Friday, December 4, 2009

8: The Mormon Proposition = Sundance Film Festival

8: The Mormon Proposition

Well, ladies and gents (and those who have yet to make up their mind), it's official - 8: The Mormon Proposition has been selected to premiere at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Sweet n' Sour

-I'm glad the church seemed to lessen it's stance on gays.

-I hate that I'm expected to feel grateful for their support for my rudimentary rights.

-I'm astonished that people really do think I'm out to destroy their families.

-I'm happy my family has the church and what it does for them.

-I'm sorry the church has my family and what it does to them.

-I like living in Utah.

-I hate living in Utah.

-I admit to a bit of schadenfreude towards the church. To them, it must be like living a real-life Battlestar Galactica. Wait, you're a cylon?! The whole time you were a cylon?!!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Sudden LDS Support?!

Here's the story.

Thank you LDS church. I'm eagerly awaiting my Right to Breathe Oxygen Card in the mail.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Maine: Fighting back.

Organizations such as the National Organization for Marriage were at the core of Prop 8 getting passed in California last year. The same organizations were also at work in Maine this year spreading unreasoned fear and bigotry, and they were successful again.

This is our second high-profile defeat in a year. What can we do? Bitch about in our blogs? Twitter our disapproval? Sigh a little deeper for the next week and then get on with our oppressed lives?

Maybe a good question is what separates our side from their side? What are they doing that we're not? It's not a matter of passion. Both sides are pretty equal when it comes to that.

The cruel fact about this fight is the other side has almost inexhaustible resources and seems poised to give everything they have to ensure victory. Tell me, how many members of the church would gladly mortgage their homes to help fund this fight if the church asked them? Probably many thousands, at least.

It's about MONEY ladies and gent's.

MONEY makes the commercial spots, buys the TV time, pays the professional signature gatherers, and feeds and waters the masses of volunteers going door to door spreading fear and uncertainty. Money pays the consultants and lawyers who help keep these organizations behind cloaks of secrecy.

What can we do?

Meet Reed Cowan. He's the director of the upcoming documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition. He has mortgaged his home in his efforts to get this important movie ready for release next year.

One of the subjects 8TMP tackles is this issue over organizations (such as NOM) formed to work against marriage equality. In this documentary, Reed reveals, conclusively, the Mormon church as THE major organizer, funder, and general puppet-master behind many of these organizations.

Why is this important? If the general populous knew it was largely the Mormon church behind the TV spots and door-to-door campaigns then it's likely they'd think twice about the propaganda these organizations are shilling.

Film making is expensive. The documentary is basically done but there are many things such as digital mastering, sound editing, animations, advertising, etc. that will help make it world-class.

His goal is to raise $50,000 by December 1st; a paltry sum in terms of movie budgets.

If you're angry and frustrated like I am and want to do something meaningful in this fight, visit Reed's blog and help fight back by donating what you can to help finish this film. Click the "ChipIn" button at the left of the screen of his blog. You can also access the donating widget directly here.

You can also visit the movie's website to learn more about the film.


Lately my responses to other people's blogs have been getting a little long. This post started as a response to Abelard's recent posting titled "Faith and Desire".

Ah, the mind games...

Q: If I have the desire to want to desire, then will God grant me the desire I seek?

A: Why not? Isn't that a righteous desire, to want to desire to have faith?

Think of Alma's experiment on faith when he compared the word of God to a seed:

"... yea, even if ye can no more then desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words." Alma 32:27

From a faith standpoint It's not too shabby a thing to want to desire to believe.

Of course, desiring to believe is only a beginning. The idea is that doing so will lead to some change; whether that's as simple as increased solidarity to the church, or as real as carving a temple out of granite.

As far as applying that formula to not being gay anymore: In my experience, after decades of intense faith+desire+fasting+temple attendance, and years of counseling+therapy; there WAS a major change, but it wasn't the one I originally was shopping for. I left the church.

