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?


  1. I was one who thought, if he wants to get married, so what. Let him get married. I do think it's unwise though, to be doing a fireside like this. Sure, we don't know yet what exactly will be said at the fireside. They might even say this isn't for everyone, but I think trotting him out so soon after he's gotten married speaks much more than any words could convey. I kind of wish I lived closer so I could hear what is actually said.

  2. How do you know what will he say at the fireside, while on the other hand it's not even started yet?


  3. Ugh, I just went and read the post on LDSLights. 1. I wonder who the mental health professionals are. I'm guessing people from LDS Family services. Why must the church operate in such a bubble. 2. I really don't like how the issue is framed in the first paragraph.

    "We live in a time of increasing difficulty and temptation. The world is relentless in its efforts to ensnare Latter-day Saints. One particularly difficult trial faced by many members of the Church is same-gender attraction. This unwanted difficulty is increasingly common. While the percentage of individuals who embrace alternate lifestyles is small, nearly 10% of people experience feelings of sexual attraction to members of the same sex. The nature of this trial leads far too many of our members to become discouraged and abandon hope. Far too many fall away from the sweet peace that the Gospel can bring."

    I think framing it that way is less than helpful. For everyone involved.

  4. We don't know what will be said, but the fact that he's the featured speaker so soon after getting married for such a large audience speaks volumes. Sorry, I'm like taking over your post, Mr. Curie. :)

  5. I know Ty Mansfield well enough to know that what he'll say is probably what we all expect him to say. I also wonder what these "mental health professionals" are going to say. I don't have much faith in them, though I hope that they will say what they should.

  6. @Joned - You're right, we don't know what he will say. It just seems odd that such a prominant gay Mormon will be speaking so soon after his marriage.

    @JonJon - I agree that I don't like how the issue is framed either. I suspect the health professionals will either be from LDS Family Services or Evergreen. Thanks for commenting, I don't think you are taking over my post.

  7. I suspect the fireside will be similar to the Evergreen fireside that David Baker participated in, where they told him that he was deluded to think he could find a husband and adopt three kids and that there is a "lovely wife" waiting for him.

  8. Anyone in the Idaho Falls area willing to attend and report?

  9. I don't live far from that area, so I'm willing to attend if I have a ride. So, anyone who's going can e-mail me or contact me through Facebook (there's a link on my blog).

    Anyhow, Ty has a right, just as everybody else, to trumpet his choice as the best one. I am almost diametrically opposed to his viewpoints, but I always believe that everybody should be given a voice.

  10. @LDS Brother - I don't have a problem with Ty Mansfield trumpeting his choice as the best one, I have an issue with the church endorsing a certain perspective and giving it the weight of God, particularly when the probable outcome of gay men marrying women is going to result in broken homes and unhappy wives and children in a large number of those situations or leading those young men to commit suicide, believing that God doesn't love them or that they are sinners and broken.

    That would be great if you could report back on the fireside.

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  12. Madame Curie20 June, 2010

    The only thing I can think of when I read things like this is all of the women and children who will be left alone, heartbroken, and shattered when their husbands leave them for someone else. Male, female, I don't care who. But this is setting the stage for so many more women to be thrown under the bus in the name of God.


  13. Following up on Madame Curie's comment, I'd like to quote Carol Lynn Pearson (her book No More Goodbyes is the fireside they need to have). Carol Lynn was asked during the campaign for Proposition 22 (an anti-gay voter initiative) what her opinion was by a member of the church who was assigned to canvass her neighborhood and stopped her as she was coming home from running an errand. She recalls the incident:

    "Well," I put down my two gallons of low-fat milk on the pavement. "My feelings." I took a moment to breathe a time or two and watch a squirrel dart by. "This is the deal, Brother Sutton." I looked at him evenly. "Marriage. It's not that the Brethren don't want gay men to get married. It's just that they want them to marry me. And they want them to marry my daughter. And that's not okay with me. It should not be okay with any of us. I know you're just doing your job here, but tonight as you go to bed I would like you to lie there for a while and think-- would you like one of your daughters to marry one of our sweet, young, gay men, fresh off his mission and anxious to do the 'right' thing?"

