Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Hopeful Step--A post by Lolly


I feel like most Mormons want to be good people. They want to be Christ-like, kind, and compassionate. Lately I’ve been speculating that when you see a good LDS person behaving in a completely inappropriate and insensitive way it is often due to ignorance (or at least I hope that is the case!)

This past weekend, I had several conversations with different LDS people. The first was with a friend in my ward. She told me that reading Josh’s coming out post helped her to see the issue of same sex attraction with a new understanding. She said that she trusted Josh and so she believed him when he said that people do not chose to be homosexual but they can chose what they do with those feelings. She said that before reading his post, if her son had come to her and said he was a homosexual, she might have thought it was her fault or that he was doing it to spite her.

The next conversation was with a woman we met while visiting Josh’s parent’s ward in Portland. She and her husband approached us and told us that they were grateful for Josh’s coming out post. She said that she had read it shortly after she had had her firstborn son. She expressed the relief that she felt when she realized that it was okay to love her son, no matter what. That if he ended up experiencing homosexual feelings, she could still love him.

Now, this reasoning—that homosexuality is not a choice, that it is nobody’s “fault,” and that loving a child who is homosexual is not a betrayal of God and religion—might seem clear to some, but for a lot of religious people these conclusions are not obvious. Because this is the case, those of us who have experience with this issue need to share our voice with love in appropriate ways. This weekend, I was so grateful to be able to participate in an event that I felt accomplished this goal.


Photo attribution here

Josh and I were invited to participate in a panel for the leadership of the Beaverton, Oregon Stake. They also asked Josh’s parents to participate along with two other gay LDS men, Jordan Jantz and Jon Hastings.

I almost started crying before the meeting even started. It was amazing that this meeting was Stake sponsored and presided over by a Stake President (who was an amazing man, by the way.) The meeting was for bishops, priesthood leadership, and the youth leaders. As the room filled to capacity with the leaders of this Stake, I was filled with so much hope. It was amazing to see the leaders of a Stake congregating with the sole purpose of learning more about homosexuality. There was no sweeping of the issue under a rug. There was no “this is inappropriate to talk about.” There was only a desire to educate through the Spirit so that the leaders might be properly prepared to assist the homosexual members of their congregations in appropriate ways. 

As the meeting began with a presentation by the Stake President, I was so grateful and excited to hear him share information in such a loving, kind, and accurate way. He talked of ministering to the one, and walking with those who need love. My heart was truly touched. He shared effective methods of assisting homosexual members (like simply loving and listening) and ineffective methods (such as suggesting that reading scriptures and praying hard enough—or increased righteousness—will be effective in eradicating homosexual feelings.)He also shared the Church’s new website, www.mormonsandgays.org, and spotlighted some of the videos there.

Then the meeting was opened up to the panel. The Stake President said he wanted most of the meeting to be open for the leaders to ask questions, even if the questions were uncomfortable to ask. There were so many wonderful questions asked by these great leaders who were there to genuinely serve. I was
impressed by the nature of every question. Here are some examples of questions that were asked:
  • ·      Our tendency is to try and ‘fix’ a problem. How can I help an individual with SSA without trying to ‘fix’ it?
  • ·      I’ve heard some people say that the term ‘SSA’ is offensive to them. What term do you prefer and why?
  • ·      I’ve heard some people say some insulting and mean things in church in regards to homosexuality. How can we help the culture of the church become more educated in regards to this issue?
  • ·      What does therapy look like for a gay LDS individual?

The entire meeting was amazing for me. I saw many individuals crying as we discussed these important issues. People want to understand, and want to help. I saw hearts that were open and learning. We were taught through the Spirit. I was so grateful for the opportunity to participate. I wish every Stake in the entire Church would have meetings similar to this one, but hey, I’m chalking this one up to major progress!  Way to go Beaverton, Oregon Stake!!


87 comments:

  1. Ha ha. Three gay dudes speaking in Beaver-town. LOL. (Sorry. Immature humor is what I go for.)

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    2. Naughty, Tammy! There is only one Beaver you should be acquainted with. (Maybe two)

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  2. It's the Pacific Northwest - - we're just kind of awesome like that! Just kidding. It sounds like a wonderful meeting, the kind that they should start having all over the church. I think the new website is wonderful, and have never been so "proud" to be a member of this Church!

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  3. Marvelous! I'm so glad you guys had such a great experience. :)

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  4. That *is* exciting. Thanks for sharing this, Lolly.

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  5. Love this. Just today I saw some uninformed Mormon-hater commenters bash the Church for the changing stance on homosexuality, but they just don't get it. The stance really hasn't changed, but the conversation is so much more open and the culture (which is at times separate from the gospel, sad to say) is becoming more accepting. It used to be just Church leadership admonishing us to love and accept each other but now it has trickled down to the local level where the gospel is practiced. Good change.

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    1. I HATE it when people "just don't get it". ;)
      But here's something to consider: I know people who are "against" homosexuality who oppose being called haters. So maybe it would behoove you to understand that gay rights are about loving gays and sometimes opposing those who oppose equality.
      You say your church can't change. Ironic coming from people who say change is possible. Does your church follow all principles described in Leviticus? No? You pick and choose and consider some of them outdated? Well who gets to decide?
      Maybe I just don't get it. Being "kind" to sinners is not the same as ceasing to thing of them as sinners.

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    2. As far as my understanding goes... When Christ came to the earth , then yes, the law of Moses , was no longer practiced .. Or. 'Changed' . We follow His teachings . He 'decided' and now we decide if we follow Him and the commandments of The Father.

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    3. Then what did Jesus say in the New Testament regarding homosexuality?

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    4. Nothing. The answer is nothing.

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    5. I'm pretty sure this conversation will not end well ;-) Let's just nip it in the bud. Thanks.

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    7. I do agree with Tammy - this is an argument that comes up A LOT, and there are some very easy, straightforward answers here. If done in an honest, respectful way, it could be quite helpful...

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    8. *sighs*

      All right, all right. But only if you promise to be good. Don't MAKE me pull this car over! ;-)

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    9. Heh.

