The Article is Finally Published

It finally happened!  I was at the Matis Fireside last night when I got a text from my friend telling me that the article about my blog will finally be published.  I’m pretty excited about it.  You can read it here (along with some comments), or just keep scrolling down…

MoHo: Mormon homosexual.

MoHommie: A friend of Mormon homosexuals.

MoHo Chica: A Mormon lesbian or female friend to male Mormon homosexuals.

There’s an entire subculture within the Mormon church that caters specifically to homosexuals, said Beau Rushton (name has been changed upon request), a USU student, who is a Mormon and a homosexual.

“We are literally everywhere,” Rushton said. “We’re in your singles ward, we’re passing the sacrament and we’re sitting next to you in priesthood meetings.”

Rushton has always known he was gay.

“I tried to avoid anything that would be associated with being gay,” Rushton said. “I wouldn’t wear nice or colorful clothing. I would only talk about masculine things.”

Rushton went on a mission for the Mormon church and thought being attracted to men was just a phase that would disappear.

It didn’t.

“Sometimes I get so frustrated with God,” Rushton said. “I wonder why he has put me through this, why I have to deal with it.”

After two years, Rushton came home and started dating the same girl he dated in high school, Jill Marychild (name has been changed).

Despite being the best of friends and having plenty in common, there was just one issue that wouldn’t go away: Rushton was still attracted to men.

“I decided to come out to her,” Rushton said. “But it didn’t go over well. It was really hard for her.”

Marychild felt like if she were skinnier or more attractive then Rushton wouldn’t be gay, he said.

“The truth was, she was a girl that’s what I wasn’t attracted to,” Rushton said.

After a relationship of five years, Rushton and Marychild broke it off.

Rushton felt he was faced with the choice of whether to keep going to church or to abandon his faith and pursue a relationship with a man. He said he didn’t feel like there was any middle ground he felt like he could either “live the gay lifestyle” or “live a lie in the church,” he said.

“I am gay,” Rushton said. “That’s not something that is going to change. But I also want to stay in the church. I could never let that go.”

The official Web site for the Mormon church, http://www.lds.org, has this to say about its stance on homosexuality, “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves so-called gays and lesbians … If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the church.”

However, according to The Deseret News, the Mormon church’s stance has changed and there has been extensive research to determine whether gay people would be able to become straight. The Mormon church no longer officially advises gay men to get married to women or that their attraction to men will go away. The Mormon church advocates lifetime celibacy for gays and lesbians.

There are several organizations, such as Evergreen, that try to help gay Mormons either diminish their feelings of attraction for other men. The group Evergreen is not officially sponsored by the Mormon church, but the two are closely affiliated and Evergreen has church officials on its council and closely follows the Mormon doctrine.

Another group, known as the Matis Firesides, is not officially sponsored by the Mormon church, but it also follows Mormon teachings. It’s monthly meetings in Utah County attract around 150 attendees, Rushton said.

North Star is an online forum where gay Mormons can interact anonymously. It’s a Web site meant to help gay Mormons support one another, but it is not a dating site. North Star is where Rushton got the idea to start a blog recounting his struggles.

His blog, http://www.hiddeninthelight.wordpress.com, now has more than 75 followers and Rushton has started his own series of meetings called Logansides. The group meets monthly, everyone is invited and around 40 people regularly attend. The gatherings are announced on the site http://www.logansides.wordpress.com.

“My struggle isn’t being gay,” Rushton said. “I love being gay. It’s the conflict and finding a balance in life. That’s what I struggle with.”

After Rushton realized that there are lots of other Mormons out there who are gay, he didn’t feel so alone. It can be a difficult position to go to church and also be gay.

“When I first realized I wasn’t the only one like this, it was like a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders,” Beau said. “I felt so good. I didn’t feel alone.”

Another path

Not all of those that are raised Mormon and are gay try to live the doctrine of their church. Some people, like USU sophomore Tyler Okelberry decide to leave their religion.

There is extreme pressure in the Mormon religion to avoid all things gay, Okelberry said.

