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Why Would Heavenly Father Do That?
May 15, 2011 6:37 PM   Subscribe

Why Would Heavenly Father Do That? After 20 years as a married Mormon living the plan of happiness, a gay man comes out to his family and his church, and blogs about it, with special attention to the question of "Mormon beards": "Why do gay Mormon men keep marrying Mormon women?" Holly Welker, a straight Mormon woman formerly engaged to a gay Mormon man, calls for an end to beards.
posted by escabeche (109 comments total) 20 users marked this as a favorite

 
Even neck beards?
posted by It's Raining Florence Henderson at 6:41 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


It seems like just ending religion would take care of a lot of this straight away.
posted by four panels at 6:42 PM on May 15, 2011 [11 favorites]


Half of my gay Mormon (or ex-Mormon) friends are in various stages of coming out to their spouses, their families, their friends. When you're a member of a church that tells you if you just work hard enough at being straight, that you can do it, means there are a lot of people who think that doubling down and getting married and having kids will push them over the edge to being straight. Accepting who you are (provided you don't fit the block hole) is a failure in their culture, something a lot of people are not capable of handling. Failure in the LDS church is more than personal, it's eternal. It means no celestial kingdom, no love from heavenly father, denied access to all you've worked for and failure for your family and your kids. While calling for an end to "beards" is a right thing in that it means more people are living honestly, perhaps the better option would be to have a church that doesn't put such crushing weight on the successful righteousness of their members.
posted by msbutah at 6:45 PM on May 15, 2011 [38 favorites]


You always hear that if you keep the commandments and do what God asks you to do, He’ll bless you. But He hasn’t done that for us. And I don’t understand that.”

She remarked that people typically would say one or more of the following in response to her question: God won’t try you beyond your capacity to endure; or, you receive no witness until after the trial of your faith; or, faith precedes the miracle. But all of these simplistic answers are just so much verbiage thrown at a life that is complex, perplexing and – sometimes – deeply disappointing

This is pathetic and absurd. These disenchantments are centuries old. Reading about someone beginning to question such infantile platitudes is very much like watching a baby cry after stumbling through their first step, except that the baby is a grown-ass man. Sad.
posted by clockzero at 6:47 PM on May 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


There are a lot of unhappy people in this world because their lives are spent trying to satisfy someone else's ideals. It's tragic.
posted by Daddy-O at 6:54 PM on May 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


Andrew Sullivan bait.
posted by fungible at 6:57 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Even neck beards?

Donut bring up neckbeards. I did that once and I think I got away with it.
posted by Blazecock Pileon at 7:04 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Don't mention the gold plates! I did and I found my hovercraft full of eels!
posted by Splunge at 7:09 PM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


I can't find the quote, but hasn't Orson Scott Card, the vehemently anti-gay Mormon and sci-fi author, argued that since "everyone" (ahem) is tempted to go gay ("The average fifteen-year-old teenage boy is genetically predisposed to copulate with anything that moves"), it's better to force gays into sham marriages so they are not openly gay and thus, in his view, negative role models who make being gay look too easy or fun to impressionable, recruit-able youth?
The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity's ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage and family relationships.
posted by orthogonality at 7:12 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Mormons aren't the only ones who do this. I joined a dating website geared towards my religious denomination and there were PLENTY of gay men who knew and wanted a sham marriage to present to family and society. There were a few souls that were still in denial and hoped that this would change them, but most of them were perfectly aware and accepting of their sexuality.
okay, "accepting" might not be the right word here.
posted by Neekee at 7:17 PM on May 15, 2011


Neekee: A once unimaginable movement is emerging from within Israel's insular Orthodox Jewish community: homosexuals demanding to be accepted and embraced, no matter what the Bible says.
posted by orthogonality at 7:21 PM on May 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


This is pathetic and absurd. These disenchantments are centuries old. Reading about someone beginning to question such infantile platitudes is very much like watching a baby cry after stumbling through their first step, except that the baby is a grown-ass man. Sad.

Pathetic, yes. Absurd? Not really. Do you know how to deal with the crushing weight of existential dread, or can you help me understand general relativity? Even if those concepts have been around for decades or centuries doesn't mean that everybody is magically equipped to handle such concepts. Especially if they've been born into and brought up into such a rigid and conformist lifestyle as the Mormon Church. These people do not deserve your infantile condescension, especially when dealing with such a fundamental change of perspective.

I feel pity much as you do, but I would rather help them understand a perspective that we take for granted, instead of laughing at their pain and misery.
posted by kurosawa's pal at 7:33 PM on May 15, 2011 [48 favorites]


orthogonality: Thanks for the link, it's very good news.
posted by Neekee at 7:34 PM on May 15, 2011


Telling gay people to act straight and marry people they aren't attracted to creates unstable and unhappy marriages. That's a far bigger perversion of marriage to me than violating a "tradition" of a cultural institution that's always been in flux.
posted by mccarty.tim at 7:34 PM on May 15, 2011 [31 favorites]


orthogonality: and by good news, I mean the people who are fighting to be accepted and that have found ways to support each other (not the being persecuted part, of course).
posted by Neekee at 7:36 PM on May 15, 2011


I thought it hilarious enough just doing my span in this universe as a member of an animal family that does really funny crap like puts on shoes and goes to work. But, knowing some kin actually think they are something called Mormans and are gay and have beards and lots of wives makes life even funnier than I ever imagined before. This is a good day.
posted by WagonTyre at 7:36 PM on May 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


I'm having an utterly visceral reaction to reading these articles. This is so difficult. Typing is a huge challenge to me right now.

I wasn't raised Mormon, but this was so nearly me, it's shaking me to my core.

I grew up in a very conservative Presbyterian congregation. I was a darling of the church. Stellar in Sunday School, deeply committed to Jesus, thirsty for spiritual knowledge. Active in youth group and youth choir, by the time I had finished high school, I had written and directed two Christmas programs for the church. I was asked to be one of the youngest-ever counselors at the church camp we attended each summer, leading a cabin of middle schoolers before I had even really finished high school. After I had left town and returned from college, I was immersed in the church. Teaching sunday school for younger kids, directing the youngest choir, serving as practice accompanist for other choirs, plus singing in the adult choir and playing in the bell choir... Working with the junior high youth group... I had even preached from the pulpit in Sunday. Twice. This is pretty much unheard of for a layperson in the Presbyterian church. There was no doubt about it -- I was headed toward the ministry.

All along, I had found it quite easy to avoid a lot of the boy-girl pitfalls a lot of my peers were stumbling over. After all, Paul had admonished that it is best to stay single for Christ, and there weren't any of the girls which really drew my attention. It was totally easy not to be interested in dating. What I didn't realize was that the reason that the girls didn't do anything for me was because I had an eye for the boys. How could I? The town in which I was raised had no gay community, no visible context for what I was really feeling.

The cracks in my facade started when I went out of country as an exchange student at the age of 18. Without the context I had been immersed in, I started to suspect that things weren't as simple as I had made it out to be until then. In college, I had my first real crush. Only I didn't have a real name for it, or even know that what I was feeling was what it was. It completely stopped me in my tracks, however, and without any clear coping mechanism or even support structure, in my confusion, I didn't leave my dorm room for 3 weeks and was asked not to come back to school after the end of the semester.

Back in my home town, as my awareness continued to become more complete, I finally went in to the pastor at the church in which I had been raised and asked the pastor there whether there would be a place for me in the congregation if I were gay. He said there wasn't. And that was the last time I walked into that building for over a decade.

Until I had my process... Until I actually came out to myself (which has to happen before anyone can come out to other people), I had thought that I'd probably meet some woman at some point and marry her and continue life as I "should". It never occurred to me that other men in the world didn't feel exactly the same way that I did. All the warnings about homosexuals painted an odd dual picture in my mind. On the one hand, the homosexual was a mythical boogeyman, nothing that actually existed but was warned about constantly because homosexuality was a symptom of a fallen soul and a diseased mind. On the other hand, because I had no external context, it seemed to me that all the guys everywhere could always be on the verge of falling into homosexual behavior. It was something that drew me, so it MUST draw all the other guys, and it was only sheer willpower coupled with the fortuitous discover of that One Special Woman who you would marry and live with forever that could keep those feelings at bay and banish them for always.

I spent years praying. Praying that these feelings wouldn't be so strong. Praying that I would be delivered from my interest in men. Praying that I would meet that woman who would be my wife. Praying with other people. Praying with people laying hands on me. Praying for demons to be cast out of me. Praying for ANY KIND OF DELIVERANCE FROM THIS SIDE OF ME.

