It’s a new year. 2011 is over and 2012 begins. It’s been a pretty intense year. Dan and I had our commitment ceremony. All my siblings got married. I proposed my master’s thesis. We adopted cats and one died. I came out to my siblings. Misha (our cat) got herpes. I came out to my extended family. It will be interested to see what 2012 brings.
The story my blog tells about 2011 is a completely different story.
Here are the top 10 search terms that found my blog in 2011:
10) gay mormon
9) byu -idaho skinny jeans
8) early mormon marriage
7) gay man steve graham
6) westboro baptist church matthew shepard angels
5) marrying a duck
4) usga byu
3) mormons conversion camps for homosexuals
2) siri changed my life
1) the sick rat and the healthy rat
Here are the most random search terms that found my blog in 2011:
- graph how lesbian you are
- telling conservative friends you’re gay
- a. dean byrd is sick
- graph of common sexual fetishes
- what can i do that i am trouble with the gays and mormons?
- siri why are people gay
- you’re a big gay fag
- emotional man the other guy was the sexual one angela martinez
- should i tell her lesbian bi coworker
- gay mormon sex stories
- you’re a fagget case closed
And here are the top 5 blog posts (number of views) of 2011:
- It Gets Better
- Old words erased, new perspective gained
- The (gay) Mormon pursuit of happiness
- Holidays for the gays
- The Sick Rat and the Healthy Rat
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
A San Francisco cable car holds 60 people. This blog was viewed about 3,100 times in 2011. If it were a cable car, it would take about 52 trips to carry that many people.
Click here to see the complete report.
American Express offers specials through Four Square pretty regularly called Small Business Saturday. All you have to do is have an American Express card and a smartphone with the Four Square app. Then you spend $10 and American Express credits your account $10. It’s pretty simple. Dan and I have found this is a great way to try out new local restaurants and explore our town. And sometimes it’s just a great way to spend a Saturday. Here’s what we did today for small business Saturday.
We started off with subs at the Italian Place. Each sub is $6.50 totaling $13.00 for two. We paid $3.00 with the American Express + Four Square deal. To all the Logan locals: you really need to stop by the Italian Place some time. Their subs are the best in town! Seriously though.
The Italian Place, Logan UT
Our next stop was Cafe Ibis just across the street. We both got 20 oz mochas; I got a stroopwafel and Dan got baklava. Total cost after the American Express deal, $0.22. Total cost for our date, $3.22.
While at Cafe Ibis we Instagrammed any and everything possible. Here are the pictures we took.
Stroopwafel from Dan's perspective
Stroopwafel from Ryan's perspective
Baklava at Cafe Ibis
20 oz mochas at Cafe Ibis
And the best part of all was the warm welcome Carmen and Misha gave us when we returned home. Here they are playing with the reflection of Dan’s phone.
The second best part of the day was that Dan let me win a few games of Super Smash Brothers after we played with the cats. Super Smash Brothers = awesome. All-in-all, today was awesome thanks to American Express and Four Square for giving us an awesome day date for just $3.22 (plus the gas to get there).
- Inversion in Logan, UT responsible for red air days.
Logan Utah — the city that has been my home for 25+ years — has problems with air quality in the winter. City Council Chairman Herm Olsen suggested a possible solution: close down drive-thrus on “red air days“.
I’m not writing this post to discuss the air problem; I’d like to discuss another problem: it seems churches, despite publicly denouncing any influence over their members on political matters, have an increasingly active role in politics. Let me illustrate with one example from the air problem in Logan. One commenter on the Herald Journal article (linked above) said:
“Its strange this issue isn’t seen more from a moral perspective. Where is the church on this? Maybe they have weighted in on the subject but I haven’t seen it yet.”
So where is the Church on this issue? Probably silent (as they should be).
This comment, among other related comments I’ve heard and read, suggest that although the LDS Church (and other churches) is politically neutral there is an underlying culture in which you cannot think or act politically unless you have the support of your church. Why? I’m not really sure, but I have ideas, and I think Proposition 8 is a good illustration of the situation. The documentary 8: The Mormon Proposition relates the members of the LDS Church were invited to vote yes on Prop 8 and often invited by local leaders to make monetary contributions as based on their income and past tithes and offerings. It is also rumored that some members were disciplined if they did not contribute monetarily and if it was learned that they voted no on Prop 8.
Sometimes the Church comes out and makes statements, like it did with Prop 8, that members should support some political initiative. Sometimes the Church makes statements about its own stance on political issues. When members are invited to support an initiative, or when the Church makes public its stance on an issue, it seems members feel their salvation might be in jeopardy. And understandably so in situations in which someone in authority — someone who is putatively a judge on whether or not you are worthy to be with God in the next life — revokes “blessings” (e.g., temple recommend, membership in the Church) for not agreeing with church leaders on political issues.
Whatever the case, members of the LDS Church (and probably other churches as well) lean too heavily on the Church for political advice, and the LDS Church holds too much over the heads of its members if they disagree on political issues.
Evergreen International, a support network for Latter-day Saints (Mormons) that encourages sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE) and is an unofficial auxiliary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, published a story by “Ben Newman” about how gay men can become straight. It’s a rather succint explanation of the theory behind environmental factors that some purport cause homosexuality. Evergreen claims the author of the article is the founder of People Can Change, which hosts conversion camps for LDS men called Journey Into Manhood. Here is a link to a PDF of the article and here is a link to the article on Evergreen.
