Sunday, October 31, 2010

Someday… #1

,,,I’ll have a son or daughter with a room painted like this:

Calvin and Hobbes Room

Time to get started on those painting lessons….

Thursday, October 28, 2010

My Favorite Things #6

Sorry I’ve been a bit busy lately.  Grad apps and such prevent relevant, thoughtful, lengthy posts, so I hope you don’t mind me helping you procrastinate. 

I’ve been paying attention to this site for months now, but neglected to share it.  Five second films are just what they sound like:

You can feel less guilty because they’re only 5 calories… I mean seconds….

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Laugh of the Day #29

30 Rock/Modern Family fan fic… (well, not really, it’s actually a set of important PSAs…):


Thursday, October 21, 2010

Prop 8: The Next Chapter

Apparently, the matter gets a step closer to the US Supreme Court just in time for Christmas.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Once Upon a Simpler Time

Prologue to Book II

“There’s no denying what feels right.  Knowing that I’m gay makes everything else make sense now.  I know it’s hard to understand, but I can make it work.  I know I can really have it all.  I know I’ve got limits.  I give a little and I take a little and it all works perfectly in its own way.  I just can’t go anywhere beyond making out with another guy.”

guys kiss

“No, GMB, I don’t get it.  You’ve never even kissed someone.  How can you make a judgment like that? Even that seems kind of out of the question to me.  No matter what you say, I don’t think I’ll ever find anything compatible with being gay and being Mormon.  We all have to choose.”

With each iteration of my explanation, Cole responded with a congenial “Okay, but…” or an skeptical, drawn out “True….”  I felt as if I was wasting my efforts—that my inklings of faith and my bulwark of reason making perfect sense to me in that moment were somehow lost on him.   He was always the one I’d depended on, the one whose faith I had envied.  And now I was the strong one?  I was the one who could cite scripture and soothe a blighted spirit with a torch of hope?

It was later than I care to admit that I realized you find true friends in the irony of these reversals.  I was never there to save him just as he was never there to save me; we were there for each other, standing like two sides of an arch. 

A year of life tugged away the gossamer shreds of naiveté.  Attempts to reconcile a life of dating and devotion proved more than difficult than I’d anticipated.  As the reality set in, so did a subtle I-told-you-so brand of irony in my conversations with Cole. 

car driving night

“Do you remember when we had everything figured out?” I asked him one night as we drove home from a performance one night.  “I remember when we would all pile onto Jacqueline’s couch and muse about the future.”

“I remember that,” he said nodding in acquiescence.

“After a party, the energy would ebb out until just a few of us were left and we’d talk about our future.  We all saw ourselves married off and doing fantastic things with our lives by the time we were twenty-four.  The one thing that seems to have worked out the way we’d expected is that Emily, Serenity, Jacqueline, you and me are still so close.  It’s only partially the fact that we’re all still single.”

Drawing out the realization that needed to be aired in the  starry spring night, he vivified the memories with the details of our communal fantasy: “…all of us in New York City pursuing the dreams we’d made for each other since our sophomore year of high school.  You with some Angela Lansbury-type actress and me with my gorgeous, violinist wife.  The girls off working in theatre and high-class confections.”

There was a pause.  A reflection in the disparity of dreams and reality—not bitter, not sweet, just ironic. 

“We thought we’d be married,” I reiterated. “It was almost like a promise we’d made to ourselves.  We really were kids back then.  Those were our fairytales.  Mormon boys are Prince Charmings who grow up and get married.  We have children sometimes when we are still children ourselves.   And sometimes when we don’t even find ourselves attracted to girls—”


I stopped and glanced at Cole, worried I might have salted old wounds mentioning his  broken engagement.  He was calm and resolute.  I realized the wounds were now scars, scars that had taken two years to heal.  Now I was the one bleeding disillusion and mourning lost futures.

“Why can’t we have everything we were promised?  A wife? Children?  Infinite, eternal love?  Even respect seems unattainable.  Even feeling is wrong to everyone around us.  We didn’t choose this.  Nobody wants what we have.”

“Yes, but remember what feels right, what seemed to be the answer to a prayer way back when.  You told me this is the bit of you that made everything else make sense.  There’s no denying that bit of truth and there’s no denying what makes you happy.  We’ve always been taught to choose truth and happiness and right.” 

