Saturday, December 18, 2010

Change and Promises

Do you remember this last presidential election?  Presidential hopeful Obama ran on a campaign ideal of change.  He gave people hope that our government could change and our nation could become better.  We were unhappy with how things were running.  He inspired a lot of people. 

I felt pragmatic (some may say cynical).  I remember commenting that either candidate wouldn't be able to fix all of our country's problems or even the major ones.  No one man or administration can do that.  But I think most people who voted for President Obama believed that somehow he could.  That hope was unrealistic.

Time passed.  He didn't make the progress that people thought he should.  Change didn't come fast enough.  People became jaded and lost hope.  So everyone started blaming the Obama administration for everything.

Well, I hope people remember today.  The Senate has voted to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell.  President Obama kept his promise.  And this isn't a small thing at all.  Our servicemen and -women will not have to give up their integrity in order to serve our nation.  All citizens of the United States deserve equality, but especially those who would give their lives to defend it.

I have hope.  I have hope that this change will reverberate throughout our nation.  Let everyone know that gay men and women have achieved another large step on the quest for equality.

PS - I didn't vote for Obama.  But I believe in him.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Retailers Drawing Line on Returns

Retailers Drawing the Line on Returns

So I just read this article on retail stores and emerging policies on returns.  I'll start by saying I hate returns.  I take them back all day, every day.  Places I've worked had rules and policies for returns.  When I first started in retail, I followed them to a 't'.  Then I found out that most of the management broke the rules constantly.  I changed my policies to be more in line with theirs.  Unless you've worked retail, you don't realize how much returns hurt the company and the consumer. 

Think about it.  How do you know the product you purchased has been used previously?  Did a previous customer return the microwave because it shorted out but made it look nice and clean?  Did a woman wear the sweater you're buying and stain it with something that only be seen by black light?  Can you tell?  No?  Neither can the employees at the store you're purchasing it from.  So it goes back out on the shelf (nearly) as good as new.  This happens at every single store and every single chain in retail. 

The article talks about preventing 'return fraud'.  It happens all the time.  Dishonest people will change tags on product, shoplift product and then return it for an in store credit, or many other creative way of thievery.  All of it is loss and means the various retail stores have to charge more for the product.  Theft drives prices up.

I could go on and on about this.  But I need to head to bed.  If you're even contemplating returning a product when you buy it, do one of two things:  1)  Don't buy it.  If you're questioning the purchase maybe you should wait till you need it.  We're living in hard times.  Or 2) keep the receipt and the tags for the product.  Ask the cashier what the return policy on the product is.  Then if you exceed the time period or the rules, don't think you're special and should have an exemption.  Just accept that you are past the limit on the return and live with it.  After all, you don't know where that return will end up.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Family is Pretty Sweet

So, I have a pretty cool family.  Yes, my mom and dad and siblings and in-laws are really cool.  But this time I'm talking about a cousin of mine.  I chatted with one of my cousins on facebook yesterday.  This is a cousin from my dad's side, which I don't know as well.  We'd visit his family in Salt Lake every once in awhile.  But since becoming an adult I haven't seen him in years.  As such, we were never very close. 

But yesterday we had a regular chat--how're you doing, how's life and work--you know the bit.  You've had those conversations with acquaintances and relatives you don't know that well.  And I appreciate that.  But he went the extra mile.  He invited Aaron and I over to play Killer Bunnies.  He said that they still needed to meet Aaron. 

Do you know how that makes me feel?  So good!  I feel validated, loved and equal.  I can't thank him enough.  My nuclear family is awesome but I'm finding that my extended family is equally awesome.

If you have gay relatives or friends please ask them about their partners/boyfriends/girlfriends/etc.  Do and ask the same things that you would if they had a heterosexual relationship.  It'll make their day or maybe even more!

Sunday, October 24, 2010

A Straight Ally's Thoughts

So, I'd like to take a moment to introduce a friend of mine.   Brad Carmack and I used to be in the same student ward at BYU.  It wasn't until recently that I knew that he was an ally for equality.  I've read many of his blog posts and was surprised to see his points of view.  It's not often you read a straight man's empathetic views on homosexuality, especially if he's an upstanding LDS fellow.  I thought I would share his thoughts on here and repost it.

Thank you.



