Wednesday, September 13, 2006

What choice did you really have?

L, aka the only guy reading my blog :-), took an active step in hoping to exclude gay and lesbian couples from legal marriage, here. He explained why, and there’s nothing really to be said about the explanation. We went over it already, and it goes nowhere, as the reasons are, by their purposeful construction, unassailable. There’s no proof to be worked out or information to be imparted. He even agrees, and it’s done anyway, a pill irretrievably dissolved into the blood.

I feel sold out, betrayed by that traitorous cad. How dare he?! After all our many years of friendshi…

Oh. Yeah. :-)

Such is the queer world of the internet; you get so much personal information from strangers that it feels personal. It’s also too easy to let an online personality take on the role as spokes person for some group or another. And I have felt betrayed by LDS friends and family at times.

To mind now comes the first friend I ever told I was gay. Sad, I had almost forgotten him. It was a friendship built on a history prior to such things, but we easily stuck together through his adventures with drugs. The only night I ever broke curfew was the night we were up above the capitol, talking through his suicide threat. We clearly had our differences, but he was my friend and, for the greatest part, a good friend.

He eventually got married and moved away. He later came back to visit, now a divorced father, now a faithful LDS. It hit me that I had to know where he stood on my family, an itch I couldn’t ignore. Did he now think it was evil? What would he do to my family if the church told him to? Are we still friends? His silence and evasiveness said a lot. I was braced for him to make some horrible comparison to his drug use, ready to pounce, ready with examples from our history. All I could get out of him was “I’d even socialize with a thief”. But that was enough. That was the end. I knew it the moment he said it, and I think he knew it the moment he saw me register the words. He had new territory (ironically my past territory) giving him a pleasure he’d never found in drugs (though he still oddly used them), and my friendship could not compete.

We ended the conversation friendly and quickly, and he never called me and I never called him again. I suppose I could have maintained the friendship. I was confrontational in pressing him on his faith, and I could have just put up with his political stance, and his magnanimous toleration of prostitutes and tax collectors :-). But I did not; R and I were about to become parents and I was particularly defensive of our home at the time. Still, I do miss him today.

Anyway, what am I left with now? No anger, no betrayal, just trying to solve the same old, centuries-old puzzle. We are at the feet of the masses, greatly outnumbered. They and their politics may as well be inclement weather. To be angry with, to shout at, or to feel betrayed by a storm would be just as reasonable, effective. Each drop of rain and break in the clouds has it’s own set of reasons. And we do too.

For now, we’ll continue reacting to it all as best we can, as a family. I will work to pay over our fair share, for other’s health insurance, for other’s government, and so on. I will try to think of our family as an American family and a Utah family, instead of being outcasts in a stranger’s land. I will make sure our lawyers are up to date on our estate (and well paid :-)), and cross my fingers that I don’t die before taxes would take up what R would need to remain a stay-at-home dad until our twins are grown. If I see death coming, I will die in another state or country, if that’s what’s best for my family. I will keep hopeful that the “single family” zoning law on our current home isn’t enforced and we’re evicted. But if it is, we’ll move. Is it sad? Deserved? Does it matter? We’re really pretty simple in our reactions.

We’ll also brace ourselves for what could come, and try to remain calm, pragmatic, and thankful for what we have. Will they go farther? Will their followers follow if they do? Just how far? Do you know, L?

History is packed with horror stories of good folks doing the atrocious, faith over moral judgment, and we can’t ignore that. A climax is building as more and more gays build homes and become parents. It’s not our kids now, but the LDS leadership has their eye on them. The fact that coordinated threats can come, suddenly and en masse, from one man’s decree is something of which we must be wary. We must keep in mind that in one single Utah legislative session they may go after our parental standing, and we may have to up and move, away from our security and family.

The fact that such harm can come from individuals either filled with hate or just following orders and otherwise on our side... What does that matter? Did it matter to any minority throughout history, in far worse shape than us?

It’s the practical facts of actions that matter; the sort of asphalt on the road to hell is inconsequential. As L wrote, people are responsible for their choices. We will be judged in our afterlife, by God, or our children, or history. I think I’m right; he thinks he's right and we’ll just live our lives and someday the verdict will come in. It's tought for me to swallow, but so what?

For my part, on this blog, I’ll keep pleading our case, appealing, and hoping to be granted the attention of those now on the fence.

What other choice do I really have?

Aw, but I’m off to the fair, at this very moment. I’ll not let it get me down when there’s a butter sculpture begging to be admired.

Still, I’ll hang onto this one overnight, I never regret more than what I write in frustration. Right now I don’t feel it, but have been surprised with what can hide under the surface, in the past.

It’s the morning, I'm fine. See:


For the record, I still can't help but like you L. Darn you all to heck. ;-)


Chris said...

L, aka the only guy reading my blog...

What am I, chopped liver?

Chris said...


Thank you for speaking up.

Sometimes, I imagine my life ahead. I always picture the man I will be with, and I imagine my family in this new arrangement. I don't know that I'll ever have more children, but I have two now. And sometimes I wonder what would happen if, God forbid, something happened to their mother and they came to live with me and my partner.

