Monday, October 23, 2006

Groups

The principle that Elder Wickman has talked about, in a nutshell, is that if you are trying to live with and maintain ascendancy over same-gender attractions, the best way to do that is to have groups that define their members in terms other than same-gender attractions.
Elder Dallin H. Oaks

Enter: the queerosphere. The catch 22 about same gender attraction is that if you believe some of the experts, fostering platonic friendships with other guys is a great exercise in healing. It's a way to belong to the community of men, to feel accepted as you, to have the intimacy you crave without sexualizing it.

Blogging has the added benefit of being remote (and therefore less likely to culminate in french kissing). It's the first chance I've ever had to really discuss this issue with anyone who had given it some thought. I enjoy discussing it with faithful saints in a similar situation, as well as nice folks who disagree with the church. The angry screamers I can do without, but they seem to avoid me for the most part. Knock on wood.

But I can't avoid the nagging feeling that Oaks is telling me to be in a group that doesn't define it's members in terms of this issue.

It makes sense, when I consider the small amount of info I have on how cyber-friendships have turned out for others. I know that gay LDS men who have joined online support groups have sometimes been propositioned repeatedly by other members... including nude photos. I know that people have hooked up in person after meeting online--sometimes for supportive fellowship, sometimes for sex, and sometimes for supportive fellowship that is at risk of becoming sex.

For example, what do you make of a virtual stranger who offers to fly to your hotel room when you are lonely and thinking of looking at porn? The ostensible reason is friendship and support. But the circumstances aren't appropriate. I declined the offer not because I didn't trust the person (who very well may read this), but because it didn't seem right. It's scary stuff, these waters we swim in online.

The in-person support groups seem to have just as much baggage, if not more. Would I want to attend even if I had the opportunity? I kind of don't think so. I know they're helpful for some, but at what risk? And when the activities involve camping and sports, what happens when it's time to take showers or bunk down in a tent together remote from civilization?

You know, I'm glad I'm anonymous. It gives me a good excuse not to socialize with other gay LDS guys in person.

But should I blog? Maybe as an island. An independent nation not affiliated with the Queerosphere at large. ;-) I don't see that flying. But, conceptually, it avoids identifying with a group. We'll see...

9 comments:

Kengo Biddles said...

I'm all for meeting other people from online gorups or whatnot, but Miki is _always_ present. There has only been one person that I've met with alone, and that was after a good number of meetings together.

It's good to not focus on that in a friendship, but it's also good to just have a friend that you can be yourself with, that you can let down the barricasdes 100%. Stuff to consider.

Scot said...

Should you blog? Is there something in the water… or font?

I’m glad I’m not the only one, not asking why blog, but thinking in person "ex-gay" groups are wrought with problems. The stories I’ve heard... While sometimes I’ve known it to turn out okay, in a long lasting couple, if they do remain LDS and have sex, well, you know my worries regarding sex with shame.

But online? It seems what you do here is healthy enough.

I also think Kengo is right on. The spouse should be there, if one was to meet at all in such circumstances.

Take the gay thing out of it, and ask what would be appropriate for any other married man? I 100% know I’d never cheat, but still, as a sign of respect and to avoid even the slightest appearance of impropriety, I’d not even go to lunch with a gay friend without R there, let alone sit in a room for an hour with a bunch of them :-).

the Baker's Son said...

I agree and disagree with Oaks's statement. It is important to not be defined by your friends and life and have being 'ssa' the only thing you are good at. But also I see this statement the same as others that were given a long time ago under ignorant notions, that if you have ssa you must cease all contact with anyone else that is ssa and only associate with straight people.

I think there will ALWAYS be a place in this world for support groups, online and otherwise.

I first recieved help from someone on msn who was willing to talk to me- he helped me more than anything else, even though we only talked a few times, and haven't talked to him since.

I notice that a lot of other people get their first boost from places like this: blogs, yahoo groups, speaking with friends, etc. While the danger does exist, I dont think it gives cause to shut down the entire machine. How many of us still be active if these places didn't ever exist to help us out when we weren't doing so well?

For Higher Love said...

Good comments bakers son.

The internet is the first chance I've ever had to be open about the struggles I'm having. At this point in my life I don't know if there's anyone I'm close to who I'd feel comfortable speaking with about this.

Although once in a while, when I've felt frustrated and then I hear a really moving EQ lesson about the atonement or something inspirational like that, I get the feeling that maybe I should just come clean and admit everything - just get it out there and off of my chest so that it stops festering inside of me.

But of course that hasn't happened yet.

Gay Mormon said...

Maybe Oaks wasn't referring to ex-gay groups. Maybe you should just join a support group period. Even further, maybe Oaks was just talking about finding any group of men to associate with.

You could start playing basketball with other straight guys. Or find a group of guys to hang out with. I dunno. Just a thought.

Secondly, if you leave the queerosphere, I think the queerosphere will have lost a great asset. But do what is best for you.

Loyalist (with defects) said...

Since reading this post last night all other thoughts have fled as I worked to understand both sides of this issue raised.

We are taught, whether straight or gay, that we are to avoid all evil and even the very appearance of evil. As such should show some consideration not to find ourselves in situations that could be construed as unwholesome.

However, I do believe that some socialization is required. Even anonymously on the internet. If that is all that our socialization will be - we should consider ourselves lucky to have been able to connect however remotely.

We are men who also hold the Priesthood. We are also Son's of God. Regardless of our "gayness" it does not give us the right to cause others to stumble. As I see it, we are here in bloggoland to help one another, discuss issues, and uplift each other. If we meet in real-life let it be for the same reasons.

L, I apologize for “posting”. You may delete if deemed so. My feelings will not be injured. :-)

Unusual Dude said...

Another thing to think about, that quote from Elder Oaks didn't say that SGA groups should be avoided, per se. He just said that groups that are identified by terms other than sexual orientation are the best help. Could they co-exist and be helpful? Belonging to an SGA online group in addition to other groups might make a really helpful mixture to assist one in overcoming what one needs to overcome.

I love referring to "one." It sounds so official. Or something.

Master Fob said...

I have straight male friends who validate me in ways that my gay friends cannot, and I have gay male friends who validate me in ways that my straight friends cannot (I'm not crazy about the word "validate" here, but I can't think of a better one). A couple years ago I got to the point where I knew that my marriage was not going to survive if I didn't find a way to connect with guys on a deeper level than the friendships I had at the time. That included both an emotional connection and some kind of physical affection, to the point my wife and I feel are appropriate and not harmful to our marriage. Is there danger in establishing these relationships with gay men? Probably, but I know what my intentions and limits are, and the risk is better than the alternative--I cannot survive as an island.

And FYI, a public shower is the last place in the world that I'm going to slip up (no pun intended) and have sex with a gay friend.

-L- said...

And FYI, a public shower is the last place in the world that I'm going to slip up (no pun intended) and have sex with a gay friend.

LOL.
Ha. But, actually, that's kind of like saying guys and girls should go ahead and shower together after PE class because, really, what are the chances they'll do anything right there in front of everyone?