The path from those days to where I am now has not been an easy one. It's involved many years of anger and bitterness and resentment toward the church my parents still attend. It's meant wholesale rejection of the entire worldview I was raised in for over 20 years and not a short time afterward floundering about with no direction or focus. It's meant a continually compromised relationship with my family; my parents barely recognize my now-nearly-18-year relationship, and my sister (who is getting married for the 4th time this summer) has yet again refused or "forgotten" to include my partner in the wedding invitation. It has colored and tainted my relationship with old, dear friends as I acted out the rejection I felt I was sure to receive from them during my coming out process and then have had to reach back out to find reconciliation after years of separation and lost time.

My heart goes out to anyone who finds themselves in a religious setting who is homosexual and feels they have to find ways to hide who they are in order to continue living their lives. I so nearly devoted myself to a life where I would be hiding and lying and perhaps even not understanding why or what I was doing. I only hope, as our culture continues to evolve and grow, that fewer men and women find themselves hiding and lying for the sake of their religious beliefs.

Perhaps voices such as these linked in this FPP will help change things for the better. If I have any prayer to offer, if I have any God to pray to... that is the prayer I say right now.

Thanks for posting.
posted by hippybear at 7:37 PM on May 15, 2011 [278 favorites]


Oops. I meant to spell that Momons instead of Mormans.
posted by WagonTyre at 7:39 PM on May 15, 2011


Get a Jane! Mormans

i'm soooooooo sorry
posted by perspicio at 7:43 PM on May 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Oops. I meant to spell that Momons instead of Mormans.

If you hadn't pointed that out, nobody would ever have known.
posted by Faint of Butt at 7:44 PM on May 15, 2011


The mormans would know.
posted by blue_beetle at 7:47 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Thank you, hippybear, for that perspective. I can't begin to imagine the pain of being raised in a community and coming to the realization that a part of your very being will get you ostracized from the very people who have raised you.
posted by Existential Dread at 7:50 PM on May 15, 2011


They're not the only ones.
posted by perspicio at 7:51 PM on May 15, 2011


Telling gay people to act straight and marry people they aren't attracted to creates unstable and unhappy marriages. That's a far bigger perversion of marriage to me than violating a "tradition" of a cultural institution that's always been in flux.

Well, Tim, that's a narrow viewpoint. Yes, the unfortunate sinner, sick with the illness of Homosexuality, is perhaps unhappier in marriage to a woman than he would be living life as a Sodomite, which as we all know, is a life of perpetual lust and licentiousness, a non-stop drug-fueled party of morally abandoned anal insertiveness.

But society is better for it. Keeping a lid on sin, enforcing community norms, keeping sinners closeted, makes for a healthier, happier, more conformist community. A community that doesn't have to worry about God's punishment in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, or whatever happened to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Which is why I say, let's not just stop and forcing homosexuality into the closet. Let's really make God happy, by forcing everyone to go to, or at least tithe too, the real and Established Church.

Yes, I know these Mormons truly believe in their fake faith, truly believe that their perverse version of marriage worship should be treated with as much respect and dignity as traditional marriage worship.

But I believe that every time we allow a Mormon temple to be opened, it somhow, in vague and undefinable way, "takes away" the sanctity of traditional marriage worship.

But I have no problem with Mormons continuing to be Mormons in secret, and
This applies also to the polity, the citizens at large. Laws against homosexual behavior Mormon worship should remain on the books, not to be indiscriminately enforced against anyone who happens to be caught violating them, but to be used when necessary to send a clear message that those who flagrantly violate society's regulation of sexual religious behavior cannot be permitted to remain as acceptable, equal citizens within that society.

The goal of the polity is not to put homosexuals Mormons in jail. The goal is to discourage people from engaging in homosexual practices Mormon worship in the first place, and, when they nevertheless proceed in their homosexual behavior Mormonosity, to encourage them to do so discreetly, so as not to shake the confidence of the community in the polity's ability to provide rules for safe, stable, dependable marriage religious expresssion and family relationships.
posted by orthogonality at 7:52 PM on May 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


I have some gay Mormon friends. It's very hard for them and I have a lot of sympathy for the difficult position they are in. Also, as a gay man, I still admire the LDS. It's such a uniquely American religion. And the community has a lot of strengths. But then they go and do unnecessary stuff like hate on gay people. Why? Why does that need to be part of your religion?

LDS figured out a long time ago, thanks to a well timed revelation, that polygamy was no longer desirable. And LDS figured out in the 70s, thanks to a well-timed revelation, that black people were OK to be in the church afterall. How long is it going to take before the LDS leadership has a revelation that gay people are alright? Couldn't it come a bit sooner?

In the meantime.. If you're gay and Mormon, there is a loving, accepting world for you outside LDS.
posted by Nelson at 7:58 PM on May 15, 2011 [10 favorites]


It seems like just ending religion would take care of a lot of this straight away.

Does that even mean something?
posted by shakespeherian at 7:58 PM on May 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


But all of these simplistic answers are just so much verbiage thrown at a life that is complex, perplexing and – sometimes – deeply disappointing

Yes. And I'm afraid once you've come to that realization, you're on the road to a bittersweet awakening about faith, existence and the human condition. If you're fortunate, it can lead to a place of peace and happiness. I wish that for everyone. *hug*
posted by darkstar at 8:01 PM on May 15, 2011 [3 favorites]


(And I feel compelled to point out, one of the characters in the biggest show on Broadway right now is a Mormon missionary who is praying fervently for his homosexual feelings to go away. That seems... apropos in the context of this FPP.)
posted by hippybear at 8:04 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


kurosawa's pal:

Pathetic, yes. Absurd? Not really. Do you know how to deal with the crushing weight of existential dread, or can you help me understand general relativity? Even if those concepts have been around for decades or centuries doesn't mean that everybody is magically equipped to handle such concepts. Especially if they've been born into and brought up into such a rigid and conformist lifestyle as the Mormon Church. These people do not deserve your infantile condescension, especially when dealing with such a fundamental change of perspective.

I feel pity much as you do, but I would rather help them understand a perspective that we take for granted, instead of laughing at their pain and misery.


Yeah, perhaps absurd isn't really the right word. I'm surprised you described my sentiments as infantile condescension, but I see what you mean. What I said was not especially charitable, on review.

I certainly don't know how to deal with existential dread. But I think that retreating from the challenge of even trying to deal with it is ridiculous, I guess, that's just how I feel. People who are religious, in my subjective opinion, ought to try to understand the traditions they come from, especially if, like the man I quoted above, they're very observant. If he had done that, he might have noticed that even within his own tradition, things were not at all as simple as he apparently believed.

And, not to be belligerent about it, but I'd like to point out that stating an intention to "help" people who we might consider benighted is kind of condescending too.
posted by clockzero at 8:09 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


argued that since "everyone" (ahem) is tempted to go gay ("The average fifteen-year-old teenage boy is genetically predisposed to copulate with anything that moves")

I've think I've read the essay you're referring to (I probably have it in one of his Mormon essay books). My recollection is that the quote is more "The average 15 year old is genetically predisposed to mate with random enthusiasm," and that the argument he's making isn't that everyone is tempted to go gay, but rather that everyone has sexual urges that could put them in conflict with a limited marriage-monogamous code of sexual behavior, and that if a church can ask its straight members to limit their libidos to a certain lifestyle, it can ask the same of its gay members.

This argument is credible up to a point -- sure, everybody's asked to deny themselves to some extent. Single straight 15 year old boys in the grip of unremitting mind-fogging full-strength lust or single hetero Mormons who are staring down the end of their third or fourth decades of life without having married do indeed have some things in common with their gay fellows. But it breaks down significantly at a point, too: in *theory*, at least, there's a legitimate outlet for heterosexual desire, even when it may seem unlikely in practice. AFAICT, no such corresponding expectation of an opportunity for full expression of sexuality can exist for gays in mainstream Mormon thought.

So the idea becomes that the faithful choice is to forgo that and somehow live an orthodox LDS life, reaping at least the blessings of being woven into the circle of family relations and community, if never finding the fulfillment of the private passions that drive you. You actually see this show up in a few spots in Card's fiction (I'm thinking one of the geneticists in the Shadow books) as well as in the counsel of some Mormon leadership.

Some people find that choice unacceptable. Some people find it acceptable. This isn't where the tragedies lie, I think. Those are for those who find it acceptable *in theory* but in practice find out it simply will not work for them and/or that the cost is more terrible than they'd ever anticipated.

