Thursday, January 17, 2013

A New Blog about the LGBT Mormon Experience

Recently I was approached by John Dehlin, who asked if I might be interested in participating in an exciting new project...  A new blog à la Feminist Mormon Housewives or By Common Consent that focuses on the experience of being gay and Mormon.  After much wrangling over a name for the blog, we settled on "No More Strangers," with the tag line, "LGBT Mormon Forum."  I've written the pilot post, explaining the name and laying out our aspirations for the blog.

The list of other "permabloggers" is impressive.  It includes folks who've been voices for LGBT inclusion and understanding in the Church decades before it became fashionable to do so, folks like Bob Rees, Carol Lynn Pearson and Bill Bradshaw.  But also lots of new voices and faces like John Dehlin (of Mormon Stories fame); Kendall Wilcox (Far Between and Mormons Building Bridges); Erika Munson (Mormons Building Bridges);  Bridey Jensen (USGA); Amanda Klein Nokleby, Kevin Kloosterman and Daniel Parkinson (the Gay Mormon Stories podcast); Mitch Mayne (in the leadership of the Bay Ward, San Francisco Stake); Jim Struve (a therapist engaged in affirming therapy work with LGBT folks); Laura Compton, Scott Holley and Spencer Clark (Mormons for Marriage Equality); Berta Marquez (an activist on behalf of Utah LGBT youth); Cary Crall (former BYU activist and activist on LGBT health); Tom and Wendy Montgomery (LDS Family Fellowship); and Randall Thacker and me (Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons).  There are a few others we're hoping will come on board, whom we'll announce in due course with due fanfare.

I guess the main challenge for me is stepping into a larger community where I will work closely with a variety of folks with varying perspectives and experience in a potentially very contentious field.  I guess over the years it's dawned on me that being in a committed same-sex marriage of over 20 years now, being out and excommunicated, and being a believing, practicing Latter-day Saint who am active in my ward is something many folks consider an oddity.  Being odd, it's always been easier for me to keep to myself over here on my own personal blog, tending my own garden and making good neighbors with good fences.

Being active now as senior vice president of Affirmation and getting involved in a collective writing venture like No More Strangers (not to mention the political activism I was involved in last year) means interacting with a variety of folks I may or may not see eye-to-eye with, and obligating me to work on important issues where I can find common ground with others but where I don't always get to define the terms and conditions of our cooperation.  I guess in some quarters, that's called, "Putting your shoulder to the wheel."

Writers on the blog include folks who consider themselves "culturally" Mormon, though no longer believing or practicing, folks who are active in the LDS community who wrestle with doubt, folks who are on the fringes of the LDS community who wrestle with faith, as well folks who are active, committed, testimony-bearing Mormons (whether that makes us oddities or not).

The blog will certainly comment on developments in the LGBT and Mormon communities (and in the places where they intersect).  And there is certainly a lot to comment on in that arena at a period in history where the Mormon community is opening up to dialog around this issue in a quite spectacular way!  But we won't necessarily confine ourselves to those topics.  We anticipate writing on a number of interesting topics that have nothing to do with being LGBT or Mormon, but that our perspective as LGBT Mormons and allies could shed light on.

I anticipate writing a column that will serially examine the entire standard works of the LDS Church (and a few not so standard works), "likening the scriptures unto us" as LGBT Mormons.  Others have interesting ideas of their own, that I can hardly wait to see unfold over time.

Please come over and check us out!  We welcome guest bloggers!  Contact us through the blog if you're interested and would like to contribute!


Andrew S said...

I don't know if it's just my browser or internet (I'm having some problems at the moment, so that's definitely a possibility), but it seems like the site is not finished. The page doesn't show a title in the title bar (it just shows the URL when you're not looking at a specific article), and when you sign up for RSS (which, as far as I can tell, there is no button to do this, but I put the site URL in google reader), the feed is called "title unknown".

I imagine that the theme is also a work in process.

I'm going to stop complaining now, since you probably have nothing to do with any of those things.

J G-W said...

Andrew - You are right, alas... I'm not the one who really can help with those things, though I've forwarded your feedback to the folks who can.

We are a group of talented writers who may or may not have a lot of experience with the mechanics of WordPress!

J G-W said...

Andrew, I think we've fixed the glitch you found. We seem to have a title now, in any event. Maybe that will help with the RSS problem as well.

If you try again, let me know if it works this time.

Andrew S said...

J G-W,

Now the RSS feed title is "feed/"

I guess this works, because it has the title of the site in it so I can easily locate it in my RSS, but...

J G-W said...

Mumble, grumble, complain, complain. :-)

I just got a report from one of the folks handling the tech side of the blog... Apparently the "theme" we chose for the blog is kind of glitchy, so we may be changing it soon. I don't know anything... I just work here. :-)

On the writing side, it's been incredibly fun pulling folks together and figuring out how this is going to work, and it looks like some of the other folks have some fantastic posts lined up... I'm looking forward to it.

Dean said...

Thanks for your involvement on this, John.

Matt said...

I'm looking forward to seeing how it goes.

J G-W said...

Matt, Dean, I hope you have checked it out. Scott Holley posted Friday about his evolution on the issue of same-sex marriage, and Daniel Parkinson posted an amazing piece on Saturday about the elements of his upbringing as a Mormon that helped him come to terms with being gay as an adult. Amazing stuff!