Thursday, August 20, 2009

Generation Gaps

Yesterday I was talking to my mom on the phone, and she mentioned visiting her new illegitimate great-grand baby in the hospital.

She started out with "She is a cute baby, and [names of family members] were all there."

And then it led to "But [my daughter-in-law]--or "grandma"] and [mother of grandma] just seemed so proud to have a new baby in the family. Is it wrong that it bothers me that they were so pleased?"

Me: (some kind of sound to indicate I am still there and listening, but somewhat distracted due to the soccer practice that is going on a few feet away.)

Her: "I don't know about this younger generation. I guess I just have a hard time accepting things like this (a baby born to an 18 year old and 19 year old that are not married), and also with things like . . . Scott's issue. "

What the heck?

Me: "But those are not the same thing at all. Scott hasn't done anything wrong."

Mom: (thinking oops, sounding flustered) "I know, I understand that they are different, but I still have a hard time accepting both things. Does that make sense?"

Me: "Yeah, I think I know what you mean." (Calmly change subject and friendly chat for a while longer.)

So, what did she mean? Does she mean that it is hard to accept that some people actually have gay feelings? Does she mean that it is hard to believe that people don't "choose" to be gay because it is not what she grew up with? Does she mean that it is hard to accept that Scott is talking about his feelings instead of staying deep in the closet?

And is it okay that it bothers me for her to have lumped homosexual feelings (without "acting" on it, or more importantly, without committing adultery) in the same category as fornication?

And is it really all that bad to love a new grandchild or great grandchild, regardless of the circumstances that brought her into this confused world? What would Jesus do?

Interesting conversation, to say the least. It didn't really bother me--after all, my mom was born in the 1930s, but still. She is apparently struggling with this more than she lets on. How can I help her?

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Family Acceptance Project

Scott and I attended the lecture Tuesday night that I blogged about previously, and it was awesome! I highly recommend it--there is still a session at Sunstone on this Saturday, August 15th, at 4:45 p.m.

The lecture presented research regarding what affect the reaction of family has on LGBT youth. Research shows that families are important to protect adolescents from many risks (such as drugs, alcohol, sex, depression, suicide, etc.). Throw LGBT issues into the mix, and negative family reactions put these youth at a much higher risk for the stuff that any teenager might face or struggle with.

Dr. Caitin Ryan presented amazing statistics that she has gathered the past few years. Even just a tiny bit of acceptance (over full rejection) of family makes a huge difference in suicide rates and other risky behaviors.

One thing that she has seen in working with LGBT youth is that there is a prevalent attitude that families are not going to be accepting, or that families should not be accepting, and as a result, the LGBT youth are afraid to talk to their parents and families about it, and for those who do talk to them, the families don't know how to react and therefore often react badly.

Therefore, one of her main goals for this project is to let people know the results of her study, and to let LGBT youth and families know that there are other families out there that not only accept their LGBT children, but celebrate who they are, and the incredible difference that it makes to the individual, the family, and the community.

The best part of the lecture was a video that she produced with this goal in mind. It was amazing, a documentary-style clip featuring a latino family with a gay son, marine father, and christian background, and the things they have done to accept their son and create a safe gathering place for other LGBT youth in their community. A man in front of me whispered to the man next to him that every member of the [LDS] church needs to see this video. I had been thinking about the same thing. She plans to do several videos like this one, and when she has four or five of them, post them online, and then create a dvd when she has about eight of them done. The project depends on donations, and that is really the only thing holding it back. It costs about $40,000 to produce one high-quality video, and she has 2 of them done and is currently fundraising for the third one.

Again, the website for the project is for anyone who would like more information.

I personally left the lecture bubbling with enthusiasm for activism. I am very excited to be helping with a gay-straight alliance at my school this year, and hope and pray that we can get it going. I know now more than ever just how important this actually is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Forget Regret

I had an epiphany moment today that I have to get out here...

Last week was bad. I was thinking about mistakes I've made and the resulting consequences, and the more I thought, the worse I felt. The worse I felt, the more likely I was to fall apart emotionally, yelling at family and friends, and then turning into a crying, mushy, mess because I was embarrassed for how I reacted and was convinced that I needed to be admitted to a mental institution or something. It was in this state that I hammered out my "retirement" blog post, because some of the mistakes were mentioned and continued here, and I felt like my blog was hazardous to my health and friendships.

Saturday night at our party, I seemed to be feeling a bit better, but it has all been up and down, so I am always afraid that one of my explosions is just around the corner.

With Sunday came further improvement. Sunday School was about adversity, and although I don't remember any specifics (I didn't take notes because I wasn't going to blog any more, right?), I think it was a good lesson. I was actually thumbing through the July Ensign (to seek inspiration for MoHo FHE on Saturday) and I read a sweet article about the atonement while I was listening to the lesson going on in the background. I had the impression that I needed to re-read a couple of books about the atonement, like The Peacegiver by James Ferrell and Believing Christ by Stephen Robinson.

