15 October 2010

Poe's Law In Utah County

OK, probably some of you have never heard of Poe's Law. That's because it's fairly new, only been around for about five years. Succinctly put, it says this:

Without a winking smiley or other blatant display of humor, it is impossible to create a parody of Fundamentalism that SOMEONE won't mistake for the real thing.

For more details, click here.

Now, what does this have to do with Utah County?

Well, admittedly, the Utah County thing is a guess. But only because I can't imagine this latest example of Poe's Law emerging from anywhere else within Mormondom.

Very soon after Boyd Packer's Conference talk started rumbling round the world, somebody posted a link on Facebook to a hitherto relatively obscure blog purporting to be written by someone called Gay Mormon Guy.

I've been blogging for a while now. I've run across most gay Mormon blogs at some point. But I'd never heard of this one before. When I heard of all the hubbub about this blog, I went there to find out more.

What I found was the single most compelling example of Poe's Law I've yet seen to emerge from Mormon culture. A blog that is so relentlessly obsessed with reinforcing every possible Mormon stereotype of strictly orthodox behavior that it strains credulity, yet it seems consistently serious. Is there an actual person behind this? If so, he's got some healthy self-confidence for a gay Mormon boy:

"I grew up in an almost perfect family, with superheroes for parents and inheriting at least some of their awesomeness. I was a star student, champion athlete, great musician... you name it. And then I realized that everyone wasn't like me. Everyone didn't grow up as an Incredible... and suddenly it didn't seem fair that I could sit in on a class and recite back, word for word, what the teacher said, or read a textbook once and have 99% comprehension... when the girl next to me studied for hours just to memorize the quadratic equation."

Yep, that's a quote from Gay Mormon Guy. Now you see why I wonder if this is on the level. Would a real person actually say such stuff? Or does this tip off astute readers to another example of Poe's Law?

A further read through this blog reveals an almost daily drumbeat of vignettes, stories and observations that sound straight out of the Church Education System's Model For The Perfect Seminary Student. Every waking moment of Gay Mormon Guy's life seems consumed with becoming more soaked in Church stuff. One reads post after post and gradually a sense of unreality sets in. It's just too, too much. One begins to suspect it is in fact a parody. Or written by a committee. Poe's Law again. Don't believe me? Try reading it yourself for a while and see.

Particularly interesting was the response to Gay Mormon Guy's post about Boyd Packer's Conference talk. Naturally GMG rallied to Packer's defense with a lengthy exposition which caught fire on Facebook and within just a couple of days had vaulted GMG's blog followers from a few dozen to over three hundred. Most of them women. A careful review of the nearly 300 comments he got to that one post also indicates that probably 2/3 of the commenters were female, whose responses range from short expressions of admiration to gushing paragraphs of adulation normally reserved for celebrity general authorities. And GMG seems to love it, if his answers to their comments are any indication. If there really is a GMG. More Poe's Law.

Your humble correspondent also submitted a comment to Gay Mormon Guy's post, in which among other things, I pointed out the fact that all reputable professional organizations who've studied the issue agree that sexual orientation is not chosen and can't be changed--something contrary to what Packer preached, so on that point at least, Packer was not correct.

Very soon after I submitted that comment, Gay Mormon Guy added the following to his blog:

"Most comments are published as soon as I read them. Anything with potentially controversial content is eventually published, along with a response, if it is (1) well-written, (2) well-meaning in nature, (3) does not contain statements contrary to Church teachings, and (4) relevant."

Guess what. My comment didn't pass muster. I expected this. Apparently Gay Mormon Guy not only has a healthy dose of self-esteem, he is also intent on keeping his blog rigorously "faith promoting". And that's fine. If he exists, he has the right to do what he wants with his own blog.

But something just doesn't pass the smell test here, ya know? The tidal wave of adoration that flooded that blog within just a few days was like nothing I've ever seen before. The blog itself is like nothing I've ever seen before. It's like Seriously So Blessed without the humor. Gay Mormon Guy is completely unidentified on the blog profile too; nothing, zero, zip, nada about who he is, where he is, what makes him tick. If he exists.

