Deseret News Theatre Critic Ivan Lincoln penned this piece about a Salt Lake City actor who recently died of complications due to HIV-AIDS. I think it cheapens any life, especially that of a dead person who can no longer speak, to try to co-opt him in service of any political agenda. But as I read this memorial, I couldn’t help thinking about the raging debates we have about change here: Is it possible? Can it last? Or to rephrase it in the way most people probably mean, “How many other people have to change before I can believe that it’s possible for me?”

People are endlessly asking for an example of successful reorientation, as if we were talking about something rare and mythical like Bigfoot or the Loch Ness monster, when it is neither. I do not know if we can count Scott Morgan as one of the statistics in successful reorientation. The piece mentions nothing about contact with mental health, so he wouldn’t show up in anyone’s therapeutic outcome study anyway. He would have been one of the many who undergo what the mental health profession in its typical solipsist fashion calls “spontaneous remission,” when it was obviously anything but spontaneous. This is the dark matter of psychology, those who change without ever coming into contact with a mental health professional. The dark matter in cosmology comprises 96% of the matter and energy in the entire universe. How big the psychological equivalent with same sex attraction may be is anyone’s guess, but I believe it is large, probably larger than the entire population who have come into contact with the mental health system. (This appears to be true for other health conditions that have been measured.)

But to even start thinking about Scott Morgan as a statistic feels deeply wrong to me. He is more than a statistic; his complex life should not be reduced to a mark in the “ex-gay success stories” column. There are too many ways to simplify it. Is this success? Maybe he is still gay, and he was both born and died gay. Was he always straight but didn’t know it? Ex-gay? Perhaps his memoirs will tell us the labels he may have assigned himself. But to me, even if I knew enough about his life to hazard an answer, the labels seem empty and irrelevant. What I take from his life (and I know nothing more about it than what I read in this article) is the hope that in the end we can each transcend any mere label or statistic, and that we are sanctified and remembered by those things we love and sacrifice for. His life says to me that we cannot avoid changing, we can only hope to manage that change so that we continue becoming what we aspire to be, that at the end of our lives when we look back we will say we like what we have become. That it was worth it. Somehow I think saying to ourselves at that point, “I wanted my life to mean something else, but it was too hard,” will be of very little comfort. However you may wish to characterize or rationalize the final course his life took, it seems undeniable to me that his life in its entirety was a long succession of dramatic changes.

The title of Audie Murphy’s autobiography, “To Hell and Back,” could describe the battles fought by local actor Scott Douglas Morgan, who died Oct. 6 at University Medical Center.

Scott battled drugs, alcohol and same-gender attraction issues and eventually overcame them. He was 49 and succumbed after nearly a year of failing health to HIV-AIDS. He died much too young after living a life that was more dramatic than anything you’d see on stage at Hale Centre Theatre, where he spent most of his past few years.

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3 comments

  1. avatar

    Borealis

    You said…

    “But to even start thinking about Scott Morgan as a statistic feels deeply wrong to me.”

    It does to me also.

    Why then do you want to suggest certain conclusions based on this sketchy article in the newspaper?

    You say…

    “The piece mentions nothing about contact with mental health, so he wouldn?t show up in anyone?s therapeutic outcome study anyway.”

    Oh really? Since it is not mentioned in the newspaper, you conclude he has never been in therapy????

    Scott appears to deserve praise for how he managed his many challenges. Beyond that it seems unwise to draw any conclusions especially based on such limited information.

    No one questions there are hundreds of LDS men and women in MOMs. The annual Evergreen report was just presented a few weeks ago in which their Board chairman mentioned that

    “We answer over 300 phone calls each month and perhaps twice that number of e-mail messages.” I have been told that the pattern has been that 40% of the calls and messages from those personally experiencing SGA come from married men.

    The value of Northern Lights is that we do have many here who are in MOMs and some considering such an arrangement. They are sharing the ongoing developments. When they tell us about their therapy, their daily challenges, feelings, and relationships with spouses or potential spouses we don’t have to guess.

    Yes. Life is full of change. No one questions that.
    Every marriage changes over time and is different after one year, and again at the end of the 2nd year, the 3rd year, the 10th or whatever.

    As you well know, questions surrounding sexual orientation are extremely complex and regularly get mixed up with all kinds of other issues like drug addiction, etc.

    I propose we wish Scott and his family the best and make no effort to draw conclusions about his life.

  2. avatar

    Socal

    The story about Scott and his life and his taking advantage of the atonement is absolutely beautiful. I only hope that I can have the integrity to live my life in a way where I will be remembered for the choices I made and the commitment I have for the Gospel. Change is about becoming the person you want to become. Real change is not some obscure measure of feelings related to one’s sexual orientation. It is about determining what is important in your life and taking the necessary steps to get there. Those steps often include getting up time and time again even when you get continuously knocked down. It appears that Scott was one who finished the race even when life continued to deal him many difficult blows. May God bless him and each one of us.

  3. avatar

    The message I got out of reading this was that change is inevitable. We all know that. It’s a given. I really liked the part where Borealis mentioned that we can only hope to manage that change to become what we aspire to be. It really resonates with how I feel. I do not know Scott but had a close friend who did. It was quite something to hear the story first hand and realize that it is truly possible. I certainly don’t want to dissect or make judgements about someone I do not know. I just wanted to say that It was very bittersweet to read this account of a man who changed his life and then died so young. I wish I could have met him.