Sunday, June 20, 2010
The other side of my personal paradox, membership in the Church, has given me many opportunities to serve others, a wonderful wife for eternity, a large family and many, many grandchildren. It has given me the right to draw on God's power to give blessings to my children and others and to witness many miracles. It has given me opportunity to experience the cleansing power of the Atonement and the peace of knowing that I am loved by my Heavenly Father.
I am not free from temptation. I am not perfect. I have an emptiness and a hunger in me for men that will never be fulfilled because of the path I have chosen. But other parts of me are filled to the brim with joy and peace that I wouldn't otherwise have.
I have shared many more details in previous blogs, but I just want to say, "Thank you Dean A. Brewer, whoever you are, for reminding me of all that I have. You may not follow my path into temple marriage. But please let God guide you on your own path, and He will if you let him. I pray for you and all others who find themselves experiencing this paradox. If ever I can be of help, please let me know."
I recommend his article to all those who desire to read it: http://daily.gay.com/entertainment/2010/06/mormon-from-my-eyes-dean-a-brewer.html?cid=6a01156e9cba4c970c0133f184acfb970b#comment-6a01156e9cba4c970c0133f184acfb970b .
Saturday, February 13, 2010
I found this remarkable statement athttp://www.sltrib.com/portlet/article/html/fragments/print_article.jsp?articleId=14342199&siteId=297 It was given by Mitch Mayne at an Oakland Stake meeting. For a background on the meeting see also http://www.sltrib.com/ci_14336708 .
"You know who I am. You have been seated next to me in meetings. You have greeted me with enthusiasm when you've seen me come to Church. You have heard my voice in prayer.
Yet, I wonder how many of you would treat me less kindly if you knew the truth. I wonder if you would judge me--however mildly, however inadvertently, however silently.
Being honest about who I am has seldom led to a positive outcome. In my home, my Father told me that my being gay was his ultimate fear, and my ultimate failure. My mother told me it would have been better for her if I'd been born dead than gay. Growing up, I was scorned on the playground, and ridiculed and bullied in the classroom. I have been fired from jobs because I am gay. I have been told by church leaders that I am unworthy of ever taking the Sacrament. I have been told that I will never work with the youth of the church. I have been told in meetings that it is because of people like me that the AIDS pandemic has come upon the Earth--that my sins are bringing punishment upon the wicked and the sinless alike.
It has not been an easy path, nor a path I would wish for anyone. But it is *my* path. And it has made me who I am today. I am, in fact, grateful for being gay. It has given me levels of compassion, understanding, patience and forgiveness that I would never have developed otherwise.
Many Sundays I look out across the congregation and watch you: Shawna and Raymond Lee, with their brood of wonderful and rambunctious boys; MJ and Katherine Pritchett with their fledgling children, offering them support as they leave the nest; Dick and Jackie Alder, with their deep, lifelong companionship and love for one another. And I know I will never have those things. If I am to live by church doctrine, I am relegated to a life of solitude, and my sentence is to grow old and leave this world alone.
Those are painful moments for me. Yet when the Sacrament is passed, and I bow my head and speak my sorrow to my Heavenly Father, something equally grand happens.
Almost without exception, a feeling washes over me from deep inside my soul. A tender, warm, yet powerful feeling--and a voice that tells me, "You belong here."Not when I have it all figured out, not when I am perfect, not when I know all the answers -- but today, right here, right now. With you. That, my dear brothers and sisters, is why I am Mormon. Because I belong here.
I had no choice whether or not to be a child of my Heavenly Father. And I had no choice whether or not to be gay. Both things simply are. Both things are intertwined into the DNA of my soul so deeply that you could not extricate one from the other without destroying who I am. They are, in fact, who I am.
Why do I speak to you today?
I don't want pity. To pity me is to make me a victim. I want understanding. To understand me, is to love me as an equal.
I don't want tolerance. If I am tolerated, I am disliked or feared in some way. I want respect as a fellow striving child of Go -- an equal in His eyes.
I don't want acceptance. To accept me is to graciously grant me the favor of your company. To accept me is to marginalize me with the assumption that I am less than you. I am your peer. I am neither above you nor below you.
I don't want judgment. My path may be different than yours, but it is a plan built for me by a power greater than any of us in this room. To judge me is to judge the designer of that path.
I do not want to be viewed as a mistake. My path on this Earth was prescribed uniquely for me, just as yours was. It was designed to give me the experiences I need to grow as a child of my Heavenly Father. To view me as a mistake is to view Him as a maker of mistakes.
