Monday, April 30, 2007

Gay and Un-Gay Relations, Part 1: Traitors

Very Early in coming out I learned not to expect, because a person is gay, that they are a person on my side of an issue. These lessons were not learned with the un- or ex- or inactively-gay crowd, but with the more radical elements in my crowd, such as the folks mentioned here. Being gay simply does not mean or imply you are bound in any way to be in a certain camp, even on gay issues, perhaps especially on gay issues ;-).

So, if we’re all deserving of our own conscience and choices here, why do gays in conversion therapy, and gay men marrying women and choosing celibacy sometimes feel treated like traitors by the gay community?

Certainly, because they are, sometimes and significantly, treated as traitors. It happens, and for nearly every case unjustly and with that certain cruelty that comes from dehumanizing “them”.

I believe the source of this is an imagined insult or threat.

Not as dramatic, but bear with me; vegetarians get this all the time. A fellow grad student and friend of mine was a vegetarian, for his family’s particular sort of Hindu faith. The first time we ate together that fact came out. He quickly went into a whole speech regarding how vegetarianism is the choice for him, as a result of his religion, and that he didn’t think it wrong if I ordered the animals off the menu. I was going to anyway :-) and assumed as much, but he’s right to worry. People do tend to react badly if they feel they’re being judged by another’s choice, particularly if that other believes they are acting for moral reasons or for the supernatural’s command. It’s tough to imagine people will treat you justly in tangible ways in this world when they think you’re going to their Hell anyway. I believe something very similar often occurs when gay men encounter gay men who’ll not meet their attraction in action (vegaytarians? Eh…).

But, if I’m merely promoting that vegetarian choice as the one for me, one not to be forced on or coerced into others, by lowering them or elevating myself by law or social pressures, certainly I could not be said to have any harmful intent.

For whatever portion of the gay community’s hostility that represents, it’s absolutely wrong and regrettable. If in the inactively gay man’s shoes, and with their beliefs about the way the supernatural works, such a choice might seem reasonable to all gay men. Besides, another’s personal choice for their life is simply not an editorial or assault; if it were I’d be worlds more offensive than I already am ;-) by the human pleasures which just don’t please for me.

I simply hope, with what I’ve learned by frequenting the blogs of gay LDS, I’ve been and will be helpful in quelling the mistrust and fear within the gay community. There are people worth knowing, supporting, and respecting in both their camp and ours.

Saturday, April 28, 2007


I just returned from our county convention. While I’m not a faithful Democrat and haven’t the ability to vote straight ticket, I get along best with the Democrats and so I am the Democratic delegate for my neighborhood.

Firstly, let me advocate, if you’ve never considered being a delegate, you should. If you feel like you’re picking between two horrible phony idiots each election, well guess who picks those two horrible phony idiots for you? That’s right, people like me. Don’t be too hard on us though; often there isn’t much choice for delegates either. It’s limited by who wants the job, of course. Nevertheless, you can make a difference, you will get heard, and your representatives will more likely remember you and return your phone calls.

Often, for the Democratic party here in Utah, securing a delegate position is simply a matter of showing up at your neighborhood caucus. In many districts, you’ll be the only one there and, if you think yourself able to write your name, you can vote yourself in; heck, be chair too. In my area, I generally have to bring a couple extra votes (family and neighbors) with me. But, not coincidentally, I’ve now been a delegate for every year of our children’s lives. It’s a small job, but it can be important.

Anyway, that PSA aside, a couple observations and tidbits from this year’s Salt Lake County convention:

--Okay, despite what I wrote above about this being important; it wasn’t so much today. We had one thing to vote on and it wasn’t significant. It’s an off year but wait until the upcoming presidential year’s conventions.

--Okay, despite what I wrote above, it is important. You meet and talk to council men and women, mayors, and even US representatives (well, only one of them for my case). You become a familiar face to those in control of some important aspects of your life, and they remember you and know you can be important to them, as a politically motivated individual in their constituency, among many who do not care enough to lick a stamp for them. (Yes, even in Utah democrats have power. Offer void in Utah County).

--This I found amazing, but then less so after thinking on it. The gay and lesbian caucus is the largest caucus in the local party. I knew this already; it shows. We have the largest room, many dedicated members, and our endorsement likely means the greatest votes. In fact, as a percentage, the national Stonewall democrats raked Utah #1. Utah! We have 10% representation while they are hoping for a nationwide 6%. Thinking on it, this is pretty recent. In fact I think it can be directly attributed to the folks who’ve been so destructive to our families in recent years. Again, I’ve been a delegate ever since my kids were born, and many others there are feeling the pressure to act now.

--I was asked to run for an office next cycle to replace a great ally :-). I was flattered (that I happened to live in the right geography), but no way… unless no one else goes for it. Besides, my presidential campangue is going swimmingly. Scot 2008!

-I appreciate Lyndon LaRouche’s ability to keep me entertained at every convention, and I’ll leave it at that.

-Our county auditor seems to be a great guy but put the auditors at the front of the speaker line up. They give speeches every bit as enthralling as one would expect by the stereotype of auditor, though that does give me confidence in the man for some reason.

-The more I know of and interact with them the more I admire two particular people in county government: Mayor Corroon and Sheriff Winder. There are politician I just cringe and vote for and politicians I respect. With each interaction these men are more and more clearly found in the men to be respected category.

--Lastly, I made it back just in time to catch Alan in his soccer game. He made his first goal, and I was so proud. Unfortunately he doesn’t know it was his first goal, and so I couldn’t make too big of deal of it. As far as he’s concerned his first goal was last week; no one had the heart to tell him it was made for the other team.

Anyway, that’s it. Become a delegate, and sometimes lie to your children by omission :-).

Friday, April 27, 2007

Vital Advice for Gays

While I did get the better of a homophobe in the past, there was one instance in my history where I was the one beaten after a physical assault. The event left me with a huge bruise on my back and a bloodied lip. What’s worse is that it ruined one of the most important days of my life and I can’t say I’ve 100% recovered from the emotional scars.

My assailant was a stranger, about 4 feet tall, a brunet, with terrible posture. He was, in fact, a chimpanzee, and it was my 10th birthday.

If you take anything from my blog, let it be this:

If you’re gay, never walk behind a chimp.


They’re stronger than they look, and very homophobic. It’s part of chimp culture.

Eh, I needed a chaser… and who else can say they’ve once been beaten up by a chimp?

Thursday, April 26, 2007

Set Back

I’ve not had near my fair share of misery in life, being gay and in Utah and all :-). But, on the topic of becoming a parent, I’m already well into self-indulgent territory, and I did mention a “setback.” This period of “expecting” contains some of our greatest joys, the indescribable sort that could make any challenge worth every bit, and by astronomical units. And Hey, I see a fellow blogger is going through one such time right now!

But there were those trials, for the eventual ends to soothe. I can’t really say the whole process was much more difficult in the area of building a family than it is for a great many couples, but it was the last time I actually sobbed (not cried though, those who know me will tell you I cry over my family, or sappy media too often :-)).

Something happened during this period that I can’t talk about in full in such a venue. Sadly, though, the incident’s only record is found roundabout in cold forms that certainly can’t give it near the proper weight from our perspective. I want to write it out, a bit, while I’m on the topic. It needs something more, and the kids, if they eventually read this, will understand in full.

We had what we now euphemistically refer to as a setback. We knew this could happen when we began our efforts to become parents. It wasn’t extraordinary. The occurrences around it were, in full, something greatly the odds in our particular case, but the single result that really hurt was not near enough uncommon for any couple hoping to become parents by any means. To only go through it once I should count ourselves as blessed.

I think I said before, in this period of our lives, it was as though everything hung in suspended animation, anticipation for parenthood. It did; everything was about her, him, or them, having no idea for whom we’d become parents. That was near all we thought about, all we talked about, all we read about and prepared for.

It seemed all was going well too, but then we got this call, and we were asked to come in and sit down. We were told where our world was focused there was next to no reason for hope. We were back to square one, just like that. Rob went to tears at the news, as was reasonable, but I didn’t. I knew, right then so clearly, I had the other job in this union; over the years I had taken on the role of the other sort of personality.

Thinking on it, it really is how I now react to any threat to my home, be it direct, person to person (or coyote to person :-)), or merely from an odd sound in the house at night. Without trying, I switch off emotionally and go on automatic, be it in either brainstorming solutions or meticulously hunting through the house. Sometimes though, that’s completely the wrong way of handling a problem, and, for those instances, I rely on Rob. It’s funny how, in a couple, certain jobs are there for the taking, no matter the couple’s makeup. Division of labor works well and, gay or no, people gravitate into the roles that best compliment the union. I have mine; Rob has his.

