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? ;-)

56 comments:

playasinmar said...

As a gay man who has never had close friendships except with males, I volunteer to help out there.

Beck said...

As a gay man who has served 7 years as YM president and 7 years previously in a bishopric (14 straight years with YM and no impropriety) I say that if I had "outed" myself (though I couldn't have because I wasn't even out to myself so how could I out myself to others) there would have been major blessings and opportunities of spiritual bonding with youth that never would have happened, and that would have been a shame.

Having been a very confused young man myself, and with my experiences noted above, I'd like to think I'm qualified to participate in this correlation committee, if you'd accept me.

-L- said...

Oh, the whole world is invited, Beck, but especially you. ;-)

Stephen said...

The whole wide world is invited? Even those of us who are likely to be more liberal?

Ron Schow said...

I worked on a document for about 5 years that is called "A Guide for Latter-day Saint Families Dealing with Homosexual Attraction." There were several general authorities who read it and offered suggestions to bring it to a finished condition. A number of them have told me they like it and feel it would be useful to any bishop or youth leader. It was sold at Deseret Book for a time and is now available on our website www.LDSResources.info It was mainly authored by a former bishop and a marriage and family therapist. I believe it provides good guidance for families and for individuals and would be useful to youth as well. It takes a long time, we discovered, to find agreement on what should be said.

I'd be interested if anyone would want to look it over and see if it would meet some of the goals you have in mind or if it would provide a starting point if you feel something more needs to be added. It is available online and also in a printed version with a nice cover. I would be happy to send a free printed copy to anyone who requests it.

Kengo Biddles said...

"(14 straight years with YM and no impropriety)"

Well, I would imagine that they were "straight years," Beck, since you only came out to yourself recently. ;)

Ron, I think you have something there. Maybe -L- can give us one of his great posts about your pamphlet?

And Stephen, given that I'm a registered Democrat and I fully intend to participate, I think you're safe.

Mr. Fob said...

Two off-topic comments:

1. 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. I notice you qualify that with a "the idea being that...." Does that indicate that you disagree with this notion, or in your experience does friendship lessen attraction? Because in my experience the opposite is true, which is why this particular idea never sat well with me.

2. Speaking as the concerned parent of a girl and a boy who will be raised in the LDS Church so long as their mother remains a faithful member, the church needs to divorce itself from the Boy Scouts of America. Pronto. For the sake of the young women who get slighted in comparison to all the funds and efforts poured into scouting, and for the sake of the young men who are pressured to participate in this program as if it had some doctrinal connection to their religion when in fact it doesn't. The Young Men's program can teach all those wonderful camping and survival and life skills without the ridiculous militaristic hoopla of the BSA. Why is there not a Girl Scout troop in every ward?

Stephen said...

As a big time boyscout who has been involved in scouting well beyond the bounds of the church since he was just a kid, however only speaking personally and not in his capacity as a director for the BSA, I whole heartedly agree with you, Mr.Fob. It's off topic, so I don't want to dwell on it too much, but I really do think that the church and the BSA are just not right for each other.

Having said that, the program prescribed by national council has no "militaristic hoopla" thank you very much. The BSA is not a military or paramilitary organization.

As for the "efforts poured into scouting" in most wards the scouting program is a joke. As somebody who can speak for his entire staff (~10) and the staffs of all of his colleagues (~40), I dread Monday Start Week, also dubbed Mormon Week, because of the laughable amount of effort put into troops by people who don't really want to be there.

Sorry to rant on your blog, -L-...

playasinmar said...

The church doesn't have more Girl Scout troops because the young women spend most of their time in slow-motion pillow fights.

-L- said...

Mr. fob, I've had both experiences. The typical one is that friendship normalizes my view of the appealing person, but occasionally I'll get infatuated all the more. This hasn't happened enough for me to really tell if spending more and more time with them will normalize things or not, but it did in one case. However, becoming increasingly involved in someone else's life is not automatically an option available, regardless. :-)

-L- said...

I love scouting, every part of it, and I probably wouldn't have ever been in it if it weren't sponsored by the church. So, despite that what you guys say makes sense, my feelings push me to reject it.

Abelard Enigma said...

Count me in! I've worked with the youth for most of my adult life and have held just about every calling there is, from cub scout den leader to YM President. Besides, I'm the one who triggered this idea, so leaving me out wouldn't be fair [stamps feet] no, it wouldn't be fair at all :)

But, I think we should make topics, like Boy Scouts, off limits. The LDS church and the BSA are well entrenched with each other and there is nothing to suggest that will change any time soon. Such discussions will only result in flared tempers and would be a waste of our time.