Personally, my favorite description of change comes from Angels in America. Mary-Louise Parker plays the role of Harper, a Valium-addicted Mormon housewife who's husband is gay. In this scene she's visiting her faithful mother-in-law (played by Meryl Streep) at the local LDS Visitors Center in New York City. Streep is setting up a diorama about the pioneers but steps out of the room leaving Harper alone with the diorama, when this happens:

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Flying off the deep end.

People are different: The answer to my question before I pose it.

Yet I wonder - When mohos finally make a decision to seriously stop worrying about church involvement/status and embrace their sexuality, why do some guys remain relatively stable and essentially unchanged individuals, while other guys seem to flit to a polar extreme and indulge in stuff that has nothing specifically to do with being a homosexual; stuff like extreme tattoos and piercings, drug and alcohol abuse, and promiscuity?

Do I think there's anything wrong with getting a tattoo or a piercing? No. Having an occasional drink or dabbling in recreational drugs? Not really. Having sex with someone before any long-term commitment has been established with them? As long as it's safe-sex, again, not really.

Yet there seems to be this stereotypical picture of what a homosexual is: A person that revels in every vice or shady thing permitted in our society. Someone without morals. Someone to keep the kids away from.

When I came out and left the church a couple years ago the only thing that really changed about me was that I started drinking coffee. I didn't (and still don't) drink alcohol because I have far too many relatives who are alcoholics, not because God doesn't want me to drink. I didn't get any piercings or tattoos because I think I'd eventually regret doing it, not because I don't want to defile my "temple". When I started dating I stayed away from the sites that are centered around hook-ups and used I found a wonderful guy there, dated him for a month before we ever got physical, and now we're engaged and have been together for two years going strong.

I don't want to prescribe anything for anyone, let me say that. If you're the type who feels he needs to explore the limits of himself and dabble in everything he was denied when he was an active member in the church, then fine.

I don't think people who do that, though, are doing us any favors in our fight for gay marriage. It perpetuates an unhelpful image that keeps people from relating to us. Nor do I think it's helping the moho fence-sitters who want and really need to embrace their sexuality because they think doing so means they'll turn into a drugged-out slut freak-show.

What do you think?

Saturday, October 24, 2009

8: The Mormon Proposition - Link to website.

The youtube url has changed so the video I posted a few days ago doesn't work anymore. You can see the trailer at:

Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Upcoming Documentary - "8: The Mormon Proposition"

Remember last February when Utah State Senator Chris Buttars' comments in an interview with Reed Cowan sparked the protest-event known as "Buttarspalooza"? After many long months it seems Mr. Cowan's documentary is finally finished.

8: The Mormon Proposition, narrated by Oscar winning screenwriter and gay activist Dustin Lance Black, has been submitted for inclusion to the upcoming 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Within the next week the film's website will be up and running, but in the meantime there's a Facebook page for the film at the following link:

What are your hopes and/or fears about this upcoming documentary? Are you excited? Nervous of a backlash? I encourage you to go to the Facebook page and post your opinion.

Personally, if the Buttars interview is any clue as to what we can expect from the documentary I'm sure it's going to be rather scathing towards the church. My only worry is such a thing could keep the kind of people away who really should see it.

8: The Mormon Proposition. Spread the word.

The Bubble - October 14, 2009

Since a lot of my postings tend to come out as little nodules of self-contained logic rather than large sheets of chained reasoning, I'm going to start something that plays to that form.

The Bubble - Short WTF vignettes from within the Zion Curtain.

Yesterday David Archuleta's Christmas album was released. Because I contributed to album and am always eager to see my name in print (no matter how small) I went to my local Best Buy to pick it up.

The woman at the register was young and smiley. I smiled and handed her the CD to purchase.

I don't know why, perhaps thinking only LDS people purchase David Archuleta albums, but the woman suddenly asked, "Are you LDS?"


"Did you hear Elizabeth Smart is going on a mission to France? I think that's so wonderful!"

"Oh? That is wonderful," I replied.

