25 September 2013

Outer Darkness

If there's anything that I've learned from speaking and participating at Affirmation two weeks ago, it's that there are high emotions surrounding being gay in the Church. The workshop that I participated in was highly weighted in why we stay in the Church as LGBT Mormons, but there were many participants who expressed their concerns, and pain with staying in the Church. I'm someone who will defend the Church when it deserves to be defended. I am someone who finds the good in the Church when there is good to be found. But when there is no good to be found, I don't stay silent, and I don't go away. It's just how I roll.

Because I don't let up on my convictions, I get beat down. Often. Which sucks. But it makes me wonder how many other LGBT Mormons, and our allies, get beat down for our beliefs and our lifestyles. How much longer are we going to be marginalized? How much longer will we hear the audible gasps and feel the unabashed stares? How many more friends and family will quietly walk out of our lives?

I've grown weary. I hear the disapproval of my peers often. I get it on social media, and through my emails. To them, I'm an apostate. I discourage the Spirit from coming anywhere near me, and by extension, them. I entice doubt, not faith. I promote deviance, not obedience. I am Satan incarnate... I am damned to Outer Darkness.

Believe it or not... these are all real examples, and they are all people who claim to "love their LGBT brothers and sisters". Some even claim to be building bridges between the communities. This doesn't build bridges. It tears them down.

My bridge is slowly crumbling... and sometimes I don't know why I stay in the Church. I honestly have no idea why I put myself through the pain. I wonder if I would be happier outside. I wonder if Christ only atoned for our sins... rather than for our sorrows. I wonder if God loves me. I wonder if He had me turn out gay so that He could damn me to Outer Darkness. I wonder if God is the vengeful God of Evangelical Christianity. Is He the loving God that we say He is? I want to believe it! I want to believe that He is compassionate, and warm!

But why are His children so cruel?

19 September 2013

Mormon Misogyny

"Why are we here? Where do we come from? Where are we going?" I remember when the missionaries asked me these questions as an investigator. I told them that I came from Heaven, but was going to Purgatory. They didn't think it was very funny...

As members of the Church, we believe that God was once mortal... He was like us. We believe that the ordinances and covenants in the temple will allow us to become like God in the afterlife. Once we're like God, we'll make little spirit babies, and we'll live happily ever after, as we send our kids down to mortality and listen to them bitch and moan at us for stubbing their toes and losing their keys.

That's the plan. Be like God.

What if you're gay? If you're gay you need to reevaluate everything. "Why are we here? Where do we come from? Where are we going?" The answers we all have been taught in Church... well... they simply aren't applicable anymore. They aren't going to happen... at least not as the Church teaches us.

How did Heavenly Father and Heavenly Mother make us? How do we, when we achieve Godhood, create our own spirit children? In Moses 3:5 we learn that God created all things spiritually before they were created physically. He created us, and therefore we will create our own. Will I be literally birthing out babies? Ummmm... no. I'm not going to be doing that in mortality... much less for the rest of eternity. And the word create isn't exclusive to spirit children... it extends to things like planets and trees. Will I birth a planet? Fuck. No.

There is so much about the next life that we simply don't know. We don't know how we will make spirit children, or how eternity will be. Trying to say that homosexuality is not natural and not ordained of God by saying that you have to have a man and a woman to physically make the child, is idiotic at best. Heavenly Father would have had to have an eternal stash of little blue pills, and Heavenly Mother would have had to have a really high pain tolerance... and an ironclad vagina. It simply isn't logical.

And even if this is the way it's supposed to be... if the Plan of Salvation is really full of misogynistic doctrines and ideals... how ridiculous is it that Heavenly Father gets pleasure and power while Heavenly Mother gets pain and stretch marks? I mean... it is such a small price to pay to spend an eternity having your children, at worst, have no idea that you exist, and at best, feel you are too sacred to brag about...

17 September 2013

Horseshoes And Handgrenades

I've never really understood Mixed Orientation Marriages... a marriage where one member of the marriage is straight, and the other is gay. I've never understood why the gay spouse would subject themselves to a marriage of tolerance... a marriage of "horseshoes and hand grenades"... a marriage of "good enough". I've never understood why the straight spouse would subject themselves to the same marriage of tolerance... a marriage where they are loved... kind of.

I've never understood mixed orientation marriages. Until today.

