Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mormons, Gays, Fire, Bridges

Matt here.

So, this week. Keeping Mormons after dropping Mormonism.

I have a couple of friends in SLC who are Mormon and who believe in the church, but also strongly support gay rights. One of them even volunteers with the Trevor project. They've each hosted me in their homes and supported my plans for love, family, and atheism; it's pretty much a no-brainer that their Mormonism doesn't bother me. They're good friends, and easy to love because they love me, and I can feel it.

But then, if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?

I have a few friends in Utah and Arizona, including my roommates from the Cozy House, who are more traditionally Mormon. They voted for Prop 8 and similar and think the recent SCOTUS decisions were the result of activist judges. They "don't agree with homosexuality."

These people are much more difficult to love. Conversation often gets strangled as I try not to bring up the guy I have a crush on or how happy I was when Prop 8 fell and so on. Sometimes one or the other of us will not be circumspect enough and prick the other with a needle about their delusions or my immorality. Keeping a relationship with these people often hurts.

Yet, they've also shared their homes with me. These people have listened when I needed to be heard and held me up during scary-dark times. They're generally good, smart people, focused on their families. I have memories with them, and connections, and in most cases I don't want to let them go.

Keeping up our relationships is a bit of a dilemma. Talking with these Mormons is usually as uncomfortable as it is enlightening, as infuriating as it is good to reminisce. I find myself weighing each one: Is this worth keeping up? Do I want to still know these people?

Mostly the answer has been yes. In large part, this is because I want to be a man who has a wide filter bubble. Partly it's because I don't want one's opinion about homosexuality or religion to be a dealbreaker, and partly it's because I don't want everything to always come back to me and people like me. I don't want other people's narrowness to make me narrow.

Sometimes, it's a dilemma. Egg* and I, for example, were homeschooled and then early college students together. She's essentially my sister from another mister, in that we had our phases of hate and love and we spent far, far too much time together. Egg is very Mormon (the kind that Doesn't Agree With Homosexuality), and it was difficult for her when I came out over the phone while at BYU, but it also made a lot of sense, and she's adapted well. Although she, like my sister, feels the need to remind me that she Doesn't Agree every time we talk about boys, we do talk about boys.

However. While I was in Japan she got married to a Mormon man who also Doesn't Agree With Homosexuality--so much that he literally will not stay in the same room as me. I was at his house visiting with Egg; he said hello, moved to another room, and put in headphones. I took a chair next to him at a recent event; he sat stonily for five minutes and then moved to the other side of the yard, where he remained until I left, an hour or so later. Egg confirms that he is creeped out because I'm gay, and I have to say, that makes me livid. The bridges I've tried to build to him (because he's Egg's husband) are on fire.

. . . but then, if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye?

The bridges may survive, scorched, because he's Egg's husband. There's a point where it's just not worth it, even if it means giving up Egg. There's a point where I'm going to start throwing gas instead of sand.

But we're not there yet.

*My Egg is not at all like this Egg, I just couldn't resist the urge to share.


Here is a related article.
Here is a second related article.


  1. I usually sit at church very quiet. Just observing people because I don't like to be bothered by others. I have been going to the same ward, my parent's family ward, for mostly my whole life, and so I have come to observe the people there quite a bit. I feel like I know them quite well, and for the most part have been comfortable around them.

    Today in class the topic was supposed to be standing strong. Thanks to the older folks it turned quickly into a discussion of how bad the younger folks are these days.

    I listen and one gentleman makes the comment, "Imagine for a second if your child or a relative invites you to a gay wedding, would you go? I wouldn't because that is supporting them."

    The words were pretty absurd to me. Because I don't really see it wrong to lend support to relatives.
    Anyway, I spoke up today to say that I would of course go to the wedding. Because I go to weddings to support the individuals, not the politics.

    Afterwards it struck me. A lot of these people that I have associated with on a weekly basis, who I know very well, who I have relied on at different times in my life, who I have helped, learned from, taught, a lot of them would not "support" me if ever I found someone I loved enough to marry.
    It's like this whole network of support wards are supposed to build for us is nothing but a lie, or a facade when it comes down to it.

    I don't thin I really would want to cross a bridge that is on fire anyway, and I am not sure if I would trust one that has recently been burnt anyway. I would rather have solid stable bridges, that I can trust in the good times and the bad.

    I'm not implying anything about the people in the post above, of course, just thought I would share what happened to me only an hour ago since it seemed to fit.

  2. Hi Anonymous,

    I gave up on the church some time ago because, yes, I feel like it doesn't live up to the stories it tells about itself. I feel like the networks of support are real, but conditional, and I don't meet the conditions.

    Yet, at the same time, it's through the church that I met my SLC friends, and Egg, and other people who actually are a network of support. I feel like that's worth something. If you're still gaining something from being involved in Mormonism, then I think that's great. And good for you for speaking up! I think that's key to drawing out the people who'll support you.

    In terms of crossing burning bridges, it's not appealing to me either. If this guy weren't tied to my Egg, I would let him go without a second thought, as I have several other acquaintances of his ilk. But when Mormons are married, they're kind of a two-for-one deal, you know? And I don't want to lose Egg, so I'm trying a little to put out the fires. (Or at least not fan them.)

    Moving slowly, taking it all one step at a time, and reevaluating as I go. Hope things are good for you in general.

  3. A lot of my friends are still unmarried, although that is quickly changing, but I've managed to remain more or less aloof of the two for one deal problem thus far.

    My best friend happens to be female, and imagining her marrying a guy who feels the way Egg's husband does, I already feel faintly those emotions rising, that is not fun. My best guess is though that I would burn the bridge.

    I haven't really given up on the church. I just came home from my mission (after having a lot of issues out there because... well it is a long story) and I feel like I still hold a lot of beliefs, but I do wonder how many of those beliefs are really mine. I just feel uncomfortable with the amount of assumptions one has to make to be Mormon, I mean even if you knew for a fact Joseph Smith was the real deal, it is a pretty big leap to conclude that the church as it is now is still the real deal.

    In my experience there has been little to no outlet for me regarding frustrations of religion and sexuality. I found this blog about a couple months ago through friend and have been reading the articles at random.
    Guess today is my comment day, but thanks for posting personal insights here, because I imagine I am not the only one who silently reads here.

  4. If ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? In many ways, the very people we're talking about that hate us for our sexuality will often say they love us, just not our decision to be LGBTQ. Interesting to think about how we still may be loved because of one identity or privilege we hold, but not another. Because what reward do I get for loving people who love me, but not my "choice" to be gay? Drama, persecution, and negativity. While this may make for an enemy, these people are still convinced they love us...