It was a matter of  picking up the shattered pieces of my past and making them make sense.  Cole didn’t say anything I hadn’t thought on my own.  He was my best friend in that he simply offered the perspective I needed as I readjusted my grip on the steering wheel and our minds reminisced a simpler time when we had it all figured out.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Laugh of the Day #28

In honor of the next step in the grad school application process:


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Laugh of the Day #27

Today in child cruelty and zombie videos:

Saturday, October 16, 2010

Goodbye, GRE

A selection of books that will find a new home or make it back to the library very soon.  Any takers?


Friday, October 15, 2010

GRE Attempt #2

GRESo, I was a bit less vocal this time going into the test and its horrendous word processor.  I’m still defining my list of schools to apply for, but I feel pretty satisfied with the new scores.  I jumped 40 points on the Verbal (to 600) and 150 points on the Quantitative putting me at 730 (won’t you geeks out there be happy about that last part?). 

It seems I’m at a place I can jump headlong into the application process and the fun parts:  studying for the English Literature Subject test and writing the actual applications. 

But first…I deserve a long nap and a good meal:










Thursday, October 14, 2010

A Poem in Preview

This poem stands as an epigraph to the upcoming series.  It’s currently under construction, but full of potential.  There are a few threads I’m preparing to tie together. 

In the meantime, I leave you with a title standing as epigraph to the next series. 


Emily Dickinson1555

The Life that tied too tight escapes
Will ever after run
With prudential look behind
And spectres of the Rein -
The Horse that scents the living Grass
And sees the Pastures smile
Will be retaken with a shot
If he is caught at all -

-- Emily Dickinson



(Thank you Horizon for your help finding this one).

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

A Proposed Solution to Bullying in Utah

Last night, I attended a meeting on suicide prevention.  The meeting started with an astonishing presentation.  In memory of the LGBT teenagers who have committed suicide in a matter of weeks,  nine short biographies were read and followed by a moment of silence.  The rest of the night remained somewhat somber.  We discussed symptoms of depression, signs of suicide risk, and the heightened danger for LGBT individuals.  Stories were shared from both sides of tragedy: losing friends to suicide and facing suicide head on. 

The conversation led to some serious thought about how one gets to that point.  I’ve considered it a bit (especially here on the blog) and feel as though I’ve made some progress in that sense.  It is very much tied to the current controversies surrounding Boyd K. Packer’s LDS General Conference talk, and now that I work with (and plan to continue to work with) emotionally vulnerable eighteen and nineteen year olds, I find myself closer and more devoted to understanding this pain.

Boyd K Packer Sitting Conference

Sharing her own suicidal experiences, the speaker said that one of her major emotional breakthroughs came when an educator pointed out: “You are not your emotions.  You have emotions.  You have thoughts.  You have behaviors.  Instead, you are you.”  For the next three hours, this thought stuck in my head.  This clearly probably isn’t something the bullied understand.  What was I taught growing up LDS?

In my experience, I feel we’ve been taught that we are essentially conflicted masses of emotion—the good within us trying to overcome the “natural man” within all of us.  A memory of seminary and Sunday school lessons immediately crept up.  A video and a 1973  talk by Boyd K. Packer based on the premise “The mind is a stage,” a regular part of the curriculum often associated with wholesome, inspiring music came to mind.  The apostle expands:

“Except when we are asleep the curtain is always up. There is always some act being performed on that stage. It may be a comedy, a tragedy, interesting or dull, good or bad; but always there is some act playing on the stage of the mind.

“Have you noticed that without any real intent on your part, in the middle of almost any performance, a shady little thought may creep in from the wings and attract your attention? These delinquent thoughts will try to upstage everybody.

“If you permit them to go on, all thoughts of any virtue will leave the stage. You will be left, because you consented to it, to the influence of unrighteous thoughts….

“If you can control your thoughts, you can overcome habits, even degrading personal habits. If you can learn to master them you will have a happy life.”

In principle, this idea is fairly sound.  One can reign in negative behaviors before they’re entertained.  Packer’s counsel, though treated as quaint even in some LDS circles is to recall the words of a favorite hymn so as to replace negative emotions with positive, spiritual ones. 

