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Welcome back to Oh My Heck, the podcast where I put out in the open all the peculiar beliefs of my former faith, Mormonism. Today is a big one, one that has personally affect me, friends, and has kept a few family member and loved ones in the closet, to the point where I don’t think they’ll ever come out. They’re getting Turkish Delight with Mr. Tumnus by this point.

Yep, we’re talking about the HOMO-SECKSHULS. Let me preface this by saying I’m bi-sexual and all of my children are on the Rainbow Spectrum, and I’m fiercely proud of them. I love them to pieces, them and all of their friends and it’s been an honor to have them trust me enough to come out to me. This is a pro-LGBTQI podcast.

But we need to talk about the Church’s stance, because it is anything BUT pro-LGBTQI and to be honest, they really only focus on the G and sometimes the L. Lesbians just can’t get any respect or attention, good lord.  ‘Scuse me, Sister Wives. Hahaha.

We’ve talked about the pre-existence, the place before you were born, and how that was when you chose all of your problems and infirmities, your family (which could be the same thing, I don’t want to judge,) and where you possibly chose who you’ll Mormon-marry in the temple, and maybe who you’ll Mormon marry after that one dies or the Church re-instates polygamy, if you’re a man. But this is also where, in your amorphous, cloudy, spiritual self without a body and, one assumes, no genitalia, what with you being ghost-like and all, you have your gender and sexuality set in stone. If you are a woman in the pre-existence, then by gum, you are a woman that is only turned-on sexually by a red-blooded, square-jawed, ape-armed man in this life. And the same goes for men, minus the ape arms bit. By which I mean you are only attracted to women with child-bearing hips and a sweet (read: controllable) spirit. No if ands or buts about it.

That’s all there is, a man who likes women, or a woman who likes men. And only when appropriate. For the next bit, assume that we’re talking about a binary system of gender, even though that’s scientifically incorrect. The church has a very limited view, and that’s the point of the focus here.

If you find yourself looking at the same gender—they would say same sex—and you hear bells chime, maybe some tinglies in your naughty no nos, then clearly you are going against what God made you to be, and you are choosing to disobey his laws for your own selfish, depraved, sweaty, pillow-biting, guttural, and delicious needs. Shame on you. But the members will still love you. As long as you live the rest of your life alone. That is actual counsel from the Mormon church: live alone, and God will match you up with the appropriate beard, er, spouse, in the next life.

Here’s the official stance, taken from the Church’s online family support materials, “God Loveth His Children.”

“You are a precious son or daughter of God. He not only knows your name; He knows you. His love for you is individual. You lived in His presence before you were born on this earth. You cannot remember your pre-mortal relationship with Him, but He does. Although His children may sometimes do things that disappoint Him, He will always love them.

In some circumstances a person defers marriage because he or she is not presently attracted to a member of the opposite gender. While many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of this challenge in this life.

Many people with same-gender attraction respect the sacredness of their bodies and the standards God has set — that sexuality be expressed ‘only between man and woman, lawfully wedded as husband and wife.’ The lives of these individuals are pleasing to our Father in Heaven.

Eternity is long, and mortality is short.”

Or rather, this life is merely a cosmic blink, so you can totally suck it up, be miserable and lonely here, keep busy with service to other church members (we can always use help at the cannery and in the nursery!) and when you die, then you can have love. But it will be with the opposite sex. But we assure you, you’ll like it! So could you just quit disappointing God, for heaven’s sake?

And when you sit alone in your house, staring at a blank wall and singing happy hymns every time that hot neighbor walks past your window because They Are The Enemy, you can rest assured that God is in His Heaven, fingers steepled under His chin, watching your every move and thought, and is well pleased that you are doing nothing. He loves you more when you are like that. And don’t forget your night-time prayers to thank Him for your wonderful life!

If you’re a gay man or a lesbian who is Mormon, your genitalia is a lot like your tonsils: vestigial. It’s there, but not really with any function that’s necessary. All will be taken care of after you live 80 or so years of bitter loneliness and are dead. Truly, God is Great.

So… there’s a real crisis happening in Utah right now, and it’s the they lead the nation in suicides. In fact, suicide is the second leading cause of death in males aged 15–24, and the leading cause of death in men 25–44.

