22 September 2009

The Voice Of Experience

The following was posted to a Yahoo group for gay Latter-day Saints and is about as succinct and perceptive a statement on its topic as I've ever seen. It's worth passing along:

I tried Evergreen for a few months. Found the weekly meetings to be awkward and shameful. Same guys, week after week, reporting of the sins they couldn't seem to stop committing. Afterward, they would go out for the "after-activity" which would pretty much facilitate hooking up, for those who were interested. Although I realize this may not happen everywhere, and it may not still happen in my area, that was my experience.

I even attended a conference with my wife during that time period (about 3 years ago). I had guys giving me their numbers in the restroom, and my wife was very upset about all the guys she believed were "checking me out" during the various meetings. She swore she would never go to one again, as did I - but for different reasons. She was very disturbed by the "meat-market" atmosphere. I couldn't handle being around so many guys who were SO F'd up. It was like: "let's sing hymns, and pray, and pretend this is just an attraction we can get over", but then during our spare time in the conference, let's see who we can hook up with"!

In total contrast to this experience, I just returned from attending my first Affirmation Conference. I felt an AMAZING spirit all throughout the conference. The people attending were real, authentic, and seemed at peace with their lives. So many of them (and Russ from the article is a prime example), just seemed so full of joy and happiness. I felt hope, and love, and closer to God than I have felt in years. Though it has been a couple of years since my experience with Evergreen, I couldn't help but reflect throughout the conference on what a vast difference the two experiences had been for me.


Pomoprophet said...

while I think thats a bit of an overexaduration of most exay experiences, there is some truth to it. Sad what we put ourselves through and how it harms us.

MoHoHawaii said...

Evergreen probably does some good by providing a supportive environment for people just starting to come out, but the good it might do is almost certainly offset by the self-loathing it induces. Kind of a tossup, really.

Anonymous said...

The thing about affirmation is that most of those who attend have accepted God on their own terms. They realize that God is individual, and the Church is merely a facilitator for that relationship. The Church, for so many, has become God. Evergreen, as an unofficial off-shoot of the Church, had done the same. I don't think Evergreen is inherently bad, or Affirmation inherently good. Both have their place. I hope that more people will find the place that brings them to God and not settle at arriving at an organization.

boskers said...

I liked the Evergreen conference. I didn't hook up, nor did anyone hit on me. Some people made me uncomfortable, but I tried not to judge them.

I guess if I found the Evergreen Conference so uplifting and worthwhile, then from the sounds of it, the Affirmation conference would be just as great!

Scott said...

An interesting comment in a lively (and sometimes loud) discussion at By Common Consent:

Evergreen is for gay Mormons who have not yet come to grips with the fact that they will inevitably have to leave the Church. Affirmation is for after they have finally accepted reality and and just need the courage to do so. Reminds me of Jesus in the garden: “Let this cup pass from my lips” vs. “thy will be done”.

I think that in the current Church environment, both have their place. I think that in an ideal environment, neither would be needed.

In an ideal environment [partnered] gay Mormons would not need to come to terms with leaving the Church or summon the courage to do so, because they would be as welcome in the Church as any other Saint who is making the best choices he can in whatever situations life gives him.