Stage Play ActorsThe philosophical questions then arise: Which thoughts are good?  Which are bad or even neutral?  How does one control those thoughts? Etc. 

Questions of morality and the roles on this stage are defined external sources.  By God, according to the Church, and by society according to others.  In the developmental process of a young adult, a sense of good and evil is established which is very fragile.  It’s influenced not only by religion, but also family and perhaps most importantly one’s peers.  Herein lays the problem  we as a predominantly LDS culture face (as well as the entire nation). 

Two things are necessary to solve this problem: a dialog and consequences. 

In this nation, people have a right to believe.  They are guaranteed the right to believe that God created man.  They are guaranteed the right to believe that evolution is a reality or that one race is superior to another.  No one is guaranteed the unrighteous dominion of forcing those beliefs upon another person. 

Unfortunately, the nature of adolescence is more complex than all of that.  What may be true in the (ideal) world of adults, does not for those coming to terms with growing pains.  A few kids holding the understanding that being gay is evil can destroy his world by teasing him for feminine tendencies regardless of his sexuality.  These same emotions are experienced by youth in the church who feel they are evil for homosexual desires.  Those who inspire these feelings of self-hate—regardless of motive—face consequences.


Recently, the Church has emphasized the difference between feelings and actions, stating that the feelings are not sinful, but actual homosexual acts are.  While I see this message being emphasized for adults, it is seen as too controversial or complex for the youth of the Church.  For the youth, it has been simplified to a notion that all homosexuality—acts, as well as thoughts and even the very word—is inherently evil.  Perhaps leaders feel that by talking about homosexuality to the youth in nuanced, adult terms as outlined in the recent statement they will be more inclined to experiment or accept their emotions. 

If the LDS Church wants to heed its own calls for compassion in the current atmosphere, it is necessary to open this dialog with the youth.  Go ahead and teach that homosexual acts are evil, but hear my plea: save from suicide that unfortunate young man who feels trapped by his feelings, though he might not share his feelings openly. Clearly state that those feelings do not make him evil.  Let him know that he is not alone.  And when that young man reaches adulthood, save him or her from the notion that you are not as righteous because he feels marriage is not an option for him. 

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

LDS Response to HRC Petition: Reading Between the Lines

Those of you following the news are quite aware of the controversy surrounding the comments of Boyd K. Packer in the latest LDS General Conference.  Packer objected to gay marriage stating, “to legalize that which is basically wrong or evil will not prevent the pain and penalties that will follow as surely as night follows day.”  He also characterized homosexuality as “impute and unnatural,” rhetorically asking, “Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone?”


The Human Rights Campaign (a group advocating LGBT equality) delivered a petition today with 150,000 signatures denouncing Packer’s message statements as “dangerous” as well as “factually and scientifically wrong.”

In response to this statement, a protest by thousands of LGBT Utahans last Thursday, and other online protests, the Church released a statement today outlining its stance regarding marriage, treatment of LGBT individuals, and sexual attraction vs. sexual behavior.   The conference, petition, and response all come in the midst of a series of LGBT suicides. 

I present the full statement to be followed by commentary:

My name is Michael Otterson. I am here representing the leadership of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to address the matter of the petition presented today by the Human Rights Campaign.

While we disagree with the Human Rights Campaign on many fundamentals, we also share some common ground. This past week we have all witnessed tragic deaths across the country as a result of bullying or intimidation of gay young men.  We join our voice with others in unreserved condemnation of acts of cruelty or attempts to belittle or mock any group or individual that is different – whether those differences arise from race, religion, mental challenges, social status, sexual orientation or for any other reason.  Such actions simply have no place in our society.

White Ribbon Pride

This Church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history, when we were too few in numbers to adequately protect ourselves and when society’s leaders often seemed disinclined to help.  Our parents, young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness toward those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions toward others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment - to love one another.

As a church, our doctrinal position is clear: any sexual activity outside of marriage is wrong, and we define marriage as between a man and a woman. However, that should never, ever be used as justification for unkindness. Jesus Christ, whom we follow, was clear in His condemnation of sexual immorality, but never cruel.  His interest was always to lift the individual, never to tear down.

