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Sunday, January 30, 2011

Who We Really Are

My blog inbox is getting stagnant. A new post is made once every couple of days, and I'm convinced that everyone else has gotten just as slammed with life as I have. So I decided that I would at least contribute to everyone else's inbox with a new post. It was either that, or read the book I keep putting off for literature class.

Problem is that I'm not quite sure what I want to write about. I've had a couple things pop into my head in the last few days, but I don't really feel like writing about those things right now. 

School has been going well. It's busy, but good. My gender class has been interesting. We've spent the last few weeks talking about gender roles and the way they play a huge role in life. In the midst of this I realized that one of the nice things about being gay is that we are completely exempt from the Nazi-like rules of the male gender stereotype. By my mere nature, I defy it. As a child I liked dolls and the Little Mermaid. In elementary I liked make believe on the big toy, not sports. And now, I like Lady Gaga and artsy movies. Being an average guy I would be completely ridiculed by this. I would be a disgrace to the male gender. But by being gay I am excused from the macho male table and allowed to sit at a table that actually celebrates my love of dance club music and spending way too much money at the mall. The things that would make me an outcast in the male gender stereotype actually elevate me in the gay role. Kinda nice.

So a couple weeks ago I came across some notes made by one of the professors in the department I work for called "Homosexual Notes." (Funny, I didn't know that notes had an orientation.) My curiosity got the best of me, and I took a look. I really didn't find anything I hadn't heard before, but it was interesting how the tone of these notes was almost novice. It was clear that he had little literal understanding of my situation. His notes are based on theories discussed by Joe Dallas, and detail the common theory that homosexuality is the result of "sexualized needs for same-gender acceptance." That kind of bothered me. 

Don't get me wrong, I completely understand the logic of it all. Many of us felt like we didn't fit in as we grew up. And so it is easy to say that because we were never accepted we sought for that acceptance, and then sexualized it as we got older. However, while the logic may be sound, I feel like there are some holes in it. 

For example, at the end of his notes it said that "not all boys who don’t get their need for same-sex emotional bonding sexualize these needs however." For the sexualization of unmet needs to be the cause of homosexuality, that means that it has to be present in every case of homosexuality, and that it is the only cause of homosexuality. It also means, at least to my understanding, that this would have to cause homosexuality in every single case where those same-sex needs are not met. But his very statement says that not all boys sexualize it. That seems inconsistent to me.

He later makes the comment, while jotting notes on reparative therapy, that complete homosexuals do not always become complete heterosexuals through that therapy. That also seems to contradict the theory. If these unmet needs were the only true cause of homosexuality, then would not satisfying those needs cause the complete and utter cessation of homosexual feelings? Apparently not.

And what about all those boys who are completely rejected by their peers. They are not accepted by other boys. They are outcasts. Yet, they are not gay. How can you say one boy in this situation will sexualize those unmet needs and another won't? I'm sorry, but it seems to me that those things are determined well before adolescence. In fact, isn't that when most of us realized that we were different than other boys? 

In fact, there is no way whatsoever to prove that it was not the homosexual nature that caused the rejection by the rest of the peer group. It's the proverbial chicken and the egg, and unfortunately, because we cannot manipulate gender nor orientation, it can never be proved. So it thus remains theory, and only a theory. 

These things were going through my head as I was supposed to be studying for my Gender Studies class, and I took a break and wrote my thoughts out on the back of my study guide.

I was thinking about our nature. Not our sexual orientation, but rather those personality traits that set us apart from the general male population. The previously stated theory was going through my head, and here is what I wrote:

Common ideas among conservative psychologists is that rejection by the same gender, or lack of identification with the same gender, leads to unfulfilled same-sex needs which are sexualized later in life. 

Following this theory, rejection of this would lead to embracing opposite gender traits and roles, because one does not "belong" in the other gender. Had the behavior that caused the rejection been simply due to a mix-up of gender traits/roles, the behavior would change so as to meet the approval of the same gender group, and acceptance would occur, and homosexuality would not happen.

However, children as young as two or three show opposite gender traits, including favoritism for opposite-gender toys (the most reliable predictor of future homosexual orientation for men (Bailey & Zucker, 1995)). They are not forced to develop opposite-gender traits (children have not even recognized the existence of gender roles at this time). The traits are simply there. So irregardless of the same-gender group, the child develops traits that commonly belong to the opposite gender. And at rejection they cannot change them, because they are inherent in the personality. 

Thus, the emotional/personality traits of gay and lesbian people are not developed, but are there from birth. How many parents comment that their baby seems to have a personality all his own, even at just a few months old. And those traits follow the child through life. 

Based on the Proclamation on the Family, my gender (which in all technicality is not anatomy, but the emotional personality of a person) is eternal, thus my psychological/personality gender traits are pre-inborn and eternal.

Since we were children we felt different. Since we were toddlers we acted differently. We were more sensitive. We didn't like fighting or conflict. We seemed to be much more attuned to the emotions of other people. We saw beauty where other boys only saw something to smash. We had traits that simply weren't common for boys. But those traits are ours. Our personality is eternal. 

