Monday, December 31, 2012

New Year's Eve resolution

It's hard for me to look back on the past year with a good attitude, because the last month of it royally sucked.  I felt like I was in high school again for all the drama that was going around (much of it caused by myself, by my own admission).  But if I dig deep, I can remember some good things I learned and did.  There's some great memories 2012 helped create.

So now that it's the new year, I'm going to make some resolutions.  I'm not going to commit to giving up porn or masturbation, nor am I going to promise to serve a mission, graduate from college or advance in my job. I'm done resolving to hit the gym three times a week and pack on 20 pounds of muscle; I likewise am not going to tell myself I'm going to run a marathon this year.  Those are all resolutions that, while perhaps reasonable, have been steeped in failure every time I try.

This year, I'm going to take a lot of pressure off of myself and resolve to be more selfish.  About a billion people will disagree with me when I say this, but I can sometimes be a doormat.  The major problem with that is that whenever I let myself be a doormat, usually to spare someone's feelings or prevent their pain, it always ends up being worse for both of us than if I showed some self-respect and hurt their feelings a little.

The situation in which I think this kind of selfishness will be useful to both me and others doesn't really matter, but suffice it to say that by trying to spare another person's feelings, I've often caused more harm than good in the long run. I feel like by being a little more, what's the word, forthcoming with others, I might get a reputation for being a jerk, but my current reputation is a bit less savory, so it'd be a step in the right direction.  I guess the trick now will be to learn how to be gentle in expressing my feelings.

I'm really tired of having to apologize for those feelings because I didn't tell the truth in the first place.  Selfish asshole is a little more tolerable to me than lying asshole, anyway.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Backstory: 1989-1995

I've been reading a few blogs lately that aren't as topical as mine, that is, they don't necessarily deal with events in real time like my blog sometimes does.  They tell stories, share memories, explain background in the hopes of either airing dirty laundry, providing contextual feedback or trying to find answers.  I'm kind of curious how that feels, getting everything down on virtual paper and seeing if there's some hidden meaning in there.

So I think I'll try it, starting from the beginning and telling the story. Frankly there's not much to tell, but maybe it'll help me. Or maybe it'll be a gigantic waste of time.  Who knows?

Thursday, December 27, 2012


After one heck of a Christmas road trip we are finally back home.

So, confession time.  I'm not happy, again.  No big deal, it's just another phase of discouragement and I'm sure it'll pass as I keep on keeping on, but there's definitely some motivation behind this discouragement, namely the temptation to get physical (and maybe emotional) with another man.  God in His wisdom knows how lonely this whole gay thing can be and I hope that He understands and is patient when I fail or when I retreat inside myself to work all this crap out.  My parents, not so much.

But I figured that I'm trying to be open and honest with them, so I'd better let them in on everything, right? And since I didn't want to ruin Christmas, what better time than on the car ride home the day after?  And since I should only give them the truth they're ready for, let's leave out the part about the guy I text non-stop and am really attracted to.

But nope. None of that happened. I said nothing for the full drive. I had a captive audience and said nothing.  Nothing of how lonely I felt and how I just wanted some companionship. Nothing of how dissatisfying the options are that a gay Mormon has for his future. Nothing of how reading the scriptures didn't help as much as I wanted them to or how wishy-washy and noticeably silent the Church is regarding homosexuality ( is a great tool for non-gay Mormons to understand others, but for the gay ones, it's just stuff we've already heard. Still awesome though).

It's just hard.  It's okay for one minute, then it's not. It seems insurmountable now, but later it'll seem doable. It's this totally wicked roller coaster of self-doubt and confidence. I don't know why I wanted to tell them that, but I did.  I guess maybe to prepare them for the very real possibility that someday I might feel differently about God than I do today, or something like that.

I dunno, man. I just dunno. I guess I don't have to, but it sure would be nice.

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Quick thought on Christmas Eve

I spent the weekend with some of my family vacationing far from home. We attended the branch in the town near where we rented a cabin (so posh ;) and really enjoyed their Christmas program.  It was a simple program; the congregation sang seven or eight different Christmas hymns, with a member of the branch introducing each one with a short history or testimony of the carol.

One sister (who I assume was in the Primary leadership) spoke on how much she loved hearing the children sing "Away in a Manger," particularly the third verse. She said how touching and faith-affirming it was to her to remember those words: "Be near me, Lord Jesus. I ask thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in thy tender care and fit us for Heaven to live with thee there."

It won't be a surprise to those who know me well that the week before Christmas has been a confusing and difficult one for me. I have had a few micro-struggles with my testimony and I've been feeling a very all-encompassing sense of loneliness and worthlessness.  I've looked at others who face struggles and have found myself envying the relationship they have with their Savior, the relationship that enables them to say, "Yes, I'm lonely, but I love my Heavenly Father and His Son and I feel their love." I wish I had enough faith so that my relationship with Jesus Christ filled in those gaps, those insecurities and that loneliness.

