Idaho Fireside Thoughts

I attended the fireside in Idaho Falls last night, which I found very interesting.  There were some things that I liked about it, and others that I didn’t.  Overall, though, I’m happy that it happened.  The fact that homosexuality was able to be discussed in such a setting is enough to make me feel that things are being done and meaningful strides are being taken on all sides of the issue.

To those who helped plan this fireside, I thank you for doing so.  Creating a place in which this could be openly discusses was so helpful.  I feel that overall it was well received and that it was extremely helpful to a lot of people.  Please do not take anything I say that might be slightly negative personally.

The fireside was set up to resemble a conference.  It began with an opening session in which a few speakers presented the topic of homosexuality.  After the speakers, different groups were held:  a group for gay men, a group for gay women, a group for friends and family, and a group for priesthood leaders.  In these groups, two talks were given, and then a Q&A session was held.  After the Q&A session was complete, everyone met together again and there were a few more speakers, again discussing the topic of homosexuality.

Near the beginning of the fireside, a speaker addressed the use of different terms used when discussing homosexuality, and it was again mentioned in the last talk.  I’m glad this happened, but I feel there needs to be more understanding of interchangeable terms.  If someone prefers to say that they are gay, they shouldn’t be looked down upon for doing so.  In the same way, if a person feels more comfortable saying the are same-sex attracted or same gender attracted, they shouldn’t be looked down upon for that either.  Some general authorities have said that using the word “gay” shouldn’t happen because it signifies that someone is not only attracted to their own gender, but that they are acting out on their attractions.  I disagree.  I have almost always told people I was “gay” because that was just easier than labeling myself in a way that made it sound like I had a disease.  That is my personal preference, but I don’t want people to here me say that I am “gay”, and assume this or that about me.  In short, I feel that it would be best to say something along the lines of “please be understanding as we discuss the topic at hand that the words ‘gay’ and ‘same-sex or same-gender attracted’ may be used interchangeably, and that neither one defines what a person is doing with their attraction”.

I liked that we were able to split into different groups, and I liked the groups that were available.  I feel like all need to be addressed in different ways.  I don’t know that I agree with how they were discussed in the fireside, so I would like to make my comments on how I feel they need to be dealt with.  I wanted to do so by discussing them by the different groups, but after writing this, I have found that so many things cross over into different areas, that it would be easier to just write them all in one area.

I understand why the church takes the stance on homosexuality that it does, and at official church functions, I would expect the church’s stance on the subject to be presented.  I don’t expect the church to change because that would also mean that fundamental LDS doctrines would also have to change.  I don’t think, though, that the church should talk about how those who choose to live a life contrary to those teaching will never be happy, that they will not inherit the Celestial Kingdom, etc.  Really, I don’t think we definitely know what will happen to anyone who is living a life contrary to the church’s teaching.  That’s up to God, and we have absolutely no say in that, so why speculate now.

The focus of the conversation should be that of love.  Not only that God loves us, but that we are loved by church leaders and members.  I think that members of the church want to be understanding, but because of the stereotype surrounding homosexuality, gays and lesbians are seen as only one thing and that image can be a strange and scary one.  If gays and lesbians within the church can know that they are loved by many others, that would help us so much.

There isn’t one right answer for everyone.  There are things personally that I will never advocate, but I will never tell anyone to not try it out either.  For example, I will never advocate change therapy.  If someone were to come to me and tell me they wanted to try it out, I would tell them what I believe are the pros and cons of such (fairly, I hope), and then support them with whatever decision they make.  Some people have been able to find happiness in single life, others have found happiness in marriage to the opposite gender, and some have found therapy helpful.  There are choices that I feel are better, but everyone is different and some answers will work better for them than they will for others.

Priesthood leaders should follow the doctrines of the church.  In my opinion, those are vague, but there are some very definite doctrines surrounding homosexuality.  According to LDS.org:  “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves… gays and lesbians. My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have inclinations of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are” (Gordon B. Hinckley, Ensign, Nov. 1998, 71).  That is it.  Do not make it more or less than what it is.  Don’t make anyone feel less than humane for having these attractions, especially when they haven’t acted on them.  When someone has acted out on their attractions, the issue becomes one of chastity.  React to what they have done in the same way you would react to someone who is straight and had done the same thing.

