Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Matis Fireside

*DISCLAIMER*
* * * I always enjoy going to the Matis firesides. I will admit, that I go more for social reasons than religious ones, but I do enjoy going and I love Fred and Marilyn very much. I am also an acting homosexual (by that I mean that I'm not trying to be straight, I'm not planning on living a celibate life in the church, and I'm not planning on marrying a woman - I respect those of my readers who are following those paths, as I would hope they would respect me for not following those paths). I have a boyfriend I plan to someday legally marry and spend the rest of my life with. I don't intend to write this post to make fun of anyone's religious views, I am mostly just venting. That being said... * * *

I went to the Matis fireside tonight, and to be honest, I didn't enjoy it. They had a singing group comprised of four women. I got there late, so I didn't hear what their group name was, and I don't really care to find out because I really can't bear to listen to the kind of music they sing (sorry to those who like them, I've just never really liked that type of music). In between their songs, they would take turns talking about various life experiences and gospel topics. It was all fine and good until one of them (I think it was Fred and Marilyn's daughter?) stood up and started talking about (and PLEASE correct me if I get the story wrong, she didn't really go into details about family relationships, so I had to kind of piece it together from the whisperings of people sitting around me) her husband and how he decided at a young age to "come out" (as she put it. She said, "for lack of a better term," which implied to me that coming out is somehow a negative term to her) and how he lived the "gay lifestyle," which she defined as clubbing, drugs, and sex. She went on to say that there is no happiness in the "gay lifestyle" and if any of us were considering leaving the church for the "gay lifestyle" we would not find what we were looking for. She then went on to say that it is impossible to have a gay monogamous relationship (to which I took personal offense).

I am living what I would call a gay lifestyle. I am gay, I have a boyfriend, I have gay friends, etc. However, I would NEVER consider doing drugs, drinking, smoking, or anything like that. I don't even drink coffee. It makes me wonder how the whole drinking, partying, and doing drugs thing became known as "the gay lifestyle." Heterosexuals drink, party, and do drugs too, but we don't call that the "heterosexual lifestyle." Why do the gays have to be synonymous with that lifestyle when just as many heteros do that too?

Also, I know I've only been with my boyfriend for a year and two months, but I expect our relationship to last. I see no difference in how I am with my boyfriend than how my sister is with her husband, or my brother is with his wife. The only difference is gender, the rest of the relationship dynamic is the same. I love my boyfriend just as much as my sister does her husband, or my brother does his wife. I don't like having someone say that just because I'm gay I'm more likely to cheat on my committed partner than a straight person would. I can handle hearing that kind of stuff from Chris Buttars, but I didn't expect to hear it at the fireside.

I've tried to represent her words as accurately as possible. That is what I heard her say, but others may have different accounts, which I welcome to be posted as comments here. I texted a friend of mine who lives back east but is extremely close friends with Fred and Marilyn and told him what she said and told him that I was offended. He replied that she probably didn't mean to make it sound as harsh as it came out and that she is really an amazing person. I will give her the benefit of the doubt. I know she meant well, and that is what she firmly believes. However, I go to the Matis firesides because I expect it to be a safe place where I can feel love and acceptance in a Mormon type setting without being judged or told I'm evil. Tonight's fireside did not feel like a safe and accepting place to me. I still plan on going every month, and I'm not offended anymore (I got over it pretty fast), but I hope that the firesides in the future will be more accepting of the diverse crowd that attends.

11 comments:

Abelard Enigma said...

her husband and how he decided at a young age to "come out" ... and how he lived the "gay lifestyle,

It's always amazing to me how people are so willing to look at one person (or a few people) and feel qualified to judge an entire group based on the actions and attitudes of that single person (or very small number of people). I'm sure she would be very dismayed if someone were to do that with Mormon's - judge the entire church based on the actions of a few.

Unfortunately, we have let Hollywood define for us what it means to be gay - with stereotypical characters like Jack on "Will & Grace". But, you are absolutely right, all of the debauchery that is used to define 'gay culture' is just as prevalent in heterosexuals.

What we need is more people like you. I imagine that people that are close to you are not as likely to define 'gay culture' the same as she did.

Over the last couple of years, I've gotten to know quite a few gay people and gay couples - and I don't know anybody that fits the gay stereotype. I'm sure they exist - but I just don't think they are as prevalent as some would have us believe.

Scott said...

Last night's was only the second fireside that Sarah and I went to (the first was the Christmas one) and I have to admit that I wasn't all that impressed. I was put off by the message, just like you were, and I remember thinking specifically that if they were all like that I wasn't sure I was going to make an effort to go to them in the future (because it is an effort, finding a babysitter for the kids, etc.).

From what you say, last night was perhaps a bit unusual in how judgmental the message came across. If that's the case, maybe we'll give it another shot in the future.