And yet, the lyrics are there and they fill me with hope. As I've said before, I have no idea what path my life will take, but I hope with all my heart that the Lord will come with me wherever I go and that whatever path I take, I will leave enough room for Him to walk beside me.

Be near me, Lord Jesus. I ask thee to stay close by me forever and love me, I pray. Bless all the dear children in thy tender care [and I hope that includes me], and fit us [me?] for Heaven to live with thee there.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Christmas Season!

I'm getting ready to take off for the week, so this will be my first and last post in awhile, but I just wanted to wish anyone within eyeshot of this page a really happy Christmas.  I am so grateful for this time of year and I want to offer a simple testimony that the events that we celebrate each December really changed the world for the better.  Our lives are better because of the life and mission of Jesus Christ, which mission can change us into new creatures.

Go read last Christmas' posts!  I shared my favorite Christmas story here and shared another uplifting Christmas video here.

Please read both of those other posts so I don't feel as secular for closing this one with an awesome video...

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Update/Post-script to latest NL blog post

I published this at Northern Lights yesterday before I'd heard about the shooting in Connecticut and I have to admit, after hearing the news, I fairly immediately forgot the message I was trying to send with it.

It's about how solitude and lonely trials are nothing new in this life, and through them, great things can be accomplished.  I can imagine of no harder pain or trial than what the parents and community members of Newtown must be feeling right now. It must be such an isolating experience, losing so many young and precious children, to say nothing of the community elders who lost their lives as well.

My next point I am going to make very delicately, because there's nothing I could say to any of them that would help them through this experience, and I've learned that in times like these, people would rather not hear about the will of God or look for the silver lining. In times like these, the best response is to reach out to someone, hold them in your arms and tell them how sorry you are and how you wish that things were different.  Commiseration is the order of the day in times like these.

However, this isolating experience is just the kind of thing I was talking about in the Northern Lights post.  This is a time when people can turn to religion for comfort, to whatever higher power helps them through their day.  For many, this experience will be confusing and faith-shaking, as people wonder what kind of god would allow such a horrific tragedy to befall innocent children and hard-working adults. That reaction is totally justified and completely understandable, and to that person I extend no explanation other than, "I don't know, and I'm so sorry."  But to some, this could be a time when peace enters their lives in spite of their pain, when the blessings of the Atonement fall upon them and when the presence of angels bears them up.

As (Gay) Mormon Guy pointed out yesterday, every person involved is a victim. No matter the outcome, such penetrating isolation is the worst trial of all and I would never wish it on my worst enemy.  I only hope that the loneliness felt by those victims is eased soon and that peace will once again re-enter their lives.

Friday, December 14, 2012

Call for prayers from a Littleton native

I'm from Littleton, Colorado. Pretty sure most of you knew that, but if not, there ya go. Littleton is famous for one thing and one thing only: Columbine High School. I was in fourth grade when the shooting happened and that such a vicious act could occur in the city where I played cops and robbers shook me bad.

To be completely honest, I didn't know where Columbine was. I didn't know anyone who went there; it was on the other side of small Littleton and in another school district, so my 10-year-old mind was largely unaware of its existence before the shooting. But then, my perceptions of the place I lived changed. All of a sudden, it became a place to be afraid for my brother to go to high school, because that's the only place these kinds of things happen. High schools, with crazy, mixed up teenagers, right?

Today, as in the past, we learned that that's not true. Today, more than two dozen people, including 18 children, possibly all in the same kindergarten class, were killed in one of the worst school shootings in history. Columbine's casualty count pales in comparison with this one, which likewise occurred in a seemingly friendly, quiet suburb.

My heart aches for those affected by it. At this time of year, in that particular place, with those alleged motives behind the shooting? It makes me ache.

There's a lot going on in the world right now. A lot of political and social agenda being bandied around, by me and others. The Church is in the media, for better and worse. We disagree, we argue, we fight for what we think is best. That is all well and good; we need to fight for those things in which we believe.

But now isn't the time. Now is the time for prayers and well wishes to go to all those affected by these events. Literally nothing earthbound could help these grieving parents and community members, so now is the time for love and divine intervention to help pick up the pieces. Will you please just say a quick prayer for those people? Please?

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

The prisoner's dilemma and addiction

I just read this article on Cracked called "5 Mind-Blowing Academic Theories as Taught by Classic Movies" It blew. my. mind. It's about some of the philosophical theories you learned in your 1010 class as they relate to many of the archetypal stories form the beginning of time.

However, something found within the section on the Prisoner's Dilemma caught my interest.