Further, while the Church is strongly on the record as opposing same-sex marriage, it has openly supported other rights for gays and lesbians such as protections in housing or employment.

The Church’s doctrine is based on love. We believe that our purpose in life is to learn, grow and develop, and that God’s unreserved love enables each of us to reach our potential. None of us is limited by our feelings or inclinations. Ultimately, we are free to act for ourselves.

The Church recognizes that those of its members who are attracted to others of the same sex experience deep emotional, social and physical feelings. The Church distinguishes between feelings or inclinations on the one hand and behavior on the other. It’s not a sin to have feelings, only in yielding to temptation.

There is no question that this is difficult, but Church leaders and members are available to help lift, support and encourage fellow members who wish to follow Church doctrine. Their struggle is our struggle. Those in the Church who are attracted to someone of the same sex but stay faithful to the Church’s teachings can be happy during this life and perform meaningful service in the Church. They can enjoy full fellowship with other Church members, including attending and serving in temples, and ultimately receive all the blessings afforded to those who live the commandments of God.

Obviously, some will disagree with us. We hope that any disagreement will be based on a full understanding of our position and not on distortion or selective interpretation. The Church will continue to speak out to ensure its position is accurately understood.

God’s universal fatherhood and love charges each of us with an innate and reverent acknowledgement of our shared human dignity.  We are to love one another. We are to treat each other with respect as brothers and sisters and fellow children of God, no matter how much we may differ from one another.

We hope and firmly believe that within this community, and in others, kindness, persuasion and goodwill can prevail.

The good:

  • What was said about bullying needed to be said in the current atmosphere—at a divisive crossroad characterized by finger pointing in the wake of suicide after suicide attributed to homophobic bullying. 
  • The emphasis on the second great commandment to love one another. 
  • Clarification regarding behavior and acting upon it as well as the Church’s doctrinal/political stance in the marriage debate. 

The bad:

  • With such an emphasis on compassion, something is also lacking in this sense.  Compassion is more than simply understanding a state of suffering.  It also encompasses treating one another as one would want to be treated.  This was in part the inspiration of the 11th Article of Faith and remains my only point of contention:
    • We claim the aprivilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the bdictates of our own cconscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them dworship how, where, or what they may.

Handcarts Crossing River

  • I have ancestors who died crossing the Great Plains fleeing persecution.  I still don’t claim to understand completely the trials they faced.  In a conversation with, say, Rosa Parks or Susan B. Anthony, I would never compare the experiences of my ancestors to their fights or frustrations.  The comparison is simply lacking not because the suffering wasn’t comparable, but because it is removed.  Today’s bullying and inequality are equally distinct. 

Some gray areas still remain:

  • What actions define bullying? Where do the lines stand between defending the faith and respecting someone’s sexual orientation?  Comments like “Just looking at the mechanics of men and women we know homosexuality was not what God intended. We can love those people that haven chosen this "lifestyle" but denounce the behavior. I wish people understand the difference. Homosexuality is a choice not the way God intended”  could be construed as both. 
    However, to the eighteen-year old boy praying continuously to God to be healed and fixed to no avail, what conclusion is to he come to but that he’s evil? 

Monday, October 11, 2010

Happy National Coming Out Day

rainbow cupcake

I’ve seen so many beautiful Facebook statuses today asserting who we are and who we support.  It brings a smile to my face.  I helped our campus group put on a Coming Out as Yourself Carnival and it was a success. 

Everyone from the Utah State Sheep and Goat Club the the Pagan Alliance, the College Democrats, and SHAFT (Secular Humanists, Atheists, and Free Thinkers) organized their own booths, each concocting their own carnival games.  The most popular booths won gift certificates.  As this was a rather successful event, we’d encourage anybody planning a National Coming Out Day event to consider building on this idea.

salt jr comes outInterestingly, I’ve done a lot of coming out in the past couple of weeks.  I brought my guy to a wedding a lot of coworkers attended.  It was satisfying to see so much acceptance and a level of awkwardness equal to me bringing a girl (were I to swing that way).  There is def. something satisfying about complete openness.  Here is a link to some of my stories/posts on the topic of Coming Out.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Laugh of the Day#26

For Chedner who helps me enjoy the finer foods in life:

Eating Habits

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Conference Conspiracy?

