Thursday, March 28

A Cappella, Anyone?

I just realized that I mentioned I was trying out for an a cappella group a while ago, but then never followed up on what happened.

...long story short, I'm performing in a concert this Saturday evening at BYU. It's called the A Cappella Jam and will be in the auditorium of the JSB - Joseph Smith Building - on campus.

I'm the 2nd bass for my group - we're called Morris Code... and tonight we practiced with mics and it sounded pretty awesome. Especially with the bass amped up ;) We have one song that's a mix of Indonesian chant with Battle Hymn of the Republic... yeah. Cool/crazy.

There will be a handful of groups there - Noteworthy, which is probably the more famous of us, and a bunch of others.

On a different note (pun), I realized tonight how grateful I am for the guys in my group. It's the first time that I've really felt like I belong with people over time and that they want me there, and not just in one specific setting. When they let me in the group, they weren't just letting me sing with them. They were making me a part of their circle of friends. And for someone who has a hard time feeling wanted, being able to sing and laugh and talk with a bunch of guys who accept me has been awesome.

So... if you want to come, you're welcome to. Hence this post. If not (since you're probably busy during Easter weekend... and coming from outside of Utah or outside the country would probably not be worth it), I'm sure we'll record it and put it up on YouTube. And then I'll link it here and you can laugh.

Wednesday, March 27

Voices of Hope: Launched

Voices of Hope is live.

Go there and watch my story, along with others, and let me know what you think.

My Thoughts:

When I got the invitation to be a part of Voices of Hope, it was only a few days after I had decided to go public here on (Gay) Mormon Guy. I pushed back on the invitation... mostly because I didn't feel that I had the ability to determine what my voice really was. I don't read a ton of other gay Mormon blogs. I didn't personally know many of the other gay Mormon people... and so knowing where my voice fit in seemed impossible.

But the producers wanted me to be real, visceral, honest... and so I relinquished my desire to strategically determine my message and, two days after coming out here, I went to a photography studio and shared my voice of hope.

My interview, from that perspective, isn't based on what I felt the community needed. It wasn't designed, like I wanted it to be, to match or fill a need. It's just my thoughts, my hopes, my desires... with the hope that it could somehow touch someone else's life.

It's true to me - deeply cognitive, analytical, thought-out... and that's who I am. I hope that you find it meaningful. Let me know.

Supreme Court, Gay Marriage, Proposition 8 from a Gay Mormon Perspective

The United States Supreme Court is hearing evidence on the issue of whether the voters of California had the constitutional right to alter their state constitution and define marriage as between a man and a woman.

Ultimately, they are ruling on the issue of whether it's constitutional to politically oppose or support gay marriage. Whatever they choose will have massive ramifications for political battles and voter ballots for years to come.

The Church released a press release that indicates its official stance - marriage is between a man and a woman, and they hope that the Supreme Court upholds the institution of marriage as between a man and a woman.

I agree with that political viewpoint.

But in the meantime, this issue is causing rifts in the Church. People are allowed freedom to define their own political views in the gospel - hence why we have political leaders in both parties and people who vote on both sides of issues. But there is a difference between political freedom and doctrinal clarity... and some of the people involved in this debate are rejecting the doctrine of the Church. It's okay politically to believe whatever you want. It's not okay to believe that gay men should be allowed to marry in the temple, or that homosexual activity is not a major sin.

I don't need to accept people's actions to love them. I don't need to agree with them, support them, or anything of the sort for them to know that I care. In fact, in many cases, doing that is actually proof that I don't care.

Let's take a metaphor. I know - metaphors cause firestorms in the gay marriage debate. But I'll use the metaphor until it breaks and then I'll assume that you're able to drop it when it stops working.

