The Power of Travel

We live in an age of unprecedented connection. Yesterday I finished my internship in England, it was a rainy London summer day when, at 5pm I hopped on a train to the airport. I boarded at 7:30 and landed in Barcelona in time for a late dinner and sangria with friends.

Today we woke up and started the bachelor party in style as we walked throughout Barcelona, got locked in a room with an hour to escape, ate phenomenal tapas, walked to the beach to enjoy the ocean waves, the beautiful sun, and each other’s relaxing company.

We are citizens of 4 continents coming together on an amazing cheap flight to celebrate our friends who are about to get married. We speak English, French, German, Spanish, Portugese, Tagalog, Romanian, Swedish, and probably more. We come from a dozen industries and backgrounds with many of us meeting each other for the first time in our lives. And yet, we are having an amazing multi-cultural time in a city that lives at a different pace from what we are used to.

We are blessed to be able to make a decision and fly down here for a week, financially, nationally, and attitudinally. We can afford to take the time and spend the money to travel. Our countries allow us to with relative ease and we have taken the time to keep a passport up-to-date. And we are unafraid to experience something completely new with a mix of old friends and new people who until yesterday were unknown and who tomorrow will be friends.

We get to experience the culture of a new city and a style of living that is so different from our own if only for a moment in time. For me, travel is about all of these things and is something that motivates and energize me. It makes me want to go to work so I can keep exploring and meeting new adventures head on.

This is something I only discovered two years ago but is something that I’ve learned to love intensely. What makes it more interesting is that I am actually following a trend among my peers. Did you know that 83% of U.S. lesbian and gay men have a current passport, compared to 34% of all adult Americans? We spend almost twice the amount on travel than the average American as well. It may be stereotypical but I love to travel because I get to practice and see tolerance of other lives and lifestyles and think it is an absolute shame that more people don’t get the opportunity.

These two things in combination came together today and I’ll let one of my friends explain it as he did this evening back at the hotel before dinner.

“You know what I find cool today, we had a big group of married people genuinely interested in your life. With you being comfortable being you. The way society should just be. People who just met you are 100% accepting because it’s not stigmatized like in the States. And people are actually “pushing” for more info – they are genuinely interested.”

Our world is getting more and more inter-connected. Easier to live, work, and push for greater experiences. Not just for gays like me, but for everyone. The news wants you to think the world is coming apart at the seams, that crime is on the rise and terrorism is at your door. The reality is, it’s better than we think and we just need to stay connected, experience something new, and learning more about each other.

Call Centers

Anyone who has sat near me for long knows I love and loathe call centers. At times I find them convenient and easy to use (Delta) and on the whole I use them to get things done faster than tinkering online myself.

But every once in a while I need a good rant. When I’m worked up about life and frustrated by bad logic I’ll do some life administration and call up a call center. I’ll look to score points by nitpicking the errors they make in logic or at times just call them on their bs.
Today I had the chance to visit a call center and see it first hand. I listened in to calls and saw the Half truths told to comfort the client ‘our system is slow today bear with me one second’ while stalling for time being chief among them.
I also saw how rigidly the staff are held accountable. With audits of their calls to see if they step one toe out of line. Their job is intense and difficult and it made me see the other side of the line for when I call in. They have very little power to make their own choices and I have to question, why.
When I call Delta now, and to be fair it’s due to loyalty status, I get connected to a representative who has a lot of flexibility in their job. They are empowered to make things amazing for customers within a range of options. They have helped me book a crazy itinerary on multiple carriers and then switch it all around because they saw a way to book it to save me $800.
Getting your organization’s customer service staff to be able to do that is hard. It takes a culture of trust in your staff and a level of sophisticated training, it takes investment that I lyrics a few places are willing to commit to.
While I can’t change a company’s culture and training from the outside I can change myself. I can stop being a jerk on the phone and start treating everyone, including those who are telling me a little white lie, with a lot more respect – respect deserving of the humanity they and I share.
Note: After only a month it happened. I missed a publishing deadline. I did write most of this article yesterday but unfortunately had a night out with work and wasn’t able to get to finish and publish this. I apologize and hope this occasion is rare. 

