Happy Pride Month 2023
With this being June, of course the Mormon bigots on Twitter - and of course other bigots on other social media platforms, but I don't see them as much - have grown even louder about their desire for a world where LGBTQ people don't exist. This kind of backlash is to be expected, since conservatives did the same thing after the civil rights movement and the feminist movement. Those of us who believe in social progress just need to brace ourselves, ride it out, and wait for most of them to die off. This one got more attention than she deserved because her husband or father made the mistake of wearing a Flight of the Conchords shirt, and half of Flight of the Conchords noticed.
Mormons actually have a long history of bullying marginalized groups (black people, women) and then crying about religious persecution when they get called out on it. But yes, the hypocrisy this time around is particularly gross. Especially because, contrary to the church's current retcon that monogamy is the Lord's standard and polygamy is a rare exception, Brigham Young and George Q. Cannon consistently taught that polygamy was the true heavenly order of marriage and monogamy was an unnatural aberration that made civilizations collapse. Kind of like gay marriage is supposed to do.
The people she's addressing neither claim nor have any obligation to be loving, tolerant, or inclusive toward hateful, intolerant, and exclusive ideologies. Racists could make the same complaint - oh wait, they do. And quoting a gay musician who's married to another man was an odd choice. And in case anyone is confused about the purity of April's intentions behind hanging a document in her yard that she knows nobody is going to stop and read, she helpfully spelled it out.
Here, not for the first time, is my take. If you don't want to celebrate Pride Month, don't. If you don't want to put a rainbow flag in your yard, don't. But don't play stupid and pretend you don't understand why it's a thing. It blows my mind to see middle-aged people acting like they can't remember how LGBTQ people have been treated within their lifetimes, and why LGBTQ people don't just quietly live their lives like straight people do, and why LGBTQ people make such a big deal out of their sexuality or gender identity. If they hadn't been marginalized for centuries, Pride Month wouldn't be a thing. But they were and it is, and people who never lifted a finger to defend them against bullying or harassment or discrimination (or obviously never would have if given the chance) need to shut the hell up about how they've opted to deal with those things on their own.
These bigots think they're speaking for God. I know they aren't. Their version of god is a small-minded, petty creep who conveniently happens to be prejudiced against the same people they are, even though he supposedly created those people and doesn't make mistakes. And their church is going to die if it doesn't change, because most people under forty have no desire to be like April Wilde Despain or to worship alongside people like Aprile Wilde Despain.
Ariana Rees probably doesn't remember me, unless I really weirded her out, but I used to message her on Facebook with questions about dating because she wrote articles for LDS Living or some such magazines with titles like "Just Because You're Single Doesn't Mean Something is Wrong with You," and bless her heart, she responded. Because she has pronouns in her bio, I knew she was either out of the church or didn't really believe in all of it, and this confirmation of that fact brought me joy. I'm sure Monster Cock's response did little to make her reconsider that decision. It sure validated mine a thousand times over. You put up with their shit? Really? Really?
In other uplifting news, Ukraine is going to launch its counteroffensive any day now, and given its performance relative to Russia's performance so far, I'm very optimistic that Putin's death is nigh. And I've finished my first full week of not being a substitute teacher anymore and I'm never going to do that again, even if I can't find another job. I'll starve first. Maybe that's not uplifting news, but having principles and sticking to them is important. Theoretically, with all this free time, I can think of better things to write about than bigots on Twitter. I do hope to transition to writing about their church a lot less often. I've been out for a year now. I've heard that most people need a year of deconstructing for every decade they spent in it, so that would be one more for me. And I can't even imagine where my beliefs will be in a year, if I haven't starved by then, so that'll continue to be a terrible and wonderful adventure.
As I mentioned, conservative Mormons on Twitter base a substantial part of their identity on bullying transgender people under the pretense of standing up for truth and righteousness. Actually, Mormons throughout history have a pretty long track record of bullying marginalized groups and then acting like they're the real victims when they get called out on it. In this case, when they get called out on it, I've seen a variation of this response over and over again: "It isn't loving to affirm someone's delusions." And there's a lot to unpack in that little sentence or others like it.