I'm vegan, which means that I don't eat meat, milk products, eggs, fish, other animal products, or anything that contains dietary cholesterol. I also don't eat sweets or food that has sugar added - whether in the form of sugar, honey, agave, or whatever. I avoid refined carbohydrates like white bread, and typically don't eat food that has been fried. I do all of this for a number of reasons (health, spirituality); the core is that I believe that eating healthily is a principle from God that allows me to be closer spiritually to Him.

My siblings and friends know that I don't approve of their eating junk food. They know why. They also know that I care about them regardless of what they eat. And, in fact, they know I care about them because I care about what they eat. If I were just a mediocre friend, I wouldn't care. But I want them to be healthy and happy, and to experience the blessings I've found from taking care of my body. And they can feel it.

Even though I may not bring it up, there is definitely sometimes uneasiness when I'm in the room with food. People sometimes project their own emotions on to me - and they assume that I'm judging them for what they eat. Am I? I judge what they eat, and wish they would eat better, but I still love them. Some people can't handle the fact that I won't indulge in sweets with them and avoid me. But most just realize that I care.

Turn the metaphor. As a gay mormon blogger, I know a ton of people along the gay spectrum. People who are faithful members of the Church and happily married, people who are single and hopeful to find a spouse, people who are single and committed to the Church as singles, people who don't yet understand how the Plan of Salvation applies to them but are trying, people who have rejected parts of the gospel in favor of something else, people who have denied their testimonies or lost them through trauma, people who have found bliss in a different way of defining happiness.

Even though I may not agree with them, I still care. And people I meet can realize that I care about them regardless of their choices. One guy said it this way: "David, all my friends wonder why I hang out with you. You're the only Mormon I know, and they all get on my case because you oppose being gay. But I spend time with you because I like spending time with you and talking with you. You make me want to be a better person. I know where you stand, but I don't feel like it's personal to me. I know we disagree on beliefs and politics, but that's not an issue to you, and even though my friends may hate you because they don't know you, it doesn't have to be an issue to me."

Love does not mean supporting people in their actions. Love does not mean agreeing with people, even on subjects that are extremely volatile. A love like that is in inferior. God loves us unconditionally - which means that He will bless us to the greatest extent possible and always keep a door open to repentance. It doesn't mean that He will tell us it's okay if we don't repent, or that He will encourage us to walk down a pathway that won't lead to happiness. God's love pushes Him to push us - to do everything in His power to help us find the ultimate peace and happiness that comes only through following the Plan of Happiness. Sometimes that means giving me incredibly difficult circumstances that will teach me to turn to Him and be happy. Sometimes it means not giving me what I think I want, or creating massive inequalities so that different people learn different lessons from life. But everything is designed to help us learn eternal happiness. Anything else will rob us today and in the eternities... and a loving God would never be okay with that.

Love is caring about someone completely and unconditionally and being willing and anxious to do anything in my power to ensure their eternal happiness. Love weighs eternity heavier than today, long-lasting hope over temporary pleasure, meaning and purpose over desires and passion.

Thursday, March 14

A Nice Thing about Guys with SSA

This is adorable.
It's sort of complicated to explain my physical needs to another guy if he's heterosexual. It feels sort of awkward to tell a guy that I'd prefer that he touch me more... especially in a culture where touch is so deeply sexualized. Simply having that conversation requires enough of a relationship that we're at least friends... which ultimately means that it almost never happens.

I totally understand the difficulty. Girls have had to explain to me their need for emotional and physical intimacy in relationships, and I was clueless until they told me. I'd assume that the same issues hold between guys.

That said, it's really nice when I meet a guy with same-sex attraction. I can immediately understand that he needs touch & emotional intimacy just as much as I do... and we don't need to go over the reasons why. And if I also know that he's committed to living the gospel and has clear moral boundaries, it makes it a lot easier to find someone who's willing to give me a hug or run his hands through my hair (both of which would make some hetero guys cringe just from reading about it) - not just because I look like I need it, but because he wants it, too... and he also knows what I'm going through.

