Tuesday, December 11, 2007

Since last we spoke...

I'm disenchanted with blogging. But maybe that word has too negative a connotation for what I'm trying to convey. The fact is, I used to be enchanted with blogging, but now it's just there. I take and leave it now with more indifference than before. Disenchanted.

When Northern Lights got off the ground, I thought I would put the more philosophical posts there and put the more biographical ones here, but there hasn't been much biographical to say, really. I've kept my identity private so that I can work through the challenges in my life in a forum of sorts, without all the unpleasantness of people getting personal and interjecting their judgments into my personal life. You can hate me or love me online all you like, but I'd rather keep my family out of it. Using a pseudonym has been the only way I could think of to do that, and now the anonymity is pretty much gone. In case you missed it, a person with no decency publicly posted my real identity. So, no more astonishingly candid posts. Sorry. It's just a part of life that someone always comes along and ruins it for everyone else. (Also, sorry to those who had to wait 3 weeks for me to approve my newly moderated comments!)

Having said that, MOST of the people who read this blog and subscribe to the comments are very decent folks. To that subset I offer my earnest request that you keep my identity to yourselves, if you ever happen to learn it. I've become quite comfortable with who I am and what I believe, but the people in my life who will be affected by an intolerant society have requested that I keep my online activities anonymous. So, please support that.

I was mulling whether and how to write about Step 7: Humility. But this post came out instead. I'll write on that next time.

Thursday, November 15, 2007


Good relationships define a life. Bad ones too. I'm working on my relationship with my blogs (both those I write and those I read) because, well, we've had somewhat of a falling out.

I knew what sophistry was before seeing it in living deceptive color, but I never expected it to come knocking on my door so persistently and craftily as it has since I started blogging. For a long time I thought it wasn't really fair to call it sophistry either, believing that people just believe different things and genuinely only try to persuade others in good faith, even when it may seem so diabolical to the over-sensitive. But now I'm convinced that there are folks who just plain believe scoring cleverness points is worth nearly any price, especially if it seems like a means to an appealing end and sacrifices only a few tender sensibilities along the way (anyone's and everyone's, that is).

So, we've been on a break.

But I have high hopes that we'll come around. A relationship is what you make it, after all. I've seen a number of failed relationships, and they're often mis-attributed. Failed relationships with a spouse, failed relationships with a church, failed relationships with God. In great epiphanies of insight, blame is placed, and usually squarely away from one's self.

So, blogs, I'll make you a deal. Maybe I'll post once in a while if things can go back to a happy place where we work together not to go crazy. You get rid of all the sophists (or at least get them to be less prolific) and I'll accept my responsibility for being overly sensitive that people are so stupid.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Salacious me

After Beck took my last post personally, but before the ensuing satire and commentary on people being over-sensitive, I wrote to Beck privately and offered this assessment of the issue:

...It's really hard to know how to interact with other people, because the blogs tend to get so argumentative. For better or worse, people jump all over themselves to protect friends from other friends, to take sides. It's tiring to me.

When it's about pointing fingers and accusations and blame, it's perfectly understandable to feel attacked and defensive. I don't mind admitting that the way I wrote the post was borderline snarky, and the comments were edgy too. Bringing up "covenants" was relevant, but not tastefully approached. It came across as manipulative (if not accusatory).

And, for that matter, I'm guilty of being salacious on my blog myself. I known this. I don't deny it. But, I recognized a while back that it wasn't really right, even though people seemed to enjoy the humor and explicitness. I was one of the first to justify such use of edgy expression, and now I've started to see what kind of an impact it can have.

As much as I want to believe that I'm a grown-up and I can discuss adult things with other adults and can't be expected to censor and edit for every reader who comes along, I've heard complaints from real people that it has been disappointing and hurtful. In my less prideful moments I admit that church leaders have counseled on this very topic, and letting virtue garnish my thoughts unceasingly doesn't apply to some of my past approaches.

I knew it wouldn't fly to just guilt people into not using erotic pictures (despite that it appears to many that that's what I'm trying to do), but I thought a personal appeal from a long-time reader who has genuine interest in visiting your blog might persuade you and others to accommodate me. For many of us, blogging is a personal journey AND a way to encourage and uplift others. To the extent there's a community and resulting awareness of influencing others, it seems a reasonable thing to look at.

I know you've already said you will be mindful of me it may seem like I'm just beating a dead horse. I just want you to understand where I'm coming from and that I don't look down on you or hold myself blameless or anything like that...

In the words of a close friend, "I just laugh thinking about defensive, bitchy homos jumping up to defend one another." Well, hopefully we all got a good chuckle out of it. And, I will probably continue to try to carpet the world, if I think it's a good thing to do. Hmmm... maybe red shag...

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Showing skin

I would personally appreciate it if people wouldn't post pictures of hot guys on their blogs. Yes, yes, I've heard all the disclaimers to the effect, "My blog is for ME and if you don't like it, then you can just DIE!!!" On the other hand, there's an ongoing subtext in this part of the blog world of community, and of supporting others. And I'm left asking myself why people feel the need to post semi-erotic pictures in the first place.

In case you missed it, I have a little porn problem. I know, I've been so coy and indirect on that subject, that only the most astute have probably figured it out. My triggers are many, but among them are hot guys that ostensibly aren't pornographic. I convince myself it's not a problem to look at such things, but such looking always leads to more looking and more perseverating on what I want but can't have. This is never a good thing for me.

I also wonder how long it takes a guy to find just the right photo for a given post. You'll notice I've never really gone down that road--I keep my picture posting on my family blog and it's generally little cherub faces of my kids. And, really, I'd rather the dialog on this blog be the draw rather than the illustrations. If every time I wanted to post I started surfing for that perfect shot that captured everything homo and angsty about my life, I'd just end up looking at butts all afternoon. Anyone care to comment on how long it takes to find that perfect shot? Just curious. I know for me it would be longer.

I realize this might be ignored by many, and probably incite some anger and irritability in others. But, because I believe people want to be helpful rather than hurtful, and I believe people aren't too proud to admit that the gratuitous hotness and skin is unnecessary, I'm making the request all the same: please keep your pictures Sunday School appropriate (and then some).

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

The little edge of laziness

There was a time when I would be very diplomatic in the way I interacted on the blogs. Even with people I had little respect for, I would find the patience to quell the snarky quibbles that came immediately to mind in favor of a more friendly tone. That wasn't always the case, but usually.

So, now what happened?

I no longer have time to read any blogs it seems (if I start going through my reader I'll never be able to stop). And in the few cases that nice, well-intended people have bantered around on NL, I end up just snapping back. [sigh]

I think it's just laziness, and I apologize. Most recently to Kalvin, who made me realize how snappy and lazy I've become in my replies.

Oh well.

Maybe I like being lazy.

Saturday, September 08, 2007


I watch HGTV a lot. Pretty much, all the time. I suppose I'm in that demographic they cater to in a lot of ways. We're young, starting a new family, and open to lots of creative ideas on how to save, design, etc.

Recently, I've noticed that pretty much 90% of the guys on that show are gay (or appear to be). I don't really have much to say about that. I guess I just feel like I fit right in. :-)

Saturday, August 25, 2007


As a resident, I'm supervised by an attending. He's gay. He knows I'm Mormon (although I have no idea how), and I think when he first introduced his partner he was wondering how I would respond. I think the fact that I took it all completely in stride is why he now feels comfortable talking about the church and/or gay topics without caution, and I'm glad.

On the other hand, my closest neighbors are gay too. I don't know them as well and I think they may wonder whether I've "put things together". I wonder whether they've put it together that I'm Mormon as I cart my little family to church every Sunday. The problem is, if these things never come up in the across-the-fence chats we have, how will they ever realize that I'm not what they may think I am?

I had a neighbor not long ago whose front door was inches from our own, and he had calendar boys over to spend the night all the time (frankly, I don't know how he reeled them in!), but we never did get around to making it clear that we're fine with him living his life the way he wants, so I think he just assumed we were bigoted Mormons. We lived near him long enough (and parked near enough) that there's no way he could have missed the LDS trappings over time.

There are several other gay guys in the office besides my attending who I haven't had the chance to get to know personally. I don't want to miss out on good friendships with neighbors or coworkers because of a misunderstanding of what I might believe about gay people, but I also don't know how to say, "So... you're gay, I'm Mormon, and I'm totally fine with that. Any questions?"

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Doing yourself violence

An interesting comment from a therapist who works with families shattered with domestic violence has got me pensive. Apparently, my blog and the comments therein contain all the familiar verbiage. I'm not sure what this means, but I've noted the assessment is not a favorable one.

Came across your blog recently. Not LDS here. I'm a therapist that works with families affected by domestic violence, (broadly defined to include not only physical but psychological and emotional abuse.) I found myself drawn in recognizing posting after posting echoed the voices I hear daily in my practice. The voices of the abused trying to make sense of abusive relationships. Why do we stay in relationships that love us back so poorly? Beliefs. About self, about relationships, about God and the nature of Divine Love. Eerily, I have heard echoes of the comments I find in your blog coming from the victims with swollen lips and eyes nearly blinded by the abuser. "I know he loves me, I just need to be a better person." Yikes!! I could parallel any number of these comments similarly to the sad, sad mental contortions people make to live in abusive relationships. What is it but abuse to call someone an abomination?

