Episode 122: Bookclub: Goodbye I Love You

34 comments on “Episode 122: Bookclub: Goodbye I Love You”

  1. Anonymous Reply

    Fun podcast. I wish the book review had gone longer. At the same time, I am glad there is a finite time expectation.

    This book by Carol Lynn gave me insight into some experiences on my mission. I wish her and her family well. We all have diverse experiences and I think this poem of hers is insightful. Like the book, the message I get is one of nuanced hope.

    Drama in two acts

    I dim
    I dim
    I have no doubt
    If someone blew–
    I would go out.

    I did not.
    I must be brighter
    Than I thought.

    –from Beginnings & Beyond

  2. Anon Reply

    I liked the book. But this podcast bothered me. It felt gossipy. I also didn’t like the comments on people’s physical appearance.

      • Ron/Derry Reply

        Ditto. I have enjoyed Mormon expressions and the efforts in presenting honest open dialoque. however I felt this one was an injustice to Caroline as I am aware of the many challanges she has faced. Some remarks seemed to judgemental/hash without empahy for what she went through.

      • Scroppa du Boppa Reply

        I wouldn’t call this gossipy, but I would have felt better about it if you had edited out the crack about “filling a hole.” That disappointed me.

        • sinclaire Reply

          is it possible that you are being a bit overly sensitive Scroppa?? it was a random, spontaneous comment that was worded ironicly and they laughed. big deal. it wasnt like she sought the opportunity to make a joke…..

          • Scroppa du Boppa

            Sure, probably sensitive. And I probably wouldn’t say anything if this were a live podcast.

            That moment was jarring in contrast to the delicate and respectful manner in which this podcast generally treats other’s intimate life details. Think about the podcast when Zilpha read her journal entries about her shifting belief, how inappropriate it would be to celebrate an accidental double entendre. I felt like the subject matter deserved a little more respect. Just a thought.

        • Ms. Robyn Reply

          Dang. I haven’t listened to the final cut yet, but I have the feeling I’m really going to cringe. I believe it was an “honest” inappropriate moment. We had no ill intent and, in our defense, we’re new and just getting the hang of things. Scroppa, thanks for being specific. Next time, I’ll try extra hard to leave my dirty, gutter mind at home, but I can’t make any promises:)

    • Ms. Robyn Reply

      Anon & Guest…I generally believe it’s acceptable to say just about anything, if it’s said respectfully. A gossipy tone would not fit into my idea of what’s respectful. However, it’s impossible for me to give your feedback serious consideration without specifics. I can’t read minds. From what you did choose to share, my best guess is that you intended to be helpful. So thank you anyway, I think…

    • sinclaire Reply

      i listened to it again trying to understand this….i will say quite honestly that when i saw a pic of him (in the family photo) my initial reaction was that i thought he was a son/sibling…he doesnt even look like an adult in comparison to her-she actually looks much, much older than him. i really dont see how having an opinion about how he looks is a problem, let alone gossipy. CLP repeatedly comments on his looks both prior to marriage, during marriage and after he leaves and starts to form his “gay” persona…i dont see a problem with forming an opinion or making an observation.

  3. Jay Bryner Reply

    By far the most interesting part of the podcast, for me, was the discussion around the author’s experiences and feelings in the church as a woman. I have a real hard time unraveling the concerns of women in the church. I’m barely starting to understand what a knotty problem that is. I’m wondering if there is an antidote. So far, all attempts at articulating the problem, and looking for solutions have come up short.

    Same goes for the unbelievable dilemma for homosexuals in the church. There is no satisfactory place for them. Not sure if there’s an antidote for that either. I did appreciate the comments about an expectation for good behavior once you bring children into the world – whether you’re gay, straight, man, woman, free spirit, whatever.

    • Alyssa Reply

      I agree that the discussion about women’s role in the church was the most interesting part of the podcast. When the panelists were talking about how women are praised as being more innately spiritual than men, it reminded me of an insightful blog entry recently posted on the Exponent II Blog: http://www.the-exponent.com/2011/03/10/cultivating-mindset-the-trouble-with-bright-girls-and-the-women-they-become/

      I’d recommend reading the post itself, but the summary of it is that recent studies have shown that women tend to be praised for their innate goodness (e.g. for being naturally gifted and talented) and men tend to be praised for their efforts, for working hard. This actually inhibits women’s professional development because it causes them to have a closed mindset about themselves and their abilities, to view their self-worth as fixed and static. By contrast, men view their abilities as dynamic and open to change and progress—which leads them to take on greater risks, to challenge themselves, and to respond better to criticism.