      The actual words of Christ only take up about 4 books in the scriptures (5, if you include 3 Nephi in the Book of Mormon). If you are limiting valid religious proscriptions against anything (homosexual behavior being one of them) to the actual words of Christ, then we need to pretty much drop every other book of scripture out there.

      However, when a prophet (or apostle) speaks, it's as if God has spoken. Paul stated in the New Testament that homosexual behavior is a sin, meaning that it's a valid law still in effect today, even though the Law of Moses was fulfilled.

      Of course, I am speaking purely from a religious perspective. Someone who does not believe in God does not need to consider themselves beholden to a law like this.

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    10. Oh, dear. Not the infamous BKP quote! (or paraphrase).
      I find that people can be quite selective when choosing whether to consider a "prophet" as speaking "as a man" or as a seer and revelator.
      I could post a link to "Race problems as they affect the church" by Mark E Petersen and probably I would get cyber yelled at and told that he was speaking "as a man". Too bad there isn't a better litmus test for these things.
      Jesus, for as important and pivotal "traditional" marriage is to his church (and by traditional, I'm not referring to concubines and whatnot), never said anything about homosexuality. He once said something about giving all our wealth to the poor. "Silly Jesus! We know you didn't really mean it that way!". (Ammi right, Mitt?)
      I need to spend more time with people who are willing to fill me in on all the really important things Jesus forgot to say or meant to say. I'm hopeless.

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    11. Josh, was that good? Always receptive to constructive feedback.

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    12. Ian, I read this a couple days ago and found it to be quite insightful. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts. http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/10/preaching-false-doctrine-from-general.html?m=1

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    13. Hey BQ!

      So, my comment was specifically responding to your comment about Jesus's words. My comment was not LDS specific - I am not aware of a single Christian denomination that rejects every book of scripture except for the 4 Gospels. The concept that men must speak for God when God is not here is not uniquely LDS.

      Now, WHO you choose to believe speaks for God is an entirely different conversation, one that people will have incredibly varying opinions on. I certainly have my opinions, and I stick to them, but your comment was quite general. :)

      If you desire to have a different conversation about the wickedness of LDS leaders and how they have led us astray, wellll... hmmm... I suspect that's where the conversation will go off the rails. I could be wrong, but I'm willing to take a respectful stab at it, starting with the article you asked me to read. I'll put my thoughts up in my next comment. :)

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    14. This was too long, so I'll reply in multiple parts. :)

      Part 1

      OK, so the blog post. I've read several articles from the Pure Mormonism blog in the past, so I am familiar. He is pretty forthright about his view of Mormon Hierarchy, and even addresses it directly by commenting on how many people are uncomfortable with his rejection of LDS authority. Well, not COMPLETE rejection, but he certainly agrees he doesn't "toe the line", so to speak.

      What comes to mind is the parable of the wheat and the tares. The Master *knows* there are tares in the field, but he also knows that ripping them out too early will also damage the wheat, so he leaves them. "All will be made right in the harvest", he says.

      See, PM may be correct in all his research, but his heart is not right. Let's take this article (http://puremormonism.blogspot.com/2010/02/best-conference-talk-you-never-read_13.html) as an example.

      Notice how he is judgmental towards the leadership? While I do not question that the events he described actually occurred, he takes a very negative spin on it. The reason? He has already made himself judge, jury, and executioner of the LDS leadership, as if he were a mind reader and heart reader into their motives. Being in that space, when something of this nature occurs, he immediately jumps to the negative conclusions he lays out in his post ("OBEY!", says the LDS leadership conspiracy!).

      However, I am not in that space. When I read of those events, I thought of several other, very sacred, possibilities, ones I will not repeat here. I could be wrong, but he does not even consider the kinds of possibilities that would show themselves to be of purer motives and Godly in their reasoning. No, he sees conspiracy theories, which then justify him in creating a Mr Potato Head God. "I don't like that nose - the prophet is fallible, after all! - so I will make a nose of my own choosing. I am sooo smart and I am more spiritual than the Apostles and the Prophets! I am able to pick and choose my truth because my spiritual senses are amazingly refined, and I can see the Orwellian themes being played out here."

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    15. Part 2

      That's his undertone in nearly every article. And to some degree, he may be correct. However, there is great danger in assuming that your piece of the truth is the whole truth (just ask one of the blind men who learned about an elephant). The Lord is able to see the entire harvest. He allows the tares to grow up among his church because ripping them out too early will damage the faith of those that follow.

      So Ezra Taft Benson gave a talk on following the Prophet and was asked to explain/apologize to the Quorum without doing a full retraction? Huh, maybe there's more going on there than we can see. Maybe a full retraction would have done *more* damage because there are several critical truths woven into that talk which would have been ignored or discredited. Maybe the times are changing so that it was less true then and more true now, meaning that the Lord is strengthening the Brethren to be more trustworthy.

      Maybe these two General Conference talks address those specific issues ( http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1994/04/god-is-at-the-helm?lang=eng and http://www.lds.org/general-conference/1994/10/exceeding-great-and-precious-promises?lang=eng), meaning that when we follow the Prophet, we are really following the combined inspiration and wisdom of 15 men, rather than just one.

      But at the core of it? I see someone justifying himself in rejecting the things *he* is uncomfortable with by using Celestial truth in a way that drives a wedge between him and the Lord's chosen prophets and apostles. After all, the problem wasn't that the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil was inherently bad, it was that the fruit was taken in the wrong time and way. Satan sounded very reasonable, did he not? "Hey, this fruit will help you see Good and Evil! There is no other way." He was technically correct, but his wove some lies throughout that little speech in order to get Eve to follow him rather than the Lord.

      I am seeing a lot of truth and a lot of lies in that article (and, in fact, in every one of his blog posts I have read to date). Technically correct, but false assumptions. Reasonable arguments, the type the Adversary makes, the type that is designed to hide the deeper truths and possibilities underneath in order to inflame to anger, resentment, pride, and distance.

      Feel free to use his arguments to further the wedge between you and your past religion, but I read the same information and come to other conclusions, implying that his conclusions are not foregone ones, and that perhaps I am not the sheep here. Reading his stuff, I sense some very reasonable sounding flaxen arguments around his heart and soul.