That may well be the common case. The good news is that from what I can tell, Mormon leadership is starting to turn away from the recommendation that gays get into straight marriages, and members considering it (however naively) are starting to get better and more realistic counsel.
posted by weston at 8:16 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


kurosawa's pal: Do you know how to deal with the crushing weight of existential dread

clockzero: I certainly don't know how to deal with existential dread.
You know, guys, I don't think it's particularly charitable to talk about Existential Dread's crushing weight that way either. Where's your empathy?
posted by perspicio at 8:21 PM on May 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


shakespeherian: "It seems like just ending religion would take care of a lot of this straight away.

Does that even mean something?
"

Oh I shouldn't do this...

But yes, it means something. It means that if people stopped believing in gods, it would be a good thing. It would mean that a whole bunch of energy that a majority of people waste on the belief in a sky daddy would be better put towards reality. It would mean that money spent on churches might go to buildings that would house homeless people. It might mean that people would stop praying and do something useful.

It would mean that people would stop wishing for change and start making change happen.

It would mean that people would stop giving their last dollar to cheap charlatans and maybe give their last dollar to a charity that fed the poor.

Instead of a fucking Crystal Cathedral.

It would mean that a dried up old relic like Pat Robertson or Billy Graham wouldn't be rich, instead they would be in a cheap tent somewhere in the south of nowhere.

It might just mean that we have grown up, as a people. And we don't look up at the sky when there is thunder and lightning and worry about imaginary beings.
posted by Splunge at 8:25 PM on May 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


To be fair, I do have an unpleasant personality, and can be a drag on conversation.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:27 PM on May 15, 2011 [12 favorites]


And ya know, faith in God or gods doesn't necessarily entail supporting manipulative fuckers like Pat Robertson or Billy Graham. The faithful aren't a monolithic group of unthinking morons.
posted by Existential Dread at 8:29 PM on May 15, 2011 [23 favorites]


So, okay, I've had my fun...so now let me say this:

To hippybear and all others that have had to struggle with such things...who have done the hard work...and who have carved identities for themselves that are not founded on rage or resentment toward their origins: I salute you. To go all biblical on you:

And some fell upon a rock; and as soon as it was sprung up, it withered away, because it lacked moisture.

Yeah, but you know what? Some fell in the cracks of the rocks, and lived in the dark, and suffered and starved, but nevertheless survived...and grew strong...and split that rock wide open...and found the earth beneath...and thrived.
posted by perspicio at 8:34 PM on May 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Splunge It might just mean that we have grown up, as a people. And we don't look up at the sky when there is thunder and lightning and worry about imaginary beings.

Also, if people would organize their sex lives according to a regular schedule and criteria sheets, always refill the office coffee pot, save a percentage of their income each month, and return their library books, a whole lot of other problems would be resolved too.

In other words, while speculation on the pleasantness of a fundamental change to the nature of Humanity may be an entertaining exercise, it's never going to be anything else. Humans have religious instincts. They appear to be closely related to our pack/family and group membership instincts. We probably can't break the one, without breaking the other too.
posted by aeschenkarnos at 8:43 PM on May 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


It seems like just ending religion would take care of a lot of this straight away.

It seems like just ending homophobia would take care of a lot of this straight away.

It seems like just ending sexual shame would take care of a lot of this straight away.

It seems like just ending unfair societal pressures would take care of a lot of this straight away.

four panels, are any of these solutions easier?
posted by IAmBroom at 8:44 PM on May 15, 2011 [9 favorites]


I'm just not really sure what the point of suggesting 'ending religion' is. Do you have, like, a PowerPoint about how to go about it?
posted by shakespeherian at 8:49 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I've think I've read the essay you're referring to (I probably have it in one of his Mormon essay books). My recollection is that the quote is more "The average 15 year old is genetically predisposed to mate with random enthusiasm,"

It's a direct quote, from here: http://www.nauvoo.com/library/card-hypocrites.html
posted by orthogonality at 8:49 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


Well shakespherian, recent studies have shown that making blanket condemnatory statements about the whole edifice of organized religion is the best way to effect meaningful change within them, so there's that....

would you like fries with that hamburger
posted by tivalasvegas at 8:59 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


It's a direct quote

Yeah, that's the same essay. Not sure if there's more than one version floating around or if I transmuted the wording in my head.

I'd still submit his argument is more as I described above than "everyone could go gay at any moment!", but I can see how the wording there is more amenable to the interpretation you're giving.
posted by weston at 9:05 PM on May 15, 2011


LDS figured out a long time ago, thanks to a well timed revelation, that polygamy was no longer desirable.

It was indeed well-timed, in that Utah could not become a state till they did so, and so the Lord did spake and said "Polygamy, oh yeah I've changed my mind, go and be Americans and reap the sweet benefits thereof."

And of course, there are several split-off groups who didn't accept that revelation and still go the polygamy route. You may have seen them in the news.

Not that I reserve my scorn for gay-hating Mormonosity; why just this week, my Baptist boss told me he believed that gay people chose to be that way and that I was wrong to say a gay person in a straight marriage would be happier to come out of the closet; what if they could be happy never acknowledging/pursuing that part of themselves? I had to explain that I preferred the testimony of actual formerly-closeted friends about how miserable they were to this theory about the happily self-negating homosexual.
posted by emjaybee at 9:18 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other words, while speculation on the pleasantness of a fundamental change to the nature of Humanity may be an entertaining exercise, it's never going to be anything else. Humans have religious instincts. They appear to be closely related to our pack/family and group membership instincts. We probably can't break the one, without breaking the other too.

And around 1700, I'm sure someone somewhere said: while speculation on the pleasantness of a fundamental change to the nature of Humanity may be an entertaining exercise, it's never going to be anything else. Humans have slave-taking instincts. They appear to be closely related to our pack/family and group membership instincts. We probably can't break the one, without breaking the other too.

The list of things which are part of "the nature of Humanity" yet aren't socially acceptable anymore is long and extensive, and institutions which were considered both natural and inevitable for over ten thousand years are no longer a part of our society. If you truly believe that religion will never, ever end up on the list of Things We Used To Do But Don't Anymore -- not in any human culture, anywhere -- then that's fine... but I wouldn't bet on it.
posted by vorfeed at 9:23 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thanks for posting this, escabeche. This is a topic that has been very important and difficult for me for many years as a Mormon with views on homosexuality that are very different from those of many members of the Church. There are many gay Mormons and the Church's treatment of homosexuality has, in most cases, been deplorable. Encouraging gay people to get married to someone of the opposite sex is one of the many terrible things that various local Church leaders have done over the years. But it is by far the least terrible, unfortunately. I do think it's gradually getting better, particularly in certain congregations that have a large number of active gay members. I have a ton to say on the topic, but I don't think I'll do so here.

Also, thank you, hippybear, for your comment above.
posted by The World Famous at 9:27 PM on May 15, 2011 [6 favorites]


Thanks, Hippybear, for that great and brave post. Something you said:

I had no external context, it seemed to me that all the guys everywhere could always be on the verge of falling into homosexual behavior. It was something that drew me, so it MUST draw all the other guys, and it was only sheer willpower coupled with the fortuitous discover of that One Special Woman who you would marry and live with forever that could keep those feelings at bay and banish them for always.

Reminded me again that this is the likely explanation for people who strongly insist that homosexuality is a choice. They "know" it is a choice because they themselves resist homosexual impulses. And they figure that the rest of us must have the same feelings.
posted by LarryC at 9:30 PM on May 15, 2011 [7 favorites]


And we don't look up at the sky when there is thunder and lightning and worry about imaginary beings.

So you're saying Shazam! isn't real? What does this have to do with gay mormons?
posted by KingEdRa at 9:42 PM on May 15, 2011


The blog is really interesting. He does appear to still be a believing Mormon, even though he's gay, and even though he questions a lot of the church. But I have to say, I particularly like the way he sprinkles pictures of smokin' hot guys throughout his intellectual, well-researched essays.
posted by KathrynT at 9:55 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


I'd still submit his argument is more as I described above than "everyone could go gay at any moment!", but I can see how the wording there is more amenable to the interpretation you're giving.

In other Orson Scott Card essays I've read, there's been this implication that "gee, we better make being gay difficult, or else everyone will go gay!"

Now, maybe if you're a Mormon kid and you can't have a girlfriend, can't even have the compensations of porn and masturbation. Maybe then the uninformed stereotype that gay life is 100% Fire Island Fuck Fest sounds intriguing.

But I suspect that for the gay lifestyle to sound at all fun, you have to be a somewhat attracted to men. For me, and I think for most heterosexual men, going gay is never a real alternative, because for us, sex necessarily involves a woman.