To all members of the church, whether you are gay, straight, a bishop, a mother, a friend, are anyone else.  Please be understanding and loving.  No one is perfect.  Everyone has problems they are working on, yourself included.  No matter what you believe about homosexuality, please love those who experience it.  We don’t expect you to understand it or to agree or disagree with our actions.  We just want to feel like we have a place in the church and that we belong there, no matter what we have done.  Church is to be a place to feel peace, solace, and love.  If fear and even slight dislike towards people because of their situations is present, we don’t want to be there.  Life is already hard enough, let’s not add to the pressure.  We want to be loved and we want to be understood.  Please help us help you do that.

What I Am And What I’m Not

I know there are a lot of misconceptions out there about homosexuals, and I want to clear that up.  A lot of this will be directed to anyone who reads this, but some will be directed towards Mormons.

The Readers Digest Version of what I want to say can be summed up in this clip:

  • I did not choose to be gay.  You didn’t choose to be straight.  You didn’t choose to have blonde or brown or red hair.  You didn’t choose to be left or right handed.  There are a lot of different theories about the causes of homosexuality and some may be closer to the truth than others.  It also depends on the person.  For me, I think it is biological factors.  As long as I can remember, I’ve been attracted to guys.  I remember having a crush on Prince Charles from the Faerie Tale Theater version (which was Matthew Broderick….really though, who didn’t have a crush on him?).  There are other things that may have contributed throughout my life, but overall I believe I was born this way.  I know saying I was born this way will rub a lot of people the wrong way.  Why would God create me like this?  Why would he make me into something that has such tendencies to go against his plan?  I have a handicapped brother.  Why did God create him the way he is?  He was born with so many problems and won’t be able to procreate either.  This seemingly goes against his plan too, doesn’t it?  And don’t we all have tendencies to go against His plan?  We all want to sin.  Having the desire to sin doesn’t make you bad or a sinner.  It makes you human.  I am just as normal as anyone else.
  • I’m not going to change.  When I first started coming out, I prayed and prayed about the possibility of change, and even started looking into reparitive therapy.  I finally received an answer by the spirit that told me that God didn’t want me to change.  He made me this way and I needed to learn from it.  He has no plans of changing me.  That doesn’t mean I don’t believe he can.  I believe he can, but doesn’t want me to change.  Does God have the power to take away my brothers disability?  Absolutely!  Does that mean he will?  Probably not in this life.  Am I okay with this?  Yes.  Furthermore, reparitive therapy tends to cause more damage than good.  One so strongly believes that if they do this and that, they will change.  After spending years and years of working the steps they were told to work, they may have become a better person with more self control, but the attractions are still they, even if they are hiding it.  Realizing they have spent years trying to fix themselves only to see little or no change brings a feeling of failure.
  • I don’t have sex in bathrooms.  I would be lying if I were to say that doesn’t happen.  It does.  And in parks.  And in other public places.  I think it’s gross and inappropriate.  But I recognize that it does happen, and maybe with more frequency in the “gay community” than anywhere else.  My personal thoughts on this are that this has come about as a result of our culture.  Let me give an example of a thought process that might occur in a mans mind that would drive him to do this:   I really want to have sex with a man but I don’t want to admit that I’m gay > what will people think if they find me having sex with another guy > if I can find a discreet place to have sex (like a bathroom, car, or park), I won’t have to worry about getting caught or about what others will think.  I also think people seeking to have sexual encounters with strangers are sex addicts more than anything.
  • I’m not a pedophile.  In fact, most gays aren’t.  That was used as a scare tactic in the 50’s and has since carried over to today.  Most pedophiles actually identify as straight.  Some with most male on male rape.  It has less to do with sexual attraction than it does with an inner struggle of feeling power over another person.
  • If you are a guy, that doesn’t mean I’m attracted to you.  You are attracted to certain people, as am I.  You might like blonde girls with long legs and large breasts.  I happen to be attracted to clean cut gay guys with dark hair that are around my same build.  I’m not usually attracted to straight guys, so you don’t need to worry anyway.
  • I’m human.  I’m a person.  I like to eat food, ride my bike, hike, learn new things, and meet new people.  I also happen to prefer the company of men.  I’m still a human, and I still have feelings.  I am just like anyone else.  You’d probably be surprised how many of us there are out there, even in your own ward.  Happy Guessing!  🙂

Hope For The Future

I’ve gotten to a place in blogging that I don’t know what to blog about.  I don’t want to vent my frustrations here, and I already have another blog for that.  I feel like I’ve said what I’ve wanted to say as far as helping out other members of the church with homosexual attractions.  I kind of want to write to regular members of the church to help them be more understanding, but I don’t know what to say and I don’t want to come off as someone who thinks they are on expert on homosexuality in Mormonism.  All I have to offer is my perspective.

