Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Somewhere, Over the Rainbow . . .

I meant to post this a week ago . . . On the way home from Washington, my friend and I saw the most vivid, beautiful rainbow arching over the freeway in Boise. As we drove, we realized that the Boise temple fell right in the center of the rainbow. I wish I had been fast enough to get better pictures, but this is all I got:I'm quite sure that its a sign, but of what I don't know. Ideas? I wonder if it's a promise from God that He will never again flood the Church with political activism against homosexuals. Or perhaps a prophecy that one day Mormons in gay relationships will be welcome in the temple? Seeing as the rainbow initially arched completely around the temple, maybe it's a subtle reminder to Mormons that the gay population is bigger than theirs? Or, as the temple spires reach heavenward, and the rainbow is already there and is so much higher, perhaps this is meant as a revelation that there are gay people in heaven! Or maybe the rainbow is there to remind Mormons that the storm that is gathering is a gay storm, and that it must be feared. What do you think?

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Melody I Start But Can't Complete

So I did it. I had dinner with her. (You know, her). She was very gracious, and very kind. Almost too sweet, lol. She explained why the issue was so personal for her, and then asked about my experiences and the decisions that I have. She was specifically interested in the decision some make to stay in the Church despite strong feels of same gender attraction. She wants to encourage people to do that, and wants to know how that choice could be easier to make for them. We talked a lot about things members of the Church do that push gays away from the Church.

She talked about being very involved in the “protect family” movement, being close to high ups in the Southerland Institute and Narth, and being the president of BYU’s “protect family” club. (She’s an older graduate student). She said that one of the biggest problems they have is that a lot of the people involved in this movement lack compassion for gays because they don’t know gay people. She wants to move away from the fear tactics and the hatred and help her movement defend “truth” while still being compassionate to the undecided and to those who believe differently. She also wants to find a non-polarizing, moderate way to engage in dialog about sexuality.

And she wants me to help her.

She believes that by introducing me to people in her movement and letting me share my experiences with them, they will become more compassionate. She thinks that I can help her ensure that her club’s activities on campus don’t hurt people. She also thinks that I can help ground her by reminding her that real people are involved with this “battle.” Basically she wants me to humanize the other side.

Specifically, she wants me to attend a viewing of the debate between Equality Utah and the Southerland Institute tomorrow. Only 3 other leaders of her club would attend, and she has promised to protect me—she assured me that she doesn’t want to make me a dartboard. All she wants me to do is help these leaders see how their arguments and the way their arguments are structured are hurtful and push people away. But her goal is to then make better arguments and learn to be more respectful and informed in their delivery.

What should I do?

I want campus to be a safer place for gay students. I would love it if her club was less distracting—their booths during the prop 8 campaign made that semester hell for me. Really, though, I would just love it if her club ceased to exist, or if a counter club was permitted. So I don’t know how aligned our goals are. Plus, I maintain my studentship at BYU by walking a very fine line. The Honor Code forbids advocacy of homosexuality. I fear that I wouldn’t be able to say everything I believed in these settings for fear of my statements being misconstrued as advocacy. (I mean, I do personally support gay rights. Does merely saying so constitute advocacy?) Besides, I don’t want to help her make her political agenda more enticing to moderates or more likely to succeed in a shifting world. I want her political agenda to die in its outrageous extremism!

So to what extent should I help her/communicate with her/her club? I mean, the bridge has got to be made. We do need to have this conversation. But I don’t know that I’m in a position to do it.

Is there anyone out there who is in a more helpful position to communicate with them? Perhaps I could suggest a replacement, someone who is more warm towards the Church than I am, and yet secure enough to share with her what her groups are doing to us! Anyone out there? Help!

Monday, May 4, 2009

One Short Day in the Emerald City

I just got back from Washington, where I spent a week with one of my friend's families. I had a great time. We spent a few days in Seattle visiting his brother at the University of Washington. I fell in love with the Seattle. It was so welcoming. I suppose it was obvious that my friend and I were gay. As we were out and about, people were so friendly to us. I mean really truly welcoming. One woman told us that she loved us just out of the blue. We saw other gay people- including couples holding hands. As a whole, it felt like being gay was a non issue. I mean even more so than in San Fransisco, where being gay, though accepted and welcomed, was very much the issue. In Seattle it just didn't matter.

And UW is a beautiful campus. It was like being in heaven. As I was watching the people on campus, I felt this huge sense of regret for not transferring away from BYU. I could have spent the last two years in a beautiful place, worshiping the way that I want to, and living the way that I feel is right. Instead I have lived in a desert surrounded by ugly buildings and people who, for the most part, all think one way. I have had to bend over backwards to conform to rules that defy what I believe is right. And in the end, I will have a degree from an institution I hate and that represents a group of people to which I will not belong.

I almost broke down over it all. Now I am back at BYU working on some commissions and making art for my final BFA show. On campus today I was greeted very warmly by friends and two of my professors. They all know I am gay, and are very supportive. While this place may be ugly, and while I may be forced to live differently than I believe is right, I do have a place here. And as much as I complain, I do enjoy my time here. But some day, some day I will leave and never come back. Some day I will live in a city as welcoming as Seattle, and I will live an honest, complete, open, and fulfilling life in the way that I choose.