And because it doesn’t get talked about much, females in Utah attempt suicide three times as often as their male counterparts. They’re not as successful, as they tend to go for non-messy options like pills, but they’re going for broke far more often. And just putting this out there, the phone number for the National Suicide Prevention Hot-line is 1-800-273-TALK. You can also go to the Trevor project.org and talk any time, day or night, to someone who knows how brutal life can be for queer kids and young adults. YOU MATTER, okay??

To put this in perspective, according to the Center for Disease Control, the leading cause of death in the nation is heart disease. Suicide ranks 11th. Utah’s rate of suicide for women is four times the national average, as well. More people die from suicide than from HIV, incidentally.

Utah is 70% Mormon. Shocking, huh? Didn’t you think it would be more like 99%? Of course, the Church’s official stance is that there is no connection whatsoever between the state’s higher suicide rates and being Mormon. No connection at all with the expectations and pressures to be the example of perfection and godliness to the world and to each other. None at all. Nothing to do with being barred from heaven if you’re not absolutely perfect. Right.

The most hateful book in all the land, and one that everyone in my generation got as a graduation gift, is by one of the prophets of the Church, Spencer W. Kimball. And surprisingly, it’s called “The Miracle of Forgiveness.” It’s the most depressing, hateful book I’ve ever encountered. Mind you, I’ve not read any of Trump’s books or Mein Kampf, so you know.

If you read it, you realize how funny the title is, because good lord, everything is a sin!! Yeah, I guess to really repent and atone to be forgiven IS a miracle. So here’s what the prophet of the Mormon church said was sinful, and remember, he’s a prophet speaking for Jesus Christ himself, this book is printed by the church’s publishing house, and this is basically God’s Word.

There’s an infamous paragraph that details everything sinful.

“Murder, adultery, theft, cursing, unholiness in masters, disobedience in servants,unfaithfulness, improvidence, hatred of God, disobedience to husbands, lack of natural affection, high-mindedness, flattery, lustfulness, infidelity, indiscretion, backbiting, whispering, lack of truth, striking, brawling, quarrelsomeness, unthankfulness, inhospitality, deceitfulness, irreverence, boasting, arrogance, pride, double-tongued talk, profanity, slander, corruptness, thievery, embezzlement, despoiling, covenant-breaking, incontinence, filthiness, ignobleness, filthy communications, impurity, foolishness, slothfulness, impatience, lack of understanding, unmercifulness, idolatry, blasphemy, denial of the Holy Ghost, Sabbath breaking, envy, jealousy, malice, maligning, vengefulness, implacability —HMM SOUNDS LIKE GOD IS SINNING, THEN— bitterness, clamor —LOUD NOISES. I DON’T KNOW WHAT WE’RE YELLING ABOUT— spite, defiling, reviling, evil speaking, provoking, greediness for filthy lucre, disobedience to parents, anger, hate, covetousness, bearing false witness, inventing evil things —MY EYE IS ON YOU, MAKER OF PEEP-FLAVORED OREOS— fleshliness, heresy, presumptuousness, abomination, insatiable appetite, instability, ignorance, self-will, speaking evil of dignitaries, becoming a stumbling block; and in our modern language, masturbation, petting, fornication, adultery, homosexuality; and every sex perversion, every hidden and secret sin and all unholy and impure practices”

From Chapter Five: THE SIN NEXT TO MURDER.

“There are sins which are so serious that we know of no forgiveness for them. There are also sins which approach the unforgivable ones in seriousness but seem to come in the category of the forgivable. These are the diabolical crimes of sexual impurity. In varied form they run from aberrations involving self-abuse, sex stimulation, and self-pollution to abhorrent and unnatural practices involving others. Whether named or unnamed in scriptures or the spoken word, any sexual act or practice which is “unnatural” or unauthorized is a sin.”

Un-authorized??? What the what?

He goes on to say that he doesn’t want to talk about this stuff (suuuuuuuuuuuure) but it’s crucial that church leaders do, even though the words are REPUGNANT and UNPLEASANT. Well, sure, if you’re going to talk like a 1950s health film about it…

He says you can be clean of body but still be FILTHY AS HELL’S CESSPOOLS. New band name, dibs on FILTHY AS HELL’S CESSPOOLS.

