Tuesday, October 31, 2006

I’m feeling kind of blue. This has been an incredibly difficult semester for me on a number of levels. I feel like I have suddenly lost myself this semester. I used to be able to accomplish things, set goals, and live life without hesitation. I could achieve anything, and I believed it. I really was prepared to take on life by the horns. I was fearless, confident, strong. Now I don’t know what has happened. I feel as though my life has begun to slip out of my control. I hate school now. My grades reflect it this semester too. I had big dreams of really doing something great with my life and I worked for it. I enjoyed working hard and seeing the results but I don’t even care anymore. Certainly our long term goals evolve and become new and that which we used to want changes; thus is life. But my dreams haven’t changed, they’ve evaporated. I have no idea what I am doing with my life. I am walking a path that scares me. The academics I used to enjoy are a burden and now, even my favorite subject that I have studied for five semesters with an A every time is bogging me down and I feel awful. I know I am smart. I am really intelligent and creative. It’s all trapped inside me though. I don’t know why. I see my professors and really like them. I always try to keep somewhat of a relationship with my professors. But I am ashamed of my grades. I want my professors to know that I am smart; to know that I can do anything and that I can be successful even in hard classes. I took a test today for one of my political science classes. It’s an incredibly difficult course, the most difficult of the major and arguably one of the most difficult on campus. I sat down with my test, knowing that I wasn’t really prepared to take it. It was insulting to my intelligence. As I looked over the test, I knew that I could have studied and done well or at least passed. It would have taken preparation and work, but I could have done it. Instead I just BS-ed my way through the test, knowing full well that the professor is no idiot. He can smell BS just as well as anyone. Which is why I feel so stupid. The test didn’t reflect my intelligence and my ability. I didn’t even bother to check my work or fully follow the instructions… I just turned it in half-assed. I almost would rather have not taken the test at all. It’s embarrassing. It says, “I’m a lazy-ass son-of-a-bitch who doesn’t give a shit about school.” Even if it is true at the moment, it’s not characteristic of me or my deep desires. I feel humiliated.

Thursday, October 26, 2006

Sick of this!

