Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Halloween costumes - keeping it butch

I love satire that points out the absurdity of prejudice.

Here's a very funny clip from The Onion about butching up your sissy boy with an appropriate Halloween costume. (To think that we still worry about this.)

Via: Dan Savage

Monday, October 26, 2009

No more goodbyes, please - part 4

Those of you who follow this blog know that my boyfriend Tobi has had an immigration crisis for the last twelve months. I've blogged about it here, here and here.

There's recent news. It's good news and bad news. The good news is that Tobi has a very promising job possibility that would allow him to stay in the U.S. The bad news is that he has had to move across the country to get the job.

I put Tobi on a plane this Saturday with a one-way ticket. It was just about the hardest thing I've ever done in my life. We now live on opposite coasts of the U.S.

This crisis over the last year has taught me something. It has let me know how much I love this man. I love him truly, sincerely, durably. I want to spend my life with him.

Tobi and I don't know what the future will bring. I have enough flexibility that I should be able to spend time with Tobi in his new city fairly often, and I plan to do this. Maybe he'll be able to move back here with me after he gets permanent residency in a few years. Maybe I'll figure out a way that I can move there and be with him. Maybe we won't survive the separation. In any case, we're not going to spend time agonizing about that now. We're just going to move forward, knowing that we love each other and are willing to face this challenge together.

(Tobi's immigration problems are not yet over. I'll give another update in a couple of months when the next round of paperwork has been successfully processed. It's not quite time yet for celebration on that score.)

In the meantime, gambare, Tobi! My heart is with you in your new adventure.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Coming out advice for young people

Here's some advice for coming out to parents who are religious conservatives.

Via: Daddy Bear

Friday, October 16, 2009

The changing of the guard

Blogger Ziff has a post that predicts which of the LDS Quorum of the Twelve will succeed in becoming president of the church and which will not have that role. Ziff's post made me interested in a related question: For each year in the future, who is the president of the LDS Church likely to be?

I ran the numbers and produced a graph that shows each of the existing candidates and the chance that they will be president of the church in each given year. Graphically, the data looks like this:


(Click on the diagram to zoom in.)

The blue line coming from the upper left shows survival chance of Thomas Monson. You'll notice that not all apostles are equally represented. There's a good chance for Packer, Oaks, Holland and Bednar, each in different years. The other apostles are not nearly as likely to become president. Note that although we can almost rule out some of the candidates, the most likely successors are by no means assured of their place.

The red and blue bell-shaped curves to the left show something rather scary: they represent the possibility of Boyd Packer and Dallin Oaks becoming church presidents. (These two apostles represent the hardest edge of the old guard.)

The following diagram shows the probability that either Packer or Oaks is church president in a given year:


In other words, between 5 and 15 years from now there is an excellent chance that either Elder Packer or Elder Oaks will be president of the church. In fact, there is a lifetime probability of about 70% that eventually at least one of them will take over the presidency.

If you look at the current church leadership, you can divide them into two groups based on age and temperament. The older group (in order of succession) is

Monson (age 82)
Packer (age 85)
Perry (age 87)
Nelson (age 85)
Oaks (age 77)
Ballard (age 80)
Scott (age 80)
Hales (age 77)

The younger, probably more progressive group is lead by Jeffrey Holland:

Holland (age 68)
Eyring (age 76)
Uchtdorf (age 68)
Bednar (age 57)
Cook (age 69)
Christofferson (age 64)
Andersen (age 58)

Since succession in the LDS Church is by strict seniority, it is possible to ask when the church presidents from the older group will be replaced by their younger, more progressive colleagues. The following chart shows the probability of any member of the younger group being president of the church:


Basically, during the next 10 to 15 years the LDS Church will have very conservative leadership, perhaps even more conservative than today. Then, from 10 to 20 years from now there will be a time of transition. Starting 20 years from now, it is very likely that all of the old guard will be gone.

I don't know if these numbers are encouraging or discouraging.

Note on methodology: Ziff's numbers are based on life expectancy data for white males in the U.S. in 2004. I used the same data set as Ziff for the life expectancies, except that I reduced annual mortality [q(x)] by 10 percent across the board to account for the fact that members of the LDS leadership are probably longer lived than the general population.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

This one's a must-read

Here's some must-read satire from The Onion: If God Had Wanted Me To Be Accepting Of Gays, He Would Have Given Me The Warmth And Compassion To Do So.
I don't question God. The Lord is my Shepherd and I shall put none above Him. Which is why I know that if it were part of God's plan for me to stop viciously condemning others based solely on their sexual preference, He would have seen fit—in His infinite wisdom and all—to have given me the tiniest bit of human empathy necessary to do so.

It's a simple matter of logic, really. God made me who I am, and who I am is a cold, anti-gay zealot. Thus, I abhor gay people because God made me that way. Why is that so hard to understand?
Here, let's start with the basic facts: I hate and fear gay people. The way they feel is different from how I feel, and that causes me a lot of confusion and anger. Everyone knows God is all-powerful. He could easily have given me the capacity to investigate what's behind those feelings rather than tell strangers in the park they're going to hell for holding hands. But God clearly has another path for me. And who am I to question His divine will?

Try to understand. If I were capable of thinking and acting any other way, then I'm sure I would, but God seems to be quite adamant about this one. He's just not budging at all. So unless our almighty Lord and Savior decides to change His mind about my ability to empathize on even the most basic level—which I find highly unlikely—then everyone is just going to have to accept the fact that I'm going to keep on hating homosexuals. And I know that He will fill me with the strength to remain mindless and hurtful in the face of adversity.

Read the whole thing.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Conference report

The Salt Lake Tribune reports on continuing advice to parents of gay adult children by LDS Apostle Dallin H. Oaks in the October 2009 General Conference. According to the paper, Elder Oaks said:
Following the example of an all-wise and loving God who has given commandments for the benefit of his children, wise parents condition some parental gifts on obedience. If an adult child is living in cohabitation, does the seriousness of sexual relations outside the bonds of marriage require that this child feel the full weight of family disapproval by being excluded from any family contacts, or does parental love require that the fact of cohabitation be ignored?

The Trib comments:
The apostle said he had seen both responses, neither of which is appropriate. Indeed, gay activists recently have criticized Mormon parents who cut off communication with their gay children.

Elder Oaks's world view scares the pants off me. (Apparently, being a gay couple is all about sex, sex, sex all the time, even if the "cohabitors" have kids, joint dental insurance and a mortgage.) For the record, I would never relate to either of my two adult children in the manipulative way he proposes. It wouldn't matter what the nature of the disagreement was.

Incidentally, in denouncing child abandonment, Elder Oaks uses the weakest language imaginable. He thinks that severing parental bonds, the ultimate act of emotional violence if there ever was one, is "inappropriate" but on par in terms of fault with parents who love and accept their children without strings attached. Unbelievable.

This reminds me of the tragic story of Spencer W. Kimball's "conditional-love" relationship with his brainy, overachieving but (unforgivably) nonbelieving son Spencer LeVan Kimball. As a son, SLK was no slacker-- he won a Rhodes Scholarship (!), became a distinguished law professor and devoted himself to a life of teaching and service. Yet, his father SWK chose to severely damage the relationship over religious differences.

All I can say is that I'm glad that I don't happen to be Elder Oaks's gay child. Can you even imagine?

When I came out over 20 years ago, my kindhearted LDS parents treated me with nothing but love. They listened to me as I struggled to tell them the part of my life that had been hidden from them. They cried with me as I worked through the issues (including a painful divorce). It is not an overstatement to say that their loving response made all the difference in my life.