      Although this is a trend that exists in American society at large, it’s easy to see how this problem becomes magnified in Mormon culture—where women are praised for being innately more spiritual than men and men are praised for putting off the natural man. Simply put, women = are good, men = do good. Notice that one is clearly passive while the other is clearly active.

    • Gilderoy Reply

      I agree that the interesting part is about women’s role in the Church.

      Being a male in the Church, I don’t get to see the hurt and the anguish that women have. My wife is a TBM and for the life of me I don’t understand a lot of where she is coming from. I think it would do a lot of good to discuss these issues.

      I walked away from the discussion feeling pretty disheartened about how women are treated in the Church. I wouldn’t call myself a feminist per-se, but it made me wonder if in my own marriage if I have and currently promote the the Church’s view. The part that really cut me was about how God like maleness and how God calls and associates with males. It reminded me of the question my wife has been asking for years — why do women veil their faces in the temple? It isn’t so hard to see why women feel less valuable in the Church if they can’t even approach God with out covering themselves?

      As much as I love the insight that John has to offer, I would love to have a spin-off with all the ladies from the book club and Zilpha (we want more Zilpha!) take on some off the women’s issues. The sex discussions is interesting and all, but between this Book Club and Zilpa’s Women’s sexuality, I think there is considerable value in having the discussion.

  4. Hermes Reply

    Carol Lynn Pearson is an amazing woman. She embodies the kind of sacrifice that no one has to make: as the panel points out, she has no compelling reason to stick with Gerald (who is a cad) or be nice to him (she could have been much crueler than she is). But she does both, because she really loves him. In spite of his flaws, she really, honestly loves him. She is a modern-day Mormon Christ-figure: a suffering servant who offers her best work with no thought of reward and without becoming the hapless victim (though she comes close enough to make the story believable).

  5. Gail F. Bartholomew Reply

    There is an element here that I think you are completely missing. At the time Carol Lynn wrote this book I do not believe she got it. Gerald did not leave so he could have sex with a man. He left so he could be him.

    Lets look at what it is like for a gay member in the church today. A far more gentle church than that Gerald was a member. Yes it is no longer considered to be a sin to be gay in the church just to act on it. But these the desires and thoughts that make them gay are to be avoided at all cost. And you can never fit in heaven unless the very essence of who you are is changed. Also It may be ok for them to feel gay, but they should never ever act gay. They are encouraged even today in the pamphlet God Loves his children to only share the fact that they are gay with only their bishop and maybe a close family member as if being gay is a serious sin like adultery. Also according to Elder Oaks they should not even admit to being gay even to your self you have same sex attraction and have homosexual thoughts or feelings. As if being gay is as simple as having chocolate attraction or Big Mac attraction.

    Gay members are asked to deny who they are in every way every day. This is such a painful thing. I remember the words of Alma in the Book of Mosiah. If you are willing to morn with those who morn or comfort those that stand in need of comfort. This is a beautiful concept and the word family can be a beautiful place, but not for those like Gerald. His word members or even members of society beyond the gay society he could not be loved for who he was. This is the days of Harvey Milk. He would always not only need to pretend to be someone else, but also fear what kind of monster his closest friend would see him as if they found out who he was.

    I was married in the temple for 17 years to a gay woman. We were both return missionaries and very active in the church. I remember the pain knowing that my fellow ward members all assumed being a husband for me was something very different than it was.I loved my wife and thought our relationship was very beautiful, but it was very different than other marriages. I felt so very alone going to church. Now that my ex wife is out and we are no longer married and working very supportive with each other and in our own way we are still an unapologetic family the reality of who I am scares them and I can see that in their eyes. This is the real reason I do not attend. The only safe place they have to put me is the tragic jilted man that was rejected in the worst way possible. Since I do not accept that role they have no place for me, and I can never be part of the circle in the way I once was. I needed to find a new circle for me.

    For Gerald the only circle he had was the gay culture of the 70’s and early 80’s. With such hatred from the church he loved and wavering between self hatred and gay pride of the day what choices did he have?

    • Anonymous Reply

      Interesting insight, Gail. In some ways, the mormon world seems nicer today, however it still divides many families and causes a lot of pain.

