Saturday, October 11, 2008

Proposition 8

I've been meaning to write my feelings about California's Proposition 8 which is trying to ban same-sex marriage in that state. The LDS Church, of which I am still a member, has put a lot of money and manpower into trying to get Californians to pass the bill.

Jonah and I have set a date to get married on December 31 in Orange County, so obviously I am hoping the proposition is defeated. I am sad that my church has put so much time, money, and blatant political effort into passing a bill that I disagree with. I am not surprised, though. The LDS Church is very focused on marriage between man and a woman being an eternal and moral principle, and they do not believe that man has the right to to try and monkey around with an eternal law.

My position is that even if same-sex marriage is wrong in the eyes of God, a man-made law isn't going to alter that nor will it force the LDS Church to have to abide by it. I just want to be married to the person I love and have the same rights and privileges that come with that. I know my religion doesn't see it that way, and I can respect that.

I refuse to get on the LDS Church-bashing train, though. Many of my gay friends see it as a personal attack on them, and perhaps they are right to feel that way. Regardless of the fact that my religious leaders and some of my fellow members are trying to pass a law that I disagree with, I do respect their right to fight for what they believe in just as I am trying to fight for what I believe in.

In spite of differences of opinion, I do love my religion and all it has taught and given me throughout my life. I still enjoy being a part of it. I hold no malice towards it. But it is true that I do not always agree with the way things are handled, and this is one of those times.

I do not claim to know with absolute certainty God's mind or his will concerning me. I do know with absolute certainty that since I found Jonah and since I came out of the closet, I am far happier than I was when I was trying so hard to live in the "Mormon box," as I call it. How that will affect me in the afterlife remains to be seen. But right now my life is very good, and I do not regret the decisions I've made regarding my relationship with Jonah and my coming out. I am trying my best to live as good a life as I can, and I am trying to live according to what I believe is true and good the best way I know how. I would like marriage with my partner to be a part of that. I hope I can marry Jonah legally in California, and I hope one day that right will be allowed to all gay couples in all states. If Proposition 8 passes, Jonah and I will have a commitment ceremony here in Utah. No matter what, it will not diminish the love or devotion we already have to one another.

So many people are scared of giving gays and lesbians the right to marry. We're truly no different than our heterosexual counterparts. We just want to live, love, and grow old together like everyone else.

I found an interesting quote from a talk Thomas S. Monson gave at the April, 2005 conference. The entire talk can be found here, but here's the quote:

"Several years ago we had a young paperboy who didn't always deliver the paper in the manner intended. Instead of getting the paper on the porch, he sometimes accidentally threw it into the bushes or even close to the street. Some on his paper route decided to start a petition of complaint. One day a delegation came to our home and asked my wife, Frances, to sign the petition. She declined, saying, "Why, he's just a little boy, and the papers are so heavy for him. I would never be critical of him, for he tries his best." The petition, however, was signed by many of the others on the paper route and sent to the boy's supervisors.

"Not many days afterward, I came home from work and found Frances in tears. When she was finally able to talk, she told me that she had just learned that the body of the little paperboy had been found in his garage, where he had taken his own life. Apparently the criticism heaped upon him had been too much for him to bear. How grateful we were that we had not joined in that criticism. What a vivid lesson this has always been regarding the importance of being nonjudgmental and treating everyone with kindness."


Some of us in this world are "little paperboys" who have tried our whole lives to get that damn "paper on the porch," but we just can't do it. The "papers are so heavy" for us, and even though some people wish we could get it on the porch, sometimes the "bushes" or the "street" are all we can manage. Please don't sign a "petition" that will diminish us further.

How's that for metaphorical overload? ;-)

19 comments:

The Faithful Dissident said...

I'm actually glad that I don't live in CA because I think I would probably have to sit out the vote since I feel so torn.

