Thursday, October 22, 2009


I have made a few giclée reproductions of Community-- I tentatively made 3, and the first 2 have already sold. So if you are interested, buy now! I will also make more reproductions if more people are interested.
Giclée Print on Stretched Canvas: (Ready to hang on the wall) $226 (SOLD OUT)
Giclée Print on Unstretched Canvas: (Needs to be framed or mounted) $200

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Just Remember What's Right For Me, May Be Not Right For You

In April, I hardly noticed conference at all. It wasn't something that affected me at the time. This conference was different. Something happened a few weeks ago that gave the sudden realization that what these men say has a deep and profound impact on people that I love very much--like my parents. They are so influenced by these people that it is important for me to stay on top of it.

That's why I was devastated by Dallin Oaks' talk on how parents should treat their wayward children. I found the entire philosophy behind his approach offensive--it was manipulative, punitive, and divisive. His basic premise was that "The love of God does not supersede his laws and his commandments ... the same should be true of parental love and rules."

This includes parental interactions with their adult children, in fact the biggest example that Oaks used for "wayward" children was cohabitating adults, which by default includes those in lifelong same sex relationships according to those who don't recognize gay marriage. Needless to say, this has been a source of contention with my parents as I talk about my future already. I'm scared by how this conference talk might complicate future discussions.

Dallin Oaks talks about the gifts from God that are universal or unconditional, but then states that some gifts are conditioned to obedience. The same approach should be taken in parenting. Some things should always be given--like food to children still at home. Other things are conditioned on children doing what parents want, again, including adults.

"Following the example of an all-wise and loving Heavenly Father who has given laws and commandments for the benefit of his children, wise parents condition some parental gifts on obedience ... To pose an even more serious question, if an adult child is living in cohabitation, does the seriousness of sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage require that this child feel the full weight of family disapproval by being excluded from any family contacts, or does parental love require that the fact of cohabitation be ignored? I have seen both of these extremes, and I believe that both are inappropriate."

Oaks goes on to say that parents should use personal revelation to determine where to draw the line in between those extremes. He counsels parents to apply the principles in the parable of the good shepherd who left the ninety and nine to go after the one who was lost. While at the surface this seems compassionate, it is very condescending to those adult children to have their parents going about making the decision on how to interact with them based on trying to manipulate them into believing and acting a certain way. While parents ought to be respected for their experiences, sacrifices, and insight, adults are not children who must be trained by their parents with rewards for "good" behavior and punishments for "bad" behavior.

Oaks goes on to say that parents who love their children should not support "self destructive" behavior, which he defines as behavior that violates the Mormon commandments. I found the bitter irony in the statement depressing. I have never been on a more self destructive path then when I was trying to fulfill the Mormon commandments. At various times I was on the brink of suicide or self defeating mental and emotional behavior. I was depressed. I couldn't deal with anxiety or stress of any kind. I was a mess. When I began to live a healthy life and started doing what was best for my mental health, I had to abandon many LDS ideals. According to Oaks, my parents should punish me for this by withholding something from me.

As if the rhetoric thus far wasn't divisive enough, Oaks concludes with these chilling words: "When family members are not united in striving to keep the commandments of God there will be divisions. We do all that we can to avoid impairing loving relationships, but sometimes it happens after all we can do. In the midst of such stress we must endure the reality that the straying of our loved ones will detract from our happiness, but it should not detract from our love for one another or our patient efforts to be united in understanding God's love and God's laws."

So my adult decision--no matter how mature they are--will detract from my parents happiness. Never mind the fact that doing what they want me to do (marry a woman) would inhibit my happiness and bring me back to self deprication. So my parents can't choose to be happy that I'm happy simply because I became happy in a way that was different than them? And all of this "stress" could cause our relationship to be impaired? The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints is responsible for destroying families across the Earth. They will be held accountable for that grave sin before God.

Think about the healing, instead of the rifts, that Oaks could have brought to families if he had closed his talk like this: When family members do not believe the same things or make the same decisions, there may be painful divisions and stress. But families can be united in their love for each other despite those differences. Parents can experience the joy and blessings that come from their choices regardless of the decisions their children make. In the end, the love that binds families together is stronger than the influences that would pull them apart.

Friday, October 2, 2009

Authentic and Grounded and Whole

September 27. The day passed quietly and without notice. It was one month after my birthday, but that's nothing to celebrate. It was the 270th day of the year, but who cares? It was a Sunday, so I slept in that morning, but that's not significant. Oh yeah. It was also the two year anniversary of my explosion out of the closet.

I've told the story so many times. I was sitting at home Wednesday night- the 26th- when I stumbled across the blogs of Romulus and Remus. It took me all of ten seconds to realize they were the twins that I had grown up with. Romulus gave it away really. I went crazy and couldn't sleep all night. I was so excited! I wanted to call them, to tell them, to finally have some one to talk to! I wasn't sure if they were okay with me knowing their "secret," so I wrote a blog post I thought would give it away. Romulus didn't take the bait, so I sent him a facebook message on Thursday, September 27, 2007. The rest is, as they say, history.

I won't lie and say that it all feels like it happened yesterday, because to be honest it feels like it was ages ago--much more than just two years. I feel like I've lived an entire life in the time since I came out. An entire life with ups and downs--but one that has been full of joy, fulfillment, peace, companionship, friendship, love, meaning, and success. There is no doubt in my mind that coming to terms with my sexuality and coming out of the closet has saved me from a deafening hell and given me a life I wouldn't trade for the world.

So where am I now? That's the question Abelard has posed this month. Where am I in my gay Mormon journey? For starters, I'm not on a Mormon journey anymore. It's not surprising given how I felt at Church two years ago, or even how I felt on my mission. (Yes, I blogged on my mission). Even back then you can catch small glimpses of large criticisms that I had for the Church. I didn't think their Sunday services were worshipful enough or Christ centered enough. I also didn't like the focus on works (ordinances) over grace. I was pretty vocal and critical about these things with other Mormons, but I put on a nice front for investigators and the general public.

Maybe I am premature in saying that I'm not on a Mormon journey anymore. The fact is I am still in Provo under the big brother arm of a Mormon school. I am still a member of the Church. I am still surrounded by the Church. And perhaps more importantly people that I love very much are still influenced immensely by the Church. So in that sense, I will never be able to truly loose sight of the Mormon journey.

But whatever you want to call the journey that I'm on, it is a good journey, and I'm doing well. I'm happy. I'm healthy. I'm loved. I love. What more could you want on life's path?