So that news hit me like a kick to the chest, but I put the feeling away, put my arm around Rob, and went into that now familiar mode. I looked up at the bearer of bad news, somberly shot off my questions, and took our notes. What exactly happened? What to do now? What’s best? How to avoid this? What next?…

After that we went for a long and needed walk across the Golden Gate Bridge. I’ll never forget that feeling: just the two of us, together and both far more down than we’d ever known the other to be. We were wounded and moving amongst those tourists. We were walking, and moving on from that loss, planning, regrouping, pushing and pulling each other back up. It was clear we were alone in that city at other’s reaction to the news, and that actually felt like a bit of perfection in the problem. We should be alone, in such an instance; the tourists and the joggers and even our friends shouldn’t touch it. We didn’t even call family until the next day. It was he and me, always R and me. There are potent times in a union when it’s as though you can’t feel yourself anymore; you feel as a couple, and this was one of those times. We didn’t even need to say it. I knew where he was and he knew me and we knew we’d repair and push on; I could feel it even then as substantively as I could sense him next to me in that cold fog on the Goled Gate Bridge.

But we got this piece of terrible information, telling us there was no hope left where near all our hopes were set, and I didn’t stop to feel the whole of it. My mind was, again, to fix it, to make sure all the details were handled. For our situation, I even needed to put on a smile and upbeat demeanor the very next day (if you’re reading this, boys, ask me about the flags; I'm sure time, by now, has made it a funny story). Anyway, we did fix it, to the extent it was possible. We picked up the salvageable pieces and put it all back together and started again the very next day. And it all worked out, and wonderfully, beautifully, miraculously, magnificently.

Still, this happened. It’s a part of us, a part I hardly ever talk about but it’s something I carry around with all the other extremes of our lives. It’s a low point I guess I want to carry around.

About two weeks after this all happened and parenthood was inevitable again and back on track, I was on the phone with a friend. I explained to her the events and she pushed the issue, poking into my feelings on the matter. I was philosophical about it; I diminished the event into "whatever will be will be", but she could tell I was blocking. She pushed until I broke into tears myself, finally. I had to swallow the emotion too soon and I finally let myself feel the event and it hurt and it was absolutely cathartic at once. Once Rob got home I found him and let it all go. We were okay, he was okay, the problem was as remedied as possible, and I finally realized I could give up. It’s good to keep some really pushy friends about :-).

Looking back on that day now, it really is strange how you can, after so many years, still miss something that was never there, never possible. It’s stranger still that I can be simultaneously and eternally grateful that we have had that “setback”. If not for that, we’d have suffered the even greater loss of where we are today. And, in a way, it feels worse that we’d never have known or felt it.

Humans are odd things…

Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Parenting for Base Pairs

After going over the tests we had to pass to become parents, a study came to mind, of course :-) (1). It looked at only heterosexual couples. 41 procreated by ivf (in vitro fertilization), 45 by AI (artificial insemination), 55 by adoption, and 43 by normal procreation.

Not only did they find that non-biological parents parented up to the standards of biological parents, they found that the quality of parenting in such families was higher than average. When observed and questioned with standardized tests, the parents were found to be more affectionate and more involved in their children’s lives. They concluded: "Findings suggest that genetic ties are less important for family functioning than a strong desire for parenthood", and "the quality of parenting in families where mother and father had gone through great lengths to become parents was superior to that shown by mothers and fathers who had achieved parenthood in the usual way".

Now, this may strike many as common sense. But, once, when I mentioned this study, I was told, in a hysterical font ;-), “So what are you saying? We should take children from their biological parents and give them to more motivated parents?!” This was a person promoting the “Ideal Family” argument against gay unions (as gone over in too much detail here, here, and here). His argument was that parents parent best for biological children and that’s why he believed a man and woman with their biological children is the ideal family. By showing him evidence that biology wasn’t the key to parenting, he wrongly assumed I meant to do to others what he meant to do to us. Fortunately, I'm not as keen on legally harming other's families as “non-ideal” as he was ;-).

This study absolutely does not show a biological connection to a child somehow makes a parent a worse parent. That would be a highly ridiculous conclusion. What this does show though is that there is not a detectable deficiency in the parenting of non-biological parents. Furthermore, it shows there are positive effects in all the trials a couple must go through if they need help becoming parents.

The reason for these results should be clear. With each additional test, more and more high risk couples are weeded out in the process that otherwise would do so if in fertile unions. Taking out those with a criminal record alone helps a lot, I’m sure, but add on everything else. The teenager who has a one night stand and ends up surprised to be a daddy, for example, has far worse odds of doing it well.

Now, of course, most fertile couples have the capacity to past all these tests, and they are every bit as ideal ;-). Even those who could not pass may be among the most skilled parents, and children who were not planned may be among the most fortunate in family. I’d simply not want government involved in family through something like a procreation license; that would not only be unethical by my measure but it would be government self destruction. Nevertheless, when you need help, and/or there’s a child in another’s custody, already there and looking for a home, you will and should be judged. Those individuals who come to your aid have rights too and they will reasonably have requirements, an effect of which is shown in the above mentioned research.

Simply, the nature of human parenting is not that focused on genetics, and thank goodness we’re not all slaves to Darwin. If you’re a biological parent, think about it. If you discovered tomorrow you’re child was somehow not genetically “yours”, would it lessen your love one bit? If I can extrapolate from our experience, for near all parents--adoptive, traditional, gay, straight, whatever--when you see the person who you know will be your child for the very first time, none of that is on your mind. You, in fact, feel you became their parent even before they took in their first breath, before you ever knew they existed. That was your purpose all along and it was tied to that particular person; genetics or no.

What is on your mind is your future with that individual, your responsibility to them, the pure joy of being a parent, and the choice you’re making to be bound to that particular child. Even if a child is your biological offspring, you’ll not be forced into being dad, papa, mom, or mama by the most important meanings of those words. You only get such titles if you earn them, work for them, and you must choose to either take on that enormous task, or to simply be a stranger who may have donated genetic material and maybe a monthly check of support.

It’s the person who deeply wants a particular child, and has invested their life into having and raising that child with their health and happiness above his own, it’s that person who will be more likely to parent them best; that person is the ideal parent for that child. There are no other parents who can be brought to tears in gratitude by the wonderings of their little minds. No one else remotely knows them in the same detail. No one else comforted, cajoled, taught, fed, dressed, rocked, and ran them to the emergency room (as I did yesterday! No worries; just a trip resulting in a split chin and, eventually, as I assured Alan, a cool scar he can show his friends).

Plainly, while there is biology needed to form and gestate a fetus, there is no substitute for the personal choice to become a child’s parent. And there is no privilege greater in our lives than having that ability to make that choice, regardless of biology, regardless of orientation.

1. S. Golombok, R. Cook, A. Bish, C. Murray, Child Development, Families Created by the New Reproductive Technologies: Quality of Parenting and Social and Emotional Development of the Children, 66, 285-298 (1995).

Tuesday, April 24, 2007


A break from the processes of becoming a parent, for something completely different…

In today’s Tribune:
Where body worship and missionaries cross paths

“ "Beautiful Mormon Search," the ads said. "Developing a national product to launch in Utah. Looking for sexy male returned-missionary models for product development, advertising and publicity." Above the text was a photo of a guy wearing black slacks and a white dress shirt unbuttoned to reveal his rippled pecs.”

“But it sounds a lot like a beefcake calendar with returned LDS missionaries instead of, say, firefighters. Elders, bare that testimony!”

“"It's not an anti-Mormon thing," says the secretive Mr. Hardy. Nor, he insists, is it a gay thing. "Our biggest challenge is that guys are afraid they're going to be portrayed as gay. It's not going to feature [them] in any homoerotic way."”

Judge for yourself I guess; here’s the myspace page. Oh, and read the text… The site seems all PG, but creepy, nonetheless.

I don’t know. It just struck me as hilarious in the midst of my morning cereal, and it seemed particularly inappropriate to share it with this crowd :-).

Monday, April 23, 2007

To Become a Parent

A while back Mark mentioned the lengths his brother went through to become a father, here. It hit home. For infertile couples it takes a lot of effort and dedication. Sure, some such couples become parents by surprise, suddenly given custody when friends or family die or give birth and ask them to take the child. I’ve known that to happen, but that is a rare case; there are next to no unwanted or unexpected children in our homes.

Once we decided to become parents, we did a lot of study, and not only in worrying over the research on the possible consequences. There was a lot to learn about how best to do it. That alone could become numerous posts, but, simply here, all such couples need help. This fact complicates but, to us, it was far from a negative; I’d actually count it as one of those hidden blessings in life, and one of the greatest. Some of the most wonderful relationships we’ve had and some of the most amazing examples of human compassion we’ve experienced came in those many people who helped us along the way. It certainly changed me and taught me in many positive ways.