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    17. Despite the way my posts sound, I actually agree with you, Tammy. There is no *right* way, but there are many many wrong ones. When I begin to twist truth to serve my own pride and resentment, I am wrong, no matter my starting position. While I will never argue that the LDS belief system is for everyone, my comments were meant specifically for those who claim (or used to claim) that belief system and then attack it from within or without.

      I have no clue whether my belief system would improve your life, Tammy. It might, it might not. But the PM blog (and BQ using it) are trying to twist my own faith around, all while sounding very reasonable, and I am simply pointing out the flaws in that thinking, but also supporting someone else's right to their own belief system.

      And you are correct - my whole point was that there are multiple ways to see things. I have my own filters, chosen deliberately and with eyes wide open. You make my point again that the facts may not change, but the conclusions drawn from those facts are not foregone. ;) There are many, many ways to see things.

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  6. These are such GOOD questions.

    Such a great post.

    Thank you so much for being a window -for all of us- scattered across the country ... Into places we may never have gone, sharing word and action of GOOD people, that we may never have otherwise met, and that if we'd ever have heard their voices... It would be months and years later.


    For me, these aren't revolutionary concepts. Instead, they're the same precepts practiced by every LDS person I've ever been close to. Always warned; 'This is just me, most people in the church probably feel 180'.

    But how could anyone know it WASN'T just them? That their voice wasn't just a quirk of an extremely loving and accepting family? Or their own conclusions drawn from observation or inspiration? Or, or, or. ?

    Thank you, for helping bring people together, for getting the word out, and being part of shaping that word.

    - Grey

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  7. That is so awesome and wonderful on so many levels! I hope it happens everywhere else too. Thanks for not only participating, but sharing about it!

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  8. i love that your stake was able to have a meeting like that! i hope that ours will have one similar at some point. :)

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  9. Lolly - Thank you - thank you. What a wonderful thing to share with us and how beautifully you express yourself and help us feel the spirit of our Heavenly Father through your words.

    I am so grateful for the amazing events taking place, the new awareness, the website, those who are brave enough to be seen and heard (like you and Josh), and also, those like my husband, who, although he does not come completely "out" (for some very important, legitimate, and respectable reasons), still unselfishly,courageously, and honestly shares the deepest and most intimate parts of himself and his life.

    Lolly girl - (can I call you that, lol - since I felt such s sweet connection with you from the moment we meet, -even before actually, as I have followed The Weed.) I am certainly sharing in your excitement and awh as the acceptance, understanding, compassion, and love continues to unfold and grow. What a wonderful opportunity to have been involved in such a great meeting - and thank you for sharing it with us today.

    Mr. IDM and I continue to pray for more understanding, and for more effort by the church to foster acceptance, understanding and love. It is a blessing to us to belong to, and believe in, such a wonderful church where our leaders receive ongoing inspiration to fit the needs of our day. We are all constantly evolving...that's what life is - that's what it's all about.

    Love to you & Josh, and the girls :)

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  10. I normally don't comment just because I don't like putting myself out there but I had to share my experiences with this blog. I have a son whom I suspect may someday tell me he's homosexual. He's still young and my husband thinks I'm crazy but call it mother's intuition. I was led to this blog in a round about way not really looking for homosexual info. Since reading this I have been amazed with how my heart has been opened and I have had long talks with my best friend and my husband in regards to this topic. My best friend thinks I was led here to possibly be prepared for my son's future "coming out." I 100% agree. If that's the case I know how to deal with him and the situation. I feel empowered as a mother and full of so much love for the many homosexual friends I have (I've always loved these friends and followed the "love the sinner not the sin" mentality.) Anywho, this post is longer than I thought it would be but I just wanted to say Thank You!

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    1. Your comment is a reminder to those of us who comment on here alot that there are many, like you, who are silent, regular readers who are looking for answers and desirous to learn, understand, and grow.

      I have notice just since we started our blog last week that we seem to have alot of readers already (as our blog reports show the number of "views" each day) who are seeing our blog but not leaving comments. I'm sure that this blog, The Weed, with it's huge following, have many many more like you who are reading but not commenting. I hope and pray that you and others like you are always grateful that you came. (not to speak for Josh & Lolly, but it's just that we ARE on the same "team") :)

      I appreciate your willingness to comment here today, and I am moved by your wonderful attitude towards your son. I applaud you.

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  11. I've said it before, but it seems appropriate to repeat here.

    I found and read the coming out post a few months before my son came out to me. Hearing Josh's story made a wonderful difference in how that conversation happened.

    Neurotic One

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  12. One of my first comments here. Thanks for the post, Lolly.

    I was intrigued by the 2nd question. I guess because I'm intrigued that Josh identifies himself as "gay" even though he has never acted on his same sex attraction. Before The Weed I felt pretty comfortable with my "definition" of gay. Now I'm just confused.

    By the way, my dad is a gay ex-Mormon. It's easy to identify him as gay because he is promiscuous. It's easy for me to identify men as experiencing "Same Sex Attraction" when they don't act on that. But a man who is attracted to others but only sexual in a straight marriage. I'm still trying to wrap my brain around it....

    All that said, I'm grateful for your blog and for you and Josh for bringing awareness to the issue. I have lots of gay/SSA and straight friends that I love very much - even when I don't know what to call them. Child of God is label enough for me when it comes to how to feel and treat others.

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    1. The way I explained "it" to my friends was to ask them if they're still straight, even if they're celibate, widowed, not dating, etc.? Just because one isn't actively pursuing or engaged in a thing, it doesn't alter who you are.

      You're still the same height, even if you're laying down. Choosing to lay down doesn't alter how long your bones are.

      I can still hear, even if its silent.

      I can still see even if I've shut my eyes.

      I can still make my own decisions, even if I defer to someone else.

      I can still love dancing and loud music, while sitting quietly reading a good book.

      Choosing to do one thing, doesn't fundamentally alter who I am. To ME, its less about subtraction, than about addition:

      Hindu Marriage Quote (to the groom).

      "We have gained a daughter, and her parents have gained a son, but your blessing is the greatest of all..Because n.ow, every woman in the world, is your sister!"

