Monday, November 06, 2006

The why and how of gay Mormon blogging

Far be it from me to say why people should blog or how they should do it. But I do feel like I've been around long enough now to offer some advice to a gay Mormon who is looking for a safe outlet to figure things out. As Master Fob pointed out, there's an interesting niche now for gay Mormon bloggers as blogging can address the personal issues in a curiously effective way. There's no fee, one can be anonymous, and one can finally openly discuss socially awkward issues with other thoughtful folks without risking the potentially real upset to social and family life that would come with outing oneself.

So, I encourage anyone who is gay and Mormon to consider blogging as a therapeutic way to think about and work through this issue.

At the same time, I do have a few tips and tricks for the novice blogger. I've learned a few things the hard way and maybe by offering some advice I can save others from the same mistakes. Keep in mind, these are just the thoughts of me, one random blogger, and they may have no benefit or relevance at all. But here they are in case they do:
  1. Be anonymous. This is disputable, certainly, as plenty of folks are either not anonymous or semi-anonymous and seem to be doing just fine. But I've found clear benefit in the freedom to discuss anything I want, including, for example, my struggles with pornography--something I don't want Mom and Dad reading about regularly.
    ----a) The first corollary to #1 is that you can't include personally identifiable biographical information in your blog--even if it seems vague. I've seen at least three gay Mormon bloggers decide on a moment's notice to delete their entire blog because of anonymity issues. I've also seen at least two anonymous bloggers recognized by members of their ward. Why would these ward members be frequenting gay Mormon blogs? Who knows!? But they apparently do! So, be careful and save yourself the angst.
    ----b) The second corollary to #1 is that if you have another blog that is not anonymous and you post to both from the same computer, you might want to use different browsers for the different identities. I've, unfortunately, posted comments on gay Mormon blogs as my true identity and posted comments on various family blogs as -L-. Not cool. So now I always use FireFox for one identity and IE for the other. You might even consider Opera if you hate Microsoft as much as I do.
    ----c) Third corollary to #1: you may eventually get to know and love other bloggers, but don't be too hasty to out yourself. After chatting enough with folks outside the blogs, I've outed myself to various people with mixed results. I've made some close friends that are very supportive and I now have the benefit of having a "normal" friendship with them that isn't exclusively focused on sexual and religious issues. But I've also outed myself to some people I wish I hadn't. I finally decided that as a rule of thumb, my wife has to give me permission to out myself to someone. That gives me an excuse not to if I don't want to, and keeps me from doing so hastily if I want to too much. Hope that makes sense. Come up with a system that works for you.
  2. Don't wait for something earth-shattering to say to post or comment. Get comfortable with the crowd.
  3. When you've finally got the blog going in a good rhythm, think about the potential of being a bit more structured in your approach. I like to post whatever random thing I'm thinking about on a given day, but for those times when I've got nothing, but want to think through some issue to get that catharsis, I have some backups always on reserve. For example, I'm doing the 12 steps of addiction recovery. It's a workbook and has a million questions to think through. I'm not rushing it, and I can always post on those topics if I want something to think about. I also have made the habit of reading books and reviewing them on my blog. But the reviews aren't really assessing the work itself, they're more of an exploration of my own response. It gives me a chance to decide what I think about stuff deliberately. Make a list of what you want to figure out. Then figure it out over time on the blog.
  4. Don't be afraid to write about something someone else has already covered. That's the beauty of blogging--it's a personal journey and what's on your mind is perfectly legit, no matter who has already done a PhD in that topic and blogged it.
  5. You can always write posts for yourself that are super personal and just keep them in draft status. I have a few of those. It's all the benefits of a journal with a peanut gallery only when I want it. ;-)
  6. Be nice even if you are really, really cranky. Cyber people are real people even when they're stupid. (I've been cranky way too often--many apologies to all!)
  7. Let me know if you start a blog so I can read it. Don't make me do the work of finding you on my own.
  8. Don't follow the rules. I'm just saying what I do, and if it's helpful to you in doing your own thing... great!

10 comments:

Samantha said...

Let me know if you start a blog so I can read it. Don't make me do the work of finding you on my own.

Hee... I think The Great -L- is a -L-ittle -L-azy.

I -L-iked this post, too.

Kengo Biddles said...

I liked it three.

And I agree that this is something you really, really need to be careful about. Right now, for example I'm using one alias as I write this, but I'm going to have to change to Sir Ken GoBiddles before I actually submit. And I agree with being careful who you "out" yourself to. I've outed myself to an indeterminate number and or quantity of people that among them I sort of wish I had been more careful at times.

Kim Mack said...

I just love -L-. Whoever he is.

Kim
One of the most "out" out there.

Come one, come all, come see my all. ;)

onDfence said...

Great post. Thanks for sharing.

Master Fob said...

L, I've started a blog. Come read it, please.

I had the same multiple ID problems when I was running a blog for the English classes I was teaching. More than once I posted on a student's blog as Master Fob, which to be honest would not be a big deal to me, but would probably have led them to finding out more about me than they cared to know, if they'd bothered to follow my trail of crumbs.

And I apologize for being cranky. I don't really hate you and everything you represent. Just some of the things you represent, such as People On The Track To Careers That Will Actually Make Money.

the Baker's son said...

This is really good advice. I started my blog a few months ago, i see you've already found it. But this is really good advice, I'll second all of it. I wasn't too sure about -L- when I first got into Blogger, but the more I read, the more I think you know what you're talking about. thanks

LDSwithSSA said...

I started my blog today. Thanks for the tips.

Gay BYU Student said...

Hey great advice. Since I recently started my blog I'll take some of that into consideration (and update some of my stuff). Also, thanks for linking to my blog!

Sully said...

Hey, -L-, your fame has reached the ears of yet another. I hear that you are currently in a pass-along with the Bewitched One concerning the crown to the Queerosphere. Whoever the residing leader is, I have recently joined the Kingdom of Queer, and I highly appreciated your comments. They were helpful, so thanks for the direction.

Samantha Stevens has actually spoken about you multiple times to me. I am grateful to have found your blog. I don't know if you keep up with her blog, but I'm one of her David's, the youngin' with SSA. I'd love your review of my very new, very cliche blog. It's found at reflectionsofonehenryjekyll.blogspot.com, but I suppose you could have figured that out!

By the way, thanks for the advice to write freely on the blog. I'm pretty certain that nothing on my blog is original, seeing as the Queerosphere is ever-expanding, but maybe my voice can have a purpose, as well.

Nice to meet you -L-. I hope you get this comment.

-Sully

John said...

Thanks for the tips... consider yourself "let known."