Wednesday, August 20, 2008


After we got home I caught up on recent events. One editorial of note from Sunday's paper was an editorial about gay suicide by Carol Lynn Pearson, a vocal and prolific LDS and gay LDS advocate. You can read the editorial here.

I'll not go into the details of it all. Others have and many (ironically most of them on the anti-gay relationships side) are doing enough online to prove her tragic point. Heck, as if to highlight the willful blindness to the harm, in the same paper that day this editorial, "Don't Bother Us," appeared asking gay groups to "just leave us [the LDS church] alone."

I wish they could ethically do so,
Douglas. I really and deeply wish you would adopt a live and let live approach and that we then could in turn. But you show no signs of slowing down, right? If anything, with the Proposition 8 fight, you and the LDS church leaders are stepping further into the most intimate and important relationship in my life and my children's lives. I can't just stop bothering you.

In fact, considering what most gay men and women around here go through, I'm not even slightly sorry you feel put out.

Anyway, I got distracted. What's newly eating at me with this editorial, is the fact that
Carol refers to a gay suicide in my sphere of influence, a gay man who killed himself while working where I was working.

I haven't hid my orientation at work for over a decade. If a person's orientation would come up in a conversation with a heterosexual, it will come up with me. Everyone close enough to me in my work environment to see my desk would see pictures of my family. But that's it. I didn't wear a rainbow rhinestone lab coat, or anything. I can count a substantial conversation about being gay at my work maybe once per year, when someone felt comfortable enough with me to ask me.

The thing is, the thing that I've been trying to put out of mind for the past couple days is that I probably knew this young man, not well enough to know his name, but certainly his face as we'd pass in the halls or occasionally sat in on the same seminars. But work was work, no place for being vocally out. I wasn't about to create a gay support group for my traditionally conservative area of the campus, put up fliers, or make a point of coming out to strangers in a strained, unnatural way. Maybe I should have, though.

It's just such a train wreak for some gay men. This article took me back to the first gay suicide I personally encountered, and, while I consciously know I don't hold even a fraction of the same blame in this case, I still feel that guilt through the associations and reflex of memory.
I know it would be some sort of sad savior complex to feel I could have saved this young man too, if only I'd been more out, if only I asked more about the lives of those around me... But I keep going back to the fact that, from outward appearances, I could have seemed to young gay men working around me like yet another damning, anti-gay bigot (and there were those in our area). I could have appeared like yet another person in their world who'd look down on their "vile afflictions," when I am really one of their brothers. That tiny sliver of a possibility is far too much of a possibility.

Anyway, if anyone wants to know why gay issues become a life's work for some people, such irreversible events and what if's are reason enough. Thank you
Carol Lynn Pearson, for trying to get in the way, for being a bother.


Kengo Biddles said...

First, the humor:

"I didn't wear a rainbow rhinestone lab coat, or anything..."

But...Scot, it would be fagulous!

And now the real comment:

It's a hard thing. Part of me has thought about becoming a teacher and placing something discreet in my classroom/office to show that I was "gay friendly" for those folks who, for whatever reason, might feel in need of support.

I don't know it's a hard thing to decide at times. And I'm sure the fact that you were this close (proximity) to this young man, and know that you could possibly have reached out somehow must be hard at times to take.

And all I have to say about Prop 8 is D&C 134:9 and Article of Faith 11.

Chino Blanco said...

LDS 'Yes on 8' Game Plan

I've posted a letter sent from Boyd K. Packer on July 28th to the California LDS stake presidents:

BKP July 28

Apparently, there is a plan in place to put up one million 'Yes on 8' yard signs at 7:00 am on September 22nd.

Beck said...

One of my best friends deliberately acquired AIDS as a means of suicide years ago when I was so entrenched in the closet I wouldn't admit what he so very well knew of me - that I was gay. I am still haunted by the fact that I didn't do more to keep him from feeling he was all alone without hope, and had to do this.

What if I had reached out and wasn't afraid to do so? What if I hadn't made him feel that I as an intimate friend had not abandoned him? What if I had stood beside him when the Church excommunicated and shunned him and took away his hope?

Some things are irreversible...

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

This is probably the thing that bothers me most about the church - their ability to ignore people killing themselves because the teachings of the church tell you it's better to do that than to be gay.

They never admit to it, but those teachings are clearly there in the LDS religion, and it is disgusting to me that they would rather pretend that "all is well in Zion" than face up to this truth: The teachings of Mormonism about homosexuality do not match up with reality.

Having gone through a time of intense depression and almost committing suicide myself, I understand all too well why gay Mormons are killing themselves, and it makes me so angry that a church which purports to teach love and compassion, is so full of contempt and vindictiveness towards gays which stems from its highest levels. The "love the sinner but hate the sin" mantra is one that translates in the minds of too many to: say you love someone, but do all you can to treat them as lesser beings, to take away their human rights, and judge them to be morally deficient because they don't live or believe the same as you.

It is amazing to me how casually the church leaders and so many members just toss aside every thing that Jesus supposedly taught (everything their church is supposedly based on) in favour of their cultural biases.

Java said...

Gay issues becoming a life work - that's what I'm wondering about now. These are heavy thoughts.

Scot said...

Kengo: "placing something discreet in my classroom/office to show that I was "gay friendly" "

That's not a bad idea. Wish there was something subtler than a rainbow.

Chino: a million yard signs huh? Sadly, it won't just be the LDS leadership noting which neighbors back amending their constitution.

I hear ya, Craig.

The facts that Utah is at or near the top in youth suicide, use of antidepressants, death by overdose on prescription drugs, and has a higher than average divorce rate are serious problems in need of serious address. We Utahns have many good aspects; our ability to gloss over our problems or pass the buck isn't one of them.

and Java, I'm sure where you live you are the sort that could make life better for any minority group.

JB said...

I think Mormonism has a way of glossing over everything that isn't mainstream. And anyone in their congregations who isn't mainstream feels left out, strange, and depressed. Hell, even people who *are* in the mainstream sometimes really wish they didn't have to be or just feel oppressed because of it and can't articulate that feeling. I just hate the way the LDS church has ignored gays. They basically say "we don't really know what to do with you, but be celibate and lonely forever and good luck with it!" I wish they would hurry up and get with the program. It seems that won't happen until well after Prop 8 fails miserably (partly thanks to yours truly) and the rest of the country finally treats gays as equals. Then, when the Mormon church is being positively barbaric compared to everyone else, the prophet will get a magic message from the almighty that it's time to change the policy. Seems they've set a sort of precedent for that sort of thing with blacks and the priesthood.