How many deaths will it take

til [they know] too many people have died?

I spent the evening remembering young gay Mormon men and women like Todd Ransom who have committed suicide. Three this month in Utah. And the list was already too, too long. Adding on to the toll was the accidental death of two matriarchs of the gay Mormon community, Ina Mae Murri and Stella Butler. While we cannot stop accidents, I hope and pray we can stop the suicides and the attempts.

For all the people who were upset about blacks not having access to priesthood and temples and even prayers during Sacrament Meetings, they didn’t kill themselves over it. For all the people who were upset about the Church’s support for the ERA or the banning of women praying in Sacrament Meeting or of mothers with children at home working in temples, they didn’t kill themselves over it. What is it about young gay Mormons? We must find a solution because too many lights are going out.

I’ve hesitated putting some of the following links on this site because they are hard to read. But we cannot solve problems until we know what those problems are. We cannot answer the why? questions until we have some insight into history.

We are all products of our culture. What we grow up learning, hearing, reading and watching influences the way we see the world and the way we communicate about it. Our experiences frame our questions and our answers.

So what have today’s LDS leaders heard, read, and listened to regarding homosexuality? And what are they currently saying?

Certainly, we’ve come a long way, but there is still a long road ahead.

Finding information about what LDS leaders have said about homosexuality is not always easy, because they were more likely to use euphemisms (Crime Against Nature; Deviate Behavior; Perversion; Same-Gender Attraction; HLM (for homosexual lesbian marriage)). Not surprisingly, other sex-related terminology is dressed up in non-precise language as well – Self Abuse; Virtue; Morality – for instance.

In 1970, the Church published a pamphlet for local leaders called, “Hope for Transgressors.” It advised that “homosexuality can be cured…. [and]… forgiven.” It encouraged leaders with particularly difficult cases to contact [Quorum of the Twelve] President Spencer W. Kimball and Elder Mark E. Petersen if they needed specific assistance. As men worked through the curative and repentance processes, leaders are counseled:

When you feel he is ready, he should be encouraged to date and to gradually move his life toward the normal….If they will close the door to intimate associations with their own sex and open it wide to that of the other sex, of course in total propriety, and then be patient and determined, gradually they can move their romantic interests where they belong. Marriage and normal life can follow.

In 1971, a pamphlet specifically written for homosexual men, “New Horizons for Homosexuals” was published over Spencer W. Kimball’s signature. It begins, “I am your friend, your real friend, for I am trying hard to help you save yourself from pitfalls which, I am sure, you do not fully realize are gaping wide to swallow you, the victim.” It clearly follows the advice for leaders given in the “Hope for Transgressors” pamphlet, providing appeals to confidante relationships, scriptural references, a purpose in life, reason, assurance of loneliness, and the path of repentance.

In 1969, while Kimball was in the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the Miracle of Forgiveness was published. This book has been a go-to reference for all sorts of transgressions and sins, quoted in lesson manuals and distributed by bishops guiding people along the path of repentance. Most, if not all, English-speaking adult members of the Church have heard of this book and many have read it cover to cover. We’ve discussed in other places some of the quotes found in his tome.

In October 1976, Elder Boyd K. Packer addressed the Priesthood session of conference, focusing his talks to the 12-18-year-old young men in the audience. This talk was later published as a pamphlet called, “For Young Men Only.”  A theme of both this talk and of many official church documents was that, “There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it.”

There are two parts to this argument: First, that there is something you can do about your orientation (change it, cure it, overcome it, fight it, ignore it); and Second, that God doesn’t make mistakes and create people destined to live with abominations. It could imply that there are other causes for homosexuality, for instance: Something non-genetic/non-biological/non-hereditary, Parental failure, disease/contagion, Satanic influence, biology, environment, pornography, masturbation, selfishness, abuse, speaking about it, and others (see this .pdf for a sampling of what causes were said in what year).

Since 1990, church leaders have acknowledged that they don’t know what causes homosexuality, specifically relieving concerned parents from the burden of worrying that their actions somehow caused their children to be attracted toward members of the same sex.

In March 1978, Elder Packer addressed an older group of people, BYU students. Again, his talk was published as a pamphlet provided to anyone dealing with homosexuality in the church, entitled, “To the One.” Advice from that talk included:

“You must learn this: Overcoming moral temptation is a very private battle, and internal battle. There are many around you who want to help and who can help – parents, branch president, bishop, for a few a marriage partner. And after that, if necessary, there are counselors and professionals to help you. But do not start with them. Others can lend moral support and help establish an environment for your protection. But this is an individual battle.”

In November, 1980, President Kimball addressed the youth of the church about morality. His words as prophet reiterated what he taught a decade earlier in his book on repentance:

“Sometimes masturbation is the introduction to the more serious sins of exhibitionism and the gross sin of homosexuality. We would avoid mentioning these unholy terms and these reprehensible practices were it not for the fact that we have a responsibility to the youth of Zion that they be not deceived by those who would call bad good, and black white.”

In light of this history of rhetoric, it is a breath of fresh air to read current publications and statements about homosexuality:

“You are a precious son or daughter of God. He not only knows your name; He knows you. His love for you is individual. You lived in His presence before you were born on this earth. You cannot remember your premortal relationship with Him, but He does. Although His children may sometimes do things that disappoint Him, He will always love them.”

and

“Some people with same-gender attraction have felt rejected because members of the Church did not always show love. No member of the Church should ever be intolerant. As you show love and kindness to others, you give them an opportunity to change their attitudes and follow Christ more fully.”

We’ve certainly come a long way, but there is still much farther to go. And as we approach Pioneer Day, the day when we remember Mormon ancestors who walked across a continent in order to establish a religion, we remember all those who walk alongside us as well as those who have fallen by the wayside. In the words of Carol Lynn Pearson, author of No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons around Our Gay Loved Ones:

“When we see a need, we respond. When we are conscious, we act. That new pioneer journey I spoke of in the first part of this book is a journey of consciousness. Now that you have read the stories of anguish and of healing, have met our gay loved ones and the parents, sisters, brothers, and friends who have circled the wagons around them, you have journeyed in consciousness and have, I believe, arrived at a new place. Now you know….

“Today there is a despondent gay man somewhere who has checked to see if his father’s gun is still where it used to be. Tonight there is a lesbian who again cries herself to sleep over her awful alternatives, ‘You may choose between being gay or being a member of this family.’ Today there are parents whose tears are for the pain of their loved gay child, for the lack of support they receive from their church, for the condemning rhetoric they continue to hear, and for the fear that the members of their congregation might find out the family secret. Today there takes place a marriage ceremony for a young, gay man, anxious to please God and his church, and an eager starry-eyed young bride who believes her groom’s romantic restraint has come from his righteousness. Today a child cries before going to school, terrified that a classmate may learn that his father is gay and start calling him names.

“These people are still on the plains. I am asking you to load up the wagons. You can do it without fully understanding, even without fully ‘approving.’ You have the supplies, parcels of love, compassion, encouragement, respect, good information, and humility in knowing that there is much we have yet to learn. You have the words of Jesus: ‘Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these, ye have done it unto me.’ And you have the words that still echo across the century and a half: Go and bring in those people now on the plains.”

What have you done today to silence the rhetoric? To shout the love? To save a life?



Comments
120 Responses to “How many deaths will it take”
  1. fiona64 says:

    Thank you for this post.

    One of the reasons I try to remain calm (although I admit that I am human and thus miss the mark now and again) and factual in my comments and questions is that I know that there may well be some young person out there in distress who reads my words and thinks “Maybe tonight I *won’t* kill myself” or “Wow. Not everyone who attends church and knows her Bible and its history thinks I’m a disgusting pervert.” or “Wow, there are adults out there who understand where I’m coming from, even if they aren’t gay themselves.”

    You never know when your words will help someone whom you never even meet (and ditto when your words will have the opposite effect).

    Plato said, “Be kind, for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle.”

  2. Joshua says:

    I love our leaders! They have always spoken with the greatest love for us. Through following their counsels, I have found peace, as have many faithful LGBT members of the Church.

    I like the quote you brought up by Elder Packer, that “There is a falsehood that some are born with an attraction to their own kind, with nothing they can do about it.” I am living testament that you can do something about it. No matter where you are or what life may give you, everyone can do something about it. Everyone can turn their life over to Christ and find peace and joy. The atonement of Jesus Christ truly is all-encompassing.

    I know too many people who come to believe, thanks to lies of Satan that are so prevalent upon the Earth, that there is nothing they can do about it. They know the gospel is true and what to follow it desperately, but Satan whispers in their ears that they cannot. They succumb to his lies, and become discouraged, and even contemplate suicide.

    To prevent suicide, I think more people need to be aware of these beautiful teachings. Everyone should know that no matter where they are at, and what they feel, they can follow the commandments of Christ and find peace in this life.

    One thing that Elder Oaks taught was that it was important to distinguish between the feelings and the behaviors. I think one of the problems is that Satan confuses these two, so when people hear that the practice is an abomination, they become confused and think the feelings are an abomination.

    I think in order to reduce suicide we need to follow Elder Oak’s counsel and make the differences clear. I think as people continue to use the two interchangeably, more people will get confused and think they are incapable of living the commandments of God. Since many would rather die than break God’s command, they look for suicide as a way out.

    The answer isn’t changing God’s commands. It is helping people recognize that they can obey God’s commands.

  3. fiona64 says:

    Joshua, somehow I think you have missed the point.

    By approximately 10,000 miles.

  4. Jeff says:

    I truly appreciate the above comment from Joshua.

    I’m curious on a few points:

    Do Mormons for Marriage believe the LDS church should marry homosexuals?

    Do they believe homosexual sex acts are a sin, when inside a monogomous and/or married situation?

  5. fiona64 says:

    Jeff, I am not the admin for this site and I speak only for myself.

    Prop 8, which was what prompted this site, removed the right of same-sex couples to marry in California. We are talking about civil law, not religious law. I fully support (and I have said this repeatedly) a church’s right to practice any way it so desires — within its own walls. It is when you try to insert your church’s doctrine into civil law that you cease to function as a church and begin to function as a political action committee.

    You do know, Jeff, that the “homosexual sex acts” to which you refer (and no one is fooled by the euphemism) are also enjoyed by heterosexual couples? No one gets up to anything different when the doors are closed.

    I believe that the only relationship over which I have any control or influence is my own marriage (I am straight and married). Other peoples’ relationships, as long as they involve only consenting adults? They are not only none of my business, but do not affect my relationship in the slightest.

  6. Jeff says:

    I apologize in using the phrase “homosexual sex acts” if it is undesirable not the preferred phrase. I meant only to distinguish between sex acts of homosexuals as compared to heterosexuals.

    You raise an interesting topic:

    Which entities are proper or improper to be included in a socio-moral debate?

    By socio-moral I mean to say that we as a society, whether proactively decide, effectively, general morals through a system of laws. I do not mean to pre-characterize any aspect of the debate as moral or immoral, as that would lessen the effectiveness of open dialogue.

  7. fiona64 says:

    Again, speaking only for myself here:

    How is a given sex act more or less “sinful” if a straight couple does it vs. a same-sex couple? As I previously said, gay and straight couples get up to all of the same stuff. And really, why does it matter? If you aren’t part of the couple, how are you affected? I am rather concerned at the idea that a same-sex couple is automatically immoral, even if they’ve been monogamous for 30 years (based on your comment, “Do they believe homosexual sex acts are a sin, when inside a monogomous and/or married situation?”). This question is a little bit like “have you stopped beating your wife yet” in the way that it frames the matter, IMO.

    Laws are not based on morality, Jeff. They are based on certain civil rights. For example, we do not have laws against theft because of “morality,” but because theft violates the victim’s civil right to be secure in his or her life, liberty and property. You may argue that a law against murder is based on morality, but the response is the same: murder violates the victim’s civil right to be secure in his or her life, liberty and property.

    So, based on your definition, there is no such thing as “socio-moral debate,” because laws are not based on morality but on civil rights.

  8. Jeff says:

    What is the genesis of a civic right?

  9. fiona64 says:

    Jeff, are you asking about the basis for law in this country?

    I am glad to answer: the US Constitution, which is based on English Common Law and the second of Locke’s Two Treatises on Government.

  10. Jeff says:

    From what does common law as well as the philosophical tradition which promulgated it stem? Why does it have force, why not some other competing philosophy?

  11. Sheryl says:

    Laura, what an informative post. You have spent a lot of time researching this topic to provide the quotes.

    Joshua, are you telling us that you no longer have any attraction to men? And, what do you say to those men and women who have done everything asked of them and sincerely want to change but are not able? Have you read Carol Lynn Pearson’s books? Just wondering if think those who have not accomplished what you have, are less worthy?

