Fun Home

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Fun Home the Musical Broadway Poster

Saw the play Fun Home over the weekend during a getaway in L.A. to celebrate a friend’s 50th birthday. I’m often touched in the theatre, but I rarely cry in the theatre.

I cried on Saturday night. Twice.

As the first Broadway musical with a lesbian protagonist, Fun Home balances humor and tragedy to create an emotional roller-coaster of introspection that left me pondering for days.

First, the little boy inside me cried at the acknowledgement that like Alyson, the protagonist, he saw himself in other gay men at a very young age and knew he was like them. I cried that that little boy felt fear rather than wonder and joy. The song, “Ring of Keys” as performed at the 2015 Tony awards is a beautiful rendition of this pivotal moment for gay youth.

My second moment came near the end when Alyson’s Mom reveals the true extent of her pain in her marriage to Alyson’s Dad, Bruce. He is a closeted gay man who has created a life of deception and untruth for those around him. The song “Days and Days” provides a window into the wife’s pain and hopelessness. I cried both in empathy for my ex-wife and in gratitude that I stopped it before it got this bad. I came out and we divorced in time for both of us to have a life.

I’m so happy that I have renewed my season tickets for the traveling Broadway shows in my area to see this touching play again.

The Counterfeit Experience of the Straight Spouse

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ashleystinycrumbsGuest post by Ashley, a fellow blogger at Ashley’s Tiny Crumbs

(I can’t emphasize enough how much I love this post in response to the recent “gay relationships are counterfeit” controversy)

The conversation has to continue as long as the wrong people keep bringing it up (April 2017, Ensign pg. 33).

The further I get from my experience in a mixed-orientation marriage, the more acute my understanding of how my experience, as the straight spouse, is/was marginalized. Don’t get me wrong! I’m the biggest cheerleader for the gay spouse, feeling trapped and unable to live authentically.  I’m the one banging on the other side of the closet door, begging, “Sweetheart, come on.  Stop doing this to yourself.  It’s 2017 and despondency or depression or suicide is so unnecessary for THIS.”

But there’s also the experiences of the men and women who are/were the straight spouse, like Ashley 1.0.  We aren’t living authentically either.  And our suffering and scars aren’t seeming too important. You may have read about how I super duper wanted to drive my mini-van off of Cedar mountain.

And if you’re just joining this conversation:  No.  It is not just about sex.  And regardless, sex is important and crucial.  But THE THING that it’s about for us (straight spouse) and them (gay spouse) is the Intimacy.  Lemme know if you don’t understand the difference between sex and intimacy, and I’ll write another post just for you.  I’ll even address it to you… “Dear Person Who Maybe Has Never Been Loved~”

I have some very visceral commentary on this, hopefully, I can be articulate and, as always, my intent is to be affecting.

I’m getting ahead of myself (the visceral). Article by General Authority:

First off~

The title of the article is The War Goes On.  Nothing subtle about that.

War.

Goddamn Fucking Serious.

Death.
Blood.
Mourning.
Pain.
Fighting.
Good vs Evil.

You know, war.

And then, but of course, this dude- the General Authority- starts talking about Satan right off the bat, cuz ultimate bad guy.  And he’s gotta bring up returning to Heavenly Father clean, which Satan makes so difficult!  And ya know, none of us are clean, none of us are sinless, as is pummeled into the heads of members of the church.  So by paragraph 3, dude is slathering on the guilt.

Don’t get comfortable yet, ’cause here comes paragraph 4:

“Thankfully, God’s plan triumphed over Satan’s lies.”       !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

And in case you forgot, that meant Jesus made that sacrifice dying for our sins, because we’re all pieces of shit.

(I’m walking you through the beginning of the article to prep you.  It’s all build-up, people.)

Then our dude goes into the ways Satan operates.

We get to point number 2, and the gospel of love can go fuck itself.

“Remember, counterfeits are not the same as opposites. The opposite of white is black, but a counterfeit for white might be off-white or gray. Counterfeits bear a resemblance to the real thing in order to deceive unsuspecting people. They are a twisted version of something good, and just like counterfeit money, they are worthless. Let me illustrate. One of Satan’s counterfeits for faith is superstition. His counterfeit for love is lust. He counterfeits the priesthood by introducing priestcraft, and he imitates God’s miracles by means of sorcery.
Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, but same-sex marriage is only a counterfeit. It brings neither posterity nor exaltation. Although his imitations deceive many people, they are not the real thing. They cannot bring lasting happiness. God warned us about counterfeits in the Doctrine and Covenants. He said, “That which doth not edify is not of God, and is darkness” (D&C 50:23).”

We already knew this, right? That this church felt this way…?  Or are you allowing yourself to be duped by happy stories of acceptance of a LGBTQ kid by a member of the church?
Okay, so if you haven’t buckled yourself in yet, secured any loose items, and put your arms and legs inside the ride, you should now.

I’m gonna talk about the despair and anguish of the straight spouse… in no uncertain terms, like a big ol’ gay dick smacking you across the face.