      - Grey

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    2. Grey, thank you. Somehow your answer did click with me. I happy to be a mid 40's not yet married Mormon girl who is not and has never been sexually active. And you're right. I'm straight, and I know it. If that makes sense at face value then it also makes sense that Josh can be gay and know it.

      Thanks again for replying to my comment above.

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    3. Um, I HAPPEN to be.... Doh!

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    4. @ Anon 213

      No worries!

      Probably was less something I said, and more that you've been actively trying to sort out something for awhile. You did the heavy lifting! The mental Rubix Cube is the hard work. Wha? How? But.... Is a lot easier to just ignore or dismiss as wrong/impossible. Actively trying to understand something, and to have the strength to respect even what one doesnt understand, is the most commendable in my book!!

      Cheers :)
      - Grey!

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  13. It is great to see the church actively addressing this topic! I live in Sydney Australia and am LDS. The most exposure I have probably ever had in my "younger years" to homosexuality (I use to live in one of the less "developed" areas) is the Sydney gay and lesbian mardi gras. I really feel like the mardi gras here does no favours for the gay community AT ALL. It's all about getting drunk and/or high and poorly placed tassles that actually hide nothing at all and making a lot of lewd gestures. I hate to be crass and use this term but basically it is a sex-fest. At 8am on a Sunday morning you can still find people laying in their own vomit completely naked in the gutters. I'm not just talking one or two people I am talking a whole lot. Now before anyway says yes but there are festivals that are heterosexual orientated that you would find people doing those things and worse. I totally understand that and I would be just as horrified about them as well. And I guess that is the whole point it is not the people but what they are doing that is offensive. But unfortunately when I was growing up this had been my ONLY exposure to homosexuality I assumed the lifestyle went with the orientation.I am happy to say that I have since met some fantastic people that are gay and I now realise what an idiot I was to think this. In fact I find it more then just a little cringe worthy that I believed this(but I was also one of those wally's that thought you chose your orientation...it never occurred to me people could be born with homosexual orientation...yes another cringe moment.) I am sure I still have a lot more to learn and broaden my way of thinking. But it is ssssssssoooooooo good to be finally talking about this topic in the church. Josh and Lolly I think you guys are doing such a good job in starting to get people to really think. I want to make sure my kids aren't as ignorant on this subject as I was when I was growing up....so back to the topic of the Sydney gay and lesbian Mardi gras. I think that it is great that ANY group that is considered a minority group in our communities are getting together and supporting each other....could they please just do it with your clothes on....oh and minimal vomiting on the foot path as possible...lol

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  14. My teenage son recently came home from BYC upset at an activity suggested by one of the YW's leaders. The YW were discussing a trip to San Francisco they had in the planning stages. One of the leaders was excited about the plans and suggested while the youth were in SF--they could protest the SF Gay Pride Parade! I'm not even sure how to address this! Do I talk to that leader in particular, the YW's presidency, the bishop? I'm excited to see progress being made, but hurt that at this local level I still see such ignorance and hurtful comments often.

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    1. Say something. You are just as much a part of the ward as anyone else is. Who you talk to first depends on your relationship with the people. The Bishop was probably the head of that meeting, so you could start with him. If the YW will not tell everyone that was at that meeting that her suggestion was uncalled for, then the Bishop needs to clarify the church's stance. You may feel out of place doing so, but that is how change happens.

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    2. I would be incrediably upset as well.

      Not only because it supports, teaches, and suborns bigotry...

      Not only because apparently SOMEONE in the group didn't watch the GC this fall... (Unless they plan to have signs saying "God Loves You"??? Heck. I'd bring a big sign saying that. But that's not really a 'protest' per se)

      ... But also because of #11 here

      We claim the privilege of worshiping Almighty God according to the dictates of our own conscience, and allow all men the same privilege, let them worship how, where, or what they may.

      People celebrating... Even if I don't agree with it... Is NOT my business. I'm not going to go protest NYE, or Mardis Gras, or Festival of Colors or Easter in Rome, or Passover. A celebration is a sacred thing. Religions teach different practices. Imposing my own religious beliefs on others is abhorrent to me.

      Other people's actions and choices are between them and God (right up until they're hurting someone else...assault, theft, rape, murder, etc). I have no RIGHT to mock and deride other people's choices.

      If I'm not offering to HELP, and doing that respectfully, I keep my big mouth shut.

      What a rude, hurtful, and hateful thing.

      Ugh.

      - Grey

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    4. Tell someone. Nothing changes and no one learns in silence.

      So basically, ditto.

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    5. Not cool, I would go to the bishop if I were you.

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    6. Give me some context, please. Public nudity and obscenity should be opposed with no shame at all. Slapping a Gay Pride label on an event with public nudity and obscenity does not make it better somehow.

      Was *this* Gay Pride parade tasteful? Being in SF, I doubt it, but I could be wrong. But I do believe the distinction should be made - opposing Gay Pride is *quite* different from opposing public nudity and obscenity. The latter is open season, and is entirely appropriate for a youth group to oppose (though they shouldn't be attending said event and can oppose it without being present at it :) ).

      This is especially clear when I communicate that it makes no difference to me whether it is homo or hetero public nudity/obscenity that I oppose. Be gay (or hetero) all you want, but keep it decent in public.

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    7. But MissMOE's post was clear. The leader wanted to protest the Pride parade. No mention of nudity or obscenity.

      To be honest, Ian, your comment strikes me as akin to responding to the idea of a protest against a Christmas mass by saying "Well, were the Christians abusing women and children? If so, it's appropriate to protest!"

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    8. I know there was no mention of nudity or obscenity. I was merely stating the criteria that I feel would be appropriate to protest. :)

      See, a subtle redirection, where the person who is being redirected is not directly called out in public, is very helpful in most situations. If I was the Bishop, and I replied the way I did in my comment, the person making the suggestion would be invited, gently and subtly, to reconsider the reason they wanted to protest, saving face for them while still potentially learning the same lesson. If they resisted and loudly pushed their agenda, I would up the pressure until they got it, as respectfully as possible. BYC is not the time or place to publicly call someone out, if it can be avoided.

      And frankly, if I was aware that a church holding Christmas mass was abusing women and children, I would be doing a lot more than protesting...