Besides, I'm not sure how having experience working with youth is relevant since we are talking about people young adult age and older (18+). I think there is a big need for guidelines for gay Mormon teenagers. But, I think we should avoid that for now because it opens up a whole can of worms. We shouldn't try to bite off more than we can chew, at least this first go round.

Chris said...

Mr. fob, I've had both experiences. The typical one is that friendship normalizes my view of the appealing person, but occasionally I'll get infatuated all the more.

I think that's just the way it works with relationships, though. If you were open to having homosexual relationships, I think you'd discover that some men you initially find attractive ultimately aren't, but that doesn't preclude friendships. And some men you would initially be attracted to (or not, even) would become more attractive and desirable if things "click" with him. He might be a special someone to have a relationship with.

This is why like Mr Fob I too have never bought the "male bonding" theory as a way to mitigate or "normalize" one's homosexual attractions. It's also why I think a lot of gay Mormon men meet their first boyfriend at places like Evergreen.

iwonder said...

I LOVE camping with every fibre of my being. (sorry, I couldn't help myself). But I am very much less than enthused with the scouting programme. It makes me feel, "meh". But it's probably not going to change any time soon. Schade.

The church doesn't have more Girl Scout troops because the young women spend most of their time in slow-motion pillow fights.

HAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That and making lists about all the ideal characteristics of their husband-to-be.

Seriously, yesterday I was in the Bahn oh, Bahn, or in this case Stra├čenbahn=street train or tram.) with several of our group. I don't remember how we got on this topic, but apparently, (and several of the girls concur on this point) they did that activity every 3-4 months in young womens!

What the weird and creepy?

Abelard Enigma said...

So, great and powerful -L-, how do we get this show on the road? I'll volunteer my time to help spearhead and coordinate this effort.

But, I'm not sure the best way to get started. Should we create a new blog with all of our volunteers as team members? Should it be private (at least initially until we have something to share)?

Marmoreal said...

how do I get in touch with Dr. Schow? (his link goes nowhere). I'd like to get a printed copy of that guide.

Having many years experience working in Young Women's, I'd be willing to add a female perspective to any guideline formulations. let me know, when, where, how, etc.

"the young women spend most of their time in slow-motion pillow fights" - Playa, dem's fighting words! ;)

Switch said...

"This is why like Mr Fob I too have never bought the "male bonding" theory as a way to mitigate or "normalize" one's homosexual attractions."

I had a friend in High School who I tried this tactic with. 2+ years went by and..

..it didn't work. At all. He just got sexier.

Nowadays most of my friends are straight. My boyfriend doesn't have gay friends at all. A good friend of mine from San Diego is a sports nut, works for a professional team and hangs around with woofing macho-men 24/7 during their season. He's still very and only attracted to men.

My experience says that hanging out with "normal guys" has no effect on your actual orientation. Though, it might reduce speaking with the gay cultural lisssp, or keep you from "prancing" more often than you'd like.

-L- said...

Well, Abelard, I was thinking the format would be creating posts in which people write out what they would say in an advice pamphlet--basically what they would tell a friend or relative who was dealing with SSA, but with the more formal tone of what you would say to a stranger (i.e. for a pamphlet). As far as specific topics, we need a list.

Maybe once anyone posts something like that, they could let me know and I'll keep a list of links in my sidebar (or you could--you sound more organized!). The comment discussions will include suggestions for revisions and give an overall impression of what people think. At some point someone will have to pull it all together into a coherent whole, leaving out the controversial and making it as reflective of consensus as possible.

This could be an experiment in blog collaboration more than anything! I think starting a new blog is unnecessary. We all have blogs already and I have too many to read! :-)

Specific topics?

Sean said...

i'm a big believer in NOT reinventing the wheel. so my suggestion is to follow the basic outline of the current For Strenght of Youth. but of course taylor it for the gay youth audience.

i havent read through the pamphlet for sometime so i'm stuck there. i guess i have an activity for the weekend.

gentlefriend said...

I think that it is a good project. Right now my life is so full with Church and family responsibilities, I barely have time to read and comment on a few blogs once in a while.

I say, "Go for it!" But I must stay on the sidelines.

Brady said...

