10 October 2012

THT: "Mormons Building Bridges" is bad for the LGBT community

In my last post, I alluded to the fact that certain groups and people who from a distance seem progressive and helpful are actually becoming stumbling block for the LGBT community. I feel that experiences I've had over the past week have justified my speaking more plainly on the matter. Mormons Building Bridges is one of a few that I believe fit this category. I will explain why.

First, lets take a look what MBB says it is:
"[MBB] is dedicated to conveying love and acceptance to LGBT individuals. Acknowledging the sad history of strife and heartbreak within the LDS Church regarding issues of sexuality and gender identity, we seek to overcome past grievances and build new bridges of understanding and respect. Therefore, we facilitate communication and organizational efforts that help our gay brothers and sisters to feel supported in their life’s path and welcome in our homes and congregations. We are particularly focused on the plight of LGBT Mormon youth and hope to help curb the tide of LGBT Mormon youth homelessness and suicides. MBB is not sponsored by nor do we represent the LDS Church or any political party or caucus."
Sounds great right? I have to admit, I thought it would be a great group based on what the goals were. I had no preconceived notion that it was anything but good for the LGBT community as a whole, and specifically for those who have ever identified as Mormon. But lets read the fine print. I will bullet-point the conditions under each headline. The full text can be read on the MBB page here.

Membership
  • For anyone interested in building or finding support as pertaining to the issues of homosexuality, gender identity, and the LDS community
  • Only invite people who will respect the group's goals
  • After requesting to join, the potential member will receive a message from administrators who will ask them to abide by group guidelines
  • Pseudonyms not allowed (with few exceptions)
  • If a member blocks a group admin on facebook they will be removed
Participation
  • A place for fellowship and support and not political or doctrinal debates
  • Be civil and respectful of others
  • We want everyone to feel welcome
  • We do not promote specific philosophy/theology/ideology
  • Foul language, threats, harassment, and discrimination not allowed
  • Members are asked not to explicitly campaign for marriage equality on the Facebook group
Infractions of Guidelines
  • If a group admin determines a member is non-compliant to guidelines, they will be asked to modify, remove, or otherwise correct their post or comment
  • If member in question has not responded within one hour, the post/comment will be removed
  • Members will be removed and/or banned if admins determine that the member is not willing to comply with group rules
Quoting the Church's PR press release following Packer's offensive general conference talk:

"This [LDS] Church has felt the bitter sting of persecution and marginalization early in our history ... Our parents, young adults, teens and children should therefore, of all people, be especially sensitive to the vulnerable people in society and be willing to speak out against bullying or intimidation whenever it occurs, including unkindness toward those who are attracted to others of the same sex. This is particularly so in our own Latter-day Saint congregations. Each Latter-day Saint family and individual should carefully consider whether their attitudes and actions toward others properly reflect Jesus Christ’s second great commandment -- to love one another."
One thing you might be able to pick up on is the level of control the administrators assume over the members of this group. You must agree to a set of rules. You may very well be censored. You cannot debate politics or doctrine. You cannot explicitly advocate for marriage equality. And you can be kicked out and banned if the leaders see fit. Sound familiar? The group may not be endorsed by the LDS Church, but there sure is some resemblance.

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When I began to realize the sentiment within the group, I voiced my concern. I made a post that asked how the group intends to achieve it's goals without talking politics and policies. My reasoning was this: How is an LGBT youth to feel loved, supported, and accepted in a community that also seeks to delegitimize the love that child feels toward another of the same sex by seeking to prohibit same-sex marriage. How is that child to understand empty words of love and understanding when actions show that the love and understanding is limited and conditional. "We love you, support you and we understand how you feel, but don't you dare expect that we will support changing discriminatory policies that our leaders support."

The response to my question was outrage. More than a few people threatened to leave the group if it was going to allow people to suggest that we ask more of our community by way of ACTION rather than simply WORDS. One woman was shocked that I dare hint at the idea of rejecting the clear message by prophets of the Lord that marriage is only intended for a man and woman. I was shocked. I was soonafter reminded by an administrator that this was not a place to discuss politics.  

This was the group that was going to "convey love and acceptance to LGBT individuals?"


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This week I went to my first PFLAG meeting. I went with my boyfriend's mother who had been once before. I was shocked to find out that even though the Salt Lake Chapter has been established for 25 years it only had about 15 people there that night and only around 35 paying members. Membership is $35 a year. $15 of that goes to national, the rest is used by the chapter for things like reading materials that are supplied at booths that they run at several events. One of the more prominent women there expressed her shock that at a recent event, MBB was charging people $5 for a pamphlet. She said, "our whole purpose is to educate and get the information out there. We want to get that to anyone with even the slightest interest. And yes the pamphlet costs us $5, but putting that into the hands of an uninformed, but curious individual is priceless! We do not charge for information."

