair chance I just don't get why all this science has much meaning. But I sort of think the odds are in my favor that it's the scientists and political pundits who just don't get how much the biological science doesn't matter on this topic and other matters of morality.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

What to teach children

Being a father, and simultaneously being clueless, I sometimes get a little disturbed about how I'm going to raise my kids to be the happy, healthy, smart, perfect little citizens I want them to be. I've found in many other areas in life that setting one's expectations low makes for delighted feelings of exceeding expectations later. So, that's a start. I'm fully expecting them to hate my guts, fail at all their social and academic endeavors, and be recalcitrant menaces. There. All set.

But I will feel responsible if I haven't done my darnedest to help them learn and grow. I know I'm the one who has to take the responsibility for teaching them about life. FoxyJ mentioned in a comment a while back that, "a lot of your attitudes and thoughts are going to come from a family setting" and that sounds perfectly true. So, what will I teach my kids about being gay? What will I teach them about using alcohol and tobacco? Caffeine? Pierced ears and tattoos?

In that same post, Samantha relayed a discussion with her laurel class about "the choice" of being gay. Apparently, in a discussion on "Personal Purity through Self-Discipline," one of the laurels said she hated it when kids at school said they were gay and acted in a certain way just to get attention. Samantha put to rest any speculation about what is and is not a choice about being gay and was waiting for fallout with parents. I don't know that any fallout ever came, but I can easily imagine the situation being that a teacher had given my children a biased and unfriendly view of gays without my knowledge. I would have no way of knowing the discussion took place unless I proactively taught such topics to my family myself. Three cheers for FHE.

But what will I teach?

I'm not sure I would have dealt as well with the situation in Samantha's laurel class as well as she did. My teenage niece one day made a comment similar to that laurel, and the ensuing discussion left me feeling confused. She had complained that she felt the gay kids at school who were out and proud of their sexuality and getting scholarships based on their sexual orientation and activism, were loudly obnoxious and belittling to her for her religious views. When children are recognized for a sexual orientation they didn't choose, rewarded for their activism on a moral topic we disagree with, I can understand feeling adversarial and victimized when they turn around and seem loudly intolerant back. And, dear niece, your sexual orientation, being straight and all, is nothing special.

I grew up knowing that smoking was evil. Tobacco was a filthy weed and alcohol was a pernicious nectar. And such a moral background served me well. I've never in my life had alcohol, tobacco, coffee or tea, and I'm doubtless better off for it. But, I also grew up thinking that those who did smoke were bad people. And that's regrettable.

How do I teach a sensitive morality sophisticated enough to distinguish between appropriate actions for us and appropriate actions for others? I'm not sure it can be done.

How will I teach the distinction between inclinations, feelings, and actions, when I'm not completely comfortable with the topic myself?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

George Bernard Shaw

I really like Shaw quotes. I've seen them, off and on, my entire life and wondered about the man. I just did a little search and found one author who thinks Shaw was a repressed homosexual. That makes me laugh a little bit.

Anyway, here are a few quotes I came across in the last few days that I thought were great. Some are funny and some make me think. I have lots more, but I figure making long lists of quotes dilutes their power.

Now, if only I wasn't too lazy to find the context for some of these to see what in the world he meant by them...
When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty.

I often quote myself. It adds spice to my conversation.

Few people think more than two or three times a year; I have made an international reputation for myself by thinking once or twice a week.

A lifetime of happiness! No man alive could bear it; it would be hell on earth.

A life spent making mistakes is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing.

Self-sacrifice enables us to sacrifice other people without blushing.

Friday, September 15, 2006

Religion and public policy

Now, relative to church participation in public debate, when churches or church leaders choose to enter the public sector to engage in debate on a matter of public policy, they should be admitted to the debate and they should expect to participate in it on the same basis as all other participants. In other words, if churches or church leaders choose to oppose or favor a particular piece of legislation, their opinions should be received on the same basis as the opinions offered by other knowledgeable organizations or persons, and they should be considered on their merits.