Gay men and women, who marry the opposite sex for religion, do it because they are scared to death of the above rhetoric being their reality.

Darkness.
Grayness.
Imitation.
Being unhappy.
Worthless.
Counterfeit.

These vulnerable, naïve homosexuals (no shame, just truth) who adhere to the dogma think that entering into a marriage with opposite sex will save them from these awful things.

But the straight spouse is even more unsuspecting that these things would ever be in their purview.

Nor does the straight spouse understand that their own sexuality will be shoved into a closet.

Usually, the SS does that of their own accord to…(ready for this?)…survive.  There was no way I could face what I was missing: being wanted, cherished for (in my case) my femineness which encompasses my body, soul, and mind, and the all important intimacy- the lack of being caressed, the void of hearing the soft spoken voice of someone who melts at the sight of you, the absence of a core connection that is discernible through mere eye contact and devours your heart.

Look, I’m not really talking about marriage.  I’m talking about connection and romantic love.  I know that same-orientation marriages and relationships can suck ass and end a lot of the time.  But these same-orientation relationships not only have a probability to feel those indescribably amazing things, but they usually start there.

So to address the malarkey of the referenced article-

Darkness… Gray… All the time.  Everyday.  And I was living the ‘gospel’.  I got up in front of my congregation and bore some phat testimony.  That shit was legit.

So… tell me.  Why the gray?

Was my marriage edifying?  My friendship with g’ex was, yes.  But the marriage?  Naw.  Trudging through knee-deep bog with no end in sight is not edifying.  It breaks you.

The ‘lasting happiness’ part of the article?  Fuck me…  The ‘lasting’ sentiment would imply that there was a solid ground (firm foundation, as it were) to begin with.

The worthless part.  Oh my god.  This one makes my head spin.

You Mormons out there… Hey, y’all realize that this General Authority dude is saying that LOVE is worthless, yeah?  You getting this?  GA’s subtext:  LOVE IS WORTHLESS IF NO JESUS AND BIOLOGICAL BABIES.

Obviously, my mind goes to the bona fide, irrefutable love that two properly matched humans can experience.  But, hey, you know what else couldn’t be further from worthless?  Being desired.

I’ve had one nighters… (reminder to keep arms and legs inside the ride… also, hi, mom).  I’ve been more desired by a man that I cannot remember the name of than in my 13 years of marriage with a man that I had children with, moved from state to state and out of the country with.  A former straight spouse I met a few years ago told me the first time she had sex with a straight man, she wept.  But… worthless experience.

And lastly, let me bring you all around to the best, sweetest, juiciest part of the article- the counterfeit argument:  marriage or love is counterfeit if not within the parameters of the ‘gospel’.  If I was giving a Ted Talk, this is where I’d pause, lower my head with furrowed brow, and walk to the other side of the stage pensively before looking back up at you and saying:

My marriage was counterfeit.

My Mormon, temple union to a man who yearned for an intimate connection with another man was 100% counterfeit.

Do you have any idea what it’s like to live in a counterfeit way?

If you do, I’m so sorry.  I’ve been there.  I deteriorated.  Breathing hurt.  Sometimes smiling made me feel nauseous. I was betraying my Self.  I was not an example to anyone of how to live.  My Jesus-approved marriage was toxic to me, my kids, and their dad.

And I absolutely was suicidal at a point.

Us heterosexual spouses in mixed-orientation marriages play a role of our own.  Our humanity is disparaged, trivialized as we are mere vehicles to the Celestial Kingdom.  And fuck that.

Mormons, your leaders’ hyperbole and your religion’s teachings are irresponsible, self-serving, and…

deadly

…wholly, literally, in toto.

Counterfeit Marriage

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Guest post by Jake Bernhardt

I have been utterly ruined for today. I am useless at work, and that’s a problem. I really do have an awful lot that I ought to be accomplishing, but I can’t shut it off. I can’t stop ruminating about the things that I’ve been seeing and hearing and experiencing over the last few years.

The Ensign article (page 32) that hit the fan yesterday (and yes…I am insinuating that the article fits into the category of things that hit the fan) has stirred up so many emotions for me.

“Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, but same-sex marriage is only a counterfeit. It brings neither posterity nor exaltation. Although [Satan’s] imitations deceive many people, they are not the real thing. They cannot bring lasting happiness.”

These are really, really strong emotions that I’ve been wrestling with for such a long time. So, I’m posting in the hopes that I can release some of that emotion, and maybe move on today to accomplish more of what I desperately need to accomplish!!!

Counterfeit marriage…just imagine this conversation (some of us won’t struggle to imagine at all, because we experienced the conversation ourselves.):

Frightened young man: Bishop, I’m scared. I don’t know what to do. I think I might be gay. I’m attracted to other men, and it scares me. I hate it. I feel awful, but I don’t know how to make it stop. Please…please help me. What do I do?

