Friday, December 11, 2015

Is it a sin?

"Is homosexuality a sin?"

This question I can only answer for myself. As I listen to my wife and son singing Rent together at the piano I realize how richly blessed I am. As we laugh together around the dinner table, I realize how richly blessed I am. I believe that for me, choosing homosexuality would have been against God's will for me because He wanted to bless me with this amazing family. (That does not make it easy day to day, but I do have some confidence that it is aligned with God's will for me in my life.)

But I don't speak for you.

I will say, however, I fear we often get so caught up in absolutes that we fail to recognize possible exceptions. Somehow, in a Handbook that found room for divorce and even abortion exceptions, we can't comprehend the possibility that, for some, gay marriage may be the best option. (I get that you can't write rules around exceptions. You've got to draw a line in the sandbox. Unfortunately when that line leaves little room for the variation in God's creation, many just choose to find a new sandbox.)

I have my answer. And I promise to support others as they get their own personal answer for what's right for them.


Thursday, November 19, 2015

A fallacious argument against homosexuality: "national suicide"

One night in college, my roommate and I found ourselves debating homosexuality. (How we got on this topic is still a mystery to me; I certainly did not bring it up.)

"Listen," he said. "The way I look at it is if everyone were gay, society would cease to exist. Therefore, it can't be what's right."

Over the years I've heard this argument from many people in one form or another. As exhibit A, take page 19 of this document purportedly penned by Elder Dallin H. Oaks.
"One generation of homosexual 'marriages' would depopulate a nation, and, if sufficiently widespread, would extinguish its people. Our marriage laws should not abet national suicide"
(I obviously have no personal knowledge of this document's authorship, but methinks it reads quite a bit like Elder Oaks.)

To my roommate many moons ago, I believe my counter went something like, "Yeah, but if we all became accountants, society'd be pretty hard up a generation out." We laughed. the issues with my argument obvious. But thinking about it I believe there's a sliver of truth in it.



Today, if someone made this argument, I think I would respond, "Yeah, but if everyone practiced celibacy we'd be no better off one generation out. And yet that's what we ask of our homosexual brothers and sisters." So if the one argument against homosexuality is sound, it stands to reason that celibacy is wrong too.

A concluding note: I want to make very clear, I am not arguing that homosexuality is right nor that it is wrong. I'm merely pointing out that the "if everyone did it" argument doesn't hold water. The morality of homosexuality must be decided on different terms.

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Mourning

I am currently not posting. I'm too busy mourning with my brothers and sisters. It was a covenant I made when I was lucky enough to be baptized at 8 years old.


Friday, October 2, 2015

Options and choosing

This week at bycommonconsent there was a breezy satirical take on the not great Meridian article about helping kids choose heterosexuality. I will not link to the original article which has been taken down. (Though in the age of never being forgotten except in Europe, a quick Google search will find a cached version if you missed it.)

I don't often post comments to the many insightful things I read (mainly because I have so little time). After reading this humorous rebuttal to the Meridian piece, I really wanted to share my perspective though. You can read my full comments (Mike Smith) at the original site. But the gist of them is: as we support our LGBT brothers and sisters coming to terms with their sexuality, we need to help them keep all options on the table. We should not pressure or coerce them as they are making decisions about their life's path, but we can and should make sure that they have all the facts as they exercise their right to choose. And we should pray that Heavenly Father will help guide them to the path that's best for them.

If my son came to me and said he was gay, first and foremost I would tell him that I love him no matter what. I would make sure he knew that this "revelation" did not in any way change our relationship. (And for one of my children it wouldn't be such a revelation anyway.) But then I would remind him that in our push for more LGBT acceptance we often do not highlight enough the fact that sexuality is not binary and sometimes it's fluid, especially early on in our young lives. (Assuming my son is a teenager when he discloses his orientation, I would also remind him that he's dealing with a whole lot of new hormones which make it so pretty much anything that moves is going to turn him on... and many things that don't move as well. Ah, the joys of adolescence!) In the end I would remind him again that I love him no matter what.

And given all of the openly gay friends we invite regularly into our home, I hope he'll know it's true.




Sunday, July 5, 2015

Thoughts on today's church service

So let me just say that church was not nearly as bad as my wife and I had prepped for. Sometimes bracing for the worst is the best inoculation for the well meaning but often insensitive remarks of fellow members zealously defending the family. If we had played the testimony drinking game, we would only have taken one small gulp from our sippy cup.

There was a brief announcement about President Packer's passing. I have to admit I have mixed feelings about President Packer. I love his talk "The Shield of Faith." I was a missionary when he gave this address. I remember listening to it and being filled with a desire to have a family of my own. For that I am and will ever be eternally grateful. But then I got home from my mission and learned of his earlier talk excusing an elder for punching his companion for being gay. Surely the Lord would not encourage such behavior. Why hold this up as an example for all to see?

