Monday, January 29, 2007

Actions Speak Louder. It's Deafening!

Lately I feel like I have been a little more honest with God about my choices. I mean, I'm not going to try to hide from God or ignore him because I am afraid that he'll tell me to be straight or celibate. God loves me and won't lead me into a life that will make me unhappy. I know that there is no easy answer for the position I find myself in, and I need to just trust God that he will lead me to a fulfilling life.

I really need to know what the facets of my options are so that I can carefully and introspectively make good choices for my life. As I have ventured out on brief trips to the world of homosexuality, I have toured with the hope of finding myself at home in a culture that can be very foreign to the Mormon religion. My tours have included political events, night clubs, friendship networking, and of course a few from the blog world. I wanted to find a place where my sexuality could be welcomed as well as simple common sense values so as to support a healthy lifestyle and relationships. While I recognize, having traveled abroad in the past, that one cannot simply stereotype an entire community based on the experiences of a few encounters with the culture, some of my interviews with the homosexual community have lead me to believe that actions speak louder than words. And I regret to say that a growing body of evidence supports my concern that living a gay life must undoubtedly include some level of promiscuity.

I spent a considerable amount of time this last weekend touring. These were a few of my vistas: A night club, two group gatherings, a date, and an interview with a couple who have been together for nearly two years. In each of these situations I was greeted with fair individuals with seemingly normal lives and relationships. Yet behind this mask of normalcy some sort of sexual encounter was offered. It wasn't quite as brazen as "Hey, lets get it on!" But rather, these offerings began as little hints dropped here and there and when I didn't bite the bait, became flat out inquiries into personal details about my genitals, masturbation, pornography, and whether or not I have had sexual relationships with other men. Granted, early on in life I I learned the gift of tact. And though most of these conversations were presented without tact in the least, I was able to sidestep the issues pressed upon my delicate homosexual paradigm and move on -which often left the solicitor of such questions feeling even more hungry for sexual discussion and flat out offers to explore my sexuality.

The most disturbing factor in all of this however were not the offers of rampant homosexual encounters as much as
offering these encounters. The two most persistent men to offer to "loosen my tension" were men who were in serious long term relationships with other men. Even after pointing out that they would be breaking the trust of their lovers, they persisted. I find this most upsetting. The longest I have ever had a romantic relationship with anyone was my girlfriend two years ago and we lasted three months. These men have shown that they are committed to their relationships by staying in them for more than 2 years. That is true for both cases. Nevertheless, in private venues of conversation they offer to break their commitments infidelity, the offers remained; threatening the longevity of their significant other remaining significant.

In the end I respectfully declined their generous offer to throw away their integrity (and possibly their relationships) for a few moments of pleasure. I told them that I wouldn't feel comfortable sacrificing the respect I have for fidelity and their long-term partners. And even so they presented themselves as ordinary people living ordinary lives, I couldn't help but wonder how healthy these relationships really are. After all, infidelity can be a fatal blow to any relationship.

Why does this happen in the homosexual world? I'm not attempting to say that the gay community has a monopoly on infidelity, but my friends both in and out of the Church that are in long term relationships have never offered such things nor have such sexual topics plagued a conversation like a nicotine craving that just won't go away. Whereas my many homosexual friends seem to allow irresponsible sex to identify so many of their actions regardless of how much they attest to common sense values. Granted, I have met a few honest gay men and couples out there, but the majority that I have met aren't beyond engaging in a little side fun every now and then. Is it just something that goes with the territory of the gay community? How does one protect himself from becoming one of those men?

Perhaps my perception is flawed. Maybe it would be easier to believe that my incredibly magnificent physique is what is threatening the relationships in the gay community. Yet, some how I doubt that my good looks alone could take responsibility for such.
There is a lot to me -a great deal to who I am. I'm more than just a piece of meat, even if I am a good cut. Nobody interviewed me this weekend to find out what really makes me tick. And yet somehow they couldn't get me out of their mind. I ventured out of my world to try to connect with and better understand a people who share the same attractions as I do. And it's not that I am seeking attention from them as much as I am trying to learn. I merely want to believe that I can have healthy relationships and be happy and content with my life. And if that means that I must deny myself a doomed same-sex relationship in exchange for peace of mind, then that is the course I am willing to take.


