The Club Unicorn Debate

Posted by on June 19, 2012 in Acceptance, marriage, Relationships | 32 comments

Over the last couple weeks, we have seen the viral post-sharing of Josh Weed’s Club Unicorn: In which I come out of the closet on our ten year anniversary.

In the post, Josh shares how he deals with being gay, Mormon, married to his best friend Lolly, having children, and squaring everything with the gospel, which he believes is true.  Josh and Lolly have found a working marriage in spite of the odds stacked against them.  Mixed orientation marriages are notoriously difficult to make work long term, for the obvious reasons.  But Josh explains his sex life this way:

[we have built] a sexual relationship that is based on everything partners should want in their sex-life: intimacy, communication, genuine love and affection. This has resulted in us having a better sex life than most people I personally know. Most of whom are straight. Go fig.

I recognized Josh’s name, because we used to comment on a mutual friend’s blog a few years ago.  It was that same mutual friend who shared Josh’s coming out post on FB when I read it for the first time.  Little did I know that that post I was reading was about to erupt into an online phenomenon.

I started to see this post shared more often among the FB pages of my active, believing, Mormon friends.  They touted it as a solution to the gay problem in the church.  They alluded to the Weed’s approach as being what “people in that situation” should do.  If you read the Club Unicorn post, you’ll notice that Josh says specifically that he knows his situation is not the only path.  He says:

I want to make it very clear that while I have found a path that brings me profound joy and that is the right path for me, I don’t endorse this as the only path for somebody who is gay and religious. I will never, ever judge somebody else’s path as being “incorrect” and I know many people who have chosen different paths than myself.

About a week after the Club Unicorn post, there was a rebuttal by a person that I don’t know but whose story is one that I have heard far more often than Josh Weed’s success story.  Her name is Ashley, and she wrote the blog post called In Which I Feel Compelled to Start a Blog Because of a Club and a Unicorn.  Ashley explains that she is:

frightened at the message that the other post is sending.  Some couples might be able to achieve what the Club Unicorn couple is (hell, Matt and I did when the denial and repression were working), but in most cases that type of arrangement can only end badly…

I shared Ashley’s concerns, not because of what Josh Weed had originally written, but because of how some people were using his post.  It was almost as if some people were wielding it as a weapon against all those gay folks that had given up on the gospel and a heterosexual marriage.

Here is what a mixed orientation looked like for Ashley and her now ex-husband Matt:

We both were on our own individual roller coaster of depression, denial, angst, and wanting to die.  A roller coaster we stayed on for 13 years.  And while we were each on our own separate coaster, our kids were on the ground watching us, wondering why we were on a ride that we weren’t enjoying, and why we couldn’t be on an enjoyable ride all together.

Good times existed.  Like I said, we were best friends.  We enjoyed many of the same things.  We laughed a lot.  We were both hilarious.  Both involved in theatre, heavily.  Also, because we were in therapy off and on our entire marriage, our communication skills were superb!  But there was always a pit in my stomach.  A voice in my head telling me, “There is something more,” over and over.

This is the more common reality for those who end up in a mixed orientation marriage.  The sexual compatibility isn’t there, the self of well-being isn’t there, depression abounds, and identity is unrealized.

So.  We have two blog posts from two authors that have experienced mixed orientation marriage in very different ways.  I acknowledge both of them as valid, because their stories belong to them, not to me.  They know their stories better than anyone else.  I choose to listen and believe them.  I see them.  (This process is simple, but profound, in my opinion.)

But the story goes on.

Last Friday, accusations about Josh Weed started flying again.  People started saying he is an “ex-gay therapist” that uses reparative therapy, and he wrote the Club Unicorn post for political or Mormon PR reasons.  Links to his profile on the LifeSTAR website, were given as evidence of this conspiracy.

But I don’t buy it.

In fact, I had been assuming the best case scenario since the beginning when I read Josh’s post.  But even before that, I remember Josh’s blog comments from 5 years ago or so on our mutual friend’s blog.  He’s not deluded.  He is genuinely nice and funny.  I suppose it’s possible that he actually has a political agenda, but I doubt it.

I was so fascinated with the whole thing that I felt I could reach out to Josh and ask him personally if he advocated the use of reparative therapy or becoming ex-gay.  His counseling website has his phone number and email address prominently displayed, which I took as a sign that it would be okay to ask him that quick question.