Bishop: I am so sorry to hear that. I don’t know exactly what to say, but I do know this. Our Father in Heaven loves you. He wants you to be happy. If you will obey His commandments, he will bless you and you will find joy. You need to follow the commandments and do everything that you have been asked to do and then everything will be alright. When you marry a righteous woman in the temple, your problems will resolve themselves. As you follow God’s laws and do what He expects you to do, He will bless you and strengthen you, and you will be able to have the joy that is promised, both in this life and in the next. I know that this is the way to happiness. It is the plan that was laid out for each of us before we came to earth. Stay strong and true to your covenants. Don’t give in to the temptations that you face. Be careful as you choose with whom you will associate, and don’t ever talk openly about these issues. There is grave danger in flirting with sin and you will lead yourself into terrible situations if you interact with others who share your same weakness. Be careful and be obedient.

Young man: You really think that it will be ok? If I get married I’ll be alright?

Bishop: I know it. The Lord has given us all that we need to be happy. He would never ask us to do anything that we are not able to accomplish, with His help, of course. Think of Nephi setting out to get the brass plates. “I know that the Lord gives no commandments, except that He prepares a way.” Pray. Read the Scriptures. Fast more often and attend the temple whenever you can. You will be strengthened and the Lord will bless you. As you interact with your future wife in the way that God intended, your feelings will change. You can be healed. There are promises linked to all commandments. Blessings that will be poured out upon you if only you obey. When we fail to obey…we have no promise. But, in any instance, when we are faithful, the Lord is bound, and we will be blessed. This is the pattern that we see over and over again. I’m so sorry that you are struggling, but be strong. I have faith that you can do this. I know that the Lord loves you and wants for you to succeed in following His plan for you. Let’s talk again in a few weeks so that I can offer support. Until then, continue living faithfully. You will find joy.

Counterfeit marriage…

Lie to a woman. Continue lying to yourself. Hide your feelings. Shield your thoughts. Do everything in your power to ignore the uncontrollable reactions that your body produces when particular men sit close, or casually touch your shoulder, or even make eye contact from across the room. Swallow the pain that you feel in isolation and fear. In fact…remain apart. Don’t associate too closely. Feelings might develop. Don’t touch another man. At least not in any way that could be meaningful. Dedicate all touch to your wife.

Pretend that it doesn’t hurt. Act as if you are excited and glad to be physical with her. The thoughts passing through your mind would hurt her immensely, so hide them completely. Don’t ever admit that you couldn’t function as a husband if you didn’t turn your thoughts to “dark and twisted fantasies.” If you encounter struggles in your physical relationship, and your sweet and trusting wife asks what is wrong, think through the panic and come up with something to say that might be believable as an explanation for your inability, on that particular night, to do those things that men are supposed to do spontaneously with the woman they love. Lie. Lie. Lie. The suffering will go away one day. Maybe it won’t be in this life even…maybe it will come in the life hereafter. But it will most assuredly come. It has been promised.

And when you find yourself wishing for the next life…well…ummmmm…pray harder. Fast more often. Go to the temple and seek strength. Stay away from other men. Cut yourself off more completely. Serve others in your callings. Give more. Cling to hope in Christ. It will happen. You will be changed. If you are faithful and absolutely obedient, you will one day…not be you any longer.

I can’t. I can’t even follow that thought process further. I’m sitting at work, and I’m supposed to be doing something productive. Instead, I’m trying so hard not to devolve into sobbing fits. The first time I asked for help from my bishop, he told me that I should never share my burden with Lisa. In fact, I shouldn’t share it with anyone, but especially not with her. It would only hurt her and cause confusion.

And the friend that I had grown too close to? I should never speak with him again. I should let him know that our friendship must end. I shouldn’t ever see him again. I obeyed. I cut myself off from a man, who was good and kind, and had been a tremendous support in the few months that we had been getting to know each other. But I was developing feelings that were dangerous and inappropriate. And it was only going to get worse. So my friendship ended. Abruptly and painfully, it ended. And I hid from my sweet love and companion. Luckily, that only lasted for about two and a half weeks, before I broke apart one night and sobbed out a confession that I was struggling with feelings for men and didn’t know what to do. All I could say was that I am broken. Terribly, horribly broken and I didn’t know how to fix it.

Lisa loves me. So completely, she loves me. She is my wife and I love her. I want that to be clear, too. My marriage to my wife is not a counterfeit, either. We are partners and companions, parents and friends. We uplift and support each other in every way that we know how. We mourn together. We laugh and experience joy together. We push through incredible difficulties together. I am so overwhelmingly grateful for my sweet wife. And, I lied to her for many, many years. I hid from her. I hid from everybody. She would express her love, and it would hurt me. Because I knew that she didn’t really know me. And I was certain that she could never say the loving things that she so often said if she knew who I really am. She has proven me wrong in the last several years. She really does love me. Completely. As a gay man and everything. But I had to step away from the church before I could experience that finally.