Okay, maybe she didn't say those exact words, but that was the gist of it. My point is, MBB boasts some 2,300 members. PFLAG in Salt Lake has 35. You'd think that with all those people wanting to convey love and support to the LGBT community would manage to hand out a few pamphlets free of charge. But the words of love and understanding and support just don't translate. Sure, it may have the affect of making people feel as if they are more understanding and loving than the average Mormon, but clearly there is a disconnect between words and action. Actions speak louder than words.

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Recently there has been a move to create a MBB choir. When a facebook friend messaged me about it, I responded that I didn't think my philosophy meshed with MBB. In fact, I knew it because of the quick backlash I received for sharing my opinions. Well, now- weeks later, the director of that choir has released a little information about why all their practices have been postponed and rescheduled and canceled over the past few weeks:
"As of now, rehearsals are postponed until further notice.

I had a meeting with MBB Leadership today and there have been some concerns addressed, ones which I will not go into right now. The president of MBB would like a week to pray, think, and talk to others about what to do.

The reason we no longer have a rehearsal space is that we failed to make sure the exact details of LDS Church policy. Yes, we did have someone recording audio for the NPR interview. We did not know how serious of an infraction this was, and we are to blame for that. They also stated that we were videotaping the rehearsal, a accusation that is 100% false. I am trying to speak to the LDS Leadership of that building, and of other churches and rehearsal spaces.


Due to the present situation, I am hereby cancelling the Circling the Wagons 
performance.

I must also inform you that, while MBB has not said yes or no to continuing to sponsor the choir, both myself and MBB leadership has discussed us breaking away from the MBB organization and continuing the choir without their name."
I wish this were surprising to me, but again... when it comes to action, groups like this seem to become a blackhole for the progressive action that needs to take place in order for our communities to be places of respect, tolerance, and love for LGBT persons. But why?

Because there will always be room for intolerance, prejudice, hatred, and bigotry as long as LGBT people are treated differently by the law. Change starts there. Imagine if African Americans decided that instead of demanding equality- instead of taking that seat on the bus or walking into that school or ordering from that bar they would just share stories to spread understanding and love. Imagine that they agreed not to talk about voting rights or desegregation as to not offend or push politics or ideology. Imagine that the mere suggestion that they march to Washington caused their alleged allies to turn their backs in rage. Where would that have got them?

And for those who think that it makes sense that the LGBT youth will feel love and support and understanding by joining a group that says you are reaching out to build a bridge when at the same time you refuse to consider or talk about politics and policy changes, I would ask that you consider this analogy.

Let us say that somehow all the godless non-mormons of Salt Lake got a law passed to make temple marriages illegal in Utah. If you were found to have participated in such a marriage, the consequences were these:
  • You're marriage would be considered null and void by the state
  • Insurance providers could refuse to cover anyone other than the employed individual (no family benifits)
  • Renters could evict you from your home
  • Employers could legally fire you for being married in the temple
  • Hospitals did not have to recognize family members, and therefore they had no visitation rights
You get the idea. But wait! There is a new group that has formed whose mission is to support temple-wedded couples and families. They want to reach out in love and understanding and make you feel valued and welcome in Utah. They want to build a bridge across the pit of suffering. But there are rules. You can share your story, but don't say anything to suggest that you should be granted equal recognition. Don't talk politics or policies. Don't try and organize a protect or march. If you become unruly, you will be promptly removed and banned. After all, this is a place for respect, love, and understanding! We have lives to change and people to save!

Do you feel the love? How about understanding? Respect?

I would hope that you would expect someone who claimed to understand, love, and support you to fight for your equality. To take your hand and sit with you in that seat on the bus. To help you carry those books into that segregated school. To order that drink for you from the man who hates you. I would hope that you would expect for that person to speak up in defense of your rights- especially to those in power. I would hope that you would expect that person to walk with you down the aisle on the day of your wedding and celebrate with you as you commit to cherish forever the one you love most in this world. You want to build a bridge? This is your chance.

36 comments:

Aaron and Stephanie said...

Absolutely YES!!! This was my experience with them in exactness. In fact, my own interactions were even more benign and were still censored. I was also subjected to much bullying and hostility...it was horrific. I have watched this cycle now repeat itself for months in MBB. The problem is the admins. They are highly controlling and have personal hidden agendas. This is a very suspect leadership, though I admit several members of the group (straight allies) were as confused and shocked as the gay participants. I am very glad of your blog entry here and can say "yes"....the admins are building a bridge to nowhere. BRAVO!!

