Thursday, December 20, 2012

My article in the Deseret News + FFAQ Response--The "right" and "wrong" way to react

Okay folks, first things first. Here is an article I wrote for the Deseret News about why I love the LDS Church's new website about homosexuality. I enjoyed writing it because it let me get retrospective about the last six months in a way that was interesting to me. Also, not surprisingly, I'm a longstanding fan of the Deseret News so it was fun to write an article for them.



Aaaand FFAQ time.

First, let me explain FFAQ for anyone that's new here...
FFAQ stands for "Friday's Frequently Asked Question" and is basically a day where I open up the comments section and allow people to ask questions. Then, if you like the question, you "ditto" whatever question you like, and the question with the most "dittos" wins and I answer it. Here's the latest FFAQ poll (which was from September--got really distracted flying to Utah and LA and stuff. Legit excuse, right?)

The winner, by a landslide, of the last poll was an anonymous poster (really guys, link to something! Your Facebook page, or blog, or Pinterest or Twitter or anything. I totally want to send people to you when your question gets the most votes) who asked this excellent question:

I'm still curious about what your family and friends did "right" as they found out you were gay and what things they did "wrong"

It seems like a nice way to help many of us learn how to be the most loving and supportive as possible when we experience it in our lives.


I really, really love this question.

In fact, I have several posts in the wings that kind of indirectly answer it, as well as plans to either interview my Dad or have him write a post regarding when I outed myself to him/his perspective on having a gay son.

But because this is a FFAQ winner, I'll also write this special post all about the answer because, honestly, it's probably one of the most important things we could talk about. Obviously, this is very personal, and not everybody will perceive these things the way I do--so in other words, it can't be used as a foolproof template. Mileage may vary for the gays in your life.

Hopefully, though, it's helpful in a general way.

So, let's start with the good stuff. What did my family and friends do "right" in my perception? 

When I outed myself to my Dad as a 13 year old boy, I took him downstairs to my bedroom. I told him I was gay. He did various things at that point that I think were really, really important. 

1. He took what I was saying at face value and did not, out of his own fear or anxiety, tell me that I was making things up, tell me that I was probably just "going through a phase," or in any way discount my experiences. He did not tout some easy solution, or try to tell me that everything would just magically "get better." He did ask clarifying questions, and as he did so it was clear this was not just a phase or a passing thought, and that my sexual attractions were oriented towards males and not females. Put more succinctly, first he believed me, which was very important and second he didn't freak out which was also important. 

2. He did not pressure me. He let me say what I was saying, and didn't try to pressure me to live a certain way or be a certain way. He trusted himself. He trusted that 13 years of consistently teaching me the things he believed were true was more powerful instruction than anything he could possibly try to hammer me with in an hour-long conversation. He did not view the moment of my outing as a moment of gospel instruction (which is what happens when people get scared and worry that "not making sure he knows that's a sin!" will somehow ruin everything.) He viewed it for what it was: a father supporting his son as his son came out of the closet as a homosexual person.

3. He expressed love. He did so verbally. That was very important. There might have been room for improvement here, as you'll see below.

4. He also told me he would respect my choices, whatever they were, and would love me no matter what. Knowing I was loved unconditionally was one of the absolutely most important parts of my own development and decision making process over the years, and allowed me the freedom to explore what I believed for myself as opposed to being an effort to obtain approval and acceptance from others, or, later on in life, a 180 degree reaction to realizing that's what I had been doing for years and years.

My other immediate family members all reacted in a similar way, so much so that I just have a warm feeling about their reactions, but don't remember much about each individual incident.

I've also outed myself to a lot of friends over the years. Here are some of the things they did that were particularly awesome:

1. It meant a lot to me when they listened openly.

2. It was significant to me when they reassured me that this didn't change anything about our friendship and in many cases explained that it had deepened our bond.