What I appreciate about your approach, even though it has offended some of your friends, is that you don't feel the need to bash the Church over this. I really don't feel the need to bash anyone on either side, except those on both sides who lower themselves to bashing individuals for something that defines who they are, such as their religion or their sexuality. Sadly, some people on both sides of the issue forget these things. I can only imagine what it's like for you, since you find yourself so strongly connected to both sides of this issue.

I respect and defend the Church's stance on protecting the family and marriage. I'm sure that most of us will agree that children growing up with a mother and a father who are married is "ideal." When done in a loving, respectful way, I think that encouraging people to work towards having the "ideal" is the right thing to do. But of course, not everyone will be able to have what's considered "ideal," and sometimes there's nothing they can do about that. We have to accept this and the sooner we can do this, the sooner we can concentrate on building bridges instead og distances.

To be honest, I don't really see why we can't have both. Mormons (and other conservative Christians) are not going away. Homosexuals are not going away either. Neither of us are asking for permission to murder or commit heinous crimes. What we all want is the freedom to worship as we please and to live life with our loved ones as we wish to do.

I feel very torn between what I'm told is the right thing to do (and sometimes I perhaps feel and believe it's the right thing, but I've flip-flopped so many times that I simply don't know) and protecting fellow human beings from being hurt or having to endure pain. I feel like God is asking me to inflict pain on someone else, with the alternative being disobedient and therefore putting myself under condemnation. If the whole thing was up to only me, I think I would say, "Lord, please let this cup pass from me."

That story about the paperboy is a gem. I loved it when I first heard it and I think that it describes how I feel about this issue in particular. Like his wife Frances, I want to withhold criticism (unless I think that some good could come out of it). But in most cases, I've found that it's not really worth it.

I think that if I lived in CA and did decide to vote YES on Prop 8, then I would keep it to myself, at least among fellow members. I would never want to give fuel to the fire of those who are more concerned about the issue than the individuals behind it. I don't think that anyone should be able to vote YES on 8 without feeling at least a little pain and anguish by doing so. Even if I were to decide that it was my moral duty to God to vote YES, I can't imagine doing so happily or enthusiastically, because I know what it would mean to those involved. In a way, I think it should be like when Abraham was going to sacrifice his son. He was going to do it because he was convinced that the Lord required it of him. But he knew it was going to come at a huge cost and it caused him great anguish.

Mormon Soprano said...

Actor, I appreciate your post. You are obviously a very sincere and good person who is trying your hardest. Although I do not agree with your lifestyle choice, I am respectful of your right to choose it. I am grateful that you did not post another outright "mormon-bashing" article, and that you appear aware that equal rights must go both ways!

Many people, and the media, are continually focusing on the involvement of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints with Proposition 8, while forgetting the thousands of other churches, organizations and individuals not of the LDS faith who are also diligently working to see it pass.

You may go to protectmarriage.org to read the official site of the non-profit, independent coalition which the LDS church has joined along with thousands of others. there, you can get facts regarding this particular issue. However, let me list a few important points which may help clarify things.

Proposition 8 is not just a legal issue - it is overwhelmingly a moral issue, and The LDS church has a right and a responsibility to defend their beliefs, and to defend the family. As you know, we believe in sustaining and defending the law of the land, and in sustaining and defending the laws of God . - Proposition 8 does both. One of the laws of God is the sacredness of the marriage covenant between a man and a woman, as instituted by our Heavenly Father in the beginning with Adam and Eve. One of the laws of our nation is due process and allowing the voice and vote of the majority of society to set policy.

Please understand that Prop 8 is not an anti-gay movement, it is pro-freedom.

1. In 2000 the voice of the people in California overwhelmingly voted for Proposition 22 which stated that the definition of Marriage is between a man and a woman.

2. In spring of 2008 four CA judges ignored the voice of the people and legal process. They declared that gay marriage is a “right” because the traditional definition of marriage did not expressly appear in the state Constitution itself. So, these four judges changed the definition of marriage for society; without ever getting the consent and vote of the people, and in direct violation of what had previously been voted for! It was thus necessary to present Prop. 8 in an effort to restore the original rights and voice of the people, and put the definition of marriage on the CA state constitution.

