I try not to criticize other bloggers in public or in my own posts. People have a right to post what they want on their own blogs. A variety of perspectives, opinions and life experience is a good and important thing. As bloggers, we all need the freedom to blog in ways that work for us at whatever stage of life we may be.
Anyone who has read anything I've written here will know I have some strong opinions, and that I try to support those opinions with some substance. From time to time, my posts have focused on individuals who put themselves out into the public square as experts, heroes or vanguards. I am a bit uncomfortable writing this post, but I'm going to take a risk here. Today, the straw broke on the back of the proverbial camel. Therefore, I present for your consideration my take on a blog that has received some notoriety:
(Gay) Mormon Guy---(G)MG for short.
(Gay) Mormon Guy---(G)MG for short.
Read the blog for yourself. Take special note of the Saturday, May 7 post, which prompted me to finally publish this post of my own. News from friends of a suicide and an attempted suicide also played a part in this post. I am deeply sad and angry to hear of two more examples of how dangerous internalizing false hope and false promises can be.
I'll try to be fair. But I'll be using some strong words that a lot of people probably won't like. I won't censor comments (unlike the (G)MG blogger), unless they violate the Blogger Content Policy. While some may believe otherwise, I'm not attacking (Gay) Mormon Guy as a person. Disagreement or expression of a differing perspective doesn't equal personal attack. But, to be sure, I am raising questions and concerns about the content of the (G)MG blog and its effects.
I have no personal vendetta against the person (or persons) who post at (G)MG. I don't know him/her/them. The blogger(s) there does/do not explicitly purport to speak for all Gay Mormons. It is mostly a blog about personal experience. I am not writing to quibble with someone's personal experiences. Much of (G)MG's May 7 post is heartfelt grappling with the difficulties surrounding discussing sexuality and personal issues with parents.
However, there are times when the phrasing and the tone of (G)MG's posts involve a staggering level of pontification and condemnation of the paths of other Gay Mormons. This may be unintentional. My fear is that it is intentional, under the guise of "being helpful." There are some throw away lines in some posts about it being fine for other people to take other paths in life. But the crystal clear implication of far too much of the content on the (G)MG blog is that there is one true, legitimate and righteous way to be a Gay Mormon.
There is no vocabulary in any human language adequate enough to describe how much arrogance there is in the following statement in the May 7 post: "I've had the daily opportunity to touch people's lives and help them find the faith to avert suicide, fix broken marriages, and pursue lifelong dreams." How a person who has never been in a mixed-orientation marriage could presume to "fix" what he/she/they see has a "broken marriage" is laughably presumptive. The naked hubris and self-glorification of such a declaration are disturbing.
In my view, the (G)MG blog is a bright flame attracting moths that generally fit into three groups:
1. The young Mormon mommies who are deathly afraid of their sons being gay (and I do mean sons, because the misogynist undercurrent in the culture of the LDS church barely recognizes the paths of lesbian and bisexual Mormon women), some of whom may be married to gay men or men who they suspect might be gay, and looking to any example of the “gay but righteous Mormon”---all while being infatuated with the homoerotic “Twilight” phenomenon, especially with main character Edward proving that even vampires don't have to give into their temptations and urges (sigh);
2. The still-active in the church looking for heroes who are “struggling with SSA” but still “stalwart," many of whom are looking to marry someone of the opposite sex despite the overwhelming odds that marriage will result in trauma and sadness; and
3. The people like me who read occasionally and whose personal experience is a living testament that neither religious zeal nor a mixed-orientation marriage are effective or healthy means of confronting sexuality and sexual identity, and who are alternatively frustrated and saddened by the rose-tinted posts and comments that dominate the (G)MG blog.
Bright flames like this usually burn out. Heaven knows all blogs eventually come to an end. Even if the (G)MG blog is written by committee, which is one of the possibilities, it will likely burn out in the relatively near future. Or, its nature and focus might develop over time when the volatile fuels of dogma and certitude within the writer(s) begin to run low.
Right now, however, there seems to be plenty of fuel for a fabulous flame. Perhaps the most frustrating thing is not the content of blog posts, but how so many people choose to use it. I know dozens of people whose family and friends point to statements made by (G)MG and people of (G)MG's perspective as "proof" of the best and only legitimate way for Gay Mormons to live. This isn't a debate about abstract social issues, or a battle about legal definitions. There are ground-level, personal, emotional impacts in the lives of real people.
One friend put it this way: "My straight friends sometimes post or send me things (Gay) Mormon Guy writes about having to do with the GLBT-LDS community. It bothers me because it makes people feel like, 'See! He's gay and it doesn't bother him. He can follow church standards and be happy. I now feel justified in invalidating all Gay Mormons.'" None of us can control what readers do with what we write. But all of us can be thoughtful about what we post and how we phrase it, especially when we know our primary audience. As readers, we can be cautious about how we use what we read.
There is such a wide array of blogs written by Gay Mormons, without parentheses, that we probably shouldn't worry too much about a disproportionate impact of the (G)MG blog. The blog may have 600+ followers, but one blogger is one voice with one perspective. It's worth noting that most of those 600+ followers jumped on the bandwagon following (G)MG's post about Boyd K. Packer's October 2010 conference talk. You know, the one about homosexuality that wasn't about homosexuality, and then everyone figured out it was, and then the PR people made Packer change it, and the changes didn't make it any better?
Some people may listen to only one voice. Some people may prefer to put on blinders and see only one perspective. There will always be those who limit themselves to latching onto information that serves only to further entrench themselves in their willful ignorance rather than searching for understanding. That is their thorn in the flesh to struggle with. Hopefully, they can find healing by opening their eyes, their minds and their hearts to the legitimate experiences of others someday.
I don’t assume every Gay Mormon will leave the church, or that every Gay Mormon should. Everyone has to find their own path that is emotionally healthy, spiritually fulfilling and personally safe for them. Sometimes that path changes over time. Based on extremely sad experience, however, I DO assume the LDS church will never leave us gay people alone, unless the church goes through monumental changes in its doctrine and culture. I also assume that many of us who have at times walked the path the (G)MG blogger is attempting will be vilified by some if we ever take another path. Many other Gay Mormon bloggers have experienced and written about this.
Another good friend of mine suggested that the (G)MG blog is a "gateway" for some people to begin to listen to a broader range of experience among Gay Mormons. I like the hopefulness of that thought, but I’m not sure that holds true for most of the people following it. The blog is merely a reflection of the current positions of the institutional church and the prevailing views of modern Mormon culture. I think there will be a few people who “move on” from that blog to others, as they understand themselves and those around them in a less dogmatic way. But I’m afraid most of the followers of the (G)MG blog are there to affirm their dogma rather than find ways to approach life on a human level.
My hope is that however and whenever and for whatever reason people come across a Gay Mormon blog, they will look to a variety of other perspectives to frame their understanding of Gay Mormons. Then they will be better able to fill that frame with personal discussions and friendships with Gay Mormons who may be following different, and legitimate, paths as complete human beings. Reading, hearing and chewing on many perspectives has certainly helped me.
The food critic Anton Ego from the Pixar film Ratatouille said it well: “You know what I’m craving? A little perspective. That’s it. I’d like some fresh, clear, well seasoned perspective. Can you suggest a good wine to go with that?”