So please, leaders of that church, please stop defining our marriages for us. Please stop telling us what qualifies as a wholesome and healthy relationship. Stop encouraging young gay men and women to hide themselves from the world in order to obey. I recognize that most leaders have stopped advising marriage as a solution, but the teachings are still in place.

I had lunch a few weeks ago with a young, gay, returned missionary, who is at this moment wrestling with the decision of dating to marry a woman in order to have a family as dictated by the church, or living authentically with the desires of his heart to be in a relationship with a man. The struggle is ongoing and articles like this newest Ensign release are making that situation worse.

It has to stop. Somehow, it has to come to an end. We must be allowed to heal and live our lives authentically and openly. We ought to be able to engage in real, authentic, wholesome and healthy marriages with the people we love. We shouldn’t be casting more shame and creating more pain in the LGBT community over and over again. Please. Please stop.

See Also:

The Counterfeit Experience of the Straight Spouse

What Do We Know of God’s Will For His LGBT Children? An Examination of the LDS Church’s Position on Homosexuality

April 2017 Ensign: The Gays Are Not the Only Ones in Counterfeit Marriages and One Man/One Woman Marriages Are Not the Only Genuine Marriages Ordained of God

Is Same-Sex Marriage Really a Satanic Counterfeit?

Gay Dads HELP

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I’ve created a new blog and I need your help.

In the last couple of months I’ve come to know at least three individuals in my extended social group of formerly married gay fathers who have experienced close calls with suicide. About 6 months before this, several of us had met to discuss what we could do to help men in our situation.

There are a lot of resources in today’s world for gay teens and young adults. There are coming out stories to read and hotlines to call. That is all fantastic. But a man who has been married to a woman and who carries fatherhood responsibilities lives with an entirely unique weight of responsibility during the whole coming out process. Those of us who have been through it know how lonely, hopeless and yet exciting and freeing it can be.

Without knowing HOW we could help, the suggestion was thrown out that perhaps a website just for gay fathers would help.

So, I created one. Here it is.

gaydads

But this is just the bare bones of what I hope it becomes. I need your help to provide content. One would think there are a lot of sites like this but there are not. Just google “gay dad” or “gay fathers” and you get discussions about coupled gay men deciding to become parents through adoption, surrogacy, etc. That’s wonderful of course, but that’s not what I’m talking about here.

Men who came out after becoming fathers are different. They and their kids need to know they aren’t alone. They need to know how others have navigated the terrifying waters and how to get help in a crisis. Some of us need to tell our stories. That’s what this site is all about.

If this is you I hope you’ll help me build the site by sending me:

  • Your story. Anonymous stories are welcome but I also hope to include some out and proud men here. I will be writing mine and placing here.
  • Your child’s story. There are a lot of fathers who lose contact or enter into troubled relationships with their kids after coming out. I hope that some of us can get our kids to share their stories of how they’ve dealt with their father coming out. It could help some other child.
  • A blog entry with helpful thoughts, advice, etc.
  • Any additional resources such as lawyers, therapists, books, links to blogs and such.

This site is not going to be LDS focused. It will zero in on formerly or currently married gay men who have children of any age. All religions and nationalities are welcome.

Please help me make this a valuable resource by sending content and ideas my way!

Movies, TV Shows and Plays Oh My! (Part 2)

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Two  years ago I posted suggested entertainment for newly coming out gay adults to catch up. You may want to read part I of Movies, TV Shows and Plays Oh My! first.

In just two years there have been some excellent additions, and there are some I missed that I want to highlight here. I don’t have cable, so all these can be seen on streaming services (Amazon Video, Netflix, or Hulu). These are not all necessarily all centered on a gay theme. Some of them just have major characters who are gay while the plot revolves around something else entirely.

I desire all to receive it. Enjoy!

When We Rise (Hulu)

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“When We Rise” chronicles the real-life personal and political struggles, set-backs and triumphs of a diverse family of LGBT men and women, who helped pioneer one of the last legs of the U.S. Civil Rights movement from its turbulent infancy in the 20th century to the once unfathomable successes of today.

This should be required viewing for anyone coming out or anyone who has a loved one coming out. There are a lot of pioneers who paved the way to make it easier for us today.

Eyewitness (Amazon Video)

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In this USA Network TV series, two innocent teenage boys secretly meet up in the forest and witness a triple homicide. They barely escape with their lives. Desperate to keep their relationship a secret and in fear of being found by the perpetrator, they remain silent, but soon learn that what has been seen cannot be unseen and when you witness a horrible event it changes everything, forever.

Unfortunately, Eyewitness wasn’t renewed and there’s only 1 season. It has so many plot twists and unconventional characters that I found it riveting. The two main characters are gay and that is a major factor in the plot development, but it doesn’t belabor their homosexuality. This show would be in one of my top TV shows of the decade easily.

