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Sunday, October 23, 2005

Me and Daniel after hitting the town. Posted by Picasa

The "Outing" of Jay Christianson

Mom tells the family that I’m gay at our family FHE

6pm September 25, 2005

I recorded this so that I would never forget what was said. I also have the transcription of exactly what was said to the family during our family FHE on Sunday night. But who wants to read the whole thing? You can read the summary I’ve created here.

  1. Jay is gay – mom and dad were surprised. Everyone else will probably be surprised too.
  2. Jay did not choose this. It’s not something he can change.
  3. Mom and Dad have prayed to know this.
  4. They ask my siblings to not try and persuade me to not be gay.
  5. They want a good life for me.
  6. They want me to find a good partner to spend my life with. (similar morals etc.)
  7. Jay has a strong testimony—we don’t want this to change.
  8. Mom and dad ask that everyone simply love me—that’s it.
  9. Mom has said some hurtful things to me, and she feels bad. She apologized.
  10. Mom had a revelation that she needed to trust me on this issue.
  11. Mom and dad agreed that they had confirmation that their role was to love and support me, and keep the family together on this issue.
  12. Mom blanked and couldn’t remember any of the other things she wanted to say.
  13. Dad points out that he and mom knew nothing about this academically.
  14. Dad has been doing research with mom in sources I have given them.
  15. Dad said that mom has fasted and prayed about this a lot!
  16. Dad said that the only reason for telling the family was to show by example that the family simply needs to love me and support me.
  17. Dad relays the BOM anecdote of Nephi slaying Laban—despite the fact that this would break commandments previously given by the Lord, Nephi does what he is prompted to do.
  18. Dad says there is not much information from the brethren on this issue.
  19. Dad points out that there is some information, BUT, he says that he just wants to help and support me. (this is important—I will talk about this later)
  20. Dad says that this is a long road to understanding—it has been for them.
  21. Dad says that this experience gives our family the opportunity to have more compassion and empathy and love and charity for all mankind.
  22. Dad recalls the revelatory experience mom had the previous night.
  23. Mom says that after the revelation, she didn’t want to keep this to herself.
  24. I point out that I wanted to tell everyone individually.
  25. Mom says that she “talked me into telling everyone” so her revelation would still be fresh in her mind.
  26. Mom again says that she and dad are telling everyone to show the family an example of love so that no one would judge me. She asserts that a heterosexual life is being like everyone else, and that is what I would have chosen were I given the option. I was not given the option.
  27. Mom made reference to my FHE for gay and lesbian Return Missionaries predominantly, although many LDS kids attend.
  28. There was some discussion of mom’s revelation – again I wanted everyone to hear that mom had learned that she just needed to trust me on this issue. (This makes sense on many levels. More about this later.)
  29. Mom and dad begin talking about the resources I have given them. (Just so everyone knows, these resources up to this point are list below):
    • DVD about LDS LGBT people as a resource to help families like ours.
    • Peculiar people, a book to help families and friends understand this issue from an LDS perspective. Very fair and evenly discussing all view points.
    • An article about how saints can understand homosexuality and accept their gay brothers and sisters as exceptions.
    • Two pamphlets that are important in that they were release from Deseret Book recently. They point out that this is not a choice and it can not be changed.
  1. Mom and dad explain they always believed this is something people choose.
  2. Mom and dad explain that research shows that reparative therapy does not work.
  3. Mom and dad explain that marriage is not the answer.
  4. Mom states that she believes not giving support is wrong. She says it leads to suicide and health risks. (She says AIDS, but AIDS is not just a gay thing. It’s something that sexually active individuals who are unsafe can get and spread. Gay, straight, whatever.)
  5. We discuss Magdalena. I point out that she is a huge advocate now.
  6. We discuss talking about my orientation with people outside of our immediate family.
  7. I explain that I’m fine with family talking about this with others, if people ask.
  8. Mom says that when people find out, my family members should just say, he’s my brother and I love him. She explains that as a family we need to support me.
  9. I tell the family that I am not going to lead a celibate life. I explain that I want to spend my life with someone that I love just like everyone else in the family. I think this is “natural” and healthy and fulfilling. This will make me happy. I ask for everyone to be supportive.
  10. I also explain that I plan on bringing the people I’m dating to the family gatherings just as anyone else would in the family.
  11. I explain that I need some time to collect my thoughts—I will get them out to the family in an email.
  12. I explain what the book Peculiar People is about – written be people who are either gay or related to gays, and also by academics including articles by well known BYU professors.
  13. I ask if anyone has any comments
  14. Michelle loves and supports me (thank you Michelle, I really am glad that we got some time to talk. You are a kind and wonderful person.)
  15. I explain that I would like to provide information for family members to become educated.
  16. Dad says that there’s a lot of confusing material out there. You need to get your material from me.
  17. Dad points out that there is personal revelation for those who seek it. Mom had personal revelation that dad feels is important for our family.
  18. I point out that you are absolutely GOING to hear negative things about homosexuality. I ask that you come to me with questions that you may have on this subject.
  19. Brittany asked how I feel about the possibility of being excommunicated.
  20. I explain that I don’t feel great about that, obviously. However, I also don’t think that God would want me to be excommunicated over this issue. I have to be patient with members of the church.
  21. Dad says that there are about 10% of the worlds population who are also gay.
  22. I point out that in each ward and stake that would be quite a few.
  23. Mom corrects me and says that it would be more than my estimate—40 in our ward of 400
  24. I explain that most LGBT(Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) people go inactive.
  25. I explain that president Hinkley has said that he is not an expert on this issue and thus there is a lot he does not know.
  26. I pointed out that my testimony is founded in Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon. I state that in Romanized Jerusalem (where homosexuality was not only prevelant but also accepted) Christ said nothing to condemn homosexuals. Joseph Smith, and the Book of Mormon also say nothing to condemn homosexuality although all three had no problem condemning wrong practices. The bible, however, does mention homosexuality. Paul and Moses are the only ones to say things. And since we ignore so much of what Paul and Moses say, it’s strange that we cling to what they purportedly have to say with regards to homosexuality. The few verses that do mention it are questionable as to whether they are referencing our modern day understanding of a monogamous homosexual coupling. More on that at another time. Books have been written on this subject and if you want I can tell you the titles that you can look up.
  27. Brittany also asks if this is a recent phenomenon or whether or not it has always been around.
  28. I point out that it’s been around since the beginning. Here are some famous people that are known to be gay:
    • Socrates
    • Leonardo De Vinci
    • Michelangelo
    • Alexander the Great
    • James I of England
    • Louis XIII
    • Queen Mary II
    • Richard I “The Lion Hearted”
    • Tchaikovsky
    • Hans Christian Anderson
    • Walt Whitman

