30 June 2009

Seattle Pridefest

Warning: to my readers who are easily triggered into internet activities they want to avoid (i.e. viewing pornography) by pictures of scantily-clad people, I recommend reading with images turned off or skipping this post. There's no actual nudity, but there's some lack of clothing in several shots of people playing in the fountain.

So...I went to Seattle Pridefest since I was in the area. I was looking for something to do on such a beautiful day, a couple of friends were going to be there, and I figured there'd certainly be an entertaining photo op or two, so I went. Most of the stuff usually associated with Pride disgusts me. The sleazy flirtation, trashy costumes, tasteless kitsch, crude immodesty, celebration of cheap sex...I don't care how mainstream some people seem to have themselves convinced it is or should be, I still think certain attitudes and behaviors about sex and relationships are disgusting, cheap, trashy, and degrading, not just "different". But long story short, and justifications aside, I went, and maybe partially because I wanted to ogle some hotties...is that so wrong?

Here's what I found:

Big, Wet Dance Party

Around 2:15, I arrived at the International Fountain near the towering Space Needle at the Seattle Center, which is an epicenter of post-parade revelry with blasting, pulsing music and tight crowds watching people dance in the water spray in a huge bowl.

My Close-Up

As I stood on a bench, talking to friends on the phone and trying to locate them across the crowd, a middle-aged gay couple walked in front of me, and one of the guys pointed his camera right up at me and snapped a shot. I didn't know whether to be flattered or offended, so I chose to be oblivious.

Freaks and Hotties and Normal People, Oh My!

Freaks and hotties, that's admittedly probably what my four friends and I were scanning the crowd for. There were many "normal-looking" people there, and I found myself trying to resist the urge to only take pictures of the more outlandish ones, but let's be honest: they make more interesting subjects. So keep in mind that photos you see of Pridefest may, in fact, not quite accurately represent the general crowd there but probably highlight some of the characters unique to that crowd. Anyway, we found many costumed characters from the parade, hoards of dancing, gyrating bodies, children running around in the water, several sets of bare breasts of the female variety (yes, non-offensive nudity is legal in public parks in Seattle), and...oh my...Hottie McHotterson dancing in the fountain with...booooo, a girl. And...double boooo, kissing her. The hottest guy there was hetero. Figures. I gotta be honest, the percentage of hot gay guys in Seattle is lower than in Utah, in my opinion.

A Nipple Nudge

I felt a fleshy tickle on my left arm as we moved through the crowd. I turned my head to see with whom I was playing bumper bodies, and my line of vision was filled with voluptuous mounds of skin-covered fatty tissue, and I realized I had been brushed by the enormous, bare breast of a large-and-in-charge woman who was apparently slightly more comfortable with her body than I was and politely twisting her torso slightly away from me so as to not nipple-nudge me again. I thanked her with a total evasion of eye contact and a face distorted in disbelief as I forced myself not to completely write off any possibility of heterosexual functioning later in life should I choose to pursue that route. My first adult contact with a naked breast wasn't what I had imagined it should be, and I was dismayed that would likely be my only frame of reference for it. Eyes forward, I glimpsed another set of pastied parts which elicited just enough curiosity to hint at an ounce of hetero left in me.

More Freaks and Hotties

As we moseyed around the fountain to the booths, I couldn't help but grin at the outlandish outfits (or lack thereof), hair, costumes, and body piercings which one expects to see at events like this, particularly in Seattle. I also couldn't help but notice some quite attractive folks, though I wasn't interested in making eye contact or flirting. I wasn't in the mood. Not there. Not then.

Mesh-and-Leather-Clad "Sisters"

I lifted my camera to my eye to take pictures of some of the "sisters" from the parade (which I had skipped), and one stopped to say, "You know, I'm tired of everyone taking my picture. Can I take yours? Can I just take a picture of you guys?" I saw reason in this request and handed my camera over to the nice, mesh-clad drag queen, who snapped several photos of my buddies and me as his two cohorts wandered around behind us and diva'd their way into the background.

