Saturday, July 15, 2017

Gender and Transgender – III

Five years ago, I wrote a post about gender confusion and my dissatisfaction with the abbreviation "LGBT." I used that post to air a perceived grievance that gay people and transgender folks are often lumped into the same category. In that post, I flaunted my cis-ness, and my privilege was on full display.

I think about that post often, and although I haven't written in this blog in years, it still haunts me to know the post is out there. I won't be deleting the post, because I don't care for revision of history, but I will be adding an appendix linking to this post, which contains my current view of transgender (which I feel has evolved and is less closed-minded), particularly as it relates to the LGBT movement. Let me affirm, loud and clear, that if you are a transgender person, you are a person foremost and therefore worthy of love, respect, and dignity. I apologize for that post from 2011. It was unnecessary and borderline hateful.

Nothing about me has changed in regard to my gender identity. Aside from a the occasional night out in heels, a skirt, and outrageous makeup, I have very little desire to be anything but what I am: a gay, mostly cisgendered male. As I've stated before, I've never seriously experienced gender confusion or a feeling that I belonged to a different sex.

Before, I would regard those who feel gender dysphoria or who identify as transgender with pity and confusion. Perhaps in my darker, less affirming moments, even disgust. But after years of learning and, most importantly, listening, I've purged those deconstructing reactions from my heart. It would be a lie to say I understand what transgender folks go through (because I could never), but the more I learn about the world, the more I realize that we're all just trying our best to do what will bring us and those around us lasting joy.

I currently sing in the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles. My first season with GMCLA, the chorus spun off a separate group, called the Trans Chorus of Los Angeles. In doing so, these oft-marginalized folks—even within the LGBT community—were given a literal voice. After one half-season under GMCLA's tutelage, TCLA took off on its own wild hair, performing proudly at sports games, community events, and other very public opportunities. Some of these folks have fascinating stories, but some of them are just plain ol' folks, trying to do the right thing the best way they know how. In that wise, they're no different from any of us.

I'm not adding anything unique to the dialogue, but I wanted to set the record (that I wrote in 2011) straight: Trans folks are people too, and we're all doing our best with the tools that we've got. Regardless of the morality question, there's no reason for any of us to turn up our noses at other children of God. Like I said, not breaking any new ground there, but it's how I feel.

A friend with whom I recently reconnected had told me that she left the Mormon faith (and indeed all faith entirely), saying she now belongs to the Church of Don't Be an Asshole. Couldn't agree more, and once again, I apologize for not belonging to that church in 2011.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

A ludicrously long hiatus: God's blessings continue

It's been months since my last post. Blogging here has become simultaneously tedious and risky, so I haven't seen much of the appeal behind it.

However, on recommendation from a friend who has always believed in my ability to "pioneer," I've decided to share a little about my life lately.

Some of you noticed that I wrote a blog post about the BYU-Idaho Student Honor Office a few months ago.  I decided to delete the post because I felt it was insensitive and petty.  I've rewritten it, but I can't decide if I'll post it. Time will tell, I suppose.

The long and short of that first deleted post was this: In May of this year, I was suspended from BYU-Idaho until April 2015, when I can apply to attend school in April 2016.  Effectively, I was removed from the school for nearly two years. I acknowledge my wrongdoing in being suspended, but I felt somewhat wronged by the school, that justice had been served with exactness and severity, but no mercy was extended. I could write a book filled with the negative feelings I had (and still have), but my message tonight is a different one.


Saturday, April 26, 2014

I got 99 problems...

I remember when I realized that 99% of my emotional duress was directly or indirectly caused by that rift between God and gay in my life. This thought saddened me somewhat, as though I was incapable of feeling anything but cheated or conflicted or lonesome or what have you.

Well, my friends, I have proved that theory wrong in the last month.

I'm not going to lie, it's actually kind of nice to feel anxious or depressed about something other than being a gay Mormon.  It's nice to actually experience a breadth of emotion, rather than just being a lovelorn silly little thing. It's like when I had my heart broken the very first time: it sucked, but it also felt cool to know that I was capable of that kind of emotion.

In any case, money is tight, school is tough, the workplace is a scary and unforgiving world, and I have no idea where I will be or what I will be doing in three months.  It's pretty awful. And friends.  Friends are hard to come by lately. I feel as though I'm burning more than a few bridges and I don't know what to do to stop it.

But, like I said, it is downright refreshing to be thinking about something besides being a QueerMo.

Rock on, muthafuckas.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

The 25th year, come and gone!

Today's my 25th birthday!  I'm officially an adult in nearly every metric, given that I can now rent cars for cheap.

It was a great day.  School started today, which is a blessing, because I do love learning.  It will be a great semester.  I have good people in my life and I am working towards something that's important to me.  My birthday, while somewhat uneventful, was peaceful and quiet and filled with friends and laughter and ice cream.

The tiger in me is satisfied.