Now, I haven't said anything about actual attraction, because when you throw the body into the mix crazy things happen. (And I just haven't gotten that far in my own thought process). But I find great comfort in the fact that my personality traits, which are often the first things that make others believe one is gay, are not wrong. They cannot, and should not be changed. We are talking about trying to stifle God-given spiritual gifts. And I don't like that idea. :)

But let's look at a couple other things, straying from the scientific side of things. Let's make a list of classical male traits:

 - strong
 - independent
 - masculine
 - assertive
 - tough

Now a list of feminine traits:

 - affectionate
 - sentimental
 - submissive
 - nurturing
 - meek
 - emotional

Now ask yourself, which of these sounds more like the Savior, as we see him in the scriptures? Ironically enough, the feminine traits fit him better. However, from other parts of the scriptures we see that he can be strong, assertive, masculine, and tough when he needs to be. But the thing that surprises us the most (and evidently the writers of the scriptures) was that he possessed a strong amount of traditionally feminine traits.

Taking that a bit further, with the decree that we must become as Christ is, we can see that we must become a blend of male and female traits. In this light, the declaration that it is not good for man to be alone makes sense. A man and a woman coming together allows them to work on each other, like yin and yang, and to be complete people.

However, many of us are already endowed with the treasured feminine traits. (Sometimes it's the masculine ones we need to work on!) In her book No More Goodbyes, Carol Lynn Pearson makes an interesting comment. She talks about a two-piece sculpture of a man and a woman, beautifully intertwined. 

"The figures were so right. Trevor created male and female to be together, just like God did. Why couldn't Gerald (her husband) see that, know that, feel that? The response I'd heard from him so often: 'Of course. Male and female together. Only some of us find that wedding within ourselves instead of with another of the opposite sex.' It never made sense to me, but it did to Gerald. And to Trevor."

And to me. 

In this light, I see the traits I have been given as a marvelous gift. Last semester I took a class based on values and character, and one of the assignments was to go through a list of values and name our top eight. Without hesitation, my number one value was compassion. It is something I have been given, something I need so much more of, and a gift that I treasure as a priceless jewel. I would never give away the traits that make me an outlier. They make me who I am.

I don't know how things really all fit together. Maybe someday God will fill us in on the details. But I know for sure that he created me as a unique and beautiful creature. As that rare 5%, we have been given gifts that can change the world, if we use them. We can return hate with love, intolerance with compassion, and angry misunderstanding with acceptance and explanation. Of all people to have received these precious gifts, doesn't it make sense that it would be us?

It makes sense to me

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Lessons from 5 Sages: 3 Doors Down, Buddha, Elder Wirthlin, C.S. Lewis, and Lady Gaga

It's been a while since I've written, and a lot of things have come to my mind lately. But these three things have stood out the strongest lately. And as I was thinking about them today, I realized that they are all connected.

The first is the song "If I could be like that" by 3 Doors Down.

I love the lyrics. They're piercing.

He’s spent his whole life being too young
To live the life that’s in his dreams
And then he lies awake and he wonders
Why can't that be me?

'Cause in his life he is filled 
With all these good intentions
He's left a lot of thing
He'd rather not mention right now

Just before he says goodnight
He looks up with a little smile at me
And he says

"If I could be like that 
Well I would give anything
Just to live one day
In those shoes"

If I could be like that
What would I do?
What would I do?

Now in dreams we run

She spends her days up in the north park
Watching the people as they pass
And all she wants is just a little piece of this dream
Is that too much to ask?

With a safe home and a warm bed
On a quiet little street
All she wants is just that something to hold on to
That's all she needs

If I could be like that 
Well I would give anything
Just to live one day
In those shoes

If I could be like that
What would I do?
What would I do?

I'm falling into this in dreams
We run away

If I could be like that 
Well I would give anything
Just to live one day
In those shoes

If I could be like that
What would I do?
What would I do?

How many times in my life have I felt like the boy at the beginning of the song, perpetually outside looking in, seeing my dreams just beyond my fingertips? 

How many times have I said those words to myself?

If I could be like that 
Well I would give anything
Just to live one day
In those shoes

It's almost heartbreaking to think of how long I've been waiting. Waiting for life to start. Waiting to be loved. Waiting to be happy. Waiting to be worth something. 

But the more I think about it, the more I believe that waiting is focused on the wrong thing. I've been waiting for ages for the outside world to fulfill internal needs. I need to love myself, and I need to live my life right now. Then I can have those days I've dreamed of.

I believe it was Buddha that said "Peace comes from within. Do not seek it without."

But it is one thing to understand that, and another to internalize it. 

I spent a lot of my life trying to be what everyone else wanted me to be. Because if I was perfect for them, then they would love me. I would be lovable. And then I would be happy. 

But I was never perfect. And even when I got close, others never made me happy. 

I think that is something that many members of the church can relate to. It is in that light that I reference the late Elder Joseph B. Wirthlin.

"Some are lost because they are different. They feel as though they don’t belong. Perhaps because they are different, they find themselves slipping away from the flock. They may look, act, think, and speak differently than those around them and that sometimes causes them to assume they don’t fit in. They conclude that they are not needed.