Mormon Mom Revelation

Mom’s revelation that she told me about when I called her back:

11:30am Sept. 25, 2005

Mom talked to me about her sleepless night following some unkind things she had said the previous day. She felt bad about these things she had said. She told me that after hours of not being able to sleep, having prayed and fasted (now a couple of times), she had a revelation that she needed to share with me. While she was awake in bed, she realized that she should whole-heartedly trust me on this issue. It was at the moment she felt this (that what she needed to do was to trust me), that she finally felt peace. She then was able to sleep. Again, it was on the phone the next morning that she told me all of this. However, she had decided that she was going to tell the family, and I could either be there when she did it, or she could do it and let me know how it went. Of course, it did occur to me that she was ignoring the prompting she had so recently received, but mom was determined, and after praying about it, I decided that I would go along with this for mom’s sake. Though, I still feel this was not the best option and not what I would have done if the decision were totally in my hands.

To repeat the important stuff: Mom said she felt a sense of peace knowing that she needed to trust me on this issue. That was it, nothing else—trust Jay on this issue and things will be okay.

Phone Message

Mom’s phone message left on my cell trying to persuade me to let her tell the family about my homosexuality that night:

11:11am Sept. 25, 2005

Hi Jay, sorry about that quick cut off last time, but um, somebody was coming…I just wanted you to know that hey, I wanna, I want to…we read three chapters last night, um, and one of them said that we need to be honest and open, and I totally agree. And Jay, we will…I had a little revelation last night, and we’re going to support you, okay? I’m gonna support you, um, whole-heartedly, but um, yeah, we need to get it out in the open. Okay, Love you lots, give me a call. Bye.]

Upsetting Conversations

Mom, dad and I had a series of fairly upsetting conversations. They weren’t reading much of what I gave them anymore. They had not yet gotten to the second half of Peculiar People.

