13 November 2009

Church Supports Nondiscrimination: What's the Big Deal?

My mummy dearest sent an e-mail to some family regarding the Church's recent statement regarding an nondiscrimination measure passed in Salt Lake. A relative, who, incidentally, isn't LDS, said she thought that seemed like common sense and wondered what all the hubbub was about.

I responded with the following e-mail:
What's huge about this statement is that many members of the church wouldn't dare say they support anti-discrimination laws because they either believe them to be unfair in protecting a group of sinners or because their church has been silent on the issue except for one statement during the Prop 8 campaign saying the church "doesn't oppose" certain rights for gay people. I think many LDS people just shrugged at that or never heard about it because "not opposing" really just means "not actively fighting"; it doesn't mean supporting. Now they've come out in support of certain anti-discrimination laws, which is great.

I know a lot of LDS people who will, only now that the church has said this, feel comfortable vocalizing their support for equal protections under the law in areas like housing and employment. Would've been nice if more members even considered that during gay marriage wars. Would've been nice if the church had come out with this statement during the Prop 8 battle to temper some of the rhetoric its members were throwing around, but that might've compromised the passion behind passing the proposition. It's hard not to view this as political timing or too little too late, but I think it's a much-needed clarification for so many of the members who are afraid to voice such support until the institutional church does it, so I try not to be too cynical about the timing, and I'm thankful to the church administration for doing it.

...you didn't think I'd have a one-line response for this, did you? :-)

She responded:
Thank you [O-Mo]. You are right and I am very glad the Mormon Church has come out in support of anti-discrimination laws. Let's hope more churches do. I was being short-sighted not to realize the positive impact of this. It just seemed to me to be the right thing so what was the big deal. The big deal is that this is not the norm for many "Christians" and it should be.

FYI, examples of how the Church is taking flack from extreme social conservatives (such as the writers on a site purportedly spreading the "truth" about homosexuality):
Mormon Church Decision to Embrace Homosexual Laws Could Presage a Split in the Pro-Family Movement

Sutherland Institute Calls LDS Support of Salt Lake City Gay Ordinance Problematic

Gary Glenn Responds to Regrettable Mormon Church Decision to Back ‘Gay Rights’ Laws - in part, he implies the LDS Church isn't operating on principle but naively ignoring that some courts have used antidiscrimination laws to push same-sex marriage. Actually, it is the operation of principles rather than blind dogma which demands the tougher road with greater complexity and concessions to reason. Only a jackass thinks it's his way or the highway in all things. I firmly believe in a principled approach to life and politics, but what this man described is not principled in my estimation, it's idiotic.

These are people who are apparently unable to distinguish the parts from the whole of a movement, concept, or philosophy or to understand that every good thing can be misused, but that doesn't make the thing itself bad. They live in a childlike reality without subtlety or clarity. They believe experience determines reality. It's juvenile and intellectually pathetic, and I see it rampantly on both sides of this and other issues. But that discussion is for another time, as is my diplomacy, apparently.

Now that my flight is about to board, and my "bored" time at the airport is about over, I'm going back to vacation mode. :-)

10 November 2009

Soap Studs


WARNING TO PRESSURE-COOKER GAYS AND SEX ADDICTS: Read no further if you are prone to give in to uncontrollably lusty thoughts or compulsive behaviors upon seeing attractive physiques in acrobatic splendor. Although, if you do fit into that category, it's probably too late, the curiosity is killing you, and you are already unable to click away, and I therefore have your porn binge and/or Craig's List cruising on my head now. Thanks a lot.

What kind of sorry excuse for entertainment is this show someone posted on Facebook last night? I mean, a bunch of ripped, shirtless, wet young guys acrobatically contorting and climbing on each other in homoerotic ways under the guise of theater? Psh. I'm going to view it again while shaking my head disapprovingly to show my disdain for such flaunting of fleshy feats.

It's a darn good thing we don't have such a show in, say, Salt Lake. If we did, we'd probably have sacrament meeting talks about not attending. And you'd have that awkward single dude in your ward trying to organize a young men's outing to go see it. "Soft male" husbands in buttoned-up cardigans and neatly combed hair telling their wives they've heard it's "an impressive show of acrobatic skills" as their wives skeptically shake their heads with furled brows and refuse to go, not knowing quite why they so vaguely but sharply fear their husbands seeing it. No, it would rock the boat too much.