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  15. It's interesting that some feel that the need permission to love their children that have SSA. One of my five children has emotional issues that strongly impact the whole family. But it would never cross my mind to withhold my love from him. He's my son; how could I not love him? Why should it be any different for a child that has SSA?

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    2. I thought the site was more about accepting and loving other people, more than loving your own child.

      Not loving might be an issue in some cases (not all LDS).... but I think the message is about trying to understand.

      I'm grateful that the church is encouraging individuals to be more accepting about SSA. It gives me hope that the community that I have always found comfort and solace in, will not be cruel and rejecting of my son.

      There was never a question in his mind or in ours that as parents our love is always unconditional.

      Neurotic One

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    3. As I've said before... I do NOT need a "loophole" in order to love (and be proud of!) my son. Period.

      However, I think there's an important distinction that should be made; There are many people who love their children with their whole hearts (light of their life, would lay down that life in a split second for their child, fight tooth and nail, sacrifice anything; pure and unadulterated LOVE their children) ... but don't know how to address certain issues.

      Whether that's pre-diagnosis (or early days) of a mental health issue, medical concern, educational challenge, learning difficulty, physical problem, artistic aptitude, computer savant, have screwdriver will disassemble, painfully shy, exuberantly extroverted, sexual orientation, etc.

      When are children are 'like' us, it's relatively easy. We've typically had at least a couple decades on the planet.. and we've muddled through well enough. We've got this. Mostly.

      But when our children are facing a challenge, have a polar opposite personality, ANYTHING that is outside of our sphere of reference...

      .., It can and often does throw parents for a loop.

      Many times, the issue is "simple" (the slow to warm up / shy child when we dive right in... learning to respect and handle our kid needing something different than we do), but other times the issue (positive, negative, or neutral) is FAR more complex.

      There's a learning curve. Whether it's what to do in a meltdown, how to get the NG tube back in when they've popped. it. out. again., early childhood intervention, being a team parent when we're artsy not sporty, dyslexia, our child being gay... Parents often flub the first few attempts. Are caught flat footed. Plain and simple do. not. know. how. to. SUPPORT their beloved child.

      My thinking on the subject, is that these conversations, the website, etc., are FAR less about giving permission to love your baby... than support and assistance to those who love their kids with all their heart.

      Just because a parent reads parenting books, takes their child to the doctor, or for speech evaluation, etc. does NOT mean that they don't love their child. Usually, the opposite, right? They just don't have the skillset, yet, to react effectively and gracefully to a situation outside of their understanding. So they're reaching out for support. To attempt to be better parents to their children.

      I'm guessing as a special needs parent... you've reached out to a lot of different sources / garnered a lot of support over the years. Also that you had a pretty steep learning curve in the beginning, broke down in tears over something that you wouldn't even blink at a year later, read a lot, talked a lot, etc.

      That's "all" this is, in my estimation.
      Not permission.
      Resources and support for good parents wanting to be better ones.
      S'what we do, right?

      :D

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    5. I also compared it to artistic ability, computer genius, physical prowess, mechanical whizz kids, and being the life of the party.

      Thing is, all parallels eventually break down.

      What I was trying to get at is the struggle PARENTS have with something that may or may not be a struggle for their child.

      The parallels were more intended for what parents end up going "Yikes! How do I deal with THIS?" when they've never had to deal with it before, than to directly parallel sexual identity. It's something about their kid, that is outside of their knowledge base, because it's different from their own life and experience. Really, that can be anything, large or small.

      I think you MAY be underestimating kindness, however.

      ___________

      In kindness I can discover and learn who I am
      In adversity I can only fight for who I think I should be
      Or against those hurting me

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    6. Tammy,
      Just out of curiosity...did you watch Judy's story on the website?

      But overall...the "who you are is morally wrong" is not the message I got from the website.

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    7. I identify with this completely. My oldest daughter is so opposite of me I didn’t know how to handle it at first, I am a Gemini, super talkative and outgoing, spontaneous and not easily offended or embarrassed. She is very introverted, and quiet and organized. She doesn’t like to be silly in front of others, so getting her to do zumba with me is like PULLING TEETH. I actually asked a few close family friends who were counselors how to MAKE her more outgoing and spontaneous, & they all said "How could your mom have MADE you more clean, silent and introverted?"

      It was one of those "ah-ha" moments for me.

      I just need to make sure she feels secure and comfortable within my care and love, and allow her to bow out of my crazy antics without criticizing her for just being WHO she is.

      I do praise her constantly for how organized and clean she is, and I really hope she knows I love her JUST THE WAY SHE IS.

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  16. @ Scott...I so agree. Part of my journey of understanding my sexuality was seeing an extremely helpful therapist. He had a Catholic background, but understood my Evangelical mindset because his therapy training was from an Evangelical university. A breakthrough came on a day when he asked me why I had to keep putting a "moral value" on sexual orientation. He said, "Why can't it just be"? The proverbial light bulb went off! What if I quit trying to figure out if my sexual orientation was an "abomination to God" or "a result of the Fall" or a "gift from God" or something in between and just let it "be"? I released the need to have all the answers...and it was a huge relief...that was about four years ago. My therapist helped me understand how my Christian values, ethics and morals could be expressed as a gay, single man. I made a commitment to be fully Christian while accepting my sexual orientation with no judgment attached to it.

    It isn't always easy. Among many Christians there is a lot of judgment. People have withdrawn. I've lost friends. I've been told I'm not a Christian anymore and I'm going to hell. Some have committed to praying for my "soul". But...there have also been many, many great discussions and I'm actually enjoying a role helping people understand my journey as well as the pain many gay people feel from the church and judgmental Christians.

    Because of that pain, many gay friends are wary of my Christianity. However, there have also been many wonderful discussions with gay friends who would view themselves as far from God. I like building those bridges. One of my daughters believes it is a part of God’s calling in my life.

    About three years ago I met a wonderful man and fell in love. We share the same values and made a covenant commitment to one another over a year as we became Domestic Partners. Now that Washington State recognizes same sex civil marriages we will be able to be "official" later in 2013. We're planning a fun celebration with friends and family. And, our pastor will be officiating. It will be great to be surrounded by all that love.

