Ballroom Prophetess


Coming Out

It’s finally time for me to come out!  I admit and take ownership.  No longer will I be embarrassed by who I am.

Am I gay?  Nope.  Though, I do have many good friends who are gay.

Have I left the Mormon church?  Nope.  Yes, I do have many good friends who have made the choice to leave.

Do I . . . . ?   Hold your horses!!!  I’ll get there.


For several years, I’ve been engaged in a hidden activity known only to my immediate family members; wife and later the kids.  I was assiduous in concealing it from my wider sphere of family, friends and acquaintances.  Fortunately, those who knew of my frequent furtive festivity, seldom even whispered of it.  A blessing, indeed.  I wasn’t ready for the world to know.

How often have friends regaled with their exotic exploits. Marathons & mountain climbing, fishing & flying, travel & triathlons, biking & backpacking, golf & guns.  Some hobbies are pursued with wealth.  But, mine was always pursued in stealth.

Here Goes . . .

BALLROOM DANCE.  Ok, I’ve said it.  I’m exhaling with a big sigh of relief.  Now you know. And,  I no longer need to hide my surreptitious avocation.

For the past several years, I’ve taken ballroom dance lessons.  It’s challenging, fun and a great diversion. I love the music and the movement.  Frustration, when I don’t understand and can’t get it.  Exhilaration, when comprehension and competence finally come.  Last year, I entered my first dance competition.  Kind of scary.  Dancing in approximately 60 entries, I was a bit overwhelmed. Waltz, foxtrot, Viennese waltz, quickstep and tango. Emotions all over the place.  From, embarrassment, I’m going to quit, I hate my teacher . . to . . electrifying thrill!  A level of euphoria that I have not felt since my teenage years.

Last Saturday was competition #2.  This time, my better judgment, now colored with experience, kept me to a modest 20 entries.  Emotions only ran on the side of, “Oh man, this is so fun.”  Here’s a video of 2 heats, a waltz and foxtrot.

The Prophetess

Of course, ballroom dance requires instruction.  Instruction requires an instructor.  I have a great one!  All wrapped up together, she is . . . trainer, coach, guide, tutor, mentor & drillmaster.  But, most important, she is a Prophetess.  At least to me.

I just read the paragraph above to my daughter and she asked, “What does that mean?  It sounds like you are in love with her.”  I’m not.  She is 30 years my younger and a good friend to my wife and kids.  In fact, my daughters question reveals just one type of judgment I’ve sought to avoid by not openly discussing my sport of choice.

But, what does it mean that she is a prophetess?

Well, in my church there are 15 men we sustain as prophets.  We look to them for direction on many/most of life’s matters.  When they speak, we listen.  Not only listen, but we obey. “It’s not mine to reason why, mine is but to do and . . . ”  We are to follow the prophet, even if he is wrong.  And . . . no criticism allowed.

Ok.  I recognize that the comparison of my teacher to the prophets is not completely parallel.  But, last Saturday, something happened that caused me to spot a similarity.  My 20 heats were about to start.  For the next couple of hours, I would be totally occupied with the competition.  Anticipation, electricity, excitement swirled in my mind.  My teacher brought all of my wondering awe to an abrupt halt with 2 clear commands, “Sam, how long has it been since you went to the bathroom?”  Methinks, ‘What kind of a question is that to ask a 63 year old adult.’  Me-speaks, “I’m not sure.”  Teacher, “I want you to go the bathroom.  While you’re there, blow your nose.”  Obediently, Sam immediately complied. For good measure, I even washed my hands.


No Comparison

It’s true that I have had concerns about openly discussing my ballroom dance adventure. Mostly, because it seemed wimpy in comparison to Iron Man exploits.  Plus, it opens me to a judgmental society.

I have personally seen the struggles of gay people and non-believing Mormons coming out to the world.  For many/most/all, it’s excruciatingly painful.  Fraught with judgment, confusion, anger, sadness, depression, loss and shunning.

Oh, how I wish it didn’t have to be this way.  Things are changing.  Changing for the better.  The time will come when all Comings-Out will be as benign as that of a Ballroom Dancer.

Handicapped Heartbreak


Over 20 years ago, a wonderful woman was brought to church by the missionaries. During the preceding weeks, they had taught her the discussions.  She was single, in her upper 40’s, an overall delight of a person, and . . . excited about the restored gospel.  One characteristic set her apart from all other members of the congregation.  She was wheelchair bound.

A baptismal date was scheduled for the next Saturday.  The bishop was so happy to see such a quality person coming into his Ward.  Her wheelchair was brought to the edge of the font stairs.  Four Elders lifted and gently carried her down into the water.  A beautiful and sacred ordinance was performed in a crowded and joy filled font.