3. It was always really important to me (and still is) when friends asked a lot of questions. Having them ask lots of questions showed me that they actually heard what I was saying, realized it was important, and were processing what this circumstance meant in the context of my life. It helped me know that they were "getting it" and that they saw that this was a pretty big deal to me. It also helped me see that they weren't going into denial about it, or placing what I said on some "that's weird, but whatever" shelf, which would have been hard for me.

4. It was important that they took my requests for keeping it a secret seriously, and promised to keep the information confidential. (Funny how different that part of my life is, ha.) 

5. It meant a lot to me when friends allowed me to process my own reactions to having told them days, weeks, or even months after outing myself to them. I wanted to talk about this issue, and at the time there weren't a lot of places for that. I had usually told them, at least in part, for some support. Having them offer that support was very meaningful to me.

6. Feeling unconditional love. I'm not sure how to describe it, or what to say to help you know how to have it. I think the moments when I didn't feel it had to do with fears felt by the other person. There were friends from whom I felt unconditional love (most of them), and friends from whom I didn't (sadly). 

7. Physical affection was always welcome (though not essential) in those moments, especially from guy friends. A hug let me know that I was still accepted, that this information didn't freak them out, and that they didn't find me repulsive for being gay. It also let me know that they were secure enough in their own sexuality/masculinity that my sexual orientation didn't bother them or make them feel weird or uncomfortable. 

Lolly gets a category of her own, but there are overlapping themes.

1. She didn't rely on me solely for her own needs. She made it clear that I could share things with her. She was one of the first people I genuinely felt this with (which is mostly my fault--I used listening to others, which is something I love to do anyway, as a defense mechanism to never have to share anything about myself with others.)

2. She was real with me as she processed her response. 

3. She was concerned enough to help me explore what this meant for me. She kept asking good, probing questions that helped me process what was happening to me. Ended up being totally transformative. Obviously.

OVERALL:

In outing experiences that were successful, I felt great amounts of love and openness, and I usually felt like I had found a "safe place" to share, especially early on. I also felt genuine concern and acceptance. Later on (more recently) when I wasn't in need of a "safe space" so much, I still found outing experiences to be helpful when people were open, real, accessible and honest, even when they had what they felt were strange questions. (They were generally not strange questions at all--but totally appropriate ones.) So, love y'all. And openness. And non-judgment. And lose the need to correct or "educate." Those were the keys for me, for what it's worth.

When it didn't go well:

Okay, here are a few things that over the years kind of hurt or were less than ideal. I genuinely hope the people I'm talking about don't read this, or seriously don't remember it was them, because I have zero desire to call anyone out here. But I do think that for the general reader this list could be important.

1. First, though my dad did an incredible job with the initial outing, no parent can be expected to be perfect in every way. One of the things that I think could have been better handled was that there were a couple of years after the initial outing where the issue wasn't brought up at all. I think talking more openly about it would have been helpful. It wasn't until I brought it up again that we started really getting into it a couple of years later.

2. I had a friend tell me that "If you had told me this earlier on in our friendship, it would have been completely inappropriate. But you waited until we'd been friends long enough that I feel okay." I'm still not sure why that was upsetting to me, but it was. It probably had to do with the fact that I had thought of telling him many, many times from very early on in our friendship--he had been one of my closest male friends to that point--and so to know that if I had he would have found it "inappropriate" was really uncomfortable for me, and didn't allow me to feel safe. 

3. I had a friend say "I don't really want to hear more about this. I appreciate you for who you are, and I don't think we need to talk about this any more." This was difficult for me because what it actually felt like he was saying was that he didn't want to face the reality of who I am as a whole person. In saying "we don't need to talk about this" what I felt like he was saying was that he didn't want to talk to me about it. In other words, I felt as though he didn't actually appreciated me for who I was, but more for who he thought I was before he knew more about me, and it felt that he didn't want to have his ideas about homosexuality or me as a person challenged. This was actually pretty hard on me because, bottom line, it felt like a personal rejection.