The Falls 2012 (Amazon Video)

 

The Falls (part 1) is a feature film about two missionaries that fall in love while on their mission. I found this trilogy far more true to Mormonism and my gay experience than any other full length feature on the topic. It’s really well done and with a production value that you don’t always get in gay-themed movies

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In part II, Chris and RJ reunite five years after coming out to their families and their church as gay men, where the factors that led to their separation are revealed as they mourn the death of their mutual friend Rodney.

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The third and final installment of the hit Falls trilogy! Chris and RJ, former Mormon missionaries who fell in love seven years ago, are struggling to make their relationship work amid conflicts with their families and their faith. Determined to finally find closure and put the past behind them, the two men set in motion a quest for unconditional love that ultimately leads to the very top of the LDS leadership.

The Circle (Netflix and Amazon Video)

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This film uncovers the fascinating universe of one of the first gay liberation communities in the world, place in Zurich Switzerland in the 1930’s. The film, based on true events, depicts a decades-long love story — made taboo by society — and reveals the couple’s inspiring self-knowledge and courage.

Stonewall 2015 (Amazon Video)

 

Passions and politics make a volatile mix in this dynamic drama directed by Roland Emmerich that follows the events that led to the birth of the modern Gay Rights movement. When We Rise is better, but this is a worthy attempt.

Holding the Man (Netflix and Amazon Video)

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Tim and John fell in love at their all boys high-school while both were teenagers. John was captain of the football team. Tim an aspiring actor playing the lead in Romeo and Juliet. Their romance endured for 15 years to laugh in the face of everything life threw at it – the separations, the discriminations, the temptations, the jealousies and the losses – until the only problem that love can’t solve, tried to destroy them.

Grace and Frankie (Netflix)

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From the co-creator of Friends, Netflix original comedy GRACE AND FRANKIE stars Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin as two women who form an unlikely bond after their husbands reveal they are gay and leave them for each other. I personally don’t like this show I’ve only seen about 5 episodes. I love all the actors, but I either find it too close to home to be funny or too far from reality to be taken seriously. The bottom line is that I don’t find it funny in spite of the fact that it seems to be very popular.

The Real O’Neils (ABC, Hulu)

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A traditional Irish Catholic family’s world is turned upside down in this offbeat comedy when the oldest son reveals he’s anorexic, the younger son comes out, their daughter starts questioning her faith, and the parents announce a potential divorce. It is loosely based on the life of Dan Savage, the gay sex/relationship podcaster who started the whole It Gets Better Project. There are 2 seasons so far and I find it far more whimsical and even true to life than Grace and Frankie.

In The Grayscale (Netflix)

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Bruno, an architect, has a nice family and a good job. But he’s also plagued by a deep sense of unease, so he decides to leave his wife to be alone and find himself. Relocating to Santiago, Chile, Bruno starts working with a young local history teacher named Fer. When an unexpected and intense romance sparks between them, Bruno must decide where his life will go from here. I like this because one of the characters is married and I’m also a sucker for the fresh perspectives of a foreign film.

Lazy Eye 2016 (Amazon Video)

 

Passions re-ignite and secrets revealed when a graphic designer reconnects with the great, lost love of his life for a weekend tryst at a house in the desert near Joshua Tree. From acclaimed director Tim Kirkman (Loggerheads). This one is a little too art-filmy for me the whole way through, but it you have some time on your hands, why not?

The OUT List (HBO, Netflix)

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A documentary about being among the LGBT community in modern society, told through interviews with LGBT celebrities and community leaders.

Teenage Kicks 2016 (Amazon Video)

Miklós is coming to terms with his own sexuality, and when his best friend Dan reveals that he has a new girlfriend, this puts an end to their plans to run away together. Torn between loyalty to his migrant family and his own desires, and his world is rocked by the death of his brother. Teenage Kicks with themes of guilt, friendship, cultural and familial loyalty, and burgeoning sexuality.

To Be Takei (Netlix)

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Over seven decades, actor and activist George Takei boldly journeyed from a WWII internment camp, to the helm of the starship Enterprise, to the daily news feeds of five million Facebook fans. Join George and his husband Brad on this star’s playful and profound trek for life, liberty, and love.

Outrage (Netflix)

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Academy Award-nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick (“This Film Is Not Yet Rated”) delivers a searing indictment of the hypocrisy of closeted politicians who actively campaign against the LGBT community they covertly belong to. “Outrage” boldly reveals the hidden lives of some of our nation’s most powerful policymakers, details the harm they’ve inflicted on millions of Americans, and examines the media’s complicity in keeping their secrets.

Transparent(Amazon Video)

 

The Emmy Award and Golden Globe-winning series TRANSPARENT returns for a third season. The Pfefferman family splinters into disparate journeys on their continued path of self-discovery. After a jarring reality check, Maura seeks to become the woman she envisions through gender confirmation surgery. All paths converge on a family cruise to Mexico, affirming that though their family history is murky, each Pfefferman is their truest self when they come together.

Esteros(Amazon Video)

(Spanish) Matias and Jeronimo were childhood friends. Before high school, the friendship turns to desire. Until Matias moves to Brazil. Years later, Matias returns with his girlfriend, unexpectedly meets Jeronimo, and feelings reawaken.