First, of course, it's a gross oversimplification to dismiss the entire transgender phenomenon as "delusions." Perhaps some percentage of individuals with gender dysphoria really are just delusional. I'm no expert. But there are so many other factors at play. In order for Mormons' theology to work, they need the world to be divided into unambiguous males and unambiguous females, but it just isn't. It never has been. Many biological ambiguities and nuances exist. Even if everyone's body was entirely one or the other, the theology doesn't rule out the possibility of gender mismatches between bodies and the spirits that inhabit them. When this possibility is suggested, most Mormons will try to rule it out by saying "God doesn't make mistakes," but the actual reality of the countless things that can and do wrong with people's bodies would rather suggest that it's guaranteed to happen many times.
Second, it's very, very, obvious in context that conservative Mormons throw around the word "delusions" to mock and delegitimize transgender people, and not because they actually give a rat's ass about transgender people's (or anyone else's) mental health. Delusion is an accurate clinical term, but most people just use it as an insult, and this case is no exception. Given how irrational and/or demonstrably false many of the Mormons' own beliefs are, I could just as easily call them delusions and go around contradicting them as an act of "love," but I try to be a little nicer than that.
Third, you can't cure people of delusions just by telling them they're wrong. Duh. Of course, in thinking that "Nuh-uh" is somehow an adequate solution to gender dysphoria, they're only following in the footsteps of their church, which has nothing to offer transgender people in that regard. It doesn't help them, it just insists that they stay miserable in their own skins because God supposedly said so, according to some old men who have been on the wrong side of nearly every major social issue in American history. The more I think about this version of God, the more petty and small-minded and pathetic he seems.
Fourth, the entire premise of the sentence is debatable. Life is brutal and miserable and short. I don't want to believe anything that isn't true, but if someone else's belief in something that isn't true makes them happy and harms no one, I see nothing loving about trying to take that away from them. In the last years of my great-grandmother's life, she delusionally believed she was living in a motel instead of a nursing home, and nobody tried to correct her because why the hell would they? In an episode of the fantastic evangelical Christian radio show "Adventures in Odyssey" that I used to listen to every day, a mentally ill man had an imaginary dog that he loved very much. This one kid was determined to prove that the dog wasn't real, but the consensus of all the other characters was that he was being a jerk and needed to cut it out. Of course, these people might retort that transgender delusions do harm people, partly because of the lie that children in the US are getting irreversible sex reassignment surgeries and partly just because they feel like a man wearing a dress is an existential threat to their theology. There undoubtedly are people with gender dysphoria for whom full transition isn't a healthy option, but that's up to qualified medical professionals to decide on a case-by-case basis, not for nobodies on Twitter who still don't know that biological females with XY chromosomes exist.
Because I read about near-death experiences recently, of course the omniscient internet brought to my attention the most recent development in that field. Four people hooked up to life support were having their brains monitored for whatever reason, and after they were taken off life support, two of their brains registered a surge of activity in the part responsible for dreams. Scientists speculate that these people were having NDEs, although they had a history of epilepsy, and nobody's ever shown a correlation between epilepsy and NDEs. The headline I looked at claimed that scientists had observed the brain activity behind NDEs for the first time, as if that were an established fact, but of course it isn't. They don't know what they actually observed. In order to know that, or at least be fairly confident, they'd have to observe something similar in the brain of someone who subsequently came back to life and reported on it. Science may sooner or later explain NDEs away as a purely neurological phenomenon, but it hasn't yet and we mustn't be premature about it. Journalists often take the nuance out of science, either out of sincere ignorance or the need to produce clickbait.