Wednesday, March 13

Boundaries & Expectations - What's OK, What's Not

Boundaries and expectations are interesting to me, because they're so incredibly personal, and yet so incredibly public at the same time. I'm talking about physical and emotional boundaries and expectations in relationships - specifically, with other guys.

Until I sat down to think about it, I'm pretty sure I didn't have clearly set boundaries when it came to physical or emotional contact with other people. I mean, part of me didn't want to specify boundaries because it felt like it should be sort of obvious. Just keep the commandments. I do what's right, and I don't do what's wrong... right?

But the reality is that boundaries aren't a re-hash of commandments - they're the guarding walls that keep me from getting that far. The things that ensure that I'm not going to find myself carried away in the heat of the moment to somewhere I don't want to go.

The boundaries for physical contact between guys with SSA are the same boundaries that are given between anyone, as outlined in True to the Faith:

“Never do anything outside of marriage to arouse the powerful emotions that must be expressed only in marriage. Do not arouse those emotions in another person’s body or in your own body” (True to the Faith, 32).

That seems simple. Added to that are some other important boundaries that apply - don't touch the private parts of others; don't let them touch me.

...but the reality is that it's a bit more nuanced than it first appears. The last-resort boundary is the same for everything and is never crossed. But, depending on my experiences, the more fuzzy "arousing those emotions" will fall somewhere on a massive sliding scale. On one extreme, maybe I can appreciate a guy's touch and, as long as it stays within moral boundaries, it's not arousing to me. On the other, maybe just being close to a guy - even without any actual physical contact - could be enough to set off my emotions. And it's probably different with different guys.

Which means that each relationship needs to have boundaries - not just a set of boundaries for myself.

But what about when just being close sends my mind spinning? When arousal isn't even based on physical contact? What then? Do I completely cut off contact altogether?

And what if close contact causes emotional turmoil? If getting a hug, or touching my back, or brushing my arm are physically intense? What then?

I'm not sure that I've found the answers to those yet - except that in my life, the answer was to commit heavily to the gospel boundary. Don't do anything that causes arousal or gratifies sexual emotions.

But touch involves two people. And that's where it can get complicated.

If I'm going to be friends with a guy - and physicality will be part of our relationship - I may or may not know where our expectations and boundaries overlap. Most likely, I won't. If someone I know could be set off by my touching his elbow or putting my hand on his shoulder, I won't know that unless he tells me. And it goes the other way as well with expectations - if he needs a hug and doesn't tell me, there's no way I'll know.

For me, knowing others' boundaries is important so that I can help them stay safe. Simply talking about them makes us more willing to follow them... and means that I'm less likely to do something that will be a trigger, and vice versa.

The same thing applies in emotional situations, but boundaries are more nuanced there. I'm on one extreme: I'd be willing to let a stranger show up on my doorstep and talk for as long as he needed; other people have issues with friends who text them too often. One of the big issues with emotional boundaries is that people don't talk about them. And if someone oversteps their bounds, it causes huge distress to the relationship because the other person often doesn't even say anything about it.

On the other hand of boundaries are expectations - which are essentially minimum expected interactions. Physically, this may be a handshake, or can grow depending on the person or even the development of the relationship. Emotionally it follows a similar pattern. Reciprocity (asking back the same questions, offering similar information) is usually an emotional given... and it changes as the relationship changes as well.

Good relationships are ones that stay within those bounds - expectations at the minimum, and boundaries along the max.

Now if only there were a good way of actually determining them without straight-out asking... asking about physicality is fine. But asking about expectations and boundaries in emotional communication comes across as a DTR.

Thursday, March 7

Northern Lights: If You Want to Be My Friend

I just wrote a post on Northern Lights that you should definitely check out.

It's called "If You Want to Be My (Girl or Boy) Friend..." and is located here:

You can comment there or here with thoughts.