Title: Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective

1)      President Packer’s general conference talk
2)      The recent rash of suicides by gay teens across the country, accompanying “It Gets Better Project,” and current suffering of my homosexually oriented brothers and sisters
3)      My coauthor, from whom I have received much help and inspiration, wants it out sooner than later
These are the reasons why I am releasing my book now.  I preferred to wait until Homosexuality: A Straight BYU Student’s Perspective was groomed and edited further; however, it is not my book alone.  Heavenly Father helped me write it, and I believe He would have me release it rather than keep it on my hard drive while I spend months making minor improvements.  This book is destined to relieve some of the suffering of my homosexual brothers and sisters, though I don’t yet know by how much.  Stuart Matis, shortly before committing suicide on the steps of an LDS chapel on February 25, 2000 in Los Altos, California, wrote to his family: “Perhaps my death ... might become the catalyst for much good. I'm sure that you will now be strengthened in your resolve to teach the members and the leaders regarding the true nature of homosexuality. My life was actually killed many years ago. Your actions might help to save many young people's lives." 

So here it is- my 165-page magnum opus to date, in raw .docx and .pdf form (google doc
Non gmail users, in .pdf only:  I invite your feedback as I’m still in the later editing stage.  Summary of the book below.

My promise to the open-minded reader is that you will be touched, you will learn things you had never considered, and your views on same-sex marriage and homosexuality in the LDS church will likely change voluntarily. 

-Bradley Carmack

Summary: The book has two parts: 1) homosexuality (chapters 1-3) and 2) same-sex marriage (chapters 4-7). 

In chapter 1, I argue that church members should have great compassion for homosexually oriented members of the church because of the personal difficulties they experience as a result of their orientation and how the Mormon community typically responds to that orientation.  I quote a number of studies and give voice to the experiences of many LDS homosexually oriented people. 

In chapter 2, I explore causation, detailing both the religious voice and the scientific consensus.  Elder Oaks noted how appropriate this type of an inquiry is: "The Church does not have a position on the causes of any of these susceptibilities or inclinations, including those related to same-gender attraction. Those are scientific questions — whether nature or nurture — those are things the Church doesn’t have a position on."  I detail 60 statements by church leaders on what causes homosexuality.  On the scientific side, I discuss 32 separate subjects to juxtapose two opposing hypotheses for the causation of homosexual orientation: 1) biological factors such as genes and pre-natal hormones, and 2) factors such as infection, molestation, and choice.  Some examples of the evidence addressed: homosexual men have, on average, measurably and significantly different ratios of the second to fourth digit of their hands than their heterosexual counterparts.  The anterior commissure of their brains is gender shifted away from the heterosexual male norm and toward the heterosexual female norm.  Their limb:trunk ratio is similarly gender-shifted, as is their performance on visio-spatial tasks, third interstitial nucleus (a region of the brain thought to be directive of male-type sexual behavior) size and density, left:right brain hemisphere ratio, brain response to sex pheromones, cochlear sound production, thalamic response to female faces, verbal abilities, physical aggressiveness, expressiveness, and childhood gender conformity to name just a few. 

In chapter 3 I examine how changeable sexual orientation is by considering relevant church doctrines and looking at the empirical evidence on both sides.

In chapter 4 I show why homosexuals can reproduce, contrary to popular belief, and note that they are no different from inherently infertile heterosexual couples as to their reproductive capacity. 

In chapter 5 I argue why, assuming for a moment that homosexual behavior is not sinful, it makes a lot of moral sense to support LDS same-sex marriage.  For instance, I show how important family is to mortal experience and point out that celibacy does not provide a family experience, while same-sex marriage does.  

Chapter 6 contains rebuttals to common anti- same-sex marriage arguments, many of which are deeply flawed.

Chapter 7 applies Elder Oaks's recent speech on the Constitution.  Many church members have said that Judge Walker should not have heard the Perry v. Schwarzenegger (Prop 8) case, but instead should have let the voice of the people of California decide the matter.  I show why this view is antithetical to our constitutional system of governance. 

In closing, I explain my motivations for writing and make invitations to the reader. 


Brad Carmack is in his last year of the JD/MPA program at BYU. He majored in Biology, performed clerk assignments for Justice Joel Horton of the Idaho Supreme Court, and is currently a teacher’s assistant for Human Resources Law and Bioethics. Brad also regularly participates in USGA [Understanding Same Gender Attraction], an unsponsored BYU student talk group.

Friday, September 24, 2010

*Le Sigh*

I know I haven't written much in my blog lately.  I apologize.  Lately it seems I've just been working, sleeping and then repeating.  It's nearly October however.  I need to find some social energy.  There are Halloween parties and activities to plan and decorating the house as well.  On my walk home from work, I'm already seeing homes decorated for the holiday.  It really makes me smile!  This year I want to decorate the walk up our house.  I love Halloween!