[MUSIC: iTUNES clip- Filthy Gorgeous]

There was a famous leak of upcoming doctrinal change in November of 2015. Well, not a change, so to speak, but doubling down on what they’d already said about what makes a marriage and what sexuality is acceptable. There’s a manual that every priesthood leader who becomes a stake president or bishop receives, called the Handbook of Instruction. It details everything from how to collect tithing, how services should go, how to wrangle members into taking care of the building and grounds, and how to deal with immorality, from abortion to what the church calls SSA, same-sex attraction. (Remember, they operate on an old-fashioned binary.)

HOW HOMOSEXUALITY is addressed in the HANDBOOK:

“Homosexual behavior violates the commandments of God, is contrary to the purposes of human sexuality, distorts loving relationships, and deprives people of the blessings that an be found in family life and in the saving ordinances of the gospel. Those who persist in such behavior or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline. Homosexual behavior can be forgiven through sincere repentance.”

Even having homosexual thoughts requires repentance. The handbook states clearly: ACCEPT RESPONSIBILITY FOR YOUR THOUGHTS and actions.

Also in the handbook, and I want you to remember this for later: “THE CHURCH OPPOSES PORNOGRAPHY IN ANY FORM. Members should avoid all forms of pornographic material and oppose its production, dissemination and use.” REMEMBER THAT.

The members are taught to reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender, a quote from a letter from the First Presidency—which is the Prophet and his two counselors, who are considered apostles—from February, 1994.

Sex in the church is called “the power of procreation.” Sex is meant to be about making babies. You can’t make babies? You shouldn’t have sex. (So that’s tricky for people who can’t have children or are post-menopausal…)  Also, they strongly discourage members from donating sperm or being a surrogate. STRONGLY discourage. And you’re not supposed to get a vasectomy or your tubes tied unless your life depends on it or you’re mentally challenged.

The church says that even though they oppose queerness in any form, they “reach out with understanding.” WHAT DOES THAT EVEN MEAN?

Okay. In the November 2015 leak, the leaders decided, or rather, God Revealed to them that it is Heavenly Father’s wish that gay members who get married to the same sex are now called apostates. And if they have children, those children cannot be baptized Mormon. They cannot go through any of the important rites that all Mormon teens go through because they can’t be official members, not until they turn 18 and denounce their parents. Like, they have to formally state their gay parents aren’t their family anymore. The irony is that the Mormons are known as the “families are forever” church. Not if you’re gay or a lesbian!

And if you’re trans? Well, you can just forget it. You have to live a lie. You can’t come out as trans. You cannot dress as you see fit for your gender. You absolutely cannot have gender-confirming surgery. If you do? You can’t be baptized if you’re a convert. If you grew up Mormon and were baptized before your gender-confirming surgery, you now can’t go to the temple. And you have to go to the temple to progress in the church!  Not if you’re trans. You do not get to advance to the penthouse suite of heaven, so forget your own planet and becoming a god or goddess.

But you know. Mortality is short, eternity is long. They have no clue how hateful that is. Or if they do, they don’t care. They’ve sort of painted themselves into a corner, and I don’t know that they can ever repair this.

There are groups of folks who are trying to change the Mormon church from within, and while I applaud their thought and motivation, I just don’t think they can.

Let’s look at what the church has publicly copped to doing: spending hard money and strong-arming members into spending $20 million for Prop 8 back in 2008. They had videos sent to every ward house detailing how important it was to fight this, encouraging members to caravan to California and help spread a bunch of horse pucky about how dangerous this would be and…

It’s well documented. It angers me every time I think of it.

They spent a lot of money at BYU housing a “conversion therapy” center, and it ran until the early ’80s. There’s a documentary called “LEGACIES” —you can watch it on YouTube. It’s a series of four interviews with gay Mormons (well, I don’t believe they still are) who were sent to the freaking basement of the Smith Family Living Center there on the BYU campus for “therapy”.

One of the men was 15 when he “confessed” having gay thoughts to a seminary teacher, who NARCed and told the bishop. Without his parent’s knowledge, they made it look like this kid was going to BYU for a genealogy field trip, but instead, they had vomit-inducing conversion therapy. From the documentary:

“They explained to me that they would place a heparin lock in my wrist and hook an I.V. up to that, and I would be put in a room alone with a phlethesmograph on my penis that would measure my physical arousal so that when I got an erection they would know. Then they started showing me gay pornography. I don’t remember if there were films or not, but I do remember stills. I was supposed to go through a stack of photos of nude men and come up with men that I thought were attractive.”