Dean said...

I lost faith in MBB within a couple of weeks of the SLC Pride when they did not keep a prior agreement to post a notice about the other groups organizing Mormon marchers.

I understand that SLC has a great gay men's chorus. I'd suggest that people join it if they want to sing. The chorus where I live has welcomed me warmly on their board. They are my local family since no one else in my family lives where I live.

Stephen Jenkins said...

Yes, yes, and yes. I was a member of MBB towards the beginning but left about the same time as Aaron because of my frustration with how it was being administered.

As I watched the dialogue I was reminded of MLK's letter he wrote while in the Birmingham jail and his frustration with the White moderates. He wrote:

"I must make two honest confessions to you, my Christian and Jewish brothers. First, I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Councilor or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to "order" than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says, "I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action"; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another mans freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro the wait for a "more convenient season." Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating that absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."

This is the same type of attitude we see from MBB. Shallow understanding from people more interested in order than in justice.

KUATO said...

I am a straight ally and I joined MBB for exactly the reasons you might expect-- to encourage, console and validate our gay brothers and sisters and to confirm their divine nature- orientation and all.

Then, MBB deleted some of my posts and now I see how the wind lays. I post there now only sporadically. MBB isn't doing its mission and I have no idea why.

I am making new plans to express my love.

My message: God loves his gay and straight children and has a plan of happiness for everyone, and NO it is not a plan contrary to the natures given. I believe that IS the purpose for the restoration of the sealing power- to bind us all into cooperative families, the straight and the gay; we all belong.

Karen said...

I was a member of MBB and witnessed others being bullied as well as myself and also experienced the hostility of the administrators and a select few members who seemed to support them at any cost. I have witnessed a level of dishonesty and hostility that is no where near loving.

Doree said...

I'm sorry you feel this way and hope that you have found the type of structure that is helpful in other groups such as Breakthrough Branch. While I disagree with some of your take, I can certainly understand that each person is coming from a different point and needs and wants certain things.
In fairness though your paragraph about the $5.00 booklets is misleading. Yes there are over 2,000 members of MBB, but no one pays any dues so there are absolutely no funds for pamphlets or other materials. The booklets were purchased out of pocket by about three people. Surely you don't expect these regular working people to pay for everyone to receive a booklet. If the lady you referred to balked at paying $5.00, how could someone expect a few people to foot the bill of $1,500 for everyone at Pink Dot. The alternative would be to not have them there at all and just have people order their own from Dr. Caitlyn Ryan. We just wanted to make it faster and easier for people to get. I point this out just for a clarification, not to take away from your blog thoughts.
I can not say anything about the way MBBs structure affected you, because we are all, you and me both, entitled to our feelings and wishes for the way we want things to be run. I think though that we can all contribute to many great causes, not just LGBT ones, and that your approach, my approach, and Joe Schmoe's approach will all result in good things overall.

Brett Davis said...

MBB, is (to me) more about Mormons learning to "love one another" (and their neighbor) than about gay rights, which should continue to be fought for.

Most online forums have rules. As I understand it, MBB needs to be a safe place for Mormons to pull our heads out. Much like Dr. Ryan's $5 pamphlet, it's about meeting people where they are. That it's ok to not be homophobic. Baby steps.

As a moderator of some groups, and having been moderated on others, I can understand why MBB is set up the way it is.

I'm sorry I wasn't at the PFLAG meeting on tues to meet you, my plans for that evening were taken over by other family needs. I agree that it is pretty sad that there are so few attendees when there are so many on MBB and other groups.

Brett

Bryce Cook said...

Judging by the OP and most of the comments, MBB would appear to be a horrible organization. Yet when I go to the MBB page, I see wonderful stories, compassion, empathy, understanding - all the things the group seems to want to accomplish.

No organization can be all things to all people. There will always be someone who will be dissatisfied or take offense or think it should take a different approach. But to say that MBB is "bad for the LGBT community" seems to be a stretch. Maybe I'm blinded or uninformed, but I see MBB as a very good thing and the founding members as sincere, honest and charitable people with an honorable goal in mind.

Jonathan Adamson said...

Stephen Jenkins- OF COURSE MLK says it better than I could possibly say it. THANK YOU. That is exactly how I have felt.

Doree- Thank you for clarifying my comment on membership. What I was trying to get at was that if there are really that many people who are supposed seeking understanding and love, etc- couldn't they manage to raise a little money to support that understanding? PFLAG is only a group of individuals and families who have jobs and responsibilities too. Dues are NOT required. Somehow though, they manage to raise the money necessary to provide those reading materials for free. That is evidence to support their words of understanding and love. I'm sorry that there are only 3 people in the group willing to acquire materials. Isn't that a problem? Why are there only three? If everyone gave a dollar, you'd be set. But again, real action is not facilitated in that group environment... so it comes down to the goodwill of 3.