    It is such a joy to wake up each day living in the light of God’s unconditional love, without shame and no longer hiding. I hope that for each and every person on the planet.

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    2. Loved your perspective coming from a Christian gay man. I hope you blog. If you do, let me know where to find you!

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    3. Sincerely happy that you found what you wanted and needed to have a happy life.

      Neurotic One

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    4. What a wonderful story. I feel your contentment in your writing, and how great for you to be able to marry who you love and share value within a legal bond. Congratulations!

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  17. Lolly, i agree with you 100%. and i definitely feel exactly like those two women you mentioned. i am so thankful for this blog because its really expanded my ability to love and accept those around me. thanks to you AND josh for listening to the spirit and bringing others unto Christ. xoxo

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  18. I'm straight & Jewish, but I love you, Lolly Weed, and I like the way you think.

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  19. This goes so far beyond the LDS community, I would like to see more loving, open conversations from churches of all denominations. We all need to think what would Jesus do and put away the one sided conversations of intolerance and hate.

    I'm so grateful to Josh and Lolly for their open conversations and sharing! thank you!

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  20. That's the stake my husband grew up in!

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  21. Sounds fantastic Lolly. I'm glad to read about it here.

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  22. Dear Lolly and Josh,

    I really admire your site and what it is happening with it. I write you because I want to share my personal experience. Though I’m not catholic I have learnt a lot from yours. The point is I felt in love with a mormon gay, an ex marriage with a woman gay, with a huge story of gay open relationships. The thing is I started to feel sex attraction to him, I felt the situation was mutual and become very stressful for me because I didn’t know how to face it. After reading your post of inconditional love I understood that what I felt for him was pure love, I was in love in the way he shared love everyday we used to see each other. For me it was not important our differences of age, economical, social or background experience – I had never have a relationship with a man in a gay frame. The thing, is I faced him telling what I felt for him, confessing my trust and loyal feelings, telling him I did not care about his past, our differences. Telling him I felt pure love to him, that sex was a thing we could put apart to have a kind of relationship into a mormon frame of what jesus wants from us. By the end telling him I felt for him inconditional love. He reacted very confussed and I leave him alone to think about it.
    Since the day affer, he just ignored me, he never answered my calls, emails nor texts. He just cut me from his life and trash me. He said that been separated was the best for us. Since that, more than a month I have been suffering a lot because I can not understand how someone who was such as good with you and others could turn into a so damage way. Certainly was the best for him. He took me out of his mind. I feel so confused because I offered to him something so good from my soul that I never offered before, accepting to renouncing to important parts of my life for him and by the end I received the most painful react. It is hurt, it is really hurt, he damaged the engine of my life, my heart.
    I know he is trying to recompose his life, thinking of remarriage with a woman, as a mormon mandatory of god. But I think he is taking literally what he has read from you, and maybe plenty of men are doing the same. They just think okay I’m not a gay I’m straight and I will marry to a woman, cleaning their minds. I strongly believe that you can choose but before choosing you must ask for psychiatric or psychological help to heal something that is not only religion or sex, but it is also mind and heart. For me just unfair suffering.

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  23. Conversations like this are very good. Was the issue of homosexual marriage addressed?

    With the U.S. Supreme Court scheduled to take arguments about the Constitutionality of defining marriage between a man and a woman, it would be very timely to see a post on Josh's perspective. Obviously being homosexual did not stop him from marrying a woman and raising a family, so what does he have to say about the "equal rights" arguments being made by other homosexuals?

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    1. Good luck on getting an answer to that one! ;)

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  24. Lolly, I wish I could have been there to hear you and my friend Jon Hastings present. It sounds like it was a fantastic event!

    I should probably introduce myself (John Gustav-Wrathall). I had a wonderful time presenting on a panel with Josh at CTW in Salt Lake. Look forward to meeting you at some point, and hope you and Josh will have a chance to meet my husband Göran...

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  25. I am so glad that the LDS church is coming out with this. There are some people who I feel bad for because they are uneducated and some ignorant regarding SSA and have some hateful feelings towards those people. And it hurts me to see the negativity towards those particular people. But I have also met so many people who's lives have been changed because of this blog and so many attitudes that have been changed because they are becoming more educated and more understanding of what SSA really is. I'm grateful for these posts because it teaches me tools that I can use when I become a social worker. I live in Utah and I didn't realize that SSA was so big here and so many people have so many questions and are wanting help. I'm so excited to be one of those people who will be able to help out even if it is in a small way, like listening to them. Thank you guys so much for continuing this blog and letting us be apart of your lives.

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  26. I'd like to here from a gay/SSA person here, what are the answers to the questions in Lolly's post (maybe from Josh if he's still reading comments this far along or anyone else)? I suppose I'm as ignorant as some of the people described above, but I feel like those priesthood leaders at the training meeting-- I just want to understand from a more open perspective now that Josh's blog has turned what I thought I knew about homosexuality upside down.

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    1. Hi Matthias, Not being all Mormony and stuff myself, I feel like a bit of an intruder here but I'll gladly lend my perspective. (if this goes long, I apologize)

      I think the best way to help a loved one who has identified him/herself as gay is to first listen and try to understand before stating your own opinions. If this is your child, understand that your expectations may not be met but help your child reach his or her own expectations. If you've done a good job with them so far, you will find that their sense of morality is based on what you've taught them, even if they don't apply it in the exact way you would have hoped.

      I REALLY don't like the term "SSA" for two reasons, its origins and its usage. The term "same-sex attraction" was coined by people who don't believe in homosexuality. People who believe that everyone is inherently heterosexual but some people suffer from "SSA". Believing that existing terms like "gay" and "homosexual" describe a social/political identity, "SSA" was created for people who don't want to be considered one of "those people". The term "SSA" is most often used as a means of divorcing a person from their sexual orientation.

      As far as bettering your church's understanding of issues surrounding homosexuality, don't hide your light under a bushel (no!). Don't keep this website as a "safe place". Share it. Think of all of the things that have helped you on your journey and bless others with them.

      If you people (hehe, "you people" = Mormons) do a good job, therapy for gay LDS folk should end up looking no different than therapy for straight LDS individuals. It'll take time, no doubt, but it's a good goal.

