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.

8 comments:

Loyalist (with defects) said...

very thought provoking and appreciated.

playasinmar said...

Is there really is nothing to be done about it here or now? Each young man who takes his life in this state is a weight thrown around the soul of the Mormon community. The suicides have to stop.

iwonder said...

I posted on something very similar today (well yesterday now). I have been thinking of this a lot lately. I really liked what you said here:

"but they don’t feel the deep tear between their ethics, or the supernatural, and their innate path to a very basic human joy."

Though you were using this as a non-example of the morally flexible gay, I assume you were therefore applying it as an example of those who have a "strong sense of ethics". Anyway, what I wanted to say, was that I feel just that, and have expressed those exact sentiments to several of my friends.

Being in the midst of all this myself has made it hard at times to see objectively, and so I appreciate your appraisal of the situation. How sad it truly is.

I know that suicide is not any sort of answer, but the fact that I feel I am being forced to choose between two things I feel are so right and good is just destroying me.

And I know you haven't an answer. I just wanted to say thanks for your apt description of the conflict inherent in such a situation as mine. Maybe things will change one day... here's to hope!

Scot said...

Thank you, Loyalist. I aim to provoke ;-).

Playasinmar:
Is there really is nothing to be done about it here or now?

You caught me feeling helpless about this problem here; it goes in cycles. It was kind of silly to say there’s nothing to be done, when I’ll do something regardless :-). I was more feeling the pointlessness of arguing the ethics with a kid who hates himself for being gay and wanting to couple with a man and yet holds strongly onto a ridged form of his faith against it. That change must be done from within his faith, and I am to see the changes I have over the years. I can see just being a willing ear and opening up personal experiences in the same area is something to be done, but that other aspect feels to be a thing that changes with generations, not years.

iwonder
I assume you were therefore applying it as an example of those who have a "strong sense of ethics".

Exactly, the person who cares about his ethical life is often the person who gets the most trauma here.

" Anyway, what I wanted to say, was that I feel just that, and have expressed those exact sentiments to several of my friends."

I’m sorry you’re going through this and wish I did have answers. As I said above, you can count this stranger as one more willing ear, and I’m always up to answering questions about the path I’ve taken.

"Maybe things will change one day... here's to hope!"

Amen. And they are changing, just too slowly for my taste. I hope things change soon enough to relieve your burden.

Master Fob said...

Amen.

My Best Is All I Have said...

Scot,

This post was a good read, I can relate to it. I do have to ask, though, why the answer has to be for the church to accept the gay lifestyle? Why can't the answer be for the church members to just be more open with the people who go through this?

I think that most of the depression that leads up to suicide is because those people feel they have nobody to turn to. Nobody to talk to in their time of need. If the Mormon culture was more open to discussing personal issues and helping people out, then there wouldn't be any "quiet desperation".

Sure, people would still have depression issues with not being coupled up with someone in this life, but there are a whole lot of single women out there in the church who can express the exact same feelings of sadness about being single and having no marriage options.

I agree that something needs to be done before we all either leave the church or go mad and kill ourselves, but I'm not convinced that the answer lies in changes in doctrine. I think it lies more in changes in the culture; in people being more Christlike and kind to those who face different trials than they do.

Scot said...

Thanks m.b.i.a.i.h.,

"I do have to ask, though, why the answer has to be for the church to accept the gay lifestyle? "

To my mind, the LDS church doesn’t have to officially accept anything they don’t want. There are other ways from such trouble but those are paths of belief the gay man must necessarily go alone. The church is simply not forcing these individuals, once adults, into a belief about their orientation. Besides, I’d never want the church to accept the gay lifestyle, if what’s meant by that is what is commonly meant.

I think that most of the depression that leads up to suicide is because those people feel they have nobody to turn to. Nobody to talk to in their time of need. If the Mormon culture was more open to discussing personal issues and helping people out, then there wouldn't be any "quiet desperation".

I agree; that would be a big help. But, to me, that’s not going to be a solution for many.


Sure, people would still have depression issues with not being coupled up with someone in this life, but there are a whole lot of single women out there in the church who can express the exact same feelings of sadness about being single and having no marriage options.

This is where the problem sits, to my mind. Darn though. I can’t find the reference, but almost everyone gets married in the US, eventually. Coupling is right up there with hunger in our nature. It’s like 95% of the population (and who are the other 5%? Besides nuns ;-)). Anyone, if they want to, can find someone, depending on how much they’re willing to sacrifice in their life and requirements. But attraction to a particular sex is not like attraction to erudite blonds; it’s deeply imbedded in our programming, understandably.

Nevertheless, considering heterosexual women who’ll never marry despite wanting to: To call this the exact same feeling is not accurate. Of course, I do understand you may not feel it this way. There is no the gay man. But I do know, for many, this is far from the same. There’s a great difference between a gay LDS male teenager, told his orientation is an impulse towards evil, a physical temptation from a devil, and, say, a heterosexual LDS female peer who’ll never end up marrying because the fates don’t ever line up in her favor. She has the high possibility of coupling ahead of her according to her deepest knowledge about herself; she could choose someone according to her orientation; she’s not told, even if with a show of love, there’s something inherently wrong with her mind here. But he watches others couple with men, but he can’t because his beliefs tell him that part of him, a part celebrated in others in his faith, is a drive toward evil when found in his male form. He’s told celibacy is to be his life, or given the option of marrying against his orientation if he can find “great attraction” for a woman, which for some gay men can feel as wrong as any sin. He looks at men and feels both the attraction towards one of the most important relationships in life and that it’s wrong at once; he is deeply torn. She looks and feel the same attraction as only right; there’s no tear in her between her faith and her orientation. He may even have men, great men willing and waiting for him and that makes the impossibility of reconciliation even more wearing. Simply, telling some “We love you, and understand, but…” doesn’t soothe; rarely, it can even frustrate more. Still, I too would be happy to see more of that in the church.

Hey, you got me monologue-ing… :-)

I agree that something needs to be done before we all either leave the church or go mad and kill ourselves, but I'm not convinced that the answer lies in changes in doctrine. I think it lies more in changes in the culture; in people being more Christlike and kind to those who face different trials than they do.

Again, I’m sure that would help. I do think there’s a danger in calling this just a different trial, though; it requires some unique attention. As I said, this is different from, say, a compulsion to steal to most gay men, even if not to outsiders (If I hear one more LDS member relate it to his trial of occasionally wanting to curse, I’ll pop :-)). But it will change with more open gays in the church, such as yourself; it can’t help but change. It just frustrates me that such happens so slowly, particularly when I think of those lost in years past.

Edgy said...

Amen, especially to how you addressed the comparison with single women. I've had a number of people who like to bring up that comparison, but th two situations really don't compare. For the single woman, there is still the hope that she will one day marry. That hope is not offered to the gay man. He is also, often, punished for being gay as well since his growth in the Church (growth which is mistakenly marked by leadership positions and advances in the priesthood) is put at a standstill because he is not married.