Friday, October 19, 2012

Please support the upcoming Salt Lake City Circling the Wagons Conference

There has been discussion over the last two days about our invitations to Josh Weed and Steve Frei to speak at the upcoming Circling the Wagons Conference. Initially, like many of you, I vociferously opposed having either man speak. I, in fact, said to other members of the organizing committee that I would not appear on the same stage with Josh or Steve.

As I pondered this,  my opinion changed.

And why did it change? I believe that by inviting Josh and Steve to the conference, we will attract participants who might not otherwise attend, those orthodox Mormons who have only heard the North Star/Josh Weed version of homosexuality.

As a result of Josh and Steve's attendance, I believe this conference has the potential to become a tremendous teaching opportunity for those of us who want True Blue Mormons to learn that there is another way.

The great thing about having Josh and Steve speak at the conference is that their views are known and so will have little power to persuade. More importantly, those views for once will not go unanswered. Those who are ignorant or ill-informed will be taught of another, more Christ-like approach to this issue. In Mormon jargon, we will be able to bear powerful testimony that Heavenly Father loves his LGBT children because we are gay, not despite the fact that we are gay. Orthodox Mormons will inevitably feel the Spirit of our message and be changed.

The bottom line for me--I'll do what I must to get those who would otherwise not attend to come to this conference. If that means inviting Josh Weed or Steve Frei, so be it.

I ask you Family members and allies, please, please reconsider your anger and frustration as I have. Please have confidence that we have done the right thing by inviting Josh and Steve. I can assure you that neither man will have the final word on the issue of homosexuality, mixed orientation marriage and the Church. Please support the conference so we together can reach out to those who might otherwise not attend and who will be changed because they did.

We must be united and if we're united we will not fail. I believe in my heart of hearts that Heavenly Father is placing a tremendous blessing at our feet. Let's all--together--take advantage of this opportunity and change hearts and minds.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

The gay-pedophile connection and the Church

With the final sentencing of Jerry Sandusky, the former Penn State football coach and convicted pedophile, a terrible chapter in American sports comes to a close. While the damage Sandusky wreaked on the lives of innocents is immeasurable, America’s gay community has also suffered at his hands. (See Jerry Sandusky Cover-Up: How the 'Gay Factor' May Have Played a Role.)

Jerry Sandusky’s despicable behavior has again reinforced the ugly myth that gay men are pedophiles, a myth that particularly impacts those of us who are gay and Mormon.

To "protect" the membership of the church, the 2010 Handbook of Instruction (Vol. 1) requires members' records to be annotated for "repeated homosexual activities", as well as pedophilia, polygamy, and incest or serious abuse of a child. This annotation can only be removed by the First Presidency after a recommendation to do so by the individual's stake president.

The effect is that an individual with an annotation will not generally be called to work with children or youth.

The implication is that individuals who engage in "repeated homosexual activities" are in fact believed by the Church to be predators (along with pedophiles and polygamists), who, because of their unholy compulsion, attempt to convert young people to a homosexual lifestyle or use children or young people to indulge their carnal desires.

This implication honestly sickens me.

The great fable that all too often impacts our relationship with members of the LDS community is this unspoken, but generally accepted belief that gay men can entice impressionable boys into homosexuality and that gay men are by nature pedophiles. This lie is so insidious that it even creeps into ally conversation and is given undeserved credence by individuals who should know better.

Let me say this clearly and unequivocally: There is no evidence that homosexual men are more inclined to pedophilia than the general population. (See this link.)

Dr. A. Nicholas Groth, a leading researcher in the field, wrote: "Are homosexual adults in general sexually attracted to children and are preadolescent children at greater risk of molestation from homosexual adults than from heterosexual adults? There is no reason to believe so. The research to date all points to there being no significant relationship between a homosexual lifestyle and child molestation."

Dr. Nathaniel McConaghy similarly cautioned against confusing homosexuality with pedophilia. He noted, "The man who offends against prepubertal or immediately postpubertal boys is typically not sexually interested in older men or in women."

As long as the Church perpetuates myths and stereotypes that fail to reflect the truth about our community, members of the Church will continue to fear us and treat us as outcasts. 

It's time for the Church to wake up to the implications of its policies and make changes where changes are required.

Monday, October 15, 2012

Circling the Wagons: Seeking Authenticity and Understanding

It's once again Circling the Wagons Conference time...another opportunity to congregate with fellow LGBT Mormons and our allies to encourage dialogue and understanding about what is probably the most misunderstood issue facing members of the we gay people fit within the greater Mormon community, if we fit at all.

The theme of this year's conference is "Seeking authenticity and understanding". I can't think of a better conference objective.

Several weeks ago, I was involved in a conversation with an active Latter-day Saint about homosexuality. After five frustrating minutes it became clear that real dialogue was not going to take place. Why? Because she insisted that if we were going to continue our discussion, I had to use "gay" only as an adjective, I had to recognize that the final authority on homosexuality is the scripture as interpreted by the Brethren, and that I had to admit that homosexuality was a life style rather than a matter of nature.

This good member of the Church was well-meaning, I'm sure, but she was open minded only to the extent that my feelings and beliefs fit nicely within her own preconceived paradigm. While she repeated her mantra of support and fellowship over and over as she declared her desire to "truly understand", what became clear was her intention to convince me to accept her version of truth and return to orthodoxy after my wayward travels in sin.