My roommate has finally moved out. He moved upstairs, meaning that he wanted to stay in this complex but not with me. The feeling is mutual. I didn't like that he left lights on he wasn't using (though I trained him by example to not do it constantly), I didn't like that he walked around without a shirt on when the weather was warm, I didn't like that he spent two hours a day in the bathroom, and I especially didn't like that he spent at least an hour a day practicing what can only be called "singing" under the most generous interpretation at the top of his lungs. It sounds more like an air raid siren. I had a friend over once and he laughed in disbelief at how bad it was. I sent a recording to another friend whom my complaints had made curious, and she wrote back, "PUT IT OUT OF ITS MISERY. WTF." Early on, at a public gathering, my roommate put me on the spot and asked if his singing annoyed me. Trying to balance tact with honesty, I said, "Only when it's really loud" (which was always). So he continued to consistently do it at the top of his lungs. Now I feel bad that I've been festering in resentment instead of asking him to stop, though, because I warned my upstairs neighbor about it, and I shouldn't have been surprised to learn that he hasn't been enjoying it either.
Recently the Temple City Sheriff's office invaded the wrong home without a warrant and illegally questioned and arrested two children who now, presumably, are traumatized for life but at least won't grow up to be bootlickers. I wrote some strong language in an online form somewhere and fully expected, based on previous interactions with law enforcement, that they would ignore me, but that the publicity would make them think twice (or at least once) about pulling such stunts in the future. I was quite surprised when someone got back to me earlier this week. Credit where it's due.
I've started wasting time on Twitter instead of reddit lately. I used to do essentially nothing on Twitter except share my blog posts, and I stayed at 38 followers for over six years. Now after a few weeks of interacting with people, I'm up to 53, so yay.
Twitter brings out the worst in people, including me, because it has almost no rules. Before Elon Musk took over, my account was suspended for wishing death on (checks notes) Vladimir Putin. And I still do and I'm not sorry. But now, I can say whatever the hell I want without fear of consequences. I've had some arguments. Even though I only follow ex-Mormons and liberal Mormons as far as Mormon stuff is concerned, I keep getting conservative Mormons in my feed, and they're pretty much the worst people in the world. Half their identity right now revolves around hating transgender people, and the other half is divided between hating apostates, hating liberals, hating scholars, hating gay people, and hating feminists. They're straight-up bullies more often than not, and because they think they're boldly standing up for truth and righteousness, they're quite incapable of attaining any self-awareness about how awful they are. Case in point:
I mean, wow. I used to have a hell of a persecution complex myself, but I don't think there was ever a point when I would have told someone "You are a demonic force and will be treated accordingly." It frightens me that people who think that way exist. Of course, guys like this think I'm a demonic force too. I try to be good. I don't set out to tear down Mormon beliefs every time I see them in my feed. I only get involved if they say something egregiously stupid and/or bigoted. And I try not to mock or insult them until they do it to me first, but that usually doesn't take very long. Personal attacks are usually their first and only response to critique of any kind. They really thought they were clever for pointing out that I had my pronouns in my bio and a Ukrainian flag next to my name. I had to block an account with the word "Christ" in its name that insisted Ukraine "isn't innocent" and basically deserves what it's getting, a claim that could be made with a little more accuracy (though it would still be victim-blaming) about the Mormons who moved into Missouri and boasted that the Lord would give them their neighbors' land. I added a Pride flag and a transgender flag to my Ukrainian flag just to bother these troglodytes, and then I added "If my flags and pronouns bother you, mission accomplished" to my bio to make sure they know that I'm bothering them on purpose, and now they don't bring that stuff up as much.
The leaders of the church don't appear to care that in a few years, people like this will be the only members they have left. Decent, intelligent, empathetic people are being alienated in droves. Of course, some of these jackasses also get alienated every time the church takes a position against bigotry or in favor of modern medicine - the other day one even confessed that he struggles with his faith and desire to attend church because a Primary teacher elsewhere on Twitter wore a rainbow pin - but overall, I think they're winning. Perhaps in fifty years, this church will make the Westboro Baptist Church look like a happy memory. Perhaps it will truly be The Church of Brigham Young, Ezra Taft Benson, and Donald J. Trump. (One of the guys I argued with had modeled his profile after Spencer W. Kimball, though. Kimball's a more nuanced figure in my book. If I meet him in the next life, I'll thank him for what he did to advance racial equality within the church, then kick him between the legs for the vile things he said about women and gay men.)