"Tied to this misconception is the erroneous belief that all members of the Church should look, talk, and be alike. The Lord did not people the earth with a vibrant orchestra of personalities only to value the piccolos of the world. Every instrument is precious and adds to the complex beauty of the symphony. All of Heavenly Father’s children are different in some degree, yet each has his own beautiful sound that adds depth and richness to the whole.
This variety of creation itself is a testament of how the Lord values all His children. He does not esteem one flesh above another, but He “inviteth them all to come unto him and partake of his goodness; and he denieth none that come unto him, black and white, bond and free, male and female; . . . all are alike unto God.”

". . .Brothers and sisters, if only we had more compassion for those who are different from us, it would lighten many of the problems and sorrows in the world today. It would certainly make our families and the Church a more hallowed and heavenly place."

I have felt that way. Perhaps I always have. Especially here in Provo there is a false belief that the only kind of good person is a person that looks and acts and talks a certain way. Everyone feels the pressure to be that person, and no one ever becomes that person. Thus, Utah has made its way as the most depressed state in the nation. Because we never feel like we are enough. 

Yet, while we struggle, we send others the message that they're not enough. But true Christianity, true charity, means loving and accepting others, telling them that they're enough, even when they aren't perfect. Even if you completely disagree with them. 

That leads me to my final point. To begin, I'd like to reference this video:

Yup, that's Lady Gaga. Or, Stefani Germanotti, to be exact. The resemblance is definitely there, but something changed between the salad-eating days and the days of international stardom.

Had we been a customer in that restaurant we would have looked right over her, passed her right by. She seems a girl of no consequence, someone who won't amount to much. Dare I say she even looks borderline frumpy (my sincere apologies to all the disciples of Gaga who find that blasphemous).

If we had stopped and spoken to her we may have learned that she was a struggling musician, that she played night clubs waiting for her big break, but we probably wouldn't have really believed that she would become something great.

But here she is today:

Who knew that within the seemingly inconsequential girl of Stefani Germanotti was a person that would send a ripple throughout the world, influencing others with her music, and becoming an international icon?

No one knew. And that's the point.

Within each and every one of us is someone that can change the world. Each of us has a message for the people of this earth. Each of us has something of value, and if we let that out, we can do incredible things.

C.S. Lewis said:
"There are no 'ordinary' people. You have never talked to a mere mortal. Nations, cultures, arts, civilizations -- these are mortal, and their life is to ours as the life of a gnat. But it is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit -- immortal horrors or everlasting splendors."
"It is a serious thing," says Lewis, "to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship."

We have limitations and obstacles, of course. But greatness and happiness are within our grasp. Perhaps we are waiting, dreaming of the day that we can live "in those shoes." But we don't have to. We don't have to be lost, feeling like outcasts. Because peace comes from within, so does power. So does joy. So does confidence and security and faith. We are mighty beings, kept from reaching our great potential simply by our own self-doubt. 

But if we can overcome that doubt, that fear, we can become great. We can change the world. And greatest of all, we can be happy.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Denying Vulnerability

I know I haven't posted for a while, but judging by how few blog updates I found on my dashboard, it was a busy week for everyone.

My last real post was about certainty, something that I've thought about ever since. The day after my certainty post I had a meeting with my therapist, and it was a really hard meeting. The confidence that I had the preceding week was officially shattered during that session, and to be quite honest I was somewhat hurt by the things my therapist said. Or perhaps it was more the unspoken words that hurt. Regardless, it sent me reeling back into the chasm of confusion and doubt, and despite the last week of climbing I'm still not quite out.

But I have been thinking about certainty and about faith. I really appreciate Rob's comment on my post. I also really liked his post on his own blog. He always gives very sound counsel. But it actually seems somewhat ironic that in the LDS church we have come to link certainty and faith as synonyms, when really, they are complete opposites. If we have faith, we don't know things for certain. We have assurance. We believe. We say that we know, but that knowledge is not a certainty. It is faith. And really, it is the lack of certainty that makes faith powerful.

I can't for the life of me remember where I read this, whether on a blog, in an article, or in No More Goodbyes, but I read something about how religion used to be a belief in mystery that explained what doesn't make sense. But now we have changed religion in order to define every minute detail of what doesn't make sense. But that kind of defeats the purpose. (Just found the reference. It's on the video of Brene Brown that I reference later).

So maybe, just maybe we aren't meant to understand everything. Are we supposed to ask? By all means, yes! But do we need a detailed explanation in order to move forward at all? No. And we're not going to get one. And technically, that's what we teach in the church. But few actually want to go forward without that certainty.

Because if you aren't certain, there's room for doubt. It's possible that you're wrong. And if you're not certain you're vulnerable. And no one likes being vulnerable.

I love this video of Brene Brown, and can't do it justice in a few words. But she talks about how the way to truly live is to allow yourself to be vulnerable. Being vulnerable can open the way to true living.

By no means am I ready for this. But I'm going to try. To be frank, it scares the hell out of me. But I'm tired of living my life striving for perfection in order to compensate for my vulnerability. Because ultimately, it led me to a position where I didn't even know what I liked or wanted in life. I didn't even know who I was. Because I'd never dared to open up and find out.

