Thursday, December 9, 2010

Church Drama

By Mister Curie
So Madame Curie recently published a rather lengthy and comprehensive account of recent Church drama on her blog.  If you are interested in knowing the details, feel free to check out her blog at http://sapphicsoliloquies.blogspot.com/.

Largely, this relates to points 12 and 13 from my "Update" post from a couple of days ago.

Basically, what it boils down to is this:

After being stalked by the missionaries and then having a visit with the Bishop and First Counselor of the ward, Madame Curie noticed some blog traffic from the Philadelphia area.  We are now watching carefully for visits to our blogs from the Philadelphia area (including suburbs).  So, if this refers to you, dear reader, please email or post in the comments to let Madame Curie know who you are, particularly if you think we know you. If we don't know you, please at least anonymously comment and tell us we have nothing to fear from you (we recognize there are valid reasons to want to be anonymous beyond gathering juicy tidbits of information for excommunication proceedings). Currently Madame Curie cannot rest peacefully at night due to worrying, please alleviate her fears. We will happily respond to any requests for more information from you in public or in private.

Happy Hanukkah!

Happy Hanukkah!

Monday, December 6, 2010

16. Hanukkah - Jewish boys can be so cute.

By Mister Curie

MoHoHawaii in the comments to my previous post game me the Channukah gift of this You-Tube video. In fact, this video (which I had previously shared on Facebook) was precisely what I was referring to in point #16 of my previous post. So I thought I would post it specifically for everyone to enjoy.

Aren't these Jewish boys so cute!

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Update

By Mister Curie

After coming out to my immediate family about no longer believing in the church and also about being attracted to men, I have noticed some interesting changes in my life. Many of these changes are due to the relatively positive response I received from my family when I came out.  First, coming out has created some space in my life to be myself  without worrying about the response of others and that has removed a good deal of angst and urgency, both of which were contributing to my need to blog. Second, I have been able to work on decompartmentalizing much of my life and thus have been posting more on facebook, broadcasting my lack of Mormon beliefs and interest in LGBT themes in a non-anonymous fashion.  Third, with outing myself to those that matter most in my life, gay  and Mormon issues have taken a backseat in my life as of late and other aspects of my life that I was ignoring have demanded attention after their long neglect (essentially, I had a meeting with my PhD thesis committee and they feel I am ready to graduate, which means I need to finish up my research ASAP and write hundreds of pages for my thesis before May. My research has also become very interesting lately with obtaining some  knock-out mice of the gene I am studying and having multiple avenues of my research all beginning to converge).  Things are going well and my list of topics to blog about keeps getting longer and longer, but I have not had the time to address them in an adequate manner.  As I often found when I regularly kept a journal, right when there are things to write about, I am doing so many things that I don't have time to write about them.

Thus, I am happy to have a place to blog to process through things and I am not going away, but I can't guarantee that blog posts will be regular and/or frequent.  If you  would like more frequent updates on my life, I encourage you to 'friend' me on facebook.  I have added a facebook widget on the sidebar. Also, rather than holding on to the list of things I have done that each deserve a blog post waiting for enough time to do each one justice, I will list them in this update and perhaps future blog posts will expand on some of them, although I am sure there will be future things to blog about in addition, so no guarantees.

In chronological order, some important events since coming out to my family:

1. One of  my younger brothers came to visit and we took a trip to NYC, where we saw Wicked, had an enjoyable dinner with Horizon, and stayed overnight at his apartment.
2. Summer trip to Rehoboth, an LGBT-friendly area, and took a stroll down  to the gay  beach
3. Family trip to the Catholic Marianist retreat center which further confirmed my agnostic/atheist belief system
4. MoHo East party at Horizon's apartment over Labor Day weekend, where I first met David Baker, ClarkMichael, and several other MoHos.
5. Watched some of Clark's YouTube videos. I want to watch more.
6. Also watched some of the MorMen videos.  Again,  there are more of these that I'd love to watch.
7. OutFest 2010 party in Philadelphia, National Coming Out Day
8. General Conference - Boyd K. Packer, need I say more?
9. Read several LGBT nonfiction books from the University library,definitely want to do some book reviews on my blog.
10. Trip to Washington DC, where I spent more time with David Baker and also met Sean.
11.  Bollywood parties at our place - Some of the Indian  boys in those movies are so cute!
12.  Missionaries in the area are persistent, so we share our church concerns with them, dumping it all on them without filtering for their sake.  Missionaries sit dumbfounded with deer in headlights look on their faces, not knowing how to respond.  As I go off on church history concerns, missionaries no doubt confuse cognitive dissonance for "spirit of Satan" and suddenly need to leave for "another appointment".
13. Bishop and First Counselor pay a visit to our home.  We anticipated a visit expressing concern for our eternal welfare, instead they do not express any interest in our concerns or in attempting to resolve them, but rather wish to "protect the good name of the church".  They just want to make sure we aren't part of an organized anti-Mormon group trying to take down the church.  We feel  they certainly overestimate our influence and they leave reassured that we aren't systematically trying to take the church down.  We feel emboldened and empowered after the visit, realizing how little power the church has over us now.
14. Thanksgiving - stayed in Philadelphia, but some minor family drama in Idaho when one of my younger brothers outed me to all the extended family and forced my mom to make a family-wide announcement
15. In response to #11, I emailed the letter I wrote for my parents to all the adults on that side of the family so they  would know I am not ashamed and to let them know I am up for a dialogue on the topic.
16. Hanukkah - Jewish boys can be so cute.

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Party Invitation

By Mister Curie


National Coming Out Day is quickly approaching (October 11) and Philadelphia has the world's largest "National Coming Out Day" event, known as "Outfest!"  Essentially it is a huge gay block party in the Philadelphia gayborhood.  It is being held on Sunday, October 10th, from noon-7pm.  You are all now officially invited to attend.  Madame Curie and I are intending to go and we'd love to have some friends join us.  Let us know if you are interested. You can get more details from the website.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

The Onion

By Mister Curie

So Madame Curie sent me the following link from the Onion.

It's not exactly how I remember asking her to marry me . . .

Thursday, September 2, 2010

My Mormon.org profile . . .

By Mister Curie

When I heard about the makeover going on at Mormon.org, I got an idea to try an experiment.  I wanted to test the boundaries of what could get approved by the church.  Clearly this was a  PR move by the church, so what would happen if someone tried to publish very blunt responses to tricky questions?  My first honest attempts clearly didn't pass PR guidelines, as I gave legitimacy to FLDS claims to be Mormon and critiqued members for failing to obey the Word of Wisdom as given (positive use of mild barley drinks and whole grains and limiting meat consumption), instead of simply meaning no coffee, tea, alcohol, tobacco. So I decided to try answering some of the FAQs with a response that a true believer wouldn't blink at, but that would make investigators squirm a little and think twice about, including incorporating some of the doctrines anti-mormons rant about.
 
As a result, my profile was published and is officially part of the church's new Mormon.org PR campaign.  At the risk of losing the protection provided my anonymity, here is the link to my Mormon.org profile:

http://mormon.org/me/1V3Q-eng/

So, while I'm giving up anonymity, feel free to add me on facebook.

On a positive note, they are still debating over whether to publish my offensive response to what Mormons believe about homosexuality.

What is the Church’s attitude on homosexuality? Why is homosexuality and same-sex marriage important to the Mormon Church?

When I was young, one of our highest leaders, the prophet, then President Spencer W. Kimball, taught about homosexuality: “This perversion is defined as the sexual desire for those of the same sex or sexual relations between individuals of the same sex, whether men or women. It is the sin of the ages.” And later he uses these adjectives to describe homosexuality: repugnant, deviant, unnatural, abominable, evil, ugly, and curable.

I appreciate the irony that if President Spencer W. Kimball made an honest profile, his wouldn't be approved.

But it does frustrate me that this language was deeply ingrained into me as the mind and will of the Lord and that the church's stance contributed to my inability to accept my homosexuality.

Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Impressed

By Mister Curie

I just wanted to say that I was highly impressed with the MoHo community last night as several members of the community showed their love and concern for others through their actions.  When the blog posted suicide note was discovered and broadcast across facebook, a concerted effort was made by people who weren't even sure if they personally knew the blogger to find and protect them in this critical hour of need.  It was amazing to see a variety of modern technologies put into use to improve communication and coordinate efforts to move as quickly as possible. 