As we were about to go our separate ways, she condoled with me about "[my] terrible situation," then said as tears rolled down her cheek, "I empathize with the awful burden you carry and I pray every day that the Lord will lighten your load."

There was real shock on her face when I declared gently, yet emphatically, "While I'm grateful for your concern, I am really in no need of those prayers. I am the way God made me and as a result have never felt happier in my life." As I said those words, I was overcome with a sense of peace and confidence that originates only with the Spirit.

That experience reinforced my knowledge that the Lord understands and accepts.

I was sitting with a group of friends last night, all of whom were connected with Mormonism in one way or another. We had come out about the same time. We had all been married. Despite the fact that we were each facing challenges or obstacles of one sort or another, we had never been happier.

Why? Because we are living lives of truth and integrity. We all could look in the mirror each morning and feel the joy that comes with knowing we are finally being true to ourselves and the world.

When I left the closet behind, I became authentic, real, in a way I never was when I lived in the false world my family, the Church and I had created to sustain a lie.

What this well-meaning woman fails to grasp, let alone understand, is that my "awful burden" disappeared when I came out, that my "load" evaporated when I recognized I was whole, and that I felt God's arms surround me when I realized that I was loved by him because I am a gay man, not despite of that fact.

I now live an authentic life. I am truly happy. At its most basic, I understand that being gay is not a challenge, a trial or a burden, but a gift from God that brings me joy.

Members of the Church need to understand that the real burden of homosexuality is the one they place on us gay people, the stigma of being different. Once they as a people recognize that this difference is our strength and God's gift, that burden will finally disappear.

Please plan to attend the Circling the Wagons Conference, November 2-4, in Salt Lake City. My dear friend, Invictus Pilgrim, and I will be delivering the keynote addresses during Saturday's opening session. For more information and to register for the event, go to

Saturday, October 13, 2012

The joy of (gay) dating...follow-up....

Maurice sent me the following reply to the email I sent him yesterday (see yesterday's blog post). I'm sharing because so many of you wanted to know the rest of the story....


I really appreciate your message and what you had to say, wise one! No wonder you were a Bishop! Your approach to finding a partner sounds logical to me.

Yes, let's do get together and get to know each other better! So far, I'm having a pretty busy weekend coming up and the following weekend I'm going to Bryce/Zions with some friends. Maybe an evening after work this coming week we could go for a walk and or a bite to eat? I will try to call you this weekend.


Thursday, October 11, 2012

The joy of (gay) dating...

Email from a guy I went out with last month:

Hi Clive. Hope you enjoyed the men's choir concert last Sunday! Sorry I really couldn't talk at the time I saw you. I was actually on a first date with a guy I met online. I don't think we will be dating more as he tends to like younger guys!

I've heard that you prefer to date younger guys too... I must be honest and admit this is one of the reasons I haven't gotten back to you. My preference is also for hairy guys and you just aren't all that hairy! For whatever reason, that is a big turn on for me!

I wasn't sure of what you were asking me as we were leaving the concert... was it whether I wanted to get together with you again? I'm sure that we would make good friends even if we don't make it as lovers... let me know what you think!


My response:

Hey, Maurice, it was great seeing you on Saturday. I missed having a chance to chat. Thanks for the email and your candor.

I couldn't help but chuckle as I read it. Okay, I admit that I date younger guys and have become infatuated with a few, but when it comes to finding a partner...I usually date guys our age. That in fact is why I wanted to go out with you.

Remember, I've only been out of the closet for two years and admittedly find it hard to resist a hunk of young manflesh when it's presented (I think it's the gay adolescent in me). Although I might enjoy being with the young guy for a while, I inevitably come to my senses and realize he's not right for the long haul. These twenty-somethings are generally not permanent partner material.

My approach to finding a partner is a little different and maybe a bit more complicated. I figure I will ultimately marry someone who I've come to know and love first as a friend, and then as a bedmate.

This means I try to meet as many guys as I can and make as many friends as possible with the belief that eventually I'll fall in love not necessarily with the guy who is the hottest or sexiest or who has the hardest abs, but with the man with whom I'm most compatible. My hope is that he will fall in love with me, too, despite my physical shortcomings.

Let me illustrate with a story a buddy shared with me a week ago. He had been communicating with a guy for months on the internet. Last summer the guy came to visit for some weeks. When my friend first saw the guy in the airport his reaction was, "This guy is definitely not my type. What am I going to do with him for a day let alone weeks?" My friend persevered despite what he described as his initial lack of physical attraction. To make a long story a little shorter, by the time my friend's guest left 6 weeks later, they were both madly in love and anxious to make their relationship permanent.

As of yet, I haven't had a "love at first sight" experience and I doubt I ever will. Instead, I thrive on making friends with guys and believe that eventually one of them will be the person with whom I will share my life. I'm open-minded and confident that will happen. I'm also confident that this man with whom I connect will overlook my shortcomings and incompatibilities in exchange for a deeper appreciation of my heart and character—as I will his.

So, Maurice, am I asking you to be my lover? No. I am suggesting that we might become friends and then let the cards fall where they may. Let's go to a movie, a concert, a hike or something else sometime soon and begin to get to know one another better.

The prospect of becoming "just friends" is actually exciting.