Did anybody else notice that not one, not two, but three major network television shows had storylines regarding religion this week?...  Right after LDS General Conference?

  1. Modern Family's Jay and Gloria fought about Jay not wanting to go to church and what that meant for their son.
  2. On Community, Pierce's mom died and turned into a lava lamp (basically...).  Jeff (and his mother speaking from the grave) tries to convince him otherwise.NUP_141364_0289
  3. And finally the Glee episode featuring an appearance of The Christ to Finn via cheese sandwich.  My commentary on that one here.

Friday, October 8, 2010

300 (+2) Posts

300 postsIf you were wondering, now you know.  I am one of those bloggers who uses inconsequential milestones such as one’s 300th post to take a day off or wax narcissistic.  Since I forgot to do that a couple of days ago, this is actually #302. 

I now present to you 30 random questions.  10 for each post. 

1)What is your occupation?
Receptionist extraordinaire.

2)What is on the floor of your closet?
My army of shoes.

3)What are you listening to now?
I’ve been listening to The Bird and the Bee’s Hall and Oates album and Katy Perry this week. 

4)What was the last thing you ate?
Cherry cobbler yogurt.

5)Can you drive a stick shift?
The short answer is no.  I have a story about learning how to do so in Chile and almost dying, though. 

6)Last person you spoke to on phone?
My dear dad. 

7)What do you think of questionnaires like this?
I like an excuse to do them, but don’t give them much priority.

8)How old are you today?
I just turned 107 in Mercurian years.  Check out this planetary birthday calculator.

9)What is your favourite sport to watch on TV?
I’d have to say soccer.  I’d say hockey, but the guys don’t take their shirts off when a goal is scored….

10)What are your favourite drinks?

I love me some Diet Mountain Dew.  Peach Fresca is slightly less amazing.  I’m also a fan of chai and iced teas. 

11)Have you ever dyed your hair?
Never.  Somebody could probably convince me to someday.  Part of me wants to go all secret agent, dying it black and trying to pass as Latino.

12)Favourite food?
I would have to say Brazilian Stroganoff.  Recipe here

13)Last movie watched?
Mansfield Park

14)Favourite day of the year?
Probably the first day of school. 

15)How do you vent out your anger?
Bottle it up and then confess it all out every few months.

16)Favourite toy as a child?
My stuffed pound puppies cat, whiskers.

17)Favourite season?
Summer.  Because it’s not winter.

18)Do you want your friends to email you?
I’d rather they call or text.  Or post a brilliant 30 Rock quote on my Facebook wall.

19)When was the last time you cried?
Tuesday.  After watching Glee.

20)What color are your socks now?
I’m wearing the union jack today because I’m awesome and they match today:


21)Who is the friend you have had the longest?
I’d say Cole, Jacqueline, and Emily have stuck with me longer than anyone.  Our group expanded to Chenese, Nate, Serenity, and others shortly thereafter and with few exceptions we’re still fairly close.

22)What did you do last night?
Minimal studying, lots of sleeping to get over this cold, and a significant amount of chatting with boyfriend Chedner

23)What are you most afraid of?
Losing control.  I read once that all fears are tied to losing control, so since then I’ve always given that answer.

24)Plain,cheese or spicy hamburger?
Cheese sounds good.

25)Favourite dog breed?

Dogs aren’t really my thing, so something cuddly but not needy.

26)Favorite day of the week?
Fridays.  Because of cuddling and TV watching after a day at work.

27)How many states have you lived in?
1 in the US.  1 in Chile.  1 in Brazil.

28)Diamond or pearl?
Diamonds are kind of off-putting because I associate them with rapper/gangsta wannabes and war in Africa.

29)What is your wish for the next year?
To be accepted to one of my top 3 grad schools.

30)What’s your next big project?
An annotated bibliography of gay Mormon blogs.  (After that a play that will get some pretty significant attention given the current political discourse… again, that’s all I can say).