But for many anti-gay crusaders, like Card, the attractiveness of "going gay" is obvious, and is what makes out gays so threatening. They viscerally believe that to see a happy gay man is to desire to be a happy gay man, and thus the only safety lies in making sure no one sees a happy gay man.

HippyBear, a gay guy, has a a similar take, as mentioned in his comment above:
On the other hand, because I had no external context, it seemed to me that all the guys everywhere could always be on the verge of falling into homosexual behavior. It was something that drew me, so it MUST draw all the other guys, and it was only sheer willpower coupled with the fortuitous discover of that One Special Woman who you would marry and live with forever that could keep those feelings at bay and banish them for always.
I, a heterosexual, look at a happy gay man's sex life, and think, "yeah, it looks like he's having fun, and I wish hook-ups came as easily for me but -- he's hooking up with guys, and well, that really defeats the whole purpose. I'm glad it works for him, but really, what's the fucking point of that?"

I have gay friends, I've been to gay parties, I've had drinks and good conversations with gay dudes. Not once have I been "on the verge of falling into homosexual behavior". Not once have I "accidentally" tripped and landed "gay side up." I don't need to "keep those feelings at bay" because those feelings never occur to me.

Because homosexuality isn't something you choose. It's a lifestyle, but it isn't an "alternative lifestyle" in the sense that driving a Prius is an "alternative to" driving an SUV.

Now isn't it odd that Orson Scott Card and these supporters of beards think like HippyBear, that homosexuality is so alluring, that so much willpower or force of law is needed to avoid its temptations? Because I think that if you're secure in your own heterosexuality, that "temptation" never arises, never even occurs to you.
posted by orthogonality at 10:06 PM on May 15, 2011 [17 favorites]


homosexuality isn't something you choose

I think what you're overlooking is that sexuality is a spectrum, not a dichotomy. (A rainbow, if you will.) That some people are strongly predisposed one way or another is not reason to assume that it works that way for everybody.
posted by perspicio at 10:12 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


I think that if you're secure in your own heterosexuality, that "temptation" never arises, never even occurs to you.

This is exactly why, during college, I felt like so many of the guys in my year were kind of suckers selling out, when Budwiser came around and handed out the posters with the busty women wearing a syllable each on their one-piece bathing suits, and they were hanging the freebies in their dorm rooms.

Couldn't they see how they were being manipulated? Couldn't they penetrate the obvious marketing they were buying into? Why on earth would any healthy male hang pictures of women on his wall when there was a beer brand so prominently featured across their breasts? How vulgar and immature and easily malleable were these guys, anyway?

Yeah... Exactly like that.
posted by hippybear at 10:17 PM on May 15, 2011 [5 favorites]


perspicio: you've misread orthogonality's post. I don't always agree with what he writes, but in this case, he's right on the mark and what he's saying, while a bit opaquely worded, is exactly correct.
posted by hippybear at 10:19 PM on May 15, 2011 [2 favorites]


Hm...well, I certainly wasn't arguing. I agree overall with what he's saying. Maybe it's a marginal point for this thread, but it's my observation that these discussions tend to predicate on an assumption that sexuality necessarily cleaves to one end of the spectrum or the other - which still leaves many people in the shadows.
posted by perspicio at 10:25 PM on May 15, 2011 [1 favorite]


A community that doesn't have to worry about God's punishment in the form of hurricanes, tornadoes, or whatever happened to Sodom and Gomorrah.

Sodom and Gomorrah were turned into a fucked-to-death pile of burning caca.
posted by FatherDagon at 10:40 PM on May 15, 2011


It's the longing that gets you--it's the desire for flesh, and the refusal of flesh, it's the guilt and the exhaustion and the hunger that grinds you down, and its the sadness that one can always desire and never eat.

It's never just sex with men. It's the bishops interviews. The bishop you see on Sunday, and Tuesday, and usually one day other a week. If you live in a small town, it's the bishop you see in the grocery store, and the gas station and picking up videos. You tell the bishop, that you masturabte, that you cheat on yr taxes, that you over eat, that you fuck your wife, or don't fuck your wife, and about all the other things you want to do, or think about doing, in that interview--with you in a suit and him in a suit, and the weight of that.

Or it is to be 18, and to spend all of yr time with a male companion, and mistaking god and intimacy and desire, and love, and never having an answer. Or it is just before you are 18, and the prophet tells you that all worthy males should serve a mission and the idea of intimacy with a man thrills you and frightens you and the mix of dread and hope refuses the holy--is so unholy that you will never be worthy. It is missionaries and young men's leaders and fellow scouts all saying you know why aren't you going on a misison.

It is before, you are 18. And the endless church dances, the earnestness, and the dancing far apart so the holy spirit can have room, and being warned about the wiliness of the girls--but girls are safe, and the feel of flesh on satin is much calmer then the feel of flesh on white cotton--and the boys play all sorts of butch games, because music and dancing and girls and being pure are horribly complicated. They are horribly complicated for you to, because you are convinced that there is a special kind of evil, an evil out of exception, in the hunger of yr cock and yr belly. You are seperate.

It is also having your reading, and yr music, and yr television and yr movies , and everything that could possibly tell you about another world, cagily censored by salt lake, by other church members, and the deepest irony of this--is that they love you. they give you meals, and provide you places to rest, they pray with you and they sing with you, and you help each other clean up, and move, and work together, and you know that their desire for you to be saved, is how they imagine a desire for you to be well, to be happy, and to be self-contained.

Or it is when you are 12, and you want to go to the temple, which is so deep in yr soul, but you can't because you have sinned. Or you go to the temple, and you worry about the change room, because sex is so evaded and so desired, and if you think yr most private thoughts in the change room--then is the baptism for all those souls in heaven invalid...

and it is before that. It is having yr friends go to the temple, to be sealed for all eternity, to love yr family so much that you want to spend the rest of yr life with them, or to sing families can be together forever--and so the only way that you can make heavenly father truly and utterly happy, is to submit to the will of God--a will of God that prevents yr family, or any family that is not heternormative in the extreme to be given refuge.

but, you also remember, and it isn't much talked about--that their are prophets who had other kinds of families, and descendent's of those prophets ended up in yr sunday school classes, and occasionally teaching you. and so, this tension can only be smothered, and so you serve and you pray, and you try desperately not to be turned on, and you get baptised for the dead, and you do the work in the temple, and you sublimate it all--and in this sublimation is kindness, and mercy, but a mercy that comes from ignorance, and a mercy that rests forever on the absence of a full person.

i can give you more spec. examples, some lurid and some very sad, some from my life, and some from my friends lives, and some from my sainted mother, and they would be illustrative...but it is a system that is intended to perserve an order. i spent a decade with the catholics after i left the church with some encouragement, and still in my soul, in the dark part of me, i need to say, that the core, of my life, and my faith is now and will essentially be mormon.

also, i still fetishize young dad's.
posted by PinkMoose at 11:09 PM on May 15, 2011 [20 favorites]


This is pathetic and absurd. These disenchantments are centuries old. Reading about someone beginning to question such infantile platitudes is very much like watching a baby cry after stumbling through their first step, except that the baby is a grown-ass man. Sad.


Speaking as someone who was born and raised LDS, in a family generations deep in Mormonism, with most family members still practicing Mormons, some in the upper hierarchy of the church, as someone who left Mormonism years ago, is educated and thoughtful-ish . . . I have to say that the fact that these "disenchantments are centuries old" occurs to us. It's just one more stinging arrow to pluck out of our hides.
posted by Euphorbia at 11:36 PM on May 15, 2011 [4 favorites]


So if there are LBGTQ Mormons, that means LBGTQ Mormon weddings...

Does that mean LBGTQ Mormon polygamy?
posted by Yakuman at 11:45 PM on May 15, 2011


Oh you have to read Holly Welker's essay, especially the bit with her "own story" at the end:
AS FOR MY own story, I did not marry a gay man, but I
was engaged to one, Matthew, in 1988, after we fell in
love at first sight. The story has a reasonably happy
ending: he had enough integrity and wisdom that he could not
permit himself to marry me, knowing that however much he
loved me, he would never lose his attraction to men. But it
took four years of my wheedling and prodding and begging to
extract that confession from him; before that, he kept insisting
that his refusal to marry me had nothing to do with sexual orientation,
that it was because I wasn’t the right woman for him.
Given how much I loved him, the whole thing absolutely tortured me.
His admission that he was gay was a genuine gift,
because it allowed me to stop hoping and get on with my life,
and from the day he made that admission, I have never ceased
to be grateful that he wouldn’t marry me.
Four years! and she was lucky, it could have lasted all her life... She goes on to tell that they managed to stay friends and she was even a witness to his marriage to a man in Belgium. Wow. I am impressed by her capacity for forgiveness.

