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'Real Worlder' Chet Cannon: The Mormon Church isn't anti-gay


We talked to Chet Cannon of "The Real World: Brooklyn" the other day in preparation for MTV's biopic of Pedro Zamora that airs Wednesday. We were thinking about how ''Real Worlders" use their TV platform for social messaging.

Cannon, 24, was having pork and rice down at Cafe Habana in downtown Manhattan. He is the Mormon one this season. He said he hadn't even really heard of Zamora before he went on the show. "I'd heard of Puck, though," he said. (David "Puck" Rainey, you will recall, was the rude one from "San Francisco" who got expelled from the show.) "I think someone called me Puck in the street the other day. I wasn't too thrilled with that. You think I'm a 45-year-old bike messenger?" (Puck is now just 40, according to his speaker's bureau website.)

So what was Cannon's on-show message? "I wanted to show people you can't distinguish a Mormon by his appearance," said Cannon, who is blond and blue-eyed.

You might think there would be a conflict between "the Mormon one" and a celebration of Zamora, who had a commitment ceremony with his partner, Sean Sasser, on the show. (This was, of course, in 1994, way back before the few windows when gay marriage was legal in California.)

But no, said Cannon, who says he has lots of gay friends. "A couple people take the LDS church for being anti-gay and they're not at all," Cannon said. "They're very pro-family, but they're not anti-gay."

But what about, you know, how the LDS church funded opposition to Prop. 8, the California gay marriage repeal initiative? "People want to get on the LDS church," he said. "They don't even have enough members in California that the vote could be swayed. To isolate the LDS church and attack them is unfair."

"The Real World: Brooklyn" season finale airs Wednesday night.

--Choire Sicha

(Photo courtesy MTV)
Comments () | Archives (39)

Ignoring the bitterness and the significant misrepresentations in Duwayne's comments. It is important to note that During Prop 8 and after, a good number of Mormons are questioning the Church's "pro Family" claims pointing out the church's silence concerning family issues around Iraq, Darfur and other conflicts. As well as the church's lack of support for families that fall outside a narrow sort of 1950's middle class ideal.

And while I basically agree with Duwayne,that there is not much to the church's "pro family" stance. We do have the opportunity within the church to push our leaders to fully develop the idea of what being "pro family" means. Among other things this would mean becoming more aware of and helpful to adoptive, and step families, and interracial families, etc within the LDS community. It would also mean speaking up loudly and boldly when families around the world are devastated by armed conflicts, lack of clean drinking water, enough food, lack of access to basic medicine, and even political rights and freedoms. It would also mean rallying the resources of the institutional church and of church members to work on these causes. Its obviously unethical to rally the troops as was done for prop 8 on the one hand, and to do very little about global problems that end up destroying countless families around the world on the other hand.

I think it's funny when people think that criticizing the Mormon church is "intolerance" from people who are asking for tolerance. Let me put it this way: when a criminal is sent to jail for hurting someone else, it isn't considered kidnapping. No one is asking for Mormons to be jailed, but they very clearly worked hard to hurt gay people. Pointing this out is not intolerance.

The Mormon church can only be considered "pro-family" if everyone in the family is heterosexual. If any members of the family are gay, they are aggressively anti-family.

I am a living testimony, a living witness that the Mormon Church is anti gay. I am a living testimony, a living witness that the Mormon Church does not live their official doctrine, which tells me clearly that they don't believe in their official doctrine, which also tells me clearly that I shouldn't believe in their official doctrine. As a result, I throw away my personal copies of their books of scripture as a 2009 New Year's resolution.

D: It's not "intolerance" to attack the church for its views when those views are that I am not worthy of marriage because I'm gay. Tolerating intolerance kinda defeats the purpose. The church can hold any view it wants and I will tolerate it, as long as that view is not intolerant. When the Church's views step on the rights of others, that is when they are no longer to be tolerated.

The ridiculous free speech arguments are getting so old and tired. Gay marriage has NOTHING to do with the church's or its members' free speech rights, and the people behind Prop. 8 know it. Catholic priests do not have to marry divorced people, Rabbis do not have to marry non-Jews, the pastor at my parents' church did not even have to marry a member of his own church, one of which he decided did not sufficiently convince him she was a Christian, even though she said she was. The churches can recognize or not recognize any marriages they want, just like they always have. Pastors can continue to say homosexuality is a sin from their pulpits, just like they can now. A civil marriage law does nothing to change that whatsoever.

Mr. Liberal Mormon:

In 2007 the Church responded to major earthquakes in 5 countries, massive fires in 6 countries, hunger and famine in 18 countries, and flooding and severe storms in 34 countries. In total the Church and its members responded to 170 major events---nearly one every two days for the entire year.