I was thinking today about my family and how well they’ve taken everything.  They have all been so supportive and will always be so supportive.  I started thinking about my older sister and her children.  They are very inquisitive, and I know that they will eventually ask why I’m not married, and when the time is right, they will have to explain that I’m gay, but that’s fine.  Who knows what other doors that will open… 🙂

As this was going through my mind, I started thinking about what I would want them to say.  This also lead me to wonder about what my family has learned (not what I have taught them, necessarily, but just learned) from having a gay family member.

I hope that when the topic comes up, they will talk openly and honestly about it.  That is how the taboo surrounding the topic is formed.  We we speak in vague generalities, people become confused and scared.  We show that we are afraid of what might happen if we tell them too much.  I trust that my family members will know the right degree of which to tell their kids.  I hope that they will be willing to talk to me about it and let me talk to them.  I hope that they will teach them to love everybody regardless of sexual orientation, gender identity, belief system, nationality, etc.  I know they will, but I hope they make a conscious effort to do so.  I hope they teach their children correct thoughts.  I don’t want my nieces and nephews to be afraid of me or think I will molest them.

Even further, I hope that they will teach acceptance and to embrace diversity.  I know they will teach them right from wrong and that “acting on homosexuality” is not a part of God’s plan.  I hope they teach them to love gays anyway, no matter what choices they are making.  I hope that they teach their kids that it is absolutely unacceptable to use any derogatory or inappropriate words like fag, queer, nigger, or retard.  I hope most of all, though, that they will teach their kids to stand up for what is right.  I want members of my family to stop any kind of bashing whether it be gay bashing, church bashing, or anything like that.

I want them to correct someone when that someone says that something is ‘gay’ when they really mean to say that something is stupid.

I want them to stand up for the kid on the playground the other kids call a fagot because he isn’t good at sports.

I want them to stop the cycle of hate against people who are “different”.

I want my family to be able to talk openly with others about the fact that they have a gay brother, brother-in-law, or uncle and not be ashamed.  I’m not ashamed of it, and I hope they aren’t either.

I want them to take the time to learn the truth about homosexuality (I’m hoping to write something about the truth and myths about gays).  I don’t care if they are for or against gay rights or whatever.  I just want them to know what they believe and to let people know.  This is how understanding will spread.

I think they already know these things, but in case they didn’t, this is what I want.

I Think I’m Gay. Now What? (Mormon Edition)

So, you think you might be gay and you are a member of the LDS church (or a member of any faith that discourages homosexuality).  What do you do now?

I remember asking myself that question.  I don’t want to claim to have all the answers, but I would like to write about what I have learned and might be of benefit.  Here is what I found:

  • “There is nothing wrong with you. … You are not sick, and you are not wrong, and God does not hate you,” (Harvey Milk).  These are things you absolutely must realize.  Just because you are attracted to people of your same gender does not mean that you are sick or wrong or that God hates you.  It doesn’t mean that you are evil, that you don’t have enough faith, or that your testimony isn’t strong enough.  None of that is true.  Everyone has their own trials.  Some people are born with debilitating illness, while others seem to have constant road blocks.  No matter how hard we try to hide our problems, we all have them, and as Elder Packer has said, “…there is more equality in this testing than sometimes we suspect” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Choice,” Ensign, Nov 1980, 20).
  • You are not alone.  There thousands of members of the church that feel attracted to their own gender.  One of the most important realizations I made was that I was not alone.  I was so relieved when I figured this out.  When I made this realization, I was able to figure out that I could remain active in the church if I desired to do so and that I wouldn’t be excommunicated for having a problem.  Some great ways to find people who want to keep their connections with the church are through North Star, Evergreen, and LDS Family Services.
  • Find some way to express yourself in writing in an anonymous/semi-anonymous way that will allow you to receive feedback from others.  There are probably several ways to do this, but the two best ways I have to do this is through blogging or North Star discussions.  Here are some differences between the two:
  • Blogging:  When you have a blog, you are able to write whatever you want.  There are no rules or boundaries that you have to worry about.  If you want to rant and rave about your frustrations just to get them out, you can.  With a blog, you can control comments.  If you don’t want any comments on a certain post (or any posts at all), you can turn that off.  If you want to moderate comments, you can do that.  If you want to be able to post something and then take it down you can.  What happens on your blog is completely up to you.  The problem (or maybe a benefit) with blogging is that you might not have anyone read what you write.  If you are looking for feedback, blogging makes that difficult until you have built a following (sounds kind of cultish, huh?).  The best way to do that is to comment on other blogs and to let Abelard Enigma know that you have a blog so that he can post it in the MoHo Directory.
  • North Star:  North Star is great because you can address multiple forums (young adults, men, women, parents, etc.) on the topic of homosexuality in the church.  Because North Star is a support group, there are certain guidelines that must be met when writing.  These guidelines help to create a safe environment.  You’ll be able to get a lot of feedback from people that are trying to stay close to the church (where blogging opens you up to the entire world).
  • I personally recommend doing both, but the important thing is to do what feels right for you.

    • Meet other people.  Meeting others will allow you to deepen the realization that you aren’t alone.  Meeting others might feel a little bit risky.  Believe me, I felt the same way.  Why would I want to meet other guys that might be attracted to me when I’m trying to not act on my homosexuality?  Doing so will help you to be able to talk to people that know what you are going through.  Being completely understood is priceless.  There are some really great ways to meet people such as Evergreen/LDS Family Services, Matis Firesides, Logansides, and other gatherings.  These programs are set up to provide a safe atmosphere in which people can meet and talk about what they are going through.  ***A WORD OF WARNING*** I mentioned that meeting people might be risky, and I will confess that it is.  It is very low risk, in my opinion, but there is still the risk that you might meet someone that you are attracted to and they are attracted to you, and that you will want to pursue some kind of relationship.  That risk is there.  Recognize it and move on.  Meeting people will be one of the best things you can ever do for yourself.  (I started by attending a support group at LDS Family Services and then attended the Matis Fireside, which I felt was a good way to transition into things because I was able to go to the fireside with friends instead of going by myself).
    • Decide who you will tell about your attractions.  This is something that is a completely individual choice.  I think it is important to tell at least one straight person.  This is important so that you can have someone who doesn’t understand what you are going through give you feedback from another angle than those that understand your struggle.

    I also think it is important to tell your parents.  I know that there are situations in which one might not feel comfortable telling their parents.  I know of one guy that doesn’t want to tell his parents, and after hearing their background, I think I quite agree with him.  I think it would be too much for them.  That being said, I think almost all parents will try to be understanding and at least deserve to know.  Telling your parents will result in one of three outcomes:

    • They will support you in whatever decision you make.  This is the response I got.  My parents encourage me to remain with the church, but told me that if I were to ever bring a boy home with me, they would welcome him as they would anyone else.  This outcome is rare, but it does happen.
    • They will be loving and understanding, and will express their strong desire to have you remain associated with the church.  They may encourage you to continue to date members of the opposite gender.  They will always love you, but if you choose to act on your attraction to the same gender, you will have to face their consequences (which could range from severe disappointment and strain on the relationship to being kicked out of the family).  This, I believe, is the most common reaction.
    • They will be upset.  This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.  Some parents will think you are choosing to be attracted to your same gender.  Some will think that you thinking you are gay means that you will become a pedophile, a drag queen, and/or a slut.

    Telling your parents you are gay will be hard for them.  No parent wants to hear that their child is gay.  It probably won’t be the end of the world to them though.  In my experience, I have found that most people are very understanding.  They are willing to admit that they don’t know much about homosexuality or what it is like to experience it, but they will try to be understanding.  Some people may feel like they should treat you different, but if you treat them the same as you always have, they will usually treat you the same.  I have also found that it is easier to talk about it with them if you can joke about it.