So to the comparative paucity of readers who check in here occasionally, I say have a look at Gay Mormon Guy. Comment on his posts, see if he lets yours through. Tell me if you think he's on the level or whether this is Poe's Law in action and we're seeing a very polished hoax.

Gay Mormon Guy, if you're for real, I challenge you to draw the curtain and tell us who you really are. With the hundreds of fans and followers you've acquired in the last week or so, you're in a perfect position to acquire some real prominence as the poster child for How A Faithful Gay Mormon Boy Should Live. So take advantage of it! You could have a great career ahead of you.

If you're real.

24 comments:

MoHoHawaii said...

I looked at the blog. The possibilities are parody, imposture, delusion or devotion.

I'm going to call it a mix of those last three choices. I think it's a person with missionary intent. The correspondence to reality is likely to be weak. It's anyone's guess as to how self-aware the writer is of the imposture.

Unfortunately, I don't think it's parody.

There was a case a few years ago of a straight woman who wrote an elaborate, faith-promoting gay Mormon blog, with many details and a moral to the story. I can't remember the specifics. She was eventually exposed and deleted the blog. Maybe someone else can recall this episode. Maybe she's back with round two.

BLB said...

Crap, Rob. I'm beginning to think the tone of my blog is turning into the converse of Poe's Law. Might as well write a faith-promoting post as I speak...

Abelard Enigma said...

An interesting conjecture and, as MoHoHawaii points out, wouldn't be the first time. Although I have to confess, I haven't been following GMG's blog, so I don't have an opinion one way or the other.

What intrigued me was the number of followers - 385 followers is unprecedented in the Mormon queerosphere, especially for a blog that only surfaced a couple of months ago. Also, most followers being women brought to mind an article in Esquire magazine titled What's Really Going on With All These Vampires? - the premise being "Vampires have overwhelmed pop culture because young straight women want to have sex with gay men."

Perhaps GMG has tapped into this, apparently secret, need some women have to seduce gay men :)

And, if GMG turns out to be a woman posing as a gay Mormon man - well, that just puts a whole new spin on things ...

Quiet Song said...

Well, in my case truth is stranger than fiction.

this blog author said...

I DID write this guy a comment, asking him how old he was and other questions. He "chose" not to answer any of them. I, too, was VERy surprised at the number of followers. I, too, believe this guy to be pre-missionary. Or, not gay at all, just out to "share" with the world his view of Mormondom. Good for him if it is really true. But, if his blog is true, he is seeing with very rosy glasses and the truth of being gay in the Church will one day knock him to the ground. Maybe?

Mormon Guy said...

"Gay Mormon Guy, if you're for real, I challenge you to draw the curtain and tell us who you really are."

Isn't that what I've been doing? I'm still here. The first time I honestly open up the deepest corner of my heart to the world, it gets on facebook and then people wonder if I'm telling the truth.

Your blog post is sort of the story of my life. But my blog is the story of my life. The quote you took on my past isn't embellished. I'm definitely post-mission, a real person, male, attracted to guys, and everything I write on my blog is true.

As far as pulling back the curtain... that's not something I want to do. I have my own life. I have my own dreams. And I'm dating people that, just maybe, it might work out with. I've seen what happens when people suddenly type others... and, as you might have guessed from the content of my blog, I'm already pretty different from the rest of the crowd. I don't want fans. I've stopped thanking people for their comments.

I started my blog because I couldn't find someone with my story. I do have missionary intentions - I wanted to help whoever I could find - and my first crops of readers were from being listed by Abelard and posting on the Provo and Salt Lake (means lots of LDS guys, right?) personals section of Craigslist.

But if my blog doesn't seem real to you guys... then maybe it doesn't seem real to the people I'm trying to reach. I don't know what to do. I'm not willing to post identifying information because I don't want this to influence my family, friends, church callings, and dating life. I've already posted my sins, my innermost thoughts, fears, and dreams, and the way my mind works. What more can I do?

Mormon Guy

Rob said...

@Gay Mormon Guy:

What else can you do? You can have the courage to actually come out to the world, that's what.

