Sunday, November 19, 2006

A Praise Chorus

A Praise Chorus - Jimmy Eat World

This song is one of my recent favorites. I'm trying to get up my guts to step away from the metaphorical punch bowl and onto the dance floor of life.

"Are you gonna
Live your life wonderin’
Standing in the back
Lookin’ around?
Are you gonna
Waste your time
Thinkin' how you’ve grown up
Or how you missed out?
Things are never gonna
Be the way you want
Where's it gonna
Get you acting serious?
Things are never gonna
Be quite what you want
Even at 25
You gotta start sometime"

Tuesday, November 7, 2006

An Election Victory (for me)

A week ago I taught a ward FHE lesson on voting and promised I’d vote this year for the first time in my life. I really don’t know how I’ve gotten this far without casting my ballot. I spent my entire senior year of high school promoting political activism among young voters, working on local campaigns, and lobbying along with the PTSA. I watch CNN and unlike Alan Jackson, I do know the difference between Iraq and Iran. For the last seven years my excuse for being a slacker voter has been that I’ve never lived in my voting district and never thought ahead enough to vote absentee.
This is the closest I’ve ever lived to my voting district, but I’m still 40 minutes away from the Provo address I’m registered at. After a tough day at work today, I drove home debating whether my vote was worth the long drive to Provo. I rationalized that if I stayed in Salt Lake tonight I could attend Institute—a good thing, right?
I got home and had pretty much rationalized myself into abstaining. When I signed into MSN messenger, Pinetree was online and had set his screen name as “I hope you all voted today.” Pinetree’s screenname was the last push I needed to stop making excuses and do my civic duty.
I hit the road with the empowered feeling that comes from doing what I know I should. Farrer Elementary was pretty much empty except for the two old couples staffing the voter station when I got there at 7:00 pm. Voting took less than five minutes to complete. I got to vote for the state representative and senator and for the improved transportation proposition. Most the county positions didn’t even have an option—just the republican or the write-in, and I had no idea who either of the school board candidates were. In Utah County I know my vote really didn’t turn any races, but it made a huge turn in me. I walked out the door wearing my “I voted” sticker and feeling proud of myself for finally coming through with a goal and feeling a little bit more a part of this amazing country.

That guy I used to see at the gym is famous now

Thank you ATP for commenting on this news spot on your blog which infuriated me enough to write a response to FOX 13. Watch the spot using the link below (two parts)then see my response (written late at night and when I was kind of in a weird mood so don't judge me too harshly).

Click Here

Fox 13 misrepresented a sensitive subject in Sandy Riesgraf's story "Married, Gay, and Mormon."
I am always interested in the way the media discusses homosexuality. As someone who knows Ben and as a gay mormon who has not chosen marriage I was especially interested in this piece. The media is guilty of consistently perpetuating myths and stereotypes about homosexuality over many, many years. The media has chosen to highlight the deviant, conflicted, and stereotypical side of homosexuality (ie Tom Foley, Brokeback Mt, Queer Eye) without really ever getting past the surface of homosexuality in America. Terribly misguided interest groups have some responsibility for this problem which I believe is equally damaging to young, closeted, or struggling homosexuals as any repression from evangelical or mormon church groups.
Sandy's spots were overly dramatic and tabloid and underly factual or realistic. I know it's standard in small-market news, but Sandy's voice intonation was hyper-incredulous and accusatory. Please, just read the news without screaming your uninformed opinion with every syllable you pronounce.
Listen when Sandy says "the experts say there is no way of knowing what percent of gay-straight marriages actually succeed." That is a fact but she makes it sound like it's part of some grand conspiracy by "the experts."
The tone and verbiage combined in perhaps my least favorite line of the entire spot: "The church was not interested in participating in the discussion of this issue." Please just say the LDS church did not comment on this story. If there is any question that the church is interested in the discussion of this issue, please see: LDS Newsroom or just talk to someone who is gay and mormon and talks to church leaders about it and I think you will hear a different story. The LDS church is more interested in talking about this issue than ever in it's history and is doing a better job of talking about it than many other churches. The church is very delicately teaching it's members to love and care for all people in all conditions without revising moral definitions to better fit MTV-ified America. You don't have to agree with the church's stance on the issue, but please try to inform yourself about the church's stance and then represent it accurately.
The story's negative bias toward the church tainted its portrayal of Evergreen International. I personally disagree with many things Evergreen International does, but your story made it look more vicious than it is. The book titles shown on the screen while introducing Evergreen's rep and the way the quote "there are men who have done that, yes" was used to insinuate that Evergreen tries to turn gay men hetero are two examples of this. You did allow the rep to say that Evergreen's goal is to "modify, reduce, or eliminate" homosexual feelings. Change is possible. That doesn't mean I will become straight and honestly I don't even want to, but I do want to understand myself better, and feel more capable of dealing with my homosexual feelings in an open environment. That positive part of Evergreen International was not well represented.
The counselor you mentioned at the end of the spot said the worst thing to do is give men like me false hope of a "cure", but I think a greater crime is to unnecessarily dash all hope of a happy life for people dealing with this issue. For too many years, the media has featured homosexual men in desperate and unappealing situations. I don't want to wear speedos and feathers in a pride parade or date a cross-dresser dying of AIDS like in "Rent" or be a 40 year old man alone in an empty house blaming the LDS church for a half-life of misery and looking to start over from the ashes of the life I wasted because I never really dealt with my issues.
I liked the spot on Ben and his family who are making healthy and informed life decisions. That feature was well-edited and I think a good, albeit short, look at his life. I wish there were more time in the media to look at healthy gay men--with wives, partners, or single, but in the positive situations that exist among gays but are little publicized in the media.
All publicity can be good and I'm glad FOX found time in it's programming to feature this issue. Hopefully it will cause people who are not homosexual to see some new perspective and hopefully homosexual men and women will be able to garnish some realistic alternatives and hope from it. I'm afraid however that the basic attitude of the spot editorialized Sandy's opinions and failed to cover this story in any way that could be described as "fair" or "balanced." If you find continuing interest in the way gay men and women from religious cultures are finding happy lives I hope that your future coverage of these stories will focus on more people like Ben and less on people like Craig (Greg ?) and will more fairly represent the role of religion in our lives. We all can hope.

Sunday, November 5, 2006

I want to make babies

I just got home from a date. With a girl. It was a ward set up thing. I picked her up at her parent's house. I met the parents. I think I've only done that like two other times in my life. It's much better to date girls who don't live with mom and dad. The whole ward met at a cheap diner. My date and I made awkward small talk through what felt like a very long dinner...Painful. We both seemed more interested in the sugar packets on the table than in each other. The whole date thing was a ploy to get us to go to the Saturday evening session of stake conference. At one point during the conference, I leaned over to do the rest my shoulders on my knees/look at the floor/sleep position. She asked me if she could scratch my back. What the ?? I told her no thanks that I have touch issues. Awkward. At the bishop's house afterward she told me I didn't have to sit by her if I wanted to flirt with someone else. What the ?? I sat by her. The conversation got a little more relaxed. Driving back to her house she told me I was funny which is a nice way of saying I have issues. I didn't even attempt to walk her to the door or anything and she didn't seem at all hurt.
Stake conference was all about family. The whole time I kept thinking how much I'd like to have a kid or two of my very own. The cruel trick of course is that to get a kid I need to marry or at least have a nine month romance with a girl like the one who was sitting next to me trying to scratch my back. I'm going to have to get over some of my issues.