3. Proposition 8 does not discriminate against gays! In the state of California, Gays and Lesbians already enjoy all of the legal rights and benefits of marriage. This is what all gays should encourage their states to offer. The California Family Code says, “domestic partners shall have all the rights, protections and benefits” of married spouses. Prop. 8 DOES NOT CHANGE THIS! The fact is that absolutely NOTHING whatsover will be taken away from the gay community if Prop 8 passes! However, if Prop 8 is defeated the rights and wishes of the majority will be violated. Prop 8 is therefore in defense of legal rights, traditional family rights, freedom of religion and freedom of speech.

4. Our society as a whole still believes that Marriage is a sacred, God ordained institution between one man and one woman. A gay couple is welcome to live the lifestyle they choose, and in California and other similar states they will continue to have all the benefits and respect legally of a married couple. However, they do NOT have a right to redefine what Marriage is for the rest of society.

I have many wonderful gay and lesbian friends. I love them, I laugh with them, I cry with them, and I sympathize with their struggles. I believe wholeheartedly that the Church leadership extends that same love to anyone who is struggling with differences and difficulties, including those with same-gender attraction. Our prophet and leaders continually encourage all members to extend compassion, kindness and understanding, as true disciples of Jesus Christ - and as evidenced in the "paperboy" story Pres. Monson told, this is truth.

Our message is that we love you as a valuable human being, a brother, a friend and a child of God. The lifestyle you have chosen to enter into is in violation of certain laws of God which we hold dear and sacred. I believe there are always sad and destructive consequences whenever we violate any of God's laws. There are blessings he wants to give us, but cannot do so if we do not keep the conditions of His laws. However, we are each free to choose our path in life.

Taking the "paperboy" analogy you have offered, may I suggest an alternative story line to consider?

When the little paperboy was trying so hard to do his best, but making many mistakes at his job, and experiencing failure, here is what I suggest should happen.

Someone needs to immediately recognize the boy's struggle and step forward to assist him. He needs to be reassured that there are many paperboys who have struggled and had these same challenges, and he shouldn't feel inadequate or devalued. The community needs to rally around him, and recognize his efforts. He obviously needs to increase his skills in dealing with his difficulties and challenges, and others need to be patient and helpful.

He needs to seek and receive guidance from a skilled leader in the paper profession, and also be given a mentor who either is or was a paperboy. His mentor has experienced the same mistakes and frustrations, but has learned from them and has mastered how to get the paper on the porch every time, and how to enjoy the job.

Practical tips will be given and do-able steps for improvement will be laid out. The paperboy will need continual praise for when he succeeds and gets the paper on the porch, and as he continues with this success he will realize that he is stronger and has more gifts and skills than he originally thought. He will gain satisfaction and pride in his accomplishments, and he will begin to have great joy and peace in who he is, and what he has to offer.

It is important that the paperboy is held to a high standard, and that porching the paper is not only seen as possible, but it is expected. This is how human beings all gain self-confidence, satisfaction, success and joy in in their lives. By continually striving for the highest goals, we accomplish great and important things. We also come to know who we really are and what our important potential really is. When the paperboy, or papergirl, gives up completely or consigns themselves to mediocrity, it will never bring them satisfaction and happiness. In fact, it endagers their entire future! However, the paperboy must choose for himself whether he will accept the efforts of others to teach him the new skills, and face the intense work and challenges, or opt out.

Now, imagine how inappropriate it would be if the paperboy decided that instead of quietly choosing his new career path, and allowing the community to deliver and receive the papers in the acceptable manner, he becomes bitter and feels entitled. He decides that laws must be changed and that all people must stop expecting their papers to be porched, because if he can't porch them, then all people must be forced to retrieve their papers from the bushes and the roofs. He doesn't want to believe paperboys can ever get them on the porch, nor be expected to. So, instead, everyone else should lower their standards instead of expecting the paperboys to raise theirs.