If you really mean what you say, then putting a public name and a face to everything you've written about will be the bravest and greatest contribution you could make to the goals you say you have. Especially those of evangelizing in the way you say you want to.

The closet is dark and deadly. Come out. Really. Stop hiding.

Mormon Guy said...

...I've thought about that. I wondered if 'coming out' to the world would help or hinder my ability to influence people, and it was just recently that I realized that, if it would help, then I'd be willing to do it.

But after talking with priesthood leaders (not just ward and stake...) and asking the Lord in prayer, I've decided that's not the right option for me or the people I'm trying to reach. I guess I'm just realizing that I can't reach everyone. There may be some who won't believe the story until they meet me in person... but, honestly, I'm just trying to share my story with men and women who are looking for hope - not to convince anyone of my point of view.

Rob said...

@Mormon Guy:

P.S. If you are dating people you think it might work out with, I assume you mean people of the opposite sex.

In which case, are you not aware that the Church advises against mixed-orientation marriages?

Rob said...

@Mormon Guy:

Everyone makes their own choices of course. But I have to say, in all candor, that your blog just does not seem real. And I've heard similar reactions from elsewhere. Some are wondering if you are a hoax, or a committee, or a front for Evergreen. The church-focused tone is just too obsessive. It doesn't seem true to life.

Just sayin'.

Abelard Enigma said...

You can have the courage to actually come out to the world

Rob, I love you - but now I think you're being unfair. There are a lot of us here in the Mormon queerosphere who are not able and/or willing to be as public as you are due to our personal circumstances.

And, with so much anti-church sentiments in the Mormon queerosphere - maybe we need a blog or two with a ubber church-focused tone to help balance things out.

Sean said...

Something smells fishy to me too Rob.

Rob said...

@Abe:

Point noted. His circumstances aren't yours, yours aren't mine, mine aren't his. Obviously I don't know all factors that might weigh into his decision and there may be very compelling reasons to stay anonymous. If so, I would respect that. But I don't have that information.

What I DO see is someone who's intentionally set himself up as a light to others, acquired hundreds of followers and become a much more public figure.

Obviously he's struck a nerve somewhere. So I think his unveiling himself would add a lot to the credibility of a blog which numerous people have--to me at least--privately questioned the veracity of.

It's just a suggestion. He will do what he wants, of course. But when one inserts oneself into public discourse like this, one mustn't be surprised by such responses.

MoHoHawaii said...

The blog in question could only be written by a young person. These kinds of views just don't persist into midlife. And, I'm glad GMG confirmed the missionary intent.

GMG, if you are reading these comments, please know that we all wish you the best, even those of us who have followed different paths. My biggest fear is for your potential marriage to a woman. It is harder to pull off than you think and causes more damage than you think. (Not to mention that your church leaders advise against it.)

Original Mohomie said...

Maybe these views CAN persist into midlife, MHH, but I agree they most often don't, and I think I read something on MG's blog about starting university recently? Am I wrong about that?

Rob, be careful: as far as I remember, the church has never counseled gay men in the church against marrying women. They choose their wording carefully and have said not to marry a woman "to fix it". It's all in the motivation and expectations.

Re: coming out -- MG, you do what's best for you. I don't explicitly connect my blog with my identity. I don't see a reason to. Let people question your veracity or existence. If you're for real, fine. If you're not, it'll come to light. I wouldn't get bent out of shape over Rob's insistence. Sorry, Rob. :-) But I think working towards openness is positive.

As for whether I think MG's "for real"...I actually just came back to this post because I was just reading his blog and thinking, "It's uncanny how much this sounds like me ten years ago. Amazing. This kid really does have a strong foundation of positive principles and understanding of the basic consequences and implications of LDS doctrine, which is really respectable even if I dispute the doctrines attached to the principles. I'm gonna go say this in Rob's comments." So I did. :-)

Original Mohomie said...