Why am I so damn emotional? I’m really coming unglued. I don’t even want to write this because I am so disgusted with myself and the situation I find myself in. This whole homosexuality thing makes me want to vomit.
Two and a half years ago I was a very different person. I was so deep into denial about my issues that I believed in, that I was vehemently opposed to the public gay community. I said to myself, “Shoot, if I can choose to be straight then so can they!” I saw them as people who had given up on making themselves into something “clean and wholesome” and I judged them somewhat harshly –but only as harshly as I judged myself.
In the city where I am from there was a huge gay marriage fall-out and protesters were everywhere. I joined the ranks in protesting gay marriage. I saw it as a threat to my success as one who was trying and working at a deadly pace to overcome my same-sex attraction. I never hated anyone, as many of the protesters there did. Some carried signs reading “God Hates Faggots!” and “Eternal Damnation” and a whole slough of nasty threats. I will never forget the bull horn and the jerk who, in the name of god, condemned everyone there. Even though I was terrified of my own self and my personal struggles, I could never agree with such statements. How could I? In fact I got into an argument with the ass that was carrying the bull-horn. He condemned me for not agreeing with him. I stood as far away from him and his other haters in the designated protest area. Really I just didn’t want gay marriage to be passed into legislation as legal. That would have been too much for me.
When NPR interviewed me I never gave my name, I wanted to remain anonymous. I still want to. Several other radio stations and newspapers interviewed several people, but I was interviewed a lot. I always made sure to say that I didn’t hate anyone and that I just didn’t think that it was right or something… I dunno… I just remember that I felt like I was more of a voice of reason amidst the battle…
Anyway, enough of the stupid excuses! While the political struggle went on for more than two days, I was only there for a couple of hours. I ended up being photographed by one of the major national news magazines, and it was published with me in the forefront. I am the central focus of the picture. If I mentioned the magazine, you’d recognize it. I didn’t know that they took the picture and I didn’t even find out about it until eight months later when a friend from church congratulated me for being famous. I was a bit uneasy then, but nothing like I am now.
One of the students in my building came up to me tonight and said, “Hey I saw a picture of you today. Well, at least I think it was you.” I said, “Oh yeah? Where did you see it?” I had no idea where she was coming from or what picture she saw. “It was a picture of you at a protest.” My stomach began to knot up. “It is in my textbook.” Apparently this picture has become quite popular. I am practically clip-art now! Yes, I have seen the textbook, and yes it is me in the picture.
No one asked my permission to be put in the textbook. Someone made hella cash off of me for a mistake I made and it just makes me sick! I want it out! I want it to just go away. If I had known that it would have come to this I would have never gone to the stupid protest anyway! Not only do I feel like a hypocrite on some level, but this affects me more than you might realize. I am a political science major. While I don’t plan on getting into big-time politics, I do plan on being somewhat in the public eye. I feel like my going to that protest is like stepping into a hornets nest and some how, at some point in time, it will come back and sting me.
A friend from out of state called me while I was looking at my portrait in the textbook. As I was talking to her I expressed my disgust about the situation. I stood outside in the cold wondering if she could really hear that I was upset. She has been a good friend, one of those people that you can really trust. In fact, I had already considered coming-out to her on a couple of occasions. In truth, I am “out” to almost no one. I explained that my position on the issue had softened and that I no longer felt the same way. I gave her some valid but generic reasons, but also being cautious not to “give myself away.” Her basic response crushed me. “Yes, but Cas, what they do is so disgusting. Every time I think about gays and lesbians it just… Ooh!”
I was crushed. Not only did I expect her to be more understanding than most, but I thought she would be able to see people for who they are. I still don’t know where I stand on this issue for me. But I do know that there is more to me than the fact that I am attracted to men. I’m forever tagged. Stereotypes that are so hurtful. I will forever be stereotyped as a fag –that I like to wear women’s clothes, or talk with a lisp or am ultra feminine, or that I wish I was a woman, or that I am a pervert or a wimp or a child molester or a butt pirate! I’m none of those things. Most of my friends would never even suspect me to be homosexual. I like being a man, like being masculine, and I am not a wimp. I’ve never wanted to be a woman nor do I pretend to be a woman. I am a MAN. I can lead, take charge of a situation, I am strong, and yes, I do have good fashion sense. But damn it! There is so much more to me than just that! I have already said in previous posts that I love me. I love who I am. I can see beyond the homosexuality for who I am. I just wish others could…

Letting go and finding my way

About a year ago I finally came to grips with my homosexuality. While I always knew that it was something that I dealt with and even sought help from professionals and my ecclesiastical leaders, I never accepted it as something that was inherently part of my life. I wanted so badly not to have to admit that I had a “different” side to me, that I labeled my self as a heterosexual who suffered from same-sex attraction as if it were a communicable disease. This “disease” I also believed had a cure. I was so far into denial, that I even criticized other LDS men that struggle with the world of problems associated with homosexuality. I saw them as weak for accepting it as part of them.

Nevertheless it was my enlightenment to learn otherwise. I threw away my pretense of perfection and began to embrace the flaws and follies of life. Suddenly I was free from worry and regret about the life that was mine. Immediately my self esteem and personal paradigm were redrawn and I finally began to live my life.
I’m not about to suggest that I was wanting to live a gay [gay having not only a social but also a political context] lifestyle nor fully give into the urges that I felt. Rather, I felt that by wading through my homosexuality, I could explore what I felt and why I felt it. Moreover, by fully recognizing my struggles as part of what has shaped me to be who I am, I would be able to transcend that which had held me down for so long. It’s a beautiful thought.

I love me. I love who I am –my personality, my hopes and aspirations, everything that I can be and want to be. I am a good man. Many good things have happened to me in my life, and I believe many more good things will happen to me.

In many ways I am an optimist with jaded edges. I am a man full of conflict –both good and bad have their way with me. I wouldn’t change a thing about who I am, and my struggles that have shaped who I am. Naturally then, where it an option, I don’t know that I would change my homosexuality as it has provided a world of obstacles have played a role in shaping the contours of my life. In essence, I wouldn’t be the same man that I am today were it not for the problems associated with my homosexuality.