Information and Education

At the booths, I picked up some brochures about adoption (from an organization for non-traditional families), knowing my rights (ACLU), Seattle's AIDS walk, Hepatitis A and B vaccination on-the-spot (there are free clinics here), HIV vaccine trials, immigration equality, Seattle's PAWSwalk (Progressive Animal Welfare Society), and Bumbershoot 2009 (there should be some good artists I like this year). I also stopped by the Alaska Airlines booth to enter to win free flights and picked up some 15% off coupons. I was tempted to snap a picture of the well-build model standing in skivvies on a pedestal in the underwear booth, but I opted against it despite his obvious invitation to be seen and ogled. My favorite booth was possibly the Gourmet Blends booth with balsamic vinegars and oils, primarily because I got samples. Trust me, a bit of bread with vinegar on it is far more useful to me than a fake tattoo or a condom. They had a really tasty black currant balsamic which I decided I must have in my kitchen, though I had no money on me, so that will have to wait.


I stopped out of curiosity at the QCamp booth when I asked one of my buddies if he'd heard of it, and he said a couple of his friends had gone and that it was kind of maybe like JIM but gay-affirming. I was skeptical and amused, so I had to ask some questions. The fellow fielding my questions was totally cute in a mildly socially awkward way (I mean that in the nicest way possible, I guess), and he won me over when he declared his distaste for promiscuity and sleaze. We had a brief conversation in which I surmised that this camp is possibly mostly for people who need some help making social connections and a bit of hand-holding for establishing quality connections with others. Maybe. I also decided it was most likely not remotely similar to a gay version of JIM. But he was cute and endearing, and I resisted the urge to pinch his cheek and make an "oh, you're so precious" face at him before moving on.

Fruity Old Men and Lesbian Gangstas

After the booths, I decided I'd had my fill and headed back to my car. However, the spectacle of the fountain and the fact that I was waiting to hear back from somebody before going to my car combined against me, and I sat at the edge of the fountain and snapped some shots of the most entertaining dancers.

On my way out, I passed two girls and a guy with a little girl running around. After I'd walked past, I heard the guy say, "You're so cute. You know that? Hm? You know that?" I wryly grinned as I pictured him talking to the cute little girl and her shyly smiling. Then one of the girls said, "Hey, you hear'm?!" I turned to see them all looking at me expectantly. I smiled as I kept walking and said, "Oh, well thank you!" Not knowing what else to say, I gave them a nod and kept on towards my car, shyly smiling.

28 June 2009

22 June 2009

Affirgreen Conference, Here I Come

I'm so tempted to attend two very... *ahem* ...different conferences concurrently this September in Salt Lake primarily to test my own emotional and intellectual reaction but also to compare their flavors back-to-back and, hey, just for the sheer giggle of the humorous duplicity. Could be fun. ...but expensive. Dang, I can think of a lot of fun or useful things I could spend $300 on. Hm, I'm going to have to think about this...

Ridiculously long P.S. -- Suggestion to Affirmation: get a new copy editor for your web sites. There's a handful of pretty dopey typos and grammatical foibles in your copy. Oh, and a little more substance to the conference might be nice. I mean, the shirtless missionary calendar guy? Really? Am I actually supposed to give a rat's rectum about his excommunication, especially when it's not like he was exactly lovin' the church anyway and basically flipped them off? And are you really going to try to convince me he had some noble mission in mind other than selling a tacky, controversially tongue-in-cheek skin calendar? Anyway, speaking of substance, Evergreen may have fringe psychologists with lots of theories and not that much in the way of statistically significant research studies to back them up, but at least they have Master's and PhD's. Of course, a play or film debut, those are cool, if they're at all good...that would really spice up the Evergreen Conference's dry, clinical and doctrinal approach that has me asking my neighbor to slap me to keep me awake, especially if he's cute. And lunch is covered? Nice. I had to buy my own lunches at the EG Conferences I went to. Although I must say the Saturday dinner banquet was quite nice both years. Oh, and to both organizations: we really need to talk about your web sites (although the Affirmation Conference's web site wins, aesthetically, from among anything those two organizations have put out). North Star's beta site is better than any of them. Of course, I may be biased...