This was my first real interaction with the concept of gay suicide.  Hopefully the community we are fostering will help to support people so that suicide does not appear to be the only option available and we will not have to deal as much with the issue.  However, I wonder if it would be worthwhile to create a standardized approach to the situation if something similar happens again so that we can quickly raise the alarm and coordinate efforts to protect each other.  I wonder if the MoHo Map would be an appropriate website to centralize some of these efforts.  What do you think? 

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Beach Vacation

By Mister Curie

We are down at the beach, having a great family vacation.  The beach just happens to be LGBT-friendly, so there are lots of cute same-sex couples walking around, and tons of eye candy.

I've been having fun playing around with a makeover for the beach.  I started wearing a variety of tank tops, bought a beach necklace, and got a tribal henna tattoo on my arm.  I don't look very Mormon anymore.

Madame Curie suspiciously asked if I was trying to look like Brad Rowe.  He is the co-star in the gay beach movie, Shelter.  He significantly added to the eye-candy of the movie and is one of my celebrity crushes.  I think he had an arm tattoo in the movie, but I don't recall him wearing a beach necklace or tank tops regularly in the movie.  So the answer is no, but I can't say I'd be disappointed if I looked a little more like him.
 
  
  
 

Monday, August 9, 2010

Mormon Stories: Bruce Bastian

By Mister Curie

I listened to an excellent podcast over the weekend and wanted to share it with everyone.  John Dehlin interviewed Bruce Bastian, Co-Founder of WordPerfect. That was my first word processing program when my family got our first PC.  There were lots of parallels that I found interesting in the podcast between our lives: born in an Idaho Mormon family, designed marching band shows, gay, married.  Now if I only I could become a multi-millionaire . . .

Here's the Link:


Sunday, July 25, 2010

Came out to my family - short version

By Mister Curie

Just wanted to let everyone know that we came out to my family last night and it went better than expected. Madame Curie and I met together with my parents first and told them in person, then gave them the letter and an autographed copy of "No More Goodbyes" and "Now That You Know". Then I met individually with each of my siblings and told them. The whole process took about 5 hours. I think the church disaffection is the hardest aspect for my mom. The gay thing is hardest for each of my brothers. But each conversation ended with expressions of love on both sides and hugs. Everyone seemed grateful that we wanted to be honest and open, which I think made it easier. I know there is a lot of processing that will need to go on for each person now, but I'm really grateful that their initial reaction was they ability to look beyond their Mormon mindset and see us as the people they have always known us to be and to express their love.

Thanks everyone for your support. It made it much easier knowing you were all rooting for us.  I read the blog comments on my previous post several times throughout the day to give me the courage to tell them. And the personal texts from some of you were also very encouraging.

I'll write up a longer version at some point, but I wanted to let you know it went well.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

D Day

By Mister Curie

So, the plan is to come out to my family sometime today about being disaffected from the church and being gay, in person.  Wish me luck!

I'll return and report.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Inviting Another Married Couple to Live in Our Home

By Mister Curie

Yes, you read the title right, we have invited another married couple to live in our home.  It will be an experiment in communal living.  But it isn't as sordid as you are thinking.  No, they don't have a mixed-orientation marriage and they aren't interested in a kinky affair.  Madame Curie and I vowed to have an open home policy when we got married, that we would always try to provide a place for the wandering traveler or displaced vagabond when they had the need of a warm meal and a roof over their heads.  Somehow that vow has lead us to almost always having someone staying in our home.  We have regularly hosted people visiting the area for school interviews, job interviews, vacation, etc. (which is an open invitation to any readers out there who travel to the Philadelphia sometime in the future and need a place to stay).  More recently we have had a series of displaced young women from the Single's ward staying with us for months to years at a time.  Our most recent guest had finally found an apartment and was moving out, only to have us receive a call the next day that a high school girl visiting Philadelphia for a summer program needed a place to stay.  And a couple of days later some of our good friends had a house fire and needed a place to stay for a couple of months.  So we got rid of one and gained four more.  We're grateful  for the opportunity to help others.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

QFest: Movie Reviews

By Mister Curie

I really enjoyed Qfest!  I'm sad it is over already.  Here are my reviews:

Is It Just Me? (grade: A)

I thought this was a very cute romantic comedy and follows a pretty traditional romantic comedy script.  I thought the character development in the movie was superb with the characters initially appearing to be stereotypes, but each develops throughout the movie to destroy those original stereotypes.  It was very funny and heartwarming.  The director and the main actor for the movie were in attendance and held a Q and A session afterwards, which was fascinating.  This movie should be available on Netflix around October of this year.

Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride (grade: A)

I really enjoyed this documentary.  It was very interesting to see how pride festivals differ around the world and to see what types of civil rights exist for the LGBT community around the world.  I found that the movie enhanced my meaning of Pride by showing areas of the world where Pride is a protest and a march for rights, as opposed to the celebration we usually see in the US.  It also highlighted some interesting historical background to Pride and the rainbow flag that I was unaware of.  I think what enhanced my experience with this movie was that a major portion of the film focused on Russia, where Pride parades are banned each year.  I served a Russian speaking mission and so those portions of the film hit me particularly strongly.  I found myself suffering emotional whiplash as the scenery in the film reminded me of my mission and that contrasted with the Russian mobs attacking the LGBT participants. 

The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister (grade: B)

Jane Austen period piece and a lesbian romance.  What more is there to say?  It was actually fascinating to see LGBT and feminist themes in a very different time period before the word lesbian was even coined.  I'll leave the details of this review to Madame Curie.

The Four-Faced Liar (grade: A)

This film focused on sexual fluidity and finding someone who compliments you in every way.  The main drawback was that the two men didn't get together and instead the movie focused on the lesbian romance.  The most memorable thing about this movie is the music, which I thought was amazing!


Fashion Victim (grade: A)

This movie was hilarious and very well done.  The main message seemed to be about accepting our differences and how that makes the world a better place.  The main drawback was that it is a non-English film with subtitles, so the many quotable lines will never become mainstream because there is no inflection to imitate when repeating the lines.

Shut Up and Kiss Me (grade: F)

Don't waste your time with this one.  I have seen better cinematography from high school filmmakers.  The equipment used was sub-par and the sound was terrible.  The actors lines were often lost because the equipment would pick up the scrape of the chairs louder than the dialogue.  The acting was terrible and the story unremarkable.  There was no chemistry between the actors and I couldn't believe the romantic side of the film.  The film also devolved into a preachy moral that I disagreed with and did not think was adequately illustrated by the film.  The film does have a couple of scenes with full frontal male nudity, if you are into that sort of thing.

Eyes Wide Open (grade: B)

This was a pretty interesting story about another conservative religion, orthodox Judaism.   While the specifics are different from Mormonism, the attitudes were largely similar.  The more I learn about other religions, the more I see the similarities.  The love story was compelling and the music was fantastic.  The film did lean toward attempting to be artistic rather than entertaining, so many of the scenes move slowly.  The film did provide food for thought regarding the mixed-orientation marriage portrayed in the film. 


You Should Meet My Son! (grade: A)

This was a fast-paced comedy that was hilarious.  The acting was a bit melodramatic, but it added to the charm of the film.  The end of the film did get a bit preachy as regards a self-professed homosexual entering into a mixed-orientation marriage.  While I disagreed with the films pretense that such marriages are always loveless, many of its points were well taken, including the propensity of highly religious people to think a mixed-orientation marriage is the only way to please God.

Undertow (grade: A+)

This was my favorite film of the festival and I highly recommend to everyone, but particularly to those who have only accepted their homosexuality after marriage who now find themselves in a mixed-orientation marriage.  The film really surprised me with the intensity of the emotions I felt.  The film really spoke to me.  I cried through nearly half of the film as it dealt with the story of how one man grapples with fully loving his wife and child, but also being gay and falling in love with another man.  The cinematography and location were beautiful and the acting fantastic.


Children of God (grade: A)

Beautifully done and powerful, I really enjoyed this movie.  The main message seemed to be to portray how religion messes up everything, a feeling I regularly identify with.

Again, I am quite sad that the film festival is now over.  I had a great time and really look forward to next years film festival.  In the meantime, I only was able to see 10 of the 125 films presented and I know I missed several that I want to see.  I'm really hoping that many of them will show up on Netflix over the coming year and provide plenty of entertainment to come.

Friday, July 16, 2010

QFest: Friday

By Mister Curie

Madame Curie is really outdoing herself tonight by watching Le Petite Curie all night so that I can attend the following three films:


You Should Meet My Son!


