170-172: Philanthropist and WordPerfect Co-Founder Bruce Bastian

July 28, 2010
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In this 3-part series we interview Philanthropist, WordPerfect co-founder, and prominent LGBT rights supporter Bruce W. Bastian. Bastian is a generous supporter of the performing arts, and serves on the Board of Directors of the Human Rights Campaign in Washington D.C.

  • Part 1: Growing up Mormon, and the WordPerfect years
  • Part 2: Coming out as a Gay Mormon Father
  • Part 3: The Case for Supporting Gay Rights

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32 Responses to 170-172: Philanthropist and WordPerfect Co-Founder Bruce Bastian

  1. George Windes
    July 28, 2010 at 1:06 pm

    Such a valuable contribution to Mormon Stories, and for a former Aerospace employee, the history of WordPerfect is a absolute keeper. It was a love/hate relationship, as I pulled myself out of the medieval ages and learned computers were here to stay. WordPerfect helped in the transition. A great interview, one of the best.

  2. campeche
    July 28, 2010 at 4:49 pm

    Thank you Brother Bastian for doing that interview. Your experiences and insights are so appreciated. Here are some of my favorite quotes from the interview:
    “Bishop, I’m not leaving the church. The church left me a long time ago.” ,
    “I’ll bet I can de-program you from being a Mormon much faster than you can de-program me from being gay.” and my favorite,
    “I’m sorry mom and dad, you had your life, this one’s mine.”

    Also thank you for reminding us that being gay is about LOVING a person of your same gender and not just about having sex with them. And finally, thank you for using your money to help others.

    John, that was definitely one of your best interviews. You were spot-on with your questions. You pulled an Oprah by unashamedly asking awkward questions, especially in the 3rd section. The conversation brought up questions in my mind and the next thing I knew, you were asking it. Great podcast. This is one that I will be leaving on my MP3 for a very long time.

  3. Will K
    July 29, 2010 at 9:23 am

    I’m so impressed with the quality and quantity of interviews showing up these days at Mormon Stories. Bruce Bastian and his ex-wife Melanie were friends of mine when we were all in the music department at BYU in the early 70’s. So I was witness to Bruce’s musicianship and the wonderful job he did with the BYU Cougar Marching Band. I also remember when he was fired from his job because he lacked the “required degree”. But as Bruce mentioned, it was the best thing that ever happened to him and to Utah. If he’d kept that low-paying music job, WordPerfect might never have happened.

    My continued career as a musician in Utah has both kept me in touch with Bruce periodically, as well as made me a beneficiary of his generosity. His foundational support has helped organizations like Ballet West and the Utah Symphony stay afloat. Seeing and hearing this wonderful, multi-hour glimpse into the life of this very private, intelligent, and caring person is a great gift to both those who know him, and those who have wondered who this person really is. Bravo, John . . . for one of your most insightful interviews ever.

  4. July 29, 2010 at 1:29 pm

    How appropriate is it that his names is “Bruce Wayne”? His story of living a double life was interesting — and sad. It’s terrible the position the church puts people in by forcing them to live a lie.

    Thanks for sharing your story, Bruce Wayne. You’re a real hero, Batman! :)

  5. Marsco
    July 29, 2010 at 2:20 pm

    Good interview. This is a brave man. I wish him the best.

    I hope this interview can help save some young man or woman from taking their life. I think it will.

    Marsco

  6. July 29, 2010 at 3:05 pm

    As usually I have to put in my two FRENCH cents.

    As usually the church in France is in between 20 and 100 late on the US.
    I have heard my RS president saying that “homosexuality is not part of His plan”. I don’t know what is part of His plan and what is not because when you look at any religious book that we hold for inspired God has a unic way to turn around when we hold some things for hard core truth.
    So as I ususally say on this subject: don’t tell God what He can do and what He can’t do. You don’t know His plan, not more than people knew it 2000 years ago. We may know more but we also know we don’t know everything so let’s not act as if nothing more was going to be revealed. My fear concerning this attitude OF FEAR toward homosexuality is that we may very well keep ourself from receiving more knowledge. And this would be sad for us.
    Let’s just stick to love God, love one another, don’t judge… and let us leave room for God to be God and to lead us instead of using our supposed knowledge to justify hatred.

    Well, thank you again John for making this place a more barable place to live in because you show me that in the church too some people are commited to communicate and love and learn and more.

  7. Gail F. Bartholomew
    July 29, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    I would like to thank you Mr. Bastian for sharing your story and for your hard work.