And, as you may know, if you know me at all, I'm prone to apologetics when I'm not given a favorable assessment. ;-)

Truth is, I've had my share of swollen lips and eyes nearly blinded by an abuser. But the abuser has never been my faith or my family. The abuser has been pornography. Why do I go back, I wonder? Happily, I haven't gone back for quite some time. Maybe those 12 steps are paying off. Maybe my new found accountability system is working. Maybe I've parted ways with my abuser after all this time of dependence and humiliation.

As for the comments on this blog, many of them reflect places I've been on my journey. I see their views as views to defend as my own. I don't agree with them, necessarily, but I sympathize with the value of struggling through the issues; I know the importance of fighting the good fight, keeping the faith.

On the other hand, larger parts of my fight seem to be winding down, and it's odd to me that the commenter seems not to see it. I've felt more and more like blogging is a chore. It's not that I don't have anything to say; I still get ideas all the time for interesting ways to discuss relevant topics. But it has become so progressively less of an issue in my life that it feels at times distracting to revisit it. That's not to say that I've passed some wondrous benchmark of progress, because I cycle through these issues all the time, and it's too early to say how the long-term prospects look. But it is to say that I can understand how many people who have "overcome" SSA don't spend a lot of time debating the issue... because more than ever before I can believe that I may soon be one of them.

However, now that I've said that I feel dramatic and manipulative. It's not that I'm trying to get lots of comments telling me that I'm important and have important things to say. I believe there ought to be folks speaking up whose lives defy conventional wisdom, and I'm fairly certain I'll be trying to be one of them for a good while yet. And in so doing, I'll try to comfort those who stand in need of comfort, those who have been done violence by evils in the world (whether sophistry, pornography, intolerance, actual abuse, or whatever), and defend the source of truth and peace from being mischaracterized as an abuser.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Don't let me distract you

A while back I felt some comfort believing that a lot of people came to my blog and were interested in what I had to say. Then... life got busy. Well, it turns out that now that I've posted once in the last month, I still have the same number of daily visitors as before. Do I think that 178 people visited this blog yesterday to re-read my Step 6 post? No. You're here for the sidebar feed and probably always have been. I see how it is. Well, don't let me slow you down with my rambling here. Go on. Go read the goodies from around the queerosphere!

Regardless, just for FOB, I'm going to keep posting here anyway.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Step 6: Change of Heart

KEY PRINCIPLE: Become entirely ready to have God remove all your character weaknesses.

During a recent priesthood lesson on integrity, I opened a can of worms into the discussion by bringing up online file sharing and piracy. I'm guessing that mohos who blog fit well into the category of those who would be tempted to do some online file sharing. They're techno-savvy, often musically inclined, etc.

I had a technology industry job once where my coworkers were extremely capable at... well, hacking. They had a good time breaking into the county courthouse's network to find out which of our coworkers and superiors had been arrested and why. Ok, that's a little off-topic, but the memories... Anyway, we also had a large library of illegally copied software, music, and movies going around. I've always gone through cycles with such things--indulging and then deleting it all in a fit of remorse... only to start doing it again later.

Enter: step 6.

It's not just about pornography anymore. [That's happily in part because I haven't been nearly as tempted with it lately. But, I'm sure there will be times of extreme temptation down the road at some point, so I continue with the steps.] Having a changed heart extends its influence past that issue to every issue of my life. Do I want what God wants? I need to desire not just to avoid copied music and pornography and... whatever the case may be... but I need to actually lose the desire to return to them.

How does one lose the desire for sin? Especially if that desire has become seemingly hard wired in my nervous system? Oh yeah, I guess that's the whole meaning of an addiction and the whole challenge of defeating it.

The Lord wants to bless you with a change of disposition that will unite you with Him in mind and heart, just as He is united with the Father. He wants to give you rest from your isolation from God the Father, the isolation that caused the fears which contributed to your addiction. He wants to make the Atonement effective in your life, here and now.

As you yield to the promptings of the Spirit and look to the Savior for salvation, not only from addiction but from character weaknesses, you can be assured that a new disposition or character will grow out of your willing heart. A growing desire to be sanctified by God will make you ready for a change in your very nature.

The manual points out the propensity people feel to take their struggles head on, by themselves. And it points out that that approach is precisely why people fail to overcome their addictions time and time again. I know I need "a higher power" involved in the mix, but when it comes down to the time to submit to God, I'd rather go amuse myself elsewhere. I'd rather stay home from church, read blogs, watch TV, or pretty much anything rather than study the scriptures and pray with real intent.

“No matter what the source of difficulty and no matter how you begin to obtain relief—through a qualified professional therapist, doctor, priesthood leader, friend, concerned parent, or loved one— no matter how you begin, those solutions will never provide a complete answer. The final healing comes through faith in Jesus Christ and His teachings, with a broken heart and a contrite spirit and obedience to His commandments” (Richard G. Scott, in Conference Report, Apr. 1994, 9; or Ensign, May 1994, 9).

Although there are many possible roads to addiction recovery, I think for me the only one that will work is one that involves--REALLY involves--Christ.

Sunday, July 15, 2007


Not so cranky anymore.

As I've experienced a million times, a few hours of sleep puts an amazing distance between me and my crankiness. And, as I suspected, I felt more embarrassment about airing my pity party than anything else. Just thought I'd let you know in case anyone's been praying for me. You have, right? Right? ;-)

I love sitting in sacrament meeting and getting that peaceful feeling that everything will be okay. Even though the world is filled with injustices and hypocrisy and bigotry, it's worth having hope and optimism. The hymn in my ward today made me cry. You've probably never heard it before:

Come, come, ye saints, no toil nor labor fear;
But with joy, wend your way.
Though hard to you this journey may appear,
Grace shall be as your day.
’Tis better far for us to strive
Our useless cares from us to drive;
Do this, and joy your hearts will swell
All is well! All is well!

It really is, you know. All is well.

Friday, July 13, 2007


Things are pretty good for me these days, and I love my job. My family is doing so well, too, that I keep being tempted to post photos of how great they are.

Unfortunately, though, my recent travels online have really bummed me out. For one thing, I get irritated by national news outlets with some regularity. The bias is not something I notice most of the time, but lately it seems like everything is slanted and ridiculous. Michael Moore irritates me for taking a completely important topic and presenting it as sneaky half-truth that will leave some doubting the issue is even worth consideration and others over-stating the facts. But I suppose such disingenuous presentation of the issues isn't limited to the big boys.

I've been offended by things lately that shouldn't really offend me. I think it's because I have less tolerance when people should really know better. It's like I can give large leeway to someone I know virtually nothing about, but I can't help but get emotionally volatile in response to someone who I know has had all the advantages and opportunities for insight but ends up solid in their determination to be a closed-minded bigot (exalted in their self-importance and moral superiority, of course).

I'm also bummed about Northern Lights recently. While I think it's doing fine overall, the little things agitate me. They're all subtle, and so it's hard to pin them down, but I get the sense that it's viewed as "the establishment" rather than what it is: a collection of people talking about stuff in a protected/uplifting way. You know, like every other blog, just with some rules.

Could be I get bogged down by the little things because of my own struggles. The constant ebb and flow of feeling elated and set back never seems to stop. So, this could just be low tide.

Throw on top of all that that I feel lonely sometimes... despite having a lot of great friends. I guess it's just having people who you thought were your friend end up not caring for you in the least that ends up being hard. It doesn't matter that there are really nice folks willing to be there for me at any time I need, I still find rejection by others to be a big fat downer. I suppose that's life.

And now that I've made my blog into an adolescent journal, I'm done for now. :-)

Thursday, July 12, 2007


Here are the rules.
Here are the random 8:

1. I recently learned that I type over 90 wpm with 100% accuracy. Sweet. (Also, highly valuable these days!)
2. In the last 5 years I've visited every big church history site in the country... pretty much.
3. I've worked for EFY, BSA, BYU, MS, and AT&T.
4. I have several interesting hobbies... that I can't tell you about because then I would have to kill you (man, writing a meme anonymously is hard work). Okay, okay: gardening, music, blogging (shocker), programming, photography, art, and lusting after electronics.
5. Today I saw a person's back from the front (as in, during surgery after his guts had been tucked out of the way)
6. I've made lobbying trips to Washington D.C. every year for the last three years. Yet I know virtually nothing about politics.
7. If you Google me (my real name) you'll find some pretty interesting people: a horticulturalist, a football player, and a technical manager in San Francisco. These are not me (although I do show up).
8. I've been on TV a few times, but only once as a pundit. :-)

Never been tagged for one of these before. Weird. But now I feel loved. Thanks Kengo.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Let's see

I'm so behind on my blogging... and there are so many topics that have been knocking around in my head waiting to come out. But time is short and it's busy busy busy at the -L- residence. Or the -L- secret lair, if you prefer the comic theme.

