Sunday, July 25, 2010

Openly Gay Aussie Senator Opposes Gay Marriage

Senator Wong, Minister for Climate Change, is openly gay. However today she's recorded in the press as being opposed to gay marriage. The hypocrisy drives me mad.

There are those who oppose gay marriage on the basis that it's a heterosexual arrangement. I see marriage as the hallmark of western society (I can't speak for the rest of the world). Marriage is the institution by which we generally measure the seriousness of a relationship, many of our laws are pinned to this arrangement.

It's seen as so serious within our culture, we have to apply to the government for permission to do so. The Birth, Deaths and Marriages agency of the NSW, Australian government says the following on their website:

"Once you decide to marry, you are required to give a marriage celebrant at least one month and one days notice (not more than 18 months notice) of an intended date of marriage. Once you choose a marriage celebrant, they will ask you to complete a Notice of Intended Marriage form which they will provide or you can download."

In my reading on the issue, one of the reasons Church's are so opposed has more to do with their fear of being forced to perform same sex marriages within their Church's. Even if the law forced Church's to concede, I can't understand why a gay couple would want to have such a special day take place in an environment of open hostility.

Aside from all the arguments I've read, the core argument I believe rests on equality for all citizens. As long as gay members of the community are restricted in their ability to be married, they will be second class citizens.

One of the most interesting views I've read on this issue is that government should step out of the institution of marriage all together. I read this idea in:

I think he's onto a good idea.

Interesting note, the day the Penny Wong article was posted at the, they ran a poll. "Are you for or against gay marriage?" With 2 hours to go before the poll closed, they had 19,634 people respond. 65% for and 35% against.

Coming Out to Family & Friends

My decision to “come out” happened in two parts. In chapter two I talked about the three stages I went through exploring my sexuality. The first coming out was really for me, perhaps you could say this was me opening the door to the closest, just a little. The second was coming out to family and friends, or taking a step out of the closet.
This second coming out is probably the hardest for any gay person. It would probably make this chapter a little more engaging if my coming out had been difficult or traumatic. It was not, I was almost ‘outed’ by my mother more so than me choosing to come out. However, I was in control of another aspect of coming out and that was being prepared emotionally to come out. 
Soon after my first sexual experience I knew wanted to come out, but knowing how or when was the hardest step. I spent a lot time on self talk, that is, talking to myself about why I was the way I was, how I was going to come out and to whom. While self talk can tend to lean towards the negative, I found the process to be helpful. It forced me to think at times, out loud, about how I was going to come out. In addition, I kept an extensive journal, which I found beneficial reading again and again.
Another question that I found myself trying to answer was “why do I need to come out?”. Whose business was it anyway? Whom I choose to sleep with is my business and no one else’s. Perhaps you’ve had this discussion with your self, if so, here’s the answer I arrived at.
I decided I had to come out for my own sanity, to not come out was for me, hiding. It was taking up residence in the back of the ‘closet’ so to speak. It meant juggling two lives, with two sets of friends and two sets of events constantly jumping between the two. I’m not a good lier, I knew I would be ‘found out’ or ‘revealed’ at some stage. Being LDS there was the added complication of being an endowed High Priest. I had made commitments and covenants, I was not abiding by them and I felt a responsibility to step up and take ownership of those issues. At the time of writing this book, I’m only part way there with the Church. I’ve not had a disciplinary council, although my Bishop knows the choices I’ve made. He did take my temple recommend, which I took with me to the meeting because I knew I had to surrender it. He released me from my priesthood callings and called me as the ward website coordinator, a calling that does not require me to use the Priesthood.

Friday, July 9, 2010

A Little More About Michael

Some of the gay LDS men I know have been excluded from family activities and in some cases excluded from the family home. In some cases they believed this was the counsel from Church Leaders,  my research shows quite clearly that is not the current counsel. I believe there exists among some local Church leaders a disconnect between their counsel and the counsel from the “Brethren” i.e. the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. It’s the nature of any world wide organisation that the local implementation of certain doctrines may differ slightly from “head office”. 

