The Alias: Frank Lee Scarlet

Any one else tired? Some lighter stuff.

Why "Frank Lee Scarlet"?

As a kid who's gone by three different last names for my real identity, I tend to take the Romeo stance on names: "That which is called a rose would smell as sweet by any other name."

I like to think of my MoHo blogging role as one that involves pushing the envelope a bit. Sort of how Gone With the Wind did in the famous line, "Frankly, Scarlet..." (Quick! Say "Frank Lee Scarlet" five times fast!)

As for the actual name of the blog, at the time of christening I was thinking about the stigma that gay members of the community have placed upon them. Nathaniel Hawthorne inevitably came to mind.

And the URL? Sometimes I see the world very optimistically, through deeply rose-colored glasses; at other times, my vision is, I admit, melodramatically woeful, as if my lenses were tinted with blood. Either way, my specs are, well, scarlet.


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Second Thoughts

In all of my confusion with being gay, I've found myself wondering, "Am I really gay?"

Although I lack professional training here, I would place myself in the region of 4.5 on the Kinsey Scale, but I've been second-guessing that number lately. Kinsey's research states that sexuality is hardly a matter of checking "either/or" categorical boxes, but more of a continuum. (Because it is a continuum, Kinsey reminds us to remember the gradations between numbers on the scale.) Through out all of this, I have at times felt like a solid five and at other times more like a low four (which approaches the realm of bisexuality).

One of the ways used to measure sexuality (although I know I'm the only one who can truly know for myself) is to consider the appearance of men and/or women in (erotic) dreams. This doesn't much help me, unfortunately: For some reason, I can't really remember my dreams as well as others seem to, and I can't remember the last sexual dream I've had. Perhaps that's because of excessive stress and some sleep deprivation? I'm definitely not asexual, and it's not a matter of postponed puberty or hormones, either. I guess I don't know what it's a matter of, but something's the matter, and it matters!

On the one hand, maybe I'm just an example of the kid who engages in "mental experimentation", erroneously labels and convinces himself of homosexuality, and conforms to the idea of it (as a kind of self-fulfilling prophecy). Maybe it's all in my head, in other words. Unlikely, but possible.

On the other hand, maybe I'm just so full of internalized homophobia and self-hatred that I want to deny who I am. I don't know where my subconscious is on this one...I've never actually said the words "I am gay" aloud, so maybe that puts my subconscious in a state of wavering unsurety.

As far as other "indicators" go, most of them seem to fit (I'm creative, sensitive, emotional, musical (to a point), etc.). And yet, if I really am gay, I'm not exactly your stereotypical homosexual.

In short, maybe I need to look into some 'gaydar'. :-)

Is this kind of uncertainty normal?



Last night, after watching the movie Man on Wire (which I highly recommend, by the way), I had an interesting thought as I was trying to go to sleep. It is this:

Would Heavenly Father's Gospel really be one in which members cannot have the opportunity to fulfill their basic, unchosen, inborn needs?

Looking at the Church in general, it is set up to fulfill a host of members' needs. Obviously it aims at fulfilling spiritual needs. It provides the framework to fulfill familial, sexual, emotional, and social needs (at least for straight members). The Welfare System is designed to help take care of temporal needs. So there seems to be an inconsistency when it comes to the package of needs that accompany a homosexual orientation. It's not that the Church doesn't address these needs, it's that it specifically forbids them from being met!

Some might protest with opposing examples; let me try to address them:

-Alcoholism (along with other problems like it) is not an example of one of these needs because the alcoholic must first choose to taste alcohol before the effects are "activated" to their full strength. Meanwhile, no one chooses to experience his or her basic social, sexual, and emotional needs.

-Because there are simply more worthy young women than young men in the Church, there are bound to be some straight members whom the Church expects to remain celibate because, through no fault of their own, they are unmarried. (This could also include members with special needs or other handicaps.) However, these groups do at least have the hope of marriage since it is not as if the Church expressly bans their marriages, as it does those of gay and lesbian members.

-Some live in poverty with obstacles resulting from the circumstances of birth; their needs are clearly not met. Yet even for the most destitute, there is always hope for a change of situation, and the Church certainly doesn't prohibit the opportunity for basic needs of food and shelter to be met (instead often providing the means whereby those needs can be met).

Any thoughts? Am I missing a significant exception or piece of information?


Who Am I?

Recently I have given a lot of thought to the prospect of coming out of the closet (in fact, I even bought and read a book called Outing Yourself). My desire for for a life of openness and honesty, regardless of whatever negative side effects may accompany it, reminded me of Jean Valjean's dilemma in the glorious Les Miserables, in which Valjean must either face the reality of his true identity or continue leading a convenient--albeit deceptive--double life. This inner struggle, similar to my own and that of gay people (especially religious ones) everywhere, is captured in the beautiful song fittingly entitled "Who Am I?", since that is the question I and so many of us are wrestling with.