Of course I imagine it must have been a torture for him too, growing up repressing himself, but we don't get to hear the woman's side of the story in this kind of situation so often, and it takes some guts to tell a story like this.

(Interesting that she also mentions a conversation with her sister after seeing Brokeback Mountain, and explains how she appreciated that the wives were portrayed with lots of sympathy even though they weren't the central characters. I also thought of the movie as I was browsing the links, but I'm not sure there's all that simpathy on display - yes you are shown in the movie how devastating it is for the wives but in the end, inevitably I guess, because the story is all about the two men and their tragedy, you're not really made to care as much about what happens to the women. They're kind of collateral casualties.)
posted by bitteschoen at 12:02 AM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


one of the characters in the biggest show on Broadway right now is a Mormon missionary who is praying fervently for his homosexual feelings to go away.

Broadway's running a revival of Angels in America? That's Livah Cancah Fabulous!
posted by orthogonality at 12:04 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


As a practicing Mormon I just want to say I'm sorry to everyone who has to go through this. Personally I don't believe homosexuality is a sin. I find no good evidence in our actual doctrine to support such an idea. It's just tradition and a vain desire to be seen as "Christian" but it isn't right in the slightest. I promise I will teach my kids that it's okay to be gay, that who we love is not what matters.

Someday I hope our leaders will see this too.
posted by jnrussell at 12:42 AM on May 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


PinkMoose: That's some powerful stuff. The thing I want to ask is, what prevents you from unchaining yourself from the orthodoxy? Is it possible that on some level you're affirming and empowering a darkness inside yourself that isn't really yours?

Some of your comments remind me of Red, from The Shawshank Redemption: "There is a harsh truth to face. No way I'm gonna make it on the outside." Or a tree that was used as a post in a barbed wire fence for so long that the strands became embedded as the tree grew around it. Either way, the extension of the metaphor is, we can grow beyond the things that bound us in the past.

My struggle with my religious upbringing wasn't anywhere near as complicated as I think it would have been if I'd had to wrestle the issues you and hippybear describe, although purging my mind of its structural elements has been a long process nevertheless. The tricky part is finding all of them - and it has taken a lot of self-examination to do so. (And I can never be totally sure I got them all.) Also, it's fair to say that the experience did leave an indelible impression on me that will never completely fade. That doesn't bother me though; it's just history - the good and the bad. However it may have shaped me in the past, today, now, it doesn't tell me what to think, neither affirmatively nor in a reactively negative way.

I guess what seems incongruous to me is that you seem to be consciously investing your faith in the institutional one you inherited. Still tuning yourself to it, amplifying its signal as it echoes through you.

Correct me if I'm wrong. I'm just trying to understand.
posted by perspicio at 12:53 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


In other Orson Scott Card essays I've read, there's been this implication that "gee, we better make being gay difficult, or else everyone will go gay!"

Can you cite? I've seen him advocate things that would make being gay difficult (anti-homosexuality statutes being one rather high profile example). I've also seen him put forward ideas that suggest orientation has a significant nurture or behavioral self-reinforcement component (similar to some other thinking I'd guess was prevalent in Mormon circles during his young adulthood). But that's the closest thing I can think of to what you're saying. The rest of the case attached to what you've presented so far seems to me to be based on some confusion between one of his examples regarding the universality of the struggle between personal desires vs church/community standards and a general defense of the right of a church to declare a code of sexual behavior that, among other things, precludes homosexuality.

Now isn't it odd that Orson Scott Card and these supporters of beards

If the implication is that Card himself may be at least somewhat attracted to men, I don't know that I'd be terribly surprised, myself. We've certainly seen that some crusaders have motivations founded in their own personal tensions.

But if the implication is that this is the *only* reason anyone might be defending the idea of a code of behavior that precludes homosexuality, or advocating gays in straight marriages, I think you're underestimating the power of other factors. Some people may genuinely believe in the idea that God will bless people who live that way. Some people just really want to believe that if it works for them, well, it must work for anyone who's really trying, and may actually be quite threatened by the very idea that it might not work for anybody who's checking off the prescribed boxes.

Personally I don't believe homosexuality is a sin. I find no good evidence in our actual doctrine to support such an idea.

The part of Mormon cosmology that claims an exalted destiny involves at least one heterosexual marriage is pretty hard to get around, at least as the canon is currently understood. I understand that canon can be refined and even sometimes rewritten, and that does bring a significant margin for saying "who knows? There's a lot we don't understand" into the culture. And I also get that there's a pretty broad streak of universalism mixed in. But I don't think it does anyone any real favors to pretend there's not a significant issue there.
posted by weston at 1:11 AM on May 16, 2011


It's amazing how much success the Mormon Church is having getting gay men to marry and have kids!

It's even more amazing they don't realize that if being gay is as genetically determined as everyone now says, they are sowing the seeds for a future Mormon community which is much more gay than the Mormon community is now, and the longer they succeed in keeping the lid on, the gayer Mormonism will become.

So this immense, hugely wealthy and powerful organization hates homosexuality, but is absolutely busting a gut to cause the thing they hate to increase and multiply.

And on the other hand, the secular community, which accepts gays and seeks to empower them and encourage them to be who they are-- even to the extent of coming out in high school or junior high-- insofar as the secular community succeeds in this project, it is making it much less likely that gays will reproduce, and would thereby bring about a future with proportionally fewer gay people than we see today.

Sure, I get it.
posted by jamjam at 1:20 AM on May 16, 2011 [3 favorites]


jamjam, it doesn't work like that. There's no evidence that homosexuals have any more liklihood of parenting other homosexuals than heterosexuals.
posted by londonmark at 2:58 AM on May 16, 2011


The set-up for "why do gay Mormons keep marrying women" is awesomely flawed.

Before turning to the other factors mentioned, however, I want to first address one of the key factors that Holly Welker believes contributes to MoMoMs: “patriarchy.” In her Sunstone essay entitled “Clean-Shaven: No More Beards – Straight Women, Gay Men and Mormonism” (located here) , she writes:
"“...I'm saying that men who know about their sexuality at the time they’re courting straight women, and fail to tell those women, are engaging in patriarchy and misogyny.”

When someone says something like that, the correct response is not to write a thoughtful essay running with the terms she laid down. What you're obligated to say is "Yeah, that's a good point. I wrote some poems about this, they're back at my dorm. Let's go get something to eat and then maybe you can stop by my room to read them and give me some criticism. You know what the radiators are like in West Campus this time of year so you're going to be really hot in that bulky sweater." Just because you're gay, you don't get to ignore convention.
posted by Mayor Curley at 3:09 AM on May 16, 2011


It seems like just ending religion would take care of a lot of this straight away.
Um...no.
Religion is the excuse and reinforcing/legitimizing structure, not the cause of homophobia. Without religion, some other structure would arise for homophobes to hide behind.

Point of fact, one could quite easily focus strictly on the actual teachings of Jesus and come-away accepting and loving all people, no matter what their orientations.
posted by Thorzdad at 4:20 AM on May 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Gay. Mormon. Marine. Terrorist. Aardvark. Ghost.

Could ONE man ever fulfill ALL these roles?

Well, that's MY story - the story of a poor, American aardvark who was born in Utah and raised in the warm and close traditions of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Throughout my youth, my only wish was to spread the word of Mormonism through missionary work. However, I was an aardvark, and thus entirely unable to speak your strange, gutteral human language. So I thought: why not let my life's example serve as my witness for the LORD? Thus I enrolled in the Marine Corps, and was shipped out to Afghanistan to fight terrorists. And I fought many of them, until - inevitably! - I fell in love with one. Abdullah Ibn Daud taught me to live, to laugh, and to love another man in ways I had never thought technically possible nor morally permissable. But, in the end, Abdullah betrayed me and my love by convincing me to return to America and join a sleeper cell intent on attacking our nation's supply of soured cream. Then I died of an unrelated but quite intense herpes infection. Anyway, the moral is: I wasted my entire life trying to live up to other people's expectations, when all along I should have been eating ants and termites in the African savannah with my idiotically long, sticky tongue. Also, herpes is the silent killer - please practice safe sex. quidnunc out.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 4:23 AM on May 16, 2011 [14 favorites]


It seems like just ending religion would take care of a lot of this straight away.

And they say heroin and cigarettes are hard to quit.
posted by Twang at 4:33 AM on May 16, 2011


Don't mention the gold plates! I did and I found my hovercraft full of eels!
posted by Splunge at 3:09 AM on May 16


Or Kolob! I mentioned it once but I think I got away with it.
posted by Decani at 5:03 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Encouraging gay people to get married to someone of the opposite sex is one of the many terrible things that various local Church leaders have done over the years. But it is by far the least terrible, unfortunately.