But help means consent, as it should. And consent from good and decent people means caution and trials, again, as it should. Among the trials we had to pass:

--Numerous psychological evaluations from start to finish; a detail of our mental history, counseling etc. We had to actually be in weekly contact with a psychologist.
--Criminal background checks for the both of us.
--Character references from friends and family.
--Many questionnaires asking about everything from our extended family to whether or not we smoke (we don’t :-)).
--We had to write out and give the agency a full explanation of our parenting plan: how we’d parent, discipline, who would do what in the home, and so on. We had to have that all worked out before we became parents.
--Disclosure of our financial records.
--Full physicals. Tests for likelihood for early death and creating orphans, from cancer screenings to STDs.

I’m sure I’m forgetting something; it felt more trying than that ;-).

Now, depending on the people who help, less or more of such may be required, but one should expect to pass many tests. One should also expect not only trials given by fellow humans but trials of time and mind and heart that may be much larger in scale than they are for the average. We were lucky, but had two years of dedicated and very focused effort, and a set back that hit us hard in many ways. There will simply be no reckless heated minute of passion in the backseat of a Camaro for gay couples wanting to be parents :-).

All this, of course, can have an effect on the couples who do become parents. But I’ll save that for the next post.

Saturday, April 21, 2007


As I write this I can hear the sounds of Eine Klein Nachtmusik bouncing through the house. Not performed well, sure, but it’s bringing me a good deal of happiness nonetheless.

About five years ago, Rob’s grandmother passed away. We were, of course, very sad. She was a wonderful lady and never looked at Rob any differently when he came out and she never treated me with anything but love. Like Rob’s parents, she somehow easily reconciled her faith with our union. Anyway, she was a marvelous piano and organ player, as well as person--even played for her church--and Rob has very fond memories of her on her piano when he was a child. When she died, though, she left no specific instruction as to what was to be done with her belongings. That piano ended up as property of all of her children jointly, but none of them wanted it. They began looking to sell it to just anyone, and that, of course, upset Rob. In short, I ended up buying the piano as a gift for him.

Now, this may sound nice but partly foolish, as neither of us could play piano. This instrument has followed us into three homes, and sat unused in our living rooms, a beautiful baby grand statue that our boys only knew as the thing around which they were not to play. And it’s remained unused, until now. Rob has been taking piano lessons.

I imagine a sign of a healthy marriage must be the ability to be continually impressed by and in admiration of your other half, and I am impressed by this. He practices diligently, and is gaining skill noticeably. The timing is a bit off, for now, but Mozart sounds particularly good coming from Rob, playing on his grandmother’s piano, doing so to better himself and to fulfill one of the hopes she had for him as a child.

I sometimes wish he’d participate in these blogs and don’t 100% know why he doesn’t (he’s met some of you and read’s Rosie O’Donnell’s blog, after all :-)). I’m pretty sure though he wants to give me my space, and he knows this sort of online activity has been my way of release and dealing with gay issue for as long as we’ve known each other. He’s simply not as much into such. But I’m kind of glad that I can write this without him reading it. It will not get me on his good side; I’m there. It will not be a compliment he’ll need to return; we know.

Simply, in addition to everything else, I’m impressed by him.

And it’s certainly not just taking on piano at this point in our lives. He keeps the house in great working order, balancing the kids, laundry, and well over half the cooking. Yesterday, for one example, the kids had a play date with a mom and friend from their preschool. This was even after he went as a chaperone on the school’s field trip. He made the most beautiful cob salad I’d seen, and his renowned clam dip, and some sort of lemon cake for dessert (I know it was good because, at the hint of the meal in the morning, I decided to work from home, of course; I’m no dummy). He's great. We’ve neighbors calling weekly to thank him for some treat he’s brought over or to try to get a recipe out of him , if they can (he’s overly secretive with his ingredients). He simply impresses, and in areas where I’m completely helpless.

Anyway, admiration = good for relationship, if that wasn’t already clear... Now, I just can’t wait to torture the twins with piano lessons in a year or so ;-). I hope, when they realize the importance of the instrument, they’ll find the tones coming from it as meaningful as I am feeling it now.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

BYU, Honor Codes, and Police Cops

I wrote a post a while ago about social change that came from a chance talk with a leader in the Black community, and I didn’t expect it to be much more than something I wanted to remember, here.

To sum up, this woman explained to me that all social movements with minorities seem to have their good cops and bad cops. The bad cops are outrageous and demanding; they do stuff like try to get arrested and other theatrics (fake funerals, you know the stuff...). The good cops are much more reasonable; they see the other side and give it credit. And “The Man,” well, he’s motivated by the bad cop, but can never appear to give in to such tactics. Even if they do give in, in reality, it has to be for another reason to their minds. And that’s why the friendly good cop is so useful. The powers that be will talk to the good cop, feel much more like he’s one of them, and can compromise and change for the good cop. And that’s how societies change to treat minorities fairly, despite the differences in strength.

It strikes me that the recent change in the wording of the BYU honor code may be an example of this woman’s theory. There was no way a group like Soul Force, or any big out and proud gay group was going to get anything on its own. No way. But such groups are part of how the world for gays, all gays, has changed. By decades of social progress, there can now actually be visible good cop gays at BYU; they are, in fact, our fellow bloggers. As long as they are modest in their steps and stay in bounds, they can group together and be heard and effect positive change. This would not have been a decade past.

But where this woman’s idea deviates from the depictions in crime dramas is in the fact that the players here are absolutely sincere. These good cops don’t honestly want, say, me to be able to attend BYU, with my husband and kids in approved housing (No worries; neither do I :-)). They don’t want to be able to walk the campus with their arm around the man they love (unless they’re lesbians, I guess… what a world! :-)). They are in opposition to the bad cops. They are even motivated to speak up in order to show those in power they’re not all bad cops, and are also invested in downplaying the effect of the bad cops on their mutual audience. Let me be clear, these reactions are both done without any duplicity but they are both important parts in this machine. The machine doesn’t work without them.

I know the good cops do it in good faith because this is the role in this theory I naturally fall into with regards to other gay issues. I’m not a fan of hate crime law; I’m all for a person’s right to teach that I’m an abomination; I don’t want there to be, say, hiring quotas for gays, or some other stuff I’ve heard of. I don’t like protests and I’m more of a bridge builder when I interact with elected officials. I recognize in this event with BYU my hostility towards my bad cop’s actions, and I recognize my past assurances that they don’t represent me and that it’s absolutely not the bad cops playing a constructive role. I too am by nature in this role which I must assume is why I, not a member of our bad cops, have the positions I do, and have had the hand in the positive changes I have had. Simply, looking back, I can now see how this idea may have played out in many instances in my life as a reluctant activist.

The thing that strikes me here though is how out of our hands it really is. I’ll not step over the line I see in the sand. Neither will this group of gays at BYU. Nevertheless, we bring the other side closer to our line, in play with the bad cops. Sometimes we bring them so close that another group of good cops, once bad :-), will help our culture past our line. To me, that’s kind of what’s happened in certain countries where preaching that gays are abominable has become a possible legal issue. In those countries I’d feel obliged to try to pull society back, but it went where it went, for good and bad cops more radically gay than I.

Like it or not, the LDS church took a small step here, and there are more than a few members who do not like it. If there’s one thing I’ve learned to keep always in mind about our opponents, it’s that they ain’t stupid; pay attention to what exactly sets them off. They can see what this can mean for the future of gays in the church as well as anyone, despite official reasons about the change (which I do certainly think the BYU officials believe). If you listen to them, it’s clear, it doesn’t matter to the opposition if this is only a “clarification”. The clarification, they know, makes gays more comfortable and open, and they know that any group of even loosely-organized gays on campus, even slightly open and unafraid is a problem.

But these gay students, regardless of where they draw that line in the sand on gay behavior, moved the line for their culture. And now I can’t help but bet they will move it further in the coming decades, even if inadvertently. Knowing the bounds, more gay people will be more open. More people on campus, from students to faculty, will actually see gay neighbors, students, and friends. They will follow their lives to celibacy, to marriages and families with men or women and note how they work out. They will watch the real life version of these blogs, and be affected. And the students of BYU will become the leaders of the LDS church.

Think about it, there’s a very good reason these angry folks wanted gay kids on campus to not be seen or heard, or given any audience or consideration or clarification, no matter the issues or the gay student’s strong testimony or obedience. Obedience is not the point for such folks, as they know the power in what will come from comfortable gays of any sort on campus. Eventually, there’ll be a new group of good cops; there may already be. Even though the current group may adamantly disagree with them, the current group has now merged into next generation’s “The Man”. The line in the sand has been moved behind their wants, to include them, but they did move it that much closer to the next group’s wants as well.