In addition to responding to natural disasters, the Church undertook thousands of public health initiatives during the year. Over 1 million people benefited from Church-sponsored clean water projects in 25 countries. More than 60,500 people received wheelchairs in 60 nations. In 11 countries, over 54,000 individuals now enjoy improved vision. Over 16,500 health-care professionals in 23 countries were trained in infant neonatal resuscitation; they, in turn, will train many others. In a quest to eliminate measles, 2.8 million children and youth in 10 countries received immunizations. The combined effects of these outreach endeavors directly touched nearly 4 million people in 85 countries.

Choire, you need to do your job much better if you think that you are a journalist. You can't let people get away with making outrageous comments like that without challenging them on what they are saying. Otherwise they could just be giving their interview to a tape recorder. Your passive interaction with this uninformed/delusional/lying celebrity does nothing to address the issues that are raised.

I would personally like to invite Duwayne to come down out of the white spacious building and quit mocking others. He knows what I am referring to. Just because you don't believe in some one else's faith, doesn't mean you are right to mock them. I read your book too. Full of lies and half truths.

Hey FlexSF. Go learn a little history before you make yourself any more foolish on the topic. If there is any group of people in this country who know what it is like to have marriage rights taken away it is the Mormons.

There weren't laws specifically prohibiting polygamy at the time and according to their religious beliefs they practiced polygamy as it existed in old testament times, yet laws were then passed to make it illegal. Families were torn apart. It was taken to the Supreme Court. They had the law in their favor, but were forced to change their religion or the government was going to confiscate everything.

You refer to them as playing the victim while crying that you can't have what you want. You aren't even in their league when it comes to knowledge on the topic which is more than just a little ironic.

Paul Rushing's comments clearly articulate a hypocrisy among those who want society to grant same-sex marriage as a "right" -- they do not practice or believe in "tolerance" themselves unless someone agrees with their point of view. They scream loudly that the church as an entity should be silenced and punished because it encourages their version of "discrimination", and they decry all Mormons as "haters" to move the discussion away from the rational into the emotional and vitriolic.

They showed their true colors during the election that they despise true free speech -- by stealing thousands of "Yes on 8" signs from people's homes and public places, vandalizing churches and cars at churches, and then trying to get the government to financially punish the church because it encouraged its members to exercise their constitutional right to free speech and vote accordingly.

All behaviors and beliefs are not equally valid to society. A democratic society always reserves the right to decide which are better for the society than others, which is then encoded into a system of laws. That means that some things will be wrong or harmful, and some will be accepted and encouraged. If gays want to keep people from saying that homosexuality is a sin and harmful to society as a whole, they must restrict free speech and make their opponents afraid to speak their mind. In true "Animal Farm" style, some free speech must be "more equal than others" in order to let a minority view overpower and silence the majority. A decidely anti-democratic tactic that hypocritically ignores the tolerance of those who let them speak their minds.

Christ said, You'll know what kind of tree it is by the fruit it produces. I think we have on this blog a good representation of the "fruits" of both sides. Those who are advocating a "pro-gay marriage" or "anti-mormon" position routinely express hate, intolerance, anger, vitriol and personal attacks. Whereas those advocating the other side have engaged in reasoned, respectful arguments. Of course there are exceptions to both these groups, but I think by-and-large, you'll find this description accurate.

Now onto why the Church opposes same-gender marriage:
This is much bigger than just a question of whether or not society should be more tolerant of the homosexual lifestyle. Over past years we have seen unrelenting pressure from advocates of that lifestyle to accept as normal what is not normal, and to characterize those who disagree as narrow-minded, bigoted and unreasonable. Such advocates are quick to demand freedom of speech and thought for themselves, but equally quick to criticize those with a different view and, if possible, to silence them by applying labels like “homophobic” or "anti-gay." In at least one country where homosexual activists have won major concessions, we have even seen a church pastor threatened with prison for preaching from the pulpit that homosexual behavior is sinful. Given these trends, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints must take a stand on doctrine and principle. This is more than a social issue — ultimately it may be a test of our most basic religious freedoms to teach what we know our Father in Heaven wants us to teach.

For those of you who claim that this has no effect on those outside a same-gender relationship, my question is If same-gender marriage becomes the law of the land, how can honest disagreement with and refusal to support this NOT "run up" against the civil law of the land?

It is always enlightening to read comment threads such as these - mostly containing a shred of truth mingled with a lot of misconception applicable to both sides of this issue. It would be so much the better if hate and bitterness, defensiveness and blamestorming could be set aside and the TRUTH, nothing but the truth, could reconcile the differences. This whole issue is fundamentally about loving another so much that being united is a desirable outcome. Reading these comments mostly causes one to reflect on those infamous Tina Turner lyrics "What's Love Got to Do With IT ??"
Not much love found here. . . . . . .hopelessly unfortunate to say the least.