I'm in. I pledge my support to this worthy project. Especially since I feel I sort of helped with the inception of the idea when Abelard and I chatted the other day.

I like the idea of following the current pamphlet. Although some sections are rather inconsequential to us - I mean, they wouldn't need to be altered at all for gay youth. But the sexuality and dating sections will have to be extensively re-done.

Samantha said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Samantha said...

Okay--I can't be quiet anymore.
1. I've spent more than half of my adult life working with the youth and young women--and yes, my bishop knows I'm gay.

2. Although it would be good to have a youth pamphlet that addresses the needs of gay youth, I wonder how many it would actually reach--given that most are closeted. Do we do a global distribution and hope it reaches those in need. Ummm...I have a feeling there are some parents who would object to that.

3. In all my years of being a YW leader, we've never had slow-motion pillow fights. I suppose I'll now have to revamp our activities in which we play tennis, go rock climbing, become CPR certified, do service in the retirement homes and hospitals, play dodgeball with the guys, visit the university to learn about possible careers, visit the art, insect, or botany museums, enter 5K runs, or learn how to do basic maintenance on a car. I suppose those will have to be changed to something a little more stereotypical? OR we could stop taking pot shots at the opposite sex--because it makes me really upset!!

4. I'd love to help. Now we just have to find an "in" with a GA.

iwonder said...

I'd certainly like to be involved.

Honestly, since my recent change in status, I've been feeling a little left out. Don't get me wrong, you have all been really supportive, but I can tell that you don't really know what to say to me. I'm still really glad I did this, just do you all know.

Hopefully being out will help me garner some new knowledge about all of this and I will have something worthwhile to contribute.

Stephalumpagus said...

Thank you SO MUCH Samantha, for #3.

Ron Schow said...

Since you all seem so interested in writing a pamphlet that would be acceptable to active LDS folks, don't you think one of you should take 10 minutes and read one on this subject that has already been produced and sold for a time at Deseret Book? You could also consider the subjects we addressed when you start from scratch and start to educate LDS folks on this issue. Even the title caused major debate and discussion. We finally settled on "homosexual attraction." Some only like SSA while some hate it.

www.LDSResources.info

That is the site where you can find our pamphlet. It is called a "Guide." Marmoreal, I don't understand why you can't paste the url into a browser and find it. I don't know how to create links. You can also find an address for me there.

As I told you, we spent more than 5 years working on this with various GAs.

Another effort along this line was produced about a year ago in an audio CD by David Pruden at Evergreen. Have any of you heard it? The way I sum it up is that he tells everyone, bishops, leaders, parents, youth, etc, that those who have SSA can "transition out of homosexuality." You just need the right attitude and the right therapist. I don't know where my notes are just now on his CD, but I might be able to find them. It would make my blood boil to review my notes again, because I so disagree with his approach, but maybe I should find them.

Mr. Fob said...

Here's the direct link to the guide Ron's referring to:

Mr. Fob said...

Okay, that's weird. It worked just like it's supposed to in the preview. Take Two:



If the link doesn't work this time, we'll take it as a sign that God doesn't want you to see the guide. But then I guess you'll have to accept the inverse as true as well.

FlameRetardentMormon said...

I giggle just thinking about the delicious ironic possibilities of a document entitled "For the Strength of Gay Youth." I think Ben should write it. Cause he's funny and all that.

But frankly, the idea of a consensus-written institutionally-approved publication for gay mormons advising on such topics as peer relations and coming out troubles me. I get irritated when I see matters of style, preference, and personal comfort elevated to near-doctrinal status. (My objection, of course, does not apply to matters of morality also addressed in FTSOY.)

Of course, I DO think mohos need to continue the dialog--advising and supporting and even writing pamphlets! I'm just (not so) secretly hoping it never turns into something official that takes precedence over other viewpoints.

Mr. Schow: what makes you think that no one has taken 10 minutes to read your pamphlet? It's a compelling and compassionate document, but as it's specifically directed to parents and families (not mohos), it doesn't address the need -L- and company discuss here. themselves

Indeed, the pamphlet has a tone that underscores the marginalization gay members of the church experience. The wording ("those who experience homosexual attraction" and "such individuals", for example) and structure (the paragraph addressing gay folks themselves is brief, and buried at the bottom) only emphasize an "otherness" I'd like to see the church move beyond. Imagine similar language referring to other minority demographics within the church and see how it sounds.

Original Mohomie said...