Third hour included the Bishop's reading of "the letter." It wasn't the letter itself I feared; I worried about our congregation's right-wing crazies taking the opportunity to "discuss" how the world is going to hell in a hand basket (though I'm sure it will be a very pretty basket... probably a nice picnic basket with a lovely blanket for our last meal before the fire and brimstone. S'mores anyone?) Luckily the Bishop's call for questions met with complete silence for 10 seconds and the meeting was adjourned. Other than being a bit awkward, it was rather a non-event. The real throw-down comes next month when the Teachings for Our Times topic is Elder Perry's "Why Marriage and Family Matter." I may have to be sick that week.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Father's Day 2015

On this Father's Day 2015 I want to say how grateful I am that my life turned out the way it did. Looking back I see many possible pivot points where with a different choice I would not be married to an amazing woman with such a fantastic family. (I wouldn't be completely honest if I didn't admit that there are days when I wonder what life would have been like if I had found the man of my dreams and settled down with him, but those are only days in a life of months and years.) I am certain that even if I chose differently, life would have been both marvelous and mundane because... well... because that's life.

As a teenager I knew enough not to buy into the false dichotomy that many members of the church set up. "Either you stay in the church and become a Peter Priesthood with 5 fat babies and celestial potential or you leave the church for the gay lifestyle, cruising for easy sex with anonymous people, get AIDS, and die. Your choice." That's rubbish. In high school I crushed on this one guy who was both totally hot (though kind of short) and a really nice guy. I remember one night in a moment of clarity thinking, "I could totally live with this guy (or someone like him) just the two of us and be happy OR I could get married and have a family with my own kids and be happy." (At the time I was in high school having both wasn't an option. Gay marriage and adoption are definitely opening possibilities.)

I am not in any way advocating this life for others. (It is not easy.) I'm just saying nights when we sit around singing songs from Once or watching Marx brothers movies or telling jokes that might make the bishop blush (just a bit), these nights are pure gold.


Monday, May 11, 2015

Authenticity

I've tried to be more authentic this year--not just on my blog, but in my personal life as well. At the beginning of the year I made a few goals not really New Year's resolutions because I made them in early November. Like most New Year's Resolutions though I haven't been perfect at them, but I have patience with myself and I haven't given up.

My first goal was to write again. As a child I always wanted to be a writer. I wrote screenplays. At the end of third grade I wrote a screenplay for the Muppets meet Out of Control with a Simon and Garfunkel soundtrack. (Write what you know!) I loved losing myself in a made up world. (Sure, in third grade it was a made up world I appropriated from others; but by sixth grade it was a world of my own creation.) I remember in fourth grade when we had to do an oral report on our professional aspirations, I declared in 5 to 7 minutes that I wanted to be a screenwriter, live on the West Coast, and win the Academy Award for best screenplay. (Do you think a Muppets/Out of Control mash-up would win in the Original or Adapted category? Probably original.)

Somehow between elementary school and adulthood I stopped writing. I have been generally content with my non-writing life, except when I watch movies like Good Will Hunting which leave me thinking "I can do that." (My scoutmaster always said, "Novices make easy look hard; experts make hard look easy.")


So, after rewatching Good Will Hunting last fall, I made a goal to write more this year. I managed a few chapters of pure rubbish and realized that before I could write more I needed to read more. (Always open to recommendations. I discovered tonight the audio version of Nick Hornby's Slam is read by Nicholas Hoult. Be still my heart!) And so even though I'm not writing yet, I'm reading fiction again. I consider it research to make my writing better. I'm sure my future readers (all four of them) will thank me one day.

My other main goal was to sing again. All through high school, music was my main outlet for, well, for me. In college I sang with BYU's Men's Chorus. When my wife and I first got married, given my sexual preferences, we often joked that I was a tenor in every sense of the word. (Apologies to any straight tenors--I'm sure there are a few of you out there though I doubt they are reading my blog--who feels maligned by my stereotyping.)

Then I got a job and a family and soon found myself making less and less time for music. This year I was going to rediscover this great love. With this goal too I haven't done as much as I'd hoped, but I am looking forward to singing in a choir again very soon. We will be singing with a small ensemble in England later this summer. The first week will be singing with some sightseeing (and fish and chips and much Cadbury I'm sure). The second week will be exclusively for sightseeing (and Indian takeaway and more Cadbury).  As I look forward to this coming vacation I admit I am more excited about the first week than the second. (We'll be singing in a cathedral! I can't wait.)

So there it is: me, embracing my true self again (albeit imperfectly).

Monday, April 6, 2015

Cake or death*

With Indiana's less than perfect religious liberty law offending LGBT and allies every where let me draw your attention to this articulate analysis about cake politics and religious exemptions.

