Saturday, March 12, 2011

The Question of Choice

It took me awhile to become aware of my gay behaviors.  But from day one, they were gay.  Such as, whom I checked out, crushed on, felt emotional, physical, and spiritual attraction too.   They were all gay behaviors.  But I didn't see them as gay. I wasn't aware that I was doing anything different from anyone else for many years until expectations from the church told me otherwise.

But even then, I didn't understand, nor did I think that much about what I was doing vs. what they think I should be doing.  I was only aware that the way I perceived the world seemed to be unique.  I felt different, weird even, or at odds with those around me.   I wasn't attracted to anyone male or female in any sexual way for reasons I thought had to do with the religious demonization of sexual coupling in general.  I later realized that my sexuality was much more complicated than that.  It wasn't about the sex itself. 

So, from that alone, I am confident that my innate sexual orientation is not a choice. And I'm confident that many of the innate behaviors associated with sexual orientation are not consciously chosen.  But Elder Oaks and Wickman would never believe me, nor would they believe anyone of any educated repute on the subject.  For proof, see LDS.org for more of their mind fuckary on the topic of homosexuality.  Little of it based on reality.  But then, if you believe in the fairytales of that religion, Oaks and Wickman will be fucking with your mind and you won't even know it.  

But there does at some point in life come a choice. And I will grant them that but only so far as they understand the basic definition of the word 'choice' and nothing more. 

The choice comes when acting on it is done consciously.  In that case, it's no one's business what choice I make.  It's my life.  I rule my domain only.  No one has any authority to make that choice for me or even suggest what choice I should be making.  How could anyone know how truly to make a choice for someone else when it comes to how we play out our internal attractions and innate needs and desires?  So, ultimately, the entire argument of choice, whether to be gay or to act on gay feelings, becomes completely irrelevant. 

Let's keep in mind one more thing here, the word 'lifestyle'.  If the religious types want to use the word 'lifestyle' when talking of homosexuality, to reinforce the concept of choice, than they must also accept the term to be used with heterosexuality.   No matter what 'lifestyle' one chooses, a choice to act on one's innate desires has been made either way.   But, why won't those living a heterosexual 'lifestyle' see that they have made a choice?  Because they have never had their choice questioned, ridiculed or demonized.  Those of us in the homosexual 'lifestyle' have. 

So, as a result, we've had an additional choice to make that the heterosexuals do not which is, the choice not to let all of the ridicule, demonization, hatred and bigotry spewed at us every day to stifle our happiness.  So that we may be able to fully accept ourselves. Fully embrace that we are indeed gay and that we have the right to choose that path.  After that, we can then choose to live as we are, openly in a homosexual 'lifestyle'. 

Many heterosexuals don't have a clue what that's like because it has never occurred to them that the heterosexual 'lifestyle' has been shoved down their throats since the day they were born.  Why does that not bother them?   It doesn't bother then because they are not homosexuals.   

UPDATE (Jan 28, 2012): More recent perspective here: The Question of Choice, Again!

Thursday, March 3, 2011

My Patriarchal Blessing

I had originally set out to do a post about my Patriarchal Blessing late last year but decided to hold on to it until now.  I thought it might be an interesting exercise -- if not slightly narcissistic -- to post it on the 20th anniversary of receiving it, just because it's been, well, 20 years.

Going in to this blessing was sort of a test for me.  I was testing the church, the patriarch and everything.  I wanted to know if this really was a sort of "fortune telling" exercise that I had been lead to believe my whole life.   So when the patriarch asked me specific questions about my hopes, desires and interests I gave non answers.  I gave him nothing to go on.  The only thing he really knew was that I was leaving for the MTC in a few days.

I don't have much to say about a lot of it.  I did sort of appreciate that it was full of well-wishing and positive encouragement, although, much of it bothered me, especially the stuff about the Lord revealing to me who my wife would be.  I just couldn't wrap my head around that.  It bugged me and I didn't understand why.  Not only did it feel unlikely, it felt creepy.  It's as if I had no choice in the matter of my coupling with another human being.  For the most part, I would just skip over that section when I read it.

But despite all that, there was one thing in it that got me to think a bit about some things, in particular the lines:
"Be thankful for the heritage which your parents have given you.  You are privileged to bear the name of your Father which should be a role model for you throughout your life.  One of your missions in life to bring honor to the name they have given you." 
Coming from a highly dysfunctional family, one in which fatherly emotional abuse was a daily occurrence, it was a highly frustrating and yet hopeful thing to say.  As if my purpose was to fix all the shit my dad had done.  It was a pretty lofty goal considering all the generations of dysfunction going back centuries that have given the family name "dishonor".

However, the more I thought about it the more I realized that I didn't know what was meant by honor.  Was this honor the church, in society, my peers or my career?  For a time I thought I should just change my name and walk away.  I hated my name.  But, what would that do?  What name would I have?  And it too could end up being a name with a history of "dishonor".   What's in a name? That which only we call ourselves, whatever word we choose, we are still the same.

Over time, I realized that honor meant whatever I wanted.  The honor I gave my name was simply to honor it in my own mind.  To accept it, embrace it and appreciate its uniqueness and heritage.  So, of all the things stated in the blessing, this one was the only thing that really ended up meaning anything to me in the end.   And it still does.  It turned out to be one of my greatest challenges and rewards.