The World Famous:Forgive my ignorance, but I'm taking that to mean this isn't something you think is within the mainstream of LDS thought. As I understand it, the LDS Church has a President, who exercises spiritual and administrative authority over the entire Church. When you talk about these local Church leaders, do you mean... apostate branches? Or is dealing with homosexuality something a broad heterodoxy exists over - where there is no overarching policy?
posted by running order squabble fest at 5:34 AM on May 16, 2011


My heart goes out to anybody who finds themselves in this position. I hope you all find the strength and courage to come out to learn to live without religion. I know that there are many denominations of religion which tolerate and even welcome gay people, but they are no more true than Mormonism. Accepting one denomination contributes to the perception that religion is fundamentally reasonable, when at best it's a community and some nice rituals dressed up in magical thinking.

I get very pessimistic when I read about people who are gay and Mormon and still can't manage to break free of their beliefs. What hope can we have that many of the people who don't have such strong motives to question their beliefs will ever cast aside them aside?

I do not agree that without religion, something else would fill the role of supporting homophobia. Nothing else could work at that scale, not in this century, not in America. Without religion, homophobia would be where racism is, existent around the edges, but not welcome in the public conversation.

Replacing traditional religion with liberal, gay-friendly religion might work, but it's dangerous. It throws the whole notion that beliefs should be based in evidence and reason out the window and replaces it with the idea that the texts and traditions should just be interpreted this way instead of that way. Neither side in that game is compelling, because both sides are just serving themselves with their interpretations. We must instead stand up for empiricism and rationality.
posted by callmejay at 5:47 AM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Broadway's running a revival of Angels in America? That's Livah Cancah Fabulous!

Actually, they WERE running Angels In America up until just a couple of weeks ago.

But that's not the show I'm talking about.
posted by hippybear at 5:50 AM on May 16, 2011


Replacing traditional religion with liberal, gay-friendly religion might work, but it's dangerous. It throws the whole notion that beliefs should be based in evidence and reason out the window and replaces it with the idea that the texts and traditions should just be interpreted this way instead of that way. Neither side in that game is compelling, because both sides are just serving themselves with their interpretations. We must instead stand up for empiricism and rationality.

I hope you'll believe me when I say that I understand where you're coming from on this, but I think that this sort of forced binary between religious and right-thinking is going to keep more people in conservative and regressive denominations than otherwise. Many religious people value and embrace their religious views above many other parts of their lives-- indeed, for many, their religion is the most important aspect of their lives. Enforcing the false notion that, in order for them to endorse the equality of homosexuals (et al.), they need to abandon their faith-- this won't solve problems.
posted by shakespeherian at 6:30 AM on May 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


Thank you for your stories, hippybear and PinkMoose. I have known and loved many others who have been rejected where they should be embraced, and I pray daily for change in the hearts of those who pervert the gospel of love.
posted by generalist at 7:01 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


We must instead stand up for empiricism and rationality
Geez, why do you hate cartoons so much? That mallet is imaginary, it shouldn't hurt at all
posted by generalist at 7:11 AM on May 16, 2011


It seems like just ending religion would take care of a lot of this straight away.
Does that even mean something?


If "ending" means actively suppressing any religious belief in the U.S., then it's unconstitutional. (I am not a religious person, but I am a supporter of the Bill of Rights.) I'd very much like for Mormons, and others whose religions encourage them to be intolerant of their fellow citizens, to see the error of their ways - but you can't force them to change (any more than they should be allowed to force me to believe what they do).
posted by aught at 7:18 AM on May 16, 2011


It seems like just ending religion would take care of a lot of this straight away.

of course, so would just ending homosexuality. and that idea is just as ridiculous as yours.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 7:35 AM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


jamjam, it doesn't work like that. There's no evidence that homosexuals have any more liklihood of parenting other homosexuals than heterosexuals.

Though in most cases, wouldn't the homosexual parents be adoptive parents, sharing no more genes with their children than with the average person? Was there a non-negligible number of homosexual biological parents in the studies?

The constant presence of a homosexual minority in virtually all cultures suggests that there is a biological propensity to homosexuality for some segment of the population. Which means that either it is uniform and everyone has a, let's say, 5% chance of turning out to be gay depending on random environmental factors, or there are genes which increase the probability. And given that there are genes which increase the propensity of, say, synaesthesia or heart attacks, it's not unlikely that there are genes for sets of characteristics which include an increased likelihood of homosexual orientation.
posted by acb at 7:46 AM on May 16, 2011


Red and the barbwire metaphors both suggest that it is all negative, or that other thoughts or works cannot be layered on top of it. So much of my expereince in the church was negative, and so much of it was holy and positive, and both sustained each other, which means that the split is never fully healed...

As for religion, I cannot be expected to leave it, in the same way that I cannot be expected to leave any of the other cultural places where I have found a bower.
posted by PinkMoose at 7:57 AM on May 16, 2011


hippybear: Until I actually came out to myself (which has to happen before anyone can come out to other people), I had thought that I'd probably meet some woman at some point and marry her and continue life as I "should".

This was kind of my story as well, except in my case the church (or cult, as I think of it now) was the Jehovah's Witnesses rather than the Presbyterian. I left the church when it became clear that my only choices as a member of the congregation I was in were to (a) become a missionary and not go to college (and throw away the chance I had to be the first in my family to get a college education) or (b) go to college and betray the church. I realize that this is not "official" church dogma. But the strong implication of the messages I was given was that anyone in his right mind would choose to devote his life to Christ, not to some worldly pursuit like college. The same applied to sexuality. If you were in any way questioning of the church's position on the "correct" form of sexual relations, you were betraying the church and betraying Christ. And betraying yourself by denying yourself salvation and eternal life. There were a lot of reasons that I left the church, but those were the ones that stood out in highest relief.

I was inclulcated by my parents (who were lapsed -- my father a lapsed Mormon, my mother a lapsed Catholic) and by the churches to which I belonged to believe that the only path to a true and happy life was to find a woman to marry and to build a family with. Never mind that my own family was highly dysfunctional and that any marriage or family I pretended to build was doomed from the start because of my attraction toward feelings about other men. I had an overwhelming crush on my mentor and Bible study instructor, for Christ's sake. Never mind that the one woman I had a relationship with in college never forgave me when she realized that I had been, in essence, leading her on all along -- that I wasn't really in love with her, but with what she represented. Even though what I was doing was working through my own overwhelming sexual confusion, it was still using her not to be honest with her about my real feelings from the beginning, and for that I wish I could go back in time and undo the damage I did. I was fortunate in some ways that my parents both passed away before I came out of the closet, so I was spared a lot of the battles and recriminations that other gay people go through when they come out. But is that any way to live life -- thankful that your parents died so that you wouldn't have to tell them you were gay?
posted by blucevalo at 8:21 AM on May 16, 2011 [9 favorites]


I hope you all find the strength and courage to come out to learn to live without religion.

How nice of you to preach to us.
posted by The World Famous at 9:18 AM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I just read this thread from beginning to end, thanks to most everyone for the thoughtful comments and questions, particularly the personal experiences. This is the kind of discussion I can point to when I tell someone I'm member of Metafilter and they think we are just a bunch of snarky know-it-alls.

Actually, a lot of you are snarky know-it-alls, but discussions like this show a lot of us are a lot more than that.
posted by marxchivist at 9:46 AM on May 16, 2011


Though in most cases, wouldn't the homosexual parents be adoptive parents, sharing no more genes with their children than with the average person? Was there a non-negligible number of homosexual biological parents in the studies?

You'll have to do your own hunting for the studies, I was just conveying something that I have understood for a long while. But I'm not sure how adoption has any bearing on the sexuality of birth parents? In any case, the theories that I've read which attempt to explain homosexuality in the context of natural selection talk about conferred advantage to heterosexuals that may carry the genetic material but not express it.
posted by londonmark at 9:46 AM on May 16, 2011


From a MeFi who would prefer to remain anonymous
I'm one of the unfortunately ones to get caught up in this cycle. Where I grew up in Utah, I only knew a handful of people who weren't Mormon and they were to be avoided. I didn't know any LGBTQ people, and I had always been taught that they had been deceived by the devil. I was a very good Mormon girl, so there was no chance that I could be a lesbian. I still remember when my mom and dad went on a date night to see "Boys on the Side" and they came home early -- they walked out due to there being lesbian content.

The only boy I was remotely attracted to in high school looked more like Legolas than anything, long hair and feminine features. That should have been a clue.