Maybe she sensed my excitement level didn't mirror her own. A little less enthused, she said, "Yes....well, enjoy."


Tuesday, October 13, 2009


In a later post, after I have time to think, I'll try to give a point-by-point response to Dallin H. Oaks' talk he gave today at BYU-Idaho.

But this post is for me venting.

....avert your eyes if you're sensitive to swears.


What the Fuck!? Am I going insane?!

Every time I hear the "Prop. 8 is about the church's right to free speach" bull-shit, I feel like I should be checked into an asylum because apparently I can't understand what seems so clear to the church leadership.

Are you serious Oaks?!!

I don't give a flying fuck what you say, Mormon church. Say what you want. Do what you want. I'll even say that, constitutionally, you had the right to say and do what you did to get Proposition 8 passed last November. It's your complete lack of empathy and soulless disregard for the plight of the homosexual, EVEN YOUR OWN HOMOSEXUALS that disgusts me. All we want is to find some happiness in this life. I don't want to take anything away from your theology or MAKE YOU do or say or teach anything that you don't want to. Just leave me alone.

And that you are trying to twist this fight into something that makes it look like YOU'RE the victim, frankly, makes me hate you in a way that I never thought I would. I would take secret pleasure in all the broken windows and stupid and meaningless acts of defacement and protest against you were it not feeding your already bloated martyr complex.

I remember hearing (when I was active in the church) that people can leave the church, but they can't leave the church alone. I'm finding the complete opposite to be true.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Carefully choreographed, for your spiritual enlightenment.

A couple things about the most recent LDS general conference -

On my way to the parents house for bread bowls and soup (fantastic cold-weather fair by the way), I decided to turn on the radio and listen to a little of the LDS general conference the hour-ride afforded me.

The part I listened to was Elder Jeffrey R. Holland's rousing testimony of the Book of Mormon. If you didn't hear it (chances are 50/50 you didn't if you read this blog) then you should, because it's a fantastic example of the power of a well-seasoned public speaker. Lot's of general authorities have given their testimonies of the Book of Mormon, but I can't remember one that sounded so.... angry.

Here are some thoughts I had as I listened:

Holland asserts that the Book of Mormon has to be true because Joseph and Hyrum Smith both took solace in it's pages as they waited to die in Cartridge jail, and that if the Book of Mormon was a fraud then wouldn't the brothers' mind's be elsewhere as they contemplated their impending death?

A few responses to that:

- Yes, the fact that they were reading the BoM in a time of great trial, possibly aware they were about to die, DOES bolster their true and undying faith in the truthfulness of the book; but that does not mean the book is true. Many people in history have believed themselves to be prophets; and I'm not talking about the type of malicious people who consciously grasp their own deceptive intentions, but people who REALLY believe they are some sort of prophet. Why not this scenario? - Joseph, in all honesty of heart, created the Book of Mormon thinking it was sent of God; and then throughout his life used it, taught from it, took succor from it's pages, even to the end of his life. Why not?

Can things resonate truth to our souls, but still be fiction? Sorry if the example offends you, but how many of us cried when the character of Dobby died in the final Harry Potter book? Did this creature ever exist except in our collective imaginations? Did that make how we felt any less...real?

This leads me to a larger point about conference and LDS meetings in general; let me frame it with a question: Have you ever read a book, watched a movie, or been on a ride at Disneyland that was so immersive and convincing in its fiction that you lost hold of "reality" for a while and were completely transported?

While I was in my car and listening to Holland yell at me about the absolute truthfulness of the BoM, some part of me couldn't help but feel moved and effected by it. Luckily my life experience (especially within the church) has taught me not all things that glitter are gold. How can anyone completely resist his testimony, especially considering he whole heartedly believes in what he's saying, and that his words were delivered from within a forum where nothing can be questioned and everything is designed to reinforce his message: from the music to the color scheme in the flower arrangement?

Another tangentially related point - The church is only interested in building faith; whether this is accomplished with truth or fiction is irrelevant.