Do I like that I am a homosexual? No, not really. It has provided a unique set of challenges that I have yet to figure out. Much of the time it is overwhelming. But there are many challenges that I face that I just have to live with. I’m not perfect, and I don’t expect to be nor should anyone else expect it of me.

Despite all of that, I am mourning. I mourn that I likely will never have a normal romantic relationship. I don’t see heterosexual marriage as something that I can manipulate myself into in hopes that eventually it will provide a satisfying sexual and emotional relationship. I also don’t expect myself to ever be a father. The classic family picture is not likely going to ever be a part of my world. I suppose if I found the right girl, I would be willing to give it a shot. But what a way to enter a marriage relationship! I’ll give it a shot?!?!? No, I won’t put my wife through the emotional trauma. Neither do I see a same-sex relationship as providing me with stability and long-term happiness. I guess I still don’t really know what I would expect a same-sex relationship to provide me with. Additionally, the social consequences of having an open same-sex relationship would be quite painful. My brother-in-law would only see me as an apostate pervert. He wouldn’t let me ever be around my nephews again. Additionally, what about all the people that I have known for years? I would feel that I would have to make excuses or explain myself as to why I pursued a same-sex relationship. They would shake their heads and never be able to look at me beyond my homosexuality –which I HAVE been able to do. I see an amazing person. I see the man that God has created –talented, intelligent, and full of love.

This also is saddening to me because I want so much to love and to receive love; real love. I want to be part of a relationship that is mutually beneficial. I want the feeling of being completed and complimented by another person. Is that too much to ask for? Perhaps.

Truthfully, as ironic as it may be, the people I would least be afraid of “coming-out” to would be my parents. I have great parents. Even if in some “environmental” way my upbringing contributed to my homosexuality, I have made peace them and my relationship has never been better. I couldn’t have asked for more kind, understanding, and loving parents. I am so fortunate.

I know that some claim that there is a cure for same-sex attraction. And if there is, then I have yet to find it. Whatever the cure would be, this much is true: The cure is a process. It is contained within the chapters of a full life. Learning, sometimes painfully, and moving beyond that which was previously thought of as true is the only cure I know of for any problem. Changing and breaking false paradigms is what life is all about. Whether or not my same-gender attraction goes away is irrelevant to the fact that the process of achieving and growing is what makes life worth living. So whether or not it goes away does not matter to me.

Finally, I cannot reconcile myself with the Church. I do not know where to fit in with the Church, the society. Anymore I feel like an outsider looking in. Because I have experienced so much in my life, I cannot look at humanity with an ignorant eye as so many Mormons do. I know I stereotype, but there is so much more to life than the daily doings of the Church. Good can be found everywhere –not just amongst the Mormon society.

I suppose I should clarify though. I view the Church and the Gospel as two separate entities. I have no problems with gospel doctrine. I think the doctrines are beautiful. When truly understood as it is taught, the father-child relationship as the Gospel teaches us is spectacular. God is not some distant Zeus-like being that is ready to punish us for our sins at any moment, but rather, loves us –flawed, imperfect, and completely bound by the laws of mortality. He didn’t set us here to be perfect or to even become perfect. Perfection is an eternal process… I’m ok with that. If my imperfections include homosexuality, then so be it. It is the life I was intended to live.

It's almost ironic how polarized my personal conflicts are, or apear to be. I feel so much sadness because of what can never be and yet an incredible joy because of who I am. This too may never be reconciled. I want so much to be an influence for good in a world that in many ways if falling apart. The Church used to be my motivation. I felt like I was part of something greater than myself and that I could make a godly difference in the world. But now that I have “left the Church” (mentally) I am part of no such altruistic force. I feel lost and alone in so many ways. God is with me still, but the Church is not.

Last night I spoke with an old friend. She spoke of moving to Provo and making life decisions. She said, “You know, I really have no idea why I am here. Why now at this time in this place.” I realized that I also have no idea why I am here now either. For someone who believes divinely that there are reasons why things happen the way that they do, I feel purposeless here.