We are very different, you and I -- on a cosmetic level. You have spouses, or the opportunity for spouses, I do not. You have children, or the opportunity for children, I do not. You are attracted to those of the opposite gender, I am attracted to those of my same gender.
What I want most of all is for you to look past the cosmetic. I want you to look at what makes us the same: the simple fact that we are all children of our Heavenly Father, and we are struggling day to day to understand how to best do His will, and how to return to Him. It is that similarity, brothers and sisters, that weighs more than all the cosmetic differences in His universe.
You know who I am. You have been seated next to me in meetings. You have greeted me with enthusiasm when you've seen me come to Church. You have heard my voice in prayer. And now, you have heard my truth."
I wish that we could hold such meetings throughout the Church.
Wednesday, June 18, 2008
"Gay men and straight women have similar brains, study says
The research suggests a basic biological link between sexual orientation and a range of mental functions.
By Denise Gellene, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer June 17, 2008 http://www.latimes.com/la-sci-gaybrain17-2008jun17,0,6828157.story
The brains of gay men resemble those of straight women, according to research published today that provides more evidence of the role of biology in sexual orientation.Using brain-scanning equipment, researchers said they discovered similarities in the brain circuits that deal with language, perhaps explaining why homosexual men tend to outperform straight men on verbal skills tests -- as do heterosexual women.
What does gay look like? Science keeps trying to figure that out
The area of the brain that processes emotions also looked much the same in gay men and straight women -- and both groups have higher rates of depressive disorders than heterosexual men, researchers said.The study in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, however, found that the brain similarities were not as close in the case of gay women and straight men.Previous studies have found evidence that sexual orientation is influenced by biological factors. More than a decade ago, neurobiologist Simon LeVay reported that a key area of the hypothalamus, a brain structure linked to sexual behavior, was smaller in homosexual men than in heterosexual men.The latest study, led by Dr. Ivanka Savic of the Karolinska Institute in Stockholm, was significant in that it looked at areas of the brain that have nothing to do with sexual behavior, suggesting that there was a basic biological link between sexual orientation and a range of brain functions."The question is, how far does it go?" said Dr. Eric Vilain, who studies human sexual development at UCLA and was not involved in the study. "In gay men, the brain is feminized. Is that limited to particular areas, or is the entire brain female-like?"Vilain said his hunch was that the entire brain was not feminized because "gay men have a number of masculine traits that are not present in women." For example, he said, men regardless of sexual orientation tend to be interested in casual sex and are stimulated by sexually suggestive images.Savic and her colleagues used magnetic resonance imaging to measure brain volumes of two groups, each divided evenly between men and women: 50 heterosexuals and 40 homosexuals. They knew going into the study that in men the right cerebral hemisphere is larger than the left, but in women the hemispheres are of equal size.The results showed that gay men had symmetrical brains like those of straight women, and homosexual women had slightly asymmetrical brains like those of heterosexual men. Symmetry is thought to favor verbal skills, the report said.The differences were pronounced. For example, the right cerebral hemisphere in heterosexual men was 624 cubic centimeters -- 12 cubic centimeters greater than the left side. In homosexual men, the right hemisphere was 608 cubic centimeters -- 1 cubic centimeter smaller than the left.In heterosexual women, there was no volume difference between right and left hemispheres. But in homosexual women, their right hemisphere was 5 cubic centimeters larger than the left.Next, researchers used positron emission topography to measure blood flow in the amygdala, a brain area involved in processing emotions. The circuitry of the amygdala in gay men more closely resembled that of straight women than straight men, researchers said. The amygdalas of gay women looked more like those of straight men, the report said.Savic said she thought the brain differences originated in the womb or infancy, probably as a result of genetic or hormonal factors. She said she could not explain why the differences were more pronounced in homosexual men than in homosexual women.S. Marc Breedlove, a Michigan State University neuroscientist who studies sexual development, said that in his studies with rats, changes in prenatal levels of testosterone caused the sort of brain alterations that Savic firstname.lastname@example.org "
Monday, June 16, 2008
"THE MATING GAME
What does gay look like? Science keeps trying to figure that out
By Regina Nuzzo, Special to The Times June 16, 2008
