Been A Long Time

It’s been a while since I posted.  There are a lot of reasons for this, but the major two are that I’ve been so busy lately and that I haven’t felt like I have anything else to add to this blog.  I want to keep writing, but I don’t know what to write anymore.

A lot has happened in the last few months.  I moved out of my parents house (for good this time) into this really nice condo with three other guys.  One was a mission companion that knows I’m gay, and the other two I didn’t know.  I told one of them that I was gay, and had a lot of interesting conversations about it.  I agreed with some of what he said, but not always.

Shortly after I told him, he sold the condo and moved to Vegas, so the other two roommates and I found another place to live.  It isn’t as nice as the other one, but it’s still pretty good.  I’ve also been buying a lot of new furniture and I’m really happy about it.  It’s nice to feel so independent.  I came out to my other roommate (on April Fools Day….oops), and he is really cool about it.  We talk a lot about my thoughts and feelings on the matter, and he is generally understanding.  The only time I felt frustrated with it was when he asked me, “So when did you decide to be gay?”.   Yeah…it was funny…ish.  He talks to me about his girl problems and I try to give him advice.  It’s so great to be totally honest with the people I live with.

I’m working a lot, but it’s good.  I sometimes get frustrated with certain aspects of my job, but I love the people I work for.  They totally make it worth it.

I’m starting to figure out my life and where I’m going to go with school and stuff.  It’s good, but also very daunting.  I’ve started looking into grad schools, and that is intense.  I don’t feel like I’m ready to do it, but I need to.  As for right now, I’m looking at the University of Utah and a school in Indiana.  I just got started, so I’m sure there is a lot to do.  Yay.

I’m surviving.  And yes, sometimes it feels like just that.  Survival.  But I am surviving, and I think I’m finally getting to a place where I can stop swimming and start wading – for a few months anyway.

One last thing – those who are interested or who had been following information about my dad and when he got sick, here is an article published by The Deseret News that features his struggle with the Swine Flu (complete with pictures!).

To The Person Who Found my Blog by Searching For: “If I’m a Mormon, Do I Have to Stop Being Friends with my Gay Best Friend?”

Whew!  That was a really long title!

So, as you can tell from the title, someone found my blog by doing a search for “If I’m a a Mormon, do I have to stop being friends with my gay best friend?”.  I hope whoever searched for that will read this, because it is written for them.

The Answer:  No.

I kind of wanted to just stop right there, but I feel like there needs to be an explanation too.

Of course, the LDS church views same-sex relationships as wrong, and because of that, many members of the church view any form of homosexuality as evil or gross.  Because we are expected to “avoid the very appearance of evil”, many members of the church think they should reject any thing or person that has the appearance of evil….like a gay person.

I had this same mindset when I got home from my mission.  Two of my best friends had married each other in the temple, and after two years of marriage, they decided to divorce because she had been cheating on him.  She started drinking and all kinds of other things.  She wanted to hang out with me a lot, but I resisted because I felt that I needed to avoid the very appearance of evil.  I had really mixed thoughts.  I wondered what people would think about me if they saw me running around with a divorcee that drinks and doesn’t go to church anymore.  I also wondered what Jesus might do in this situation.  My Mormon instinct to “avoid the very appearance of evil” told me to not hang out with her.  My thoughts what Jesus would do told me that she was in a really hard place and to lose her best friend like that would be devastating.  I chose to leave her, and in doing so, I wrote her an email telling her that I didn’t feel comfortable around her and that I needed to surround myself with good and uplifting things.  She was devastated.  I was the friend that had stuck around the longest, and now I had given up on her.  She started doing things that she probably wouldn’t have done otherwise.

After a lot of thinking and missing her, I decided that I was wrong, and that I needed to be her friend.  I didn’t care what choices she was making.  She was still one of my best friends, and I wanted to be there for her no matter what she did.

You’re gay best friend is still your best friend, and he happens to be gay.  Stick with him.  It will only strengthen your relationship.

Goals

I decided that I wanted to list a few of my life goals on here.  These are just the ones that come to mind right now, and I’m sure I’ll add on to this list later.

1.  Hike the Appalachian Trail

2.  Live in Finca Bellavista, Costa Rica

3.  Live in a contemporary, minimalist house/apartment

4.  Sell some of my artwork

5.  Finish writing, publish, and conduct a piece of choral music comparable to something Eric Whitacre might write.

6.  Co-own a tea room/bakery with K

7.  Start a sustainable community with K

8.  Write and publish a book

9.  Go to a Sufjan Stevens concert

You Don’t Know Me At All!

Okay, so maybe that was a dramatic title.  It comes from a song by Ben Folds.  That is all.

I’ve started seeing a therapist.  Not to change my orientation or anything like that.  It is more to figure out who I am, to work on depression, and to manage my anxiety and panic attacks I’ve been having in church.  It’s been good for me, but I think the thing I get out of it the most are the realizations I’m making while talking about what I’m feeling.

Today I made a few realizations.  Actually, one was re-realizing that I feel like I don’t fit in anywhere, but that is something I’ve felt my whole life and I’ve already talked about that on this blog.  What I realized today is that I feel like a lot of people have misconceptions of who I am.  This is everyone from my friends and family all the way to anyone who reads this blog and has no idea who I am.  I don’t think I even know who I am.  I think that K and J are the two people that have the best ideas of who I am and what I really think and feel.

Some people think all I talk about is homosexuality.  It is a prominent subject, I’ll admit that, but it isn’t all I talk about or think about.  I have other parts of my life.  Some people think I am a super-mormon guy who thinks this or that.  I’m not.  Some people think I am dating and “living the lifestyle”, as some may put it.  I’m not.

I’m me, and just me.  I don’t fit any stereotypes.  I am an independent man with thoughts of my own.  You probably don’t agree with my thoughts, but that’s okay.  I like what I think, and I base my beliefs on my own personal thoughts.

Just saying.

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.