I now wonder if this was as much a concern for folks who helped with this change as it can be for me. I wonder if they agree with this view from my vantage point of the situation. So, if anyone involved cares to tell me… :-)

Edit: I see Soul Force is taking some credit for this, on A Changing Countenance’s blog, here. They need to keep their motivation up too. I’m beginning to feel I need to track that woman down again and take in more for her ideas :-).

Tuesday, April 17, 2007

How Fortunate the Immoral Gay

One of the more troubling aspects of these issues, from my side of the wall, must be in how the emotional distress of being gay does its targeting.

In a society and in families where being gay and following your orientation is called sin, there are a couple scenarios for the gay kid. He may have a strong sense of ethics and believe the majority in his culture regarding his orientation. He may have strong principles but believe differently from his culture. Or, finally, he may simply not care, or is morally flexible enough to have his quiche and eat it too (maybe with a side of guilt).

What eats at me is the fact that it’s the conscientious gay kid who is put through the most emotional trauma here; he’s most likely to be brought to desperation, and worse, for his orientation. Simply, being gay is not likely to feel like a reason for suicide to the kid who has no ethical concerns about his self. I think I can reasonable believe such people will suffer for their lack of care eventually, in different ways, often in the physical consequences of disease and addiction, but they don’t feel the deep tear between their ethics, or the supernatural, and their innate path to a very basic human joy. They "just do it."

Now, I don’t suppose I want some extra punishment to dull my sense that some gays are getting off easy :-). Nonetheless, in emotional trauma, the gay kid who doesn’t care ranks in the middle, between two principled groups who differ only by the morals they believe, and it grates on my sense of justice.

Thieves steal, murderers kill, and rapists rape, all because they don’t experience the value in the rights of other humans over their own urges. Rarely do you hear of such folks beating themselves up over such a personality trait, and when you do it’s often for being caught and the weak or even false quality of the regret is hard to ignore. But, for some, a person’s attraction to men has been posed to be on the same level as a compulsion for theft or worse, much worse. It can’t help but torment the most conscientious of individuals in those camps, those who do feel a strong aversion to hurting others, and sort the rest into whatever life they want. What's worse is when the principled kid goes through all the emotional trauma only to end up collapsing under the pressure in such a way that his ethics are ditched as a package deal for his orientation. That kid will get the worst of both worlds.

It's sad but expected. If we did the same for southpaws, I’m sure the same would happen. We’d have a bunch of conscientious people either holding different ethics or trying to write like the majority, and the rest without care.

Of course I think I can see what it looks like from the other side too. These otherwise good kids, from that vantage, really do seem to have a strong urge towards evil that they must resist, as though they had the compulsion to, say, rape. The resistance is for their own good, and even at high personal and emotional cost to themselves and sometimes even others in their lives. They seem to have a handicap of desire, and are given beliefs and strong motivating supernatural reasons to fight it, the sort that can go deeper into the heart of human desire and are said to be infinite. The angst makes sense. But, from my point of view, all I can see is the notable harm in treating something as wrong, when it is not. I see one more harmful moral idea that will eventually drop to the wayside of history with the others, making the current situation feel especially poignant.

Time will tell, though, and judge us all, and there really is nothing to be done about it here or now. It really does all come down to morals, where they reside, and the coastline of that country is something we’ve been discovering and mapping out at a rate measured in generations, through all human history. At least we could probably all agree the situation is too often a sad one, for one reason or the other.

Monday, April 16, 2007

Covering For Gays

Contender for the #1 position on the chart of humbling-by-hindsight private moment in my life:

A sixteen year old kid in his room repeatedly trying, and failing, to approximate a good strong lisp.

Why work on such a thing? I wasn’t passing… as gay, and was getting flack for being “straight acting,” a phrase I’d come to hate for its use as an underhanded insult to both masculine gay men and their femmy brothers. I came into the gay community very naive about the culture, and expectations. Once I realized I was gay, despite not identifying with how gays were depicted on the television, I kind of expected, once I met another real gay person, those stereotypes wouldn't apply.

Not only did I find they could apply, I found some in leadership positions wanted them promoted. I can understand, in a way. They wanted gays to be seen, and they probably used such as promotion of cohesiveness, like a street gang, but with a certain swishy walk, instead of colored bandanas :-). Nevertheless, I was made to feel I was somehow traitorous for my manerisms, and I was, in a teenage cliché, tempted to cave to the peer pressure. But that session in my room, thankfully, ended with the thought “Forget that. I’m not going to change for them.”

Anyway, I became angry. I remember thinking something like: I went through that misery of coming out to my friends and family to find they were okay with it, and THEN it’s the gay community who has a problem with my nature?! That was an unfair generalization on my part, based on the handful of individuals in gay leadership positions 17 years ago, and much has changed in our community since then, but that’s how I felt for a couple years.

This embarrassing event was brought to mind by MoHo(an abbreviation, which, in this instance, does not express or imply he is in any way adherent to every aspect of the LDS faith ;-))Hawaii’s comment, here.

“I'd be interested in hearing if there are any cases where you feel pressure to be ‘straighter’ in front of people who already know you are gay.”

Now, I wouldn’t claim to be some epitome of masculinity. I’m not, say, a construction worker, a police man, or even a Native American; I spend my days in a lab. Besides, there’s little more comical in the gay community than a femmy guy who thinks he’s all butch :-). I've masculine qualities. I also cry in movies, or at any significant attention to my emotions for my family, and I’m sure I’ve other “gay characteristics” (aside from the obvious, sleeping with a dude). But I am severely lacking in the gay skill set, and we both do naturally and easily pass as straight on our own, by the accounts I have. But we’re not straight acting! :-)

So, in short, no. I don’t recall an instance of feeling pressure to be “straighter” for those who know we're gay. Even in the situations where I’d say we’ve the most pressure, around Rob’s extended family, we act as we would in our own home (outside the bedroom… ;-)). What this notion of covering actually brought to mind were these instances of feeling I needed to be “gayer” for those who know I’m gay, and my resentment towards them.

On this topic, I have even heard the accusation that the very act of being monogamous, marrying, and having children is an act of covering (Yeah, sheesh, if only monogamy was a heterosexual trait!). To those gays, who’ll take my family as some sort of pathetic act of caving in to The Man, I'll say an enthusiastic “F*beep* you.” And without the beep (For my LDS friends, that’s “Fetch” then). Have these gays not noticed the opposition would rather they live in the traditional gay lifestyle? They absolutely don't want us married, they don’t want us as parents, and if I wanted to keep our detractors comfortable, I’d follow the lead of such gays. To my experience, the sexually "free" gay man, letting it all hang out in the Castro District is not the gay they resist the most. That gay man is their motivation, their boogieman, but the other is their aim. And the more gays who come out without the emotional and moral trauma, I'm sure the more they'll follow other aspects of their nature, such as the drive to couple into family.

Simply, I’d rather have two more anti gay rights activists in this world than another bitter gay trying to undermine and belittle our families from inside our own camp. If they think coupling up and pursuing and feeling the calling to become parents is nature segregated into humans with a heterosexual orientation, they’re as bad and as bigoted as our detractors. And yes, I’m now officially riled up :-).

I’ve little patience for such gays, and, sure, it’s made me some enemies in the old guard of our little gay community. Dealing with such folks used to even keep us from wanting to participate at all in the gay community, but I count that as my mistake. Such folks are all being replaced by a new, more reasonable generation anyway and quickly. While I’ve always been involved, we did step into the background for many years, and I simply shouldn’t have let such keep us away at all. And now we don’t; we don’t want to be gayer or straighter for anyone either. We volunteer a lot of our time, from community events to politics to media. Our faces are out there, and we do all that is reasonable to ensure we’ll not pass while remaining true to who we are. Sure, in part to help our community, but I must admit, the idea of passing is nauseating enough for the idea that Rob and I may be regarded as just friends. The thought that our boys may be mistaken as not our children or not brothers is far worse.

Funny though that our stubborn recommitment to activity within the gay community and being as out as possible, was primarily motivated by our family. :-)

Friday, April 13, 2007

Fear Is the Path to the Dark Side

If you saw two very handsome gentlemen chasing two wild Jedi warriors through the Gateway Mall yesterday, then you saw us. My aunt made the boys a couple Jedi capes and they absolutely had to wear them all day. I know, Kengo, no capes. I told them about Dynaguy and Splashdown, but they won’t listen. Besides, it must be nice to be at a point in your life when you can wear a cape in public and know people will look at you with complete understanding, even joy by proxy.

We ate at the California Pizza Kitchen. We do often as they’ve really good mac and cheese, or so I’m told. The twins love taking the train there and so it’s become a restaurant habit. We get in these eating habits and kind of take for granted, for the smaller establishments, they know us and our family.

But the posts on “covering” by Chris and MoHoHawaii have me thinking on how, when, and if we cover. And last night such an option to cover came up.

