Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Life: As It Is

I know it’s been several months since I last posted on this blog. Perhaps like many blogs they have a lifespan according to the issue they represent. If I were to sum up the content of this blog it would essentially be a catalogue of the thought processes, struggles, debates, and trials that I have encountered as I have come to grips with my sexual orientation and my religion.

It has been several months since last updating my blog but I am still here and still breathing. It’s difficult to know where to begin to catch up to fill in the gaps. This blog was never meant to be a travelogue but more of a report of my state of mind in the context of my surroundings. In short however, things are good… I think.

I’ve spent the week with my brother, A and his wife, L, on vacation over the last week. It has been a great time to be with him, but also somewhat difficult for me. I have always been very close to him. We are inseparable when we are together. When in public with new acquaintances they often cannot guess that we are brothers based on our physical appearance, however, when they see us converse they put the connection together. We have our own humor, language, and significant history that it’s a dead give-away every time.

We caught the red-eye flight to our exotic destination. It was so nice just to be with them and away from the cold weather of Utah. As I sat on the airplane next to them I reflected on how much I love him, his wife, and the whole family really. Tears came to my eyes and I offered a silent prayer of gratitude. How fortunate I am to be part of this eclectic mix of exceptional people I call my family.

I am completely out of the closet to my whole family now and the support has been great. I really have no idea where I would be if I didn’t have their support. At Christmas this year it was somewhat strange to have the whole family know and talk about it openly. My youngest brother, S, was the last to find out and when I told him he couldn’t believe it. He thought it was a big hoax the family was playing on him. Anyway, I told A about my orientation about a year ago. He took it well, but really has had to take things slow. He has made it abundantly clear that he loves me regardless of what happens and whatever I do.

Despite the openness of my family, I have had a difficult time knowing exactly where A stands on the issue itself. I have had three major conversations with him and each of them I have walked away somewhat unsure exactly where he stands and how he feels about this issue and me. So we had a moment together late at night and I decided to take advantage of the privacy the night provided and we talked into the early morning hours. I don’t know exactly where the conversation began and in truth, I don’t think the topic has any closure either. He mostly talked I think and I mostly listened. Because I love him so very much I want to truly understand his perspective and where he is coming from. Because of my pride I want the confidence in the path I walk to be respected. This difference between us can make reaching an agreement on perspective difficult. Perhaps it is too much to ask of those I love to embrace my sexual identity in its fullness and I must accept that they will never fully understand or make peace with it as I have. Sometimes I wish I had some sort of wisdom to offer them, but I really don’t. I myself am still in a building phase in regards to my own belief system.

Lately I have felt a reawakening to wanting to know God better. I have begun praying more and it really feels good. I feel a deep longing to reconnect with God and understand my role in the universe. While I am generally disenchanted with the idea of organized religion, I still seek out a religious context to describe my feelings about God and essentially a spiritual identity. I feel very strongly that I need something to stand for. I am not fully involved in any group or organization and I really would like to be part of something. I need a holy cause.

Not really knowing where I stand in a religious or spiritual context makes it difficult for me to verbally justify my life choices when I talk to A or anyone for that matter. All I can really tell him with any certainty is that I know the Church does not work for me and that I do believe that God has a plan for me that he will reveal. But I suppose that doesn’t offer any sort of assurance to A, just more worry.

A has revealed that my homosexuality has lead him to do much soul searching himself and has sought to find answers for himself. He also claims that this situation has caused him to grow tremendously which makes me glad.

“Initially,” said A, “I shrugged my shoulders and said to myself, ‘Well what are homosexuals supposed to do but to seek out a same-sex relationship and just do the best they can?’ But I don’t really feel that way any more. God has required a lot of his people and sometimes we must wait, like Abraham, for God’s promises to be fulfilled.”
“So,” I said, “what you’re saying is that at first you believed that homosexuality was okay but now you don’t?”
“Right”
“How did you come to that conclusion?”
“Mostly from reading the scriptures.”
“So if I were to pursue a monogamous, same-sex relationship you would think it was sinful?”
“Yes, but it doesn’t mean I would discriminate against you nor would I treat you any different were you in a relationship like that.”