Relief Society then confirmed that impression as the lesson was on Faith and the Atonement. I phased in and out actually listening to the lesson, but toward the end, the teacher began to get emotional and shared about being depressed during the past week, thinking about mistakes she has made in her life, and letting them make her feel worse and worse about herself. Wow, she could have been speaking for me at that moment. She mentioned how she felt that it was the work of the Adversary to make her focus on her mistakes, forgetting about the atonement and the importance of forgiving herself.

This week, both my mood and my productivity have continued to improve. Today I attended a seminar at Salt Lake Community College in preparation for the coming school year. During the "math" related part of the seminar, I thought a lot about things I do wrong as a teacher, and things I can do better. But I am tired, and it takes time and energy to change the way I teach, to try new things in an effort to improve students' learning, educational experience, and preparation for college. Yet, I was intrigued that maybe there are some things I could also change in the way I grade that could make work easier for me while also improving student motivation and responsibility. (It was like I had a "shoulder devil" vs. "angel" conversation going on in my head.)

At the end of the general session today, we had a guest speaker that focused on how important humor, laughter, and happiness are in the classroom. He read a quote that said we each have a moral obligation to those around us to be happy--and yet happiness is something I have always struggled with. As he cracked jokes, shared experiences, and talked about the importance and impact of teachers on the lives of many, many students, I had my epiphony:

"Forget regret, or life is yours to miss...No day but today."

Yes, it is a great line from a great song from Rent (which I have not seen). It invigorated me, make me feel empowered to leave my mistakes behind me as a teacher and try some new things, even if those things take energy and might even lead to more mistakes, but at least I would be trying to do better.

Thank you to this blog community, for your comments, your prayers, your emails, your chats, your phone calls, your hugs. For some reason, the adversary and his followers are working really hard on me. But you "angels" as well as unseen spirits that are looking out for me are many, and together we can win the battle.

The heart may freeze or it can burn
The pain will ease if I can learn
There is no future
There is no past
I live this moment as my last
There's only us
There's only this
Forget regret
Or life is yours to miss
No other road
No other way
No day but today

There's only yes
Only tonight
We must let go
To know what's right
No other course
No other way
No day but today

I can't control
My destiny
I trust my soul
My only goal is just
To be
There's only now
There's only here
Give in to love
Or live in fear
No other path
No other way
No day but today...

(Excerpts sung by Mimi in "Another Day" from Rent.)

Sunday, August 2, 2009

Sunstone Presentation

Maybe it will be impossible for me to retire...

Following is information from Ron Schow regarding a presentation at this year's Sunstone Symposium that is pertinent to this blog community. Please pass the information along to anyone that you think might be interested. Maybe I should send it to my Bishop. ;)

In January of this year Dr. Caitlin Ryan published the first article from her research in the prestigious journal, Pediatrics. Caitlin is a strong researcher and has received a number of awards and recognition from the American Library Assn., the American Psychological Assn., Smith College--where she was recently awarded the lifetime career award, and others. Her Pediatrics article reports data on the influence families have as they respond to their gay and lesbian children. When parents and other family and community members are accepting it has a profoundly positive effect as compared to when parents are rejecting. Caitlin has found a number of the most common accepting and rejecting behaviors. One example of accepting is that parents simply listen when their children trust them with information about their feelings as opposed to being too quick to reject the feelings. It is very instructive to consider how Caitlin's research might be applied within the religious community and by mental health professionals. Caitlin made contact with us because she is aware of the respect for academics and research in the LDS community and she feels we will be inclined to pay attention to the profound effect which parental/family/care giver response may have on their children. She is also aware of the strong emphasis on families in our LDS community.

Caitlin's findings show that when parents are rejecting to their gay and lesbian children the prevalence of suicide attempts of their children moves from about 22% to almost 80% as compared to when they are not at all rejecting. The influence on illegal drug use and risky sexual behavior also moves up in an alarming way. Her message is designed to help mental health and community leaders in responding better to the admission of same gender attractions. Caitlin is preparing a booklet with these findings for an LDS audience and LDS families. An awareness of these issues by Church members could help in a profound way to improve the lives of youth and families within the Church affected by this issue.

Caitlin will present on Tuesday night, 7 pm, Aug 11, at the S.L. City Library and Wednesday afternoon, 2 pm, Aug 12, at Sunstone at the Downtown Sheraton. She will also present Saturday late afternoon, 4:45 pm, Aug 15, at Sunstone.

