01 December 2010

ART: Who do you think you are?

I love Christina Perri's song Jar of Hearts and the beautiful music video that was produced for it. It became popular after an episode of So You Think You Can Dance where a couple danced to the song. It was due to that episode that dance so heavily influences the music video.
It tells the story of a heartless man-whore who gets girls to fall in love with him only to crush their hearts. He's definitely the villain of this story. But when I listen to these lyrics, I relate it to the situation many people like me (gay LDS people) face. It then becomes, to me, a desperate argument against the society that embraces moral conventions that supports intolerance. Listen to the speaker as he/she desperately addresses society (religion, governments, other social constructs). Sometimes I personify the society as someone like the Pope (who to me, represents both religious and political power) or, specific to the LDS culture, a bishop or stake president, etc.

I think people who feel driven away from the church are often given insult to injury. They go to church and are hurt by things that are done and said to them by members and leaders alike. Then, when they express how they've been hurt, members say, "well, you choose to be offended. There is no good reason for you to leave. People only leave because they want to justify their sins." It becomes the fault of the disaffected member for the treatment they received. And then people wonder why they don't come back:
I know I can't take one more step towards you
Cause all that's waiting is regret
And don't you know I'm not your ghost anymore
You lost the love I loved the most
The last two lines may be interpreted as the speaker saying- "I don't belong to you anymore. The dead ghost that I was in your cruel hands no longer exists! My love was sincere. The deepest love I've felt. And you've lost it." In application to disaffected members, I feel like many of them really did have a true love of the gospel. A lot of people go through a great deal of pain when they realize that they must distance themselves from the church so that they can live some sort of healthy, happy life.
I learned to live half alive
And now you want me one more time
Gay members of the church are asked to and expected to live half a life. They are asked to never express their real love for members of the same sex. They are asked never to hope for a relationship with the person they love. The are asked to live celibate lives and to wait for death to have their natural feelings "fixed" so that they are normal and can then be given permission to be acted upon. They are asked not to associate with others like them (gay individuals). The hope to have a family of their own in this life is taken from them. If this isn't what it means to live half a life- a life without love, I don't know what does.
And who do you think you are
Running 'round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You're gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
So don't come back for me
Who do you think you are
I hear you're asking all around
If I am anywhere to be found
But I have grown too strong
To ever fall back in your arms
Watching the church that I grew up in, served in, and preached for tearing the ability for two people who love each other to get married away from them is hard. Who do they think they are? Wasn't agency and freedom of choice the plan of Christ? Was it not Satan who would have us enslaved, forced to act only within the bounds that are set for us?

I think the Church is catching a cold from this icy issue. Individuals, families, wards, and communities are being torn apart by the ways the church has been so involved in the politics of it. For many, this is the last straw, the pain is too much for them and they are shutting the doors. They are telling visitors from their old wards assigned to invite them back- "don't come back." They are gaining the strength to stand up for themselves and maintain their dignity.
And it took so long just to feel alright
Remember how to put back the light in my eyes
I wish I had missed the first time that we kissed
Cause you broke all your promises
And now you're back
You don't get to get me back
It takes a lot of hard work, tears, and spiritual agony to get to a good place after being hurt so badly by people who claim to be acting in the name of Christ. When I found light in my eyes again, when I felt the spirit in be come alive again, it was nothing short of miraculous. I forgot what it was like to feel that. And once I found it, part of me regretted not taking my own path sooner. Some people feel as if they would have been better off if they were never introduced to the church... if they had never tasted the kiss of betrayal by organized religion at all. The promises to share our burdens, mourn with us, and comfort us were broken.
And who do you think you are
Running 'round leaving scars
Collecting your jar of hearts
And tearing love apart
You're gonna catch a cold
From the ice inside your soul
Don't come back for me
Don't come back at all

Who do you think you are?

Who do you think you are?
Who do you think you are?
Who do you think you are?


Invictus Pilgrim said...

Nice post. So true, so true ...

apronkid said...

That's a great music video. The song really is a symbol of what happens often to gay mormons. Your right: the Church is "catching a cold." They say there's no cure for the common cold... but I hope there's a cure for this one.

Jeff in Colorado said...

Wow... I was really surprised to see your post. I downloaded that song a few weeks ago because it spoke to me as it did to you: Rather than a man going around collecting broken hearts, the lyrics seemed to fit my view of the icy soul of the corporate church collecting the hearts of their homosexual members without regard to the pain they were causing.

You might also like Sarah Bareilles' "Breathe Again" for the same reason.


Anonymous said...