Monday, August 23, 2010

Things to Know About Retail

1.You've all been frustrated by shopping carts that just won't separate from the one in front of it.  No matter hard you push or pull, it won't come apart.  So eventually you give up and try another or go for a shopping basket.  Well, you're not alone.  But after hauling those carts in a thousand times, I've learned how easy it to separate them.  I wish I had a diagram, but I'll describe it as best I can.
The insanity!

Underneath the handle is the part of the shopping cart that moves inward and upward to allow the carts to stack.  I'll call this the door.  The door is what is keeping you from getting your cart.  The door of the cart in front of the one you want is stuck on your cart.  So if you just lift the door on that cart and pull on the front one, it will come unstuck easily.

2.When you return something to the service desk of the store, the clerk there will probably ask you, "Is there anything wrong with it?"  In most cases, this isn't because he won't take the product back if it is damaged.  What he means is, "Can I put this back on the shelf or does it need to be returned to the manufacturer?"  So many customers try to conceal what's wrong with product probably because of this fear.  So inoperable merchandise ends up back on the floor and some other customer purchases it.  So be honest and let them know if there are any flaws or problems.

3.  When you do return something because it's broken one of three things will probably happen to it.  All three are determined by the manufacturer.  The manufacturer may ask the retailer to: send back the product and it will be repackaged and resold, they may get parts from the broken merchandise, or they may ask the retailer to destroy the product.

Recently, in the news there has been upheaval because people found out companies were destroying perfectly good or slightly used merchandise and throwing it away.  "It could be given to the homeless!" they cried.  It does seem wasteful to throw it away.  First, it isn't the store that comes up with the policy.  It's the manufacturer.  It isn't cost productive for them to send back/resell certain products, so they're destroyed.  Second, it can open up a whole bottle of dishonesty.  An employee or customer could purposefully harm a product in hopes of getting a discounted price.  (Trust me, it gets tried all the time.)  So next time you want to return a product, think what may happen to it.

4.  This point is more controversial.  Many times customers will approach an employee and ask if they can do something that is against policy.  The customer may not know it's against the rules when they ask.  Hopefully the employee explains with respect that he cannot do it.  But invariably no matter how it is explained to the customer, they may get mad and say, "Fine, I'll just take my business elsewhere!"

I laugh internally whenever I hear this.  Truth of the matter is, the average employee doesn't care.  They aren't paid on commission.  If you find a better product, price, or service at another business, by all means you should go there!  Customers expect employees to have strong loyalty to their employer.  Very few people in chain retail have loyalty to their company.  For most, it's a temporary job.  For others, they would shop around to find the best price, so why would they expect another customer to do different?  Even CEOs leave companies when they're going under for better prospects.  Don't use that threat against an associate, it holds no weight.

Wednesday, August 04, 2010


Today, I am proud to say is Aaron's and I five year anniversary!  It makes me smile just saying it.  :) It simultaneously feels like so much longer and so much shorter than that.  Way back when I wasn't ready for a relationship.  I wasn't out to hardly anyone including my family and most of my friends.  I was going to BYU in fact.  But Aaron and I connected.  He had moved down from Oregon to find a nice returned missionary to settle down with.  I'm proud it was me!

Those of you who know Aaron, know how sweet and giving he is.  He always puts other people and their needs ahead of his own.  He has a wonderful sense of humor and an infectious laugh.  He is very hardworking as well.  Let me say, relationships are *hard* work.  It takes adjustments, forgiveness, empathy and sympathy and just a desire to put the other person's needs before your own.  All of that doesn't come right at the start either.  It is a process.

I am so very happy to have shared these five years with him and even happier to share many, many more.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Worst Day Ever

Today was the worst day I've ever had at my job.  I'm not going to go into great detail.  But it boils down to an exploding fry sauce bottle and customers swearing, cursing and otherwise threatening me.  Wow.  I did have to laugh after I was covered with fry sauce.  I got a co-worker to take a picture with my phone.  It didn't turn out that great, but you'll get the idea.  My pants are closer to the same color, but they have about 5x as much fry sauce on them as my shirt.

*Deep sigh*  I am glad today is over!

Friday, June 25, 2010

Arches National Park

Aaron and I went to Arches National Park for two days.  Aaron had never been.  It was in the upper 90s and the sun beat down on us.  Aaron got a little burned but it was so much fun!  I have a goal to show him all five of Utah's National Parks. Two down and three to go!

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Sometimes Immediately

I love prayer.  I love it because it instantly puts me in touch with Heavenly Father.  I can ask or say whatever I like or need to in my prayers and I can say them whenever, as well. 

