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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Feeling Split

So, I've been feeling a lot of the normal confusion surrounding this whole situation. Trying to figure out what trumps what, feelings or spiritual devotions. It's difficult. And it doesn't help that there seem to be so few options. Unless you miraculously change and can live a traditional life (and I've talked to people who have experienced this, but they go through hell in the process), you have to be celibate to be a full fledged active member of the church. And there's just nothing after that.

But not only have I been playing with the idea of trying to change, again, but I've had the question going through my mind for the last week or so, "do I really even want to be straight?" I know what most people would say to that. "Of course you do!" They don't even hesitate. I think that many straight people, especially members of the church, think that this is painful, or awkward for us. It feels uncomfortable and ill-fitting to them, so it certainly must to us. But it doesn't. It doesn't feel awkward at all. It feels like it fits, like the feeling of finally finding the matching puzzle piece you've been looking for and pressing the two into place. The awkward feeling is the one that comes when I think of having a deep and personal relationship with a woman.

Another thing that many straight people may not realize is that the draw is not purely physical. Really, the biggest attraction to a same-sex relationship is emotional. As I think about it, I think that the body can learn attraction. I've heard it said that the most powerful sex organ is the brain. But that, in essence, is the problem. I think I'd have a harder time feeling comfortable in an emotionally intimate way with a woman. And that, of course, affects all the rest. The emotional draw for a relationship with another guy is the most powerful and rewarding part of it all.

But on the other side of the coin, I don't want to have to lose my faith and my religious devotions because of the way I feel. Honestly, I'd like to regain some of the spirituality that I've lost since this all blew up in my face (another story for another time, but one that needs to be told).  I want to go to church, watch general conference, the whole lot. But I don't want to feel like an outsider, either. And I don't want to wonder what will happen after this life. Yeah, God loves us. Of course he does. Anyone who says otherwise is not a true Christian. But laws are laws. I just wish we knew a little more about his thoughts on all these issues.

I think one thing that gets to me the most is that if I chose to follow my feelings, then I wouldn't reach my full potential, and I'd somehow fail in fulfilling some grand purpose or task that I had promised to do before this life. Honestly, I feel that in some way, that purpose has to do with the way I feel. I just don't know what side of the emotions it will all be on.

Anyway, I take comfort in the love God has for all of us. Most of the time the only thing I can say that I truly want is for him to lead me where he wants me to be. I don't know where that is, but I'm assuming it's good.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Good Movies

It's a three day weekend, and I've been spending it wrapped in a blanket watching movie after movie. I absolutely love movies, whether at the theater or at home, so having a roommate who is studying to become a screenwriter has been awesome. I watched about seven movies yesterday, some of them good, some less than good. But regardless, I loved it. :)

The best was probably "America's Sweethearts." It's a movie about a movie star couple (kind of a fictional Brangelina) who had a nasty breakup, but they still have to do the premier of their last movie, filmed while they were still an item. Basically, Katherine Zeta Jones is a wench, and John Cusack ends up with Jones' sister, the charming and sweet Julia Roberts. It was a fun and clever movie, playing with the cheesiness and ridiculousness of Hollywood.

My film-major roommate put on "Brokeback Mountain" as well, looking for symbolism in the story as his textbook had hinted there was. Honestly, from a gay perspective, I didn't really love the movie. It wasn't bad. But it wasn't amazing either. I felt like it was very much from a straight perspective. The romance was only believable at a couple different points in the movie. And the two acted too straight. I realize that they were living in a very rough and homophobic world, but while they may have been cowboys they could have brought a more emotional side to the characters. Even the manliest gay guy is more sensitive than the average straight guy. So all in all, it was an okay movie, but not one that I need to see again.

Anyway, I'm going to sign off, but if you have any suggestions of some really good movies, let me know!

Friday, September 3, 2010

Alone in a Sea of People

I've been reading a bit about the BYU honor code lately. I live in an apartment where the honor code is not regarded as the will of God descending directly from his lips, so it's been a nice oasis from the BYU social world, where the word is law, and no one questions it.

I realize that students signed an agreement about the honor code. And I realize that the school is trying to maintain a wholesome environment. But for people like me, who have spent their whole lives feeling different, and who have finally admitted to themselves that they are gay, and who have no idea what to do with it all, the answer isn't so easy. In the end, the BYU atmosphere creates a very lonely place to figure out what to do about being a gay mormon.

