Saturday, December 3, 2011

Broken Vases and Change Therapies

I was speaking with a new-but-true friend Mitch Mayne tonight. He's kind of become established for his controversial (to some) but awesome calling in his ward. (His blog is: )

The following is an expansion on an email I wrote to him, where in our usual banter were discussing some of the change therapy issues within our gay-moho-ssa Mormon community.

Before I say this, I will say that I love the organizations which are working with members of our community in healthy ways. I am indebted to groups like Evergreen and David Pruden for first teaching me that I can remain in the church with my attractions. I don't go to the Conferences anymore because I feel like I don't continue to gain anything. They helped me in a time when I needed it, and I support them in their purposes.

I think some people think there's something 'wrong with us.' Like, we're something which needs correction because there is something obviously and fundamentally different with us which needs fixing.

I don't think that I liked very much spending years of my life thinking there was something wrong witg me... I used to describe myself as a broken vase. Just have to hide the crack against the wall---no one will notice it. Fill the broken vase with pretty silk flowers, no one will notice the chips.

After years of soul searching, learning, talking with friends, I realize I am not broken. I realize that I have so much to offer the world--I am a good listener. Post-it Boy likes offering advice to friends who need a listening ear. My cooking skills are rather good and I love to bring cookies, cupcakes, muffins, and such with me to share with my coworkers. Some say my cubicle is a mini-bakery. I am a good friend. A dang good brother. And I'm going to be one HECK of a father someday to some lucky children. (And I will be, in turn, very lucky for those children who will be gifted to me.) I am not a broken vase---just a vase. Beautiful and simple in itself. No corrections necessary. I don't need to have my crack against the wall.

That last line sounded better in my head than in actual text.

Maybe instead of fixing our sexuality, we need to fix those areas which aren't working: Are you depressed? Lonely? Angry? Suicidal? THOSE things need correction. Our sexual attractions make us partially who we are in addition to a myriad of other wonderful, beautiful things.

I think a lot of gay men in the church do think they're broken vases which need correcting. Its not fun thinking there's something which has to be fixed or changed. But maybe the non-gay world wants to find a way for us to be fixed and changed so we're "normal"... Then, no more cracked vases. Easy as pie.


Mitch Mayne said...

Your basic premise is correct--we all are works in progress. I think where we get into trouble is when we label a group or an individual as further behind because of their orientation. That, in my experience, is a man-made assumption. We're not here to decide who is further along or further ahead. we're here to walk beside one another as we forge out the unique path that our Father has given each of us--to learn what we need to grow as his children. When we point to someone's path as defective, afflicted, broken, or inferior--we by default, then, categorize the master builder as someone who crafts broken and inferior products.

Last, I think we'd all be a lot better off if we focused a little more on our own salvation, and a little less on the salvation of other people.

Post-It Boy said...

Labeling someone as further behind no matter what reason doesn't seem appropriate either. Some of the most spiritual giants I've met are gay members. However, I've met amazing individuals who have taught me a lot from all backgrounds.

I think that if we all focused more on ourselves, the gossiping types would realize that what they love the most (gossip) is the thing which sets them BACK the most. Thanks for commenting Mitch!

Jonathan Fairborn said...

I have a question. I assure you it's in good faith and I am not trying to argue.

I agree that you're not broken, but I honestly don't understand why you would want to stay in an organization which tells you that you are. I used to be Mormon and I know Mormon teachings about homosexuality very well. There is no way you can qualify for the highest celestial blessings of eternal increase as a gay man. That means Mormonism's god is only willing to share his ultimate powers with his straight children, not his gay ones.

Spin as they might, Mormon leadership can't get around this inevitability. So I really don't understand why you'd want to stay with an organization which tells you that in in the long run, you can't possibly measure up as you are?

Post-It Boy said...

The reason I remain in the church is simple: I believe in it. I have a testimony. I've had too many miracles in my life to prove it. I could write a book of them.

To me, the gospel is the important thing and my relationship to God... and from my experiences in life, it shows me that my relationship with him is good.

It might make me sound ridiculously naive to believe in something like that... but I do. I think that the problem with the church is that too many gay members leave, never taking a stand, or showing church leaders where the errors in teaching might stem from. I think of us like the unbaptized African members of the 1960's. Church didn't know what to do with them, and ultimately, they became members and continue to be growing.

And I have been inactive before, but never was happy that way.

I think that with time, the church culture will be more accepting and loving and who knows what will happen... if all gay members leave, the church will never have examples to show them the way.

Trev said...

"...[I]f all gay members leave, the church will never have examples to show them the way."

That is so true. Of course, it's *hard* being gay in the Church, and I don't look down on anyone for leaving--I even imagine it could be the best decision in many cases. However, I am cheered at many positive signs lately that indicate the atmosphere is changing so that gay people are starting to be more open in the Church. Mitch Mayne is a standout example of that, but there are many others I read about online and experience for myself where people are frankly speaking with their ecclesiastical leaders and clarifying things that need to be known.

Because of the nature of the culture for so long, it's been too easy for homosexuality to be relegated to the "not our problem" bin, but I am satisfied that this kind of thinking cannot go on much longer. At least I want to do what I can to move things forward.

Bravone said...

Excellent thoughts. Thank you.