I love the leaders of the Church, President Monson is hilarious, and loving, President Eyring is so sweet, and endearing, President Uchtdorf is sincere, and refreshing. It is hard to believe that the church is failing us. I can't shake the feeling that it is though. I want so much to believe that all the doubts and fears I have are from Satan, and that all I have to do is go to church and be the champion they want me to be, but it's starting to feel fake. I honestly believe, and have a testimony of the truths that the Gospel has, and that right now the Church is the best vehicle if you will for that Gospel to be understood. But, for me and my situation? I honestly don't know, all I feel is confused, and scared, and so terribly lost. I know Heavenly Father is always with me, but there are times where I need something concrete, someone to physically be there for me. I want to love and be loved is that so hideous an idea that it can't even be talked about, that it's made fun of? I think not, but I still don't have any answers. Thanks for your post, you are so thoughtful, honest, and the way you care so much about helping is remarkable. You are an example to me. I see why he loves you too.

Gay Mormon said...

@Mike- Thanks a lot bud. Don't think of the leaders as failing us. I think they are doing the best they can with the knowledge and experience they have. They are men too. When you mother or sibling makes a mistake do you think they are failing you?

I am not going to say that those doubts and fears you feel are from Satan. They are real concerns. I thought for a long time that I was the one with the problem. Because everything I was taught pointed the blame at me. If I wasn't feeling the spirit at church, it was my fault. If I didn't agree with something, I must have been wrong. I went on continuing to feel like I was the one to blame until it came to the point where sitting in church made me want to literally die. That can't be what God would want me to feel.

Remember that the gospel and the church are different things. Think about what Christ taught. Read his actual words. They will comfort you. They will not condemn you.

When I came to terms with my sexuality and accepted that part of me, I started to meet guys and talk with them. Then date. For years I was haunted by the idea that taking that step would be the death of my spirit. It would mean pain, and guilt. But to my surprise, being with another guy didn't feel wrong to me at all. In fact, if felt right! For the first time, it felt natural to hold a person's hand, embrace, kiss. Then I looked back and realized that back before I had ever done anything about being gay was when I felt the guilt, he pain, the spiritual death. It was backwards!

I can honestly say that I feel no guilt about dating, and perusing a relationship with another guy. NONE. And you might say, how could that be? I could never feel that way. But I used to think that too, until I embraced the person I was and accepted the way I love.

Now, if you want to go on a mission, I wouldn't suggest doing that just yet. A mission is a good experience. It is a growing experience. And since right now, being gay and being a missionary isn't acceptable, you have to decide which one is more important for the next couple years. If you absolutely need to go on a mission, put all your energy and focus into that, and leave this issue alone to deal with it when you get back.

Anonymous said...

Okay I just wrote you an email saying I'l talk tomorrow, but I need to reply to this...

You're right I don't think they're failing us, they are doing the best they can. It helps to think of it like that.

Christ is The Comforter, The Light, I see what you mean, I agree I don't think He would condemn me!

Meeting guys? DATING?! Wow, I am honestly excited but concerned, well scared really...You're right about thinking it would be the death of everything to me, I have thought that very often in my life. Thinking of it the way you do though, makes sense, and feels right! It feels like it would be amazing, and natural, and GUILTLESS?!! That is so worthwhile, and beautiful to hear!

I'm not sure about my mission, there is a lot to consider, I'm not going to make the decision tonight. I know what you mean about putting all my energy and focus on that, and letting this issue go, but I'm sort of in an annoying bind, because I talked to my Stake President about it he recommended counseling, and now the counselor recommended I stay for additional therapy for another six months. I'll sleep on it. Ha ha okay seriously we're both going to go to bed now!

Trev said...

Wow, what sensible advice about a mission. I second it! Do it! It's so worth it!

Mike, that's really too bad about the therapy recommendation holding you up. Pray about it, and be frank with your Stake President as appropriate. Personally, I think the experience you would gain from a mission will help you in coming back and addressing later issues because you will be used to going out of your comfort zone and trusting the Lord and you will have a better sense of self and what is really important to you. That's how it's been for me, at least.

You know your stake president. Try to see your applying to serve a mission from his perspective. Why might he be concerned about it given his stewardship and his personality and attitude toward it? What can you assure him of, frankly and honestly, that will allay his concerns?

However it turns out, I hope you can be happy with your choice and that it can set you out on the right foot for what's coming ahead.

Anonymous said...

Hey thanks Trev, I will definitely be as honest as possible. I need to process some things, before I can though. Really, thank you for your concern, and I hope that I'm going in the right direction too. Have to give a shoutout to Gay though, ha ha he's legit, and has been an amazing friend. ( =

bradcarmack said...

How insightful! That's a very expressive way to convey what you wanted to communicate. I've sometimes reflected that it is quite the irony to preach a doctrine that makes death seem so incredibly much more attractive than life for a rather large group of people. Such a gap unsurprisingly suggests suicide and kills hope for making the attempt to attain one of the most sought-after prizes available to mankind: mortal marital bliss. I see the other side that may come with the addition of a longer-term perspective. Perhaps you'd be interested in reading and/or doing a review of my book about this stuff (http://bradcarmack.blogspot.com/2010/10/homosexuality-straight-byu-students.html). Let me know.
Thanks for sharing!

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