A Follow Up To My Last Post

I just wrote the letter for the book about my dad.  I’m glad I did.

The last post conveyed very true and real feelings.  So does the letter I wrote.  I think I needed to get the negative out in order to find the positive.  Here is what I wrote:

I am the eagle, I live in high country
In rocky cathedrals that reach to the sky
I am the hawk and there’s blood on my feathers
But time is still turning they soon will be dry
And all of those who see me, all who believe in me
Share in the freedom I feel when I fly

Come dance with the west wind and touch on the mountain tops
Sail o’er the canyons and up to the stars
And reach for the heavens and hope for the future
And all that we can be and not what we are

This song reminds me of when I got my Eagle Scout Award, and you and Ed sang this.  I’ve loved this song since the first time I heard it.  Hearing you sing it for me was really amazing.  I feel like I can relate to the lyrics well and they describe a lot of how I feel.  I think you recognize that.  I’ve always felt like you would support me in whatever decisions I make, and I’m so grateful for that.  You’ve done so much to guide me and help me become who I am.  I am a strong, independent, and compassionate man.

You’ve taught me that when there is blood on my feathers, that time is still turning and they soon will be dry.  Life has a lot to throw at us, but we can be strong and move forward anyway.

From you, I’ve learned to reach for the heavens, hope for the future, and to be all I can be.  I can overcome obstacles and reach my greatest potential.

I’m so grateful for all that you’ve taught me.  Because of you, I know how to control myself better, to stand up for what is right, and to be more loving.  I’m grateful for the countless fathers blessings and support you’ve given me when making hard decisions or going through hard times.

I love you, Dad!

Dad

My mom came up with an idea to make a book for my dad and for all of us.  Our assignment is to write a letter to him and then she’ll put all these together with some pictures and have it bound and published.  For us.

I like the idea, but when my mom asked me to write a letter to my dad, I felt kind of anxious.

There are a lot of theories out there about how homosexuality is caused.  One of them includes having a distant relationship with your dad.  I don’t think the distance between my dad and I caused my homosexuality, but I do think it probably contributed to it somewhat.

I’m having a really hard time putting words on paper.  I don’t know what to tell him.  Sure, I love him.  Of course I do.  I don’t hate him at all, actually.  We just have a very….different?  Unique?  Uncomfortable?  relationship.

I was surprised with how I reacted while my dad was in the hospital.  I never thought I would experience such an emotional response as I did.  A close MoHo friend of mine had his dad pass away recently.  As I sat in the funeral, I thought a lot about how close my dad came to dying and how hard that was for me.  If I had to give a talk at my dads funeral, I don’t know what I would say.

My dad and I have very different personalities.  He is very organized.  He is very reserved.  He is pretty content in doing what he has always done.  He likes a calm, peaceful life.

I, on the other hand, am very messy and unorganized.  I like to do whatever is on my mind in the moment.  I don’t think a lot of my actions through.  I’m outgoing.  I have a hard time staying in one place for a long time.  I plan to travel a lot, have many different jobs, and live an exciting life.

I don’t want to talk negatively about my dad.  I do want to write about my perception of our relationship, though, which has some negative aspects.

I’ve always felt distanced from him.  I was the rowdy, out of control kid in the family.  I think my dad didn’t understand my creativity and weirdness.  He is a very talented musician, as are most of my family members.  My older sister has an amazing voice, and my dad is an amazing pianist.  They performed together a lot.  I was occasionally asked to perform a song or two with them.  I would watch them practice for hours.  I enjoyed being with them, but felt like the enjoyment wasn’t always mutual because I was noisy or distracting.  I would get jealous of the relationship he had with my older sister. I wanted to feel that connection to my dad that she did.  But it didn’t ever really happen.