    I’m also throwing this out to Laura and other Mormons, do we no longer teach that as man thinketh so is he. I clearly remember many lessons talking about the importance of our thoughts whether we acted on them or not. For those who grew up with those lessons, the mere fact that they have those thoughts or feelings says to them that they are failures, something is wrong with them that they are not able to rid themselves of these feelings or thoughts.

    As Laura said, we have a very long way to go before the suicides because of homosexuality will stop.

  12. Joshua says:

    I think it is immoral to deprive someone of their civil rights. In essence, they are the same thing. Murder is immoral specifically because it takes away someone’s right to life. Elder Oaks taught that same-sex marriage is not a matter of civil rights. Marriage is defined as a union between a man and a woman.

    This is a different issue than the civil rights movement of the 1960s. That was about laws which discriminated someone based on who they were. This does not discriminate based on who someone is. It is a choice to enter into a same-sex relationship. Nothing prevents someone from exercising that choice. I have chosen not to enter into a same-sex relationship, and instead of chosen to get married. Some would say as an LGBT person, my right to marry was taken away. That doesn’t make sense, since I was able to get married as an LGBT person, in California, after Prop 8 passed.

    It is not an issue of civil rights.

  13. Sheri says:

    Laura, Once again you hit the mark on this issue. You compiled some great references that for those with open hearts and minds should allow them to cut through the rhetoric of misguided ideas and get to the true heart of this matter. It’s discouraging, however, that with all of it laid out in such simple, yet often heart wrenching terms, some still don’t get it. Not even with the fresh blood of another streaming through our minds. It all goes back to objectifying those who don’t fit the mold (which makes it easier for them to justify their intolerance.)

    Thank the dear Lord that there are sites like this one, and “outsiders” like Fiona64 peering in to reflect a mirror image back to show what certain ideas look like to the outside world. I know that little by little strides are being made, but then when we hear another story like Todd Ransom’s it almost feels like we are back at ground zero.

    And Fiona I agree with you that Joshua once again missed the entire point of this post by at least 10,000 miles. He only has eyes to see his own situation and has zero empathy for others (unless those others are just like him).

  14. Sheryl says:

    Jeff, to answer your questions with my opinion, which is what you aked for.

    Personally, I do not consider it a sin if a couple is in a relationship that has been sanctioned by the state (be it marriage, domestic partnership, or common law). I think that all couples regardless of sexual orientation should be able to marry the person of their choice in a civil ceremony. If their church allows same-sex marriage, then it can be religious also. However, not having a religious ceremony should not preclude them from all of the governmental rights that opposite-sex couples have (both state and federal).

    Should the LDS Church, or any church that does not recognize same-sex marriage, be forced to perform (or even recognize) a same-sex marriage? My answer is no (although it would be wonderful if they openly welcomed same-sex families at church meetings).

    See you and Fiona have been exchanging comments while I fixed lunch.

    Because you are questioning where our civil laws came from, do you think we should change the constitution?

  15. fiona64 says:

    Joshua wrote: Elder Oaks taught that same-sex marriage is not a matter of civil rights.

    Well, that’s all very well and good, Joshua, but I wonder when Elder Oaks was appointed an authority on civil law.

    You see, according to the US Supreme Court’s decision, Loving v. Virginia, marriage is a basic civil right.

    To deny marriage equality is to violate the 14th Amendment to the US Constitution, which guarantees equal protection.

  16. fiona64 says:

    Joshua wrote: Some would say as an LGBT person, my right to marry was taken away. That doesn’t make sense, since I was able to get married as an LGBT person, in California, after Prop 8 passed.

    Joshua, please stop being so disingenuous. This statement is absolutely ridiculous. Gay men have married straight women for millennia. You know perfectly well that Prop 8 removed the *legal right* for same-sex couples to marry, just as you know that there are still 18,000 legally married same-sex couples in this state because the Constitution (there’s that pesky document again) says we do not have ex post facto law in this country.

  17. fiona64 says:

    Jeff, you asked about where the Constitution came from, and I told you. The secular deists who founded our country could have made it a religious state, but they chose not to do so. In fact, the only places in the Constitution where religion is mentioned at all are in exclusionary terms.

    If you want to learn more about Locke’s Two Treatises of Government, here is an excellent link to the full text. Pay particular attention to Book II, Chapter 2, if you want to really understand the basis of our Constitution: http://www.lonang.com/exlibris/locke/

    I am glad I was able to answer your questions.

  18. fiona64 says:

    Joshua wrote: Murder is immoral specifically because it takes away someone’s right to life.

    You then, perforce, believe that the death penalty and war are immoral?

    Again, morality does not inform our laws; civil rights do.

  19. Joshua says:

    Sheryl asked: “Joshua, are you telling us that you no longer have any attraction to men?”

    No. I am attracted to men, but I haven’t just given into my attractions. I have done something about it. One of the things President Kimball has taught, is that masturbation might lead to homosexual behavior. I have found that when I abstained from masturbation, my preoccupation with sex diminished, and I found it easier to avoid homosexual behavior. I am thankful for President Kimball’s wise counsel to avoid masturbation.

    I know that the practice of homosexuality can be cured. Many have given up a lifestyle of having gay sex and have obtained forgiveness through the atonement of Christ.

    Sheryl asked: “And, what do you say to those men and women who have done everything asked of them and sincerely want to change but are not able? ”

    What do you mean by change? If they are trying to change sexual behaviors, I would say stick with it. We are to act, not be acted upon. Everyone can learn to control their actions.

    If they are trying to change their attractions, I would encourage them to take another look at their priorities. What is required is chastity, not heterosexuality. Reread some of the beautiful messages that Laura has assembled. Notice that not once did any of the leaders tell them to be straight.

    Paul cried three times for Christ to remove the thorn that afflicted him, yet that thorn remained. Sometimes there are things about us that we wish were different. The serenity prayer ask for courage to change what can be changed, patience to accept what cannot and wisdom to know the difference.

  20. fiona64 says:

    Joshua, can you possibly understand how harmful your words could be to some people?

    When Stuart Matis suicided, the autopsy revealed calluses on his knees. Why? Because he was in constant prayer to be “delivered” of being gay — and it didn’t happen. So, he killed himself.

    “Keep at it”? Really?

    Your post of 3:59 PM is just one more demonstration of why I think you’ve totally missed the point of Laura’s poignant post. Gay kids are killing themselves because of what your church teaches. :-( Telling them to pay closer attention to those teachings, to just “keep at it,” or to “try harder,” or to “take a look at their priorities” doesn’t prevent suicides. Do you think that none of these beautiful young people did just what you say and still found themselves just as gay as they were before they did all of those things?

    Wow. You have no idea how close to tears I am right now. I really feel sorry for you; you are genuinely blind to anyone other than yourself.

  21. Joshua says:

    My advice to keep at it was directed at those trying to change behaviors. Stuart Matis was not trying to change his behaviors. He was celibate. He was trying to change his attractions. My advice to those people was to learn to accept their attractions.

    Stuart Matis wanted to follow the gospel of Christ. Many LGBT people want to. It is this web site that tells them they cannot follow it and drives them to suicide. Why do you think the Matis family opposed this organization commemorating their son’s suicide? Because this web site tells gay people it is hopeless to try to live the gospel, which is exactly what caused their son to kill himself. They have spent their lives trying to tell LGBT Mormons that there is hope, and this site says there is none.

    If someone wants to change their sexual behavior so it is inline with the teachings of Christ, I will offer them encouragement and tell them that they can. They will need all the encouragement they can get when everyone tells them they cannot.

  22. fiona64 says:

    I just noticed one more thing.

    “Beautiful messages,” Joshua?

    Those words are so full of condemnation that I cannot even express it. I can completely understand how a young gay or lesbian person would feel completely hopeless in the face of those “beautiful messages” that tell them that they need to change who they are.

    I thought “God Loveth His Children” was beyond sad … but these other teachings break my heart.

    The only beautiful message I saw there was from Ms. Pearson, and in Laura’s simple question.

  23. fiona64 says:

    Well, Joshua, I guess some of those lovely young people would rather be dead than live a lie.

    Isn’t that sad?

  24. Dr. Bones says:

    “Beautiful messages”? Well, I suppose you could call some of the quotes beautiful, but did you follow the links to where the quotes came from?

    Because if you did and you think these things (from the Hope for Transgressors pamphlet) are “beautiful”

    “despicable practice”
    “difficult to dislodge”
    “become normal again”
    “the world would be doomed by homosexuality for it can never produce a child.”
    “proper marriage and family life is the only thing to save this confused world”
    “no future for a homosexual”
    “the day will come in his life when there is nothing left but chaff and dust and barrenness and desolation”
    “when he is assured that only futility and disappointment and loneliness lie ahead, then perhaps he is ready for you to prescribe therapy for him”
    “this evil practice”
    “there will be some resistance, particularly with the abandonment of the people for the many perverts will claim to have great ‘love’ for some with whom they have been involved”
    “Since the problem is in the mind more than the body”
    “the person should purge out the evil”
    “If the pervert will begin to read the scriptures methodically and carefully, he will find himself in a new environment”
    “He should make a confidential report to you every few days at first”
    “the entrenched homosexual has generally and gradually moved all of his interests and affections to those of his own sex rather than to the opposite sex and herein is another step. When you feel he is ready, he should be encouraged to date and…”
    “the sin of homosexuality in its degraded aspects is as serious as adultery and fornication … if he will not cooperate, if he becomes belligerent, the day may come when appropriate action must be taken”
    “They will love you for all eternity for your help to them”
    “Do not give up the battle too soon nor too easily”
    “homosexuality is not the fault totally of family conditions. Every normal person must answer for his own sins”
    “God did not make men evil. He did not make people ‘that way.’”

    I really don’t know what to say, other than, thank God they’re not saying that stuff in 2010.

  25. Felicia says:

    Fiona64 said, “I guess some of those lovely young people would rather be dead than live a lie.”

    Your presumption of what constitutes a lie may not be true for someone else. Joshua, for example, would being living a lie if he denied his testimony. You can pass judgement on him and others who have made the same choices all you want, but you still don’t get to decide what is the ‘truth’ for him or anyone else.

  26. fiona64 says:

    You’re right, Felicia. I should have phrased it differently. I will use some of Joshua’s own words.

    I guess some of those young people would rather be dead than “live a straight lifestyle” (be in the closet), “live a celibate lifestyle” (be in the closet) or be excommunicated for refusing to be in the closet.

    Thanks for this opportunity.

  27. Sheryl says:

    Joshua, I’m trying to figure out where you are coming from with the following statement “It is this web site that tells them they cannot follow it and drives them to suicide.” People give there opinions on this website and perhaps some of those opinions could be interpreted that way. However, suicide was happening by young members of the LDS church way before this website came into being (including that of Stuart Matis). It truly annoys me that you keep accusing this website of things (such as telling LGBT members that they cannot have a successful opposite-sex marriage) that it does not do. Remember that the purpose of this website was for members who opposed Prop 8 to have a place to meet and have support of like-minded Mormons (and those of other faiths). It also lets those LGBT members and non-members who may check the site out know that not all Mormons believe that religious views should become civil law, that the separation of church and state should remain. It is not a site that proposes to tell anyone how to live their life. Once again, what people state here is opinion (and fact, depending on the issue).

    My opinion is that until the LDS Church provides hope for it’s LGBT members, other than to live the straight life, then the suicides will continue.

    Single, straight people in the church have hope, they have the opportunity to date, LGBT’s do not. They have conferences, single wards, dances, and other activities. LGBT members, unless they go to the straight activities, do not.

    I believe that we are the way we were created. My son is not gay because of some event in his childhood, that is how he was born. Considering the number of gays (and lesbians) in my family, I definitely believe in the genetic link.

    When Elder Oaks says that one will not be homosexual in the next life, has he received direct revelation or is that his opinion or optimistic hope. I ask that because once again, I’ve had many lessons talking about who we are when we die is who we will be in the next life and that is why it is so important to live the standards of the church, no “death bed” repentance for those who knew the Gospel but waited. Elder Oaks statement seems to contradict this, at least to me.

  28. Sheryl says:

    Must have missed something in Fiona’s posts, I couldn’t find where she was telling Joshua that he was living a lie. What she did say, at least what I read, is that those who committed suicide would rather be dead than live a lie. And, since they did commit suicide, I think that was a correct statement. And, while Joshua and others are managing to live a heterosexual lifestyle, many, many others are unable to deny who they really are (think we might be looking at the 0 to 6 scale here, and thinking that those who do successfully live the heterosexual lifestyle are on the lower level of the scale). My gr. nephew, who is gay, told me that the mere idea of kissing a woman romantically was as repulsive to him as it would be for me.