4. I had one person who expressed being hurt that I hadn't told them earlier in our friendship. This was challenging for me. It made me regret telling them at all. Deciding to tell someone about this is very difficult, and isn't "about" the person being told. There are so, so, so many reasons a closeted person might wait to share this incredibly sensitive information. For me, it was standard procedure. Not telling was my Modus Operandi, and had nothing to do with anyone but myself. Do not take it as a personal attack if you hear after "so and so" or if you feel like you were good enough friends to have heard long before. You probably were, which is why they are telling you now!  

5. My dad ended up telling relatives without me knowing. This was hard for me. At the time I'm sure he was looking for support for himself as he processed having a gay son, but it would have been helpful to me to feel some control over them knowing (though in the end, it has ended up being fine.)

Hmmmm... all right. I think that covers it. Overall, I think the message here is: believe your friend or loved one. Show them that you care about them after they've been vulnerable. Extend, perhaps, a greater measure of love so that they don't have reason to doubt your sincerity or devotion. Then listen. Also, I think a safe bet is that if you are ever wondering if you are reacting in a way that might be unhelpful, or you're just unsure how to proceed, ask the person what he or she needs. That kind of openness and willingness to engage will go a long way.

I'm really glad this was a FFAQ question. I'm so glad to see so many people are concerned about this. It  makes me want to be better myself, and to react to people in they ways they need. 

You guys all float my boat. Thanks for being amazing.



67 comments:

  1. Loved this post, thanks Josh! (Or should I call you barbershop buddy).

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  2. I have a question that may seem like am trying to be funny, but I am quite serious. What is the proper way to respond when someone you care for deeply outs themselves to you, and it is the LEAST surprising thing they could say? Obviously, that moment for that person is huge, but if they are just confirming what you already know, what is the appropriate way to react?

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    1. The person needs to know that there's a vibe he or she is giving off, but to say something like "yeah, tell me something I don't know" would be insulting. Put it more gently, such as "I was kind of wondering..."

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    3. LOL - I just love that "Tammy" sense of humor. Good one girl :D

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  3. Yeah! This was my question and I have been trying to wait patiently for a few months.... which hasn't always been easy :)

    I don't have any links or email addresses included, because I have been very open about the fact that my son came out to me just 3 months ago and he isn't ready to come out to anyone else yet. In order to educate myself, but respect his privacy... I have to remain nameless.

    Except that my name is Jen

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  4. Wow, excellent post - thank you.

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  5. Josh, thank you for writing this. You have really helped me to understand things better about SSA and also about Christlike love. It's really funny/interesting that what you are really explaining is basically, just "be Christlike" in loving people and listening. A lot of times, it's easy to recognize this after reading something or to just say, "be Christlike", but sometimes it's really helpful to have people give concrete examples like you have. Also, thanks for balancing the "new blog style" serious topics with the "old blog style" funny/witty topics. I think that you and Lolly are handling all of this really well. Take care.

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    1. Also, I just read your article on Deseret News and I really liked it. You are definitely not alone in this. You have a lot of people and angels backing you up!

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  6. how should i go about telling my friends sorry now that i realize i've responded in a bad way?

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    2. Ditto!

      Think about times in your own life when people have apologized for being knee-jerk unsupportive, open mouth insert foot, etc. They love you. You know they love you. But I "I was an idiot! I'm so sorry for _______." Or "You know, Ive been thinking about how I responded... And that was totally yucky of me and not what I meant. I really owe you an apology." etc. and how that's taken an Ugh! reaction and turned it on its head.

      For myself... My loved ones are often loved best BECAUSE of that second thought. I know even if their knee jerk response leaves me singing in the Vienna boys choir... Their long term response is ALWAYS in my corner and they have my back.

      - Grey!

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    3. thanks, y'all. i ended up finding my friend's phone number and calling them. it was a great step.