Puppy + God + Shootings
In case anyone was wondering, I switched my website to Dark Mode because my friend Marie whined about straining her eyes while reading Indiana Jones and the Saucer Men from Mars. It will take some getting used to but I think it's better for the environment or something so I'll probably keep it.
Addendum to my observation that young Latter-day Saints have become more chill about swearing: On Thursday I went to a game night where at least three people who weren't the same as the people at the fire said "Shit" and/or "Damn it" when the Exploding Kittens weren't in their favor. No one acted scandalized and no one apologized. Last night I attended the Logan YSA 7th Stake talent show. A woman did a humorous monologue and mentioned that she was "covered in shit all day" in her job as a nurse. She apologized to the stake president and bishops but argued that it was fine because it wasn't Sunday and we weren't in the chapel. Then she immediately described one of her patients as "a crazy-ass lady" and didn't apologize for that one. She was my second choice in the vote for the winners. None of my choices won anything, just like in a real election.
I finally made some small tangible impact on the world this week when I played a small part in taking down the Missouri Attorney General's Transgender Center Concerns online form. Honestly, he should have seen the deluge of fake spam complaints coming a mile away. A lot of people filed complaints about Republican politicians' wives or the Catholic priests who wear dresses and groom children. I made up a story about my little brother wearing a dress and then becoming a Marxist lesbian who wants to teach critical race theory. And it got pretty weird and crass after that so I'll leave it to your imagination. The person reading the entries probably didn't bother to read mine after he saw that my name was Ron DeSantis, though, so I should have thought that through a little better.
Yesterday I also went for a walk with my neighbor and his puppy Gizmo. I help take care of Gizmo while my neighbor is at work at least twice a week. He's a real hassle, gets on my nerves constantly, but of course I wuv him.
But anyway, I went for a walk with him and my neighbor, and as we neared the end my neighbor asked, "You're LDS, aren't you?" Not gonna lie, that was a pretty embarrassing thing to be asked by a Black person, because, you know, the entirety of the LDS Church's history with Black people. I said I used to be but I left the church last year. He was curious why. I didn't know how much he would even understand as an outsider. To summarize it I said, "A lot of stuff that built up over the years.... Stuff in the church's history that made me think it isn't what it claims to be, and its positions on social issues. It discriminated against Black people for a long time, it's been really sexist, and it's against gay rights." If I'd had more time to think I would have phrased my response a little differently because in fairness, within the second half of my short lifetime the LDS Church has started supporting most gay rights except marriage. It's come a long way since Dallin H. Oaks proposed that gay people should be barred from any form of employment where children could see them as role models.
He asked if I'd ever been baptized and when. I said when I was eight, which is standard for children born into the LDS Church. He was amazed at how young that was so I explained how the church teaches that eight is the age of accountability when children understand right and wrong enough to sin, and if they die before then, they automatically go to heaven. He thought that was nice. He said he wanted to get baptized soon, probably into the Baptists, "Because I, too, am a God-fearing man." I said I didn't know what to believe, and I'd stayed in the LDS Church longer than I should have, because I'd felt spiritual feelings and I was told that they were the Holy Ghost telling me that specific religion is true, and then I saw a video of people in all different religions apparently getting identical feelings and asserting with just as much confidence that their religions were true, so now I wonder if they're all just delusions. He said he thinks all religions are just people's best efforts to reach God and that they can all experience God in their own way. That's a nice thought. "I believe everything happens for a reason," he said.