Of course, CPK is not a “smaller establishment” and we got a waiter who evidently was guessing at our table. To be clear I don’t mind this a bit; I expect wrong assumptions and should, as they are reasonable by the odds. Typically they come in a couple forms:

1. The “Guy’s night out, huh?” reaction. This is the most common--and in those exact words too--and it’s the reaction we got last night. I think because it doesn’t overtly assume too much, yet relieves the notice of the novelty. It could mean many things, even get near the actuality, but it leans towards the common assumption. To this I typically say something like, “Heck, it’s guy’s night out every night,” and that’s enough to explain.

2. The “Would you like separate checks?” reaction. Typical, if the waiter is paying significant attention to our table, our family is blaringly apparent. Our children do not cover one bit. They have no idea it’s even an issue. Throughout the meal they switch from me to Rob or Rob to me; it’s clear. But sometimes, typically when the waiter is distracted, we’re asked if we want separate checks at the end. I suppose we could say "No, we're gay, see." But that's over the top, right :-)? I just say no… unless I want to tease; then I say, no, Rob will pay for it (He often forgets his wallet and I keep telling him if I ever forget mine we’ll be washing dishes… But I’ll never forget, and he knows it :-))

3.The “You’re such great husbands” reaction. Numerous times we’ve had very polite old women come up to us and tell us how nice it is that we’d take the kids and let our wives go out for a night on the town, shopping or something. I assume these are the folks that pay attention to stuff like the wedding bands on our fingers, and put our 2 and 2 together just a bit wrong. I must admit, when the boys were infants, without the ability to hear and remember everything we say, we’d sometimes just accept the kudos and let it be. No need upsetting a 60 year-old grandmother, right?

Nope. We changed our minds on that while they were still infants. We absolutely know we can’t show them an atom of hesitation in correcting such assumptions, and we don’t. We simple say “Thank you very much, but we’re a couple and these are our sons.” At that they do sometimes become uncomfortable and, at first, I regretted that as a necessary pain in social motion. But inevitably it turns out to be such a positive experience for our family and, seemingly, theirs. Most often, at the end of their meal, the same person will come up again and say something like, “I just want to say we’ve been watching you all, and I want to say how nicely you’re raising your children.” This of course takes me aback at times, as it’s typically when I think the boys are being their most irrepressible :-). But then I think how wonderful is that. One more person who never expected our family in Utah now will have a face on the politics; they went from uncomfortable to wanting to say something positive. Next time they talk to their neighbor about a bill affecting our home they’ll remember seeing us, and when their children send their children to school with ours, their children will be more apt to have been taught to be civil in this arena.

I wonder if such isn’t why we’ve had it so easy from the start at our boy’s school. At the last Birthday party of one of their classmates, there was a lesbian couple with their children. And we didn’t even know them! :-) Being long-time friends of our kid’s classmate’s parents, they made life easier for our children, before our families were even interacting, I’m sure. It really is this web of personal experience that’s pushing us along; not the large political movements.

I’ve noticed over the years, time has made all those above reactions more and more rare. What’s funny is that this nearly only happens now when I’m seated next to Alan. As the fates would have it, Alan looks a lot like me and Brian looks a lot like Rob. When I sit next to Brian, it seems most all can figure it out right away. Responses like the one we received last night, though, have now become the oddity regardless, and it’s been a good long while since we’ve been commended for being so nice to our “wives”. People see us in the media, they see us in their friends and neighbors, and, when they then see me reach over to wipe the face of whichever son is seated next to Rob, they can now figure it out for themselves.

It just seems things are getting simpler each day for families like ours; there’s thankfully very few instances where even the question of covering or not comes up anymore. And even when it does, so what? Last night we had a wonderful evening. The waiter was very nice... On the other hand, he did mistake Brian for a “padawan learner”. Now, if you want offensive, that’s offensive. Everyone knows Brian was actually dressed as Mace Windu. (I love the fact that he most identifies with the Jedi played by Samuel L. Jackson; Frozone is Brian’s favorite superhero in The Incredibles too :-))

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Small Life

For 2 years of a MS I nurtured millions of helpless human lives; they were kidney cells. Each day I’d feed them, shelter them in an incubator, and defend them from invading microbes. Each week I’d take a census of their population, make the necessary dilution, and kill the excess. It was repetitive grunt work.

A couple weeks into it, I wondered about the cell line’s origins, and my PI told me they were taken from a woman, many years before. They were in fact the part of her that killed her, after they mutated to gain the ability on which we were now capitalizing, unlimited proliferation. In short, the woman was long dead. While the majority of her body, no doubt, had rotted to dust and bones, each day I’d been keeping part of it alive. In fact, researchers in many labs in many countries were using these cells. In a way, she lived on, and did so worldwide, and possibly had more living mass than any human, ever.

For me, that realization was one of those spiritual moments the work of Science can sometimes offer. Taking care of those cells did take on a more solemnity, in the thought of those who loved her, and the life cut short.

The “Culture of Life” debates always make me think of this woman, who’s partial body is, to this day, alive under the care of tired grad students.

But she isn’t really living. The person she was, the person who had thoughts, emotions, rights and so on, is gone, right? Wouldn’t everyone agree on that? The executor of that woman’s will isn’t patiently waiting to perform his duties. No Fundamentalist politician is out to prosecute grad students for killing all that human life. But those cells are, by near all definitions, human life, each of them with human genes, some genetically unique, however slightly, and, not too far in our technological future, they could conceivably be made into viable human babies.

This all of course relates to a couple hot button topics. Regarding abortion, I can’t say I’m pro-choice. I can’t say I’m pro life either (or anti-choice or anti-life; gotta love political vocabulary ;-)). I, generally, don’t please any activist on this topic and should have probably stayed away from it. Simply, early on in a pregnancy, I’ve few reservations with someone ending that life. Later on, once a nervous system has developed and those human algorithms of thought start in motion, especially when the fetus may also survive outside the womb, well, I’m not near comfortable with late term abortions. Where to draw the line? I’ve not planted my feet and am willing to be swayed to a great degree in that middle ground for a good argument, but, in the extremes of those nine months, I do have firmer views.

Nevertheless, this topic was brought to mind for the embryonic stem cell research debate going on. A bill was just passed in the Senate loosening federal restrictions on funding such research, and it will be going to the desk of the president, for inevitable veto. Personally I see this as unfortunate, the veto that is (and both of Utah’s senators agree with me, a rare thing). I worry in a push to supposedly give dignity to human life by giving rights to an unthinking, unfeeling, emotionless, and tiny volume of cells, that the value of a person -- the life with intelligence, and feelings -- is actually ignored. The risk of mistaken of priorities is made even more pressing when we are talking about the chance of rescue of thinking human lives from death, through such research.

I plainly don’t respect another’s rights and right to life because they have human life, anymore than I’d respect the human life of my tonsils, should they get in my way. I rightly didn’t respect the human life of that long dead woman I routinely dumped into the waste as a MS student. I do respect another’s rights and right to life because they have some measure of intelligence, self-awareness, feelings, and so on. If such characteristics came in the form of my desktop computer, I’d never turn it off. If they came in the form of an insect-like life from another planet, I’d expect my insectoid brothers and sisters to have all the rights I enjoy. Does anyone on either side of this debate really feel much differently?

I don’t know. I can see it’s a complicated topic, particularly when various faiths are mixed in. I hope science soon finds a way to bypass embryonic stem cells for the adult variety altogether, saving the emotional trauma for those who believe a life deserving of defense begins at the moment of conception (whenever that moment is pinpointed). But, for now, such research is a significant potential for some very sick individuals.

Not that my blog will change minds on this, of course, but the news triggered the concern, and a thought for that woman. Funny, she'll probably out'live' my body by a great number of years.

Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Gay Marriage in History

There is a notion hanging about the marriage debate that marriage for gay couples is a recent invention, but accounts do exist of such unions being made throughout our discernable history. They are few and against the often hostile backdrop of our culture’s perspective, but they are there. Simply, to me, marriage is inevitable for most everyone. Most all are created with the nature that pulls us to couple, many to lifelong monogamy, and gays are no exception, even though such unions for gay couples have been greatly undermined by social and legal pressure throughout our written history.

So, this is my Gay Marriage in History Post for what it’s worth. Some of these accounts will intersect with my summary of the western history of homosexuals (here: 1, 2, and 3), and most of the information comes from Homosexuality and Civilization by Crompton, and Out of the Past by Neil Miller:

In pre-Christian Rome, It seems marriage was determined by affectio maritalis (intention to be married). The State didn’t decide marriages unless there was a problem. The rights for those living in a house were spelled out in contract, or by status as property (children and slaves). If a family split up, a judge would have to determine if they lived as married by collecting evidence, and what (or who) contractually belonged to whom.