Sept. 24, 2005 starting at 8am

Mom called and suspiciously wanted me to tell everyone ASAP—“Over the phone if necessary.” Confused, I told her that I wanted to do this in my own time. This was, after all, my issue and not hers. I felt like it would be good to approach this issue prayerfully and slowly. Mom’s persistence and the fact that she was calling so early led me to believe that she had told someone in the family and didn’t want to come clean. In fact, instead of just telling me what had happened, I suspected that she now wanted me to tell others only so that I would think that my news had come from me first. This was, in fact, the case. After this revelation, we had a conversation about where things stood. Mom didn’t want to tell people that they needed to ask me about my personal life if she were asked direct questions. Instead, she felt that in order to be honest, if people asked personal questions about me, she must answer them. It is not worth it to explain right now why this is certainly not logical, but it’s not. Nor is it true. The fact is, she wanted to answer these questions. I was sad because I wanted to tell my siblings myself, and in my own time. I was disappointed because mom had promised me that she would not tell anyone. I was frustrated that a combination of nosiness on the part of the inquirer, and diminished discretion on the part of the informant, led to this predicament.

I forgive all of those involved. I love them, they are my family, but at that moment I was let-down. I had wanted to do this differently.

At some point, I told mom that I was uncomfortable being at home with the family that weekend. I didn’t want to accompany certain particulars to the farewell that Sunday morning. I also needed some time to heal and figure out how to proceed. For reasons not worth discussing, mom wasn’t happy with my not wanting to go to church with them and after calling dad; dad informed me that they were not going to support me anymore. It was reminiscent of an Alfred Hitchcock blackmail plot line. Effectively, I was told that I was on my own. After a fairly long conversation now with dad, dad agreed that this attitude was not in line with the teachings of Christ. We agreed to have further conversations the following day. I was exhausted emotionally. I was not looking forward to the next day.

Mom, dad, I’m gay!

This is a fact I had known for many years

10am-7pm August 1, 2005

I told dad in the morning. I told mom in the early afternoon. We shed a lot of tears. Actually, I shed a lot of tears. It’s just hard to tell people even though I had found reconciliation for my self a long time ago. I knew that they would be disappointed, even though this was nothing I had chosen. I hated that they would be disappointed. It’s like being born with brown eyes to parents who want a blue-eyed baby and your parents are disappointed, only, babies can’t see or understand the expression on their parents faces. I knew that I would see their disappointment and hear all of their thoughts based on the misinformation that we spread in our society.

We ended up talking until 7pm. I gave mom and dad the book Peculiar People to read and asked that they read it in two weeks. They promised to do as much. It’s a book that even-handedly deals with issues relating to homosexuality and Mormonism. The first part of the book is a series of essays by LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) saints and those who know them. The second half is very academic, written by LDS physicians, psychiatrists, religious leaders, scientists and various scholars (including several BYU professors). I also gave them a guide for helping LDS families dealing with homosexuality printed by Deseret Book. Oh, and we watched the first of three documentaries by a group called “Resources for Latter-Day Saints to Understand Homosexuality.” I did this so that as I came out to my siblings over the next few months, Mom and Dad would have educated answers for my siblings with questions.

Journal Entry 1

I was first introduced to blogging by my friend and companion Daniel during Fall Semester 2005. I didn't really understand it when he introduced me to this concept, and I'm not sure I do today. However, I have learned that a blog can basically be anything you want it to be. With that in mind, I have created this blog as a way to describe what I'm going through, both the good and the bad. The fact is, I'm gay and I'm Mormon. For those unfamiliar with these two ideas, here's the bottom line: Mormon's have developed a distaste for gays over the last century and are currently at the head of the anti-gay political movement.

To begin, I was born and raised in Utah. I'm the second to youngest in my family which correlates nicely with genetic studies on homosexuality which demonstrate that the youngest children in larger families are more predisposed to homosexuality. I love my family, even though they drive me crazy every now and then. I am currently studying at the University of Utah. I have studied at Brigham Young University in the past. I served a mission for the LDS church in the London, England mission. I love to sing and dance and am quite good at both. I'm a huge fan of industrial design, engineering and urban development. And happily, that's what I get to study in school. Lucky me.

So, if you have questions just ask. If I like your questions (and/or you), I'll probably respond.