Monday, March 4

Pain for Others

I don't know if we as human beings experience pain differently from one another. Part of me assumes that we do, since the medical world talks about pain tolerance and experiences that seem to scar one person flatten another.

Either way, today I'm in pain.

Most of the pain in my life is caused by myself. By misunderstanding what's real and what isn't. By focusing on things that won't lead me to happiness.

But then there are people. And the pain that comes from loving. When I open my heart to people and they crush it. When they tell me I don't care, or that they are leaving me, or to go away.

That's pain.
 And then there's the pain of watching someone else in pain. Someone struggling to find hope and faith. And feeling totally impotent to make a difference even when it's been the focus of my mind and prayers and 3 days of fasting.

But it's worth it, right? Relationships... people make me a better man, and give me a reason to go on in life... even if they are painful.

I wonder how God deals with it. He loves people even more than I do... which means that He must feel a lot of pain.

Sunday, March 3

Bliss and Self-Deception

I've been thinking about happiness recently... and trying to reconcile a few things that present some issues in my views. This is sort of long and rambling.... but I felt like it was useful.

Here are the pieces of the puzzle:

1. "Wickedness never was happiness" - this can safely be assumed to mean that disobedience to commandments will bring less happiness than the alternative.

2. "Ignorance is bliss" - this is the statement that made me want to write this post. But in the statement itself is irony; lacking knowledge can bring me greater happiness? What? There's also the statement that I cannot be saved in ignorance. More on that later.

3. "God has a Fulness of Joy" - this seems to be an expression of ultimate happiness.

4. "Men are that they might have joy" - so it looks like God wants me to be happy, but He uses the word joy... so He wants me to have the happiness that He has.

5. The Plan of Salvation/Happiness is a pathway that ultimately leads us to God... and I know that following God will always lead to greater happiness than any alternative.

The big issue at play here is this: I've known many people who claimed to be "completely happy" while doing wickedness. All sorts of wickedness - from mundane to esoteric. And the saying "Ignorance is bliss" really is somewhat true - I know my own perception of happiness has changed based on the knowledge that I've had. As a kid, I was blissfully unaware that I had no friends. And blissfully happy without that knowledge.

But as soon as I realized that I was missing something, and felt the need for friends, the bliss disappeared completely.

Just today I realized that, maybe, happiness has two different axes - just like humidity.

There are two types of humidity. Relative humidity is expressed in terms of % - with a maximum of 100%. Relative humidity is based on partial vapor pressure, temperature... but the simplest way to look at it is this: warm air holds more humidity.

Regardless of temperature, relative humidity has an impact. Heating up dry, cold air during the winter dramatically reduces its relative humidity, which can cause chapped lips, dry skin, and coughing. And once humidity reaches 100%, water begins to immediately condense on every available surface regardless of temperature. In warm temperatures, it's dew. In cold temperatures, it's frost.

Most of the time when I'm talking about humidity, I'm talking about relative humidity. "It's humid today," is assumed to be relative to yesterday, and the normal climate where I live. But when I talk with someone who has lived in an extremely warm, extremely humid environment, their definition of humidity will be dramatically different from mine... because they are working from a different scale, because they've experienced a higher absolute humidity. Maybe we're at 100% humidity. Maybe it's the most humid I have ever felt in my life. But there's always more humid to feel.

I feel like when I use the word happiness, I am usually referring to it in a relative sense. And that makes sense - the frowny-happy face scale that it used in psychological testing is the gold standard. I can only talk about how I feel, and how I feel I feel.

In this metaphor, "bliss" would be like the dewpoint - a relative maximum amount of happiness available at a given point.

But, just like the dewpoint, "bliss," while it may accurately describe relative happiness, it doesn't describe happiness in absolute terms. It could be 0 degrees outside, and the bliss is frost on the ground - not really much absolute humidity or happiness at all. Or it could be 100 degrees outside, and the bliss is like the heavy, warm dew of a tropical rainforest - huge amounts of absolute humidity and happiness.

