I apologize in advance. You’re probably not going to recognize me in this post. I’m not drunk and I’m not smoking anything.
It’s just me, raw.
I just spent all day listing to YouTube videos of Mormon hymns while working. I had a really productive day. I had a close of escrow with one of my real estate clients. It happened right when I need the money. Anyway there was a lot of e-mailing back and forth. Occasionally I’d click over and watch the Mormon Tabernacle Choir or the MTC choir belt out one of my favorites. I know some Post-Mormons can’t stand hearing them. But for me, most LDS hymns only bring good memories.
When the women sing I can hear my Mom’s voice singing. When the men sing I long for the peaceful strength and certainty I stumbled upon every once in a while as a Mormon priesthood holder.
I also see myself.
I see myself in many of the men’s faces and expressions. I actually know two of the current male choir members. One was a home teacher of mine my first year at BYU. The other is an ex-girlfriend’s husband. He’s a BYU professor and one of the kindest, most intelligent, most accepting and most sensitive guys you’d ever meet. I like him and respect him. He’s the very attractive, expressive one who looks like he’s really into the meaning of the lyrics and not just making sounds.
And this is pure conjecture, but I’d wager that both of these men (and a significant number of their colleagues) “suffer” to some degree with “same sex attraction.” They’re married and have never given me any concrete or obvious reason to come to this conclusion, but there it is anyway.
The odd thing is that when I think that, I get a little bitter, jealous and indignant. As much as I say I respect anyone’s choice to live his life however he pleases, it makes me upset that they can do it but I couldn’t. I get sucked into the glossy, saccharine, warm and fuzzy crispness of it all.
In my recent post, Mormon Courts of Luv; My Experience, I related how some bishopric members I’d worked with in the past had seemed to harbor a “prodigal brother syndrome.” I define it as being jealous that someone else got to sin and yet have a happy ending. It’s a rather ungracious but human emotion.
I fear I have its equal emotion for gay post-Mormons.
While I know that finally being honest and authentic were the wisest and best choices for my emotional well-being, it does honestly irk and sting to see others choosing obedience, compliance, vague faith and turning the other cheek to reason and truth… and coming out OK on the other end.
If I’m being honest, this is part of the reason for my distasteful reaction to North Star, Mitch Mayne, John Gustav-Wrathall, and most recently to Tom Christofferson.
I’m the one who followed church counsel. Each one of them have disregarded church counsel by being open about their homosexuality while in the church – something in direct opposition to what leaders have counseled. I’m the one who followed church counsel, who served a mission and married a woman in the temple. I’m the one who beat myself up over every gay thought I processed in my brain dozens of times a day, every day into my late thirties. I’m the one who kept it to myself as my church leaders and counselors advised. I’m the one who believed it was just a verb and not a noun, (something one did, not something one was). I’m the one who fought to remain “temple worthy” rather than express any affection for another man. In other words, I spent 20 years of adulthood being “humble, meek and teachable” rather than listening to the still small voice in my own soul.
As a result, I’m the one who developed an inner resentment towards the church for the years of self-denial. Because following church counsel messed up my ex-wife’s life and my kids’, I’m admittedly not as willing or able to give the leaders the benefit of the doubt now.
I’m the one who brought my homosexual boyfriend to my own daughter’s baptism and was treated by family as if I’d murdered someone.
Yet now Tom Christofferson waltzes into the scene having done it his own way with an ever lovin’ homosexual partner of 20 years, a family that supposedly shows “unconditional love for each other,” and he has the balls to tell me that “as we freely offer our will to Him, as we are humble, meek and teachable, as we access the enabling power of His atonement we will find peace.”
To capture a Mormon testimony phrase, “every fiber of my being” wants to scream at him,
“FUCK YOU! FUCK YOU Tom Christofferson!”
But I won’t.
I won’t because I really don’t talk like that. It’s not who I am.
I don’t want to be the ungracious “prodigal brother” who seemingly couldn’t stand to see another person receive praise for his own mixture of wise and unwise choices.
It’s not Tom Christofferson’s fault that the LDS in my family are less than perfect in their unconditional love. It’s not Ty Mansfield‘s fault that my wife never contemplated staying married to an out, gay man. It’s not Mitch Mayne, or John Gustav-Wrathall‘s fault that curiosity and investigation weighed down my “testimony shelf” with more facts and more contradictions than theirs.
These days, peaceful strength and certainty still come occasionally. They indeed come when I see my imagined soul brothers in the Mormon Tabernacle Choir and I remember what that duplicity was like. But peaceful strength and certainty also comes at new gatherings of my gay friends, at my local gay professional get-togethers and at the occasional Ex-Mormon gatherings. Most importantly it comes in quiet moments on a campout in the wilderness when my kids offhandedly and sincerely say they love and respect me. That’s all I need.