Speaking of which, I can't quite recommend doing a search for gay comic book characters (what with having come across a few not-so-appropriate ones myself), but Northstar seems like a good upstanding kid, and the first out character in comics, from what I read.

Now, if only Marvel wants to license me as a gay super hero... my Mormon powers could do the universe a lot of good, I'd say.

Thursday, July 05, 2007


Blogging, apparently, isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be in terms of personal journaling. It is pretty great, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t have the same feeling as writing in a personal journal on the computer. On my computer, for years I’ve written my inner-most thoughts with very little (if any) regard for how they might be interpreted by others. When I blog, I write for an audience. I always keep the reader mind—trying to remember the most entertaining anecdotes, the cleverest ways of putting things. I think I do this even while trying to convince myself that I don't. I suppose there’s a value to both approaches. If I were someone reading a personal history, I’d want one that had been tailored to be relevant and succinct, not the meanderings of a bothered mind (as my computer journal entries tend to be).

The other issue I’ve been dealing with is the evolving multiplicity of places where I record my thoughts. I have a family blog, a personal blog, several group blogs, an anonymous blog, and a private blog (online but password protected). All those places tend to get confused, and while I have what seems to be a good reason for each of those places existing, sometimes just sorting out what goes where seems to take more effort than I want to put forward, so I just don’t write anything at all.

Over time, blogging seems to have become just a de facto part of what I do--how I make sense of life. Currently, time limits what I can do. And, for that matter, I don't find I need the therapeutic outlet right now that I have at other times. But it's there, and I'm glad. And so is the computerized journal. With the all the places for outlet, with all the friends-both online and off, it's a system I'll keep.

Tuesday, July 03, 2007


My boy: What's the pride parade for?
Me: Well, it's a celebration for gay people, I guess.
My boy: Why is it called "pride" parade?
Me: Rather than be ashamed of being gay, people want to show that they have nothing to hide and that they're all the way on the other end of the scale and proud of who they are.
My boy: Are you proud of being gay?
Me: Well, no. I decided a long time ago that there's nothing to be ashamed of in who I'm attracted to. It's not something I consciously do, so I can't take the blame or the credit for it. And I think that applies in the other direction too. Being gay isn't something to be proud of, for me, it just is.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Fathers Day

Fathers Day is one I've never paid much attention to. I've only been a father for a relatively short time, and the holiday never seems to have as obvious of celebratory possibilities as others. So, it didn't hurt my feelings that I was scheduled to work on Fathers Day shortly after church was to end.

The lesson in Sunday School focused largely on service--how we can make it a more meaningful part of our lives, do it more, etc. I thought a bit about medicine and how enamored I've been with the idea of getting paid to do something so interesting all while thinking about it as "serving." It's a healing art, and that just seems cool. But, in the practice, sometimes the comforts and real basic needs of the patients get swallowed up in the establishment's regulations and standards of care: you have to be certain this antibiotic is given within this amount of time, you must wait until the nurse has completed the triage sheet, you must have this paperwork before giving this treatment. It ends up feeling a lot less like service and a lot more like an assembly line.

But every once in a while you get a patient like Judy.

Judy was my first patient on Fathers Day. She had fallen several times that day, but still didn't want to come in for evaluation. For several days she had been unable to walk steadily, a cancer patient of several years with so much pain that she would rather just curl up and lie on the floor than try to move for... well, anything. She was so nauseated she didn't want to turn over to look at me when I came in the room. Unfortunately, the nurses had been forced to cut off her hair because the caked vomit made it so tangled it couldn't be washed. Her skin was irritated from feces and infections secondary to poor hygiene.

"Just leave me alone, okay?" With the pressures of twenty or more patients in the waiting room thinking their concern is the most important in their life, sometimes it's hard to slow down to extend some reassurance to someone who isn't likely to accept it. But there are certain situations where the raw emotional nature forces you to slow down and think about what's really going on, what's important in life, and what you really must do.

When I see my little boy playing and learning, sometimes I get this feeling of desperation that he's too good for the world. I worry that once he's old enough to go to school or the playground or elsewhere, there will be bullies and obnoxious teachers and... people who don't care about him as I do.

I wonder what Father in Heaven thinks about his children going off to Earth where there are bullies and mean people. Or just cancer, debilitation, and social injustices. I assume he hopes, as I do, that someone will step in and watch over his dear ones. "We'll leave you alone if you want Judy, but we can help make you feel better. We can help you. It's okay, Judy."

I have a habit of getting so wrapped up in my own life, my own struggles, my own desires, that I forget that the road to happiness is to forget myself and follow Christ's example to minister to others. I was grateful for that reminder on Fathers Day.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

-L- is a busy boy

People occasionally note that a doctor in residency with two small children must have a hard time finding the time to blog as much as I do.

They are right.

Which is why things have caught up to me and I'll be relatively quiet for certain stints. But, I'm still here, just so you know. And feel free to read my latest on NL.

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Compliments of the QoQ

The QoQ recently noted this music from my favorite group, Barenaked Ladies. I'm not sure how to ditch the crazy video, so here it is in all its puzzling glory.


Saturday, June 02, 2007


After a zillion comments, I was left agreeing with Mohomie's comment in which he said essentially, "Umm... what's going on?"

So, part of my own confusion stems from my scatter-brained original post. I mentioned the youth pamphlet, but in my mind (and post) I extend the need for order and clear expectations to a larger group than that.

On the other hand, I've since looked through the For the Strength of Youth pamphlet, and I think it already does outline some pretty clear expectations. And adults' standards of behavior aren't really different, per se, just the circumstances. And I certainly don't want to be perceived as criticizing the brethren or official church publications in talking about this stuff, because I most certainly don't think that would be appropriate.

Here's the section in the pamphlet about sexual purity:

“The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”).

Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. God has commanded that sexual intimacy be reserved for marriage.

When you obey God’s commandment to be sexually pure, you prepare yourself to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple. You prepare yourself to build a strong marriage and to bring children into the world as part of a loving family. You protect yourself from the emotional damage that always comes from sharing physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage.

Do not have any sexual relations before marriage, and be completely faithful to your spouse after marriage. Satan may tempt you to rationalize that sexual intimacy before marriage is acceptable when two people are in love. That is not true. In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious because they defile the power God has given us to create life. The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder or denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:5).

Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.

In cultures where dating or courting is acceptable, always treat your date with respect, never as an object to be used for your lustful desires. Stay in areas of safety where you can easily control your physical feelings. Do not participate in talk or activities that arouse sexual feelings.

Homosexual activity is a serious sin. If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction, seek counsel from your parents and bishop. They will help you.

Victims of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are not guilty of sin. If you have been a victim of any of these crimes, know that you are innocent and that God loves you. Seek your bishop’s counsel immediately so he can help guide you through the process of emotional healing.

If you are tempted to commit sexual transgressions, seek help from your parents, your bishop, and friends you can trust. Pray to the Lord, who will help you resist temptation and overcome inappropriate thoughts and feelings.

If you have committed sexual transgressions, begin the process of repentance now so you can find inner peace and have the full companionship of the Spirit. Seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Talk with your bishop. He will help you obtain the forgiveness available to those who truly repent.

There's nothing there that's not applicable, in my mind. And if I were to tailor it specifically to a gay youth, I would only adjust a few minor things. Maybe it would say something like this:

“The sacred powers of procreation are to be employed only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife” (“The Family: A Proclamation to the World”).

Physical intimacy between husband and wife is beautiful and sacred. It is ordained of God for the creation of children and for the expression of love between husband and wife. God has commanded that sexual intimacy be reserved for marriage [with someone of the opposite gender].

When you obey God’s commandment to be sexually pure, you prepare yourself to make and keep sacred covenants in the temple [still true for gays...even if the marriage covenants may be delayed until after this life]. You prepare yourself to build a strong marriage and to bring children into the world as part of a loving family. You protect yourself from the emotional damage that always comes from sharing physical intimacies with someone outside of marriage.

Do not have any sexual relations before marriage, and be completely faithful to your spouse after marriage. Satan may tempt you to rationalize that [gay] sexual intimacy is acceptable when two people are in love. That is not true. In God’s sight, sexual sins are extremely serious because they defile the power God has given us to create life. The prophet Alma taught that sexual sins are more serious than any other sins except murder or denying the Holy Ghost (see Alma 39:5).

Before marriage, do not do anything to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. [Do not rationalize that such emotions can have no expression otherwise.] Do not participate in passionate kissing, lie on top of another person, or touch the private, sacred parts of another person’s body, with or without clothing. Do not allow anyone to do that with you. Do not arouse those emotions in your own body.

In cultures where dating or courting is acceptable, always treat your date with respect, never as an object to be used for your lustful desires. [Do not rule out dating merely because you are not sexually attracted to a person. This might be a good area for further discussion and information.] Stay in areas of safety where you can easily control your physical feelings. Do not participate in talk or activities that arouse sexual feelings.