Family values just the way we love them, and lots of laughs in this wonderfully joyous film about a pair of Southern women who try and set their son/nephew up with the right man.
Probably the sweetest and one of the funniest movies in this year’s festival, Keith Hartman’s feature debut is about the mom and aunt everyone wished they had. Mae (JoAnne McGee) is a Southern mother who just wants the best for her son Brian (Stewart Carrico). Mae and her sister Rose (Carol Goans) invite Brian and every single girl in town over most Friday nights to meet Brian. But Brian always brings his “special friend and roommate.” One night the sisters finally catch on – with the help of an "Is Your Son Gay?" survey in a magazine. The sisters then wonderfully change their course and try to find Brian a man. They’ve heard that the Internet is the place, so they ask a teenage neighbor to set up a computer for them. He sends them right to Manhunt, where they’re abruptly shot right into the gay meat-market of the 21st century. But, they’re determined ladies, even if it means hitting the bars and clubs themselves to rustle up a few Mr. Rights. Absolutely charming, You Should Meet My Son is like one of the best "Golden Girls" episodes, if they went gay, I mean even gayer.

Undertow


Shot in a scenic Peruvian fishing village, Undertow is the emotionally powerful story of a secret love between a married man with a pregnant wife and an openly gay artist.
Profoundly moving, Undertow is a gay romance like none you’ve seen before. Set in a gorgeous Peruvian seaside town, this tender, romantic tale positively radiates love. Miguel (Cristian Mercado) and Mariela (Tatiana Astengo) are a popular couple in their small fishing village. Mariela is expecting a child and all seems well on the surface. The couple are an integral part of a very tight village social structure. The town is so small that most secrets are hard to keep; gossips are always busy. But Miguel has a secret life; he’s having an affair with Santiago, a gay artist, who is scorned by the other villagers. The two are very much in love with one another, but Miguel is torn between the traditions of his village and his love for Santiago. A tragedy occurs that forces him to make a choice between conformity and amore. Filmed with an eye for detail and rich with emotion, writer/director Javier Fuentes-Leon’s debut film won the coveted World Cinema Audience Award at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Undertow is the highlight of the year for gay international cinema; it’s a must-see at QFest.

Children of God


Finding inspiration in Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, Kareem Mortimer’s film is the tale of an intense romance between an artist and a closeted musician on a small island in the Bahamas.
For those of you lucky enough to have seen Kareem Mortimer’s wonderful short, Float (PIGLFF 2008), you’ll be excited to see the feature debut of this exciting Bahamian filmmaker. Johnny (Johnny Ferro) is an art student in Nassau whose technique is perfect, but he’s creatively blocked. His teacher sends him off to the rural island of Eleuthera where he meets Romeo (Stephen Tyrone Williams), a hot musician. They begin a clumsy dance of attraction and romance. Romeo has a fiancĂ© and is identified as straight, but he’s been known to play with the boys on the side secretly. The Bahamas are bound by religious traditions that discourage homosexuality and end up forcing gay men into the closet. Lena is a pastor’s wife. Her husband demonizes homosexuality to further his career, yet he’s on the DL as well. When Lena discovers that her husband has infected her with VD, he accuses her of infidelities. These characters are all bound together in this intense drama of love, family and secrets. The filmmaker has honored the Bard well with his inspiration. With extraordinary cinematography (on a low budget), a vacation worthy setting, naturalistic actors and a mythic story Children of God is a superb tale of “a pair of star-cross’d lovers.”

Reviews to follow . . .

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

QFest: Wednesday

By Mister Curie

Madame Curie is being an absolute saint this evening and taking care of Le Petite Curie so that I can attend the following movie tonight:

Eyes Wide Open


Much to the shock of their tightly-knit, ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem, a married butcher with four children falls in love with a twenty-something young man in this stunningly moving Israeli film.
Powerful and quietly humane, Eyes Wide Open,, Haim Tabakman's, debut feature is an extraordinary portrait of forbidden love. Aaron (Zohar Strauss) leads a quiet life. Each day he goes from his tidy apartment, where he lives with his four children and his wife Rivka, to work at his butcher-shop. After work, Aaron goes to his synagogue to pray. Aaron is a tzaddik, a righteous man, and when Ezri (Ran Danker), a handsome young man arrives at his shop during a rainstorm looking for shelter, he gives it. But something more happens as sexual desire develops between the two men. Ezri wants to kiss Aaron, but Aaron tells Ezri that it's a challenge for them to pray about. Ezri takes Aaron to a spring outside the city where their desire bubbles to the surface. As their gay love is consummated, the marital love between Aaron and Rivka becomes troubled. Insightful and almost delicate in its storytelling, Eyes Wide Open, is a essential film in the cannon of queer filmmaking. With not an extra word, frame or movement, director Haim Tabakman and screenwriter Merav Doster deserve kudos for this gorgeously wrenching film.

Review to follow . . .

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

QFest: Tuesday

By Mister Curie

Date night!  We are going to attend a triple-header at Qfest.  Movies are as follows:

The Four-Faced Liar


Named after a clock that fails to keep the same time on each of its four faces, The Four-Faced Liar is the Greenwich Village Irish bar that provides the backdrop to this screwball comedy of sexual confusion with lesbian inclinations!
Bridget, who prefers to have a girl of the moment rather than a meaningful relationship, is drowning beers with her best-friend/roommate Trip and his girlfriend Chloe at The Four-Faced Liar. Greg and Molly, childhood sweethearts and new transplants to New York, venture in. Call it destiny, kismet, or being in the right place at the right time, but sparks are instantaneously ignited. While Greg and Trip bond over sports, Bridget and Molly discover a mutual appreciation for Emily BrontĂ« and Wuthering Heights. As sexual tensions build, Bridget realizes she’s falling in love for the first time with the unavailable, soon to be married Molly. This delightful sexy take on love and life amongst a group of twenty-something friends is crisply shot, tightly scripted and 100% engaging. Writer, producer and principal star Marja-Lewis Ryan is charming, witty and believable as Bridget, and director Jacob Chase proves he is a talent to watch as he masterfully transitions from short to feature length filmmaker. A must-see for any young adult questioning their not-so-platonic friendship!

Fashion Victim


A truly original 16th century comedy about a gay fashion designer who is selected to make a wedding gown for a Spanish noble. "Project Runway" meets “Monty Python” in this hilarious farce.
Experience a totally different kind of French farce! Stylists are fussing over the models; the curtains are drawn; the candles along the runway are lit; the orchestra begins to play; and then it’s the special moment—the models in spectacularly wild clothing walk the runway to the audience’s oohs and aahs. No, it’s not fashion week at Bryant Park; it’s gay designer Pic Saint Loup’s (star/co-writer/director Gerard Jugnot) fashion show for the rich and famous in 1577 Paris. The Madonna-like show so impresses King Henri III that the House of Pic Saint Loup is selected to make the gown for the wedding of his nephew to the daughter of a Spanish noble. Yet behind the scenes, the esteemed fashion house is in trouble. Age and new fashion trends have caught up to the 60-ish, fussy, always-in-a-tizzy boss. With the designer’s creative well dried up, he's secretly depending on others for his ideas. Commanded to make the gown, he and his entire staff (including Arabs, Jews and homosexuals) travel to Spain which is in the midst of the Inquisition, not exactly a happy time for the aforementioned people. The overwhelmed designer is about to become a fashionista up to his neck in medieval craziness – what’s a queen to do?

Shut Up and Kiss Me


Ben’s friends think he is catch – smart, successful, sexy…and a commitmentphobe. Ben thinks he just hasn’t found the one. Find out who's right.
Straight from the heart, screenwriter/star Ronnie Kerr’s autobiographical romance hits home because it’s his story, and it’s a sweet one. Ben is attractive, successful, and looking for love…in all the wrong places. Failed attempts with video dating, his uproarious friends setting him up, and bad gym run-ins have this perennially single 35-year-old ready to call it quits. He figures maybe romance is just not in the cards for him. Except there is this hot stud who runs by his house each morning as he waters his lawn. It takes a fair amount of courage for Ben to speak with Grey, well actually, he’s pushed into it by his best gal pal Callie, and the chemistry is instant. But there’s one small problem, Grey’s got some commitment issues and Ben’s “a one man guy”. Shut Up and Kiss Me is the classic story of boy meets boy -- one of the boys likes to sleep with multiple boys -- the first boy wants it all to himself. Fresh, sharp and witty; this one’s a romance for the rest of us.

Reviews to follow . . .

