Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Gentleman, start your engines...

So I was contemplating the other day the various phases I have gone through in terms of accepting myself, and not being afraid of who I am. When I first accepted that I was gay and then came out to family and friends, I always felt this need to add a disclaimer that I was never going to be "one of those gays." Not that my music collection wasn't already overrun with Pet Shop Boys and Madonna, nor my swimsuit drawer filled with skimpy bathing suits, or my mannerisms, well perhaps a little flamboyant. But for some reason I wanted to convince myself and others that I wasn't "that gay."

Gay pride parades? No thanks. Gay bars and clubs? Never. Every time I learned something about gay society that I previously was unaware of, I was almost proud of being ignorant of these segments of gay culture. Well let me just say it now, I love RuPaul's Drag Race. I am seriously in love with this show. Ever since the first West Hollywood Costume Caranval that Max and I attended, I have been mildly fascinated with drag culture and I think RuPaul's Drag Race is fantastic.

After I watched a couple of episodes of season 2, I realized that I was quite ignorant of RuPaul and I became curious of how he became famous. I remember knowing about him since I was a kid, so I did a little internet research to find out where he got his start. I was quite surprised by what I learned about him from Wikipedia, but even more fascinating was an interview I found online that he had given a couple years back. Based on what I have read, RuPaul appears to be a very intelligent and articulate person. I don't know why I would have assumed anything else, but I guess I had my own preconceived ideas of what kind of person he was. The following dialogue I found especially interesting as it relates to my own person experiences. DS is the interviewer, and RP is RuPaul:

DS: It seems like years ago, and my recollection might be fuzzy, but it seems like I read a mainstream media piece that talked about how you wanted to break out of the RuPaul 'character' and be seen as more than just RuPaul.

RP: Well, RuPaul is my real name and that’s who I am and who I have always been. There’s the product RuPaul that I have sold in business. Does the product feel like it’s been put into a box? Could you be more clear? It’s a hard question to answer.

DS: That you wanted to be seen as more than just RuPaul the drag queen, but also for the man and versatile artist that you are.

RP: That’s not on target. What other people think of me is not my business. What I do is what I do. How people see me doesn’t change what I decide to do. I don’t choose projects so people don’t see me as one thing or another. I choose projects that excite me. I think the problem is that people refuse to understand what drag is outside of their own belief system. A friend of mine recently did the Oprah show about transgendered youth. It was obvious that we, as a culture, have a hard time trying to understand the difference between a drag queen, transsexual, and a transgender, yet we find it very easy to know the difference between the American baseball league and the National baseball league, when they are both so similar. We’ll learn the difference to that. One of my hobbies is to research and go underneath ideas to discover why certain ones stay in place while others do not. Like Adam and Eve, which is a flimsy fairytale story, yet it is something that people believe; what, exactly, keeps it in place?

DS: What keeps people from knowing the difference between what is real and important, and what is not?

RP: Our belief systems. If you are a Christian then your belief system doesn’t allow for transgender or any of those things, and you then are going to have a vested interest in not understanding that. Why? Because if one peg in your belief system doesn’t work or doesn’t fit, the whole thing will crumble. So some people won’t understand the difference between a transvestite and transsexual. They will not understand that no matter how hard you force them to because it will mean deconstructing their whole belief system. If they understand Adam and Eve is a parable or fairytale, they then have to rethink their entire belief system.

As to me being seen as whatever, I was more likely commenting on the phenomenon of our culture. I am creative, and I am all of those things you mention, and doing one thing out there and people seeing it, it doesn’t matter if people know all that about me or not.

I really think he is spot on in his assessment of religious people and is quite accurate for many Mormons, at least it was for me. Also, the idea that people refuse to get to know people because it will require them to deconstruct their false ideas is something that I have encountered quite often. Overall, I was quite impressed with what he said.

Anyway, if you don't get Logo, I recommend that you go online and watch the shows, I promise they are not as icky as you were raised to believe, and the show overall is very entertaining. Oh, and you heard it here first, Raven is going to win the race. She is absolutely beautiful, and if you have seen the show and know me, you will know why I love her so much.

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Can someone please pass the Kool-Aid?

A kid from one of my wards in Provo posted today on Facebook that his mission in Italy is being consolidated into a neighboring mission. Below his post, he had a link to a letter which was written from the mission president to the missionaries currently serving in the mission. After reading the letter I almost fell out of my chair laughing.

Was I really ever that deficient that I would have read that letter and thought it was great to see a mission closing? Yeah, probably. Not some of my proudest days.

In unrelated news, Boston Scientific announced the consolidation of two of its business units in order to cut costs amid declining revenues.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

I don't hate Mormons (that much)

So more than a few people have accused me of being anti-Mormon, or angry, or whatever your favorite term for people who leave the LDS religion but cannot leave it alone is. While I understand that those who know me from my blog will definitely see me as someone who wants nothing more than displeasure for the LDS religion and its leaders, those who know me better know that my disdain is widespread for all organizations who push their agendas in favor of the greater good and do so through deceitful and dishonest (though often legal) means.