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Glee and Spirituality

For those of you who are diehard Gleeks and haven’t seen this week’s episode, I have two things to say.  First, this post is filled with spoilers, so stop reading at the end of this paragraph.  Second, if you haven’t seen it yet, I get to take away your Glee card and your gay card. 

I spent a previous post examining the development of Kurt and would like to return to that for a moment.  Arguably, he’s one of the most three-dimensional characters on the show.  Despite accusations that he remains a gay teen caricature, Ryan Murphy’s genius lies in the fact that he’s managed to do the opposite, getting at some phenomenally ground-breaking observations on homosexual subjectivity.

For Gay Mormon Gleeks, this latest episode (titled “Grilled Cheesus”) chiseled a new and prominent dimension of Kurt’s character into understanding.  In examining this aspect of spirituality, the episode takes an effective strategy of balancing Kurt’s serious assertion of non-believe with Finn’s silly grilled cheese-worshiping foray into belief.  The result is equally balanced. 

Early in the episode, Kurt explains his distaste for religion: “The reason I don't go to church is that most churches don't think very much of gay people.  Or women.  Or science.”  In the wake of Boyd K. Packer’s General Conference talk, we can viscerally identify with Kurt’s statement; however, as we’ve been conditioned to walk the line and find a compromise between sexuality and religious authority’s hostility towards us (as well as principles such as polygamy and race), the connection with Kurt is not a complete one.

This is where the episode gets deeply philosophical.  While some might see Kurt’s disbelief as an affront to his religious classmates, Murphy draws a very even-handed picture playing out in school politics, Kurt’s father’s mortality, and attempts at reconciliation of diversity among friends. 

Emma confronts Sue

Kurt’s storyline has two foils: Sue’s mysterious childhood experiences and the aforementioned Finn plot.  Frustrated with Sue’s ambiguous motives and successful ban on spiritual songs after Kurt’s father collapses and is taken to the hospital, Emma  marches into Sue’s office demanding, “Please tell me Sue what horrible, horrible thing happened to you that made you such a miserable tyrant.”

Sue’s response as she closes the door for a moment of sincerity echoes Kurt’s sentiments of concern over spirituality being foisted upon him:

Since I was a little girl I've had exactly one hero.  My big sister.  You know how much I worshipped her?  She was the sun and the moon to me. 
And while I was still very young, I noticed that other people didn't feel the way I did.  People were rude to her.  They were cruel.  They laughed at her. 
And so I began to pray.  I prayed every night for her to get better.  And nothing changed.  So I prayed harder.  And after a while I realized that it wasn't that I wasn't praying hard enough. 
It was that nobody was listening. Asking someone to believe in a fantasy however comforting isn't a moral thing to do.  It's cruel. 

Just as the show demonstrates range in emotion, tone, and musical genre, this scene establishes a range of motivations for disbelief which a lot of us struggle with.  How many gay men and women have you known who have attempted to “pray away the gay” or faced ridicule in Sunday School for effeminate gestures?  Sue’s revelation shines light on Sue’s even more complex character as well as her paradoxically sympathetic motives for her supposedly cruel actions:

Emma: (interjecting) Don't you think that's just a bit arrogant?
Sue: It's as arrogant as telling someone how to believe in God, and if they don't accept it, no matter how openhearted and honest their dissent they're going to hell.  Well, that doesn't sound very Christian, does it?
Emma: Well, if that's what you believe, that's fine.  But please keep it to yourself.
Sue (sternly):  So long as you do the same.

Simultaneously, belief and non-belief are put in balance with each other as the show’s attempt to reflect true diversity comes to light.  As these two ideas are placed in opposition with one another, they are also placed on equal footing.  This is evident in the warm  conversation between Sue and her sister later in the episode:

Jeannie and Sue Playing Checkers

Sue: Do you believe in God, Jeannie?
Jeannie: Do you?
Sue: No, I don't.
Jeannie: Why not?
Sue: Because when we were little girls you were perfect in my eyes and and I watched the world be cruel to you.
Jeannie: God never makes mistakes.  That's what I believe.Do you want me to pray for you, Sue?
Sue: Yeah.  That would be nice.