Monday, July 12, 2010

Coming Out to My Family Revisted, Again

By Mister Curie

The disaffection coming out approach I previously proposed in my post "Coming Out to My Family Revisted" was given a trial run with the arrival of my aunt and uncle, as I described in the post "Hiding", this is actually the approach we took in our own home when some relatives came to visit for a couple of days. I think that having experienced this type of approach, we didn't find that it actually worked that well for us. We felt uncomfortable wondering when/if they were going to notice our lack of orthodoxy or orthopraxy. Ultimately we don't think they noticed anything, but that is also part of the problem if we view this as a step toward coming out. Most recently we have decided to announce to my family before we arrive that we are no longer believing and while I trend toward avoiding challenging the orthopraxy, having had this uncomfortable experience the last couple of days, it may be best to drop all pretenses.  Returning to the closet about disaffection was not a pleasant experience and I'm not sure that I want to do it again with regards to disaffection or being gay when we go out to visit. With the energy of outing myself regarding my disaffection and the relief I feel at being able to be open and honest, I think I will probably out myself regarding being gay at the same time to try and get it all out in the open.  I have worked on a letter that I intend to email them shortly before we go out to visit.  I would love to receive any comments and suggestions from others.  I will also admit that I have taken some particularly clever phrases from Chris because his statements resonated so well with me.   What do you think?  Is it too much to drop it all at once on my parents?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Dear Mom and Dad,

First and foremost, I want to thank you for all of the love and support you have given me. I appreciate your efforts to raise me properly and teach me correct principles, such as honesty, integrity, love, service to my fellow man, etc. I have many wonderful memories from my childhood and your efforts have helped me to become the man I am today.  I know that you did your best in your parenting efforts and sacrificed much on my behalf.  Being a parent now myself, I am beginning to understand the great challenge of being a parent, with all of its joys, triumphs, difficulties, and heartbreaks.

Writing this letter is one of the most difficult things I have ever done.  I wanted to write so that I could get the wording perfect, but still I struggle to find the right words to convey my thoughts and feelings in the spirit of love and respect that they are intended.  I suspect that this letter ranks high on the list of letters that parents want least to receive.  In writing this letter I am attempting to exemplify the principles of honesty and integrity that you instilled in me.  I am not sure if you have noticed the increasing sense of separation between us over the past year.  Our phone calls have become less frequent and I have been more and more at a loss as to what to say during the conversations we have had.  I have been on a personal journey that I wasn’t sure you wanted to know about.  However, I am accustomed to being honest with you and so I am compelled to share these parts of myself with you, despite the pain I fear it may cause.  I hope that sharing this will lead to further understanding and love between us.

The past year has been a challenging one for Madame Curie and me in many ways. Circumstances and our scientific minds have compelled us to begin questioning all of our previous assumptions about life. I think that such a process is a natural part of growing up and taking responsibility. Madame Curie and I have been on separate, but similar journeys that have been both fascinating and overwhelming.  You may recall some of the beginnings of Madame Curie’s journey as she blogged her questions on her “_______________” blog. Our questioning led us doubt the very foundation of our testimonies.

Speaking for myself, I had always believed the church was true. I assumed it was true. I had always trusted my leaders and friends that the church was true. I felt wonderful, positive feelings that I had been taught were the Holy Ghost that confirmed to me the church was true. In fact, I thought that I knew the church was true and I lived my life accordingly, exhibiting all seriousness and diligence in attempting to serve the Lord. Because so much of what I am was wrapped up in the church, I assure you that I have not taken my questioning lightly. I have always believed the Prophet Joseph Smith’s statement that “Mormonism is truth; and every man who embraces it feels himself at liberty to embrace every truth” and I moved forward believing that all truths I discovered could only strengthen my testimony.

We do feel like our questioning has drawn us closer to truth, but we admit that it has pulled us away from the church. Many of the prior inconsistencies we struggled with disappeared and made more sense when we no longer assumed the church was true. Additionally, much of what we have found in our questioning has been inconsistent with what we believed about the church. We would be happy to continue living the life we had as believing members of the church, a life which has brought us a lot of joy, if we could still believe in the church we thought we were members of, but we cannot. Currently Madame Curie and I are not in the same place as regards faith, but we are patiently working through those differences.  We continue to question our prior and current assumptions. I assume it is a journey that we will travel for the rest of our lives, hoping to draw ever closer to truth. In many ways it is exciting and liberating to no longer think I (or even necessarily anyone else) have all the answers, if such answers even exist. I think that is part of the scientist in me.

Our changes in belief do not change who we are at our cores.  This does not change our love for you, each other, Le Petite Curie, or any other members of the family.   We do not wish to hurt anyone else’s relationship with the church and we do not intend to do anything to try and hurt the church.  We intend to raise Le Petite Curie and instill in him the same core principles of goodness that you raised me with.  We believe the church is largely a force of goodness in the world and that its members are sincere in their beliefs and righteous desires, although we no longer hold those same beliefs.

Our journey has been further complicated by the fact that as I was able to let go of my belief in the church, I have finally been able to accept that I am physically attracted to men.  I am gay.  In retrospect, I realize that I have experienced these feelings for the same gender since childhood. There are many reasons why it has taken me so long to acknowledge them, however. On one hand, the feelings came so naturally that there didn’t seem to be anything to notice or acknowledge, much like we rarely notice when we are breathing. On the other hand, the things I heard about homosexuality in church were in direct contradiction to what I experienced. President Spencer W. Kimball wrote in his book, The Miracle of Forgiveness, about homosexuality: “This perversion is defined as the sexual desire for those of the same sex or sexual relations between individuals of the same sex, whether men or women. It is the sin of the ages.” And later he uses these adjectives to describe homosexuality: repugnant, deviant, unnatural, abominable, evil, ugly, and curable. I did not feel that those statements could possibly apply to me, so I obviously couldn’t be homosexual. I was also taught that homosexuality was a choice, and I knew that I had not consciously chosen to have these feelings. In Junior High I began to notice a disparity between my own and my friends’ interests in girls. I had also begun to internalize the messages from church about homosexuals and so I labeled my growing attractions to the male body as temptations from Satan, thus externalizing the experience. I regularly prayed long, tearful prayers, asking Heavenly Father to help me overcome these temptations and to forgive me for them.  I strove to live the gospel with exactness so that I could qualify for God’ help in overcoming these attractions.

It was only upon questioning my prior assumptions that I was able to acknowledge that my feelings of attraction toward men are not external temptations, but rather that they originate from inside me. They are not something that I believe can or needs to be changed. The exact causes of homosexuality are currently unknown and I think it is fruitless to speculate too long on potential causes.  I do not think that my attractions to men are because of anything you have or have not done.  They were not taught to me or learned from someone else.

Perhaps it is important to dispel some misperceptions at this point.  Admitting that I am gay does not mean that I am promiscuous. It does not mean that I have had physical relationships with men before Madame Curie and I were married or after. It does not mean that I cross-dress. It does not mean that Madame Curie and I are splitting up, or that I love her or Le Petite Curie any less. It does not mean that I am attracted to children or should be considered unsafe around children.  It does not mean that I am any other person than the son that you have known all these years.

This admission of homosexuality naturally raises some questions about my current family. Madame Curie and I are very happy together and love each other very much. As I’m sure you have noticed, we are made for each other. We connect on many levels, including intellectually and emotionally. Our marriage is (and has been) an expression of our sincere love for each other and has not been false in any way. Even without infidelities, acknowledging my homosexuality naturally introduces some challenges into our relationship and we are working through those with the help of a qualified therapist. Additionally, we have found a support network among other gay and married couples (many of whom are LDS). And with our intellectual inclinations, we are also delving into the scientific literature. We have every intention of staying together and making our marriage work. Many marriages face difficult challenges, this one just happens to be one such challenge that our marriage faces.

I know this information may be overwhelming and come as a surprise and a shock. I understand all too well that it may be painful. I hope that it will lead to further understanding and love between us. I am sure you have a lot of questions.  We are happy to answer any questions that you may have.  I am sure that you will have new questions in the future.  I will always be happy to try and answer them to help facilitate understanding between us.  I am the same person that I was before, but now I am sharing another part of myself with you. I am also bringing some books for you that I hope will be helpful. I hope you will read them and discuss them with me.

I love you very much and I look forward to our visit!

Love,

Mister Curie

Sunday, July 11, 2010

QFest: Sunday

By Mister Curie

As Madame Curie already announced on her blog, we are attending QFest, the Philadelphia Gay and Lesbian film festival, this year.  We sat down and identified which days we could arrange for babysitting so we could attend together and then we identified which other films were "must see" and we arranged with each other to watch Le Petite Curie so the other person could go on a solo excursion to the film festival.  Just to keep it fair, we each get the same number of solo nights out and we will each see a total of 10 films at the film festival (4 together, 6 solo).  Today's films we are going to see are as follows:

Is It Just Me?



