Pride – poignant LGBTQ+ lyrics to reflect on

A few words from me, with lyrics from a wonderful artist/song writer. I’ve seen Grace Petrie three times live. Twice on her own, playing an acoustic set. Once with her band. All were amazing. For me poignant lyrics in this song titled Pride. Take the time to listen, while reading through Grace’s words as you do so.

A few words from me, with lyrics from a wonderful artist/song writer. I’ve seen Grace Petrie three times live. Twice on her own, playing an acoustic set. Once with her band. All were amazing. For me poignant lyrics in this song titled Pride. Take the time to listen, while reading through Grace’s words as you do so.

Well, we’re a long way from the Stonewall Inn

I’m standing on this platform, no one’s stopping me to sing

But there’s a multitude of sins that can hide behind your hashtag

Tell me again how love wins

Well, there’s nothing new about this rage

It’s a war that’s always waged

Like how no one bats an eye that when fifty of us die

And it doesn’t even make the Daily Mail front page

Well sometimes, it’s like an uphill climb

Yeah sometimes, it’s like an uphill climb

But I’m right by your side

And that’s what we call pride

And I know you don’t want to face the fact

That each and every day we’re still being attacked

And sometimes it’s by guns, and sometimes it’s by words

And sometimes it’s by the North Carolina Bathroom Act

And we’re the same as everyone

We’re all under the same sun

But if you’re trying to suggest this is just about the West

We’ve spent our whole lives looking down the barrel of that gun

And sometimes it’s like an uphill climb

Yeah, sometimes it’s like an uphill climb

But I’m right by your side

And that’s what we call pride

And the love we have each other

Will defeat the hate we suffer

You’re my sisters, brothers, and all that’s in between

And if everything that I’m made of

Was fashioned by your God above

It was Him that gave this kind of love to me

But sometimes it’s like an uphill climb

Yeah, sometimes it’s like an uphill climb

Oh, sometimes it’s like an uphill climb

But I’m right by your side

Oh, I’m right by your side

And that’s what we call pride

And that’s why we need Pride

Review of an article regarding being gay and celibate

Review of an article published in the August 2020 edition of the Ensign magazine of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Promoting celibacy as being the answer, it’s a problematic article for many who are LGBTQ+ and a member of the Church.

Why bother? Why not just let things be? Three initial reasons come to mind.

One. I have lesbian, gay, trans, nonbinary, queer friends who are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I want them to feel loved, supported and accepted for who they are.

Two. Such an article can, and no doubt will, be weaponised. It’ll be sent to families with gay children, telling them not to worry, their son or daughter just needs to be celibate and everything will be okay. Similarly it’ll, no doubt, be sent direct to a gay person, telling them they just need to be celibate!! All followed by “See this guy called ‘Jacob R’ in the Ensign did it!!

Three. I’m mid way through writing an essay, for the Pink Therapy foundation certificate I’m nearing completion. Titled “Reconciling Being LGBTQ+ and Mormon“. I was hoping to find a way to bring the two together. Yet, the more I try, the more articles such as this one appear, making it harder and harder, if not impossible to do.

Being celibate and single may work for Jacob R which is wonderful, if that’s what he wants. The concern is when one way is put out as the way for all gay members of the Church. What about a nuanced viewpoint, looking at varying perspectives of being gay and a member of the Church? A more detailed exploration of celibacy was undertaken by Thomas Montgomery here.

Yes, there may be a few individuals who can remain celibate throughout their lives. Such people are most likely to be asexual and/or aromantic, having no or little interest in sexual or emotional relationships. For the majority the toll on their mental health will be tremendous. For some so bad life seems pointless, worthless.

The Church, when talking about the need for gay celibacy seems only to share stories of individuals and couples, who on the surface, seem to make being celibate or in a mixed orientation marriage work. One such couple was Lolly and Josh Weed. Not seeking such a position, they ended up as a kind of poster couple who had a loving and successful marriage, having four children, with Josh, openly gay, married to Lolly, a straight CIS woman. After years they explained why everything had to end. This is the same with many of the LGTBQ+ people on the Church’s website. Everything initially fits the Church’s agenda, then after time their position becomes untenable.

