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 . . .

Tuesday, June 29, 2010


By Mme. Curie
Cross-posted at Sapphic Soliloquies

The Curie family (myself, Mister Curie, and le petite Curie) traveled to NYC this past Sunday to attend the Pride parade. While there, we met up with Horizons (c/o Moving Horizon) - another MoHo family member. My former understanding of Pride Day was heavily influenced by conservative society. I expected to see sex on floats, and anticipated everyone in the audience to be wearing Speedos. For those reasons, I was extremely hesitant about attending Pride myself a few weeks ago when it was in Philadelphia.

Before attending NYC Pride, MoHo Hawaii told us that the parade would be "...a little racier than you might be used to but wholesome in an odd way if you can wrap your mind around it." His description was poetic, and accurate. Yes, there were men in Speedos on parade (ewwwww), but the costumes were tasteful (for Speedos). Yes, the theme was one of sexuality, yet it wasn't erotic. It was more of a celebration of sexuality, than an enticement to sex. It was, in every sense of the word, a professional performance, and I was an audience member watching the play on stage.

The atmosphere was one of incredible tolerance. We were there as a heterosexual couple with child, but didn't feel at all out of place. I felt comfortable enough to strike up conversations with a lesbian couple to the right of me and with a male-to-female transexual behind me.

I was marginally worried that I would be freaked out by watching drag, but it was seriously just like watching the Philadelphia Mummers (see photo on the left). When you have been watching men parade in fancy dresses with parasols for New Years from time memorial, its hard to be too disturbed by gorgeous drag costumes. And it was mildly entertaining to see how big the implants could get. One guy was particularly, um, well-endowed. In fact, I would be willing to bet that his false breasts weighed more than he did.

I got checked out by an adorable girl, and checked out more than a few girls myself. I danced with a drag queen, and Petite Curie got candy and bubbles. Aside from the 100-degree heat, sunburn, crowds, and dehydration, it was a very fun day. I will go again. Happy Pride, my friends!

Monday, June 28, 2010

Madame Curie is back!

By Madame Curie.

Like all good MoHo bloggers, I had to delete my own blog only to decide that I really do need to MoHo community. I am back! You can reach me also at mrs.curie at gmail dot com.

My new blog can be found at Sapphic Soliloquies.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

July 2010 Ensign

By Mister Curie

I received my July Ensign in the mail yesterday.  Just in case anyone has forgotten the official stance of the church on homosexuality, there are two explicit references toward homosexuality.  On page 51, Elder Ballard reiterates that "No one is to engage in sexual relationships outside the bounds the Lord has set.  This applies to homosexual behavior of any kind . . ." and on page 11 in the "What We Believe" section it advises that "If you are struggling with sexual temptations, including feelings of same-gender attraction, you can choose to resist those temptations."  Labeling my feelings as "temptations", as if they were some external force and not originating from myself, was one of the things that kept me from accepting that I am gay.

Most issues of the Ensign scrupulously avoid including pictures of cute guys, but this month's issue does not disappoint.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Research Ethics: Aversion Therapy at BYU

By Mister Curie

The conduct of Human Subjects Research is largely directed by common sense principles of respect for fellow human beings.  These principles were first codified in 1946 in response to the medical research atrocities of the Nazi Regime and are known as the Nuremberg Code.  This code first vocalized the need for voluntary consent and that the benefits must outweigh the risks.  In 1964, the World Medical Association gave recommendations for human subjects research known as the Declaration of Helsinki, which added the declaration that research participants must not only be voluntary, but that they must also have informed consent.

These common sense principles were referred to in Quiet Song's comment on yesterday's post, saying: "And just how did said student find his subjects? Were they shanghaied in the then student union, hung by their ankles, or forced to give up their diplomas if they did not participate in Dr. Defacto's research? (voluntary consent) Lied to? (informed consent) Secretly sterilized? (benefits outweigh risks) Given no disclosure that they were research subjects? (informed consent)"

What is the evidence that these principles were adhered to in the performance of aversion therapy research at BYU in the mid-60's and 70's?

