Thank you to Peter Moosman for today’s guest post. Opinions shared on guest posts may not completely reflect the positions of the blog’s author.
Peter Moosman is a life-long member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, served in the Great Kentucky Louisville Mission and came out as gay last year. He graduated from Weber State University with a Communication degree in Civic Advocacy with an emphasis in Religious and Cultural Advocacy. He can be reached at email@example.com.
“There’s been lots of talk in the Mormon, LGBT, and music communities regarding Tyler Glenn‘s new music video, Trash.
“I think his use of temple symbols is over the top and disrespectful. However, I find it curious how those I associate with within the Church are on the defensive with Tyler Glenn and silent about the valid and legitimate struggle that brought him to this point – as if all the accountability and responsibility lies on his shoulders, and HE is supposed to take the high road and leave the church quietly and respectfully.
“What about the Church? Where’s their accountability in all of this? Why is nobody disgusted with the way the Church treats its gay members? Tyler Glenn is doing a very normal thing when breaking out of an abusive relationship. He is reclaiming power. He gave his life to make the relationship work. He served a mission, he defended and promoted the Church as a world-famous rock star, and his entire life was intertwined with the Church. In turn, the Church plays this mental game of conditional love, unreal expectation, false hope, and, in the end, treats him like unwanted trash. The relationship that he – and many (if not most) gay members – have with the Church is an abusive relationship. And this music video is just like any breakup song. He is taking back the power that the abuser had throughout their relationship. Expressing anger (spitting on an altered picture of Joseph Smith), destroying the abusers stuff (ripped pages of the Book of Mormon), doing what the abuser told him he couldn’t do (drinking), and exposing the abuser’s secrets (temple symbols).
“I’m not saying that he did the right thing. Like I mentioned before, I think he took it too far with the temple symbols. But is his response evil? Is it disgusting? It seems somewhat expected to me. But, at some level I get what he has gone through. I am experiencing similar feelings of being ostracized and unwanted. I am feeling the abusive relationship analogy like you wouldn’t imagine. I have had my bishop (and plenty of other leaders and members) tell me to go find a different church and then turn around and say they love me and want me to stay; tell me to pray for personal revelation and then tell me that the revelation I receive is from Satan; tell me that I’m wanted, needed, and important in the ward/Church and then told that I’m selfish and controversial for wanting to feel wanted, needed, or understood in the ward/Church; tell me that we, as LGBT members, have legitimate struggles that the members need to be sensitive to and then turn around and tell members that we don’t actually exist in the Church… I could go on and on and on.
“So when you say that Tyler Glenn did a disgusting and evil thing here, I want you to stop and consider the things that brought him to that kind of anger, resentment, and vitriol. Is it the high road? Definitely not. Is it justifiable? Perhaps. Is it understandable? Yeah, I think so.
“And a few more thoughts:
1. I don’t support his use of temple symbols in the video. I think that which is sacred to one person/religion should be sacred to all people/religions. However, like I said before, I understand his anger and response.
2. The Church AND Christ call us to mourn with those that mourn. Clearly, Tyler is going through some stuff (to say the least). We need to take a step back and see his pain and struggle for what it is, regardless of whether we’re offended. We need to “bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.” Tyler could fit into a few of these categories, which show that we need to show an increase of love and understanding. Not only Tyler, but everyone we stand in opposition to.
3. Just a little bit ago, I posted some scriptures and a quote about looking beyond the mark. The Church and Mormon culture has been looking beyond the mark on far too many things. We are becoming so focused and defensive about rules and regulations that we are missing the point of the Gospel. Christ called us to love and encourage all of His children to come to Him. We need to step off our rameumptom and stop looking beyond the mark. The mark is Christ, not policy and procedure. Sure, there’s a reason for policy, procedure, and rules. But they shouldn’t trump love, compassion, faith, and progress. We’re not pharisees. We’re disciples of Christ. We’re not savages. We’re children of God.”
Natasha Helfer Parker, LCMFT, CST can be reached at natashaparker.org. She authors the Mormon Therapist Blog, hosts the Mormon Mental Health and Mormon Sex InfoPodcasts, writes a regular column for Sunstone Magazine and is the current president of the Mormon Mental Health Association. She has 20 years of experience working with primarily an LDS/Mormon clientele.