    I like Carol Lynn's point of view. The young gay men are as innocent and sincere in their desire to do the right thing as they can be. The young women have all of the innocent and sincere aspirations that young girls who want to marry carry with them. It is up to us, older and with more experience in these things, to alert the young people to the danger. Instead, LDS Church leaders is entirely silent on the issue (at their best) and actively encourage gay men to marry women (at their worst).

  14. I volunteer to attend the fireside. In fact, a good friend and I are the ones who planned and organized it. The church did not organize this fireside. My stake president loves me enough, and understands the challenges I and other gay members face enough to sponsor the fireside. If you want the facts, contact me. If you want to continue to speculate and disparage this incredible opportunity to teach, inspire, and provide hope to individuals and families who are affected in some way with homosexuality, go ahead and do it.

    In the interest of time, I will post here what I did on another's blog about the fireside.

    This fireside has been in the planning for months.

    After we planned the program, I took it to my stake president who took it to the three area authorities involved to obtain permission to hold it in the stake center by the temple and to announce it in all the wards of the 60 stakes.

    This is not an effort by leaders in any way to control the agenda or send a message that we are second class citizens or need fixed.

    If you find fault with the program, blame me, not the church. Hopefully you know me well enough to know that I do not condemn homosexuals or consider those who choose to live a life with a homosexual partner to be an abomination.

    I am gay myself, have a gay brother, several gay family members, and tons of gay friends.

    The purpose of the fireside is to educate leaders and family about the challenges gay members of the church face. It is to offer hope to those who are gay and want to maintain a close connection with the church.

    We have a small support group here with about 2/3 BYUI students. It is very apparent that bishops and stake presidents lack understanding in helping gay members of their congregations. In this fireside, there will be breakout sessions for priesthood leaders, friends and family, gay men, and gay women. In each of these sessions, a priesthood leader will speak for 20 minutes and so will a mental health professional. Then we will have a 20 minute Q&A with those two and 2 or 3 of us who are gay. I will be on the panel in the priesthood leader group. It is a bit daunting to know that all of Eastern Idaho will then have the possibility to know that I, who work and live amongst them, am gay. It is somewhat of a risk on my part, but is worth it if one young man or woman is helped to know that they aren't broken, don't need fixed, and are loved and accepted by their church leaders.

    After the breakout sessions, we will come together again, with Ty as the keynote speaker. We chose Ty, not because he is recently married and we are trying to use him as an example that if gay members hold fast to the church, they will be blessed with a spouse, but because he is a good man who truly understands the issues we face and is a good example of one who is doing his best to live faithfully as a gay member of the church.

    Again, this fireside is solely the result of two gay men, my friend and me, who want to help church leaders understand our needs, and how they can best support us. I personally witnessed the heartbreak my family caused in my brother's life because we did not understand this issues he faced. This program will hopefully spare some from the shame and heartbreak he felt because of ignorance on the part of my family. It is also an opportunity to help those who are gay understand that they are loved, wanted and needed in the church, and that there is hope, that life is worth living, and that happiness can be found within the church.

    I believe that those of us who have first hand knowledge of the difficulties gay Mormons face have the responsibility to do our part to soften hearts and open minds of fellow members. This is our attempt to do just that.

  15. I will add that the message is NOT that gay members should seek out a wife. Give us a little credit! Not only does the Church not teach that, but we, who are organizing the fireside, have first hand knowledge of the challenges mixed orientation marriages bring. I would never, however, say that they are impossible and shouldn't take place. I am living proof it is possible. Two weeks ago, we celebrated our 25th anniversary. I would never be so presumptuous to tell someone whether or not they should seek a spouse or a same sex partner. I would strongly caution anyone considering such a marriage to not only fully disclose, but also take time to truly understand the difficulties such a marriage can bring. Most important, I would implore them to seek to know Heavenly Father's will for them and their prospective companion.