If this scenario happens, then the community is forced to stand up for their rights. They must explain clearly to the paperboy that although they care for him, and mean no ill will towards him, and although he has the option to quit his job entirely, or to choose a career path which makes him feel happier, the community also has the right to uphold the acceptable standards for their peace and wellbeing and happiness, and continue to receive porched papers.

:)

NYC Adventure said...

Great post. I get Google Alerts on the anything published on the web about gay marriage + Mormons. Your post come was a part of my daily update. It was a nice break from the usually politically and religiously charged posts. I especially enjoyed your quote from Monson. I am grateful I have moved past the point where suicide was a considered option. I never was able to quite get the newspaper on the porch but fortunately I realized I was trying to serve the wrong porches. Thanks again.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Beware! Very long comment!

Mormon Soprano,

Thanks for writing. I appreciate your input and point-of-view. However, it is, of course, obvious to me that we will just have to respectfully disagree on some of these issues. I know there is probably little I could do to sway you to my way of thinking and vice-versa. However, since you were kind enough to share your point-of-view in a respectful way, I’d like to do the same (at least that is my hope). I know it is unlikely to change your opinion on the matter, but just as it was informative to try and see things from your vantage point, it may be equally informative for you if I share things from my point-of-view.

One of the difficulties I have is the assumption that homosexual feelings are simply a “choice” that is as easy to choose as one might choose to drink or wear a particular outfit. While it is true that I have chosen to act on my homosexual feelings and attractions at this point in my life, I did not choose to be gay and spent many, many years of my life trying to suppress and eradicate these feelings from my life. I have been an active member of the LDS Church for most of my life, and I have done everything I was ever counseled to do in regards to my homosexuality. I have fasted and prayed more than you can imagine, received numerous Priesthood blessings, paid my tithing faithfully, went to church diligently, served many callings, read my scriptures, went to the temple, dated women, counseled quite honestly with my leaders, and went through reparative therapy. I have many friends and acquaintances who are gay and Mormon (or grew up Mormon) who have done the same, and so many of just seem unable to be anything but gay, and unfortunately the church I have so ardently believed in and followed all my life does not seem to give me any satisfying answers for how to combat it. I’ve been given many suggestions, but none of it works.

I’ve heard people ignorantly say that we’re just not trying hard enough or we’re giving in to weakness and sin to easily or it’s just our cross to bear in life like bad health or a predisposition to alcoholism or what-have-you. I say that until you’ve walked in a gay person’s shoes, you just really can’t have any idea what it’s like, just as I have no idea what it’s really like to grow up black or be a woman. I can try to sympathize with the experience of an African-American or a female, but I could never presume to really understand things from their points-of-view. They’ve simply had a different life experience than I have, and it is likewise with my experience and a straight person’s. My feelings and attractions feel as natural and right to me as I presume yours do for someone of the opposite sex. I don’t know how to be any other way, and when I’ve attempted to be, it has only brought me angst, depression, stress, and a feeling that I’ll never be able to measure up to what I’m told I should be by society and my religion. I know some people have this false thinking that a person could be turned gay. From my experience and that of the gay people I know (which are many), you either are or you’re not.

I’ve also seen people go through reparative therapy and others get married to someone of the opposite sex, and the ones I know of either feel incredibly unfulfilled in their relationships or the marriage ends (sometimes leaving kids or a spouse whose self-esteem suffers for a problem they never had control over in the first place) or the reparative therapy causes more harm than good. Frankly (and this is only based on personal experience of myself and others I know), I don’t feel reparative therapy works. I think it’s a temporary fix akin to trying to heal a gaping wound with a Band-Aid.

