Thanks very much to Mike for giving me the chance to guest-blog on his site. XGW is a great resource, and I’m excited by the challenge of being part of it. I was hoping to get a post up before now, but work has (unexpectedly) been intense this week.
First, a bit about me: as Mike mentioned I am a gay Mormon and I was involved with the Mormon ex-gay group, Evergeen, for several years. I’m also one of 13 children. Of my brothers and sisters I’m the only one who is out as gay (I have one brother I have reason to suspect…but that’s a long story for another time). Of my 60+ nephews and nieces, I think a handful are probably gay but none have yet come out. My family adheres to a particularly conservative brand of Mormonism. My father taught theology and philosophy at Brigham Young University for 40 years, and imbued his children with a very authoritarian worldview.
I mention all of this because it is relevant to my understanding of both gay and ex-gay issues. I understand well the conformative pressures facing people who are gay, but who choose not to come out or live their lives identifying as ex-gay. For me, it’s not an open-and-shut case; I see legitimate reasons why someone could choose to identify as ex-gay.
I paid a high price, personally, for my choices. When I finally came out for good, my parents cut off contact with me and pressured my siblings to do so as well. I had virtually no contact with my family for almost ten years (this only changed a couple of years ago, when two of my straight brothers distanced themselves from my parents and re-established contact with me). I have seen my parents only twice in the past decade and I suspect I won’t see them again while they are alive. Having said all that, I can also say honestly that I couldn’t be happier with the choices I’ve made. I have a wonderful life: I’m happy, healthy, and in a great relationship with the best guy in the world.
So…these are some of the things that form my frame of reference in the gay/ex-gay debate. In addition, my politics are libertarian, and my educational training is in Psychology/Sociology.
In my thinking and writing, I find myself returning consistently to the intersection between liberty and morality. As gay people, most of us are presented in childhood with a version of morality that we ultimately cannot accept because it is predicated on a lie–the lie that the way we love is a "sin" and that our existence is somehow unnatural or anomalous.
Once we reject that lie, too many of us reject anything thereafter that smacks of "morality." For the sake of our emotional and mental health, I think that’s a bad approach. As I blog on XGW, I hope to start a conversation (even if it’s only with myself!) about integrating our liberty to live honestly and openly as gay people into a larger cultural context that addresses the limits of that liberty.