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Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Transparency

The recent disclosures on Wikileaks about the US State Department internal communications should be a reminder to all organizations that there really are no secrets anymore.  

So as I think about that event in relation to the LDS Church I wonder if its time for the Church to rethink its communications.  The Church culture is of a single and highly over simplified version of the gospel and church history.  This is fostered by a Correlation Department that wants to keep the message contained in a small box that can be distilled down to convenient sound bites.  As a result, much of what is communicated by the Church to its members is hermetically sealed and pre-packaged lessons that portray unrealistic expectations for a world that does not exist.


As a church we claim to embrace truth and state that we believe in being honest but by omission we are sometimes lairs.  In my opinion, this creates a culture that reinforces "faking it" and putting on the "correct" appearance.  Are we slowly moving toward the very state that prophets have warned against where every person must walk and talk and look the same?


To me this seems pretty ironic for an organization that proclaims  "The truth of God will go forth boldly, nobly, and independent ... till the purposes of God shall be accomplished, and the Great Jehovah shall say the work is done."  

I know a lot more about Church history than your average member and for me it is very liberating and wonderful to see the depth and breadth of it all.  The Church and its leaders have seriously screwed up in the past and they have also done amazing things.  Truth is the whole picture not just the pretty part.  We do our young people a terrible disservice by only presenting a shallow single sided version of the truth.  

To believe in the gospel and the Church requires faith and it always will.  We diminish the need to develop faith when all we present is a program that is so lovely, simple, and beautiful that only a fool would reject it.  Our members and non-members will then quickly become like Dorothy in the Wizard of Oz and want to pull aside the curtain to see what is really going on.   The world and all the truth in it is transparent to God.  We should more closely follow that model.

I love and hate my family

Why is it that families are the source of so much of our happiness and pain?  I guess maybe it's because we care but also because our skill in dealing with each other is really poor sometimes.  Often my parents are a good example of what not to do.  My dad is rarely open to ideas that are not his own and I can only recall a few times when he expressed praise for his children.  

Why do some people always feel a need to try and change a family member into the person they want them to be rather than just accepting the person they really are?  This approach undermines the value of the individual and leaves lasting scars; not to mention it closes the door on honest communication.

Got a call last night from my unemployed and ill sister who continues to have a co-dependent relationship with my parents.  She has a home, cars, and horses and basically a lifestyle she can't afford and my parents continue to pay her bills.  They are constantly hassling her about her choices and she wants to be free but neither are willing to take any action to change the situation so they continue on in misery.  The same situation applies to my other alcohol and drug addicted sister who lives with my parents.  What a mess.  


Maybe me coming out to them would give them something else to think about for a while...

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Damn good December


I hope you all have a peaceful and happy holiday.  December has been a good month for me.  I've had plenty of time off work burning vacation that expires soon.  My wife and I spent much time together shopping, dining out, and at movies.  We do have a good time together and it seems better since we've had some honest conversations about me.  We need to keep this going during the new year.  Planning to catch a couple of more movies before January.  Its truly difficult to be very happy if you're not transparent and feel good about where you are and who you are.  

I love to travel someplace warm and fun for the holiday but this year its at home, and that's OK.  Never been surfing, but it does look fun...maybe next year.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Musings

 
I've been reading, and am about finished with, "The Velvet Rage: Overcoming the Pain of Growing Up Gay in a Straight Man's World" by Alan Downs. 
Link to Amazon for the book 

This is a really great book.  The following is from the introduction:
Rather than be depressing, I found the book to be uplifting, insightful, and helpful in understanding myself, my behaviors, and my feelings.  

Today at church I was thinking about gay priesthood leaders.  One of the many things this book has made me think about is how driven to succeed we (as gay men) generally are and how we often play an important role in many organizations.  Along those lines, it seems to me that more than the expected percentage of gay men in the church end up in leadership positions of one kind or another at some point in their church career, if they stick around.  I definitely fall into that category.  Right or wrong, as in the business world, people advance in the Church when they do more than average to help the organization succeed.  Unfortunately, in the Church we also tend to not stand up for gay issues because we are more focused on success in the organization to compensate for our underlying shame.  Sad, but I think true. 