Perhaps if your family feel their faith requires them to exclude you from the family home and other family activities, you could gently make them aware of Elder Oaks’s comments. 

While the idea of love can be difficult in the face of such opposition to our choices, perhaps we can take the high road when dealing with people who would persecute or belittle us because of our sexuality. In most cases, those men I spoke to have been able to reconnect with their family. That reconnection is generally built on a mutual respect 

Of the men I interview for this book, none have met with a Priesthood Leader to confess their homosexual activity.

How else do I find love in my life?
This question presupposes that a person wants to find love in their life. I’m confident that all men and women want to find love at some level in their lives. However I’m not sure I can answer this question because a person can find love in so many ways. The best conclusion I can come to is that love for others is perhaps best begun with love of self. I suggest it makes life easier for a gay person if they first come to terms with who they are so they can develop a love not only for themselves but for those around them, family, friends and lovers.

If your relationship with Christ was or is one of great depth, I would encourage you to do what you can to maintain that. While the Church teaches this is best done through the scriptures, prayer and service, I found a change of focus helped me. King Benjamin

“And behold, I tell you these things that ye may learn wisdom; that ye may learn that when ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God.”

There are many opportunities to serve in the GLBT and wider community. I found opportunities to serve others which made my challenges diminish as I buried myself in others problems and issues.

Exploring a Relationship With a Partner.
Exploring your sexuality, coming out and then perhaps finding a partner or lover can be an overwhelming process. The upside being that the intimacy, support, friendship and happiness that can come from a relationship makes the bumps along the way a little easier. 

My experience dating a girl is minimal with only a few years under my belt. At the time of writing this book, my experience dating a guy was even more limited. I don’t profess to be the Dr. Phil of gay dating, I’m just sharing my own experience.

From the point of starting to explore my sexuality, I didn’t really want or desire a partner. I was happy meeting guys, having some fun and perhaps moving on or maintaining a relationship which brought about ‘friends with benefits’. I found it a really empowering process, I met some great guys who wanted the same thing - its’ called NSA sex, “No Strings Attached”. It’s common in the gay world, the key is to ensure that you and these guys are always safe and clean. 

I had probably been having ‘fun’ for about two years when I met a guy one evening at a bar. He was about five years younger than me, handsome and I thought beautiful. I wasn’t looking for a boyfriend, I hadn’t made a conscious decision that I wanted to commit to a relationship, but there he was. Now I had to work out how to date a guy, I’d never done this before - are the rules different? Who takes the lead? 

I hinted that I’d like to see more of him, he agreed but only wanted to be friends at this stage. There were worse responses he could have given me. For about four months we had dinner and saw each other from time to time and got to know each other. He’d recently come out of a relationship and didn’t want to get into a serious relationship in a hurry, so I hung around waiting and hoping. I knew that pressing the issue may just push him further away, given I’d waited 38 years for this I figured I could wait a little longer.

My patience paid off and I got an SMS from him one Sunday asking if I was dating anyone, I responded telling him that was a stupid question! He came back and said if I was ready, he’d like to start dating. My heart skipped a few beats and I felt like jumping for joy. It’s been about five months since that point and we’re progressing really well. I’ve found it a whole new experience, with unknown steps around almost every corner.

The comfort and joy that comes from having a partner makes me feel whole, it makes me feel like I believe we’re supposed to feel. The sacrifices we make for each other, being there for each other and caring about the other person helps to build a relationship that will hopefully stand the test of time.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

4 - Coming Out

Making the Decision to Come Out
“Hope will never be silent” Harvey Milk
For any gay person the “coming out” process is possibly the hardest one to make, but at the same time it can be the most invigorating and exciting. For me, understanding that I liked boys as a high school student and then knowing I was gay as a young adult male was something I didn’t want to deal with.

I understood, through Church, that being gay was not what the Lord wanted me to be. I didn’t so much struggle with this doctrine because I believed it to be true. I struggled to understand why Heavenly Father had chosen to impose this temptation on me, what had I done to deserve this? I’m not sure I had done anything nor do I really believe now that this was a temptation that was imposed on me.