Maybe I'm missing the point, here. What guidelines, exactly, are you speaking of, L? I'm distracted by the mention of the pamphlet then scouting and callings.

If it's For the Strength of Youth, I would hesitate to say much more need be said. I mean, maybe if the brethren feel like adding a line about not kissing members of the same gender, then so be it, but I'm just wondering what kind of advice would be offered here? Are we talking about whether it's OK to be romantic but non-sexual with members of the same sex?

I do like "The Guide". I bought a copy apparently right before it was pulled from Deseret's shelves. Some of its contributors are controversial, yes, but I like the guide. But I'm not sure it really addresses what's being discussed here. Does it?

Samantha, LOVE your comment about YW. You must be one of the coolest YW leaders ever! Can I be in your YW group? ...wait...

As for scouting, amen to the need for a divorce from the church. Seriously, LONG overdue.

And yes, I generally find attractions dwindle when I get to know someone and they become a real person. Not always. But usually.

Sorry if I'm missing some things--I'm a little out of the loop in this whole blog world.

Ron Schow said...

Thank you, Mr. Fob, for the help with a link.

d

Your critique makes it clear why this is a challenging issue to write about. People can quite easily get offended if your tone or your message is not JUST RIGHT.

Actually, if you are supportive of the Church position, I feel there is considerable value in talking to parents and families, most of whom are active Church members, about their gay children or gay family members who often are not in the Church or who are skeptical of the Church position.

Everything said in the first part of the pamphlet to explain things like orientation, the HH Scale, the causes, the therapy, suggestions for what to do, is as helpful to young gays as it is to anyone else. As someone already mentioned, if you propose to discuss sex with some gay young person under 18 you have a pretty big challenge if you expect to have it widely approved. Notice the stories about young people in the narrative of the pamphlet. This is not a pamphlet which has no message and no value for youth. And that message and value is not confined to the section right at the end.

There is a great deal here about the coming out process and how that works especially for a young person who is a member of the Church. There are important suggestions for parents which can ease the situation for the youth.

But, hey, it's fine if you can create something better and some better strategy to get a message to the gay 14 year old who is facing this by him or herself.

FlameRetardentMormon said...

OK, this is why I never comment, because I can't do it without having to post corrections and ammendments. So let's get those out of the way first, shall we?

First of all, d is me--FlameRetardentMormon (Mrs. -L-, or ~d~ if we're on a first initial basis). I deleted and reposted my comment as FRM because no one knows d, and I wasn't trying to be anonymous (just pseudononymous). I apologize for any confusion there.

Second, I apologize for addressing you so informally, Mr. Fob. I think I was just nervous to be commenting immediately after you, and hoping that some of your wit would rub off on me. Cause you're funny and all that.

Third, what's the deal with the random "themselves" at the end of the fourth paragraph? Can I get a proofreader over here please?

With that out of the way, allow me to clarify that I do agree, Mr. Schow, that there is great value in talking to parents and families. And I think your pamphlet is a good resource for that purpose. I'm just saying it speaks more about mohos than to them, and therefore does not meet every need.

You seemed peeved that it hadn't been addressed after your first mention of it, so I wanted to illustrate why it might not be the one and only true resource. I apologize if I read peevishness where there was none.

-L- said...

I didn't realize that the guide had been pulled from Deseret Book's shelves or that its authors were controversial. Care to elaborate on that, Mohomie? It looks interesting.

Ron, someday I'm going to read all your writings and post about them. :-) Maybe when I don't have to be at work in a few minutes like I do right now. :-)

Stephen said...

Whoa, hangon! -L-'s real first name starts with an L!? It's so simple, and yet it blows my mind...

Mr. Fob said...

FRM, you can call me whatever you want--especially when you're calling me funny. If I were to write a pamphlet for gay Mormon youth, I think I'd suggest they look into Zen Buddhism or something. Or Zoroastrianism, just because it's a really cool name.

Stephen, L is for Landon. Don't you read the news?

Samantha said...

Mister Fob--
You're not supposed to tell what people's names are! Even if they've been on the news! From this point on you must refer to me as ~S~ or QoQ.

(This is just to give you practice. I will lift the initial ban in 10 seconds)

Samantha said...

P.S. I once wrote a research paper about Zoroastrianism.

Mr. Fob said...

Speaking of L, L, are you familiar with the L Song by Barenaked Ladies? It should be your theme song. Because this thread needs more tangents.