Afterward I realized he seems to know almost nothing about the LDS Church, so my answer probably didn't mean as much to him as to someone who does. He didn't seem to realize that the LDS Church isn't just another denomination, that it claims to be the one true church restored by Joseph Smith and led by prophets who speak for God. The Baptists have certainly had their own problems with racism, but those are easier to forgive because they don't make such lofty claims. And it's harder to falsify their entire religion by pinpointing a historical event that didn't happen the way they say it did. The LDS Church's historical problems are so damning that it's now teaching the youth this crap in seminary:
There's a sneaky conflation of terms here. Of course some, even most historical details are insignificant. But without others, the so-called Restoration completely falls apart. The term "Restoration" itself is a historical claim. Allegedly Joseph Smith restored Jesus Christ's original church. Either that happened or it didn't. Likewise, either he saw Jesus Christ and Heavenly Father in the woods or he didn't, either he translated the Book of Mormon or he didn't, either he received the priesthood from heavenly messengers or he didn't, either he received the temple ceremonies by revelation or he didn't, and so on. Without these historical details, the covenants, ordinances, and doctrine are completely bogus. And the historical details of social issues play into this too. When prophets are on the wrong side of slavery, civil rights, feminism, and gay rights, that's a pretty good indication that they're not nearly as in tune with the mind and will of the Lord as they claim to be, and that the covenants, ordinances, and doctrine that come through them should consequently be treated with greater skepticism. Especially since their views on slavery, civil rights, feminism, and gay rights were doctrine until suddenly they weren't.
My neighbor is hardly alone in believing that everything happens for a reason. Life is less frightening that way. But even when I believed God was far more hands-on with his creations than I believe now, I didn't share that sentiment. How could I? In four separate incidents in the last week or so, a teenage boy, two college cheerleaders, a little girl and her parents, and a very young woman were shot by psychopaths for making simple and entirely harmless mistakes. All these shootings happened in the United States, but you already knew that. Miraculously, all of these people except for the very young woman survived. I say "miraculously" because it's a normal and appropriate figure of speech, but I don't believe any real miracles occurred at all. I think most of them got lucky and Kaylin Gillis didn't. I don't see how I could accept a God who intervened to save the others but got to Kaylin Gillis and said, "I'm sorry, I have a very important and immutable divine plan that desperately requires you to die at age twenty. This piece of shit was foreordained to shoot you and if he hadn't, I would have arranged an accident anyway. Fuck your parents, fuck your younger sisters, fuck your long-term boyfriend who wanted to spend the rest of his life with you and nobody else."
Which brings me to another issue that first occurred to me years ago when I read about an LDS woman whose boyfriend was killed in a mass shooting. It was in the United States, but you already knew that. Anyway, the LDS Church teaches that the Atonement of Jesus Christ will make everything right in the next life and fix every injustice. And that's a beautiful thing to believe. But I don't see how it could fix everything for Kaylin Gillis and her boyfriend. They wanted to be together. But Kevin Monahan took away their agency to make that choice. Agency is one of the most important things in the LDS paradigm, so why does God let people take other people's away? Why does Kevin Monahan's agency trump theirs? Now Kaylin Gillis' boyfriend could stay alone for the rest of his life and then be reunited with her in the afterlife and still be with her for eternity. But if at any point he does marry someone else, then she has to either find someone else too or join them as a polygamous wife. And actually, because of deaths and remarriages I don't see a way around the polygamy problem for eternal marriage in general, although the LDS Church could make it not sexist by letting women be sealed to multiple husbands too. In any case, their eternal destinies have been altered in a way that the Atonement may not be able to reverse.
The other most famous of these shootings, Andrew Lester vs. Ralph Yarl, is of course making waves for the racial component. Without knowing anything except that an elderly white man shot a Black teenager in the head for ringing his doorbell, I would have bet the lives of everyone I care about that the elderly white man voted for Donald Trump, but it's even better than that. According to his relatives, he's a full-blown Fox News junkie, anti-vaxxer, Stop the Steal, the whole shebang. So of course he's afraid of everything. Of course when he hears the doorbell ring his first thought is to grab his gun. Of course he's going to think that the Black person who just rang his fucking doorbell is trying to break in. Of course he's going to be scared of the size of the Black person who's shorter than me and weighs the same. This isn't me reading his mind, by the way, these are all things he told the police. Look, I've tried really really hard to be politically nuanced and avoid polarization, and I'm not saying progressives are perfect or anything, but the right-wing movement in this country is a fucking cancer. It just is. And either the movement or the country is going to die.