What I can say simply from my own experience is that I would not have been happy in a marriage with a woman. I also dated several great women and was forthright with all of them about my sexuality, and in the end I knew it would be unfair to both of us if we were to marry. In retrospect, that turned out to be one of the best decisions I ever made. The relationship I’m in now is the longest-lasting, most fulfilling relationship I have ever had, and there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I am happier and more at peace than I ever was when I was trying so hard to live my life as a straight Mormon man. I do not feel deluded or misled, and I am unquestionably happier.

The fact is, while I still believe the LDS Church is true (a fact that cannot be erased because of a strong spiritual experience I had when I gained my testimony), I had simply reached a point in my life when the gospel as I was taught it was simply too hard to live. I could not be what the Church (and I assumed, God) wanted me to be. I was too weary, too broken, and the cross was just too heavy. And I had tried all the things I had been taught to allow the Savior to take the extra load. I was defeated, and I could do no more. I had met a great man that I was falling in love with, and while I tried to deny my feelings for him when I first met him, it became abundantly clear to me that we were meant to be together. After accepting that and coming out (knowing full well doing so would endanger my eternal salvation) something amazing happened that I did not expect: I became happier, more at ease, more willing to be myself, more at peace, more stable, and my relationship with God seemed to improve. If the Church is true (which I still believe), then I cannot explain why doing something I’ve been told is sinful and wicked has brought me more peace and happiness than I had felt in a long, long time. And you know what? I no longer care. I just know things are better for me, and I know that I am doing the best I can and that God is fully aware of that. And that is enough…for now.

The fact is the Church (and, I guess, God, by extension) has given me few options. In an interview with Elders Dallin H. Oaks and Lance B. Wickman, I’m told that no one knows what causes homosexuality, it may be in-born, it may be incredibly difficult to control (but controllable enough not to endanger my salvation), that therapy may or may not help, that marrying a woman may not help, that it may always be a problem in this mortal life, and that the best option may be to live alone and celibate for the rest of my life. Oh, and by the way, it isn’t good for man to be alone, either. One of my frustrations (and that of many others in similar situations) is that the options seem unfair and unreasonable. I know the leaders of the Church are good men who are trying hard to understand and help those who deal with same-sex attraction, but many of us feel they simply don’t understand, try as they might, and do not offer us counsel that works for us. Ultimately, as much as I tried to, I just couldn’t get aboard that train. It is my hope that if I am in the wrong that Christ’s atonement will pick up the slack because I simply wasn’t able to do it. If that makes me weak and a sinner, so be it. I just couldn’t do what was required. They say the Lord will never give you a trial you can’t overcome. This is something I wasn’t able to (and no longer desire to) overcome. I feel better about myself, my relationship, and my life than I did before I “opted out” as you inferred to in the extended “paperboy” analogy, so I’m okay with it.

I am well aware that the LDS Church isn’t the only organization that is fighting for Proposition 8. I only focus on it because it is the one that I have the most immediate relationship with. And I had already visited protectmarriage.org before you wrote you letter (like all political issues, I like to know both sides of any issue), and found some of the things there to be a little inflammatory.

People say gay marriage is a moral issue, and I guess that’s where I have problems. Of course, those who are absolutely certain that marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God and the only acceptable form of marriage will doubtless find same-sex marriage to be immoral. But look at it from someone’s point-of-view who doesn’t believe that. There are gay people out there who simply would like their relationships to be recognized by society as being normal and good; who would like to have a legal ceremony that recognizes their union. This isn’t just about legal rights, because you’re right, California already gives domestic partners similar rights as one might find in a heterosexual marriage (although most states, unfortunately, do not). But putting aside your beliefs in eternal marriage for just a moment (which will probably be hard to do) imagine how it feels for a gay couple who loves each other just as much as a heterosexual couple does, who pay their taxes and perform their civic duties like any other American, who are raising their families, going to work, and doing everything else their heterosexual counterparts are doing to be told they don’t have the same right to marry. If they don’t see their relationship as immoral and don’t believe the same things you do about marriage, then it does feel discriminatory; it does feel like they’re being treated differently when they just want to be seen as normal like any other couple, straight or gay. Proposition 8, then, is only about the straight couples’ freedoms, not the gay ones. When women and blacks weren’t allowed to vote or when African-Americans were denied the right to sit or shop in the same places white people did or drink from the same fountains or use the same bathrooms, they were being treated differently even though they were just as much citizens of this great country as anybody else. I assert that gay people are being treated differently as well. You may argue that a woman or a black person cannot help what they are, and I would argue that most gay people feel the same way about themselves. They feel that this is just who they are. And you are free to believe that this is false, but I’m just saying how many of us feel.

