Is Evergreen the Answer?
By Thomas C. McNiven, Salt Lake City, Utah
I know of Evergreen chapters in Ogden, Salt Lake, and Provo. There was a group struggling to come together in Orange County, CA and Los Angeles, but I don't know how they are doing today.
As far as I know, the meetings are not held in LDS Chapels. Meetings have been held in LDS Social Service offices. It seems the chapter coordinators or facilitators have come through LDS social services, but not typically. When I attended in SLC in '94, the facilitator was a man who was serving a mission with his wife. He was asked or given permission to make Evergreen part of his assignment.
As far as lesson plans, I never saw any. It seemed like a topic was chosen for the month but the instructor of the week (one of the group) developed his own material.
Now for my own opinion, I would have to look pretty hard to find a nicer bunch of men. In the months I attended, I met some wonderful men who were genuinely looking for a miracle "cure" to end the conflict and pain in their lives. I never saw a cure, but I only attended for six months or so.
Many participants have agendas that vary from the Evergreen mission. Under the guise of following priesthood or LDS SS advice, and often to placate wives, parents or employers (how many men did I meet that had Evergreen participation as a condition of continued employment in the Church office building?!) these predators used Evergreen to shield and even assist them in their ongoing same-sex adventures.
I have never found elsewhere a higher percentage of two-faced, lying, deceiving, self-serving, pond scum, egg-sucking hypocrites in my life.
It is my opinion that the lies perpetuated in and by the Evergreen organization are destructive to the emotional and mental well-being of far too many men. Confused and vulnerable men come to the meetings looking for the promised cure. Instead, they get more guilt piled on them while they are cruised, most often by the "cured" men who wander back now and then to find some new meat.
The public never gets to meet the "cures" effected by the Evergreen process. Their new, wholesome lives remain private. How convenient.
Wives, priesthood leaders and even the Employer buy the "cure" story.
I don't buy it. I know for a fact that some of the "cured" men stay private because their lives can't stand the scrutiny of daylight. It just wouldn't do to have have their current sex partners come forward and tell the world the real truth.
What I despise most is the fact that some of these sexually active "cured"
men are sitting in church courts, current temple recommend in their hip
pocket, passing judgment on the brave souls who choose not to live lives
of deceit and duplicity.
Evergreen holds itself out as a safe place. But it is not. Evergreen has not found the balance between being open to all who profess a desire to change and those who continuously "fall" and use the organization to fill up their dance card.
I found the association with many of the men at Evergreen to be very
uplifting. It was wonderful to be able to talk honestly and openly about
my sexuality in an atmosphere that was free of judgment and condemnation.
The dialogue and association it provided was helpful to me. Some good things
can and do happen at Evergreen.
However, I have to ask, does the good outweigh the bad? Is the damage inflicted on men by promises of "cures" balanced out by the benefits of supportive dialog? Can "healing" really occur when one is surrounded by men who are not trying to change but are really using Evergreen as a safe cruising spot?
The answer for me was a resounding no.
"The greatest dangers to liberty lurk in insidious encroachment
by men of zeal, well-meaning but without understanding."
— Louis Brandeis