Boyd K. Paker, in a BYU publication from 1981 said:

"There is a temptation for the writer or the teacher of Church history to want to tell everything, whether it is worthy or faith promoting or not. Some things that are true are not very useful."

Really Paker? How far does this principle extend? If something within the historical record is discovered that casts real and serious doubt on the veracity of the church, would the church leadership respect its existence and deal with it, or would they do everything in their power to bury it? And might the inverse be true? - If something that isn't true builds faith, would it be allowed to propagate?

The assertion of the LDS church that it is the only true church on the earth today is heavily reliant on it's history, especially in regards to Joseph Smith and the Book of Mormon. It's very hard to study the history of the church when the custodian of the historical record is seriously invested in the picture the record paints.


I don't want to destroy faith. I understand the church's function in the lives of my loved ones and I would never want to take it away from them, even though I personally don't believe it anymore.

But when I heard Holland's talk, rife with it's absolutisms and pointed hyperbole, I can't help but respond; even though about 10 people may read it, and no one in my family. For what it's worth.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Mormonism" as an epithet.


Ok, so here's a story...

I'm a musician working in Utah. I come from a classical background and have spent years studying music in college. Over the years I've had the opportunity to work with many LDS artists, some of which have carved out successful careers in the LDS "pop" industry.

The popular LDS music industry is very similar to other popular industries in that they can suffer from a lack of innovation. Everything sounds the same as everything else.

There is one thing in particular about popular LDS music that has grated my brain every since I became aware of it at a young age - the V4-3 ("five four-three") suspension. Without launching into too big a lesson on music theory, this is a chord suspension and resolution that is usually found at the end of musical phrases. It's hardly exclusive to Mormon pop music, but I can say without hesitation that the LDS market has been fixated on this musical convention for decades; to the point that I don't think LDS artists know how to finish a musical phrase without it. Doing so (to them) would be the musical equivalent of leaving the comma or period off the end of a sentence

Get me?

So yesterday I was asked to arrange a string accompaniment for a song that is recording in a couple days. As expected, the song is rife with V4-3 suspensions. Whatever.... I won't complain, especially since I'm getting paid for it. But I did decide to post what I thought was a funny and "inside" Facebook update. This was what I said:

"Mormonism is a never-ending series of 4-3 suspensions."

Offensive? .... Would you understand it had I not explained it beforehand? Probably not. I get dozens of incomprehensible updates from my friends a day that I just ignore. If you don't get it, forget about it.

Now, when it comes to my blogs or my Facebook I don't draw much attention; but there was something about this post that created instant buzz with my friends and family.

My cousin posted, "'Mormonism'? What is this, the 1800s? I still love ya tho."

A high school friend, who I recently came out to on Facebook said, "I'm not sure what you're saying here, but I wouldn't cast too many stones."


I'm still trying to digest what happened. Could it be that my friends and family are hyper-sensitive to my comments knowing I've come out as gay and no longer go to church? I don't have any intention of testing the strength of the ties that bind, but I do wonder if some of the people I thought as friends and family are only willing to stick around as long as I keep my opinions to myself. I'm actually OK with that. Maintaining family and friendship is more important to me than destroying faith. I know what believing in the church does for them and I don't want to take that away, even though I don't believe it anymore.

Perhaps it's my use of the word "Mormonism". When I think about it, someone who uses that word most likely views themselves outside and apart from the church. More than that, that person probably connotes a view that the Mormon church as just one type of belief in many. A variation on a theme. There are many "isms" in the world, but for people who believe the LDS faith as true as the laws of gravity, calling it "Mormonism" could be as insulting as if you actively attacked their faith. People go into a defensive mode, like what I saw today.

Needless to say, I deleted my post before it got out of hand.

I still hate the endless V4-3 suspensions though.


I discovered it like most boys do I suppose. It wasn't long after that I also discovered the church for myself, if that makes any sense, and quickly became an unreasonable zealot about it. When you throw being gay into the mix - I started a long cycle of shame and self-loathing that lasted from my early teens through my mission into my mid-20's.