The article itself

I’ve linked the article below if you want to read the whole thing. I’ve quoted a few paragraphs, followed by my comments in italics.

Digital Only: Young Adults

Why digital only? What’s the issue with publishing this in the printed version of the Ensign? Don’t want the general membership to read it? It has been suggested ‘digital only’ makes it easier to remove from publication, if Jacob R ever changes his stance.

My Experience Living the Law of Chastity with Same-Sex Attraction

An improved title: “My Experience Living the Law of Chastity and being Gay”? There seems a persistence, from the Church, in using the phrase “same-sex attraction” which appears to reduce being gay down to something sexual, missing completely the close, intimate relationships gay couples develop.

By Jacob R.

Where’s the person’s full name? I can understand the person’s reluctance to publish their name in full, with there being still not yet full acceptance of the leadership, or the general membership of someone being gay and Mormon. Maybe times will change, so one day it’ll be fully acceptable to be LGBTQ+ and a member of the Church.

Sometimes the law of chastity can seem difficult to understand and reconcile…

When pursued from a strictly binary view, it is. Why not apply the law of chastity equally to gay and lesbian couples as to heterosexual couples? Once married what goes on in the bedroom is no one’s business, except the couple.

Editors’ note: This article is part of a series in the August 2020 Ensign regarding having a positive view of sexuality, sexual intimacy, and the law of chastity. The term sexuality means different things to different people, but in this context, we are talking specifically about our sexual feelings and identity.

Have to disagree – this article is not “a positive view of sexuality, sexual intimacy, and the law of chastity”, nor “sexual feelings and identity.”

There are two things I knew to be true about myself while I was growing up:

  1. I was a Hebrew-speaking Hasidic Jew.
  2. I am gay.

Being a Hasidic Jew this person has already had years of hearing that being gay is against God’s will. Joining The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints as a gay person seems like stepping out of the frying pan into the fire or perhaps the other way round?

But I’ve learned that regardless of what we may experience, when we trust God’s will above our own, our lives can turn out better than we ever imagined for ourselves.

May be so. Is God’s will being imparted directly? Or someone else telling us what they think God wants for us?

Finding the Truth

I moved to New York to go to school when I was a teenager. I started noticing a beautiful chapel near my school. I was really drawn to it, and as I took a closer look at it one day, I saw the words, “The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.” Because I was Jewish, I decided I probably shouldn’t go anywhere near it again, but I never forgot how intriguing it was.

“I started noticing a beautiful chapel”?

Beauty is indeed in the eye of the beholder. Yet describing, as beautiful, chapels of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints seems a stretch, which adds to the thought this is by a ghost writer. Temples described as beautiful, I can understand, plain brick Chapels, not really.

I ended up reaching out to missionaries in my area. The thing that intrigued me so much about the Church was that instead of being told what was true and having beliefs forced on me, I was encouraged to pray and receive knowledge and a testimony that it’s true for myself.

And I did.

After I gained that testimony, I asked to be baptized. The missionaries asked me, “Are you willing to endure to the end and keep the commandments?”

I said yes, even though at the time I didn’t fully understand everything that question entailed.

Saying yes, though he “didn’t fully understand everything…entailed”. Something that frequently happens. Happened to me. Especially for children baptised aged eight. How can they really understand all that will be required throughout their life? There’s something about full consent missing in such decision making. I began exploring consent here.

Because I experience same-sex attraction, sometimes I struggle to comprehend what Heavenly Father has planned for my life in the gospel. For me, the need to live the law of chastity can be difficult to understand and painful to apply at times, because it’s hard imagining I might be single throughout my life. I don’t know if I will have the opportunity to get married or have children in this life, but I want to, and I keep my mind open to being sealed in the temple if that is Heavenly Father’s plan for me. But regardless of when, I know those blessings will be fulfilled eventually if I follow His will and not my own.