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  7. Thanks so much, Josh! I was very interested at your response to the friend who was hurt that you hadn't told them sooner. I have felt that towards a family member and was wanting to talk to them about it, but your perspective made me think twice. Also, I'd really love to know your perspective on how to support a family member who has chosen to embrace a gay lifestyle when that goes against your religious beliefs. So far we are all loving and kind as a family, but we pretty much don't talk about it at all. Not sure how to say, "so who are you dating now?" when the answer will sadden me so I stick to topics we have in common. This family member has stated that he doesn't want me to change who I am or what I believe nor does he resent how he was brought up. But I still feel there is now a wall and not sure what to do about that. How do you approve of the person without approving of their choices?

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    1. I would think it would be helpful to look at it from their perspective. How hard would it be to live a life that you can't talk about with anyone in your family. To have two lives, both secrets from the other.

      Also everyday you and your loved ones make choices that others might consider mistakes. Let's say your brother was living with a woman and had no intention to marry. Would you ignore that person's existence, would you never speak to her? No, you'd behave politely and with love. You'd accept that person because he loved her and you love him. You don't have to think it's a good idea.

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    2. I don't want to be overly simplistic, but it seems like most people you are close to are already very well aware of what you believe about homosexuality. So you don't have to keep telling them.

      If I were overweight, I wouldn't need everyone to come to me and announce over and over, "I would like to be your friend and I love you. But you are fat and I think that is a sin of gluttony."

      And then maybe, you realize that you never had any control of this individual's agency to begin with. Let him/her choose their own path. Your only job is to love them.

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    3. Speaking as the wife of a gay man who, still into his 50's, has not told most everyone in his life, and, at this time, does not desire or plan to tell (which is his choice, he has genuine and legitimate personal reasons & I respect that).

      Your question and comments made me immediately think of the "wall" that you speak of, that you FEEL between you. I'm thinking that it is that very wall (or fear of it) that possibly makes many individuals afraid or reluctant to come out to family & friends. Therefore, I think that, if you really, truly want to eliminate that wall, then you might want to do EVERYTHING in your power to tear it down. This might possibly be done by understanding exactly what NeurOne & Melissa have said here, that your loved one will always have the "knowledge" of how you feel and where you stand, but your feelings and beliefs don't need to be a sort of STOP sign placed in front of them at every turn. Maybe even a YIELD sign will still be a "wall" between you, and possibly you could consider removing all YOUR "signs" that hang on that wall, and then, bravely take a jack hammer to the wall and see what an amazing relationship might develope as you totally and completely share in your loved one's life and just leave all judgements up to God.

      I recently had a friend, who doesn't know the "truth" about my husband, and our life, tell me that a gay/lesbian family member was coming for the holidays, and she was afraid that person would expect to bring their partner. She felt she could not allow that because it might be somehow showing some sort of "approval" of their lifestyle. Well, she might have thought it odd that I had such a strong reaction to this and I literally told her that I thought she was wrong in her assumptions.

      I just want to say that my husband and I have many gay, and a few lesbian, friends/family, and, our children have always had LGB friends as well. I, personally love love love these people, and although I'm sure that they probably all know my beliefs, etc. (even though the kids friends don't know the truth about our life) but I love the closeness I feel with them as I openly talk with them about the realities of "their" lifes, and even joke around, etc. to show them that their are NO WALLS between us as far as I'm concerned.

      Just some thoughts - didn't mean to carry on.... lol

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    5. I am sorry Tammy there is a difference. We are all allowed to disapprove of things, but what is the judgement part of it is how we handle it. Basically you are saying your way is right and you have to approve and that is absolutely wrong!!!

      There is a difference between "final" judgement and intermediate judgment in which we all have to make decisions on what we believe or not. It is not up to anyone to decide if what you feel, "that you don't approve of their choice" is any less important then someone who wants to you approve of it. It's called Free Agency.... Just saying..

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    7. I always find it interesting that even when talking about free will, Mormons all use 'free agency' as their church has taught them to. This may be an example of irony.

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    8. Anon 5:04 PM, I'm a faithful gay Mormon (temple married with kids), and I live in a place where "Mormon culture" is non-existent because number of Mormons is totally insignificant.