Here's how I'm going to do this: Instead of trying to sew together a blog-post that flows from one idea to the next, I'm going to be lazy and give you little snatches of thought, opinion, and personal experiences without any effort to come to any earth-shattering conclusion.


- One of my mission companions was a real douche-bag about sticking to the smallest rules and regulations of being a missionary; to the point that we even lost a potential baptism because he thought it more important to leave in the middle of a baptismal discussion than be a few minutes late getting home at the end of the day.

....but I digress....

We were at a member's home for a dinner appointment. They sat us down in the living room while they finished making dinner. On the table they had a number of magazines, one of which was a Victoria Secret catalogue. I thought that was quite amusing, leaving such a magazine out with the missionaries over; so I picked it up, flipped through a couple pages and put it back down on the table, literally - 5 seconds. Elder Douchebag looked shocked and wispered sharply, "What are you doing?!!"

"Nothing," I said.

I didn't hear anything about it until our next interviews with the mission president a few weeks later. My companion told the mission president about the incident in his interview, and when it was my turn to get interviewed by the mission president I had literally no inkling what I was walking into. The mission president yelled at me, called me a liar, tied the magazine to my issues with masturbation (apparently completely forgetting my conversations with him months earlier about having same-sex attraction), and told me he wanted me to write him an essay explaining exactly what I was going to do to fix this problem. Disgusted, he ended the interview.

I took it to heart and wrote him the essay, delivering it to him during the next interviews. He asked if he could use the essay to help other missionaries who also struggled with masturbation. "Of course," I said.

Over the next series of months he gave me reports during our interviews about how many copies of my essay he gave out during his travels to the different mission zones. I remember once he said, "26 just last week."

That was my first revelation that almost everybody masturbates.

When I came home, and as I continued to struggle with being gay, I sought help on websites like They made a request for articles, so I gave them a copy of the essay and they published it. The site is down now, but Google still has it cached and you can read the article (if you want) at this link:

- I've had many bishops over the years, especially as an "on the move" college student who rarely stayed in any one place more than a year. By the last few years of my activity in the church I had stopped mentioning masturbation to them; but before then my experience with bishops' reactions ranged from "forget about it" to "lets talk about disfellowship". Everybody knows different bishops can have wildly differing opinions and policies about various subjects. And as every anomaly about the church, believers tweak their own belief systems to accommodate it. For me, it was by no means the only reason, but I would be lying if I didn't say it was one of the reasons I left the church.


- While in college at BYU-Idaho I decided that my research paper for my English class would be on sexual addiction, specifically about the role guilt plays in keeping people in their addictions and the irony within Mormonism (and other conservative groups) that the guilt intended to stop people from these addictions actually keeps them in the cycle. I had a fantastic idea to set up a table in the Manwaring Student Center and ask willing students to anonymously fill out a questionnaire. The questionnaire would ask them something like how frequently they masturbated and how they felt it ranked in relation to other sins, something like that. At the last minute I decided to run my idea past my teacher. He put the kibosh on it, of course. Instead, I decided to take my questionnaire to the support group for.....[ahem], "Compulsive Behaviors" I was going to on campus every week. Almost everyone there filled one out. Overwhelmingly, people seemed to think their masturbating made them as bad, or almost as bad as murderers in the eyes of God.


Gradually through my mid-20's I decided to stop feeling bad about masturbating. Soon after, I decided to stop feeling bad about being gay. I'm sure most active members in the church would recognize something like a "path to apostasy" in that progression, and they would be right.

The truth is leaving the church saved my life and has made me whole. No regrets.