Friday, December 17, 2010

Regrets?



 mohoh link
MOHOH posted a video production that tells the story of 3 young LDS guys and their stories.  I was very touched by it.  

Sometimes I wish I were one of those guys and that I had the courage when I was younger to step up and out as they have done.  I think my younger years might have been happier.  I'm so glad that they have a support group and have the opportunity to make the choice.  Things were so much different when I was younger.  Many of us older MOHOs never even considered the option of choosing to opt out of the Mormon path even though it created frequent pain for us.  We, or at least I, was convinced that I was the problem and in some perverse way believed that the only way to get better was to continue to be flogged in the Church.  I can relate to those who hurt themselves in the name of repentance.

On the other hand, if I had come out when I was young I would have missed many precious relationships that I have today and would not have the 3 fantastic kids, supportive wife, and two beautiful grandsons (plus one on the way) that I enjoy today.  Was it the right choose?  For me, I think it was and I would not change it despite the floggings and other struggles. 

One thing I've learned is that everyone's path is different and I believe each of those paths can be right for the one who chooses it.  I think those who seek God can and will be led by Him down many individually tailored paths.  We have a view of God that is much too narrow when we believe that there is only one way to live that pleases him.  All we need to do is look at the wide variety of cultures in the world to know that God loves diversity and that none of them is fundamentaly wrong.  

How can I believe this and also believe the Church is true?  In my simple mind they are two different truths.  I know the Church is true but I also know that God does not intend for everyone to be Mormon.  The Church is not the Gospel and the Gospel is not the Church. 




Thursday, December 16, 2010

Happier Now

Talking with my wife about my gay feelings has been the best thing I've done in a long time.  She has always been sensitive and open to those discussions.  Both of us hoped it would just go away when I was X'd but now we know it won't and dealing with it openly has been a breath of fresh air for me.  We both want to stay together and I'm confident it will continue to be OK and even better between us as we face it together.  I think I can do this as I'm more mindful about what I'm feeling and just accepting me for who I am and knowing it is OK.  

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Everything's good, right?

About 3 years ago I began to sink into a feeling of increasing despair.  Everything should have been going great -- I was back in the Church right?  But everything was not right.  I was feeling increasingly boxed into a life I did not enjoy and could barely stand.  I really wanted what was suppose to happen at the end -- to just grow old and be surrounded by loving family, but the process to get there seemed to be impossibly hard.  Running away and leaving it all behind increasingly seemed like an attractive option.  

My parents went on a mission and asked me to help out my younger sister who although she was about 40 had never been able to sustain herself.  Almost immediately we had a big blowup about all the things she felt the world owed her but that she could not obtain.  Thus began an almost two year period of totally ignoring each other.  I was essentially estranged from my other siblings yet I was expected to keep the family together and lead them all back to a happy spiritual family life.  At the same time I could barely keep myself afloat.  

My health began to suffer.  I was depressed and my blood pressure was going up.  The internal stress was beginning to manifest itself in a variety of physical symptoms.  I literally felt like I might explode.  My employment was and is a pressure cooker.  I spent a lot of time thinking about how to escape.  It seemed like my options were the following:
  1. Run away and leave everything behind.  But I really hate people who abandon their families.
  2. Stay and keep going as best I could.  
  3. Kill myself.  Quicker but only easier for me.  Harder for everyone else.
I've since learned that believing that these options are the only available ones is pretty standard for men in my position.  I wished I could selectively contract some deadly illness like cancer.  It could not be AIDS because that carried to much stigma.  However, brain cancer would serve nicely.  Kill me in a morally agreeable manner.  

Looking back it's interesting that I did not have on my list the option of talking to someone about my struggle.  Early on I decided that talking to Church leaders again was not the solution and for me was not even on the table for discussion.  After several visits to a doctor I was put on Prozac, blood pressure medication, cholesterol medication, allergy medication...