Despite the tiresome challenges I face, I have hope for the future. There is a place for me somewhere in this world, even if it is hidden from me at this time. I feel like I have to forge a trail, and that in most respects, I must blaze this trail all alone –which makes the longing to love and be loved that much stronger, and the loneliness that much greater.

But I will find my way...

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Fish Death Wish

Augh! Gross. Ever opened up the jar of mayo only to find that the person before has used the same utensil to scoop a glob of mayo as was used to mash the tuna fish? Sick! Someone has a death-wish at my apartment. If salmonella doesn’t get them first, I will!

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

My Black Tuesday

Ok, I hate to admit this about myself, but confession is good for the soul. I’ve been rather foolish during the last few months. I have been reckless with my finances. How did it come to this? I don’t know exactly, but my vanity has increased as my credit card debt has. The shameful thing about this is that it is exactly what my parents have done with their finances. I swore that I would never do what my parents have done, and I find myself paying debts with more debt. My parents have never been good with money. My father openly admits his weakness and is too paralyzed to do anything about it. Meanwhile my mother spends and then buries her head in the sand, and then when things start to put a pinch on her lifestyle, she blames my dad for not being balanced. Fortunately for me, I only have myself to worry about. I have a few debts looming in the background of my life that I really don’t want to deal with (I am burying my head in the sand like mom). Last year I got into a bit of an accident while running. I split my knee open and had to go to the hospital for numerous stitches. The scar is pretty cool, but the bill isn’t. Insurance was never billed and I have basically just eaten the $990.00 on my own. I could try to get my insurance to pay, but I’m too stressed about everything else to confront the “politics of getting things my way.”
I also have several bills left over from this summer –Comcast internet for one. It’s a damn screw job is what it is. When I called to get my service disconnected, they told me all I had to do was to come into the store, return my cable modem, and my service would be discontinued. I left the modem with my roommate and he had it returned (and I trust the guy). However, Comcast is still charging me for services I never received and they are saying that the modem was never returned. It adds up to a whopping $250 that they are charging me for service I never had. I have called them so many times too… Finally I called up yesterday and literally yelled over the phone at the lady there. I was so angry I was sweating. She really got it bad. It wasn’t just because of the $250, but because of everything. It was a real emotional workout for me. I emptied my frustrations out for nearly 40 minutes. Nothing was solved.

And, then the last major thing, I owe my parents $2700 that I borrowed from them this summer to buy a car. Borrowing money from parents is also something my father does to his dad. He was never much of a father to him and he has a lot of money –A lot. I think it’s my grandfather’s way of saying “Well, I know I wasn’t much of a father, so here is some money.” I planned on having a bigger paycheck at the end of the summer than I actually ended up receiving, and well, they are expecting some money and I don’t have it. I already paid off my $3500 credit card debt with my student loan. I could take out more student loan, but how will I finance next semester? This is so stupid. The main reason why I am so short of cash is because I waste it on crap –also a habit of my parents. I always criticized them for being so foolish with money, restaurants here and there, movie night now and again, new furniture for the house, and a variety of other comforts. They entitle themselves to the very best. So do I. I tell myself that I deserve more than the standard of living my budget requires. In a fit of depression I go and buy crap; whether clothing or a night on the town, or some activity with someone. I hate it. It’s as if I were trying to prove to others that I have money to spend, and I am reckless. I still owe $1000 on my American Express card and my habits haven’t changed completely. I keep telling myself that everything will be ok and not to worry. But I am banking on the future, and assuming that I can make ends meet. I could tell my parents but that would be so humiliating for me. I am independent. I like to think I am anyway. My parents wouldn’t trust me like they do anymore if I was to default on their trust. Maybe in some perfectionist way, I tell myself that I am beyond the problems of my parents. I am the golden child that can make things really workout while everyone else mires in their problems. In so many ways I am the embodiment of my parents –the good, as well as the bad. I thought I had left a lot of my perfectionist ways in the dust a long time ago, but maybe I have held on to a few of them. I feel stupid. And I, like my father, am too paralyzed to really find a solution… I just sit and wait for some sort of Black Tuesday to arrive. My credit is good right now, but for how long can I escape reality by fudging debt from here to there?