Travelling

In the span of two years my worldview has completely changed. In July 2014 I took my first international trip as an adult. No family vacations for me. This was me and some friends travelling. I spent a week in London on my own spending way too much on a hotel and visiting Oxford – changing my life forever.

I then met up with my friends in Dublin and had a blast. I enjoyed that first trip but considered it exotic and the exception to the rule that I traveled domestically.

The next international trip I took was in December of that year after being encouraged and persuaded by some friends. I went to Italy to meet a friend I’d made on a domestic trip. I didn’t speak the language but knew enough Spanish to survive in Italian and had my friend as a tour guide. That was exactly the trip I needed following a rough October & November.

At that point I was hooked and followed it up with a flight to Costa Rica for my birthday in March of 2015 to learn how to surf and enjoy the jungle. I met new friends there and learned that I am terrible at surfing. I had a blast and the next month went back to the UK to visit Oxford again before making my call on the program.

At that point I took a few months off knowing I’d be leaving soon and traveled to LAX, SF, SEA, CHI, DFW, NYC, and home to SLC. But in September 2015 – just a little more than a year after my first trip – I moved to the UK.

I started to focus on school for the first semester but by December needed to travel. I went to Israel in December, spent New Years in France, Valentines in Greece, Easter in Italy, France again in April, Berlin in May, Scotland in June, and Sweden in July. Since December I have traveled to a different nation each month and it has been fantastic.

Traveling has exposed me to new cultures directly – in a way that meeting people from various places during the MBA couldn’t fully do. I’ve gained a greater appreciation for all humanity and it has really helped to solidify my stance against xenophobia that seems to be sweeping across Europe and the United States.

By now I am limited only by time and cheap flights and with my internship ending in 6 days I have the biggest trip of my life coming up. On the 19th I fly to Barcelona for an amazing friend’s Bachelor/ette party. On the 22nd I land in Tokyo and spend 4 days experiencing the first country where I can’t at least read the alphabet and try to piece things together. And on the 26th I take off and then land 3 hours earlier in Montreal for a best friend’s Bachelor party before flying home to London on the 29th. Around the world in <10 days and I couldn’t be more excited.

I just packed my one bag that will accommodate the beaches of Barcelona, the summit of Mt. Fuji, and the clubs of Montreal. Because in addition to getting better at seeing humanity all around me I’ve gotten better at packing light too.

Balance & Peace During the Oxford MBA

Any MBA is an intense program, you uproot your life & routines at your job & hometown and purposefully put yourself into uncomfortable environments with people who all have a different perspective. It is painful the way a deep-tissue massage is painful. It hurts so good.

Bath SpaHowever, just like any massage you need to take a break from the pressure. Weekends aren’t helpful unless you take-off and disconnect from the MBA program entirely and sometimes you need one of those weekends. At Oxford that might mean taking a trip to Bath to use their Roman Spas after your exams (Next week’s adventure!) or it might mean taking a cheap RyanAir flight to wherever is cheapest for a few days.

This term I have neglected this advice and it built up. I was getting homesick and stressed out and realized that I needed a mini-break. In looking at the options I found a cheap flight home to DC and realized that this weekend was my friend’s annual over-the-top christmas party and my old chorus’ holiday show. So I did what any crazy person would do, bought the ticket for 60 hours back in DC two nights before my flight.

I am so grateful that I did, even if it took away some time from my favorite class and time to study for my exam on Tuesday. I am already feeling more energized and invigorated for the week to come. You see I am the type of person to operate at 150% otherwise I’m start to get unhappy. I take on a lot of things that I make certain I get done but leave no time for anything else. A coach once told me that that’s how I’ll end up dying 50% early … I’ll work my heart to death.