And if marriage is indeed an eternal ordinance that can only be sealed in heaven as it is sealed on earth, then what difference does it make if a man-made law is changed to include all citizens, and not just some? It won't change the law in the eternities. And while I understand the majority of voters voted for Proposition 22, I believe that is what these judges are getting at: is it constitutional to prohibit one group of American citizens from the same right that another group has? If Proposition 8 is passed in November, so be it. That will show again that the majority of California voters aren’t willing to allow gays the right to marry. But if it is defeated, then there will be a new majority, and paraphrasing your own words, “the rights and wishes of the” new majority “will be violated” if that defeat isn’t respected and upheld. Is it no longer okay now?

I’m pleased to hear that you have many gay and lesbian friends and am actually curious what their thoughts are regarding your support of Proposition 8. I also reaffirm that you can all have all the gay friends in the world, but that you can never really know what another person is like unless you walk in their shoes. Try walking in my shoes for 37 years and you might feel differently about this issue.

I agree with you that “our prophet and leaders continually encourage all members to extend compassion, kindness, and understanding, as true disciples of Jesus Christ” to those with same-gender attraction. Unfortunately, not all do. There are still many ignorant and sometimes even hateful things said and done to those who have this issue in their lives. I know that leads to hopelessness, unworthiness, depression, guilt, and other negative feelings, and I would imagine similar feelings caused Stuart Matis to commit suicide during the political season when Proposition 22 was being lobbied. I have never personally felt hated by anyone in my church, but I certainly have felt misunderstood. There is still much educating that needs to be done, in my opinion.

You are right, we all do have our free agency, and I do respect your right to support this bill because I understand where you’re coming from in regards to eternal marriage and the plan of salvation. I know for me this is still a transition. Even though I am in violation of the commandments as they have been given to me, I feel I am doing the best I can and can do no more. I don’t drink, I don’t smoke, my partner and I have not had sexual relations (and we have been together for about two and a half years), I still pay tithing, I go to church, I am honest with my leaders, I participate as much as I am able to in my ward, I pray, and I very much have a desire to get married to my fiancĂ©. Ironic as it may seem, I am trying my best to live as “Mormon” of a life as I am able. I hope we can be legally married. It would feel more appropriate to me if we could. But either way, it will not change our love or commitment to one another. It would just be nice if the rest of the world recognized it the way I recognize my straight friends’ marriages.

I am not bitter towards the LDS Church in the slightest nor do I hold any malice or ill will toward you for believing as you do, but this “paperboy” simply is unable and unwilling to do as you suggest. I would rather be as happy as I am and be wrong than feel as miserable as I did and be right. As it is, I feel very good about where I am in my life and very fulfilled in my relationships with my partner, my family, my friends, and, most importantly, God. I can’t ask for much more than that.

Thanks again for your thoughts, and I hope any other respondents who comment here will be respectful and courteous (as I hope I have been) even if they may disagree with you.

Gay LDS Actor said...

FAITHFUL, thanks for your comments.

I do understand why people are torn on this issue. Obviously, I want to be legally married, but I do understand why some might be opposed if they truly believe what they believe.

