Friday, July 13, 2012

Former LDS Bishop Kevin Kloosterman Says "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy" Made Him More Sympathetic Towards Gay Mormons

Remember LDS Bishop Kevin Kloosterman? He was the one who caused a stir back in November 2011 when he gave a speech during a Mormon Stories conference calling upon members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to behave in a more Christ-like fashion towards gay church members. The transcript of the speech is still available. Kloosterman used the word "atrocity", which set a few people's teeth on edge, but he also said he was speaking strictly for himself, and that he continued to sustain official Church policy towards gays.

Since that time, Kloosterman was released from his calling as bishop in March 2012. However, since the release occurred five months after his speech and five years after being initially called, it was not considered retaliatory. The LDS Church generally limits a bishop's tenure to five years because it is such a demanding job and they want to create a large pool of men who've had the experience.

Now, on July 13th, Kloosterman is back in the news. He has shared with The Advocate the reason why he became interested in the gay issue in the first place. While Kloosterman previously stated that he felt promptings from the Spirit that he needed to learn all he could about these issues, he now says that it was the T.V. show "Queer Eye For The Straight Guy" that first sparked his interest. What initially attracted his interest was the intro music for the show, but it soon became much more. Here's the key excerpt:

For me it was much more than watching five gay men help get straight guys’ act together in grooming, home decor, fashion, culture, and cuisine. It began to create a bond for me to these men. They had a certain synergy that kept me wanting to watch more. I liked them as people. I saw them as individuals expressing their God-given talents and trying to make people’s lives and the world a little bit better. As Carson Kressley, the show’s fashion guru, would often say, it’s not a makeover show, it’s a “make better” show.

I would watch the show and imagine what it would be like for them to be in a Mormon bishop’s home, which is probably considered the heart of enemy territory by some in the gay community since Proposition 8. There was something about the spirit of these men that seemed to break barriers of orientation, politics, and even religion. Perhaps like every other fan, I considered them to be more familiar than reality would dictate. Then something that Carson said in his cheeky manner struck me like a thunderbolt. He said, “We are very pro traditional marriage.” Those words echoed in my mind for months and months. It seemed to disrupt and challenge a deeply held belief that the traditional family was under attack by a so called “gay agenda.”

That belief was dismantled at that moment and I realized that these good men had no desire to hurt me, my marriage, or my family. On the contrary, if they were in my home, I could only see them supporting me, my traditional marriage, and my family.

Kloosterman also reveals that in addition to some conservative bloggers who were advocating his excommunication, one blogger was apparently soliciting physical violence against Kloosterman, publishing his personal information and using the term "blood atonement". That blog was soon taken down after others urged Kloosterman to file a police report. Kloosterman no longer sees the LGBT community as a nameless, faceless entity, and invites others to realize that we are all not that different from one another and we truly should treat one another as God intended -- as neighbors and friends.

As Latter-day Saints, we need to remember that we are asking gays who want to remain worthy members of our Church to give up something that most of us straights don't have to give up; the exercise of the power of procreation. And since the Lord, through his prophets, has stated that the only acceptable form of procreation to Him is through monogamous heterosexual marriage, we're asking gays to give up procreating for LIFE to remain worthy members of the Church. That's one heck of a tall order, and it warrants respect for those willing to take that road. It also should warrant some degree of sympathy for those who cannot take that road, although we're under no obligation to dilute or deny our own doctrine just to make other people feel better about themselves.

Perhaps one other way to motivate ourselves to behave more justly towards gay people is to consider the possibility that they may have chosen same-sex attraction as their major life challenge before the foundation of this world, either to advance faster in this life, or to identify more closely with the supreme sacrifice made by Jesus Christ. While this is not officially doctrinal, I discuss Duane Crowther's findings in this previous post.

1 comment:

Nick Kiederlen said...

I don't see us asking them to give up their power of procreation, by being gay (whether anyone believes it is by choice or by nature), there is no possible way of procreating unless it is outside of the bonds of marriage. We are simply asking them to keep the commandments. I fully support and love all people, even in the LGBT community, I am not against them in any way, but we must keep the commandments of God, no matter what they may be.