19 June 2009

"Unnatural" My Tukus

Freaks of nature! How dare they defy and reverse traditional gender roles? Nurturing is a female trait! Raising children is a mom's job! Males are to make the money and feed their families! What business do they have changing what has been done since the dawn of time and what is clearly the standard in nature?!

...no, I'm not talking about people who are gay or single parents. I'm talking about... nature. Fact: throughout nature, species have adapted to varying conditions by switching things up a bit. Of course, this was sparked by a National Geographic web article published for Father's Day and reinforced by my knowledge of the animal world. What doesn't work for certain species proves to work for others, given environmental, biological, or ecological circumstances or niches. Life adapts.

Of course, I'm not saying we should eat our young when we can't feed them, or carry our babies by the backs of their necks, or force women to have sex, or bite men's heads off after they've fulfilled their sperm-donating role. And as far as I know, few head-wife polygamous women are capable, when their husband dies, of becoming a man and assuming his role, as certain fish are. I mean, apparently "nature" doesn't have religious beliefs or morals to prevent it from adapting in certain ways, and not all species carry the same genetic programming.

Different species seem to have different instinctive tendencies as a whole, so if you want to argue that human men and women are programmed differently, you can debate that. I think that though there are hormonal and chemical differences between male and female which surely influence 'natural' tendencies, whether or not those can be overridden by rationale or effort, most gender "roles" and family archetypes are socially programmed and culturally reinforced, often heavily influenced by religious beliefs and values rather than science or "what works". I'm just sayin' the "unnatural" argument against nontraditional gender roles or families based on what is observed in the rest of nature is weak sauce. Psh.

And I wanted an excuse to post lots of pics of cute animals. Aaawww, precious...

18 June 2009

Just When You Thought Blackface Was Out of Style

Some of you may have heard that the Oquirrh Mountain temple in South Jordan, Utah, which is currently open for public viewing, was struck by lightning, blackening the face and arm of the Moroni statue atop the spire. Some bloggers and commenters have proclaimed this to be a warning to the church as it fights equality and civil rights, an ironic reminder of days past when the church was behind the curve. But I heard the temple was defiled the night before by a gay couple who kissed in it while touring the open house, and this was surely a warning that the Lord frowns upon efforts to make same-sex marriage legal. ...OK, I made that up, but theories abound, don't they? I've compiled some of my favorite comments from visitors to a couple of news articles about this (fairly common) event.

Comments from people on Deseret News:
- Angel Moroni protected the temple.
- It's a reminder to be in the temple to find shelter from the storms of the world.
- Random act of nature, and temples get struck all the time
- It's a sign we should all be sacrificing vanity for the sake of the good work
- This wasn't an act of God, it was an act of Mother Nature, whom God has to obey just like we are commanded to obey our parents
- It's a repeat of when the architect of the St. George temple designed the steeple to his, not Brother Brigham's, designs, and the steeple burned up. [implication: someone surely has disobeyed God's prophet, or the discoloration would not have occurred]
- The church should give the good angel a 2 iron. Like they say, even god can't hit a 2 iron.
- God divided the seas didn't he? and now he has decided to put out a warning to his rebellious children who are swollen with pride.
- Spare the rod and spoil the Moroni
- Maybe Jesus thinks it's time for a "Christian" church to acknowledge Him over Moroni.
- As a member of the Church living in England can I say thank you for the best laugh I have had in a while. You ALL take things way too serious (I think that's how you'd put it in the good old US of A). Love to you ALL x x

Comments from the Tribune:
- God is angry about this temple. This is a warning.
- God prefers a Black man to blow a trumpet. He made the change.
- The "highest person" in the Church is a Black man. At least for now.
- The angel will be now be referred to as "The Angel Louie"
- Mormons in the area around the Temple reported a beautiful sound coming from the statue. "It had good rhythm and you could dance to it."
- That's just how Jesus high-fives his homeboy Moroni.
- Is it just me or does that statue look like a majorette in a gay pride parade?