      I'm telling you that, because I believe that in stepping outside of the comfort zone of the "Mormon culture" (not "Mormon faith"!) lays the answer to the question "How do you approve of the person without approving of their choices?"

      If you approach a person with a different beliefs and persuasions, you need to be so certain about your own beliefs and persuasions that you can peacefully and utterly comfortably invite him to convert you into his beliefs and persuasions. If he makes an attempt to actually do that, you should be able to help him to invalidate your own beliefs and persuasions as a "thought experiment".

      For example, you should be able to genuinely ask a person who abandoned the church in order to pursue a gay relationship to tell you about his feelings, his motives, his thought processes that caused his course of action. And you should be able to do that as if you actually assumed and accepted his viewpoint.

      That *doesn't* mean that you actually assumed and accepted his viewpoint. It only means *as if*. If you want to give this approach a try, but feel that you may come across as dishonest (because you do not challenge his wrong beliefs and persuasions), that can be fairly easily avoided by making a disclaimer at the very beginning of the conversation in which you state that you will try to assume other person's beliefs and persuasions unreservedly, only for the purpose of broadening your understanding, and not because you would actually accept his beliefs and persuasions. You also make clear that you make the disclaimer so that the person does not get a false notion that you give up your distinct beliefs and persuasions.

      However, once you make the disclaimer, you *must* continue conversation in true spirit of total acceptance, and only in your thoughts (and not in your words) you should draw the line where you agree to disagree with the person.

      I personally use that method as a means of breaking the wall in the conversation about the Gospel with people who are of a different faith (in my area, that's overwhelming majority). When I talk to them about religion, instead of preaching to them, I invite them to tell me about their beliefs and persuasions and to shamelessly convert me into their belief system.

      Most people are surprised by such an approach, because often they themselves don't know what are their true beliefs and persuasions, because they have never thought about them as deeply as I thought about mine. And when I realize that, I challenge them to think through them by using my beliefs (because they actually don't have their own).

      However, don't be surprised that a gay person may have thought through some of the issues better than yourself, which can be a good encouragement to fortify your own beliefs before the next encounter with him.

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    9. To me, there is a huge difference between judging behavior and judging people.

      One says, "I think that smoking is morally wrong. So I will not smoke."

      The other says, "I think that smoking is morally wrong. I expect YOU not to smoke."

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    10. @Anon at 3:25.

      You said, "I always find it interesting that even when talking about free will, Mormons all use 'free agency' as their church has taught them to. This may be an example of irony."

      Can you elaborate on what you meant here? I would really like to know so that I don't offend people in the future.

      I never say "free agency", but I use the term agency a lot. I sincerely want to honor every individual's right to their agency. I'm even a libertarian ;)

      I have heard other Mormons use the term "free agency"... but only inside Utah/Idaho. Mormonism can be cultural as well as spiritual.

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  8. is the Deseret News a real newspaper or a Mormon one? I couldn't tell.

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    1. never mind, just read that it is owned by the LDS church. makes sense.

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    2. And, yet, not imaginary.

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    3. In my limited experience, they report actual, real news from a LDS viewpoint.

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  9. I love this q!

    I may have totally flubbed my own kiddo's (declaration? announcement? Water testing?) a while ago (age 10). I was up to my elbows cooking &/or in soapy water (do your kids do that? Totally go for the distracted moment?);

    "Mum? Can I talk to you about something?"

    "Sure thing, what's up kiddo?" Me. Still working.

    "I think I might be, well, bisexual." He. Handing me something / joining in at the sink.

    "Most people are. Bell curves. I am."

    "Oh! Can we watch a movie with dinner?"

    Moment passes.

    This was months ago. Hasn't come up again. Granted he IS a math guy, so "bell curves" would have made total sense to him... But it was a very random / normal / can I have a sleepover next week? Sort of 'conversation'. In quotes for the obvious lack of conversation.