    And, Joshua, you know perfectly well that the passage of Prop8 took away a right from a law-abiding, tax-paying segment of California’s population. It took away their right to marry the person of their choice. And, again comes the question, what right that you enjoy would you like put up for public vote.

    Simply because the LDS Church considers marriage as between one man and one woman does not mean that all of society defines marriage that way. The difference, in my opinion, between murder and same-sex marriage is that murder is not between 2 consenting adults (and I don’t even want to get into a discussion about euthanasia) and same-sex marriage is, it hurts no one, and makes the 2 people extremely happy. Not to mention how their children (should they have them, which many same-sex couples do), benefit from the legal union. So, again why should one definition of marriage that is not shared by all of society be imposed on all of society?

  29. Joshua says:

    Dr. Bones,

    It is not statements about us living in a fallen world in isolation that I find beautiful. It is the overall message that Christ has overcome the world that I find to be beautiful. Taking Kimball’s message as a whole, that is the main focus – through Christ, we can find peace. I know that to be true because I have experienced it. That is what is beautiful.

    Felicia,

    Thank you. I really like how you put it. Yes, that is how I feel.

  30. Dr. Bones says:

    So, basically, it’s looking to me like it’s okay to be gay, but it’s not okay to act gay.

    And it’s not okay to dwell on or encourage thoughts about gayness. You can notice the other guys, but you can’t spend time crushing on them.

    So if you date women like a straight guy, or if you’re married to an opposite-sex partner like a straight guy, or if you act like a celibate guy, you can tell everyone you’re really gay, not straight, and everything’s fine – go to church, go to the temple, no problem.

    But if you date men like a gay guy, or if you’re married to a same-sex partner, or if you do anything that resembles public (or private, I suppose) displays of affection, or if you spend a lot of mental energy crushing on the pool dude, you’re a sinner who needs to repent.

    Yeah, I don’t think I’m eating those brownies. thanks.

  31. MikeG says:

    As a gay, 19 year old, born and raised mormon boy, I always feel as if I am alone. I always feel as if no one in this church knows what I feel, and that no one will even try to understand or listen to me. I feel completely silent.

    I myself too have already attempted suicide.

    It is a relief to know that some people are able to open up their hearts and understand.

    Thank you for this post.

  32. Laura says:

    Mike, there are people all over the country who will listen to you and who understand you because they and their family members have been in your situation. Check out out our sidebar for links to resources like PFLAG, Family Fellowship, and others. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you need to talk, any time, day or night, the folks at the TREVOR project are always available – 866-4-U-TREVOR

  33. fiona64 says:

    Dear MikeG:

    I second what Laura said. There are many people who care very deeply. You are a beautiful, perfect child of God *just as you are* and do not need to change anything about yourself.

    Please contact your local PFLAG chapter.

    Much love and light to you,
    Fiona

  34. Joshua:

    Same-sex marriage is in fact a civil right, just as black-white marriage was and is a civil right. Yet until the 1960s, black-white intermarriage was illegal in most of the United States (including Utah) until overturned by the US Supreme Court in Loving versus Virginia. By your own reasoning, the old law preventing black-white marriage “does not discriminate based on who someone is. It is a choice to enter into a black-white relationship. Nothing prevents someone from exercising that choice. I have chosen not to enter into a black-white relationship….It is not an issue of civil rights.”

    Yet here we are – despite the church’s long-standing, complete opposition to black-white marriage as a vile abomination contrary to God’s divine laws (sound familiar?) that the church would never allow, in 1967 black-white intermarriage became legal in across the country, and fourteen years later, this “unnatural sin” was deemed no longer a sin and the first black-white temple sealings were performed and continue to be performed to this day.

    See http://connellodonovan.com/black_white_marriage.html

    This gives my historical overview of the whole black-white marriage issue in Mormonism, and how it is a perfect precedent for allowing AT LEAST same-sex CIVIL marriages.

    Best wishes,

    Connell

  35. Dear Mike!

    Don’t give up, brother. Hang in there. I know exactly what you’re going through, having come out of the closet after years of suicidal depression, a mission, and a temple marriage that lasted one awful year. I assure you that God loves you because are Gay, not despite it. You have so many unique gifts and insights to share with your family and community as a Gay man, so find out what those are and work hard on selflessly sharing them. Remember that God gave humanity two commandments in the Garden: be fruitful and multiply…and dress and keep the Garden! We so often forget that second commandment. But I think our Straight brothers and sisters have their hands pretty full with the first one, so it’s mainly up to us to dress and keep the Garden with our art, music, dance, design and/or cooking skills, etc.

    After years spiritually adrift (but certainly not dead!) I finally found the United Church of Christ (UCC) which has an Extravagant Welcome program for LGBT folks, and after attending for two years, I just got baptized on July 4. It’s been an amazingly wonderful and healing experience of divine grace and Holy Spirit. About one third of our congregation is LGBT identified and we are fully integrated into the life and spirit of the church. In fact, we just called a young Lesbian named Cordelia who lives in Utah to come be our new Pastor of Family Life and LGBT Ministries. She’ll be moving here in August and I can’t wait! Also, every year our entire local congregation marches together in both the Santa Cruz and Watsonville Gay Pride Parades, from 90 year old blue-haired grannies to three year olds with rainbow painted faces. I truly believe that within 20 years, the local LDS stake will also be participating in our Pride Parades. The changes I’ve already seen in the LDS church over the past 20 years are phenomenal and are only going to come faster and be more radical.

    The UCC’s main motto is “God is still speaking” (because we too believe in modern revelation), so this year for Pride, our congregation’s parade theme was: “God is still speaking…and She says She loves Her Gays!” (It was a big hit with the crowds!) And I testify to you, from the bottom of my heart and with all the strength of my being, that THIS IS TRUE. God indeed loves us Gay people, just as we are!

    Peace, Be Still!

    Connell O’Donovan
    Santa Cruz CA

  36. fiona64 says:

    Dear Connell:

    Thank you for your testimony today! I am a straight ally who attends the Metropolitan Community Church in San Jose (MCC and UCC have similar welcoming messages for all people).

    I am glad you shared your message of hope with Mike.

    Best,
    Fiona

  37. Joshua says:

    Dr. Bones,

    Being gay is more than just sex. You can be gay without living the gay lifestyle. Connell talked about dressing and keeping the garden. Very similar advice is given in God Loveth His Children.

    I do not act. I am true to myself. I love my wife. I don’t have to pretend. I do not act like a straight guy. For me, that would involve changing my voice and the way I walk. I don’t have to do that. I walk and talk the way I always have, if not more freely since I have come to terms with my orientation. The gospel teaches people to be true to themselves, not to act.

    Whether you are gay or straight, if you are single, the commandment is not only to act celibate, but to be celibate. The standard is the same for all. We are commanded “never do anything outside of marriage to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage.” That applies equally to a gay man lusting after the pool guy as a straight woman lusting after the same pool guy. Preoccupation with sex should be avoided.

  38. Sheryl says:

    Joshua, do you realize that by stating the following: “I do not act like a straight guy. “For me, that would involve changing my voice and the way I walk.” that you are promoting stereotyping people. Why does how you walk or talk have anything to do with sexual orientation? How does a gay guy act different than a straight guy, except for the sexual aspect of being gay? because a male has effeminate features should one automatically think that he is gay? If a woman has a deeper voice than most females, should we think she is a lesbian? If a guy enjoys dancing, especially ballet, should we assume we label him as gay? If a woman likes playing football, should decide she is a lesbian. Just what characteristics and behaviours would tell us someone’s sexual orientation?

    I sincerely do not understand why you made that statement.

  39. Sheryl says:

    Before anyone else does, I’ll comment on my grammar. Really need to review my entire post before hitting that send button.

  40. Sheri says:

    What we resist persists. While growing up Mormon in a tight knit Mormon community in Utah I discovered that the preoccupation with sex was considerable. My father once told me he would rather see me dead than get pregnant out of wedlock like my sister did (and he was just the one to teach me all about sex so I wouldn’t have to deal with those young horny boys.)

    After leaving the church for several years in the early 70′s I found that people outside the church had a much healthier respect for sex. Very few of the men I met were preoccupied with it, it was simply a biological need and those who had respect for it shared it with great care. When I came back to the church in the late 70′s and married my husband of 24 years. life once again was ALL about sex. He was devout Mormon, had always been and we met while he was on his mission in NYC.

    After leaving the church, and my husband, once again I came to know that outside the church most people see sex as something to be shared and experienced with another, and when they allow that natural expression their minds are free to carry on with the other business of living, rather than be obsessed with what they “can’t” have.

    I know many reading this will roll their eyes and put up the sign of the cross with their fingers thinking that I am in the clutches of Satan. But in my 56 years on the planet I’ve always been a seeker of truth and am open to it in whatever form it comes in. And I have seen and experienced the greatest sex addicts have been people within the Mormon Church. I’m not saying that everyone should have sex outside of marriage. I honor and respect people’s values and desires to keep that part of themselves sacred and for marriage only, I really do. What I am saying is again, what we resist persists. In the 80′s I had a friend I was trying to convert to the church and had set her up with a Mormon friend of a friend – a 32 year old still unmarried Elder’s Quorum President. He sexually assaulted her. I could go on and on, but I won’t.

    Until people can break through this bubble that only allows them to see what they want to see, I fear that spiritual progression will remain spiritual stagnation. IMHO, of course.

  41. Joshua says:

    I guess I am confused. Many people say that being gay is more than sex, but then they say the Church won’t let people be who they are. Besides being sexual, in what way does the Church say “it’s not okay to act gay”. Part of who I am is a child of God, and I need to be true to that first and foremost.

  42. Laura says:

    Especially for Mike G (but also for anyone else who’s looking for some in-person support),

    Send an email to MormonsforMarriage(at)gmail(dot)com and let us know where you live. There are people willing to listen, love and understand you in or very close to your own home towns.

  43. fiona64 says:

    Laura, if MikeG contacts you and is in my area, please give him my e-mail address. I will provide him with additional contact info for both me and some local resources.

    Thank you so much.

  44. fiona64 says:

    42Joshuaon 22 Jul 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I guess I am confused. Many people say that being gay is more than sex, but then they say the Church won’t let people be who they are. Besides being sexual, in what way does the Church say “it’s not okay to act gay”. Part of who I am is a child of God, and I need to be true to that first and foremost.

    Quoting your entire post, including the time stamp, so that you cannot claim I am taking you out of context.

    Your church offers three choices, for which I will use your own preferred terminology: live a “straight lifestyle” by marrying someone of the opposite sex (be in the closet), live a “celibate lifestyle” forever (be in the closet + very lonely) or be excommunicated for living in the closet (possible loss of family and friends).

    There are some (probably very many) people for whom none of those are very good choices.

  45. Connell O'Donovan says:

    Joshua:

    Celibate Gay Mormons are not allowed to date people of the same sex. They can’t hold hands. Kiss. Snuggle. These are all non-sexual “Gay acts” that the church prohibits, for example. I also know that effeminate men and masculine women are highly suspect in the church and have often been surveilled and harassed because of assumptions about their sexual orientation; for acting Gay or Lesbian, whether they are or not. My mother is such a person. She is quite masculine and HATES dresses but is made to wear one to church. Her brother, the bishop, tries to turn a blind eye when she wears nice slacks instead, but then HE gets in trouble for allowing her to do so.

    Connell

  46. Mike G,
    You are absolutely not alone! There are thousands of LDS people who support you and are working tirelessly on your behalf to change the mindset of church members with regard to sexual orientation. We just need to hear that you need help! Mormons for Marriage and the Foundation for Reconciliation are two organizations started by straight LDS people to advocate for the LGBT church members who are in your position. We desperately want to reach gay members before they contemplate suicide! In my experience, young, gay Mormon men are some of the brightest and most devout that the church produces and to imagine that you feel “less than” or unworthy is a tragedy that cannot be tolerated. Please communicate your needs and feelings to us and let us be there for you. With lots of love, Janeen

  47. Joshua says:

    Fiona,

    Those aren’t the only three options. I am neither in the closet nor am I lonely. I was not lonely when I was celibate either.

    Connell,

    Many members of the church kiss people of the same-sex in a non-sexual way. One sister in my ward in Brazil complained she couldn’t walk across the aisle at church without being kissed by all the other sisters. Of course it was non-sexual. Kissing people of the same sex in a non-sexual way is very common in the church.

