Wednesday, April 15, 2009

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).


playasinmar said...

Meet in a highly public place.

Captain Midnight said...

That's awesome, but terrifying. I think it's good to insist that politics stay out of it. If you do meet, and if she gets combative, try to keep your cool so that she seems like the uncivil one. And yeah, meet in public. Haha.

Alan said...

Nothing wrong with preparing a script, taking notes, resource material, talking points. And no need to try to hide them either. If she asks, tell her this is such a big and complex subject that you can't possibly hope to remember everything about it without help. Smart people don't give speeches or presentations without notes and written aids, and this is the same thing.

Scot said...

That's great!

It makes me wonder what has occurred since then in her life. Whatever it was I'd bet your letter set the stage.

"(cough, Scot)"

What? Hey, I do it because my family compels me, not because I'm any good at it :-).

The rest of this comment with my take on such meetings is getting too long. I think I'll just make a post out of it later on today.

Scott said...

She specifically says that she wants to "better understand the gay experience in Mormon culture." Recent politics is a part of that experience, to be sure, but their place in the conversation could easily be limited to the effect the Church's position and participation in the Prop 8 campaign had on its members (both gay and straight). The rightness or wrongness of that position does not need to be an issue, and I don't think there's anything wrong with insisting that that particular subject remain off-limits.

I have to admit, I'm curious to know what this woman's position and motives are. In fact, if you feel like you want backup or support, I'd be happy to go with you to meet her so that I could have the opportunity to learn more about her.

Kurt said...

Hopefully this isnt a secret plot to kill you. Yep, I said it.

Damian McNicholl said...

I 'stumbled' on your blog as part of research I'm doing--I'm a writer.

I really enjoy your honesty and find your blog and a few others refreshing and very informative for someone like me who isn't Mormon. (I was brought up RC and in a strict culture that's every bit as strict and disparaging of homosexuality.) What strikes me is how similar the self-revulsion you have experienced in the past is also experienced by gays brought up in other religions and cultures despising homosexuality throughout the world.

Maybe this woman is on a mission (pardon the pun) to change you back if her attitude toward homosexuality has not improved. Or perhaps she has discovered a friend who is lesbian. (As an aside, there's not a great deal of writing or blogs from lesbian mormons.)

playasinmar said...

I can only think of this one:

Over the Rainbow said...

You are amazing. You exemplify Christ. There is no way I could have sent a response like the loving and thoughtful one you provided her in February. You demonstrate the miracles that can only come from love and not from hate.

I'm glad you aren't barred anymore.