Sunday, July 31, 2011

Gay Gospel Doctrine Class: Road to Damascus

This is another in the Gay Gospel Doctrine Class series of posts that takes a lesson from the LDS Church’s (Adult) Gospel Doctrine class and presents it from a gay perspective.  Today’s lesson is based on Lesson #29 in the Gospel Doctrine Manual and was prepared by Utahhiker801.

This week’s lesson - Lesson 29, “The Number of the Disciples Was Multiplied” - focuses on Acts chapters 6 – 9.  The main event of this passage is Saul’s conversion.  Saul had been creating havoc for the church, harassing and having the followers of Christ thrown into prison.  The scriptures describe him “breathing out threatenings and slaughter against the disciple of the Lord.” 

Yet on the road to Damascus, he has a vision where Christ appears to him and asks, “Saul, Saul, why persecutest thou me?”  Saul is struck blind for three days.  Upon being blessed by Ananias, his sight is restored and he is baptized.  Saul immediately goes to the synagogues and preaches the about Christ.

I sometimes wonder if people who are hardened against the idea that gay people are normal people, entitled to happiness in their lives without feeling marginalized, will ever come to the point where they can embrace (and not just tolerate) gay people.  Will they ever have their road to Damascus?

As I write this lesson on Saturday afternoon, I know that tomorrow I actually have to teach this lesson in church.  Confession time: I’m actually the Gospel Doctrine teacher in my ward.  I can’t begin to tell you all the inner conflicts I feel at times with my life and with the church, but that is nothing new; most of us have dealt with that for decades at some level or another.  We have all been contorted in trying to bring various aspects of our lives together.  I’m not sure what that will ultimately look like for me.

In the mean time, preparing a lesson with a gay perspective knowing I have to teach an “orthodox” lesson tomorrow creates different types of insight.

On Sunday, I want to ask my class, “How are we sometimes like Saul?  Firm in our testimony of the truth and yet sometimes wielding it to make someone else’s life less joyful or loving?”  What does our personal faith bring to the world?

I know that a prior bishop and stake president in my ward, who after hearing Elder Packer’s talk decrying gay people, have both said they disagreed with him.  His words did not match their experiences, and it has lead them look more closely at themselves.  I will admit that they’ve said that I’m the only real experience they’ve had with a gay guy in the church, but that’s hardly the point.

There are so many barriers to this type of cultural change, a church-wide road to Damascus; years of sermons, lectures, hushed “I-told-you-sos” perpetrated to create shame make this difficult.  All of these thing attempt to continue the status quo.  However, I have hope.  I believe they will ultimately fail as love and understanding overcome bias.

Friday, July 29, 2011

The Heterosexual Privilege

The Heterosexual Privilege Checklist, below, is a list that appeared a month or so ago on a blog entitled “Break the Illusion.”  At the invitation of Davey Wavey to share this list with others, I wrote about this on another blog, explaining to heteros that the list is intended to help them obtain a better understanding of what it’s like to be gay in a very heterosexual world, to put themselves in the shoes of their gay friends and family.  

On a daily basis as a straight person…
  1. I can be pretty sure that my roomate, hallmates and classmates will be comfortable with my sexual orientation.
  2. If I pick up a magazine, watch TV, or play music, I can be certain my sexual orientation will be represented.
  3. When I talk about my heterosexuality (such as in a joke or talking about my relationships), I will not be accused of pushing my sexual orientation onto others.
  4. I do not have to fear that if my family or friends find out about my sexual orientation there will be economic, emotional, physical or psychological consequences.
  5. I did not grow up with games that attack my sexual orientation (IE f*g tag or smear the queer).
  6. I am not accused of being abused, warped or psychologically confused because of my sexual orientation.
  7. I can go home from most meetings, classes, and conversations without feeling excluded, fearful, attacked, isolated, outnumbered, unheard, held at a distance, stereotyped or feared because of my sexual orientation.
  8. I am never asked to speak for everyone who is heterosexual.
  9. I can be sure that my classes will require curricular materials that testify to the existence of people with my sexual orientation.
  10. People don’t ask why I made my choice of sexual orientation.
  11. People don’t ask why I made my choice to be public about my sexual orientation.
  12. I do not have to fear revealing my sexual orientation to friends or family. It’s assumed.
  13. My sexual orientation was never associated with a closet.
  14. People of my gender do not try to convince me to change my sexual orientation.
  15. I don’t have to defend my heterosexuality.
  16. I can easily find a religious community that will not exclude me for being heterosexual.
  17. I can count on finding a therapist or doctor willing and able to talk about my sexuality.
  18. I am guaranteed to find sex education literature for couples with my sexual orientation.
  19. Because of my sexual orientation, I do not need to worry that people will harass me.
  20. I have no need to qualify my straight identity.
  21. My masculinity/femininity is not challenged because of my sexual orientation.
  22. I am not identified by my sexual orientation.
  23. I can be sure that if I need legal or medical help my sexual orientation will not work against me.
  24. If my day, week, or year is going badly, I need not ask of each negative episode or situation whether it has sexual orientation overtones.
  25. Whether I rent or I go to a theater, Blockbuster, an EFS or TOFS movie, I can be sure I will not have trouble finding my sexual orientation represented.
  26. I am guaranteed to find people of my sexual orientation represented in my workplace.
  27. I can walk in public with my significant other and not have people double-take or stare.
  28. I can choose to not think politically about my sexual orientation.
  29. I do not have to worry about telling my roommate about my sexuality. It is assumed I am a heterosexual.
  30. I can remain oblivious of the language and culture of LGBTQ folk without feeling in my culture any penalty for such oblivion.
  31. I can go for months without being called straight.
  32. I’m not grouped because of my sexual orientation.
  33. My individual behavior does not reflect on people who identity as heterosexual.
  34. In everyday conversation, the language my friends and I use generally assumes my sexual orientation. For example, sex inappropriately referring to only heterosexual sex or family meaning heterosexual relationships with kids.
  35. People do not assume I am experienced in sex (or that I even have it!) merely because of my sexual orientation.
  36. I can kiss a person of the opposite gender on the heart or in the cafeteria without being watched and stared at.
  37. Nobody calls me straight with maliciousness.
  38. People can use terms that describe my sexual orientation and mean positive things (IE “straight as an arrow”, “standing up straight” or “straightened out” ) instead of demeaning terms (IE “ewww, that’s gay” or being “queer” ) .
  39. I am not asked to think about why I am straight.
  40. I can be open about my sexual orientation without worrying about my job
41.  I don’t have to worry about some politicians trying to pass a law which tells me who I can and can’t marry, including at the national, Constitutional, level;
42.  I know I won’t have any problems marrying the person I love;
43.  I know that there will be no problems, as far as my orientation is concerned, in adopting a child;
44.  I know that I will not be targeted by law enforcement for harassment due to my orientation;
45.  I can be open about my orientation without worrying about being denied housing;
46.  I can walk down the street with my partner and hold hands and kiss without fear that I or my partner will be attacked and beaten, possibly even killed, because of our orientation;
47.  I know that when I refer to my bf/gf/spouse, people will assume we aren’t together just for sex, but for love , and that our love is as real and legitimate as theirs for their significant others;
48.  People do not automatically assume that I am shallow, weak, silly, on drugs or promiscuous because of my orientation;
49.  People will not mentally assign me a career (e.g., the str8 versions of florist, party planner, interior decorator, hair dresser, etc., etc.) because of my orientation;
50.  People (advertisers and marketers aside) will not assume I am like everyone else of my orientation and will treat me like an individual human being.