Dan, you may have just saved a life.
That is wonderful FMB. All my best wishes to you and your cousin. Please hang in there kiddo, we need you to stick around for awhile. Watch the videos and imagine the possibilities.
You need to have a "like" button....
Now you just watch as his fucked-up family assumes he's recruiting his innocent cousin into "teh gay lifestyle," and completely ignores that they drove him to attempt suicide.
It does get better! Exhibit A!
This advice was good, but I can't seem to help my fact-checking, semantic response. FMB clearly communicated that being openly gay in the community this guy and his cousin are from will not work, and I'm quite certain he's completely correct. However, being openly gay in Salt Lake City is not just possible, but also common, so it's not true that "a straight facade ... is the only way he can survive in Utah."
The perfect answer, and the absolutely perfect answer to that answer. I'm grinning like a loon and crying at the same time. Best of luck to FMB's cousin in his new life!
Wonderful! It's so good to see people helping each other in a way that really matters.

I remember having harbored anti-gay sentiments at an earlier phase in my life. (In Brazil, where I come from, things are still -- or at least were 20 years ago -- much worse for homosexuals than in the US.)

How ashamed I am of that. Way to go, Dan, FMB, and FMB's cousin!
This just made me cry. I hope he has a wonderful life.
@1--No fucking kidding. A lot of Mormons' core beliefs (family, charity, togetherness) fly in the face of some Mormons' insanity about the whole gay thing. Sheltering this poor gay cousin is being a good Mormon.
Amazing. Dan, we probably won't know how many lives you saved or how much despair you were able to alleviate with the IGB Project. But FMB, not many of us can confidently say that we took a suicidal person and gave them a way out. Congratulations on getting out of that hell-hole. I'm sorry for the pain it caused. Thank you for being a savior to that desperate kid, and realize that you are doing something that most of us never do--you are truly saving a life.
Damn, that's nice. Um, not the original situation, of course. He's lucky to have a cousin like this.
Dan has a gift for seizing the obvious solution by the balls. Me? I was sitting here anguishing about what to do if something like that confronted one of my kin. I was a Mormon for a couple of years and I got the freezing cold shoulder from them when I came out. But I was an adult and it was me having to decide. Simple. I DUMPED RELIGION and BURNED EVERY BRIDGE BACK to it. Not so easy when you're on the outside and you discover that one of your own kin is floundering emotionally. The family will fight you.

But, really, it's so fucking obvious. You have to be the one to step up to bat even if you can't afford it financially to support them. You can't NOT support emotionally and if you can help them at all, you life is going to be a whole lot better when you look back and think that you did the right thing for the right reason, even if it bankrupts you.
Aww. That actually made me cry, too. Best of luck, guys!
Hooray for you, FMB!!! There are few times in your life when you get such a chance to make a HUGE difference in someone's life. What an adventure you're going to have! Blessings on you and your lucky (to have you!) cousin.
Ex-mormon, ex-Utahn here. Totally the correct response. Thank you, Dan!
What if the kid's not gay? What if the rumors are wrong?

@18 Then the kid still needs help on account he tried to kill himself.
I started tearing up when I heard this last night and went to bed thinking about it. I can't wrap my mind around rejection. Rejection wounds so deeply, how do you do that to someone, especially a child? I'm so glad that FMB sought you out, Dan. Keep up the good work.

Bless you, FMB. There is a special grace that comes from turning the evil others do to you into good. From letting it deepen your heart's ability to act compassionate. Your cousin is lucky to have you. I'm so glad you persevered through everything and are on the other side, you deserved better. I'm grateful to know you are in the world. Best wishes.
So what if he isn't gay? He's still a suicidal kid being bullied by anti-gay bigots. It doesn't matter who he sleeps with now or eventually. He's a child at risk and his straight family isn't going to help him.

What the fuck is wrong with you?
@6, yes SLC is liberal and gay friendly but that doesn't help a kid trapped in rural nowhere. He's much better off elsewhere with a cousin who can accept and nurture him. I'm somewhat surprised the kid's parents don't put up a fight over custody but maybe they're ready to just wash their hands of him. That's sad.
FMB- thank you. Please keep us posted and best of luck.
Dan- Thank you for doing what you do.
Dan, your answer would have been mine, and FMB's response made this old man cry.
@rdstorm you're not the only old man that teared up over this story. Thanks Dan, and best of luck to FMB and his cousin.
Unfortunately, what you advise him is probably a crime.
Unfortunately, what you advised him is probably a crime.
Okay, not to rain on anyone's parade here, but...