A witty, feel-good romantic comedy about a sexually-frustrated young man, his hunky go-go boy roomate and the man he meets in an online chatroom. Romance turns to chaos when a case of mistaken identity upsets his chance for true love.
One of the funniest and sweetest gay romantic comedies in years, Is It Just Me? delivers a refreshingly witty take on one gay boy’s search for Mr. Right. Cute, but unaware of his adorableness, Blaine (Nicholas Downs), a newspaper columnist can’t seem to meet guys, let alone form a relationship. His beefy go-go boy roommate Cameron— who has no shortage of willing partners —can’t understand why he doesn’t pounce and enjoy some one-nighters. Instead, Blaine hides in his room and searches Internet chat rooms for a kindred spirit. He may have found one in the form of Zander, a shy recently relocated Texan. But when the time comes to exchange photos, Blaine accidentally sends an image of his hunky roomie, and things go from romantically promising to just confusing. This case of mistaken identity escalates when Blaine begs his roommate to go out with the charming, sandy-haired Zander. When it seems they hit it off, our lonely hero feels love has passed him by again... or did it? Think Cyrano de Bergerac by way of Eating Out, writer/director J.C. Calciano’s first feature film is a hilarious, captivating winner. And the guys aren’t bad either!

Beyond Gay: The Politics of Pride


A documentary exploring the role and relevance of Pride Celebrations, detailing the vast differences in Pride movements around the world.
This film covers the diverse range of Pride events along with the political dynamics behind them. From Brazil's government sponsored events that attract three million participants to Sri Lanka, where "curative rape" is sanctioned as a "cure" for lesbianism, you are reminded that homosexuality remains illegal in roughly 80 countries (punishable by death in seven). As Ken Cooler (Canadian Pride Festival Planner) travels to various locations around the world a 'Freedometer' charts each location/country's LGBT tolerance level. Highlights of the film include interviews with Gilbert Baker—the activist who created the Rainbow Flag, along with Russian organizer Nikolai Alekseev. Alekseev arranged cloak and dagger meetings to stage and quickly disperse a parade in Moscow, where the mayor has banned the Pride parade forever. This 2008 Moscow Gay Pride March will have you cheering and standing on your feet. Even those who have become jaded toward parades and Pride events will have a lot to reconsider after viewing this inspiring film.


The Secret Diaries of Miss Anne Lister


Considered by many to be the first modern lesbian, Anne Lister—born in the same era as Jane Austen—was an inspiring 19th-century landowner, industrialist and traveler. A prolific diarist, she detailed her observations on life, and her passionate affairs with other women in over four million words, one-sixth written in secret code!
John Lister, the last in the line of the Lister family, wisely stashed the diaries of his relative Anne behind the paneling of the ancestral home in Shibden Hall, Halifax, Yorkshire, over 150 years ago. Discovered in the 1980s, this Sapphic treasure-trove which took 6-years to decode is the rich source material for this sumptuously produced, BBC period-drama. The story starts with Anne, (Maxine Peake, "Criminal Justice") looking through her monocular at a woman, Mariana (Anna Madeley), her secret lover and soul-mate. United, they savor illicit kisses pressed against an ancient tree. When Mariana succumbs to societal pressure and marries a wealthy landowner, Charles Lawton, Anne is bereft. Finding solace in scholarly pursuits—journal-writing, pistol-shooting and remodeling the vast estate—her libido is soon re-energized when she spies a young pretty parishioner, Miss Browne. When an heiress, Ann Walker, agrees to back a business proposal, Miss Lister has to make some difficult choices to carve out a lesbian life for herself. Writer Jane English (“Sugar Rush”) and director James Kent deserve a standing ovation for resuscitating the true story of this remarkable woman, who only loved “the fairer-sex,” and bringing her vividly back to life, 170 years after her death!

I will see the first two solo, while we will see the third film together.  Reviews to follow . . .

Saturday, July 10, 2010

Book Review: In Quiet Desperation

By Mister Curie

A variety of factors compelled me to read this book.  First, a number of the reviews for "8" have said that the Matis family is misrepresented and their words taken out of context in the documentary, so in preparing to watch "8" I wanted to know their story and the actual context of their words.  Second, the fireside in Idaho Falls with Ty Mansfield as featured speaker made me want to know what Ty Mansfield had to say about homosexuality/SSA/SGA.  Third, my meet-up with Horizon produced such an emotional reaction (largely related to the evilness/brokenness that I felt growing up in the church) that I wanted to see if the book would produce a similar reaction and force myself to confront those feelings and analyze through them.  Fourth, I am contemplating coming out to my parents on an upcoming trip and I'd like to recommend something for them to read, so I was reading this book to see if it would be suitable to recommend to them to give them a positive view of homosexuality without leaving the Mormon worldview too much.

Part I - This section of the book was written by the parents of Stuart Matis.  Frankly, I found this section very poorly written and I bristled at the condescending tone I perceived throughout the section (such as when they said, "It is vitally important to distinguish between the feelings of attraction and the choice to act - or refrain from acting - on those feelings").  I viewed its words as pure poison and quite offensive.  It was clear that Fred and Marilyn Matis are firmly within the Mormon worldview.  I found myself crying for Stuart and his struggles.  This section brought up the same feelings as I had after my visit with Horizon and I better understood where those feelings of evilness/brokenness came from.  I found it very offensive that Stuart's parents knew he had purchased a gun and did not really try to help him.  They even admit that the suicide was not a surprise, but rather they "knew he would eventually take his own life."  And yet they didn't do anything about it!?!?!?  I felt discouraged that the Mormon worldview causes Mormon homosexuals to experience such hope that those feelings will be removed in the resurrection and to feel so discouraged and such inferiority that they shorten their life through suicide.  It was heart-breaking to read the suicide note proclaiming that in "remov[ing] the chains of mortality. . . I no longer hate myself . . . for the first time in over twenty years, I am free from my pains."  The only thing making it worse was his parents' statement that "it has been comforting to know that he was faithful to his temple covenants" and that they had an "indescribable feeling of peace that lasted for several weeks" that they imagined would be the feelings they would have in the celestial kingdom. I am sure that the Matis family is very sincere and I have heard of the many great things they have done to try and help the Mormon homosexual community.  I do not fault them for their actions within the Mormon worldview, but I think the Mormon view of homosexuality is tragically flawed and its doctrine on homosexuality creates an atmosphere that directly creates the feelings of despair and inferiority.

Part 2 - This section was written by Ty Mansfield.  In direct contrast with the Matis section, Ty's writing is excellent.  He is eloquent, nuanced, and articulate.  Ty clearly brings a very personal perspective to the topic of being a Mormon homosexual and does a fantastic job of portraying a sincere, wonderful Mormon boy which should go along way toward removing stigma and destroying stereotypes regarding other Mormon homosexuals.  Ty's fluency with and mastery of the religious material clearly shows his spiritual dedication and personal struggles with the topic.  His ease of including numerous religious quotes throughout the text and his solid alignment with current LDS stances clearly qualify him as a "spiritual giant".  And yet his beautiful presentation does not change the fact that the LDS stance is psychological poison, it only makes this poison all the more insidious.  Ty masterfully walks the line of presenting a realistic view of the Mormon homosexual dilemma and reiterating the LDS stance, which only serves to exacerbate the false dichotomy of attraction vs. behavior.  Time and again, Ty presents the Mormon homosexual dilemma and then performs a spiritual jujitsu to masterfully lock the struggling Mormon homosexual into the icy prison of LDS thought.  Ty's message is ultimately inconsistent and confusing.  In one section he describes the absolute normalcy of his attractions to men and how they do not constitute sin or lack of spirituality (in fact noting that his attractions grew stronger as he attempted to be more spiritual) and in another section he positively quotes a theologian describing homosexuality as an "anti-religion of human beings who refuse to honor God as creator: it is an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual reality . . . an illustration of human depravity . . . a vivid image of humanity's primal rejection of the sovereignty of God the creator."  He winds through the convoluted Mormon doctrine of the fall to illustrate how one can be born with homosexuality without having been made that way by God.  It was sad to read his continued pleas for a change of his nature, stating "I hope he does deliver me from the physical bondage of this challenge while I am in this second estate . . . For the time being, I continue to pray and am striving to live so that the part of my nature that is important for salvation now may be more full changed - so that I may be more fully delivered from spiritual bondage."  Nearly every chapter contains Ty's hope to one day be able to marry a woman, largely due to Mormon doctrine.  He notes several times that he could very naturally and happily have a relationship with a man, if it weren't for the doctrine of eternal families and how he doesn't want to waste his effort on something that isn't eternal.  I fear for the struggling Mormon homosexual who hears Ty's yearnings for marriage to a women and knows that he was successful.  How many MOM's will this book directly contribute to and how much suffering will it create?  How much more happiness would there be if Ty could just marry whomever he wanted? Ty's doctrinal wanderings are not new.  He takes the oft repeated sermons of modern Mormonism (often about patience with the Lord's timing, the purposes of trials and challenges in our lives, etc.) and repackages them to comment on homosexuality.  He divorces such statements from context and synthesizes a new reality.  In fact, it is a masterful example of the thesis in "Roots of Modern Mormonism" where the author argues that Mormonism creates a mutable, flexible worldview that insulates its participants from acknowledging the randomness and constant change in their lives while perpetuating minority status. The sermons and the thoughts behind them are part of the Mormonism I rejected and I reject Ty's repackaging of them.