Yesterday I went to my friend's house for FHE (which... was only FHE because we read one scripture... and then we went on with our lives). These friends are a married couple, and they are in a mixed orientation marriage. (For their anonymity, I'm not going to give their names). We talked about how mixed orientation couples are really overlooked by both the gay community, and the straight normaity. To the gay community, they are unauthentic because it's perceived that they "aren't gay enough... Secretly bisexual", or that they are selling out. Society's normality tends to just assume that the straight parter is gay too.

Their marriage is different from most married couples. The dynamics are different and will always be different. She has to really work to make the marriage work, and there's nothing wrong with it. She's gay. She's really gay. He knows she's gay, and is totally ok with it. He acknowledges that things could change, and they have a plan if they do. The most remarkable thing to me is that she didn't feel "obligated" to enter into this marriage. And I think that's important. No one should feel like the "have" to marry someone of the opposite sex, or the same sex.

Mormon culture is a little wigged out for me... when I was a brand new convert to the Church, I was consistently asked if I had "prayed about it" whenever I had a big decision to make... Like picking out matching socks. So naturally, most people in the Church will pray about the person they want to marry. When she prayed about marrying her husband, the answer she received was, "If you want to marry him, I will help you be happy." She believes the answer would have been the same had she wanted to marry a woman. How remarkable! There are SO many stories about LGBT members of the Church who have had divine confirmation from our Heavenly Parents, about their same-sex relationships, but how many of you have heard a story about a LGBT person receiving a confirmation that they can choose to marry someone of the opposite sex? 

I still don't have a personal understanding of Mixed Orientation Marriages, and I cannot advocate positively for them, because I know that I cannot honestly enter into one. I would never be able to love a man in the way that he deserves to be loved. But if I have learned anything, it's that people absolutely deserve to make their own choices when the choices are right for them... especailly when they have confirmation from our Heavenly Parents that what they are doing is right. We have no room to judge. We have no place to say what people can and cannot do. We need to love people for the lives they live, and support them in the decisions they make. We need to support them in the beautiful families that they raise, and we need to love them for the work they put in to make their families happy. 

Anonymous couple... you are my new besties. Stay gay, and stay awesome. And y'all have a cute baby!!

Affirmation Talk

On my journey to accepting myself as a gay Mormon, all of my pillars crumbled with the revelation of my sexuality. I lost friends, I lost family, and for a while, I lost the Church. I lost everything. The only pillar that remained was God... my Heavenly Parents. Prayer, the temple, and the Scriptures were what got me through those hard times.

I really took advantage of the healing power of the Atonement... but not because I had sinned. The Atonement is for all of God's children. It's not just for sinners, and a lot of people forget that. The Atonement applies to everyone. It applies if you sin... it applies if you are in pain, it applies if you are in sorrow, it applies if you're straight, and it applies if you are gay. It applies if you are a member of Church, and it applies if you aren't. The Atonement of Christ is everything.

The Book of Enos from the Book of Mormon, was by far my greatest strength. In the first chapter, we read of Enos, and the struggle he had before God. He was concerned about his eternal life, and his soul hungered and he knelt before God in prayer and supplication of his soul. He prayed all day and night.

And then came a voice from Heaven saying, "Enos, thy sins are forgiven thee, and thou shalt be blessed." Enos knew that God could not lie, and his guilt was swept away. He asked God how this could have been done, and God replied, "Because of thy faith in Christ, whom thou hast never before heard nor seen. And many years pass away before he shall manifest himself in the flesh; wherefore, go to, thy faith hath made thee whole." Enos heard God, and he felt that his brethren needed to hear these words, and he prayed to God for them.

Enos and I are mirrors of one another. I knelt in prayer, and I paced my bedroom, praying over and over again. And one day, while in the temple baptistry, I heard God. He confirmed His love for me. He lifted me up in my hour of need. He lifted me above the scorn I felt from the world, and from the children in His Church. And once I could stand on my own... once I could again bear my burdens, I turned to pray for my fellow brothers and sisters. I turned to help them. Gay, straight, Bisexual, Transgender... I prayed for them all. I go out to live Christ's true love, and to bestow it on those who need it the most. 

This is why I stay.


09 September 2013

Journal Entry 2 December 2011

It's three weeks before Christmas... And for the fifth year in a row, I'm alone... again. My family doesn't want me. God doesn't want me. Nobody wants me. I'm nobody's somebody.