By the same token, churches and church leaders should expect the same broad latitude of discussion of their views that conventionally applies to everyone else’s participation in public policy debates. A church can claim access to higher authority on moral questions, but its opinions on the application of those moral questions to specific legislation will inevitably be challenged by and measured against secular-based legislative or political judgments. As James E. Wood observed, “While denunciations of injustice, racism, sexism, and nationalism may be clearly rooted in one’s religious faith, their political applications to legislative remedy and public policy are by no means always clear.”

If it hadn't been the "11th hour," I would have enjoyed the opportunity to think about gay marriage a lot more before deciding whether to support or oppose the particular amendment considered by the legislature. As it was, the reponses I got from my congressman and senators were assuringly rational, if a bit surprising. They agreed that marriage should be between one man and one woman, but that such things ought to be governed by states, not in a federal constitutional amendment. Having been involved in policy making on a very small scale, I think it's interesting to watch a popular idea destroyed because the implementation is all wrong. It's a good thing, certainly, but also a marvel anything ever gets done.

But my reluctance to support the amendment wasn't based on the execution, it was based on the idea itself. And my opposition to the idea was based on the way I thought it was appropriate for goverment to codify religiously based morals. Basically, I've come to believe as Oaks expressed above that religiously informed moral views have every right to be aired, but they are judged on the same basis of every other view. And I thought in this case the only argument I could make was "because God says so," which is a fantastic reason, but one unpersuasive when considered on the same basis as every other view. "On the same basis" means largely for me that science ought to give legitimacy and credibility to a view whenever science has something legitimate and credible to say on that view. The problem is, of course, that science is routinely obscured in favor of pseudo-science marketing crap that makes much stronger conclusions than are warranted. Without science or pseudoscience, the argument often becomes a series of assertions and denials that beg the question.

Anyway, this post isn't about science. It's about religion and public policy. I was excited to find this article from Elder Oaks (who is one of my favorite writers in the church). I found it persuasive. I'd be interested to hear everyone's thoughts.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Cute boys boxing

My wife hated the movie Annapolis with a passion, and when I defended it as "not that bad" she just said I only liked it because of the cute boys boxing.

The woman knows me all too well. And that's why our marriage rocks.

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

The 11th hour

I sat down at the computer to e-mail my congressmen about the proposed Marriage Protection Amendment just one day prior to the vote. I knew it was the 11th hour and that my decision about what to write would reflect far more on myself than it would have any impact on what my legislators thought or voted. But church leaders had asked me to "express myself," and I've always been a sucker for the importance of participating in representative government.

I had come to the conclusion that gay marriage was a good thing based not only on what I know and believe about the social impact of gay marriage--that it would be an effective way to encourage gay folks to be committed and monogamous, to provide them the legal tools to properly participate in the domestic affairs of those with whom they had become domestic partners, to choose committed love as an ideal over adultery--but also because it just seemed right and fair in this diverse country to allow people to pursue the brand of happiness they find acceptable for themselves.

I had thought about it a fair amount. And all my reasoning (and the social data) seemed to indicate gay marriage would be a good thing, despite my acknowledgement others may easily come to a different conclusion.

I found loopholes and legalistic reasons why I thought my opposition to the amendment and support of gay marriage were not strictly inconsistent with the counsel of the church. But, some part of me knew that pharisaic approach wasn't going to work in the end.

I sat, thinking and uncomfortable. Fingers perched, ready to type some sense out of the confusion.

I remembered one of the many defining moments on my mission when I received a letter from my parents--both terrified that I was standing at the edge of apostasy's cliff, ready to jump. I had written them some snide comments about a few of our mission rules, and they had been horrified enough to immediately produce a long rebuke. It's one of the few times on my mission that both parents contributed substantially to a single letter.