This weekend was a practical & valuable lesson that I need to take care of myself if I as a leader am going to take care of others. It is up to me to discover the balance, slow down and in doing slow be better at the 150% of things I choose to do.

Another amazing part of this trip was that it served as a confirmation of what my old DC friends told me when I left and what I haven’t acknowledged as truth until now. When I needed a break and was feeling homesick I went to DC. I didn’t go to Utah where my Mom & Brothers are. I didn’t go to Dallas where my sister and one of my favorite nephews live. I didn’t go to some exotic location because I am an unrooted traveller on this planet. No, I went to DC to feel at home.

It might not be the first job after my MBA (it certainly might) but I now know that DC is home. That I have roots in DC. That when I am in DC I feel a little more at peace. Something about the insanity of that city resonates with my soul and I know that I’ll end up back in DC soon.

I have to catch my flight and actually do some studying for my exam on Tuesday so I’ll sign off and board my flight back to the UK where tomorrow I’ll be more rejuvenated and more centered at the Oxford MBA.

Why Choosing Oxford Was The Hardest Choice I’ve Made

I have spent a lot of time on this blog talking in generalities about Oxford, this week’s post is more personal as I just took off from my home in DC for the last time for at least a year. My decision to pull the trigger and go to Oxford was extremely difficult. More than the standard loss of home, community, friends and job (which have been immense and at times painful), my choice to go to Oxford is one of the hardest choices I have yet made because it represents a personal choice to close a door on a truly unique opportunity that may never come around again.

For those who don’t know my background, I have spent the past 6 years of my career in politics and technology, and in April, just after attending admitted students weekend at Oxford, I received a message from a great friend of mine, Matt. Matt’s message asked if I’d be interested in talking about tech to a guy looking at running for US Senate in Maryland. Always on the lookout for clients I said absolutely and began my research.

As I read about Chrys Kefalas and his background I became enthralled. A Millennial like myself who started his own internet-sports company that rivaled ESPN when he was just in High School, he sold it to pay for law school in Baltimore while working at his family’s restaurant. Following school he worked for the Republican Governor of Maryland (Bob Ehrlich) working to reform the broken criminal justice system.

After his time with the Governor he worked at the Department of Justice for 7 years eventually becoming speech-writer to the Attorney General on Criminal Justice & Civil Rights issues. While at DOJ he took personal time to come out as gay and call for marriage equality in Maryland just after Prop 8 had passed, limiting marriage in California. He was the highest Republican in the state to do so and he continued to fight for equality until Question 6 passed in 2012.

As a Gay Republican myself I was inspired and set time aside to work for Chrys to help get his digital campaign set-up. I spent time with Chrys and his partner and late one night after a charity event I asked Chrys the candid question “Why?” He knew what I meant and proceeded to tell me that he was running to give kids on the street of Baltimore a chance at a life better than dealing drugs for $8,000 a year until they are either locked up or killed by 26. He told me he was running because previous leaders had failed his home, and that this could only be fixed at the federal level.

I had been waiting for a candidate like Chrys, someone who is consistently conservative and who has the presence to demand change for the citizens of his state who are living without hope and without opportunity. I sat there listening to his candid answer to my personal question and knew in my heart that I wanted to work for him. To those who have watched the West Wing, I was Josh Lyman having discovered Jeb Bartlett up in Nassau; and with my deposit for Oxford due in a week, I had to find Sam Seaborn and make a decision.

The next morning I went to two campaign events with Chrys and then booked the next flight to Seattle where I spent 30 hours confiding in two of my best friends and confidants. Over the course of the next 3 days I weighed my dream candidate with the magic of Oxford and when time came for a decision I made one of the most difficult choices I have ever made, and picked Oxford.