He responded!  Josh does not think that reparative therapy works, nor does he use it in his practice.  I also asked him about LifeSTAR, which he said does not support reparative therapy either, but instead is a sexual addiction recovery program developed by Patrick Carnes.

I find it admirable that Josh is doing what he does.  Despite my reservations about how he may handle gay patients or “sexual addiction”, I don’t really know the specifics.  I hope for the best, which is that any patient who goes to Josh finds acceptance, love, and no more guilt layering upon guilt.  I’m not sure how that can happen within a belief system that stacks so many issues against it’s gay members, like Mormonism seems to.  But I am betting that it will be people like Josh that help change it for the better.

Related posts:

32 Comments

  1. This part of his counseling website concerns me, “assisting clients who struggle with sexual identity issues and unwanted sexual attractions and/or behaviors.” The ‘unwanted sexual attractions’ part sends up the most red flags.

    The Meadows, the program run by Patrick Carnes for true sexual addiction, is legit however. I’m just wondering if Josh is using that therapy on homosexuality, which is not an addiction. I’m curious to hear the answer to that, and ask those who work with The Meadows what their thoughts on it are.

  2. want to make it very clear that while I have found a path that brings me profound joy and that is the right path for me, I don’t endorse this as the only path for somebody who is gay and religious. I will never, ever judge somebody else’s path as being “incorrect” and I know many people who have chosen different paths than myself.

    I realize how sensitively put this article was. I applaud them for opening the dialogue and I want to sincerely thank them for opening themselves up to the rest of us.

    I do have a caveat of concern and that is that there will be a residual affect of hardline Mormons who will hold this as a banner and say, see if this couple can do this, you can to and if you don’t do this than your just not trying hard enough and your letting Satan take over your life

  3. Well written post, I agree on all counts. Josh seems like a great guy. And in discussing his story on facebook, I found out an old friend from BYU is inth e same boat: gay man, lovely wife, wonderful kids, used to speak openly at BYU about the various options for gays (while simulataneously not necessarily advocating choosing the path he took).
    I don’t think Josh Weed’s intention was for his post to be held up by mormons everywhere as a “look, you can do it! gays CAN make follow the commandments and be happy (with the implication that they should do this through a mixed-orientation marriage).” Unfortunately, if my FB feed is any indicator, this is exactly what happened. If I hear “wickedness never was happiness” quoted one more time in reference to a homosexual’s choice to “disregard the prophets” and not marry… I’ll explode.

    I think the single best argument I’ve heard about this: Would YOU want your daughter to be the wife in a mixed-orientation temple marriage? Probably not. especially if you’ve read the other 99% of stories that have a different result than Josh’s. We shouldn’t wish that on anyone, gay or straight. If the best case scenario on this earth for a mixed-orientation marriage is “well, they don’t hate it, but it will be an uphill battle their whole life, with the only consolation being that in the afterlife one spouse will lose the part of their identity that makes it a bad fit in mortality” and the worst case is deeply broken hearts (between spouses and parents/children)…. why oh why would this be something we want to promote?!?

  4. I share the concern about and frustration with Weed’s example being held up as what gay Mormons should do, especially when he himself disavowed that very idea. I’m further concerned at his characterisaion of “right” sex as something that’s entirely about emotion and spiritual connection in which the body is nothing more than a means to an end. In Mormonism, of all religions, there should be room to acknowledge that the physical aspect of sex is not only a means to an end, but a good thing itself. There is nothing wrong with passion and lust and infatuation playing a role in two people’s relationship. And contrary to what Weed asserts, I think allowing that pure physicality a role in a relationship could actually require more vulnerability and trust than seeing a sexual relationship as exclusively and rightly (righteously, is what Weed implies) being about only the emotional and spiritual.

    Maybe I’m misreading him, but I don’t think so. It would be lovely for Mormons to get beyond their prudishness about the human body. More importantly, I don’t think we can achieve either gender equity or true acceptance for homosexual members of the church until we are able to also recognize and celebrate the unity of spiritual and physical.

  5. Thanks for going the extra mile and contacting him. I had heard the accusations, made me sad. Glad to know they are untrue.

    And on a side note, I just need to point out that I absolutely agree with everything Kmill wrote. Well done.

  6. It’s unfortunate that the idea is out there that “Mormonism” stacks issues against it’s gay members. Mormons that don’t understand the teachings of their church may stack issues against gay members. The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches love and acceptance and to not judge, but unfortunately that doesn’t always translate into how people live day to day.