But if we don't open up and truly live, then what point is there in living at all?

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

No More Goodbyes

Today I got the book "No More Goodbyes" by Carol Lynn Pearson in the mail.
I haven't been able to put it down, and I don't think my eyes have been dry for several hours.

I've already ordered one to be sent to my mom.

For anyone that is gay or knows someone who is gay, this is a MUST read!

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Searching for Certainty

My boyfriend and I had an interesting conversation today. We talked a bit about our relationship, and we both agree that this phase of our relationship is nearing an end. We discussed things like moving in together, and even marriage. It made me smile to see the subtle excitement in his eyes as we talked about some of that. But I could also see some of the nervous apprehension that I knew was in my own eyes.

There are some big steps coming up, and these type of steps require certainty. I have always been the type that hates risks. I want to know the result before I make the decision. I don't want to risk anything. And it's the same way with this. I want to know for certain that this is the guy. I don't want any doubt. But it's difficult to have that certainty when I've never dated anyone else. Heck, I've barely even had conversations with other gay guys. I know that I love him, but I want to know for certain that I want him above anyone else. But where does such certainty come from?

I know that relationships are things of risk and trust by their very nature. It doesn't matter if you're gay or straight, we all experience these things. So where does the certainty come from that motivates people to pledge their love to each other and build a life together, despite the hardships? Perhaps the certainty is already here, and the doubt I'm experiencing is simply there for its own sake. I don't know.

Our conversation shifted from there to more religious topics. We don't often talk about being gay in a religious context, so tonight was interesting. My boyfriend mentioned the fact that I had dated a girl before, and that I had experienced attraction to some small degree. He said that if we did end up together, he didn't want me to be living a lie, or deceiving myself. But that's how I felt before. And that's what I feel like when I think of having a straight relationship and living the traditional life. Like it would be trying to fit myself to others' expectations, having to stifle the parts of me that the world didn't want.

And then, once again, we come to doubt. My boyfriend and I talked about our whole situation from a religious standpoint, wondering aloud what the real solution was. Where do we fit in the grand scheme of things? What role do we play in God's plans for everything?

The more we talked the more I felt the need for revelation reaffirmed. We need answers, and only divine ones will suffice. I've heard convincing cases for and against homosexuality using the scriptures, and so it's clear that our definitive answer isn't there. And the solutions that the church offers seem to rob our lives of all purpose and joy. Yet the plan the world sets before me destroys all certainty from a religious standpoint. So what's the answer? I feel like the only thing that will suffice is the word of God directly from his lips. We need answers, and we need the ordained prophet of God to receive them. So I hope he's asking.

But we're taught that God gave us two lines to heaven. The prophet is one. And the other is the one we claim directly. One that I have neglected to use for some time. And when it comes to this issue, I seem to have always avoided the subject. I don't know that I've ever actually prayed and asked right out what he would have me do, or what his viewpoint was. And I think I'm scared to. I don't want to go back to the dark place I was before, feeling conflicted and tormented by two seemingly-incongruent parts of myself. There was no peace nor happiness there.

I know what I'd like to hear. I want to be told that there is a purpose in all this, that my attraction is part of a grand design, and that I can find happiness through a family of my own. I have heard from others who felt that God was leading them that way, but is that where he wants me?

I think what I want most is to have my own conviction reaffirmed, regardless of what that is. But the thing is, I never felt divine confirmation that my guilt-inducing, self-hating philosophy was right.

So maybe it's time I start turning my attention heavenward. Perhaps with time and effort I will be able to finally ask God what he thinks about all this. But I need to be free from any other influence, personal, cultural, emotional, etc. I need to be able to know that what I receive is from him. And to do that I need to be free from all bias, ready to receive any answer. Come to think of it, that's exactly what the church needs as well. We need to be ready to accept the answer, whatever it may be.

I take great comfort in the fact that my God looks upon my heart, and that throughout the tumultuous events of the last year he has been judging me based on my sincere desires. I am grateful for a God of mercy, who never condemns nor abandons. And I take strength in my God of change, who takes the rough man that I am and works to mold me into someone more compassionate, more forgiving, more willing to serve and to love. And when it comes down to it, I think those changes are more important to my God than my orientation.

In this situation it sometimes feels like we are alone, and that no one is willing to understand. But I know that God is. Perhaps my view of God strays from the "traditional" understanding of who he is. But I'll take my ever-present God of compassion over a fearsome God of anger any day.

On that note, I love this scripture. It has come to represent all that God has done for me. And that impact has been made simply by being there.

"...I will go before your face. I will be on your right hand and on your left, and my Spirit shall be in your hearts, and mine angels round about you, to bear you up."

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Prayers for Bobby, and for Everyone Else

I really don't know how to start this post. Words just seem to fail what I'm feeling. I hope that, in the end, they will convey what I want to say.

In the past few days I have been reading "Prayers for Bobby." It is a story all too familiar for those of us within the paradoxical society of gay Mormons. It follows the life of Bobby Griffin, a young boy raised in the seventies and eighties, and his intense internal battle between his faith and his sexuality.