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Tiger

One of my favorite animals is the tiger.  They're strong, regal, graceful, fierce, and lethal. They own their territory, patrolling it each day, always mindful of everything that goes on inside their domain. They're also beautiful creatures, long and lean and with those striking stripes. I really love tigers.

I had a pen pal who once asked what animal I would choose to be if I could be an animal; obviously, a tiger.  His reply kind of struck me and has stayed with me ever since.

"I can totally see you being a cat. Large and imposing. But thoughtful and reserved. Very independent and at times distant. But strong when you need to be."

He knew that tigers are solitary creatures, that they don't share their space with other tigers often, and that they almost never interact with each other.

Last night, tigers came up again, this time in a conversation with a friend who needs to remember that she can do hard things.  She likes to be compared to a lioness, so I told her to go and be the lioness she wants to be, and to own her situation and make it her bitch. I promised her that I'd try to do the same, and she asked what kind of animal I'd like to be in my situation.

I replied tiger again, because right now, that's what I aspire to be.

I'm not going to be so dramatic as to say that there's no one out there for me, but romantically, it's been a hard few months. I haven't been dating at all, but I've just wondered what my future looks like in that regard. I've been lonely, although things are going well in a lot of other areas, so I can't dismiss them altogether.

So, right now, I want to be a tiger. I want to acknowledge my own academic and professional badassery and blessings. I want to be independent and strong and reserved and thoughtful. I want to get shit done and move on to the next item of business. I want to own my life and make all my own decisions and do what's best for me, and I want to forget about being linked to another person, at least for now.

Of course, this is all easier said than done, because what I really want deep down is for that perfect individual to tell me that I'm the one and live happily ever after (barf). What I really want is to be wanted by someone who I want back. I want to be high on the priorities list of someone whom I prioritize. I kind of shudder to think of what I'd give up if it meant I could be involved in something that looks like love. That's not something a tiger would ever do.

But I'm going to try and change.  I'm going to be the tiger I know I should be right now. I'm going to try really hard to put off love and let other things fall into place. Cuz I'm a tiger.

(Maybe if I keep saying it, it'll become real.)

Friday, April 18, 2014

Love letter

Dear you,

I'm a little tired of waiting.

I know it's a little ridiculous to expect so much of life at such a young age.  I'm not even 25 and I have all these grandiose expectations of what life should be. I should be totally self-assured, I should be graduated from college and have a decent-paying job. I should be out of debt, have a decent savings fund, and I should own a nice little house with a workshop filled with an old BMW, two motorcycles, and a Tacoma 4x4.

I should have something resembling love in my life. Be it an understanding and dead-sexy wife and two kids or some devilishly handsome architect and our shelter-rescue mutt, there should be someone I'm sharing my life with.

But instead, I'm renting a small (admittedly cozy) apartment that I share with five other guys (all of whom I like a lot). I'm in debt, I make a pittance at my part-time job, and I'm doing pretty poorly at school. And at night, I get into my twin bed alone and fall asleep.

Don't get me wrong, I'm fine with where I'm at (except for my poor grades and debt, perhaps).  I've got good friends and I like the place I live. I kinda like school and I enjoy learning new things. My family loves me (you should see the care packages I get on the regular). Life's good. I even love my car. Like, LOVE my car.

I'm good with waiting, but at the same time, I'm ready for you to come around, open my eyes to the world of fulfilling, expressive, passionate love.

I guess, until then, I'll save my love for you. I've got a lot of it to give. I look forward to surprising you with flowers or chocolates or a night out just because I felt like it. I look forward to driving home from work, proverbial tail wagging because I'm excited to see you once I get through this traffic. I'm even looking forward to fighting, to hating you for a few minutes before I cool down. I look forward to traditions and anniversaries and birthdays and holidays and kids and pets and a messy house and grey hairs and probably some balding (heaven forbid).


I think I've mentioned this before, but I'm reading Love in the Time of Cholera, by Gabriel García Márquez. And yes, I have been reading it for almost a year.  Books are slow-going for me.

In any case, I'm really enjoying it.  The first half or so was ridiculously romantic, written in such a syrupy, overwrought style that I secretly love, but then, it evened out by about midway through and became much more self-possessed and realistic.  I love it.

Anyway, I've been thinking about love as much as usual, maybe more so because I've been reading this 60-year-long love story, and I decided to write a love letter.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

It's been awhile

Two holidays, three holiday destinations, a new vehicle, the end of an internship and the start of a semester, and one cross-country move later, and I'm still alive.

Dallas was amazing.  I had a great time making new friends (and a not-so-great time making enemies out of my roommates) and my internship was everything I wanted it to be. I enjoyed Dallas in a lot of ways and I learned a few things about myself, but it was also a brutal, brutal four months.  I'm not going to lie, I'm not sure if I can remember being more miserable than I did in a few moments down there.  But like I said, I learned a lot professionally and had some fun times as well.