OK, upon second viewing, I have decided it is "pretty cool" (read "I've had time to quell and cover for my self-loathing fear of finding it dang hot in parts and talked myself into seeing it as quality entertainment based purely upon its artistic and athletic merits, the lack of clothing being a practical need and incidental to the greater production"). If it's still running the next time I'm in Berlin (read "the first time"), I don't think I can pass up a show that combines so many of my favorite things: acrobatics, theater, gymnastics, baths, wetness, and...Germans. *cough*

For those of you who are in the category I described at the beginning of this post and are feeling triggered: quick, sing a hymn and picture the temple and hope it doesn't backfire by sexualizing the hymn and making you think of hot guys the next time to see the temple. ...I've always wondered if that happens to some.

07 November 2009

8: The Mormon Proposition - Tooth-Gnashing Extravaganza

Disclaimer: This is not my most diplomatic post ever. I'm not going to refrain from posting some potentially controversial thoughts to make sure my readers have something fun and fluffy to read. If you are prone to take offense where none is intended or to read into people's words your own perceptions of what people who say such things are like or what their motives are, you might consider skipping this post or finding a nice, relaxing activity to lower your blood pressure after reading. I will not be intimidated into silence by those who are supposedly looking after my best interest. Progress comes from conflict and constructive criticism, which is what I am attempting. Sue me if I don't pull it off. I'm genetically flawed.

Same-sex marriage supporters everywhere (at least in Utah) are buzzing about the documentary called 8: The Mormon Proposition. Some are touting it as a groundbreaking, bold exposé on the lies and underhanded tactics used to pass Proposition 8 in California, and the vast Mormon conspiracy against equality in an effort to subdue the nefarious homo uprising supposedly seeking to undermine and destroy society! I was intrigued, so I looked up the trailer on YouTube, and for the first minute or so I was really confused: opening the trailer with Chris Buttars, some Utah state senator who is too cantankerous about homos even for most conservatives? Then showing tightly cropped clips of Elder Ballard saying, "When something needs to be done, we know how to do it" all sinister-like? This felt somewhat like a flipside of those ridiculous "I am afraid" NOM ads, but more emotionally charged and using real people instead of those awful, plasticky actors. I was mildly puzzled until I figured out...it must be a sort of mockumentary! Of course! I then didn't feel bad about laughing out loud at a couple of clips.

I'm sorry, I couldn't help it. Actually, I'm not so sorry. I couldn't help but laugh at a couple of clips of over-the-top statements or sensational editing. I mean, I know many people regard this as the great civil rights battle of our time and can't understand how anyone could see it otherwise. I can't fathom someone laughing at Civil Rights Movement proponents in the south as they passionately decry the inequality forced upon them. "Ha ha! Look at those silly black people and their overwrought emotions!" Obviously (today), racial prejudice and fighting for rights based on ethnic background is nothing to mock. When you're dealing with a population which feels downtrodden or which is (undeniably) denied certain rights, obligations, and protections based on sexual orientation or the sexes of partners, that's a real issue with real emotions not to be scorned. This isn't about mocking those silly, drama queen homos (though I think there are plenty of drama queens out there who would do well to take it down a notch). And I am not going to defend my stance on same-sex marriage or other rights based on sexual orientation or partnerships here because that's not the issue. This is about something more, something aside from fighting for equal protection, rights, and obligations. In fact, as I see it, it's about my thinking many in the gay community are shooting themselves in the foot with all of the gnashing of teeth.