I think the particular issue may have been my president requiring us to take daily herbal supplements--a position he crowed was backed by scientific evidence (and a position about which science has long since vindicated my skepticism). It didn't matter whether he was right or wrong, my parents said, it mattered that I trusted and obeyed. They weren't stupid. They knew how counter-intuitive that was, how cultish. But they also knew that there would be times in my life later when I would think I understood something better than my priesthood leaders and I would be wrong. Then, it might be on something that mattered. And ultimately, they knew the church was true and that while small injustices would come of trusting leaders (like choking back daily garlic pills), God wouldn't allow the prophet to lead the church astray. They believed, as I do now, that there is singular power in obeying every word of command with exactness. Curious power. And yes, when applied to false prophets, such trust is dangerous. You've got to be certain who you can trust, because ultimately you are responsible for your own decisions.

The final position I took with my congressmen was one of support for the amendment. I was true to myself in a strangely contradictory way. I know the church is true. I know prophets are real. So, when Elder Maxwell says,
"So it is that real, personal sacrifice never was placing an animal on the altar. Instead, it is a willingness to put the animal in us upon the altar and letting it be consumed! Such is the sacrifice unto the Lord of a broken heart and a contrite spirit, (D&C 59:8), a prerequisite to taking up the cross, while giving away all [our] sins in order to know God (Alma 22:18) for the denial of self precedes the full acceptance of Him."

I interpret that in one sense to apply to times like these. It's perhaps an application of a skill I've learned through my homosexuality--to believe that what feels right is not necessarily so. And that the balance due in confidence and affirmation for truly right decisions may come in unexpected ways.

At the same time I feel confused and sad. I feel a great desire to contact Scot and Chris and David and apologize. Sometimes having faith is hard, and not being ashamed of it is also hard.

Monday, September 11, 2006


I watched United 93 a couple nights ago. It was a powerful movie. There is one scene in which several of the passengers in the rear of the plane are muttering the Lord's Prayer while the pilots are muttering Islamic prayers up front. It's powerful and disturbing. It's a caution.

I usually think it's easy to distinguish between good and bad religion, but I'm not so confident all the time. A popular technique is to measure it against what you know to be good or bad independent of that religion, but I think that only takes you so far. Sometimes what's good seems bad and what's bad seems good. And apparently I'm siding with terrorists here. (I don't really know much about it.) And that's the scary part (dangerous, if you prefer).

I've blogged before about such departures from what you might expect God to advocate. Perhaps one distinction is that when God does depart from what you would expect of Him, He only does it through prophets. So maybe Moses or Abraham or Joseph Smith or another prophet can give unexpected directions from God, but you can't kneel down and pray and determine that your own little boy is the Messiah and that you should therefore starve him (as one couple did in Utah several years ago).

But, there are those false prophets, so the responsibility comes right back at you. I remember being invited to hear a prophet speak on my mission. It was quite odd believing, as I do, that there are prophets, but that whoever the speaker in question was, he wasn't one of them and was therefore a false prophet. You judge a system of belief by your feelings, your feelings should be guided by what you know to be good and true already, and then specific problems in life are judged by consistency with that belief system. But feelings are unreliable, what is good and true can be excepted by God, and the complexity of life makes for frequent inconsistencies.

And yet, at the end of the day I feel fine about knowing the church is true, how I came to that knowledge, and the unexpected sacrifices that knowledge compels me to make.

It's a topic I don't really get. One of many. I think my mind makes it too broad and can't quite chew on all of it at once. I just cling to the little I know because it feels right enough to guide my everyday actions.

Sunday, September 10, 2006

Happy and reconciled

As I plug along on my blog journey, various people have jumped on and off the ride. I forget sometimes that not everyone has been around for the duration and assume everyone's past the exposition. But, here's a rest stop before continuing the journey to reassess who I am, where I'm at, and where I'm going.

I'm gay. Not bisexual. If you want to dispute this, you have to give me your own definitions of these words since there are plenty to choose from. I'm using, I believe, the most common definitions (based on sexual attraction).

I'm conflicted, troubled, and struggling. There are so many things that I don't understand about the world, about human nature, about what is important and why. I think (aspiring to a Socratic wisdom) that recognizing my ignorance on these matters is a virtue in itself. Having cognitive dissonance over conflicting desires is unpleasant. It's also powerful and interesting. I'm trying to learn enough that I can overcome my struggles in sexuality, but I anticipate struggling to some degree on this issue for my entire life.