    When deciding who to tell, I recommend starting off with someone that you know will respond in a positive way.  My first friend I told had been home from her mission for about 8 months when I told her.  She was one of my best friends in high school and we had been through a lot together.  She came home from her mission early because she had a parasite that was making her incredibly sick.  After a week of being home, she told me that she had been struggling with depression for the last few years and had resorted to cutting and was occasionally suicidal.  I, along with her parents, were the only people that knew what was going on.  She was later admitted to the psychiatric ward of a hospital and was able to receive treatment that helped her more than any medicine could.  I knew that I could tell her of my attractions because she had trusted me with such a big secret.  She responded so well and I’m so grateful that I told her.  She and her husband have been extremely supportive of me and I have been able to turn to them many times for help.  Sharing such an intimate secret caused our relationship to deepen and to grow, and I now trust her more than almost anyone.

    • Do what is right for you.  Throughout the whole process of coming to terms with your homosexuality, you need to always follow what you feel will be best for you.  I will never tell anyone would they should or shouldn’t do.  I learned this lesson early on.  There was a boy that kept a blog.  It was really depressing to read.  He talked about how he hated himself and how he thought about killing himself, and it was all because he felt attracted to his same gender.  He finally decided to start dating guys.  When he got into a serious relationship, he was happier than he had been in his entire life.  He was finally able to love himself.  That is what worked for him.  It may not be what is right for you, and what is right for you may not have been right for him.  Everyone needs to be able to do what is best for them, and we are to leave the judgment to God.

    Optimistic Realism

    I would say I’m a pretty realistic person.  I really try to see things in a realistic way, give people realistic answers, have realistic expectations, and live a realistic life.

    I also try to be optimistic.  This is hard for me sometimes because realistically, things don’t always turn out positively.  I think my strength in this, though, is that I find the best out of bad experiences.

    I once heard that President Hinckley called himself an optimistic realist.  I want to be the same.  I find that I am happiest when I can do that.  When I can see things for what they really are but to also see them for what they can be.  This kind of goes along with the Thomas Theorem which states: “If someone defines something as being real, it is real in it’s consequences”.  When we can see somewhat for what they really are and then see them for what they might become, we are better able to treat them as they might become and they will eventually live up to that treatment.

    We can do the same with situations.  Assess a situation, and try to look at it realistically (for all intents and purposes of this blog, we shall use the experience of Same Gender Attraction, or whatever it is we are calling it these days).

    When I finally faced the fact that I am gay and a Mormon, I didn’t want to face the realities of it (rejection, a single/”sinful” life/life of lies, misunderstanding, hatred from self and outside sources, etc.).  It was so overwhelming.  As I came to terms with this fact, reality set in a little bit more.  I had told a few friends and family, and had positive experiences with it.  I was still scared of those realities listed above, but I also learned of other realities that come along with my experience (love, understanding, help, compassion, friendship).

    Once I was able to see things in the spectrum of my reality, I was able to see things more clearly.  When I had a good grasp on what was really going on, I could make the best of my situation. I began to explore the positive possibilities of my future life – that is,  being single and all that entails – having the job I want, going where I want to go, and doing what I want to do – free of restraints I would have had otherwise.

    I am optimistic about the future.  I still am not completely certain of what will come and where I might go, but I am excited about it all.  I feel like I have a realistic grasp on what my life might consist of (the positive and the negative) and I’m facing it with the best attitude I can.  I will make the best of what may come and look forward to what I will learn.

    Bring it on.

    My Name is Jeff, and I’m a Gay Mormon

    I’m slowly letting myself come out more and more.  I’m not ashamed of the fact that I’m gay and that I’m active in the LDS church.  I want people to understand me and my situation better.  I want those who experience same gender attraction to know they are not alone and that they are normal.  I want them to know that there are more options then “living a lie in the church” and “living the lifestyle”.

    I want members of the church that have little or no experience with homosexuality other than what they see and hear on the news to be more understanding of something that tends to be taboo in Mormon culture.  I want all members of the church to be more understanding and loving of those who are different.  We all have things that we have to deal with, and some of those things are easy to hide.  Usually those things that are hidden are usually the things that can provide the greatest learning experiences.  Camille Fronk Olsen said at a Matis Fireside when someone asked her “Why is there this cookie cutter mentality in the Church?”  She replied, “It’s easy to focus on the outward appearance. Whatever the Ensign cover looks like, that’s how life should be! But really, the best articles in the Ensign are by ‘Name Withheld'”

    So, I’m revealing something personal about myself.