Thursday, September 17, 2009

Story and Automatons

I've learned not to ever ever burden casual acquaintances from my BYU days with details about my personal life, even though they ask.
Case in point: I work part-time at a coffee shop. A familiar face from my BYU days popped in for some coffee (which is always a source of secret hilarity to me when that happens). He asked me if I was married.
"Kind of," I said.
"Your kind-of married?"
"Well, I'm gay; that's why I left BYU before graduating. Me and my fiance live in Orem now."
The former acquaintance (soon to be a former, former acquaintance) starts backing away while he tries to continue talking naturally through his shock and embarrassment. It's obvious he's not taking it well. He gets his coffee and leaves the store without getting the pastry he bought from me. He never came back for it.
I think I'll come up with a elaborate lie. Something impressive like.....I'm a neurologist and part-time inventor. I have seven kids and am thinking of adopting more.


I don't have strong opinions about many things, but I do have a handful; and here's one of them:

Members of the church who believe marriage should only be between a man and women often have a litany of well-worn, oft repeated reasons supporting their opinion (and to be fair, so do we). In fact, today I got the "marriage is sacred" variant on an argument from a customer who thinks my coffee shop is her own little version of Cheers [where everybody knows your name] and decided to go a little too deep for pleasant coffee-shop chit-chat.

I would almost never do this, but I've always wanted to ask these people this question: If the prophet announced tomorrow that he received a revelation affirming homosexuality and gay marriage, would your opinion change?

I tell you that any member who answers yes, that their opinion would change in that unlikely event - that person does not have my respect. They can take all their well-rehearsed bullet points and shove them. They are automatons. I fully understand why they believe they way they do, and still I say - they are unthinking and heartless. I understand the real reason (prophet speaks>obey). Everything else is hot air.

Which is why I'm so intrigued with the current drama of Scott & Sarah. In a nutshell - they're a gay-straight married couple trying to stay active in the church. After Scott came out to the ward in testimony meeting (God!), the most recent trial is trying their best to keep a foothold in the church while insisting they can sustain the prophet while disagreeing with him on some issues (guess which issues).

Reading their blog is kind of like being a voyeur and rubbernecking at the same time. I can't look away no matter how hard I try.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Blogging vs. Contentment

I remember when I was very young finding an old trunk tucked back in my parents closet. It was where my father kept the relics of his younger days. Old projector slides from a high school trip to Europe. An old scrapbook my grandmother, now long gone, made for him when he decided to stay with a friend in Montana and finish high school rather than move with the family to Arizona.

And his old journal.

He didn't keep a journal for long, nor did he fill it with much soul-bearing; mostly quotes and other people's poetry he thought interesting or noteworthy. I was more used to nakedly honest sprawl or inane details of the weather I was used to writing in my journals. It was different, but still it was a journal. I noted that he stopped writing around the time he met my mother.

One day I asked him why he stopped writing. He said to me, "That was before my balls dropped."

Of course he was talking figuratively; but what he said made a lasting impression if only because of it's stark frankness.

At the time I was in my mid-teens and had been keeping my own journals for years. As the years continued I kept writing, fueled by the funk of being a teenager, gay, and mormon. But I could never totally shake what my dad said to me - That was before my balls dropped. What did it mean then if I was still writing as I neared 30?

As it does to almost everyone in our station, I had to decide whether to continue in the church or live outside it. Personally I had had enough and I decided to leave. I was 28 and for the first time I was eager about life. I started dating. It was only a matter of months before I found the man I wanted to spend the rest of my life with. For the first time life was wonderful and fulfilling and full of promise.

A funny thing happened in the midst of my personal revolution: I stopped writing in my journal. It wasn't a conscious decision, it just seemed like nothing was worth writing about anymore. I discovered that my journal writing correlated to my own personal pain and anguish. When things weren't right, as they were for me during my entire youth and young adulthood, I used keeping a journal as a tool to help relieve some of the stress. It was a place I could express myself and be completely open as well as help me think through my problems.

I also noticed it was the same for people around me. My fiance used to blog weekly before we met, but now is lucky if he gets a new post up every few months. My sister, an avid blogger, abruptly stopped writing when she started dating someone; and of course, when they split, she started writing with a vengeance.