Sense8 (Netflix)

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One moment links 8 minds in disparate parts of the world, putting 8 strangers in each other’s lives, each other’s secrets, and in terrible danger. A couple of gay characters and bisexual situations are secondary to the plot, but the icing on the cake in this binge-worthy series.

Merli’ (Netflix)

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A Spanish production where Philosophy teacher Merlí’s disregard for rules riles director Toni but enchants his students, who struggle with family, identity, romance and fear. Merli’s son is gay and this subplot carries throughout season 1.

Versailles (Netflix)

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Although 28-year-old Louis XIV is the sole ruler of France, the nobles remain a thorn in his side, prompting him to move the court from Paris to Versailles and begin building the palace that will become his home — and their cage. The king’s brother maintains a gay lover.

4th Man Out (Netflix)

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When small-town auto mechanic Adam announces to his best buddies that he’s gay, they’re stunned and bewildered at first. But after the shock wears off, they learn everything they can about being gay and set out to help Adam find a beau. It’s cute and something you could watch with a straight friend.

Other People (Netflix and Amazon Video)

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A struggling comedy writer, fresh from breaking up with his boyfriend, moves to Sacramento to help his sick mother. Living with his conservative father and younger sisters, David feels like a stranger in his childhood home. As his mother worsens, he tries to convince everyone (including himself) he’s “doing okay.”

 

UPDATE: Could This Be About YOU?

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OMG I just got a text from my ex-wife that she sent to me and my three girls. Tomorrow was supposed to be the wedding. If you don’t know what I’m talking about, go back and read: Could This Be About YOU? I explained that I was flabbergasted that my kids’ step-sister was marrying a gay young man.

I don’t know either one of them so I felt hopeless and frustrated that my ex hadn’t intervened somehow.

By some miracle the girl called it off the day before the wedding!

Here’s the text. I was included because it’s my weekend with the kids and they were going to have to leave to attend during their time with me. My ex is the first message. Mine is the last, and my girls’ texts in the middle.

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If you’re the girl reading this, good for you. That was probably so hard to do. You’ll thank yourself later and time will heal the disappointment and doubt you must be feeling.

If you’re the guy reading this, I’m sure you’re hurting right now but please take some time to get honest with yourself and find men to talk to who have been through what you’re going through. Your life can still be happy and joyful and filled with love and with a future family.

Live on the outside in a manner consistent with how you feel on the inside and peace will come to you.

Where Will You Go?

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Mormon apostle Russell Ballard gave a talk in October 2016 General Conference entitled “To Whom Shall We Go?” where he said the following:

If any one of you is faltering in your faith, I ask you the same question that Peter asked: “To whom shall [you] go?” If you choose to become inactive or to leave the restored Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, where will you go? What will you do? The decision to “walk no more” with Church members and the Lord’s chosen leaders will have a long-term impact that cannot always be seen right now.

A new website, wherewillyougo.org, has been dedicated to former Mormons submitting their own answers explaining where they’ve gone and how that’s worked out for them. This is my submission:

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10 years ago as a gay, newly divorced father of four and former Mormon, where I would go and what I would do was indeed the looming question

A lifetime of seminary, sunday school, priesthood, mission, BYU and church leadership had me imagining myself at best as a drug addicted felon like Matt Foley living in a van down by the river with no friends, family, job. At worst, I’d lose my family in the eternities.

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The fear is real. And some of it is well-founded. I had a difficult time financially and emotionally for several years. Divorce in and of itself can and often does do that to a man. Add coming out and leaving your lifelong religion to the mix and it’s not going to be a cakewalk. But as I tell other men in the same position I was in 10 years ago, don’t divorce thinking you’re transitioning into some dreamlike peace and happiness. Do it if divorce is a reward in and of itself.

I’d offer the same advice for awakening Mormons making a rough decision to leave or to stay. Leaving needs to be a reward in and of itself, regardless of what exciting or terrifying experiences lie ahead. For me, divorcing and leaving Mormonism have indeed been their own rewards. I have had the exciting task of developing my own moral compass and creating a life that reflects my true soul rather than sticking to what some men tell me is “safe” and acceptable.

I’ve chosen to love my fellow man and have rejected doctrine, policies, standards and beliefs that don’t show that love…and it has made all the difference in the world.

Fatherhood has been my crowning achievement in that. In all that has passed, my four kids have always come first. I believe I’m a better father today than I ever would have been working 10+ hours a week out of the home on church callings, unhappily married to their mother and repressing such a fundamental part of my soul. I’ve been fortunate over the years to spend 1 on 1 time with each of my children and I have an unconditionally loving relationship with them, even with the ones who are still gravitating towards the LDS church.

What’s new is that my entire life is patterned after my own hard-fought-for values, rather than the pre-packaged standards and rules created by others. I’m still single. I haven’t replaced Mormonism with a different belief system. I still have good days and bad days. But I’ve experienced deep passionate love, familial love and acceptance, and financial successes that shadow the failures.

