Stuff Gay Mormons Like

If 5% of the world is gay, as some studies estimate, there are approximately 750,000 gay Mormons (I know, that’s probably way off). This is an authoritative list of the things that all 750,000 of us like, with no exceptions. Disagree? Comment below and tell me what I got wrong!

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Adele (and “Adele Dazeem”)

photoWhen Adele’s single “Hello” dropped, it broke the world. Even so, nowhere did I see as much enthusiasm as I did from my gay Mormon friends. We worship Adele. It could be her confidence or her scrappiness, just her unparalleled booming yet smoky voice, or simply the fact that we love all divas, but she has entirely won us over. (Note: Be sure to check out another great track from her last album, “When We Were Young“)

I was recently asked the following question: “If you could be any of these people, who would you be? Jesus, Adele, Cary Grant, or the Prophet.” Obviously I said Adele.

photo1Since they share a name, any mention of Adele should be followed by a shout out to Idina Menzel, whom gay Mormons also like. The always impressive singer’s voice brought us two of the most liberating songs of this generation: “Defying Gravity” from Wicked, and “Let it Go” from Frozen. To be honest, the two jams are pretty much the same song, but we still love them both. Who can listen to either of this power ballads without feeling almost brave enough to leave the whole heteronormative world behind? Which reminds me, Dazeem also has a song called “Brave,” and it’s not half bad. Also, if you prefer the Demi Lovato cover of “Let it Go,” you are definitely not a gay Mormon. Or maybe even human.

 

BYU’s 100 Hour Board

As gay Mormons, we love our allies. In some cases, they literally keep us alive. Long before it was cool to be a Mormon ally, the 100 Hour Board was leading the way. If you’ve never heard of it, the Board is a website in the byu.edu universe that is managed by a group of anonymous BYU students who promise to answer any question within 100 hours. They receive lots of questions about dating culture, science, urban legends, faith-promoting rumors, and even legitimate life crises, and consistently provide wise and informed responses.

The Board has fielded a lot of questions about homosexuality over the years. Search for gay-related terms and you’ll find “homosexual” 252 times, “same-sex” 187 times, and “gay” 535 times. Of course, as this recent response on the Board points out, the number for “gay” may be inflated because of the use of inane phrases like “that’s so gay,” a practice which may be finally falling out of use.

As one data point, here is a question from early 2004 that received a series of hearty responses from several members of the board. Notice that even though some of them still maintained somewhat conservative opinions at the time, they were not afraid call out intolerance for what it was.

Q: Dear 100 Hour Board,

I think this guy in my study group is gay. How do I go about turning him into the honor code office?

-Straight

A: Dear straight:

If you *think* he’s gay, you don’t turn him in to the HCO.

— Misaneroth

A: Dear Straight,

Get a life! Did he marry someone of the same sex? Did you walk in on him and his life partner in a sexually provocative position? I’m trying to oppose gay marriage, and feel that I have some very legitimate reasons for doing so. But I can’t help but be ashamed of my position when I listen to people like you. It’s no wonder we’re looked at as hate-filled, narrow-minded idiots. I’d rather hang out with a bunch of gay guys then tell you how to turn someone in to the Honor Code Office for something you *think* might be true. Lots of love. Seriously, sorry about that vicious rhetoric. I’m sure you’re not half as bad as I made you out to be. Just do everyone a favor, and let him live his life without the HCO’s harassment.

-Thor

A: Dear Strait-Minded,

Hey, did you know that homosexual urges and preferences are NOT against the doctrine of the LDS church??? If you didn’t, you do now! What is immoral is not controlling those urges and preferences and following through with thoughts and actions. Has this guy done any of that? Chances are, if you only think he’s gay, he hasn’t done any of that!

Each of us have weaknesses and areas that we struggle with. Welcome to being human and to the progression along the road to redemption!

It’s one thing if you saw him follow through on some of those urges (though running to the HCO isn’t the way to go) but if you only think he’s doing something wrong, work on that beam first, ok?

-CGNU Grad

A: Dear Straight,

How would you feel if I went and turned you into the Honor Code Office because you’re heterosexual? You and I, just like our friends that may have homosexual urges, must resist any temptations we receive to act on our feelings. Just leave the guy alone and get on with your life.

-Phoenix

A: Dear Friend,

It hurts me that you would judge someone like that. It hurts me because I have many gay friends, and if everyone treated them so callously the world would be a sad place indeed. Many people struggle with same-sex attraction, and it’s certainly not an issue to take up with the HCO. If you are really concerned, and if you don’t have the strength of character to talk to him directly, talk to his bishop. That is the best course of action. In reality, however, unless he does something that DIRECTLY affects you, it’s not any of your business. Please be more accepting and loving.

::: Latro :::

A: Dear homophobe,

That is not cool. If you are just trying to get a reaction out of the board, I belive you have accomplished your goal. Without any hard evidence you have not business even considering reporting him to the HCO. Even if he confided to you that he had homosexual tendencies that does not make him guilty of any transgression.

I know this moron who asks stupid and bigoted questions to the board, how would I go about turning him into the HCO for wasting my oxygen and being stupid. Why don’t you go burn a cross while you are at it, I know where some black people live. Grow up and get over it. Your ignorance makes you look just as anger filled and ridiculous as the moderate.

The captain

A: Dear Straight,

Where in the Honor Code does it say it is wrong to be homosexual? Or even be thinking about it? I think that is something that he needs to discuss with his bishop and an issue he needs to resolve himself. It might be a problem he is struggling with, who knows, but it is definitely something that is none of your business. The Honor Code office would probably tell you the same thing.

If you did want to turn him into the HCO, you’d do what any other normal person would do; walk up to the HCO in the Wilk and report him. But I’d think twice about being so judgmental.

