Monday, February 23, 2009


Much has been said lately about Chris Buttars comments about homosexuals recently in the media. It is slightly scary at what level of conviction he made those statements and at what level of conviction that those who think the same way agree. There is a certainty that their belief system is fact, supported by a sacred text that was inspired by god and that it is the absolute truth.

However this certainty is not reserved for homosexuals. We see it as the pious justify all of their policies and beliefs. Abortion is murder, god said...contraception is a sin, god said....the United States is a Christian Nation...god said. You get the picture. With this certainty comes a calling to wield a sword and to strike down all evil in the world. This power, given by god, results in oppression of minorities, women, homosexuals, non-believers, and those who are not of their faith.

When I was five there was certainty there was a Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, and an Easter Bunny. When I was 11, I wanted so bad for those to be real but I started to ask questions and soon abandoned them as icons. When I was 12, a devout LDS boy living in a home with parents who were not active in the church, I started to see how poorly my family was treated and I started to ask questions. By the time, I was 14 I was having a "Crisis of Faith" and my attendance became sporadic. When I was 16, I was ordained a priest and within the year I was a self proclaimed atheist.

I didn't really know at 16 if I was an atheist or a Mormon. What I knew was I had doubt. That doubt led me on a journey. I questioned, read, asked questions and demanded answers....all led me to more doubt, more questions and a deeper search. Not one text but many. My journey was first a search for affirmation that the god I loved for the last 16 years was. It, over time, morphed into a journey to prove he was not. As I have aged and seasoned the message has tempered. I no longer quest to prove god does not exist but to ask hard questions. I do not find the old stand by "you have to have faith" to be good enough.

I recently watched the film "Religulous" by Bill Maher. Bill Maher is, by all accounts, an atheist. The film and the sarcasm contained within is my type of humor and I honestly enjoyed it from an entertainment standpoint. However, the message at the end of the film made me stop and really think. Maher discusses DOUBT! He discusses, as I did at the beginning of this post, that it is in certainty that we are called to action to forward our cause. However with a little doubt, a little humility, we pause. I am sure enough of the path I have chosen to continue my journey, I however have enough doubt that I am not going try to convince you that you should join me. I will however question your assertions not as a means to sway you from your belief but in an attempt to lessen my doubt!

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Gay Rights

The righteouslature is in session right now and I keep hearing how allowing Gay couples the same rights as heterosexual married folks is a "slippery slope" to destroying the traditional family and traditional family values. Every time I hear that statement the flashing word "bigot" comes to mind.

As it says in my profile, I am married, I have five children and with the risk of sounding like Larry Craig, R, Idaho...I am not gay, I have never been gay. I have however, at one point in my life, been a bigot.

I moved away from home when I was 18. I lived in an apartment with my best friend Austin and my not so best friends Clint and Phillip. We had a typical bachelor pad. Clint found himself in love and need to quickly get married in the Temple before his unprincipled male urges made him temporarily ineligible to marry in that building.

At 18, I looked 16. I was working on the show "Barnum" at Pioneer Theatre Company" at the University of Utah. The lead male, Jess Richards, was 42 years old. He started to pay some attention to me and eventually made a physical pass at me in his dressing room. As an 18 year old boy who grew up in a very sheltered small town, this was a shock. I had always been obsessed with girls. However, I thought that I was oozing a gayness from my pores and that there must be something wrong with me. Why else would this guy have got the impression that I was gay.

I spent the next week fairly withdrawn trying to figure out if there was something wrong with me. I didn't discuss the incident with anyone and Jess figured out that he had crossed the line and apologized to me. My "manhood" was reaffirmed when I saw an attractive woman at the swimming pool in a bikini and I knew that was what I liked.

