BCC Zeitcast 50: MikeInWeHo, Part 2

Part 2 of a conversation between Scott B. and MikeInWeHo. Part 1 is found here. In this episode, we discuss personal politics, the role of the Bloggernacle, MoDar, and the Gay and Mormon subcultures. Download this episode here or subscribe to the BCC Zeitcast in iTunes.

Links for your convenience:
1. Mike’s first post at BCC: The Odd Fellowship of the Bloggernacle
2. El Coyote restaurant

This episode, as well as the first part posted earlier, addresses a broad range of topics related to the LDS Church, its policies regarding homosexuality, same sex marriage, and politics. Please keep in mind that this podcast is not a position paper on the LDS Church or any of its teachings, doctrines, or public policy decisions. The commentary represents exactly what it sounds like: two guys shooting the from the hip about their personal experiences with the events of the past few years surrounding the LDS Church and political movements regarding homosexuality.

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Comments

  1. Mark Brown says:

    “Whatever you do, do not read Atlas Shrugged. For every single one of the 1100 pages, you will wish you were dead.”

    Wow! Can I nominate Mike for general authority?

  2. Laugh it up, Mark. This will be the first time one perma has ever banninated another…

  3. Mark Brown says:

    Incorrect, young padawan.

    Ronan, Evans, and I have taken turns banning one another. And hasn’t everybody put Kramer in time-out at some time or other?

    Fantastic work, guys. Be sure to publicize the event at El Coyote well in advance.

  4. Cynthia L. says:

    re: Mormons not having gay friends, “and that’s a problem.”

    Mike, we need a photo of you with your arm outstretched that we can photoshop ourselves in a la Stephen Colbert’s black friend. You’re our gay friend!

  5. Well, I have my answer regarding Atlas Shrugged. Ask and ye shall receive, my friends.

  6. Cynthia L. says:

    re: Mormons at Disneyland.

    I have a Utah resident informant who informs me that having Disneyland annual passes is a major status symbol/keeping up with the Joneses type thing there.

  7. It’s a shame that anyone is focusing on Atlas Shrugged here. I only left that section in because of Mike’s awesome Millennial Star quip. Sheesh.

  8. (We always had season passes.)

    Mike is brilliant. His insights are astute and sensitive- and spot-on. BCC and the blogs saved my cookies as far as my membership during my post-baptismal growing pains.

  9. Cynthia L. says:

    Aw man. Zeitcasts are supposed to be funny and this one just had me in tears at the end. Love you guys.

    I am so there at El Coyote. I’m sure they can do their margaritas virgin.

  10. Sorry if anyone got cut off there for a second–I had a little snafu with the code and accidentally deleted the post for about 30 seconds.

  11. Interesting, interesting discussion.

    There was Mormon night at Disneyland when I was a missionary in OC in the 80s. I assume there still is.

    I am a proud fan of Atlas Shrugged (not the way it is being used politically–those people haven’t read it), and I agree it is a book everyone should read. It’s essential to cultural literacy.

    I would love to be there at El Coyote, as long as we can have a snacker in SLC at Tres Hombres as well:

    http://www.treshombrescantina.net/

    Thanks for this guys, it was very good, even if it wasn’t as totally gay as it could have been:

    http://www.nine-moons.com/?p=942

  12. MCQ, Cynthia, Tracy & Mark,
    Thanks for your kind words. This was definitely a different style of conversation for me, and the topic generally is so, so sensitive.

    The podcast had originally been planned to be just about Mike’s conversion and departure, and Mike even encouraged me to cut out a lot of the political discussion. However, I felt both as we were recording and now after the fact, that this was an important discussion to have publicly–both for me personally and for others.

    (Also, it would have been way more gay if I had used any of GST’s suggested questions for Mike.)

  13. Kevin Barney says:

    Mike kind of hinted at it, but I’ll actually hypothesize it: I think the Holy Ghost inspired him to leave the Church when he did, to preserve his good feelings towards the Church and its people, so that he could then eventually be a kind of ambassador to and for our community. He’s absolutely right, that I know very, very few openly gay people. And on the Mormon side we’re aware that people’s attitudes towards the Church are heavily influenced by whether they actually know any flesh and blood Mormons in a personal way, because then you can put a real face on it. As one of my few gay friends, Mike puts a face on homosexuality for me, and it’s a really good representation. I can’t support anti-gay measures partly because of those few key friendships. Those relationships are so rare for a lot of active Mormons that they are really, really important, even when they are electronic and distant as my friendship with Mike is.

