28 June 2010

"Dangerous" Is My Middle Name

That's right: Original "Dangerous" Mohomie.

The story: Not so long ago, in a place not at all far away, in a panel discussion about SSA geared towards friends and family of "strugglers", someone whom I shall call "Pat" interjected before closing the session to say someone had asked a "dangerous question" that absolutely needed to be addressed. I braced myself for a concern about crystal meth, gay hookup sites, or secret BYU-I unprotected shenanigans. I was on the edge of my seat, awaiting the dangerous discussion topic.

Pat read the question, which was something like this: "My son tells me about something referred to as a blogosphere, I think it's called moho. What is it?"

Affectionately amused at how clear it was the questioner didn't know anything about it, I waited for the rest of the question to be read.  I wondered if they were asking about blogs in general, or maybe the MohoDirectory specifically, but I wondered what more there was to the question.  I figured Pat, clearly reacting to the question, was trying to regain composure before finishing it. This was not the case. That was the question.

Pat answered, wide-eyed, in a trembling voice, "Absolutely stay away from it! The people who call themselves that are living the lifestyle, and it's very dangerous. Very dangerous. That's all that needs to be said."

My jaw dropped. No explanation of what the terms were.  No invitation to panel members to respond.  For a moment, I was sorely tempted to stand and say, "Hey, I invented the term "moho" (actually it was a friend, in an e-mail to me, and I promulgated it). And a main organizer of this event, a friend of mine and yours, is a prominent blogger. Wanna ask me about it? Yes, the term 'moho' has been adopted by many who are mostly only culturally LDS and who think the church is wrong about homosexuality, but it was originally meant to denote someone who experiences same-sex attraction and who supports the church's stance on homosexual relationships, and there are still many in that boat who use the term in good-natured ways. And yes, many bloggers end up hooking up or buying into ideas which are anything but orthodox LDS thought and which undermine more conservative or fundamental views, but most of them are hooking up anyway, with blogs being just one more avenue, and most of those who "lose their testimonies" or become "dangerously" liberal had problems with LDS theology or practice long before they ever started reading blogs, and I know many who have remained very faithful to the church and its leadership and are blogging to make their voices heard.  Many have benefited from the 'blogosphere' in amazing ways, finding dialog and community they might never have found otherwise, giving some of them hope and reinforcement in living church standards and finding happiness doing so. Let's not be so reactionary, here. But then, I'm an agnostic blogger, so I'm one of the 'dangerous' ones." In my mind, I would then stand firm and invite the author of the question to see me after the panel if they wished.

I did none of it, though. Most of the discussion had been productive, and I perceived Pat wasn't in any condition to discuss the matter rationally, so it probably would've just caused a messy scene. Instead, I turned to my friends sitting next to me and said, "That answer was not true and obviously came from a very emotional place. I'm so blogging about this." Wry grinning followed.

Epilogue:  I've met Pat. Pat seems like a nice enough person, and we have many mutual friends, many of whom blog. I can only imagine Pat has very strong personal feelings, possibly from limited (and very negative) experience, and though Pat and I probably disagree on many things in some very fundamental ways, I wish Pat well and hope for healing and understanding. The organizers of the event, after all, are bloggers (at least incidentally), listed in the MohoDirectory, and rather connected with many self-described "mohos", many of whom are committed to the church and supportive of its stance on homosexuality, even if they've become the minority among those who use the term "moho". She doesn't have the full picture, but a couple hundred friends and family of gay LDS folk have now only heard the terms "moho" and "blogosphere" in a frightening context, terrified of their children being involved with something so dark, so insidiously menacing, that Pat trembled at the very mention.

So if any of you readers may be the son about whom some parent was speaking, and your parents are now banning your internet access and sending you off to boarding school in far off lands or to ex-gay camp, you now know where their panic may be coming from.

Incidentally, I no longer call myself a "moho". Nor do I think it a travesty if the term is passe. But if "moho" as the lighthearted, church-affirming term it was meant to be wasn't already dying, that one statement in a fireside sure did hammer a few more nails into the coffin for that region, at least. I've occasionally wondered when my blog name will become irrelevant in every way and whether I'll change it or leave it as a vestige of an era gone by. I think I'll opt for vestige. Call me dangerous.