I don't believe bashing is useful. It does me no good (it just expends a lot of negative energy), and it certainly wouldn't make the people being bashed feel any more inclined to listen to me. The fact is, in spite of the fact that I'm currently having disagreements with my religious leaders' approach to this issue, I both respect their right to voice their opinions, and I truly do love the church of which I'm a part. I have said many times in my blog that my religion has provided me with many of my greatest qualities and values (as has my sexuality).

Because of my devotion to both my religion and my need to be true to myself, it is, admittedly, sometimes hard to know where to stand.

I actually do agree with you that a child raised by a mother and father is probably in the most ideal situation, although I also maintain that a child raised by two gay parents can turn out just as well and even better, in some cases; but, essentially, I do agree with that position. But, like you say, the "ideal" is not always a reality, and people have to learn to deal with that.

Frankly, "ideal" to me would mean I could be both gay and Mormon without any repercussions, but, alas, that is not the reality. But it would be nice to at least be understood.

I, myself, am torn between what I'm told is right and what I currently feel is right for me. I guess all I can do is the best I can.

Thanks for your thoughts.

NYC, thanks for your thoughts as well. I'm glad you enjoyed the post. I know what you mean about the porches. :-)

The Faithful Dissident said...

I'm just curious, so feel free to take the 5th on this if you like. :) Is Jonah LDS as well? If not, how does he feel about your religion? Is it hard on him and your relationship that you come from such a strong Mormon background? What do you think it will be like to attend church together if he goes with you?

I want to thank you for pouring out your heart here. Your story gives insight that we can't get in any other way, unless we have walked in your shoes ourselves. I wish I could get everyone in the entire church to read your last post because it's so honest, heartfelt, and it can come as a surprise to some conservative members who just wrongly assume that gay Mormons can't or don't care to live th Gospel if they choose to pursue a homosexual relationship. Yours is a unique testimony that every member should hear. Even if their views regarding marriage remain unchanged -- and even if they are correct in those views -- what harm can come out of learning more about what it's like to be you and thereby developing more compassion and understanding? I agree with you that your struggle is not like others. In comparing it to alcoholism or other similar "crosses to bear," I think that the struggle in itself is diminished.

Gay LDS Actor said...

FD,

Jonah is Pentecostal (and I thought being gay and MORMON was hard!). It's funny, I never thought my future mate would be of another faith, but he's terrific, and really, he's as close to being LDS as one could be without actually being LDS (at least as far as the attributes I was interested in). In fact, we joke sometimes about he's my "Mormon wife." (I hope he's not embarrassed by that; he DOES read this blog on occasion.) He doesn't smoke or drink; he's completely respected my desire to stay active in the LDS Church; we both respect the need to marry before we have sexual relations; he's very prayerful and is probably more in tune with the Holy Ghost than many people I know (including myself); he's is one of the most generous, giving, and service-oriented individuals I have met; and he is very Christlike in many ways. He's really quite a good match spiritually (not to mention many other ways).

Jonah also grew up around Mormons and had Mormon friends before he met me, so he is familiar with our doctrines and culture. That doesn't mean he has always understood where I'm coming from at all times, but he certainly has been both inquisitive and supportive, and that has meant a great deal to me. I actually think he has done a better job of trying to understand my faith than perhaps I have done with regard to his (but I'm trying, too).

Jonah thus far has not attended church with me, although I did invite him. I don't even think that he's not interested in going. I think it's more out of protecting me. He knows people in the ward would probably surmise our relationship or ask questions about who he is, and, of course, he doesn't wish for either of us to be dishonest. Although my bishop and a couple of close friends at the ward know about him and our relationship, I am still "in the closet" to most of my fellow members (not even because I am ashamed or scared, but because the more it is brought to light, the more I fear excommunication will be imminent, and I'd prefer to delay that as long as possible). I think he just doesn't want either of us to feel uncomfortable.

Jonah isn't an active church-goer in his own religion, although its influence is certainly present in his and his family's lives. But thus far I have not noticed any huge gulfs or conflicts with regard to our religious beliefs.

If we ever do end up attending church together, I do not know what to expect. I guess we'll see if we ever cross that bridge together.