  14. What Kevin just said – word for word.

    Almost all of my own perspective regarding homosexuality is a result of being part of the house system in college for those who lived off campus – since many of those who lived off campus tended to be those who chose to do so for personal reasons that made them not fit into the normal, residential house system. I was the token, married, Mormon; a large number of my closest friends were homosexual. I learned to see them as individuals and to love them for who they were – by and large, good people doing the best they could, just like my heterosexual friends.

    Thanks for these posts.

  15. I stand by my statement that Scott is our orthodoxometer and I have yet to see anything to convince me otherwise.

  16. Bingo, Kevin.

    This dissonance between mainstream Mormons’ general compassionate, Christian behavior and how, as a people, we tend to behave towards our gay brothers and sisters has been one of my biggest personal hurdles in my membership. It took years of personal work before I was ready to completely commit and go to the temple because of that internal struggle. Not only do I have gay friends, but I have three gay family members. This conflict has never been abstract for me; it’s very personal.

    I am pleased this conversation is now in the public sphere. It’s a credit to each of you, and to BCC.

  17. I heart BCC and MikeInWeHo

  18. The other introduction says that Mikeinweho is one of the most popular ones on BCC. WHy is he so popular being that he advocates gax sex and gay marriage on an LDS website?

  19. LDS themed website.

  20. Henry,
    Mike is beloved because he contributes meaningfully with wit and charm and wisdom and even-handedness to virtually every conversation.

    Also, chill a bit, or I will put you in moderation.

  21. calm down henry. he is not trying to convince you to participate in gay sex or marriage. he is simply, honestly, non-judgmentally, charmingly himself and we like him.

  22. Mike is not advocating anything- he simply is a gay man who interacts in a thoughtful, kind and Christian way with his LDS brothers and sisters. We need MORE of this kind of dialogue.

  23. (21) I don’t know… I think that picture was subliminal propaganda. It wasn’t really fair to women or straight men to put that up.

  24. I interrupt my boycott of BCC long enough to say that this pair of podcasts was the first bloggernacle discussion of Mormon/gay issues that seemed completely compatible with the Mormonism I know. Thanks for this.

    I heart Mike, even though, as a middle-aged, overweight woman who wears long — but not usually flowered — skirts, I will now be unable to walk down a street anywhere in the world without the paranoid fear that I’m provoking fits of scornful laughter. Oh, Mike …

  25. Tracy, while Henry misses by a million miles with his comment, I think it’s inaccurate to say that Mike isn’t advocating anything. I think he is quite firmly advocating changes in the way Mormons and gays interact with each other, both personally and institutionally.

    Certainly there will be a wide range of opinions on the latter, but I can’t imagine anyone who has their eyes open and a functioning head who could oppose the former.

  26. Ardis,
    Thank you for the comment. I am glad you found the podcasts valuable. Mike is probably going to join your boycott of BCC when he discovers I left that bit about MoDar in!

  27. Mommie Dearest says:

    The bit about Mo-dar is priceless. How good is your Mo-dar? (The real question is, how do you spell it?)
    I was charmed and enlightened by the podcasts, and I found Henry’s comment important even though I was sorta repelled by it. We all know people (usually in the church) to whom the mere existence of a gay person means that they are advocating gay sex and marriage and thus need opposition. I have relatives with that attitude. Not sure how to deal with it, except with gentleness.
    I also discovered another way that I am not very mainstream, because I have a few gay and lesbian friends in real life. Only one long-term friend, that I know of. However, all of my Mormon gay friends are online friends. Despite Mike’s cloudy membership status, I hope I can count him among them.

  28. Put me down for El Coyote. ( No salt, please).

  29. B.Russ says:

    “Uh, long skirts that go down to like below the knees . . on overweight middle-aged women is a dead give-away.”

    Awesome.
    Now there is no doubt how Mike became commenter of the year.