25 June 2010

"I'm Same-Sex Attracted. Deal With It, Homos."

A while back, I posted an entry titled I'm Gay. Deal With It, Strugglers, in which I expounded my opinion that while labels to carry social stigma and cultural baggage, using a label isn't inherently handing over your identity nor is it destroying the ideology (crusades?) of those who refuse to use it.

To be clear, I refer to myself as gay. I still am open (maybe more than ever, though perhaps not why you think, and that's a very different post) to a relationship with a woman, but I have yet to experience one of the kind which would be necessary to go ahead. I also cringe when people seem painfully, awkwardly bent on avoiding the g-word or the word "homosexuality", which contains the forbidden s-word. I want to shake some sense into the ones who seem so obviously conflicted and afraid of themselves that they're terrified of the implications of even beginning to think of themselves as "gay". I see it as very unhealthy, even if understandable given their paradigms and family/social pressures.

But I also have friends who confidently reject the term "gay" when describing themselves for personal, intellectual reasons but don't throw a fit if someone else refers to them that way. Many of them prefer to avoid labels altogether, often because they just don't believe it's a trait that can be accurately summed up in a label. I think that's true for almost everything, so I just don't see what's so different about "gay" or "same-sex attracted", but some people just have different sensitivities, social situations, or needs than I do. So as long as they're not militantly crusading against those who use a different label than they, they're not harping on me for choosing labels I would rather own than be determined by, and they're not preaching that nobody should use the labels to which they, themselves, ascribe so much meaning which I do not, I don't much care what label they use.

Within a church context, especially in extremely conservative areas (say, Idaho), where you're dealing with people who have little or no experience with "same-sex attracted" members (let alone "gay" folk), throwing around the word "gay" is a sure-fire way to garner distrust and skepticism and conjure all the wrong images simply because of the baggage the term carries and the lack of experience the people have with real-world people. The only way that will change is not to shove the g-word in everyone's faces while calling them bigots for reacting negatively to it (thereby confirming ideas about the aggressive, militant "gay agenda"), nor is it to obsessively dodge the g-word by pussy-footing around and wringing one's hands over it (thereby confirming it's something to be feared and disdained) but to speak the language of your target audience in order to facilitate opening the dialog to understand each other's point of view better and break down unnecessary stereotypes and faulty paradigms.

In other words, I have about as much patience for militant, general attacks on the use of "same-sex attraction" as I do for the same kinds of attacks on the use of "gay". I haven't seen the "SSA" people writing blog entries in defense of their practice, but if you read my post I mentioned above, just switch out all the stereotypes people have about "gay" to stereotypes people have about "same-sex attracted", along with everything they think it means about how harmful it is to use the one term or the other, blah blah blah, and that'll pretty much sum up my thoughts on the subject, I think.

19 June 2010

20,000 Minutes?!

I saw a chewing gum ad at the gym yesterday that claimed the average person spends 20,000 minutes of their life doing...what?

Kissing. My immediate response was to smile and think, "Aw, fun." My immediate response after that was to pout and think, "If that's true, I am woefully behind the curve." Which got me to adding it up in my head.

Let's see...there were a few pecks or dares or whatever in early grade school. That brings me up to...we'll say 10.

Let's see what I can remember about kissing in adulthood (I'll just say I can still count the number of kissing partners on one hand): probably something like 20 minutes (the first kiss), and 45, and that one for like 15 seconds (it wasn't good/right), and that one time for 15 minutes, and then 15, 30, 45, 90, 10, 30...and more I don't remember for sure. I've certainly kissed my way through some boring parts of movies...oh, there was that one 128-minute movie we maybe saw 20 minutes of... I'm pretty sure we were going for a while after the credits were over, too... *distant expression with stupid smile/wry grin* OK, I'm gonna guess it brings me to maybe 450. Oh yeah, that one night...that brings it up to...650, accounting for breaks. Hey, when "going there" (read "below the belt") is simply not an option, you can carry on the sexual tension for hours...4 1/2 hours, for example.