    I admit there are differences in the culture. In the US, it is harder to get away with kissing people of the same gender in a non-sexual way than in the Brazilian lifestyle. But most members aren’t American, and aren’t living an American lifestyle. But you need to distinguish culture from doctrine. Doctrinally, the only thing I have ever found sets the same standard for all – never do anything outside of marriage that would raise those emotions that are meant only to be expressed in marriage.

  48. Laura says:

    I can imagine it could also be quite difficult for a non-married gay man to have a housemate for a significant period of time, especially after he’s done with the typical college-age roommate time of life. He either shares his home with a woman (inviting worthiness questions and gossip) or he shares his home with a man (inviting worthiness questions and temptation).

  49. fiona64 says:

    Joshua wrote: In the US, it is harder to get away with kissing people of the same gender in a non-sexual way than in the Brazilian lifestyle. But most members aren’t American, and aren’t living an American lifestyle.

    Um, yeah. What are those, exactly? Or are you conflating *culture* with lifestyle? Perhaps *that* is what you mean?

    Laura, your point re: roommates is excellent. It’s a lose-lose proposition.

  50. fiona64 says:

    47Joshuaon 22 Jul 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Fiona,

    Those aren’t the only three options. I am neither in the closet nor am I lonely. I was not lonely when I was celibate either.
    —–

    I’ll take “Yet Another Disingenuous Answer” for $200, Alex!

    You know perfectly well what I meant.

  51. fiona64 says:

    47Joshuaon 22 Jul 2010 at 2:52 pm

    Connell,

    Many members of the church kiss people of the same-sex in a non-sexual way.

    “Yet Another Disingenuous Answer” for $400, please …

  52. Joshua says:

    I happen to know a couple of guys who used to be partners but have since converted to the gospel of Jesus Christ. They still live together (the guy they had sex with) and attend the temple regularly. If you ever go to the Oakland temple you might run into them.

    I was openly gay, and lived with four other guys. No one questioned me about my relationship with them. I still had a temple recommend.

  53. Alex says:

    Although many of the more common visitors to this site disagree with Joshua’s viewpoints, I would like to commend him for his faithfulness and encourage him in the path he has chosen.

    @MikeG: I empathize with you as well, though having never dealt with same-gender attraction myself, I can only imagine how difficult a situation you find yourself in. Do know that Heavenly Father loves you. That phrase hardly conveys any of the weight and meaning I would like it to, for our language is not precise enough to explain the enormity of His love for you. The gospel is real and will lead to happiness. If you will seek out the Lord and strive to obey His commandments, you will come to know Him and He will guide you.

    @Sheri: I have lived in Utah County (Mormon Central, basically) for a number of years now and seen the obsession with sex that you mentioned. However, to say it is a result of the Church would be mistaken, though many aspects of Mormon culture, such as the inability to talk frankly about sex, probably contribute to such problems. It is difficult to separate the Church itself from its members (and indeed, that should not be done in most cases), but such problems stem from people not actually understanding the gospel and thus not taking it into their hearts.

    Members of the Church who show hostility towards others because of their sexual orientation also display a lack of gospel understanding, or at least do not know how to handle situations so foreign to them. We are still learning (and I acknowledge that some refuse to learn). Over the years, the Church leadership has realized that a soft voice is much more helpful than a harsh one. The doctrine of the Church is not going to change on this matter, though how we approach the issues obviously changes over time.

  54. Sheryl says:

    I’m still waiting for an answer as to how gays act differently than straights, except for the obvious interest a member of the same sex instead of the opposite sex.

    Also going to toss these 2 questions out again for any of the active Mormons (and I make that distinction because I know what is taught (or how it is taught) changes over time). Is it still taught that “As a man thinketh so is he” and emphasized that who we are in this life is who we will be in the next life (granted, it has been sometime since I’ve heard one of those lessons but guess things like that stick with me). And, in conjunction with that, are we still taught that we must repent now and live the gospel because “deathbed” repentance will not be accepted by those who knew the truth but waited to repent?

    Thanks for any enlightenment.

  55. Laura says:

    “I was openly gay, and lived with four other guys. No one questioned me about my relationship with them. I still had a temple recommend.”

    Sometimes I wonder if you ever read comments all the way through.

    Living with 4 other people for a short time between your mission and your marriage, at a time when most Young Adults are single is not the scenario I posed. I specifically excluded that scenario, in fact.

    Let’s try again:

    Imagine for a moment that you are a celibate gay man in the Mormon Church.

    Imagine that you are 35 or 45 or 55 years old (Hint – this will take lots of imagination, because it means recognizing that somebody has been living as a gay celibate man longer than you’ve been alive.)

    Imagine that the whole time you’ve been celibate – decades – you have not been able to hold hands with someone, kiss someone romantically, date anyone, put your arm around someone at church. You’ve sat through hundreds of lessons and talks about the importance of family, and you are not married.

    Imagine that you would prefer not to live alone. That you would like to have someone to talk with when you come home from work. That they could shop for groceries while you mow the lawn and wash the dishes. That they could be there in the middle of the night when you wake up with a fever. That you could share your concerns about being single in a family church when you need to.

    So, who does a celibate gay Mormon man live with? Four other roommates from college? A succession of new people to adjust to?

    Say he doesn’t want to be tempted to act on the homosexual feelings he has, so he looks for a female roommate. Maybe he even finds one and they get along and live together in the same house for 10 years. What are the odds that that man’s bishop or High Priest Group Leader or Elder’s Quorum President or Home Teacher is NOT going to ask him about his living situation? How can he answer without revealing his orientation? What if he’s afraid that coming out to his ward will be dangerous for him? What are the odds other ward members will refrain from asking him why he’s not married?

    Say he wants to “avoid the appearance of evil” presented above, and in so doing he finds a male roommate. Again, they’re together for a decade or so. This situation might work quite well for him, but only so long as nobody knows he is attracted to men. If the bishop or stake president finds out he’s gay, what are the chances they won’t ask him about his long-term male roommate? If he’s openly gay, what are the chances that people will really, truly believe that he and his roommate are not sharing a bedroom? After all, a gay man would be as tempted to live with any other man as a straight man would be tempted to live with any woman, or so goes the train of thought from a church where it’s often suspect to be seen in public with a woman to whom you’re not married.

    In the words of Elder Marlin K. Jensen,

    some people argue sometimes, well, for the gay person or the lesbian person, we’re not asking more of them than we’re asking of the single woman who never marries. But I long ago found in talking to them that we do ask for something different: In the case of the gay person, they really have no hope. A single woman, a single man who is heterosexual in their thinking always has the hope, always has the expectation that tomorrow they’re going to meet someone and fall in love and that it can be sanctioned by the church. But a gay person who truly is committed to that way of life in his heart and mind doesn’t have that hope. And to live life without hope on such a core issue, I think, is a very difficult thing.

    We, again, as a church need to be, I think, even more charitable than we’ve been, more outreaching in a sense. A religion produces a culture, and culture has its stereotypes, has its mores. It’s very difficult, for instance, in our culture not to be a returning missionary. What about the young man who chooses not to go, or the parents who marry and for whatever reasons don’t have children, or the young woman who grows old without marrying, or the divorced person? I think we can be quite hard — in a sense unwittingly, but nevertheless hard — on those people in our culture, because we have cultural expectations, cultural ideals, and if you measure up to them, it’s a wonderful life. If you don’t, it could be very difficult.

  56. Laura says:

    Sheryl –

    I’ve heard those teachings (along the lines of ‘you’ll be the same person after you die as you were while you were alive’) emphasized in matters like smoking or drinking (you’ll still crave it, but you won’t be able to have it), often a tool to convince people not to start so they won’t be addicted when they die.

    I don’t remember hearing those kinds of teachings in conjunction with sexual orientation, however. I think that’s mostly because it appears that leaders consider orientation more like a birth defect that will be corrected in the resurrection than like an outward temptation. The birth defect terminology is clunky and offensive, and they generally use more euphemistic words like “a condition of mortal probation” or something (that’s not a direct quote). In one of the resources at the current statements of church leaders link in the OP, one GA compared homosexual orientation to Down’s Syndrome.

    Also, if orientation is a birth defect of sorts, then it can be something a person is born with, but it can also be something not intended by God. A quirk of nature or an accident.

    As for the repentance stuff, I have heard (but not real recently) the stories about people who reject the gospel in this life will have limited opportunities in the next compared to people who were just never exposed to the gospel to begin with. But if they reject the gospel because they’ve been “deceived” by the world, there’s still hope for them in the future.

    I’m pretty sure the don’t procrastinate the day of your repentance scripture is still taught to the high school kids every 4 years in seminary. For sure it’s still in the Sunday lesson manuals for teenagers.

    I’m sure “someone” will step up to the plate to correct any errors very soon.

  57. Sheryl says:

    Thanks, Laura, like I’ve said it has been awhile (when your 61 that may be anywhere from 1 to 30 or more years) since I’ve had one of those lessons, probably closer to the 30, when sexual orientation was not discussed. And I don’t recall it being limited to Word of Wisdom issues, but then individual teachers can certainly put a different slant on a lesson, as can individuals in the class who make comments.

    Well, if orientation is a brith defect of sorts, then must be some gene in my family that carries that defect.

    I really appreciate your taking the time to answer my questions.

  58. Joshua says:

    Laura,

    I don’t know someone who is in that exact situation, but I know people who have broken the law of chastity and have since repented. They are now the age you described and are living together, but are celibate and go to the temple. I would imagine there would some questions about that, but we are taught not to fear man, but fear God. I was never a fan of living in the closet, but if you don’t want people to find out about your sexual orientation, I don’t see how having same-sex relationships is going to help the situation. Who cares if someone finds out your sexual orientation. If that is keeping you from following God, then something needs to give. That is why I suggest just being openly gay and not worrying about it.

  59. fiona64 says:

    I remember when I was 23 years old and thought I knew all of the answers for the entire world …

  60. Sheryl says:

    Ah, Fiona, the wisdom on youth. I too remember those days. LOL

  61. Chino Blanco says:

    For what it’s worth, “Joshua” seems to be in it mostly for the attention.

    http://www.jewishjournal.com/jews_and_mormons/item/mormons_gays_and_prop_8_39100622/

    *yawn*

  62. fiona64 says:

    Chino, I think there is something to your theory. Joshua has clearly found a way to make himself feel very important with his I Am Not Gay Anymore and Have a Wife to Prove It(TM) shouting all over the internet.

    What was it that Shakespeare said about protesting too much?

    I really do feel very sorry for him, and sorrier for his wife. :-(

  63. John says:

    Should the church change its doctrine and encourage members to be more loving and accepting? Is this the answer to LGBT Mormon suicide? What about the battered spouse who finds suicide the only way out? Is it up to the abuser to changer their ways? What about the enabling co-dependent who cries out “If only my family member will stop using drugs or alcohol everything will be OK.”

    While we are waiting for the church or someone else to change, what do we do in the meantime, continue with the finger pointing and blame?

    How much power do we really have changing other people and their thinking process?

    A novel idea might be to see if we can change our own thinking process and address our part and role in enabling abuse. Can we detach and keep the focus on what we really have control over and might be more successful? Ourselves?

    Where is the message of empowerment and confronting depression and recognizing the signs of mental illness?

    Never mind… “I’ll wait for the church to change.” I’ll wait for the abuser to stop beating me. Addiction to emotional pain might get me a candle light vigil, being accountable for changing the things I can, gets me nothing.

  64. John says:

    “Eventually we learn to focus on solving our own problems. First, we make certain the problem is our problem. If it isn’t, our problem is establishing boundaries. Then we seek the best solution. This may mean setting a goal, asking for help, gathering more information, taking an action, or letting go.” M. Beattie

  65. fiona64 says:

    John, I’m not sure I understand the point you’re trying to make. Please bear with me as I explain why that is.

    While I am not a member of the Church of LDS, nor am i GLBT, I *am* a citizen of the United States. When a church is able to flex its financial muscles to take away rights from my fellow citizens (as the Church of LDS and the Catholic church did with Prop 8), I recognize that the real slippery slope is not “oh, think of the children” or “oh, tradition is harmed” but “Now *anyone’s* rights can be put up for popular vote.”

    We are a Republic, with government based on the rule of law, not a Democracy in which government is based on mob rule. The Constitution lays this out very carefully.

    So, yes. Even though I am not part of either affected group? It *is* my problem when my fellow citizens are being harmed.

    We are all connected.

    As for your analogies to depression and domestic violence, having survived both I can tell you that you are *way* off base. No one is addicted to being beaten or to emotional pain. Domestic violence is *not* the victim’s fault, as you make it out to be, nor is it as easy to just up and leave as you appear to think. I strongly recommend that you read up on both matters of which you speak so blithely.

