Saturday, December 1, 2007

Brother Yossarian's Lament

I recently saw The Stripping Warrior in a Youtube clip where he talks about the dilemma that all gay mormons face (at least the Kinsey 5ers and 6ers). Here, in easy to read bullet format, is the theory part of the prob:
  1. Mormon theology and culture state that to be happy/attain the highest glory in the Celestial Kingdom, one must be married. (Guys, you can have as many wives as you want as long as you're the only one with a penis!)
  2. Also to be happy you must be a practicing member of the Church, hopefully with a valid temple recommend. To stay and strive is to be happy- to leave is to be unhappy.
  3. Gay members of the Church (who were once counseled to get therapy and go ahead and get married) should be aware that therapy and marriage will not make you straight.
Most mormons would agree with the above statements. In practical terms this means:
  1. Gay mormons must stay in the Church and not act on their attractions to the same sex. Acting on your attractions is not just having sex with a man.
    • It goes much further than that: "It is not helpful to flaunt homosexual tendencies or make them the subject of unnecessary observation or discussion. It is better to choose as friends those who do not publicly display their homosexual feelings." (recently released pamphlet entitled "God Loveth His Children").
    • In other words don't be gay, act gay or seem like you might be gay. Cause really you're not GAY, you're just.... ummmm.... afflicted with same-gender attraction. Like a handicap or a disease. Yep, just like that. So please keep it down.
  2. Stay celibate. Be alone.
    • And lets be honest here, you can be inundated with close friends and relatives and be a busy little bee all the time yet still feel isolated and alone. I have been told by several priesthood leaders to be careful of getting too emotionally close to other men, especially those that I might suspect as being gay. (Do all straight people believe that gaydar actually exists?)
  3. For the love of God don't tell anybody you're gay!
    • You'll never be able to marry because if people know you're gay and you try to date a girl with the intention of marriage you will be dogpiled by people concerned with the well-being of the girl. And with good reason. Or as The Stripping Warrior succiently put it, "Who are you to sacrifice this wonderful girl on the altar of your homosexuality?"
  4. You're fine!
    • That aching you feel, deep in your chest, that makes you sob at times, just ignore it. Oh. It's getting stronger? Um....
    • "Fill your spiritual garden with good seed... participate actively in the Church" (same pamphlet as above).You're already doing that you say? Hmmmmm...
    • "Partak[e] of the sacrament, [sing] the hymns of Zion, and [listen] to uplifting talks." Oh. That kind of advice belittles your situation cause you're already doing that too and it seems like whistling in the dark? Well then,
    • "Visit with your bishop and other priesthood leaders who hold the keys of inspired counsel for the members of your local Church unit." I'm sure they won't just give you the same ineffective advice that we've already given you.
    • Don't worry, following all of this counsel WILL help! Have faith! 20 years of fighting and never giving in to those feelings but not getting any results isn't all that long. That aching won't get stronger. It won't keep you up at night. You won't feel like you're starting to go crazy. You're happy! Everything will be fixed in the next life...Why in the world would you try to kill yourself? That just doesn't make sense. Life is wonderful! You're not sad. You're a member of the Church in good standing with a valid temple recommend! You've done everything we told you to do! Smile! Be happy! Now, have you done your home teaching for this month? Remember, there are people out there that need help!


Abelard Enigma said...

The "God Loveth His Children" pamphlet isn't perfect; but, it's magnitudes better than what we were being told 20-30 years ago. And, it's a step in the right direction for where the church needs to be.

Jake said...

I agree! It's a much better atmosphere than it used to be just 5 years ago. My concern is that the change is being sparked by external forces and not from within the Church itself; that society cares more about my well-being than the Church does.

I am excited that the Church is taking steps in the right direction. Unfortunately I can't wait 20 more years to end up hearing that "oops, it's really ok to be gay!" I gotta live my life now! :)

MoHoHawaii said...