PS: As for all of you in the blog world , the very small few that I have met in person, I have to say I am quite impressed with the lives you live. Never have I received an innapropriate solicitation nor have my feelings been disrespected. Perhaps it is because of the genuine nature of blogging. It provides a forum for brutal honesty. There are no hidden agendas. The anonymity is sacred. I am greatful for all of the support I receive from everyone regardless of which side of the fence you stand.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

A Holy Cause

As I have already posted, a little over a year ago, I came to a deeper understanding of my personal value -an understanding that I am of infinite worth and that nothing I do and nothing that happens to me will ever change my value. Looking back over the last year or so however, coming to this understanding has caused me to have to reevaluate other aspects of my life. I used to place a lot of value on being part of the Church. I used to believe that I was valuable because "I am a Mormon" and "I am a Sunday school teacher" and "because I did this or that for the Church." It made me feel like I was part of something greater than myself -which is good. It caused me to really work for something that wasn't completely selfish and I felt like my life contributed something of value to a holy cause. Additionally it gave me a sense of status as I received complements on a lesson or a pat on the back for following through with an assignment. And so, I allowed my actions, whether "positive or negative," "good or bad" to dictate the value of my soul.

But something was deeply lacking. I suffered from crippling perfectionism. I was so concerned that I wasn't good enough and I felt that my weaknesses kept me from really progressing. It affected the way that I perceived God. I saw God looking down at me like some Zeus-like figure -ready at any moment to strike me with lightning because of my imperfections and flaws. I thought that maybe if I could be better or more perfect I would be able to make myself valuable to God and his church. And even though I was able to accomplish many good works, in the end my works were counter productive to my self esteem and I never allowed myself to dig into my weaknesses and use them as strengths. Instead I was in denial of my flaws. It was too scary to look at my weaknesses and really accept them as part of my life -part of my mortal experience.

Making peace with my mortality was one of the most renewing, beautiful, and liberating experiences of my life. Nevertheless, upon realizing that my works in the Church really didn't affect my personal value suddenly made a lot of my works seem somewhat valueless. Apparently my motivations for "selfless acts" in the Church had in reality been selfish. And even though my motivations were less than honorable, I won't deny that I received many of the benefits of honorable
motivations. But in many ways my holy cause didn't give a full return because my life still had much lacking; primarily my understanding of my self worth.

As a natural consequence to my paradigm shift, I lost interest in church-related activities. This was evidence to me that I had never truly received a "knowledge of the truthfulness" that the Church was true. After all, if I believe it to be true, shouldn't faith support me through all trials and all experiences in life? I won't deny that I have had many wonderful, spiritual experiences that made me feel that the Church was right, but with my new set of reality glasses, I realized perfectionism was replaced with cynicism and ultimately if I desired to stay in the Church I would need a holier reason than the vanity of perfectionism.

As my interest in the Church faded, I found that I replaced my activities of devotion with self serving activities.
Every culture has its strengths and weaknesses; virtues and vices. I fell prey to one of the greatest sicknesses of American culture. I began to seek entertainment. Not that entertainment in arbitrarily wrong, but there is a growing threat to the civil society of the American people because of the desire to be entertained rather than contribute to a cause or a lifestyle or belief system. This often leads to an emptiness that is nearly insatiable. Unfortunately, all too often people attempt to fill this void, but like a black hole this void draws the elements and does not let go. I began to feed myself with the disease of consumerism -purchasing this or that without thought for need or personal economy. And so I began working so that I could spend. I began to live beyond my means to support myself because of this insatiable hunger for value in my life. I used to be very wise with my money and considered it sacred. But now instead of self control with my money I entitle myself to entertainment or social status or style.

It's taken me a while to realize what it is that my life still lacks despite my perceived wisdom in my paradigm shift of more than a year ago. I have lost my holy cause, the value
in my life as opposed to the value of my life. I realize that in order to truly be happy I need to find a holy cause. One of the greatest losses to the value of my life when I left the church was feeling like I was part of something greater than myself. I felt like I was important to the Church and I felt needed by others. Feeling unneeded has made me feel lonely at times and a desire to receive attention from others. This need to receive love and attention in a holy or righteous way may explain some of my most saddening and desperate moments in my recent history. I made some pretty bad choices in which I sacrificed my hard earned money and more importantly, my personal values -all for the sake of feeling needed.