The book's (and Mormonism) attempt at divorcing homosexual attraction from homosexual behavior as a means to identify what is acceptable and what is not, is also an exercise in coping with stigma.  This dichotomy attempts to make faithful Mormon homosexuals who do not act on their attractions and privileged class while non-Mormon homosexuals who do act on their attractions are a foreign "other".  In "When Husbands Come Out of the Closet" the author addresses this type of dichotomy in referring to a wife's refusal to join a support group for wives with gay husbands because it is a "bunch of people with nothing in common but a husband's sexual orientation . . . [and will just be] a bunch of angry women feeding into each others' complaints and misery."  I feel her answer would be the same if addressing this Mormon dichotomy and attempting to create a privileged faithful Mormon homosexual class and a foreign "other" class acting on their attractions.  She says:

1. Whether you like it or not, no matter how you try to deny it or how quickly you try to leave it, you have been thrust into a stigmatized segment of society.  No matter what you say or do, there will always be people who think less of you for being or having been there.  You have no choice about stigmatization by others.  You can only ignore them or try to educate them.
2. You may refuse to admit group membership, but that does not give you the choice you seek, for much of your prison is a self-imposed, psychological one.  Your questions and the attitudes they imply are the true badge of membership in the Society of the Self-Stigmatized.  You badge bears the inscription "Bestowed by the bigoted in appreciation for your self-hatred and identification with the aggressor."
3. You will lose your sense of stigma and have true "choice" only when you come to see your group as an enjoyable extended family or country club you are pleased to call your own, in which you feel welcome, in which you can be selective about those members you want or don't want as friends, and which you both enter and leave freely and joyfully.

Are you saying to yourself, "Oh, come on now! Are you kidding me?" I am not.  It's a difficult lesson to learn, because in truth, it is one that should not be needed.  But until we have a perfect society, many groups of people must learn it.  Let's look at what has happened to you, it involves several complicated thought processes.

First, you are a member in good standing of a homophobic . . . society.  No matter what your sex or sexual orientation, you have absorbed many of society's stereotypes about homosexuals, women, and anyone who associates with stigmatized people. You expressed those stereotypes when you first struggled with such questions as "What does it say about me that I am in such a situation and what will others say about me?", came up with negative answers, and began to lose self-esteem.

Next you realized that you . . . do not fit some of those stereotypes.  How could that be?  Perhaps without realizing it, you decided that you were an exception.  That made you feel better.  But then, of course, you didn't want to be classified as one of "them", nor did you want to think of yourself in the same way that you think of "those weirdos."  . . . You are now putting yourself through a crazy combination of bigotry and self hatred.  . . . Staying at that point is like being stuck in quicksand.  It drags you down.  You never quite get rid of your sense of shame, isolation, and sense of "difference".  You never get the support, help and companionship from potential new friends. You are caught between two worlds.

In short, ironic as it may be, you need the identification with the stigmatized group in order to rid yourself of your sense of stigma.  Only when you learn that lesson will you learn that far from being chained to a group of disreputable prisoners, you will have much in common with others in addition to the issue of sexual orientation, and that much of what you have in common you can share with pride.
This dichotomy then, in fact, again institutionalizes a stigmatization that separates and isolates gay Mormons, leading to further feelings of worthlessness and self-hatred.  Ty Mansfield is simply a vehicle to perpetuate that stigmatization with the message coming from a credible source (unlike the Fred and Marilyn Matis).  It is sad that Ty is a casualty of the same system that he is perpetuating, but that is the cycle of Mormonism.  I do not doubt the absolute sincerity of the authors, but sincerity is not evidence of accuracy.

As for sharing this book with my parents, not a chance.  It is pure poison.  I would definitely not recommend anyone giving this book to their parents.  The dichotomy it perpetuates is like giving away the keys to your own prison.

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Soy Made Me Support Prop 8

By Mister Curie

I wrote this post several months ago, but was waiting for an appopriate time to post it (thinking I would wait until I saw "8: The Mormon Proposition"). However, now that the DVD is officially in my possession and I realize that it has the potential power to influence my thinking about Prop 8, I want to have a record of what my thoughts were before I watched the movie.  So, without having seen the documentary, I am publishing this post, intending a follow-up post after I have watched the movie.

Soy made me support Prop 8. No, I didn't actually abdicate my free agency to a blog. I also didn't actually support Prop 8 in any meaningful way. I didn't contribute any money for or against Prop 8. I didn't cast a vote for Prop 8. Prop 8 was before I accepted I was gay. In fact, Prop 8 passed before I even considered my stance on Prop 8. It wasn't until after election day, after all my work to get Barack Obama elected had ended, that I thought about Prop 8 even slightly. Madame Curie and I began following a blog of a CA Mormon who was disaffected with the church due to Prop 8, and I began to consider Prop 8 and the church's stance. While reading this friend's blog, she had linked to a MoHo blog, Soy Made Me Gay. While I eventually came to the opinion (as a TBM) that the LDS church should not get involved politically, I would have voted with the Church for Prop 8 because the Prophet said to.

From Soy Made Me Gay:
The strongest and most understandable argument for supporting a same-sex marriage ban is that the Lord has a prophet on the earth and that that prophet Thomas S. Monson. As the Lord’s mouthpiece, he has counseled us to support such an amendment. State your testimony of his calling and guidance.
Here was a faithful gay Mormon supporting the church's stance against gays. Surely someone with such a large stake in both sides of Prop 8 had thought carefully through this decision, had prayed fervently, and had reached the "correct" conclusion. I could trust in his judgment. Soy Made Me Support Prop 8.

One of the problems I now see with the church's stance on homosexuality is that it claims Divine Inspiration through the Prophet for its stance, but the fact is that the stance on homosexuality in the church is changing. Which stance was "Inspired"? The church's stance on homosexuality has been compared to the church's stance on polygamy and blacks receiving the priesthood. Whereas it was once taught that polygamy was required for exhaltation and that you could not be exhalted in a monogamous state, you are now excommunicated for polygamy. Blacks used to be taught that they were unfaithful in the pre-existence. Are we living in a similar time of prosecution for homosexuality? Are we unneccessary casulties of uninspired teachings if/when the church changes its stance on homosexuality? The church has completely turned around from its position on polygamy and blacks receiving the priesthood, will it do so on homosexuality? I don't believe the church is the one, true church anymore. I think there is sufficient historical evidence that the LDS church is not God's only true church, and this can be documented through faithful LDS sources, not anti-mormon sites. It was very tough to accept that the church isn't "True", but now I'm actually grateful for that disaffection. There was too much cognitive dissonance for me to be able to accept my homosexuality while I was TBM. Being disaffected, I no longer have to believe that God hates homosexuals or homosexual behavior. I no longer have to believe that homosexuals are "broken" and will be fixed in the Resurrection. I don't have to believe that God wants some of His children to be discriminated against. There are a lot of other things that make more sense when I give up my former beliefs. I feel that the world makes a lot more sense without belief in the Mormon, or even the Christian, God.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Coming Out to Family Revisited

By Mister Curie

I previously blogged about coming out to my family about my disaffection and/or my homosexuality.  Horizon?  We are now scheduled to visit my family at the end of the month, so the questions of whether or not to come out and whether to come out about both or a single issue (and which, if just a single issue) are looming larger.  Reading over my pros and cons from the first time I blogged about this question, it is a bit humorous to see some of my thoughts.  I think I have gotten somewhat more comfortable about both my disaffection and my homosexuality, although I'm sure there is still room to go.  I think the main reason for coming out is so that we can be ourselves without worrying about someone finding out our secrets.  We want to be able to not hide who we are.  Of course, we also want to be accepted for where we are on our journey, but its much harder to ensure acceptance when coming out.  And, as I recently posted, there is fear that we will lose support and love from those we love most.