Keep in mind that because this kid was a devout Mormon, he had never seen anything pornographic before. Ever. He was 15.  He goes on to say,

“I’d never seen sex before at all. They were going to show me this gay pornography and using the I.V. they would inject a drug into me during the gay pornography to make me start vomiting. Then they would switch the pornography over to heterosexual sex and inject a euphoric drug into me to get me to associate euphoria with heterosexuality.”

That’s some Clockwork Orange garbage right there. He didn’t go back for further treatment, and because of it, they gave him a SHAME letter that he had to hand over in person to his stake president and say he refused to go through with “the Lord’s program” for his cure.

THE LORD’S PROGRAM. [SHAME! bell rings. SHAME! bell rings.]

Hey, remember how you’re not supposed to see or participate in any way with anything pornographic? I guess these guys showing kids dirty pictures get a pass because it’s the Lord’s Program…

Other people had electroshock therapy and one person in the documentary says they often saw people with burn marks on their skin.

And here’s the thing: aversion therapy does not work. It will not make you straight it you’re gay. If you are gay, lesbian, bi or trans, you are genetically made that way, just like someone with a specific curl pattern or blue-green eyes. No one, and let me repeat: NO ONE chooses to be gay. I mean, okay, in the interest of argument, I suppose there COULD be a queer Rachel Dolezal out there, appropriating queer culture to stand out from their own mediocre life, you know, the one where they’re not ostracized, bullied, shamed, forced into dangerous and worthless conversion therapy centers…

It will not do what they claim it will do. People forced to participate in BYU’s therapies would tell their bishops that it worked to make it stop and to stop the shame of these weekly meetings and sessions. But it doesn’t work. Science says so.

Good job on making science, God, pretty contradictory of you, though…

Are we all feeling like precious children of God? Feeling like the church hates the sin but loves the sinner? They’ve got their “arms out in understanding?”

Before this year’s General Conference, which happens twice a year and is when the whole church comes together world-wide to essentially swear fealty to the church and God, receive new instruction, and listen to faith-promoting lessons from the church leaders for two days, before this recent conference, the church-owned magazine ENSIGN printed an article just three weeks prior called THE WAR GOES ON. And in this article, one of the leaders, speaking for the church, for GOD, calls what LGBT people feel “counterfeit.”

From the article: ” Counterfeits bear a resemblance to the real thing in order to deceive unsuspecting people. They are a twisted version of something good, and just like counterfeit money, they are worthless.”

Worthless. Arms out in understanding…

It continues, “Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God, but same-sex marriage is only a counterfeit. It brings neither posterity nor exaltation. Although his imitations deceive many people, they are not the real thing. They cannot bring lasting happiness.”

He then goes on to say that when people argue this point, that’s just what Satan wants. That is is of Satan to find fault with the church’s teachings. Do you see how deceptive that is? Do you see that this is a way of silencing anything that challenges what the church teaches?

THIS IS NOT A GOOD THING. This is not from God. If you’re Mormon and listening, this is evil. Not being gay, not gay marriage—studies actually show that suicides DROP in places where marriage equality exists—SAYING that anyone who argues for equal rights for an entire group of people is SATANIC as a way of shutting up future discussion, THAT is freaking evil.

The article goes on to say that you shouldn’t despair, because that’s playing into Satan’s hands. Well, how the hell can LGBT Mormons NOT despair when you call their very real feelings of love counterfeit?? And that they are apostates if they act on it? And that they must spend their lives alone??

OR, live a lie and pretend to be straight, marry someone of the opposite sex and BOTH of you potentially be miserable for the rest of your lives, and THAT my friends, is a “real” marriage. According to the church, at least. The cognitive dissonance ….

In 2000, a young man named Stuart Matis took his own life in the face of a state-wide vote, Proposition 22, an anti-gay measure. He said in a letter before his death that hearing that the church supported this proposition and that they were encouraging their members to give money in support to help it pass sent him into a downward spiral, ultimately ending with him taking his own life. I hate that his story isn’t unique.

Since the November Leak I mentioned, there’s been a massive, heartbreaking spike in people feeling hopeless enough that they make that ultimate decision to end their life.

As a result of their pushing the homosexual members back into the closet to survive and stay a member, they’ve increased the number of suicides, the number of unhappy marriages, and have created a philosophy that God loves you if you’re miserable, but come on, now, He will totally hook you up when you’re dead, so just be patient. And alone.