First off, Valjean is a highly visible community leader, something I can relate with to some small degree as a leader in the ward, the Republican Party, and Student Government (in the which settings being homosexual is comparable to being an ex-convict--complete with all the trappings of societal stigma and labels). "I am the master of hundreds of workers / They all look to me..."

Secondly, Valjean faces a fork with a difficult path down either road. "If I speak, I am condemned / If I stay silent, I am damned." [How appropriate given today is the National Day of Silence for oppressed LGBTQ people!] Sometimes I feel like my options are equally discouraging: condemnation on one side, and damnation on the other. Like us MoHos, Valjean has to deal with a considerable amount of guilt.

Thirdly, Valjean does not want to live a life based on deception and denial; nor do I. "Can I conceal myself for evermore? / ...And must my name until I die / Be no more than an alibi? / Must I lie?"

Finally, Valjean confronts issues of shame, conscience, and obligation to God, just as I do: "How can I ever face my fellow men? / How can I ever face myself again? / My soul belongs to God, I know / I made that bargain long ago / He gave me hope when hope was gone / He gave me strength to journey on..."

In the end, Jean Valjean presents his true identity and faces the consequences because he knows it is the right thing to do. Increasingly, I think it may be the right thing for me to do, too.



I've returned from my spring break trip, and little progress has been made. However cliche it may be, "inner turmoil" is really the only way to describe it. I have achieved some clarity by reading Carol Lynn Pearson's Goodbye, I Love You and also Peculiar People, but no ultimate conclusion has been reached (not that I really expected to arrive at one so soon). I have had the following thoughts, though, and their wide variation shows you the extreme range of my considerations:
  • Given the Church's contradictions on the subject, why should I accept its current prescription for homosexual members? In the past, misunderstanding led to advocating aversion (shock) therapy; the Church now admits that both the practice and the thinking that led to it are wrong. Is it inconceivable that this is the case now, only with celibacy instead of aversion therapy (and re-orientation therapy in general) misguidedly presented as the more righteous alternative?
  • Is my mortal sexuality worth my eternal Priesthood, family, and salvation? (How would the former affect the latter?)
  • God's commandment to "mulitply and replenish the earth" is still in effect; the phrase was actually used in my baby blessing!
  • Adoption is an eternal principle, utilized by our Heavenly Father in the great Plan of Salvation. Aren't we, in many cases, adopted into a tribe of Israel?
  • There are exceptions to some commandments. For instance, "Thou shalt not kill" does not apply to soldiers in combat. (Besides, the Church regularly weds sterile men and women.)
  • Sometimes we are placed in a dilemma of mutually-exclusive imperatives. Such was the case for Adam and Eve, who were told both to replenish the Earth and to not eat the fruit that enabled them to multiply. Were they necessarily wrong and right choices? Were both options right? ...In any case, only one option enabled them to fulfill their full potential according to the plan set for them. (These same questions and statements could apply to homosexuality.)
  • Would my life be fuller living with my emotional/social/sexual needs fulfilled with a gay lifestyle, or with my spiritual/religious/familial needs fulfilled as a member of the Church with the companionship of the Holy Ghost?
  • Sexuality is only one part of a relationship. Hopefully, I am not so shallow as to marry for looks, no matter which gender. If I was, then, looking for someone to grow into old age with, would the sexual aspect of the relationship really even matter that much, at the end of the day?
  • In the Celestial Kingdom, according to revealed understanding of the Plan of Salvation, there will exist only one-man-one-woman marriages.
  • If the above is the case, why did the Church practice polygamy? Why are men allowed to be sealed to more than one woman even to this day? Surely there must, then, be exceptions to the rule that "marriage is between a man and a woman".
  • The Church's understanding is gradually growing. Although homosexuals may indeed be fully accepted by the Church one day, it is my duty to faithfully await that day as a worthy member of the Church, considering all of the Gospel knowledge I have been blessed with. How could I dare proclaim I am somehow "ahead of the Church" or worse yet, the Prophet?
  • Would living a life at odds with that knowledge consign me to an eternal fate of outer darkness and the accompanying wailing and knashing of teeth? Is that a risk I want to take unless God Himself tells me what He allows?
  • "How long halt ye between two opinions?" I intend to struggle with this for as little time as possible, then make a final decision and continue with my life without looking back. I can clearly imagine my life in a gay relationship, and I can clearly imagine my life in the Church, and both scenarios evoke both pain and joy. Therefore, more clarity might be achieved by relying not only on my own vision, but on that of a patriarch (I plan on being interviewed for a patriarchal blessing as soon as I get back from yet another trip that I am embarking on). I intend for this "inner turmoil" business to be a temporary, not permanent, state of mind, and I hope I can reach a decision sooner rather than later. I am striving to be in tune with the Spirit as I go through this process.

I am sure I am not the first one to entertain these thoughts in these circumstances. Any advice from those who have been there and done that?