Welcome

Just my rambling thoughts about being gay and Mormon

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.