This book pulls from his diaries, which were his only consolation during the intense and painful battle he fought. To read of the intense self-hatred he felt, the despair at having failed God for not changing, and the darkness he inevitably sunk into breaks my heart. This young man was in pain, searching somewhere for hope and for peace in a life that was intent on torturing him. But he never found it.

Early in the morning of August 27th, 1983, Bobby Griffin leaped from a bridge into oncoming traffic.

His story is one of tragedy. Not because of his sexual orientation, nor because of his efforts in working with it. It is a tragedy because of the misery he experienced. Because the only escape he could find was death. It is a tragedy because of the way he could never find goodness in himself, because of his intense self-judgment. Because he never learned to love the amazing person that he was. He never felt like he was enough. He never felt that he was anything of worth. And he simply couldn't fight it anymore.

I ache as I read this story. I ache because I have been there. But more so because I know that thousands of young people are going through the exact same thing. They feel rejected, hated, and worthless. They fight to find some happiness, but it escapes them. There are so many. And so many don't know where to turn for help.

I don't know how many people will read this post, but I need to send my own message to those that are fighting their own internal battles. Especially to those who are gay members of the church.

First, please know that you are not alone. There are so many of us who are in the same situation. We are willing to talk and to help.

But even if you don't believe it, God is there for you too. Part of you says, "No, he's not there. He won't be there until I can make myself straight, until I can overcome this challenge." But that's completely false. God doesn't work that way. We don't have to wait until we're perfect before God sends us help. Grace means that God sends us help now, even if we don't deserve it. So accept his grace, his unconditional love.

Know that you are not a freak. You are not a perversion of nature. You are endowed with gifts and abilities that make you a magnificent creature. You are of infinite worth. And your attraction does not change this. In fact, in my opinion, it simply increases your worth.

As I made my own way, working to understand how 'gay' and 'mormon' can coexist, the one message that I got from God without fail was that he loved me. And even when I begged for other answers and he chose not to respond, he always let me know that he loved me. And he loves you.

God does not condemn the homosexual. He looks on the heart. He sees us for who we really are and for what we truly desire. I know that he does not condemn me for my orientation, nor for my relationship. He rather wants me to improve my life and the lives of others around me. If we are constantly busy guilty ourselves about being gay, spending all our time and energy trying to change it when God never promised he would, then we miss the chances to truly make a difference in the lives of others. We miss the chance to connect with those who would break us free from our obsessions. Freedom lies in working to liberate others from their own sorrows.

Life is not an easy road. And we won't always get the answers we seek. Sometimes the path seems so overcrowded that we don't know which way to turn. But we are not alone on this path.

As a final note, I want simply to say that as I have come to accept and appreciate my orientation I have come to be truly happy. As I have come to love myself, and appreciate who I am as a human being, I have found inner peace.

But this acceptance doesn't mean I have to leave the church. It doesn't mean that I have to lead a promiscuousness or partying lifestyle. I can be a good, complete person with a happy and productive life. All of us can.

And all of us are worth it.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

A Lighter Side

I realize that my posts have been really serious lately. So I thought I'd throw something else into the mix.

I really want to go shopping.

That's it. I want to go shopping.

And I really like this coat:

And that is all.


Coming Out to a Japanese Psychologist

I'm smiling right now, because the title of this post makes it sound a lot kookier than it's really going to be. Of course, maybe my whole blog is crazy in a good way. I'm completely fine if that's the case.

Anyway, today was day two in Psychology of Gender. We talked a bit about gender stereotypes. My professor, a Japanese woman in her late thirties/early forties, brought up toys and kids. She asked the class if they would give their daughter a G.I. Joe if she asked for it. They said yes. Then she asked if they would give their son a barbie if he asked. It was obvious that there was no way they'd give the boy a barbie. I found it ironic that while the professor was trying to make a point about the irrelevance of stereotypes they were clinging to them ferociously.

Then she blew the lid off the whole issue (something I like about this lady). "What do you think? Is homosexuality caused by environment, by barbies? Or is it caused by biology?"

There were various answers. The closest to a liberal view was that biology predisposes us to certain tendencies, but environment does the rest. But most every person that commented referred to us as "those that chose this life." Ouch. Really?

I mean, come on! Why in the world would a devoted LDS boy choose to like men when all that would do is ostracize him from his church, his family, his society, his school, and his friends? Does that seem logical at all?

I wanted to say something so badly. My heart was beating so loud. And it doesn't help that I blush easily. Especially when I'm nervous, all the blood rushes to my face. But seeing as the professor had other topics to get to, I decided today was not the day to fight that battle.

I was still bothered by it, though. So I wrote my professor, the bold Japanese woman, about my thoughts. I wrote from an anonymous email address, just for security's sake. But I trust her, partially because of how easily she bursts open touchy issues, and partially because she is a registered therapist. So she'd be understanding.