    I would like to comment on a few of John’s devils advocate arguments. First, “Children need a father and a mother.” Children that do not have both father and mother involved in their life it is a result a result of a tragedy or choices of on the part of father and or mother. It is never the result of homosexuality or gay marriage. I am blessed to have 4 beautiful children. Their mother is joyously wonderfully gay. God created her gay. It was not a mistake or a malignity. We are no longer married, but we make choices every day so our children are being raised by their mother and their father. We choose to remain geographically close. We choice to communicate and make decisions together. No mater who I or their mother choose to spend our lives with romantically it will not affect the fact that our kids are and will be raised by both Mom and Dad.

    second, “why shouldn’t we try to change homosexuals?” Because we have tried and there is not only no evidence that it works, the evidence shows that trying to change actually causes harm. In fact every one I have ever known that has tried to change their orientation not only is not successful, but struggles with self hate. If you go to LDS.org and read Elder Oaks and Wickman’s interview about homosexuality notice Elder Wickman calls sexual orientation as a core characteristic. So how painful is it for us to tell someone a core characteristic of yours needs to be changed. You are not good enough unless you change something core. Now complicate this when year after year it does not work. How can you love yourself.

    Third, “the Bible preaches against homosexuality.” The two places that are defensibly anti-gay would be Leviticus and the writings of Paul. When I read Leviticus I only find two things that the church reports as doctrine. A few times it quotes one of the Ten Commandments, and the condemnation of homosexuality. So the brethren through everything else out. In the case of Paul he also writes that you serves God better by staying unmarried and the only reason you should even get married is if you can not control your sexual impulse, two things in direct contradiction with Mormon theology. So why would we Mormons choice these sources to back them up.

    Fourth, “The GA’s say it so that trumps the scriptures.” So when Brother Brigham said “shall I tell you the law of God in regard to the African race? If the white man who belongs to the chosen seed mixes his blood with the seed of Cain the penalty under the law of God is death on the spot. This will always be so.” So if anything the GA’s say over the pulpit trumps the scriptures than this statement would have justify murder. In fact I do not know of any GA resending this law of God that will alway be so.

    Finally I agree that the church’s policies cause pain. I agree with Elder Packer when he says “I give you strong caution. Be wary of the word tolerance… we are not required to tolerate anything that leads to unhappiness… Tolerance is often demanded but seldom returned. Beware of tolerance. It is a very unstable virtue.”

    I refuse to continue to tolerate the church’s polocies. It is not how God creates people that causes the pain it is our culture and the polocies of our church.

  8. Holden Caulfield
    July 29, 2010 at 7:00 pm

    Haven’t had a chance to download & listen yet, but I can’t wait…..Thanks again John for these gems.

  9. Aaron
    July 29, 2010 at 7:39 pm

    John,

    Another great podcast. Studying the Bible and early Christianity, this argument about homosexuality brings me to first century Christianity. The problem during Jesus’ days was that Jews kept themselves separate and clean of the Gentiles. Now, when the early church accepted both Jew and Gentile, the Jews wanted to keep themselves separate from the Gentiles. Paul had the added issues of the fact the Jews were making the Gentiles conform to the works of the Torah in order to turn the Gentiles into Jews. It was this struggle in the early church to bring two groups together and help the Jews to accept the Gentiles as their brothers.

    In this podcast (and other podcasts you have done on homosexuality) I see the same problem resurfacing. Members of our Church (and other conservative Christians) see homosexuality as an “abomination” that should not be tolerated. Sexual identity and sexual morality are two different things. Homosexuals can lead sexually moral lives with a same-sex partner. However, just like the Jews in the early church, we either want nothing to do with homosexuals or we want to change them. There was nothing wrong with being a Gentile in the early church and I think we need to begin to realize there is nothing wrong with people who are homosexual. We all have character flaws or personality problems, but being gay or lesbian is neither of these.

    The thing I was most surprised in this interview (and not growing up in the Church might of had something to do with this) is that it was two Mormons that helped develop Word Perfect. My Dad, who is a software consultant, has always preferred Word Perfect over Microsoft Word. It was neat to learn how someone who was at the frontier of the computer age tell how he contributed to what has taken over modern society. I still can’t imagine how I would go day to day without my computer.

  10. July 30, 2010 at 8:17 am

    Good stuff, esp. Bruce’s bits about the gerontocracy. This is me nominating John for honorary membership in the Order of Wayne.