Homosexual activity is a serious sin. If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction, [you should start a blog and notify the guy at ardentmormon.blogspot.com. Also...] seek counsel from your parents and bishop. They will help you.

Victims of rape, incest, or other sexual abuse are not guilty of sin. If you have been a victim of any of these crimes, know that you are innocent and that God loves you. Seek your bishop’s counsel immediately so he can help guide you through the process of emotional healing.

[Those who experience unchosen feelings and sexual attractions are also not guilty of sin. However, such feelings may challenge you throughout your life. Finding a way to properly deal with various challenges is an important part of every person's mortal life.]

If you are tempted to commit sexual transgressions, seek help from your parents, your bishop, and friends you can trust. Pray to the Lord, who will help you resist temptation and overcome inappropriate thoughts and feelings.

If you have committed sexual transgressions, begin the process of repentance now so you can find inner peace and have the full companionship of the Spirit. Seek the Lord’s forgiveness. Talk with your bishop. He will help you obtain the forgiveness available to those who truly repent.

So, what do you think?

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Gay anarchy

Enigma suggested to me the other day the need for a For the Strength of Gay Youth pamphlet to help SSA people know what is okay and what is not in their unique situation. Yes, we both know that Affirmation already has taken that clever step, but I'm not such a big fan of Affirmation and I'd rather have it from someone I trust (and minimally agree with).

Considering the recent debates about cuddling, outing oneself, straight dating, etc... it makes sense that there ought to be some informed guidance for a guy or girl who wants to keep it all above board. Who do you tell? When? What situations should be avoided?

Of course, the issue is not one that applies merely to the youth. Enigma also mentioned in his comment on my last post that he's apprehensive about coming out because of potential consequences from the scouting organization or the ward. So... what do you do in a situation like that? Stand up and be a martyr so that you can educate the people around you regarding the issue? Or continue as you have before where you can serve the young men and touch those private lives in a way that might otherwise be impossible?

The automatic inclination among gays is going to be to assume that restricting callings based on orientation is just simply born of ignorance, but I don't think it's that simple. I suspect that the young women leaders are always women to keep any possibility for impropriety at bay (ditto the young men leaders being men). As my mom is fond of saying, "we should avoid even the appearance of evil." Considering the likelihood that there will be homosexually attracted youth in pretty much every sizable ward, there's an analogous possibility for the appearance of or actual impropriety in a scenario with a gay leader.

But it's not a perfect analogy, of course. Some suggest (and I believe) that coping with SSA is aided with non-sexual relationships with other men. This is particularly true of men whom one finds attractive, the idea being that a friendship reveals the real person and their appeal is normalized and largely mitigated. Some gay men may have painful memories of their youth and consequently idealize the outgoing, talented guys in the ward. So, in may be helpful to both the youth who need a good role model and the gay leader to have such a calling, despite the remote possibility of scandal.

Considering the homophobic culture that clings to some wards despite explicit doctrine of acceptance (of unchosen gay feelings), there hasn't been enough opportunity for those who have been in situations like this to really stand up and say whether it's been an overall positive or negative experience.

Regardless, the scouting organization, while on friendly terms with the church, may have a completely different approach. And, as Enigma pointed out, it's not likely to be particularly gay friendly, even with the distinction between unchosen feelings and behavior (and a straight-married gay). So, yeah. Major problem.

So, I hereby call to order an online policy making session in which people should discuss what the guidelines should be and why. If the brethren give us a set, I'll be delighted. In the mean time, how do you recommend bringing order to the gay anarchy? ;-)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

No Easy Outs

I've seen several posts discussing coming out as a way to be more honest about ourselves and to be who we really are as unapologetically as possible. I appreciate the importance of these things. However, I'm still not out to anyone I see on a regular basis except my wife. There are several reasons for that, and perhaps the most weighty in my mind is the fact that once out you can't go back in. The finality of coming out (whether perceived or actual) demands some pretty careful consideration.

As far as sexuality goes, I don't consider my attractions to be a "defining" part of who I am. They're significant and influence (probably) every aspect of my personality, but the sexual aspects themselves are purely private. They don't dictate my interests or behaviors and I consider them completely irrelevant in 99.9% of my daily interactions. So, in some ways, I just don't think coming out has much importance for me.

Some people have a much different experience than that, however, and would like to be open about sexuality and homosexual issues in their discussions and interactions with other people. I've felt this way myself, but when the issue is a discussion of my own sexuality (and not sexuality in general), I sometimes have to stop and really examine whether it's even appropriate to discuss my personal sexuality with whoever it is I'm chatting with. Sure, they're a friend who cares about me and loves me, but it's still a sacred and private topic. I'm not shy at all about talking about homosexuality or having explicitly sexual conversations in an impersonal, objective sense, but I tend to shut up (despite my occasional desire to "share" myself with friends) if I'm rational about it.

Perhaps the main reason I can think of for caution in coming out is that not being out has kept me away from temptation on many occasions. I have been to SO many professional meetings where I'm in a hotel far away from home and there is an organized group of GLBT medical students and physicians who, well, would likely provide plenty of opportunities to get into some hot trouble. I've been to their meetings to be supportive, but when I'm there I don't label myself as gay. I label myself as married with children and heterosexually active (or I would, if someone really pressed me for a label!). I read Abelard's description of a temptation with a coworker who was gay (and offered a sexual encounter!), and I suspect such a situation would have been exponentially worse if Abelard had been out to that coworker. I remember Max's description of a coworker who became obnoxiously determined to get it on after he learned that Max was gay. I've chatted with other bloggers who have gotten into trouble by "outing" themselves to others as well (once, for example, resulting in excommunication). Basically, I have plenty of temptation in my life without adding more. I'm pretty sure that I owe my 'gay virginity' to the fact that I haven't been out and have therefore had fewer opportunities to get into trouble.

I do see the benefits of being honest with close friends and loved ones about central issues such as this, and I am still considering whether, how, and when to come out to my parents. I'll do so when I see some real opportunity for benefit, and until then I plan to keep the private aspects of my life private.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Romney, more or enough?

I hadn't even seen the Time coverage of Romney (and Mormonism) when I wrote my Romney post. I've been keeping a little bit of an eye on the issue since then and found this story that I quite liked.

The good news is, I think, that I've noticed more discussion of Romney's views rather than his underwear. Maybe now I can start writing some pro-Giuliani posts. ;-)

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Blogging over there

It's been a busy time for me, and I'm a little surprised to see how few posts I've thrown out there this month. But then, part of it is that I've started putting most of my less personal posts on Northern Lights.

Please come visit me over there too. :-)

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Romney's 24 hours

I'm not decided on the presidential election (which, I think is okay given the current date). However, I've been irritated repeatedly that any discussion of Romney in the media has to be a discussion of irrelevant crap rather than his policy and leadership. And yes, I'm including the fact that he's a Mormon in the category of "irrelevant crap". The man should be given consideration for how well he can lead our country.

Anyway, in the wake of last night's debate, there's a 24 hour campaign for Mitt's support. I signed up and donated $10. I don't even know if I'll vote for the man, but I'm persuaded his campaign needs support just to get a fair shake. Here's an e-mail I got from a friend. Have a look and consider supporting the guy. If you like the idea, you should do it right now, cuz otherwise it probably won't happen.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Step 5: Confession

It's been a while since I've stepped. I've got 4 down and 8 to go, so I don't know why I'm always so slow. Things won't take care of themselves automatically, I suppose. So, on to step 5.

“I would not dwell upon your crimes, to harrow up your soul, if it were not for your good” (Alma 39:7).
• Some people would claim that we dwell too much on negative things in life by taking steps 4 and 5 and that doing so can only add to our stress. In this verse, we are taught that facing shortcomings can do us good, not just “harrow up” (or distress) our souls. In what ways can steps 4 and 5 relieve you of stress and bring you more peace?

With all the attempted suicides and self-hate that I see among young gay guys, it's easy to get carried away and apply the same soothing rhetoric to myself that I would like to extend to them. But the fact is, I'm not suicidal and have no real problem with self-hate. My problem is excusing myself.

I excuse myself from looking at porn because "I'm addicted," or I excuse myself from really stepping up and carefully studying the scriptures and participating in church. I excuse myself for masturbation. I excuse my selfishness.

Selfishness. That reminds me of the recent discussions I've seen about President Packer's pamphlet, To the One, in which he opines that many of the difficulties associated with being gay are attributable to selfishness. The rhetoric flying off that discussion was thick and deep, and frankly, irrelevant to me. Because, regardless of whether you want to take issue with the generalizability of that, regardless of whether you are prone to outrage that an apostle would say such a thing, I can't deny to myself how true it is in my case. I'm a very selfish person, I always have been, and it's no good trying to deny it.

