Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A Bigger Story

Dear J----,

My name is Kevin. I'm a Mormon. I've read your posts quite regularly for a while now. I disagree with some of the opinions you've expressed. I'm comfortable with that disagreement, because I accept the fact that you and I have had very different life experiences. Due to that acceptance, I haven't felt any outrage or emotional reaction to your writings. Until now. I was very disappointed in recent article about Rich Wyler. As a man who has attended Wyler's Journey into Manhood weekend and served on staff twice, I found your remarks hurtful, belittling, and intolerant.

You usually write with an admirable professionalism, a sense of being fair and reasonable. I'm curious as to why you lost that perspective in this situation. It seems that you have a real hang-up with homosexuality and the doctrine of the LDS Church. I can relate to a feeling of dissonance regarding the issue. I have personal experience with feelings of sexual attraction to other men. At one point I identified myself as Gay. During that time, I had many negative feelings about the Church. I felt betrayed by the very God I had trusted so innocently. I wasn't able to reconcile my understanding of God with my personal experience. That time was the most painful, agonizing period in my life. I was suicidal.

In a moment of tender mercy, at the peak of my rebellion against God, I was given the opportunity to meet other men who had experienced many of the same feelings I had. They understood where I was coming from and accepted me as I was, sans facade, doubts and all. I was introduced to the writings of Wyler and Matheson which resonated strongly with me. For the first time in years, I felt a connection to my God. I began to learn about a story that was bigger than the one I had been telling myself. I was brought to look honestly and humbly at the lies which I had come to believe. Some were lies handed to me by well-intentioned, but misguided members of the church. Others were spoon fed to me by a blinded society groping in darkness. The most painful were lies I had created myself to dull the pain of a wounded conscience. But paradoxically, the journey inward led to a new understanding of what was outside of me. I saw a world that was big enough to encompass me and my often conflicting experience. I met a God who was big enough to perfectly love and nurture an imperfect me. I met a self who was no longer a victim, but an agent capable of mighty change. I met a Savior, who was powerful enough to provide just such a change.

But that is just me. My story is also big enough for people who don't have an experience like mine. My world is big enough to encompass people who resolve their inner conflicts differently. My God is big enough to love and save all of his children. My self is willing to accept others as they are and trust my Savior to heal others as He sees fit, and not necessarily just like he healed me.

Is your story big enough to include me?


Rob said...

There may be room for Kevin but there is no room for charlatans like Richard Wyler, a con artist who steals money from trusting innocents like Kevin and gives only discredited myths in return. Whatever Kevin may have accomplished through his experiences he did himself, despite the involvement of snake-oil salesmen like Wyler and not because of it.

K. L. said...

Interesting double standard. For myself, Rich didn't steal anything from me. In fact, I would have gladly paid ten times what I did. Not because of my innocent vulnerability, but because of the high value of the services received. I am grateful for Rich Wyler and men like him who continue to stand in an unpopular position and bless the lives of others.

caborshuttle said...

Hello K.L.,

I came across this announcement and thought you may know individuals who may be interested in participating. I know there's a real need for this kind of research!


I am a doctoral student of Human Development and Family Studies at Iowa State University. I am doing my dissertation research on commitment in mixed-orientation relationships (non-heterosexual man partnered with a heterosexual woman). This study has been approved by the university’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for the protection of human subjects. Please pass this along to anyone who may be interested.

Participants qualify IF:

• The male experiences same-sex attractions or behavior, regardless of self-identification.
• The female identifies as straight or heterosexual.
• The non-heterosexuality of the male has been acknowledged between the couple for at least three years.
• The couple is in a committed intimate relationship, legally recognized or not.
• Both partners are willing to be interviewed.

The couple need not be in a sexually monogamous relationship, but they should identify each other as their primary partner. Participants may come from any state within the United States.

Participants will be asked to sign an informed consent document and to complete a short demographic questionnaire. I plan to interview the couple together once and each partner individually once. Most interviews will be held by phone or by Skype. If participants live within the state of Iowa, interviews may be held in person, if possible. Interviews will last approximately 60 minutes. After I have completed my interviews, participants will be invited to review a preliminary analysis of the results and to provide feedback if they wish.

Participant identity will be kept strictly confidential. Digital transcripts will be kept in password-protected computer files. Printed transcripts and completed demographic questionnaires will be kept in a locked file cabinet in my office until the end of the study. Audio recordings will be deleted after transcription. Pseudonyms will be assigned to participants on the transcripts.

Those interested in participating in the study can contact me by email at kevinz@iastate.edu or by phone at 515-441-9397. To ensure participant confidentiality, respondents should indicate how they wish to be contacted.

Thank you for your time!

Kevin Zimmerman
Doctoral Candidate
Department of Human Development & Family Studies
Iowa State University

K. L. said...

Thanks, caborshuttle! My wife and I are participating in this study. I'd encourage any of my readers that fits this demographic to participate as well.