  30. Scott, perhaps you are right. I was only meaning to say that Mike didn’t have an agenda he was promoting, per se.

    I’m never wearing a long skirt again.

  31. B.Russ says:

    For anyone looking to improve their Mo-Dar, here’s a couple other helpful tips:

    -Sandals with Socks (unless on Asians – in which case its a maybe)
    -Any jean shorts on guys.
    -Jean shorts on girls that come past mid-thigh
    -Old T-shirts (note, not “distressed” just old) in public
    -Clothing bears the “Cabelas” mark

    This is of course in addition to the obvious: BYU paraphanelia, CTR Rings, “Stripling Warriors – Momma’s Boys” Shirts, and what not.

  32. Mommy Dearest,
    While my first desire was also to immediately delete Henry’s comment, I decided against it for exactly the reasons you suggest.

  33. Plus, no matter how hard you try and hide them, you can always always always see G-lines.

  34. Ardis, with you clear sense of personal style, i’m sure you’re rocking your long skirts on your weight-age-appropriate self.

  35. Kristine says:

    Add to the list in 31

    jumpers and sundresses (or anything, really) with a t-shirt inexplicably worn under it or with a little cardigan buttoned up just a little too high

  36. Kevin Barney says:

    Do nylons on a warm summer day count for Mo-dar purposes?

  37. I agree Scott. We have to try to understand and be accepting of points of view like Henry’s or we will never bring any part of the mainstream Church along to where we want them to end up. It’s an unfortunate reality that the vast majority of Church members are a lot more like Henry than we would like to admit. Our best hope is that Henry gets to know Mike and learns to love him as much as we do. That can’t happen if we tell Henry to get lost.

  38. Eric Russell says:

    Is it mo-dar or mor-dar?

  39. Eric, don’t you know you can’t trust anything M star says?

  40. Kevin, I find your hypothesis in #13 very, very intriguing. I’m inclined to believe the same thing, and to me, it says a great deal about where the Lord wants us to be on this issue.

  41. BTW, who is this Sunny person #23? She’s pretty dang funny.

  42. (41)- Marry me.

  43. Stylish women (early 20-somethings) with young kids, long, knee length shorts and capped sleeves. It makes my Mo-Dar go crazy. It’s a fine look, I just know, with every fiber of my being, that they are Mormon.

    Also to add to the Mike love: I adore him! It’s a pity we turn him into a gorgeous hunk of meat though. Poor Mike.

    And Scott’s pretty good too. I mean he works that economist bit the best way he knows how.

  44. B.Russ says:

    42 – Well hello, Maeby

  45. 44- Busted.

  46. “And Scott’s pretty good too. I mean he works that economist bit the best way he knows how.”

    Oh yeah, baby. His supply curves are out of this world.

  47. mmiles says:

    I’ve always been troubled by the suggestion that if Mormons just knew gays personally, they would think differently. That’s a huge assumption. That suggests that tolerant people (of gays) are only tolerant because they know gay people. Yet Scott appears to be tolerant and admits not personally knowing any gays. So why think it would be different for other Mormons? There are hundreds of Mormons, if not thousands, with gay family members, who are sometimes less tolerant than people who don’t personally hang with the gays.

  48. Cynthia L. says:

    whoa you guys are cousins?

  49. Oh, and in my too-hip to be identified neighborhood (leaving it, there’s this tag stating “leaving hipville”, none of the fashion rules you mention work. Except if Ardis would visit, everyone would ask her where she purchased pretty much every article of clothing, with respect.

  50. #47 – Obviously, it’s not a universal truism, but it’s a good generality, ime. Knowing someone (or multiple someones) who are homosexual (or any other “difference”) might not change how someone views what that person does – but it generally changes one’s perception when reality is radically different than the previously held stereotype.

    That’s the key in this example, I think – not necessarily that someone get to know “some gays” but rather that they get to know some people who don’t fit the stereotype. After all, I don’t think it would help one bit for a member to get to know a half dozen wildly promiscuous people – just as it wouldn’t help one bit for a hardcore evangelical to get to know a half dozen members who believe there is no good outside of the LDS Church. Sure those stereotypes exist (in too high a number), but they aren’t the majority by any stretch – both for Mormons and for homosexuals.