In doing so I gave up a chance to manage a Senate campaign that has the potential to change the Republican party. I gave up my dream candidate knowing that I might never get this chance again. As I take-off from DC having spent the last 4 months helping with Chrys’ race I can’t help but hear a creeping voice in the back of my head telling me I made the wrong decision. This is one of the moments that later in life I may come to regret.

I plan on doing all that I can for Chrys during school breaks and in the few weeks between graduation and the election, but only time will tell if I made the right decision or not.

If you have a moment, are a US Citizen, and have a minute to research and donate to Chrys’ campaign I urge you to do so. He truly does represent the future of the republican party and a candidate who can inspire those around him.

Join me next week as I share my goals and plans for the next 12 months of my life getting an Oxford MBA.

Brilliant People & Long-term Planning

I have discovered 2 themes this weekend that truly draw me into media. The first is that the story focuses around or relies heavily on a brilliant person, or was written by one. Sherlock Holmes, Hari Seldon, Julian “Bean” Delphiki, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, Paul “Muad’Dib” Atreides, C.S. Lewis. All of these people have hyper-focused awareness and intelligence and I am drawn to it like an arrow to its target. As I have discovered this theme I wondered why I am drawn to it and I have come to 2 conclusions. The first is that I aspire to be that brilliant. Second, that I feel like I am closer to them than others.

Now this sounds completely conceited and probably is, let me explain though. I know that I am in no way as smart as these people are. But I do recognize that I am truly intelligent in several ways. I absorb data and can often cite it back at will, I think several steps ahead, I truly enjoy learning, etc. However I also connect with these people because they all are a little less-social than normal. Holmes is a downright sociopath, Bean has difficulty making friends, Muad’Dib’s “friends” were all 20 years older than he, and C.S. Lewis spent a good chunk of his time befriending God. I can connect with the “loner” component of each of these people and that is why I am drawn their respective stories.

The second theme I have discovered this weekend is that most all of these stories have a long-term plan, with the exception being Holmes. I do not know if this is because I have read these books, or if it is something that has drawn me to them. Take Hari Seldon from Isaac Asimov’s Foundation series for instance. Hari Seldon is a psychohistorian who uses probabilities of large numbers of people to predict the future of the galactic empire for the next 10,000 years. He then used this to insert a plan to prevent 100,000 years of anarchy by creating a foundation designed to limit the anarchy to several thousand years. He is all about making difficult decisions based on long-term aims.

In the Ender’s series the population of planets across the solar system is designed to prevent long-term damage and takes many steps to create. In the Dune series, the Jihad is controlled to perpetuate the human race instead of destroy it, and in Narnia you can see Aslan’s guiding hand through it all.

As I said before, perhaps this is something I was drawn to or perhaps it is something I have adopted but I am beginning to further hate short-term thinkers and the problems they create. We have a terrible economic problem in regards to Social Security because Congress has dipped into the trust fund of Social Security & Medicare/Medicaid for years instead of letting it stay solvent and not touch that money, now we are facing a crisis of how to pay for it all such that people my age are not expecting a Social Security check when they retire and if they get one, that is just extra. This is why this quote from Claude Pepper has always stood out to me:

If more politicians in this country were thinking about the next generation instead of the next election, it might be better for the United States and the world.

We could be 50+ years more advanced in our technology had AT&T not thought only about the short-term bottom line. Why? Because AT&T labs discovered how to have voicemail back in the early 1900’s (I think 40’s but my book is packed away right now). Voicemail would have been recorded onto magnetic tape much like a cassette tape. If you think about the hard drive of the computer you are reading this from 99% chance it is using magnetic tape and the technology derived from it. It wasn’t until the 80’s that an AT&T worker discovered an old lab notebook and decided to introduce the concept of storing data in magnetic tape into the mainstream. Why did AT&T not release the technology back in the day? Because they thought it would hurt their bottom line with people having to talk less because of voicemail. AT&T didn’t have anywhere near the vision of Hari Seldon.