  66. sheryl says:

    John, I’m a little confused as to how your posts relate to same-sex marriage. You stated: “Should the church change its doctrine and encourage members to be more loving and accepting? Is this the answer to LGBT Mormon suicide?” In my opinion, that would go a very long way toward helping young LGBT Mormons not commit suicide. However, when you moved into the domestic violence arena, you lost me. Like Fiona, I have been the victim of domestic abuse (both verbal and physical and my ex is an alcoholic, so, through all of my counselling I learned a lot about how not to enable). Believe me, there was no addiction to the physical and emotional pain. I loved my husband and the violence was only when he drank (he is a Jekyl and Hyde, you would never know he was the same person, drunks come in all varieties). I finally left him because I realized that by staying I was teaching our son that it was OK to abuse your spouse. So, I became a single parent.

    Anyway, I fail to see the relationship between having been taught for as long as you can remember that being a homosexual is sinful and you are not a worthy person and to be accepted you must hide who you are and domestic violence.

  67. John says:

    Sheryl, I call being told you are not a worthy person over a period of time, a form of abuse. Are you familiar with battered spouse syndrome? I’m not saying this applies to you. Addiction to emotional pain may be evident when continued and repeated efforts fail to change others into the warm loving people we may want them to be. Staying in any abusive relationships way past time when most others would have left. Codependent relationships might be a good example. I suggest that staying enmeshed in dysfunctional relationships may be co-dependent with some addiction to emotional pain.

    You mentioned that leaving those kind of relationships is not easy. I’m not aware that they are supposed to be “easy” to leave and detach from. At what point in time, in a dysfunctional relationship, does one ask “What is our part or role in the present circumstance?” What if others won’t change, who is supposed to change then? If others won’t change their behavior, who should change then? When do you let go, accept that others may stay abusive and work on changing oneself. If we keep focusing on others, sometimes we avoid the responsibility to change ourselves.

  68. Sheryl says:

    I understand about taking responsibility. My experience, based on my own behavior and the observed behaviour of others in a similar situation is that you leave when you know you won’t go back. You do not leave in the hopes that your leaving will be the event that causes the person to change. Everyone comes to that point of knowing it is over in their own time–for some it may be the first episode of violence, for others even more time will lapse than someone else thinks should. Also, the reasons for domestic violence are varied. In my situation, it was only when he drank (and, over the time of our marriage, we some years that were very, very good, it was only when the drinking become longer than the sobriety periods that my time for leaving came, we’d most likely still be together if it wasn’t for the alcohol).

    Anyway, I’m still at a loss as to how any of this applies to homosexuality and same-sex marriage.

  69. fiona64 says:

    I’ll take “Victim Blaming for $1000,” John.

    You have no idea what it is like to experience domestic violence. The psychological abuse starts long before the physical abuse, with the goal being to wear the person down, take away their support systems and basically have them trapped. The most dangerous time in a domestic abuse victim’s life is when s/he leaves. I’d suggest you ask my former colleague Stephanie about that, but you can’t. She got away from her abuser and the courts ordered her to go back to the town from which she had moved and apprise her abuser (who had already been jailed twice for assaulting her) of her whereabouts; three weeks later, she was dead at her abuser’s hands.

    http://hollisterfreelance.1871dev.com/news/75910-murder-suicide-being-investigated-by-police

    I was lucky that I walked away alive; my friend was not so fortunate.

    None of this has anything to do with marriage equality, but it has one helluva lot to do with misogyny.

  70. John says:

    Fiona64 said “You have no idea what it is like to experience domestic violence.” Are you sure? Is this something you “just know?” without bothering to ask?

    Where specifically, am I blaming the victim? Spell it out for me please. However, I am curious Fiona64, What if you did not choose to leave your abusive situation, what if you decided to only focus on getting your abuser to change his/her behavior? In this case are you saying you have no responsibility to yourself?

    Sheryl, I think the topic of the thread is “How many deaths will it take.” I’m not talking about marriage equality.

  71. John says:

    My question is also applicable to “What if my devout Mormon family and situation won’t change?” Is suicide a viable alternative, that we don’t have any responsibility to ourself? What if the brick wall won’t move, what then? Keep blaming the brick wall?

  72. Laura says:

    John, this whole website is about marriage equality and the reason we’re talking about suicide – and multiple LDS gay suicides – is because this site deals with issues which arise when the Church vocally and vehemently opposes civil same-sex marriages. That is the larger context for the thread.

    While it is true that there are plenty of homosexual people who would be better off leaving the church, there are many who find that option untenable. There are as many reasons as there are human beings, and because of the quirky way the Mormon church is organized and run, somebody could have a beautiful experience as a gay person in the church just because a few friends and allies make a safe space for him or her in their home ward.

    Granted, this does not change the institutional church one whit. But the reality of “The Church” is the reality of the congregation you are living with. And more and more local congregations are less abusive and more accepting and making changes where all of God’s children are welcome.

    Should people stay in an abusive situation? Never. But they cannot leave until they find shelter. And before they can find shelter, they need to know that their lives are worth living and saving and that they don’t deserve abuse.

    It takes voices from all over to effect change. It takes people inside who know the system and have access to and respect of leaders. It takes people outside who can provide other shelter and be shining examples of different, successful paths. It takes former insiders willing to share their stories and why they could no longer remain inside.

    And even if the LDS Church never condones same-sex marriage, it can still do many things right now to make the lives of its LGBT members and their families better, calmer, more peaceful and less stressful. Even baby steps in the right direction are steps in the right direction.

    But whether we have the luxury of waiting for baby steps to become adult-size strides or not, we ALL have the responsibility to protect the weak, uplift the downtrodden and provide relief to the weary.

    Let’s try to get back on track, and out of the weeds, please.

  73. John says:

    So tell me how suicide and marriage equality are related?

    “…we ALL have the responsibility to protect the weak, uplift the downtrodden and provide relief to the weary.” Yes, and I do charity work too. Lets get out of the weeds and focus a little more on individual responsibility.

    It it really all up to others? “It takes people outside who can provide other shelter and be shining examples of different, successful paths. It takes former insiders willing to share their stories and why they could no longer remain inside. What about empowerment?” How does that empower someone in crisis while we are waiting for more small pockets of change or the institution to make a difference?

    Getting out of weeds here, it sound like the co-dependent belief here is that there is NO personal responsibility.. no empowerment, no ownership. No changing the things you can, accepting the things you cannot, and wisdom to know the difference.

  74. john says:

    As a marketing concept, “Marriage equality and Suicide” has quite a catch to it. Will it reach the demographic you want to target? Let’s see who could be part of that demographic? The next LGBT Mormon in crisis? How many other ideas or concepts can we come up that might in someway glorify or contribute to a victimization mindset? Might be able to sell this concept if it also comes with a free T shirt (size Large) “Victim” on the front and back.

    I can’t speak for others, but I refuse to be a victim, and no I won’t take ice cream and apple pie with that. I will find people who provide a message of empowerment, that there are detachment tools to deal with enmeshment and that we ALWAYS have a choice. While we are waiting for the world to change, there are things we can do now, that we have control over. The first choice might be to refuse to be a victim any longer.

    Even the message that depression is a treatable mental illness would be a great start.

  75. fiona64 says:

    John wrote: “Even the message that depression is a treatable mental illness would be a great start.”

    Except, you know, that it isn’t always. Anti-depressant meds only work for 13 percent of the population and have significant (and often permanent) unpleasant side effects (up to and including death). http://www.newsweek.com/2010/01/28/the-depressing-news-about-antidepressants.html for just one article on the matter. There are many. Physicians have known about this for *years,* but it is easier to drug a patient and do a med check now and then than it is to help deal with the issues.

    So, now let’s get to the issue part that we’re talking about here: GLBT people in the Church of LDS. GLBT people who are told that their choice is to marry someone of the opposite sex — or to be celibate for the rest of their lives. GLBT people who are told that they are not to congregate with other GLBT people — unless they are in North Star or some other church-sponsored group designed to either increase their self-loathing or get them to marry someone of the opposite sex.

    Your answer, just as it was to domestic violence victims, is “just leave.” Unless and until you have been a survivor of domestic violence? I suggest you drop that line of thinking. It’s a pat answer that has no basis in reality — any more than it does for the GLBT Mormon who has grown up in/been indoctrinated by the church to believe certain things about themselves — most of them not good. Kids are thrown out of their families for coming out and wind up living on the streets. Did they choose that? No. It was chosen for them by people who have been indoctrinated to believe a certain way, despite significant evidence that their belief is incorrect.

    The point here is that there ARE people willing to help those in crisis — and some of them are even in the church. As Laura points out, it varies from congregation to congregation.

    The point at which someone leaves is the least safe — and it is also the point in which the pain of staying is outweighed by the pain of leaving.

  76. fiona64 says:

    PS to John: You blame the victim whenever you say “s/he should just leave” without even remotely understanding the dynamics of abuse. Abusers deliberately keep their victims isolated from support systems. They harm their children or their pets to keep them in line — my abuser killed one of my pets.

    What if I hadn’t left, you ask?

    I’d be dead.

    I had to move to another state to get away. Not everyone has the resources to do that.

    I notice that you didn’t have anything to say about my colleague who was murdered by her abuser — because the *courts* ordered her to go back after she got away. I guess she chose to be murdered … according to you.

  77. Jay says:

    I’ve read through this thread and want to throw my 2 cents’ worth in responding to Joshua. After spending my life as a closeted gay man, marrying and having a couple of kids, contorting my spirit to try to conform, doing everything you advocate, I finally reached a point where it simply was no longer possible. I couldn’t endure the duplicity that the church forced on me as the price of being accepted. My conscience (the light of Christ?) wouldn’t let me.

    I’m now out, divorced, with wonderfully supportive kids (still young enough not to be tainted by prejudice), and contemplating next steps. My kids think Prop 8 was a joke and a mistake and told me so before I ever discussed it with them. My faith in the Savior and the fundamentals of the gospel he taught is unchanged.

    But I no longer trust the Mormon leaders whose statements about this issue have changed significantly over time while claiming all the while to be inspired. I have no assurance that what they’re saying to day is any less flawed than what Spencer Kimball said years ago. When I saw and heard Elder David Bednar lying in a staged Q&A on Youtube about the alleged consequences of marriage equality (e.g. loss of religious freedom, etc.), that was the tipping point for me. How can I trust leaders who do that while claiming to speak for God?

    This leaves me with no alternative but to seek the inspiration for my own life and choices that the Church has always said is my right. Dallin Oaks said that there are exceptions to some rules and we shouldn’t ask the general authorities to opine on individual exceptions, each person must work that out for himself directly with the Lord. If you’re happy with the path you’ve chosen, then that’s great. I hope it works for you. But the LDS leaders have lost my trust and I have to find my own way now.

  78. fiona64 says:

    PPS to John: I can tell you have not experienced domestic violence from the blithe way you discuss it, in terms of “if you don’t leave, it’s because you choose the situation.”

    Victim blaming, just like I said.

  79. Loren says:

    A wonderful article and incredible insightful comments. My story…

    Nearly 30 years ago, I knew I was gay. I stayed single as long as I could, yet the pressure was so intense back then to marry, as in ‘anyone that old and not married is a menace to society’. A women came into my life, we were engaged, I went to the local bishop. I confessed my quandry. I am gay and am engaged, what should I do?

    I was told: 1) go ahead and get married, marriage will take the gay away, and 2) never tell my wife of this conversation that I had gay feelings. The marriage proceeded.

    At marriage I was a virgin and had never kissed a woman. The honeymoon was abysmal. Life married was difficult at best and in reality unfair to both of us. I did not like kissing her, sex was tedious and a duty. Despite that children were ‘hatched’. We worked so hard to make the relationship work and provide a home for the children. Yet, despite all of this, a couple years ago the marriage ended. Literally, we were too exhaused to keep trying anymore.

    There were many instances I contemplated suicide. What kept me going was my sons. I could not leave this life and have them unprotected and not cared for.

    Today, two years after the divorce, I date men frequently. What was so horribly unnatural for me with a woman feels and is so natural with men. Hugging, loving, kissing all of it feels good and right now.

    The counsel given through the years was wrong. I understand that the divorce rate among inter-orientation marriages (gay-straight) is close to 95%. The damage as a result of this bad counsel to both adults and the children is incalculable. Marrage DOES NOT take the gay away.