    So, knowing people like Mike might not lead to embracing all homosexual activity (and I can’t say that is should, personally, just as I can’t say that all heterosexual activity should be embraced) – but it hopefully will lead to much more understanding and acceptance of homosexuals. Mike can speak for himself, but my gay friends generally would be happy if that were all that happened within the Church – and knowing wonderful people like Mike is a great first step.

  51. So Ray, what you’re saying is, “If people knew cool gays, then they would have a different perspective. Obviously if it hasn’t changed their attitude to know gay people, even if it’s their own kid, maybe that gay person was just a total arse.”?
    All your saying is people will like cool people. It has nothing to do with being gay or not? How is that tolerance?

  52. Oh yeah, baby. His supply curves are out of this world.

    It’s true. I have been known to cause multiple equilibria in people just by saying their names out loud.

  53. #51 – not at all what I said, and not at all what I believe.

  54. Ray,
    It may not be what you meant, but I think there is a fair amount of logical validity to what mmiles is saying.

    I think it’s important to flesh this out a bit more…back to Sunday school for me now, though.

  55. For my part, I don’t know that its so much meeting gay people in particular. I’ve not met a large number of gay people, and the ones I have met didn’t make a great impression on me either. (I’ve never met Mike, and I’m sure I would really like him. The few I have met I didn’t, but I think that only tells me about those people I’ve met, and make no generalizations about the community as a whole)

    However, my attitude after attending college in Los Angeles and spending five years living and working there is much different than it was growing up in the homogenous Wasatch Front. I think the factor of being around different people with different worldviews, beliefs, religions, etc. has made me much more accepting of gays than being friends with X number of gays ever would have. I think as long as the idea of different people remains an abstract one that only reaches us through our evil television sets, that we will remain fearful of outsiders that want to force their values on us.
    Those are my thoughts on the matter.

  56. After reading my second paragraph, I think it reads more the way I want it to if you put ” marks around “outsiders that want to force their values on us.”

  57. 56- I assumed that’s what you meant, but I was really excited for the lambasting you were about to receive from those who read it otherwise. Thanks for ruining my Sabbath.

  58. Scott, of course there is logical validity – but it still isn’t what I said. :)

    mmiles, B. Russ’ description of recognizing the value and validity of differing perspectives is very similar to what I said – that if all we ever know are stereotypes, we will believe those stereotypes are univeral truth. It’s great to realize without gay friends that what we generally see portrayed and described in stereotypes really are just stereotypes – but it’s much easier to realize that if we have gay friends who don’t fit the stereotype.

    As Kevin said, the exact same things can be said of knowing Mormons – and, especially, Mormons who don’t fit a stereotype. We use that example constantly in the Church as a truism in our discussion of missionary work without any real disagreement from anyone.

    If someone is struggling with the belief that all Mormons are politically conservative, for example, what would you recommend she do to disabuse herself of that idea? I think most people here would be very quick to say, “Hey, check out the Bloggernacle. You’ll see right away that not all Mormons fit that stereotype.”

  59. I will be honest and say that it is annoying when people threaten to put you in moderation as though no one else has the power to start a wesbite of their own. That being said, I think there is a spirit of worldliness creeping into the church. When church members go to gay weddings, laugh about this issue casually and encourage others in this lifestyle, that puts them farther and farther away from the path of repentance.

  60. Henry, we have a fundamental difference of viewpoint. I do not see loving my gay family members and friends as encouraging a “lifestyle”. I believe the common usage of this world _lifestyle_ among LDS people talking about our brothers and sisters is wall-building and disparaging.

    I will never go wrong in loving my brothers and sisters. It is not for me to judge or condemn who another person is, and that is the choice I make. I think that is far from worldly.

  61. Henry, we moderate people who act like jerks or make false accusations. I am not particularly interested in how that makes you feel. If you feel like that warrants you starting a new blog, then have at it.

  62. I have a collection of photos of people spotted by me using Modar– in restaurants in various cities and even as far as London.

    I agree that BCC helps keep people in the church.

  63. Henry, do you really think that if the entire straight world was cold or at least ambivalent to gay people that they would stop getting married or pairing off? Are they children so affected by our encouragement? Are they gay because we smiled at their gayness? Or do you think it would just go underground and keep them further from us and our superior righteous example?