I don't believe the patriarch was inspired to say that about honor though.  It's a highly cultural Mormon thing to have such things said.  But also, the Mormons do not have a monopoly on familial honor either.

NOTE: For the sake of completeness, I reproduced my blessing below in its entirety, grammar and punctuation mistakes and all.  But the names have been changed to protect the innocent.  Although, I thought about removing the patriarchs name but decided to leave it in.  After all, he was somewhat of a public figure. 

Patriarchal Blessing Stats:

Date of blessing: 3 March 1991  [Sunday]
Patriarchal blessing number: #367
Recipient: [The Gay Dot]
Birthdate: 11 Sept 1969
Birthplace: Logan Cache Utah
Father's name: [The Dad Dot]
Mother's name: [The Mum Dot]
Patriarch: David Marriner Merrill, ordained by President Gordon B. Hinckley 16 Nov 1980
Stake: Farmington Utah Stake

The Blessing:

[The] [Gay] [Dot], in keeping with the desire of your heart to know the mind and will of your Heavenly Father and by virtue of my calling in the Holy Priesthood to bless our Father's children, I humbly lay my hands upon your head and give you such blessings and promises and instructions as the Spirit of the Lord may direct.  This blessing is a sacred blessing [Gay Dot], for you and your loved ones to be used as a source of strength and inspiration, to give you guidelines as you face the future. Your Heavenly Father is pleased that you have come to a Patriarch this day to receive a blessing from the Lord especially as you stand on the threshold of greater responsibility and larger experiences incident to your maturity.  May this blessing help you to know the mind and will of your Heavenly Father regarding your sojourn here in mortality.

I promise you that the Lord will not turn you away for he loves you and will be your constant friend.  He loves you for the righteousness of your life and your desire to serve Him and to keep his commandments. It is only natural in your youth that you do not yet understand all of the details of the great plan and scheme of life but I promise you with the passing of years and the enlarging of your experience you will gain a testimony of the Gospel and have a burning in your heart and you will see clearly the role that you are to play in the great drama of life. [Gay Dot] you are a choice young man richly endowed with many talents and abilities. You are one of Heavenly Fathers' noble spirits. He held you in reserve to come to to earth at this time when the Gospel has been restored in its fullness.

You are the seed of Abraham, the lings of Ephraim, the blood of Israel flows through your veins. This is a noble birthright and this birthright entitles you to all of the blessings the Lord promised to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  Be thankful for your ancestors, be thankful for your parents.  They love you. They have taught you with love and understanding the way of life that brings happiness, joy and success.  Be thankful for the heritage which your parents have given you.  You are privileged to bear the name of your Father which should be a role model for you throughout your life.  One of your missions in life to bring honor to the name they have given you.

One of the main reasons for mortal existence is to test how you would exercise your free agency which is a divine gift from your Heavenly Father.  The Lord has given you a free choice to be what you be what you want to be, to do what you want to do, however you are not without help for as you pray the Lord will provide communication with him and invite the promotions of the Spirit for your personal revelation.  I bless you that you will continue to cultivate your faith which will entitle you to the companionship of the Holy Ghost.  He will help you make important and wise decisions.  Life will not always be easy. Every trial, every challenge and hardship that you endure will help you to grow and gain valuable experience and further develop your faith and your testimony.

I bless you that you will embrace ever opportunity to learn of the things of heaven and the things of earth for you are endowed with the power of leadership and already the Lord has called to serve him as a missionary to the people of New Zealand where you will perform a great work which will be to your eternal satisfaction.  This calling is but a beginning of the many calls that will come to you to render service in the Church.  You have been blessed to receive the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood.  You will have many opportunities to see the manifestation of miracles take place as a result of the power which you have.

The Lord has blessed you with a strong, healthy body, God's greatest creation.  This body has marvelous power and marvelous function.  The Lord expects you to continue to keep it pure, and clean and virtuous.  Living a pure life will bring joy that surpasses your power of expression of understanding.  I bless you with the power of discernment that you may know good from evil, right from wrong, that Satan will have no power over you beyond that which you can endure.  I give unto you a promise of you will heed the still, small voice within you when you are tempted Satan will leave you untouched.

I bless you that you will excel and succeed in your chosen profession that those who will one day be dependent upon you will be able to enjoy the good things of life.  In due time of the Lord he will reveal to you the one he has prepared to be your wife, the mother of your children, to walk this life and the eternities with you.  Temple marriage will prepare you for exaltation in the celestial kingdom. Your children will be born under the new and everlasting covenant and you will become an eternal family.

Now [Gay Dot] I bid you go forward in the power and majesty of your wonderful young manhood, living an exemplary life, asking the Lord for help and guidance that you may reach your divine potential with honor and glory.  To this end I bless you and give you every other blessing it is my right to bestow upon you as a Patriarch.  The blessings you received from the Lord this day must be earned through your faithfulness in keeping the commandments of God, following the council of the loving prophets here on the earth during your lifetime.  When your life is finished and your work is done you will be privileged to share in the fruits of the glorious resurrection.  You will live with Christ upon the earth as a king and a priest unto the Most High over your own dominion forever and ever.  These blessings I bestow upon you by the power and authority of the Holy Melchizedek Priesthood and as a Patriarch in the Lord's Church in the name of the Lord our Savoir Jesus Christ, even  so   Amen.

[signed] David M. Merrill
---------------------------------
Patriarch

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