...Dan's answer is the right one, but it's only 50% of the answer.

The other 50% is: lawyer the fuck up, pronto. This kid's parents may be idiots, but if he's 16 they are still his legal guardians until a family court judge says otherwise. If they feel like making their son's or FMB's life difficult over this, they have a lot of tools with which to do so, up to and including pressing criminal charges. Kidnapping, Mann Act, probably a ton of other stuff: doesn't matter that none of it will stick, just fighting it off is going to suck. Get a lawyer now and you can head a lot of bullshit off at the pass.
The tears are flowing here too. I'm a bi, ex-mormon... and I can tell you from personal experience that small-town Utah is no place for anyone who deviates from the so-called-norm.
There's nothing like getting home from work and finding this incredible story...what a gift to this kid. You are awesome, FMB. Think of the freedom this kid is going to feel, to be able to truly be himself for the first time ever.
Doctor Memory, very good idea about the lawyer. He may be able to get some pro bono help on this. It's definitely worth talking to someone about the options. He can already have his ducks in a row, just in case it becomes a free for all with the family.
Get him the hell out of Utah (permanently) so he doesn't have to constantly be reminded about how the church views homosexuality. Yes, SLC is reasonably gay-friendly, but the rest of Utah - even Park City - can be pretty brutal, especially on the kids who just don't quite conform to the average Mo expectations. I've had more than a few gay friends who headed back east or to the west coast just as soon as they could escape this screwed-up state. Plus the church-run "news" outlets do a fairly good job of making sure the church's message on homosexuality gets out there loud and clear - not something he needs to be hearing all the time, particularly if he's already attempted suicide.

Get him enrolled in a new school ASAP so he can have some normalcy and not mess up his college eligibility and start the proceedings so he can be declared an emancipated minor. Chances are pretty good that the family won't want anything to do with him if he doesn't conform, or if they do, it is simply to send him to talk to his bishop about his "unnatural feelings" and try to brainwash him into being "normal".
f the "get him a lawyer" idea. Dan should step up and get him a lawyer. it was his idea.

but what do i know, 98% of Savage Love letters seem fake to me. especially the ones that provide an opportunity for Dan to show what a saint he is.
That's awesome. Though now he may never get a cool green apron or baker's hat in the temple.
Oh my dog that just made me burst into tears. Thats one saved.
Aw, he can get a job at Starbucks for the cool green apron part...who needs the hat?
Dude is doing the moral and right thing. But OMG, LAWYER UP, as someone mentioned here. There's way too much potential for all sorts of legal shitstorms. If the parents decide to buck the kid's decision, they could make life miserable for the kid and FMB. He is still technically a minor.
At 16, the cousin can go to a court and try to get legally emancipated in Utah. If he's going to try that, he should talk with someone at Equality Utah or the ACLU to see if they can give him any advice about whether it's possible to get heard by a friendly judge instead of a hardline Mormon one.
It just got better!
It just got better.
As many people have said, I think it is a great idea that this guy grab the bull by the horns and do what needs to be done to keep this kid safe.

But, as other people have also said, buying this kid a ticket which allows the kid to run away may very well be illegal (contributing to the delinquency of a minor, I believe). If the kid crosses state lines, the Feds could be called in. I advice that this man consult with an attorney ASAP.
If the family is as hardline as described, they'll probably shun him as they did the original LW, which will make the whole thing easier. Still, yeah if the plane ticket is the way out for the kid (as opposed to a visit -- it didn't seem clear to me from the quoted bits), definitely check into emancipation and/or some form of legal guardianship. That will help with finishing school and a hundred other things. (You'd be surprised at how much documentation is starting to be required of kids in school as part of a not so subtle effort at excluding children of immigrants and such even though that is explicitly illegal in many places (for example last July in NY).)
The world needs more people like FMB. You rock.
I grew up Mormon in a 90% Mormon community, perhaps the same one--dear God, I hate those fuckers. The younger brother of a friend of mine hanged himself in his parents' garage when he was 14 because he was gay. He was the first kid I knew who ended it that way for that reason, and he wasn't the last. Those bigoted, fearful, hateful, self-righteous assholes know no bounds. I live happily in SLC now, in the 9th & 9th liberal sanctuary, but shit like this brings it all back. FMB is saving a life.
You rock FMB. The IGBP is awesome, but people like you can single-handedly save lives. Thank you for stepping up.