    • See, I really don’t think we can separate out the blame like that, saying that the church teaches only love and acceptance while the imperfect members are the ones “stacking issues against” gay members. No matter what the church leaders say, their actions and tone and history directly contribute to the beliefs and actions of the church’s membership. They bear a certain degree of responsibility for the harmful attitudes and beliefs of their followers. Until they willingly come out and condemn in no uncertain terms all of the harmful ideas and practices premised on their current and past teachings, general church leaders and the church they run are also guilty of doing harm to LGBTQ members.

      And that’s not even touching things like Packer’s recent conference talk and advice from leaders like Oaks who tell parents they are under no obligation to love their gay children unconditionally. I am glad to see the church and its leadership mitigate its official stance to place more emphasis on love and acceptance of the “sinner” than previously, but they still have a very long way to go before they’re no longer culpable in the harms done to LGBTQ members.

      • “Until they willingly come out and condemn in no uncertain terms all of the harmful ideas and practices premised on their current and past teachings, general church leaders and the church they run are also guilty of doing harm to LGBTQ members.”

        Yes, indeed doing harm not just LGBT, but, to every member who does not follow, nor fit the mold of the “traditional” Mormon that they are not good enough

      • “Oaks who tell parents they are under no obligation to love their gay children unconditionally”

        Link please. I can’t find proof of this reference and it is very over-the-top even for the Mormon church. In addition, this PR from the church has just the opposite message.

        http://www.mormonnewsroom.org/official-statement/same-gender-attraction

        All quotes from Oaks:
        “We love them (referring to people who have same-sex attractions) as sons and daughters of God.”

        “It seems to me that a Latter-day Saint parent has a responsibility in love and gentleness to affirm the teaching of the Lord through His prophets that the course of action he (a homosexual son) is about to embark upon is sinful. While affirming our continued love for him, and affirming that the family continues to have its arms open to him”

        There are many others in that article including some quotes where Oaks says that the church does not take a position regarding nature vs. nurture.

        I do agree that the culture and policies of the church toward gays is damaging and should change. But we have to be accurate and objective in our portrayal of their positions.

        Also – the church threw Packer under the bus for his anti-gay talk in conference. They recanted the worst parts of it.

      • In addition to the comments you quote, Nate, Elder Oaks sanctions parents refusing to allow their gay children to visit if they are in homosexual relationships as well as telling parents that it’s acceptable to essentially treat their gay children who are acting on their homosexuality as if they are little better than pariahs who must be hidden away from public view and made to feel unwelcome in their parents’ home. I don’t care how many times he insists that parents must love their children, he’s essentially saying that they should not love them unconditionally.

        In my opinion, Love is only love insofar as it inspires actions that are themselves loving. I do not find the advice Oaks gives in the interview you link to advice that inspires loving actions. I think it is advice that inspires self-righteous judgment of one’s own children and deeply conditional love. In my opinion, Oaks clearly counsels parents to love their children conditionally based on their children’s behavior. As a child who deals with that kind of conditional love from her parents, though fortunately in less direct ways, I can tell you that no amount of protestation of love compensates for the conditional nature of a parent’s love when they make it clear that they’re withholding their love because the decisions you as an adult have made in good conscience and in pursuit of happiness and joy are decisions they see as “sinful.”

        And I disagree that the church threw Packer under the bus or recanted what he said. All they did was censor it. Recanting requires a public acknowledgement of the error in the original comments and a withdrawal of them, and preferably an accompanying apology. None of which happened. I don’t find a silent censoring of one of their leader’s comments adequate. If anything, it’s just more evidence of the church’s manipulative tactics and refusal to directly confront the wrongs it commits in the name of God.

      • You have a valid point, but people deserve to see all of what Oaks said, not just the worst parts of it. He does not counsel parents to treat their gay children as “pariahs” he says that parents should not feel obligated to parade and share their children’s homosexuality with their friends, family and community.

        I still don’t agree with Oaks position, but it is more nuanced than how you portrayed it here.

      • For me, the counsel Oaks gives parents is the poison that taints the entire well. No amount of advising to love compensates for advising to love and then willfully withhold that love. Which is what he advises. He isn’t answering a question about what obligation a parent has to make their child’s homosexuality public. He’s answering a question about how to make sure “love” isn’t misinterpreted as “endorsement.” So he’s more concerned with superficial appearance than about actually loving someone.

