Yesterday my dad told me to meet him and his brother--a newly-made bishop--and I could tell right off that I would be the subject matter of a long and grueling discussion. I went, and it was a grueling, often painful, two hours, though some good may have come of it. For one thing, my uncle grew up with the same prejudices as my dad but has softened his stance since becoming a bishop: he now agrees that same gender attraction (the term he insists on using) is real, not chosen, and possibly incurable. It was good for my dad to see that, and was the most positive part of the ordeal.
On the other hand, some very hurtful things were said. After much talking my uncle said, "Our relationship depends on the choices you make." He then said he'll always care for me, but subtly suggested that he wouldn't always love me. And though this may not be the exact wording, he also said, "And sometimes people don't want gay people [whom he defined as people having physical homosexual relations] around their kids...and there's some truth to that. There's disobedience. And once you have a physical relationship with a man, it doesn't matter whether he's forty years old, or ninety years old, or six years old--it's all about the physical gratification, the pleasure." (Afterward I called my aunt--an aunt on the other side of the family and my biggest (only?) source of real family support--and bawled as I related this conversation to her. She was very sympathetic, loving, and understanding--"You shouldn't have to hear that," "That makes my blood boil," and "You know that's not true, right?" It really helped to get it off my chest, and to feel her love and compassion.)
My uncle believes that "SSA" is not a disease or a condition but a temptation like gambling, drinking, or committing adultery. He insists on using the term "same sex attraction" because he feels the word "gay"--which I made the mistake of using a couple of times--describes purely the action. In his mind, SSA = feeling, gay = action. I tried to explain that celibate/Temple-married members of the Church sometimes describe themselves as "gay", but he said this is a terminological mistake. And why, you might ask, did he care so much about this? Because the distinction enables him to care for "people with same gender attraction" and still hold on to his prejudice towards "gay people". Because I didn't (and don't) accept this--and because I do accept myself and my feelings--he said several times, "It sounds to me like you've already given up."
"You need to fight this thing like you would fight a war," my uncle the bishop said, which makes sense if you consider homosexuality to be a temptation. When I pointed out that the casualties of this war are often ourselves--gay Mormons who end up committing suicide because they ultimately can't change themselves--he said, "It's not like suicide and living the gay lifestyle are your only two options." So, following Abe's advice, I told him I know I have a range of options, and that these include Temple marriage and celibacy. Surprisingly--and then again, not so surprisingly--he was strongly opposed to celibacy, saying, "Don't you believe that your children are up in heaven watching you, rooting for you, and their children, and their children, and their children? Don't you believe that they're all up there, hoping you'll make the right choice?"
Note: The following contains content some may consider explicit.
Notwithstanding, he brought up subjects that have given me cause for much thought (both before the conversation and after it), such as the concept of my children watching me from heaven, and the eternal consequences of whatever choice I make. Another is this (and again, the precise wording may have been a bit different, but I have attempted a very close rendering):
"The anus is simply not designed for sex--the vagina is. The anus is not meant to house the penis--the vagina is. A woman can sleep with a man every day of a [sexual] lifetime and not have any physical problems. A man can sleep with a woman every day for however many years he lives and not have any physical problems from it. But a man who sleeps with a man--AIDS is
only one of the diseases you can get. A man sleeps with a man...and it'll get you eventually."
This is a real issue for me--how a woman's body and a man's body naturally complement each other, but at the end of the day the same cannot honestly be said of two men's bodies. Sure, people can get STIs from having sex with members of the opposite sex, but the fact is that two monogamous partners of opposite genders can have a physical relationship that will not endanger either's health. And anyone--gay or straight--can see that the anus truly was not meant for intercourse. For one thing, it is a hotbed for infections and disease. For another, anal sex is often painful and frankly, messy. (Of course, I don't have any first-hand experience in any kind of sex, but what I report here is taken from the experience of others.)
These things--the nitty gritty details of homosexual intercourse--have always been a principal hang-up for me. While the idea of heterosexual sex sometimes makes me uneasy as well, there
usually aren't any lubricants involved. There is no need for oral dams. And in the case of a pair devoted exclusively to each other, condoms aren't necessary either.
So I'm curious, what do you think? Do you agree with my uncle? How do you respond to a claim that while hetero sex enables life, gay sex eventually ends it? Do you find the homosexual sex act unnatural, as opposed to the heterosexual sex act?
I suppose some might advise me to ignore the details for now and "cross that bridge when I come to it". But in this case, the details are important. Sometimes the small things are windows into the big things.
Please do note that I have enabled anonymous commenting to help facilitate a direct dialogue and a straightforward exchange of ideas. (And yes, I did see the joke opportunity there:)