Brett- I think "loving one another" is a great thing to support and do. But much like the quote that MBB includes which was released by the church's PR department, it skips over the real issue. The issue was with Packer's talk and some offensive and misinformed language that he used. The PR department made sure to redirect that very specific issue and talk about bullying in general and the importance of loving everyone. This only dilutes the issue. If everyone had equal rights, sure- we can simply talk about loving everyone for their differences. But you can't love someone while also supporting ideology that ensures that they remain unequal. Again, think about the situation if Mormons were banned from having temple weddings. Does that method of showing love and understanding cut it?

Bryce= I agree that an organization can't be everything for everyone. But in the very purpose they talk about extending love and understanding and support to the LGBT community. I am part of the LGBT community. I am one in which the group claims to want to build a bridge between. Yet when we try and say this- that THIS is the way we feel truly understood and loved, backs are turned. You cannot represent a group of people without taking into account what their need/ideology is. The LGBT community in Utah is constantly having to live in the reality that their government, political leaders, employers, etc. are overwhelmingly Mormon. When MBB is getting national news that says, "hey look, Mormons are on the LGBT community's side!" it hurts those of us you look forward to REAL change in our community. It has taken the pressure off the church to deal with this issue.

This isn't just about a group, or the church. The harsh reality is that our secular lives are affected by the church's decisions and policies. They affect the laws of our state. They affect the opinion of our neighbors and employers. So, when a group takes upon them the goal of building understanding and love between the two sides, they better represent both sides equally. Otherwise it is only farce which fools the rest of the world into believing that Mormons are progressive on this issue and provides a perfect place for the church to hide silently since the group is no threat to the church, but gives good press.

So, if it is just about loving people and not bullying, then the group should be called "Mormons loving others." But don't give the world the idea that a real measurable bridge is being built between the LGBT community and the LDS Church unless that is what you are going to do.

derek geiger said...

In my opinion, it's a bit extreme to say that MBB is bad for the community. The group may not be run as one would prefer, and I do see where you're coming from, as I am a gay mormon myself. However, I have trouble condemning a group that has surfaced with good intentions. It wasn't THAT long ago that being a member of a group like that would get you excommunicated. This sort of change cannot be expected to be instant, and quite simply takes time. While I am absolutely proud to stand for my beliefs and to fight for what I know as right, we must be respectful of the opposite end of the spectrum. You can't expect opinions to be changed and hearts to be softened with the tactics of demands and and force. How on earth could a group like this be considered "bad for the community"? We will not see ANY change if groups like this don't exist. Members of the church and the church itself are not going to flip a switch and feel differently without ways of easing into it. It's how it begins.
I think having an attitude of gratitude for people even willing to speak up and support something like this goes a lot farther than slamming it and demanding more.

Anonymous said...

Derek, are you kidding me? So a black person in the 60's should have said "yes boss why thank you boss fa letting me use ya bathroom and be amongst ya folks" come on you are ridiculous!! So we should be GRATEFUL that these people are continuing to OPPRESS the gay community? Comments like yours make me sick.

Dorree Ashcroft your own husband was one of the people who was MEAN and rude to gay people on the page. I saw it with my own two eyes.

You people are up in the night if you think that page is anything but hurtful to the gay community.

Painfullyoffended said...

Derek are you part of MBB? Have you seen the amount of censorship, control and oppression taking place in the group? Have you seen how gay members of MBB have been pushed out? Deleted from the group just for speaking about Equality? If this Mormon group wants to speak about Mormon things, and have Mormon rules, and Mormon censorship then fine. But don't show up at gay prides and invite people to your group and then treat them like crap when they show up to share their stories and feelings.

Anonymous said...

As it was said prior people connect differently to different people and maybe b/c of the proximity of the SLC chapter the church headquarters has had an affect? Here in DC we marched and posted upcoming dates for marches across the states. Many even went up to NYC. Granted we did all of this thru Affirmation but MBB did host a Circle the Wagons conference which, with the exceptions of one brother, had great speakers! It tied our community together and gave us a starting point to build strength. A few started going back to church as out LGBT members. The LDS church, our church, has set doctrine and if your expectation of MBB was to witness a group that would change that doctrine maybe you had incorrect expectations. It is for helping one another be stronger, letting our LDS youth know that others have grown up in the church and they can survive!