(1) Voluntary Consent - BYU students suspected of being homosexual were interviewed and the extent of their homosexual behavior determined.  If the student was allowed to remain a BYU student on probation, the student was required to undergo therapy (not all of this therapy was aversion therapy, but the required therapy sometimes progressed to aversion therapy).  Therapy in general was clearly not voluntary, as it was required to remain a student.  In addition, BYU students suspected of being homosexual were identified through a variety of methods, including confessions of other homosexuals, spies, identifying cars at known gay hang-outs, etc.  I am unable to determine if the aversion therapy was on a voluntary basis in addition to other therapeutic modalities, but given the means used to identify homosexuals and the requirement of therapy to remain a BYU student, as well as the psychological weight of expert opinion from the therapists, I presume that participation was not entirely voluntary.  Furthermore, prophetic pronouncements on the evils of homosexuality and perceived involuntary "outing" to family and friends as a result of expulsion are likely to create an atmosphere where true voluntary consent would be rare.

(2)  Informed Consent - All participants signed a statement of consent to the aversion therapy (at least in the McBride study for his PhD dissertation).  Participants were informed that the therapy was experimental in nature, would produce a "great deal of discomfort" with potential "tissue or organ" damage, and would involve materials that could be construed as "socially or morally offensive" (pornography).  However, is this truly informed consent?  One of the well-documented deficiencies in many consent processes is when participants mistake a research study for a therapeutic intervention.  Given that aversion therapy was recommended in the process of therapy for homosexuality as a prerequisite to continued education at BYU, it is highly likely that students perceived the study as therapy and not research.  How well does the consent document distinguish this study (part of a research PhD dissertation) as a research study and not as a therapy?  While the document does call the therapy "experimental", the title of the consent document refers to the therapy sessions as  "treatment procedures" and the document refers to "therapeutic objectives" and the therapy as a "treatment".  Based on the consent language and the propensity for research participants to mistake research trials as therapeutic trials, it is highly likely that participants felt they were receiving experimental therapy and not involved in a research protocol.  One wonders if the scientists also forgot that they were performing experimental research and not provided therapy.  The consent should have clarified that this is a research study without known clinical benefit and that participation was primarily for research and primary goals were to further scientific knowledge and not for therapeutic improvement with any therapeutic improvement being secondary.

3) Benefits outweigh risks - Here potential benefits are hard to quantify as faithful Latter-day Saints would likely view the potential benefit from the procedure (conversion to heterosexuality) as nearly unquantifiable as adherence to the commandment to marry and have kids would enable the new heterosexual to obtain Godhood and worlds without number, justifying nearly any level of risk.  A more modest assessment of the benefits being a slight decrease in homosexual attraction hardly justifies the physical and psychological damage induced by the therapy.  Care should have been taken to ensure that no lasting physical damage was inflicted, particularly in light of unproven benefit.

In this assessment I do not wish to convey the impression that BYU was alone in the 60's and 70's in failing to adhere to published human subjects research guidelines and common sense principles.  And certainly some of the more extreme experimental treatments of homosexuality, such as chemical castration and experimental brain surgery, were not performed at BYU.  However, for a church that claims exclusive revelation and prophetic insight into God's will, I would have hoped that it would not follow the trends of secular research, particularly when such research ultimately fails to produce the desired results.  The BYU aversion therapy experiments are simply further evidence that the church's policies toward homosexuality are inconsistent over time, are not divorced from prevailing public opinion (at least among conservative religious thought), and fail to engender confidence that current church policies mirror God's will and will not change in the future.  Furthermore, there is a disturbing departure from eternal principles with the introduction of pornography into therapy, suggesting ethical schizophrenia.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Feeling Sick

By Mister Curie

While I have heard accounts of aversion therapy used at BYU, and while I believed those accounts, it just doesn't quite give me the same visceral reaction as when I see documentation and evidence.  I just read the best documented evidence I have seen to date of the role of aversion therapy at BYU, here (included are screen shots from the BYU PhD disertation on using aversion therapy on homosexual BYU students).  You can even search the the Harold B. Lee Library online archives and find uncontrovertible evidence that the disertation exists.

While the documentation does not provide the most emotional description of aversion therapy, seeing hard evidence affects me in a way that not even an emotional narrative can.  It makes me feel sick.

Perhaps one area where this reaction comes from is learning that aversion therapy was part of a PhD disertation.  Being a PhD student myself, I have a strong reaction to a fellow PhD student harming human beings by performing aversion therapy. 

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Feeling Annoyed

By Mister Curie

So I just noticed this recent post on the MoHo Directory about a fireside in Idaho Falls:  It is essentially for "instruction and encouragement for Priesthood leaders, for those who experience same-gender attraction, and for friends and family. Presenters will include Priesthood leaders and mental health professionals."  But not only that, "we are also honored to announce that Ty Mansfield, co-author of In Quiet Desperation, will be our feature speaker."