    EYE. ROLL.

  64. “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these” seems like a good place to start – and that’s the extent of the feeding I am going to do.

  65. Henry i fail to see how your ability to start your own website has any relevance whatever. Please feel free to do so. We will be happy to visit.

    You assume that we here are being “worldly” and laughing or winking at sin, and thereby helping to postpone the repentance of those who are gay. You seem to suggest that being friends with gay folks or attending their weddings is being “worldy.”

    But what about if those gay folks are your friends or family members? What would you do if they were your children? Or what if they are just God’s children? Is it still “worldly” to show them love and respect? What is it you are suggesting we do? Write them off? Shun them? Is that what you think Christ would do?

    Let me shake up your worldview a little bit. As a good friend of a few gay people and a good member of the Church I am not at all convinced that gay people in general have any particular need to repent. Or not necessarily any more than anyone else. Maybe you should consider that your assumptions just might be all wrong, and that if Christ were here, he would be doing exactly what you consider to be worldly. But don’t worry, I hear he’s been accused of worse.

  66. Mommie Dearest says:

    Again, Henry’s comments are important (to me at least) because they introduce into the discussion common things that I have struggled with, except I assure you not casually. Nor do I find it necessarily to be a laughing matter. Though it is a healthy thing for people to find humor in the weighty issues they face, and I don’t begrudge anyone their laughter.

    I have contemplated at length such things as whether it’s sinful for a church member to attend a friend’s same sex wedding party, or for example, give a baby gift to a child born into a same sex union. Would doing so make one a party to “encouraging that lifestyle”? Is it worldly to have sinners among one’s friends? If so, where does one draw the line? What about the hurt feelings one causes when the former friend is cut from one’s fellowship?

    I don’t intend to start a threadjack with this, but just to illustrate a portion of my personal experience. It usually boils down to a conflict between the first and second great commandments, and it requires a lot of soul searching questions and answers for me to find a balance.

    The only thing I really didn’t get in Henry’s comment was when he brought up repentance at the end. Whose repentance? Mine? My friends’? Regardless of who he meant, my repentance is well attended to by me, and theirs is none of my business, unless they seek my input.

  67. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 59
    While Henry can speak for himself if he’s still around, I’m pretty sure he was referring to people like me being pushed “farther and farther away from the path of repentance” by the sort of kindness and love that has been shown here. How has that worked out with your gay friends and family members, Henry?

  68. Randall says:

    MikeInWeHo,
    Thanks for doing this Zeitcast. It was refreshing to hear a gay man not jaded by the Church. I am a closeted gay man and married with kids. Unfortunately, I didn’t understand my feelings until after I was married. I’ve only come out to one friend, and am working on the courage to talk to my wife about this.
    Anyway, I understand the feelings about how insular the Mormon community is. I have worked with a couple of gay people, who were great people, but never really had a chance to develop a friendship with them. Right now I don’t work with any gay people.
    I cannot imagine being out to most members. I just don’t think they’d understand. I’ve heard some hurtful things from generally good people, but not from most. I’m in a ward in Southern California that’s generally fairly conservative politically, but there was not a lot of hate talk in church during Prop 8, which I heard from other gay mormons occurred in their wards. That was nice, but there was still plenty of enthusiasm for it. I stayed out of it because I was dealing with some other problems in my life just then.
    I look forward to reading more of your comments, now that I know who you are. I’m trying to think if I’ve ever commented on BCC before. Mostly, I just peruse the blog postings and don’t read the comments when I have a few minutes. BCC is definitely a good outlet for me both intellectually and spiritually.

  69. Randall,

    Man, what a load you are carrying. I can’t imagine how hard it is to be in the position you are in. Whatever happens, I sincerely wish the best for you, your wife, and your kids. You will all need a lot of love and understanding to process this and I hope you will be able to count on your LDS brothers and sisters for some of that love.

  70. MikeInWeHo says:

    Yikes, wow, thanks for speaking up Randall. All here would agree that you’re in a very challenging situation. I suspect many will be praying for you.