    It amazes me that so many in the gay community, who seek acceptance of whatever lifestyle they choose to live, are so intolerant of others' choices to live as they choose.

    Hopefully a gay member attending this fireside will leave feeling hope that there is a place for them in the church, regardless of their marital status. The message of the fireside will be one of hope and finding joy.

    I simply ask you to withhold judgment until AFTER the fireside. We are your peers, and are doing our best to make the journey of our fellow gay saints a little better than the one we have faced.

  16. Good for you Braveone. I'll be watching your posts to see how this goes. I remember reading your posts when you approached your leaders about doing a local fireside. I'm not a priesthood holder, but I've certainly thought about doing something informally along the same lines here, so, I'll be very interested in the outcome.

  17. @Bravone - I'm sorry if it felt like I was attacking or disparaging what is clearly a heart-felt attempt on your part to "to teach, inspire, and provide hope to individuals and families who are affected in some way with homosexuality". I agree that church leaders and congregants lack appropriate knowledge to appropriately respond to the concerns of gay members. And I think there is definitely a great need for people to take on this cause within the church to educate others. I am glad that you are working hard to make this a successful event, even with potential embarrassment and negative consequences to yourself. I do feel somewhat better knowing that you are an organizing force in this event. Thank you for working so hard on something so important. I hope you will give us a report on how the event goes and how it is received.

    My issue is not with your attempts to improve the situation for gays in the church, which I laud. My issue is with the church's stance on homosexuality, which I think is dead wrong. Unfortunately, I suspect that in order to get your stake president and three area authorities to grant "permission to hold it in the stake center by the temple and to announce it in all the wards of the 60 stakes" you will have had to compromise essential points. As long as the church continues to use terminology such as "struggling with SGA", teaches that acting on homosexual tendancies is a sin worthy of excommunication, and that the only worthy and acceptable actions for a gay member are lifelong celibacy or a MOM, I do not think it is fair to teach that there is "hope, that life is worth living, and that happiness can be found within the church" because such church teachings naturally communicate that the gay member is inherently broken and/or sinful. I think that the church has it completely wrong when it comes to what it means to live faithfully as a gay member of the church.

    I am grateful that you have been able to make it 25 years in your MOM, and still going strong. I definitely look to your example for hope that my own MOM of 6 years can continue strong. I will not say anything against people in MOMs working as hard as they can at it, as indeed I am. However, I do think it is wrong to encourage a MOM as an acceptable choice when the majority of such marriages end in pain and heartache for all involved, but especially for the women and children. I think it is best to accept and encourage same-sex marriages as the best option. I realize I am at odds with the church's stance on this and that there is no way you can encourage such things at your event. I do worry about what the perceived message will be, having the event led by several gay men in MOMs.

    Again, I'm sorry to be seen as attacking your efforts. I believe efforts are sorely needed to improve the situation for gays in the church. But I think the church is completely wrong in the situation it requires for gays to be faithful within the church. Unfortunately, I realize that writing a critical blog post does nothing to improve the situation for gays in the church. You are far better than I am.

    I do hope the event is a success and improves the situation in those 60 Idaho stakes. I certainly could have used a better environment when I was growing up there. Thanks for working to change the situation. Your efforts are needed.

  18. I wish you good luck, Bravone, with your fireside. I'm all for consciousness raising and breaking down doors of silence, etc. This is good stuff. The point of the original post by Mr. C. was simply that the choice of speaker is going to have an effect. It doesn't matter what Ty Mansfield says at the fireside. His newly married status will be known by all and will speak louder than any words from the pulpit.

    It amazes me that so many in the gay community, who seek acceptance of whatever lifestyle they choose to live, are so intolerant of others' choices to live as they choose.