I hadn't thought of it until I read the comments, but the others are probably right that you should lawyer up. It's possible that the family decides to shun him as they shunned you and hence it won't be a problem, but you should be ready just in case. Besides, it would be good to talk to someone who understands laws pertaining to minors because you may need to be his de-facto guardian for 2 years. If he gets sick or has any other problems, you'll find out fast that legal guardianship is very important.
Aw,t hat made me cry (in a good way). Thank you, FMB, for reaching out for this kid, and for asking Dan what to do, and thank you, Dan, for saying exactly the right thing, and thank you again, FMB, for listening to him. This may well have saved the boy's life, and even if not, it *definitely* will give his soul and heart a chance to start healing and growing sooner than they would otherwise have.

*hugs all around* Thank you!
Thank you FMB. You just saved a life. Thank you.

I'm sure you can get some free lawyering help from the ACLU or the Trevor Project, but if you can't - write Dan again and see if he'll set up a fund for you. I'd contribute.
I'd contribute, too. I just burst into tears when I read the last two pieces of the exchange. Sometimes the right thing just happens.
He should lawyer up, but it's not "contributing to the delinquency of a minor". It's not against the law to run away at 16, nor is it against the law for a cousin to purchase him a ticket to do so. If the family chooses to go to the police, they will treat it as a runaway case in which the runaway has been located. At that point it's up to the family to work it out. The kid's 16, the police will not force him home, nor will they involve the Feds.

It is going to be a trial getting him registered in school and all the good things you take for granted, and the family may (but sounds unlikely to) pursue it in court. But the reality is, even if a court did find in their favor and order the kid home, at 16 if he just doesn't go, the police aren't going to waste resources forcing him. Of course, this is leaving aside the reality that most judges will simply ask the 16 year old what he wants to do.

FMB may have to fight off some legal challenges at worst, but nobody's going to be visited by the police.
Dear switzerblog 50

"He should lawyer up, but it's not "contributing to the delinquency of a minor". It's not against the law to run away at 16, nor is it against the law for a cousin to purchase him a ticket to do so"'

I'm a lawyer here. Worked with juvenile delinquents, in dependency court, and in family law. You couldn't be more wrong on this. A creative prosecutor can nail an enabling relative to the wall. I've seen it happen far too many times to count. And even if you do prevail because the charges are legally invalid or can't be proven, it's still not worth the hassle of having to defend against such charges

Plus, if he waits to lawyer up and does things covertly for the time being the ultimate result will be either (1) kid gets forced back to Utah or (2) kid gets put in the dependency court system (depending on the state) and enabling relative, who might have been given first dibs to take the kid, will now be deemed unfit. Again, seen it happen in liberal/pro-gay areas of California. What do you think a Utah court would do, then?

To the saintly cousin: Get a lawyer NOW. Run, don't walk to your nearest gay legal rights group and ask them for help in finding one. And do not let the kid into your home before you do so. You want to help him in the long run, not hurt both of you by doing this wrong.
"It's not against the law to run away at 16"
Yes, it is.

"nor is it against the law for a cousin to purchase him a ticket to do so"
Yes, it is.

"The kid's 16, the police will not force him home"
Yes, they will.

"at 16 if he just doesn't go, the police aren't going to waste resources forcing him"
Yes, they will expend resources in this manner.

"this is leaving aside... that most judges will simply ask the 16 year old what he wants to do"
No, they won't. Not when it involves leaving the parents' home against the parents' wishes. How many 16 year olds have you known who want to run away from home?? Nearly all of them at one point or another. There are plenty of kids who would like to live with their grandma or best friend, but they're not allowed to without their parents' consent. End of story.