– Scout

If you were ever a writer for the 100 Hour Board, on behalf of all the gay Mormons, let me say we like you.

 

Mormon musicians

Growing up as a Mormon kid in the 80s and 90s, there were certain artists you could not avoid. Many of these artists are now powerful  advocates for gay Mormons.

Michael McLean’s music permeated Church-produced films like What is RealTogether Forever, and Our Heavenly Father’s Plan, and if you were lucky you also heard his Forgotten Carols (“Hoooomeless! Hooooomeless!”) or the Eden-inspired program The Garden.

More recently, he spoke and performed at the 2015 International Affirmation Conference in Provo, Utah.

Mindy Gledhill’s Sum of All Grace was effectively required listening in 90% of LDS missions between 2005 and 2010 (Think “Back to where you aaaaaarrre” sung like a pillow full of cotton candy), and her voice was featured on the LDS Spanish-language album “Canciones para Mujeres Jovenes.”

She is now an outspoken ally and advocate for LGBT rights (learn more here).

Then there’s Julie de Azevedo, whose influence on Mormon music can be summed up in 4 words: “Window to His Love.” Though, to be clear, she has more hits than just that one.

Dr. Julie de Azevedo-Hanks is now a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist who has published such blog posts as “Heterosexuality isn’t ‘a choice’, neither is Homosexuality.”

20140321-neontrees-x624-1395434581And while we didn’t get to know him through through LDS-themed music, any discussion of Mormon musicians and gay Mormons would be incomplete without mentioning Tyler Glenn because of his Rolling Stone interview, and his interview and hymn performances at the 2015 International Affirmation Conference, and because Venn diagrams.

 

 

The (Primary) Children’s Songbook

As little Mormon kids, we didn’t really know what we were getting ourselves into. While our parents were chanting hymns like “Hope of Israel“:

Strike for Zion, down with error;
Flash the sword above the foe!
Ev’ry stroke disarms a foeman;
Ev’ry step we conq’ring go.

Or “Who’s on the Lord’s Side?“:

We wage no common war,
Cope with no common foe.
The enemy’s awake;
Who’s on the Lord’s side? Who?

In Primary, we were learning songs like “We Are Different“:

I know you, and you know me.
We are as diff’rent as the sun and the sea.
I know you, and you know me,
And that’s the way it is supposed to be.

And “A Special Gift is Kindness“:

A special gift is kindness.
Such happiness it brings;
When I am kind to others,
My heart sings.

And “I’m Thankful to Be Me“:

At night, when I’m alone in bed,
I close my eyes and see
The many things I’m thankful for
That God has given me.
I see my friends and teachers, too,
And others who love me.
These many blessings make me feel
So thankful to be me.

It makes for a bit of a rude awakening when you graduate from Primary and realize you’re not actually supposed to be different, and you have to start watching out for those flashing swords because they’re swinging for you.

Now, you might think what gay Mormons really like about the Children’s Songbook are the subtle affirmations hidden within the illustrations, like these:

The thing is, we can’t decide whether to love or hate those. They could be affirming, but they could also be veiled threats (“Keep the Commandments…or else.”). P.S. Jokes, y’all, I know they’re just drawings of little kids being good friends.

But really, the best part of the Children’s Songbook may be this gem of a song, “I’ll Walk With You“:

If you don’t walk as most people do,
Some people walk away from you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
If you don’t talk as most people do,
Some people talk and laugh at you,
But I won’t! I won’t!
I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.
Jesus walked away from none.
He gave his love to ev’ryone.
So I will! I will!
Jesus blessed all he could see,
Then turned and said, “Come, follow me.”
And I will! I will!
I will! I will!
I’ll walk with you. I’ll talk with you.
That’s how I’ll show my love for you.

If every child singing this song would hold onto its essential message and let it direct the rest of their life, we would be a better people. Hopefully, you have heard by now that this song was written by none other than the wonderful Carol Lynn Pearson. Which brings me to the thing that literally every gay Mormon loves…

 

Carol Lynn Pearson, the Prophetess

carol-lynn-pearsonMany of us are too young to remember when Carol Lynn published her groundbreaking book, Goodbye, I Love You, in which she wrote about her experiences with her gay husband Gerald. In fact, the book was published within a few months of the day I was born. Even though it’s been around for ages, I just discovered and read it for the first time two years ago, only to find out weeks later that my mom had had a copy of it on her bookshelf for almost my entire life. When I finished it, I bawled my eyes out. And I’m not the only one.

Throughout her lifetime, Carol Lynn has given a voice to many marginalized groups, and as gay Mormons we are particularly indebted to her for speaking out for us. In addition to Goodbye, I Love You, Carol Lynn has published at least two other books advocating for gay Mormons. Her book No More Goodbyes: Circling the Wagons Around Our Gay Loved Ones, which consists of collection of stories about gay Momons and their families, is perhaps one of the most powerful single volumes I have found for expressing the plight of people like me. It is obvious that she understands and she cares. Her recently published booklet, The Hero’s Journey of the Gay and Lesbian Mormon, frames our experience as a sort of mythic adventure.

At a time when many are looking for a bold prophet to call down the word of the Lord in our behalf, Carol Lynn is the prophetess who is declaring it already. We like her.

 

So, how did I do? Do you like these things? What else should be on the list? Let me know below. Much love to all!

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One thought on “Stuff Gay Mormons Like

  1. I expected to disagree with all your list, because i really don’t fit the stereotype.. well aside from liking guys

    but i agree with a lot. THe 100 hour board was a life saver for me when it pointed me to a support group back in 2009 or so.

    i love the mormon song writers, and the childrens song book

    i’m not a huge adele fan.. but that’s ok.

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