I belong to a group called the Mama Dragons. It’s Mormon-centric, but the mission is to keep queer Mormon kids alive. Please reach out to them if you’re a parent of an LGBT Mormon child. You’re not alone, and they breathe fire.

The majority of the homeless in Utah are queer teens. But Families are Forever… Teaching these principles of what is acceptable and what is freaking Satanic just makes the situation for LGBT Mormons worse. We are better than this. We SHOULD be better than this. 5000 kids on the street daily in a state that barely has a population of a million?

I’m so glad there are places like Encircle, a safe place for LGBTQ Mormon youth in Provo. Even better, it’s a beautiful house that was donated by a woman named Gay who had two gay sons. She gets how important it is for these kids to know they’re not alone.  I’m so glad there are random stakes and wards who are lovingly embracing gay members and trying to educate themselves. I am so glad there are people like the Mama Dragons who speak out, who speak up for their queer children other LGBT Mormons, who network to find beds for kids, who exist to keep these kids alive. THAT is arms open. I just wish it was actual Church Doctrine, and not random outliers.

And if I can just say to you if you’re LGBT or questioning and Mormon: you’re not wrong. You’re not counterfeit. Love is love is love, and it is not a counterfeit. You are just as you are meant to be, be it gay, lesbian, bi, trans, whatever.  Here in the south there’s a saying that you’re not worthless because “God don’t make no trash.”

So while it’s great that the Mormon church recently put out a positive video on their website where a family learns a member is gay and they all decide to love him, that is great! It really is, it doesn’t change the fact that the church wants that gay family member to spend their life alone or lie and marry the opposite sex to satisfy their eternal progression ticky-box. It doesn’t change the fact that they teach and believe that LGBT members are CHOOSING to SIN—a sin second to murder!!—by being gay. That is utter nonsense. And that is not true. Being gay, same-sex attracted, trans, trans and gay, however your chips fall, that is WHO YOU ARE. And you are not a sin.

In light of this, that video becomes nothing more than a PR stunt to take the heat off their archaic and wrong-headed attitude towards LGBT members. It’s a PR stunt to detract from the financial leaks happening that show how much money was spent on Prop 8 and other political issues.

Side note, they sneakily side-step polygamy with the whole counterfeit marriage thing, which is hilarious. Because if it all hinges on Joseph Smith and what he said was revelation and from God… That includes polygamy, which is NOT one-man, one-woman. Cognitive dissonance, my word.

I have a book coming out in May about a devout kid on his mission who realizes he’s gay. And worse (in his opinion) he falls for his companion. He grapples with his feelings, how he wants to just be like other married couples in church, sitting snugged up to his partner with an arm over the back of their pew, just like everyone else. He wants to watch his partner baptize their child, do all of the normal rites that he grew up experiencing.  (It’s called And It Came To Pass, and it comes out May 18th, by the way.)

There are LGBT members who want to be Mormon, and I get it. I get it. Leaving the church was one of the hardest things I ever did. That decision did not come easily. It felt like I was divorcing GOD. That was the right decision for me, and I’m not here to tell other people what to do. There are folks holding out that eventually the church will “get with the program.”

Can the church change? I don’t know.  It took them 140 some odd years to change their stance on black members. Now, they didn’t go back on what they taught about black people being marked with the curse of Cain, they still believe that. They still believe Mormon people of color, blacks in particular, will be made QUOTE, white and delightsome in heaven when they are perfected in the resurrection. So maybe, in some alternate universe, they change their stance on LGBT members. I don’t know how it’s possible, frankly. For the queer members who love their church, l hope for their sakes the church makes a change.

I do know this: you deserve to be happy. You deserve to live life honestly. You deserve love and a relationship and an honest one at that. You deserve to look in the mirror and see who you are. You. Deserve. Love. And you deserve it now, not just in the hereafter.

From hymn #87:

All the hopes that sweetly start
From the fountain of the heart,
All the bliss that ever comes
To our earthly human homes,
All the voices from above
Sweetly whisper: God is love.

Amen.

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Thank you for listening, and if you enjoyed this, maybe consider leaving a review on iTunes, Stitcher or however you’re keeping up with the podcast. That plus reblogging or sharing means an angel gets its wings and a puppy gets a nose boop, so don’t be a monster. Next time we’re diving deep into the topic of SEX so you won’t want to miss it. See you then!

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