Last month, Sen. John McCain dropped by “Saturday Night Live,” drawing laughs from his promise, if elected president, to fight expensive federal projects -- such as, he spoofed, a Department of Defense device to "jam gaydar."That was a joke. But some scientists are, in a way, working on gaydar, the supposed ability to discern whether a person is homosexual by reading subtle cues from their appearance. Just don't refer to it that way. The preferred term is "sexual orientation correlates."These scientists are searching for innate traits that might not appear to be related to sexual orientation or even to standard clichés. So measuring a subject's shoe size is permissible; asking about ownership of Barbra Streisand albums would be cheating. Some inborn traits might be expected if homosexuality is -- as most scientists believe -- rooted in biology, and they might provide clues about the biological origins of sexual orientation.Finding and solidifying these links isn't easy. Studies contradict each other, and some promising paths don't pan out. (A link between male homosexuality and finger lengths isn't holding up, and a claim that gays have distinctive fingerprint ridge patterns is largely discredited.) Scientists don't always agree on how to interpret the results, and more progress has been made with regard to men than to women.* Big brothers. Study after study -- including one of 87,000 British men published last year -- has found that gay men have more older brothers than straight men do. Only big brothers count. Lesbians don't show such patterns.The numbers: Each older brother will increase a man's chances of being gay by 33%, says Ray Blanchard of the University of Toronto, an expert on the "big-brother effect." That's not as dramatic as it might sound. A man's chance of being gay is pretty low to begin with -- perhaps as low as 2% (lowered from 10% by researchers in the early 1990s). So having one older brother ups the chance to only about 2.6%.What it might mean: Psychological influences are probably not at work, because the pattern holds even for gay men who weren’t raised with their older brothers. Instead, the mother's womb might be key. After giving birth to a boy, her immune system might create antibodies to foreign, male proteins in her bloodstream. Subsequent sons in the womb could be exposed to these "anti-boy" antibodies, which might affect sexual development in the brain.Accordingly, you'd expect the percentage of gay men in a society to vary depending on demographic differences in family size: One study calculated that a one-child-per-family law would reduce male homosexuality by about 29% from current levels.* Left hand vs. right hand. The hand you use to sign your name might have something to do with what gender you are drawn to.The numbers: More lefties -- or at least more somewhat-ambidextrous folks -- crop up in the gay population than among straight people, several studies have shown. An analysis of more than 23,000 men and women from North America and Europe in 2000 found that being non-right-handed seems to increase a man's chances of being gay by about 34%, and a woman's by about 90%.What it might mean: One guess is that different-than-normal levels of testosterone in the womb -- widely theorized to play a role in determining eventual sexual orientation -- could nudge a fetus toward brain organization that favors left-handedness as well as same-sex attraction.Another theory is that development of a fetus might be disturbed by factors such as a mother's illness, steering the fetus into being less than strictly right-handed -- and, in some cases, less than strictly heterosexual.It's a politically sticky idea, says Qazi Rahman of Queen Mary-University of London. "It's essentially saying that homosexual preference . . . is some kind of biological error," he says. (It might tick off the left-handed folks too.)* Hair whorl. How does your hair grow? This might reflect your sexual orientation.The numbers: A 2004 study of nearly 500 men -- 272 on Delaware's Rehoboth Beach, popular with gay men, 200 on a beach without that reputation -- found that hair on the heads of men on the gay beach was 3.5 times more likely to grow in a counterclockwise direction. (Scalp hair typically resembles a clockwise-rotating typhoon.)What it might mean: One theory is that a single gene might influence hair-whorl direction, left-right brain organization and, somehow, sexual orientation. Exactly how it would do all this, however, is anyone's guess.The study, although intriguing, suffers from a lack of scientific rigor. The author walked around while on vacation, collecting hair-whorl observations on men from a discreet distance. He didn't know anyone's sexual orientation for sure, and didn't objectively examine any scalps up close. Rahman's group is attempting to replicate the results in the lab.* Penis size. If exposure to testosterone in the womb influences sexual orientation, scientists reckon that straight and gay people would differ in body parts strongly affected by testosterone, such as the penis.The numbers: Anthony Bogaert of Brock University in Ontario and his colleagues re-analyzed data on 5,000 gay and straight men from sexologist Alfred Kinsey's famous files, collected from the 1930s to the 1960s. The results, published in 1999, showed that gay men had longer, thicker penises than did straight men: on average, about 6.5 inches long and 4.95 inches around when erect, versus 6.1 inches long and 4.8 inches around for straight men.What it might mean: Scientists don't really know. One guess is that gay men could have been exposed to an odd mix of hormones in the womb. Testosterone levels might peak early, causing enhanced penis growth, then drop off later in pregnancy -- leading to some feminine characteristics.There's one catch: Kinsey asked his subjects to measure themselves at home and mail a postcard recording their dimensions. It is within the realm of imagination that not every man reported the perfect truth. If everyone lied, the essence of the results wouldn't change. It's a problem only if gay men were more factually creative than straight men.Bogaert says that all the measures -- length and circumference, erect and flaccid -- seem to plausibly line up, which probably wouldn't be the case if the men had tacked on a vanity half-inch or so. Also, a smaller, 1960s study (in which a physician did the measuring) backs up the findings. As to whether gay or straight men are more likely to exaggerate about penis size, "It would be an interesting master's thesis project," Bogaert muses.However, the next frontier in this kind of research seems to lie elsewhere -- with subtle differences in how gay and straight brains navigate new cities, respond to erotic movies and react to the scent of sweat and urine. "
What other characteristics would you suggest they study?