"but nobody's going to be visited by the police"

The ONLY thing you got right in this drunken. rambling diatribe is that the family probably won't pursue the case, given that they didn't pursue the letter-writer when he left home. That doesn't mean LW shouldn't get a lawyer, yesterday.
Sounds like a good time for an actual, yanno, LAWYER in Utah to chime in, if any such are reading here.
@18 The kid IS gay - hence the issue. There aren't any "rumors". According to the SL letter the 16 year old is gay. The guy who wrote it found out through gossip, and never said it was a rumor.

In any event, it's better for a young person to be away from such ignorant, religious fanatics - it's the only chance to have a normal, balanced life.
@52 is also correct - there are 8 states (including Utah) where it is illegal for a person under 18 to runaway from home. The police will find them and bring them back. That poor kid...
The legality of running away from home has nothing to do with its permissibility. It's just the difference between charging you with a crime and not charging you with a crime. ANYONE under 18 who runs away from home WILL BE brought back to their parents (if the runaway can be found). In EVERY state. Unless you get yourself legally emancipated.

If you run away and the state decides you're an "incorrigible youth" then you could be placed into juvenile hall or foster care. You are not allowed to run away from home before the age of 18 ANYWHERE.
To those who would say things like, "Other people come out" or "other gays live in the open" whether it be in Salt Lake City or elsewhere, you are only looking at things through a narrow scope in your fact-checking. The fact of the matter is, even if one is not in a Mormon-dominated city, the pressures of their social circle wherever they live may make it nigh impossible for them to have the emotional freedom to come out. I live in an area where Mormons are a very small-percentage of the population, yet it is a very conservative area. The only gay people I know here are, quite honestly (no kidding) alcoholics. (Probably for good reason, considering the stress involved with being gay here). Still I've never found the courage to come out and just trying to find the courage to do so sets me into anxiety and panic... and I'm no teenager by far.
The whole 'run off to a homoliberal fringe city' thing is actually a huge win-win.
Real America rids itself of a disgusting infestation.
The homo meatmarket gets a much needed infusion of fresh booty.
And the average IQ of both communities is raised in the process.....
@57, I assume there is some reason that you're in a place that denies you even the right to be honest about who you are. Unless you have a hugely dependent relative to take care of, I can think of few things worth more than the liberty to be yourself. Think about moving. Isn't liberty worth it?
I am going to want an update on this! he has to write back and tell you what happens so you can tell all of us! =)
Dan, I could kiss you right now. Bravo.
Could very well be Provo, where 98% of religious adherents and 88% overall pop. is LDS, or it could be one of the other small towns throughout Utah. SLC is to Utah like what Austin is to Texas, mixed in an otherwise homogeneous state.

That aside, good for you FMB, good luck to you and your cousin, and Dan, your project is incredible.
I'm inclined to think the authorities won't want to get involved. Me, my brother and sister all ran away from our dad when we were 14. Dad tried to get sister back when she went to mom in another town but the court said she was old enough to decide who she wanted to live with, after that there was no attempt to get me or brother back either.

I suppose the family could try if they are determined enough but it will be a hug messy affair with lots of bad publicity and the courts really don't want to get in the middle of it.

Good for FMB and look forward to updates. :)
FMB: I am an Openly Gay Mormon who practices the LDS faith. I have decided to live the celibate life and proclaim Gay Rights to the LDS society. If your cousin truly wants to stay LDS and be Gay let me know and I can give you alot of information on how it is possible to be Gay and be LDS and information that you can give to his family that will show them the sin they are commiting by rejecting their son and that what they are doing is entirely against LDS doctrine.

A C of I Religion Major

Get out.

Not a single gay person anywhere is being done any favors by being told to remain celibate instead of leading a happy, sexually-fulfilled life.
FMB, look into getting the young cousin emancipated minor status. It may be possible for him to get out and be free of a dangerous home situation legally. The IGB project is awesome!
I don't suppose there's any chance of getting the parents' permission to house the boy? I'm pretty sure you don't need a lawyer and don't risk prosecution if a child is visiting you with his parents' permission. "He's being bullied. He'll be safer here."

I dunno, seems worth a try.