I'm not saying that the school should change its policies so that gay guys can sleep with whomever, whenever. I'm saying that the university needs to actually address the needs that these students have. We feel like we're suffocating sometimes. And the reason that many of the gay students resort to sex is because they see no where else to go. They can't hold hands or kiss. They aren't allowed to go on dates or have relationships. They can't discuss it with others, because while being openly gay isn't grounds for expulsion, they will then be watched 24 hours a day, with the honor code office just waiting for them to slip up. But sex is quick. It's hidden. And it releases some of the constant pull that they feel all the time. Perhaps, if BYU were to simply try to offer counseling programs specifically for people like this, in order to safely and privately address the needs of the students, they could minimize the extreme violations of the honor code, keep a number of gay students in the church in the long run, and actually help these people. Any student at this university is not there to harm it or attack it. And that fact alone places a burden on the university to be what they claim to be: "the Lord's university", and actually make the lives of these people better. It's an odd thing when the church is merciful and forgiving, but the school is the one making life and death sentences.

I've read as well that BYU discriminates against heterosexual violations of the honor code just as much. However, there was a football player who was suspended for a semester (along with his girlfriend) for what, we can only image. Rumor is that they're getting married. But not only were they given leeway (because they're straight? a football player?) but the Daily Universe, the school paper, reported his "time off" and then proceeded to mention all of his great sporting achievements. They celebrated him, while announcing his suspension, though they never called it that. With research, I think it is clear that the same mercy is not extended to gay musicians.

But the fact of the matter is that many of the gay students at BYU are there because they have faith. They have a testimony. And they want a better relationship with God. They have different problems than others, of course. They have different choices to make. But that does not make them less of a good person, or less qualified to attend this university. And the sooner the university can stop feeling so personally attacked by such occurrences, the sooner they can actually be mature adults and help those who suffer in such silence.

I love the goodness of the people of BYU. I just hope they would continue to extend it to me if they knew I was gay.

Thoughts on church

So, I am not part of the social mainstream of the gay world. I have a few gay friends. I’ve been to one party. 
But other than that, I am very much isolated from that. But lately I’ve been reading some of the blogs that gay people in Provo have written. It kind of opens my eyes to how many of us are here.

But it’s been hard to see how many of us end up leaving the church. I understand the reasons why. I’ve seen those reasons in my own life. But I’ve come to think that the biggest problems are not within the church itself, but rather within the social system in the church. Yes, the leaders still don’t endorse a gay life, but they are much more accepting and loving than the members.

I think sometimes we forget that the people that lead the church are just doing the best they can. They don’t know everything. No one does. They don’t have all the answers about the how’s and why’s of our lives. We are pioneers when it comes to being gay and mormon. There are no books about this. There were no Sunday school classes on this. So we’re doing the best we know how. And so are the leaders of the church. And we’ll get a lot further by working together, despite differences, than by building walls between us.

The bigger problems tend to be social problems within the church. And really, that’s where all the problems facing us are. They’re social. Not political. Not governmental. We want to be treated like normal people, not like freaks for what we are.

What people need to realize is that the church was never really about church. It’s a vehicle by which we come to know God. That’s what the gospel is all about. That’s the point of it all. A person can be up to their eyeballs in church attendance, scriptures, manuals, fhe, and whatever else you can think of, but if they’re not coming to know God, then there’s no point to it all.

And in my mind, a person who may not be the best “by the book” member, but who sincerely tries to build a relationship with God, is the one who is accomplishing everything the church is about.

Yes, there are rules in the church. Ones they’re not willing to change. And they never will change. But that doesn’t mean that people like us can’t be a part of that path to God that the church is trying to provide. And if members of the church feel differently, then they need a refresher course in Christ-like compassion.

No, these two life styles don’t go together very well. No one said our lives were going to be easy. But honestly, trying to keep close to God is more important to me than avoiding the awkwardness or judgment of insignificant church members.

God loves us. He always will. And he wants to help us and guide us. Our path is not what people think it will be. All the advice I’ve gotten from people on how to handle my feelings isn’t what I’ve really needed. But God knows what I need. And he’s the one I need to point my way.