…the parched land shall become a pool, and the thirsty lands springs of water…(Isaiah 35:7)

Someone’s Ancestor

The Seed of Change

By Rex Goode


Bertrice Bell Corbett Moore

Bertrice Bell Corbett Moore

On Sunday night, I attended a fireside locally about same-sex attraction and heard a lot about the reasons people like me might decide to stay faithful to the Church and its teachings despite same-sex attracted feelings. As I listened, I pondered my own reasons and have been remembering those days when I made the choice.

It came after years, as a boy, struggling not only with feelings but also behavior. Ever since I’ve been involved in organizations that are about being Mormon and gay, I’ve heard a lot of stories about that moment when people realized they were gay. For others, it was more about the time they revealed it to someone. For me, there wasn’t a real moment and I never revealed it to anyone until I was well into adulthood.

I hadn’t even heard the term “gay” used to mean anything other than someone who liked to have fun until I saw Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In on television. In their “Laugh-In Looks at the News” segment, they were prone to do a spiel on The Gay Liberation Front in San Francisco. In its day, Laugh-In was pretty edgy, broaching subjects that had historically been taboo, and of course, making fun of them.

Even seeing the show and realizing that there were other people attracted to the same sex, I didn’t think of myself as gay. I didn’t really think of myself as homosexual and was offended one day when a schoolmate called me a homo. It should be remembered that the Gay Liberation Front was something born out of the sixties and a growing interest in and practice of Marxist Conflict Theory.

Every group was vying for social revolution in favor of their own group. This wasn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it created a lot of social upheaval, some of it for the good. We owe a lot of our more fair and equal society to these movements. The more radical movements fizzled out and we are left with much more social equity.

Dan Rowan and Dick Martin

Dan Rowan and Dick Martin

Rowan and Martin’s Laugh-In was a weekly comedy variety show that featured rapid-fire skits and stand-up comedy routines. The name was borrowed from the hippy movement and the idea of a love-in. It aired from 1968 through 1974.

Though I admired the aims of some of these movements, I didn’t really identify with the idea of protest and social unrest. I felt life was hard enough without making a nuisance of yourself.

For me, therefore, the self-identification as gay never really happened. I knew that my feelings towards men and women were different than the feelings of my peers. I knew I was deeply attracted to males and barely interested in females, other than as “cover stories” to ensure that my true feelings remained a secret.

Over the next few years, as I found myself indulging more and more in sexual activity with my peers, I at least recognized that my behavior wasn’t something I wanted to continue. Though I wasn’t active in the Church, it was pretty obvious to me that having sex with other boys wasn’t consistent with what the Church expected of me. I also knew that it was far more than a difference in which sex I preferred. I didn’t like a lot of things that other boys liked.

Around this time, I spent a lot of summers in my hometown, even though I didn’t live there. My grandmother, whom I simply called, “Granny”, lived in a trailer behind my aunt and uncle. I was frequently summoned to Granny’s trailer to kiss her on the cheek and then sit down and copy my pedigree chart.  I really loved Granny. I doubt a lot of boys in young adolescence would sit still long in a hot trailer in front of a desk with a stack of blank pedigree charts and copy down by hand endless lists of ancestors and their relationship to me.

As I wrote, Granny and I talked. It wasn’t always about the ancestors, but when she knew something about the person whose name I was writing down, she would tell me stories about them. There was something about it that delighted me.

It was also on that same piece of property that I began reading about the Church I hadn’t attended since I was 12 and ordained a deacon. During the four years I was away from the Church and visiting Granny, I managed to copy down a large stack of pedigree charts and family group sheets.

We not only talked about the individuals, but also about work for the dead, the ordinances that were recorded in the far right side of the family group sheets, and how those ordinances connected families. I was particularly interested in one ancestor who was sealed to a man who wasn’t his father. My pedigree didn’t follow the biological father’s line. It followed the adoptive father’s line.

We discussed my own status. My mother was married to a man who wasn’t a member of the Church. He had not adopted me. My biological father was unknown to me other than a name. I couldn’t be sealed to either of them and Granny told me I would one day need to be sealed to one of them. As of today, I’m not sealed to either.

Corban and Me on the grounds of the Portland Temple

Now, Granny didn’t know that I was not active in church. She didn’t know that I was living a highly promiscuous lifestyle. She didn’t know that I was about as far from worthy to go to the temple and be sealed to someone as a boy my age could get. Yet, she spoke of me as if participating in temple ordinances was an inevitable course for my life.

These talks really worked on my conscience, because I wanted very much to be part of this great family, scoundrels and saints alike. Not only did I want to be someone’s descendant. I also wanted to be someone’s ancestor. The thought struck me and began working on me. If I ever wanted to be someone’s ancestor, have posterity, be sealed in this great chain of people, I would have to make a change.

I think that the power of the desire to belong to something bigger than yourself is life-changing. The question I had to answer was what bigger something I wanted to be part of. There was no other answer for me than to belong on a pedigree chart with people above me and people below me. I would do anything to make that true.

The prophet Alma (Alma 32) spoke of comparing the word of God to a seed that brings forth fruit if we give it a place in our hearts. For me, the desire to be a father and grandfather and have numerous posterity was that seed for me to change my course.

I’ve often talked about the prayer experience that turned my life around. That prayer happened not more than a few yards from the desk where I sat many days writing by hand my own book of remembrance. A few minutes ago, I said goodnight to my little grandson, Corban. I’m proud to be the ancestor of eight beautiful and magnificent grandchildren. There are few things I love more than being someone’s ancestor.

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