    My name is Jeff, and I’m a gay mormon.

    Live and Let Live

    If I esteem mankind to be in error, shall I bear them down? No. I will lift them up, and in their own way too, if I cannot persuade them my way is better; and I will not seek to compel any man to believe as I do, only by the force of reasoning, for truth will cut its own way.

    – Joseph Smith

    How do we treat those who hold different standards than we do?

    I’ve thought about this a lot in my life, particularly since returning home from my mission.  Those who have served a mission will be able to relate to coming home and feeling like everyone in your family and circle of friends is going to hell.  I did.  One of the earliest things I remember after coming home was going to an “Office Party”, where my friends watched the newest episode of The Office (now one of my favorite TV shows).  The particular episode they were watching that week was Gay Witch Hunt (ironic, I know).  I couldn’t believe that my friends would actually enjoy watching something I had deemed to be so sinful.  And my family didn’t have family prayer every night?  What?  I was really frustrated.

    That was 3 years ago, and things have changed a lot.  I’ve been put in situations where I have had to think about my standards and how I react when someone close to me is not living the they should.  I hope my friend L will forgive me for using her as an example of this.  I won’t go into great detail though.  L came to a point in her life where she was making some drastic changes and, in my opinion at that time, was being stupid.  She was no longer living many of the “gospel standards”, and it seemed she was doing so in a form of rebellion – doing this just to do so.  This was really hard for me.  I began to distance myself from her by avoiding her emails, texts, and phone calls.  She knew what was going on, but wanted to talk about it.  Finally, I emailed her and very bluntly told her that I no longer wanted to be around her.  This was very hard for her because everyone else had done the same thing, and now her best friend of 6 years was turning his back on her.  She had no other friends.

    I had a strong internal battle going on in my mind.  Why did I feel the need to do this?  She wasn’t hurting me or bringing me down, was she?  No, she wasn’t.  I had to ask myself, in the most cliché way possible, “What would Jesus do?” .  He would love her and try to help her in any way he could.  This ate away at me, but I still didn’t feel comfortable being with her.  She wasn’t living the standards. Since then, our friendship has healed, I see her often, and we are still best friends.

    I have since then learned some things about standards and how I believe we should treat those who are not living “the standards”.

    I believe it is so important to realize that everyone is different.  Duh, I know.  But really…no one is the same.  We all have our own challenges, strengths, ways to bless people, etc.  God knows our hearts, and I will let him be the judge (at least, I try not to take that role, but it still happens).  That is why I will never tell someone how to live their life.  I don’t know what they are going through.  (I used to be kind of upset when those who struggle with SGA would give in and “live the lifestyle”, as we tend to say.  Now I have realized that some people will be happier “living the lifestyle” (I use that term loosely, by the way) than they would be in the church.  And if that is how they feel, then I am happy for them because they are happy.  That is the same thing with my friends L and K, that I mentioned in my last post.  They are happier out of the church then they are in the church).

    Now to finally get to the point of all this rambling.  I have been learning that I need to hold people to their standards, and not my own or anybody else.  I of course believe that my morals and standards are the best, but that is only because they are best for me.  My standards aren’t for anyone but me.  I do believe that most people will be happy living the standards of the LDS church, but there are other ways to feel at peace with yourself too.  If anything, living the LDS standards will keep you safe and drama free. 🙂 Anyway, what I mean to say is this:  Hold people to their own standards.  I think that we ought to hold everyone to some kind of moral standard (that C.S. Lewis refers to as the Law of Human Nature) that includes things such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.  Past that, though, live and let live.  When a friend isn’t living the way I would, I try not to be so hasty to turn my back on them.  Rather, I try to help them live what they believe.  When a friend says “I’m okay with drinking, I just don’t want to get wasted”, I hold them to that standard.  I try to think of them and their pursuit of happiness, and if I feel like they might be doing something that goes against their personal moral code, I express concern and try to remind them of their goals.  Goals may change and I must change my assessment of their situation.

    This is now how I try to interact with people.  I will respect any choice that doesn’t inhibit someone from living with their own basic rights, and I try to be sentimental of every situation.