Thursday, April 16, 2009

Leave My Past Behind

Tomorrow is the National Day of Silence, to commemorate the silence that gay youth experience before they come out of the closet. I am very excited to participate by taking up a vow of silence tomorrow. I am well acquainted with the silence the day is supposed to raise awareness of, but I have not always felt the way I feel about the Day of Silence. In 2002, as a Sophomore in High School, I teamed up with some of my friends to make (and sell) t-shirts that said "Straight Pride" on them and had a picture of two men holding hands with a cross through it. We were going to wear them on the Day of Silence, but that day I decided it wasn't a good idea, and I put all of the t-shirts in my locker. The school found out and confiscated them.

In 2003 on the Day of Silence I wrote a satire about a Day of Silence held to honor pedophiles. Yes, I compared homosexuals to pedophiles, a comparison that now makes my hair stand on end. In 2004 I wrote a diatribe against gay marriage.

I am sure you see the irony of all this. Don't click the links if you have a soft stomach. I was really compensating. I think the Day of Silence at my high school scared me so much because I was angry that I felt forced into silence and didn't see a way out. I was keeping a heavy secret, and others around me seemed to be celebrating the fact that they didn't have to keep their secrets anymore. I was jealous, confused, and angry.

Not to mention I was paranoid that others would figure me out, and I had to throw them off. Vocalizing opposition to homosexuality, I'm sure, made them all certain that I couldn't possible be gay.

And so, tomorrow, I pay tribute to those who are still in silence while celebrating the fact that I don't have to be silent anymore (mostly). So here's to how far I've come!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Patience, Little Brother

I think you'll find this NY Daily News article interesting. Basically the author points out how the Vermont law legalizing gay marriage is better at protecting religious freedom because it went through the legislature than if it had simply gone through the State Supreme Court.

For me, this provides a new approach that we could take with those who oppose gay marriage because of concerns over loosing their religious freedoms (despite the fact that freedom of religion is pretty much irrevocably enshrined in the Constitution). We could approach those with those kinds of concerns by explaining that legalizing gay marriage through the legislature will actually help them.

I think it is evident that when State Supreme Courts legalize gay marriage, there is a lot of fear and backlash, and essentially no control over how gay marriage is implemented. I think the same would be true if DOMA was reversed and the Supreme Court permitted gay marriage because of the full faith and credit clause. I also think that it is evident that over time, the former, if not the latter, is almost inevitable at some point in the future.

If the religious right, then, wants control over when and how gay marriage is implemented in their state, then their best bet is to work across the aisle with gay marriage advocates to pass compromises in the legislature. For some states, this means Civil Union laws need to be passed. For others, it means that social conservatives could promise to back a gay marriage bill if that bill includes clauses addressing their concerns. It is possible for both sides to reach a solution, but it means we have to address fears and concerns instead of freaking out about them.

Now if only I could get people to listen to me.

We Would be Charmed by Difference

"We'd gather around all in a room, fasten our belts, engage in dialogue. We'd all slow down, rest without guilt, not lie without fear, disagree sans judgment."
Remember that angry email I got back in February? Today I got a response from her. I was shocked.

First I want to apologize to you for the hateful and angry email I wrote to you in February. It was a reflection of untempered emotions and frustration. I feel like I've grown a lot since then.

You wrote me about two months ago about a topic that has been on my mind a lot. I'm seeking to better understand the gay experience in Mormon culture. I was wondering if you would be willing to meet with me.

I would understand if you are hesitant, I was pretty caustic toward you previously. I want to apologize for being angry or emotional. One thing I've learned is that in order to truly love others, you have to bridle you passions in many ways.

Good day,


Isn't that crazy? I don't even know what to say. Of course I'm willing to meet with her as I promised in my initial response to her, but to be honest I never thought she would be willing to meet with me. And now I'm scarred out of my mind. My response to her was composed through hours of carefully placing words. In a face to face conversation, how can I ever hope to be eloquent enough to keep my cool and actually forge a positive relationship?

I haven't felt like this since my trainer in the mission set up an appointment with an evangelical minister and then went on exchanges with another Elder the day of the appointment leaving me with another young Elder to face "the enemy." I have facebook stalked this girl, and she is a graduate student studying Marriage, Family, and Human development. She is still passionate about opposing gay marriage and homosexuality in general. I think when I reply to her I will ask her if we can focus on cultural/social aspects of homosexuality and Mormonism and leave out talk of politics. I don't want to debate this girl, I want to get to know her (and mostly have her get to know me and see that I have no horns).

I guess this is what I get for going public with the paper.

Advice? Talk me out of it? Any of you have experience in being a gay diplomat? (cough, Scot) Help!
"We would stay and respond and expand and include and allow and forgive and enjoy and evolve and discern and inquire and accept and admit and divulge and open and reach out and speak up" (Alanis Morissette, Utopia).