Thursday, October 19, 2006

Celebrity deathmatch: Mansfield vs. Byrd

When I was a given the opportunity to write about this issue, I saw it as chance to further educate people about some of the things I feel the Lord has taught me in regard to what I believe is the true nature of this challenge. I was initially very wary. First of all, writing has never been one of my talents, and I doubted my capacity to put something so sensitive and personal into words in a way that would help others understand why I believe and feel the way I do. Also, I had some idea of the nature of the various responses that were sure to come--I expected criticism from those whose beliefs vary from my own concerning the nature of this attraction and the appropriate response to it.
Ty Mansfield in In Quiet Desperation

I will now pretend I do not know Ty has read my posts on his book so that I can spout effusive praise in what would otherwise appear to be shameless pandering. In a word, Ty rocks.

This book is necessary. It's not perfect, and I could be more critical of a few specifics if I were so inclined, but it's just the thing for a wary LDS audience wanting to jettison congenital prejudice but unsure what attitudes should replace it. The format Ty used of quoting passages he found influential while dealing with same-gender attraction seems reflective of a genuine and intensely personal journey. It's precisely what I'm trying to do right now with my blog. So, I don't find it at all preachy or inappropriate, rather I have a lot of gratitude for the huge work that went into researching and producing such a resource.

And it doesn't hurt that I agree with him on nearly everything. I find his writing to be more insightful than, well, pretty much anything I've read on the subject. There are other great books that take a bit more time on scientific, political, and theoretical things, but this is a great LDS-centered discussion. I don't know what kind of criticisms Ty ended up receiving to those critical of the church's position on homosexuality, but I was surprised to find a supernally stupid review by a group claiming to defend the church's views. I really like some of the articles on that site and I'm more than appalled that their response to Ty's rebuttal fails to concede anything but their own evasiveness. Imagine my disgust at their disappointing hypocrisy. At one point Byrd says:
The view of homosexuality expressed in this book is neither reflective of good science nor gospel doctrine. In fact, the book renders an injustice to homosexual men and women by not letting them know that they can make changes in their lives and that there is hope and sufficient help available through well-established treatment protocols (compatible with revealed scripture) for those who want to conform their lives to the Lord's standards.

Did you even read the book? Or are you just saying that the problem with the book is that the authors convey their own views rather than yours... that it fails to be an advertisement for the scientific bias you've chosen and to which you've attempted to attribute church endorsement! Write your own damn book!

I'm not sure why Fred Matis is the first author when to my knowledge he wrote none of it. Editor? Marilyn's portion was nice and well-done as a narrative example of a typical Mormon mom. I could imagine some of my family member's writing in precisely the same style and interpreting the situations and events precisely the same way. And I love her for it.

So, sure, I could point out a few flaws, but why would I criticize what I believe is the best resource I've encountered (other than my blog, of course) for an LDS man with same-gender attraction?


Master Fob said...

You do know that Byrd has written his own damn book, right?

I agree with your assessment of this book's importance. There are, in fact, several points on which I disagree with Ty, but that doesn't change the fact that it was pretty darn courageous of him to write the book in the first place, to publish it with Deseret Book (and kudos to them for publishing it), and to treat the topic in a way that does a much better job than I do of convincing good Mormons that we can talk about homosexuality frankly without being offensive and without straying from official Church doctrine.

There is one point of yours I have to disagree with, though.
In Quiet Desperation is "the best resource I've encountered (other than my blog, of course) for an LDS man with same-gender attraction"?


*taps fingers on chin*


*waiting for praise and recognition*

Oh, fine, then. I guess I agree with you.

*sulks off into the corner*

Attempting said...

Fob, your essay was pretty good. but Ty's book was better. hate to say it--but it's the truth. Although your essay was a pivitol moment with me coming to terms with everything

I've been reading some of Byrd's stuff at work recently, he's sorta not cool.


Unusual said...

Haven't read IQD yet, although I certainly like and find a lot of resonance in the snippets you've put in here on your blog. Since Master Fob and AtP brought up MF's essay, I have to say that, since I HAVE read that one, it ROCKED.

Isn't it nice there is stuff to read now? When I was a teenager all I knew about was "The Miracle of Forgiveness" and "I Love You, Goodbye." The resources available now are so much better, not to mention countlessly more numerous.

Master Fob said...

AtP--No worries, I can't seriously compare myself with Ty (as fun as it is to compare us unseriously). We're two different people with different purposes, as indicated by the venues of our works--his through Deseret Book, whose goal (aside from financial profit) is to produce uplifting materials, and mine through Dialogue, whose goal is to provide cerebral fodder for academics to gather around and say, "Now isn't that interesting?" Given the more altruistic purpose of IQD, it's only natural that it would be a better resource for LDS people with SSA. The personal essay, by its nature, is narcissistic--it's about me, and only about me.

Master Fob said...

Thanks, UD. I feel bad now for bringing myself into this discussion about Ty's book. Post something else, L, before this gets any worse.

Self-consciously yours,

Master Fob

Kengo Biddles said...

Who is this Byrd guy (PhD,MSA,BSD,QNA) anyway? Just what little I skimmed of his "review" says to me that he's a hard-line "you must KILL your same-sex feelings" type (as in, forget bridling your passions, KILL THEM.)

Grrr. Tetû is what the French would call him.

The Ugly Swan said...

So, it's pretty obvious you're prejudiced against birds. I am a bird, albeit an ugly one, so you're prejudiced against me. I'm also a queer, albeit a fairly quiet one, and it's obvious you're prejudiced against that, too. Our friendship has just reached an all-time weirdness.

Oh, and interestingly, I just wrote a highly narcissistic comment to gratify your ego. How often does that happen in real life?

-L- said...

Fob, actually I wasn't aware that Byrd had written that book, but now I am. And I'll read it sometime and try to be objective even though he's successfully biased me against his own integrity with that book review and the response to Ty. I suppose he means well (paving the road to hell, and all that).

Chris said...

Ty says it in a kinder, gentler way. He invites compassion with his story and his willingness to be open about his identity. But ultimately Byrd and Ty ultimately lead to the same end point: condemnation of homosexuality.

-L- said...

I can't believe I just insulted Byrd's integrity. That's a little over the top, and I retract that. I mean, I can't really imagine how he can claim the message of IQD is what he says it is, but that's no reason to assume that there's something shady about it. He could just be delusional. ;-) Or just critical and disagrees with me, I suppose.

Chris, I haven't read Byrd yet (have you?), but I doubt the endpoint of his book is condemning homosexuality. I imagine the endpoint is focused on dealing with it in the context of the gospel.

Chris said...

I imagine the endpoint is focused on dealing with it in the context of the gospel.

Same difference.

-L- said...

As long as the homosexuality being condemned is the willful behavior, sure. Otherwise you're just being vague to be antagonistic.

Chris said...

I don't think I'm being vague. I probably am being antagonistic.

Anonymous said...

mormons were gay chavs who have no sense of style

-L- said...

Anon, please refer to this and this. You are stupid and I'm supposed to be cutting back on the swearing.