While Sue might not agree with her sister, she loves, respects, and even values her beliefs.  Interestingly, that’s the utopian vision of the show in a nutshell as presented via its primary villain: you might be a certain type of person, believe a certain way, or prefer a certain style of music, but despite any differences we might hold, you are loved, respected and valued because of who you are and who we are. 

Kurt holding his dad's hand

Kurt realizes this very lesson as he learns the value of his father’s love and his friends’ beliefs at his ailing father’s hospital bedside:

“I should have let those guys pray for you.  It wasn't about me.  It was about you and... it was nice.
“I don't believe in God, dad.
“But I believe in you.
“And I believe in us.
“You and me—that's what's sacred to me. 
“And I am... I'm so sorry I never got to tell you that.”

In the wake of all of the pain and misery caused by differences in beliefs and understandings of homosexuality, I hope everyone might take to heart the message of valuing others for their differences not only in character but also in faith.  The lives of many would be enriched and saved from the tragedies to which we’re slowly growing accustomed.


(NOTE: This is an timely message as today marks the 12th anniversary of the death of Matthew Shepard). 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Laugh of the Day #25

It's not often something from from my second homeland of Brazil pops up in my reader, but I found this pretty amusing.  Remember when people joked about Jesse Ventura and Arnold Schwarzenegger's candidacies?  (As well as Reagan a generation earlier...)

Amusingly, the newest Deputado in the Brazilian congress is an actual clown.  Some campaign ads:


Some of the video's best lines:

"If you guys don't vote for me, I'm going to die."

"What does a Deputado do?  In reality, I have no idea.  Vote for me and I'll get back to you on that one."

"I will really be doing... um...the life of our Brazil... um...our lives...our moment... our thing..."

Plenty lost in translation, but still amusing.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Conference Controversy Follow-up

A more thoughtful consideration of the matter at hand.  Still a bit rough as I’m under the weather:

I've been considering for some time the best angle to examine the Boyd K. Packer talk.  As I don't see much change around the corner, it's convenient to just play it off as same ol', same ol'.  I only hope to offer some commentary and context that might otherwise go unnoticed.

boyd k packer

First of all, the majority of us can agree that Elder Packer's comments were anything but unexpected.  For years, his three main threats to faith have been presented as: the gay rights movement, feminism, and "so-called intellectuals."  In each case, an aspect of individualism somehow threatens the doctrine.  In the case of intellectualism, dependence on scientific evidence threatens the leaps of faith made by members.  Feminism and homosexuality, however, threaten the patriarchal male-female role definitions fused into the Church’s doctrine.  For instance, a man can be sealed (married for time and all eternity through LDS religious authority) to several women, whereas a woman can only be sealed to one man.  Women who challenge these ideas such as Sonia Johnson find themselves excommunicated along with proponents of same-sex marriage.

An profile at  The Mormon Curtain examines Packer's conservative record.  Those of you outside of the LDS Church or relatively younger are likely less familiar with some of the history associated with all of this.  In 1976, Packer oversaw the publication of the anti-masturbation pamphlet “To Young Men Only.”  In 1977, he counseled members to only marry their own race, emphasizing that differences in race threaten success.  Issues of race and sexuality aside, I take issue with the emphasis on “pure faith.”

grumpy_phariseeIn this, Packer's brand of Mormonism is Pharisaical.  One of his more cited quotes, esp. in regard to 19 year-old missionaries, is that “a testimony is found in the bearing of it.”  The implication here is subtle, though worrisome. 

In my own journey, I’ve found that this philosophy (I hesitate terming it doctrine) has strengthened many people in following what they believe.  Herein lays the hostility toward intellectualism.  One is supposed to rely more upon what one is told than experienced via reason and in some cases one’s own five senses.  As a missionary, I taught people to depend upon both and find a balance.  “Read the Book of Mormon.  See what it makes you feel.  Don’t act upon convenience.” 

I find myself in a similar position as those I taught.  I look for the good in people and ideas.  I have a testimony of equality, that the love of two people who can procreate is no greater than that of two people who cannot, and that the happiness and righteousness of one person should not be the destruction of another.  My testimony of these things comes from probing these ideas and living them rather than having them fed to me. 