My dad became the bishop, and I became one of those bishops kids…   You know, the ones that get suspended from school and are a pain in the butt.  That created a larger distance between us.  I wasn’t really close to any family members at this time.  When I finally came out of that stage, I grew close to my mom and my older sister.  I felt uncomfortable around my dad, and I don’t know why.  It might be because I started realizing the anxieties I felt surrounding my relationships with men, but I don’t know.  There are only two times I can remember feeling a connection with him.  One was when I was 16 and I decided I wanted to fix up an old car.  He helped me to get it running.  I often felt frustrated with him because we communicate very differently, but I enjoyed being able to spend time with him.  The other was when I was 18, and I got my Eagle Scout award.  He and another musician in the ward who had a son getting his Eagle performed a favorite song of mine:  The Eagle and The Hawk by John Denver.  It was really cool to see him take the time to put that together for me.  My sister wrote about her memories of it here.

I can only remember a few times he has hugged me.  When I got my Eagle, when I left on my mission, and when I got home.  Those are the only ones I can remember.  And I actually only remember that he hugged me when I got home.  I just assume he hugged me when I got my Eagle and when I left on my mission.

And now I sit here, crying, because I don’t know what to make of my relationship with my dad.  I know that he loves me, and I love him.  I just wish things could be different.  I wish that we could really let each other know that we love each other.  If I could go back and change him and me and our relationship early on, I would.  I don’t want to change it now because that seems awkward and uncomfortable, and I don’t want to deal with that.  I would rather just keep things how they are.

I love my dad.  I know our relationship is far from perfect, and maybe even sucks sometimes, but I still love him and I know he loves me.  I’m so grateful for all the time he has spent working so our family can have a good life.  I’m grateful for the blessings he’s given me and for the peaceful attitude he has brought into our home.  I’m grateful that he helped shape me into who I am.

Now if I can just figure out how to turn that last paragraph into a letter.

A New Pair of Glasses

I got a new pair of glasses today.  I have never worn glasses, and for most of my life, I had near perfect vision.  It’s kind of amazing, actually, that I didn’t get glasses until now.  Most of my family members had to get glasses in their childhood, but somehow I lasted until I was 24.  I’m proud of myself for being the last member of my family to get glasses.

Those of you that wear glasses can probably understand how it felt to realize that your eyesight wasn’t as good as you had thought.  I was amazed to see things suddenly become more clear and defined as the doctor put different lenses in front of my eyes.  Throughout the night, I would look at things without my glasses, and then with them to see the difference.  I could see things so clearly.

I started to wonder, “How did I not know that my eyesight was getting bad?”  It was so obvious!  I had been spending months squinting; I couldn’t see the lines in the road; the fine details in everything were being left out.  Even when I was squinting, I was telling myself that I just wasn’t trying hard enough to focus.

With my glasses on now (which make me look quite incredible, I must say), it is funny to look back and see how I overlooked things and talked myself into believing that I wasn’t losing my once perfect eyesight.

I thought about this tonight, and how it relates to my coming to terms with homosexuality.  It is interesting to look back now and kind of laugh at myself because of how obvious it was.  The fact that I hated dating after my mission; that I would tell myself what girls I had crushes on instead of actually having a crush occur naturally; that I was so intrigued by anything having to do with the “gay community”.  Even when I was starting to come to terms with my homosexuality, I would tell myself that if I just had enough faith, I could be straight.

Now that I am at a better place with it all, I am so happy.  I love who I am – even some of the quirks that I have.

I Think I’m Gay. Now What? (Mormon Edition)

So, you think you might be gay and you are a member of the LDS church (or a member of any faith that discourages homosexuality).  What do you do now?

I remember asking myself that question.  I don’t want to claim to have all the answers, but I would like to write about what I have learned and might be of benefit.  Here is what I found:

  • “There is nothing wrong with you. … You are not sick, and you are not wrong, and God does not hate you,” (Harvey Milk).  These are things you absolutely must realize.  Just because you are attracted to people of your same gender does not mean that you are sick or wrong or that God hates you.  It doesn’t mean that you are evil, that you don’t have enough faith, or that your testimony isn’t strong enough.  None of that is true.  Everyone has their own trials.  Some people are born with debilitating illness, while others seem to have constant road blocks.  No matter how hard we try to hide our problems, we all have them, and as Elder Packer has said, “…there is more equality in this testing than sometimes we suspect” (Boyd K. Packer, “The Choice,” Ensign, Nov 1980, 20).
  • You are not alone.  There thousands of members of the church that feel attracted to their own gender.  One of the most important realizations I made was that I was not alone.  I was so relieved when I figured this out.  When I made this realization, I was able to figure out that I could remain active in the church if I desired to do so and that I wouldn’t be excommunicated for having a problem.  Some great ways to find people who want to keep their connections with the church are through North Star, Evergreen, and LDS Family Services.
  • Find some way to express yourself in writing in an anonymous/semi-anonymous way that will allow you to receive feedback from others.  There are probably several ways to do this, but the two best ways I have to do this is through blogging or North Star discussions.  Here are some differences between the two:
  • Blogging:  When you have a blog, you are able to write whatever you want.  There are no rules or boundaries that you have to worry about.  If you want to rant and rave about your frustrations just to get them out, you can.  With a blog, you can control comments.  If you don’t want any comments on a certain post (or any posts at all), you can turn that off.  If you want to moderate comments, you can do that.  If you want to be able to post something and then take it down you can.  What happens on your blog is completely up to you.  The problem (or maybe a benefit) with blogging is that you might not have anyone read what you write.  If you are looking for feedback, blogging makes that difficult until you have built a following (sounds kind of cultish, huh?).  The best way to do that is to comment on other blogs and to let Abelard Enigma know that you have a blog so that he can post it in the MoHo Directory.
  • North Star:  North Star is great because you can address multiple forums (young adults, men, women, parents, etc.) on the topic of homosexuality in the church.  Because North Star is a support group, there are certain guidelines that must be met when writing.  These guidelines help to create a safe environment.  You’ll be able to get a lot of feedback from people that are trying to stay close to the church (where blogging opens you up to the entire world).
  • I personally recommend doing both, but the important thing is to do what feels right for you.

    • Meet other people.  Meeting others will allow you to deepen the realization that you aren’t alone.  Meeting others might feel a little bit risky.  Believe me, I felt the same way.  Why would I want to meet other guys that might be attracted to me when I’m trying to not act on my homosexuality?  Doing so will help you to be able to talk to people that know what you are going through.  Being completely understood is priceless.  There are some really great ways to meet people such as Evergreen/LDS Family Services, Matis Firesides, Logansides, and other gatherings.  These programs are set up to provide a safe atmosphere in which people can meet and talk about what they are going through.  ***A WORD OF WARNING*** I mentioned that meeting people might be risky, and I will confess that it is.  It is very low risk, in my opinion, but there is still the risk that you might meet someone that you are attracted to and they are attracted to you, and that you will want to pursue some kind of relationship.  That risk is there.  Recognize it and move on.  Meeting people will be one of the best things you can ever do for yourself.  (I started by attending a support group at LDS Family Services and then attended the Matis Fireside, which I felt was a good way to transition into things because I was able to go to the fireside with friends instead of going by myself).
    • Decide who you will tell about your attractions.  This is something that is a completely individual choice.  I think it is important to tell at least one straight person.  This is important so that you can have someone who doesn’t understand what you are going through give you feedback from another angle than those that understand your struggle.

    I also think it is important to tell your parents.  I know that there are situations in which one might not feel comfortable telling their parents.  I know of one guy that doesn’t want to tell his parents, and after hearing their background, I think I quite agree with him.  I think it would be too much for them.  That being said, I think almost all parents will try to be understanding and at least deserve to know.  Telling your parents will result in one of three outcomes:

    • They will support you in whatever decision you make.  This is the response I got.  My parents encourage me to remain with the church, but told me that if I were to ever bring a boy home with me, they would welcome him as they would anyone else.  This outcome is rare, but it does happen.
    • They will be loving and understanding, and will express their strong desire to have you remain associated with the church.  They may encourage you to continue to date members of the opposite gender.  They will always love you, but if you choose to act on your attraction to the same gender, you will have to face their consequences (which could range from severe disappointment and strain on the relationship to being kicked out of the family).  This, I believe, is the most common reaction.
    • They will be upset.  This doesn’t happen often, but it does happen.  Some parents will think you are choosing to be attracted to your same gender.  Some will think that you thinking you are gay means that you will become a pedophile, a drag queen, and/or a slut.