    It was something Ive kicked myself over, about eleventy nine times since. He says he might be, I say I am (no way for him to have known that prior), and please pass the potatoes? It didn't even register that this might be an Important Conversation until bedtime. It just logged as The Talk part 212 subsection d, paragraph 7 (we've talked age appropriate sex since he went on the 'I want a little brother/sister' campaign at 3. Sometimes long conversations. More often snips and snatches and random Q's and moving on.). So I was just clue-less / this is ome more time just like the others... until I was getting ready for bed and it hit me.

    Head Smack.

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    2. I'd like to see us get to the point where coming out is really not that big of a deal.

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    4. @ Tammy... I'm with you. I'm a gay man who came out at 45 (59 now). I was married for 30 years and had 4 kids. One of my daughters had a room mate who was gay. When I asked him how he came out to his parents, he said he didn't have to. He was raised being told that most people when they grow up date, fall in love and marry someone of the opposite sex. And a few like someone of the same sex. They told him from a young age that either was OK. When he invited a boy to the prom at 16 they didn't even discuss it. My guess is, those wise parents knew early on their child was probably gay and created a loving, accepting home so he was able to be who who he was.

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    5. @Anonymous above:

      I hope you don't find this offensive, but I have a question. Was it fear of family that kept you in the closet until 45? Had you come out to yourself before that? Were you trying to fit into societies "normal"?

      You don't have to answer, of course, but I find these stories compelling.

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    6. @ Neurotic One. I had shared with my wife right after we were married and addressed the issue a couple times during our marriage. As our marriage therapist said, "She was good at denial". It was mostly fear and an attempt to reconcile faith and sexual orientation. I guess that was fear based also. I was also an ordained minister in an Evangelical church which didn't help. Towards the end of our marriage we stayed together for the kids, but it was becoming clear there was not a future for our marriage. My wife divorced me which was the most traumatic thing that had every happened to me, but it forced me and gave me the space to finally come to terms with my sexual orientation. Today I'm in a loving committed relationship with an incredible man. Have never felt happier in my life and look forward to marriage later this summer. Hope that helps you understand better.

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    7. Thank you for being willing to share your story with me :)

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  10. Thanks for posting this josh! very helpful. I have had mainly only good reactions from my friends and family so far. The hardest thing for me is when I get a "I Knew it!! " kind of reaction. I dont mind if people suspected, but when you say it like that, its kind of a punch to the gut for someone who has been trying to hide that part of themseleves for so many years. I guess for me thats been the only "negative" response, because I felt like I failed to blend in and be a "normal" person.

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    2. And I think people can respond differently.

      I recently read a blog post from a gay man. He wrote about how he built up his courage to finally come out to his friend. When he told him, the friend was like "so what?" and moved on.

      This man LOVED the response. It sounds like Josh didn't like a similar response.

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  11. Sincere question to straight people: What makes people respond in the various unhelpful/rejecting ways that Josh mentioned? What thoughts or feelings lead to these responses?

    Thanks in advance for answers. I may ask follow-up questions, but if you aren't comfortable with that, just tell me. :)

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    1. For me it would have been a lack of understanding and exposure. I don't personally know or am close to anyone who is gay. I know for a fact that prior to becoming acquainted to Josh's blog I would have behaved/reacted in a bad way. Now that my exposure and understanding have been broadened in a loving way, I feel more comfortable and equipped to deal with having someone come out to me.

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    2. I would think that shock would make a big difference in initial responses. Many, many people have almost zero exposure to homosexuality. They have potentially never gathered their thoughts or opinions about it.

      So, when a friend or family member tells you that he/she is gay, the words tumble out of an uneducated position and land in a painful and inappropriate way.

      I would hope that most people in that situation would gather their thoughts and return with a huge apology for responding so poorly.

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  12. I have a question for you.. How would you respond to critics who say that because you have a fulfilling sexual relationship with a woman you must not be gay but bisexual? Like a 5 on the Kinsey scale?

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    1. As a bi-chick (like 60/40... Or a 3K), I'd like to know, too. :D

      I just trust people. Either that they know themselves well enough to be honest, or they don't know me well enough care to be honest.