    Neither does celibacy. Man (and women) are meant to have joy. That joy is manifest by sharing, touching, and loving another person. To demand a gay person to never touch, never associate, never kiss another person of the same gender is worse than death. Personally, I don’t believe that is God’s intent. Especially, when I have found that joy sharing with other men. Can the joy I experience with another man that is created by pure simple intents be so despicable akin to murder when the very same with a women is approved of God? I don’t think so.

    The option provided by the church has to change before the suicides stop. What are the options today? :

    - Get married to a person of the opposite gender. In most cases these relationships end in divorce, homes and lives are destroyed. Bad option.

    - Be celebate. Not only be lonely but alone the entirety of life, no touching, no hand holding, nothing. Bad option.

    - Buy into the gay to straight fixing. Most organizations that promote this never share the statistics of success, never allow outside groups to corroborate the success. Reality is from much discussion on the internet, these efforts are mostly failures. Like was stated earlier, what we resist, persists. Bad option.

    - Be true to yourself by having relationships and hope not to be discovered in order to keep one’s membership and ties with one’s family. In the long run, living dual lifes is draining, and bound to be discovered. Good in the short run, long term devastating to the soul.

    - Leave the church behind to be genuine to oneself, find true love, true beautiful physical relationships. Unfortunately this, today, seems to be the only real option the church allows gays. Essentially, be true to yourself, then get out, you are not worthy.

    - Of course there is one last an final option, kill oneself. Then all those mommies and daddies can be self satified that they may have lost a son, but at least he wasn’t a homosexual. The sad thing is he was a homosexual all along anyway. He finally ended up with someone that would love him, God.

    How calous, how evil can we be to create such a demeaning, demoralizing environment that our most precious sons and daughters would come to the realization that the only same and sane decision is to kill themself?

  80. Sheri says:

    I believe that people who have never really suffered are often incapable of empathy or compassion for others. They have no point of reference, so John simply believes that everyone should be like him and not accept victim mentality. I too believe we need to get out of victim mentality, but I was a victim many times before I arrived at that awareness. And it wasn’t those judging me who helped me get out of victimhood, it was those who loved me unconditionally.

    So often those in the Mormon gay community don’t have anyone that loves them unconditionally; there’s always a condition for them to be loved and accepted by their families, their church and society in general (except in cases like those who frequent this site and wonderful mothers like Sheryl:-) That kind of rejection is difficult to overcome, when the people you love the most and the organizations you trust the most, continue to persecute and question the authenticity of a GLBT individual.

    I am not gay, but I have been close to suicide more than once in my life. After leaving the church I no longer ever have those thoughts. When one group is oppressed (like the GLBT community) I feel the collective hurt they experience. That’s why I fight so hard to awaken people to the hurt being inflicted on this loving community. It’s why I asked for my name to be removed from the records of the church. I could not longer be associated with what I consider to be such unloving practices.

  81. Sheryl says:

    John asks: So tell me how suicide and marriage equality are related?

    I can only give you my opinion on that John. Since we are talking about Mormons and suicide in the GLBT community in this particular thread, I’m sticking to my opinion on that.

    If one is a gay Mormon, one has heard all of one’s life what a sin homosexuality is (now some may say that only the acts are sinful, but I don’t recall any lessons or talks that made that differentiation). Your parents have made their position clear that homosexuality is a sin (and if the Miracle of Forgiveness is quoted, which it often is/was, then the language of disapproval is much stronger). You do your best to be straight but know that you are not. You come out to your parents as a teenager and they kick you out of the house. What do you do? where do you go? You don’t have any money to pay rent or all of the rest of the bills. You’ve spent years trying to be straight, you’ve spent years hearing how horrible being homosexual is, and now your own family doesn’t want you, what do you do? I mean, even if your own family doesn’t want you, you must be a really terrible person. People make comments that one would be better off dead than a homosexual. Maybe they are right, after all, what do you have to live for.

    The above is one scenario, that in my opinion, leads a youth to commit suicide.

    Then there are those who do not come out to anybody, who continue to “live the straight life,” all the while believing that if they do everything right, the same-sex attraction will be removed from them. After all God performs miracles and if you are worthy enough, he will perform that miracle for you. The miracle doesn’t happen. Obviously, you are not good enough and you decide that since you are not worthy enough why continue living.

    Now your church is involved in politics to prevent civil same-sex marriage, and that further convinces you that being homosexual makes you less of a person than a heterosexual.

    Now, to someone who has never experienced life as a homosexual in a church where temple marriage is the ideal and the expected and you’ve been taught your entire life that temple marriage is a prerequisite to achieving the highest degree in the Kingdom of God, we may not understand the despair and sense of hopelessness that leads that person to suicide.

    As I said, this is just my opinion on how marriage equality and suicide and the LDS church are related.

  82. Michael says:

    Sheryl,

    I’m not a regular on this blog/site, though I have followed the work with deep interest. I am a gay Mormon. Well, I’m still a member of record though I would not permit the home teachers to darken my door, nor would I feel very comfortable darkening the door of a chapel on Sunday. I am a graduate of BYU, a returned missionary, and a survivor of two serious suicide attempts. Forgive the trite cliché, but you “hit the nail on the head.” I did not come out until after I graduated from BYU. I did not “engage in homosexual acts” until two years after that.

    I never could understand how I could be so evil just for falling in love with men. Something akin to Christ’s teachings except a bit more physically engaging, shall we say. Love meant death for me, and had I been brave enough as a student, I would have hurled myself off the Spencer W. Kimball tower as an act of symbolic self-martyrdom. My bishop recommended a millstone around my neck and deep body of water. He’ll pay for that, no doubt.

    Anyway, thanks to you and all those who are putting forth a valiant effort to mitigate some of the institutional injury that assaults those of us who once loved the church with all our hearts. Every time the news reveals another injustice perpetrated by the ever intrusive Mormon Church: “A letter was read to congregations throughout Argentina this past Sunday…” I find myself avoiding knives and high places.

    Most of us, now tattered, torn, bruised, broken and very protective of our freedom and privacy only wish, quite fervently I emphasize, that the church leadership would leave us alone. Trouble yourselves with those in the fellowship and stay out of the affairs of the state, e.g., same-sex marriage, adoption, etc. We’re not bothering you, Elder Oaks, Packer, Hafen, et. al. Stop Bothering Us!

  83. John says:

    Sheri I think you may be onto something when you state:

    “I too believe we need to get out of victim mentality, but I was a victim many times before I arrived at that awareness.” I don’t think people can fully recover until they give up the Mormon Cross and take off the victim label.
    Does my statement mean I’ve never suffered from domestic violence, verbal abuse and depression? Not at all… Been there done that and wore my victim label just as proudly as other posters. But there is a difference now, a new freedom, more peace and serenity. I’ve have the tools to determine if what others say or do is really MY problem. My recovery was not based on the church or family changing, it was learning that its now up to me. Learning tools of detachment and keeping the focus on changing the things I can. Working on my own inventory of faults and accepting others as they are. Taking responsibility for my own self esteem and not looking for the church or someone else to make me whole. Living in the now and not the fantasy of things could or ought to be. This does not mean one accepts abuse, but learns tools to detach and set boundaries, not barriers.

    All I see are reasons from other posters to play the victim card and every turn and blame others. Pointing fingers is fun and the self righteous finger wagging that goes along with. Being a victim is fun, until you realize it does nothing for your own personal journey to recovery.

  84. Sheri says:

    To Loren. Your story is why I do what I do. Why I’m so passionate about GLBT rights. Why I left the church, and why I go into schools through PFLAG to educate students. Thank you for telling your amazing story and I’m so happy you now can be the authentic human you were created to be.

    Blessings.

  85. Sheryl says:

    John, I never said that the victim mentality was OK. We are not talking about older adults for the most part but about young people. Nor was I blaming anyone. I was simply pointing out what young Mormons go thru. This is lifelong, not something encountered after growing up.

    Just a curiosity question, are you Mormon? were you raised Mormon?

    My family was not a strict Mormon family, my father was not a member and my mother mostly semi-active. It was very easy for me to fall out of activity after graduating from BYU. It was also very easy for me to fall back into activity after my son was born, because I wanted to raise him with the same morals I was raised with. I can tell you that even during the years of my inactivity, certain tapes played in my head. So, I can imagine what a young person raised in a stricter Mormon family who is gay may be going thru. And, as a young person, where do you learn those tools when everyone in your family and “support group” thinks and tells you that homosexuality is wrong and you can change if you really wanted to. Where do you go for that counselling that will provide you with the tools to move away from thinking of yourself as a terrible person because you are attracted to the same sex? There are not a lot of options open to that person. And if your family kicks you out when you do “come out” to them, then what? Where do you go?

    I truly believe that when we are talking about suicide among young, gay Mormons, the church needs to accept their part and work at changing the message that is sent out to young people.

    When it was coming down to the wire on Prop8 (and before I found this site and the courage to say anything), one of our stake representatives gave a talk that laid all of socieity’s problems on the LGBT community. My first thought was “how wonderful (not) that bigotry is being taught from the pulpit.” More thought and I wondered how that talk made any of the gay youth that heard his talk (and statistically, there was at least 1) feel about themselves. Just more hatred turned inward.

    Yes, the church needs to change it’s message. And, if you think I’m advocating that people can put all of the blame there, no. But as long as a person hates themselves and gets that message day in and day out that who they are is not worthy, how do they go about rising above that and accepting themselves?

  86. Sheryl says:

    Michael, thank you for sharing your story with us. If you don’t mind, I have a question or 2 for you. Was your family supportive when you came out? Have you read Carol Lynn Pearson’s “No More Good-byes?”

    I sincerely hope that you have a supportive family. That makes such a difference.

    Hope that you will participate more.

  87. John says:

    Sheryl, yes I was raised Mormon, spent time in the Utah State Hospital with a diagnosis of homosexuality and visited Dr. Shock ‘em to see it that would cure it. Should I blame the church and carry a chip of resentment on my shoulders? I don’t, I’ve let go of things I cannot change and try to live in the present moment doing what I power to do, which includes forgiveness, letting go, and simply doing the next right thing.

    So what message do we give young 20 something adults? That efforts are best spent fighting for compassion and understanding? What can be done in the meantime, what message for those that suffer now? Is it all hopeless until others becoming more accepting loving and compassionate?

    I refuse to buy the argument that Fiona has presented, that the only thing a victim can do is just be a victim. That helps no one.

  88. Sheryl says:

    John, thank you for being so honest about your background. Whether you want to blame the church or not, I still think the church has to assume some responsibility.

    The message we should give to all is that they are worthwhile people. Just because they are homosexuals does not make them less of a person. We need outreach programs where they can go and receive positive support. Not groups where they are told that they can change if they really want to or that they can, if they really try, live a straight life (i.e., either be celibate or marry someone of the opposite sex). Especially the teenagers need to understand that they are not homosexuals because of anything they did, it is just the way they are and they can decide how to live their life. Parents also need to be educated that homosexuality is not some horrible thing that your child has decided to be. It is not a choice. How one decides to deal with the homosexuality is a choice. They are not “that way” because of anything the parents did (we can assume a lot of guilt, fortunately for me, I could compare my son’s upbringing to his cousin’s upbringing and see how different they were and yet they are both gay, so it wasn’t anything in how I raised him). The younger they get this message, the better. Some of those suicides we are referencing are teenagers.

    Now, the question is, where are the youth of the church to go to get this message. Where are the parents to go to understand their child as best they can and let that child know he is still loved no matter what choices he/she makes. I am not aware of any programs in the church that meet this need. And, most active Mormons who are rearing (Fiona, I remembered) their children to be active Mormons with that temple marriage are not going to seek counselling outside of the church.

    I will say that the church has made strides as they no longer tell homosexuals that if they just live the gospel and get married “those feelings” will go away. And, at least 1 stake in California has brought the issue of loving all, no matter what their sexual orientation to all of their wards in individual meetings which have included homosexuals and/or their families telling their stories. Baby steps but, still, progress.

  89. fiona64 says:

    John wrote: I refuse to buy the argument that Fiona has presented, that the only thing a victim can do is just be a victim.

    Except, of course, that I didn’t say that.

    I have repeatedly said that unless and until there is a sea change in the Church of LDS leadership, the best hope for GLBT Mormon youth is to leave — while also recognizing that it is not as easy-peasy as all that. The reality is that anti-depressants don’t always work, the church channels its youth into groups like Northstar and Evergreen that promote self-loathing, and all of the other things that have already been mentioned.

    So yes, the best choice is to leave the abusive organization — but that’s a very simplistic statement with a lot of complications behind it. I NEVER said people should just be victims, so kindly refrain from putting those words in my mouth.

