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Monday, August 6, 2012

Child Abuse

Brent Astle 1971 - 2010

 Mormons show up at my door extolling the virtues of their religion with alarming frequency.  Alarming to me, that is.  And annoying  -   I find their visits  very, very annoying.  The "elders" that prostelyze may find their visits upsetting as well due to my responses, polite though I try to be.

One duo told me last year - in 2011 ! - that "gay marriage" was an abomination and, as such, to be fought with vim and vigour.   I pointed out that they were standing on Canadian soil and same sex marriage had been legal in British Columbia since 2003 and in all of Canada since 2005.    Astounded, the Mormons repeated their views and then maligned the Canadian government.  In fact,  and possibly with such extreme religious views in mind, the federal government had taken the precaution of submitting their proposed same sex marriage law to the Supreme Court to  ensure its constitutionality before passing it.   "On December 9, 2004, the Supreme Court of Canada  ruled that the marriage of same-sex couples is constitutional, that the federal government has the sole authority to amend the definition of marriage, and the Charter's protection of freedom of religion  grants religious institutions the right to refuse to perform the marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples ".  http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_Canada    So Mormons' constitutional rights to freedom of religion are in no way contravened by Canada's same sex marriage laws.

The "elders" last week told me the Bible wasn't written by chance, and that "God" talked to them in their hearts.  When I told them that, in my view, their religion was tantamount to child abuse because it taught that being gay was a choice, they answered that "we all have our trials to bear" and that gay Mormons had to struggle through their trials.   Unhappily, I know gay Mormons can have "trials" that are insurmountable.

(Gee - at least those "elders" didn't advocate assaulting or killing gay people.  Perhaps they had no idea of the history of  their church.)

In "1991 The First Presidency of the LDS Church stated on NOV-14:
Sexual relations are proper only between husband and wife appropriately expressed within the bonds of marriage. Any other sexual contact, including fornication, adultery, and homosexuality and lesbian [sic] behavior, is sinful. Those who persist in such practices or who influence others to do so are subject to Church discipline...." http://www.religioustolerance.org/hom_lds2.htm

I had a friend to whom these teachings mattered very much.  He was born in 1971 and sadly, born into a devout Mormon family.  He was taught that gay is a choice and that gayness is an abomination to "God."   He told me he knew at the age of five that he was different.   He realized what the difference was when he hit puberty.  He was gay.

He attempted suicide when he was sixteen.   He killed himself on September 30, 2010. 

He had been well indoctrinated with the teachings of the Mormon church.   For example, just previous to  his suicide, his sister told him it was only  OK to be gay if he never had sex!   After his death, his brother and sister and their straight spouses cleaned out his apartment  - and - I can still hardly believe this - threw out his gay books and CDs and DVDs and paintings.......most of the material  remnants of his life in fact.  (His lesbian friends retrieved a lot of  his things from the dumpster .)  His family refused to attend a memorial breakfast if we were gong to mention that he had been gay.   His brother -in-law said "we will only attend tomorrow's memorial if is going to be a celebration of Brent as a special person, not a gay pride thing."

They didn't attend.  Their loss - Brent was special because he was gay - not in spite of it.  

My darling fag (I was his fag hag) is dead.  The teachings he internalized at his mother's knee destroyed his sense of self worth and helped kill him.  That's why religious teachings that preach that "gay is a choice and an abomination" are child abuse.  Children born into devout families that espouse homophobic teachings are sometimes born gay - and grow up believing that they are worthless because they are gay.

It's child abuse.


  1. Hello,

    I was a past friend of Brent's as well. I say past because after I left Kamloops we lost touch. Our connection was brief, but forever life changing. I still have a book that he lent to me and I am in a small film project in which I speak about Brent and how finding out about his death reminded me how fragile we are.

  2. Hi:

    Has the film been released? I'd like to see it. Thanks,.....TH

  3. Not yet. It is due out in September. I will keep you posted.