At the same time I had the opportunity to go back to graduate school.  I did and it saved me for a few years.  I love the University of Utah.  The diversity of people, the openness of opinion, and the lack of judgment (at least compared to the rest of Utah) was a breath of fresh air to me.  I graduated in May 2010 and finished up with a few weeks in Europe, which is another of my loves.  Anyone who has not been to Rome should go as soon as possible.  

With school over I began to slip back into a depression and listlessness that I could not tolerate but also did not seem to be able to shake.  However, at last I think I was finally ready to take action, talk, and take charge of my life.  More to come....


Friday, December 10, 2010

Getting X'd

In 2000 I felt like my life was going out of control.  While out of town I tried some cocaine.  I did not do anything sexual on that trip but deep down I knew that the coke was an attempt to medicate terrible feelings of hating myself because I was gay.  The next day I decided I needed some help and decided to talk to my bishop.  He was a nice enough guy but within 15 minutes of sitting down to talk he had the Stake President on the phone and "the process" was started.

When I was X'd from the Church it was initially a very difficult time for me and my wife.  I felt that I had let her down.  In the long run it was probably harder on her than me.  I had always been extremely faithful from a very young age so being on the outside was a shock for both of us.  I had worked at the MTC after my mission, I'd been an Elder's Quroum President and served in a Bishopric.  

Looking back, those years out of the Church were actually some of my happiest.  I felt free to be myself and to just enjoy life.  

It's curious to look back at how I was treated by Church leaders.  They were always kind and I think they tried to be helpful.  However, I don't think they really understood me.  There were never any questions about the cocaine or any attempt to help me reconcile why I despised myself.  Every focus was on my homosexual behavior and they made it definitely clear that I was the one who needed to change.  During the disciplinary council some of the High Counselors looked at me like I had three heads and was from some alien planet.  They asked some really weird questions that demonstrated to me they really could not relate to what I was saying.  That was hard. 

I wanted to change and spent many long hours in prayer fervently seeking to be changed. 
Very early on after being X'd I felt like the Lord did not have anything against me and fully accepted me so I did not pray so much to be forgiven as to be changed.  In the end His answer was no but I knew that he loved and accepted me.  I felt that He wanted me in the Church and with my wife and family.  

I honestly felt like God had forgiven me for whatever I might have done that was wrong and so getting re-baptized was mostly a matter of waiting for the right amount of time to pass.  I had developed a close relationship with my Bishop while I was out of the Church.  It was close in that I knew he loved me not because I felt that he accepted or understood my gayness.  I told him I was on the "straight and narrow" and we never discussed if it was even possible for me to be completely straight.  I asked him to re-baptize me.  Just a few days before I was to be re-baptized I felt strongly that I should ask my father to do it.  This was difficult because I had not even told him I had been X'd.  I did not tell him why I was X'd and he did not ask but he did agree to perform the baptism.  The re-baptism was a happy time for me and my family.  Temple blessing were restored by my Stake President two years later.  


The really hard times were just about to begin.........more to come

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Appearances



SL Tribune article

The above link is to a SL Tribune article about Utah writer James Dashner’s new young adult novel, The Scorch Trials.  The Trib indicates that the book has proved too hot for Deseret Book, which has declined to carry the popular book on its retail shelves.  The article quotes Gail Halladay managing director of marketing at Deseret Book who said, "This latest book from James Dashner contains language some of our customers would find offensive, as this book is targeted to teenagers,” “We must be careful with all the books we bring in, and we look very closely at the language in the books we carry.” 

The article notes that "Although the bookstore doesn’t have copies of The Scorch Trials on its shelves, Halladay noted that customers can special order the title for pick-up."

Clearly, Deseret Book is only concerned about the book appearing on it's shelves because it might appear improper to some ultra conservatives.  They willingly take your money if you buy it out the back door.  Probably also comes in a brown paper bag. 

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Sex

A friend who has close contact with Elder Packer once told me that he will never say the word sex in a conference talk.   Sure enough a quick word search of both his original and revised versions of the Oct conf talk did not find any hits for the word sex.  I'm guessing that gay is also not in his vocabulary.  

 

Monday, December 6, 2010

Comprehending God


I've heard God referred to as the ultimate micro manager who guides even the smallest decisions of our lives.  I've also heard God referred to as the ultimate hands off manager who lets the troops work it out for themselves without interfering.  So which is it?  