We needed a roommate to cover Clint's portion of the rent. I had met this kid Joey at the theatre. He was from Price (if I remember correctly). A town smaller than the one I grew up in. He was looking for a place to live. I asked him point blank if he was gay. He claimed he was not. He lied. He had all of the stereotypical attributes that pop culture would assign a gay male but I initially took him at his word. He changed major from theatre to nursing and then told me he wanted to work with AIDS patients. He eventually started hanging out with a kid from the U who turned out to be the president of the Gay Lesbian bisexual Transgender Student Union. Joey and his friend were by all accounts nice guys. They were much nicer than Phillip. Now Just in case you think this is going to be one of those "It's a Wonderful Life" endings you are sadly, as am I, mistaken. I invited Joey to move out. I was much more comfortable with a womanizer alcoholic (Phillip) than I was living with a gay male.

I grew up in a small town were being gay meant you could at minimum ostracised and could very likely get your ass kicked. My dad was former Military and grew up in a smaller town than he was raising us in. He had no tolerance for homosexuals and would not be opposed to using derogatory language to describe them. One of the worst insults and one the meanest things ever said to me by my mother was insinuating that because I was into theatre that I was a "queer".

During the school year I had more opportunities to date men than I did women. I was asked out several times by dancer's, actors, crew members. I went out once with the president of the local chamber of commerce's....daughter. My prejudices against homosexuality had started to harden and become part of who I am.

The summer of '84 I went to Park City, UT to work as the Production Stage Manager of the Park City Shakespeare Festival. While there I met Anne. Anne was a good listener with an incredibly engaging smile and a devilish twinkle in her eyes. Anne and I became friends. Although she was never a romantic interest we would be seen holding hands, walking arm in arm, and in other situations that led others to believe we were "together". I started to share with Anne a level of honesty I had yet to share with anyone (except my former girlfriend and current wife.). One evening Anne and I were in the hallway of the condo complex I was staying in. If I remember correctly my head was in her lap and we were having a quiet conversation about life. During the course of discussion I blurted an insensitive and homophobic remark out. At that moment I felt Anne tense up, she stared into my eyes and said matter-of-fact-ly, "Kevin, I am gay".

It was at this moment that my views changed dramatically, I pulled my foot out of my mouth and with tears in my eyes apologized. I love Anne, as a friend, a confidant, as a fellow human being and wanted to do nothing to hurt her. For me, Anne took the us and them factor out of homosexuality. She was what we should all know about all people we encounter, a person with feelings, passions, desires and with a huge capacity to love.

With the exception of my love Lisa, no one else has had a bigger impact I the way I view the world than Anne. I returned to the U with new acceptance for the people I worked with. I no longer found it threatening to be in the company of gay actors who openly would tell me they thought I was cute. I have never met a gay person who knowing that I was straight tried to recruit me. I knew what my gender preferences were because they had been assigned to me at conception as I believe theirs were.

Now we have seen 3 "Common Ground" bills defeated by the legislature because they extend some protections to homosexuals including the right to visit their loved on in the hospital, the right to inherit property, and the right to be free from discrimination in the work place. These are some things that were promised when we had amendment three rammed down our throats by a pious legislature and a bigoted electorate. The buzz word is "slippery slope." If we allow them protection from discrimination we may have to allow them to marry and god forbid have the same opportunity for happiness the rest of us get. We may have to acknowledge they are "fellow passengers to the grave".

I think the most reprehensible things said have been said by State Senator Chris Butters. Unfortunately this bigot represents my district. In a recent Salt Lake Tribune Article he said the gay-rights movement "probably the greatest threat to America," likened gay activists to Muslim radicals and called same-sex relationships "abominations." Unfortunately he is the only politician who says what he believes. Many of our elected officials believe the same thing privately and vote publicly with those prejudices.

In my home it is not that way, we accept everyone. I don't have gay friends and straight friends...I have friends. My children are the next generation and my adult children support rights for all. My younger children are being raised to support the rights for all as well. I hope they follow the lead of their siblings. Maybe between now and the next generation we can turn the tide and vote the way of equality for everyone.

Thank you Anne...I think that everyone should have an Anne in their lives....and Joey...I am sorry.