I told her a bit about myself and my history, about my depression (still to come on the blog) and about coming to terms with everything. And I told her that I wanted to say something, but that I wasn't sure how best to do it. The last thing I need is for the whole class to treat me as an abomination and then turn me in to the honor code office. I knew that others had come out in this class, so I asked her thoughts. Here is her response (I love how her accent comes through!) :

Thank you so much for trusting me and talking about your journey.  I appreciate your email immensely. 
I did not stop the conversation because we are going to talk about it little more later, when we get to sexual orientation chapter.  I understand your frustration because I know that gay individuals do not choose their orientation.  How can anyone want to “choose” to be gay in such an anti-gay society.  I also know that God loves you no matter what. Whether you leave church or not, his love for you will not change at all.  It sounds like you already know that.  For that, I am grateful for your therapist helping you to realize.  I do not want you to reveal your personal experience in the classroom if you do not feel comfortable.  I understand that oppressed individuals tend not to have a voice.  But you can talk about your feeling as if your best friend is going through what you are going through when you really want to talk about it.  Or you are always welcome to visit me when you are frustrated. I would like my students of this class to be tolerant, loving, and respectful for others’ perspective.  We just started the journey.  I am praying so that I can achieve such goals.  

Again, thank you so much for your email.  I cannot give you a definitive solution.  However, what I can do is to do my best to teach students about love and respect.  As I said, this is the first week of the semester.  We will discuss more about it later.  Let me know what I can do for you.

After I wrote and thanked her, she sent a word of advice:

You must protect yourself though.  We have honor code office!! I will never say anything to anyone. I hope you will not disappointed with sticking to this class.  As I said, you are always welcome to visit me.

How amazing is that?! I felt a wave of relief flow over me as I read this email. Someone who gets it, who understands, and who wants others to understand as much as I do. It's nice to know that there is someone else in that classroom who will back me up if I need it.

I really do feel like I'll end up coming out in this class. Because I want to be able to say, "Hey! Look at me! Good Mormon boy, studying at BYU, and gay! I'm right here, I'm not wicked, and you have no clue what you're talking about!" 

I feel like as long as I don't mention dating at all, and I explain my experience rather than my plans for the future (a wonderful husband, I hope!), then the honor code office can't do anything to me, if they ever even got involved. 

But then, maybe I'm underestimating the potential of my peers here at the Y. Maybe, given the opportunity to talk to someone like me, they would see it as more of a learning experience, rather than an opportunity to shun and condemn.

This could also lead to my coming out in other ways. One of the guys who was in my district at the MTC is in that class. My coming out could spread to the other missionaries from my group, to the missionaries I served with in Europe, and even further. And I'm not sure how ready for that I am. Sure, fifty students I'm never going to see again. But my whole mission? That requires some thinking. 

Either way I feel like things are going to get better. I really want a chance to explain these things to my fellow students, and this may just be the tolerant forum I need. And considering the odds, I'm not the only one in there. (Actually, I'm pretty sure I picked him out in the first ten minutes of class. My gaydar has been going crazy lately!)

So, I'll definitely keep you posted on this class. Should be interesting. But the professor on my side is a good start!

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Warning: If You are a BYU Student, You Might Get Offended

My first class of the new semester was "The Psychology of Gender." I knew going in that this was going to be a good class, but I'm not quite sure what to expect.

The class started out with our professor saying that this class is exactly what it advertises. We are going to talk about sex and gender. "And we are going to use the words that pertain to it. I won't use them today, but if you stay, I will be using them."

Wow. Really? We're twenty-something year old college students at a university that is expected to be more mature than the rest and we can't handle "penis" or "vagina"? But whatever.

Anyway, she continued on and talked about how sex is such an important issue to talk about, and that because we don't talk about it so much, we have a whole new breed of problems. Newlywed students have come to her as clients because the new wife has such a disposition against sex that she won't make love to her husband. (One more reason being gay trumps being straight. You both know where you stand on sex: yes).

And all in all, sex and gender are just such a huge part of our lives that we can't ignore them, as is the trend in the white-bread mormon world.

I'm sure it's going to be one hell of a class. We are going to spend several weeks discussing homosexuality in one way or another. We are even going to hear from a therapist from the counseling center and a director of Evergreen. (Not sure I'm going to agree with the Evergreen guy, but at least it's going to be talked about)

But I honestly wonder how long I'm going to be able to stay in the closet in this class. Finally there is a forum where these things can be discussed openly and honestly. And I know, I just know, some little mormon girl is going to make some ignorant comment, and it'll be the last straw. I just don't know how to toe the line between out of the closet and expel-able.

But these are things that need to be said, especially to the BYU community.

At the same time, I'm really looking forward to leaving this place. I'm tired of hiding.

Sick of the Ignorance

This morning I was at work in one of the many departments at BYU. As I was attempting to forge my way through the ever building list of tasks before me I overheard a conversation between two of the female faculty members. My ears pricked up a bit when I heard the phrase "that lifestyle," but seeing as it could relate to anything, I let it slide and continued on.

But by the time I heard "Prop 8" thrown into the conversation I knew what was going on.

"I really do believe it's a choice," I heard next. And of all people it was my favorite professor (the democrat who hates utah valley) that said it. The two then discussed the woman who had, apparently, come out to one of them. A story was then told of one woman who had remarked "I could have had anyone I wanted. I had lots of offers from women. But I chose to stay chaste." Something that later led to a heterosexual marriage much later in life.