        I feel very strongly about this. It is the church’s biggest sin–teaching its members to qualify their love, withholding it from those who do not deserve it for fear that they will send the wrong message to observers (the message that the thing the undeserving person does is actually okay).

        That is *not* the message Jesus taught. It is *not* what we are supposed to be learning how to do in this life. We are supposed to be learning how to love as Jesus loved (remember Jesus? the guy who rebuked those who criticized him for associating with prostitutes and sinners and for healing the undeserving on the sabbath?). Forgive me for believing that any message that boils down to “love your child, but make sure you withhold that love so that you don’t accidentally make other people think you approve of your child’s sinful choice” is not actually a message about love. It is a message about fear and control. Just replace the sin in the scenario with just about any other sin and you can see how ridiculous it is. “love your child, but make sure you withhold that love if he drinks beer because if you don’t withhold that love then the people around you will think you’re down with him drinking beer.” Ridiculous. And no reiteration of the “love your child” prefix guts the full line of advice of its hypocrisy and inherent harmfulness.

      • “love your child, but make sure you withhold that love if he drinks beer because if you don’t withhold that love then the people around you will think you’re down with him drinking beer.”

        I don’t see what’s unreasonable about asking a child to refrain from engaging in behavior you disapprove of when you are with them. If you are visiting someone’s home or living on their home I think it is appropriate to respect their beliefs. If someone doesn’t drink then the polite thing to do is not drink in their home. Not drinking around them in public would be most polite, but certainly a lesser offense than bringing it into their home.

        So what do you mean when you say withholding love? It seems like you’re saying that if someone refuses to respect your beliefs then withholding your presence (especially in your own home) is the same as withholding your affection. I don’t think I can agree with that.

        If I were a former alcoholic and I had a friend who still drank I may want to associate with them but I may have to put the condition that they not drink if it’s too much an influence to me. If that friend can not respect my choices enough to abstain around me and I have to withhold my presence from them in order to maintain my own convictions, does that somehow mean I’m withholding love for that friend? To me it would feel like my friend was withholding love from me by not being able to respect the choices I’ve made in my whole life that would only effect a small portion of their own.

      • I understand and respect your position, I just don’t agree with your interpretation. I think there is a different interpretation that is more consistent with Oaks’ other comments.

        As an analogy, I have a kid that has a pretty bad speech impediment. He developed some physical complications when he was born and as he grew that created this speech impediment. Everyone can understand him fairly well, but it is a noticeable difference that he struggles with. He is a very intelligent and outgoing boy, who is always a top student and well-liked, but not popular in his school. But this speech problem is not likely to go away or significantly improve (One doctor described his speech difficulties by comparing his ability to talk clearly as an adult to Sylvester Stallone’s speech impediment). This is going to make his life very different from other kids. Some days/weeks/years are going to be really hard for him because of this difference.

        I love him unconditionally, the thing that makes him different is just different. It is not a handicap, it is not better or worse than anything else, it is just different, not unlike homosexuality.

        I don’t tell everyone who meets Asher that he has a speech impediment. I don’t hide the fact, and I don’t celebrate his difference either. It is just who he is. If people ask, we talk about it, if they don’t we just assume they know and don’t care. Asher is aware of the difference, and he doesn’t really care much right now.

        I think that attitude is what Oaks is trying to communicate regarding the parents of gay Mormons?

      • I don’t think your analogy holds at all, Nate. Your analogy communicates the message “I don’t have to broadcast to the world what is different from the norm about my son.” Oaks’ advice is radically different from that. He not only says that parents have no responsibility to broadcast that their children are different from the “norm” (whether being homosexual makes one different form the norm is up for debate in my mind; and this is a message with which I take no issue–not broadcasting your child’s “difference” to the world is in no way a failure to love or a withholding of that love), but that it’s acceptable to:

        1. Communicate to their child that his being different from the norm is a painful burden to them (“‘Don’t put us in that position’”).
        2. Make their child feel unwelcome in their home (the home of his family of origin) because of that difference (“don’t expect to stay overnight” and “Don’t expect to be a lengthy house guest”).
        3. Make it clear to their child that they are a source of shame because of that difference (“Don’t expect us to take you out and introduce you to our friends”).
        4. Make it clear to their child that it’s more important that other people outside the family understand without doubt that the parents do not approve of their child’s “sinful” behavior, than it is to preserve the love and compassion and safe haven that a family should, by definition, provide all of its members (“Don’t expect us . . . to deal with you in a public situation that would imply our approval of your ‘partnership.’”)
        5. Prevent their child from having close contact with their own siblings due to that difference, apparently because homosexuality is contagious or because all homosexuals must be as compelled to proselytize their “lifestyle” as Mormons are (after the “please don’t do that” answer to the question of a gay child bringing their partner to visit for a holiday, he says: “Surely if there are children in the home who would be influenced by this example, the answer would likely be that.”)