Yesterday, my day at work was "forecast" for a bad day.  I was assigned to be a cashier for the seven hours of my shift.  This rarely happens and it's always a bad day when it does.  As I was walking down the stairs of work to begin my shift, I said a quick prayer.  I asked Heavenly Father to help my day go by quickly and if He could help me have a good attitude.  I wanted to smile that day.  That was it. 

When I entered the service desk area, my supervisor said, "Congratulations!"  I thought, "What for?  Because I'm a cashier today?"  She continued, "You're Employee of the Month!"  I'm sure my face changed right then.  I was beaming!  To make it better, almost every employee that day congratulated me when they saw me.  Many of them told me why they think I deserve it too. 

It made a huge difference!  My day went by quickly and I felt appreciated.  On my way home, I said another prayer.  It was full of thankfuls and my happiness for having a Heavenly Father that answers little prayers and sometimes immediately.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Goings-on and the zoo

I haven't blogged in awhile.  I haven't had writer's block, but I haven't had anything I considered interesting to write about.  But as I was sitting here watching Aaron play Dragon Age I thought of something to write about. 

I've written about The Escape once about a year ago.  Since then I've become President of the group.  It wasn't a big change.  Jeromy and I had planned activities for five years.  So many months of the year have set activities.  I was sad to see Jeromy leave his leadership of the group.  But I understood his reasons for leaving. 

May is one of those months with an annual activity.  Any of you that are friends with me on facebook, or members of the group on Yahoo or facebook already know.  But this Saturday we're going to Hogle Zoo for The Escape's Annual Gay Day at Hogle Zoo.  Wow, that was a mouthful.  This is activity is my baby.  QSaltLake hosts gay day at Lagoon annually.  I want Gay Day at Hogle Zoo to be large enough that it would go on even if I didn't go.  I want it to be The Escape's and my legacy.  Facebook has been a really good tool to make that happen.  Right now we have nearly 150 people planning on going.  It would make me immensely happy to go to Hogle on Saturday and see a sea of red shirts.

I don't think we're there yet.  But with time we could achieve that dream. 

Tuesday, April 06, 2010

Easter and Warm Weather!

Aaron, Dan, Erich and I took a trip down to Phoenix and Mesa, Arizona to see the Easter pageant.  We had a *lot* of fun.  That fun included:  hot tubbing, swimming, catching some rays, singing to Lady Gaga and Glee, watching amazing fountains, gay country dancing, eating pizza and watching a one-man-orchestra, seeing the Easter Pageant, mini-golf, hiking in the desert, seeing a good friend, eating at buffets, and (unfortunately) driving in a blizzard.  And wow, there was a lot more too!  Check out my facebook pics.  You know, if I *had* to move, I'd move to Phoenix.  It's a beautiful city!

Wednesday, March 03, 2010

Stand Your Ground

Yesterday I had one of the most awkward experiences of my adult life.  But before I share, I'll say it was awkward, but not embarrassing.  My face didn't flush and I didn't feel apologetic in the least.  But awkward... Yes!

At work, we had a small rush of customers.  So I got on a register and started to ring people up.  The first woman in my line had been to the service desk a few minutes earlier to return some allergy medication.  She looked hopped up on it too.

I began to ring up her products.  She noticed my ring and said, "Is that a CTR ring?"  Which it is and in Romanian.  I get comments on it often, so I'm used to it.  This is where it gets very odd.  Then the woman paused and said, "No offense, but aren't you gay?"

If this had happened a couple years ago, I would have been embarrassed and denied it.  But I'm a different man since then.  I replied that yes, I am.  She started to go off, "How can you be gay and Mormon?  How can you believe in what they say about you?  Are you really gay?"  I told her that I have had a boyfriend for five years, so yes, I am gay.  And I do believe in the Church.  "That's awful!" was her retort.  The conversation continued in this line.

This whole time there is a guy behind her, waiting to be checked out.  There is a cashier next to me (that I wasn't out to) and her customers.  As well, the service desk person behind me.  So I'm the center of attention.  But surprisingly, I wasn't embarrassed.

I know that what she did was harassment and I didn't have to put up with it.  I could have said, right off the bat, "Sorry ma'am, but that is none of your business."  And it wasn't!  But as unlikely as it was to happen, I wanted to stretch her mind.  Just because you're gay doesn't mean you hate religion or the LDS Church.  Just because you're Mormon doesn't mean you hate gays.  There is middle ground.  A place of mutual respect.

I do agree that at the checkout stand of a retailer is not the place for this kind of conversation.  But I refuse to back down.