Eternity is one thing, but what about joy now? Because a person is gay they have to wait for family and children in eternity?

As I have learned about His eternal plan, I truly understand that we can experience godliness in many ways, not just through sexual intimacy.

Back to sex. Intimacy is much more than sex. What about talking, holding hands, cuddling, hugging, going for a walk together, kissing, sharing time together, doing a puzzle, playing a game together, etc., etc.?

I Remember That the Lord Hasn’t Revealed All Things

I’ve often wondered why I experience same-sex attraction. I’ve prayed for answers so many times. And as I’ve spoken with stake presidents and bishops and with Heavenly Father over the years, I’ve come to understand that we don’t know all the answers yet. He hasn’t revealed everything to us. God is perfect, but as we see in the Book of Mormon, He doesn’t reveal everything at once.

Avoiding the word “gay” again. Let’s hope Heavenly Father reveals that marriage between people of the same sex and gender is okay sooner, rather than later.

Our souls are wired for connection, and that longing to connect is often at the heart of sexual feelings. Connection, close bonds, and friendship are such an important part of finding joy, and fulfillment as a member of the Church in this life, regardless of your circumstances.

Absolutely. Our souls are wired for connection. What about connection for those who are LGBTQ +? Allowing marriage between gay and lesbian couples helps fulfil such wiring for connection.

I know it’s true.

When I am wholeheartedly in the gospel and when I look through the lens of an eternal perspective and spiritual progression rather than a limited perspective, I feel such incredible peace and joy that doesn’t compare with anything else. The blessings I experience from the gospel of Jesus Christ and the blessings I am promised outweigh anything else, and they are worth everything.

Great for you. Don’t expect everyone else to feel the same.

And that is one of the main concerns with publishing such an article in an official church publication. The implication this is for all.

Consent – some further thoughts

I was going to title this “Consent and religion”. Though that felt too much like click bait.

Whenever we join an organisation, for whatever reason we may do so, there are certain requirements or expectations of us. Perhaps weekly or monthly meetings to attend. Service to give. Instruction manuals to read/study, in order to understand the group’s additional expectation of its members. There may even be a subscription fee.

This can happen, in varying degrees, whether it’s a company we are employed with, an organisation we may volunteer with, a school, college or university we are studying with, a religion or faith we may start associating with or formally join. As time goes by requirements often change and increase. Occasionally in a way to a level not imaged or considered when first joining. Many times happening without our full agreement or understanding of everything involved.

Over time it seems our consent is being eroded. Our expectations have been distorted. It can then be difficult to extract ourselves, reclaim our personal authority and either reduce what we offer or leave completely. Walking away can be arduous due to the consequences that may be imposed or at least threatened. Some may be insignificant, others severe.

In the case of employment, in some cases, we can wait things out, while we look for alternative work with a new company. Many times waiting is not possible because of extreme expectations and/or it’s not safe to stay. This brings all sorts of difficulties. Is it possible to renegotiate our contract, the company’s and/or our manager’s expectations? If we walk out how easy will it be to find another job? Will we be able to get another job at all?

Leaving a volunteer position is generally easier. We’re not dependent on income from volunteering. Though departing an unpaid internship may affect future income opportunities. That’s another discussion.

What about leaving a religion or faith? How easy is that? If fundamentalist, I suggest not easy at all. Unless you’ve been involved or know someone close who has been, this may not make much sense. Surely it’s just a case of walking away, of not attending, not contributing any more and so on.

Yes and no. It may be different, depending how long you’ve been involved. But the one difference, I see, between leaving employment, volunteering, and religion, is that the latter deals with eternity, whereas the the former with the present. Things are worse if the religion is fundamentalist or a cult. The two are usually combined. Imagine for years being told one particular path is the only way to heaven, to being with your family in eternity. Then you discover something about yourself that seems incompatible with that religion.

This is shown in my previous post, where I explored the following article, “My Experience Living the Law of Chastity with Same-Sex Attraction“. The relevant part being:

I was encouraged to pray and receive knowledge and a testimony that it’s true [the church] for myself.