  90. Sheri says:

    This is such a valuable thread. Getting to the heart of the matter, I mean really pealing back the layers of conditioned thinking to arrive at the place where pure unadulterated truth resides is difficult for some and impossible for others. It take bravery, self-reflection, gut wrenching honesty, and humility.

    When we are willing to bare our souls for the world to see, without shame or fear, only then will we know our true Divine essence. Having to live a lie deprives human beings of that opportunity. Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is a perfect example. Our GLBT military men and women are taught to be honorable, and then forced to be deceitful. GLBT members of the church are threatened that if they are authentic they loose their blessings in heaven, maybe their families, their rights as tax paying citizens, and church membership. It is an upside down world where no one wins.

    We must turn this thinking around and honor our individualism and respect another’s rights to be who they authentically are. If the church leaders fail to learn this lesson, I fear they will have hell to pay one day.

    And Michael, may I use your post (so eloquently written) in a note on Facebook? My user name is Joyful Mystic, if you’d like to check it out. I would like to share it since it’s one place I am actively being a gay-rights advocate.

  91. fiona64 says:

    The problem here, John, is that I did NOT say that people should sit around and be victims. If you will go back and read, I have said that the only real hope for GLBT Mormons, unless there is a sea change in leadership, is to *leave.*

    However, I also recognize that it is a simplistic statement that does nothing to acknowledge the problems inherent therein. It’s all well and good to offer the trite statement, but without acknowledging that “just leaving” is easier to say than to do, you do a disservice to people who are struggling.

  92. John says:

    I’m fully supportive of all efforts to educate the church and others about GLBT issues, and the need for more compassion, love and understanding.

    Where I think more work must be done, is addressing immediate needs of a person in crisis. Assuming the family won’t change, their situation won’t change and the church message won’t change. Someone who has so much pain that there are only two choices, suicide or a path to personal recovery from victimization.

    A better message to get out might be the specific steps to begin the process of de-victimization. My argument is that much work needs to be done at the personal level to develop the message of personal recovery and hope. I argue that the process is much the same as those whose pain brings them to abuse, drug addiction and alcohol programs. What are the answers for the person in crisis when “others” won’t change? And how do we get that message out to the 1 person every 11 days who select suicide as the option? Remaining a victim is not the answer. How about marketing the message (until others or the immediate situation changes with more compassion love and understanding) of “Yes You Can Refuse to be a Victim”

  93. John says:

    Just to clarify, @Fiona your quote “Just Leaving” is not a recommendation or is any of my posts (other than this one) Please try not to read or misquote something into my posts that is not so stated.

  94. fiona64 says:

    @John, you said that I told people to sit there and be victims. That is a lie.

    Please try to take your own advice.

    Have a blessed day.

  95. Michael says:

    Sheri, yes, you may use my post on Facebook. Thanks for asking.

    Sheryl, thanks for your comments and your questions. My parents were very active when I came out to them a few months before 30th birthday. I chose the 4th of July to tell them. (We Mormons love symbolic acts, don’t we?) My parents were hurt, bewildered, and angry. My mother blamed herself and my father blamed the career and the city I had chosen. (The entertainment industry. Los Angeles. “So many queers out there!”) Things were tough. My parents supported me in a limited manner as their son, but were torn up by the knowledge of my “sin.” They were confused and troubled. Our conversations were strained.

    Then, just as I thought I was handling things ok, and they were coping, I was sort of broadsided by the suicide attempt. I know that sounds odd, and there is a lot to the story, but suffice it to say that I ended up back in my parents home. There was a flurry of Priesthood blessings, fasting, tears (as if there hadn’t already been enough!), return to church, bishop meetings/interviews, etc.

    Members told my parents that they couldn’t support me as long as I lived the life of a homosexual. But there was a sense that the suicide attempt had been the Lord’s way of getting me back on the straight and narrow. (Yeah, there is a pun in there somewhere.) The Relief Society president confessed that she too had a gay son, (she later discovered that she had another!) but that was private information – not to be shared with anyone else. Others discussed privately that they had gay children, but they didn’t want others in the ward to know. Coincidentally, a lesbian had returned home to her parents at that time, too.

    I would sit in Sacrament meeting and weep thinking about having failed the Lord, my parents, myself. The passing of the sacrament was the most heart-wrenching ever. I was praying like a crazy man all the time, and then one day during fast and testimony meeting I felt the spirit say, “You’re just like a Samaritan, and so are your gay brothers and sisters. People with AIDS are like lepers…” You can take it from there. (I think that since this time – the early 90s – some folks have written similar things in Sunstone or Dialogue.) Anyway, I was really overcome with the need to speak it out loud, to bear that testimony. I did. I stood up in front of the congregation and said it. I told them what the spirit told me to say, and I came out to the congregation. It was VERY intense. I wept. Nobody would look at me afterward. The bishop came up to me and told me that in the future I should keep my remarks to my testimony of the gospel and to remember that there are children present.

    My parents were mortified, embarrassed, and humiliated. The next week the High Priest Group leader stated that “The day will come when homosexuals will need to be dragged from their homes and shot in the street. That’s the only way we’ll finally be rid of them.” My father told me that he had no response. Apparently, it was allowed to just hang there in the air until the conversation moved on in another direction.

    After that, my parents stopped going to church. I stopped, too. I knew that there was no longer a safe space for me there. Later, when my mother was dying of cancer she refused all fellowship and help from members of the church.

    I have a wide community of people who love and support me, but they are not by and large Mormon. Recently, I’ve been getting together with some Affirmation folks who share similar dramas and heartbreaks, which is nice. But, I am doing that to see how we can come together against the menacing spirit emanating from some of the above mentioned GAs. I enjoy being together with my fellow gay Mormons. We share something that isn’t found in the company of others.

    The world is a big place and there is much love to be enjoyed outside the community of faithful Mormons.

    Oh, and yes, I have always read with deep interest and appreciation Carol Lynn Pearson’s work on gay Mormon issues. Frankly, I’m surprised that she has been able to keep her membership. For those young people struggling with their God-given sexuality inside the church, I hope that they find those very rare encampments of Mormons that will accept them as their creator made them. The blood of too many beautiful saints cries from the ground for justice. (Well, the scripture actually says VENGEANCE, but that sword is for the Lord to wield, no?)

  96. John says:

    Fiona, if people should not be victims, then what specifically should or can they do? This is the point I’ve had so much trouble making.

    This is the message I want the next person in crisis to know that their is a choice. There are specific actions one can do… What are they?

    1.. Refuse by conscious choice to be a victim anymore..

    2..

    3…

  97. fiona64 says:

    95Johnon 03 Aug 2010 at 2:30 pm

    Fiona, if people should not be victims, then what specifically should or can they do? This is the point I’ve had so much trouble making.

    This is the message I want the next person in crisis to know that their is a choice. There are specific actions one can do… What are they?

    1.. Refuse by conscious choice to be a victim anymore..

    2..

    3…

    See, John, here is where you and I differ. I do not know anyone else’s story. I cannot make decisions for them or tell them what specific actions they should take. It’s all well and good to say “I refuse to be a victim anymore” — but what if the person is a minor child? How will they manage if they are put out of the house?

    What if the victim is an abused spouse who cannot get to shelter with his/her kids? Or her/his beloved pets?

    What if the victim is someone who has never worked outside the home and has no marketable skills? How will that person manage in this economy?

    What if the victim is my former colleague Stephanie, who got away, with her kids — and was sent back to her abuser by the courts? I already posted the link to the article.

    Should we send people to religious counseling? As Sheryl points out, that is all most Church of LDS people will try because of their belief system. I was told by a minister that if I just went back to my fiance and prayed to be a better woman (read: more submissive), then he wouldn’t “have to” hit me. Yes, that’s a quote. And no, it’s not very helpful.

    I lack the hubris to tell people what specific actions they should take when I don’t know them or their situation.

    I realize that I have gone a bit more broad than just marriage equality issues. Again, I say this: unless and until the Church of LDS leadership has a sea change, the only real hope for GLBT people is to leave. However, I also recognize that it’s an easy, pat statement to make that fails to recognize all of the ramifications and complications involved.

    I would only say this to a person coping with domestic violence, religious shunning, etc.: “You are the only person who knows the particulars of your situation. If you can get to safety, whatever that means for you, do it.”

  98. fiona64 says:

    Michael wrote: The next week the High Priest Group leader stated that “The day will come when homosexuals will need to be dragged from their homes and shot in the street. That’s the only way we’ll finally be rid of them.”

    Michael, I am so, so sorry.

    It is this kind of thing that made me look at my Mormon father like he had grown a second head when he asked (again) if I would be baptized in the church. There is no way that I would ever consider joining an organization that says such things about their fellow human beings.

    I told him that I respectfully declined.

    As for that group leader, I can only repeat that song from Sunday school back in the day: “And they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love …”

  99. John says:

    “See, John, here is where you and I differ. I do not know anyone else’s story. I cannot make decisions for them or tell them what specific actions they should take. It’s all well and good to say “I refuse to be a victim anymore” — but what if the person is a minor child? How will they manage if they are put out of the house?”

    In general, I believe a ‘shoulder shrug’ for the most vulnerable is just not acceptable. There has to be a message of hope from the rest of us for these folks. There has to be something that they can do immediately other than another tragedy.

    1.. Refuse by conscious choice to be a victim anymore. What can they individually do as a next step?
    What resources and contacts exist? What do these resources offer? What are the contacts. Are there financial and legal resources available? Is transportation needed. Are the resources located in community centers, schools or other organizations. Where are the lists of “safe places” posted on web sites?”

    If we don’t have or can come up with solid action steps… who will?

  100. Sheri says:

    Michael, thank you for allowing me to share part of your story. I weep reading your words both with joy and pain. Joy that you have come out the other side of this crisis hopefully whole and content, but pain for those who haven’t made it to your point yet and have that same torment to look forward to because of ignorance, fear and intolerance.

    I was so angry over what the church did to the GLBT community I wrote a book about it. I’m not shamelessly self promoting here (well maybe a little:-) I’m just letting you know I am a TRUE ally. The book is not well written, but it is a story of my journey out of Mormonism over their treatment of gay brothers and sisters. The name of the book (should you be interested) is The Spell of Religion and the Battle Over Gay Marriage. I just re-read it the other day, and feel better about it now than when it was first published last year. If you can get past the grammatical errors, and the editing problems, I believe it has a good message. I developed many friends in the gay community after writing it. I tell the story of one of my best friends Gary who was gay. He has since died at his own hands – another senseless suicide. I also quote Carol Lynn a lot and with her permission used excerpts from her books.

    Keep holding on, Michael, (and anyone else reading this) knowing that many of us love you and honor you just as you are. Thank you so much for sharing your story.

    And John I totally respect your mind set of NOT allowing yourself to become a victim and wanting to teach others how not to be. But it’s not that easy. If it was, no one would be a victim anymore.

  101. John says:

    Sheri… Thank you and YES indeed it’s NOT easy. It was not in my contract that I signed in the pre-existence that life on earth would be void of extreme hardships. Recovery from co-dependence, abuse, alcohol or drug addiction is extremely hard as well.

    But we must have a message of hope and recovery for those that are suffering. We can’t excuse ourselves because of the difficulty of the challenge. I don’t want to mourn, praise and honor someone in another suicide. I would rather see a vigil on the state capitol honoring those who are recovering, who have found hope, with presenters that describe the resources that are available to others now. A public message of hope, not continued vigils of despair.

  102. fiona64 says:

    John wrote: In general, I believe a ’shoulder shrug’ for the most vulnerable is just not acceptable.

    I am not offering a “shoulder shrug” when I say that without knowing someone’s specifics I am unable to make recommendations. I am being a realist.

    You are speaking in generalities, and I am responding in kind.

    If I know someone’s situation, I am more likely to be able to show them where the help lies. If I don’t, I am left with only “what ifs” such as what I offered, and the general advice I already cited.

    I don’t know why you have decided to come after every single thing I say, John. Perhaps you would like to elucidate. I have been working actively on behalf of my GLBT friends and neighbors for well over 20 years, with a specific focus on marriage equality for the past 6. What else do you recommend I do with your generalities? Please help me to understand.

  103. fiona64 says:

    PS to John: There is a link on this website called “Help and Support.” It lists Project Trevor, PFLAG and others. I think those resources are, generally speaking, an excellent beginning.

  104. John says:

    The Trevor Project is indeed one of many resources, but how do we connect all the resources to those in crisis? Moreover, we have done a great job of getting out the very public message of despair. Perhaps an event organized at the State Capitol honoring those who have found a way out of despair and hopelessness might be a start. Invite folks from all the suicide prevention organizations to speak along with localized community organizations that describe their resources. Mental health professionals to speak about recovery. How do we get the public message of hope and recovery to those that are suffering that is at least equal or greater than public messages or vigils of despair, failure and hopelessness?

