Homosexuality, Religion, and Philanthropy

My other blog is about my journey from devout Mormon to Atheist, and I usually keep it completely separate from this blog.  Religious debate tends to divide people; my goal on this blog is to bring people together to pursue something we all value – helping other people.

Austin Pride Parade 2012

Austin Pride Parade 2012

Today I’m going to risk crossing over because of an issue I care deeply about – gay rights.  I’m crossing over because . . . unfortunately many of the problems facing gay people are caused by religious belief about them.

Also, life has placed me in a unique position of empathy; I couldn’t keep myself quiet about it if I wanted to.

You see, my father is gay and I grew up in the Mormon faith.  My parents were divorced when I was one, so my dad wasn’t around and I didn’t really know him, but he was still my dad.  That had an affect on my religion.  I felt like my dad was going to go to hell if he didn’t change and I felt a personal responsibility to help save him.  This, along with many other things, was one of the things that led me to become very religious.

Listen, if you’re not interested in talking about this that’s fine.  I’m not trying to push a conversation on you that you’re not open to and I’m not looking for an argument.  Come back later and let’s keep working together in the areas we agree on.

So, philanthropy

The reason I’m bringing it up here is because there are too many good people suffering.

There are still too many instances of bullying, too many suicides, too many parents kicking their children out of their homes, too much depression, too much mental illness, too many STDs from normal people being pushed to the fringe of our society, too many predators taking advantage of young people who lost all support from family when they “came out.”

The world is changing.  The world my dad grew up in was much more difficult for gay people.  In fact, if he had been born a few years earlier there’s a large chance he would have been involved in electroshock therapy at BYU.  Mormonism has become much more inclusive over the past few years.

Things are getting better, but we’re not there yet.

For example, 42% of homeless youth in Utah are gay.  They were shunned, pushed into “reparative therapy,” or left their home for some on their own because of the pressure.

All of these things stem from the beliefs you and I hold about who gay people are and why they do what they do.  They depend on the attitudes our kids hold when they go to school and see the effeminate kid being picked on.  It starts with us.

So I’ve written about it a lot – mostly on my other blog, but also on Facebook, in the Pride Team Member Network within my job, in letters to family members, etc.  Advocacy for gay rights and understanding of gay issues is a core part of my philanthropy.

Here’s the point

My brother and I were interviewed a few weeks ago on a podcast that focuses on gay issues within Mormonism.  We talk openly about what it was like for us.  If you’re interested in hearing our perspective, you’ll find the two episodes of the podcast here and here.

If you can’t listen, you’ll get the main gist of what I want you to understand in this short article: A Mormon Boy’s Mission to Save His Father.

Talk to me

I’d love to hear what you think!  I’m very open about this and will answer any question you have.  You can post in the comments below or send me a personal message.

Cheers!

–Jefferson

About Jefferson

Hi there! I'm, uh . . . I'm me. Well thank you, it's good to meet you too. Click on over to my two blogs and read some of my words, then write some of your own :) View all posts by Jefferson

5 responses to “Homosexuality, Religion, and Philanthropy

  • The Hook

    You’ve earned my respect and admiration, Jefferson.
    Thank you for this.

  • anothernone

    I believe strongly in gay rights as well. As a child being raised in the Bible belt, I was taught that homosexuality is a sin and a choice. As a grown woman, I know that is crap. I went to my local Gay Pride parade last year and was appalled when a religious group called the Sons of Thunder (think Westboro Baptist Church without women) were there with bullhorns preaching hellfire and damnation. They had huge banners that said “Gay people deserve 3 things: AIDS, Hell, and Salvation”. As if that message was going to draw in the masses!! I am hoping to be better prepared for them this year with a few signs and words of my own…words of love, encouragement, and acceptance. I truly hope that I can get the local SSA and Atheist groups to join in and show their support too.

    What you are doing on both of your blogs is a beautiful thing. Keep up the good work! I have enjoyed reading your blogs and look forward to what you have to say in the future.

    • Jefferson

      Thanks for your comment, another. Some of those signs are just so . . . disgusting. I think most of them must take pride in how FEW people their signs attract . . . . I think you’re idea to have your own signs up sounds great. Are you going to set up next to them?

      At the Pride parade here in Austin, there weren’t TOO many hateful things being said. One guy was set up right by the Pride festival, which, I thought, had to be much more painful for him than for everyone who was passing him – he was having to listen to lude songs sung by drag queens . . . surely he was just sitting there FUMING at all the “sin” going on around him . . . meanwhile, everyone else was just having a good time.

      I went up and took a picture with him and he smiled for half a second in a dejected sort of way. He knew I was doing it to make fun of him, but . . . he was one of the milder sorts of bigots – not quite off the edge enough to shout at me.

      Here’s a pic :) https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151169439823537&set=a.10150480593648537.388423.765878536&type=1&theater

  • anothernone

    These guys were set up on 2 corners at a busy intersection on the parade route. There were some people from the gay community that were expecting them and stood in front of them with their own signs. There were a few hostile people who got in their faces and cursed a lot. It made me sad for them. It is hard not to care when it is so personal for some. One girl cried and told them that she was gay and loved Jesus too. Sad, sad, sad.

    I plan on standing on the opposite corner from them. I am hoping that I can get some people to join me on my side of the street. With people like them spewing hate, I don’t think it will be a problem!

    Your picture is EPIC!! Love the look on his face and yours!

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