Furthermore, a gay Roman could bring others under his roof as family, and grown men were “adopted” with the privileges of a family heir. Official marriage for gay couples basically seems unnecessary in many cultures that tolerated homosexuality, as they didn’t have stuff like health insurance to fret about, and had other workable solutions. A homosexual could simply marry in their own way, live in the same home, which made them family, and work the rest out by agreement, like the rest of the population.

I can find some accounts online of official same sex unions being performed by some religious sects of Rome, but they aren't in references I've yet been able to verify.

Nevertheless, as we all know, Constantine converted and the tide began to turn against gays (as I discussed here). When Constantine’s sons took the helm, they implemented edicts giving “exquisite punishment” to the “passive” homosexual in a union only, in 342 AD (my bold):

When a man marries as a woman who offers yourself to man, what does he wish, when sex has lost its significance; when the crime is one which is not profitable to know; when Venus is changed into another form; when love is sought and not found? We order the statutes to arise, a lot of the armed with an avenging sword, but those infamous persons who are now, or who hereafter may be guilty may be subjected to exquisite punishment.

Note the familiar mischaracterization of gay unions. While it seems it took a while to get such laws enforced and to get the public behind them, eventually “exquisite punishment” was realized, and for all those caught in a gay relationship.

Evidence of gay marriage from Portugal and Spain. This event occurred in a Portuguese immigrant region of Rome:

Venetian Ambassador Antonio Tiepolo reports (Rome 1578):
“Eleven Portuguese and Spaniards have been captured. They had assembled into Church near St. John Lateran where they had performed some ceremonies of horrible wickedness which sullied the sacred name of matrimony, marrying each other and being joined together as husband and wife. 27 or more, it is said, were discovered altogether on other occasions, but this time they were not able to capture more than this eleven, who were given to the fire as they deserved.”

It’s important to note this clearly hostile ambassador says gay men were “marrying” each other, in 1578. Of course he didn’t like it, but they were doing it. I think it’s also important to note these homosexuals seemed to feel a religious blessing, presumably Christian in nature due to the chosen location, was valuable to their union, worth risking their lives over. To my mind, that could suggest some sort of greater organization in their immigrant community, but, when the ceremony alone meant burning to death, it would be hard to find such expressed openly, and so who knows?

In China it seems they created a separate institution for gay men. They were called nanfeng, meaning the “Southern Custom” (The term is a pun, as “nan” means man as well). Homosexual men would still marry women, so that Confucian duties would be accomplished, but their partners had some of the benefits of a married wife (if not better).

Consider this account by Shen Defu (1578-1642):

The Fujianese men are extremely fond of male beauty. No matter how rich or poor, handsome or ugly, they all find a companion of their own status. Between the two the older is called the "bond elder brother" (qixiong), the youngest "bond younger brother" (qidi). When the elder brother goes to the house of the younger brother, the parents of the latter take care of him and love him like a son-in-law. And the younger brother’s expenses, including those of his marriage are all covered by the elder brother. They love each other and at the age of 30 are still sleeping in the same bed together like husband and wife….Such passions can be so deep that it is not uncommon that two lovers, finding it impossible to continue their relationship, tie themselves up together and drown themselves.”

So these couples are still pressured to marry women here and it seems there can be conflicts by which the gay union would be severed. But they’re also given access to another marriage-like institution of a different name (of course, the union between a man and a woman wasn’t called “marriage” either in 16th century China, if you’re the type terribly concerned with the word ;-)). Still, Shen recognizes it as very much like marriage (FYI, for those who need stronger evidence for homosexuality than sleeping together and strong passion between men, there is art from the period that shows some sexual interaction).

In the Americas there was a surprise waiting for the white man, and a far worse surprise waiting for the natives, particularly those who were GLB or T. Hernan Cortes (1485-1547 AD) reported to Charls V "we have learnt and been informed for sure that they [Vera Cruz natives] are all sodomites..." Certainly an exaggeration, but pottery backs him up in part. Nuno de Guzman, another conquistador, reported about a man captured in battle:

[he] fought most courageously, was a man in the habit of a woman, which confessed that from a child he had gotten his living by that filthiness, which I caused him to burn.”

It doesn’t seem such conquerors got close enough to the locals to chat about their families; I doubt it mattered much to them. But Cabeze de Vaca, a Spanish explorer in the 1540s, reported regarding the inhabitants of an island off the coast of Texas, “In the time I was thus among these people, I saw a diabolical thing and it is that I saw a man married to another.”

In what is now Santa Barbara California, there’s a report even of a native convert to Catholicism, who, while living in the mission brought his husband to live with him. The head of the mission became suspicious and, along with a couple soldiers, entered their room to find them “in the act of committing the nefarious sin.” The male convert defended himself by saying they were married… I know; doesn’t sound like it’d go over too well as an excuse, but what innocence. Nevertheless, they were only “mildly” punished.

The missionary noted that each tribe had about two or three of such couples but “we place our trust in God and expect that these accused people will disappear with the growth of the missions. The abominable vice will be eliminated to the extent that the Catholic faith and all other virtues are firmly implanted there.” I’d bet the guy would be quite upset to know gay couples are being joined, at least in civil unions, in his very area.

We can find accounts of the rarer cases of lesbian unions South America. Pedro de Magalhales, a Portuguese explorer traveling through Brazil in the 16th century remarks on a group of female warriors in an encountered tribe:

“They wear the hair cut in the same way as men, and go to war with bows and arrows and pursue game, always in the company of men… Each has a woman to server her, to whom she says she is married; and they treat each other and speak with each other as man and wife.”

Other than that, the Mohave had hwame, females who would do a bit of both male and female work. They would be expected to take a woman as a wife, and, if that woman had children, the hwame would become their parent as well.

There is also the case of "Woman Chief". Edwin T. Denig, a Caucasian who lived with the crow and knew her for 12 years described her as always perusing “manly accomplishments.” She was adopted into the Crow tribe at a young age and she eventually took responsibility for her foster father’s lodge and family, as a bit of a war hero. She eventually took three wives (there’s a joke in there somewhere :-)), and was killed in a “peacemaking expedition” to another tribe.

In the Americas it’s important to note a couple things about these unions. Typically one partner in a male-male union was expected to take on a feminine role. Though there certainly are some exceptions in their recorded activities, such as the account of Osh-Tish, a renowned warrior as well as a bade, or so-called berdache or “two-spirit” person. These “two-spirit” tribe members are argued to be more like our modern “queens”: effeminate, artsy, ambiguously gendered, and so on; you know the stereotype :-). While merely tolerated in some tribes, many revered them as spiritually gifted and great matchmakers, bridging male and female worlds. There typically though was no special name or social standing for their spouses. Men could take a berdache as a spouce or, where polygamy was practiced, men could have women and these men as their spouces. I’d take it the men marrying the berdache are those we’d most closely refer to as gay or bisexual in our day. Regardless, it’s difficult to apply modern vocabulary to such a different time and culture.

In the end in the Americas, it seems, near all of that tradition was wiped out, by violence or subtler forms of coercion, such as religious threat and indoctrination through boarding schools.

Anyway, that’s all I’ve collected (that I can verify in the printed page) on gay unions in history. If anyone has another account of same sex couples marrying, please send them my way; I’d love to know of them.

Monday, April 09, 2007

I've The MoHo Solution

For those not following there is a debate going on as to what to call folks in this little web of blogs, others have summed it up (here, or here, or here, or here, or here, or here, or here) and I will not.

But my solution is very simple. Let’s let “MoHo” keep the purer meaning: A true believer in every aspect of the LDS faith (yes, even the gay stuff) who is also homosexual. And everyone else will be called AntiMoHos. Simple.

We can split all our blogs up into hyperlinked camps, and each can organize against the other. We can all have posts like “10 Reasons Why I Hate MoHos” and “The AntiMoHos: Satan Lovers, or Satan Likers?”. All true MoHos can, say, give their avatars a blue background and the true AntiMoHos can be red. That way, without even reading a comment, we can all make snap judgments as to whether we should seriously consider what’s in it. If you're red and they're blue, you can just go right away on to thinking of ways to insult and refute even their observations about the weather; It’ll be a timesaver.

Of course the camps themselves may split a bit. For the higher-law members of the MoHos, those who are doubly LDS and can’t even ethically say the word homosexual, we could have the MoMoSSAs (a queer drink if there’s ever been one). They’d of course be better souls than the average MoHo, but would swallow their disgust for the sake of defeating the AntiMoHos (But once the AntiMoHos are gone watch out, regular MoHos. Nothing is a better chaser for a purge than another purge). In the AntiMoHo camp, we’d have everything from liberal LDS to vile atheists, and so you know there’ll be trouble there too. But I’m sure we can all put those differences aside as well, as long as we’re all in agreement that the MoHos suck and their differences cannot be tolerated, that is.