I'm happy and reconciled. Merely recognizing the struggle in which I'm engaged, recognizing that it may not end in this life, recognizing that such struggles make life beautifully rich, I've found inexplicable happiness. It's neither through nor despite my struggles, it's just off to the side. It's bound up in my family and my career, in my dreams and my optimism. I've learned that cognitive dissonance need not make me unhappy, but that managing it is an art. I've determined I have experiences sufficient to know the veracity of the LDS church, and puzzling sexual mysteries are insufficient to call the overwhelming evidence and life-long confirmation I've received into question. I'm reconciled not because I have all the answers, but because I'm okay with not having all the answers. I have some. And they are beautiful and hopeful and right.

I have great appreciation for those who share their insights and help me understand. It's a leg-up on the steep crags I sometimes face. I blog because it helps me. I hope it also may help someone else who is looking for a good path, albeit a road less traveled. I do worry sometimes that spending so much time thinking about and writing about this one issue could influence me negatively, so I'm wary as I journey on. For now, I think it's productive and helpful, so I keep moving like those pioneer children. ;-)

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Inaccessible, purpose, responsiveness.

The whole engagement is not about God's control but about God's love, because God engages human beings, says what God thinks and then they say back and then God says, "Oh that's right, you know what? Let's do it this way instead." It's not Judaism if it's not responsive to the human condition.
If someone is gay, that's an assignment from God... It's part of the life purpose of that particular person to have struggled and worked with that particular issue (among others) to do the best they can.
The more hidden something is the more holy it is. And the more inaccessible something is the more meaningful it could be.

These three quotes (from three different people) were among the last several quotes in the movie, Trembling Before G-d. I liked them, but don't really find I have a lot more to add.

Friday, September 08, 2006

Trembling before G-d

Just watched the movie Trembling Before G-d. Chris had posted on it before, and it's been on my list for a while because of its relevance to my personal situation. It's a movie about orthodox and Hasidic Jews who are homosexual.

It was... nice. I guess. I think I've maxed out on the whole religion vs. sexual orientation debate as an interesting novelty to explore, and that's what the movie seemed to depend on. As I watched I kept thinking, I've thought about that... yup, that's true... well, that's not how I think of it... that guy is smart... that guy is annoying... etc. The point is, I've already got opinions on pretty much all of it. There wasn't much new to chew on.

Having said that, I think the movie would be very new and shed lots of light on the issue for 99.9% of the population. Unfortunately, I think it's one of those biased presentations that ignores the minority of folks who are actually able to deal with the friction between their faith and their sexuality and don't have regrets about it. There were several married folks in the film who were living the orthodox life, but they seemed to hate it. And everyone seemed to feel like somehow they were being cheated. I don't feel that way, as anyone who reads here much would know. I now have a gay but faithful Muslim acquaintance (read: abstinent from gay sex) who feels the same way. Surely there are Jewish folks too?

I wonder if it's just easier to maximize the issue by milking the false dilemma. "I tried to change for years, my religious leaders told me how to do it, and it didn't work. What can I do now? Am I to live my life without a loving companion? Does God expect that of me? He can't! Not the loving God I believe in!" This reasoning is a lot more dramatic and heart pangy than saying, well, actually some people figure stuff out and although there's no magic recipe to make it work, it's not the hopeless futility it seems. And yes, God still loves you even when some of the realities of life seem harsh and unfair. But his love doesn't magically make those realities go away. There were subtle denials of any such possibility of middle ground in the movie. Various people would assert things like "celibacy is impossible" and spout anti-ex-gay sentiment without explanation. Labels like "marriage of convenience" are more amenable to the false dilemma than obnoxious notions like celibacy, happy mixed orientation marriages, or ex-gay.

One problem is most people can't deny the false dilemma without appearing homophobic. The shrieking starts, "How can you be so insensitive? How would you like it if... [insert heterosexual analogy of sexual denial here]? You have no idea what it's like."