I don't mean to be insensitive to the real hurt people feel around this. It's just that some things they say are so old and tired and nonsensical that...I'm sorry (kind of), they're laughable! "They don't want us to love," for example. I don't even care to dignify that nonsense with a rebuttal. Saying that is completely missing the issue in most cases! Do some of you actually believe that's what it's about, or are you just being deliberately emotionally manipulative because you're either out of logical arguments or are convinced nobody's listening? Another common sentiment I hear is one a good-looking, sympathetic guy says in the film trailer, "I can't believe that people could hate us this much. ... I'm a good person!" That's an understandable emotional reaction, I suppose, though I don't identify with it myself, but it's something I'd expect to hear out of a teenage girl. I do sometimes feel like crying when I hear someone speak like him because I feel terrible for them that they are so hurt and that they see it that way: their pain is very real and not something to laugh at. I might rather hug that guy than argue with him when he's in that emotional state. But the statement is a bit logically absurd. Believing marriage is and always was intended to be a religious institution preserved for man-woman pairings and that government should not change that does not equate to hatred just because the two admittedly do coincide in some people. I can only hope that maybe some Prop 8 supporters who see that clip, which I believe to be sincere, may recognize the need for more compassion, even if their opinion or political stance doesn't change. But compassion isn't, I don't think, what the filmmakers are after. They're after political change, are they not?

Which brings me to a side note: this blog is public and can be discovered by people searching for content related to the film, so it's conceivable (though probably quite unlikely, considering I'm just a teeny blip in cyberspace with few readers) that someone involved with the film could come to my blog and read this. I have tried to temper my language, to present a complete response, not my initial, more flippant and dismissive, emotional response to the trailer. Nevertheless, I am probably an enemy to their cause, having written this. I may lose readers because I'm posting this. Some may feel betrayed. Battle lines are drawn, and there's no time for fence-sitters or switch-hitters who aren't "yes men". "You're either with us or you're against us" seems to be the message from my most ardently activist friends. I even wonder, if I were more public/influential and less tempered, if some activists wouldn't do all they can to discover my true identity, make threats, lash out in various ways, try to shut me up through intimidation or harsh criticism, or campaign against people like me who don't jump on the train and toe the line. And no, this has nothing to do with Elder Oaks' talk. I've seen such behaviors firsthand long before Elder Oaks compared them (insensitively and inappropriately, in my opinion) to intimidation during the civil rights movement. I've been petitioned to join boycotts and publicize the names of donors to 8, etc. I declined. That all seemed beside the point, too. Though some more prominent members of the Church have butted heads with and felt the swift, hard action of church headquarters, I feel more threatened and vulnerable opposing gay activists than I do opposing church leaders. But screw it, I'm going to call it as I see it.

I won't completely poo-poo the film based on the fact that the sensational trailer made me laugh. And I admit I may possibly be partially using this film as my punching bag for the consistent pattern I've observed among my friends who are passionate about this issue. People I like and respect in many ways are close to people who were involved in the film. While I may disagree with a lot of their rhetoric or approach or even their beliefs, I can still like and respect them as a person, but I've been informed that if I don't support marriage "equality", I don't love my gay friends and should remove myself from their lives. That seems awfully narrow-minded to me, but I figure that's more an emotional statement than a rational one, so I let it go and figure I'll let them make the call if I were to ever vote to "preserve" marriage as between a man and a woman.

I don't doubt a lot of hard work has gone into the project, and people have likely invested much of themselves. I know what that's like, so I don't criticize such an undertaking ignorant of how much work has gone into it. I've helped build an organization I whole-heartedly believed would help save lives and contribute to the emotional well-being of many people and would increase education and understanding and family unity, and I've listened to some very harsh criticisms of the organization and its founders, including declarations that it is harmful and deceptive or mockery aimed at those who are part of it, but that's to be expected. The attacks are inherently impersonal, since those making them generally don't know me, and the rational criticisms are such that I've taken them into consideration and thought, "Is there validity to that claim? If so, how can we respond to make appropriate corrections? If not, how can we more accurately present what we're about?" Not everyone will agree with your aim, or your philosophy, or your methods, and some will believe you're doing an amazing work, and others will only see the flaws. I don't intend personal assaults or degradation on those who were a part of this film. My criticisms, you may notice, aren't about value judgments of the people involved but criticisms of the methodology and balance, or the lack of logic in the statements of some of the subjects.

I tried to watch the trailer open-minded, despite expecting the film to be at least somewhat sensational based on the rhetoric of some of its proponents. I see that, if nothing else, it may very effectively present a common viewpoint. I just doubt it will be seen by more than a select few of those to whom that viewpoint would be new or eye-opening because it doesn't command the attention of those who don't already agree with it. It doesn't seem to even care about meeting them in the middle, so does it even deserve to be given a fair chance by them?