        I imagine you would do none of the above because of your child’s speech impediment. If you would, I’d have to question EmilyCC’s judgment. ;)

        My point is that Oaks’ advice to parents about how to relate to their gay children goes far beyond a simple reminder that their responsibility is to love–always to love. It goes beyond the advice that they needn’t feel an obligation to announce their child’s difference. It goes beyond the advice to prayerfully seek guidance about how to conduct the relationship. It goes into the territory of advising parents to shame and shun their children in the name of making sure the rest of the world knows that they (the parents) do not approve of this terrible, no good, evil, very bad, damaging “lifestyle” (so terrible, no good, evil, very bad, and damaging that the mere presence of their gay child in the same house as their other children could contaminate those other children irreparably).

        Remind me again–exactly how is that a message to love? As I said before, no amount of lip service paid to the responsibility to love can counter that kind of caustic, damaging advice.

        Kip, I agree that it’s perfectly reasonable to ask a child to refrain from behavior that is counter to your own beliefs while they are living and/or visiting in your home. But my example did not specify “drinking beer in your home.” It said “drinking beer” generally speaking. Meaning that it’s ridiculous (and completely unChristlike) for parents to withhold their love from their child because that child does something that they disapprove of in their life at large.

        Oaks essentially advises that parents cut off their gay children if those children choose to enter a homosexual relationship. No amount of “communication” via phone or email or text can compensate for a parent telling their child that the child is not welcome in their home. If my parents told me that, I’d take it as the thing that it is: a disowning, a statement that who I am is so shameful they cannot stand to be in my presence. That is not loving. That is not about me respecting my parents’ beliefs in their own home.

        And I find your analogy as lacking as Nate’s. You are essentially saying that not having a gay child in your home is equivalent to a former alcoholic not wanting to be around someone who drinks. But the reasoning for the former and the latter are radically different. The reasoning behind Oaks’ advice is not that the gay child being in their parents home will tempt those parents to do something they struggle with but know is wrong (unless it really is wrong to show unconditional love for a child you think is sinning; and I don’t see how that could be wrong); the reasoning is that having the child in the home could communicate tacit approval of the child’s life choices when you actually don’t approve of them. The logic behind your example of not drinking in the presence of a recovering alcoholic is that one should not subject oneself to unnecessary temptation that might lead to a relapse. I find that logic a little weak (and I say that as the partner of a recovering alcoholic who recognizes that it is his responsibility to stay sober, not others’ responsibility to abstain in his presence and who spends time regularly with family members and friends who drink in his presence), but it’s understandable. There is no chance that a gay child’s presence in the home will tempt the other people there to sin in ways they’re trying to avoid.

        so yeah. I find it deeply unloving to make a child feel shunned and shamed and rejected simply because his parents think he’s “sinning” in his choice of a life partner. Wouldn’t you think it unloving for a parent to reject their child, shunning and shaming them, for choosing a life partner from a different religious background? After all, they sinned by omission since they are not married properly. What about a child who is in a long term relationship living with someone she’s not married to? Should she and her partner also be made aware that they are not welcome in her parents’ home, that they are shameful and should be shunned? Maybe your answer is yes, but mine is no. Parents’ responsibility to their adult children is to love them, not to continue to attempt to shape and control their behavior using shame as a tool of enforcement (frankly, I don’t think shame should be used as a tool of enforcement for any child, whether they are adult or not but that’s a slightly different conversation).

        If you can’t tell, I find Oaks’ advice repugnant. Repugnant and very telling, since it shows very clearly that what he thinks is that any love shown to the “sinner” is to be shown at arms length and shot through with qualifications. UnChristlike indeed.

      • Your interpretation of Oaks’ comments is a valid interpretation, but I don’t think that is how he intended it, and I don’t think that is how most Mormon parents of gay children will interpret his words.