This photo shows a similar thought process taking place in front of us. FedEx Kinkos is claiming that printing without a computer is the future. I am sorry but 1st off that capability has been around for a while, and secondly as we become much more of a screen literate people, paper will shift even further out of use. Not books, but the concept of printing directions to the store, or even printing a contract (I signed my offer letter with Google digitally).

This is a long post already, but these themes have shaped my desire to work in both innovation and politics. I believe that I am intelligent and I hope for long-term planning and vision instead of a series of stop-gaps that ultimately resemble a wall with more patches than original construction.

To my friends, if you find books that have these themes, please send them my way. I’d love to create my own little echo chamber.

How to Live in DC

Get accepted into an internship position through your school. Think that you are officially awesome and have input, after all its only a matter of time before you are rubbing elbows with influential people. Lets face it the metro is crowded enough you rub elbows with them every day. Use this internship to secure a “real” job because your supervisor “has a guy” who can hook you up. Call all your friends for ledes on a place to live, no one returns your call. Move out to stay with an obscure (but ultimately awesome) family friend. Look for a place to live on craigslist and realize that an apartment in the city, near work, is $1800.00. Curse the heavens. Look further away. Go to look at apartment in Shaw-Howard. See police sign warning “If caught dealing drugs your car will be towed”. Don’t see apartment in Shaw-Howard. Find a room in a house in Adams Morgan with 3 late 30’s, early 40’s gay men. It has a hot tub, a roof deck, and easy commute. Sell your soul and firstborn to stay there.

Ride a bus for the first time since school. Spot the crazy person and avoid them. Spot the Tea Party activist, and upset their realities. Fall asleep on the bus and walk 2 miles home, at night, through Adam’s Morgan. Wave to the 40 policemen and their moving drunk tanks standing by for just another thursday night. Avoid getting stabbed. See that you’ve spent all your money on rent, food, and metro. Cry a little inside. Use your roommate’s granny cart to get groceries. Soak your feet after walking everywhere.

Visit the Holocaust Museum. Stand all amazed at how the memorial room with the eternal flame is in the shape of a star of David. Cry a lot inside.

Start work doing politics …. I mean fixing the copy machine, updating websites, not getting fired. Learning curve of 3 months, pass it in 2 weeks. Go to your first networking event. stand in the corner. Go to 2nd networking event. Start making friends fast. Everyone has a five-year plan, is from somewhere else, is as shocked as you, and just repeating what they heard someone else say. Go to 1st gay networking event. Make friends with the inter-faith people and then have a cute boy want to take you home. Politely make it less awkward by saying how you need to head home to feed your roommates cat. The cat doesn’t exist.

Meet your first big name. He’s smoking pot in your basement. Realize its time to move. Start looking again. Spend a year making your position obsolete by training people how to do what you do. Realize you are on track to becoming an IT person who holds a Political Science degree. Freak out. Mess up because you trust a client. Get blamed for it because you are at the bottom of the ladder. Fix the problem by having awesome friends who pull through for you. Move apartments. Spot a Supreme Court nominee on the street. Tweet it you nerd. Realize you have nothing to say to her.

Come up with a broader role at your firm. Write up memo setting up that position. Pitch it to your CEO. Your boss and her boss get completely pissed off at you for keeping them out of the loop on purpose. You didn’t. CEO likes the idea and shows it to the new VP. New VP takes you to lunch. You move to become a politics guy … doing tech. You love it. Move apartments again, this time to Bethesda.

1st Election rolls around, you are int he politics shop, you can actually influence things. Show VP article about crazy anti-gay candidate we are thinking of supporting. Get VP to pull support. Smile inside. Have your first lunch meeting at Google. Take the vegetarian option. Start building political websites that you will run. Find a designer, learn how to code, take your first class on Google AdWords. Call Hulu, set up appointment, pitch your boss and start running ads within 3 weeks. Smile bigger inside. Run 30 campaigns for 90 hours/wk. Go to work at 8, leave at 10, eat dinner, work until 3am. Wash. Rinse. Repeat for 3 months.