I haven't completely given up on the Church though I have a number of concerns, but more importantly I haven't given up on God. For a while I didn't want to talk to God. At first my silence was for bitterness and cynicism which evolved into insecurity as to what I believed to be truth, and eventually into fear that God would tell me to live a life that would bring me unhappiness. I know it sounds funny to think that God would would tell me that happiness is out of the question for my life, but I really subconsciously felt that God would forbid happiness for me. And so, I stopped talking to God for some time.

I'm not afraid anymore though. I still don't know what I believe in, but I am willing to listen to what God has to say. I need to find a holy cause and a reason for living. I need to contribute my time and talents to something greater than myself.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Scary Thoughts

It is said that thought precedes action, and I would tend to agree. Lately I have been feeling a bit anxious because of my thoughts.

I came out to my parents a few years back but it wasn’t until Thanksgiving that we really talked about it again. In fact, I think they better understood the ultimate challenge I face better than I did when I first told them. But as for coming out to anyone else; I have not. Even so, thoughts of coming out have been swimming between my ears.

And though my parents have some what of a clue as to what my struggle entails, but I don’t know that they REALLY know how close I am to declaring my homosexuality and moving on. I don’t think I really know how close I am to it either. It scares me to think of being fully “out” and living a gay life. Because it scares me, I think I tell myself that “I still don’t now what I want” but deep down inside I am decided.

I am afraid that by coming out I will only ever be seen as a gay man, and nothing else. That it will be an identifying feature that most people won’t be able to look past and what scares me even more is that being gay is all I will ever see in myself. I fear that the better parts of me will die.

I think about what that would mean for me in the long run and I wonder if I would be happier than I am now. I think of wanting to be true to myself on all fronts of life and yet I wonder if I can ever fully accomplish the becoming of who I want to be by being true to myself.

I have thought of giving my parents the link to this blog.

I was talking to my brother on the telephone last week about a long time friend of mine. He asked me if I “liked” her. After telling him no, he responded, “You’re never interested in girls.” I felt my face flush and a mild pulse of indignation course through my body. I have thought about telling my brother that I am gay.

Yesterday I had a conversation with a married friend. She asked me the classic insult question. “If you have been back from your mission for 3 ½ years, then why aren’t you married yet?” I wanted to tell her, “Well, you see, the prophets have counseled us to seek out a spouse and marry in the temple, but when it comes to homosexuals, they tell us it’s better if we don’t.” The truth of the matter is, heterosexual marriage is really unappealing to me because of my homosexuality.

My thoughts are many and fragmented. I usually wouldn’t post something this disjointed, but I will anyway.

Monday, January 01, 2007

Batting For The Pink Team

Much of my blog thus far has really been a debate over what I really want out of life in the long run. Do I want to pursue a long term same-sex relationship or would I be better off trying to make a heterosexual relationship work? I mean, ultimately which relationship will work better for me? The fact of the matter is that regardless of which relationship I choose to pursue, I will have to make some sacrifice.

A homosexual relationship would deny me my own natural born children, remove any possibility of making peace with the Church, intense social pressure (in the 'coming out' process) , and bring on a whole world of politics that I am not sure I want to get into. Furthermore, I identify with traditional family roles. I have a hard time picturing myself with a man and kissing him good bye as I leave for work while he hands me my sack lunch. Envisioning myself with that kind of a life is foreign to me, and perhaps my resistance to a homosexual plot is because I was raised in a heterosexual home, grew up with heterosexual friends, and the reality that nearly half of my friends in my current peer group are married. In truth, it is possible that my hesitation to such is less nature than nurture. Not that a homosexual relationship can't work for me or that my paradigm can't change (though sometimes I have doubts about my ability to have a healthy productive love relationship with anyone on account of my previous unsuccessful relationships), but more that I just can't picture myself in a same sex relationship, and it would seem unnatural to force such a scenario.