Rob, it's so devilish of you to set up a blog of your essays written fifteen years ago mixed with new material to eventually dash your followers' hopes by revealing your true identity. The debate with yourself here is an effective smoke screen, but I'm not buying it. You're so bad...but don't worry. I won't tell anyone your secret. Mum's the word. ...oh great, now I have to go look up where the heck the expression "mum's the word" came from and make sure I spelled it right...

HACnBAC said...

@Mormon Guy:

You said you are in a relationship with someone and you think it might work out. I assume you mean that you are hoping to marry some poor unsuspecting girl.

If you are... and you really do believe the values that you espouse... then you OWE IT to this girl to be completely honest with her about who you are. It would be highly unethical to marry her unless she is FULLY aware of your same sex attraction, your blog, all of it.

Marrying her while she is still in the dark about who you really are is WRONG. It's not love. It's using someone manipulatively.

This girl has the right to know the entire truth of her situation with you and make her choice with ALL of the facts... not just the ones you choose to disclose. If you don't allow her to know then entire picture, then you are USING her. You are putting your wants and desires above what she deserves. And that, Gay Mormon Guy, isn't love. It's selfishness.

Trevor said...

Alright, I have to weight in. A moho posed to me the question when I was chatting with him yesterday morning, whether or not GMB was real or fake.

I have somewhat followed his blog. The thought never crossed my mind whether it was fake or not. It is "churchy" but can there not be a churchy kinda gay guy?

A good friend from my mission, who is a moho is very churchy and I could see him writing this blog even.

One could point at your blog maybe and say your a "never have been Mormon" posing?! (I don't believe that btw).

GMB- Come out, or stay in. Do whats best for you. If you feel the need to answer peoples questions about you being legit or not, find a moho blogger you can trust, and show him who you are and then you have a witness. But I don't think its necessary.

this blog author said...

Gay mormon guy is a fraud. I, for one, will not read one more word of what he writes. And, anyone who has to brag about his "mission" and "ALL" the people he baptized, especially when no one else was baptizing but him, is NOT someone from whom I care to learn. This guy needs a HUGE helping of humility and telling the truth.

OK. Done with spouting off. Thanks.

Mormon Guy said...

Wow. That definitely backfired. The only reason I even mentioned my mission was because someone from the Mohosphere (Sean) had asked me in a post to talk all about my mission, what my feelings were during my mission, and how my mission influenced my life. My mission was an amazing experience, and I was trying to give circumstantial information without including personally identifiable information. I'm sorry that I offended you. It wasn't meant to be vaunting - just expository - and true to my experience and who I am.

this blog author said...

@GMG- many of us, myself included, served wonderful, fulfilling, successful missions where we held leadership and positions of trust, taught the gospel, etc., but we do not go around vaunting ourselves up for the public at large, as you have done, whether we are gay or straight.

A person can say (s)he served a mission, worked very hard, helped people come to know the Savior, etc. without the pompousness that has been exhibited in your blog.

And, where exactly did you serve? I served in Southern Germany.

And, if you are as old as you say you are, you can go another mission right now. Go. Do it. Go on 10 or 11 of them.

I still believe you are a fraud. I think you are a conglomeration of many people and many experiences.

Maybe you are Elder Packer yourself?

Now, THAT would make sense of your blog.

this blog author said...

GMG is a piece of work. He sets himself up as perfect, the superman of everything Mormon and gay, then if anyone says otherwise, he will not post their comments.

He takes what is on other people's blogs(like from yours) and uses it as his own statements, and he does it to ALL to stir up mock support for himself.

I really am done now spouting off about this fraud. All I am now doing is giving him added pleasure knowing he has stirred up confrontation and I am not going to play his games. His blog and my eyes will ne'r meet again. :)

Thanks for your timely post.

Happy night. :)

HACnBAC said...

@ Gay Mormon Guy:

I've gotta know... did you just miss my comment? Or are you avoiding it all together because you don't want to answer to how you are misusing someone for your own gains regardless of what it costs them?

Mormon Guy said...

HacnBac:

Sorry. I just assumed that your question was rhetorical and fishing for an argument. I've stated a number of times in my blog that if I fall in love with someone then I'll be completely honest and forthright with them, and I agree with you completely that being dishonest is dishonest.