    What is the next step?

  105. John says:

    RE: Marriage Equality – Prop 8 -The federal court announced today that it will release its decision in the American Foundation for Equal Right’s landmark case, Perry v. Schwarzenegger, on Wednesday. There will be a live press conference with our plaintiffs and co-counsels Ted Olson and David Boies following the release of the decision.

  106. Laura says:

    Thanks for all of your energy and ideas, everyone. I wish I had more time to comment, but would like to remind folks that a big part of Affirmation’s conference this October in San Francisco will include workshops on how to deal with tough issues, including suicides. If this is a topic important to you, please consider attending the conference and Standing Up for solutions. There’s information about the conference at Affirmation’s website.

    And for those of you attending Decision Day events, stay safe and proud

  107. Sheryl says:

    Michael, my heart goes out to you for what you have suffered by the remarks of people who, if they truly practiced their religion, would not say such things. I am glad that the suicide attempt was not successful. Do you still live in So. Calif?

    Fiona, yes we certainly get wonderfully helpful advice from those in a position of religious authority. I am so glad that both of us were able to get out of the domestic violence situation. As for your friend, there are way too many stories of similar situations.

    John, you have some good ideas but how would you get the people who need the help to attend. Are you in Utah?

    For all who have seen 8: The Mormon Proposition, I was so saddened by where the young people who are kicked out of their homes go. No one, but no one should live in such conditions. I think one of the things that is needed is a “safe house” for those teenagers to go to. And a part of living in that “safe house” would be counseling to help them understand that they are worthwhile human beings. And, there should be an outreach to the families.

    I think my niece and her husband were told by a few people that they should not let their son live at home. They politely told them that it was none of their business. I also know that some ward members took it upon themselves to “change” my nephew. He was invited to events, including wedding receptions for couples he didn’t even know. Don’t know if his bishop ever said anything to him. Of course, he stopped going to church in his teens because of his sexual orientation. Think he came to acceptance of his sexual orientation a little younger than my son did. My son remained active until he went away to college (if we can call San Jose going away). Hey, he even played Joseph Smith in the Oakland Temple Pageant. And, up until Prop 8 was even fine with telling people he was LDS and appreciated his upbringing. After we saw 8: The Mormon Proposition, he decided to request that his name be removed from the church records. Don’t know where he is in that process. I support him in this decision.

    Sorry, I got to wandering.

  108. John says:

    Laura,

    As folks concerned about this issue we need to make sure our efforts, marketing and public message facilitate solutions to balance the hopelessness and despair of vigils.

    How to get the message out to those that need it? Perhaps in the same way the message is getting out in newspapers and other media about the death vigils.

    Folks need to recognize and be alert if friends or loved ones exhibits the classic signs. Some who need it may not attend a rally of hope, but we need to get a consistent message that there are other choices than victimization. They may read about, they may hear about the new message from friends who attended one of these hope rallies at school or work. Some may even think that they can be a survivor too. We need other survivors out there to speak up and get their message out.

    Next steps?

  109. John says:

    Part of a new message or affirmation of hope? Realistic, a healthier message? I dunno.

    ——-
    “Nothing changes if nothing changes.” We can be the change agents who will make a difference.” – From the book “Cultivating Hope” – Kasey

    “Letting someone else’s behavior determine how we feel at every turn is irresponsible. Our emotions should be determined by us, not by someone else. But no doubt we have spent years confusing the boundaries that separate us from other people. Whether at work or at home, we have too often let someone else’s “insanity” affect how we behave and how we feel.
    At first, it may seem insensitive not to react to others’ problems or negative behavior. We may fear they’ll think we simply don’t care about them. Learning that it is far more caring to let other people handle their own lives takes time and patience. But with practice, it will begin to feel comfortable. In fact, in time it will feel freeing and wonderful. I will work on detachment today, knowing that in time the rewards will come.” From the book “A Life Of My Own”

    “It’s not unusual to think that everyone but us needs to change. Ask around at recovery meetings. All will agree that we came to our first meeting thinking we’d learn how to get other people or situations to change, certain that would make us happy. But that’s not how happiness comes, and we’re lucky for that. If our happiness were tied to what others did, we’d always be in their control. What a bleak existence that might be! The happiness we deserve will come when we do two things: first, take the power that is ours through becoming willing to accept others as they are and second, make a commitment to change what we need to change and then follow through.” – K. Casey

    “Each day I seek the wisdom to see my future as largely the work of my own hands and heart. I pray for the courage to take responsibility for choosing my own direction.” – C Haggerty

    “I will enhance my growth today by letting others be who they are and working on myself.” K Casey

    “When we concentrated only on the future, we couldn’t be happy with today. We thought if we could only get to tomorrow, things would be better. Tomorrow never comes, so we were always trapped in a hopeless situation. Now we live one day at a time, and grow moment by moment.
    Recovery is about today and living life in the present. Since I no longer have to manage the universe, I have only myself to worry about today.”- Anon

    “The sense of being trapped is an illusion. We are not controlled by circumstances, our past, the expectations of others, or our unhealthy expectations for ourselves. We can choose what feels right for us, without guilt. We have options. Recovery is not about behaving perfectly or according to anyone else’s rules. More than anything else, recovery is about knowing we have choices and giving ourselves the freedom to choose.
    Today, I will open my thinking and myself to the choices available to me. I will make choices that are good for me.” M. Beattie

  110. fiona64 says:

    I would also, frankly, tell young GLBT people who want a spiritual community to attend Metropolitan Community Church or Unitarian Universalist congregations, where there is a message of love, hope and welcome.

    Memorials and vigils are not all about hopelessness, IMO. They send the message that there *are* people who care — deeply. In the case of our local MCC’s annual Transgender Remembrance Day (in which the names (if we even know them) of every transgender murder victim since the previous remembrance is read aloud, along with the circumstances of their death), we are claiming those without names as our family members. Why? Because no family member came forth to claim them — which is why their names are unknown.

  111. John says:

    Here is another thought about survival against all odds, yet some did survive to tell their story.. While waiting for change, for the allies to come…. what temporary tools did they use for personal survival? What support infrastructure was in place.. Perhaps a message to be told at all Utah junior/high schools “Peers that survived horrific conditions at home.”

    Not knowing allies were coming or not.

    “Surviving Against All Odds
    Life in a Nazi forced labor camp was far worse than anything the prisoners had imagined or experienced. Even those who had survived the harsh conditions of the ghettos found that, incredible as it was, things got worse. There was less food, less space, less opportunity to be with friends or family. The labor was even more difficult and exhausting; there was constant punishment and stricter rules and regulations regarding every intimate detail of life.

    Concentration camp life was intended to result in humiliation, dehumanization, and death. Even if a person was able to adapt quickly to the impossible conditions, death was still the most likely outcome. Those who wished to remain alive in the concentration camp had to learn quickly to follow the unofficial rules of survival. The older, veteran inmates would pass on these unofficial rules, the first of which was, above all else, no matter what, to always…..”

  112. Laura says:

    Learning to do what is needed/required by The Group in Control is an important survival guide for all minorities. And thank you for the reminder that Jews were not the only ones to suffer in the Concentration Camps of World War II. Thousands of homosexuals were also rounded up, humiliated and punished as well. Hopefully we have put such awful, despicable treatment behind us. Each time we stand up for justice, support and equality, we put another nail in the coffins of holocausts, hatred and bigotry.

  113. John says:

    According to US Department of Health and Human Services…
    In the meantime, while fighting general bigotry and repression, seek help as soon as possible by contacting a mental health professional or by calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK if you or someone you know exhibits any of the following signs:

    -Threatening to hurt or kill oneself or talking about wanting to hurt or kill oneself
    -Looking for ways to kill oneself by seeking access to firearms, pills, or other means
    -Talking or writing about death, dying, or suicide when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person
    -Feeling hopeless
    -Feeling rage or uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
    - reckless or engaging in risky activities – seemingly without thinking
    -Feeling trapped-like there’s no way out
    -Increasing alcohol or drug use
    -Withdrawing from friends, family, and society
    -Feeling anxious, agitated, or unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
    -Experiencing dramatic mood changes
    -Seeing no reason for living or having no sense of purpose in life

  114. Laura says:

    Thank you, John.

    People should also be concerned if folks suddenly stop and appear to be fine after exhibiting these symptoms as well. Sometimes it’s a clue to outsiders that a decision has been made and a plan is in place.

    There are always people to listen if you can take a moment to talk.

  115. John says:

    BP is funding mental health resources like the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline `1-800-273-TALK’.

    “BP to fund mental health resources for those affected by the Deepwater Horizon Gulf oil spill. Keep an eye on SAMHSA for more information”

    So is my logic off base here? if someone is suffering from the effects of Mormonism (rejection, condemnation, isolation and depression) should the church help fund mental health resources to deal with the result? Should we stand up and demand they help (funding, support and education) with suicide prevention?

  116. Sheryl says:

    while I think the church should fund suicide prevention education, I’m sure if they did, the education would not be the direction I would like to see. BP is a public corporation. The LDS church is a private institution protected by the 1st Amendment. And, as much as I disagree with the leaders on a few issues, I’m certainly not ready to do away the 1st Amendment.

  117. Sheri says:

    Have you ever put your whole heart into something, did the very best job you could, went above and beyond to make it perfect, and still your efforts weren’t enough? Have you ever heard the disapproving words (or the look on someone’s face) saying that you don’t quite fit in, or that you are misguided, or worse, an abomination to God, despite feeling His presence every day in your life?

    When I was young, growing up in a tiny Mormon community in Utah, I was often treated as an outcast because my parents were divorced, my mom smoked and had intermittent bouts of mental instability. It wasn’t until I was grown and looked back upon this time that I realized why I’d been shunned. I didn’t fit the mainstream stereotype of most others in my community.

    I often ponder now how much worse it is for people in the gay community. How tragic it is to do your best, to work hard to be accepted, to be loved and appreciated for exactly who you are – but having it never be enough. I remember giving up trying to be accepted or to be excellent because it often seemed that no matter how hard I tried to be perfect, the more shunned I felt. I was never quite “enough”.

    Now that I know I AM enough, and I know that every gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender person is also enough, I’m seeking ways to help them know that for themselves before it’s too late. This website, along with the work that Carol Lynn Pearson is doing, is a great example of how to try and bridge that gap. Imagine a world where we see with our hearts instead of the divisive mind-based judgments often taught by religion. Imagine what our society would be like if no one was ever rejected because they didn’t fit the profile of a good Mormon.

    The more we are loved and accepted for exactly who we are, the more we are drawn to align ourselves with the true Spirit of our Creator, Source, God. Needlessly punishing others based on our limited understanding of their Divine purpose, will not only make those we persecute suffer more, but those rendering the judgment will be held accountable. I think they may be in for quite a shock. “Judge not that ye be not judged, for with that same judgment that ye judge, ye shall be judged.”

  118. Sheryl says:

    I was just reading an interview with Dustin Black
    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/joshua-kors/oscar-in-hand-on-the-road_b_694527.html
    and learned about the Trevor Project and was going to suggest that Laura have a link on this site. Guess you can tell that I haven’t read everything on the site because that link already exists.

    John, are you familiar with the Trevor Project?

    I’m certainly going to be learning more about it and when I’m financially able will be making a donation.

    Sheryl

  119. Sheri says:

    Sheryl, What a GREAT interview. Thank you for posting it. I always look at the top stories on Huffington Post, but somehow missed this one completely.
    ~Sheri

  120. Sheryl says:

    It was a great interview. He is a very intelligent young man. I’m so glad that he had a supportive mother and stepfather. What he said about how his mother reacted reminds me of what one of the young men at the “reaching out” meeting I attended said and I’ll paraphrase “once I got to know gay people, I realized they weren’t the terrible people I thought they were.” I think that is so where a lot of the problem lies, especially with those who have grown up being taught the homosexuality is so evil. I’m glad that I had a fairly liberal upbringing and moved to the Bay Area as young as I did. My first introduction to homosexuals (at least that I knew were homosexual) was through work and then I read Carol Lynn Pearsons “Good-bye I Love You.” I’ve become even more liberal in the area of equal rights because I understand that people are people no matter what their sexual orientation is. When my son first said that he was homosexual, I told him that I would support him if he decided not to live church standards that it would be extremely difficult to do so and that I didn’t think Heavenly Father and Jesus were as concerned with his sexuality as they were with the type of person he was. I still firmly believe that.