Saturday, April 16, 2011

Straight Talk

Lately, I've been having lots of strange and random conversations about same-gender attraction with people who don't know that I'm gay and it's been interesting talking about it from the role of a straight man.  Tonight, Chris, a new friend of mine, and I were talking on Facebook about homosexuality a little bit.  He and I met when a mutual friend gave him my phone number since we were both 21 and hadn't served missions.  He wanted to know other people in his situation; he's had trouble with over-zealous and judgmental members of the Church being rude and accusatory towards him.  His willingness to be set up on a blind friend-date was kind of off-putting to me at first, but he's a good guy and I like talking to him.  We've only actually met once, but we get along well in person, too.  I'm not attracted to him at all, but I like him as a friend.

In any case, his gregariousness in being introduced to a total stranger had my gaydar blipping a little bit, but after tonight's conversation, it's pinging like I'm in West Hollywood.  We talked a lot about how difficult it must be for gay members of the Church.  Somehow we got on the subject of gay members at the school we attend.  He said that for the first time, he didn't know any people at the university who struggled with SGA.  He used to attend one of the other BYUs and he said he knew of a huge network of men there who struggled.  We got talking about the risks and merits of having such a system in life (speaking hypothetically, of course).

My point was that I, as a straight man, have a hard enough time keeping things appropriate with girls, where there is a physical outlet in the vein of kissing, hugging, and holding hands.  If, however, I were gay, there wouldn't be any socially acceptable activity to show my affections for men and that pent-up need, combined with the temptation, might be too much for me to handle if I knew of other men who were gay.

This of course was speaking from experience.  I have a friend named Toby and we mutually know the other is gay, and for us, it's very difficult to keep things appropriate.  We like holding hands when we drive in the car and we've gotten into a little trouble with cuddling together and random kisses on the cheek.  It's difficult to back down from those activities and keep them from going further than they already have.  Having a network wider than the one person I already know is gay would be torture for me.

Chris' point, I suspect also coming from experience, was that living a lie is exhausting (I agree) and that you need to have people that really understand you.  That's the alluring part about my relationship with Toby.  He gets me to a certain extent, and I really love that.  We don't see eye to eye on many things, including things of a religious nature, but neither of us are out in the public eye and both of us are struggling to reconcile a testimony with a tempting lifestyle choice.  Chris brought up a friend of his who decided that a life in the Gospel wasn't worth giving up who he really was and giving up his happiness in this life.  I have to say, I respect that viewpoint, but I think it comes from misinformation, or at the very least, a different perspective from mine.

My perspective is that while I am gay and I really want to be happy and fulfilled romantically in this life, I also have an equally persuasive side of me that tells me that a mission is the only way forward and building a relationship with Jesus Christ in His restored gospel is another vital key to happiness.  For me, the two parts of me are at odds with each other and I don't want to give either one up, even though I will have to eventually.

That's why Chris' friend's solution isn't an acceptable one for me.  I'm too rooted in the Gospel to believe that leaving it would make me happy; yet, I understand why his friend thinks that it would.  I'm similarly too rooted in my same-gender attractions to believe that fully giving them up would be a good choice for my earthly happiness.  As I said earlier today, I need to develop the eternal perspective to know that my joy in this life should come secondary to my happiness in the eternities.

Another topic Chris and I talked about was the lesson that gay people are supposed to learn from their trials.  I'm dying to know what this struggle of SGA is preparing them (us) for.  I'd love to get a glimpse of that knowledge, but as Chris said, "Someday, you'll get to find out why."  That someday isn't today and I shouldn't let that make me bitter.  Chris also mused on the judgment that gay people, both practicing and latent, will receive in the end.  My friend Toby has been abused and lived a gay lifestyle before joining the church, so I have to believe there will be a lot of lenience in his case, but for me, I don't know.  I've grown up in the Church and unless I'm repressing a memory, I never was called upon to bear the burden of sexual abuse.  How much tolerance can I expect?  Then again, the scriptures say that no matter who you are, you're never to be tested above your ability (1 Corinthians 10:13), so I suppose none of us can expect to see tolerance or a slap on the wrist when it comes down to judgment.

It was interesting seeing all of these things from the viewpoint of a straight guy (if Chris actually believes I'm straight).  And he's either as gay as a Maypole or the most understanding straight guy in the Church.  I hope it's the latter; I don't want him to have to walk such a complicated and confusing road.

Afterthought:  Even though it's strange and confusing, life is still good.  Today I went with a good friend from high school to dinner.  My friend looked amazing, it was a warm, sunny day, and we were driving in my mom's Mustang convertible, so how bad could life really be?  Beautiful girl, beautiful weather, beautiful car.  Good day in my book.

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