Thursday, May 21, 2015

What Do You Mean by Homosexuality?

I think one of the big hindrances to having meaningful conversations about homosexuality in the church is the different definitions people are using.  It makes communication difficult.  Let's look at some of the definitions of homosexual and related terms.

The first sense of homosexual (or gay or lesbian) denotes an orientation, or predilection.  In this sense, homosexuality has likely been around for as long as there have been humans.  It's not something people choose -- very few of us get to choose our crushes, it just happens.  Under this definition, I'm definitely homosexual, or gay.

It could refer to a sexual relationship.  In this sense, the participants don't even have to be homosexual in the first sense; they just have to participate in the relationship.  Many members of the church use the term "gay lifestyle" to refer to this, which leads to serious problems in communication with those who use "gay" in the first sense.  Under this definition I am not homosexual.  But then under this definition I would be considered heterosexual, because I have a heterosexual relationship; yet that's not my orientation at all.

A third definition of homosexual is the social construct of an identity based on orientation.  In this sense, homosexuality is not something innate but rather our culture's way of framing the orientation. Many people have a hard time differentiating this from the first definition.  A good clarification can be found here.   Gay anthropologists don't find our concept of a gay identity more than 150 years ago.  There is solid evidence of gay orientations and homosexual relationships, but they don't look anything like our gay/straight dichotomy (and not even a Kinsey-scale-like continuum).  Please note that this does not mean there is no gay identity.  It simply means it's part of our cultural framework, not innate biologically.

I think an awful lot of confusion is sown by people conflating or mis-using the different definitions.  Culprits can be found on both sides of arguments, as people dogmatically argue their points without disclosing the definitions they are using or inquiring after the definitions of those to whom they talk.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Celebrating Multiple Zeros!

Since our society uses base ten numbers, we celebrate small multiples of powers of ten, in other words, it has zeros in the number.  This is post number 200 on my blog, which one of those numbers with multiple zeros, so it's time to celebrate!  I've written a lot and probably repeated myself somewhat on this blog, but that's not going to stop me from repeating even more.

For those who are newer and don't want to dredge out past posts, I think a brief introduction and recap is in order.  I'm a *mmpfsle* year old male member of the LDS church who happens to have a gay orientation.  When I was about twelve years old I found myself being attracted to boys, but I never let others know.  I dated girls in high school and college, but it was just for fun -- like hanging out with friends -- rather than romantic for me.  I went on a mission and found it to be a wonderful and fulfilling endeavor, but it didn't change my orientation.  I wasn't sure that I expected it to do so, but I wasn't ruling it out.  Anyway, I figured I would eventually get married, but it would probably be a while before that ever happened.  When to my surprise, shortly after returning from my mission I did find this girl that drew my attention.  I didn't exactly know what to do about it, never having fallen for a girl before, so it took a while but we eventually married in the temple.  Let me assure you that she was in-the-know, so to speak, about my orientation.

Now we have been married for a good number of years, and have a good number of children.  It seems to me that my situation can't really be all that unusual, but then again, maybe it is.  Since those of us in my situation have no incentive to come out and share our orientations, but rather fear the repercussions of others knowing about us, the number of people like me is entirely unknown.

I remember as a teenager that sometimes I would fear that I wouldn't be able to stay in the church.  I didn't know of anyone like me.  I only heard stories of those with gay orientation who left the church.  It would have been nice to know, as a teenager, that I wasn't so alone, that others have walked this path before.  I'd like to do that for others, but so far, I've only felt comfortable to come out anonymously on this blog.  I still feel intimidated by possible repercussions of admitting my orientation publicly.  Maybe someday that will change.

Thursday, May 7, 2015

The Perfect Salad

What is the best ingredient of a salad?  Everyone might have a different answer to that.  Someone might think the lettuce, or tomatoes, or bacon bits, or even the dressing is their favorite part.  Now suppose the salad was entirely made up of your favorite part; a salad entirely of bacon bits, tomatoes, or dressing.  That would be a terrible salad.  It wouldn't even be a salad at all.

Just like a perfect salad, in order for the church to be perfect, it needs a variety of types of people.  If the church were entirely made up of one kind of person, even if it were your favorite type of person, it wouldn't be perfect.  Members who have gay orientations make up an essential part of the church and it behooves us to be more welcoming to them.  The church can't be perfect without them.