This Easter I find myself in roughly the same spot I was at last Christmas, being agnostic about Jesus but wanting to believe in Jesus because certain interpretations of the concept of Jesus are wholesome and beautiful. No need to rehash all that again. I went to my old LDS congregation to hear some friends sing. To my delight, the service focused on Jesus, not Joseph Smith or Russell Nelson. One beautiful person spoke between the musical numbers and she gave a mostly beautiful talk about Jesus and I ached with desire to believe most of what she was saying. She didn't mention how Jesus in the Book of Mormon celebrated Easter by annihilating seventeen cities, though, and I can do without that. She surprised me with a joke about how the world she makes (after becoming a literal and not just figurative goddess) will be fall all the time and only have snow in the mountains. It's been probably fifteen years or more since I heard an LDS person joke about creating his own planet - he said he would make it full of ski resorts - and in the intervening time the church has claimed that "few Latter-day Saints would identify with caricatures of having their own planet," but I guess she missed that memo.
Apparently Latter-day Saints celebrate Holy Week now too, despite most of them knowing little or nothing about it. I believe it was a year ago in General Conference when for the first time I heard two apostles acknowledge Good Friday as if it was something that we were all familiar with. It felt disingenuous. From what I've heard about last weekend's conference, they've ramped the Holy Week talk way up and it still feels disingenuous. Instead of saying "Hey, we've received further light and knowledge and decided that we should start celebrating Holy Week" - which I would respect even though I wouldn't believe for a moment that revelation had anything to do with it - they're acting like they've always celebrated it. I don't know why the church is allergic to transparency even when it has nothing to lose. In five to ten years Latter-day Saints will be overtly gaslighting everyone else that they have always celebrated it.
Here, on that note, is a recent post from the mormon subreddit:
I'm Anglican. Grew up Mormon and all of my circles are basically either Mormon or exmormon. Anyways, the past year or two it seems like they've been having a heavy emphasis on holy week. Like, in conference there was a lot of references to palm Sunday. Nothing in a more traditional sense, but there was at least acknowledgement of holy week.
I have no trouble believing that because it's the same dismissive attitude with which I usually heard other denominations discussed while growing up in the LDS Church. (And it incidentally brings me back around to why I felt the speaker's talk today was mostly beautiful, because she made a comment that there's other religions but only this gospel provides the most healing, and unless she's experienced all those other religions for herself she simply does not know that. To be clear, I think the world of her and I don't think she has an unkind bone in her body, but the Mormon superiority complex has probably infected her from childhood.)
The second and probably final trailer for Indiana Jones and the Dial of Destiny dropped the other day and it looks really great because again, even if the plot is trash - and the bar for plot isn't very high on these movies to begin with - it will be a thrill ride and a visual feast and a therapeutic display of Nazis getting what they deserve (aka death). I'm not going to bother with another full-length analysis but I will say it looks like Marion is dead or divorced, which sucks. Indy just can't catch a break.
Speaking of the 1960s, I also watched a documentary on USU campus the other day about a little-known riot by transgender women and drag queens against police harassment in 1966. I find LGBT history fascinating because this is a demographic that has not only been oppressed but has often been forced to hide its very existence, and it's interesting to study how LGBT people through the decades have conceptualized themselves and how they've adapted and carved out their lives in a world that would wipe them out if it could. Ah, how little has changed. And this history has only convinced me further that everything the LDS Church (and in fairness, a lot of churches) teaches about LGBT people is wrong. Its tagline now is "We love LGBT people but..." and yet this supposed love was nowhere to be seen when LGBT people cried out for their right to literally just exist. When they agitated for freedom from police harassment and discrimination in housing and employment, the LDS Church didn't support them one iota or indeed even acknowledge them any more than it had to, and then, of course, only to preach against their wicked lifestyles. However, the documentary interviews a Methodist minister who did minister to the transgender and drag community with love in the 1960s and support its demands for human dignity, so that was really cool. I recommend this obscure slice of history to everyone.
"Guys. Chris's blog is the stuff of legends. If you’re ever looking for a good read, check this out!"
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.