A gay Mormon has a dilemma. He can lead a sexually-fulfilled life, but the cost may be to lose his family and community. He can keep his family and community, but the choice may be to lose his sex life. If you have a relatively low sex drive, the latter may be a good choice. @64 isn't trying to convince anyone to do anything. He simply offered an option.


if that catches on where will homosexuals catch their AIDS?
@69: Lucky for you that AIDS is generally caught through sexual intercourse. That means you're safe.
Please keep us updated on this story if it's possible, Dan. And thanks again for all the good work you do.
Rach3l- Who put the glass in your Wheaties today? Geez. Get a practical bone in your body somehow.
At 16, yes, his hateful, shunning, Mormon parents could involve the 'law', but that's way against church ways of doing things. If it can't be resolved in the church (which it can't, because the church advocates shunning in these situations), it won't be pursued through the legal system. FMB knows this, since he used to be one of them.
If a secular set of parents wanted to get him back, maybe the police could bring him home, but he could just run away again, especially now that he knows he has a place to go.
When I was 16, I left a hostile parental situation and never looked back. This young man and his cousin will make things work, and it's infinitely better than waiting for the lethal noose to take effect.
Get over yourself and quit being such a perveyor of doom.
For all of you saying this won't be resolved through the legal system if the family/church don't want to get involved, you couldn't be more wrong. There are lots of laws now that didn't exist even 10 years ago that make reporting runaways, suspected bullying w/in families, etc. a matter for the court system irrespective of what the family or even the
individual child wants. If the school system notices he's missing, they will report it. He gets on a plane and something seems off, *might* get reported there. He's running around on the Left Coast on a school day, good chance it will get reported.

Plus, a lot of people here don't understand how to do risk calculus in this situation. Even if you think the possibility of legal action is minimal, you can't dismiss this entirely because it's not just the chance of legal action, but the consequences if it comes. Risk analysis: probability of X event and harm that occurs if X happens v. upsides.

Not trying to be bitchy but I used to work in the exact legal system that would handle this. I know from personal experience, many of you do not. You are basing it on what you *think* will happen based on either 0 empirical evidence or evidence from when you were a kid. The world has changed. It is not what you think it would be.

I repeat what others have said: GET A FUCKING LAWYER NOW!

@72 if the parents won't let the child go, then in Utah he will be dragged back home if the parents pursue it. The LW needs to get a lawyer yesterday. You don't know the parents involved in this situation; just because they are LDS doesn't mean they are going to 100% do everything the church recommends.

Learn to fucking read, jack in the box.
@50, the charge is "harboring a runaway" and it is indeed illegal. Also, interfering with custody, since the parents are the custodial guardians. If you involve state lines in the matter, you can either be charged in 2 different states or the feds can get involved. And if the parents decide to spin it that the big bad gay guy recruited their son into the big bad gay buttsecks life, you can get charged with transporting a minor across state lines for sexual activity. And it'll be on the defense attorney to prove a negative.

FMB: Save the kid and lawyer up! And NEVER EVER hedge your bets on the odds that the parents might not press it. Plenty of innocent people are in prison because they had "faith in the system" and thought the truth was enough of a defense.
#4 wins the award for most cynical, but also most prescient, post of the year.
Good luck, FMB. It's hard to do the right thing and you did. Here's to you and your cousin catching a break and having the law let you get away with it.
Dan, you may want to refer this person to Q-Law, if the letter writer is in the Seattle area:

They can refer him to add'l legal resources.

Best, N*
Awww. Sure hope the kid gets on that plane.
Washington state is unusual in having the "emancipated minor" status--when I minor can prove that he or she is better off alone than with a parent or legal guardian. Most states do not have any such thing. At least the uncle isn't driving the kid across state lines, so it isn't kidnapping. But the kid better have an open ticket home that he can use at any time, so that the uncle can prove the kid's not being held. And the kid may very well be treated as a runaway, and stuck on the side of a milk carton. Unless the family is happy to have him disappear. I do know some ex-Mormons whose families seemed very relieved, and not inclined to ask questions, when the "problem member" left...but they were not minors at the time.

If you can give the kid a great vacation--even a "semester in sanity"--that could make all the difference, though.

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