Where did I go?

Towards love, authenticity, and a genuine daily life. It has made not pretending worth it.

Could This Be About YOU?

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Are you a recently returned Mormon missionary about to get married knowing deep down in your gut that you are gay?

Don’t do it!

The name of this blog, Dad’s Primal Scream, has never been more appropriate.

To me, a primal scream starts from some deep inner angst while outwardly observing something horrific over which I have no control. The good news is that today it’s not about my kids. It’s about someone else’s child, someone I don’t know personally.

Could this be about you?

I understand what it’s like to not WANT to be gay, to want a celestial marriage, and to want that picture perfect happiness of a faithful LDS family sealed in the temple. And being gay just doesn’t jive with that. It doesn’t fit into that plan.

I understand how growing up in the church one can imagine that you’re only gay if you are doing gay things. And if you’re not actually having gay sex, then you must not be gay. I get how you got into that head space.

The problem is that it’s an oversimplification of human nature. You cannot strong-arm sexual attraction and desire like they want you to believe you can.

How do I know you?

I don’t.

But, I do know you exist, and that you are about to make a grave, powerful mistake.

My ex-wife’s current husband also has four children, teens and young adults. These children are the step-siblings of my somewhat younger children. Rumor has it that one of the step-sisters is about to get married to her fiance who is gay. Well, he was once gay, or once did something slightly gay, or only has a tiny ounce of gay in him at the moment, or he’s been cured.

All I really know is that my kids have heard the whispering of his cured homosexuality and that the marriage is proceeding. My ex-wife who was so greatly hurt in our divorce and my subsequent coming out is standing on the sidelines while her step-daughter makes the same horrible mistake. Well, no, actually worse because the bride knows this time.

Horrified at hearing all this, I asked my daughter why their mother isn’t stepping in to say or do something. She told that her mom didn’t want to be mean and had said,

“If two people love each other and are faithful enough in the  gospel then it will all work out!!!”

What’s that saying? “Those who forget history are doomed to repeat it.”

The problem in our marriage wasn’t that we didn’t love enough or weren’t faithful enough in the gospel. That simple-minded answer horrifies me and it ignores the truth.

It’s mean to stand idly by and let someone make such a mistake and to not say anything. So, I’m saying something.

I don’t know you. I’ve never seen you or even shaken your hand. I only know you in the 3rd person but I understand you more than you think I do.

DON’T DO IT.

I did something very similar 22 years ago and it was only sustainable for a short period of time, for almost 11 years.

Sure, some people marry and survive just like some people venture over Niagara Falls and survive it, but not without injuring themselves and many people in the process. It leads to a weak quality of life and a deep chronic inner turmoil. According to information from a USU study, “The findings suggest that rejection or compartmentalization of sexual identity may be difficult to sustain over time and likely comes at a significant psychosocial cost.”

Those who paint a rosy picture of such marriages are being dishonest and duplicitous with you. More specifically they are being dismissive of their wives and of your current fiance. If you really truly loved her, you wouldn’t do this to her. And she wouldn’t expect it of you if her friendship and love were true.

I understand the wedding is soon. My ex-wife was out shopping today for a dress for my daughter to wear. It could even be this weekend but I suggest you reconsider NOW. It’s not too late.

I know so many happy, out, gay men who are living lives of integrity and honesty. Many are also returned missionaries. They’re good fathers, loving partners and valuable members of society. They’re successful. You could be that too and there are a lot of us out here ready to welcome you with open arms. You don’t know me but you are welcome to knock on my door anytime and I’ll listen. I’ll introduce you to others and we’ll help you in any way we can.

We know and love you because we were you.

 

See an UPDATE here

 

 

Scientology-Lite

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Reblogged from 2011 in honor of Leah Remini’s A&E series on Scientology

 

I’ve joked several times about Mormonism being “Scientology-lite” but until recently I never had the chance or much interest to do a compare/contrast. But I suppose you can’t say that without backing it up, so here goes.

I probably have as much knowledge or interest in Scientology as the general population has regarding Mormonism.  I’m familiar with several buildings in my local area, I know some of the absurd parts of the doctrine and I’ve heard rumors.  Of course, I know about the celebrity members and I’ve also witnessed several  “Anti-Scientology” street protesters (former members I presume) holding placards declaring it to be a cult.

I was recently shocked when over dinner one night a friend and colleague came out as a former Scientologist.  She spoke well of several Scientology beliefs and practices and said she still utilizes them.  She’s a very successful business woman, but I had to scrape my jaw off the floor as she related her experience…some good, some bad…just like my experience with Mormonism.

Then, last week there was a pretty extensive New Yorker article which profiled Paul Haggis (Hollywood Director, “Crash”), an apostate of that religion. I found that his experience rang true in many respects to mine as a Mormon apostate so I’ve decided to list the similarities that I uncovered in the article.  I make no claims that this is a result of extensive research.  It’s anecdotal.