Sunday, February 17, 2008
My friend helped her to see that all feelings are irrational. We don’t need to justify them. We just need to understand them and cope with them as best as we can. The flip side of all pain and loss in our lives is anger. If we deny and bottle up those feelings, many times they are unconsciously turned on ourselves, resulting in depression.
He helped her to see that it is OK to be angry. It is a normal reaction to her loss. As she talked out her anger and learned to accept it and to find healthy ways to burn out her stress through talk and exercise and to let go of it through meditation, her depression left her.
I had a bout with depression and was almost emotionally paralyzed by it. I was faced with the reality that my Same Sex Attraction was not going to disappear, that I would be attracted to men the rest of my life, that I would never be physically attracted to women. I would never be “normal”. (Years later, after counseling with hundreds and hundreds of LDS young adults, I have sometimes asked myself, “What is normal?”) I was depressed because, even after living a fairly righteous, celibate life and fasting, praying for a change, the miracle was not going to happen. My mission didn’t do it. I was married to a wonderful, patient, accepting wife who knew of my struggle but could do nothing to help me change.
My anger towards God caused me to turn from Him for a period of time. I acted out, not by sinning but by trying to doubt Him or at least the Church. It didn’t work. I knew that He was my Father and loved me. My convictions about the Church with all of its human imperfections were too deep. But I do understand when people do leave the Church over this issue.
Counseling helped me to realize that it was OK to be angry at God, OK to be angry at all those self-righteous homophobic people who unknowingly made me feel queer and perverted and wicked. But it is not good to be angry at myself for something I didn’t cause. Being able to talk to a counselor, who didn’t try to change me, but accepted me, helped me to accept myself. My wife knew from before our marriage and she still loves me. She is a wonderful blessing to me.
A friend told me of a mission experience he had. They were ready to baptize a family they loved dearly. When they went to take them to the baptism service, they were told that some anti-Mormons had gotten to the family. They said they didn’t want to see the missionaries again. The crestfallen elders went to their apartment. My friend suggested that they pray. He offered a perfunctory prayer and ended. There was a long pause before his companion prayed. “Dammit God!! Why has this happened! We loved that family.” My friend panicked. He had never heard someone talk to God that way. He feared that lightening would strike. But his companion continued expressing his anger and challenging God. His companion then wept and ended his prayer. My friend said that a wonderful peace encircled them. They both felt as if God was saying to them, “It’s OK to express your pain and anger. I also love that family. My heart also is broken. I love both of you. Thank you for what you have tried to give them.”
I, too, have learned that it is OK to cuss out God and He understands our feelings. He is glad that we can be open and honest with Him. I, too, have been embraced by His love and peace, even at times when I didn't feel that I deserved it. His tender mercies have overcome my guilt.
We live in an imperfect world. I don’t know if God purposely sent me into a body whose chemistry causes me to be sexually attracted to men. I don’t believe that God controls everything. He permits agency. Perhaps in this polluted earth , while I was in the womb, my mother randomly encountered something that caused me to develop in this way. I don’t know.
I do know that He has helped me to accept my SSA. He has helped me to be sensitive to and to help many of His children who are struggling with a variety of problems. I have served in many bishoprics and have been a bishop more than once, have been a scoutmaster and young men’s leader, primary teacher and many other callings. I am grateful that He has trusted me to serve in so many ways. My struggle with SSA has helped me, has humbled me, has given me compassion. I have a large family and a wonderful wife. Truly I am blessed!
