As a Mormon bisexual man I live in the "other circumstances" mentioned in The Family: A Proclamation to the World where "Death, disability or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation."
When I came out to my wife and members of my extended family more than a decade ago, I sought hugs and I got them. Slowly my situation faded into the background and so did much of the physical affection. I still want it, but I no longer initiate it, and except for the occasional hugs from three women in our family circle, it rarely happens.
Every now and then I'll let a handshake with a brother-in-law linger a little longer, but they'll usually break it off. Sometimes I'll put my arm around someone, but the gesture is rarely reciprocated. I look at the photo above and wish that kind of easy, affectionate touch could again happen in my life. But for some reason I have become largely untouching and untouchable. It seems rational that this is but a spiral that can be broken.
I can even imagine a scenario where I give someone a bear hug which is warmly reciprocated and I say "Thanks, that sure felt good. I've needed that for a long time." And the person I'm hugging says, "Well it felt good to me, too. I've missed your hugs. I hope you'll continue to give them." And then he gives me an even longer, tighter hug than I've just given him.
But a darker part of me says, "It's not about breaking a spiral, it's that you're broken. From the moment you came out you've been damaged goods and there's no amount of fairy tale scenarios that will change it. The real reason they don't touch you is because they find you and your desires repugnant. They did back then and they still do. They haven't forgotten what people like you want to do. Spare them any more nausea. Keep your hands and your thoughts to yourself."
Old friends Sat on their park bench Like bookends. A newspaper blown though the grass Falls on the round toes Of the high shoes Of the old friends.
Old friends, Winter companions, The old men Lost in their overcoats, Waiting for the sunset. The sounds of the city, Sifting through trees, Settle like dust On the shoulders Of the old friends.
Can you imagine us Years from today, Sharing a park bench quietly? How terribly strange To be seventy. Old friends, Memory brushes the same years Silently sharing the same fears
As a teenager I never imagined that this Simon and Garfunkle song might describe me or someone of my generation. Today I saw two old freinds meeting for lunch. The shorter, fatter of the guys got there first. He seemed a bit uneasy, jotting down something in a notebook and then making a call on his cell. The other guy, taller and trimmer, showed up a few minutes later. They both smiled, sharing the long held handshake of two men who'd been through something together.
I wondered about their relationship. Were they just old freinds, cousins, brothers-in-law, business partners? It may well have been business as one of them showed the other a document and they both studied the one guy's notebook offering comments back and forth for several minutes until their order arrived. I finished my meal and got up to leave but they just sat there talking, obviously engaged in the moment and enjoying each other's company on this man date, this business lunch, whatever it was for these old friends.
In his recent Call for Contributions, Alan is seeking responses to the opinions of his friend Craig. Here's my take:
Craig says "...[the Proclamation on the Family's] entire purpose is to define marriage as between a man and a woman."
I read proclamation somewhat differently. I see it as a document that supports strong families, but not just one kind of strong family.
Yes, it says "marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God..." but it does not say that other unions are invalid. For example we know that marriages between one man and multiple women are also viable on the other side of the veil.
The Proclamation on the Family speaks of many ideals. Yes, it certainly is ideal for a man and a woman to marry and rear children. No argument there.
But it clearly and directly acknowledges that this ideal is not always met because of a variety of reasons:
"Disability, death, or other circumstances may necessitate individual adaptation."
It doesn't say that other circumstances may cause problems but there's nothing that can be done. It says other circumstances may NECESSITATE individual adaptation.
That powerful, inclusive sentence is a loving acknowlegement that the ideals set forth in the proclamation are sometimes unavoidably mitgated (or is it aggravated, Alan?) by reality.
That single sentence makes is clear that the ideals set forth in the document are not always workable or possible.
More than 80 years ago when my grandmother was windowed as a young mother, her parents did not allow her to date. They believed that would be untrue to her Temple covenants with her first husband. Today she would not be so tightly constained. Today she could marry a second worthy husband in the Temple, but not for time and all eternity. The doctrine hasn't changed, but the intrepretation of it has. It didn't even require a revelation, just a change in attitude and, perhaps, church policy.
After the 1978 revelation, Bruce R. McConkie was questioned about his many strident statements against "the Negro." He said, in effect, forget what I said.
Fortunately we won't have to forget or set aside anything in the Proclamation on the Family if and when it is revealed that in addition to traditional marriage being ordained of God, "other circumstances" require indivdual and church-wide adaptation, and should be handled with as much love, accomodation and support as death or disability.