I am reading a book right now on Mormonism and Homosexuality. I guess I've taken that challenge by BYU to be a "lifetime learner," but I'm sure that BYU wouldn't approve that the subject of my continued study is on this topic. The book is entitled, "Conservative Christian identity & same-sex orientation: the case of gay Mormons." I read a lot on this topic. It isn't so that I can somehow find away to "justify" myself because I am already quite comfortable with who I am and feel no need to justify it to myself. I do, however, feel the need to do what I can to clear up misunderstanding and add to the conversation so that I might help others who are and will be going through the awful place where they engaged in a full out war with themselves between their identity and their faith. For this reason, I find it important to find out what has already been said about the issue. Sadly, this blog is far more accessible to people who might benefit from material on this matter than books are. The ones who might benefit most would be too embarrassed to buy a book with such a title, and wouldn't be caught dead reading such a thing. But a blog... well, you can access it from the privacy of your own computer and can even delete it from your browsing history.
Anyway, point is, I like to read, learn, listen and then report on what I have found. At the beginning of the book it stars talking about the label "deviant." Homosexuality was, and still is, considered "deviant" behavior. Who labels it as such? The book calls them "Moral Entrepreneurs." This power to extend the label of "deviant" belongs to powerful people and interest groups who make rules and brand those who break them as deviants in order to further their political aims, protect their power, extend their influence, and enhance their prestige. These Moral Entrepreneurs are kept in business by their vested interests and values.
Now, there is a problem with this labeling system. Just because someone believes that something ought to be a certain way doesn't mean that it is. The other problem is the way individuals react to being labeled as a deviant. According to studies by sociologists, at first, they resist the label. But, "despite their efforts to resist it, they often find that because their opportunities in society are restricted by those who equate them with their label, they are forced into stereotypical behavior." An example that is given of this is the child labeled as "delinquent." The parents of other kids forbid their children from playing with the labeled child and he is forced to associate with the kids given the same label which perpetuates the stereotype of such a child. Think about the things that come to mind when you think about the "gay lifestyle," (a phrase I hate). In time, "individuals bearing the stigmatized label" begin to "incorporate elements of the label into their personality" and they begin to see themselves in terms of the label. This is why some people make radical changes int heir lives after coming out. Since orientation is such an integral part of the person, the status as a deviant becomes the loudest description of who they are. The label through which most people see them and through which they begin to see themselves.
I am not a deviant. Just because I am not what many people feel that I should be doesn't mean that what I am is wrong. Just because my life isn't the one you envisioned for me doesn't mean it is bad. I will not accept that label and will not see myself through those glasses. At least I will try. It is much harder than you can imagine. Let me explain.
After I came out, I started to make a lot of new friends. These friends were primarily gay. Why? Because the only people I felt comfortable with being myself around were other gay people who wouldn't judge me or be disgusted with my orientation. Around them, I don't have to hide any part of who I am. So who do I spend most my time with now? Other gay guys. It doesn't have to be this way. If society didn't label me as a deviant, if the church didn't label me as unnatural, I could feel comfortable among anyone. This is one of the biggest reasons I feel the need to "come out" to my extended family and friends and even to the church. When I feel as though I need to hide a part of me around them, I start to isolate myself from them. I will not be isolated from my family and friends. I will not be isolated from my faith. I will not accept a label that requires me to reinvent my life and make drastic changes to they way I live it.