  6. Listening Spain Reply

    I enjoyed the discussion, but would have like to have seen somebody included on the panel who’d also been married, gay and in the church. I resonates with my own painful, personal experiences, having fallen in love with another member, of the same sex, during the 1980’s, whilst holding a senior ward calling.
    The decision of whether I could leave home and the children was one of the worst choices I ever had to face:- unlike Gerald, I stayed until they had grown to maturity, but to this day I am unsure whether it was the right decision, or resulted in causing the family even more pain and hurt.
    30 years have elapsed, but we still do not have all the answers.
    I appreciated John’s comments regarding the scourge of aids, and remember so many wonderful people I knew who were afflicted, some in the church, at that time. We were totally ignorant and unprepared for the consequences, with no scientific or medical help. I could have easily become a victim, through the lifestyle I was living. Fortunately, through education a more open society has evolved, and here in developed parts of the world, we are better equipped to combat the terrible plague.
    Thanks panel, for an enlightening discussion on this difficult topic.

  7. Alison Reply

    Where to start? I haven’t read the book but I did enjoy the discussion. The church has come a long way when it comes to the treatment of gay members but I think that when most TBMs think of gay people they think of the images they might see at a gay pride parade and are disgusted. They think that by denying gays rights, and denying that being gay is natural and normal it only affects that narrow idea of homosexual. They don’t see that it affects the spouses and families of those who deny who they really are. I am the daughter of a gay man who denied (and still does) who he really is so that he would be accepted by his family and community. My family has been destroyed because of this and we are lucky to have been able to repair some of those relationships, but for a church to hold the sanctity of the family above all else, what they are doing is tearing many families apart. I left the church about a year ago because I could no longer associate myself with a church that claims love and acceptance but does not practice it. My dad in not ‘out’ and as an educator in Utah knows that he would never be accepted as such. I don’t feel it is my place to out him and so it is often hard for people to understand why I have such strong feelings about the subject.

  8. cam Reply

    I think we need to remember what all of the culture was like before aids. We just did not understand very much about homosexuality. Because of the pill, civil rights, (gay and women’s rights too) and free love, the country was much more liberal and “experimental.” When aids first broke out, I was in my mid 20s and felt safe because it was a “gay” disease. Then IV drug users were added to the risk list, and then everybody else. Because of the pill, nobody was using condoms pre-aids. I think that it was through aids education that our entire culture (except for religious conservatives) began to understand homosexuality. We are a very different country now than we were at the time CLP and her family went through their tragedy.

  9. Anon Reply

    Interesting discussion. I am an RM. I have been married for 8 years. I have two beautiful children. Almost two years ago my marriage began to really struggle as I approached turning 30 years old. I began to realize that I could no longer be happy and hide that part of myself that I had only recently noticed and certainly never accepted or acknowledged. One day when my wife was chatting with her mother on Skype, my mother-in-law held up a book titled “Good Bye, I Love You” and asked my wife if she needed to read it. It had become obvious to everyone what our problem was.

    Unlike Gerald, I had absolutely no experience with other men. I really had no experience with women either. My wife and I were both virgins when we got married. It took me several years to understand how unique I was. It has been a crazy two years since I came out to her. I have never been through so much doubt, and I have never felt so guilty, and I have never cried so much. There is still a lot of tension as we figure things out. It has been especially difficult because I decided to leave the Church at the same time I came out to my wife, and she has in many ways become more faithful.

    I appreciate Pearson’s efforts. Because of her, I have something I can offer to faithful Mormons that will help them understand a little bit of what we are going through. It has also help
    Before we post this, who
    ed us. My wife went to the bishop on several occassions. He has told her that the book is wrong. He has told her that she needs to leave me. Sometimes I think he is right even though I don’t believe he is inspired. My wife deserves much better than me. She needs someone who can really love her.

    It is difficult to understand the conflict and complexity of coming out as a married man with children especially in the Mormon faith. There is so much in the balance and so much damage you can cause. It is so hard because it feels like everyone is pulling you in their own direction. You end up feeling very alone and isolated having to make such an consequential decision. I know men who have stayed, and I know men who have left. I really don’t think there is a right answer that even comes close to fitting for everyone. Each has to struggle with their situation and make the best decision they can. I am a much more understanding and patient person because I have been through this. I cannot judge people anymore for the things they struggle with.