Conversely, what if I were to pursue a heterosexual life? Certainly there are many men in my shoes that have chosen to live in a heterosexual marriage. Many of them have been successful in proving that a marriage can survive despite their intense homosexual feelings. Many of them have also chosen to abandon their marriages to try batting for the pink team. Would I be able to romance a woman to the point of considering marriage? Am I expected to lead her on until I have her sufficiently wooed and then break the news to her? I can't lie about my feelings and I won't pretend to be somebody else from the get-go. Not that I feel the need to wear my emotions on my sleeve and announce to the world everything about myself, but I am not going to lie about my feelings. Additionally, I think it is safe to assume that the great majority of women aren't interested in getting romantically involved with gay men much less married to them.

I hear and read about many men who have not told their wives about their homosexual feelings. I couldn't keep that reality away from my wife. Furthermore, were I to share my feelings with my wife, how could I expect to be completely honest and open with her about how "un attracted" I am to her, how much I "want" to be living a homosexual life, and expect her to remain objective and supportive? It's not fair to do that to her.

And then, WOAH! Throw some offspring into the mix and I have created quite the tangle. Children need completely devoted and committed parents. Anything less is unsatisfactory. I've said it before, I'd be willing to give marriage a shot, but you can't go into marriage with a sampler's attitude. There are no test-drives for marriage.

How did the married homosexual men out there ever convince a woman to marry them? How were they able to search out a woman, date her exclusively, and then finally decide that marriage was the road to take? How does one come to that place? I ask because, from where I see it, finding the woman who matches the criteria for me to date is virtually impossible. Like I said, what woman wants to date a gay man who is basically not sexually attracted to her?

On the opposing side, I think it would be incredibly difficult to find a gay man that would be able to meet my criteria for dating AND for me to feel comfortable in the relationship. Again, not that it's impossible, but it's difficult for me to see myself with a boyfriend. I think it would be hard for me to find a gay man that could emotionally "complete" me. Additionally, how do you put yourself "out there" trying to meet gay men and yet remain "in the closet" so as to keep yourself from getting kicked out of BYU? Maybe I need to transfer schools...

Finally, my greatest concern with coming out. It's not that I am afraid of the social responsibility associated with making such an announcement (not that I would write it on my forehead or anything). It is indeed worrisome and deserves deliberation, but it is within my personal emotional capability to cope with coming out. I have a great family with incredible support. My primary concern would be this, what if a few years down the road I want to switch teams? What if I realize that living a gay life isn't fulfilling and decide that I want to try the straight thing again? Am I allowed to do that? I mean the truth is, I don't think anyone is interested in dating someone who apparently is insecure with what he wants relationship wise. Too much instability and lack of commitment. I wouldn't want to date someone like that. So maybe celibacy is the answer. That stinks. Who wants that?

The frustrating thing is, (not to sound overly egotistical) I really think I am a damn fine catch -for a woman or a man. I have goals, I am balanced, I am confident in most everything I do, I like me, and I don't feel like I settle for less in life. I am willing to give new things a try. I thrive on experience and I allow my experience to become part of who I am. I have a vivid personality, a great sense of humor, and I can get along with nearly anyone. I can be charismatic when I want to be and I'm generally well liked. And while I recognize that physical appearance is of little significance, I like the way I look too. I mean, looks only last as long as youth does anyway right? I can be the life of the party or I can be a wall flower. I succeed in most things I pursue as long as it doesn’t require more than basic arithmetic. :-) I am a thinker and a leader. I feel passionately about a lot of things and I enjoy life. I am a problem solver. Instead of shrugging my shoulders I will work to find a solution and make the impossible, possible even when I have few or limited variables to work with. I am not afraid to tell someone I love them. I am honest with myself, my friends and my associates even when honesty can hurt, but benefit in the long run. I don't play with other people's feelings and expect the same in return. I want to love and to be loved.

I hope that doesn’t sound like a vain monologue because I know that I am no better or more valued than anyone else. I am an equal with everyone. I believe that and I live my life accordingly. It's just that I know who I am, I like the man that God created and I wouldn't want to change a thing about me.

So which path do I take? Which team do I play for? If I bat for the pink team, and I start to strike out in life, can I ever go back to my home team, or would it be far too late for making such life-changing decisions after having played in the prime of my life? It is a question that no one can answer for me but Father Time and Professor Experience.