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Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Ghosts of Gays Gone by #1

A Radio Reading

Spectrum-PoliticalThe uninitiated might not realize it, but there’s more diversity than you’d expect in the sphere of gay Mormon blogging.  Blogs range from conservative to liberal, married to divorced, agnostic to faith-filled, and so on.  It’s not often I voice my appreciation for this diversity, but I hope that the same can be said of my observations here.  Naturally, we can’t agree with everything we see, but the only way to understand is to read opinions and experiences that challenge our own.  (Some specific nods go to Original Mohomie and Invictus Pilgrim whose experiences and modes of thought/examination differ from my own).

As I prepare another exhibit for the Utah Pride Festival, my thoughts turn again to the past, especially to the recent past.  I remember  a time when I felt like a bad person for enjoying Ellen’s 1990s sitcom as a kid, a time when I thought homosexuality didn’t exist, a time when I thought being gay was as much a choice as experimenting with drugs. 

Well, time moved on and I grew up, realizing the world wasn’t the picture that I’d painted.  I’m still adding figures and changing the palette.  I’m still learning to add dimension, light, and shadow to that canvas.  Every story and every life seems to enlighten that vision a bit more, and though my life can’t be bound to a canvas (or a metaphor for that matter) I feel this process of revision—Socrates’ “examined life,” if you will—makes me a thankful person.  In preparing to leave Utah, I find it a cultural trait that I hope to keep intact—a process of perfection.

closetA wonderful radio story brought me to this observation in recent weeks.  It’s a This American Life episode from 1996 with the theme of Double Lives.  The first part of the program is devoted to closeted married men and explores the dilemmas of shielding that identity from a child.  The first act presents the perspective of Susan Bergman, a woman whose father AIDS before coming out to his family and dying.  The second act is a conversation with a man explaining why he doesn’t share his sexuality with his two adult daughters. 

The program is provocative and perhaps distressing in the presentation of two people on two sides of very similar stories.  It’s telling of our own situations as well as those of men just 15 years ago.  I’d recommend it for a good reflection.

3 comments:

Biki said...

I agree how much has changed in our culture in the past 15-20 years, and for the better mostly. However, most of the religions aren't dealing well at all with the changing landscape of society. Rather than seeing how they can adapt to the changes in a positive manner, they are instead pulling their heads under the covers, until they can get laws enacted to once again make society resemble the nostalgic past. A past that really never truly existed.

Great post!

John Gilmore said...

I feel this process of revision—Socrates’ “examined life,” if you will—makes me a thankful person.  In preparing to leave Utah, I find it a cultural trait that I hope to keep intact—a process of perfection.

Go Utah. This is true, isn't it? Especially when forced to confront great conflicts between varying states of "knowing" in our culture, I think we develop excellent critical thinking skills. I don't think I will ever again believe I have settled into a way of thinking. I point to my Mormon upbringing for that--and most my other good qualities.

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