I can think of no better example of this phenomenon than this past election cycle. In the months before and after the passage of Proposition 8 it seemed the gay/mormon blogging community was in overdrive. Everyone was angry and upset and had something to say. I started this very blog to add my two cents. But, naturally, as time passed so did the frequency of everyone's blog updates.

So, to the point: I don't subscribe to many blogs, but I do think I have a fair cross-section of the Moho community. Using the "trends" function of my Google Reader allows me to see which blogs in my feed are currently posting with the most frequency. Draw your own conclusions.

The Top 5 Most Updated Blogs in Chester's feed:
1) A Mormon Enigma by Abelard Enigma
2) greenly chalked by Chedner
3) Scrum Central by Alan

...and, just because.

The 5 Least Updated Blogs in Chester's feed.
1) Shades of Grey by Michael (last post, a very happy one, was in May 09)
2) Forester by Forester (last post, June 09)
3) The Stripping Warrior by Clark Johnsen (last post, another positive one, June 09)
4) Windy Sydney by Andee (last post, July 09)
5) by Scot et al. (last post, July 09)

Monday, March 9, 2009

Google Trends & Proposition 8

This comes from the Wikipedia article for Google Trends:

"Google Trends shows how often a particular search term is entered relative the total search volume across various regions of the world, and in various languages.  Below the main graph, popularity is broken down by region, city and language. It is possible to refine the main graph by region and time period."

The above graph comes from Google Trends and lists the top ten cites that searched the term "Proposition 8" in 2008.

Some questions that come to my mind:

-Logic would assume that Californians would be the most interested in a Californian ballot measure.  Why then are the top two cities in Utah, NOT California?
-Why was "Proposition 8" Googled in Provo dramatically more than any other city, including Salt Lake?
-How does this list compare to the LDS Church's assertion that, monetarily-speaking, its contributions to the passage of Proposition 8 were "...less than one half of one percent of the total funds raised for the "Yes on 8" campaign."?

That's all.

Wednesday, February 25, 2009


Okay, first off…

It’s obvious I’m not one for regular blog posts. When I started my blogs late last year I was so excited. “At last,” I thought, “a way to inject my opinion into the public's eye.”

Or something like that.

But after a handful of posts it seemed I didn’t have much to inject into anyone’s eye. My attempts to become a major voice in the Moho sphere was more like my ham-handed attempts at learning how to draw or to speak German; and my blog – the drawing desk gathering dust in my garage. The book on the shelf.

This is not to say I haven’t been actively reading your blogs. Everyday I check my my computer and iPhone for your posts with the faithfulness of any stalker, and after a few months of hugging the walls of the cultural hall, jealously watching the rest of you, I’m back for another dance.

I don’t want to talk about Chris Buttars. I’m sure you have your own opinions about him and I can’t bring anything new to the table. I’m sure you also have your thoughts on the large block of legislators who hold the same opinions as Buttars toward homosexuals. To me, these other people, while not afflicted so much as Buttars with diarrhea of the mouth, vote the same way as he; and in mathematical terms: ≈Buttars.

But like I said, I don’t want to talk about Buttars. He’s a symptom. There’s something more fundamental behind it all that I want to write about – Mormonism.

“Wow Chester, what a breakthrough!” you seem to say. “I never would’ve thought that what drives these people’s opinions about the world is rooted in their religion!”

Oh, it’s true.

Alright, enough sarcasm. I know this is fundamental but I think a lot of the dialogue on the net reflects a serious lapse in understanding; or at least (especially for Moho's) an inability to remember what it was like to be unshakably Mormon, if ever a state of being existed for you. As we try to see the path forward for gay rights here in Utah (and the nation) it’s essential to understand not only what the other side believes, but also why they believe it.

Mormons will never give in.