So with possibly a third of my life lived, a ballpark estimate might be 650 minutes. So if that silly 20,000 minutes statistic is accurate, that's 3.25% of the average "lifetime kissing" with ballpark 33% of my life lived. @#$%. BUT the vast majority of that kissing is recent, so maybe I'm catching up with the average? Nope, nope. According to my calculations, if I live to be 90, I need to be averaging 968 minutes every 3 years since my first "real" kiss, which means I'm still a solid 5 hours behind for my first 3 years. And then, if you account for probably much less kissing later in life, I have a lot of catching up to do while I'm still young and have the stamina.

So be warned, whoever ends up being my next kissing partner: I have lost time to make up for. Buy some chapstick.

12 June 2010

Do You Consider Yourself Spiritual?

When I told one friend about my agnosticism, he asked, "So...if you decide you don't think the church is true, or decide on atheism, would you still consider yourself a spiritual person?" I think I probably looked back at him rather blankly for a moment. I was a bit puzzled by the question after having explained my doubts. I replied, "I don't think so. I don't know what 'spiritual' looks like outside of a religious or theistic belief of duality of being." He seemed troubled. I asked what he meant by "spiritual". He said, "You know, believing in doing good and peace, love, that sort of thing." I was a bit surprised that he seemed to ascribe those things inextricably to "spirituality".

I explained that that's not 'spirituality' to me. To me, 'spirituality' is a very specific sort of belief that we exist as dual physical/spiritual beings or that we have eternal lives in another form that isn't physical. While I'm no longer convinced of that general idea about the way things are, I believe each of us must cope and live the best we know how with what we know now, in our short lifetimes, so I can hardly fault people or myself for wanting to fill in the gaps of our understanding with peace-offering, fear-quieting beliefs about eternal spirits which go on living after our physical bodies are laid to rest, and I acknowledge that may be the truth whether or not I believe it. The idea that we are immaterial or refined-matter 'spirits' living in inferior, physical vessels or that our consciousness continues to exist after our brain cells have stopped functioning...that, to me, is what 'spirituality' is, and it has little or nothing to do with right and wrong or with ethics. My overall outlook on what constitutes a good life and what it means to be a "good person" is mostly like it was when I was an active and faithful member of the church. And yes, I know where "good people" without covenants go, according to current LDS doctrinal understanding: call me terrestrial-bound.

I said, "Of course I believe in doing good, treating other people how you would hope to be treated, trying to leave people and the world better than you found them, striving for understanding, peace, and harmony. If that's your definition of 'spiritual', then I'm spiritual, but I think of 'spiritual' as something apart." Of course it stills matters, to me, how you treat others and how you express love and respect. Even if I can't deflect personal responsibility to or reference deity as the authoritative source of some list of rights and wrongs, there are actions which are productive or constructive and those which are destructive, and I feel more responsible than ever for my own actions, and I have values which I may or may not be able to defend by pointing to some holy writ but which I am nonetheless unwilling to compromise: values like honesty, kindness, integrity, respect, etc. I don't need to believe I'm a dual being, a spirit fighting the fallen nature of a carnal vessel, to believe in the value of striving for a better life for myself and generations to come. I don't need the promise of eternal rewards for my spirit self to want to do good now in the flesh. This all leads into my issues with the "eat, drink, and be merry" scripture, but that's another post.

07 June 2010

Please, Mormon girls...

My plea to eager young LDS women: please, please stop marrying the really cute, level-headed, non-slutty gay guys in their early twenties, years before they'll admit to themselves they're gay, let alone admitting it to anyone else, and having kids with them, thereby making them not only off limits but respectably bound to stay with their families when they finally do realize their homosexuality or thereby compelling them never to admit it to themselves because they think they can't afford to even begin to question it.

I assert this world would be a better place if LDS girls learned to recognize the obviously gay dudes and stopped pursuing such sexually non-threatening prospects but instead realized what they'd be getting themselves into and recognized the young men's need to sort their crap out first and make a more self-aware and informed, mature decision about whether to marry a woman in an open, honest way. In short, I want them to grow up a bit, come to terms with their same-sex attraction in a moderate and value-based but open and honest way, and become good, stable gay guys available to me...stop being so selfish, ya homowreckers!

Sometimes it seems all the goods ones are either married or straight.