And I did.

After I gained that testimony, I asked to be baptized. The missionaries asked me, “Are you willing to endure to the end and keep the commandments?”

I said yes, even though at the time I didn’t fully understand everything that question entailed.

Here Jacob R commits to “enduring to the end and keep the commandments…even though at the time [he] didn’t fully understand everything“. What happens later, if he no longer feels the same, if he can no longer hold to that earlier commitment?

Most fundamentalist churches are very binary in their approach to gender and sexuality. Perhaps you were born into such a faith/church, later realising you’re lesbian, gay, bisexual, trans, queer or nonbinary. What do you do? Deny that part of yourself, in order to stay? Or develop the courage to leave?

Experience shows that staying may be possible for a time. The length of which differs for individuals. I’ve seen some hold on for years. Others months or weeks. As I mentioned before if you’re asexual and/or aromatic remaining may be easier. There are many groups, who understanding the dilemma faced, that will support you in staying or leaving. Whilst the faith/church will no doubt want you to stay, very often the leadership will have no clue of the trauma being experienced and thus no idea how to support you, beyond saying keep the faith, keep the commandments.

This is one reason fringe, unofficial groups come into existence to provide support. Helping you come to terms with being LGBTQ+, working through with you, if it’s safe to stay or leave. Individual counsellors, such as myself, also can provide similar support.

Diploma in Psychosexual therapy

Recently completed a diploma in Integrative Psychosexual therapy, further enabling me to work with clients’ psychosexual health issues, doing so in an integrative, holistic way, appreciative of diverse sexualities.

On Saturday, 14th June this year, completed a diploma in Integrative Psychosexual therapy at The Centre for Psychosexual Health. For me, a wonderful two years of learning and development. This has further enabled me to work with clients’ psychosexual health issues, doing so in an integrative, holistic way, appreciative of diverse sexualities.

The diploma espoused a new model for the understanding of human sexuality and psychosexual health which encompasses the body, mind, brain and heart, as well as the social and cultural environment.

Over the two years we explored clients sexual issues in terms of their therapeutic meaning and potential, rather than as ‘dysfunction’. It included sexual education, information and self help tools.

It included supporting clients within a therapeutic relationship to rediscover themselves sexually and to develop a more conscious sexual self-esteem.

If you have concerns about any aspect of sex or sexuality either for yourself or within any relationship please get in contact.

The Ozanne Foundation – supporting LGBTQ+ people

This looks very interesting. Hope it leads to something positive for the LGBTQ+ community.

Pink News has a wonderful article on this:

Leaders from every major religion join forces to support LGBT community

The Ozanne Foundation, which works with religious organisations around the world to support LGBT+ people, has marked the end of Pride Month by launching the UK’s first inter-religious advisory board focused on fighting discrimination.

The panel’s nine members span across the main UK and Irish religions – Judaism, Islam, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism and Christianity – as well as representing the Christian denominations of Catholics, Quakers, Baptists and Methodists. 

The board will learn from the experiences of religious groups that affirm same-sex couples like the Quakers, represented by Hannah Brock Womack who was blocked last year from becoming president of Churches Together in England (CTE) because she is in a same-sex marriage, and develop strategies to promote inclusion within their own religious communities.

Sexual Outsiders – David M. Ortmann & Richard A. Sprott

A quote from the book:

“So my therapist said to me, ‘No one gets to dictate what your kink looks like and you don’t have to run around seeking other people’s approval for who you want to be in the scene or in your life.”

The idea, to me, sounds similar to:

“don’t yuck someone else’s yum.”

A few Trans* books

Over the past year I’ve read a few trans* books. All excellent reads, for different reasons. There are of course many other wonderful and insightful books on being trans*. Others on my reading list include “Testosterone Rex” and “Delusions of Gender” by Cordelia Fine. Thanks to Georgia Williams for bringing these to my attention.

