Due to the recent news about North Star, I’ve elected to republish this post from 2012. An excellent blogger, Gay Mormon Southpaw, linked to this post in his most recent post titled:
Go read it. It’s excellent.
Now, for my repost….
Did you know that some people have survived going over Niagara Falls?
In fact the majority have survived the drop. From what I can tell, 12 people have gone over the Falls and only 5 have died. Four of those survivors to date have accomplished it without any protection!
Still, I’m pretty confident in saying that you’d have to be a suicidal moron to attempt it. I’d be incredulous at anyone giving advice to swim upriver.
I’m incredulous today.
I’ve been sick to my stomach for a full day since I landed on a website that in my opinion is the equivalent of those 7 survivors telling fellow tourists to take the plunge…figuratively.
North Star, “a peer-led, community-driven organization—a grass-roots effort with a mission to empower men and women who experience same-sex attraction, as well as their friends, spouses, or other family members, to more authentically and healthily live the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
More about it later, but the organization’s web site is filled with straight-married gay Mormons, LDS therapists and celebate singles helping others “struggle.”
If you want to know how to survive going over Niagara Falls go here. It’s really cool speculative advice by some guy who thinks he knows what it’s all about. You can even read all about the 7 people who have done it and lived and so I’m sure it’s reliable information. Ready to jump?
If you want to know how to navigate being a gay Mormon go to North Star. It’s really cool speculative (and contradictory) advice by a bunch of people who think they have it figured out for themselves, so I’m sure it’s reliable information. Ready to jump?
Why I Care
When I started writing this blog two years ago my intent was purely personal. I was merely attempting to get some things off my chest regarding homosexuality and the LDS Church and deal with them in a productive way so as to not impact my relationship with loved ones, namely my children. That’s still my main motivation, but along the way I’ve also recognized that there are visitors to my blog in my same shoes.
So, writing this blog has become a calling of sorts to provide a voice and contribution to gay ex-Mormon fathers… or maybe even just gay ex-Mormons…or maybe just gay fathers… or maybe just fathers… or just gays… or just ex-Mormons…or maybe even an actual Mormon or two.
I’m not saying I make a big impact, but I do know that I provide a testimonial to others thinking of walking the paths I have walked. And that means something significant to me at least because it’s mine and it’s true.
Don’t Do It
There’s so much I want to say in this post but I’m going to start off just cutting to the chase:
- If you are gay, don’t marry someone of the opposite sex. Ever.
- Celibacy is no way to live a meaningful life.
If you came here just to get the meat of my message you can leave now.
But if you are a gay Mormon still reading this you most likely already have a laundry list of rationale in your mind why marriage or lifelong celibacy might be a wise choice just since reading my advice two lines above. They’re not wise. EVER.
In their defense, North Star isn’t overtly about getting gay Mormons to marry. To their detriment, saying as much is merely the LDS custom of plausible deniability. But the truth is actually very simple…
- North Star is about convincing gay folks they can follow “the gospel of Jesus Christ.”
- To achieve “exaltation”, the pinnacle of the current Mormon version of “the gospel of Jesus Christ” one must be opposite-sex married.
The problem is that you know, and I know and the even the well-meaning folks over at North Star know that no amount of mental or spiritual gymnastics is going to make that an attractive or viable option for you.
You already know that. Trust yourself. Don’t take the plunge.
I’ve been there. I know. I know what it’s like to claim all the while that I really am less attracted to men and that I am deeply in love with my “beautiful” wife. I know how to give the impression that “all is well in Zion.” I don’t believe them any more than they believe what I am saying here.
Don’t take the plunge even if there are folks at North Star who have survived it. You’ll get bruised, bleed and collect permanent scars. It’s unhealthy physically, emotionally and spiritually. And that’s just celebacy. If you marry you’ll not only damage yourself that way but you’ll also cause collateral damage on those you love… some beautiful straight girl, your kids and extended family relationships.
You know Who You Are
As a teenager, my Mom used to always call after me on my way out the door, “Remember who you are!” Except that no teenager truly knows who he is. What she really meant to say was, “Remember who I expect you to be!”
That’s what North Star is doing. They and a boatload of old straight men they follow believe they know you. They only know who they expect you to be. That’s neither “authentic” nor “healthy” as they claim to be in their mission statement.
For every testimonial on that web site, I can introduce you to a dozen men who sincerely believed and tried that path. We took the plunge and survived but now we and our families are left with the scars and bruises that come from a lie well-followed.
The best rebuttal that a North Star devotee will be able to say about me and my argument is that I’m apostate. It’s true. I do not believe that the LDS Church is what is claims to be. I thank my lucky north star every single day for that fact. I consider myself fortunate. You can read that story by following the links in “Why I left Mormonism” in the menu above. But even if you can’t go there, don’t let my disbelief scare you away from trusting the rest of my story.
But make no mistake, I did once truly truly “know” that the gospel was true. I believed in the Restoration with the full extent of everything that that meant. I served a faithful mission, taught for 2 years in the MTC, graduated from BYU, married in the temple and went on to accept every calling extended to me including in the Elder’s Quorum, Young Men’s and Bishopric. I worthily kept a temple recommend that whole time.
If you’re like me, that rock solid testimony will have to be dismantled before any true homosexual self-acceptance can take place. Still, that isn’t why I investigated the church’s truth claims. Accepting myself as a gay man is just the fortunate bi-product of wanting to know the unpolished truth.
For others, in fact for the majority of men that I’ve met, they seemed to have been able to recognize the truth about themselves and the ramifications of that truth without ever having to re-investigate the LDS truth claims. How ever it needs to happen for you, remember to search, ponder and pray to discover the path that you need to take to reach your authenticity and good health.