But it was said in a way that was to suggest that anyone can get that, anyone can recover from the temporary illness of homosexuality, as long as they stay righteous enough, long enough.

My fellow coworker was also slightly disturbed by it. "That is such an awkward conversation," she said to me. At least someone has some decency here.

But the thing that frustrated me the most is that I couldn't say anything. I couldn't come back at all. I wanted so badly to walk up to them and ask "How many gay members have you talked to about their experience?" And when an extremely low number was said, I would respond "Well, here I am. What questions do you have?"

I want to tell them that regardless of what mormon gossip and fox news tell them, they have no idea what we go through. And their opinions, based solely on what they hear and see and do, have absolutely no basis on any real data or life experience. And so often any sincerity put forth by one of us is cast off as weakness or wickedness. We either couldn't be righteous enough long enough, or loved sin too much to try.

But really, how dare you? How dare you think that you are so omniscient that you know the reality of the lives of others! How dare you assume that just because it's not evident in your life, it isn't very much a part of someone else's! How dare you assume that just because someone isn't living as you see fit that they are sick, or weak, or an abomination!

I am not weak. I am not wicked. I am a magnificent creature with skills and abilities and marvelous experiences that others will never have. And you know what? I am grateful that I'm gay. I'm grateful that I have learned to be who and what I am, that I have the gifts and talents that so often accompany this orientation. And I am grateful to be counted among the company who have been sailing the seas of life with no compass, no map, and only the light of God shining from above to guide their way.

And when I can't be kicked out of school for it, I will say so!

Monday, January 3, 2011


Today I finally got to make the trip to the airport.

It's been over two weeks, and lots has happened since I dropped my boyfriend off at the airport. I have found new expression on this blog. I have met a group of people that I felt comfortable with and who helped me to expressed long repressed emotions. And I am beginning to feel the solidity of my self-confidence and security.

I spoke with my therapist for just a moment today, and I told her everything that had happened over the last couple weeks. And I told her how I have been feeling personally. Words fail to describe how I was feeling, first after having such a big week personally, and then after just having reunited with my boyfriend. The only thing I can think of is that I felt complete. Whole. And truly happy.

I spent the day with my boyfriend. This afternoon we took a nap together. I haven't slept so well in the past two weeks. There's just something about feeling the one you love close by that enables you to fully relax. It's as if I was finally able to sleep after a long bout of insomnia.

I also love the small things that happen almost without notice while you sleep. I still smile when I think of the day we woke up from a nap, laying side by side, hands clasped between us. He nuzzled his nose into my neck and said "This is so nice. Why haven't we done this before?" I smiled. "We have sweetie. We do it a lot in the middle of the night."

This afternoon I woke up just a bit, just barely enough to gain consciousness. I felt him close, turned and kissed his cheek. And then I got a sleep kiss from him.

And then I got to wake up to those eyes. :)

Anyway, I'll stop carrying on. Although this blog is for me, I realize that I should keep it from getting too cheesey, for others' sake.

As a last note, we went to see Black Swan tonight. It was beautiful, but dark. And I feel there's more than meets the eye. So I'll ponder it over the next day, and write a bit about it later.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Into the West: A Response From a Baby Blogger

As of late there has been a substantial number of bloggers who have commented on the changing nature of the MoHo blog world. Such posts are BLB's here where he explains the evolution of bloggers over the last few years, Scott's here where he expresses his own growing divide from the situation of the newer bloggers, and David's here where he responds to Scott's post.

Seeing as I am a relatively new blogger in the MoHo world, I felt I would offer my own personal response to all these things.

Now, the psychologist in me looks at my initial reaction (yeah, I can analyze myself too) and realizes that I don't like to be thought of as young, inexperienced, or immature. But the fact is that in many ways I am. And I can accept that. But I also feel that I have my own unique viewpoint to offer the world. And the process of getting these things out has done wonderful things for me.

But I also cannot ignore the understanding that comes when I look from my "ancestral bloggers'" point of view. Many of them have already trodden the path I am now on. They have studied and researched and and soul-searched. They have fought their own battles, internally as well as in the world around them. And now they are finally at peace with everything. They have come to the conclusions they needed, conclusions that I, to some degree or another, am still working toward. And now, as veterans of their own personal wars, they want to hang up their battle armor and simply enjoy life. Looking at others' battles, or going back to continue fighting, just doesn't make as much sense. Not to mention it's exhausting.

That is one point on which I am beginning to be able to relate with my elder bloggers. I'm starting to get tired of the conflict, the anxiety, and the pressure. I look at people who are on the further end of this path, people like the wonderful married couple that I met at the MoHo party Friday night, and I envy them. They've reached a state of peace. Of joy. They've reached that place of contentment and satisfaction where they can enjoy the rewards of their efforts.

It reminds me of the song "Into the West" from the Lord of the Rings.

Of course there are more battles to fight. But those battles are not within themselves. And so the hardest part is done.

This need to move on is natural, and it is necessary for all of us at one point. And so to all of those who find themselves at this point, I find no criticism in your desires and choices.