The current Sunstone program can be found here and Caitlin is doing session W-5 on Wednesday and session 375 on Sat. There are descriptions that will help as you describe to others what her presentations will be about. Her website is

Saturday, August 1, 2009


When I wrote my last post, I thought it would help to write things down like it usually does. Instead, it hurt others and threw me into an even worse state of depression than I was already experiencing.

Since I am not working right now (because it is summer and I am a teacher), I should have plenty of time to read blogs, but I have no desire to do so.

Being submerged in this community was very good for me for a long time, but it is no longer what I need for some reason. It no longer gives me "speranza", or hope. It is no longer serendipitous or followed with serenity. It is time for me to find learning and comfort through a different path, I think.

I will leave my blog up for others to read, that by observing my journey over the past year they may better understand their own, but I'm not sure I will be adding anything to it.

I will still be here at my computer frequently, just not reading or writing where you can see and recognize my presence. My email (address in my profile) will still come to me and I will respond. I would love to hear from you individually, knowing that you haven't forgotten about me, and I am more than willing to help with anything you need. And if at sometime I feel like blogging again, I will return.

Just kind of a closing look at where I am:

  • Scott and I still have a very good relationship, which I am grateful for. He has been very patient with me through my recent emotional breakdowns and is as supportive as ever.
  • Our relationship with the LDS church, however, is as shaky as ever, and I am apprehensive regarding what the future with that will bring. Scott told me yesterday that after our recent experiences with the bishop, that he feels like he is done, finished, had it. I want to keep going, but I was just as soon never see our bishop again, and it will be very hard to continue on my own. But with our children in mind, I will press forward and endure, and I have faith that God will help me and bless me in my efforts. I'm still thinking about the possibility of attending church in a different ward or stake.
  • I am hopeful that we will get a GSA club off the ground this year at the high school where I teach. I, along with two other adults on the h.s. staff and two students, attended a training at the Pride Center last Saturday and it was very inspiring and encouraging. We need to do this and we can do this, despite any resistance we may face. We now know more about the laws and ins and outs of "supervising" the club and how we can help to legally spread tolerance and awareness at our school.
  • We will continue our get-togethers with other MoHos (keep an eye on Scott's blog for updates on such), and I am hopeful that we can get our Family Home Evening event going, starting a week from today (August 8th). Scott and I especially need it for our own spiritual welfare, and so we hope others will come and help us to continue to have a desire to study the scriptures and keep God in our lives.
Thank you for all of your comments, prayers and support over the past 11 months. It has been an amazing journey. I will always cherish the friends I have made here and hope you will continue to stay in contact, and I wish you all the best in your individual lives and journeys.

Peace be with you!


Acceptance in Marriage

I am not easy to live with, especially when on "vacation" or at certain times of the month.

So, this summer when a friend accompanied us on our family road trip, he learned just how hard I really am to live with. One morning after Scott and I had a fight, I mentioned to this friend at breakfast (while Scott was away at the breakfast buffet), "I bet you are wondering why Scott has chosen to stay with me." (At this point it had been almost exactly a year since he told me that he is gay.)

He replied, "Yes, the thought has occurred to me."

The friend's open honesty was hard on me and made me start to question my marriage AGAIN. Why does my husband say that he cannot imagine life without me, and therefore stay instead of finding the man of his dreams? I really struggled for a while with my feelings of worth and my fear of losing Scott at some point in the future.

Fortunately, communication has a great healing power. Scott and I talked about my struggles. He told me about how over our years of marriage he has learned to accept me for who I am, with my emotions and stress and outbursts and nagging and fits and moments of insanity. He has come to realize that much of it is inherited and learned from my upbringing, and that I do not mean to attack him personally when I freak out.

On our wedding day several years ago, he gave me the book "Believing Christ" by Stephen E. Robinson. From the moment we started dating 4 years before, he wanted nothing more than for me to be truly happy. But happiness is always something I have struggled with. While he was on his mission, I struggled with an anxiety disorder. He was hoping that I could find happiness through the Atonement, and that the book would help me to understand it better.

I remember moments of exasperation throughout our marriage when he just wanted me to be happy, but nothing seemed to change my disposition. I was always worrying about something. If it wasn't money (or rather lack thereof), then there was always something else.

But he has gradually come to an understanding of me, of how I thrive on stress. He has also recognized my efforts and successes in trying to be a happier person. But now, with the gay issue in our lives, it has become easier for him to accept me as I am. Maybe it has to do with the fact that I have so fully accepted him for who he is. We have learned to see each other and love each other as God does. It is something that takes time and effort, and might seem impossible to younger adults, like our friend, that could not imagine how our marriage will ever survive.

But survive, it does. And not just survive, but thrive. It seems like it just keeps getting better.

I am so grateful for Scott, for his compassion and understanding and patience with me. He will truly earn some points in Heaven for loving me as he has, and I am so lucky to have him in my life.