Saturday, July 12, 2008

Putting Together the Pieces

After reading Forester's recent post and after reading the comments, and commenting myself, and having read comments on those comments, I come back again to the seeming impossible dilemmas faced by gay people in our society.

I say in our society, because I think that many of the seemingly impossible or unresolvable contradictions are a function of the fact that social norms and conventions have been evolved by the majority of opposite-sex attracted people to make things helpful and convenient for themselves. If we could create our own nation of Gaylandia, or better yet our own Mohomeland, we would very quickly evolve a different set of social norms and conventions that would remove much of the struggle we face in Straightlandia every day.

Living in the Mohomeland would not, of course, solve all our problems. I know that, because I know so many unhappy and struggling straight people. Being part of the conventional majority doesn't alleviate us of the necessity of working to find our own happiness. It just eliminates certain annoying obstacles.

The societies we create are seldom wise. In many ways, human beings behave like children in a candy store with daddy's credit card. In some ways, being a disenfranchised minority forces us to look at things from a more critical perspective. It enables us to see more clearly the flaws in the thinking of the majority. Of course, we have our own set of flaws. But I digress...

We Mohos are caught in a particularly painful dilemma. We can choose a life that satisfies the requirements of the Church and that enables us to be members in good standing. But we are forced to sacrifice some of the deepest satisfactions of life. (Though even then, we are often looked at suspiciously and askance, since despite the overwhelming personal sacrifices we have to make in order to do that, our loyalty is considered suspect due simply to attractions that seem woven into our very beings.) OR we can choose a life that harmonizes with some of the deepest and most powerful feelings in our hearts, minds and bodies, but then we find ourselves disfellowshipped and excommunicated from the Church we love. We find it impossible to participate in the rites and communions that enable our souls to flourish. In either case, since Mormon scripture clarifies that "the spirit and the body are the soul of man" (D&C 88:15), our souls are literally torn asunder, we find it almost impossible to find a way in which spirit and body live harmoniously and unproblematically together.

What do you do caught in such a dilemma? It's like one of those 3-D puzzles where you have a pile of strange pieces that can fit together in multiple ways. The goal is to fit all of the puzzle pieces together into a single harmonious shape. But because the pieces can fit together in different ways, you might start assembling the pieces in one way, only to find, after a while, that if you fit them that way, the remaining pieces can't possibly fit in. So you disassemble some of the pieces and then reassemble, only to find that this time other pieces don't fit. Sometimes you have to tear the whole damn thing apart and start over. This puzzle is the puzzle of our entire life-times. We will work at it 60, 70, 80 -- if I live as long as my grandmother -- 100 years.

Some Mohos have started with the Church piece first, have fit what pieces they could onto that, and begun to assemble a satisfying shape, only to discover that those damned inconvenient same-sex attraction pieces can't go in there. And as long as there's no place for that, there are inconvenient gaps, and the end result is frustrating.

Other Mohos have set the Church piece aside, and have started with the sexuality and relationship pieces first, and have assembled other spiritual and social pieces around those. They too have begun to assemble a satisfying shape that puts so many of the pieces so smartly together. But those damn Church and marriage and family pieces don't seem to fit, leaving inconvenient gaps and a similarly frustrating end result.

But aren't we all trying to assemble the same puzzle? Can't we learn from each other? Don't we need each other's advice and support? Can't we learn about how the missing pieces might fit, by seeing how others have assembled them successfully?


Ty Ray said...

But aren't we all trying to assemble the same puzzle? Can't we learn from each other? Don't we need each other's advice and support? Can't we learn about how the missing pieces might fit, by seeing how others have assembled them successfully?

My thought is a resounding "yes!"

The scripture that has been increasingly impressed upon my mind and heart recently is: "For we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect" (D&C 128:18).

Beck said...

Very thought-inspiring analogy! I don't know that it helps me find out how to fit in the missing pieces, but it does help me to keep going, and to reason together among this community of misfit pieces.

Though our experiences, and subsequent misfit pieces are not by any means similar, does not preclude us edifying each other in our common journey.

I'm not at the point of tearing apart the entire 3-D puzzle already assembled, but I'm also not at the point of tossing the misfit pieces aside and not worrying about them. The holes and gaps in my structural integrity are sufficient enough to require further examination...

J G-W said...

Ty - Your answer to that question has always been a resounding Yes! And thanks for reminding me of that passage in D&C 128:18... I think of it often too. It's powerful and comforting... But reminds me of my responsibility to others too...

Beck - I offered the analogy because I believe with my whole heart that the puzzle can be solved. It's just a very challenging puzzle!

Years ago, I cast the Church piece aside and said "Don't need this!" Years down the road, I've had to dig it out and acknowledge I was wrong.

And I cherish the friendships I've found among those like you who've tackled the puzzle differently.

As Ty says, we need each other in this journey...

Potentate said...

This is one of my favorites among your blogs, John. I love how you can get me to think without being caustic.

J G-W said...

Thanks, Potentate. The gentle affirmation is most appreciated!