So they are trotting out Ty Mansfield, who will have been married for just over a month, to tell gay Mormons how life will be good if they will just follow church leaders and trust that there is a woman for them.

There was a lot of debate over Ty Mansfield's decision to get married.  Some of that debate led to the creation of a website warning Ty Mansfield and his fiance that they may not be making the best decision.  That led to more debate.  Most people I heard from, thought it was inappropriate to tell two consenting adults how they should live their life and that Ty and Danielle were within their rights to decide to marry, and others should leave them alone.  Even those who recognized that Ty's prominent place in the gay Mormon community made this decision more public than others usually agreed that their decision should be left alone, despite the fact that struggling gay Mormons might see this action as further evidence that they should try to find a woman to marry so they could fulfill the Plan of Happiness (TM).

However, now Ty Mansfield appears to be all too willing to not just let his private decision subtly influence impressionable gay Mormons, he is going on a talking circuit to trumpet his "correct" decision and provide an example to others.  I had assumed Ty, in making his decision to marry Danielle, was going to quietly disappear from the gay Mormon scene.  Rather, it appears he is going to remake his image and make a new debut on the gay Mormon scene with a wife at his side.  What can the engaged recently married Ty Mansfield tell gay Mormons "struggling with SSA" to make them feel better?  What advice can he give?  And how many lives will he ruin as a result of those following his advice?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Mormon Doctrine: On Homosexuality

By Mister Curie

A recent post by Kurt discussed the entry on Homosexuality in the Topical Guide of the LDS version of the scriptures.  The church has been redefining its views publicly on homosexuality, maintaining that being attracted to the same sex is okay until you physically act on it.  However, if you look up Homosexuality in the Topical Guide, it refers you to the topic of Sexual Immorality.

When I was growing up I often turned to Bruce R. McConkie's Mormon Doctrine for guidance.  Happily that book is going out of print and will no longer be carried by Deseret Book (a similar fate would be ideal for Kimball's Miracle of Forgiveness).

If you look up "Homosexuality" in Mormon Doctrine, the only entry states: "Homosexuals. See Sex Immorality".

I remember as a youth struggling with masturbation and turning to Mormon Doctrine to see how bad it really was.  If you look up "Masturbation" in Mormon Doctrine you get: "Masturbation. See Sex Immorality."

The entry for Sex Immorality is long in Mormon Doctrine, so I will not reproduce it in its entirety.  However, some of the gems include:

"Sex immorality is made up of offenses against God of all kinds and degrees.  All are evil and damning in their nature"

"Every degree and type of lewdness, lasciviousness, and licentiousness; of concupiscence, prostitution, and whoredomes; of sodomy, onanism, and homosexuality; of masturbation, incontinence, and perversion; of rape seduction, and infidelity; of adultery, fornication, and uncleanliness - all these things, as well as many others, are condemned by divine edict and are among Lucifer's chief means of leading souls to hell."

[As a side note, homosexuality and masturbation are again placed next to each other.  While I was looking for information on masturbation, I definitely got the message about the church's stance on homosexuality.]

"And now we desire with holy zeal to emphasize the enormity of sexual sins . . . They are destroying the world."

"We hold that sexual sin is second only to the shedding of inocent blood in the category of personal crimes"

I knew myself as a member of the righteous generation, saved to come forth in the latter-days, a bearer of the Holy Priesthood of God, to bring the world his truth.  It was impossible to reconcile that I might be offensive to God, bringing destruction to the world, and nearly as bad as a murderer.  There was NO way that I could be a homosexual, the thought was revolting.

I knew masturbation was wrong, but I clung to the statement that there were "all kinds and degrees" of sex immorality, and while masturbation was wrong, it was of a lesser degree.  I could be forgiven for masturbation.  I spoke to a very kind Bishop and he assured me that I could be forgiven for masturbating.  Masturbation was something you did and you could be forgiven for sinning, but homosexuality was something you chose to be, turning your entire back on God - or so went my thoughts.  You couldn't be forgiven for something you are.

I later learned that your ability to be called on a mission was in jeopardy if you participated in homosexual experimentation.  I was always so grateful I hadn't given into temptations of homosexual experimentation (not that opportunities were abundant, but thoughts were frequent enough).  Those thoughts, however, like desires to masturbate, were from Satan trying to lead me to hell and keep me from serving a mission, there was no way that such sinful desires could come from within myself.  Ironically, homosexual desires were further evidence of my Divine Nature and the important role I had to play in God's plan, why else would Satan be working so hard against me?  And my thoughts toward women were always of the most virtuous nature, of which I was quite proud, just another evidence of how righteous my spirit was.