Sunday, October 22, 2006

I feel all alone

So my elder’s quorum president came by for a “personal priesthood interview.” I never really know what to say in those kinds of situations. He is a nice guy, who means well and really wants the best for those around him, but I don’t trust. I gave him standard answers that make his job easier. I don’t want someone, a stranger, to ask me questions about my personal life and expect me to open up and pour all my troubles out. My struggles are sacred. That is privileged information that I am willing to share, but only with those that put my friendship before church-ship. Make sense? I want to be valued by others because I am me, not because I happen to be in the same ward or more broadly the same church. I shouldn’t criticize his efforts because he is probably willing to be my friend. I just hate the “duty factor” in so many church assignments. Its one of the primary reasons I haven’t done my home teaching in a long time. I have such mixed feelings about it. I don’t know what my motivations would be and to avoid doing it for the sake of doing it –which is in my opinion a horrible reason, I just don’t do it… catch my drift? Anyway, apparently the bishop here is so hard-core, that he calls people into his office and reprimands them if they miss their home teaching for more than two months. I’m on to month two, and well, I still feel no desire to home teach.

The stupid thing is that in truth I could use some friends –some real friends. I am tired of feeling so distanced from everyone. I used to be so social, and now I have backed into a shell. Historically it’s not my nature to be so closed off to others. It’s not that I am completely alone, I have some good friends, but I need a few good friends close by. Being so friendless makes me really self conscious too. I feel like I have to be super cool… almost like I am too cool for friends, which distances others from me. So I’ve created this gap, and now I am kinda lonely. I really just want to love and be loved –unconditionally.

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Evolutions of Thought

There is an interesting aspect to the evolution of my struggle that I had not expected. In some ways it’s rather frustrating. It used to be that I could measure any moral dilemma to the church and use it as a sort of measuring stick. “Well this particular choice dosent fit into the realm of Mormonism.” Basically then I’d discount it as an option and never cross that bridge again. But this time… This time, things are really different.
In a lot of ways the Church has lost an element of credibility in my opinion. Essentially I learned a truth about God that was so well hidden from me that it took years of digging and searching to find out. God doesn’t care about what I do. Or rather, he does care, but only to an extent. Does God disapprove of Mother Theresa because she was Catholic? Is all that he can see is the Catholic in her, or does he look deeper inside and see a mirrored image of His glory. Had she been born in any other situation, say to a Mormon family in Utah, would she have been able to fill her mission of compassionate service in the way that she did? I doubt it.
And what about others? Mahatmas Gandhi, The Dali Lama, Wayne Dyer, John Locke, Immaculee Ilibagiza, Jane Goodall, Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn… The list could go on forever. Are they to be discounted simply because they were not Mormons? Now, now, I know that the Church teaches of work for the dead, but my point is that these truly wonderful, enlightened persons couldn’t have fulfilled their life callings without being born into the situation that they were. Couldn’t it be the same with me? My experience with the Church and my family and so forth has shaped who I am –homosexuality included.
I have always felt a deep part of me is meant to do great things. I don’t say that egotistically either, as if it were some fantasy to be the embodiment of chivalry, power, or status as a means of escape from the harsh realities of my life. What I am saying is that I want to make a difference in this world. I want it to be a better place because I was here. I want to be a blessing for good in others lives. I believe I can. I couldn’t conceive such an ideal were I born into a different situation.
But I wonder though, if indeed God is everything we say he is, shouldn’t an element of grace be upon me for that which I have been called to do in life? And shouldn’t an element of that grace be upon me for the different path that I must walk? As I see it now, I will never have children, I will never have a normal marriage relationship, and most of my friendships will be affected my homosexuality to some degree. All of these features of my future will be shaped by what I do with my life now, and my effectiveness in fulfilling my Earthly mission. I believe that God’s grace is sufficient for me and my life –whatever lifestyle I choose to live. God will lead me and accommodate me if I learn to believe and grow.
This subject has yet to be exhausted. I could go on for longer, but I really must go to bed now. I guess I will continue later.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