I got a full scholarship to the University of Utah and left home. But after my first year, I had fallen in love with my best friend, who was who I had been told to be waiting for my entire life. Return missionary, worthy priesthood holder. At 19, I dropped out of college, gave up my scholarship and married him in the temple. I moved to California to start my own new happy Mormon family.

It was until our wedding night that I realized how much trouble I was in. We had remained "chaste" until that night, and when I was was in that intimate position, I felt zero attraction. Horror sunk in. I was "married for eternity" and there was zero sexual desire. I gave it my best shot for a while, but no matter how much I followed the "gospel" or what I tried, it just wasn't working. I fell into a deep depression, wondering how heavenly father could leave me in such a position after I had been so faithful and given up my home, my scholarship, what felt like everything, for what he wanted. And then I felt guilty for doubting "his plan."

Eventually I fought my way out of the depression, found a job and got back my independence. The internet helped me fact-check the claims of the church and I realized it couldn't possibly be true. My mind was free. I learned what a double-bind was and how duped I had been for all of my life. My husband left the church with me. I sent my parents a letter telling them that I had left the church. When my mom found out, it was non-stop crying, calling and emailing me begging to reconsider, begging me to not leave their eternal family. It went on for months and months without stop.

I realized that friendship was not enough for me to stay in a marriage. I decided to get a divorce and try to figure out my sexuality. I found a job in a different city and moved. I didn't give my family my new address or phone number to get some rest from the constant harassment for my "soul."

After about 6 months, I let them start writing me letters. Years later, we now talk on the phone every few weeks. If they start talking about my soul, or the times they've seen angels, I keep my boundaries and end the call. But I'm still scared to death to tell them that I'm a lesbian. I have a partner of 3.5 years, that they know nothing about. I'm scared to tell them because I know in their minds it will be confirmation that because I've left the church, Satan is corrupting my life and leading me further down the path of sin. And that breaks my heart. No matter what I do, I can never escape the dogma. Although I have my own life, and have created my own family with fantastic friends, there's still a part of me that the Mormon church latches on to, that I struggle to be free.
--
posted by jessamyn at 12:19 PM on May 16, 2011 [19 favorites]


I'm surprised nobody has mentioned the new Broadway musical "The Book of Mormon" in this thread yet. It has a tongue-in-cheek song called "Turn it Off" that's all about how Mormons are supposed to crush their unpleasant or Mormon-incompatible thoughts and feelings, including gay thoughts and feelings.

(NPR is currently streaming the entire cast album.)
posted by Tin Man at 12:41 PM on May 16, 2011


I hope you all find the strength and courage to come out to learn to live without religion.

Uh, you know there are quite a few religions that don't give a fuck if you're gay, right?



Tin Man: Actually, several people have mentioned it in this thread. They also discussed it in this FPP about The Book of Mormon musical last week.
posted by elsietheeel at 12:51 PM on May 16, 2011


Anonymous MeFi Friend: I am giving you big non-creepy internet hugs full of joy and love and light and freedom in the midst of your difficult circumstances. I wish you peace and a long life with your partner. Thank you for sharing your story.
posted by hippybear at 12:53 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


Though in most cases, wouldn't the homosexual parents be adoptive parents, sharing no more genes with their children than with the average person? Was there a non-negligible number of homosexual biological parents in the studies?

Studies have generally shown that 30%-40% of self-identified lesbians are parents, most getting there the old-fashioned way (biological, not via in vitro fertilization or artificial insemination). The number of self-identified gay men who became parents the same way is usually reported to be much less, more in the neighborhood of 5%-10%. So any study focusing on the sexual identities of children of lesbians ought to have a significant component of genetics involved in the outcome, but the bigger issue (to me) in quantifying outcomes is that until very recently -- and still very much in some subcultures -- coming out has more often than not been fraught with risk, even if one had a queer parent, and getting any kind of accurate answer to this question has been near impossible. Easing up on the social risk may make reasonably accurate figures more feasible, but we're not there yet.

Anecdotally, I'm a queer mom with two daughters who both identify as queer (one bisexual, the other lesbian); I have a lesbian ex whose dad was gay (but stayed in his hetero marriage until his dying day) and niece is lesbian; I have a transman friend with a child who also identifies trans; I have an older friend (late 60s) who is a second generation butch lesbian; I have another lesbian friend in the same age group with a gay son, etc. But these are all anecdotes and don't statistically support anything except that I have a lot of queer connections.
posted by notashroom at 2:02 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


Actually, several people have mentioned it in this thread.

Thanks - I stand corrected. (I mostly skimmed the thread and searched it for "book of mormon" and found nothing.)
posted by Tin Man at 2:02 PM on May 16, 2011


i was sitting in the LDS chapel, thumbing through my scriptures, dress hanging over my knees, when it dawned on me that all the Sodom and Gomorrah talk wasn't just about boys sleeping with boys - somehow god had condemned girls sleeping with girls! i remember thinking, "well, i''ve done it and it didn't feel like a sin." it was one of the things that drove me out of the church. over the next couple of years learning about how the mormons dealt with homosexuality, i'm glad that is one thing i never confessed to my bishop.

i ache for members, current and former, who had the realization that their god hated them and thought it was them who were flawed, not the system.

and to Anonymous Lesbian Poster - just yesterday i had to exercise my "i won't talk about the church" boundaries with my mom and felt shitty and guilty about it all night. a decade and a half away from the church and the shame of disappointing my parents is still hardwired into me. i am proud of you for the hard choices you've made and i am proud of you for realizing how close is too close with people that hurt you. if you ever want to talk about anything, feel free to memail/email.
posted by nadawi at 3:02 PM on May 16, 2011 [5 favorites]


it dawned on me that all the Sodom and Gomorrah talk wasn't just about boys sleeping with boys - somehow god had condemned girls sleeping with girls!

Most people I talk to anymore who actually know their shit say that the S & G story wasn't about homosexuality at all, but instead was about those towns' practice of performing gang rape on unhosted strangers, which went directly against the practice of opening one's house to visiting persons as though they were part of one's family.
posted by hippybear at 3:06 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


hippybear - yeah. i came to that realization years later. our bishops were just fond of talking about all homosexuality as Sodom and Gomorrah so they could have hateful speeches about it in front of a congregation with young children. they didn't want to refer directly to the "filth."
posted by nadawi at 3:14 PM on May 16, 2011


The part of Mormon cosmology that claims an exalted destiny involves at least one heterosexual marriage is pretty hard to get around

I agree. And you're right that it would be a disservice to not address that fact, so I'll just say this (again this is just my presonal belief):

Mormon belief/doctrine/dogma/cosmology is pretty messy and has changed an awful lot since 1830. We've changed our position on things like polygamy, blacks and the priesthood, the doctrine of tithing and the organization of church leadership. We've changed our policies on what members can/can't eat and drink (no coffee/tea/alcohol, but it used to be okay to drink beer though not anymore). We no longer observe the doctrine of gathering, and we've even changed the content of our most sacred ceremonies several times and so dramatically that people who had been alive 50 years ago wouldn't recognize our current iterations. We barely even recognize the doctrine of common consent, even though it was pretty obvious that it was a big part of the early church.

And that's really the problem. The church leadership has made a really big push to "correlate" Mormon belief, so much so that they promote some beliefs while de-emphasizing others. For example, with the concept of canon. It's really easy to find in the LDS scriptures as well as our historical documents the idea that nothing is considered doctrine unless it's canonized, and yet we frequently have meetings in which a new policy manual will be handed out and we will be told that it is doctrine!

So what we have in the church today is a major emphasis on relying on published manuals, policy books and press releases to define doctrine, even though this idea contradicts our own early doctrinal statement on canonization. What this means is that a typical Mormon is more likely to believe something (i.e. that being gay is evil) based on a statement made by a modern church leader instead of based on what our actual canonized doctrine states. What makes this really troubling is that it was never supposed to be this way.

And the hilarious contradiction here is that at the same time we're doing all this we're also saying stuff like "thank goodness we have modern revelation" while we continue to not (by our own definitions) receive any modern revelation whatsoever and continue to not (by our own defined processes) canonize anything since 1978. I think it's telling that even in the most recent public statements from church leaders about homosexuality, their statements are almost explicitly couched in the language of "moral opinion" and never in "thus hath God decreed."

Until the church actually comes down and says "this is the doctrine regarding homosexuality, we're going to add it to the scriptures, all in favor say aye" then everything we state, whether by policy or by pulpit, is just an expression of scriptural exegesis not founded on the the Mormon principles of modern revelation and common consent.