...oh, that was fun.

17 June 2009

Redefining Marriage, Part 2?

Daniel (author of Formerly Barred) has posted something I've been mulling over and hadn't yet bothered to collect quotes for aside from one or two. I think I'll save myself the trouble and simply link to his post. Whether or not you believe the current political battle over same-sex marriage can or should be compared to the doctrine of plural marriage, the statements of past prophets certainly offer some food for thought.

Incidentally, to my knowledge, such statements have never been officially retracted or denounced by any presidents of the church since. As far as I can tell, those statements are a reflection of LDS doctrine, and plural marriage is still considered a celestial order despite being forbidden in modern institutional practice. Even though I strongly dislike the idea of practicing it (hey, back off--I struggle enough with the idea of one wife, OK?), I think it should be legal (that doesn't mean making child abuse and tax evasion legal, folks).

I'm not sure why people keep quoting the church as saying "one man and one woman," but I've not seen them use such wording. They've said "a man and a woman." That may seem like splitting hairs, but I don't believe the church authorities chose that wording lightly. I'd guess they dare not totally close the door on the future of plural marriage. They're clever that way.

On a related note, I've often wondered whether legalization of same-sex marriage will ironically open the door for the legalization of plural marriage, which will then open the door for another revelation reinstating the practice within the church (probably only when it happens on a global scale)? After all, might it not be hypocritical for supporters of non-traditional marriages who claim to support "all" families if they were to reject a non-traditional but historically very traditional form of family? You get ready for it. It'll happen. I prophesy. *hiding under the table to avoid lightning strikes...because it's storming outside...why else?*

There Are Better Days Ahead, Self

I recorded an audio journal entry a couple of years ago, not long after pulling back from a sort of messy, very brief semi-dating relationship with a guy. Longish story I'd rather not go into here. Wait...I actually already wrote about it: it's "Story 3" in this post. It's interesting to look back with wonder at how everything felt so poignant at the time, even if that doesn't come across in most of the audio clip.

It's interesting to hear the questions I ask and the hesitation in my wording and questioning myself even as I'm speaking. It's also interesting to hear how gay I sound. *wink* And as for the questions about how things might have happened had he not been a BYU student, I think it would have been about the same, honestly, knowing what I know now.

But the feeling of "breaking up" with someone (deliberately ending a friendship, at least as it had existed) was new to me, as was the degree of passion I'd felt and that feeling of intimacy without any history together, as indicated by my question, "Why did it feel so good [if it was just an infatuation with someone I'd only known for a month]?" Despite knowing, intellectually, I had family members and dear friends who were there for me and who loved me, and I them, I fought strong feelings of loneliness and being unlovable. My emotions would not listen to my brain, which was a strange experience for me. I have more perspective on it now, and though I still care about the guy and consider him a friend even though we're not always in touch, it's hard to imagine feeling so strongly about the whole thing and being so bent out of shape over how it panned out.

I'm very glad I didn't just go pick up a rebound relationship or some hot action to fill the void or distract myself. That would have felt cheap, and it would only have masked the wound. Some insisted I should just move on to someone else to help forget about the pain of losing someone, but I think people who say that just don't know better or regard relationships very differently from how I do. For me to do so, I would've been just a love-starved guy greedily seeking connection or trying uselessly to fill a void by using someone for my own gratification. Not cool, even if the other party wanted to be used. I don't believe in that kind of "relationship".

No matter where I end up going from here, I look back now and tell my two-years-ago-self, "Oh man, this is tough stuff, and it hurts, but even though you're not going to have the answers to all of your questions a year or two from now, the questions themselves will become less trying and painful, and you're going to be feeling much better and stronger. The sharp longing for that kind of connection will soften into a nice hope but will not seem so crucial to your sense of happiness and personal wholeness. And though you're not going to have a romantic companion in life yet in one or two years, that sting of losing someone you've fallen for does go away. The pain of seeing others share the kind of intimacy you wished you could share certainly wains. Your more constant, abiding, and constructive relationships will become more meaningful and fulfilling as you choose to invest in them. And even though you'll still have some hard nights when you wish you had someone to hold or fall asleep with, you will definitely not be feeling lonely the way you do right now." And of course, I'd give me a hug and hold my quietly teary-eyed self while perfectly empathizing.