I'm grateful you feel my story gives insight into what it's like to be me. That, of course, is my goal. I genuinely try to be sincere and honest (aside from the pseudonyms I use) in everything I say here. In fact, I often copy word for word things I say here and put them in my journal (changing the names, of course). I'm glad that sincerity and honesty seem to come through.

I agree that "even if [a member's] views regarding marriage remain unchanged -- and even if they are correct in those views -- what harm can come out of learning more about what it's like to be you and thereby developing more compassion and understanding?" If a person who doesn't understand the situation of people like myself can gain even a modicum of understanding or empathy of some kind regarding my experience, it will please me. There is just a lot of ignorance regarding homosexuality and also a gay Mormon (or even a gay Christian)'s experience. Even if people don't agree with me (and I don't expect that), if I can educate someone on what it's like to be in my shoes, bravo!

I know there are people out there who think homosexuality is just all about sex, for example. Some people can't fathom that it actually is about love and two people who want to grow old together. Believe me, if sex were the thing driving my relationship with Jonah, we never would have even began. lol I'm actually very grateful that we have waited because it gave us time to be friends first and know that our relationship was based on so much more than just physical attraction. Anyway, that last paragraph turned out to be a pretty big tangent.

Again, thanks for your thoughts. Forgive any grammatical errors. I typed this rather quickly and didn't have time to proofread it.

The Faithful Dissident said...

LOL, you guys crack me up! A Mormon and a Pentecostal! I seriously hope that you two can help boost the dismal statistics of the Mormon-interfaith marriage success rate that we were discussing in my blog. :)

I'm glad to hear that you keep a journal because I imagine that someday you could write a book about your experiences.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Maybe we should do a sitcom. Wouldn't you want to watch a show called "The Mormon and the Pentecostal?" lol

A said...

You are my hero. That was such an amazing quote

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Alex.

Lisa said...

I remember that talk, but this is a unique perspective.

Can I steal this from you for my blog? I'll absolutely credit you...so I suppose it wouldn't exactly be "stealing" :)

Like the faithful dissident, I really appreciated this post because you've steered clear of bashing anyone or anything. That's not as easy as it should be, but it speaks volumes more.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Steal away, Lisa. Thanks for your comments.

Amanda said...

I also remember that talk, and it's come to mind frequently as this issue comes up. I'm an inactive member who left the church in part because of its position on homosexuality. My husband and I believe there should be a separation between civil marriage and religious marriage. I don't want to bash the church - I have a lot of respect for the church. I am quite sad, in fact, about how much divisiveness is occurring right now in wards across the country. Even though I don't believe in the LDS dogma anymore, I am sad to see how it is affecting people across the board - LDS and non-LDS people alike.

btw - it sounds like you're in a lovely relationship, and congrats on your wedding or commitment ceremony, whichever it may end up being.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Amanda, for your comments. I, too, am troubled by the divisiveness that I hear about in various wards (although I haven't, thankfully, experienced much in my own).

Thank you, too, for your kind words regarding my relationship. It is "lovely," as you put it, and I am very excited to be spending my life with the man I love.

Ezra said...

As a gay mormon (who seems to be further moving away everyday from the church, sadly) living in California, I want to apologize for failing to defeat prop 8.

I tried, I lost my faith over this--but I don't believe it's the role of the state to discriminate.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Ezra,

Thanks for your heartfelt words and your efforts. There is no need to apologize.

And please, don't allow this to cause you to lose your faith. Things happen that cause our faith to shake, but if we lose our faith, we've lost a lot.

I still love the church deeply. This is a very difficult issue. I truly feel torn between two things I care about deeply.

All my best.

Cari Dahl said...

Someone referred me to your blog, and I'd just like to thank you so much for your comments. I really appreciate them, and I hope you and your fiance enjoyed Vegas.

Gay LDS Actor said...

Thanks, Cari. I appreciate your comments.