      I trust you're (JW) gay, because you say you are. That the female sex is as delicious to you as a tree. That you fell for L's spirit, so her body doesn't matter. Huh. That sounds boring & inaccurate. Or to phrase better...

      ...Any body she has would be an electrifying Shazam! gorgeous growling turn on... Because SHE'S in it.

      In LO these many years ... I've never been able to come up with a response to people who insist I don't know my own mind (and heart, and knee weakenings). At least, not one that people believe. That I'm deluded at best, deceitful more likely.

      So if you've got a good answer...
      Share share share???

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    2. Since (to me) announcing bi-sexuality would be more socially acceptable, I cannot imagine a reason that anyone would pretend to be 100% gay... if they weren't.

      "I am bi-sexual and I married a woman" isn't going to get nearly the backlash as "I am only attracted to men, but I married a woman." The backlash would be easier from the LGBT community AND the Mormon community.

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  13. I LOVE YOU JOSH <3 <3 <3 I am in a very similar situation...people just do not understand and want you to fit into these teeny little boxes...I love you and your family <3

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  14. Josh,
    I just want to thank you so much for all that you've done and are still doing. As a youth in the Church it's very helpful to learn about homosexuality. It's also great that you teach true principles that can be applied to so many situations. I agree that we need to talk about hard things instead of ignoring them. It's so good to know that there is such a thing as unconditional love. Even though it appears that we don't have very many things in common, you have helped me so much in my life. Thank you!

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  15. It seems like your dad was probably the biggest factor in this whole coming out thing. One of the things that I get out of this post is that there were a lot of things that he did long before you ever had that conversation in your room. He had built something with you throughout your life. Thanks for this post because that has been my biggest question. Thank you also for your vulnerability, you have done much to educate me and others.

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  16. This is sort of a tangent, but I've been trying to dive a bit into GayMormon culture. I want to be able to be the best and most effective advocate and support that I can. I don't feel like I can do that without more information.

    Something that has been super helpful to me is a documentary-in-progress called Far Between. On-line, you can watch video interviews and video diaries from individuals who are impacted by both the LDS faith AND homosexuality.

    The thing that I appreciated from the videos is that there seems to be no agenda. Some of the individuals were treated horribly by their families. Some of them share hurtful words that were said to them by families and bishops. Some talk about the love and support they have always felt. Some have left the church. Some are active members. Some are in a same-gender-relationship and others are in MOR or choosing to be celibate. There is even a guy that runs a men's camp for people who are hoping to change their orientation. One interesting man is interviewed who takes his husband to church every week and participates as much as possible and assumes that the gospel is true, but the church hasn't caught up yet. No agenda. Just individual stories. As far as my perception.

    It was really eye opening to me the vastly different experiences individuals have had even given the common thread of homosexuality and mormonism.

    If you are interested you can find it at farbetweenmovie.com

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  17. Josh, I just want you to know that I find you incredible. I am at awe when I see how you write about gay issues with such clarity and insight.

    Whenever you utter anything related to homosexuality or same-sex attraction, I uniformly and without exception learn something new, and I am uplifted.

    It is a huge blessing for me to read your stuff.

    Thank you, man!

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  18. This post is interesting:

    http://www.stevegershom.com/2012/07/the-gift-of-a-burden/

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  19. http://littlecatholicbubble.blogspot.com/2011/07/gay-catholic-and-doing-fine.html

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  20. Love this post, love you. Amazing. :)

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  21. I have had several guys come out to me. I know one was really hurt to see how hard his family was fighting against gay marriage. He hadn't yet told his siblings. It broke my heart to see him so hurt over it.

    I think the day he told me I went and got the book "In Quiet Desperation" which I highly recommend. I think he was touched that I was reading it to learn more about how to help and support him.

    I think in the beginning I kind of love bombed him. I over showed him that I loved him and that it didn't change a thing about our realtionship.