      Thanks for allowing me to input my two cents, I hope I haven't offended anyone.

      -Michael Christoph

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    2. Michael Christoph,

      Great post. Really. Great. (smiley)

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    3. Mr. I Define Me here - (I am a 50-something yr old gay male who has been married to a heterosexual woman for 30+ years)

      (to the question of trying to "fix" it) An ancient prophet, Nephi, said, "I do not know the meaning of all things". Also, the church, as an organization, does not profess to know the meaning of all things, and no one person can "fix" it save it be Jesus Christ. The blind man will see in the afterlife - I too will be heterosexual in the life hereafter, but until then, LOVE is the most powerful help of all.

      (as to the question of the term "SSA") Personally, I do not like some of the words man uses to describe one with Same Gender Attraction, such as -

      (least likely to describe myself - to most likely to describe myself)...
      Faggot
      Queer
      Homosexual
      Gay
      Same Sex Attraction
      Same Gender Attraction
      The Non-Gay homosexual who seeks to transcend from a homosexual lifestyle and live a Christ like life.

      (as to the question of helping the church culture become more educated regarding this issue) My own personal suggestion is for leaders to role play certain situations as if they have a very close family member who is gay, and to let them ponder perceptions and troubled hearts as if it was their story. Then maybe, more understanding could be injested, and less hurtful attitudes will be instilled... and, hopefully the spirit of their new found understanding will trickle down from the leaders to the membership.

      (as to the question of what therapy for the LDS SSA youth looks like) First off, I don't believe in "reparative therapy". But, I wish as a youth, years ago, I could have trusted enough in someone, anyone, to have had a private discussion about this issue, because for me, it was a deep dark secret, only between me & God until age 21, when, to the most trusted person in my life, I briefly mentioned it to another person for the first time ever, my wife.

      If I would have, as a youth, confided in a church leader about my "issue" and perhaps could have discovered unconditional love and trust, then maybe my fears of doom and gloom would not have lasted for decades.

      Gratefully I am beyond that now, and have found a calming peace deep in my soul that has replaced my fears,and I have new and renewed hope for the future through the atonement of Jesus Christ.

      I may not have answered your question, - but my needs were never met as a youth. Perhaps a different outcome could have presented itself in the mid 70's had I found TRUST.

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  27. How come I did not find out about this until now? I would have loved to chat with you guys! You need to tellllll me when you're coming heeeerrre! (Can you hear the whine in my voice?) Seriously, though, next time you guys have 5 minutes in Oregon, can I get on the invite list? I heart the both of you and I am glad this was a great experience for you.

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  28. I was raised LDS and in the past several years through my own study of the church have decided it isn't for me. That being said I am happy the church is opening dialogue and talking about this, but even the great strides they have made it has been mentioned here in previous comments about how the church now in its own way admits SSA is not a choice. That being said then how could they ever expect folks not to engage in SSA relationships? Imagine as a straight person being told you could have the feelings, but not act upon them. That in itself seems too cruel.

    So part of me is very happy for the change, but the problem is still there. For me letting go of having to be right or wrong helped immensely. we all have our own journey and each of us deserve love and respect no matter who we choose to love. I will walk with all my Gay brothers and Sisters to advance their cause, because IMHO that's what Jesus would do.

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    1. OK, Darren, help me out here. God is cruel because He asks people to make sacrifices, sometimes very difficult ones, for their faith? Do homosexuals somehow have some sort of monopoly on suffering, that somehow *their* suffering is inexcusable, and God would never ever ask them to live a chaste life in spite of SSA, despite the fact that He asks people who are born without legs to live their whole lives without walking?

      This doesn't make sense to me. He has asked people to make brutally painful sacrifices, up to and including losing their lives, since the beginning. Why is living without being able to give into SSA so much worse than, say, death? Or torture? Or slavery? Or a million other trials He asks us to endure?

      Does this mean I can pick *my* personally difficult trials and demand that God let me off the hook as well because it's downright cruel that He is making me go through them?

      **Spoiler alert!**

      I have tried this and it doesn't work. Tried multiple times, in fact.

      Somehow, God asks us to endure in doing the right thing(ie, live the commandments) regardless of circumstance. In fact, the greater the difficulty in living the commandments, the greater character that is being built while doing so.

      Years ago, my grandmother suffered a stroke. Not long after, I sent her a card - on the cover was a drawing of a cat, back arched and trapped on a fence surrounded by barking dogs. The caption read, "They say you learn the most from your most difficult circumstances." Opening the card revealed, "What a stupid system." :)

      So while we may grouse about the stupid system that requires trials and problems to grow character, it still stands as a fact of life. *shock* What? God asks us to do hard things in life? Yes. Yes, He does. To *all* of us. It's not cruel. It's how we grow and learn.

      I will walk with all people, gay or not, Mormon or not, atheist or not, because it's what Jesus would do (and did), but do not confuse "love" with "blanket permission to do anything you like because asking you to go through trials or grow self-discipline or develop patience and trust or what-have-you is just plain wrong".

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  29. Ian, I agree with most of what you are saying. I have noticed that when it comes to issues of sexuality (do NOT read only homosexuality into that-I've dealt with many complex sexual issues and would rather not have this narrowed down to one issue) many people don't want to have to give it to God to do as He wills for their lives. So many people are over-focused on the sex part of sexuality. I agree with the poster whose therapist asked why he couldn't just BE. Yes! Be who you are AND allow God to show you what He wants you to do about it. His guidance is never wrong. I have traveled with Him through places in my life that appeared impassable, but He is the God who makes things that are not as though they were. Life is not easy. Sometimes I have made mistakes and suffered consequences. Sometimes I have made tough-but-correct decisions that necessitated restricting my desires. Sometimes I have experienced suffering at the hands of others. But all became blessings of wisdom to share. Every time those experiences help others or aid my handling of current situations, I know I wouldn't give up one bit of what I gained, even if it fulfilled (or appeared to) my own desires. I'm not saying that fulfilling my own desires is necessarily wrong. I'm saying that when doing so takes me off of the path God has planned for me (although the Bible is specific on some things, this is something each person must determine for themselves through communion with God), it will not lead to my happiness no matter how pleasant the path appears. I think that people have difficulty reconciling a loving God who would allow for suffering or expect us to restrict ourselves from some of our desires, yet I have gained most of my wisdom through adversity, and wouldn't ever want to go back to my prior level of understanding. I feel that some want to make God out to be cruel If He isn't a perpetual Santa Father, but permissive parenting doesn't help children grow up to be who they need to be. God is THE parent. I have learned through some pretty crazy circumstances to trust Him to show me who I am and how to be and to love me unconditionally no matter what.