The answer, I believe, is that it is neither.  We use these phrases to try to put God into a box we can relate to and it does not work well.   Using this approach with each other is common but it does not work with God.  If you choose any standard you can think of to measure God, it is likely to come up short.  

Without faith trying to figure out why God does some things and refuses to get involved in others will drive you crazy.  But, isn't it amazing that God can deal with our individual needs so well and yet he allows the world to take its course.

Mosiah 4:9, Believe in God; believe that he is, and that he created all things, both in heaven and in earth; believe that he has all wisdom, and all power, both in heaven and in earth; believe that man doth not comprehend all the things which the Lord can comprehend.
Mormon 9:16, Behold, are not the things that God hath wrought marvelous in our eyes? Yea, and who can comprehend the marvelous works of God.

Joseph Smith wrote:
That which is wrong under one circumstance may be, and often is, right under another.

Don't think you can guess what God is thinking or what he will do next.   

So I was thinking about my Sandlot experience.  Sandlot is a great movie about boys experiencing life, playing baseball and growing up during a summer in the 1970s.   In one of the scenes "Yaya/Squints" fakes drowning so he can be rescued by the cute girl lifeguard.  He lets her do mouth to mouth for a few minutes then grabs her in a kiss.   

When I was about the same age there was a group of us boys playing in the yard and an older teenage neighbor boy got involved in the games.  We were wresting and playing on the lawn and of course because he was much larger than us he could pretty much take down whoever he wanted.  We would fight him off but it usually took two of us.  At one point he grabbed me and pushed me down to the ground and laid on top of me to keep me from escaping.  At first I struggled to break free but then I realized I liked his attention and him being on top of me.  I relaxed and stared into his face.  I wanted him to like me.  Too soon he let go, got up, and walked away.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Relationships

I was thinking the other day about the really deep and meaningful relationships that I have with other guys and I realized how few they really are.  I suppose it's normal to expect that most of our relationships are fairly shallow with people at work and church.  Even within my family, I don't feel I really have a very deep relationship with the men, with the exception of my son and my brother-in-law, who coincidentally is gay.   I have a twin brother and we are not particularly close, although we do enjoy being together on the rare occasions that we see each other (we live on opposite ends of the country).  We don't seem to be able to connect about anything but superficial stuff by phone or email. 


I've always felt closer to the women in my life, my wife, daughters, and a wonderful mother-in-law, than I have with the men in the family.   The men seem so intent on one-upping each other in every conversation and they focus on things I really don't give a damn about like cars and sports.   I wonder if the men in my life are as out of touch with themselves as they are out of touch with me.


I'm sure this is as much my fault as it is theirs.  I know that I often don't say things that I'm thinking or feeling to my male acquaintances because I don't want to make them feel uncomfortable.  Few men are willing to break the imaginary surface to talk about how they feel and why.  Sad.  I should do more to speak out.

Charity - a thought for Sunday

Yesterday, while I was traveling I arrived at the airport security screening checkpoint.  Like everyone else, I just wanted to get through security with as little hassle and as fast as possible.  This dominated my thinking - so I did something I regret.   In front of me was a young father with a small child in his arms.  They were bundled up in coats and he was also carrying a laptop case/diaper bag.  He knew it would take him some time to get unpacked and set out their stuff in the bins and conveyor belt to make the TSA folks happy.  He urged several of us who were behind him to jump ahead in the line.  I have getting through security down to a science and quickly jumped at the chance to move ahead and get it over.   

I wish I had been more thoughtful and charitable.  I could have easily put my bags on the conveyor and then helped this young father with his son.  At the very least I could have offered to hold the child while the father unpacked.  Why am I so compulsively such a jerk?  Is this the "natural man" that I am to put off and become more Christlike?  Yes.  I hope someone else was more Christlike and I hope next time it's me.

Friday, November 26, 2010

go with the flow - no more hanging on in fear


In the Church was are constantly hit up with messages that we are fighting against the world, evil, our own nature, people who don't like us, etc...  I think this can ingrain an attitude of conflict, which is not helpful.  I'm pretty much convinced that we need to take a deep breath, lay back, and do more enjoying of the journey and less getting bent out of shape over things we can't control, while doing what we can to improve our life and the lives of others in positive ways.