Mr. Fob said...

Have the ten seconds passed, O She Who Must Not Be Named?

Mr. Fob said...

And in all fairness, L's wife totally blew my ultra-secret identity, so it's only fair I return the favor.

Ron Schow said...

Yeah, Mohomie

That does sound interesting. What do you know that the rest of us don't????

iwonder said...

wait. what? EH?

There was blowing of secret identities? Why haven't I heard about this? I feel so left out. :(

playasinmar said...

HA! I made a funny and freaked out Samantha our Queen! And Steph.

That post is getting carved into stone and placed above my mantle.

And for those of you who don't understand the process:

All groups of people are funny. >
Women are a group of people. >
Women are a funny group of people. >
= Therefore I’ll poke fun at women.

Don't get me started with Canadians.

iwonder said...

Don't get me started with Canadians.

Don't get me started with AMERICANS!!!

Sean said...

Canadians are people too. prick them do they not bleed? ask them if they heard the one about how Canada got its name? do they not role their eyes and look like they're going to put a hockey puck through your teeth?

:-)

so take off, eh. get your own jelly donut you hoser.

L - I love the multi thread approach to this post.

iwonder said...

Although my last comment was (partially) in jest, and I am not in the least offended by Playasinmar's (quasi-)clever little allusion to the idiosyncrasies common to Canadians, I am appreciative of Sean's stalwart defence of Canadiosity.

(btw, in the unlikely case some of you hadn't yet surmised, I'm Canadian, eh.)

Canadians are people too. prick them do they not bleed? ask them if they heard the one about how Canada got its name? do they not role their eyes and look like they're going to put a hockey puck through your teeth?

Aside from the putting of pucks d'hockey through teeth, you mustn't forget the whacking of shins with lacrosse sticks and the beating of heads with curling brooms.

And I mean all of that in the nicest way possible

But seriously, if ANYONE tries to tell me that joke, even just one more time, I will kill someone (i.e. that person).

Samantha said...

Well, Sean, it seems that you and I have become the butts in this comment thread--Mr. Playa is laughing at our expense--at his very unfunny "funny". I think you and I should go have lunch, and he can giggle while we're gone.

Sean said...

Samantha, can we have chocolate at our lunch?

playasinmar said...

I hereby retract my "pillow fight" comment. Replacing it will be:

The church doesn't have more Girl Scout troops because the young women spend most of their time sensuously trying on the merchandise at Victoria’s Secret.

Original Mohomie said...

Dr. Schow--lol, I'm not getting roped into that conversation. If you claim neither you nor your colleagues on the Resources projects are controversial, then I'll acknowledge the input and wish you well with your cozy relationship with Deseret Book (which is, as everyone with half a testimony knows, THE measure of faithfulness and gospel dedication).

Samantha said...

I'm assuming, Playa, that you know this because you joined them? And you looked smashing in your matching thong and spike heels? If you bring the stereotypes into this, it's all fairplay...

Taking potshots at women is not acceptable--especially for gay guys. Chauvenism and bigotry is something we women have lived with for many years. Gays have taken their fair share of ridicule and stereotyping, as well. Surely you can put a stop to it in your own life by knowing when a "joke" is in poor taste--regardless of your intent.

Absolutely, Sean, chocolate is one of my daily food groups--and as I rarely eat, well, that's saying a lot.

playasinmar said...

Samantha our Queen, you can claim otherwise but we all know you are one of the most well-humored among us.

click here for another valuable insight into my fashion sense!

AttemptingthePath said...

Oh Samantha, thank you so much for that visual:

Playasinmar in a thong and some sassy slingbacks with his molestache

*shudder*

Ron Schow said...

Mohomie

I find it interesting to ask, who says I am controversial? My bishop doesn't. My SP does not. I am working with two men who are former bishops, one a former mission president and a current BYU professor in good standing. One is a very capable therapist. All 4 of us attend Church on a regular basis. Deseret Book has consistently given us praise for our book. They put 1000 in stock. If you have some information to share, I would be interested. But it may be rumor without foundation.

AttemptingthePath said...

To Ronnie Schow,

This is just a random tidbit of information, I've worked for deseretbook for over a year in a few locations and never have once sold a copy of your book...although I'm sure they've sold some...somewhere...
*cough*

Mr. Fob said...

I bought it at Deseret Book. I had to ask for it because it wasn't well displayed, but it was there. There's no need to be childish, AtP.