It all seems a bit ironic now. . .

Thursday, June 17, 2010

God's Vast Eternal Plan

By Mister Curie

Inspired by our trip to the Musical, "Fiddler on the Roof", earlier this week, a quote by Elder Oaks:

I love the musical and motion picture Fiddler on the Roof. There a wonderful Jewish father sings “If I Were a Rich Man.” His memorable prayer concludes with this pleading question:

Lord, who made the lion and the lamb,
You decreed I should be what I am;
Would it spoil some vast eternal plan,
If I were a wealthy man?
(Lyrics by Sheldon Harnick [1964])

Yes, Tevye, it might. Let us give thanks for what we are and for the circumstances God has given us for our personal journey through mortality.

Yes, Elder Oaks, and its awfully easy to sit in the Church Office Building and demand that Tevye keep paying his measely kopeks to pad your lifestyle as a church celebrity, refusing to provide him with "eternal ordinances" if he doesn't pay those kopeks, telling him he will lose his family for eternity. Here is another example of the church encouraging complacency with life, rather than trying to change things for the better.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010


By Mister Curie

"Without our traditions, our lives would be as shaky as... as... as a fiddler on the roof!" - Tevye

Madame Curie and I went to watch "Fiddler on the Roof" for our weekly date night.  The company did a great job and we enjoyed ourselves immensely.  I have seen "Fiddler on the Roof" several times, but I came with a very different perspective this time.  In many ways I am a "traditions" person, as well as a "truth" person.  Since becoming disaffected with the church, I feel like I have lost a lot of my traditions, and life often feels very shaky.  It is a very precarious position when you are a traditions person and a truth person.  I wobble back and forth, when I seek to observe the traditions, the truth side of me reminds me of the futility of the traditions.  When I follow where truth leads, I  long for the traditions of my youth.

But it was also obvious in the play, that while traditions provide a sense of stability and comfort, they can also be harmful.  I think of Tevye disowning his daughter because she married outside of the faith.  And I think of the things I did sincerely believing they were the right thing, but which were wrong, harmful, and judgmental.  I see many ways in which our religious traditions lead to harmful behavior.

I also thought about how life is a journey that continues throughout our life.  Often it seems that the church's Plan of Happiness (TM) ends at parenthood.  Everything in the church leads toward the temple, marriage, and having children.  But once you start having kids, everything focuses on the children and the parents are largely left to stagnate.  However, that isn't how life works, it keeps throwing stuff at you.  I think of Tevye and his family with their challenges.  And I think of my parents and how learning of their kids' disaffection will be a challenge to them, and how it will be a challenge for them to learn that they have a gay son.

I thought about how Le Petite Curie is sure to throw some curve balls our way and challenge us.  And I thought about how the big challenges right now seem to be adjusting to my disaffection, accepting that I am gay, and figuring out how to make my MOM work.  While it feels like these are huge challenges and that I just need to endure and get through them, there are sure to be additional challenges on the other side of them.  Life is like that.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The More I Learn . . .

By Mister Curie

The more I learn about other religions, the less unique Mormonism seems and the less unique my own struggles seem and the more they seem indicative of the human condition.

I watched a couple of documentaries on Netflix "Instant Watching" this past weekend, "Trembling before G-d" and "Jihad of Love".

"Trembling before G-d" is about the struggles of homosexuals in Judaism and "Jihad of Love" is about the struggles of homosexuals in Islam.  I think the cultural circumstances were different enough from my Mormon upbringing that I was able to see the common struggles we all face.  It also makes me realize how lucky I am to have been raised in America.  If I thought accepting I am gay was difficult in American Mormonism, I don't know how Muslims can accept their homosexuality. 

The documentaries also made me realize how difficult it is going to be for my parents to learn of my disaffection and homosexuality.  It is easy for me to think of my journey as MY journey, but due to the interconnectedness of our lives, it will affect my parents' life as well. 