So it's odd, being harassed--not for being gay as you'd suspect--but for being religious and gay.  It isn't the first time either that I've been the subject of gay/religion harassment either.  My manager at "Our Store" in downtown did the same thing because of my CTR ring.  I wouldn't be surprised if my being Mormon was the reason I was let go.  So odd that this happens in Salt Lake City of all places.

As a side, when I shared this story with my friend Dan, he replied, "How did she know you were gay?"  Thank you Dan.  That made me feel better.  As proud as I am to be gay, I never thought it was that obvious to a passerby.  Especially in the short time a checker interacts with a customer.  

A CTR ring (It actually says ACD.) shouldn't bring you trouble.  Being LDS in Salt Lake City shouldn't bring you trouble.  Being a quiet gay shouldn't either.  But stir them all together---BLAM!  Harassment!

Friday, February 12, 2010


An hour ago, Aaron and I went to Trolley Square to leave some flowers.  It's the three year anniversary of the shooting there.  We didn't see any other flowers or reminders while we were.  But the last bullet hole is still there.  It's a good reminder of what happened and I hope it's never repaired.  My thoughts go out to those whose lives were changed by that event.

Trolley Square seemed more lively than on our last visit.  There are still a lot of holes of unfilled stores.  Sharper Image is one of those holes.  I wonder if there is more foot traffic.  It was busy tonight but that could be because it's Friday night before Valentine's Day and there is a fund raiser going on too.  The fund raiser is for victims of the Haiti quake, but it was created by one of the survivors of the shooting.

I'm glad we have the yearly reminder to treasure those close to us and be thankful when God spares our lives.

Monday, February 08, 2010


I wish it were spring.  Actually I wish it were summer, but I realize spring must happen first, so I'll settle for that.  It's the sunny days we've been having.  The air is still a little brisk.  And there are clumps of snow everywhere.  But blue skies, sunlight in the morning, and longer days have me wishing dark, dreary winter were gone.  That's why I changed my blog to look a little more spring-winter transitioned.  I normally rename my blog to fit, but "Big Red Not-Really-Spring Hammer" didn't sound good.

To let you know how much I wish it were summer, I have already put up a "Countdown Till Pride" countdown calendar on my facebook profile.  So you're informed, we have 115 days.  I feel gypped from last year's Pride.  It poured on our parade.  And then I caught H1N1 and spent the next few days in a dark room feeling awful.  I didn't get to do most of the fun things I wanted to.  I hope this year will be different.

I also wish our home teachers would have made an appointment.  I didn't hear anything from them in January.  I really had my hopes up too.  But maybe some other time.

I also need to sit down and write my parents a letter or e-mail to let them know how much I appreciated their love and support for Thanksgiving and Christmas.  They treated Aaron and I very well.  I'm sure it must have been hard for them.  But I was touched.

Enough of my ramblings.  I hope you're having a great week!

Monday, January 18, 2010

*Grin* It's done!

I just had a conversation on the phone with my sister.  Yesterday while we were at Church, waiting for sacrament to begin, she asked, "Are you gay?"  I was not expecting that!  I didn't give her an answer and said I didn't want to talk about it there. 

Well, we just had the coming out conversation.  It was very easy!  She assured me that she still loved me.  They had already guessed about Aaron.  She asked how long we had been together and was surprised by the answer.  In August we will have been together five years!  I heard my fourteen-year-old nephew in the background say, "I bet they'll get married."  *grin*

It's finally complete!  How quickly I achieve my New Year's resolution! 

Saturday, January 16, 2010

She's Baaaaaack!

Cindy Sheehan is back in the news.  For those of you who don't remember, back in 2005 she protested in front of then-President Bush's home.  She's an anti-war protester who lost her son in Iraq in 2004.  She used part of the insurance money to start her protesting.  I covered her rants and her ensuing personal problems here

"Out of everything, that hurt me the most," she explained. "After 31 years of being in the family, I thought they would support me. They totally disowned me and chose George Bush over murder."

I will disagree over her terminology. Her family chose their family over her disunity. She chose something that is temporary over something with infinite potential. The war will end. It will end whether Cindy is screaming her complaints, or if she goes to Iraq and fights herself. And when it does, Cindy will be left without a cause. Oh, but I don't underestimate her... I'm sure she'll find some new cause to tranfer all her hate and rhetoric to. Afterall, she doesn't have a family anymore. What can she do?

The ironic part to me now, is that she is not protesting the war.  She is protesting the use of unmanned drones to attack al Qaida and Taliban targets.  So...  if drones are "cowardly" and "immoral", then I guess she prefers we put our sons and daughters in harms way when it can be avoided all together.  

 Did I call it or what?