        It is possible that angry and/or sick parents could justify hateful actions toward their gay children by reading Oaks’ counsel. But I can’t hold Oaks accountable for such behavior. If some parent reads his comments and then decides that God told him/her to shun and shame their children by ostracizing them. That is the parents’ sin, not Oaks.

        To take your logic to the extreme, you are saying that if the prophet tells Mormons to go out and kill gay people, and I go do it, then the prophet is to blame and not me. That doesn’t work.

      • @Nate: but I don’t think that is how he intended it, and I don’t think that is how most Mormon parents of gay children will interpret his words.

        I think Amelia’s interpretation is EXACTLY how Oaks intended it. After all, it’s pretty much God’s approach to parenting.

        I haven’t been to church as a believer since 1989. My family has been Mormon long enough (since the 1830s) that there are inactives or “apostates” in every branch and generation of the family. A few years ago there was a family crisis where people were deciding whether to let someone come home despite their “apostasy.” My mom thought the whole business was nonsense; you never stop loving your kids, she said, you never refuse to let them come home if they need or want to come home, no matter what they’ve done.

        I said, “But you see, Mom, that’s part of what makes you awesome and the church terrible. You are infinitely more forgiving, generous, and tolerant than the God you worship. He should be more like you, not the other way around. I don’t understand why you think that righteousness consists of being a judgmental authoritarian who makes life impossibly hard for his children, condemns them when they inevitably fail, refuses to let them come home when they disappoint him unless they embrace the torture and murder he engineered of a favorite brother, and then has the audacity to call all that ‘love.’”

        So, yeah, Oaks probably thinks that what he describes is “love,” but it’s love based on a completely sick model, and he unfortunately lacks the emotional insight and ethical clarity to inspect his own attitudes and see where they are lacking.

        Also @Nate: To take your logic to the extreme, you are saying that if the prophet tells Mormons to go out and kill gay people, and I go do it, then the prophet is to blame and not me.

        I must be missing something, because I don’t see anything in the comments here that even suggests that logic. Can you point to something specific that you think justifies your reading?

      • I think in your last example, the prophet shares in the responsibility. Especially since he and his associate leaders have done an admirable job of communicating the necessity of unquestioning obedience to their counsel.

        I think, similarly, that Oaks and other leaders bear some of the responsibility for members’ bad treatment of LGBTQ men and women because they have offered counsel that seems to me unambiguous in its approval and even recommendation of such behavior without recanting it and replacing it with equally clear counter instruction. And they have done that in an environment that they have helped create and preserve, one that encourages conforming to the behavior and decisions they prescribe.

        While I concur that intentions matter, Oaks and the other general church leaders are smart enough to undestand that intentions are inaccessible, that only their words themselves are accessible. As such, and given the power they have actively Cultivated for those words (essentially that they are to be respected as if they were the words of God himself), I believe that they have an even higher bar of responsibility to ensure that their words do not even reasonably imply a destructive message. Even taken in the larger context of that interview, I think my interpretation of Oaks advice is reasonable.

        In fact, my interpretation of the actions he recommends isn’t even an interpretation. It’s just a straight representation of the actions he recommends. The only think I say that is an interpretation is whether such advice boils down to recommending loving conditionally. Which at the end of the day is something of an abstract point that doesn’t even really matter, not when you’re facing the kind of actions that Oaks actually recommends. Such actions will not feel to a child like their parents just standing up for their beliefs. They will feel like rejection and a withholding of love. They will feel like shaming and shunning. The kinds of actions Oaks recommends directly contribute to the fear and shame and self-destructive beliefs and actions (including suicide) of the children targeted by them. By their fruits ye shall know them. I cannot imagine any good fruits coming from these actions. I cannot imagine it feels “loving” to either the parents or the child when the parents behave in he way Oaks recommends they behave. If it doesn’t feel “loving” to do something, or to have something done to you, then it’s pretty likely it’s not a loving thing to do.

      • From Holly: “A few years ago there was a family crisis where people were deciding whether to let someone come home despite their “apostasy.” My mom thought the whole business was nonsense; you never stop loving your kids, she said, you never refuse to let them come home if they need or want to come home, no matter what they’ve done.”

        Boy does that hit close to home. Let me tell you that it most definitely does not feel like love when family members discuss whether you are welcome in their home due to their disapproval of your choices, especially when in making your choices you are simply doing your best to live happily and in good conscience. Indeed, it feels like the exact opposite of love. It’s devastating. It’s heartbreaking. And it leads to unnecessary but unavoidable emotional and psychological anguish and doubt that long outlives the theoretical debate your family members had about you, damaging the very relationships that the church allegedly believes are the most important ones.