I mean, come on, folks, if you want to present something even mildly convincing to your opponents, you're gonna have to show that you at least partially understand where they are coming from. Otherwise, what reason are you giving them to show you such respect and consideration? I've said this to both the supporters and opponents of Prop 8. I've become pretty thoroughly convinced it's a futile effort to keep making this point, so I've largely backed off from trying to get either side to see the other's viewpoint. They, by and large, just don't care. Get a grip, activists on both sides, or you'll just look like a bunch of ignorant ninnies on a playground making asses of yourselves, providing a good laugh along the way to the people "in the middle" you're supposedly trying to reach out to. But maybe I have it all wrong. Maybe the film isn't about reaching out and is precisely about making an angry voice known. If so, it should be advertised as such.

FYI, this is from the perspective of someone who didn't support Prop 8 and thought there must be a better way to satisfy both sides and found plenty to criticize in both sides of the campaign, but more so in its promulgation by "Yes on 8". I am interested neither in circling the Church wagons nor gay rights activist wagons where Prop 8 is concerned. But most seem to be doing just that: since a cultural war is on, stakes are high, and emotions are heated, and rational analysis and real dialog seem to be sacrificed to quicker, easier tools on both sides. Maybe that's what it really comes down to: maybe logic and dialog have been tried and failed (could've fooled me), and it's time for war. It's time not for logic, not truth, but popular opinion bolstered by emotion. I worry this documentary is just another example of that, but I sincerely hope I'm wrong. Maybe the trailer isn't indicative of the greater film. I can only hope.

Note: For a post and comments about this on another blog, see Limits on A Mormon Enigma.

03 November 2009

Dead in Gay Years?! What the @#$%?

A long time ago, in a land far, far away, at a friend's birthday party, an acquaintance asked how old I was. When I stated my age to said youngster, he said, "Wow, that's, like, dead in gay years." I laughed. You bet your sweet bippy that if I were super sensitive about my age, I would have shed tears or brought the smackdown. Fortunately, I'm pretty OK with my ripe old age--which is probably not quite as "dead in gay years" as he proclaimed--and I kinda like my light splashes of grey hair: I earned them. But there are occasional reminders that I am, in fact, on my way to being well over the homo hill.

See, for those of you not familiar with it, in the gay male world, youth and beauty are seemingly valued far out of proportion to other more lasting qualities. Hot, young gay guys love the idea of being in hot, young gay couples, but I've talked with enough guys to believe that the idea of being a wrinkly, old gay couple is either not something most young gay dudes wanna think about or is outright repulsive. Some staunchly proclaim their desire to die before they really start sagging and wrinkling. Do straight guys think about being an old husband and wife on the couch together and want to retch rather than saying, "Aw"? I doubt it, but maybe some do. Anyway, in much of gay culture, by the time age is really setting in, you'd better have either settled in with the bears and leather daddies or have a committed partner 'cause ain't nobody else gonna want some of that old hairy action. ...except maybe other old hairy dudes, but who wants one of those? You see how this is problematic thinking? It's not true among everyone, and there are always exceptions, but I'm just saying it's a prevalent attitude in gay circles.

Anyway, since I'm not on the market, I don't spend too much time thinking about who I could date or who would be attracted to me (OK, so maybe I do spend some time), but in random social situations, I'm reminded of my increasing lack of youth. Let me hold on to the idea that I still have beauty if not youth...at least "for my age". Really? When did I get to the "for your age" point? "You have a good body for your age." *sigh* Yeah, thanks. I do appreciate that; I just wish that "for your age" part could be sincerely dropped. But it can't: I just don't have a college stud hotbod. Never did, never will. [Oh dear, I just realized this post may very likely draw an unusual number of unsavory Googlers.]

On a related note, there's another aspect of aging I've refrained from blogging about in the past: though I firmly believe in sexual restraint and abhor promiscuity and wouldn't change what I've done (read "not done"), I do have this faint, smirk-inducing sense of disappointment that my most youthful, energetic years were spent without putting that youth and energy to some really fun use, and now they're waning forever. It's not a bitter thing, not a sad thing (except maybe briefly during my hypersexual stint and occasional, brief aftershocks), just something I occasionally pout-smile about and then move on with my prudish self, happy I've made the decisions I have even while wishing I could've at least been married and divorced or something... *kidding* *...mostly*

"Why bring this up now?" you ask? Well, a couple of recent events have triggered this post, I suppose. First, I am trying to work off my skinny-fat lovehandles, small though they may be, and maybe get back some muscle tone in my torso, and doggonit if it's not more difficult than it's ever been.