...President Spencer W. Kimball: “Repentance can never come until one has bared his soul and admitted his actions without excuses or rationalizations. . . . Those persons who choose to meet the issue and transform their lives may find repentance the harder road at first, but they will find it the infinitely more desirable path as they taste of its fruits”

Being selfish is not going to make me happy. I'm fully convinced of that on an academic level. I love the scriptures where we're invited to lose our lives for Christ's sake, and that through so doing we will find ourselves. And, to be fair and honest, I've done a pretty good job of being unselfish in some ways in my life. But there is still a very deep-rooted desire within myself to look at porn, despite what it may do to my wife, despite how it may affect our family and marriage, despite its effects on my spirituality. I know what I want, and the largest effort of my daily life ends up being a puzzle of risk and consequence management, keeping the negative impact of my selfishness at a minimum, but harboring the selfishness through it all at the protected core of my life.

One major obsession of those who struggle with addiction is a great desire to look good to others. How would this desire keep you from improving and bringing “forth more fruit” (or good works)?

I've always been an approval junkie. It's a problem on this blog, certainly, because I tend to want to look consistent and sometimes avoid airing my dirty laundry (despite that doing so is one of the reasons this blog exists). I'm not looking for reassurances of my self-worth with this post, and I don't want to hear criticisms of President Packer. This post is just for me to say what I know is true: I have a fair number of problems in my life that still need to be dealt with. Primary among these problems is my selfishness. It's the center of my issues with porn, imagining a life of gay bliss, wasted time, hypocrisy, and so on. So, there you have my confession, hopefully unsoftened by my desire to look good.

You may fear that someone who really knew all your weaknesses and failings would reject you. But a priesthood leader or a trusted friend who understands the recovery process usually responds with understanding and compassion. How could such a response help you heal?

I suppose this speaks to my last post. My wife allows my confessions and responds with understanding and compassion. She doesn't excuse my faults, and I'm glad for that. But she stands by me regardless of my failings, and she lets me know that she wants me to be happy and she wants me to be the person I can be. I don't bring up my failings to her on a perpetual basis, because that wouldn't be fair to her. Luckily, I do have friends who are supportive and encouraging and who I trust not to give me improper guidance or misinformation when I confide in them. For all the love I receive from people both near and far who care about me, I say thanks.

Monday, May 14, 2007

Better "because of," not "in spite of"

Chatting around the queerosphere, I've been polling a bit to find out what people do that helps their marriages or hurts them. Near as I can tell, there is a pretty solid correlation between being fully honest with one's spouse about sexuality issues and ability to positively deal with said issues.

My wife and I talk about the blogs, gay politics, and family issues on a pretty regular basis. Daily, probably. Our openness is one of the most wholesome and healthy things in our marriage. I can say what I think--cautiously and sensitively, still--and she will respect me for my honestly and candor. We've had our share of misunderstandings, hurt feelings, over-reactions, and the like. But we work at it. We work through it. And we're stronger, I believe, not just for weathering the storm, but because we're willing to face the realities of our lives and deal with them.

My struggle with same-gender attraction has been one of the most formative issues in making our marriage strong. We know our marriage is "high risk," so to speak. We know that we need to be super understanding of one another. We know that we are committed to each other despite the challenges.

Some marriages seem to be defined by "mixed orientation," which is one reason I think the term mixed orientation marriage is annoying. In the final analysis, an MOM is just like any other marriage--one in which a commitment is made to be sexual and domestic partners despite the challenges life throws at you. The challenges will be colored by external attractions in both cases, sexual intimacy will face challenges in both cases, etc. To quote Samantha:

I can name six marriages (not MOM) in less than thirty seconds that deal with problems with attraction, sexual interaction, impotence, low-libido, and other intimacy detractions. They have to work to be physically intimate, just as I may have to. They don't always feel fulfilled emotionally by their spouses. Sometimes I think we, in MOM's feel we have a special corner on the market when it comes to intimacy issues. We're whiners.

I don't know what to tell people whose spouses aren't ready to deal with the realities of having unwanted sexual attractions. You can't force someone to bump up a few levels of maturity and empathy. But, if there's a solution to be had, I'd say it's worth trying to find. Counseling, certainly, ought to be an option. And for those for whom it's not a likely option, I hope some solution is there for you, and I really do hope that you will find it and have a better marriage because of dealing with challenges, not in spite of them.

Monday, May 07, 2007

Commenting makes me gay

One of the suggested reasons reparative therapists offer for homosexual attractions is a long-established disconnect from masculine acceptance. That's why they have guys running around learning how to play sports and feel good about it. It's a theory that has often been criticized (sarcastically), but one that makes a little sense in my mind.

I hated church ball as a kid. I would rather go to the dentist than throw a basketball (or any ball, for that matter) with an audience. And, I suppose the surprising thing about this is that I'm not too bad of a ball player. I'm not great... my skill development stopped in about the third grade when I quit wanting to play sports pretty much at all... but I do quite well in things like racquetball.

Anyway, as a kid I was invited (half-heartedly) to play with the teachers' quorum team. When I gave it a shot, I was horrible, and the other kids being of the appropriate maturity level for a set of average 14-year-old boys weren't particularly supportive. I didn't go back and they didn't pursue me; or if they did it was obviously half-hearted. "Hey, -L-, if you want to play, we'll certainly sacrifice our chances of winning and cheer you on in a condescending show of supporting our ridiculous teammate." Yes, there's some pride operating there, but I should be given the same concessions of 14-year-old maturity that I give my teammates, right?

So, here I am twice the age and still suffering from caring what other people think. The authors of the blogs here on my sidebar are generally nice to me, even when I'm a ridiculous fool. I appreciate this and it fosters a community spirit that allows openness and honesty without fear of being hurt for it. It also fosters quick and blameless changes of opinion rather than a, "you said something false in writing and in public and now your humiliation will be celebrated" view.

But, when I go out into the bloggernacle proper, I think I freeze up a little bit. I let jeering and obnoxious people keep me from speaking up. I defend myself and my views with a fervor that I later easily admit to myself is ridiculous and counter-productive. In short, I get the same types of insecure feelings I got when I attempted to throw a baseball as a teenager.

I know I've been on quite a kick of blogging about blogging for the last several weeks. But, what can I say? It's been on my mind, and writing this stuff makes me get over it, it seems.

Friday, May 04, 2007

Hate crimes

I've been meaning to read up more on the hate-crimes legislation changes moving through Congress. I still haven't had a chance to really do the topic justice, but wanted to point out this really cool blog I found and his take on the issue.

Thursday, May 03, 2007

Locker rooms, showers, saunas, and such

Today after I worked out at my gym, I was chatting with one of my coworkers. He's not a bad looking guy and after we finished chatting he headed to the locker room. It's not the first time I've been given a natural opportunity to follow a good looking guy into a locker room, but lately I've avoided taking that opportunity. I hang back and stretch out instead. Or do just a couple more sets. And I'm proud of myself for it.

Sometimes this isn't a hard thing to do, but once last week it took quite a bit of willpower. The guy that time in particular was someone I'm really attracted to, and I've seen him there many times. We both finished working out at the same time and I thought I might as well go to the locker room. But I realized that I felt an urgency to do it that wasn't tied to me wanting to get clean. I did another couple sets.

This is on my mind mainly because I've seen so many stories about saunas and showers over my time blogging. Gentlefriend's was the most recent, but certainly isn't unique. I've heard repeated stories (both published and private) of guys in saunas masturbating while they watch each other. I initially thought this must just be seedy gyms with a rampantly gay population, but apparently it's not. I even read an article about a lawsuit by some janitors who were sick of seeing gay sex all the time at a popular New York health club chain.

It's enough to make me rethink the health benefits of working out. :-) Here I am a doctor, spending half my waking hours bickering with patients about how they need to exercise more and take care of their bodies, and yet I'm inclined to think it would be better for me to die young and fat than to put myself into a tempting situation like that.

I may not be strong enough to resist if the right temptation presents itself, so I've got to be vigilant in making sure that I don't let my subconscious cruise my horny self into a situation where I'm bound to be in loads of trouble. Luckily, my gaydar is not so good. Even more lucky, med school and residency have aged me a bit. Thank goodness for being old and ugly.

So. I guess I'll wait until the locker room is clear before getting my things. And saunas are over-rated anyway. :-)

Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Bedtime story

I just finished watching The Mormons on PBS and it wasn't a bad flick. As I sit here with droopy eyes ready to doze off for the evening, I'm just alarmed at how blessed my life is. I've been meaning to write more "stories" on my blog, so maybe I can pop out a quick one before I slip into my sleepy coma.

I remember one of the interviewees in the documentary saying that it didn't matter all the good that came from the church if it were a fraud. None of the goodness mattered if the historicity demonstrated that it was all based on a fabrication. I don't remember the exact quote, so I hope I'm not giving a really bad paraphrase, but I just can't agree with the guy.

I've never been one to get wrapped up in the historical debates of controversial church issues. Those sorts of discussions just don't float my boat. Regarding the "facts" of polygamy and blacks and ERA and Mountain Meadows massacre... I still have a lot to learn. I do think that in the end the church is true not just in overall effect, but in the details.