Election night you have been at work for 36 hours. Collapse. Start post-election wrap-up and analysis. Start dating someone. He invites you to the White House Christmas party. Go. See the coolest library in the world. Take a book off the shelf. feel awesome and wicked. Take photos. Meet the President. Realize you actually do have things to say to the President. Smile. Take Photo with President. Keep smiling. Go home for Christmas. Realize that at home, no one has a five-year plan. Get really disturbed by this. Realize you will probably never move back home. Break up with guy.

Contrast home with DC and realize that you finally have found a place you fit in. Amongst people who are all from somewhere else. DC, the great American melting pot. Pick your favorite 5 issues and learn everything about them. Debate with people. Have a visiting friend tell you to calm down when you are just talking with someone else about economic policy. Your friend thinks the two of you are about to pull out knifes and start fighting. You think this is normal conversation. It is.

Finally settle on a path for your five-year plan. Meticulously plan it all out. Start with step one, getting accepted to Oxford. Apply. Fail. Cry. Rebuild plan with other schools. Start looking for another job that will get you to the same place as your first plan. See a perfect job at Google and think “I can get this job”. Spend 5 days frustratingly tweaking your resume to be perfect. Fearlessly apply to Google. Wake up the next morning thinking. “Oh God what have I done.”  Then check your email. A recruiter from Google wants to set up an interview for tomorrow. Go outside and yell.

Run the gauntlet of interviews, each time fearlessly applying yourself beforehand and kicking yourself afterwords. Impress people, get hired. Tell your boss who took a chance on you last year. Feel like crap for leaving him. Pack up your stuff. Have your boss slightly forgive you for leaving him. Still feel like crap. Pause on your last day. Smell the air. Take a look at the capitol dome and realize all you have yet to do here. Think to yourself “Dang, I’m leaving D.C.” Imprint the following on your heart “I’ll be back soon.”

A New Adventure

Today I woke up and checked my gmail. I watched a YouTube video that my brother sent me. I read blogs using Google Reader. Looked for directions using Google Maps. I saw ads on websites served up by the Google Display Network. I checked my blog stats with Google analytics, sent a text using Google Voice, and was pinged by Google Alerts. I checked my Google Calendar, updated my contacts, signed a Google Doc, chatted with someone using Google Talk, all of this using Google Chrome as my web browser.
As you can see, I like me some Google, so it is only fitting that I announce my transition out of the East Coast and like the great pioneers before me, I am heading west to California. A land filled with dreams and hopes and my time as a “Noogler” Thats right, a noob/new Googler. That time will be short because I already have used Google Products creatively and so I hope to have a flair for the office, but I am off to enjoy time in a new land, with a new group of people.

How Great the Sadness, How Sweet the Joy

When I was 12 years old I already considered myself “grown up”. I saw my parents divorce unfolding and stood alone facing the harsh realities of the real world. Or so I thought. In September I saw footage of the first tower getting hit right before I left for school. When I arrived everyone was talking about it but the school had told all the teachers that they were not to turn on the TV’s at all. Mrs. Fitz, my Spanish teacher disobeyed that order and my class watched in stunned silence as we saw the 2nd’ plane hit, shocked when we saw the Pentagon, and paralyzed by fear when the towers fell.

That moment our entire world changed. An era of post-cold war became an era of orange threat levels. Thomas Friedman has remarked that America as Puff the Magic Dragon (of trade) became Godzilla (of war). And I truly grew up even though I didn’t realize it until last night. I was terrified when I heard about the bombing in Afghanistan that October and when I heard about the attacks on 7/7 in the UK underground, but by the time the Madrid train bombing, Mumbai hotel bombing, the shoe bomber, underwear bomber, et al. had happened I was numb to the fear. This simply was the world we lived in.