At least within the Mormon tradition, Pharisees have been characterized as those following the Law of Moses to an excessive degree and emphasizing the outward aspects of worship such as being publicly perceived as obedient.  They also attempted to legislate morality, bringing laws from the Torah (and in many cases from tradition associated with scripture) into everyday life.  The most obvious and problematic correlation here is the Proposition 8/Gay Marriage debate. 

As some of the more hopeful gay Mormon bloggers have brought up, the question of “Why would our Heavenly Father make someone gay?” is the antecedent to the entire gay marriage debate and a question which has not been addressed in the past.  Regardless of the theological implications of the responses to that particular question, another supersedes it:

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law?
37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt alove the Lord thy God with all thy bheart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy cmind
38 This is the first and great acommandment.
39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt alove thy neighbour as thyself.
40 On these two commandments hang all the alaw and the prophets (Matthew 22).

Unfortunately, this passage exemplifies the doctrinal ambiguity LGBT Mormons face on a daily basis.  On the one hand, our brothers and sisters are to devote their love to the Lord and on the other to their neighbors (A of F 1, 11). 

So it seems that these two commandments stand in conflict with one another.  If homosexuality is a trait acquired through a sinful life and that one is able to overcome such as Packer clearly states, then protecting gays and lesbians from themselves through legislation on the morality of consenting adults fits.  This stance, however, hangs on these last strings of doctrine. 

As science continues to prove homosexuality an innate trait in humans and as mothers and fathers raise their children under optimum spiritual conditions only to come to terms with their children’s homosexuality later in life, the intellectual, experiential evidence, again, stands to threaten Elder Packer’s worldview. 

Pride CenterAs his health declines and the old guard is replaced by the new, I tend to think that the rhetoric will be more measured and that the good done by so many different LGBT groups will even be recognized here in Utah—work to help the homeless, work to prevent discrimination, and work to treat all men and women as equals. 

For now, though, Elder Packer’s rhetoric should be treated as what it is: a hostile remnant of a bygone era similar to calls for racial purity and superiority that slowed to a trickle a generation ago.  These attitudes are a generational watershed of hate that trickle down to our youth.  As we cling to the idea that homosexuality can be cured, we teach a new generation not to love one another, but rather to hate ourselves—hate ourselves for being weak, for letting ourselves be influenced by Satan, for not being good enough parents, for letting our children slip away, and for letting ourselves accept our feelings and what our experiences tell us.  These attitudes result in the trauma that has fallen so many.  

Spirit Day

Should this continue, the leap of faith that so many youth will take will be nothing more than a fall into depression and suicide.  Take a moment now to remember that everyone is valued and that happiness comes from valuing others regardless of their beliefs and allowing them to find peace with themselves. 

Monday, October 4, 2010

Mashup #5

Donald Duck a fan of Glenn Beck? 


I'm afraid this is one of the sadder mashups I've seen. 

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Conference Controversy

I've found the discussion of Elder Packer's comments very interesting (particularly on Facebook walls...).

Though there are a lot of ways to look at this, one reaction among all of the discussion stood out.  In reaction to JonJon's post on the matter, MNJ shared the following video:


In regards to compassion, I agree that there is something to be desired here of generations past.  Naturally, people don't attempt to understand struggles they don't directly face.  I would say that I only began to understand compassion not when I came to terms with my homosexuality, but rather when I became friends with my transgender friend Ishmael.  I'd challenge everyone to attempt the same and gain some perspective.

I think it's also noteworthy to share a flashback from when I was working in a lab on campus.  I was running some density samples and listening to a radio interview on Elder Packer.  I remember thinking, "I hope that man never becomes Prophet."  I'd felt so guilty at feeling so offput by some of words regarding feminism and even evolution (even without realizing I was gay), but now I feel I can put aside that frustration and let others' rage and disgust pass me by. 


Some other reactions to Packer:

From MoHos:


From ExMos:


National Bloggers:


Saturday, October 2, 2010

Gay or Nay #1

For an event last night, I helped out with the tapas for an event.  My contribution:


Munster, olives, and pepperonis. 

Friday, October 1, 2010

Food for Thought #29

My favorite and last of these:

Sherman Alexie

“With the combined weight of stories, you can get at the truth.”

-- Sherman Alexie

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