Of course, I am obviously very familiar with the LDS religion after having spent all of my life in it until I was 25. And I do have very strong feelings against that religion for exactly that reason, I spent many years in it, and for many years I like most Mormons refused to look at it objectively. I was an avid defender of that so-called "faith." Realizing that the leaders of my religion were just like the leaders of every other organization, in that they are ultimately concerned with their power and place in society, was well, disheartening. I had always wanted to believe that I was part of the greater good, and after getting a glimpse of how the LDS religion really works on the inside, I was a little disenfranchised. That being said, I am opposed to any organization that lies and covers up its motives and uses the loose disclosure requirements in the US to push its agenda.

Anyway, now on to the point of today's post. Many people have probably heard that testimony in the federal challenge against Prop 8 ended recently, and Judge Walker (you know, the judicial activist, flaming-liberal Republican originally nominated by Reagan and then appointed by Gerorge H. W. Bush) is now reviewing the evidence before closing statements are made. Unfortunately, the SCOTUS blocked the YouTube broadcast of the trial which would have been a very eye-opening experience for many Americans, to finally see how absolutely stupid and baseless the "arguments" in favor or Prop 8 really are. Most proponents of Prop 8 can't seem to get over their "we've voted on it twice, just let it be!" argument to understand that the Constitution provides equal protection for all citizens, regardless of what the will of the masses is.

I followed much of the trial via live blogging on, and later read most of the transcripts on They are very revealing not just about the general motivations of the Proponents of Prop 8, but also the close ties between certain organizations, and, the official organization behind Prop 8. So with that being said, let's analyze some of the documents entered into as evidence during the trial and compare those with the PR statements of the LDS religion that were released during the election of 2008.

The following records were read into the court record on Day 7 of the trial, and you can check them out for yourself.

On Page 1608, beginning in line 23, a letter from the Catholic Conference of Bishops to the bishops within the conference states:"Of course, this campaign owes an enormous debt to the LDS Church. I will comment specifically at a later time, under separate cover, about their financial, organizational, and management contribution to the success of the effort. The campaign has surpassed $37 million in donations."

On page 1622, line 9, an internal memo from Mark Jannson, who is on the LDS Church's Public Affairs Committee, we learn the following: "Since the First Presidency letter was read in every ward throughout California last month, I have been frequently asked what our role in Public Affairs will be in the Prop 8 campaign." Continuing on line 20, "As you know from the First Presidency letter, this campaign is entirely under the priesthood direction - in concert with leaders of many other faiths and community groups forming part of the Coalition. I believe [name redacted] will be the LDS chair for all of California."

Page 1623, line 8 continues, "All of us working in public affairs will simply stand by and prepare to be anxiously engaged, like all citizens and lay members, when that time comes." Line 17 continues, "What is the next step in this campaign? I understand that all grass roots organizing efforts in OC will be led by Gary Lawrence, who will report directly to the Coalition leaders." Gary Lawrence is an member of the LDS religion who owns a polling company in Orange County.

Page 1627, line 11 continues with, "He has also been hired by the coalition to do polling work for Prop 8. The main California grass roots leaders are in the process of being called as, "area directors," with the responsibility for areas that generally correspond to each of the 17 LDS coordinating councils for the LDS mission boundaries. Thereafter, priesthood leaders will call local prop coordinators over each stake and leaders by zip code within each ward - potentially working not only with LDS, but also LDS volunteers."

Let's compare those internal documents with the statements publicly made by the LDS PR department: "the Church accepted an invitation to participate in ProtectMarriage, a coalition of churches, organizations, and individuals sponsoring a November ballot measure, Proposition 8, that would amend the California state constitution to ensure that only a marriage between a man and a woman would be legally recognized" (from the so-called Divine Institution of Marriage document put out by the LDS PR department).

The day after the election, they released another statement that, "before [the LDS religion] accepted the invitation to join broad-based coalitions for the amendments..."

Both statements have a similar theme of implying that the LDS religion was just part of a coalition, not leading it. Based on the internal documents released during the trial, this is clearly not the case.

I am not going to go on and on about this, because I think it is clear that the LDS religion played a big role in Prop 8, and not just because the Mormons did a good job, but because the LDS religion was orchestrating the entire effort. If the LDS religion would own up to this, I would probably let it be, but they won't. They continue to cover their tracks by pushing their money through organizations like "National Organization for Marriage" which does not have to report its contributions. I know that practicing Mormons refuse to believe it, and those who do will justify that it is all legal, and that their religion has the "right" to do what it does, all of which I am not disputing. The LDS church has not broken any laws, but that's not saying much. Most of the politicking that goes on in this country is entirely legally. But that does not make it right. And I always hoped that an organization that claims to be inspired and from a higher source would be above it all. Prop 8 has helped me realize what most others already knew, that the LDS religion is like any other.