Second, I ran into Calvin at the gym the other day, and he mentioned me having said a good workout takes a few years off for a couple of hours afterward, then he said even with the years removed, I was still way too old for him. I laughed, then I said, "ouch," then I called him a pedophile. Of course, I keep giving him a hard time about making an old man feel older, and he assures me there are probably some younger guys who find me attractive, which only serves to inform me that I am now attractive to a niche category of younger dudes who like "older" guys. Nice. Helpful, Calvin, very helpful. And I simply can't compete with the young hotties anymore if I ever even could. But no, I don't think about that at all. Totally over it. Not even an issue. *scowl*

Third, something hit me at the Matis fireside last night: I'm too old to be befriending the majority of the crowd there, which I didn't feel when I first started going. Between chats with various friends and acquaintances, I observed (as always) the groups of younger guys standing in circles and chatting it up, and it dawned on me that anymore, I'd just feel like the awkward older guy trying to chum it up with the young whippersnappers if I were to join those circles. I don't approach them or introduce myself, partially because I'm not especially interested in chatty group conversations with a bunch of people I don't know (especially really young ones), and partially because I don't want to look like or be one of those older guys who "goes after" the younger dudes. Besides, they're surrounded by guys closer to their age, often attractive, flirty ones, so what place do I really have in all that? Don't get me wrong: this is no self-esteem thing or Eeyoresque mope-athan. I'm just calling it like I see it. By and large, it seems like they're too young for me, and I'm too old for them. There are, of course, exceptions.

I've talked with guys who are a few decades older than me who express similar sentiments, and I laugh that I'm only...well...my age and am already feeling it. But I, a younger guy to them, still talk with them at the firesides and am not itching to run away to the younger crowd. OK, occasionally, but not most often. In fact, I often find it refreshing to talk with someone with more maturity and a more age-informed perspective. But then, I'm kind of unusual that way--I'm one of those exceptions, perhaps. And I do have to admit, I occasionally wonder if they're experiencing an attraction, and it occasionally weirds me out a little to think they might be, but I try to set that aside. What's troublesome is when I wonder if the twenty-three-year-old I'm speaking with is wondering if I'm attracted and is doing the same thing. *awkward*

In short, mine is, in some ways, an awkward age to be a gay guy. Maybe that's just bound to increase as long as I'm single. Maybe being a forty-year-old single gay guy isn't any less awkward. Or maybe it's more a "single people" thing than a "gay" thing. But either way, I'm pretty sure the "gay" thing compounds it, with its youth obsession. I mean, I'm not all knotted up over it; it's just a touch ...lip-furl-inducing to be on my way to "dead in gay years" never having even been on the market. What's a lip-furl you ask? Eh, it's the only way I could think of to describe that look you might make when you're trying to show someone how frustrated you are with them but are half-grinning in the process...you know the look?

Ah well, it probably helps keep me humble and out of trouble. I mean, heck, it's a lot easier to shrug and walk away from a total hottie when you're pretty sure you don't stand a chance anyway because he sees you like this:

You Turn Me On

So...I was in the gym tonight, getting my cardio workout in, and I realized something that may help me avoid future run-ins with shower stall pervs.

When my regular workout shirts are dirty, I resort to my backup T's, two of which are funny gifts from some friends in Seattle, one which reads "Grade A Beef" (funny because it's completely farcical) and another showing a bunk bed with a big moving lump under the covers on the bottom bunk and reads "Sleeps well with others." They thought that'd be funny since I was moving to Utah to live with other mohos. Hardy har har. When I'm feeling particularly flippant, I'll wear the "sleeps well with others" shirt just for the comedy factor (maybe a few times a year). Such was the case tonight.

A couple of times, I've forgotten I was wearing it and kept wondering why people were looking at me: did I have something on my face? Or I'd wonder why people kept chuckling when I walked by. Then I'd remember the probable explanation and laugh to myself. Tonight, though, I was well aware.