    Why don’t you participate in BCC more? The members you get to know here might be the ones who prove most understanding and supportive going forward. That’s all I can think to say: Get to know these Mormons. They’re unique and wonderful.

    Best wishes to you.

  71. I agree with MikeInWeHo, we need to have some kind of foreign exchange student program between the Mormon community and the gay community. The problem really is that few members are close friends with openly gay people (and probably vice versa).

    It wasn’t until I became friends with openly gay men that I was able to start getting comfortable with being gay myself and develop a healthier view of myself and my relationship with others, the world and the church.

    Currently, I would say most people in my ward know I’m gay. Them knowing has been incredibly beneficial for me, and I suspect for them as well.

  72. I just listened to the Zeitcast this morning. I really enjoyed the conversation between both of you. I wish more people would hear it.

  73. Sunny: thx 4 ark-stdying.

  74. Randall says:

    Sunny, thanks for the kind thoughts.

    MikeInWeHo, I laughed when I saw you’re comment. I take it you’ve never raised four kids 8 and under! I’m just happy when I get a few minutes to myself. Also, I spend all day looking at a computer for work, so it’s hard to get excited reading the sometimes 100+ comments attached to each posting on BCC. So I usually just stick to reading the post and ignore the comments.

  75. Cynthia L. says:

    Randall, shout out from a fellow southern Californian! (San Diego area) That’s so hard. Don’t really know what to say.

  76. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 74
    You’d be surprised how easy it is to multi-task and blog while you work. But you’re right, I have no idea what it’s like to have four kids under 8. That situation seems to drive a few people more deeply into the Bloggernacle, in my observation.

  77. Jaramiah says:

    I used to lurk around the streets of WeHo back in my younger days as an active LDS RM with homoerotic desires. I would serve faithfully in my callings in a YSA ward one weekend, then explore all things gay the next weekend. WeHO just wasn’t a place that worked for me. It was really hard to mingle in the settings there as a somewhat shy non-drinker. I didn’t object to alcohol, I just didn’t have a desire to drink myself. Without that ice-breaker, it was tough to socialize.

    Nor did I fit in on a trip to Miami Beach. I attended a performance of the play “Making Porn” with a gay audience and felt like I was back in high school, not wearing the right clothes or behaving in the most cool way.

    So I left the big cities and lived in rural America, away from the easy access to gay social life. Then the internet became a way to communicate with other men with more similarities. A semi-long distance relationship developed that went farther emotionally than I had intended. I was fully infatuated. Suddenly I felt like I was “in” by association with my new partner. Which was very intoxicating until I got dumped. At the time I was ready to give it all up for the guy. I was devastated.

    I was having a tough time facing the prospect of looking for a new partner all over again. So, my activity in the church picked back up, and the opportunity to socialize in the simplistic but familiar YSA program opened the door to re-kindling the underdeveloped heteroerotic side of me. I had learned something about giving your heart away that changed me forever. At that time, I met my soulmate, best friend, helpmate, and wife.

    With several kids to raise now, I’m a bit like Randall in that I’m busy. Busy keeps me from going back down the road that wasn’t right for me. I’m so glad now that I didn’t listen to the urgings of acquaintances that told me “if you just come out, you would be so much better off.” I don’t think I would have been. I’m extremely happy with the way my life is now.

    I rarely talk about this story, as I try to remember it no more. I can’t say that I found the counsel of the church or of the secular world very helpful dealing with the particular challenges I faced. I felt like I relied on God. I very much enjoyed listening to the interview. I always enjoy reading MikeinWeHo’s comments on this blog; this if the first and probably only time I will comment under this particular name.

  78. Jaramiah,
    Thank you for sharing your story, and may the force be with you.

  79. Randall and Jaramiah, I found your comments very interesting. Thank you for sharing your thoughts/stories.

  80. MikeInWeHo says:

    Agreed! Thanks so much for sharing. Stories like Jaramiah’s are important to hear yet seldom told. I don’t think that everybody with homosexual feelings just needs to ‘come out’ and live some kind of gay lifestyle (whatever that even means — such a problematic expression). There is way too much black-or-white thinking all around on this topic.

    Heck, my first college boyfriend from twenty years ago is married to a woman now. We’re still best of friends.