And I want to extend a massive thank you to all of those people who have sent their stories into the cloud so that people like me could find them, and by reading the record of others, find our own way. Your blogs are vital to people like me and all the countless others who will find your long-ended blogs in the future.

I cannot help but feel a tinge of longing as I think of where they are. I have made incredible progress in the last year, and have finally reached the "acceptance" phase of my grieving period. But I still have much to do in terms of settling into this new stage, as well as creating the life that this new phase opens up to me. And that will take time and effort.

But there are battles to be fought. There are others out there, hidden and searching for answers. So as long as there is space in the cloud for my words, I will continue to write them.

But as I go on I look forward to that day when I can lay down my own blog, finally complete and at rest.

Saturday, January 1, 2011


So, this is probably going to be a pretty disjointed post, mostly because I have no idea where I'm going with it. I just know that I want to write something.

I went to that party last night and it's all I keep thinking about. I want to go again so badly, just to meet people and to feel part of a community again. I have the same urge to over indulge that you get when you haven't eaten in a long time, and then a feast is set before you. You want to eat everything, and often do. I think the technical term is binging. I want to binge on socializing. Haha!

I'm worried, though, that when I get back to Provo I won't have the opportunity. I squirm at the thought of having to go back into that suffocating disguise and live my life as a closeted gay. I feel like the culture of Utah county is crushing me. Not good when I have another year and a half.

I've also been thinking a lot today about my future, and where I want to be. I was asked last night where I see myself at the end of everything, which is something that I think every gay or lesbian spends considerable time thinking about, simply because our future isn't conveniently set up with scaffolding, waiting for us to fill in the details. We're creating something of a completely different sort, and previous blueprints just won't do.

And honestly, this is something that has come up on its own accord in the last couple weeks. The end of December marked a full ten months since I've been seeing a therapist, and because of those meetings I feel better than I have ever felt in my life. I am happy, I like myself, and I am at peace with my sexuality. Except for this new little thought that is coming in.

It's almost as if because I'm finally becoming happy and functional that part of me feels obligated to become straight. As if being gay only comes if you're an emotional mess and screwed up. I don't feel the same urges to party it up like I used to. I feel very content, and I guess some part of me thinks that means I have to be straight. But I don't want to be. And the attraction hasn't changed, that's for sure. In all reality I want to be a functional and happy gay man. Someone confident about himself, someone supportive of others, and someone that can find joy and happiness regardless of the world around him.

Today my family and I went to see the musical "Savior of the World" at the conference center. It was absolutely beautiful. And of course, I got emotional throughout it. But as I thought through this question, the one about my orientation now that I'm finally starting to be able to stand on my own two feet, I didn't feel like I was being urged to switch teams. I actually felt like I was heading in the right direction. I feel like this part of me is going to play a huge role in my life. And I feel like the better I know and understand it, the more I will be able to help other people.

So I hope that as I focus on that aspect of this, the urge to try and change something that I never could change before will subside. Because why should I have to change myself now that I actually like myself, and now that I am finding the type of people that I feel at home with? It's just not logical, nor do I want it.

In fact, I would like to be more social. Curse Provo!

New Year and New Friends

I realize that it's incredibly late, and that this will make the fourth post in two days, but I really wanted to get my thoughts down before I went to bed.

Tonight I went to my first MoHo party. And I have to admit, as I drove there I was pretty anxious. I had never met anyone there in person. I had talked to a few through blogs, but that was it. But I had a good feeling that I could trust these people and I decided to give it a shot.

Right as I walked in I was welcomed and brought into a conversation. No one left me on the side to figure things out on my own. People smiled, introduced themselves, and asked questions about me, trying to get to know me better. (I'm still trying to figure out how Rob knew who I was, despite my alias!) While I walked in feeling nervous and reserved, in just a few minutes I felt completely comfortable. At one point I even had a small group listening to my own life story. It meant a lot to know that these people were interested in me and what I had to say, and it made me feel like part of the group that much faster. So to all of you, thanks. :)

Even though this is not the first occasion that I've spent time with other gay people, I found myself marveling at one point at how completely comfortable I was in that situation, and how topics that I'm normally accustomed to hiding from other people felt normal and acceptable. It was like taking a breath of fresh air after being underwater for a long time.

It also made me realize how much I can't wait to get out of Provo. Haha!

I loved the general goodness in everyone that was there. Everyone at the party was at a different point regarding their relationship with the church. But each of us is trying to be a good person, and to maintain a relationship with God. I was very touched when one man told me as he said goodbye "When it comes to the church, don't worry too much about it. What really matters is your relationship with the Savior." Amen.

Over all it was a wonderful night. I got to eat great food (whoever made the quiche is my idol!), discuss things that are important to me, and laugh with a great group of people.

Just as a last thought, it occurred to me as I drove home how absolutely refreshed I felt. How emotionally healthy I felt. I was able to be in a safe situation with people who accepted and liked me. It was so cleansing.

So to any of you who are struggling with your sexuality and don't know what to do about it, the first thing I would suggest is to find someone who accepts you completely, and talk about it. It will save your sanity. Tonight certainly helped mine!

Happy 2011 everyone!!!