As far as the “nurture or nature” debate goes, I think they’re irrelevant. They seem to me to be an intellectual debate by heterosexuals to try to explain why I am the way I am. I believe I’m simply the way I am because I am, it’s as simple as that. As I started to associate with more gay men I began to understand that there are as many individuals within the GLBT community as there are within the straight community. Labeling people serves little purpose or benefit.

My first interaction with gay men was a job when I was about 26. I was working in a call centre with about 110 people, at least 10% of the staff were gay men. The thing that struck me was the variety of guys from the ‘screaming queen’ through to guy you’d get changed with after a football match in the locker room. You would have had no idea he was gay. I became friends with a number of these guys, they knew I was LDS and were respectful of my faith and values and I of their lifestyle and their choices.

It was an interesting two years working with these guys. I had been curious about what a gay man was like for years, I knew I was gay but really didn’t know what that meant. 

I was active in the church until I chose to stop attending in 2009, so the idea of coming out didn’t really enter my mind as I worked with these guys for almost two years. I’m fact, during the time I was there I took two weeks annual leave to travel to the US to propose to a LDS girl in Salt Lake City. We’d met when she was in Australia. I even took a ring with me, within the first week I realised this was not something I could do. I knew it wouldn’t t work because I was gay, however that reason was buried deep inside me. I didn’t consciously think about being gay as a hurdle, I just knew getting married couldn’t happen.

One of the managers at the call centre was an ex US Navy nurse. He was about 6’3”, African American and very handsome. For some reason his ‘gaydar’ was fixed on me. We would discuss many topics, usually religion and the gay community. I was always respectful of his lifestyle choice and he was generally respectful of mine.

All of these interactions helped me understand that gay men were quite normal, they weren’t weird, they wanted to same things as most people. Some even talked about having a family with their partner and children were a part of that plan. If they were able to have what appeared to be a normal life, perhaps I could also. Again, the idea of me coming out was not a conscious thought at this stage.

I was now in my mid to late twenties and coming to terms with who I was as a gay man, although I didn’t think about it, like that, at the time. I would pray about being gay and plead for Heavenly Father to take this temptation away from me, it never happened, but I found the process of articulating out loud during prayer how I felt, a healthy process. What was perhaps less healthy was asking for forgiveness of the things I’d done. It got to the point where I felt demoralized constantly seeking forgiveness for the things I enjoyed and knew that I was never really going to stop doing. Eventually I stopped asking for forgiveness and changed how I spoke to Heavenly Father in prayer. I decided that I was who I was and that wasn’t going to change.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Gay Marriage

Ok, I have to interrupt the flow of my blog based on Australia's new Prime Minister and her personal views on gay marriage.

Here we have a women raised a Baptist, although she has publicly said she's not practicing as an adult and will not participate in religious ceremonies to pander to voters. By this I assume she means we won't have photos of her and her hair dresser defacto coming out of Church on Christmas Day. Hooray, the Canberra press gallery can spend Christmas day with their families.

I applaud her for that statement, she is who she is, she's not performing for the electorate. Give her time.

Her statement about gay marriage was following party policy, I get that, it's Labour heaven forbid she'd have her own opinion on anything. Shock horror, her personal view is the same as the party.

If Australian same sex couples were ever to have a chance of legally recognized marriage, I have always thought it would come from a Labour government and their socialist leanings. That's a whole other article.

What I struggle with most, is Ms Gillard's hypocrisy. She lives in sin, she's 48 and has no children and perhaps doesn't want any. Her own lifestyle is at odds with the ultra conservatives she's pandering to.

Of course I personally have no issue with her living arrangements. I actually think it's cool that our PM is shacked up with her man. Wouldn't be every women's dream and some mens, to have a live in hair dresser? I'm bald, so no advantage for me unless he knows how to wax!

Ms Gillard, I just don't feel you're being very authentic on this issue.

- Posted using BlogPress from my iPhone