Meg Wheatley gives a great analogy of people who to struggle to hold on to the shoreline of a river and those who float along doing what they can to get where they want to go but also enjoying the ride.  We can't control the flow of the river so our choice is to fight it or accept it.  She encourages people to banish the word struggle from their vocabulary, something I'm trying to live.  For me, struggle implies that someone other than me controls my life.  It also implies forced change, which is not compatible with the teachings of Christ.  

I think Meg does a wonderful job of teaching the difference between struggle and perseverance.  In her latest book, "Perseverance", she teaches that  

"Perseverance is a day-by-day decision not to give up.  Wheatley does not offer the usual feel-good, rah-rah messages.  Instead, she focuses on the situations, feelings, and challenges that can, over time, cause us to lose heart or lose our way. When we feel lost, overwhelmed, betrayed or exhausted, we need to know we have a choice for how we respond.  And we have to nurture the rewarding times, when we experience the joy of working together on something hard but worthwhile, when we realize we’ve made a small difference." 

meg wheatley web site

 I hope you will find something of value to you in her teachings.  Enjoy!




Tuesday, November 23, 2010


You're probably wondering what about my life story that I promised to tell.  We'll, I'm thinking about it and will continue to post bits and pieces...but right now I'm just enjoying the view.

I'll walk in your shoes for a while


I've always enjoyed daydreaming.  Do you sometimes look at others and guess what their life might be like?  I do.  So on occasion I may put up a post of someone who's shoes I would not mind walking in for a while - just for fun.  I know I'm very fortunate and I don't want my post to come across as ungrateful.  I believe every life has challenges, both known and unknown.  It just might be great fun to try on another life once in a while, you know.  

Enrique Iglesias - screaming good looks of both his father and mother and one of the most creative talents I know.  On my mission in Argentina I fell in love with the music of his father and I think Enrique may be even more talented.  I can only imagine what it must be like to have thousands of fans adoring you and your music in several languages.  The creative energy of doing something dramatic with other talented musicians must be very satisfying.  I'm guessing the travel can become a drag after a while and trying to find someplace to be alone could be challenging.  I recommend his Euphoria Album, a nice mix. Just my daydream for today.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

wierd as it gets part 2 - polygamy and gay marriage


To say that my life has been influenced by the LDS church is a major understatement.  My life as well as that of my ancestors has been so closely tied to the LDS church for generations that its impossible to talk about the family with getting into a discussion about the church.  But maybe more of that later...

A short polygamy story.  When my great great grandmother was coming across the plains with the Mormon pioneers she was alone with seven children.  He husband had died in Nauvoo.  During the journey the leader of the company fell in love with her oldest daughter and wanted to marry her.  He was already married and she was to be his second wife.  When they arrived in Utah he asked Brigham Young if he could marry the daughter.  Young told the man that the girl's mother, as a widow, needed her daughter to help with the other children.  However, Young said that if he also married the mother he could then marry the daughter.  He did.  On the same day in 1849 he married the daughter (age 18) and her mother (age 37).  He subsequently had children with both of the women.

One of the lessons to me from this story is that the early church leaders were much more liberal in their decisions than we are sometimes led to believe.  They essentially gave no credence to marital and sexual norms of the day and did what they felt the Lord wanted done.  In this case, the prophet sanctioned incest.  They also did not seem to be particularly concerned with gay relationships, more later...

Saturday, November 20, 2010

It will get better



Our detours and disappointments are the straight and narrow path to Him
Howard W. Hunter, “The Opening and Closing of Doors,” Ensign, Nov 1987, 54


the wards are missing out....


I was thinking today how great it would be if LDS wards were actually able to embrace openly gay men.  The benefits of helping each other grow together and expressing christian love to our fellow saints would be wonderful.  But, think how much more fun priesthood meeting would be!  