Oh yeah and hippybear is right about S&G. In fact, all the Biblical passages "about" homosexuality either aren't really about that at all or happen to be about it in a way that doesn't apply to modern times. Further, the fact that there exists some Mormon scripture about marriage being between a man and a woman does not exclude the possibility that it could be between a man and a man, but rather it just means to me that the question wasn't asked (probably because Joseph Smith didn't have exposure to that concept and didn't even know it needed to be asked).

Again, I believe there's room in the Mormon faith continuum for gay and lesbian oriented families, and that the church leadership, instead of asking for a revelation of that nature, are just holding the party line with the other Christians..."well the Bible says (even though it really doesn't) this, so...". Needless to say we're still a very young church and have a lot of growing up to do. I for one hope we can grow in ways that will allow us to truly invite all to come unto Christ, regardless of who they love.
posted by jnrussell at 3:49 PM on May 16, 2011 [20 favorites]


jnrussell, I wish I had more favorites to give your comment.
posted by The World Famous at 3:54 PM on May 16, 2011 [2 favorites]


I would also point out, as a very legalistic and technical matter, that same sex sexual relations within a legally-recognized same-sex marriage are technically permissible within the textual meaning of the Mormon church's definition of the law of chastity. And, in spite of the legalization of same-sex marriage in several U.S. jurisdictions and many non-U.S. jurisdictions over the last decade or so, the LDS church has not altered that definition.
posted by The World Famous at 4:01 PM on May 16, 2011


There's also the weird little current policy in the church handbook that you can be considered a fully worthy church member and be gay so long as you remain celibate. Which is kind of wacky when we simultaneously chastise our young men and women for not getting married and not having children (you know, because God commanded Adam and Eve to multiply and replenish the earth).

But we do this with a lot of stuff, so it's nothing new. Trying to be a legalistic Mormon will make your head spin.

At the end of the day I just try to focus on the one thing Jesus was always up in peoples' grills about: Love your neighbor. LOVE. YOUR. NEIGHBOR. No pre-reqs, no conditions, just love them. Oh and be the life of the party (more wine, anyone?).
posted by jnrussell at 4:11 PM on May 16, 2011 [6 favorites]


It was partially in hope of getting something like jnrussell's comment that I posted this in the first place. Thanks!
posted by escabeche at 5:59 PM on May 16, 2011 [1 favorite]


As for religion, I cannot be expected to leave it, in the same way that I cannot be expected to leave any of the other cultural places where I have found a bower.
posted by PinkMoose at 3:57 PM on May 16


Perhaps you cannot be expected to leave your comforting delusions, but you should understand that those of us who have managed to do so in spite of such delusions having once provided a bower can still devoutly hope you do so too.
posted by Decani at 8:16 PM on May 16, 2011


Perhaps you cannot be expected to leave your comforting delusions, but you should understand that those of us who have managed to do so in spite of such delusions having once provided a bower can still devoutly hope you do so too.

The "leave your comforting delusions" shtick isn't any less offensive or patronizing than the "leave your homosexuality behind and be normal" shtick. Knock it the hell off.
posted by blucevalo at 8:46 PM on May 16, 2011 [10 favorites]


It was partially in hope of getting something like jnrussell's comment that I posted this in the first place. Thanks!

I'm not sure I understand what this means but I'm glad to have been of service. This is a topic for which I have a lot of passion and interest.
posted by jnrussell at 9:28 PM on May 16, 2011


The "leave your comforting delusions" shtick isn't any less offensive or patronizing than the "leave your homosexuality behind and be normal" shtick. Knock it the hell off.

The truth can be offensive.
posted by andoatnp at 8:36 AM on May 17, 2011


The truth can be offensive.

Isn't it interesting that everyone on every side of every argument ever thinks they're the one with the truth and that the "fact" that they have the truth justifies their offensiveness?
posted by The World Famous at 11:18 AM on May 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


Perhaps you cannot be expected to leave your comforting delusions, but you should understand that those of us who have managed to do so in spite of such delusions having once provided a bower can still devoutly hope you do so too.

The truth can be offensive.


And the Atheist Jihadis show up. Seriously, you're giving the rest of us atheists a bad name.
posted by KingEdRa at 11:41 AM on May 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


I just have to add to that, actually, because "the truth can be offensive" is just really a stupid argument to make in this particular thread: Telling Mormons that it's OK to be offensive as long as you have the truth is just about the dumbest argument you can make. I mean, seriously, just really, really dumb.
posted by The World Famous at 11:55 AM on May 17, 2011


Have you guys read Songbird? I knew OSC was gay when I was thirteen for fuck's sake.
posted by prefpara at 2:13 PM on May 17, 2011 [1 favorite]


Funny story:

Back when I was about 15 or so I went to an Orson Scott Card book signing. I walked up and handed him my copy of Ender's Game. He was just about to sign it when he stopped and looked at me. He said "You look just like Ender."

I thought he was being nice so I just kind of smiled, and then he said "no really, you look exactly like I always thought Ender should look like." He then proceeded to ask my parents if it would be okay if I auditioned for his movie (which never happened, so I never auditioned) and then signed my book: "To James, who has Ender's face and heart."

I cherished that for a long time, and I followed Card's career and writing for many years. And then one day I woke up, read something on his website about some political topic (don't remember the topic) and realized: wow...this guy is kind of crazy and also kind of a jerk. I can't justify anything he's just said.

I haven't read a book of his since.

It is still, however, pretty fun to tell young nerds "I AM ENDER". Quickest way to make friends at the local gameshop.
posted by jnrussell at 4:34 PM on May 17, 2011 [4 favorites]


wow...this guy is kind of crazy and also kind of a jerk

I went to a lecture/Q&A session thing by Orson Scott Card when I was an undergrad student at BYU. That is exactly the impression I got, too.

But, on the bright side, it prepared me to appreciate Gentlemen Broncos.
posted by The World Famous at 4:49 PM on May 17, 2011


It seems like just ending religion would take care of a lot of this straight away.

Ending the propensity towards sexuality would also take care of a lot of this straight away as well.

But that ain't gonna happen any time soon, because many people find value in sexuality nevertheless.

Same with religion.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:12 PM on May 19, 2011


Thank you all for all of your comments! I am the author of the blog posts that were the subject of escabeche's original post. I have shared some of your comments on my blog in three separate posts that can be found here, here and here.
posted by Invictus Pilgrim at 5:19 AM on May 21, 2011 [4 favorites]


Thanks for this amazing post, and all the comments. I've been lurking on MF for years before I registered, because of this type of insights and knowledge. In this discussion, there are so many things I feel I now understand better.
The obvious thing - why conservative, religious men keep getting caught in in homosexual activities. That has always seemed so strange to me.
But on a more personal level, this also resonates. And I'm commenting because it is maybe a serious reply to some of those who are making comments about religion in general, about the "sliding scale" of sexuality, and maybe even about the genetical component.
My dad was an "Atheist Jihadist" (great term). He was also a person who made choices about sexuality. I can't say we had a direct and open discussion about this, but we did have conversations, and I think he was honestly less gay than his gay friends, and less straight than his straight friends. So there was a sliding scale. But he chose a conservative, heterosexual marriage with my wonderful, sweet and deeply religious stepmother, after the short and dramatic experience of living with my mother, who was a very sexually driven person and always open to variations. First of all: he really, really wanted a family and children, and this desire overruled any sexual desire. Secondly, he was ambitious, and worried that a more complicated lifestyle would interfere with his business relations.
Sometimes he felt tempted - and as I grew up, he would confide in me and ask me what to do. And sometimes he would try to convince me I should follow his example, since he understood his fundamental choice as the source of his happiness.
As I understood him, he saw his homosexual inclinations as "natural". It didn't worry him at all. But he did see it as a natural instinct one had to suppress, like masturbation in public, or eating with ones mouth open. And this is one of the things I have studied closely this discussion, for which I am deeply grateful, because imagine me, growing up as a girl with a dear, close dad, who was certain all men are basically attracted to men, not women.
For me this has been an issue, because although I am often attracted to women, I really, really, prefer men. But because of the above, I find it really difficult to figure out how men work, and to trust men. I feel more comfortable with women. How can the daughter of a closeted gay/bi man ever figure out how a heterosexual man is supposed to be? What a mess!
I believe my dad, the atheist and sliding scale bisexual, made decisions that were right for him in that day and age. But for me, the heritage of that is confusing, because he was lying to my stepmother, and to some extent to himself. And I have several friends dealing with the same predicament. So my point of view is that we need more clarity for future generations.
posted by mumimor at 10:21 AM on May 21, 2011 [2 favorites]


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