    I know another big thing for him was that he was worried his siblings would no longer want him around their children. This concern has come up a lot with my gay friends. Luckily with his family this wasn't the case. I know his heart would have hurt if it did happen.

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    1. I know another big thing for him was that he was worried his siblings would no longer want him around their children. This concern has come up a lot with my gay friends. Luckily with his family this wasn't the case. I know his heart would have hurt if it did happen.

      That's awful; I'm glad it didn't happen. But I don't understand; why would someone keep their children away from gay family members? Do they think that gay people molest children? That being gay is contagious? That the gay family member will teach the children that their parents' beliefs about homosexuality are wrong?

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  22. I am going to speak from the perspective of "the person someone came out to". I kind of feel like "we" for lack of a better term, need a bit of understanding from the gay community. It seems like ALL the pressure is on us to do everything exactly right, say the right things, react correctly, be supportive, extend more love...the list goes on. Maybe at some point the gay community needs to think about how it feels to be confused and broadsided. I just know that if, as I struggle to understand all this and reconcile my religious beliefs with this life style, well, maybe you could cut us some slack- give us a minute before you put US in a box or judge us. Just sayen.

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    1. I'm afraid I don't understand what kind of slack you're asking for. There's always pressure not to say incorrect or unkind things to others (as it should be); why would it be any different when someone comes out to you?

      Maybe at some point the gay community needs to think about how it feels to be confused and broadsided.

      Trust me, everyone who isn't heterosexual and cisgendered knows how it feels to be broadsided and judged.

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    2. I assumed that Anon was indicating that many people have no experience with homosexuality at all. As they are trying to learn and love and understand, it can be a slow road. It isn't easy to change your entire paradigm about relationships and sexuality.

      When my son came out to me, he said, "I know it will take you a little while to process this. It has taken me 4 years to come to my own understanding. I understand. It was confusing to me also."

      Of course we hugged first. Of course I told him that we love him always and nothing can change that. Of course I told him that he should expect our support regardless of how he chooses to live his life.

      That didn't mean that I didn't feel like I had been hit by a 2x4. I did.

      His comment was so freeing to me. It gave me the opportunity to think and discover and cry and figure out why I would cry. He told me 109 days ago and I'm in a much better place than I would have been if he had been angry and expected me to change my world view in that same instance.

      I assumed that Anon was talking about being gentle with those of us who are ignorant, but earnestly trying to learn and understand.

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    4. Thanks Tammy.

      You and Josh have helped me greatly as I have tried to sort through my brain and emotions :)

      Neurotic One

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  23. Please forgive me if this is not polically correct blogging etiquette, (because I love "The Weed" and am one of Josh & Lolly's biggest fans) but since there is not a whole lot of commenting, etc. happening here (I'm assume due to the busy-ness of the holidays) I would like to invite anyone interested to come to our blog and read an amazing post where my daughter tells about when she "found out" (through a pretty messy situation) that her Dad is gay. Our daughter is a wonderful writer and has an ability to openly and honestly share her feelings and her life.

    Our blog is - http://idefineme.blogspot.com

    PS - we are in no way trying to "steal" readers away from Josh & Lolly, we have met them, think they're awesome, and hope to get some chances to meet with them and get to know them better. We love their blog, their wonderful spirits, and they are the reason we started our blog. We are all in this together, and are definitely on "the same team". :)

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  24. Josh, I need to say thank you so much for this post. I love so many of the things you post, but this one really helped. Today a girl friend who is a recent convert to the church came to me and expressed her feelings of same sex attraction. Next month, she and I are heading on a week-long trip to Hawaii alone together, and she was afraid that by sharing what she is going through, I would be disgusted by her. While that is in no way how I would have reacted, I remembered your post, and I calmly asked her questions and assured her that I love her, but the Lord loves her as well. I did not dismiss her concerns, but tried my best to understand along with her. From the moment I started reading your blog 2 years ago, I knew you followed the spirit, even if in a ridiculous expression which I understood. Now I can see just how much that inspiration helps others, so I say thank you, and I look forward to learning more.

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