Saturday, April 28, 2012

"I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay"

A Brave Young Man (This is a Stock Image I think)

A Great Blog To Share with Str8 Parents Who Hold Onto Hate

I came across this blog which a friend had posted to his facebook wall this morning. It's a great story about one very brave young man living in a very conservative Christian neighbourhood. It could be Provo, it could be Sandy or Salt Lake City. Take a moment to read the blog. It's also a good story to share with any parents that you know may be struggling with their child's sexuality.

Read Responses to the his blog here. The original blog post "I'm Christian, Unless You're Gay" was posted by Dan 14 November, 2011.

Single Day Laughing

You can read all about Dan Pearce and his son Noah at his Blog "Single Dad Laughing". He's seems like an awesome Str8 guy, with a beautiful son and is compassionate to all sorts of people. The world seems a better place with people like Dan.

NOTE: I included a link in the image above to the Blog, but Blogger does not seem to like this, it links to an error page. Sorry, I'm not sure why that's the case.

GLBTI Mormon Dinner

We have a facebook group "Aussie Gay Mormons". The site is a little active, we recently had about 6 guys join our happy throng! A young guy from Sydney's west asked about a catch up with the group. We've had a few dinners over the years, usually held at a gay friendly bar or pub. So, it looks like we'll have another one shortly. He commented that it would be nice to meet other gay LDS members and to talk with them about what life is like as a member of the Church, not that all still carry membership. For each of us the experience has been quite different.

Canadians Are Cool

I recently caught up with a Canadian girlfriend who had lived in Melbourne but went home to Canada about three and a half years ago. She got married to what she thought was the perfect man, RM, BUY Alumni, Temple Worker, MTC Teacher and they lived in Provo. The marriage lasted about two years and he finally just gave up and left Church and she in turn left him. Not because he stopped going to Church, but there were many changes in his life and she no longer felt he was the man she married. Good call for her, she's happy and life is good. She's in Australia for a holiday with a girlfriend from Canada.

We managed to catch up for a lunch at my office, I literally had an hour, a busy day. She asked that question that always makes be cringe a little "Are you still going to Church?". I decided some time ago that lying about that was not a good idea, so of course I told her the truth. Almost three years down the track, I still find it hard to say "I'm gay". So I usually say something like "I finally came out of the closet". I'm not sure why that is easier. She's Canadian so with that I make a general assumption that she's open minded, I was right. (I do love Canadians). She was cool, even supportive. She has other gay friends and is aware of the struggles we go through. We enjoyed our lunch, had a few laughs and then she was off to catch up with her girlfriend who was enjoying the Sydney Opera House.

RM Loves Me As A Brother

I also caught up with a friend from Virginia, he'd served his mission here in Sydney. Over the years I've caught up a few times with he, his wife and family while in the US on business or holidays. He's a great guy and yes I had a crush on him many years ago, I suppose I still do, he's a great guy and a good member of the Church. I noticed on Facebook that his wife had remarried and was living in Utah. This obviously meant my friend was divorced and so I sent him a note to pass on my regards and to be supportive of him in what I can only imagine must have been a difficult time. His two boys are living with his ex wife, now on opposite sides of the US.

I took this opportunity to tell him I'd "come out" with the hope he'd take that news in the way I hoped. He didn't respond for almost two months and I must admit I thought I'd lost him as a friend. I was wrong, he responded, apologised for the delay and told me he would always love me as a brother. You can imagine my relief. He said he was never aware of my situation and the challenge it must have been over the years.

Why "On My Way Out"

I called this blog "On my way out" for a reason, because it's a journey. Maybe one day I'll start a new blog "I'm Out" however I imagine that URL has already been taken. Got any suggestions?

Saturday, April 21, 2012

The Funeral

Well, the funeral for Sister Williams was beautiful. The chapel was filled with amazing flowers and a wonderful feeling of love and admiration for this amazing women. I picked up my friends at 8:10am from Melbourne, Sister Hamilton and her two daughters who are about my age.

We then went to a nice cafe in Redfern on a beautiful tree lined street. Being Autumn, the street is majestic, colorful and relaxing. We enjoyed some breakfast sitting outside and chatted for almost three hours. The sun was shining after three days of non stop rain and flooding across the city.

The conversation was a catch up, it had been almost four years since I had seen the girls. We spoke about Sister Williams, our memories and the quirky things she did that made us laugh. In the back of my mind was the idea that I wanted to "come out" to these guys, but this day was all about Sister Williams. I didn't want to spoil that in any way.

We went to the chapel, we stopped at a supermarket on the way to buy tissues, a prudent decision as we'd discover later at the funeral. This was the first time I'd been back to the chapel since I stopped attending Church, it's been about two and a half years I think. I saw people in my old Ward, my old Bishop, members of my High Priest Quorum and others.

How did this make me feel? 

