25 March 2008

The Aftermath... So Far

Well, as you all saw in my last post, I came out to a whole bunch of people. I said that I would tell you all why I decided to start being open about it, so I will.

The problem with being gay and Mormon is that you feel alone. You feel like nobody understands you. You talk to your leaders, parents, friends, but nobody really understands. They lend an awkward smile, and maybe a hug, telling you that they're behind you all the way and will support you however they can, but they are clueless. So, time passes and they may or may not infrequently ask you how you are doing. The infrequency at which that happens becomes greater and greater until you are back to dealing with it all on your own. One day comes where you are feeling particularly down and depressed about things, and you begin to search online for other gay Mormons thinking that you can relate with them.

This scenario then becomes something of a "choose your own adventure" book. But with the notable exception that it's not as much of a choice as it is dumb luck.

You end up meeting other gay Mormons online. You converse with them. You become friends with them. This is the same for both outcomes, but here is where they diverge. In one case, you have the person who meets the 10-20% of gay Mormons who have been able to reconcile their sexual orientation with their beliefs. In the other case you meet the 80-90% who have not reconciled the two together and have left the church.

In the former case, the majority are helpful. Some are not so helpful. They are clinging onto life by the skin of their teeth, and have a white-knuckled grip on their sanity. But the majority are comfortable in their situation and very supportive of anyone else like them.

In the latter case, the majority are helpful in convincing that person that the church has done them a disservice in their life, has repressed them, and wants to control them. They do everything they can to convince the person that staying with the church and being happy are two incompatible paths. Some are supportive of staying with the church, if the person can reconcile it, but aren't really much of a cheerleader in those regards. They aren't anti, but they are neutral at best.

I don't ever expect all people who deal with with being gay to accept and stay in the church. Everyone has different backgrounds, and different hands that they've been dealt. But, I do believe that with the proper resources to turn to, a lot more than 10-20% of gay Mormons will find that they can reconcile their faith with their sexual orientation and be able to comfortably remain active members of the church.

The problem, as I have seen it, is that you can't find resources out in the open. You have to go through underground methods to find them. At that point, it's a crap shoot as to if you'll meet the active gay members, or those who have left the church. People shouldn't be relegated to forming their life based on a search engine ranking.

Part of this problem is that the subject of homosexuality is taboo in the church. It is only spoken of in terms of the evils of having sex with someone of your same gender. It isn't spoken of in terms of 3-5% of the population has those sexual inclinations, and therefore on average there are 8-15 people in your very own congregation that are secretly dealing with this. Since the members don't think of it in these terms, many hurtful and homophobic remarks are made in front of and to these people. It is a catalyst in driving them to leaving the church.

I just feel that it's time that people opened their eyes to the reality of this. If you personally know someone who is gay, and are friends with them, it will give you pause before you say potentially hurtful things in front of others. That in turn will help those who are still keeping it a secret to feel comfortable and accepted in the church. And when the day comes that they decide to deal with their sexual orientation, it will be much easier for them to reconcile it with their faith.

That's the reason I decided to be open about it.

And, so far the response has been very positive. There are several people that I sent the email to that have not yet responded to me, but the really important ones in my life have. They've been floored by the fact that I hid it from them so well, for so long. And all of them have apologized for if they have ever made a gay slur that was offensive to me. They are all thinking a lot differently about us gay Mormons now. I'm going to call it a successful endeavor.

We'll see where it goes from here.


A.J. said...

Tell me about it.....it is even harder to find info from faithful Mormon lesbians. -A.J.

Sean said...

I'm glad that it has been a good experience. I've thought about doing the same kind of thing except during a talk or a testimony. It would be interesting to see how my home ward would react.

MoHoHawaii said...

I think what you've done is great. Coming out is a very powerful thing to do. Please keep posting about this-- I'm curious to see how this evolves.

Best wishes!

Kengo Biddles said...

I wish I was better at hiding it like you...everyone's slowly figuring me out, nevermind (to quote Dmitri Flenritti) that I have the "perfect Beard."

I'm glad that so far the response is good!

MohoInTx said...

Wow... where to start. I can relate so much to this.

First, I would like to say that I don't recall running into any homosexual who has left the Church that has encouraged me to do the same. They are aware that I am thinking my stance through thoroughly, and agree with how I am handling it most of the time.

The ones that tend to be more pushy, as well as the ones that seem to be more supportive, are the ones that have stuck with the Church.

As for coming out, I have considered being somewhat open about it. I don't think I am just going to tell everyone I see, but I hope to sometime let at least my bishops be aware of the situation. I also plan on sending out an email out to all 9 of my siblings. I was going to tell them independantly, but decided that there was no real point in that.

I also had a dream just last night, where some hurtful things were being said by members of the Church while in institute. I garnered up the courage, raised my hand, and corrected the many misconceptions, and explained that SGA is a serious issue within the Church and members in our Church need our support and love more than ever. I remember being able to convey my thoughts perfectly, and everyone seemed to grasp what I was saying quite well.