Wouldn't it be great to have the activities committee led by someone who actually had some talent for food, shows, and fun.  Maybe we could even get class rooms and chapels that had some design and color and were not just corporate dull.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Bywho


Sorry for the sidetrack - back to the story at hand.   As I was getting ready to move to Provo for school, Alan called and asked if I could bring his sister who was starting the same semester as me.  She was a year younger than Alan and I.  I'd met her briefly before my mission but we'd never dated.  I was immediately taken by her laugh and smile.  We were engaged before the month was over.   During the summer we married and all three of us moved out of the King Henry Apartments.


As you are no doubt aware, there was and continues to be a strong push by Church leaders for recently returned missionaries to marry as soon as possible.  As demonstrated by my actions I was certainly of this mindset.  I don't regret my decision at all but looking back I see that I really did not know myself well at the time.  God only knows why it has turned out as well as it has despite the challenges and heartache I have been through.  Certainly my wife did not deserve the many challenges I would pose to her in the future.  Nevertheless, we have survived many rapids in the river of life and lived to tell about it and stayed together.   

It's interesting looking back that my biggest regret is that I did not take more risks and live a little more on the wild side during high school and college.  I was so totally sucked into the LDS lifestyle and conservative restraint that I did not explore enough to know anything about myself, my strengths, weaknesses, likes and dislikes.  I'm not advocating high risk behavior but neither am I overly concerned with youth that explore enough to "learn by thier own experience to distinquish good from evil".


My future in-laws, Alan's parents, owned a home in Provo not far from campus.  Alan and I moved in before I was married.  After my marriage we lived up front and Alan lived in the back.  After about 1 year of this arrangement he decided to come out.  We were eating dinner at Marie Calendar's when he told us.  It was a shock to us because we did not know he had been active in the local gay community.  Just as I thought I was "fixed" by getting married, we assumed he was straight because he was at BYU.  How naive we were.  Alan soon left school and the Church.

This was the beginning of a difficult transition for Alan's family and me.  More to come...

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

wierd as it gets





Alan returned from his mission a few months before I did.  The year was 1978 and we were both headed to BYU in Provo.  He found an apartment and started school a semester before me.  We had been best friends for a long time and wanted to room together.  However, he was already settled and had a contract with the King Henry apartment complex for the school year.  I moved into the King Henry complex a few apartments away with some friends of his that had an opening for a roommate.  This was during the early years of Sunstone Magazine, which held it's first annual symposium the next year.  I roomed with some guys who went on to become leaders of the Sunstone organization so I was exposed to new ways of thinking about LDS scholarship.  It was a fun time and there was a lot of energy around.  

Speaking of King Henry...more about the BYU story later ... now I'm going to watch the first episode of the 4th season of "The Tudors".  

Sunday, November 14, 2010



http://www.amazon.com/Theology-Other-Essays-Mormon-ebook/dp/B00457VIZ0/ref=ntt_at_ep_dpi_2

An excellent book that I recommend.  It will give you hope and encouragement.

He will not leave you - don't leave him

I slight diversion from my story to share something I like.

Elder Neil L. Andersen, of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, gave a talk in Oct conference that I think has applicability to me, maybe it does to you as well.  He talked about how Christ will stand with us in all our trials.  He quoted the hymn, "How Firm a Foundation":
The soul that on Jesus hath leaned for repose
I will not, I cannot, desert to his foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavor to shake,
I’ll never, no never, I’ll never, no never,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake!
Then he said, "Perfection does not come in this life, but we exercise faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and keep our covenants. President Monson has promised, “Your testimony, when constantly nourished, will keep you safe.” We push our spiritual roots deep, feasting daily on the words of Christ in the scriptures. We trust in the words of living prophets, placed before us to show us the way. We pray and pray and listen to the quiet voice of the Holy Ghost that leads us along and speaks peace to our soul. Whatever challenges arise, we never, never leave Him.
The Savior asked His Apostles, “Will ye also go away?”
Peter answered:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.
“ . . . We believe and are sure that thou art that Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Once when I was young, I was being bullied when I was at church.  It was not the first or the last time but that particular time I decided I would leave and never come back.  It was a cold fall day and the fog was heavy on the ground.  I walked home alone by way of an adjacent school playground.  The fog was thick and I could not see anything as I picked my way across the school yard.  I felt like I was as lost emotionally and spiritually as I was visually.  As I walked I had a thought come into my mind.  Why would I leave something I cared about because someone else was a jerk?  After considering that for a while, I decided I would not leave.   I would never leave because of the actions of any stupid jerk, whether it was the kid in my class, or the Bishop, or anyone else.  If I left it would be because I choose to and not because I ran away from a fight or from something I feared.