    I love that this zeitcast is encouraging new people to share their stories here. Sure hope you’ll keep commenting. And seriously, no matter how busy you are here’s the secret: Don’t actually work while you’re at work! :)

  81. (80) Best. Advice. Ever.

  82. Jaramiah,

    There is no one “gay” story. Yours is as valid as Mike’s or my own.

    Actually I would bet good money that the majority of gays in this country do not live in SF or WeHo. They live in suburbs, are monogamous, and nearly invisible. In 2008 in CA, some 36,000 gay men and women got married. We did not promptly move into the West Village and buy a poodle. (We do have 2 German shepherds and a mutt though).

    I consider myself a reasonably “well-adjusted” gay man, out to family, friends, work, neighbors more than 20 years. Well, at least as well adjusted as can be after the gantlet of a well-meaning but lonely upbringing, anti-gay speech and actions, religiously-justified judgmentalism, and pervasive heteronormative bias (i.e. assuming I am straight in casual conversation). And that’s just the half of it…

    For college, I went to SF (well Berkeley, which is close enough) and lived in the Promised Land. Then I moved south to LA/WeHo and found that 1) I was too old, 2) I was too fat (as in, didn’t have crunch abs and microlipo), 3) didn’t drink enough, 4) my hair was not died or bleached, 5) I didn’t sleep around, 6) my “boyfriends” did sleep around, 7) did I mention I didn’t have washboard abs?

    In short, I was stuck in a post-pubescent junior high twilight zone with damaged insecurity freaks hellbent on proving their oppressors right about every stereotype, and proving to themselves that they have a perfect right to do whatever they want. In so doing, they (and their “lifestyle”) became my oppressor. You’ve heard of the 4-6-8 rule? (straight people who are a 4 but think they are a 6 and are looking to date/marry an 8)? In the gay world of 10 years ago (maybe it’s changed?) it’s more like a 6-9-10. In the process, many torture their body into submission to be worthy of that mythical “second date”. And tortured my self-esteem in the process.

    I had to come out twice: once as a gay man trapped in a straight world, then as a moral one let loose in a sea of licence and narcissism.

    Marty and I are happily (and monogamously) married and openly gay in a majority-Republican suburb of LA. We own our own home. Not once in 10 years have we been harassed. Our neighbors do love our parties (which we without children can more easily throw!) but they love more that we mow our lawn and take the trash barrels in right after the trash guy comes. That is Marty’s and my “gay lifestyle”.

    Jeramiah, I can’t advice you about religious or family concerns. That journey every gay man must make all by himself. But when it comes to other gays fitting you into their designer Procrustean bed, remember that you did not make it to the Promised Land just be told to sit in the back of the bus. Life is too short to be twice victimized.

  83. I listened to this interview with interest. Mike’s story reminded me that the lives of gay Mormons are highly affected by how they are treated by their families. In Mike’s case this was a nonissue because his family isn’t LDS. In the cases he cites of gay Mormons he knows, many were poorly treated.

    This corresponds with my experience as well. What I’ve seen in gay Mormons I know, and in my own life, is that the quality of family relations varies inversely with the doctrinal orthodoxy of the family member in question. For example, a friend of mine comes from a family of eight siblings. He’s in his fifties and his parents are still living. Some of his family members are close to my friend and treat him with kindness, even though they all have to deal with the dissonance that arises in the Church from having a gay family member. Others take a harder line and refuse to justify sin by allowing my friend to visit or associate with their children. If you line up his family in order of orthodoxy (liahona vs iron rod order), you see a correlation. The iron rodders just can’t deal with him. His parents, who are pretty much on the iron rodders side, are caught in the middle. It’s a big source of stress for the entire family.

    This is mostly also my own case. The kindness toward me shown by the less orthodox members of my family is noticeably greater. (The exception is one TBM sister who has always had a soft and loving heart.) I’ve also noticed a huge difference between my generation (I’m 50) and my siblings’ children who are now in their 20s and early 30s. Across the board, my nieces and nephews treat me better than the older family members. I have excellent relationships with my nieces and nephews since they were born. (The only problem areas are one or two ultra TBM spouses.)