Monday, December 31, 2007
Some LDS struggling with guilt about SGA have been told that if they were spiritual and worthy enough that God would make them “normal”. They tried to live fully righteous and in tune, received blessings, etc. and their attractions didn’t change. They then began to question if God loved them. They began to wonder if they could be loved by a Perfect Diety. I know that feeling well.
Believing that I can call down the powers of Heaven by my righteousness is to believe in magic. Magic is the supposed knowledge of the right formulas and procedures to tap supernatural powers to bring to pass what we want. I believe in miracles, but I don’t believe in magic. Righteousness and faith do not call down God’s power to your will. They give us power to do His will on His timetable. Jesus said, “If ye will have faith in me ye shall have power to do whatsoever thing is expedient in me.” (Moroni 7:33)
I have seen miracles. I have been an instrument in God’s hands to heal people. He has spoken through me, addressing things that only He and the individual knew about. I didn’t do these things. I was privileged to be part of the miracle. Yet there have been other times when I wanted a miracle. I pled for the miracle. I tried to be worthy to be an instrument in the miracle. But it didn’t happen. I asked, “Why, Why! Certainly God would want this to happen! I don’t understand.” When I am finally open to that Still Small Voice, it whispers, “You don’t need to understand. Don’t let what you don’t know get in the way of what you do know. You know that God loves you. He knows what He is doing. Be at peace.”
“Faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things.” (Alma 32:21) God works within eternal laws which He will not violate or He would “cease to be God” (Alma 42:12). I am certain that faithful Lehi prayed that Laman and Lemuel would change. They didn’t. Was there something wrong with his faith? No. Can our faith and prayers affect the lives of others. Yes, but they do not take away free agency or violate eternal principles. Jesus pled that His cup of agony be removed and then submitted to His Father’s will.
Paul said, “And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” (2Cor. 12:7-10) Did he struggle with SGA? I don’t know. But he learned to live with his handicap. I am learning to live with mine.
We don’t control God’s power, but when it is His will, it can flow through us. We do have power to listen for His guidance and submit to His will whether guidance comes or not. Many times we receive no witness until after the trial of our faith. (Ether 12:6) There is so much that I don’t understand, but occasionally His peace does flow into me bringing the “joy that surpasseth all understanding.” Then I know that no matter how hard it seems, it is worth it.
Friday, December 21, 2007
I hear on the radio preachers ranting about forcing businesses to use Christmas in their advertisement instead of saying “Happy Holidays”. They call for a boycott of those stores who don’t commercialize Christ. What’s the big deal? “Well, people are taking Christ out of Christmas!” I say, “Hurray!!” Let us worship Christ in our hearts and in our homes and in our churches. Let the Jews worship their God and celebrate Hanukkah and the Muslims celebrate Eid, etc. etc. Must we cram the commercial Christmas down everybody’s throat?
And so what that the school administrators cannot promote prayers in the schools! Prayer is a personal thing. I would not want to be forced to be part of a Muslim or Hindu or Evangelical Christian prayer or a sanitized prayer designed by the government. Some people are more concerned about forcing us to be a “Christian” nation than to be true Christians and tolerating people of other beliefs or no belief.
These same people try to control our school curricula and force us to teach creationism instead of evolution. These same people want a religious test for the presidency of the United States. I think that it is unfortunate that Mitt Romney is bending over backwards to try to please them. In my school Jewish groups are attacking professors for criticizing Israel for the terrible way they are treating the Palestinians. They want to silence these scholars. They say that any criticism of Israel is anti-Semitism. That’s like saying that any criticism of Utah state leaders is anti-Mormonism. The thought police are on the march.
So many people criticize the Muslims. All of my many Muslim friends are tolerant, kind individuals. They are far more compassionate than some of the Latter-day Saints and Evangelical Christians I know. (I also know many compassionate LDS and Evangelicals.) Muslims are good Americans, but the right-wing radicals can’t scare people about communism any more and so they are creating the Muslims as fear objects through lies and distortions.
So we have gay people in the military? What’s the big deal? These same fear-mongers stir up prejudice against gays and immigrants, and Muslims, and Mormons as a means to get support for their causes. And too many of our LDS get sucked into these tactics of hate. (My favorite bumper sticker: “Hate is not a family value.”)
I am tired of the fascist thought police who try to manipulate and intimidate our society for their own purposes. I feel sorry for them. They seem to be very unhappy people.
Well, I got that off my chest.
I wish you all Happy Holidays! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Eid Mubarak! Happy Kwanzaa!