My life is full of contrast. I seem to live twice the life of others I think. Some say that I have a “strong” personality. Others say it’s outgoing or adventurous. I simply say, “it’s complicated.” I have always lived a life of conflict –as if the opposites of life such as, happiness and sadness, confusion and understanding, healing and hurt have always been much more prevalent in my life than in the lives of others. Astrologers would say it’s because I am both a Pisces and an Aquarius. Psychologists would say it’s because of my parents and my upbringing. Regardless of the reasons, however, I think I live twice the life of the average person. At times it difficult to be me, sometimes unbearable, but I would have it no other way.
The ironies are so great that I have to stop and chuckle at them sometimes. If I am waiting in line at the store, just as I arrive at the front, the cash register will break or something and I must line back up elsewhere. If something is being passed out to every one, mine will come broken. Last year I did a study abroad. While checking my bag at my first airport, it split open wide exposing all of my belongings -irony number one. I taped it shut and checked it, figuring that it is better to catch my flight and hope for the best. Six airports later and two canceled flights (which could technically be considered irony number two, but we'll lump it with the first) reunited me with my duffel that had been shrink-wraped by the airport security. I went with a group of 7. Of course, I was the only guy in the group which was irony number two. It's never fun to be singled out. Never trust highly emotional girls in large groups. They blame the only english speaking guy for all their problems. Everyone received a wonderful host family... except for me. I got the host family from hell -irony number three. I could write a book on all the psychological neuroses that my host mother possessed. Eventually I moved out and in with a new host family which I picked myself. Moving out was a fiasco that could take several pages of writing... from all my belongings being taken by the police to the bus breaking down and I, myself, having to push it down the street with a bunch of strangers. After that it was all normal (or normal as far as my life is concerned). I have no regrets about the way things turned out... It just illustrates my point though. I was at the doctor's office yesterday and I was called out by a nurse to follow to the back. After doing several routine
procedures, weight blood pressure, temperature, etc, he began to input the data into computer and realized that I had gained 20 pounds in one week! It was at that point that he realized that he had called the wrong person to the back to see the wrong doctor. The nurse and I walked back to the waiting room where sat the other guy with my name. He couldn't have been more opposite than me -a suit and tie kinda guy, skinny skinny, and married. Ironically, not only did we share the same first name, but also the same middle and nearly the same last name(it was off by a few letters)! I shouldn't be surprised. These kind of things happen all the time to me. Last time I was at the doctor's office, the doctor was late by and hour and a half. He was in a meeting and just forgot about the appointment. I should just begin to expect that SNAFUs will always come my way.
Well, I suppose this isn't exactly a good way to start my blog, but its the truth. My life has been coming unraveled at a frightening pace. I have always been fairly level-headed, or so I would assume. I am a university student. I am 24. I come from a normal family. I was raised by great parents. I was also raised as a Mormon. Incidentally I am gay. It doesn't make for simple living, but that's the deck of cards I play with. I didn't ask for it, but that's the way life is right?
So why has everything started to come unglued all at once? I have come to a huge cross-road. My options are simple as they are placed before me. 1. Continue to live the life of a Mormon but not deny that I am attracted to men, and therefore live a life of celibacy and loneliness. 2. Live in denial of my homosexuality and find a nice girl and marry her and bring a load of worry and concern to both of our lives. Statistically the odds are not in my favor for a successful marriage. Most end in divorce and bring havoc to both the life of the divorcees as well as any children. 3. Leave the church, my associates, my church university, and take the big step into the unknown world of gayness.
I have felt cornered as I have tried to take this slowly as to make the right decision for me. The Church would have me choose option 1 or 2. But if it were up to me, I wouldn't choose any of those options...
The truth is, I feel betrayed by the Church. I was told by bishops, LDS counselors, and the like, that if I just prayed and believed and read the scriptures that I would eventually be able to marry and my feelings of same gender attraction would fade or something like that... but they have neither gone away nor faded no matter how many years of religious devotion I have flogged myself with. I am gay. This I must accept. God accepted it when he made me this way.