Nathan and I on the Gay Mormon Stories podcast

A few weeks ago, my brother and I were interviewed for the Gay Mormon Stories podcast by Daniel Parkinson.  It was a lot of fun and I’m so grateful to be a part of it!  We talked about what it was like growing up as Mormons with a gay dad (who lived in another state), how our family has developed over the years, our eventual path out of the Church, and our new relationship with our dad as activists for homosexual equality.  The podcast went live this morning – Part 1 and Part 2.  (Update – my mom’s interview is now up as well – Part 1Part 2, and Part 3.  My dad’s is up as well – Part 1 and Part 2)

As you listen, I hope you’ll consider some of these questions:

  • “What would it be like for a 10- and 13-year-old to find out that their dad is gay?”
  • “How would that knowledge affect their Mormon faith and their relationship with their dad?”

Within a few weeks, my mom’s podcast and my dad’s podcast will also be available.  My earnest hope is that this conversation will be helpful.  I’ve become a little cynical lately by how difficult it is for us all to understand each other, impossible even (see Sunrise).  I hope you’ll listen, try to see things from our perspective, and then consider what you think about it yourself.

One thing I want to make clear is that you don’t need to leave the Church to accept gay people – many faithful Mormons already have.  Nathan and I are, however, the personal witnesses of the damage narrow doctrine can cause to families and we talk about that quite a bit in this podcast.  That was our experience.

Also, Nathan and I didn’t leave the Church because of doctrines about homosexuality, though they did challenge us in important ways.  We simply feel closer to our dad after losing the belief that he couldn’t be happy without the gospel.  Please understand that what I’m talking about here is sincere pain I felt while growing up, feeling that my dad was a bad person for choosing to be gay.

What I want to see is more Mormons who embrace the gay people in their communities.  So many gay Mormons are still ostracized by their families.  In fact, 42% of homeless youth in Utah are gay!  Many of them were kicked out of their homes by their Mormon families in a “My way or the highway” sort of way.  How many others have committed suicide?  Or lived in depression?  Or thought, for the majority of their lives, that they were wicked or “depraved?”  Or developed psychological problems or been pushed to “greater sins” as a result of losing everything because of their family’s response to their sexual orientation?  Whether or not you believe homosexuality is OK in God’s eyes, the way Mormon culture currently approaches it is hurting a lot of people, my family included.

For the sake of all the young Mormon boys who will tell their fathers, with strained voices and watery eyes, that they like boys instead of girls (and for the sake of the lesbians and bis and transgenders and everyone else too), please –  let’s drop our differences for a minute and talk.

Gun laws, gay marriage, Obama-care, all the polarizing topics we argue about every day, let’s cut it out for a minute, look around, and see things through other’s eyes for a minute.  Let’s realize that while we bicker, each as confident in our own positions as we were when we acquired them 10 years ago, others around us are experiencing a very real pain.  They need friendship, they need understanding, they need loved ones who listen and don’t judge, who don’t trivialize their inner struggles, who don’t assume things about why or what they do, but who just listen to them and trust them.

So here you go – you have an opportunity to sit back and listen for a bit, to see the world through our eyes as we talk about our past.  I hope you’ll take the chance, and then I hope you’ll help me see through yours by responding.

Much love,

Jefferson

Update:

My mom’s interview is up!  Click here to listen.

(ps – If this is your first time to this blog, please read 2012 in review for a good overview of what this blog is about.  Also, here’s the philanthropy blog mentioned in the podcast.)

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8 thoughts on “Nathan and I on the Gay Mormon Stories podcast

  1. “Let’s realize that while we bicker, each as confident in our own positions as we were when we acquired them 10 years ago , others around us are experiencing a very real pain. They need friendship, they need understanding, they need loved ones who listen and don’t judge, who don’t trivialize their inner struggles, who don’t assume things about why or what they do, but who just listen to them and trust them.”

    Great commentary on methodology, regardless of ideology.

  2. Jefferson,

    I listened to both parts of the podcast and am on part 2 of your Mom’s. Wow! I want so badly for my 15 year old son to listen to you and Nathan. I believe it would be so good for him. You both come across as so sincere, honest and … straight. LOL

    There are parts of your Dad’s story that are so close to mine and some completely at odds with it. Overall, I believe it would be a benefit for my son and eventually my daughters to listen to. But my dilemma is how to introduce it to him. Put yourself back in the body of yourself at 15, still wholly believing in the church. I think he’d be OK listening to the part about your gay dad and your relationship with him, but you know members can be especially when they’re going to Seminary each day and gung-ho on all things Mormon. I’m afraid he’d tune out and turn it off at the first hint that the church isn’t true. I don’t want him to dismiss everything because you’re no longer LDS.

    You mentioned how your Dad never badmouthed the church to you. I find myself constantly biting my tongue and lying down rather than issuing a challenging thought. I guess I’m wondering if at 15 you would have felt like your podcast would have been too challenging and controversial to listen to?

    I find it so hard to know when it’s a good idea to introduce the topics of my homosexuality or my standing with the church. I get the sense that he doesn’t want to talk about either one but there has to be a right time and a good way. Part of me thinks this podcast is the right way on the gay part but too challenging on the LDS part.

    What would you have thought at 15?

    • Thanks for listening, Primal!

      Hmmm, at age 15 . . .

      I guess it depends a LOT on what your son is like, how much he likes to study gospel topics, how much he WANTS to know about it, stuff like that.

      For ME at 15? That’s tough. What I pursued, in understanding homosexuality, was Church-endorsed materials. “Anti” is so taboo that if your son even READS it he would be very skeptical of everything it said. I’ve heard from a lot of faithful Mormons that they appreciate the tone of the podcast, but for someone who’s young and doesn’t understand some of the issues we bring up, it might just seem like anti. Since every little interaction with you son will have a strong affect on whether or not he listens to you in the future, I would suggest starting with things that are firmly within the LDS tent or that are very neutral; maybe there are some podcasts by others that are still LDS that will help him understand the basics about homosexuality (that it isn’t a choice, that’s it’s not the end-result of early immorality on your part, that it’s REALLY difficult to come to terms with). I wouldn’t have likely gone to any meetings of a group that was antagonistic to the Church, for example – I went to North Star’s meeting because they were managed by LDS families like mine.

      I’m very glad you liked it and hope it might be useful to you in some way, but I don’t think I would send it to my son unless you feel confident enough that you can present it to him in a way that he won’t instantly kick against it. You run the risk of closing off his ears in the future.

      What he NEEDS before he can understand you at ALL is a curiosity, love for you, and a desire to understand your perspective. If he has those things, the right materials from you could help him come to understanding.

      Anyway, I hope that helps. Let me know if I can do anything else.

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