The threefold mission of the Mormon Church is to proclaim the gospel, perfect the saints, and redeem the dead. Two of those three missions are specifically about people who are not or ever were Mormon. Why are Mormons so fixated on “saving” the world? - Because they believe 1000% that they are right. And more to the point – they believe there are no other ways to be fully right. What this means is it’s not OK for them to let you remain a Catholic, Buddhist, atheist, or anything else. At the heart of Mormonism there is no “live and let live” policy. You must be a Mormon to be saved (I mean saved in the best sense…. there are different levels of “saved”).
This is one of the reasons Mormons are so against LGBT: They see it so antithetical to their world view that nothing but total dismissal of it is a sort of apostasy. The way they see it, if it’s OK for me to be gay, then Mormonism is wrong.

Did you catch that? – If it’s OK for me to be gay, then Mormonism is wrong. Of course, to them, Mormonism is 1000% correct; and so there’s no concession.

But this is not all that is driving the Mormons opposition to gay rights. In a very real sense they see themselves as the protectors of society. They have to stand up to the gay movement because, as they see it, if homosexuality is given a place at the table then the machinery that keeps the human race tumbling on through time will cease to function.

Moreover, for Mormons, God seems to have a “had it up to here” gauge in regards to a nation’s wickedness. There’s a prevailing idea in the church that were it not for the prayers and actions of the righteous that God would erase America from the planet. It’s as if God were a social worker and Mormons are the frantic parent trying to make the household seem up to snuff, and they’re always worried that if he really knew how things were he’d take the kids away.

OK, maybe a forced metaphor. But you get the idea.

There are other reasons that aren’t rooted so much in doctrine that make the church members fight like they do. I’ve said in an earlier post that the church has a history of being persecuted, and that modern church members look for opportunities to connect in some small way with their pioneer ancestors (consciously or not) by playing the victim (real or not). Some would say that in the current fight this is only a tactic to try to gain the church sympathy in spite of being unsympathetic.  Normally I would agree with that, but it seems many in the church truly believe they are being victimized!

Mormons will give in.

If you look carefully, you can see that the leaders of the church saw this fight coming from a long way off, and that they were talking about it way before Spencer W. Kimball gave the priesthood to blacks. But despite everything the leadership of the church has done over the years to sandbag against the GLBT movement, change is going to come as it always does.  The only question is how it will come.

If change happens from within the church (highly unlikely in the short-term) then this is why: Men with extreme opinions die and (hopefully) are replaced with men holding less extreme opinions. Over the years the scales tip and change happens. That’s the way of it. I’m sure that behind the fences, the granite, the high rooms with closed doors, behind the monolithic face of it all, and behind the strange and secret order that directs how council is spread and digested amongst the leaders of the church; there exists a group of men with subtly differing opinions. I’m sure there are more than a handful of those men who truly understand how difficult it is for homosexuals in the church. Men blessed with more pragmatism than idealism and a willingness to assert so when they can.

But with gay rights, change in the church is most likely to happen when concessions are made due to pressure from inside and/or outside the church (and most likely coupled with leadership changes). If you’re reading this blog chances are you have your own experience with family members having to deal with you or a loved one coming out to them as well as the accompanying struggle they have as they work out what that means for them and their beliefs.
This is the fight, as it exists within the church. It’s virtually the same fight that we all have gone through (or are going through) as we struggle to resolve our beliefs with our own sexuality.


People with the most extreme positions against the gay movement are more than likely people without any close connection to a homosexual. In my opinion, the most effective thing we can do to effect change is to be open about ourselves. As Harvey Milk said:

“...Gay brothers and sisters,...You must come out. Come your parents...I know that it is hard and will hurt them but think about how they will hurt you in the voting booth! Come out to your relatives. ..come out to your friends...if indeed they are your friends. Come out to your your fellow the people who work where you eat and shop...come out only to the people you know, and who know you. Not to anyone else. But once and for all, break down the myths, destroy the lies and distortions. For your sake. For their sake.”

Along those lines (and albeit for me to argue a conservative stance), too often it’s the most extreme LGBTs that are at the forefront of the fight for gay rights while the vast majority of homosexuals living a comparatively conservative life are hugging the walls…

It’s unfortunate, but the people who have the most to give towards this fight in Utah are usually the ones with the most to loose.