Well, I suppose I was so focussed on Sister Williams and the event of the day that I didn't think too much about where I was. At the same time I found myself often referring to "we" or "us" as in the normal process of conversation, I was referring to my partner. One sister approached me with her usual question"are you here alone? Do you have anyone with you?". Well, I had my friends from Melbourne, but that's not what she meant. I really wanted to say "my partner's not here today, he's at work and couldn't make it". But that didn't quite eventuate.

There were tears, which for me was a combination of tears for Sister Williams, but also for me and my wanting to tell people about my life. Many of these people I've known for 20 years, they are my friends, they love me and I love them.

As we arrived at the chapel, a very good friend - almost my "other mother" (I have a few of those at Church) approached the four of us. She said "here are two of my favorite people in the world". I thought "that the!" (I knew she was joking). She then said "I have a kiss for my favorite people" I received one of those kisses. As we left the funeral I have a her a big hug and said "I miss you" to which she responded "I miss you too". I know she knows I'm gay and that I have a partner, I felt no judgement or malice from her.

So where does this leave me? 

Well, I think it's about making small steps to include these people in my life again and to begin to share those things which are most precious to me, my partner is one of those things. I'll keep you posted on how things progress.

Monday, April 16, 2012

A Sad Day

An Elegant Lady 

I had a call from my old Bishop on Sunday evening, he called to tell me that Sister Williams had passed away. Sister Williams was in her 70's, a beautiful, elegant Maori sister from New Zealand. She was a classy lady, sharp and very active.

She'd had two liver transplants in her life and it was cancer that finally took her life. I met her 20 years ago when I first moved to the Sydney and I'd been in her Ward on and off over the years. I'd been her Home Teacher and then when I was ordained a High Priest, we again met more regularly as she was a single older sister. High Priests have a responsibility over this group of sisters within the ward.

The Opportunity Being

This means I have a funeral to attend this week. It's been just over two years since I stopped going to Church, I've been once to attend a good friend's daughters baptism. The challenge or opportunity here is that I will see a group of people whom I care about, but have exiled myself from for the past two years albeit facebook updates and the odd email.

At this stage, anyone I really care about knows I'm gay and most probably know I'm in a relationship with a fabulous guy. "Fabulous" being my word, probably not theirs.

Added Complication

I'm really bad at funerals, by that I mean I could attend a strangers funeral and cry like a baby. I'm shocking. After the phone call on Sunday from my old Bishop, I sent an SMS (text message) and a few facebook updates to mutual friends who are not in Sydney. I thought they'd want to know about Sister Williams.

A friend from Melbourne called, the mother of some friends. She had been friends with Sister Williams for almost 40 years, they knew and loved her and they also love me. When this sister called, I lost it. I balled on the phone like a baby. She had said that just three weeks ago she was talking with Sister Williams and she mentioned me. She said "I wish Derek was still here, I miss him, he was always so kind to me and helpful".

That's what set me off. You see about two months ago a friend contacted me and said Sister Williams was asking after me and that I should call her. Like many of you, meeting up with members of the Church once you've made your "coming out" a reality can be difficult. This was difficult. You can imagine how I felt.

However, the call from my friend in Melbourne and her passing on the comments from Sister Williams meant the world to me.

A Lesson Learnt

There are people out there whom I love, who I've shared life experiences with that I've separated myself from. I don't want to feel again the feelings I felt when Bishop called, the feeling that I'd missed a chance to tell someone that I love them. It's not so much about "coming out" to them, it's just reengaging with them and behaving as friends behave.

Life's too short, get out there and tell those important to you that you love them. At the same time, you need to keep your expectations in check about how they'll respond given your sexuality.  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Mitt Romney, Barack Obama - Mormon and Gay

I've been watching the US election build up from Australia. I have an app on the iPad from USA Today with loads of great graphs and numbers. I think we all sighed with relief with Santorum dropped out of the race this week, he terrified me.

I saw today that Santorum bought his three daughter a life time membership to the NRA! What the... There aren't words to describe the type of person that in some way thought their three year old daughter would love something like that.

In the USA Today iPad app I read a story of the genealogy of Romney and Obama. Both have polygamists on their past. How hysterical is that! Obama's ancestors from Africa had a number of wires, in fact I think it said his great grandfather married a pair of sisters, among the many wives. Nine in total I think.


So as we are almost ready to stare down the barrel of a two man race to the White House, both have polygamists in their past, one is filthy rich, the other is doing ok, one is white, one is blackish, one is a conservative LDS member, the other is a more mainstream Christian.

Besides all these differences, which I really don't care about, it's their view on discrimination in the workplace that bothers me today. Tomorrow it will be something else, but today I read how Obama look like he's not going to sign the Executive Order Banning LGBT Workplace Discrimination.

What sort of a message does this send to young gay people, it's outrageous. It's like saying:

"You've been picked on at school and no one protected you, welcome to the workplace. Someone can pick on you and you still won't have any protection, you're gay, you don't matter to society"


In Australia when I feel things are not as they should be, I write to my local member of parliament. For those in the US, I suppose this means writing to your congressman. I'd encourage you to do so.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Connecting Via Facebook

A few years ago, an LDS guy here in Sydney started a facebook page called "Aussie Gay Mormons". He decided to "leave" facebook last year and asked if I wanted to take over as the administrator of that page.