I will fight for gay marriage for your family. I will fight for gay marriage for my family. And I will mourn a little bit, as I did when I read L's post, when other gay people chose to fight against efforts to make gay families safe and secure.

mark said...

Thanks, Scot, for your last few posts. I am really grateful for you, Chris, L, and all of the other gay Mormon guys who are blogging and sharing their experiences and feelings and struggles. And I am especially grateful for the thoughtfulness all of you exhibit in what you write. I just wish that this little virtual community that has begun to develop could become "real", but until someone comes up with a transporter beam, I'm grateful for the virtual ;)

-L- said...

Scot, you should be heartily encouraged to know how much you have taught me in, what, a month? I couldn't find the exact e-mail I sent today after your comment asked for it, but I found a draft and I disagreed with myself in a number of places. This is thanks in part to your blog and the rational and calm voice of tolerance and goodwill you manage even while feeling victimized. You are very remarkable.

I hoped, and I guess I don't mind sharing this with you, that I might even earn some strange respect with that blog post. I wrote the first version months ago, and this version weeks ago. I delayed ever posting it in part because I still don't have a feeling of complete closure on the whole issue and in part because I was ashamed. But I really do feel that my decision was not "blind", was not a betrayal of gays, and was the right thing. I don't expect to get a lot of back patting around these parts for that, but that's the whole point--I've felt the reverse of the social pressure you describe. I feel unpopular and mocked for what I did (even if I only imagine the private responses never aired). It wasn't easy to do, and it wasn't easy to share. Your response, free from personal attack on me, is insightful, remarkable, and appreciated.

Scot said...

What am I, chopped liver?

LOL. Needed that.

I actually just got an email from Professor Schow (I need to find some time, Professor). There’s 3!

Hey, now Mark. :-)

Anyway, thank you, Chris. Writing that left me with an ominous feeling, but I do ultimately think it will all work out. It must, after some ugliness, but this is not a steady state.

Let me add, I think you’re view on these politics is invaluable. It certainly is important for the LDS community, but I see so much the gay community and I could learn from you as well.

Scot said...

Mark, so true.

I’d have to warn you all, though. I don’t look much like my picture; I do have a torso.

Scot said...

”I found a draft and I disagreed with myself in a number of places.”

In retrospect, it was a dangerous thing to hope to see. You probably know what I’m wondering about and you’ve cleared it up here (If I’m reading you correctly… let’s just assume I did :-)).

I hoped, and I guess I don't mind sharing this with you, that I might even earn some strange respect with that blog post.

Ah, I respect you. I respect your thoughtfulness, your struggle, your family role. I respect that you felt like you had to post that. I respect that you think you’re doing the right thing and you’re doing it regardless of criticism.

I, of course :-), can’t have much regard for the act, and I’m sure the original text could give me fits, and, sure, I’d hope at least part is regretted. Still, I can’t help but respect who you are and why you did it.

I’m resigned to the fact that neither you nor I have much room to maneuver here, now. I too am a fan of absolutism, consistency, and my morals say one thing and yours says another.

But I really do feel that my decision was not "blind", was not a betrayal of gays, and was the right thing

Now, I don’t see where I said you’ve caved to social pressure; did I? I may have been thinking of the general public; I did drift off towards the end there. Religious pressure, though, right? Without their push, you’d not have acted. If they pushed the other way, you’d have acted the other way, right?

I also don’t think you did it “blindly”; you’ve thought a lot about obedience and faith. But it’s still obedience, a leap of faith, for better or worse. Also, from my perspective, “blindly” isn’t always a label to reject. I’m sure there have been many souls in similar shoes that would now wish they could say they made their choices blindly; premeditation not always being a good thing ;-).

But I’ve not acted blindly either, and I will think of my kids and loudly say so, if I find myself at trial.

I’m sure you feel you did the right thing too; that’s the only way most folks could do it.

As for betrayal… It’s bugging me, as I wrote a post about so-called “traitorousness” way before all this and haven’t yet posted it. I’ve been letting it all out on comments recently :-). Anyway, you owe me nothing for your being gay. I’ve learned I can’t, in practice or rightly, expect allegiance or camaraderie with even with gay rights activists.

As a fellow citizen, though, I think we have an unspoken contract (of course, you may disagree). You owe me what I owe you, and to try to keep my family from the rights and responsibilities your family enjoys, and to do it for the M’s on our birth certificates... I can’t help but see that as a breach (particularly today, as my estimated taxes are headed off to the IRS :-)).

Man I hate this feeling. I know you’re a good man, and that you’re doing what you think is right. It just feels all so out of our hands, a set of tragic coincidences.

L, you have my permission to find me in the afterlife and gloat, if I end up with the regrets :-). I’d just look forward to knowing you without the elephant in the room.

-L- said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
-L- said...

Sometimes I wonder about the friendships of high-profile politicians with glaringly different political views--are they real and manageable? Like the priest and rabbi who are best friends on Gilmore Girls?

Oh, and I thought I would share this interesting quote I found today from George Bernard Shaw: "When a stupid man is doing something he is ashamed of, he always declares that it is his duty." I'm not sure whether or how it applies, but it gave me pause. ;-)