One day later, the new convert was warmly welcomed into the ward, both from the pulpit and by the membership.  One week later, the bishop was happy to hear that the new member wanted to meet with him.  Unfortunately, she informed him that this would be her last Sunday at church.  Being in meetings for any length of time was too uncomfortable.  There were no handicap equipped bathrooms!!!  An embarrassing accident was all too likely.  This sweet woman was going to be denied all the benefits of church attendance because of deficiencies in the building’s toilet facilities.  In effect, a person who was different from all others in the congregation was being excluded from church blessings.  The bishop was heartbroken.

The existence of this problem was already known to the bishop.  It just hadn’t directly touched him yet. One of the other wards in the building had a member with limited control of legs or arms.  From time-to-time, discussions were had about bathroom difficulties.  But, no action had been initiated to acquire handicap accessible facilities.

Now, that a new convert had been lost, the bishop sprang into action.  His mission was to secure a bathroom makeover, ASAP.  He contacted the Stake President, who seemed sympathetic. The high councilman over meetinghouse remodeling was assigned the task.  Then, organizational red tape set in.  Eight months passed.  Calls were made, letters exchanged, discussions had, but no action. Finally, the bishop, in frustration and with a bit of anger, decided to take matters into his own hands.  He was not going to watch another handicapped member slip away because of a potential bodily function mishap.

A bid was obtained to retrofit one of the building’s bathrooms.  $16,000.  Of course, this was way out of the budget bounds allotted by Salt Lake City. At the time, fundraising was only permitted for youth camps. This did not deter the bishop’s plans.

He called the construction department at church headquarters. With one of the head architects on the phone, the bishop made the following statement. “We have no handicap equipped bathrooms.  I recently lost a new wheelchair bound convert because of this. In the other ward, there is a member who has limited use of his arms and legs. Bathroom visits for him are difficult and dangerous.  Over the past 8 months, I’ve tried to get the needed remodel done through the proper stake channels.  Nothing is on the horizon.  I’m not calling to ask permission. Rather, I’m calling to inform you of my plans.  The build out is going to cost $16,000.  Two weeks from today, I’m going to start a fundraising campaign.  I thought you would like to know.”

Less than two weeks later, a church architect crossed the same chapel threshold that the wonderful wheelchair woman was never to cross again. In three months, construction was completed with funds, design, and support from Salt Lake.  But, it was too late. The convert, from 12 months prior, was not to return.

Fast forward twenty years. All the LDS churches now have handicap stalls.

However, there are still people in the church who are in a situation that sets them apart from all other members of the congregation.  As a result, they are excluded from the blessings that can be found in the church.  This situation did not exist until November of last year.  Like the bishop of years ago, I feel heartbroken.

Oh, how I wish that I could just call the church construction department, describe the situation of members leaving, and then have a ‘policy’ architect quickly cross the threshold of my chapel.  And . . . do it before more of my friends depart, never to cross the chapel threshold again.

Greetings World!

OK.  I know it’s a pretty small world, with only one lonely inhabitant.  Me.  At least for the moment.

For a long time, I have wanted to put my thoughts down on paper, metaphorically speaking.  Over the past couple of years, unexpected philosophical developments have shaken my life.  They have been quite disconcerting.  In October 2015, seven months ago, a friend suggested that I start posting my thoughts in certain social channels.  I did.  By golly, I found it to be delightfully addicting, cathartic and validating.  It also helped me move forward and hone my life’s direction.

Over the past week, several people, in the groups where I post, have suggested that the amount of time I invest in composing would be better served by a blog.  I love the Facebook communities.  There, I know many and am known by many.  The feedback is plentiful, interesting, and helpful in refining my thought processes.  The posts by others frequently enlightens and uplifts.  At my friends’ gentle nudging’s I’m following their recommendation to venture into a new world.  One that is exposed to public scrutiny.  No longer behind the protective blanket of closed groups.

For my blog’s theme, I’ve selected religion and spirituality.  I’m Mormon.  Was raised Mormon.  At 19, I served a 2 year full-time mission to Guatemala and El Salvador.  Married in the temple.  Raised 6 children in the church.  Have actively served in many callings .  I’m still an active Mormon.  But, my faith is transitioning.

For the time being, I plan to discuss changes in my belief, decisions I’ve made, and actions I am in the process of taking.  My faith journey is by no means complete.  Over the past seven months of posting, much mind morphing has materialized.  I’m sure more will be forthcoming.  This faith journey has been exciting and exhilarating . . . at times.  At others, it’s been a source of frequent anger, sadness, loneliness, alienation, frustration, and depression.  My friend who suggested writing was right on.  It has been a great help to vent, think, contemplate and refine through the written word.

Now, off to the blogosphere I go.