Page 1 of 1

Article about Matthew Gong in the Trib

Posted: 27 Sep 2020, 09:02
by DarkJedi
Came across this article this morning: https://www.sltrib.com/religion/2020/09 ... s-gay-son/

Matthew Gong, son of apostle Garret Gong, talks about being a gay member and his relationship with his family. It doesn't make his activity level clear but does indicate he has a good relationship with his family and that he has (or has had) a boyfriend.

While I do think his story is typical of some gay members I don't think it works for all of them, and that's in part because of their families and their church relationships.

Some excerpts:
His mother, an avid gardener, once explained the difference between flowers and weeds.
“Weeds,” she told him, “were plants growing where they weren’t wanted.”
His queerness, the opposite of his religious ethnicity, “was something I was born with but not into,” Gong says in an LGBTQ Affirmation conference speech, “I had to discover it, like a secret birthright.”
And thus he came to see his gay self as a “weed” in the Latter-day Saint garden.
When the senior Gong took his place for a lifetime appointment in the faith’s Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, the younger Gong thought: “Today is the day I lost my father. His life isn’t his anymore, and we are on opposite sides of a great divide.”
His fear was that “people would politicize me and my dad. That our interactions would be nitpicked to brand us as avatars of ideologies,” Gong writes on a Facebook post. “... It didn’t matter if we agreed about everything; we’re still family. So, when I talk about ‘the Church,’ I mean ‘the Church.’ When I talk about my father, he’s just my father.”
Though Gong’s relationship with his parents got off to a “rocky start” after he came out — not for lack of love or rejection but for miscommunication — they are now as close as ever and talk almost every week.
When asked in 2018 if having a gay son had affected his views on LGBTQ issues, the apostle replied, “We love each member of our family. We feel the need to be compassionate to all. Even though there are many things we don’t understand, we know in God’s plan there’s a place for every person in [the church].”
If Gong hadn’t come out, he says, “I would have fought in the war till I died by suicide.”
“I experienced confusion, sexual assault and rejection as I stumbled through my new life,” Gong says. “I struggled to find meaning in the spiritual void left by having been a flower growing in the wrong place.”
He hated that God “had been taken from me,” he says. “I had won the war in coming out but was left as broken as the battlefield.”
And he still didn’t know how to love himself.
(I think a lot of us can relate to that one.)
He began to heal, until there was one final battle: to face institutions and people who had harmed and abused him.
“I held my ground … and I silenced their rage with my story as I spoke with my own voice. ‘I forgive you,’” he says. “They hadn’t earned my forgiveness, but I had.”
In doing so, he gave himself the chance to extend grace to his past selves.
(In the thread where people talk about letting go of the guilt and fear, I think this is what some of us mean.)
Though Gong still claims aspects of Mormonism in his spirituality, he has added theistic Taoism, Zen Buddhism and any parts of a religion “that seem resonant — civility, care, forgiveness, treating humans with dignity and compassion.”
He learned those principles from “growing up Mormon,” he says, “but they are not unique to the church.”
The church’s “patterns and behaviors of abuse,” he says, “don’t have to be there; they are not inherent in the doctrine.”

Re: Article about Matthew Gong in the Trib

Posted: 27 Sep 2020, 09:13
by Heber13
There are so many of these stories. They are sad.

It feels to me like eventually the church leaders will realize they need to pivot and receive "more light and understanding" on this issue.

Re: Article about Matthew Gong in the Trib

Posted: 27 Sep 2020, 15:12
by Arrakeen
This was an interesting read.
It didn’t matter if we agreed about everything; we’re still family. So, when I talk about ‘the Church,’ I mean ‘the Church.’ When I talk about my father, he’s just my father.
Though Gong’s relationship with his parents got off to a “rocky start” after he came out — not for lack of love or rejection but for miscommunication — they are now as close as ever and talk almost every week.
I’m glad they’re able to have a good relationship despite their different beliefs. It’s always heartbreaking to hear when families get torn apart over different beliefs about the church. I’m grateful that my own family has been there for me even as I have expressed my doubts more openly.
When the family moved to Utah, the young Gong found himself in a much more homogeneous community with a “dominant culture,” he says, where his peers and teachers weren’t exactly sure about his ethnicity.
I can relate to this one. I’m also half-Asian, and I spent most of my life in more diverse parts of the country. The ward I grew up in is probably the most diverse ward in the whole church. But the longer I’ve spent in Utah the more I’ve realized how different I am from the dominant culture here.
Gong believed so fervently in the mantra that “God loves the sinner but hates the sin” that he “committed war crimes" against himself
Interesting. Normally I believe this phrase is well-intentioned and used to show God’s love for everyone, separating individual worth from whatever bad choices they may have made. But it can be quite harmful when something so fundamental to a person’s identity is labeled a “sin” that God “hates”.
I love myself, scars and all, and I am awestruck by the simplicity at being happy, something I would never have believed possible in my younger years
I’m glad he’s been able to figure things out. There are so many of these stories with a sad ending, it’s nice to see that there is still hope for people to end up happy even after such difficult struggles.

Re: Article about Matthew Gong in the Trib

Posted: 27 Sep 2020, 21:48
by Ilovechrist77
Thank for sharing the article, DarkJedi. I'm glad Gong's son has found peace with his sexuality.
There are so many of these stories. They are sad.

It feels to me like eventually the church leaders will realize they need to pivot and receive "more light and understanding" on this issue.
I hope and pray you're right, Heber. I have two nephews in Lehi, Utah, that came out gay. Well, the older brother is gay, while the younger one is bisexual. So that might make it hard for them to be members of the church. Fortunately, they seem to get along with brother and sister-in-law. In fact, they work for my brother in a home school business.