As far as the choir thing...their building their rules. Find another church or venue that will let you have free reign. I am lucky enough to have the opportunity to sing with the Gay Men's Chorus of Washington DC, but would love a LGBT Mormon chorus:-)

Dean said...

I think there is one clarification to the comment about MBB sponsoring Circling the Wagons in DC. I think all Circling the Wagons conferences have been sponsored by Mormon Stories.

There are a number of Mormon LGBTQ affirmative groups. That is where some of the confusion comes in. Mormons for Marriage Euality organized the first Mormon Pride Parades in Portland and Seattle, but those parades were held in late June. MBB came along later but organized the SLC parade, which received the most publicity.

MBB may be somewhat of a safe house for the church member who wants to love their LGBTQ brothers and sisters, but an LGBTQ person will only get support from MBB by keeping quiet...and alone.

Jonathan Adamson said...

Derek- A few reasons I defend the idea that it is bad for the community. First reason, read the third comment on this post. MLK saw the white moderates as WORSE than the opponents. I think the white moderates parallel groups like MBB.

Secondly, although I recognize that it may help some of the Mormons involved the LGBT community in Utah (with whom they want to build a bridge with) cannot divorce themselves from the church. Unfortunately, our government, our neighbors, and our employers are overwhelmingly Mormon. So, we depend on measurable and real change within the church whether or not we affiliate with it. When groups like these (and even individuals that share this philosophy) step up and begin making statements about Mormons supporting the LGBT community, the country hears it. And while we are saturated by the culture here and know that this isn't an LDS position, the rest of the world translates those news articles as, "oh, the Mormons are really progressive on LGBT issues."

Since these groups and persons are no threat to the church (they don't talk or push politics, ect.) the church gains a double win. Good press AND a place to hide silent on the issue. A place where they don't have to address concerns or problems. That is bad for us in Utah because if the church is being given a place to remain stagnant, our rights are put on hold and our communities remain toxic. Meanwhile people start relieving pressure on the church to address LGBT issues because they think BYU made an "it gets better" video and the Mormon church is participating in Pride parades.

If this is just about getting Mormons to open up and be a little more informed and understanding, then do that in your wards and congregations. Speak up and inform your friends. Object to Sunday school lessons and comments that are based on fear and misinformation. THAT is where your approach belongs. BUT, when the group claims to be building bridges between the LGBT community and the LDS community by extending support and love and understanding and then refuses to listen to and consider the things that will make the LGBT feel loved and understood and accepted, they are only creating a farce which the world interprets as a progressive church that is a positive force in the lives of LGBT people when we know that the sad truth is, the church is still dangerous to our community.

Sara Long said...

I struggle repeatedly to comment, and find myself unable to. The trauma and pain MBB has caused is great, indeed. There are times it is so bad I have to absolutely shut it out and bury it.

I was technically the first one lied to and used by the then-newly formed group. Well, both me and my compadre Scott were. We worked very, very hard to launch the Mormon allies in Pride movement.

- They asked Utah Mormons for Marriage Equality to "stand down" and just make one big march, with the promise they'd promote our (already planned, but later-occurring) marches after we went to a great deal of effort to promote the SLC march, including inviting hundreds of people personally
- They prevented anyone who wanted to march in the parade with a sign supporting rights or equality from participating
- After SLC's march was over, they used the attention for self-promotion, and mentioned nary a word about Mormons for Marriage Equality. Nobody could even be referred to Mormons for Marriage Equality via their forum. Nobody was allowed to say that we even existed.
- Outright refused to follow through on their promise to promote our marches in exchange for the work we'd done for them
- They have ruthlessly banned people from their forum, including myself, who spoke up about rights for LGBT people
- They hosted a predator who was convicted of sex with a 15-year-old (he's 35ish) who violated his parole, and told multiple lies about it; they claimed his bishop and others were aware of his whereabouts but these were lies - and once EVERYTHING had been revealed, they continued to sit on the information for WEEKS without saying anything
- Tried to rustle up $75,000 for Kendall's movie from the community - very odd, as it's supposed to be near completion

Kendall Wilcox is speaking at the Affirmation conference in Seattle this weekend. I am not attending for this exact reason. I support the LGBT-LDS community to no end, and that means standing up against the hurt that MBB has wrought.

derek geiger said...