I have kept that promise to myself but it has been much more difficult than I ever could have imagined at the time.   It's one thing to have a disagreement with a primary kid and another thing completely to have a disagreement with an apostle.  Nevertheless, we are all human and I am willing to tolerate their insensitivity, unkindness and mistakes if I can have the spirit to let me know the best path for me.  It has not failed me yet.

High School


I never really dated during High School.   On a few occasions I took girls from the ward to school dances.  It was really more of a "priesthood" obligation than a date.  I never had the chance to date non-Mormons since I lived in "Mormonville".  One time I took a girl from another stake to some kind of a High School event.  I asked her to go at the last minute since I was nearly the only one without a date and I felt some obligation to attend.  She obviously really like me and kissed me several times.  I kind of liked the attention but the kissing was weird.  We went out twice after that.  I was just too uncomfortable with the whole thing and just stopped calling her cold and never again even said "hi" in the hallway at school.  What a jerk I was!  I'm sure I broke her heart.  I was struggling with my own self image and it just did not fit well.  I hope I did no permanent damage.  

There was a guy in Spanish class that I like and I had a crush on him.  He was tall and cute and I watched him a lot in Spanish and Seminary.   I enjoyed photography and was on the year book staff.  I had a crush on another guy who was also on the year book staff.  Nothing ever came of my crushes.  Shy is an understatement of myself in High School.  I avoided anything that brought attention to myself.  

I wondered a lot what the future held for me and I trusted explicitly in the Church leaders and the promises I was told about at church.  Because I trusted explicitly I worked really hard to keep all the rules but felt I was perpetually failing.  I did not particularly worry about being "different" as I was not really sure how I was different.  I knew that I liked different things from most of the guys and assumed the Lord would "fix" me in time.  Little did I know at the time that the Church leaders were as lost on the topic of homosexuality as I was.

My Patriarchal Blessing was received at a relatively early age, just after I entered High School.  At the time it gave me great comfort and has continued to do so for many years since that time.  It obviously did not speak to being gay but I do think the Lord told me a few things that helped me cope.  I had never met the Patriarch before and I was amazed at how he told me things that were in my heart that I had never communicated to anyone.

My complete trust and total confidence in the Church leaders began at an early age and continued for a long time through my mission and many years afterward.  I was extremely trusting and felt as if I had to follow every word and believe every nuance that came from my Church leaders.  

Over time, what the Church leaders said about homosexuality seemed sort of irrelevant to me because it conflicted so much with my reality.  Gradually, I began to feel betrayed as I realized that I had been lied to.  I don't think it was intentional.  I still give them the benefit of the doubt; they were as much in the dark as I was.  But I felt I had been taken advantage of.  In their lack of knowledge they had made authoritative statements that significantly impacted my life, which they began to retract much later.  But I had already formed my life around them and suffered much pain, shame, and regret because of them.  Why had they not used more reserved language if they did not know for sure?  Were they seriously that egocentric that they believed their own fables?  

They said they loved me but why had they allowed me to follow them down a wrong path that caused me so much pain and fear?  Would not it have been better to allow for some difference of opinion with such a lack of knowledge?  For them it was just a matter of rephrasing a sentence to two but for me it completely shattered my life.  

It was wonderful to know that my Church leaders now believed that I was not necessarily the problem, as I had always assumed, but this also led to the realization that everything they said was not necessarily correct or in my best interest.

more to come...

A little about the mission






My first experience with sex was with Bob, who turned out to be my second missionary companion.   Bob and I had been friends since elementary school.   His father was ex-military and he was the last child with several much older brothers.  One day when we were having a sleep over at my house Bob beckoned me into his sleeping bag.  I think we were about ten years old at the time.  This experience was repeated several times that summer.  

