I sat across from my mission president on the sparsely decorated seventh floor of the Brazilian office building. We were in the middle of one of the most honest discussions I had had in my life to that point. I was close to the end of my mission and after talking about the unrelated reason my companion and I had been called into the mission office for interview, we sat talking about other things. We talked about my sexuality (not in any direct way; we substituted more palatable words), the mission, depression, prayer, etc. He was a kind man and I always got the impression that he was genuinely trying to help.
In the meandering conversation we talked about teaching kids about sex (we really talked about a lot of stuff). He had a background in working with at-risk youth which helped him form the opinion that kids needed to know about sex as early as possible. He and his wife took each of their kids out to dinner when they turned 8, shortly before their baptism, and one of the things they talked about was sex. I’m sure he didn’t break out diagrams, but in a way that his kids could understand they talked to them about their body and what they could expect in the next few years. As the kids grew up, they continued the conversation, adding more information and their kid’s ability to understand it increased. It was his opinion that protecting his children from the world didn’t mean that they needed to be completely ignorant of it. In fact, knowledge was their best defense.
And I realized that I agreed.
Many of us have had a friend or family member that we have “lost to the gay community”. They leave the church and take up binge drinking, smoking, and all kinds of bad behavior. This is probably one of the biggest reasons many people still look at homosexuality as an addiction or a behavioral cult like alcoholism or the green movement. It sure does look like the behavior of an addict and in this case, they are right. Sex addiction is real and it can claim the gays just like it can the straights. But sex addiction doesn’t equal homosexuality no more than it equals heterosexuality. One of the biggest reasons that gays leave the church and immediately go off the deep end is that no one ever told them that sex feels awesome.
Say what now?
I’m not throwing all the blame on parents and church leaders. No one forces you to be an idiot. If you shake your fist at the LDS meetinghouse as you drunkenly throw up in the gutter after a one-night-stand, don’t come crying to me.
But take an example Mormon, who has been taught his entire life that homosexuality is perverse, disgusting, abominable, and wrong, wrong, wrong, and have him come to the stark realization that there is another reason why he likes to watch Heroes. (Milo. Aw. Snap.) He figures out that that he’s a homo and sets out to discover what that means. In his discovery, what he learns that the queer side of the coin doesn’t always match up to what he’s been taught. In fact, some things seem quite the opposite. Instead of feeling unnatural, homosexuality makes our example Mormon feel more normal than he’s ever felt in…ever. It doesn’t feel disgusting and, in fact, it feels right. He doesn’t feel hated by God because he is gay and actually feels that the Lord accepts who he is. Which leads him to ponder,
WHAT ELSE HAVEN’T YOU TOLD ME?!?!
If homosexuality isn’t quite like I’ve always been taught, what else is different? He starts drinking with his new friends. And it is fun. Really fun. He hated smoking but finds that it is really calming and comforting once you get used to it. Pretty soon, just about everything gayboy ever believed in is halfheartedly examined and tossed out the window. “They didn’t know what the crap they were talking about with their stupid bubble and their stupid faces…sheep.”
And thus, a douchebag is born.
One of my favorite quotes from a movie comes from Trainspotting where Ewan McGregor’s character talks of his heroin addiction:
People think it’s all about misery and desperation and death and all that s****, which is not to be ignored. But what they forget is the pleasure of it. Otherwise we wouldn’t do it. After all, we’re not f******* stupid. At least, we’re not that f******* stupid.
Yes, he’s stupid, but he’s also right. In all my no-drug-no alcohol-no-premarital-sex instruction from a myriad of sources growing up, no one ever mentioned the fact that all of the above feels awesome. Guaranteed that the thought was, “well, I don’t want to talk kids into these behaviors”, but at the same time, ignorance isn’t protection. Like all the kids having oral sex so they’ll stay “virgins”.
How very Bill Clinton of them.
Your kids will learn about these things and if you don’t talk to them about it, they’ll learn about it on their own. By not entering the conversation, you don’t stop it, you just aren’t being heard.
As far as run-of-the-mill homosexuality is concerned, maybe you might learn something by talking to your kids, even if they aren’t gay. Chances are, your kindergartener knows a kid in his class who has two mommies. Your ninth grader probably has a couple gay friends from show choir. Your Laurel likely dated a gay kid from church. You might learn that gay isn’t what you used to think it was. It isn’t the bar near the adult bookstore that has guys with mustaches out front. It isn’t all feather boas and sequins (I’d look terrible in sequins, anyway). Gay people are just that, people. Living their normal, boring lives, the same as everyone else. Your kids probably already know that.