Sure, I'm on facebook most days sharing insights into my view of the world and sharing photographs etc from road trips. Why not.

As I watched some of the videos from the guys and gals at BYU - the "It Gets Better" campaign, I was inspired that they mentioned how social media and blogs were one way that they were able to discover that they weren't alone.

So, our little facebook group plods along. We have highs and lows of activity amongst the group. I'm now motivated to do more and try and get the group more engaged. Really, it's about providing an opportunity for those who want to reach out and talk with someone. We have a group of guys and a few girls who have been through the coming out process and can offer and LDS view into being gay.

Feel free to look for us on facebook.

Sunday, April 8, 2012

BYU Students Come Out On Campus


These kids are brave, good on them. I've included a few links below to some of these amazing guys and gals who have come out to help you understand that it really does get better.

You can watch John Patrick share his very Utah LDS Gay experience:

Here's some links to some other amazing LDS guys and gals.

It Gets Better BYU - Nathan C.

It Gets Better BYU - Heather

It Gets Better BYU - Adam

Show your support for these guys, login to YouTube and say thank you.

"You're welcome to come along"

A close girlfriend and I drove down to Canberra on Thursday to spend a couple of days with her brother for Easter. I had to be back Saturday night so I'd be here to pick up my man from his overseas holiday Sunday morning.

She has an old friend in Canberra, they served together for six months in the mission field. The friend knows I'm gay and also knows that my friend is less active. I dropped her off Friday afternoon then went for a drive around Canberra to find a cafe, read, blog and then pick her up a few hours later.

When I arrived to pick her up, her girlfriend and her husband greeted me at the door. There was some polite conversation and I could see they were off to Church for what I assumed was an Easter fireside on Good Friday. She and her husband were dressed for Church.

What happened next was something that I'd done many many times myself in the past when meeting less active members of the Church. She said "You're welcome to join us if you'd like". There was no malice, no mean spirit, if anything a little humour because I think she knew what the response would be.

What struck me though was that I was identified as a less active Church member. I hadn't really thought of myself like that before, so this was a new experience. It's been two and half years since I stopped going to Church, besides a close friend's child's baptism, I've not stepped inside an LDS chapel since. It hasn't been a conscious decision to not step in a Church, there just hasn't been a reason to do so.

How did I feel? Nothing much really, it just caused me to reflect a little. My girlfriend had watched the recent April 2012 General Conference and suggested I take a look at Elder Uchtdorf's talk. He talks of mercy and as has been my experience, many LDS folks don't seem to get mercy. He also cites a bumper sticker he saw which said:

"Don't judge me because I sin differently to you".

What a great sticker. As I've said in my blog previously, I've been richly blessed with wonderful LDS friends who have not judged and have loved me for who I am. However I read many blogs from Gay LDS members in the US and other parts of the world. However the US seems to be the worst, I wish all Gay LDS could move to Australia, life is good. It really does get better.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Distance Does Make The Heart Grow Fonder

My partner went home to Iran two and a half weeks ago, he's due home this coming Easter Sunday. We've emailed almost daily and had a Skype chat or two.

I've managed to keep myself busy, work has been very busy and I managed to arrange dinner dates with friends to distract myself in his absence.

The thing I hate the most is going to bed alone, which generally translates to me staying up and watching tv or working and going to bed as I fall asleep on my keyboard or on the couch.

Mum came to visit for 6 days last week, it was great to have her in town. She and my partner get along really well which means so much to me.

I had a friend stay over last night, he's heading home to Canada for a few weeks. He lives about an hour by train from the airport. We're literally 2 min train ride to the airport. So staying over here last night meant he could get up at a reasonable hour and be at the airport in minutes.

His partner dropped in to say hi, it was the first time I've met him. He's a dashingly handsome Colombian.

This weekend I'm heading to Canberra, the national capital, with a girlfriend and we'll stay with her brother. Then home Saturday night so I'm here in time to pick up my man when he arrives home at 6:30am Sunday from the Middle East.

So three weeks of being alone will be replaced with the familiar sounds of my partner being home. Being in a relationship with someone you love is worth more than I can express.

If this is something you're pondering, don't wait until your mid thirties like I did, grab life with two hands and grab that someone you love with both hands and take a chance. It's worth the outcome.

One other thing. The coming out process has been so much easier than I thought. I have a good friend, his wife and daughters coming to visit from Melbourne this Easter weekend. I finally came out to them on a business trip to Melbourne a few months ago. They were cool, they want to meet my partner, so we're catching up this Easter weekend.

Of all my LDS (Mormon) friends, whom I've come out to, have been supportive of me and my decision. I've been so lucky, but at the same time these are people I've loved and cared for over many years. Should my sexuality change that relationship? I don't think so.

Please share your experiences so anyone else reading this blog may gain some insight into the coming out process.