The biggest thing I learned was how to be alone.  That sounds super-duper dramatic, but it wasn't really.  I had a hard time initially because I lived so far away from the other interns and didn't get along with my roommates, but after not too long I learned to fall into my work and to make friends and to enjoy my time to myself.  I spent one or two weekends locked in my room alternating between Netflix and hot chocolate and I occasionally got lost in downtown Dallas and found things to do.  It was a really, really nice semester.

I also tried dating. It sucked.  Not so great at dating, probably gonna put that on the back burner for a looooooong time.

Anyway, I'm alive and back in Rexburg, eager to throw down on another semester and achieve some giddy little heights for my last half-year here.

¡Paz afuera!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Labyrinth

I was introduced to a new religious archetype this weekend, the labyrinth.

Some friends and I were exploring the grounds of Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee and we found ourselves at the Scarritt Bennett Center, a religious institution and retreat.  We followed the signs toward the garden and found a labyrinth set into the ground with paving stones. It was in the center of a lovely courtyard with trees dropping vibrant yellow and red leaves onto the grass below. The air was fresh with just a nip of cold in it, something that I didn't realize I missed, having spent my fall in humid, rainy Dallas. It was a lovely, affirming morning.

But it got even better.

The labyrinth is an interesting icon. Anthology has taught us that it was an important symbol in Greek myth, Tantric Buddhism, Native American mythology, and Egyptian culture. Many people use it the word synonymously with "maze," but they are not the same thing.

I started at the beginning of the labyrinth, sort of as a lark, but with each turn, I got more and more emotional until I was almost in tears by the time I stepped into the center.  It was such a beautiful experience. My friends and I discussed it and made a few realizations.

The first is that if you look at the center or the other paths, you're going to be confused when the path you're on changes course unexpectedly. The best move, for motion-sickness-avoiding sake, is to look as far down your own path as you can and look for the turn ahead, then look for the next turn after that, and so on, and turn by turn, you'll eventually get where you're going.

The next is that there will be times when you're really close to the center, but your path will suddenly bear farther away for a few moments. It's actually really frustrating being one bank away from the center one moment and then four banks away the next.  But that's how it goes.

The final thought we had is the difference between mazes and labyrinths. As the plaque in the SBC's courtyard explained, a labyrinth has no tricks or dead ends.  There is one path and it always leads to the center if one presses forward long enough.

Do you remember the experience I had with my Heavenly Father a few weeks ago? When His soft, gentle voice told me that it would be okay someday, even though now was shit?  Since then, my life has been exponentially easier.  Don't get me wrong, it still sucks being me in a lot of ways (and it rocks being me in just as many ways [US Grand Prix was this weekend and I was there :) ]), but through it all, I have hope that it will be okay, and the mere presence of that hope makes all the difference.

That's what this labyrinth was to me.  It was proof that life turns out okay, even if the path you're on is circuitous, serpentine, and inefficient.  If you press forward and only look as far ahead as the next turn, you'll get there eventually.

I took a video of the path.  Feel free to watch and experience it through my eyes.

video

Monday, November 11, 2013

Snapchat and religious devotion

I've got a friend at work who likes to organize little employee lunches.  We all grab a bite at some dive, gossip about work and our social lives, laugh, cackle, guffaw, etc.  Sometimes, it's just me and her at these lunches and I like those lunches better than most.

This girl swears like a sailor in her odd, Texas-meets-New York accent and her topics of choice usually include who's banging who, trips we all should take (usually to Vegas or Winstar Casino), good concerts coming up, and so on.  She dresses well too and is always put together.  In all respects, she's a pretty typical young American woman.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

I can wait.

About a week ago, I was on the receiving end of some pretty sad emotional wounds. Church is hard, dating is hard, family is hard, and I'm just not adjusting very well to life away from what is familiar.

The straw finally came on Wednesday when I found out that a friend of mine had been lying about stuff to avoid hanging out with me. I felt betrayed and cheap and sad and I immediately started weeping bitterly.

As a sidebar, I often feel as though God chooses to love me in a passive-aggressive way.  I feel incredible guilt when He blesses me, but when life is difficult for whatever reason,  I always interpret it to be a manifestation of His anger.  I'm not blaming any of this on Him, but I can't seem to ever feel His love.  I always feel like He's either dangling blessings in front of me and then guilting me when He gives them, or He withholds love from me like a petulant child.  Unconditional love is not something I understand.

As I cried silently into my pillow, I prayed that if God knew the end from the beginning, then He knew how my story was going to turn out.  I asked Him to tell me if things ever got better and if I'd ever be happy somehow. Almost immediately, I felt calm and tranquil and knew that my happy ending would come, even if I didn't know how or when.  I knew that God knew, and without putting any qualifications on it, He gave me that knowledge to calm me down and help me feel peace.

I was still sad, but the tears stopped flowing and for the first time in a LONG time, I felt humble. I said, out loud, "Okay, I'll wait.  I can wait for things to be good."

Things aren't good.  But they will be good.  And that's enough.  I can wait.

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