But I did want to let you know that you're not the only one who felt the way you did. I'm married, have never "acted out" and don't see an immediate future in which I'm anything other than faithful to my wife, but I was still a bit offended by what was said.

Alan said...

I was telling another friend last night that if I ever pursued a relationship I would do it on exactly the terms you've described. Regardless of orientation I do not and would not be promiscuous or pursue "the gay lifestyle." I think that's why I have become such a supporter of same-sex marriage: it makes possible for gay couples the same stability and commitment that hetero couples take for granted, and by rights ought to help reduce not only the social pathologies of that "lifestyle" but also the popular myth that being gay means nothing but promiscuity, drugs, alcohol and misery. I fail to see anything bad about that.

Ezra said...

I've never been to a Matis fireside.

I also am "living the gay lifestyle" in that I'm seeking a relationship and dating, but I don't drink, do drugs, I'm not promiscuou. I hate that it's assumed.

And to those who say it's impossible, I point to the hundreds of long term relationships that became official in California last year--and people like Scott (Cog).

Rubbish. I'll be the first to say it's harder--but since when is anything easy really worth it?

D. said...

Thank you for having the courage to post this. I wrote a post last night (www.nodaibut2day.blogspot.com) about this same issue but didn't have the heart to put the Matis' on the spot. I also felt very uncomfortable and not very safe. Fred and Marilyn are amazing people and I know that everyone had the best intentions, but some of the comments that were made really hit me hard and I have to clench my fists and bite my tongue a few times.

Jim said...

Man I wish I would have gone to this fireside just so that I can see what all this was about first hand :)
Thanks for being such a strong man!

Tommy said...

When she was talking about that, I felt myself rapidly getting sucked back into the whole conflicted what-if-she-really-is-right-in-the-end state. I took a few deep breaths and focused on finding a place of peace within myself.

Then this feeling washed over me. It seemed to say "Tommy, you know who you are. You know where you have been. You know where you are going, and you are fine. Trust in the guidance you have received, and have faith it will all work out. You are where you need to be. Don't worry." Not in so many words, however. Then it was gone.

So I took in the peace that came with this feeling and was fine for the rest of the fireside.

Alan said...

Tommy, you are wise beyond your years.

Original Mohomie said...

I happened to discuss this briefly with the Matises the other day at the last fireside, and I just discovered your blog, so I'm piping in WAY late.

I wasn't at the fireside, but I've heard enough about her statement to recognize the controversy. The Matises are aware many people took issue with her statements. They said she was relying on what her husband had told her about his experience in the gay community he was a part of. She may have an exaggerated or limited perspective.

But however outraged you may "feel", or however different your situation may be from what she described, I don't think any reasonable gay man who has had experience with other gay men or with "gay culture" (particularly outside of more conservative, LDS or ex-mormon circles) will deny that A) historically, gay society most often has involved higher instances of substance abuse and promiscuity than most other American subcultures, and B) very few gay couples remain in committed, monogamous, non-"open" relationships for very long, though I think we're seeing slow changes.

There are many statistics, in fact, which support those trends. Blame them on whatever causes you want, but if you disagree with someone claiming a high percentage of out, gay men engage in high-risk behaviors like sexual promiscuity and substance abuse, or with someone claiming there are relatively few long-term, sexually and emotionally exclusive committed relationships among gay society, I think you're going to find you are the one without statistical support for your claims. At least for now.

Now, if she really said it's "impossible" for gay couples to stay together, that's too much and is untrue. If she said it "doesn't happen", that's still untrue but not as far off as I wish it were. But if you can set aside your emotional reaction and look at it objectively, it's not hard to understand why someone would say what she apparently said.

I understand "feeling" outraged, and being a bit hurt by it. But it's not like she's totally out in left field, folks. Research the numbers and commentary from various sources, and I think you'll see the trends, even if they may be changing.

So the more people who live in a way as to defy those stereotypes, the more those stereotypes will, in time, become untrue. My advice: don't be offended; prove her (and everyone else who has made similar observations) wrong.

Captain Midnight said...

Thanks mohomie. Just to be clear, I wasn't exactly outraged. It hurt me to hear her say things like that at a place I go expecting to find acceptance, but I wasn't that angry about it. I still go to Matis firesides and enjoy them. I have since become more accepting and understanding of the various views in the moho community.

I know that the statistics you stated for the gay community are true. I also know that she did, for a fact, say that a committed gay relationship was impossible. I don't blame her for saying this, based on her past experiences, I would just urge more accepting statements in the future.

I can assure you that one of my main goals in life is to prove her and everyone else who shares that opinion wrong. I believe I prove people wrong every day just by living the life I'm currently living.

I may have been greatly offended at the time, but please don't think that I've just been stewing about it ever since. I got over it a long time ago and I've moved on.

Alan said...

Add me to the list of people determined to disprove these myths if only in my own life.