*I admit this article made me think of Eddie Izzard.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Echo chamber

Today during Ward Council we learned a ward member recently went inactive in part because they disagree with the church's stance on gay marriage. One council member pointed out that the Lord's standards are the same for homosexuals as for everyone else: sex is permitted only between a man and a woman properly married. If you're not married, no sex whether you are homosexual or heterosexual.

Another person explained how they tried to "help" this person by sending an email that explains that while we love people who expeience "same-sex attraction" the Lord's standards of chastity will never change and homosexuality is considered wrong in God's eyes. It is contrary to the plan of happiness that Heavenly Father has prepared for us. (The "helping" not surprisingly has not translated in increased activity.)

Then a third person chimed in and repeated essentially the same arguments as the first two, though added that sometimes people say they have doubt's because they don't want to give up their sins. I see this now for the echo chamber that it is.

As I reflect on this experience I sorrow because of my own personal lack of spine. If I could get a redo, I hope I would say something like, "If someone expresses a doubt about a particular doctrine, perhaps the best way to persuade them to stay with the church isn't to keep reiterating the doctrine they disagree with. This only reinforces the fact that we think they are wrong. Perhaps instead we should just say, 'There are things I don't agree with, doctrines I don't understand. Keep coming to church to invite the Lord into your life. Keep taking the sacrament to renew the commitments you made at baptism. That's all God asks. Feel free to disagree with points of doctrine if you believe strongly about an issue.'"

The problem is really that last bit. How can you disagree with a doctrine the Church is SO vocal about and stay active? If you made your opinion known vocally every time gay marriage came up in church, you would quickly be labeled the ward apostate.

Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Reasons I love my wife #71,397 (or Mr. Wickham)

Update on my girlfriends post  from last week. This weekend my wife and I watched Death Comes to Pemberly. After, my wife made a joke about loving me even though I'm not Mr. Darcy. Then she said, "I was going to ask if you love me even though I don't look like Elizabeth. But then I realized I should ask if you love me even though I don't look like Mr. Wickham."

Of course I love you because you ARE my Jane.


Mr. Wickham is just pretty to look at.

It's great to have a wife who isn't afraid of my admiring good looking British men.

Sunday, March 1, 2015

My reading resolution

I had a lot of fun with my last post. Besides getting to post pics of pretty boys, it was great fun to just be real. One of the problems with an anonymous blog is the lack of personal details. I may want to share a funny story about my 15 year old son, but hesitate in sharing any real details lest my ward's gossiper recognize and out me. This lack of personal detail can lead to a lack personality.

While I'm not sure I'm ready to come out to my kids or at work, after the last post I realized the type of person reading this blog is less likely to be the ward busybody and more likely to be someone open to a gaymobro married with kids. So if they happen to discover my identity... well that's probably ok. Why not include more personal details?

Here goes:

One of my New Year's resolutions this year was to read more, write more, and watch less. (The only new TV show I've added to my regular watching rotation is The Flash. I admit I enjoy a good superhero story and for a CW show it has surprisingly little soap opera. Plus it doesn't hurt that Grant Gustin is easy on the eyes... and can sing.)



So over the past two months I've read more fiction than I had in the previous 12. I tend to gravitate to young adult fiction. It's because my wife likes YA so she got me started with John Green's An Abundance of Katherines. I also enjoy the first person voice typical of YA fiction. At the end of the day, fiction is all about getting to know a new character. First person often (not always) helps me get inside the character's head.

In an attempt to find books with strong teenage male voices, without even meaning to, I ended up reading back-to-back a couple of gay-themed novels including Will Grayson, Will Grayson and Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe.

Before I complain about Aristotle let me first solicit recommendations. What are you reading that you recommend: gay, straight, YA, grown-up, chicklit, whatever? 

Now, after a big ole SPOILER ALERT, on to my complaints:

In Aristotle, Ari (short for the philosopher) meets Dante at the pool one summer day and the boys become fast friends. I loved the first half of the book. The two boys have distinct characters and their friendship reads genuine. I'm a sucker for friendship tales.

I was fine with Dante coming out. That was about as obvious as an electric billboard in Times Square. I appreciated the fact that Ari was OK with this, even though he was not necessarily gay. He did institute a "No kissing" rule though. As a gay teenager who wouldn't want a strong friend willing to stand by you whatever?

(One last spoiler alert. If there is the slightest chance you might read this book, stop reading this post now.)

My biggest issue with the book? In the end, everything revolved around homosexuality. Every subplot somehow tied into it. Besides Dante's outness, there were disowned lesbians and not one but two hate crimes. Then the last chapter had Ari's parents sitting him down and telling him that he was gay. He didn't figure it out for himself. His parents had to give him a beer and break it to him. "Son, given your behaviors x, y, and zed, don't you think you are gay?" And just like that, Ari realizes and embraces his new sexual identity.

