Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Episode 32: "Not Suffering" — Opening Sexual Identity

Right click here to download the mp3.

Art by Randi Johns
In the recent past, there was only one sexual identity: Heterosexual. It was the norm in such a way that there wasn't really any space in the collective understanding for alternate sexual identities. Today, sexual identity has become a place of discovery, controversy, and question, bringing in terms like gay, lesbian, homosexual, bi-sexual, and transsexual. Julia identifies herself as queer, which is not so much a sexual identity as an approach to sexuality that leaves the "box" wide open. She talks about the freedom that comes from being in a safe place to exist as she is.

Julia will be watching the comments to respond to the ideas brought up in her interview.

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Resources and References


  1. this was a really interesting interview. i have lots of thoughts. probably one of the biggest ones is about how do you define morality when you open the box. i mean, i can see the freedom of what you're talking about, and i love the idea of the safe spaces. so, how do you define morality for yourself? sorry if this question doesn't make much sense.

  2. So, is your family still active? If they are, what is your interaction with them about the church like? I guess it seems like you've come out the closet in a couple of ways, which is so brave to me. I tend to keep the happy, smiling face mask on toward my family. I haven't come out of any of my closets.

  3. Julia, this was a fascinating listen for me. It gave me a different understanding of sexual identity. I guess I've always had a fairly simplistic view, but as I listened to what you said, I realized that even my own sexuality is more complex than I thought it was. And so I see the appeal of having a term that says, "Not Defined." Thank you for sharing your views.

  4. 1st anon- i think your question makes sense, and i guess my answer is that i define my own morality as well? i don't know, i don't really think of it in those terms, though. when i was 14 i told my mom i didn't believe in right and wrong, which was a very simplistic view, but i think i was on the right track (irony unintended). these days i definitely believe that some things are absolutely wrong, like rape, for example. but things aren't black and white like the church tends to make them out. there definitely isn't one 'right' way to be--that's something we all have to work out for ourselves. what's right for you, you know? which actions are legitimate to your being? but as far as avoiding what's wrong i tend to thing about it in terms of whether what i'm doing or saying is harmful to others. if it is i probably need to think about how, why, and what i can do differently. i think one of the main things i don't like about religious conceptualizations of morality is that you only have to be good because this higher power is judging you. i much prefer santa's line of thinking: just be good for goodness' sake! the AHA came out with these ads a few years ago that i love:

    tara- my mom and younger sister and actually that whole side of the family are still active. mostly we just don't talk about it, but my mom has expressed to me that she feels i'm hostile towards her spirituality and judging her for it. she is absolutely right in that i have expressed some pretty negative views of the church specifically and religion in general. i'm still harboring some resentment over being forced to sit through church for so many years and from the experiences i've had where church members and the church itself have been hostile towards me and people with similar identities. it's something i need to work through. but i do really have a lot of respect for people who are really connected to spirituality and have faith, not just blindly following. i've never like the overbearing patriarchal structure of most religions or the paternalism that comes in telling people how to behave, but there are definitely some things that the church does well and some bits of advice that are applicable in other contexts, so maybe i should start focusing more on what's positive and verbalizing it.

    as for closets and coming out of them, personal safety is such a priority that if you wouldn't be safe being out (in whatever way) in that environment, you might want to keep your mask on a little longer. but at the same time, the more people who are out and visible, the safer it is for others. for a lot of people their prejudice is rooted primarily in stereotypes, and so knowing someone personally who identifies a certain way is the trigger for their transformation and acceptance. if we never speak up, things will never change.

    emmaline- i'm glad i could give you some food for thought! we, as a culture, really do have such a simplistic view of sexuality-- you're either gay or straight. but it isn't that way at all. sexuality is so complex and varied. it's not just who you like but what you like as well. and when. or at all. and how you negotiate that with your partner, who is bound to have different desires.

  5. Kim and David RogersDecember 10, 2011 at 8:45 PM

    Very nice job Julia. We enjoyed the interview and found it very interesting. You sound happy and we were impressed by your intelligence.

  6. Julia,

    Thank you for presenting yourself here. I really appreciate hearing from you and the younger generation of queer identified women of Mormon influence. My son also identifies as gender queer and both of us really enjoy walking that borderline between genders and mixing up our presentations. He pulls it off better than I do.

    I really appreciate how you spelled out the issues with the Mormon church and homosexuality. The point of having the church define everything about our gender and roles in life based on that gender does not make sense because there is too much diversity within genders, even more than between genders. There are generalizations, but that is all they can be because there is too much variance.

    This whole aspect of less defined gender roles is what disintegrated a relationship with a church friend. When I shared my views, from books I was reading on the culture of gender and the genetics of gender, this woman became so enraged, that she ended the relationship because what I said threatened her whole basis of faith since gender is so fundamental to church doctrine.

    This is why I see that those who are homosexual threaten the church's doctrine because the gender role and stereotype is so fundamentally threatened in the non conformity of homosexual relationships.

    The church has definitely not stopped fighting this fight against acceptance of homosexuality. They have hidden their influence behind other organizations including NOM which they founded and which is exerting a huge amount of influence on the current election by having Rep. candidates sign a committment to fight marriage equality. The church is extremely anti gay, anti equality, and anti feminist and they act on this through subtle suppression and behind the scenes support services. How can the members of the church not be influenced by this in the way they act towards those who do not conform to the church's stance.

    I completely appreciate your sharing the example of how the dominate group looks at non dominate groups like disability. I too find being gay so much more wonderful than I was raised to believe that it was so painful and lonely. I found it so much the opposite and so completely different and find it so funny that if it was so "hard" why would you feel so threatened by it if it really was a choice? Why would you vilify someone who chose the harder road in life? I "suffered" a lot more through forcing myself to be heterosexual. Coming out when I was 35 contributed a lot more to my suffereing than living the truth of who I am!

    I am so grateful for this changing world so that my son and future grandchildren can be free to be who they are no matter what! Since our identities are not based on our behaviors and roles but on our values, I support giving my children the opportunity to act and be value based people rather than role based and conformity based.

    This blog posted by a dad in Utah has changed lives and relates as much to Mormons as it does to any "Christian."

    The best part is reading how this article has changed so many lives on with everyone gay, straight, ethnic, etc. Thank you!


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