One great value for such reading material is enhancing and developing deeper empathy. Valuable not just for counsellors, but for society as a whole. Empathy and acceptance of each other go hand in hand. Looking beyond our own point of view is invaluable for a peaceful society and world. Thinking there is only one answer or way to be creates others. It leads to us and them thinking. It tends to generate “either / or” thinking. When the ideal is surely “and / plus” thinking. Whether you’re trans*, wonder if you are, know someone who is or wonders if they are, or think you don’t know anybody who’s trans* (because you probably do) these books will be invaluable resource for you.

Of particular importance is the acceptance of any name change, being willing to use it, plus the pronouns a trans* person may ask you to use. Most trans* people recognise this can initially be difficult and will be okay with genuine slip-ups in language. What is offensive is deliberate mis-gendering someone.

“Trans Teen Survival Guide”, cover below, I’d say is similar in approach to This Book is Gay, written, as the title says, for a younger audience. Included are the following chapters:

  1. So You’re Trans?
  2. Gender Roles Are Dead
  3. Telling the World (or not!)
  4. What Do I Call You?
  5. Being You (Whoever That Is)
  6. Dysphoria: The Monster
  7. Puberty and How to Cope
  8. Hormone Therapy
  9. Genitals, Parts, Junk – What Suits Best?
  10. Surgeries
  11. Dating as a Trans Person
  12. Awkward Trans Tales
  13. Dealing with the Media
  14. Documenting Your Journey
  15. Don’t Get Mad – Get Even!
  16. More Than Just Trans
  17. Self-Care and How to Help Others
  18. Hopes for the Future
  19. Resources and Cool People
  20. Appendix: Young Trans Kids and How to Support Them

Difficult to say which chapters are the best. Each individual will find certain chapters more relevant to their needs or desires. One thing that becomes apparent is there is no one way to be trans*. The mainstream media often give the impression it’s just about cutting bits (penis or breasts) from off one’s body. And sometimes it is. Owl and Fox Fisher outline many options available. Too many to detail here. Read their book. If you can’t afford it, see if you local library can get hold of a copy for you.

Another wonderful book is “trans like me” by cn lester. Written for an older audience, certainly not beyond a teenage readership. For me it felt slightly more personal, in that cn lester recounts their own experiences of growing up, discovering themselves. Again, recommended reading.


Many people struggle to understand what being trans* is about. Such books as these give brilliant insights into that. That it is nothing like what is often depicted in the mainstream media. Yet such media seems preferred by many, instead of going to what might be termed a source, someone’s lived experience.

A third amazing book is “Trans Britain” by Christine Burns. The chapters are written by trans people who have experienced life in Britain over the past 50 years or so. It shows the progress made. Though lately there does seem a tragic reversal of trans acceptance in some areas of society. Yet, again,read this book to gain a greater understanding and appreciation of what it is being trans*.

The BI-BLE – no not that one…

Some thoughts on the difficulty being bi-sexual, with the bi-phobia, bi-erasure that often leads to greater mental health concerns for bi-sexual people.

I guess the title of this post could be offensive to some. It just happens to be the start of a book title. The full title being “The bi-ble – an anthology of personal narratives and essays about bisexuality“.

One thing becomes apparent through the book. Something known as bi-erasure, where the existence of bi-sexual people is discounted. You are either lesbian, gay or straight. No one is thought to actually be bi-sexual.

The idea of bi-sexuality seems to confuse some people. It is often thought that a person will identify as bi-sexual while on the way to discovering whether they are lesbian or gay. There is a scene depicted in Bohemian Rapsody that unfortunately implies this. I was reluctant to post about the film, until I discovered much of it is not historical accurate. So the conversation between Freddie and Mary may be not be factual. So spoiler alert.

Freddie and Mary had a wonderful relationship. Then, in the film, after Freddie returns from being on tour, they have an awkward conversation. Freddie says he thinks he’s bi-sexual, Mary responds, no Freddie, you’re gay. The idea of being bi-sexual is completely shut down. No disrespect meant to Mary, as then bi-erasure seemed the norm. The strange thing is all these years later attitudes don’t seem to have changed much!