As I’ve never thought of, or referred to myself as a MoHo, I’ll be handling registration for the AntiMoHos. Give me an email, and, with a 50-dollar donation to our new organization, “The New Organization for the Terrorization of MoHos” (NOTMOHO), I’ll send you our secret team handbook that delineates all the great reasons we should fight the MoHos to our last internet breath, insights into the MoHo’s secret and frightening agenda, and why they want to drown puppies. I’ll through in a T-shirt too, with our logo and cut off at the midriff, free.

Let’s do it, team AntiMoHo! Yeah!!

Other than that, which is undoubtedly the best option, we could just let it be :-).

Quick Easter Anecdote

So yesterday we were at Easter dinner and in comes the Easter Bunny.

Brian, for some reason, has this crazy idea that he should keep a great distance between himself and a 7 foot tall pastel rabbit, bearing gifts or no. Odd huh?

Alan, on the other hand, was the first one on the bunny’s lap. When he got his stuffed animal present I asked him, “What do you say to the Easter Bunny, bub?”

Alan thought a bit, went past my hoped for “Thank you,” and ended up with a jubilant “Happy Birthday!” :-) And, as anticipated, there was the opening for the more detailed kid’s version of the story of Jesus we’d have later in the evening.

Then, as I was taking Alan back to the table, he leaned close and whispered, “Papa, the Easter Bunny isn’t real”. Now, my policy here is to neither confirm nor deny, as with Santa (A guy about whom Alan already expressed doubt); I let Rob and the rest of the family do that. In short, he didn’t get it from me, but I was intrigued as to how he came to that conclusion.

“Why do you think that?” I asked.

Quickly Alan explained, “Because I touched him. He’s made of puppets.”

Oh all those puppet lives lost for such an outfit! Where’s PETP when you need them?

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Happy Easter

To all the faithful, may you have a wonderful day of reflection on the atonement. To everybody, may you have a fun filled day with the family, and don’t eat the peeps.

We had our big family party yesterday. I awoke at 6, got ready, and hid hundreds of eggs until noon. My nieces and nephews cursed my name as they stumbled through this year’s golden egg puzzle, but they got it (after a bunch of hints :-)). It was another wonderful family get-together.

And the food… [Homer] mmmm… Mormon food.[/Homer] The potato salad, the baked beans, the breadth and depth of jello dishes... I hate to throw down such a gauntlet but my man makes better funeral potatoes than any of my sisters or in-laws. I dare say they are the best. That’s right, Relief Society members of the world. I said it. What you gonna do about it? Bring. It. On.

Anyway, Happy Easter.

For those few interested :-), I’ll paste below the final Silver egg puzzle (but I’m leaving out one part because it was too specific to my clan)

The Ag Egg

1. It would be creepy to visit a BLANK Halloween. _ _
2. The views from the Empire State Building BLANK. _ _
3. While I don't have multiple BLANK toes are on my feet. _
4. You've never Blank me wrong; I trust you. _ _
5. In bad neighborhoods there should be a BLANK block. _ _
6. I don't much like pork, but I had to try the BLANK the menu. _
7. As I got into Pierre's BLANK jour," he said. _
8. On December 7th there was a BLANK Pearl Harbor. _ _
9. If you're going for a job interview, you should first BLANK your shirt. _ _
11. Look at the boats floating upon the BLANK out there?_ _
12. He proposed with one BLANK the ground. _ _
13. At Sea World we saw a very talented performer; one might call him a BLANK. _ _

The letters from the BLANKS were used to add onto and subtract from Easter words to spell out: Salt, Water, Basement, and Soft… And I had to give the following hint to help them, so don't read it if you don't need it: The full sentence in number 2 is "The views from the Empire State Building are scenic". I'm not too proud of 13; corny but it works :-).

Friday, April 06, 2007


I came to these blogs with a firm notion of divorce, and the circumstances under which it was ethically possible, basically what I outline here. It’s greatly from my upbringing, and it was, actually, a softening of my younger stance. Divorce is rare in my family, and I had no idea it existed well into my youth, even though it had greatly affected immediate family. Not only that but I took the New Testament on the topic as seriously as Pope Clement (the seventh, not the fith). You know, Luke 16:18.

I understood that most modern religions didn’t uphold this doctrine, letting divorce (and remarriage [gasp]) happen for all sorts of reasons, but I felt that was a copout, a compromise of morals. When I became LDS my outlook softened a bit (to pretty much where Elder Oaks puts it). But even when my faith was no longer sustainable (1, 2) my views didn’t relax much. In short, being gay and married to a woman was not near an excuse for divorce, not when I first came here.

That's changed a bit over the months and I’m still trying to work it out. Ultimately I’m less concerned about a person’s promise of forever than the results, and the fate of possible children. With the way time teaches us, I can see how one person’s promise to another of “forever” may have been made to the eventual determent and regret of all involved, if kept, but that harm may have been unimagined or hidden, even purposefully by others, at the time it was made. I can see how that promise may have been made in error, and that, if kept through having children, the children could be needlessly hurt. Keeping the promise may not be worth all that, just like lying may sometimes be the right thing to do to stop greater harm.

But, once children are there... They are brought into a union without consent, and I do think they come with a claim in the promises that began their family. What to do once they are there? When I came to these blogs many months ago, I’d never have thought I could see a sliver of right in a parent splitting up their home, absent something like a cheating spouse.

Then I became familiar with Chris, his story, and his family. KK’s posts really helped me see it in a different, softer light. And now there’s Master Fob. They are all people who, with the limitations of the internet in mind, I’ve come to like and respect. Despite my regrettable fondness of riding the taller horses ;-), I can’t find myself able to say, or even think they did something they shouldn't with regards to their families. So, now what for a view on divorce?

I now think I was wrong… But I, of course, think I was right too ;-). I started this post hoping to better solidify my views on this topic. I gravitate towards lists, absolutes; tables of if then else, even in the complicated areas of morality, and I wanted to work out such a table for divorce. But I don’t think I can find a more stable or widely applicable rule here. I can’t measure such subtle and complicated weights for other families. If something obvious is involved, like abuse? Sure, the scales of right and wrong tip simply. But no family is the abstract family, and this issue now seems too near the tipping point, either way. I can see now it’s possible that what one gay man does easily, another may do with a struggle that could mire those around him, regardless of his intent. I fear I’d be making the same mistake I urge against in ignoring the fact that all humans and human situations must be looked at on their own merits, if I tried to simplify this issue further.

Time will tell for the individuals, but only one side of the story for each choice. So in the end, while I want to plant my feet, I now kind of feel like I shouldn’t and can’t here, when the variables are so vague and complicated and necessarily personal, and unknowable by my experience.

As a general rule, I still don’t think being gay, on its own, means a person should divorce their wife, kids involved or no. I do still think such marriages could, and most with children should find a way to make it work. I think divorce, as a general rule, is a tragedy or at least the culmination of a tragedy. Furthermore, I do know how I view divorce for my home. But the general rule does not deal with every person, and in the unknowable specifics of the lives and futures of others, I guess I’m where I began this post, though maybe less uncomfortably without an answer.

I’m More Manly Than…

Mitt Romney. Uh-huh, that's right:

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is taking a second shot at describing his hunting experience.

The former Massachusetts governor has called himself a lifelong hunter, yet his campaign acknowledged that he has been on just two hunting trips—one when he was 15 and the other just last year.

Heck, I went hunting every year of my youth; took gun safety classes and got my permit as young as state law allowed. I don’t hunt anymore (unless you count fishing :-)) and don’t miss it. Even if I had the insane urge to chew gamy bb-peppered meat, I certainly wouldn’t wake at 3AM, drive two hours, and walk miles through icy-dew-covered sugar beats for it.

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Same Space, Different Time

Last evening, as I opened the door to our home, I was greeted, as is blessedly common, by screams of “Papa’s home” and hugs in quick succession. Brian was uniquely excited to tell me right away about our dinner plans. He told me we were going “to the restaurant where daddy found you.” :-)

It turns out a series of questions with their dad about our family’s past had led him to become interested in visiting the landmarks. This particular landmark is Geppetto's. Fellow Utahns may know the place. It’s a modest pizza restaurant in Holiday.

After we first met, and after we finally realized we were both gay, Rob found my number (again, there were no “internets” in those days :-)). Once we talked I was immediately impressed by his outlook and personality, and, for the record, I asked him out. He tries to give the impression he started it all, and still does as one could tell by the fact the Brian got the impression his dad “found” me. Maybe he found my phone number, but I did the rest :-).