Folks, I know what it's like, and I, for one, am irritated that people can't be allowed to form opinions on the issue that involve taking a tough position without being made out to be a homophobic ignoramus. It's the last resort trump card: "You're not gay, so you can't know what it's like."

I am gay. Your powers of trumpiness are thwarted! [Queue evil laughter.]

Thursday, September 07, 2006

Book club, 1

With the Ayn Rand quotes (that I loved) and the talk of a book club and a resident librarian among us, it seems inevitable to give the blog book club a shot. I'll plan on writing a few things about the book Middlesex in 2 weeks, and it would be fun if anyone is interested if you could give it a read in the mean time and perhaps gear up for your own posts and/or comments on the book. It's not just a book about a hermaphrodite (although it is), but it's a cultural story about all the influences over multiple generations that gave identity and confusion to the protagonist. I read it recently for the first time and it's one of my favorites. It got a Pulitzer Prize and explores many things that are relevant to us all (like love, culture, identity and not fitting social norms), but it's also funny. Because it is quite long I'd say get started and take a few notes in the mean time if you are interested!

Just a suggestion, but I propose someone else take the initiative to invite people to read a book in a few weeks and thereby take turns.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Gay Mormon public relations

While not the poster boy for gay Mormons, nor the longest running blog on the topic, I've found myself getting a lot of attention in the wake of the SLT article on married gay Mormons. Since then I've received an invitation to be in a documentary on gay Mormons and today I got an e-mail from a TV show that wants to talk to me to "educate" them on the issues my wife and I face (as well as others in a similar situation).

I attended a conference once on speaking to the media (for a completely different context) and the main take home message I got from it is that you should never ever assume anyone from the media is your friend. It's all niceties and politeness until you see the soundbite they chose which misrepresents your position and casts you as an arrogant stupid person that viewers can only assume is responsible for everything that is wrong with this country.

I was reluctant to even speak with the SLT faith section journalist, but during the course of our interview I became more comfortable with the idea. She had reported on various aspects of gay issues in the past and seemed to be looking for one more interesting aspect without a pre-conceived idea of whether or not my situation was something to be respected or scorned. That seemed to turn out all right. I've appreciated the civil dialogue that came from that (even the skeptical), and so if I could only know ahead of time that that's the type of media show we're talking about, I wouldn't be so reluctant.

What would you do? (Or in the case of those who have probably received similar invitations, what WILL you do?)

Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor day

There was a ward picnic this morning and we all had a pretty good time. As I was playing with my son on the playground, I got a little bit frustrated because he is so petrified of the slide. Many months ago he had no fear whatsoever and people always commented on a what a crazy kid he was for it. But, for whatever reason in a toddler's maturation, he now is terrified of coming anywhere near a slide. And as I try to talk him into it (knowing he will love it if he can just relax), he looks at me as if I'm the enemy. He knows I want him to go down the slide and he knows that's not his own goal. What he doesn't realize and I can't convey to him is that I only want him to go because I know he will enjoy it. I don't give a flying flip whether or not he goes for any other reason. But that reason alone is enough to make him distrust me whenever we're near each other by the slide.

Then I realized an odd comparison when the ward starting playing football. My brother-in-law said before the game started that it was the ward's common practice to have a football game after breakfast on Labor Day. I told him it was my common practice to never play football under any circumstances. But what the hell am I so afraid of? Dropping the ball or looking like a fool? Big deal! I stood there next to the slide watching the football game and realized that I'm the same as my son. I have irrational fears and place limitations on myself because I don't trust.

Sunday, September 03, 2006


Not the most interesting news, but be warned that if you upgrade your blogger account to the Blogger beta, you can't comment on any "old school" blogger blogs anymore. They haven't gotten all their google account and blogger account sharing worked out yet, apparently.

I guess there will be no comments from me until 1) you upgrade to beta or 2) they pull their act together. I'm sorry (not because I think you care about my comments but because I like hearing myself talk!).