I get why my parents hate me. I get why they don't want me around. They don't even know that I'm gay, but I'm a bad enough person that my gayness doesn't even need to be mentioned for me to be expelled from the family.

I get why God hates me. God hates me because I'm gay. That's a pretty good reason. It's cut and dry... Plain and simple. God loves straight people. God loves people who can "multiply and replenish the earth." God loves people who are pure of heart. But that's not me. I have impure, immoral, and unnatural thoughts all the time. I'm dirty, and repulsive. No unclean thing can enter God's presence. No unclean thing can go to heaven. But no matter how hard I scrub my skin, no matter how much, and how sincerely I pray... I'm still impure. God can't possibly love someone like me.

I still hold my temple recommend... But I know that I shouldn't. Someone gave a talk in Sacrament meeting last week about morality, and told us that if we feel rotten in our hearts about something that we have done, it means that we've sinned, and that we need to reevaluate our temple worthiness. I know that I shouldn't have it. But I need to go to the temple one last time... And then I'll figure out what to do. But I have to go just one last time.
I'm wearing out the carpet in my room from pacing and kneeling in prayer. I've never prayed about anything more intently, or with more sincerity than this. I was told I would be blessed when I joined the Church... And the only blessing I want is for me to be cured... I want to be straight. Yet God is silent. I've been taught that He will always answer our prayers... but to me, He is silent. He doesn't love me. He can't love me.

04 September 2013

I'm Speaking At Affirmation!

Yep! You heard it! I'm speaking at the Affirmation Conference on September 13-15 in Salt Lake City, Utah. I'm participating with one of the workshops on Saturday morning (Sept. 14) titled: Restoring Our Relationship with the Restored Church and Gospel. John Gustav-Wrathall will also be presenting, as well as a few others who have yet to be announced. I will also be featured in Daniel Parkinson's presentation, God's Affirmation, which highlights people's stories of receiving personal revelation, and inspiration of God's affirmation of our orientation, and our lifestyles.

If you have't registared for Affirmation yet, DO IT! Here's the link to the registration website.

I personally am really excited to attend the conference (it's my first one!), and obviously am humbled that John has asked me to participate. So come on out!! You won't regret it!

02 September 2013

Cultural Mormonism

Cultural Mormonism... I hate it. I walk around Salt Lake City everyday, and everyday I hear about another horror story about people's interpretation of doctrine, and their attempts to be that perfect Mormon.

I hear stories about people who won't eat pork, because the Old Testament tells them not to. We've internalized the idea that the sight of women's shoulders and knees will unhinge every single man in the Church, and will cause them to revert to their primal sexual instincts. Or that if a young man wears anything other than a crisp, white shirt with a tie, they cannot participate in the sacred ordinance of passing the Sacrament. Or having more than one set of earrings, wearing sandals to Church, getting a tattoo... I could do this all day.

Every single one of these situations are textbook examples of culturally accepted beliefs in Mormonism that are more bulletproof than some of the most basic, established doctrines in this Church. None of these examples are cannonized doctrine. And last I checked, Christ came and fulfilled the law... meaning that we don't have to follow the Law of Moses anymore. Except for those two convienent verses in Leviticus... those are obviously valid.

There is a fantastic quote from Hugh Nibley, that perfectly addresses the "culture disguised as doctrine" in this Church, "The worst sinners, acording to Jesus, are not the harlots and publicans, but the religious leaders with their insistance on proper dress, and grooming, their careful observance of all the rules, their precious concern for status symbols, their strict legality, their pious patriotism."

I firmly believe that the obsession with how long your skirt should be, or how many earrings you can wear, is directly akin to the ancient obsession with how many steps you can take on the Sabbath. It detracts us from what is really important. When we obsess over the woman breastfeeding her child in Sacrament meeting, we forget about the miracles of Christ. We forget how Christ refused to condemn a woman caught in adultry. We forget that Christ was happier with Mary of Bethany sitting at His feet listening to Him teach, than with Martha slaving away in the kitchen. We forget that Christ tells us to love one another, as He has loved us.

We're human. We're in our earthly state of probation. We are not yet resurrected to our perfect, celestial bodies. We are therefore imperfect. How frustrating that must be for our Heavenly Parents! Judge not. Focus on what's really important. Treat others how you want to be treated. Take care of you're own imperfections before focusing on others. It'll make the world a better, happier place!