I admit that there’s not much to compare as far as doctrine goes, but it’s not doctrine that defines a restrictive religion, or a cult, or whatever you feel comfortable calling it.  It’s generally the practices, the procedures and the behaviors of the leadership, of the membership and the manner in which it sells itself to the public (to both members and non-members). So those are the things I’m listing here that are similar between the experiences of two apostates: Paul Haggis and myself.  Most of this list includes ideas or statements taken directly from the article that could apply just as much to my experience as they do to his:

In no particular order…

  • The church refuses to account for member behavior even when they are quoting or following leaders
  • There are a lot of “unwritten laws”
  • Members default to defending the church, even to lying or turning back on family members
  • It’s all subjective…so how do you “know”?
  • Coverts are often “loners looking for a club to join”
  • Testimonies are overly effusive.
  • There’s “some good” in it, so “what harm can there be?”
  • The crazy S#!$ is introduced later … there’s a long process until you are fully entrenched.
  • Fascinating, enigmatic founder
  • Church underpays its employees
  • Requires sincerity for it all to work
  • Doesn’t “look” like a cult initially
  • Proof is in the lives of its members
  • Testimonies often include, “I don’t know where I’d be without….”
  • Levels of membership.  Focus changes over time.
  • Perverse pride in membership
  • Charitable but not egalitarian
  • Lack of curiosity keeps members in – they are uninterested and afraid of information
  • Willed myopia of membership
  • Hard to get through “scriptures”
  • At upper levels of membership they are deprived of adequate food and sleep
  • Members tell themselves they are wonderful examples to the world of good living
  • Inability of membership to laugh at themselves
  • Certain processes are confusing and unsatisfying
  • Members project unambiguous, non ambivalent view of world
  • “If it changes me for the better, who cares if it’s true?”
  • Arrogance of membership with lots of superlatives used in sales pitch
  • Church avoids “overt political stands” but membership is almost entirely homogeneous politically
  • Apostasy is all the apostates’ fault.  All disconnection to family  and friends is blamed on that decision
  • Wives tend to stay and denounce husbands who leave
  • Church discipline (kicking people out) is seen as “for their own good”
  • Members consider membership “safe” and a “protection”
  • Members  maintain positive exterior, but a very reproachful interaction with former members
  • Public image of religion is MOST IMPORTANT
  • There’s a difference between public tenets and private interaction
  • Greatest fear is expulsion from religion
  • Church holds the power of eternal life
  • Members are taught to handle internal conflict within church’s own justice system
  • Big Brother type files kept of high level apostates
  • Members attack apostates’ character rather than address the issues
  • Church doesn’t live up to its own standards for its members
  • Special service is supposedly to “help people” but most of the time and energy is really just spent on  serving the purposes of the organization
  • Sells itself as “fastest growing religion”
  • Members think it “does more good”
  • Critics are vilified and suspected of “anti” sentiment
  • Members sacrifice a lot with little to show for it
  • Original books are changed and church denies the changes are significant
  • All or nothing claims, “base stories are true or else it’s ALL a lie”
  • Shame in leaving, “Everyone else could see it was a sham, why couldn’t I?”
  • Apostates who leave claim they feel “alive” and can think clearly for the first time in a long time (or ever)

I must also say that I think the “-Lite” portion applies here because there are some serious accusations of institutional violence in Scientology and of literally being held hostage that don’t apply to Mormonism in my experience.

But a comment on the Mormon Expression version of this post made the following excellent point:

“The thing that really struck me in the article is that Scientology is in its Brigham Young phase both timewise and in their organizational behavior. I think if we compared some of the organizational things that are more extreme in Scientology, the Mormon church was a lot more like that under Brigham Young.”

Additional Reading:

Cult is as Cult Does (10 Friendly Suggestions)

How Can She Not Realize?

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Major breakthrough #2

Three years ago my oldest daughter broke the news to me that she doesn’t like to go to church because it doesn’t make any sense to her. I was thrilled. That was breakthrough #1

In the years since, she has exerted her independence and rarely goes to church even when she’s with her mom. In fact we have  a nice routine on Sundays that she’s with her mom. She says she has to work and comes to have brunch with me.

The next oldest daughter does what  she sees her brother do. He’s on a mission and i anticipate she’ll go one day too.

My youngest (12), on the other hand, is harder to read. She’s talked about going on a mission, about believing it all and so I’ve assumed that that’s her path. But something just happened that gives me hope

I’m taking youngest to see the traveling Broadway version of Sound of Music at  tomorrow evening, Sunday, but it’s not my weekend. She wanted me to come get her early so she could hang out with some of her friends who are getting together for lunch. I said I’d ask her mother if she was OK with it. Mom said no because it’s during her church time. This is how I broke the news to my youngest and her reaction!

TWO of my kids might be doubters!!!!

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“How can she not realize?”

How did I not realize! I think we’re going to have a fun father-daughter date tomorrow.