When I was a kid, a friend of mine quipped that even if the church isn't true it's still a helluva way to live. I thought he was an idiot. I was a very idealistic little boy and my primary interest was in the truth. The absolute truth.

However; when I watch the cameras flip back and forth between Elder Jensen and various critics of the church, there's almost a demonstrable difference in light in their faces. It's not that the critics weren't nice folks, smart folks, good folks... but the church has had a refining effect on Elder Oaks and President Hinckley and Elder Jensen that seemed amazingly stark to me. Isn't that something to the credit of the church despite whatever academic squabbling a person wants to undertake?

At the end of the day I feel very happy knowing that a large portion (if not all) of the happiness I have in my life extends from my family and the happiness in my family extends from trying to live the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that gospel has come through this church.

Ok, kids. There you go. That is what you might call a "flight of ideas" post from your schizophrenic friend, -L-. And now, with no regard to whether anything I just wrote made any sense whatsoever, I publish and sleep.

Sunday, April 29, 2007


Several months ago I submitted my personal blog address to several bloggernacle blogs to be linked. The blogs had a specific policy regarding which blogs they would link, and I thought my blog complied nicely. It's LDS themed (and sexuality themed, but LDS just as much, I think), and generally uplifting in its goal. I checked back several times afterward to see my link, but it never showed up. This was on more than one blog in the bloggernacle ring, mind you. I never got any kind of acknowledgment from the blog administrators as to why my blog was not suitable, so I was left to speculate all on my own why I had been excluded.

I can't help but imagine the worst. I don't want to believe that I was excluded just because I'm gay or they found my blog distasteful. But what else could it have been? I talk about sex on my blog on occasion, but I don't think I've ever been offensive or inappropriate. Perceptions can be very subjective though, I suppose. I didn't think a post about sexual attitudes was too salacious, but I saw a link afterward where I was criticized for having discussed my little boy running around naked (without context). So, maybe my writing is just too much for some. Maybe I just did it to myself.

I'm disappointed to say that I still suspect that my being excluded represents a homophobic undercurrent in the ostensibly open-minded and tolerant folks in the bloggernacle. Creating a new blog--one with multiple contributors and a very clear intent to help faithful members dealing with homosexual issues--seemed one possible way to break free of this marginalization. It should have been unnecessary to be treated with respect by the cerebral naclers; regardless, I still don't know if the new blog will merit a link either.

Now, imagine my disappointment when I realized that at least one good friend of mine felt marginalized in exactly the same way with the start of this new blog. In my impatience to get the blog up and running, we created a subset of the blogs discussing LDS and homosexual themes that we thought were written by people who would want to be included in the new "community." This ended up being very hurtful for people who were mistakenly left off. It was a mistake, sure enough, but that doesn't make it any less regrettable and unfortunate.

Yesterday I was explaining friends' hurt feelings to my wife, as well as the misconception that we don't want varied points of view to be discussed, and the horrible notion that I'm just up and leaving my existing blog and promoting some bipartisan break in the community. She said, "Why do you need another blog? I mean, if you're going to discuss the same sort of things you always have..." She knows that I consider many of the non-LDS commenters on my blog to be friends and that I really appreciate all their feedback and insights. What purpose could this new blog serve other than to be divisive? I told her some of the history I've just written here--of being excluded from the bloggernacle rolls and feeling misunderstood. This seemed like a way to add a level of comfort--perhaps even just a superficial one--for those who want to feel very reassured that exploring homosexual issues is not a "bad" thing to do. And by adding one more URL, we haven't taken away any. If it helps more people to feel comfortable getting into and out of their issues, I will feel like the new blog will have done some good.

Friday, April 27, 2007


I was commenting recently on a non-blogger blog (one that doesn't let you delete your comments) and woopsie--accidentally called someone a sophist. I didn't even wait to be called out on it, I just wrote my little apology and clarified that I disagreed with him and wasn't attacking his character. But, the damage apparently had been done and it didn't help the conversation going forward, what with him immediately calling me uncharitable, and me saying essentially I know you are but what am I?, and even pulling out all the stops and putting a "neener" in my next comment back.

Considering Beck's recent post, I've been mulling the difficulties with online communication about hot topics. There are lots of problems with it. First of all, we violate the dictum nearly every day to never discuss religion or politics in polite company (homosexuality being a fairly political topic). We talk about issues that cut to our hearts, and how can you stand back and let someone say something that seems wrong on the topic without lashing out?

I've erred on the other side too, coming down too soft when people say things that are just really messed up. It's a hard balance to strike, and I hope I can get better at it over time.

So, here are some new goals for myself:
  • Don't feel obligated to point out every ridiculous thing someone writes. Other people are smart enough to notice it too without my help.
  • Avoid discussion forums where there is an established history of really cranky people. This may take some substantial self restraint when the topic feels important to me and there are some really really stupid things being accepted as clever.
  • Don't be drawn into a comment war in which some other party and I consistently rephrase the other person's point and criticize it. This one is tricky because I'm always afraid after someone stupidly rephrases something I attempted to write very precisely that others will be persuaded that that was my intent. I clarify and clarify and it ends up being a tiresome bicker-session that informs nobody of anything and has a great risk of bringing out nastiness.
  • Even when somebody is a horrible raunch, I'll only look stupid if I get defensive in my response to their insults. Unfortunately, I've learned this from experience MORE than once.
  • People are generally sneaky only insofar as they are attempting to creatively forward ideals and opinions that they believe are right and good. When I think they are a disingenuous jerk, I should remember that they probably think the same thing about me, and we could all be a little more charitable to each other.

Thursday, April 26, 2007

New button

For several weeks now I've been working on getting Northern Lights up and running. It's a new moho blog intended to be kind of a hub for faithful LDS gays. There are a bunch of reasons for starting a new blog, and I figured I'd fill everyone in on the back story here. You can read the "official" story on the blog itself at ldslights.org.

A while back I tried to get a feel for what everyone thinks young LDS gays need in terms of resources. There were a lot of good points made, but I left the thread thinking that this community of bloggers, although imperfect, is one of the best resources available. The community is kind of an organic thing with lots of different view points, and that's part of what I love about it. There are smart, good people both in and out of the church who critically think and dialog about issues that matter to me. On the other hand, I've got to say that some of the posts I read on rare occasions don't do me much good. For example, I'm pretty susceptible to online images of shirtless guys. It would be nice to learn from people's blogs without being afraid I'll open a post and get some underwear shot that will tempt me to go looking for more.

And honestly I think my blog is as offensive as any. I'm free and loose with language that doesn't bother me, but very well may bother others. I'm not going to link to any examples of my occasional irreverent posts, but if you've read here very long, you'll probably know what I'm talking about.

What is a trigger for one is not a trigger for others... and one thing that makes this blogging community remarkable is the candid nature of what people talk about. I don't think that should change. However, I do think that if someone is a member of the church looking for information, exploring some personal feelings on the topic, and want to limit their looking to a topic-focused blog that has explicitly stated standards consistent with the church... there has been nothing available.

So, when I heard about North Star, a nonprofit group that has been in the makings for several months now but hasn't fully launched its web presence yet, I was delighted to have the opportunity to be involved in creating an associated blog--Northern Lights. I really do hope that you will put it on your sidebar, add it to your reader, and consider making it a part of your online rounds (there goes the doctor in me... I can't even think of another way to put it!).

I also want to briefly mention that we've tried to include some links to the existing queerosphere on Northern Lights. This was a quick and dirty effort and we tried to only include blogs by folks who consider themselves to be committed to the church for the reasons mentioned above. The trick is, we just based that assessment on our own views, not on your views. We'll try to be in touch with you to check that including your blog is okay, but if you think we've pegged you wrong (one way or the other), it's your own assessment that counts. Please let us know and we'll add your link or take it down.

And maybe my new button can be your new button too. :-)

Monday, April 23, 2007


This was to be the story of a straight roommate who fell in love with me. But, obviously that sort of statement is in need of a lot of qualifiers. Was he really straight? I think he was. Was he really in love with me? My wife thinks he was. Regardless, by all other accounts we were best friends and closer than I've been with anyone except my wife. I would have asked him to be the best man at my wedding, but he disappeared shortly after I left for medical school--no e-mails and no phone calls. Sometimes I wonder why a guy who was closer than a brother would suddenly drop off the face of the earth; why he would go from driving me and my stuff halfway across the country to ignoring me altogether. All I can figure is that he suddenly became aware how tied to me he had become and got scared.

Let me rewind a couple years to the beginning of the story. My wife and I had been dating for years, but parted ways when she graduated and our relationship hadn't progressed. She moved on with her life and I got a job in the real world. I lived in a BYU student approved complex even though I was no longer a student (shame on me) and enjoyed life finally pulling a paycheck and having my evenings study-free. At the end of the year the perennial student turnover emptied most of the complex and a guy from my ward I didn't know too well invited me to move into his apartment.