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    1. Lori -

      Hahahaha! Santa Father! That's a great term.

      Yes, I think this is one of the gaping holes in any argument regarding God being OK with any kind of sexual expression. "I'm so special that God would never ask me to do what He has asked countless billions since the beginning of the world. *My* trials are extra tough, so I get a pass on keeping the commandments, even though people in Nazi concentration camps and Russian gulags and Roman coliseums weren't given the same pass, because my pain is worse that theirs."

      Uh-huh.

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    3. You know what, Tammy? You're right. I need to eat some crow.

      I've been in a weird emotional place recently, which means I've been much more snarky than my usual self. Unfortunately, I brought that snark to this forum, which came off as far more condescending than I actually feel, not to mention that this is a sensitive subject that I totally did not treat with any kind of sensitivity. Just by the fact that you reacted this way when you are always so level-headed was a good wake-up call that I need to retract my attitude and try again.

      I am quite sorry. I really do feel I have a legitimate point in there, but it got lost in the snark.

      First off, you are correct that the analogy to being born legless was not a good metaphor, however, I feel that was only because I took it too far. (Remember that I was responding to the assertion that God would never be so cruel as to create someone with SSA (or whatever term you'd prefer) and simultaneously expect them to not act on it.) While God doesn't expect someone to not even try to walk if born legless, He DOES expect that person to follow the commandments (including being grateful for the trials they experience, having a good, cheerful attitude, etc), regardless of their personal struggle.

      After all, the scripture says, "If ye love me, keep my commandments", not "Because I love you, you get a free pass to do whatever you'd like." For someone who is LDS, one of these commandments is the Law of Chastity. Josh obeyed that law. God was not cruel by issuing that law, nor by expecting him to live by it.

      I could argue that I was born with a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, and it's cruel for God to create me with that craving and simultaneously asking me to abstain from alcohol because I was born Mormon. Not that SSA and alcoholism are strictly the same thing, but from the perspective of a Mormon, they are similar. Others outside of our faith may see it differently, and that's fine.

      But God has always asked difficult sacrifices from His followers. Always. if He isn't cruel by asking people to give their lives for their beliefs, why would asking someone with SSA to sacrifice acting on the associated behaviors somehow make Him more cruel than the former? This does not make sense to me. Accepting a God who uses trials and difficult circumstances to build character means that nothing is off the table as a possible sacrifice.

      We believe that if someone never gets married, God expects that person to die a virgin. Not that repentance isn't an option if they slip up, nevertheless, that's the commandment. A straight person is expected to not give into their own urges, outside of marriage, just like everyone else. So sexuality does not get a free pass, as if somehow, it's more cruel to remain a virgin than to die by the teeth and claws of lions in ancient Rome.

      If someone can help me understand why sexuality is different from any other sacrifice God has asked of His followers, I would be grateful, because that's where I'm having trouble really understanding where y'all are coming from there.

      Was that better? I hope so. I do really hold you in high regard, Tammy, so I hope my apology and attempt to clarify helps.

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    5. OK, a few thoughts -

      1) Since we say that heteros are expected to die virgins if they never get married, is that the same thing? God makes me a hetero and then commands me to not be one? It's not exactly the same, but drilling down to brass tacks, it's about the best analogy I can point to. Are you saying that God has no right to (or perhaps would never) command us to not act on our sexuality in the way we think we should? What religious boundaries do you feel are appropriate for sexuality, if any?

      2) Wait, it's ridiculous that God would make you a lesbian and then command you to not be one? With all due sincere honest respect, how do you know? Did He appear and talk to you personally? Is there some scripture somewhere that says that?

      I read a very interesting study where participants were asked their opinions on various subjects, and then to state what they expected the opinions of various famous personalities (such as Pres Bush, Micheal Jordan, etc) to be on the same subject. One of those "famous personalities" was God. It was fascinating that every person indicated that they felt God agreed with them. Even after they were shown, factually and conclusively, how they were wrong on certain subjects (ie, they changed their minds), they indicated that God's opinion matched their new one.

      It is a universal human problem that we figure God agrees with us on nearly every important opinion we have. How do you know you aren't falling into the same trap? You cannot conceive of how God could command x, so clearly, He agrees with you and does not command x. You see the issue?

      While you may not agree with my beliefs, I can at least point to an external source that can help me figure out what God really feels (scriptures and a living Prophet, plus 12 Apostles). The odds that the Creator of the universe agrees with me on every one of my opinions is zero, so I am constantly looking around to see if I am flawed in my thoughts and feelings (and I often am), and then course correct so that my beliefs and lifestyle match what He wants for me, rather than the other way around.

      If I don't do this, then I am creating a God who looks a lot like me, and frankly, I am hardly God-like. :) It seems to me that accepting whatever selflike image of God I create is arrogant. How do you check yourself to make sure you are in line with what He wants rather than expecting Him to fall in line with what you believe? Are you actively believing that this dynamic is taking place at any given time with yourself and making sure you do your darndest to ensure you are not creating a false self-resembling idol? (I ask because this is what *I* do to make sure I'm not in this very spot.)

      3) I don't personally believe that stuff with medicine. It's an interesting point, though rejecting medicine falls into the same category of my legless example, so it doesn't quite match with this whole identity thing we are discussing, at least as far as I can tell.

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  31. Oh, Ian, you are enjoying stirring the pot! How's about you become single again and then be celibate for the rest of your life to show just how easy it can be. Anyway, I figure you are kidding/exaggerating in most of what you are writing in order to get a rise ouf of people. At any rate, practice compassion - I'm sure the prophet and the 12 would tell you to do that.

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