Today — Christmas Eve — marks our 6-month anniversary. There’s no better way to spend the day than sitting next to Dan (something our busy schedules don’t allow for during the semester), playing games on our phones, and spending time with his mom and her family.
It’s crazy to think that 6 months ago my life changed for the better: I took Dan by the hand and promised to spend the rest of my life with him, through sickness and health. It was a special day. I’ll never forget the excitement and the nerves.
We’ve been through a lot over the last 6 months and we’ve grown clo. One of the defining experiences of the last 6 months was probably when our kitten Luna died; I was exposed to Dan’s finest qualities of kindness and compassion. Watching him care for our kitten helped me realize I have nothing to worry about. Our future is safe and secure.
Dan blogged about our first date 18 months ago.
Growing up, I was taught that religious freedom and morality are on the decline. Until recently, I never questioned it. I’m beginning to wonder it this really is the case. Regarding morality, it was once moral to treat people with disabilities in ways that are now considered inhumane. Although I’m not appreciative of the paperwork I’ve had to complete to study the behavior of people with disabilities for my master’s thesis, I do appreciate the fact that Institutional Review Boards exist. Their existence communicates to me that morality is on an incline: people with disabilities enjoy more rights than they previously enjoyed. Steven Pinker goes into more depth:
Elder Quentin L. Cook of the LDS Church offers a potential rebuttal. I sense a conflict here. If the Bible teaches what Pink says it teaches (e.g., raid villages, kill the men and rape the women), then I’m not certain returning to Judeo-Christian moral principles is going to make the world more moral. But I may be wrong.
Regarding a history of declining religious freedoms, Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the LDS Church quoted Cardinal Francis George saying “threats to religious freedom in America…[are abortion and] the development of gay rights and the call for same-sex ‘marriage'”. He then cites cases that have nothing to do with freedom of speech and have everything to do with anti discrimination laws. In other words, no religion is being stopped from preaching that homosexuality is a sin but members of churches are being told that, when in public, you cannot discriminate against someone based on sexual orientation. Here are the cases he cites:
- Photographer in New Mexico declined to photograph a same-sex commitment ceremony due to religious reasons.
- United Methodist Church denied a lesbian couple access to their pavilion which was made available to the public (the church had been receiving tax breaks for making its property available to the public.
- Candidate for master’s degree in counseling was dismissed from her program for failing to adhere to the field’s code of ethics regarding treatment of gays and lesbians. Specifically, she disagreed with the American Counseling Association’s prohibition against sexual orientation change efforts
Keith Olberman awarded Elder Oaks the “worst person award” for a similar talk given at BYU-I (link). Oaks had the opportunity to clarify points about comparing Mormons during Prop 8 to blacks during the civil rights movement with Fox13 Utah:
The question I raise is whether the LDS Church has a civil right to determine for everyone which relationships government should or should not recognize. In other words, is it really freedom of speech and freedom of religion to legislate (and therefore promote) their version of morality? In sum, I question the claims of Quentin L. Cook and Dallin H. Oaks that religious freedom and morality are on the decline.
There’s no better way to get into the holiday season than listening to these singing Christmas hedgehogs. You may have to open the video in YouTube to get it to work (the hedgehogs should be clickable).
The holiday season can be pretty stressful, especially when you’re the gay member of a religious family and especially when one of your siblings is getting married a few days before Christmas and the other a few days after. This is the position we’re in. My family is attempting to combine one stressful situation (having a gay son/brother) with three stressful events — Christmas and two weddings. Add to the stress the fact that me and all my siblings got married this year so our family is entirely new to planning the holidays around in-laws’ schedules.
From the perspective of a gay member of the family, I don’t look forward to peoples’ reactions when they learn, if they haven’t heard already, that I’m married to a man. I dread conversations like these:
I don’t have too much reason to suspect anyone in my family will follow her instructions, but bitter conversations over Facebook suggests the possibility I might be met with hostility of the passive-aggressive type. Fortunately, I have potential allies in the family as well (e.g., a cousin who “likes” Facebook posts about gay issues); I’m hopeful it won’t be too painful if I show up to my dad’s family’s Christmas party. And even more fortunate than that, I haven’t had to worry at all with my mom’s family. One aunt and her daughter — my cousin (and friend) — extended a warm invitation to Thanksgiving suspecting Dan and I might feel uncomfortable attending.
Perhaps the most stressful part of it all is the disregard Dan experiences. My dad doesn’t acknowledge his presence at family outings. He has also suggested that Dan should be introduced at Christmas and the weddings as “a family friend” or roommate. (I have a hard time believing there are people out there who don’t know I’m gay and don’t know Dan and I are partnered, but that’s always a possibility I guess). And I don’t blame my dad for being nervous about how people will respond; people can be mean and it’s scary to consider all the potential reactions people might have. I’m nervous about peoples’ reactions too, but I’ve had more opportunities to experience those reactions and awkward moments than has my dad.
Despite all the potential stress, frustration, and awkwardness this holiday season might bring, I’m looking forward to having my first Christmas with Dan. The holidays for these two gays are going to rock.
This story from the New York Times is all too familiar in the gay Mormon community: a gay man, who doesn’t understand his attractions for the same sex, marries a straight woman. (These marriages are referred to as mixed-orientation marriages.) When women are viewed as the ticket to heaven (or exaltation in the Celestial Kingdom), the situation can be quite complex. Emily Pearson, daughter of Carol Lynn Pearson, tells about her experience and the experience of her mom in her I’m an Ex-Mormon video.