We don’t talk about sexuality very well in the church, much less same sex attraction.
“Mormons can be gay, they just can’t do gay”, was the title when Ty Mansfield spoked at the Fair Mormon Congress in August.
I was there and it has been I while since but I thought it is better that I really think about Ty´s speach before I write about it here in my blog.
Mansfield came out in 2004, when he co-wrote ”In Quiet Desperation: Understanding the Challenge of Same-Gender Attraction.” The book began with the story of Stuart Matis, who shot himself on the steps of his LDS chapel after struggling with same-sex attraction. Ty is also the cofounder of the support organization North Star for LDS individuals affected by homosexuality. He has said that he, because of his same-sex-attractions was ready to live a life of celibacy. However in 2010 he met Danielle and they fell in love, got married in the temple and are now proud parents of two childrens.
In his speach he said: ”While I still occasionally experience attraction to men, my desires are such that I can’t tell you the last time I desired a same-sex relationship. I desire only to be with my wife and family. ” and later: ”If others refer to me as gay, I typically tolerate it for practical purposes, but it’s not how I see myself, and occasionally it can feel particularly oppressive when others seem to insist on projecting and LGBT identity construct on me even after I’ve specified that that is not how I see myself.”
Well, for me that is just fine. If Ty is happy with his wife and his kids and if they are happy then it is just awesome.
But I had a problem listening to him. The subtitle of his speach was: ”Deconstructing Sexuality and Identity from an LDS Perspective” but brother Mansfield wasn’t deconstructing sexuality. He was deconstructing homosexuality and left heterosexuality intact.
To deconstruct something can be very evaporable and in my opinion you have to use it all the way if you want to use it.
According to brother Mansfield sexuality goes into four tiers — attraction and desire, orientation, behavior, and identity. And at the congress he went through each to deconstruct them. For example, for sexual orientation Ty quoted a researcher known for her research on female sexual fluidity who claims that because sexual fluidity is a general feature of human sexuality we have to talk about homosexualities rather than “homosexuality”. Ty noted that the idea that gender preference is the primary component of our sexual orientation is a current social construct, but still there are many factors required to make someone desirable — after all, we are only generally attracted to a few people of the sex to which we are attracted.
Well I agree. We aren’t attracted to everyone of the sex we desire. I am not attracted to every man that I stumble upon. So what is my problem listening to Ty? Well as I said: if you want to use deconstruction use it all the way. Heterosexuality is also a construct.
“Mormons can be gay, they just can’t do gay- Deconstructing Sexuality and Identity from an LDS Perspective” The title is a pejorative statement that is a caricature of doctrine and practices; it oversimplifies. is a flawed construction. It seems to me that Ty is using deconstructionism when it suits him, showing that being gay is not that wiered but the tools can´t be used elswhere when we are talking about gender and identity.
Furthermore I have never ever in the church heard something about our intersexual members. The term intersex covers bodily variations in regard to culturally established standards of maleness and femaleness, including variations at the level of chromosomes, gonads and genitals. how do you pick a child’s gender if she or he is intersex?
The child is assigned a gender as boy or girl after tests have been done and the parents have consulted with the doctors on which gender the child is more likely to feel as she or he grows up. The parents are deciding. And what if they are not asking the Lord? The vast majority of children with complete androgen insensitivity syndrome grow up to feel female, and that many children with cloacal exstrophy and XY chromosomes will grow up to feel male.
Why shouldn’t children with intersex be raised in a “third gender”? I do not know and Ty didn´t give me an answer. Deconstruction.
I want to be humble. I think that one could certainly develop a well-intentioned white picket fence homonormativity in the Law of Chastity.
My Mormon pragdim is a social pragdim and we can get back to that.
Sexual identities are socially constructed, and are tied with competing and sometimes incompatible social narratives and paradigms.
Be who you are.
Johan Finne är skribent, trädgårdsmästare och konstnär. Han fick 2013 ett hedersomnämnande för sitt mångåriga arbete inom den svenskfinska HBTIQ-rörelsen av föreningen Regnbågsankan. Han är medarbetare och skribent på bland annat QX.se och arbetar dessutom som trädgårdsmästare och konstnär.