Bob moved away for a few years but came back into my ward when we were in high school.  We were never again as close friends as we had been during elementary school but we continued to associate mostly through church activities and scouting.  He was not much of an athlete but he clearly had an interest in being around the athletes in high school.  He became a water boy and equipment handler for the football and baseball teams.  I could see the derision he received behind his back (and sometimes in front of him) from the athletes who despised his suck up attitude but he was satisfied in being close to the teams.  I had no interest in competitive sports especially team sports so we never interacted in that arena.  Bob was called to serve in the same mission in Argentina about 4 months after I left for the Missionary Training Center (MTC).  

I had been in the country just a few months when Bob arrived and was assigned as my new junior companion.  It was the worst companionship of my mission.  We never talked about our earlier experience.  As I look back on it now I can see that we were both feeling very uncomfortable, guilty, and repressed.  As a result, we could not agree on anything and could hardly look each other in the eye.  

I lost track of Bob soon after we returned home.  I hope he has been able to make a life for himself that makes him happy.  

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Scouting

I was never comfortable in scouting but it was what you did when you were growing up in the Church.  The outdoor stuff was OK and I enjoyed hiking and camping.  I did not enjoy the jerks and bullies. My dad was the scout master for a while and I always got the feeling that I never quite lived up to his expectations.  

Every award they gave at Church I got.  I was awarded every advancement certificate and many merit badges.  My achievements included seminary graduation, Eagle Scout, and earning the Duty to God award.  The current and flow of church activity pushed me along and I did not object.   

In 1976 I entered the mission field and served in Argentina.  When I left on my mission the bishop commented that I was the "most prepared Elder the ward had ever sent".  I was prepared and I knew the gospel better than most of the ward members.  I've always had an intellectual and analytical thread to my thinking, which was bound to cause me trouble later in life when I studied "too much" and found out things that challenged my testimony.  But that is a story for another day...

I did enjoy my time in Argentina and in a way it confirmed to me my gay inclinations as I found that I most enjoyed the company of the other Elders and the closeness brought about by living and working together.


Before leaving on my mission I had become best friends with Alan, my future brother-in-law.  I did not know at the time that he was gay, but it was obvious to others in my family and they occasionally made sly remarks suggesting that I might not want to hang out with him.  Looking back I understand that Alan's gayness was one of the reasons I was attracted to him and we spent a lot of time together.  I was just too innocent to have any clue that he was probably gay but I could talk openly to him in a way that I could not with my family or church acquaintances.  We both served missions, because that was the way the Mormon river of culture pushed us.  I did not find out until much later that Alan was already actively gay though he did not come out until after his mission.


More to come...

Welcome


It must have been about 1970 when I first heard about homosexuals and it clicked in my brain "hey, that sounds like it might be me".  I lived a pretty sheltered life in "Mormonville, UT" and was in Junior High at the time trying to cope with feeling "different".

That was a long time ago, but you know what?  I still feel "different".  This blog will lay out, for those who are interested, my life experiences and hopefully will be of some help to those who also struggle with being gay.

I had lived a perfect Mormon boy's life up to that time, following the expected path, and continued to do so for a long time.  Looking back I wish I would have had teachers and leaders who would have tried to help me understand and accept myself.  But I did not.  Today, I think things are only slightly better for young LDS gay men.  As a church we still avoid the subject and wish it would go away.  It won't.  I struggled for a very long time, many many years, alone with my feelings and working very hard to be "normal".


I never really considered suicide until I was much older.  By then I had worked so hard to "fix" myself that I had become deeply embedded in the LDS culture and it seemed hopeless.  I was never going to be able to reconcile the two opposing things that were a part of me - the church and being gay.

I will lay out my story as simply and honestly as I can and hope that it will be of help to LDS young men who are struggling.  It will take some time to write it all down but I will post additional items as frequently as I can.  

Know that I love you, even if I don't know your name or face.  I love you because I have been where you are and know how difficult it is.   

As I write my history, please feel free to drop me an email or post comments.