Jonathon- I can see how maybe the moderate may seem worse. But were we not all "moderates" at some point? I know I was, I had to ease into the idea of being gay and it sure wasn't an easy process. I didn't flip a switch instantaneously and and start fighting for my rights. I had to explore my opinions and find myself, and its the same for every person, is it not?
I ageee that it is unfortunate that they edit comments and discourage open discussion, however the mere fact that the group may even get some people to think about it is good work. How many Mormon members are against gay rights simply because it doesn't affect their lives? The church says no, so that's the way it is! Maybe if these members see something like this it could at least spark their own internal thought process. I just think its unrealistic to think that more drastic change could come from it at this point. This is a very small baby step.
painfully offended- Im not a member of MBB, I have not personally seen gay members being pushed out and censored. I agree that it is offensive and misleading and that's unfortunate. However like I said earlier perhaps this could at least spark discussion, personal pondering, or maybe plant the seed of change. I mean, it certainly has sparked discussion here, no?
Anonymous- respectfully, I fail to see a strong correlation between racism and gay rights, as I personally have never been forced to use separate facilities, been owned and traded, or been treated differently because of my sexual orientation. As I stated in my first comment, I will ALWAYS stand up for my beliefs and my rights. How does one react when met with force and oppression? That person shoves back. But when someone is met with tactful, respectful discussion I believe much more progress is made. That's the point I was trying to make. I'm sorry my opinion makes you "sick", but we are on the same side. As a gay man I want nothing more than equality and fairness for all.

Robert Anthony Pierce II said...

Amazing stuff! Thank you! This post helped me to crystalize my own inchoate ideas about how MBB is bad for us, and more specifically, whom it might be benefitting. I’ve been trying to figure it out since my initial unease at having been invited to march with them in the pride parade. Initially I responded to the invitation by pointing out that I am no longer Mormon and am actually gay myself. I was assured that this was OK and not out of the norm for the event. Indeed, when I began to see pictures of the marchers in the newspaper, I recognized the majority of them as gay people from various states of activity in the church. I was dismayed by the idea that that the whole movement was fake. It wasn’t Mormons building bridges at all, but rather gays pretending that Mormons were building bridges. And yeah, there were a few faithful Latter-Day Saints in the mix—maybe they were even more representative at the actual event than the press photos captured—but to me, something was amiss here.

The march itself seemed dishonest to me. Organizers were clear about the fact that they wanted their marchers to dress like Mormons attending church, even if they had to buy or borrow an outfit. A girl who might truly be an active Mormon would not be allowed to march if she had extreme piercings and a neck tattoo, while any anti-Mormon parolee off the street could march as long as he had on a suit and tie. I can understand the need to ensure that the political message intended be correctly visually displayed, but to encourage people to fake it is disingenuous. When I asked some of my gay friends about their participation in the march, they admitted that it might have been somewhat dishonest, but it felt good. Anecdotes were shared of individuals approaching the marchers with tears in their eyes and thanks on their lips. Those stories are exactly what makes me feel a deep shame about this movement. Would those grateful people have been so moved if they’d known that they were thanking a bunch of similarly-oppressed but well-meaning fakes? That the church itself (regardless of how many faithful members were marching) was not in actuality building any sort of bridge?

I kept picturing the Ku Klux Klan officially saying sorry to the blacks, oh we love you now, and then a breeze carries off the speaker’s sheets and it’s just a black man under there, just trying to make his fellows feel better. The hypocrisy of dressing up as another group and apologizing on their behalf is disturbing to me.

And in the end, who is benefitting from MBB’s actions? One could argue that the gays connected to the church are, because of those flashes of feeling accepted and loved. But feeling accepted and loved is not the same as being accepted and loved, and in fact when one has the former and lacks the latter, it can be dangerous. It’s a sense of false security. It leads to complacency. It leads to a failure to improve one’s situation. It keeps us from rocking the boat.

So in the end it’s only the LDS church and its own peculiar normativity that is being served by MBB. The press is supplied with an image of a progressive, shades-of-gray sort of church, where some members of the oligarchy may be against gay rights, but such an attitude is hardly conditional to membership in the church. Again, this is false. Members of the group do NOT openly push for gay rights, and are not even allowed to. And near the center of the church’s actual doctrine is the condemnation of gay relationships. After Elder Oaks’ comments in conference this last weekend, new reports surfaced about how MBB was “shocked” by his stance. Well, his stance hasn’t changed, and I’m more shocked that MBB is trying to pretend this is a new thing. They’re going to have a hard time continuing to act as though the church is the progressive entity they maintain it is.

Robert Anthony Pierce II said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Robert Anthony Pierce II said...

MBB is misrepresenting the church not only to the gays, but to the world. And if they are making the church seem a little more progressive, a little less austere, a little more focused on loving everyone instead of just the 53% who seem to fit the status quo, then the church will probably continue to allow it. It really couldn’t come at a better time, politically. Just so long as nobody starts pushing for anything politically. Just so long as the group is handing out hugs and Band-Aids instead of social change and policy re-writes. And sadly, too many gays are simply accepting their hug and going back to quietly cry in the corner, believing the lie that at least someone out there is fighting for them.

pburt said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
pburt said...