    Telling your parents you are gay will be hard for them.  No parent wants to hear that their child is gay.  It probably won’t be the end of the world to them though.  In my experience, I have found that most people are very understanding.  They are willing to admit that they don’t know much about homosexuality or what it is like to experience it, but they will try to be understanding.  Some people may feel like they should treat you different, but if you treat them the same as you always have, they will usually treat you the same.  I have also found that it is easier to talk about it with them if you can joke about it.

    When deciding who to tell, I recommend starting off with someone that you know will respond in a positive way.  My first friend I told had been home from her mission for about 8 months when I told her.  She was one of my best friends in high school and we had been through a lot together.  She came home from her mission early because she had a parasite that was making her incredibly sick.  After a week of being home, she told me that she had been struggling with depression for the last few years and had resorted to cutting and was occasionally suicidal.  I, along with her parents, were the only people that knew what was going on.  She was later admitted to the psychiatric ward of a hospital and was able to receive treatment that helped her more than any medicine could.  I knew that I could tell her of my attractions because she had trusted me with such a big secret.  She responded so well and I’m so grateful that I told her.  She and her husband have been extremely supportive of me and I have been able to turn to them many times for help.  Sharing such an intimate secret caused our relationship to deepen and to grow, and I now trust her more than almost anyone.

    • Do what is right for you.  Throughout the whole process of coming to terms with your homosexuality, you need to always follow what you feel will be best for you.  I will never tell anyone would they should or shouldn’t do.  I learned this lesson early on.  There was a boy that kept a blog.  It was really depressing to read.  He talked about how he hated himself and how he thought about killing himself, and it was all because he felt attracted to his same gender.  He finally decided to start dating guys.  When he got into a serious relationship, he was happier than he had been in his entire life.  He was finally able to love himself.  That is what worked for him.  It may not be what is right for you, and what is right for you may not have been right for him.  Everyone needs to be able to do what is best for them, and we are to leave the judgment to God.

    Who I’ve Become

    So, the ‘P’ button and the ‘M’ button don’t really work very well (which is funny because P&M are such commonly used letters in MoHo Writings….. Not that I’m trying to say something about P&M, but just so you know, if there is a missing ‘P’ or ‘M’, that is why).

    ———————————————

    I “came out” a little over a year ago.

    One year ago, few people would have thought I was gay.  I dressed just like every other guy, spoke the same way every other guy does, and did things that every other guy would do – at least, on the surface.  I still sat at home, secretly watching “What Not To Wear”.

    When I was still in the mind frame that told me I was evil because I’m attracted to guys, I thought I would eventually become “one of those gays”.  You know, the ones that march around in colorful women’s clothing and have sex with every man they find.

    I also thought that all gays were pedophiles, so I would eventually become one as well.  I think I was taught those two stereotypes for most of my life, so I thought that is what I would become.

    Thank goodness I have since realized that just because I am attracted to men does NOT mean I have to be “one of those gays” or a pedophile.

    Right after I came out, I had a dream that I was talking with a lisp.  I woke up freaking out, because I don’t talk with a lisp – yet another thing I thought I would eventually do as a gay man.

    After a little while, I began to figure out that I don’t have to live up to those stereotypes I had built up in my mind.  I don’t want to.  I just want to be me.

    I also realized that there are some parts of myself that I had been keeping in because I thought that if I allowed myself to do those things, people would make some assumptions about me that I didn’t want them to make.  Now that I have accepted the fact that I am attracted to men and I’m being pretty open about it, I’ve allowed myself to let those parts of me come out.  For example, I try to dress better, and a well dressed man obviously means he is gay, right?  haha, just kidding….but really.

    I’m not afraid to admit that I watch shows like “What Not To Wear”, or “Project Runway”.  I go shopping more than I used to.  I cook more than I used to.