Monday, June 14, 2010


By Mister Curie

Philadelphia had their annual LGBT Pride Parade and Festival today.  I was curious what it would be like to attend, as I regularly read about how the "gay lifestyle" isn't a Pride Parade 24/7 and that the 30 second clip that makes the news isn't representative of even the whole Parade.  I asked Madame Curie if she and Le Petite Curie would like to attend the Parade with me.  Madame Curie had a variety of reasons why she didn't want to attend, but she was happy to have me take Le Petite Curie downtown and give her a day to herself.

Le Petite Curie and I had a great time.  The parade wasn't quite as tame as it sounds like the Utah Pride parades were, but the majority of the parade was regularly dressed people marching together behind banners of their respective supportive organizations.  It was only the few floats advertising the local LGBT night clubs that probably made it onto tonight's news.  I was impressed with the several church floats in the parade, showing their support for the LGBT community.  It still surprises me to see religious support for the LGBT community since Mormonism is not supportive at all.  Le Petite Curie loved the police cars, the fire trucks, the candy, and the bright rainbows.  I was a little surprised that the parade was as short as it was, only lasting 1 hour, and with several long gaps between organizations during the parade and the parade itself moved quite slowely.  Le Petite Curie would regularly turn to me throughout the parade and ask if there was more parade coming.  While observing the parade, we were surrounded by a lovely bunch of lesbians who enjoyed giving Le Petite Curie the candy, etc. thrown from the floats.

After the parade was over, we followed the parade route toward the festival and when we got to the judging area for the parade, we realized that we were almost at the beginning of the parade again (I said that it moved slowly), so we watched it a second time.  It was better watching it at the judging area because many of the groups performed for the judges and each group had a little introduction that gave the history of the organization in Philadelphia.  Le Petite Curie fell asleep on my back during the parade round 2, only waking up once when the fire truck honked its horn (he replied, "I can't sleep when it is so loud") and when it started to lightly rain. 

The only anti-LGBT protesters I saw today were near the judging area and at the entrance to the Festival.  One of the supportive church groups had counter-protest signs pre-prepared and their message was that "God made you, loves you, and accepts you just the way you are".

Then we entered the Festival.  The music and entertainment were enjoyable.  Le Petite Curie and I enjoyed walking around looking at all of the booths.  Le Petite Curie particularly enjoyed that the Festival was on the Philly waterfront and so he could watch all the boats in the water. We had a really good time.  It was great to see people enjoying themselves and celebrating overcoming the struggles they felt over who they are, contrary to societal norms.  It felt good to know that I could just be me and that was alright.  It was interesting and a bit comforting to have the baseline assumption be that I am attracted to men.  While standing in line for the porta-potties, Le Petite Curie was trying to flirt with one of the lesbians standing in line ahead of us and she struck up a conversation with me.  She mentioned that she was the oldest of six children and had a twin brother, "who is also LGBT".  In her short statement, she naturally included me in that world.  It felt good.  And while the baseline assumption of people who saw me at the festival is probably as far from my current condition as the baseline assumption of ward members at our ward camp-out the day before, I felt that at least they would accept and empathize with my journey. 

I've always loved rainbows.  It was nice to be able to enjoy them and sport them without worry that people were getting the wrong idea (or, actually, the right idea that I didn't want them to get).  And so, when it was time to leave, I left my rainbow wristband on, so I could carry the spirit of pride back home with me and I could be "out" just a little longer before re-entering my closet.

(All of these photos are my actual photos from the event, and yes that is my arm with wristband).

Saturday, June 12, 2010


By Mister Curie

It is roughly the one year anniversary of when I admitted to myself that I am attracted to men.  As I have documented previously, it was through a "Same Sex Attraction" post on a Mormon marital intimacy blog that I began to accept that I am gay.  The original blog has been deleted by its creator so I can't document the actual anniversary.  However, there was a companion blog where the topic was covered a week later.  The date of the post on the companion site is June 16, 2009.  As that is next week, I figure it must have been sometime this week, a year ago, that my mind first really started to wrap itself around the idea that I could be gay.

It has been a pretty crazy year.  In remembering this anniversary, I realize that I've been rewriting history a bit inappropriately.  I have always stated that I couldn't accept that I was gay while I was a believing Mormon, however I now realize that isn't entirely correct.  A year ago I was a true-believing Mormon, and a year ago I admitted to myself that I am attracted to men.  I talked to my wife about it and then largely put the knowledge on a shelf.  A little over two months later, my wife told me that she no longer believed in the church and my process toward becoming a disaffected member of the church began.  Then, approximately two months later, I took the gay thing off the shelf and started to examine it a bit more.  I guess it makes sense why I get the chronology confused.