        Holly, I wish your mom was prophet. We could do with a dose of such clarity of vision and pure love.

      • My mom learned a lot in the years before she died. In the 1990s, my best friend W was gay, and she was NOT nice to him. I’d invite him over or arrange to meet him when I traveled back to Arizona and she’d treat him with forced politeness. But since she never told me that he wasn’t welcome in her home, I just made the best of it.

        JM, my little brother’s best friend from high school and a dear friend to our whole family, lost his mom in his 20s, around 2002. His dad was out of the picture; his older brother was a judgmental Mormon bishop; his next brother was in jail for trying to kill both his first and his second wife. My mom told JM that she’d be his adopted mom. She did a pretty good job…. and then it became clear that he was gay.

        We talked about it; she said it was obvious that he was gay, that he hadn’t chosen it, and that she could see that his being gay hadn’t changed anything at all about him; he was still the person she had loved.

        This in contrast to his family of origin, where the straight almost-murderer was more welcome at family gatherings than the gentle gay man who never hurt a soul.

        In December 2009, a few months before she died an utterly gruesome and extended death from liver disease, my friend W was in town with his boyfriend, B, while I was visiting my parents for Christmas. I wanted to see W and tried to make some plans to hang out with him. Given how awkward things had been with just W, I figured I’d meet him and B somewhere. But my mom said, “Why don’t you just have them come over here, and we’ll take them to dinner?”

        And that’s what we did. She welcomed them when they showed up at the door, sat next to B at dinner and chatted with him, was completely gracious to both of them, no sign of the strained politeness she’d exhibited before.

        Granted, she knew she didn’t have long to live and was trying to make sure she repaired or strengthened relationships as much as possible before she left the world. But it really was remarkable to see her overcome a lifetime of homophobia, not even for her own children, but for her children’s friends.

        When it came right down to it, it wasn’t hard at all for her to give up judgment I love, largely, I think, because it was in line with ideals she’d always espoused.

        And it was NOTHING like what Oaks called love.

      • oops–make that “give up judgment FOR love.”

      • Amelia,

        I disagree with you, though I know I won’t convince you.

        Oaks essentially advises that parents cut off their gay children if those children choose to enter a homosexual relationship.

        Maybe I’m crazy, but from the linked interview at least, I didn’t get that message at all. I understood him to be saying something along the lines of, we don’t know what’s best for every situation, I could imagine x,y,z, but ultimately it’s up to the people involved to figure it out. Yet you seem attribute him to telling everyone exactly what to do and then blaming him for the results of everyone else’s actions. Personally I don’t think that quite fair.

        I also am of learning that people give and receive love in all sorts of different ways. While something might not seem to be a loving gesture to you, it in no way means it was not intended or received as such to someone else. So often how much love we receive has more to do with our willingness to receive it rather than anything else.

  7. @ Nate
    I’m really not impressed that the church only struck out parts of his talk. They should have disavowed the whole thing.

    Language is a powerful thing, I would like the church to stop using language like SSM and struggle in the same sentence. This just makes me feel icky. Its this kind of language that leads people to believe that if they do marry they can over come their ss attraction.

    What I would like is for famous Mormons like Marie Osmond who had a son commit suicide from this come out and say something. As it is, when she does speak publicly about her son’ situation she uses the same code with regard to language. With her popularity and contacts with in the church she could do a lot to help create a bridge between the communities with regard to this issue for the life of me I don’t know she doesn’t

    • I also would have liked to have seen a more firm position on his talk. But at least they did something, better than in years past.

  8. I think that both articles are very important, because both offer real perspectives. I appreciate your acknowledgement that both voices were valid. I also appreciate your concern that while Weed did not intend for his piece to be used in the arsenal against those who are already struggling to find their place in the church or in their life, that others may unintentionally (meaning not aware of the pain it could cause) do so. As one friend pointed out after reading it (paraphrased of course), if our theology allowed for moose and zebra and ponies and deer, it would be wonderful to celebrate the rare unicorn, but our theology expects everyone to be a unicorn.

    While I do believe that Weed is sincere in his happiness and his particular gay lifestyle, it may be important to remember that other publicized mixed orientation marriages sharing levels of honesty and understanding eventually collapsed, so it may not be possible to understand their story fully until the end.