So it looks like joy, then, would be an expression of an absolute maximum of happiness.

I think that makes sense. The scriptures teach that keeping the commandments - following truth - leads to greater happiness. So, as I learn about new truth, that knowledge enables me to gain greater happiness if I apply it. At the same time, not following that truth will lead to unhappiness. And maybe not even in terms of absolutes... maybe it would just be relative.

From that perspective, it would be interesting to rate the absolute and relative happiness of people across the globe. Or of me in different stages of my life.

When I knew very little about God and His commandments, and I was a generally good person, my life was close to bliss.

When I learned more about how to find greater happiness, the scale shifted. More happiness was available, but I wasn't there yet. So while I learned to apply the principles, I was growing in absolute happiness, but my relative happiness wasn't at a maximum. I didn't have bliss.

When I was able to effectively apply all the principles I had learned, bliss came again. This time, though, I had a greater version of happiness than before.

Then the pattern repeated.


An interesting caveat. If I want to be happier - to feel greater relative happiness (since I feel relative, and not absolute happiness) - there two ways to get there.

The first is to better apply the truth I already know - maximize what I have according to what I know. This takes a lot of work, effort, and is often a humbling experience. This is what God wants me to do, and how the Plan works.

The second is to try to forget the knowledge I've received. The thing is, just like lowering the temperature increases the relative humidity without changing the absolute measurement, lowering my maximum amount of happiness - based on the truth I understand - works in the same way. If I could deceive myself, or forget what I've learned that could make me happier, or find a way to convince myself that it's wrong, then my relative happiness would rise... even though my absolute happiness had stayed the same.

That's how, if I left the truth I've known and loved, and renounced the things I believe, I could actually feel greater relative happiness after the fact. If I find a way to forget, at least in the moment, that something better is out there... and am still a good person, the happiness I see could seem to be the maximum that life could offer. At least in the moments when I could make myself forget, or not believe.

But moving backwards to bliss - and trying to find happiness by changing my beliefs instead of my actions - sounds a lot like mortal damnation. God wants me to move forward, change, and grow in joy.

Men are not that they might have bliss. So I shouldn't follow it into places where I deceive myself. Men are that they might have joy - which means that, as I grow in knowledge and faith, happiness will be lasting, but bliss will only be momentary, on a few steps along the path.

Saturday, March 2

#gaymormon Twitter Chat Today at 12MST

Hey all. Today is the first ever Twitter chat on all things gay and Mormon. Come join the conversation - you're invited whether you're gay, Mormon, one, both, or neither.

The topic is the Church's site

If you've been to a Twitter chat before, here are the details:

Time: 12:00:00 MST
Hashtag: #gaymormon

If you don't know what a Twitter chat is, keep reading. I'll give you step-by-step instructions on what to expect and how to participate. And you want to join - it should be cool.

1. Log in to Twitter at or using another service. If you don't have a Twitter account, make one. You live in a world of social media.

2. At the specified time (noon today), search for the hashtag #gaymormon - make sure to check time zones. The #gaymormon chat will always be at 12:00 mountain on Saturdays.

3. Someone (today me) will ask questions by prefacing their post with a Q and the number of the question. So the first question will be this: Q1: What were your initial reactions to the mormonsandgays site?

4. If you want to join the conversation, just write a tweet that uses the hashtag #gaymormon - if you are answering a question, begin your tweet with A - so my answer to question 1 would be: A1: I was in class and was so excited that I totally stopped paying attention.

Remember, ALWAYS use the #gaymormon hashtag - otherwise no one will be able to see what you write.

5. As people write tweets using #gaymormon, they will appear on your screen immediately. You may have to click something that says "2 new tweets" or something similar. So it's sort of like a conversation where everyone can talk and everyone can listen at the same time.

Invite your friends! Twitter chats are cool regardless of how many people show up. And, if you didn't already know, I'm @gaymormonguy