Bi-sexuals are incorrectly seen as promiscious, incapable of commitment, a threat to relationships. Out of all LGBTQ+ people, bi-sexuals have mental health problems most frequently. The Bisexuality Report: Bisexual inclusion in LGBT equality and diversity found bi-sexual people are prone to higher rates of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicide, all of which are embedded in bi-phobia and bi-erasure.

I’m left wondering what needs to happen for their to be full acceptance of bi-sexuality. Accusations of being greedy, confused and such, seem inappropriate. Of the bi-sexual people I know, I wouldn’t describe any in that way. A case for more acceptance, by all, for all?

“This Book is Gay” – Juno Dawson

Wonderful book, whether you’re LGBTQ+ (perhaps you’re questioning or wondering?) or know someone who is. I’d recommend reading this book 🌈 😇

This book is wonderful!

Are you a young person wondering about your gender and / or sexuality? Read this book 😊

Do you have a child, niece, nephew, grandchild, or other young relative or friend wondering about their gender or sexual? Read this book 😊 and then either give it to whoever you are thinking about or buy them a copy!

I mention young people as that is the main audience Juno is writing for. Though, of course, the information within is relevant for everyone, whether LGBTQ+ or otherwise.

The chapters

  • Welcome to the members club
  • The name game
  • You can’t mistake our biology
  • Stereotypes are poo
  • The fear
  • Haterz gon’ hate
  • Coming out
  • Where to meet people like you
  • The ins and outs of gay sex
  • Nesting
  • Hats
  • A guide to recognising your gay saints
  • Build a bridge
  • The cheat sheet

I’d say all the chapters are relevant and important reading. Though, if you’re a parent, guardian, relative or friend of someone who is gay (or wondering or questioning) “Build a bridge” is vital reading.

When you buy the book, make sure you get the second edition. Has a few important updates.

Sex Education

Recently I finished watching the Netflix series “Sex Education”.

If you haven’t seen the series yet and don’t want any spoilers, best not read any further. Though I don’t really discuss any plot angles. I will say I was surprised to see one story line from 10 Things I Hate About You. Just go and watch it and come back here after 😊. Be aware it’s been given an 18 rating in the UK. Nudity from the opening scene. Strong language throughout. The story revolves around Otis giving sex therapy to various of his school peers, having picked up things from his Mum, who is a qualified and practicing sex therapist.

Made in South Wales, the location for the filming was the University of South Wales’ old Caerleon campus, which was closed in 2016. Despite this and the actors being from the UK, the setting is made to appear as if in a US high school. Bit confusing initially. Doesn’t distract too much.

Is it a comedy? Well, yes and no. There are many scenes that had me laughing out loud. There are many scenes that show the pain of being a teenager – bullying, not being part of the “in crowd”, coming to accept your gender and sexuality, not feeling adequate enough, clever enough, cool enough, affection not being returned by someone you fancy.

There are so many aspects of gender, sex and sexuality portrayed. With sex being biopsychosocial (biology, psychology and social) the series demonstrates this complexity. The following is a list (not in any particular order) of things I noticed that were touched on. Some in more detail than others. If I’ve missed any please comment so I can update here, listed alphabetically, rather than to try another kind of order.

  • Abortion
  • Asexuality
  • Bullying
  • Condom use
  • Complexity of family and friends relationships
  • Consent
  • Cross dressing
  • Divorce
  • Ejaculation difficulty
  • Faking orgasm
  • Homophobia
  • Internalised homophobia
  • LGBTQ+
  • Masturbation
  • Owning your sexuality and gender
  • Sex and relationship therapy
  • Vaginismus

The title of the series being sex education, wouldn’t it be wonderful if sex education in our UK schools covered the subjects listed above in depth. Perhaps then the difficult experiences of many teenagers regarding sex and relationships could be avoided.

Would I recommend watching it? Yes. Not everyone’s cup of tea, but I would recommend it.