In the end, while I am grateful for his love, it pains me for him to look at me living a sinful life.

“I think you need to take your name off the records of the Church”
I was taken by surprise that he said that.
“I also think you shouldn’t consider going to BYU as an option. You should take your name off the records out of respect. There is no reason for you to be part of the Church if you don’t follow its teachings or believe them.”

I was very surprised to hear him say this. It also was a painful reminder that the Church that I dedicated my life, money, sweat, and prayers to rejects me. In some ways I feel like this whole issue has been somewhat of a dividing factor between my brother and me. The love is still there, but there is a level of discomfort in the weavings of our brotherly bond. It is that separation that hurts me so much because I love him.

A and I stayed up late talking about it all. The whole family really has been going through some interesting changes. My father is probably the least connected to the reality of our changing attitudes, beliefs, and the overall construct of religious lifestyle in our family. He is spacey and disconnected from it all. My mother is angry at God for many reasons. She feels like he let her down and didn’t keep his promise that if she did everything she could as a mother (which I believe she did), that her children would stay strong in the Church. My youngest brother, S, in A’s words, “has taken a spiritual hiatus.” He probably won’t go on a mission and has accepted an eclectic taste for living. He, much like myself is trying to figure out what he believes in and stands for. He is good, kind, and genuine. My sister, M, has a crumbling marriage. She never wanted to be a Molly-Mormon and now finds herself trapped in a very complicated marriage. I do not know what the future holds for her family. She has many doubts about the veracity of the church’s stance on the female identity and their role in the Church.

We sat and talked about the changes in our family. Everyone else seems to be in a state of transition away from the Church whether it be a final move or just a temporary phase. A lamented his status of really being the only one who is truly 100% with the Church. He told me of how he cried to his wife a couple months back about how sad he was that he feels so much like an outsider in the family right now. I guess I can relate in that I feel like such an outsider from the Church that I called my family for so many years. It seems that life is very bitter sweet at this time.

In a perfect world there wouldn’t be such irresolvable conflict. My brother wouldn’t have to deal with his chronic pain from an old injury nor would he feel like a pariah in his own family. I wouldn’t be gay and have to deal with the religious or societal conflicts that come with the territory. My sister would be able to make peace with her marriage and her personal feelings that conflict with her marriage and religion. My mother would have peace and joy knowing that her children were strong in the faith, making good choices, and had relatively trouble free lives. Her marriage would be full of not only seasoned love but also a thriving sense of being dazzled in love. My father would have desire to achieve his fullest potential and would thrive on his self-confidence. He would be connected to his world and his children. He would maximize the enormous wealth of latent talent inside and add beauty to the world around him.

I don’t mean to say that life is just one disappointment after another. Life, I believe has it’s equal positive and negative characteristics. There is an optimistic way to view everything. I like me, I love my family, and I appreciate the obstacles to be conquered and the tremendous opportunity to become.

When I was a child I was a huge fan of the Fragles. Fragle Rock was my favorite show. I had every thing Fragle. I used to know all of their songs by heart and had a record that I played over and over again. One song in particular probably sums up the essence of what I am trying to say:

You don’t know how to laugh until you cry,
You don’t know when you’ve failed until you’ve tried
You don’t know where you’ve been until you’re homeward bound
And you don’t know when you’re lost until you’re found.

It is a sorrowing for the things that cannot be in life and a rejoicing in the things that were, are, and may be. There is joy to be had in everything that happens. It can be hard to see things in an optimistic light but I believe it is possible. However, at this time, I don’t think the family is seeing things from a glass half-full perspective, myself included.

So I guess I am happy. I have many deep stressors in my life at this time in my lives that sometimes make it difficult to recognize that. But the truth is that I do feel happy for the most part. But the other part of me says, “Now what?” I really think I need a holy cause, something to live for –something to build my life around. I really have no idea what the future holds. I believe that if I continually keep God in my mind and begin to re-include him in every aspect of my life, the path will pre
sent itself.