15 January 2010

Alan Comes Out Again

Today I gave my home teacher a big surprise. For readers who aren't Mormon, a "home teacher" is another Mormon church member in your local congregation who's assigned to check in with you at least once a month to see if you're doing okay, if you need any help with anything, to make sure you're not straying into heterodoxy, that sort of thing. It's mostly nice in concept, kind of spotty in practice. But mine is a personal friend in addition to his "official duties" so we get on well, and today we met for lunch, first time in many months.

I had determined some time ago to have this conversation with him. He knows of my very heavy travel schedule and that it's resulted in me not being seen at church for a while. He's very smart, intellectually inclined, an attorney like me, and not given to haste or prejudice. I wanted him to know the truth.

So after swapping war stories about work and workout routines and such, he asked when my current work engagement and travels might end and he'd see me at church again. That was the opening I needed. I told him that events of the last couple of years had caused some serious re-examination of my whole life and a lot of its fundamentals. One of those was how I felt about the church.

The divorce prompted a lot of that, I told him, because it's difficult to be a divorced dad in this church that's almost obsessed with intact families. But the other thing that's prompted a lot of re-examination was coming out of the closet. There it was. Bombshell.

He didn't bat an eye, or even blink. So I continued. I told him how during the Prop 8 campaign I'd practically put a hole through my tongue with my teeth while listening to hours of utterly fallacious fearmongering tripe at church. How my trust in senior LDS leaders was seriously damaged when I saw them on Youtube saying and claiming things that had already been completely disproven and the Church--or the research assistants who scripted their presentations--should have known it. How I'd completely separated basic gospel principles in my mind from the temporal delivery vehicle called the LDS Church and how I retained my faith in the former but not as much in the latter as I used to have.

I told him of my exhaustive research into the entire history of the LDS Church's dealings with the issue of homosexuality. About the gay General Authority in the 1940's who was installed when his history and propensities were already a matter of record, and how when he was released a few years later the Church took no formal disciplinary action against him whatsoever. I told him about the pogroms against gay Church members subsequently initiated by Spencer Kimball and Mark Peterson and how the Church has since their time once again changed its stance and teachings from what they claimed was God's Truth About The Gays.

Given that fluctuating history, I told him, given the solid scholarship that persuades me the handful of relevant Bible verses do not justify the popular Christian condemnations, given the total absence of this topic from the uniquely LDS scriptural canon and from any binding prophetic statements, I told him I'd concluded that the Church simply didn't know what to say or think about this subject, that its leaders were preaching their own prejudices, and therefore, lacking clear, comprehensive, consistent and officially binding guidance, each individual gay Mormon had to seek his own inspiration and guidance for his own life.

To all this, not a word of protest or disagreement. Only acknowledgement that he'd never known much of what I said, and he appreciated how difficult this must be to wrestle with.

He asked if when my travels ended he would be seeing me regularly at church again. And I told him bluntly that I wasn't sure yet, for reasons he could probably figure out. He said he understood completely, and hoped that whatever I decided, we would stay in touch as friends regardless of any church affiliation. I assured him of that.

I've omitted lots of details, but that's the essence. He reacted as I expected and hoped he would, and for that I'm grateful. This afternoon I sent him this blog post for a deeper look into what had led me to this point, and invited his thoughts in response. I'm sure this will prove to be a very interesting conversation.

And now, lest you think I have lapsed back into insufferable seriousness again, I should point out two things. One, when he walked out to greet me in his oh-so-drab-and-professional office lobby, I was practically dancing in place while listening to Beyonce's "Single Ladies" on my iPhone (how gay is that). Two, watch this space for upcoming video of the twins going after each other with a supermarket shopping cart.


BB said...

Alan, GMB and I have both decided that David Tennant is a God (or Time Lord actually) among Men. I think it is brilliant that you posted a picture of him as the bombshell. Your blog just jumped up 10 points!

BB said...

PS, (for your viewing pleasure)
I saw this photo today and thought "Fangirl? here is one fanboy who is about to lose it."

Mister Curie said...

Thanks for your post. What a very well articulated response to your friend!

StevieB said...

Thanks for this post. I think I'm going to steal a lot of this when I have this talk with my own Dad as he works to get me back into the LDS church.

Gay Mormon said...

Hey I too like StevieB will use some of this with my family. You have a way with words my friend, keep it up!

Ned said...

Alan, I question whether there is a "total absence of this topic from the uniquely LDS scriptural canon".

Please read my January 2008 post "Is Mormon scripture silent on same sex love?"
We don't know if the love shared by these leaders was sexual, but we certainly know that "beloved" means much more than a casual friendship.

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

Ditto on BB's commentary.

Echoing everyone else, the response was definitely something I'll have in mind for the future.

Quinn said...

Im interested in the 1940's GA you talked about. Where can I read more?

Scott said...

@Quinn: He's referring to Joseph Fielding Smith (not that Joseph Fielding Smith) who was called as Church Patriarch (a position that no longer exists, but that was first held by Joseph Smith, Sr. and later by Hyrum Smith, and that was at one time a very prestigious and important calling, on a level with "apostle") when we was somewhat widely known as a practicing homosexual. (At the very least, many of his students and associates at the U of U, where he had worked in the Drama Dept., were fully aware of his propensities and multiple relationships--his orientation was, at best, an "open secret").

The Brethren who extended the calling (George A. Smith was president at the time) had perhaps not known, though, because he was released a few years later (ostensibly for health reasons) when one of his relationships became more public, but he was never officially disfellowshipped or excommunicated.