“Mormon Mafia:” David Goodstein and the LDS Team Who Helped Build The Advocate
Robert I. McQueen,
Advocate editor hired by David Goodstein
On February 22, 1978 The Advocate published "The Heterosexual
Solution: A Dilemma for Gay Mormons" (pp. 10-15). An abridged version of "Prologue," the article included this provocative illustration
of a gay man undergoing electroshock therapy under the shadow of the
Salt Lake Temple.
Flanked by Joseph Smith and Brigham Young, a less-than-flattering
Spencer W. Kimball attempts to "cure" gay men by showing them female pornographic
material. The Advocate, 22 February 1978, pp. 11, 13, 15.
Originally printed in the LA Chapter newsletter, September 1981. Reprinted
in Affinity, March 1982.
The speaker at the general meeting of the Affirmation Los Angeles
Chapter, last month, was David Goodstein, gay activist, writer, publisher
and president of Liberation Publications, Inc. which publishes the
nation's leading newsmagazine, The Advocate. David spoke
for about a half hour and then responded to questions from those present.
Not one to mince words, David informed us that Affirmation is only
the second religious-based gay organization to invite him to speak,
the first having been a gay Jewish synagogue in New York,
and after I finished, they wanted to lynch me! What I told
them was that it wasn't enough to be Jewish, and that it was also
important for them to be gay—to be gay with the other Jews. It wasn't
enough to experience oppression together. That did not get the job
done with those no-good, orthodox bums in white socks in Brooklyn:
black suits and white socks that were standing in the way and still
are! I said, "It's them you oughta lynch! Now in your case
it's probably [Spencer W.] Kimball. Because it's time he went into wherever he
has the telephone to God and has another conversation. Whatever it
is he uses.
Those who attended the meeting were impressed with David's compassion, sense of humor and honesty. Other excerpts from David's talk follow:
And that is a fabulous thing, whatever it is, because it gives your Church the capacity and capability to change—something no other church has built in that I know of. All the others have this set of revealed truths and that's it for a long time. And the only way, the ONLY way that any religion comes to terms with who we are is because we won't let them not come to terms with it.
I am really moved by your being willing to join a group of
other gay Mormons. The Advocate, which I have the privilege
of owning, is sometimes known as "The Mormon Mafia" and I have been
compared with Howard Hughes about my having Mormons around me.
When asked, "Why has The Advocate employed so many Mormons over
the years?" David replied,
supported more than one colleague through excommunication from your
Church so I know a little bit about that. I have come to know what
it really means to be gay and a Mormon—a little bit. I can't really
know. But I have a sort of sense of it—and I know that it isn't an easy
thing to do—to acknowledge your gayness as a Mormon. I mean, the Mormon
guilt is at such a high level that it boggles my imagination. It is
among the most superior of all the religions of the world—it is right
I also notice that those of us from one of those kinds
of backgrounds also tend to have an enormous strength that comes, out
of living with, dealing with, coming to terms with, who we are in a
context of a right-wrong system as profound as yours. Nevertheless,
when you think of guilt, you think of Jewish mothers and I will take
a back seat to no one in my under-standing of guilt. Nevertheless,
I am grateful that I grew up with a very clear, a very unambiguous set
of rules. And I notice that particularly among the Mormon people I have
met and dealt with, that along with your rule book comes an incredible
experience and ability to love other people, so there's got to be
something fabulous about this background you all come out of which makes
turning your back on it harder.
If I were in front of a Dignity group—they haven't had the courage
to ask me—I'd be telling them about the Pope! What kind of spirituality
is it that denies us? To call that spirituality, to call that coming
from God is bullshit. And that is not really being nice to all the
bulls in the world. It's worse than that. It's a travesty of everything
that religion allegedly stands for—to deny our godliness, to deny
our relationship to God—however we define that, and however we perceive
God to be—is ridiculous, absurd, and not at all religious. And for
everybody, even the Pope, Kimball or those orthodox Jews to maintain
otherwise, is, to use their terminology, PLAIN WRONG!!! 'Cause you're
gonna have to confront them—first.
There's no way around confrontation, I'm afraid. And a lot of your
colleagues have begun to do that. How dare they do the sort of thing
they do at Brigham Young University—and they're still doing it as
far as we at The Advocate know. They still—shock
therapy and the whole shtick. How dare they do that in the name
Why is confrontation useful?
Does it ever achieve a win in the pure sense? No. Never. It has only
one utility—it gets their attention. And then you're going to have to
teach them about God and spirituality.
I've learned a little bit about your theology. And it seems there are certain gates to Heaven that families go through. A lot of you hold that as your curse, but I'm telling you—that's your secret weapon. Your families love you! Just like you love them. And they don't want you to have your humanity dismissed.
Now just like you went through a coming-out process—they'll have to
go through one. Their's may be even more uncomfortable than yours was.
My father's was—VERY uncomfortable. I'm not sure he's gonna make it
and I kid you not. Nevertheless, when push came to shove he's on my
side against the world. I'm his blood. I'm his son. And I'm telling
you—that's the way it's wired up! Its not the other way around.
are their children, and their brothers and their sisters and their nieces
and nephews. And they are not about to ignore that unless you let them.
Believe it or not, seventy-five percent of you will discover that they're
on your side immediately, twenty-three percent within a year and two
percent will be real hold-outs but if you really have courage you'll
question their sexuality, 'cause I've never known a straight
person absolutely secure in their straightness who has the "stuff"
about us. And I have this deep, underlying suspicion about Kimball.
Well, for one thing, Mormons know how to
work. That's why Howard Hughes employed them and that's why I employ
them. Yes, I sort of do have this bias. The other reason is that
the year after I bought the magazine I hired an editor named [Robert I.] McQueen
who happens to be the son of a Mormon bishop, and he comes from Salt
Lake City. And like everyone else in the world, he knew people in Salt
Lake who were talented in the area of journalism so before we knew it
we had several Mormons in the editorial department and we have Mormons
in other departments as well. It's really that simple."
Robert I. McQueen:
Missionary, Editor, and Activist
Robert I. McQueen (1942 - 1989)
Brent Harris (1938 - 1981)