Monday, June 21, 2010

Thoughts on the Fireside

I am straying from my usual posts to offer a comment that I wrote on GMB's blog about the upcoming fireside that has taken the MoHosphere by storm:

Coming from the perspective of someone who is still involved in the church, I think the fireside would have done two things for me: 1) It would have been a much needed comfort that my needs were at least being attempted to be met, providing a starting point and people to talk to rather than hiding, and 2) I would have been terrified to even go and show my face.

I appreciate that this fireside is more about addressing needs. It was destined to become a lightning rod issue just because it is sponsored by the Church, meaning certain language has to be used. However, I find it hard to believe that in the breakaway sessions, people will not break the barrier of the wordage and address some critical issues. I think that this has the potential to be a really good fireside.

I think I would have been much better off not feeling so alone for so long. This fireside might serve as a catalyst for people coming out to their parents and leaders and revealing that as a group we exist and do not have to hide. The potential future relationships and openness from this single event could cause a lot of good.

The dialogue and the environment must be a safe one. I never felt safe enough to vocalize anything. An admission of being gay is a condition that really alters everything and you can’t go back to the way things were before. And honestly, I don’t know if I would have felt safe going to a fireside like this.

I applaud that the dialogue is happening and that people have the option of going, but I do agree that impressionable minds will be in attendance and the framework provided to them as they begin their journeys of coming out will be key to the direction those journeys will take.

However, I think we may be giving too much credit to the power of this fireside. People are free to choose their own path, and simply because they attended this fireside, I don’t think they will be like lemmings toeing the church line. If it opens up the dialogue for them to find other resources, I think that people will really look for happiness, whether that be by staying faithful or exploring other options.

The unspoken endorsement of a Mixed Orientation Marriage is both inspirational and dangerous. Earlier in my life, I was desperate to get married, and seeing one that worked would have been a very convincing argument for keeping with bearing my burden in order to continue living in accordance to the gospel.

Right now, at the beginning of his marriage, Ty’s viewpoint will be a bit too peachy, still in the honeymoon, to be able to be an accurate judge of the success of MOMs. In order for this not to be simply church propaganda, another viewpoint of a MOM marriage that did not work out would be necessary. I hope that this will come from the breakaway groups.

The two options that the church can endorse are MOMs and celibacy. And that is really where the rub is. Either of those options don’t really symbolize happiness, at least in my mind. This is a high risk, high reward fireside. I think that it will be a great night to provide a sense of community and open the dialogue, though potentially dangerous to endorse a specific course for people to follow.

But I go back to my point, I think people are smarter and more aware than we give them credit. I think that for the most part, they will be able to take the good and then decide where their lives should go. Yes, there are a few who will believe that the words of the church are law, but I find that those who are gay wake up eventually.

There is no easy answer. But in the atmosphere of fear and silence, opening up and at least sending the message that this issue is one that CAN be talked about is the best benefit. For that alone, I would be OK with this fireside.

I hope and pray that the information revealed will not be abused by leaders in the church. I hope that there isn't a child who is forced to go against their wishes. I know some people who would rather die than go to a meeting like this.

The diversity of voices is crucial, rather than having just one source of “the answers.” I don't think this can be accomplished by protesting. I wish I could buy a hundred copies of No More Goodbyes and give them out to every attendee at the door, just to show that there are other options. Heck, even a flyer with the MoHo Directory's web address and a loving note on it would work.

It may not be ideal, but some action is better than none. But that is my opinion.


  1. The church has a third option they can endorse, but it's going to take a lot of humility and some revelation for that to happen.

  2. As one of the organizers, I can speak to some of your concerns. The idea that we are promoting MOMs, implied or otherwise is totally wrong. To do so would be irresponsible. Is a MOM possible, of course. To imply otherwise would be to promote one's own agenda. Everyone is different and has not only agency, but also unique characteristics and abilities that may or may not make such a marriage possible.

    The purpose of the fireside, however, is to promote better understanding of church leaders to the challenges gay members face, and to provide hope that through Christ, gay members can find happiness and peace in their earthly walk, whatever that may entail.

    The forum and content may not be perfect, but it is a start, an attempt from some of us who have first hand experience as gay members to make a better path for those who will follow after us.

  3. But I go back to my point, I think people are smarter and more aware than we give them credit. I think that for the most part, they will be able to take the good and then decide where their lives should go. Yes, there are a few who will believe that the words of the church are law, but I find that those who are gay wake up eventually.

    I guess I fit your statement here ;). I just wish things had been easier for me and I fear that this fireside will make things more difficult, rather than less. But at that point, I wouldn't have attended this fireside anyways.

    I think its a great idea to provide resources, such as the MoHo Directory, or the books "Good-bye, I love you" and "No More Good-byes". You are right, people are smarter and more aware than I am giving them credit for.

  4. I also hope that those who are gay and wake up eventually can do so before putting their wives and children through a lot of emotional turmoil and damage. Seeing the turmoil I am causing my wife by accepting I am gay after being married and having read stories about the damage of mixed-orientation marriages that fall apart, I find very few reasons to present mixed-orientation marriages as a viable option to an unmarried, gay individual. There will always be individuals who are unable to accept they are gay before they get married, but it is entirely different to suggest that a gay man get married to a women.

  5. I attended the fireside and was disappointed that its message exclusively endorsed the biases and missions of Evergreen and Narth.

    In the breakout session I had my orientation compared to pitiable addiction by Bro. Doug Andrus and was informed by Dr. Douglas Craig that my emotional sensitivity, compulsion to please, and inability to integrate with "the male world" was the root of my "Same-gender attraction" These offensive, fallacious generalizations do anything but promote understanding of what it is to be gay in Mormondom.

    What the fireside truly promoted was an ideological status quo succinctly summarized by local stake Pres. Brad Bowen who quoted 1 Cor. 6:9. He then very emphatically stated that those who abuse themselves with mankind will never, NEVER enter the Kingdom of God unless fully repentant. Then came the benediction and it was over.