North Star Critique
In all honesty I spent several hours in the North Star web site but I did not read every single post about every single topic. I’m a fast reader so in those few hours I read at least a dozen testimonials, blog posts and stories. Here are a few random thoughts, reactions and impressions that led to my post above. In no particular order:
- The North Star web site is chock full of Boyd K Packer quotes. Need I say more?
- Like all ex-gay snake oil salesmen, the language regarding homosexuality is desperate and homophobic. Let’s be clear. It is the LDS church and these North Star men who are “struggling” with “unwanted” homosexuality, or “same sex attraction.” I haven’t “struggled” or needed “help” with it for years. I’m not “living with” anything like one does with cancer and my daily activities are just a normal life, not a “lifestyle.”
- No matter how many effusive adjectives used to describe their wives as “wonderful”, “beautiful”, “amazing” and “understanding” it is still WRONG to marry a straight woman, even if she knows of your homosexuality beforehand and even if she wants it. You don’t invite someone you care about to jump off Niagara Falls WITH you!
- Every time I read something about or by one of the “amazing” wives, the thought that went through my mind was, “Thou doth protest too much, methinks.”
- Rex Goode on North Star, is the Dan Peterson of “same gender attracted, but faithful Mormon” apologetics. Ten years ago I remember him from earlier versions of “same gender attracted” forums and online groups. Like Peterson, the conclusion always proceeds the hypothesis.
- For a support group that is “fully supportive of the prophets” its mere existence isn’t. The LDS Church’s same sex attraction pamphlet God Loveth His Children states clearly, “One of these adverse influences is obsession with or concentration on same-gender thoughts and feelings. It is not helpful to flaunt homosexual tendencies or make them the subject of unnecessary observation or discussion.” Seems to me that North Star is all about observing and discussing their homosexuality and you don’t get any more “flaunting” than doing it on the internet.
- What North Star members mean is that they are supportive of the prophets in the “weightier matters” but will make personal decisions about being on the web site and managing their homosexuality however they please. For example, the church no longer advises marriage for gay men but a lot of these men are married.
- Beware of the false dichotomies that you see all over ex-gay web sites like this…“It was a choice between beliefs – between hope and despair. Do I continue to believe that God could maybe, someday love me and I can be forgiven? Or do I resign myself to being cast off, and, like King David, appeal that God will not leave my soul in Hell forever?” The truth isn’t all that melodramatic. There’s a lot of room in the middle. Some of these North Star men claimed to have spent time “living the lifestyle”, but in truth what they did was have a young adult Rumspringa when they flew off the deep end and felt horrible, so they crawled back. One can be a good, clean, productive citizen and be gay. That’s not the kind of life they experimented with. Look for the people who challenge the stereotypes. They’re everywhere. By the same token, beware of gay men who claim that all these ex-gay Mormons are self-hating, tortured nuts. I am NOT saying that. Some of them are nuts. Some of them aren’t. I believe they are all incredibly unwise.
- “The purpose of life is to learn to be happy. ” REALLY? This epitomizes the small difference between my life then and now. Back then I was struggling to “learn to be happy.” Now I’m just happy.
- Straight married homosexuality IS compatible within a Mormon framework just as these men claim… It comes from the common Mormon belief that just about any two faithful people can make a marriage work. A Mormon marriage is a threesome, two people facing God and so they’re right. Just about any two people can face the same direction. But not many in the rest of the world desire that kind of marriage.
- One blog poster postulated, “the problem with homosexuality is a lack of heterosexuality.” I wanted to hug him and tell him that there’s nothing missing, that he’s not deficient in any way. Don’t let anyone lead you to believe you are lesser-than.
- A general impression? As a father of young kids, the North Star web site reminds me of my kids fighting over the most trivial of issues… and then lying about what really happened. “Dad! Tommy put his arm on my my side of the armrest!” “Did not!” “Did so!” You know what worked? I bought a bigger vehicle and they don’t sit next to each other anymore. Sometimes it’s the environment that’s the problem.
- Neither life path is devoid of faith. There’s a lot of self-congratulatory back patting at North Star for being faithful Mormons. It does take a lot of faith to live on the outside in a manner inconsistent with how you really feel on the inside, but it’s also cruel to those you are dragging in with you. It took faith for me to come out, believe me.
- That thought above reminds me of a joke:
Q: Do you know what’s even better than winning a gold medal at the Special Olympics?
A: (See bottom of the page)
- Steven Frei the North Star President, Media Relations has served in numerous callings over the years, including Scout Master, Gospel Doctrine Teacher, Bishop, and Dad. Is he aware that as a gay man in the LDS Church today that he shouldn’t be allowed to be Scout Master or anything involving the youth?
- North Star bottom line: Homosexuality “doesn’t define who you are. There is a difference between ACTION and ATTRACTION.” I hate to burst someone’s bubble but back when I was a married, straight-acting, “worthy” priesthood holder my homosexuality was as much a part of who I was as it is today. In fact I’d claim that the “struggle” against it made it a great monster in my life even when I wasn’t “acting” on anything. The truth is that this sort of thinking nurtures and creates more of an obsession than it prevents.
- The joke:
Q: Do you know what’s even better than winning a gold medal at the Special Olympics?
A: Not being retarded*.
Your “struggle” and “faith” don’t impress me. No matter what your mental capacity is, stay away from the falls!!!
*Sorry for using the word “retarded.” I don’t use it in my daily speech but the joke doesn’t work with “disabled” or other words I thought of.