    When you read (the sometimes arch) comments from people like me, you have to keep them in perspective. We are motivated not by a desire to say bad things about the Church or its members but by a desire to reconcile what in our own families has been irreconcilable. Sometimes this works; sometimes we are rebuffed. Sometimes it’s our own fault. It’s an ongoing effort.

    I am sometimes frustrated by what I perceive to be BCC’s narrowness, but I am sometimes astonished by the kindness of some of the posts and comments. I’m glad that Mike has a presence here.

  84. MikeInWeHo says:

    Dan, I would caution you against over-generalization about the citizens of West Hollywood. There are plenty of us in the ‘hood who are just as repelled by licence and narcissism as you are. I stay because it’s close to work and my friends, and the food’s amazing to boot.

    I’ve also been thinking more about the stories of Randall and Jaramiah. While I want to be the last to judge anyone else’s lifestyle choices, I would be remiss not to point out that there is another person involved in marriages like that: the wife.

    Would love to hear from women who are married to gay men in the church. Their voice needs to be heard too.

  85. Or the other way around. There are also those families where the wife/mother is the one struggling with sexual identity.

  86. Mike,
    Have you seen http://www.ldslights.org/ ?

  87. This was a great zeitcast and I really enjoyed listening to it. I loved “getting to know” Mike a little better, and really appreciated and loved hearing his story.

    I have to say, that growing up in the SF peninsula, I think even though we have/had our share of very conservative people, just the diversity of the environment alone made our ward less rigid. And I can’t imagine anyone from my area not having a gay friend or family member, so the notion seems a little weird.

    And I am also gifted with mo-dar. A few weeks ago, I saw a woman at the store and I thought “could she be Mormon? She sure looks Mormon. I think she’s Mormon.” And lo and behold she was a new member of our branch who I hadn’t met yet. When I met her I was like “hey! I saw you at the store and knew you were a member!” Mo-dar at work.

    And thanks for the fashion tips.

  88. Scott and Mike: I have no words except 1) well done! 2) thank you! and 3) I’d love to sit down to a meal with both of you.

    Scott mentioned Steve Evans’ ward. I accidentally-on-purpose attended that stake’s conference temple session on Saturday and got the chance to see (and worship with) many dear, dear friends. There truly is something wonderful going on in the Seattle North Stake. The only people who’ve welcomed and loved me more are in my family.

    Mike (84) I do know at least one such woman, and she participates in a few LDS blogs. She and her husband have a beautiful family, and I hope to visit them next time we’re in their area.

  89. MikeInWeHo says:

    re: 86
    Yes, I’m familiar with North Star and their blog. They’re not really interested in my perspective, though, from what I can tell. If you could get them to link to these zeitcasts, I would be pleasantly surprised!

  90. Gavin P says:

    I got so fed up with Prop 8 being discussed in my family ward in Provo that I told my wife that for every 3 times it was mentioned in church, I could go home early. As a consequence, I went home early for 4 weeks straight.

    I agree with Scott that it sucked a lot out of me and made me so cautious to talk with other members about homosexual issues.

  91. Thanks so much, Ben (88). Thanks also to several others who have shared their experiences.

  92. Mormons often think that the gay gentile view of Mormonism is antagonistic. Here’s a link to a song (on YouTube) by the Seattle Men’s Chorus (a gay choir) about a Mormon missionary. It’s quite poignant. It shows that the feelings across this divide are more complex than the stereotype would indicate. The song was written by a secular gay man with a Pentecostal background.

  93. I love this interview. I’ve had the pleasure of being Mike’s friend for over 5 years now. We’ve had numerous conversations over dinner and at movies and he is always sincere, thoughtful, respectful and funnier than crap. Thanks for being out Mike and shining a light on this issue. Honest dialogue, no B.S., no antagonism is the way to overcome all of the misinformation that abounds on both sides of the issue.

    I Love you Mike!

  94. Tim,
    Thanks for your comment. Mike is a gem, and we’re proud he’s our friend.

  95. MikeInWeHo says:

    Oh Wow! Tim showed up. He’s really the only active member who knows me well outside of online.

    Thanks for listening, my friend! Big Love (ha ha ha) right back at you. You should check out this site more often. These are your peeps, and they’re very cool.

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