At first I didn't like the idea--this guy wasn't really a great friend, just an acquaintance. But the fact that I could go from a shared bedroom to a private bedroom sealed the deal. My then current room roommate deserves a whole chapter of his own, but we'll forgo that for now! So, I moved in with Jeff.

I don't remember exactly how the following months played out, but the fact that he had all the cool electronics meant that we spent a considerable amount of time hanging out. For whatever reason, he was really nice to me. He would wash my dishes and clean up my messes in a way that invited reciprocation, and soon we were just always looking out for each other and pretty close. He would use my stuff and I would use his. We traveled all over the country together and took every weekend we could to go camping in southern Utah. We hung out with each other's family. The lines of who owned what in our apartment were blurred in a way that felt like family. We just got really close.

He was brilliant and had landed a high paying job (six figures!) right out of BYU. He got me a job at the same place and with that transition we were together pretty much 24/7. One day a coworker discovered porn on an office computer and I was asked if I had been the culprit. I honestly answered that it hadn't been me, and Jeff defended me. After that fiasco had faded and we were chatting privately about it, he said he had been 100% sure it hadn't been me because it wasn't "my brand." He had become aware I was gay quite a while before as he used my computer in our apartment. I had been less than tidy with covering my internet history. But nothing really changed after he knew. I had no idea that he was even aware.

The nice thing about the experience was that it gave me a chance to be honest with someone and talk about things. I gave him my speculation that part of my problems with sexuality were related to my repressed upbringing. We compared stories and his history intrigued me. When he looked at porn as a kid and his dad caught him, his dad (a bishop) said, "that's my boy," and didn't give him a hard time. The expectation was always there that he not look at porn, but he didn't feel guilty or shamed by the experience. His dad had an openness about things that took the "forbidden" element out. It normalized issues. I, on the other hand, felt I needed to confess to the bishop if my eyes fell on a swimsuit pinup as I walked down the halls of school.

He said he thought I needed things normalized. I needed a brother. Someone who didn't judge me for being gay, or looking at porn, or whatever. Someone who just accepted me and loved me anyway.

We kept hanging out, getting more affectionate over time. We slept in the same bed sometimes. One of us would fling an arm around the other one in a way that some would call brotherly and some would call flirty, and we'd fall asleep that way. I liked him well enough by this point that things could have gotten inappropriate fast except for one thing: he was straight. We discussed it more than once and I held some doubts whether it was really true. But without going into all the situational details, I had seen what turned him on, and it wasn't guys. Sure, maybe he was bi. If he was, he wasn't turned on by me, but he still loved me in a way that was hard to explain.

The summer before med school we planned a big trip with two girls (I married one of them later!). My wife tells me now that it was on that trip that she first really suspected that I was gay. Just seeing us together, how we played off each other, how much we really loved each other, she was convinced that we were BOTH gay. A few weeks later, I came out to her and she told me she already knew. But she loved me anyway. She liked Jeff too, up until the time she believed he was a rival for my affection.

And, there you have it. One weekend in the fall, we piled all my stuff into the jeep and drove across the country to my new home. We slept in the same bed for the last time and Jeff drove off into the sunset never to be heard from again. We had big plans that after I finished med school we would start a business together. Or maybe we would take flying lessons and buy a plane together. We had a good track record of sharing possessions. But, somewhere along the way I suspect he may have realized that he had been changed by our relationship more than he intended. Rather than just me feeling more "normalized," maybe he was brought to consider some gay feelings he never knew he had. I don't know. I still love him and miss him and now that my wife doesn't feel like she has to compete anymore (she definitely doesn't), I sort of wish he'd step back in and pick up where we left off as friends.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

A story

I keep reading lots of personal stories about the day to day lives of others around here, but I keep on not sharing many 'stories' of my own. Part of this is due to my reluctance to share too much in the way of personally identifiable information. This is stupid, probably, because it would take a research team a good while to dig through all these posts and find the bits and pieces that might collectively identify me, but I'm paranoid just the same.

Add to that my inability to think of any particular story in my life that seems particularly interesting. I could write about growing up and how I had posters of unicorns on the wall, loved rainbows (seriously), and had an unusually large collection of stuffed animals for a boy. I could write about middle school and my complete insecurity around most other boys (especially in the locker room). I had just one best friend and he and I spent all our time together. Turns out, he's gay and off in San Fran somewhere trying to make a life as a performer. I could write about high school and the seminary president snarling at me one day, "Are you gay?" in a very un-seminary-like manner. I don't think I acted or appeared gay in high school, and I was always taken aback by a couple rare such confrontations. Part of the issue, of course, was that this guy was ostensibly worthy to be the seminary president, but he was an intolerant jerk. If I could relive my life again, I would punch him squarely in the face. He wouldn't have fought back (he wasn't the type), but if he had I would have enjoyed getting beat up for it. Pain is so much less intimidating to me now days (hey, I can write for my own morphine! j/k).

I could write about my various crushes through college. There was the straight roommate who I got into a little trouble with, the straight roommate who fell in love with me (did I tell that story ever?), the straight roommate that I think has figured out I'm gay and doesn't return my calls even though we were best friends... Apparently I have a lot of roommate stories. Good thing my current roommate has an "anything goes" policy. ;-)

I could write about my experiences with bishops and counselors, my adventures with my family, my activist moments in national policy meetings, or my med school days.

But none of these things seem all that interesting to me. I could tell the story, but I don't have anything to say about it. Maybe it's time to come out to my family like several others have done recently. That might make for some drama. :-)

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

A world wide web of relationships

Today I had another required medical conference to attend. It was horrible. There's a big emphasis on training doctors for... well, what seems like everything but medicine, hence today's struggle against sleep while someone droned on about safety issues (that I've heard before a million times--just so you know I'm not a safety hater!).

But a while back I attended a conference about relationships that everyone pretty much hated except me. I guess I have a higher tolerance when there are humanities involved. This one was heavy on the poetry and imagery. The keynote presenter shared a Hindu saying that means, "Thou art that," and speaks to empathy. Essentially, through pain and suffering we see ourselves in others.

This relationship conference actually got me thinking about blogging and why I've enjoyed it so much. I like the debates (sometimes) about advocacy and important social issues, but I also like the stories. I wrote as notes during one lecture: "Stories crystallize the meaning content of social narrative." I don't know exactly what that means, but it sounds true. ;-) Stories bring out iconic pictures from real details experienced by real people. I guess I see blogs as distinct from other websites because of the power they have in this regard. I've been a little shy on the storytelling in this blog, but that will likely change.

My notes also centered on "reciprocal influence"- we are not unmoved. When we read stories we are changed, and I hope the change coming from gay Mormon blog stories can always be for the better. I guess I see the community here as a very good resource for gay Mormons who need... something. I hope linking and incessant commenting by me is taken as supportive of these community ideals and doesn't make me obnoxious. ;-)

Sunday, April 15, 2007

The ideal resource

Most people say on these blogs at one time or another that they wish there were better resources for LDS folks who struggle with their sexual orientation. I'm wondering today a little more specifically what form such resources would take. What would they need to convey exactly?

There are currently books on the subject--not truckloads full, but certainly more than a few from a spectrum of views on the church and therapy. There are websites ranging from social to academic, faithful to antagonistic (to the church). There are quite a few discussion groups available. And, last but not least, there is a fantastic blogging community.

For all of you who believe we need more resources available (and I'm one), what do we need? I don't want to hear that you think your particular viewpoint is under-emphasized and should be broadcast louder. ;-) I'm just curious to know what you would want and need if you were looking for resources.

Friday, April 13, 2007

Choosing yardsticks

Prayer was the yardstick by which my wife and I each decided to marry. And I recommend it as the most important factor for faithful Latter-day Saints when considering such a decision. However, prayer comes in a lot of different flavors and qualities, and you'll only want the best for this endeavor!

A suitable prayer will involve studying it out in your mind beforehand. This probably involves dating for an extended period of time (none of this falling in love in two weeks flat that I've heard about!). You'll want to know how your partner reacts in a wide variety of circumstances and situations. You'll need to talk explicitly about financial philosophies, ideal family size, gender roles, commitment to the church. When a snag comes up, see whether and how you can deal with it together. The way you play off of each other, the way you can give and take, is really important since a good marriage requires a lot of that.

One "yardstick" I arbitrarily chose for myself was that my wife would need to make me want to be a better person. When my actual wife came along, I thought she failed that test since she didn't really give a flying flip whether I swore or watched R-rated movies. I thought, she doesn't care if I'm EVIL! But, she was fun to be with and look at, so I kept her around. ;-) Eventually I realized that in all the important ways, she does make me want to be a better person. Thanks to her support, I'm becoming the best doctor possible, the best father possible, the best husband, and even a more righteous person. Her patience and support has known no bounds. It's so humbling to think about that my gratitude actually makes me choked up just thinking about it. Anyway, I'm glad I didn't hold too tight to that one arbitrary yardstick (although some version of it is probably good).