This is edited--The first paragraph of my first version of this comment sounded judgmental upon re-reading.
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Johnathan, I view your words as coming from your impatient youth. But MBB is one of a spectrum of MANY groups available for people to align with. It focuses on filling a certain need of a certain audience, and cannot be all things to all people. If you want more hard-charging challenges of legal or church obstacles, there are plenty of groups you can work with. MBB wants to help those trying to build personal bridges and to just be a haven of love and understanding.

I have never seen so much as a single word of anger or criticism from the administrators. They have been very patient and long-suffering with those who have consistently overwhelmed the site with comments unrelated to and distracting from the purposes of the site.

I am the one Anonymous accuses of being mean, and I have not said anything on the MBB site even as harsh as what I have said here. I have never seen any bullying on the website, and the only harshness I have seen has come from those making the same unfounded claims against the administrators as they have on this page.

As for censorship, almost none of that has happened (and only after consulting with the offender--hard to find fault with that). The Facebook mechanism pushes recent comments to the top, and so you may have trouble finding your comment after a while, but that is not the doing of the admins.

Overall, MBB fills a valuable niche, and cannot fulfill all needs. The founders started it out of compassion and are trying to preserve that simple focus before tying to conquer the world. I hope people can see the good in it, of people sharing ways for Mormons to reach out and show love to all LGBT brothers and sisters. Let this small group do that, and instead of cutting them down, support all groups in their various efforts.

accidentalatheist said...

Thanks for writing this article - I joined the MBB facebook out of curiosity . . . any LDS gay group, it seemed to me, certainly can't be as accepting and OK with their homosexuality as they claim to be. I've participated a little bit in the comments, but mostly I just watched. Thanks for giving me insight into the effect of MBB's policies.

I think MBB is important for people like my extended family members who don't understand that homosexuality is REAL . . . when I was trying to understand my father I went to meetings held by a similar group. Seeing these people, making new connections, realizing that their "struggle" wasn't a choice at all . . . those things were important in my development.

But . . . I don't think it's a good final resting place. True acceptance that homosexuality is FINE and NATURAL and can be BEAUTIFUL . . . that can't share the same room in my brain with philosophies that homosexuals shouldn't be given the same rights (marriage)or that they should suppress their urges and live celibate or hetero.

Anyway . . . just some thoughts. I loved the article.

Anonymous said...

"A place for fellowship and support and not political or doctrinal debates"
How can you create fellowship without discussing the very issues that create disfellowshipment?

Anonymous said...

It's sad to see that those people that are pro-MBB still don't understand the pain that was caused. pburt doesn't understand that some of his comments were hurtful. I remember them. To the LGBT community, any comment that implies that we aren't worthy of equal rights and places us as second class citizens is hurtful. And yes, my comments were deleted several times and I received hurtful personal messages to my facebook account (that wouldn't have been seen by pburt or others on the group page)
I agree with Jonathon 100% in how he shares how harmful the group was and can be. I also want to share with those like the person from Washington (State and DC) that the world in Utah and especially Utah County IS different from your world because our world is run by the Church. I can't stress enough that our judges, our lawyers, our doctors, our politicians, mechanics, school board members, chamber of commerce members are all active LDS. These people hear from a "Prophet of the Lord" during General Conference that we choose this "lifestyle" and "why would a Heavenly Father" make anyone gay or that children of a same sex couple suffer from a "significant disadvantage". These people that RUN our community and that patronize OUR businesses act on what they hear; hatred, ignorance and bigotry. We live in fear of losing our careers and/or having our businesses "blacklisted". I've seen it happen as soon as the wife tells her bishop and he puts the word out. When MBB won't support anti-discrimination or basic equality, it says that you are against us. I can be fired today for being gay here. No straight person will ever know what that is like to have to live this lie through a 25+ year career.

Kai Cross, Home Stager / Designer said...

Yeah, from what I've heard, I believe the president of MBB is getting his directions from the Church Office Building....

Corey said...

There is NO direction or other communication between MBB and the Church Office Building. There is, in fact, no "President" of MBB.

NotAMormon said...

This is an interesting post, Jonathan. However, I just want to bring something forward into this discussion. The anti-gay rhetoric of the Mormon church and many other churches and religions is abhorrent but to see that there are individuals, Mormons, who are prepared to create a positive connection between the Mormon church and gay youth is, to me, a very positive thing. No matter how much censorship and lack of action the MBB embody and exude, aren't their goals not a step in the right direction?