We have gone back and forth over the different scenarios and options, considering everything from completely closeting ourselves and putting back on our garments for the visit to straight-forwardly announcing the news of our disaffection and homosexuality.  I think we have decided on a middle-ground and will view this trip as laying the groundwork for a future "coming out".  The current plan is to remain true to ourselves, but without attempting to challenge their belief system.  So we will not be putting back on our garments, but we will wear temple-garment compatible clothing in their presence (this one is hardest for Madame Curie who would love to enjoy the summer visit in a tank-top and is loathe to put on a regular T-shirt).  We will also avoid Word of Wisdom infractions in their presence, although I suspect there will be several clandestine visits to Starbucks while we are there.  However, if we are questioned about our underwear or our unorthodoxy, we will admit to current questions and struggles.  If we are asked a direct question, we will respond with as direct an answer.  They also know that Madame Curie is planning on attending the Sunstone conference, but we aren't sure if they know what Sunstone is or not.  Thus, we do not have plans to formally come out about our disaffection, but recognize that it is a distinct possibility that we may be questioned while we are there.  It is less likely that there will be any questioning as to my sexual orientation, but as our marital relationship remains intact, there isn't a pressing need for them to know about it.

What do you think?  Are we kidding ourselves and should be more formally prepared for a coming out about our disaffection during the visit?  Are we just delaying the inevitable and making things worse?  Do you think we are just chickening out because the visit is getting so close and we are responding to our fear of potential loss? 

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

8 arrived today

By Mister Curie

My "8: The Mormon Proposition" DVD arrived in the mail today.  I didn't think it was supposed to be available until the 13th!  I'm so excited!  Anyone in the East that would like to get together to watch it?

Book Review: When Husbands Come Out of the Closet by Jean Schaar Gochros, PhD

By Mister Curie

I have been posting recommendations in comments across the MoHosphere for people in Mixed-Orientation Marriages to read this book since I got it from the local LGBT library.  Now that I've finished it, I figured I should just do a book review blog post on it.

I think this book should seriously be required reading for both partners in a mixed-orientation marriage as well as for any MoHos considering a mixed-orientation marriage and their prospective partners.  It would also be a great book to share with friends and family who know about your mixed-orientation marriage and form your support network.  It has something for everyone.  Madam Curie has already agreed to read it and I am looking forward to discussing it with her.

From nearly the first pages, the book spoke to me.  I recognized my marriage in those pages, I saw myself in the descriptions of the husbands, I saw my wife in the descriptions of the wives, and conversely I saw myself in the descriptions of the wives when it came to Madame Curie's sexual orientation.  And when the author began to describe the types of experiences spouses have when their husband comes out of the closet, I saw our experiences clearly mirrored in the book, with quote after quote from other couples that were nearly verbatim from our own mouths as they described our situation.  The author then analyzes the different types of experiences wives have when their husband comes out of the closet and suggests reasons for those experiences.  In each instance that mirrored our own experience, her analysis was right on

I think the book offers a lot to the mixed-orientation marriage couple. (1) You will recognize your marriage in the descriptions, providing relief that you are not alone in this struggle and feel like someone understands you.  (2) You will find insight into why certain aspects of the coming out have gone over well and why other parts have been . . . rocky . . . (3) You will find simple, yet convincing, suggestions on how to improve the inevitable rough spots that mixed-orientation marriages go through.  (4) The book is written from a very supportive viewpoint that mixed-orientation marriages can succeed and that more of them should be able to succeed than currently do with tons of advice gathered from interviews with over 100 couples in mixed-orientation marriages.  For me, I think the most useful parts of the book are the several chapters of suggestions gathered from interviewees.

Although written in accessible language, some readers may find the book a little too academic, however that spoke to my scientific nature.  I also recently read Amity Pierce Buxton's "The Other Side of the Closet: The Coming-Out Crisis for Straight Spouses and Families" which I also recommend, although not as highly.  I felt like Buxton's book focused so much on the details of the personal narratives that I didn't really recognize my own marriage in those stories.  Furthermore, Buxton's analysis is disjointed and gets lost behind all of the stories.  Gochros, on the other hand, maintains a very strong voice throughout her book, using small excerpts and selected quotes to illustrate her analysis, rather than presenting an exhaustive narrative for each interviewee.  I also felt that Buxton presents the problems and issues, but fails to offer many suggestions, whereas Gochros offers very clear suggestions on how to improve the situation in mixed-orientation marriages.  Gochros also has a Q&A section to her book with common FAQs that felt relevant to me.  Ultimately, I felt that Gochros offers a view of hope for mixed-orientation marriages with practical advice on how to achieve success, while Buxton describes the train wreck when mixed-orientation marriages fail (speaking of, Buxton's book should probably also be required reading for MoHos considering a mixed-orientation marriage and their prospective partners).

Have any of you read either of these books?  What do you think of them?  Did they help you (and spouse, if relevant)?

Monday, July 5, 2010

Hiding

By Mister Curie

My aunt and uncle are coming to visit for a couple of days. They will be here this afternoon. I was up last night trying to rid the house of evidence of our lack of orthopraxy. I'm leaving the Mormon History books on the shelves (but I took off the LGBT-themed ones), and I've boxed up the coffee machine and the espresso maker, as well as the boxes of tea. This morning I remembered that the user's manuals for the coffee maker were in the utensil drawer, and I moved those too, but now I feel nervous that there is some other "evidence" lying around that I've missed. This feels wrong. It has been very freeing to be on the East Coast far away from family to allow my "apostasy" to flourish and to stop worrying so much what others think. It doesn't feel right to be forcing myself back into the closet in my own home. I shouldn't feel such social pressure to conform. Yet, I'm not sure what to do. I don't think I want my parents finding out about my loss of faith through my aunt and uncle. I want to find a more appropriate way for them to find out. This is frustrating.


I feel like I'm in one of those dramatic scenes of a movie when the protagonist suddenly has an "aha!" moment and realizes that this is really messed up (cue epiphany music). That, or I'm in a comedy and I'm going to be nervously grabbing offending materials trying to hide it as they visit us in our home, inevitably leading to a huge blow-up once they make the discovery, hopefully there is a "feel good" ending.

Gayborhood

By Mister Curie

Madame Curie already posted her account of our recent trip to the Philadelphia gayborhood.  I wanted to add my own impressions. Things have actually taken a rather sudden turn toward exploring our respective sexual orientations.  That change seems to have been largely precipitated by our trip to NYC Pride.  I'm very grateful to have my wife back on this journey, if not exactly with me, then on a closely parallel journey.  We went on our date night to the Philadelphia gayborhood this past week.  Our future plans include another MoHo meet-up for our next date night, as well as plans to attend several films in the Philadelphia LGBT film festival that is coming up this next week.

For date night we went to the William Way LGBT Community Center.  It was very different that I had imagined it would be.  As we approached the entrance I suddenly felt a lot of apprehension and fear.  I wasn't exactly sure what to expect.  What would people think of us?  What questions might they ask?

My apprehensions, as usual, were largely unfounded.  The center was populated by normal individuals, no one questioned our presence or asked to see our "gay card".  We looked at some of the exhibits, and then made our way to the LGBT library, our expressed purpose for coming to the center.  The library was largely empty, except for the librarian.  She was very helpful and non-judgmental, even knowing we are husband and wife.  We were able to set up borrowing accounts without any questions and her demeanor did not change even when we checked out "When Husbands Come Out of the Closet" and "Married Women Who Love Women" simultaneously.  Perhaps we are more common than it seems.  According to the "When Husbands Come Out of the Closet" book, an estimated 20%-50% of gay men will attempt a heterosexual marriage, for a large variety of reasons.