There are a couple approaches I've seen recommended for making big decisions. One is to trust the intial flash of insight you get when you overall consider some complex issue. The research on this one is pretty interesting. Another approach is to do actual research yourself--to have the humility to consider that there's a lot of wisdom in the world that you can benefit from. For example, parenting is a scary thing, but it's been done before. If you want to be a good parent, one trick is to actually read a bit about what's worked well for others. You'd be amazed at the data easily available to people, and amazed at the scarcity of parents who give that data any regard.

In the case of marriage, there are gazillions of books available. In the case of mixed orientation marriage, there are some. In the case of LDS MOM, there are few. But, what advice exists ought to be appreciated. The higher the stakes, the more important it is to really be as informed as possible. However, each data point is only a data point. I'm not a fan of turning over life's most important decisions to "the authorities," but neither am I a fan of turning up one's nose at those authorities.

Taking one's mass of experience and information into consideration, one is more prepared to present the issue to the Lord. Even then, it may be hard to open the quality of communication desirable if one is out of the habit of praying or not keeping one's church covenants. Prayer's effectiveness falls outside of the realm of science to measure, in my opinion, and will depend on the faith and faithfulness of the individual (which can never be suitably quantified for comparison). The manual on prayer isn't a scientific one, it's the scriptures. And even more data can be had through the scriptures, so it's a good idea to make scripture reading a part of one's investigation too.

In my opinion, the most important decision I've made in my life was to marry my sweet wife. Left to my own doubts and second-guessing, I may not have done it. But I prayed about it and the answer was affirmative. Since God knows me better than I know myself, I got married. Now I believe my job is to never look back and to make all my thoughts and efforts focused on making it work rather than reconsidering indefinitely what I need or where I'll be happiest. It's one place I think the Savior's advice applies about finding your life through losing it. The results of my decision to marry, and my efforts to make it work, will have "infinite and eternal" ramifications. It makes me glad to think I trusted God.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Opening a dialog

Since I'm excited to have some measure of Dr. Schow's attention, and to shift focus away from the size of my penis, I would like to open a dialog about the Dialogue articles written by none other than our own Master Fob and Dr. Schow. But, mainly Schow's. We'll always have Fob to talk about.

Dr. Schow's article highlights some of the limited information we have about "mixed orientation marriages" (MOMs), and offers some guidelines to help predict which marriages are likely not to end in divorce. Overall I really enjoyed the article and found a lot to agree with. But there were little nuanced things that bothered me, so I'm bringing them up here for discussion.

Why do so many marital relationships of this kind fail? Primarily because the homosexual attraction of one spouse creates a major difficulty, despite hopes that such attraction will diminish over time. In reality, the great majority of those who are homosexually oriented cannot fundamentally alter their feelings by desire, therapy, or religious practice.
The reality is that homosexuality is not a choice and, except in rare cases, is not subject to change.

It's no news that the idea that change is impossible is disputed by NARTH. I'm still considering the idea of reading Schow's and Byrd's books as a set to compare the disparate data they present. Regardless, I agree with the statement here except that I would modify it to say, "...In reality, the great majority of those who are homosexually oriented have not been able to fundamentally...". Per the APA's consensus statement there have been no scientifically rigorous data to prove or disprove the possibility of even Reparative Therapy as a viable therapeutic option, let alone other therapies that could be conceived and have never been tried at all. To say "can't" is what nearly everyone does, and is to overstate our collective knowledge on the matter. Resist, people, and keep a good balance between skepticism and an open mind.

Thus, marriage seems risky for homosexuals and even bisexuals since we presume that some will end their marriages without trying therapy and that those receiving skilled professional assistance still achieve only this level of success.

I'm in total agreement that marriage is risky (for heteros too), but perhaps there ought to be inquiry into the manner and quality of "skilled professional assistance" those in the different outcome groups received. I've widely publicized my initial biases on this matter throughout this blog. The fact that people so pig-headedly refuse to find a workable therapist (and it may involve trying more than one) irks me. Well, I said it. Now you all know what I'm thinking. :-)

One of the reasons so many homosexuals enter into such high-risk marriages is that they are encouraged to do so by many LDS counselors, therapists, and ecclesiastical leaders who are ill informed about the nature of homosexuality and the dangers of homosexual-heterosexual bonding.

The idea that leaders are ill informed on this topic is one I agree with. But I'm curious about the "dangers of homosexual-heterosexual bonding"... or is this in reference to the dangers of not bonding?

The vast majority of homosexual-heterosexual marriages fail. However, as Ben attests, some, with strong determination, choose to try and beat the odds. Such hopes of success are, in part, based on claims that some homosexuals have achieved successful marriages characterized by adequate sexual compatibility. Such claims, however, must be examined in the light of (1) the complexity of homosexual feeling as it manifests itself in individuals (the HH Scale); (2) the relative importance that individuals attach to sexual intimacy as an element in the marital relationship (strength of libido and capacity for sublimation of sexual desire); and (3) other important factors such as whether individuals have personal compatibility and maturity adequate to withstand challenges to the marriage which are far greater than average.

Here's where I'm lost. First of all, as Dr. Schow mentioned in a previous comment, we don't know how many MOMs fail, because the sampling is always biased. It's a privacy issue, a fear issue, a homophobia issue... whatever kind of issue it is, to say the vast majority fail is unfounded. To say the vast majority fail for those couples willing to come forward may be okay. To say the vast majority have failed for those who have written books, opined on blogs, or otherwise inserted themselves into dialog on the topic also might fly. But I'm not aware that anyone has managed to measure how many MOMs are out there plugging away unassailably. Do I think it likely that there are droves? No. But let's be precise so as to give people the best information possible with which to make life-altering decisions.

Also, in regard to this passage, I have some questions for Dr. Schow. Are these three characteristics "common sense" or have they actually been measured as contributing to the success or failure of MOMs? They sound plausible enough, but that alone is not enough to suggest they be used as a yardstick for making this decision. And here's why: you also say, "Much pain—directly and indirectly—results when these marriages fail," but you don't even mention the joy that those who were able to make it work may have achieved. Had I (a highly libidinous, Kinsey 6, man of average maturity) not married, I wouldn't be in the enviable position I am right now of being the happiest I have ever been in my life. I don't offer this to suggest that others can or will achieve the same thing by following the same path, but as an example of the perils of presenting only one side of the data (or patchy data or no data at all).

Using language like, "the odds are against him" bothers me a little bit too. Speaking of "odds" in scientific literature ought to be in reference to odds ratios or statistical measurements where the word has legitimate meaning. To use it as it is used here gives the impression that whether a marriage succeeds or fails is a matter of luck--where you land in that distribution curve is just a matter of odds. I couldn't disagree more.

Overall, the article shares some great information and an important caution about the dangers of hastily entering a MOM without a clear understanding of the risks. Many thanks to Dr. Schow for his tireless efforts to research these issues and help engender compassion and understanding within the church and society. Unfortunately, the repeated statements that adapting to heterosexual intimacy is impossible (sometimes with caveats, sometimes caveats omitted) and statements expressing opinions as facts (who "probably" should or should not marry) leave me disappointed that people will be misinformed on these points.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Penis enlargement

If you've been online once or twice in the last year, you've probably seen advertisements for free ipods, free computers, free plasma TVs... etc. If you've been too skeptical to click on the ad to see what the catch is, let me give you the 411. You have to sign up for a bunch of crap you don't want and take a "survey" that is nothing more than blatant forced marketing. If you properly jump through all the hoops, wait long enough for credit, don't lose the address of the website where you signed up, and the company hasn't completely screwed you by changing the terms and conditions of your participation by the time you finish the hoop jumping, you'll get the freebie.

I gave it a try and several months later found myself short on completed offers. Desperate times call for desperate measures. I needed only one more offer, and then it appeared--the promise of male enhancement in a little blue pill. Not the blue pill (Viagra), mind you, just an herbal wannabe with no FDA approval for any indication--almost certainly good for nothing except padding the wallets of greedy men who prey on the insecurities of small-penised men everywhere.

It was presented as a combination of everything good about the Internet: free, private, and a guaranteed instantly enormous penis that would change your life. I needed one more offer and it was the cheapest one. It seemed a matter of economy to go ahead and do it. I had to. And... just maybe, I thought.

This is the type of thing I feel guilty about. Not for anything I did--I wasn't even planning to use the stuff at first, just throw it away--but for supporting a company that is everything I hate. Trotting out their testimonials and "science" to prove what hasn't been proven. Making promises that are ridiculous on their face. Reinforcing the idea that men need to fit a ridiculous caricature of a body type... (this is sounding like an anti-Barbie tirade). I hate that "herbals" get a pass from the government to make all sorts of ridiculous claims and then have no regulation to ensure that they are produced with any kind of safety or that they actually do what they say they do. Herbal supplements can be good, but they CAN also kill you since their quality, safety, and efficacy are all just a shot in the dark.

Despite it all, the risks didn't seem so great when I sat there holding the pills and considered the possibilities (however remote). So I tried it. And, guess what? They didn't really make any noticeable difference. But, if you really want to give it a shot, I still have most of those little blue pills left. As for me... there's always surgery.