Friday, September 05, 2008

Ensign Peak

When I was a teenager, I broke curfew only once.

My parents never technically gave me a curfew, because I was never out past midnight by choice. When I started dating (girls), I approached my dad and asked him for a 10 PM curfew, so as to keep from those later hours, when a date's parents would go to bed and she would hope to make out. I was pretty sure kissing was the most absurd human action on record (until I figured out I was kissing the wrong humans :-)), and I wanted to be able to honestly say "Sorry, but I've got to get home". One girl (the same girl whose mom rented a hotel room for our prom date, causing me to pretend the stomach flu with all of my limited acting skills), she even told me I'd never amount to anything if I didn't start standing up to my parents :-).... Poor girl, I'd break her heart in a matter of weeks without the courage to tell her why; if she only knew, she'd laugh, I'd hope.

But I'm rambling and off my aim already.

I came home to my mother crying because I was up at Ensign Peak.

Kids used to hang out there quite a bit in my day and it seems they still do. You get that full overlooking view of the city lights that plays so well with teen angst and possibility.

On to the point, I read in the paper today that a gay kid and his friends were beaten up there early last month, article here. A group of kids asked the gay kid to take their picture and eventually realized and asked if he was indeed gay. In the end, reconstructive surgery was required. There are really no extenuating circumstances to cause me to second guess this one (as I regrettably did with the case last month). This was, by all accounts, a genuine and tragic bias crime, and I hope someone recognizes the picture of that little f*beep*r who did such a thing and turns him in.

Over the years I've noticed people around here, OSA and SSA, prefer to think their anti-gay bias and anti-gay rights work harms no one. They'll think that even regarding the families they legally diminish in clear ways. But every time you tell your children our relationships, our feelings, and our families are sub-ideal, immoral, or unworthy of legal respect you make such violence more likely, no matter how much love for us you think you hold. Your children get the message, and their peers get the message, and your children will meet gay children. Your children will meet children of gay parents.

Your children will meet my children.

To be frank, I'm afraid of what your children will do, Mr. and Mrs. average Utahn; moreso today than yesterday. Events like this make Utah, our home by reflex, seem like something we should run from. Maybe Utah is as troubled as it seems in our abnormally high rates of suicide, depression, divorce and so on and it just hasn't hit us yet; it, at times, seems to have a diseased inside with a faithful and confident shining veneer.

Forgive me if I ramble a bit more. I'm just remembering, the second or third date Rob and I went on after our boys were born was at the place where we went on our first date. We sat there and ate and talked, exhausted from 6 month-old twins. I didn't notice, but a table next to us was paying attention to us and referred to us as "fags." Rob only told me after we left, knowing I can be irrationally willing to enter an argument, even though Rob would be the better of us to enter a physical fight. What if I did say something? Would something worse than a ruined date have happened? Would I have been put in the hospital, away from our babies in those important months?

EDIT: Man, I just remembered another. We had just been on the news speaking out against Utah's marriage amendment and we were walking through the mall with our boys toddling by our side. Some man, an adult man, apparently recognized us and said to his wife loud enough for us to hear "They should kill those fags." There was no fight that time; we hurried the kids down the mall and away from him.

This kid got beat up for being known to be gay, and I'm certainly known for that at times. Our boys out us all the time. I'm wondering now if I feel too safe here; have I an unreasonable bias favoring Utah? Maybe I too easily forget cruelty here, for the wholesome image of Utah I have from my youth.

Anyway, I guess I should tie up the first anecdote, as to why I broke curfew.

I was up at Ensign Peak with my friend (no, not gay). He had a very troubled youth and told us he was going to kill himself. He had the gun there, but I'm not sure how serious he was as he had no bullets (which seems kind of funny now, but back then it was one of the most stressful nights of my life). We stayed up there well past midnight, talking, until I was sure he'd be okay. I came home to very worried parents, and this friend, years later, eventually ended our friendship when he converted to the LDS church and took issue with my family (I wrote about that event a long while ago here). Eh, history...

Maybe it's near time to move my family to where I've no connection to the area, no personal memories in the tragic locations of local news stories, where it's safer for us all, legally and physically. Or maybe I'm just frustrated and it will pass; that's more likely. We'll see what happens with Proposition 8 in November; California may start to look really good again...


Kengo Biddles said...

I worry for my family too, at times. I've thought about announcing our Mixed-Orientation Marriage--but then I worry about repercussions on my wife and children...I've come to terms with being a Kinsey 4--and I'm okay with it. At the same time, the closed-mindedness of people definitely scares me off.

We're thinking of leaving UT at some point as well, if only to get out among people who aren't so tetu.

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

I've often been in situations where I felt unsafe or on-edge, either because of something someone has said, or because I was unsure as to how someone might react if they knew I was gay. I'm not one to get into physical altercations (ever), but I could probably hold my own against one person, but all too often, it's a group of people who act irrationally.

While I think that California is definitely more accepting of "alternative families", there is the possibility of danger wherever one goes. If I had a family with children, I would not live in Utah. Of course, I don't have near as much family here as do you.

Unfortunately, those that actually openly call us faggots are just the tip of the iceberg. There are far, far more who are quiet in their homophobia, and to some degree that's even scarier, because you don't really know who they are.

Anonymous said...

Hey, I found your blog through the Outer Blogness list. I'm former Mormon and have been here in Utah for nearly 25 years now. Not gay, but even when I was Mormon growing up, homosexuality didn't bother me at all. Have never understood all the fuss and opposition in regards to it.

I was really disgusted when Utah's marriage amendment passed a few years ago. I'm sincerely hoping the California amendment is defeated, as that will hopefully pave the way for Utah's amendment to be thrown out as well.

One of the scary things about Utah is that a lot of people have moved here precisely because they want and expect a homogeneous culture. Mormons outside of Utah tend to have this fantasy that if they move to Utah all their neighbors and work mates will be Mormon. They move here because they don't want diversity of any type. And even after they get here some, maybe a lot, insist on clinging to their fantasy that only Mormons should live in Utah and everyone else needs to convert or leave.

There are some things I like about Utah and some things I really don't like. If I had higher social needs I might really hate living here, but my personality is such that I have a "friends are optional" attitude.

My 2 older adult kids have been able to find plenty of liberal Mormons or non-Mormons to associate with, however. That said, they're both heterosexual so it's a bit of a different ball game for them than it is for you. It seems like atheists are not quite as despised as gays are here.

Scot said...

Kengo, maybe we should take our handcarts and start a new town out west, one where the folks are friendly inside and out.

Craig: "Of course, I don't have near as much family here as do you. "

If only there was a quantifiable measure of such things. It's a mixed bag wherever we go. As for now, we're doing great here; it just seems there's something always looming in Utah beyond our circle of friends family and school.

Welcome intj-mom!

I agree with your observations about why some choose to move here; just wish it wasn't so. Funny thing is, I'm a native product of this land and culture. We're more settlers than explorers and I don't think I'll ever not consider Utah our home, even if we find we have to leave. Nevertheless, maybe it's time to create a new home town for our family before our boys begin to feel the same nostalgia about Utah as we do.


Kengo Biddles said...

Scot, if only it were that easy. And I wouldn't hesitate to join a town with you in it. Intj-mom: it's interesting that you comment on folks moving to Utah for's for that very reason that Miki and I are eager for any opportunity to get OUT.