At the time, I was excited to go out with him, but I didn’t let my hopes get up; I was still dizzy from the events of coming out. I told myself, if nothing else, I can just give him some pointers and be on my way. But I did know, somewhere, that was not what was going to happen. I picked Geppetto’s for a number of reasons that should have given myself away. I was there about once a week with friends; I was comfortable there, knew the staff. I’d been there so many times I couldn’t and still can’t tell if the pizza is good or just familiar :-). Though nice, the service was slow, and I wanted slow service. Finally, they had acoustic guitar on the weekends. It was a bit of a dive, but it was comfortable and romantic, without nearly saying “romantic.”

I got to his work very early, and waited out front. But, as the time passed, he was nowhere to be seen. I waited and waited and my heart sank like it shouldn’t if I was really without romantic intent. Turns out he was feeling the same thing, looking out a window of the Delta Center. When I went to pick him up, I’d taken my mom’s car, and had no idea he was paying enough attention the night we first met to know the car I drive. I was so early; he never even saw me pull up.

Finally, as I was about to leave, he came out to head home, feeling rejected and never wanting to go back again to the youth group where we met. I felt done with it too. We just barely caught each other. It’s funny how small things like that can change your life forever; a couple seconds and a turn of the head can mean everything. For this one, I’ll grovel at the feet of the fates :-).

He was nervous, as was I, but the drive gave the time to calm down. We got to the restaurant and the rest is 14 years of history. We had the first of many best evenings of our lives. Not exactly in the realm of a date at this phase in our union, but it was an amazing first, nonetheless.

Sitting there last night, at the same table in fact and now with our boys coloring away on kid’s menus I’d no idea Geppetto’s even had as an 18-year-old patron, it felt strange, amazing. Times like that seem to give a glimpse of the poetry written into the universe. Would those two strangers, sitting there, right where our bodies were last night, have believed the facts of today? The politics back then would have made it seem so improbable.

But, still, I think they knew it, somewhere. Even then I think we both had a spark of a hint, maybe not exactly that we’d be cajoling our two wonderful children into eating the food, food they said they wanted, at that same table many years later ;-), but that something far more and wonderful was on its way. It may be silly, but looking back, I can’t help but feel a bit like the spirit of our children was there all along that evening. Not in some supernatural form--though I can see how some would believe such--but, in the memory, they now seem bound into the mechanisms of life and those two nervous kids that night. I do know, in whatever form, my happy spirit will be found in such landmarks for our boys, after time takes me, just as time brought them to us.

This morning, as I was getting the boys ready for the day, Alan, out of the blue, told me “that was a good restaurant.” He rarely gives a positive restaurant review and he ate poorly, so I must assume he saw something else in the place too. :-)

Monday, April 02, 2007

Birds and Bees... Do Stuff.

In a comment a while ago L asked what I mean by calling myself prudish (in a comment, here). To explain I’d need to enter a topic that I think should remain personal and discrete, but I’ll go as far as PG language will allow (or no more than PG-13). So:

--I’ve only ever had and wanted one intimate partner… ever. Yes, all you naysayers, EVER, by the standard definition of those words. If there’s one thing I’m glad to have “wasted” in my life, it’s my youth in this regard ;-). It was years after I came out before I found the person I was waiting for, and once I found him that was it; no one else before, during, and I easily dare say after. Now that I think about it, I’ve only even kissed one person with romantic intent, the others being luckless beards (sorry) and a gay man I certainly didn’t want to kiss. I guess I’m a freak’n pilgrim in this respect, aberrant all around ;-).

--I have never owned pornography, and don’t want it. Though, I have seen it, gay and straight. At a bachelor party I threw, a copy of a pornographic magazine of… let’s call them extremely-plus-sized women was brought by a friend and given to the groom-to-be as a joke. And, by that accident of vision, not unlike the unintended origins of the Hulk or Spiderman, I was thereby transformed from merely gay to The Uber-Gay, superhero/crime-fighter/protector of the demoralized homosexual.

But I have seen gay pornography before too, though I think it was to be passed off as art. It’s nice and all, arousing, but my impression is that it accentuates some sexual aspects I’m just not interested in, besides the fact that they ain’t the man I depend on and depend on being attracted to.

Also, we have seen a couple videos that have explicit gay sex scenes, like Latter Days (and hey, odd detail, by coincidence the wife of one of my buddies worked on that film and she tells me the flamboyant gay lead in that movie wasn’t even gay. Though, he was… convincing?).

--I wouldn’t know where to look for Internet pornography either. I’ve stumbled on to it before (when the internet was in its youth I typed in instead of .gov and got an eye-full of naked women). The closest I’ve ever come to seeing internet gay porn, would be some very tame things on youtube that an idle curious hand found when I first heard about the site, but that was a long time ago, and, again, with R in full knowledge (some of it was funny :-)). As with the printed version, maybe I didn’t look hard enough to find what would really get me going, but I’m left with a sense of “eh”. I’d rather read a blog.

--We’re not very, uhh, adventurous? How to put this, without going within earshot of detail? I do think it’s important for young gays to know, if what they assume gay sex is ain’t their cup of tea, that’s fine too; many feel the same and do more than great. For the far more exotic activities I’ve heard about, they just sound wholly uninteresting, or worse, like they’d strike me as mood-killingly humorous (not that I’d make fun of anyone into them, but that I’d have a hard time taking the activity as serious for myself if I was expected to participate, and that sort of amusement does not mix well into the bedroom :-)).

--In general and to my mind, sex, though an amazing tool, is not an end in itself, and nothing in need of complication or fetish. It’s great for building one of the most important relationships there is with another person (and, for the average fertile US couple, sex will also produce children about twice in a generation, but it’s not the only way to that end ;-)). Without that, the pleasure of release is just a chemical shot, the likes of which one could get from a drug and without the otherwise humorous dynamics of bodies in sexual motion :-). What is unique and useful is the direct and visceral concern with and pleasure through another’s joy, the joy in another, and their joy through you; it’s practical and miraculous at once. To me, it can’t help but build lasting bonds, if used carefully, and I hope to be careful.

Now let me stop here and say I kind of have my tongue in cheek when I say I’m a prude. I do and don’t do what I’ve done in this area because that’s what I’ve wanted, and how sex functions for my mind (Again, I'm a prairie vole :-)), not for some moral hang-up (save for the fidelity, to which I’m bound by promise as well as want). In some ways I wonder if this is not what happens to gay men who come out easily, with no need to obsess about sex or ever have it with guilt. On the other hand, I’ve known straight guys who could make a white wedding dress look reasonable on the most sluttly of queens. Anyway, I just count the above as part of my innate sexual orientation.

To be clear, though, I don’t think there is anything wrong with “adventurous” sex; I’m just disinterested in it, as I’m innately disinterested in knitting. While lying can be an issue, I don’t have a problem with adults buying paper or internet pornography either, on its own (as long as everyone involved is an adult freely making their choices). We do not avert our eyes at sex scenes or anything like that; some of my favorite movies are R rated. I’d not even chastise an adult who slept with a different man each night, IF they can possibly do it without lying, breaking vows, creating unwanted children, or spreading disease. AND if they aren’t my progeny :-). Such simply is not what I want, and I expect to not be judged by it either way. So, perhaps, I’m not really a prude, if I have no moral opinion on the many sexual behaviors traditional prudes would faint to the floor over.

But, besides my choices for my life, I do have more traditional prudish characteristics.

--I take other’s promises of sexual fidelity seriously, maybe too much so. Do not invite me to your wedding and later expect me to not get upset if you go on to cheat. If you made a mistake, then admit and resolve it, but don't cheat. I do feel, by asking for witnesses (and flatware), public vows become other people’s business. I’ve been a best man twice, both times for men who stood by my side at our wedding. They are my best friends, but even with them I feel we gave up loyalty to each other at our weddings, and replaced it with loyalty to the other’s family. Simply, they would not be sleeping on our couch if they cheated on their wives :-). I try not to be harsh--I know what it feels like to be on the other end of that--and I can let it go eventually, but I’ve a reflexively difficult time trusting any person who cheats. It’s certainly not for the sexual activity, itself; it’s for their betrayal of trust, especially within family. I mean, I immediately think, if they’d do that to people they say they love the most in life, what could their minds later excuse doing to a stranger, if the urge hit them?

--Lastly I will encourage our children to wait for marriage. I’ll tell them how much I value the fact that there’s only been one person to ever get that near to me, and the one who has has never broken that bond. There are no x’s to compare or downplay, no broken hearts (again, save for the girls, sorry), no STDs to explain, not even a week of unrequited love; maybe I was lucky but I think some of that was caution and pragmatism. It payed off for me, and I’ll encourage the same. Though, I wouldn’t anywhere near disown them if they choose otherwise (I’d not want to even make a debate of it if that hope is already breached), and I’d certainly never use threat of withholding my love as pressure, as I’ve seen too many do to their gay children. But, if they did spread disease or create unwanted children, my sadness would be palpable.

Anyway, that’s it. Prude...