    These are all little things that I wouldn’t necessarily say are stereotypically gay, but these are things that I tried to avoid when I was younger so that people wouldn’t think I was gay.  People have mentioned to me that they have noticed the change, and some have even said that I have become more gay than I was a year ago.  I suppose they might be right, and in some ways it is true.  Really though, I think it has always been there – the desire to dress well, to cook, to sew, to watch the gay TV shows – but I never felt comfortable with letting myself do those things.  Now that I have nothing to hide, I do those things.  Some friends think it is weird.  My family usually just laughs at me (in a nice way, of course) when I come home with new clothes or when I want to watch “Project Runway”, but I think I am finally letting myself do things that I have always wanted to do but felt like I shouldn’t.  I’m being more real with who I am, and I like it.

    Joy

    I have a few things that i want to write about and hopefully I will over the next few days, but for right now I feel the need to write about this:

    Although I try to optimistic and realistic, there is definitely a part of me that sees the negative in things, and I sometimes dwell on those things.  This has been happening a lot lately and I feel like it would do me some good to list things that I am thankful for, things that bring me joy, or just things that I love.

    1. Independent and/or foreign films – I love these because I think the cinematography is beautiful.  These films often make me think about life and where I am in a particular area in my life. They are amazing tools that give me a lot of self reflection.
    2. Music – I know this is a broad subject, but I love all kinds of music.  The top two kinds of music that I love, though, are choral music and independent music.  Choral music is absolutely astounding and beautiful to me.  I am particularly fond of Eric Whitacre.  I found his music when I was in the 8th grade, and it blew me away.  When I was in high school, I sang a few of his songs and I absolutely loved it.  Anyone who is familiar with him will probably agree.  He writes music that illustrates the words of the song.  For example, in the song Cloudburst, the choir sings about a rainstorm, and the music sounds like a rainstorm.  In Leonardo Dreams of His Flying Machine, the choir sings about Da Vinci inventing a “flying machine”, and the end of the song sounds like flying.  It is incredible.  As far as Indie music goes, I just love it because of its uniqueness and it is something new to listen to.
    3. Hot Chocolate and Herbal Tea – I love hot things, especially when it is drinkable.  Hot chocolate is something that my family loves and we drink tons of it.  When I was in high school, I would often invite friends over and my mom would make us all a cup of hot chocolate.  Right after I got home from my mission, our family would try a new hot chocolate recipe every Monday night.  I found my favorite recipe, and it turns out that I love hot chocolate the most when it is rich and thick.  I love tea, and I love having tea parties.  I just think it is fantastic.
    4. Mystery Science Theather 3000 – yes, yes….I know.  I’m a nerd.  But MS3K is probably one of the funniest things I have ever seen.  I love all of them, especially some of the shorts.  I now have a hard time watching movies without making side comments because of it though.  Here are some of my favorite shorts:  Body Care and Grooming, A Date With Your Family, and Mr. B Natural (part 1 and Part 2).
    5. Thanksgiving – it’s just the best holiday.  That is all.
    6. Helping people – I learned that I really love to help people while I was on my mission, and I plan to have a career that revolves around helping people.

    Well, I think that is all that I have for now.  I may update this later today, but for, I think it is good.

    I Need A Break

    I’ve had a lot going on lately – I feel like too much.  My dad is still really sick.  His good days consist of not getting worse, and his bad days involve complications and extreme discomfort.  My mom started a blog to update people as to what is going on with my dad, and if you want to read it here, you can.  With my dad being sick and my mom being in Salt Lake with him, I have been the guy in charge at home, which is pretty stressful.  My brother is handicapped and taking care of him is a huge job by itself.  On top of that, I have to take care of the house and the rest of the people that live here.  Luckilly, my parents ward is great and have been very helpful.  Last of all (yes, I just want sympathy so I am going to ramble on about everything I have to do), I have a few HUGE projects due within the next week or so and I’m trying to work my butt off to get those done.  It is a pain, but I do like most of my homework.

    Gay Mormon Boy posted about this website that makes artwork out of common words from your website so I decided to give it a try.  It’s pretty cool!  Here is what I came up with.

    I like that Gay, Mormon, and Church are the prominent words in there.  I guess that is what this blog is about, isn’t it?

    Wordle: Hidden In The Light