I'm all for books that help gay teens see themselves and know that they are OK. And who wouldn't want parents as understanding and compassionate as Ari's? But a book that ties everything together using homosexuality is not healthy. Sure, being gay is going to affect many factors in a teenager's life, but it's not the only thing that happens. Gay teens need to see that life's joys and heartaches are influenced by factors other than one's sexuality.

In my opinion, the book would have been better without Ari's outing. Why not let him just be Dante's fiercest advocate and forever friend? Or just end the book without Ari making up his mind whether he is gay or straight? And if you must have your protagonist realize he's gay, at least spend a few chapters (instead of a few measly pages) with him coming to terms with his sexuality.

In short, it started out with so much potential...



Saturday, February 21, 2015

Girlfriends, boyfriends, and man crushes

I had two experiences this week that caused me pause. Though separate, as I've pondered the experiences, I have begun to see the two as somewhat related.

The first happened when my wife and I went out to dinner with a couple of friends. As often happens when new people are getting to know each other, the "how did you meet" question came up. We've told our story hundreds of times since we got married. It's not that the details change, but with each retelling, our familiarity with those details and with each other has given deepened meaning to the story.

My wife and I have a great story. It's one that I can't share on an anonymous blog and hope to remain even remotely anonymous, but a very generalized version would go something like this:
We met and were friends. My now wife wanted to be more than friends, but I missed the subtle and then not so subtle hints at this, leading my now wife to conclude I was clueless. We didn't see each other for a few years then caught up again just as friends. We had both changed. Three dates later we were engaged. Three months after that we were married.

At the end of this particular retelling one of the other couples turned to me and asked, "Are you OK with how this story was told? Do you want to add anything?"

No one had ever asked me this. As I thought about our story (which I still love) and the question they were asking, I realized that in our story I come off as slow on the uptake. My wife clearly knew what she wanted in a boyfriend. I clearly DID NOT know what I wanted. With the question "Do you want to add anything?" came an invitation to defend myself, to prove I was not so clueless. In that instant I realized the only way to tell our story honestly would be to end, "In spite of the impression you may have received from this story, really I always knew what I wanted in a girlfriend. Simply stated, I wanted a boyfriend."

I didn't say this though. Not because I'm just a clueless boy. But I'm just in the closet.

The second happened around our dinner table a few days later. The conversation turned to my wife's list of celebrity crushes. She has long maintained a "Mr. Darcy list", her utterly harmless list of guys who set her heart aflutter. The list is clearly named for Colin Firth who at one point was somewhere near the list's top. (I think the unfortunate Mamma Mia! did not help his standings much, but The King's Speech definitely gave him a boost.)

One of my kids asked if I had a similar list. We spent a few minutes debating whether my mild Julia Stiles fandom constituted a crush. (We decided it did.) Then I admitted I had a few man crushes. My wife (who has known my sexual orientation since before we wed) tried to get me to share my man crush list.

Her: Who's on your list of man crushes?
Me: These are not the questions you are looking for...
Her: [not having any of my Jedi mind tricks] I noticed you haven't answered my question
Me: No. No I haven't.
Her: Is there any overlap between our lists?
Me: Likely minimal.
Her: Hmm...

A few uncomfortable minutes of avoidance and she gave up the subject.

At the end of the day, I didn't want to answer my wife's man crush questions for basically the same reason I didn't answer my friend's "Do you want to add anything?" question. It's not that I don't know the answer. And I don't think it's that I'm ashamed of the answers. But I'm relatively happy in my closet. (That doesn't mean insensitive church leaders don't offend me... more on that in a later post... maybe.) At the end of the day, I've become relatively expert at living my quiet, secretive life and I'm OK with that.

That said, my wife was gracious enough to write down her "Mr. Darcy List" so I could compare lists not in front of my children or for that matter in front of her. I wanted to do this because the nerd in me too was curious about the overlap between our lists. (What can I say. All the world is a Venn diagram, no?)

As I suspected the overlap was small:

Topher Grace


and from my teenage years:
Robert Sean Leonard


And now... to show myself that I'm not afraid of posting this (and for the benefit of my wife, knowing she reads my posts) in no particular order a few others from my list:

Nick Hoult
He made being undead adorable. The pic below is mighty nice, but also enjoyed him in X-Men. I'm partial to guys in specs.


Jonathan Rhys Meyers
Again with the tie. Apparently I like guys in ties.


Christian Bale
If rumors are true and he's a jerk I'll be happy admiring from afar. He is, after all, Batman.

I'm sure there are more, but these are the three that first came to mind.