    Sincerely,

    Jason Wayne Echols

  11. Max Shaw
    July 30, 2010 at 10:33 am

    I learned leadership from Bruce Bastian as a member of the Cougar Band in the 1970’s. Most of us knew that Bruce was somehow “different” but we all loved him and were inspired by his dedication to us, to the music we played and to the Cougar Band, which was at the height of Bruce’s tenure, known as “The Sound Machine.” I worked with Bruce on developing a training video for band members and later spent one of my summers helping with the half-time program for my senior year. I was with him the night that his Master’s Thesis “computer program” ran successfully for the first time. It was an inspiration and I never saw him a happier man. I also felt the pain of his contract not being renewed with the band although it was my last year as well. I knew the era of “The Sound Machine” was over and that his opportunity to lead young musicians was over. Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine how he has found another way to inspire people.

    I learned from friends years ago of his success at WordPerfect Corporation and that he was somewhat recluse so I have never tried to contact him out of respect for him. Today, after viewing this interview, I am just as inspired by his courage and dedication to social justice and LGBT rights as I was almost four decades ago. It ranks among my most cherished memories that I knew him as I did and had the honor to work for him and with him.

    Thank you for being who you are Bruce. The world is a better place in multiple dimensions, because of you.

  12. OzPoof
    July 30, 2010 at 2:58 pm

    This incredible man, Bruce Bastian, said it all.

    I am a man who was born Mormon and gay. I would not wish that on anyone. Growing up believing you are evil incarnate and have nothing to lose as far as sin goes is a recipe for disaster. Coming to the realization that you were born as a sinner almost as bad as a murderer, and that you can’t change, no matter how many tearful hours spent in bed, in the dark, crying while praying, night after night, is a massive blow to a young psyche. Fasting for days until fainting, hating yourself and thinking of nothing else but how to end it.

    There HAS to be some movement from the church. Kids are DYING because of this. They can’t change, even when they are electrocuted and married to a gender they are not sexually attracted to. Only the church can change.

    I want to say how inspired I was listening to Bruce. What a journey. I agreed with all he said. I wish they would broadcast this interview in Utah so people might think what it would be like if they were born gay. Empathy people.

    John, you seem to be unable to grasp the how a gay man who is not attracted to women can have children. It’s friction, not vision, that gets things started. I’ll leave it there.

    Icky sex? A lot of gay men do not do “icky sex”, and “icky sex” is certainly not the exclusive domain of homosexuals.

  13. SimplyMe
    July 30, 2010 at 11:46 pm

    Thank you for this interview. Bruce’s responses to the questions were so passionate and even funny at times. The topic was serious but the humor was in how blunt and completely truthful he was being.

    I agreed with so much of what Bruce said. Thomas Merton said, “The root of war is fear”. I believe that was what Bruce suggested when he said that fear is the root of all the pain, fighting, and discrimination in society. Isn’t that how war starts? War is built on creating division, on the perspective that it is us and them, we are right and they are wrong. That’s how we can minimize humans to be thought of as cockroaches (Rwanda) and fellow citizens can murder each other with less guilt (until after the fact, I’m sure). The same with gays. We can criticize, label, and alienate people when the church calls itself right and others wrong. Talk about projecting our own “ickiness”! With so much projection I have to wonder, what does the church fear? What power does the gay issue have or is the church trying to distract us from the real issues of society? …like Bruce said, there are many more pressing issues that the church could spend its time on.

    Thank you to Bruce for doing this interview. You are a treasure to this world. John, thank you for being as brave in asking the questions as Bruce was in responding to them.

  14. Paul
    July 31, 2010 at 12:07 am

    John: Enjoying this video podcast. Is it my system, though, or is it the broadcast that has the audio out of synch with the visual in iTunes?

    A little off the germane topic, but, might I state that I am not an Apple Inc. Mac fanboy although I have been using a Mac since 1985. Having said this, let’s be clear though that, at around second “55:30” or so into your Part One broadcast, when you stated that “Microsoft developed Windows,” okay, perhaps they “developed it” ***for their system***, but Apple “invented it” (for their Macintosh and Lisa computers) way before Gates “developed it.” Hence, Apple‘s graphical user interface is truly ‘WYSIWYG‘ (What You See Is What You Get), while Microsoft‘s ‘WYSIWYG‘ is: What You ***Stole*** Is What You Get. You may recall the unsuccessful law suit that Apple Computer filed against Microsoft in 1988 regarding GUI copyright infringement.

    End off-topic, knit-picky micro-rant.

    Again, very interesting broadcast (so far, as of Part One).