  9. I found his post mind blowing, enlightening and hopeful. I can see how some may misuse his post, however, there was so much good in what he said. I loved how he spoke about his family (specifically his father) and how loving they were. I love how he talked about how he was never taught or made to feel that something was wrong with him. I think the fact that he has felt secure in the love of his family has probably made all the difference in his life. I do not doubt his happiness, however, I also do not doubt the experiences Ashley. I think this issue is complicated and nuanced and takes a lot more acceptance and thought than most people have patience for. I am just glad this discussion is happening. I think there were so many aspects of his post that were quite profound and it might make people uncomfortable, but maybe challenging the conventional thought (on either side of the debate) can help lead to more acceptance and understanding. I do not think Josh’s personal choices should be use as gold standard, however I also hope he is not vilified for his personal choices (and his choice to discuss them) either. I think both posts bring a lot of important (and helpful) points to this discussion.

  10. I didn’t finish my thought in the above post it should say * I do not doubt the experiences Ashley had either.*

  11. K,
    This is a great post. I love how open it is on this topic, embracing both sides of the issue.
    Thanks for writing it!

  12. I agree with, Jess, this is an excellent post, K. I so appreciate that you went the extra step and contacted Josh. I absolutely honor the choice that the Weeds have made and would never presume to think I know what is best for them in their situation. There have been people who have been quite critical of my parents for choosing to stay together when they just can’t understand the complexity behind that decision. It is nobody’s prerogative to believe they know what will suit another person. And this is why I have had big problems with how the Weed article has been used by some members of the church. Josh and Lolly’s experience is unique to them–they’ve known each other since they were 3, they’ve been best friends since 16 and in the end, Josh didn’t want a male partner, he wanted a “traditional” family with a wife and children. These experiences can be applied to the Weed family only and they profoundly impact the success of their relationship, a point that I think Josh was trying to make. This couple should not be held up by members of the church as the one, true way to be a homosexual and a Mormon–to do this is ignorant and cruel. It is not our job to dictate how people should live their lives, it is our job to love our brothers and sisters.

  13. Kip
    “I don’t see what’s unreasonable about asking a child to refrain from engaging in behavior you disapprove of when you are with them. If you are visiting someone’s home or living on their home .”

    I agree with you on one point. but, bad behavior can be interpreted in many different ways.. To I equate, bad behavior as burping at the dinner table, bad behavior is swearing., to me bad behavior is leaving your room a mess.

    I don’t think people who are LGBTQ would consider their sexuality as bad behavior. And quite honestly its not, now, however, if the same parents were to say, if you are going to bring your partner home then you can’t sleep in the same room and held that same standard for their heterosexual sons/ daughters bringing home their partners, than that’s one thing. And that I can accept. But, to not only say and label behavior as bad, simply because your child is Lgbtq and say they can’t bring home their partners that’s something else entirely.

    the same thing applies, are you going to let your heterosexual children kiss in front of you because that’s acceptable behavior, but, if your LGTBQ son/daughter brings home a partner and you say your not allowed to kiss in front of them because that’s bad. I don’t know, that’s being a little hypocritical and disingenuous isn’t it?

  14. “If I were a former alcoholic and I had a friend who still drank I may want to associate with them but I may have to put the condition that they not drink if it’s too much an influence to me. If that friend can not respect my choices enough to abstain around me and I have to withhold my presence from them in order to maintain my own convictions, does that somehow mean I’m withholding love for that friend? To me it would feel like my friend was withholding love from me by not being able to respect the choices I’ve made in my whole life that would only effect a small portion of their own.’

    this is a strange argument make, and I’ll tell you why. I am the foster child of a falling down drunk. Of course if you came to my house I would not serve alcohol But, what does not serving alcohol and supporting your sobriety have to do with supporting the very essence of who and what one is their core. You can live a deep fulfilling life with alcohol. But, to say the LGBT are only denying a small portion of their life in order to support you shows that you have no clear understanding just how much ones sexuality has to do in theirs. For you or anyone else to ask them not to ‘display” is ridiculous. Try not to display your heterosexuality. It simply can’t be done. We are allowed to kiss in public, we are allowed to hold hands in public. We are allowed to marry in public and list goes on and on. Gay people aren’t allowed any of these luxuries. sure in some cities and in some families they are accepted, but not in others. Holding hands, are you kidding me. forget about public kissing,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>