People's attitudes take a long time to evolve and one can't expect it change overnight. Ideology never evolves. Hence, one can't expect organisations to prop up overnight that function in a that effectively help gay youth. But I think this step in the right direction and should be encouraged.
Though criticism is necessary for the MBB to further evolve into an organisation that efficiently fulfills the need of gay youth, it should be acknowledged that they at least, to a limited extent, attempt to create a forum where gay mormon youth can discuss their issues and tell other people their stories. As a student of psychology I understand the importance of sharing one's own personal experiences with others in alleviating an issue. Another important facet of this organisation is that it specialises with Mormon youth, where Mormons can to an extent, discuss with each other ways in which they can live happily as gay Mormons, something that a regular gay rights association may not be able to fulfill.

I believe the censorship is there to prevent the page from being a battleground for gay youth to question the dogma of the Mormon church and hence shake the fragile world views that unfortunately many Mormon people have. Religion is an institution, and religious leaders will do whatever it takes to protect and preserve its teachings, no matter how outdated and outmoded they may be.

I also believe that any step to create a positive connection between the Mormon church and gay youth should be promoted and I think the MBB to some extent attempt to facilitate this.

PS. I'm still waiting for the Part 2 of your youtube video!

Love from Australia :)

Anonymous said...

MBB support North Star and Evergreen allowing them to post and referring gay youth and gays and lesbians to their services. If anyone is aware it is to diminish what they call same sex attraction. Just one of the many misleading contents on MBB and P Burt was out right hostile and a misogynists to women. I saw it and experienced it and the active Mormons who support LGBT are slowy but surely trickling out of MBB into sites that are sincerely inclusive. Mormons for Marriage are the group initiating equality and that do not support what MBB advocates for. Be ready Patrick Burt likes to bully and is hostile in his comments.

NotAMormon said...

I just want to take back what I said about MBB. I wasn't aware that they were supporters of Evergreen, until Anonymous' comment. Groups like MBB who support Evergreen are harmful and serve to only suffocate innocent gay youth with the fabric of societal and religious dogma.

It is only after I began to look into the seams of MBB doctrine that I decided to want only to pick at a single knot of their tenets. But when I had got that undone, the whole thing raveled out. And then I understood that the whole principle of MBB was machine-sewn.

Under the guise of a support group, MBB is a vehicle of the Mormon church to propagate their perverse teachings regarding gay people.

Ben said...

I think you should look into MBTI -- Meyers Briggs Personality traits. I think it would be instrumental for you in carrying your point across with some stubborn people...

Anonymous said...

MBB is 'pretending' to support us LGBT individuals while masking their true identity! MBB does not support equality and anyone who posts their support for 'Same Sex Marriage' on MBB's facebook page are met with an angry response from Admins and members of the page!

Why are they marching in the SLC parade when they don't even support the mantra of the parade? We LGBT and allies are there to support and fight hand in hand for the human rights of all LGBT, BUT MBB does not support this!

So many LGBT people have been pushed ot of MBB for their views on marriage and gay rights. If MBB cannot accepts someone else for their view on gay rights, then what the hell are they doing? Supporting us in a limited fashion is not enough! MBB is the problem for LDS members as it is a way to continue the bigotry without opening minds in a lovie dovie way. If MBB members cannot see this then they are blind to the facts and to the issies of the LGBT community! We don't need 'pretend' allies and 'limited love', we need support for our rights as a community and individuals. If MBB members cannot do this then they need to just go away!

Anonymous said...

P.S. to pBurt - you have no idea what your rambling on about! I can source you with tonnes of people who were pushed away from MBB, including one of the founders who put allot of her own $$$ and efforts to make MBB a safe place! Your as blind as many of those zombie trolls that are there

Just Jill said...

My experience with MBB ended within a few weeks after last year's pride as well. At first it was such a heartwarming expression of love that I was overwhelmed with gratitude for the organizers. However, it soon seemed, to me, that their goal was to 'keep' gays in the church. They seemed less interested in simply loving and supporting the LGBT community. I am more a fan of 'Mormons for Equality'. They seem to have it right.

Just Jill said...

Bryce Cook says: "But to say that MBB is "bad for the LGBT community" seems to be a stretch. Maybe I'm blinded or uninformed, but I see MBB as a very good thing and the founding members as sincere, honest and charitable people with an honorable goal in mind."

The reason I believe, and agree, that MBB is bad for the LGBT community is that it sends a message that you can 'support' the gay community without really supporting it. It sends a message that you're not really homophobic just because you think Gay folks should not get married. When the truth is You ARE homophobic if you believe marriage is ONLY between a man and a woman PERIOD.

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