I also am aware that wearing such a shirt might actually attract the attention of people for whom it isn't completely laughable and silly to consider hooking up at the gym. So I figure if I see any of those, "yeah, baby, you like it dirty, I'll see you in 10 minutes in the sauna" looks, I'll do my best to communicate utter disinterest or disgust at their sleaze.

Tonight, as I went into the locker room, I was humming along with my MP3 player. I had actually been to the locker room earlier to go to the bathroom, and was humming along to the same song then because after leaving the bathroom and resuming my workout, I stopped the song to listen to the TV instead, then turned it back on when I finished my workout and headed back to the locker room. So here I was, second time in the locker room, humming the same song by The Ugly Americans to myself, and it dawned on me that perhaps, late at night in the gym, during repeated trips to the locker room, wearing a shirt that says "sleeps well with others", I should consider not humming a song called You Turn Me On. Relatively obscure though the song may be, it seems like just one too many invitations...

You Don't Know Me

...and I'm OK with that. Weird? Maybe. Do I care? I don't think so.

Hidden In The Light said he wanted his readers to get to know him, as I think other bloggers do. I think the whole "ask me anything" thing is kinda fun and interesting; I just don't care to do it, myself. I'd like to see more interest-grabbing questions, though, like "Are you into slightly older, skinny dudes?" or "You don't know me, but did you know I know where you sleep?" or "What's your oddest physical feature?" or "Can you do the helicopter?"

Besides, I prefer to talk about what's interesting to me, not what's interesting to you. Duh.

I do enjoy tracking stats and such--I've been a bit fascinated at times by trying to figure out what nights are prime, what times of day, what topics attract more comments, whether more people visit when I post when others are quiet or when I join some furious blogstorm, how people find my blog, how many return readers I have, that sort of thing--but it's more about identifying trends and patterns than it is about lusting after hits or satisfying the masses. If I were hit-greedy, I'd be a lot more dramatic and controversial or would be more careful not to offend my few precious faithful readers. I have very few hits compared to many bloggers, maybe peaking at 110-120 page loads when I post (and that's including loads from a small handful of readers who sometimes come back multiple times a day, maybe to check for comments, maybe because they're obsessed and stalking, maybe because they're bored), and even that's a relatively recent increase.

If I write something that gets no response (which is pretty typical of the posts I think are particularly enlightening and will make the world a better place), I frown in puzzled consternation at the lack of appreciation for fine thinking then shrug and move on with my life, saying, "Hey, I tried to change the world. If nobody cares, I guess the world will just be worse off without my vast wisdom and experience," and making a mental note, "Nobody cares about your stupid insecurities, cognitive dissonance, loneliness, icky crushes on girls, or affinity for gymnasts. Then I tell myself, "Now now, it's not that nobody cares, it's that you wrote a crappy post." Then I offer myself some comfort, "That may be, but it's just as likely that there just wasn't anyone out of your dozen readers who had something to add or expound on. Could be as simple as that." Then I shrug and go back to perusing Facebook.

Incidentally, part of me wants to put my face on my blog, my name, just be out and open like I am in general. But more of me thinks that's all irrelevant and distracting and would rather retain some degree of anonymity. Besides, I'm a "man of mystery" by some assessments, and I kind of enjoy that. You think you know me well, but you don't know me. You can't see it, but I'm making a mystery man face to prove it.

I'm interested in doing more podcast-type posts, which feel more "personal" to me, with inflection, tone, etc. Kind of like YouTube but without that distracting, boring video. OK, sometimes I like seeing people's expressions, but seriously, there are few people I want to look at for more than a minute at a time, and doesn't it all seem the tiniest bit narcissistic to be posting videos of yourself pontificating or venting? What? A blog's no different? Take it back. OK, so maybe I just think video is a bit fluffy in most cases.

Speaking of fluffy, my eyes feel that way. It's late. I should be sleeping. Actually, I should be using the bathroom. All that water. Oh, speaking of water, I drank a bunch 'cause I was at the gym, which reminds me of the post I was going to write when I got home. Shoot. I'm going to write it now, aren't I? Right after the bathroom. Blogging is so weird...