    • Alison Reply

      Thank you for sharing. I agree with your statement that there isn’t a tight answer that will fit everyone. I’ll share a bit more about my family in hopes that it will help you. My mom found out about my dad when I was a baby about 1980, so it was a very different time and they were living in the Bay area. We moved back to UT when I was 3. My parents tried to make it work, but my mom was severly depressed my dad was extreemly shelfish and not a very good parent, and we did not have a happy home life. I didn’t know about my dad till I was 17 and everything fell apart. I choose to support him and he choose to live in denial, which included marrying again in a desprate attempt to prove to everyone that he really wasn’t gay. That mariage didn’t end well either and again I was left to pick up the pieces for him. I’ve stood by him and helped him through more suicide attempts than I care to remember. I love my dad and I wish with all my heart that he would accept himself. I think that is happening very slowly, and though I don’t think he will ever be openly gay I think he realizes that his children love him for him. I hope that what ever happens between you and your wife that you will be honest with yourself and when the time is right with you children.

  10. MoHoHawaii Reply

    I was surprised at how judgmental this discussion was. Why is it so important for people with an LDS background to constantly evaluate the moral correctness or moral failure of others? While listening I started counting everytime a moral evaluation of any kind was uttered by any of the panelists. I quickly lost count. (If you don’t believe me, listen to the podcast and try this.)

    A propensity to judge is a fundamental trait of LDS culture. All personal stories, in the Mormon worldview, must be evaluated in terms of a single-axis moral scale. It’s interesting to me that this cultural trait persists regardless of orthodoxy. It’s seemingly what binds ex-mos, jack-mos and chapel mos together.

    • John Reply

      The book is a moral tale. I don’t know how to discuss it on its own terms without evoking moral evaluation.

      A propensity to judge is not a trait of LDS culture, it is a fundamental of thought. If you can go through life bumping into information and not judge and evaluate it, more power to you. But the other 99.9999% of the world and I will go on evaluating and judging things to determine the worth of pursuit.

      But truth be told, you are not what your you claim. I counted 9 moral judgments in your 2 paragraph retort. It seems that your rate of moral judgment is much higher than ours.

    • Anonymous Reply

      The book is a moral tale. I don’t know how to discuss it on its own terms without evoking moral evaluation.

      A propensity to judge is not a trait of LDS culture, it is a fundamental of human thought. If you can go through life bumping into information and not judge and evaluate it, more power to you. But the other 99.9999% of the world and I will go on evaluating and judging things to determine the worth of pursuit.

      But truth be told, you are not what your you claim. I counted 9 moral judgments in your 2 paragraph retort. It seems that your rate of moral judgment is much higher than ours.

      • Guest Reply

        I disagree. I don’t think it was a moral tale. I think the book was a glimpse into the serious plight of Mormon homosexuals. They are caught between two options that destroy their lives in one way or another. Pick the church and (attempt to) abandon who they are. Or, pick who they are and, according to their belief structure, abandon their future in the eternities. Imagine how much more difficult it must have been in the 70s and 80s.

        I cringed at the comments on Gerald’s appearance…. the postulation on how they could have been attracted to one another…. if the sex was good… was a good father…. whether they should have moved to San Francisco…. whether the children should have been sent away while he was dying. Was the book really about those aspects? I don’t think it was. I think those were just the details of this particular family’s tragic story — the plot points used to move along the discussion of homosexuality in the church. But, on the other hand, I think that when one writes a book like this that they should expect moral judgements from others. Because you are right. Evaluating and judging are innate characteristics of all human beings. I obviously have no way of knowing Sister Pearson’s reasons for publishing this book. But I wonder if perhaps she decided to let other people in on the details of her situation in order to educate people as well as to reach out to others who were in her same situation. Perhaps it was also so she didn’t feel alone in her pain the way she had in the beginning.

        It’s easy to arm chair quarterback this particular podcast, I think. Maybe what it comes down to is that it’s awkward to discuss the lives of people who are still living. Especially when it involves an issue as touchy as homosexuality.

  11. Jeanmarie Todd Reply

    I’m hoping this will appear on iTunes soon so I can download to my iPod. Otherwise I’m tied to my computer to listen to it. Do you have any control on when podcasts are released on iTunes? Thanks, keep up the good work.

    • Heather Reply

      It’s in my itunes folder. Perhaps try right clicking on the Mormon Expression folder and then click “update.” Sometimes podcasts don’t automatically update. I have to do the same for Moth and Skeptoid. 🙂

  12. Anonymous Reply

    I read this when it first came out. I happened to be living near Dupont Circle in Washington, D.C., at the time and had become acquainted with some of my gay neighbors. That and this book got rid of any fear or suspicion or judgment I ever might have had about gays.

  13. Anonymous Reply

    The comment about Mormon and ExMormons being able to love Carol Lynn Pearson is true. My TBM mom loves her. And though I don’t totally “get” her my ExMormon heart loves her too.

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