Rather than fear these things I took steps to be prepared against possible attack (I still have an anti-hijacking plan in my head just in case) but one thing always struck fear in my and, like a dense layer of smog was always there. Osama Bin Laden. Not until last night when I rushed down to the White House, swung from the gates on Pennsylvania Avenue, and chanted with my fellow human beings did I realize what an oppressive layer of fear he had created. Like coming up out of the fog, I can truly see how expansive it was. My fear has been lessened and I feel a sense of relief.

 

Last night I donned my Superman T-shirt and joined with my brothers and sisters almost all around my age who had been too young to be mad about 9/11 and could only be fearful. We rejoiced in the streets because collectively we all felt this relief. It didn’t matter what ideology you came from last night you were relieved. I saw signs for Bush/Chenny, Hillary, McCain/Palin, flags from America, Palestine, Israel, Egypt, and “Don’t Tread on Me”, people from every corner of the world. I saw the men carrying the Israeli and Palestinian flags embrace at the collective joy we all felt.

 

Until this point in my life I could never truly understand the joy of V-day but last night I think I tasted a glimpse. Pure unadulterated joy.

Do Mormons Have Boundaries?

Rob over at Scrum Central has a new post that, in part, discusses how Mormons have no boundaries, how we are completely comfortable in just asking ashamedly personal questions.

“There is something about Mormon culture that makes its adherents blithely assume they can ask the most outrageously personal and intrusive questions of other Mormons, or treat them in the most incredibly insensitive ways, without even stopping to think whether they’re being impolite or nosy. Doing or asking things they would never dream of with a non-Mormon friend or neighbor.”

Rob goes on to explain that:

“And when I explain these realities to people I meet at parties who’ve never met a Mormon before, that’s when their eyes really get big and their jaws really drop. And the phrases change to things like “You’ve got to be joking” or “I had no idea it was that bad” or “what a hot house” or “I thought the Catholics and the Jews had the monopoly on guilt.”

And here’s why I mention the bit about Mormons having no boundaries. It’s because responses like that, from non-Mormons looking at Mormon behavior about this issue, are normal human reactions to the behavior I’ve described. But in my experience, countless Mormons would just brush off such reactions and say “well, they don’t really understand.” It’s that unwillingness to question the assumption that they have the full picture on this (or any) issue, and thus the right to do or say anything amongst other Mormons (particularly family members) necessary to promote and preserve The Officially Approved Goal.”

As one of the types of Gay Mormons he later describes I do take issue with his analysis but still think it is a great post. I probably fall into the “Well they don’t really understand” category but not for the same reasons Rob discusses. I think that people don’t really understand because in the Jello Belt everyone around you is having a shared experience. Think about it, Mormons fled persecution in the east and moved in isolation and solidarity to the Mormon corridor and as such formed tight-knit bonds with everyone around them. Ensuring the well being of those around you (yes physical and eternal Rob) meant that personal questions needed to be asked as a matter of survival.

I posit that the same mentality that existed 150 years ago has simply carried down the generations of long-time LDS families. Do 2nd generation Mormons living in Texas have this same instinctive view to ask ridiculously personal questions? No. Certainly Converts don’t gain this sense of moral superiority to assume is correct (and perhaps thats why only ~20% of converts stay active past 1 year). I think that European members who don’t have a cultural tradition of no boundaries don’t have the same Chutzpah to ask “Why aren’t you married” or “Where are your kids” to a 21 year old man.

As further proof that LDS Members do indeed have boundaries there have been members who I have talked to whose Gaydar has pinged on some member of my ward. They have told me looking for an answer to which I probably already know and my answer is always “If you want to know then ask him” (probably because of my cultural roots in the heart of SLC). I have yet to have a single sister go and ask said individual. They don’t think it would be appropriate to ask. So Do Mormons have boundaries? Yes. Do they have boundary issues? Somewhat.