Okelberry recalls one particular morning when his mother brought in the local, Idaho newspaper and threw the wedding announcements down on the table.

“Read this,” his mother said. “It’ll make you sick.”

Okelberry’s father read the section and saw that it was the wedding announcement of a local news-radio anchor and his gay partner.

“My dad said that he was going to call the radio station and tell them he would no longer listen to the radio show because one of their DJs would chose to exhibit his homosexuality in that way,” Okelberry said.

The pressure and guilt placed on gay teens can be huge and at no fault of their own, Okelberry said.

It is not a choice to be gay, he said. Homophobia and misunderstanding can cause tension between gay Mormons and their families and friends. Okelberry couldn’t understand why his father would stop listening to one of his favorite talk shows simply because an employee at the radio station is gay.

Okelberry didn’t tell his parents that he was gay when he was a teenager because of the dislike his parents and community displayed toward gay people.

“It was as much to avoid being the topic of gossip as anything,” Okelberry said. “There’s a name to uphold, and my family is well known in that area my dad is even a Bishop. They see it as a total abomination”

In high school, Okelberry was involved in extracurricular activities. He was student body president, he ran for the cross-country team and played on the volleyball team.

“People used to ask me why I didn’t have a girlfriend, or they would try and set me up, but I had no attraction to women at all,” Okelberry said.

Okelberry said he knew other gay Mormon teenagers and when their parents found out, the teenagers had to go through long ordeals with church leaders and others in order to change their sexuality.

“All that would only make it worse for the guys,” Okelberry said. “It really messed with them.”

Slowly, Okelberry stopped going to church.He decided that he was never going to change and he may as well embrace that part of him.

Okelberry said despite all the homophobic things that the church has done, he has no hard feelings toward the Mormon Church.

“I don’t regret being raised Mormon,” he said. “I still respect the Mormon Church.”

Okelberry stopped going to church, while Rushton decided to seek support from other gay Mormons because of the misunderstandings that they face within their own religion.

Many Mormons think that being gay is a choice, which it isn’t, Rushton said. They also think that all gay people are child molesters, which is preposterous, he said. Other Mormons think that gay Mormons are less faithful or righteous.

“I have heard some of the most un-Christ like things inside a church,” Rushton said. “I once heard someone say in a church meeting that all gay people should be shot.”

Rushton advises gay Mormons to realize that they aren’t monsters, that they are normal people just like everyone else. Next, he tells them to interact with other gay Mormons, through blogging, online forums or events.

“There’s a whole community out there,” Rushton said. “We just normally don’t talk about it. It’s hidden, it’s too taboo.”

When members of the Mormon church realize someone they’ve known all their life is gay, it really changes their perception, Rushton said.

“We’re everywhere. In your average singles ward up here in Logan, there are probably about 15 gay guys,” Rushton said. “We love God too.”

And although Okelberry has chosen a different path than Rushton, their desired message is similar.

“We’re not out to get anybody,” Okelberry said. “We’re not going to hurt anyone. We’re just people, there’s no reason for anyone to be afraid of us.”

Advertisements

8 Responses

  1. Great article, I’m especially glad the comments so far on the website (only 3, but still) are all very positive. You are doing a great work.

  2. “MoHo Chica”? Since when? 🙂 I should submit mohoney and mobro as addenda. 🙂

    It’s nice to see someone taking an interest and publishing that story.

  3. P.S.–I enjoy the pseudonym. 🙂

  4. Awesome article my friend! We need many more of like this to help people begin to shed their preconceived ideas about homosexuality and its implications for members of the church. Great job!

  5. I approve. And 23 comments!

  6. I was so happy to see this article in The Statesman. As someone in the same boat and writing about it. Your responses were sincere and the article made no efforts to sensationalize the difficulties of coming to terms with a ‘hybrid’ gay/lds lifestyle.

  7. NICE BRO! Congrats on the article! Way to stand for us Mohos out there!

  8. Wow! 28 comments on the Web site! I looked around and there aren’t any other articles with more than 5 comments! Great job! Way to represent!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: