Thursday, May 21, 2009

Popcorn with Wyatt

One of my bestest friends in the whole world, Wyatt Darling came and visited me in Chicago last weekend. We had SUCH a great time just living our lives. One specific thing we have talked about doing for a long time is making a video discussing our experiences as gay mormons. Wyatt, like me, served a 2 year mission in Mexico and attended BYU. If you have a few minutes on your hands and want to hear our perambulations regarding Mormonism and homosexuality, then I cordially invite you to JUMP IN.

The video has 5 parts.. they are all imbedded and should play one after the next!

16 comments:

Captain Midnight said...

I love both of your blogs, so of course I loved your video together. Good times.

D-Train said...

I really enjoyed hearing your thoughts, and it was interesting to see how your thoughts mirrored mine.

Oh, and I absolutely loved the Mary Poppins analogy. That may be the best analogy I have ever heard.

CLARK JOHNSEN said...

Thanks guys! Yeah-- Wyatt just pulled that Mary Poppins analogy right out of his head. I had never heard him talk about that before. Maybe it was that he had just seen the show the night before.. or maybe he already had it. But yes its really apropos.

CLARK JOHNSEN said...

by the way guys.. i posted all 5 videos as a playlist.. did that make sense in the format or should I post each video separately?

A.J. said...

It's really interesting how many states are allowing same sex marriage since prop 8. It's almost like the Church's efforts had the opposite effect ,not that I'm complaining. It's only a matter of time I think in the next 5 years almost all states will have same sex marriage Utah will take another 50 years.

brandonm said...

Hi Clark and Wyatt,

I thought your discussion was insightful and honest. Thanks for sharing.

I might raise one quibble: I don't agree that growing spiritually beyond the institutional bounds of the Church should be grounds for leaving. Yes, what the institution of the Church offers is sorely limited. It is easy to get to the point where you yearn for more and it just isn't there.

But I feel that when people with such spiritual sophistication leave the Church, it leaves the whole organization poorer and maintains the problem that drove them away in the first place.

When I feel stiffled by the myopia of Mormon culture, I try to remember that I need to share my viewpoints more and try to expand what is said and felt in Sunday meetings. And I hope that there are others around the world who are doing the same.

Of course I understand that for some staying in the Church is simply too painful. But for those who can withstand it, their continued activity enriches the Church and helps create progress.

Thanks again, guys.

CLARK JOHNSEN said...

brandonm-- I have always stood by the idea that if people feel drawn to staying in the church and raising awareness that they should do it. I think for a heterosexual couple with a family this is an extremely viable option. If one or both husband and wife evolve out of the common milieu of mormonism, they may stay in the fold because they want to raise their children there. That makes a lot of sense to me because they are given full access to the benefits of mormonism, and they can also have a powerful effect on the members of their wards by holding high callings such as bishop, stake president, or relief society president.

Gay men and women in the church, as well as single heterosexuals will probably find it much less rewarding to stay in the church if they hit that glass ceiling. They can make comments in sunday school, but since they are unmarried and have no children, it will be probably that many LDS people will write them off. Not all mormons will, but many will assume that because they have been unable to get married and have children that there is something lacking in their spirituality or commitment to the gospel.

Furthermore, as helpful as it will be to meet gays and lesbians in your home ward, it comes at a rather high cost for the gay person. Unless the gay person attends for purely altruistic reasons and ignores the overall attitude in the church toward gays and lesbians, the atmosphere of mormonism will be damaging to them, in varying degrees depending on the person. I stayed full active in the church for 10 years after coming out. I even stayed in for about 3 years after I got a boyfriend. I stayed as long as I could, and I tried as best as I could have to raise awareness and show members that a gay person can be a good person.

What is frustrating is that no matter how many of us stay in the church and try to slowly change the consciousness of members, the truth of the matter is that the damage is all coming from the top and trickling down. As long as the church is at the forefront fighting for things like prop 8, and allegedly being involved with the now infamous NOM, there is little we can do to change the opinions of mormon people. They are taught to follow the prophet unquestioningly. They are taught that if the prophet leads the church astray he will be killed by God. So if he is still alive clearly he can do whatever he wants, regardless of whether it makes any sense politically or otherwise.

So for me, if a gay person wants to stay in the church and face the inherent homophobia of current mormon doctrine, I always try to be supportive of that choice. However, to blanket encourage gay and lesbian mormons to stay in the church would be to suggest that they subject themselves to a marginalization that is both unnecessary and potentially harmful. Stay if they want to, otherwise get out. But either way I advocate for people taking their time in these delicate decisions and working to act authentically and holistically.

brandonm said...

Clark,

I totally agree staying in the Church is excruciatingly hard for anyone who doesn't conform to the cultural norm, most especially for gay members. Please don't think I was chiding anyone for having left; I think the choice to leave is completely understandable and emotionally healthy for many.

All I meant to say was that I hope some will make the sacrifice to stay despite the pain and frustration. The Church needs them far more than they need the Church. I have close friends who struggle with the Church in numerous ways: over their homosexuality, other gender issues, politics, as well as simple doctrinal concerns. Some of them have chosen to stay in the Church, and I know the Church is better off for it.

This is not to imply anyone who chose to leave made the wrong decision; I just fear for what their leaving means for the rest of us who remain in the Church...

As for your frustration about the lack of change--we definately have that in common. But don't give up totally; things always change, even if at a glacial pace. You might yet be surprised how things turn out.

And then again maybe not.

El Genio said...

Loved the video! I was secretly hoping that Clark would be eating popcorn throughout all 5 pieces.

I agree that prop 8 was nothing more than a political move - especially since the feeling I got from church leaders was that they never expected to win. How much does that hurt? They were just messing around with people's love, families, & marriages for the sake of nothing more than a PR stunt.

My two favorite one-liners:

"Don't vote against someone's #1 source of happiness."

"The final frontier of faith..."
- In fact, you could probably make an interesting Star Trek episode based off of the Mormon/Gay conflict.

Gay LDS Actor said...

I enjoyed your comments very much, guys. You have some very valid points.

Posting the videos as a playlist was great.

CLARK JOHNSEN said...

Thanks you guys. I really appreciate all your feedback. It was an interesting experiment for us to just have a conversation with a small idea of what we wanted to talk about and just GO. I appreciate that all of you took the time to watch it!

Bravone said...

Clark & Wyatt, Thanks for sharing your thoughts. One thing that I appreciate about your approach is that you show the respect, tolerance, and acceptance of those who remain in the church that you would like shown toward you.

drakames said...

Clark and Wyatt,

I really enjoyed listening to your thoughts as you posted this discussion. I've watched some of Clark's other vlogs. I like how your thoughts flow and you always give me something new to consider and think about. With this post, I found myself agreeing with both of you on a lot of things.

What Wyatt said about seeking after truth and wanting to have it so much but looking down at empty hands really made sense to me. It was like he put words to feelings that I've known for a long time, but didn't know how to express.

I also really liked how you talked about the leaps people take with "if I feel this is true then it's true for everyone." I've maintained for a long time that religion is a personal thing. I'm not out to convert or be converted, because a person's relationship with God is between them and God and no one else.

Thank you for putting this out there and sharing these insights. You guys are great!

PJ said...

It's amazing how you two can take the words from my mind exactly, and put it into perfectly formed sentences and ideas. LOVED the video's. So great. Get it boys!

NurseRatched said...

I just finished watching the videos and I wanted to say thank you for taking the time to make them. It was very interesting.

Thanks Clark and Wyatt! Big hugs to you both.

Terry said...

Great, thanks again. (Cville)