  15. Richard Allen
    July 31, 2010 at 1:20 am

    Hi Paul.

    I am the one responsible for the video (I shot, edited, and uploaded it). Let me know how much off sync you are (0.3 of a second, 3 seconds, etc.) I am dong some test here on my iPhone and they seem to be in sync but I could be wrong. Let me know what device you are trying to view them on and I will try and replicate the problem. Do you notice the same sync problem on YouTube.com?

    BTW, Most reports state that Apple stole the GUI from Xerox with their PAC system since they (meaning Apple) were allowed to see it. So did Microsoft steal from Apple who stole from Xerox?

    Who knows!?

    View this video

  16. Paul
    July 31, 2010 at 10:54 am

    Richard: The podcast works great on YouTube and my iPod Classic. I ran it again this morning and Part One is still quite a bit little off (audio ahead of vid) in iTunes 9.2.1 (OS 10.5.8), A-okay in Part Two, and ***perhaps*** slightly off in Part Three.

    About the copyright vid — cute, but if you really want to explore the evolution of coping graphics, check out this one:

    At the very beginning and end of this vid, the ‘graphic’ in the middle is Windows; the two on each side are the Mac OSs. ;-)

  17. eric
    August 1, 2010 at 8:33 pm

    John,

    Excellent work as usual. A powerful interview which gives important highlights to the less enlightened among us on this very difficult topic. As the brother of a homosexual sister I can relate to this issue particularly. What would be interesting as well is to interview Bruce’s siblings to see how they make it fit in their lives – which can be an interesting thing to navigate within the church, I know it has been within our family. But I digress. Again a hearty congratulations for good work done and for you and Bruce being men enough to talk about difficult issues.

  18. Oz
    August 2, 2010 at 2:04 pm

    Good Work John!!!

    Hopefully, this will help those who struggle with homosexuals, be able to see that they are people too. I liked how Bruce challenged people to take the sex out of the picture, to see them as people who have feelings and goals and hopes just like everyone else. After our family joined the church, we became very close to a missionary who served in our ward. He was very influential to us finding our way as new members. He became a 3rd son to my mother and a big brother to me and my siblings. Our friendship has lasted 25 years. About 10 years ago, he came out and told our family that he was gay. It was a little shocking for my mother, at first, but we know him, we know his heart, we know he is a great man. And we accept and love him for being him.

    A year or so after that, I taught Sunday School to the 14-15 year old boys and girls. There was one particular young man, I presumed by his mannerisms that he could be gay. I never asked him about it or approached the subject with him, but I made an effort to pull him aside and let him know that he was somebody, that he was a good guy. I knew it would be a tough road for him if he was to come out, particularly in the ward we were in. Needless to say, 6 years or so later, I ran into him while shopping with my wife. He had come out to his family and friends, and was asked to leave his home, and his friends abandoned him. Luckily for him, he made new friends, got his life together and moved on.

    It is so sad and wrong. To know that we have the ability to just disregard human beings like trash. Hopefully, this can help people to cope or overcome their own fears with this issue.

  19. Richard
    August 3, 2010 at 9:12 am

    The videos have been updated and now the audio stays in sync when playing in iTunes.

  20. Valder
    August 3, 2010 at 7:20 pm

    Thanks to both John and Bruce. Have loved so many of the interviews lately.

  21. pgm
    August 3, 2010 at 9:39 pm

    Such a well-spoken and brilliant man. Very honest and straight-forward. So true that all children want only love and respect. Grown ups are the same. We want love and respect.

  22. Peg Bird
    August 4, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Wow, all I can say is thank you. What wonderful insight, Bruce. I am the sister of an older gay brother who committed suicide. Since his death I have found so much peace here on Mormon Stories as my compassion for the homosexual community grows and I learn to love and appreciate them in ways that my brother would be proud. Thanks John, and thank you Bruce Bastian for sharing your life story.

  23. Anon Brit
    August 5, 2010 at 11:18 am

    Another great interview.
    Sadly, I know of a young man active in the church who is gay who recently married after being counselled to do so. Marriage may not be offered as a ‘cure’ any more, but for this young man and his wife (who knows about his orientation) marriage has been presented as the ‘right’ thing to do and consequently they have done it – I’m so sad for both of them. As far as I can see, LDS marriages will still break up over this issue for some time to come.