Did a vote even occur about Mormon marriage? I don't know either way, but I don't believe it was a public vote if it was.

Umm...I'm not all that smart compare to most commentors here and I've never been raised in a church. I don't hate gays, they're humans too, but everytime i hear about gays i get chills down my spine. That's how I know homosexuality is pure and simply WRONG. I'm not going throw rocks at them or show any kind of resentment towards them, but I'm glad PROP 8 won it's toll.
I like to comment on the LDS church, I don't blame them for protecting God's family unit. It shows their love and passion for what they believe in the healthy and lawful way of living. I kinda admire them for putting up a strong fight. Yeah, to those who are hating on the church...you guys need to learn tolerance too. Just accept the fact that gay-marriag is not legal. You can be mad about it, but you can't change it. And if gay marriage is legalize, then the opposition will have to live with it too, right? Now let's go back to basics and love each other because we will be fine. America is in good hands just like "God bless America, land that I love, stand beside her and guide her."

I am an active LDS father. And have come to the conclusion that the 2 sides of the argument can not be understood by either side.
I am very much Anti-Gay Marriage, not Anti-Gay, but I can see why Pro Gay Marriage People think that I am Anti-Gay. But what I find quite laughable is to hear the Anti-LDS from the LGBT side. You accuse us of being Anti-Gay yet aren't you Anti-LDS or Anti-Religion? The simple fact that people do not have the same views do not require either side to be Hateful.
Let's face it though, currently it is Cool to be Pro-Gay and uncool to be Pro-Religion. Perhaps some people can stand their ground and proclaim to be uncool and not have a problem with stating their beliefs in the mist of ridicule. I consider myself to be one of those seen as uncool.
I sit at the Nerd Table.

I'd like to comment about someone defending homosexual behavior because it occurs in the animal kingdom. So does eating of one's young, killing one's mate, and several other behaviors that I'm sure even gay people would not want to see duplicated in our society, particularly legally.

One reason some people choose to believe in God is because humans display lots of behaviors (such as philosophically communicating with others, educating their young to carry on civilizational progress, having a conscience of what's good and bad) that are beyond what any other species in the animal kingdom has even come close to.

I for one believe in God! I pray to Him and I'm grateful that my prayers are answered. Part of what I pray about is overcoming weaknesses in my life. All of us have weaknesses, and many of these weaknesses have laws against them. This is where I place homosexuality and I would invite homosexuals to consider prayer as a way to find their value with God. He does love, He did create you, He knows your pain and your struggles. Let Him bless your life!

By the way, if you claim that prop 8 won due to Mormon money, how do you explain the fact that No on 8 actually had more money?


Didn't god or jesus say 'love thy neighbor" or make us in the eye of him? Don't cast stones? People, stop judging one another. In times like these there are greater things to worry about then gay people. Are you trying to evolve your consciousness? Be a better person? teach your children to be kind and respectful? Gay people are not the demise of family or the world. It is poverty, war, egos, power, greed and anger. Stop using gay people and other minoriries as your punching bags. You are just using them as a distracter so you do not look at yourselves. Jack Johnson said it best "YOU ARE WHAT YOU HATE".

Any bible reader would know that being homosexual isn't accepted. Chet didn't play his words so well in this. With the Mormon religion they are taught to be friends will all people. Homosexuality is one of them. Mormon's can be friends with gays/ lesbians but it doesn't mean they need to practice those acts with them. The Mormon church teaches the members to love all people which doesn't deal with having to love what they do. People are allowed to be gay/ lesbian but are taught not to practice on those instincts. As those instincts are believed to be confusions in a person or possibly a chemical imbalance that somehow influences a person's behavior in believing they are homosexual. So, in conclusion anyone can be homosexual in the Mormon church but they are not allowed to act upon it. But let's not attack just the "Mormon's" for being anti-homosexual when there are many other religions and/or cultures that are against it as well.

I am not sure why some of you think that it's impossible to have gay friends and be anti-gay marriage.

i am mormon and have been all of my life. I think what he was trying to say was the LDS "Mormon" Church is not Anti anyone. We believe very strongly against "hate" and treating others badly because of who they are or what they believe it. Do we believe it is a sin to be gay? Yes. We do. But we also believe it is a sin to Lie, and a sin to steal, but everyone who lies, or steals, still should be treated with respect and welcomed to come to our church. If there is an election on if you think "stealing" or "lying" or "gay Marriage" should be allowed of course we will vote no, because we do not believe in them. And 2 of my best friends in high school were gay and we still are friends to this day. They know how I feel , but we are taught to love everyone even if they are doing something wrong in there life because WE ALL do things wrong in our lives. SO I think the use of "Anti" is really out of context here.

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