10 June 2009

Old News

I went through to clean out old blog posts last night. I deleted several old drafts I didn't care to finish, and I published a few I hadn't ever published for various reasons.

The first is a thought I had started to write about but finished and published last night.

The middle three deal with ending a friendship-turned-romantic, and it's kind of strange to look back now at how bent out of shape I was, but all of this was totally new to me, so I puzzled over the new emotions a lot, and I didn't know what to do with them, so I wrote about it all but didn't want to publish it in the midst of my emotional vulnerability.

The last is just something I didn't want to publish so as to avoid sounding overly melancholy or bipolar at the time. Turns out I sound crazy anyway, so why not publish that crazy-sounding stuff?!

They are as listed below:

  • Unconditional
  • Eternally Solitary
  • Detached Rainbow of Emotions
  • Coming Off the Emotional Rollercoaster
  • Adrift
  • 08 June 2009

    Homosexuality Eats Shirtless, Foolish Men

    I just read one blogger's recounting of Dr. Jeffrey Robinson's story of the dragon. This is a fairly well-known and not-nearly-vague parable of sorts. Unfortunately, I couldn't find any official version of the parable online. I could swear I came across one a couple of years ago; if anyone knows of one, feel free to let me know.

    Admitting I have some bias against Dr. Robinson's perspective as I understand it, and at the risk of sounding like a boob who doesn't understand the intricate nuance of the parable, I'm going to say it: I find this illustrative dragon story to be...let's say...flimsy in its application. I think (I hope) some of it is meant to be amusing and a bit whimsical, so my finding it mildly absurd is probably deliberate. I particularly enjoy the bit about the dragon eating a shirtless man. That was hot. Yes, I'm kidding: I have no fixation or fetish around reptilian carnage. But I think the story certainly has some validity. It can help people keep important ideas in mind as they work towards a fulfilling life and learn to interact healthily with cultural constructs and with individuals by employing contextual cognizance about a facet of their lives (sorry, using annoying words haphazardly just seemed the most succinct way to communicate what I wanted to say, which succinctness has now been negated with this note...so moving on). I sincerely mean that. I can't completely discount its value, even if part of me is inclined to poo-poo it.

    But as I read this particular retelling of it, I couldn't help but apply it to what I think are equally appropriate, alternate and ironically apostate interpretations of the story. I played "what if" and read it as if "the dragon" were something else entirely: the institutional church. Oh, the apostasy of it all, I know, I know. But I would guess that from the perspective of an ex-mormon (or postmormon, as many prefer to call themselves, such carrying a more "progressive" connotation), it works pretty well. I accordingly borrowed a turn of phrase for my own nefarious devil's advocacy: "People leave homosexuality, but they can't leave it alone." It kind of makes me smile.

    Of course, I have my own ideas about much (not all) of "gay culture," as it exists now, being insidiously malignant. I've seen many guys focus singularly on their sexuality, adopting circles of friends or lines of thinking which lead to unhealthy attachments, short-sighted decision-making, and failure-bound relationships, so part of me hopes people will take the parable to heart, to some degree, even if I don't entirely agree with how it's presented, how it's being used, or whether it applies exclusively or necessarily to homoness. Through a clenched jaw, I'll reluctantly say I agree to some extent with Dr. Robinson's dragon analogy. But it ain't gospel. There, I feel better ending with a slight slight.

    Whatever your take, I just have to say, "Eat your heart out, dragon-beasty!"

    04 June 2009

    RadioWest on the Causes of Homosexuality

    On RadioWest (Salt Lake's KUER 90.1 FM, NPR), Doug Fabrizio focused today's show on the causes of homosexuality. Nothing earth-shattering to those of us who've been around the discussion a long time, but those who are newer to the dialog may find it educational.