    I am completely baffled if that was directed at me. I (and Carol Lynn Pearson whom I quote) are not attacking your marriage in any way, or that of Mr and Mme Curie. I support you all and wish you success and happiness.

    The fact that some couples are capable of maintaining their marriages doesn't change the fact that young people need to be alerted to the extreme inadvisability of entering into relationships where irreconcilable differences in sexual orientations are known to exist at the outset. This is just common sense. Young people don't know this; we do. We have to tell them.

    None of this about coercion. *Of course* people should be free to make their own choices about all aspects of their lives, including intimate relationships. *Of course* we should honor and celebrate all families. *Of course* everyone has a place at the table.

    Somehow you seem to think that when we speak frankly to young people about this topic, citing statistics and examples of breathtaking suffering, we are inherently showing disrespect to you and your marriage. I don't see it that way. You and I entered our MOMs in a different era. Everyone's story is unique. It's not about us; it's about the future happiness of those sweet young gay returned missionaries and the young women who are attracted to them. It's about them.

    I can't decide whether you and I really disagree or not. I know we're arguing on the surface and that bad feeling has crept in, but are we really disagreeing on points of substance? I want to call a truce and be friends.

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  20. [i]It amazes me that so many in the gay community, who seek acceptance of whatever lifestyle they choose to live, are so intolerant of others' choices to live as they choose.[\i]

    I guess where I disagree with this statement is that I do not believe the church truly gives people a choice. The church places its weight, prophetic counsel, and the weight of eternity on the side of marriage between a man and a woman. For the believer, same-sex relationships are sinful and against the plan of happiness. The believer's ability to make a choice is severely compromised as long as this is the stance of the church. And I think the church's stance is directly against the option that would ultimately provide the most happiness for gay Mormons, their families, and the women who would have otherwise married them and the children who would have otherwise been born to them.

  21. I would argue that the Church does offer people a choice. People are free to choose not to believe. In studying the psychology of choice, the reason people choose to stay in the Church is not social or authoritarian influence. It's belief.

    I for one am eternally grateful that God has led his prophets to direct us. Had I been warned about "all these marriages that have failed, I probably wouldn't have gotten married. That would have been the worst choice of my life. I am grateful that God inspires prophets to offer counsel to those who choose to follow it. If I was left to what other people say, I would have missed out on the greatest blessing of my life and the only path that could have provided such peace and happiness.

    I've put a ton of effort into organizing this fireside. I truly believe that I have been inspired and led by God as I have done so. My only desire is to do His will, which I believe is offering an alternative to the world's philosophy that a person needs to act on their sexual impulses to be happy. I don't believe that.

    I have no intention of forcing any one to believe what the God has taught through his prophets. If people choose to reject that, I respect and honor their choice. Men are free to choose what they believe about themselves as well as about life. But for those who do believe in the restored gospel, I want to be bold in making it clear that it IS possible to follow the restored gospel of Jesus Christ and be truly happy, even if (or perhaps, in part, because) a person experiences same-sex attraction.

  22. @Kevin - I agree that the church offers a choice to believe or not (until you get to Prop 8, where the church attempted to influence the choices of others who didn't believe, but that's a different argument and not related to the current post). I agree that I stuck with the church due to belief and not social or authoritarian influence. And when I lost my belief, I also let go of the church.

    I really hope that your fireside is successful and helps make the Eastern Idaho church a safer place for gay members. I grew up in Eastern Idaho and know that it was not a safe place at that time. I hope that your marriage continues to provide peace, happiness, and be the greatest blessing of your life. I am also married to a woman and know that my marriage is a source of strength for me. I hope the church can become a place where gay members can marry members of the same sex so that they can experience the same peace, happiness, and support that comes from a mutually-committed relationship and that I obtain from my marriage, but without feeling they are wrong, broken, or sinful if they prefer to form a life with someone of the same gender rather than with the opposite gender.

  23. Thanks Ty for having the courage to sell oppression to others. Go you.