It was momentous to visit the LGBT Community Center.  I think it was an important step for both of us in our "coming out" process.  It is nice to get connected to a support network and to find a library where I can go unashamed to get LGBT reading material.  And I'm so grateful that Madame Curie is along on this journey with me so that we can share our insights from the books we read with each other.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

My First MoHo Meet-up

By Mister Curie

After several failed meet-up attempts with various different MoHos, I finally had my first MoHo meet-up when we went to NYC Pride last Sunday and were able to meet Horizon.  I was surprisingly calm about this first meet-up, perhaps Horizon's post about his first meet-up helped reduce my anxiety, helping me realize how normal and ultimately unfounded such anxiety usually is.  Horizon had staked out an amazing location along the parade route, right across from the Stonewall Inn and in the shade.  While New York crowds are typically large, the parade crowd was particularly dense, and I had to send a comical series of texts to find him in the crowd, even though we were already located across from the Stonewall Inn, and eventually discovered we were less than 20 feet from him. We chatted throughout the parade and had a great time.

After the parade we battled the crowds as we attempted to make our way to the Pride festival. Once finding it, Madame Curie insisted we get dinner in an air-conditioned restaurant, which ended up being a great suggestion, as it helped us recover from the heat and got us away from the crowds where we could have a great conversation.  It was nice to share our story with Horizon, hear the outlines of his story, and compare notes.  I was struck with how "normal" my fellow MoHo is.  I realize how naive that sounds and intellectually I had concluded that homosexuals are normal people, but it wasn't until this first meeting that I emotionally connected with the concept that homosexuals, and MoHos in particular, are normal.  It reminded me of the Harvey Milk quote, "so that two, three, four, five hundred will step forward, so the gay doctors will come out, the gay lawyers, the gay judges, gay bankers, gay architects ... I hope that every professional gay will say 'enough', come forward and tell everybody, wear a sign, let the world know. Maybe that will help."  Milk recognized that the stigma and misconceptions about gay people could most effectively be dispelled by knowing someone who is gay, because gays are normal, good people, but there is an emotional aspect to understanding which only comes from personal experience.  I concluded that Horizon is a really good Mormon boy with all the hopes, dreams, fears, aspirations, and challenges associated with that, and he's attracted to men (almost a side note to an amazing and complex fellow human being).

After dinner, we explored the festival and then made our way back to the Metro. Shortly after we said our good-byes and left Horizons behind to make our trip back to Philadelphia, I reflected on our visit, and suddenly unanticipated waves of emotion, largely consisting of sadness and anger, washed over me.  The visit had been so positive, it was hard to understand where such negative emotions were coming from, and I eventually concluded that the feelings were arising from deep within and while the visit was a catalyst for releasing those emotions, they reflected more about what was going on inside myself than about our actual meet-up.  I think many of the feelings were released because of how much of myself I recognized in Horizon.

I have identified the following categories of where I think these feelings are coming from:

(1) Loss of faith - I perceived in Horizon an abundance of faith and an intact Mormon worldview, both of which I have lost.  I think our meeting made me face how much I feel I have lost by losing faith in Mormonism.  Of course, the frustrating thing with my intellectual apostasy is that the church is demonstrably not what I believed it to be in my child-like faith, and I cannot envision a route to go back to that faith.  My loss of faith has parallels to the natural loss we feel in growing up and leaving our childhood behind.  But there is a very real loss there, even if the church was not all I believed it to be.  I think these feelings are ample evidence that I still have a lot to process with my loss of faith and that I am not yet okay with having lost my faith.  I had been exploring my loss of faith when I got distracted by exploring my sexual orientation.  While I think my current belief system is probably relatively stable, I have not yet explored adequately the emotional impact of losing Mormonism and how to integrate that loss of faith with my experiences within Mormonism.

(2) Brokeness/Evilness - I saw in Horizon a reflection of the person I believed myself to be, a good Mormon boy (who is also attracted to men) and suddenly I realized that good Mormon boy and homosexual didn't have to be contradictions.  While I went most of my life unable to accept that I am gay and largely externalized those attractions by attributing them to Satan, I think deep down I internalized the message that if I was "struggling with these temptations" perhaps it was because I was intrinsically broken or evil inside.  And while I usually told myself that I believed I was a wonderful person, deep down (almost beyond conscious thought) I wondered if the continuation of these "temptations" despite faithful church service and belief, was because I was broken and evil.  I remember in Mission Prep, our teacher had challenged us to serve faithfully and then go to the temple at the conclusion of our mission and "return and report" on our mission.  He promised us that if we were faithful missionaries, we would have an incomparable spiritual experience.  I tried hard, despite my introverted nature, to serve the Lord with all my heart (however, I have previously documented some of my challenges on my mission with falling in love with companions and struggling with pornography and masturbation).  The day after returning to America, and before being released as a missionary, I went to the Salt Lake Temple to "return and report."  Nothing happened.  It was one of the most singularly disappointing moments of my life and while I later tried to convince myself that I got my answer of acceptance of my mission while watching "The Testaments" with its HeartSell-induced "spirit", I think I really worried that God didn't accept my mission and that I was somehow evil and broken beyond what my best effort could overcome.  Meeting Horizon exploded a deeply-held, internalized caricature of what it means to be homosexual (namely evil and choosing a lifestyle).  In that moment there was renewed acceptance of myself, but there was also a burst of anger at the church for promoting such a psychologically-debilitating view of myself.  As an acquaintance recently told me, "There is no such thing as people 'struggling with same sex attraction.' Ultimately that's nothing other than hate language expressed from a persecuting world-view. It's simply harmful and life-destroying."   


(3) Family Reactions - Horizon spoke to us of his intention to "come out" to his parents this coming week.  That brought up for me the fears of how my own family might react if I "come out" about my own homosexuality and my disaffection from the church.  If being homosexual is bad in the church, I think being disaffected is even worse.  Again, responses to both are typically filled with "hate language expressed from a persecuting world-view".  It made me sad to think of the intolerance and fear being directed at a good, Mormon boy and how damaging that experience can be to a good, Mormon boy.  It made me mad to think of the damage Mormonism can do to a person who doesn't fit in.  It makes me sad, fearful, and angry to think that my family may react in similar ways to myself.  And because they are fully immersed in that worldview, there is nothing I can do about that.  Horizon, I sure hope your family reacts favorably to your "coming out" this week.

(4) Predicted loss - All of my fears about my family reaction also play into my predicted loss.  I have always been considered the "perfect child" and in many ways have held a privileged place in my family (sorry to Grizz who reads this and my other siblings who don't).  In fact, when I first came out to Grizz, he said, "It's funny, because you were always the perfect child."  I joked that "I'm still the perfect child!" but I think there is a definite fear that my relationship with my family will change for the worse when they learn about my disaffection and homosexuality.  Probably foolishly, much of my life has been spent trying to please others.  Many of the things I have done have been with the intent of obtaining praise and fulfilling expectations that others had for me.  I fear that by being true to myself I will lose a lot of what I have spent a lifetime cultivating.

Despite the confusing emotional response after the fact, I'm very grateful for having had the opportunity to initiate a friendship with Horizon who is such an amazing person, and I'm grateful for the opportunity I've had to sort through these emotions.  I'm already looking forward to my next MoHo meet-up!

Wednesday, June 30, 2010

NYC Pride

By Mister Curie

As evidenced by Madame Curie's post yesterday, we (Madame Curie, Le Petite Curie, and myself) all attended Pride in New York City.  We were also lucky enough to be able to meet up with NYC's resident MoHo, Horizon, for the Pride events (which really was lucky considering the difficulty we had finding each other in the crowd).  He had found us an amazing spot in the shade, immediately across from the Stonewall Inn.

In comparison to Philadelphia's Pride celebration held a couple of weeks ago, NYC Pride was HUGE!  We watched the parade near the end of its route and the crowds were still huge.  The sidewalks were barricaded to keep the crowds under control and spectators appeared to fill every available space.  The parade was everything I imagined Pride would be.  It was loud, energetic, and colorful.  There weren't any long pauses in the parade and there were amazing costumes (and lack of . . . costumes . . .).  At times it was edgy and "in your face" sexuality.  NYC apparently has an ordinance forbidding nudity below the waist, which is equally applied to men and women, so there were several topless women in the parade as well. Rather than throwing candy there were plenty of condoms and lubricant being handed out (which severely disappointed Le Petite Curie who had initially gotten excited at the packages), but there was still eye-candy in abundance for both Madame Curie and myself. Whereas I was a little surprised by how short the Philly parade was, the NYC Pride parade was longer than I could imagine (in fact, we ended up leaving after watching the parade for over three hours because Le Petite Curie was getting restless and Madame Curie was getting overheated).

Crowd control measures made it difficult for us to navigate our way to the Pride Festival after the parade, and when we got there it was rather disappointing in comparison to the Philadelphia Pride Festival, which was larger than the NYC festival. However, we sat down with Horizon and had a great visit. More on that, my first in-person meeting with a fellow MoHo, in a future post . . .