Great post. You show that the problem really is that the church's position is self-contradictory.

Saying that gay people are evil to their core, that SSA itself is evil, is a consistent position. (This was the church's position when I was young.) Saying that gay people are fine and should be treated the same as everybody else (including the right to marry) is consistent. (This is the position that is gradually becoming the consensus in the entire First World.)

What's inconsistent is saying that SSA is fine but any expression of SSA is evil.

A life-time of loneliness, or an ill-fitting marriage to the opposite sex? It's no wonder that so many of us cut our losses and walk.

I truly believe that the church's current position is transitional. When gay marriage is more widely available, they will further liberalize their stance, probably by treating gay marriages like any other nontemple marriage. In other words, they will just ignore the issue and quit fighting it.

In the meantime, we have to live our lives. I cannot tell you how much my life improved when I was able to have a loving, intimate and sexual relationship with the-gender-that's-right-for-me.

Jake said...

Thanks for the compliment mohohawaii! The contradictory nature of the Church's stance I believe creates not only confusion for us trying to be good Mormon boys but also does some psychological harm. I think it ends up hurting our ability to have any sort of connection with people because we're always scrutinizing our relationships instead of just having relationships.

It's only been a little over a year now that I've accepted that I'm gay and I've only had one relationship in that time. So I've VERY inexperienced when it comes to relationships and such. But I can say that I've never had such a feeling of peace, freedom and pure joy than when I was with my first guy. My mind could finally rest!

playasinmar said...

There's only one thing that I know
How to do well,
And I've often been told I should only do what I know
How to do well,

And that's, "Be you"
"Be what you're like"
"Be like yourself"

And so I'm having a wonderful time but I'd rather be
Whistling in the dark,
Whistling in the dark

-They Might be Giants

Jake said...

Not to put too fine a point on it, say I'm the only bee in your bonnet.
Make a little birdhouse in your soul!

Ah, the wisdom of the Giants.

Chris said...

The "God Loveth His Children" pamphlet isn't perfect; but, it's magnitudes better than what we were being told 20-30 years ago.

I guess I'm the only one around here who doesn't see it this way. I think that pamphlet is essentially the same old same old, but with a less strident tone and a hint of compassion.

Of course, I just finished reading some Sam Harris, so I'm in a particularly foul mood about religion in general.

Jake said...

Chris- I thought about your comment and, after looking through the pamphlet again, I've come to the conclusion that you are exactly right.

There is no new real advice; no new doctrine; no substantial help - just a kinder voice. That's it. They tell us to be miserable while they tell us they love us.

When I was young, I thought it the highest form of humor to say horrible things to my dog but do it in that sweetly sick voice that people save for pets and children and watch him happily wag his tail. Look! My dog thinks I'm telling him what a good boy he is! Isn't that funny?

Now that I've thought about it, I believe this new tactic is even more damaging. For God's sake people, let's listen to the words and not the tone! Thank you Chris! And thank you Sam Harris!

santorio said...

it is progress; if nothing else, it confirms that the church is responsive to societal pressures. so keep the heat on. now if we could just get college athletic teams to boycott BYU until the church drops its opposition to gay marriage...

MoHoHawaii said...

The LDS Church is very sensitive to PR. You can talk all you want about inspiration or divine guidance... policy changes over the years have not occurred in a social vacuum.

Every now and then I get a wave of relief when I remember that the church doesn't control my life any longer. (I'm on the Sam Harris side of the fence as well.)

Peter said...

"I am excited that the Church is taking steps in the right direction. Unfortunately I can't wait 20 more years to end up hearing that "oops, it's really ok to be gay!" I gotta live my life now! :)"

My thoughts exactly.

Regarding the pamphlet: The Church could be doing so much better and could be moving so much faster. It has prophets. Prophets shouldn't care about PR! Prophets should say what will get them stoned, and in this case, that's getting rid of the contradiction. You can't please everyone, you have to pick a side.