  24. Terry Anderson
    August 12, 2010 at 6:22 am

    I forwarded this to my gay daughter, as I liked it and thought she would appreciate it. There’s much to commend in this interview. We can all find things to be bitter about in the Church, but history shows leaders are fallible and make mistakes, subject to their prejudices and environment; and God allows it. These men are not puppets, but are free to act. It doesn’t necessarily mean you throw the whole lot out with the bath water. I’m not sure if I see Prop 8 as Bruce does. I see it as defining “marriage”. I’m happy with gays living together, but call it something else. In New Zealand they call it a Civil Union.

  25. August 18, 2010 at 10:40 am

    I just finished the 1st episode and wanted to comment just about that one. I’m sure I’ll be back to add comments to the other great episodes.

    Bruce, if you read this I want to thank you for the contribution you made to my early career. While you stayed away from Palo Alto, I jumped in feet-first with HP and have stayed there for many years. I remember bringing WP onto the HP site and loading it onto our DOS based system. It literally changed life. I taught internal classes on how to setup our Laserjets to work with WP and input the PCL language to do funky things from WP. Thanks so much. It was a great trip down memory lane with you and John talking about these early systems. Your descriptions of a mini were something I hadn’t thought of for years as I worked on the HP-3000 and tried to integrate things like Word Perfect into the world of mini-computers at HP. Great stuff John!

  26. Chris Justice
    August 22, 2010 at 9:29 pm

    This truly was a great interview. John – you do a great job interviewing your guests – you need to be commended.
    Bruce, I just ask you to be patient with us Mormons. I have driven by your ex-wife’s home many times (my wife’s grandmother lives in the area). The only story I knew was the story of the rich co-founder of Word Perfect who “became” gay and left his wife. I remember thinking many times, why in the world would he do something like that? What an awful thing to do. From my perspective now it is what an awful thing for me to be so judgmental. All of those years I was condemning of something I had no understanding of, so I ask for your forgiveness. I loved your comment of the opposite of love is not hate, but fear.
    The tide is changing. I honestly believe I will see in my lifetime many of the things you are fighting for. Thank you for your effort.

  27. October 27, 2010 at 6:24 pm

    Great interview. It was very powerful and moving. Thanks to Bruce for sharing your experiences with us and to John for setting it up and doing the interview.

  28. Gayle K.
    January 11, 2011 at 12:16 pm

    Mr. Bastian:
    Thank you for the interview. I do believe the Church will someday regret its stance on homosexuality and that it will try to re-write its history, as it has tried to do with other issues. I am an active member of the Church, but I do believe leaders both past and present have corrupted and complicated the Church. This follows the pattern in the scriptures of the ancient church. It is my hope and prayer that someday, homosexuals will have full standing in society and in the LDS church. My heart breaks at the thought of the pain and suffering that countless gay members have suffered over the years and continue to suffer. I salute those who’ve had the courage to finally leave the church and really discover who they are and find happiness.

  29. Whiteshouse
    March 31, 2011 at 9:22 pm

    Awesome Bruce!
    Tom White

  30. Robb White
    April 3, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    I quite agree, Tom. Awesome!

  31. JeremiahA
    November 3, 2011 at 9:22 am

    I would have to say that this was the most disturbing interview so far. The cognitive dissonance that Mr. Bastian has to employ to hold his worldview was troubling. Claiming that homosexuals have no choices portrays them as people with no self-control and exacerbates the victim mentality. Also, it is not necessary to misrepresent the homosexual lifestyle in order to defend it, nor is it necessary to represent the sexual ethics presented in the Bible. Mr. Bastian is free to disagree with Jesus of Nazareth, Saul of Tarsus, and so on, but to purposefully misstate their teachings is intellectually dishonest. The rewriting of the prop. 8 history, the false equating of interracial couples with same-gender couples, the “kill everyone over 50″ remark, and Mr. Bastian’s inability to distinguish between the fundamental equality of human beings and the respect due to them and the separate issue of the quality of respect for any choices human beings make cries loudly to his need to force his morality on others.

    I hope Mr. Bastian is not a true representative of the activism in the homosexual community.

  32. Howard Carver
    May 29, 2012 at 7:43 pm

    I listened to this 3-part interview with John and Bruce last night and found it very worthwhile. As a gay Christian, I thoroughly understand and identify with much of what Bruce shared in terms of religious institutions and the influence they hold in the private lives of all people. Thanks much for sharing this podcast with the listening community, LDS and non-LDS alike. I have found many of the podcasts here to be very inspirational, enlightening, and filled with such warmth and love despite what differences we may have. I have recommended this site to many of my friends since first listening in several months back.

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