For those of you (myself included) who have no idea what I'm talking about, the Prisoner's Dilemma is modeled like this in the article: You are the king of America. You and all of the other kings from around the world group together in a summit to address carbon emissions and every king, you included, agree to completely remove producers of carbon emissions from your nation even though it will mean huge economical and social challenges.

In this model, there are a few possibilities. The first is that you all do what you say and after a few years, a new normal is established, pollution is reduced and your economies stabilize. The second is that you do not do what you say, but everyone else does. You are at a great economical advantage and the net pollution is down because everyone else did what they said they would. The third is that you eliminate polluters, but no one else does. You are now at an economic advantage and since the rest of the world is still polluting, the earth isn't much better off. And the fourth is that no one eliminates polluters. Economically and ecologically, you find yourself in a wash.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Walking down the aisle...

Today was a very special day.  Two of my best friends got married in the temple today. Their path to marriage was hard-fought and required a lot of faith for both parties that the decision they made was the right one. As they faced each hardship in their relationship head on, they occasionally expressed doubts about their viability as a couple, but by putting complete trust in each other and in the plan laid out for them, they found themselves grow closer to each other and to God.

At their reception tonight, they positively glowed. As I wrapped him in my arms, he told me how happy he was and how at peace he was with his decision to marry her.  And then I kissed her cheek as she pulled me close for a hug, visibly overwhelmed with joy. If they continue to trust in each other and treat each other with the respect they do right now, they will be just fine and all of those doubts they may have had in past years will melt away.

They had a short ring ceremony before their reception and as she walked down the grand staircase towards her new husband, I swelled with joy at their happiness. They are both so beautiful, truly some of the kindest people I've ever been friends with. Seeing their joy become a bit more full in those sacred covenants they made filled me with all kinds of warm fuzzies.

Last night, I was discussing marriage with a friend. I somewhat cavalierly said that if I wasn't gay, there'd be every chance that I'd be married right now. I have been in love with love since I was 9 years old on the playground and as a young teenager I thought about my wedding and the flowers and colors and location and music way more than might be normal for boys. Ever since I was a tot, my primary goal out of life was to follow the advice of Ahbez via David Bowie and learn how to love and be loved in return.

And yet, seeing my two friends seal the deal stirred up no feelings of jealousy or bitterness towards them. They are ready for marriage. They have done the necessary preparations and have put in the time towards not only finding the one, but also towards making themselves someone else's the one. Their marriage is built on something solid, not only interest in each other, but in themselves as well.

If I got married tomorrow, I am not being self deprecating when I say that my marriage would be built on a cracked foundation of inadequacy and selfishness. And it's not a matter of religious repression either. Whether gay or straight, the marriage would probably be doomed to fail.

So, instead of feeling bitter and lonely that I'm still single, instead I'm going to try to work towards being the husband I want to be. I'm nowhere near ready to be married yet, but, as the penitent sinner hears so frequently, it's not where you are on the path so much as the direction in which you travel.

I'm excited to be married someday, whenever it happens and whatever form it takes. In the meantime, I know that there's a lot I can do to prepare myself to be the one to someone else.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving 2012

It's that time of year again [retrospectively, I think all of my posts about holidays include this phrase. Lexophile FTL].

Thanksgiving is upon us today and what a great holiday it is.  I've been doing the lame Facebook trend of picking something different each day to be grateful for and posting a status update about it.  Only, I ran into a nasty problem early on because I used generalities for about the first week (grateful for food, grateful for health, grateful for temporal blessings, etc.) so I rapidly had to start reusing and refining those blessings for new statuses (stati?).  This wouldn't be a problem if you weren't as anal as I am, but the lack of continuity/pattern drives me nuts haha.  So I'm not grateful for that.

Since I'm not out publicly (although I may as well be since everyone and their dog already knows), I can't really post a lot of gay stuff on my Facebook. And that's where my blog comes in. Here we go.

November 1: I'm grateful that blogging exists. I can't write in a journal because I'm more motivated to write if I feel loyalty to an audience, even if that audience hates my writing, haha.

November 2: I'm grateful for [specific friend #1] for wanting to come with me to Circling the Wagons and for trying to understand his gay brothers and sisters better (as if he needed the help. He's already one of the most loving, least judgmental people I know).

November 3: I'm grateful for Circling the Wagons and the encouragement it gave me to not only be more faithful but more compassionate, loving and tolerant as well.

November 4: I'm grateful for the pacesetters who have shown me several different happy life paths, all of which include the Gospel and could be good choices for me as well.

November 5: I'm grateful for a bishop who really gets how to help me through and fellow ward members who love me even though I'm on the fringe most of the time (even if not all of them know how fringe I am).

November 6: I'm grateful to be back to work and that my job helps me learn how to be just a bit more manly, fixing things and lifting pallets and getting dirty and bein' manly!

November 7: I'm grateful that I am learning, day by day, to be a little more secure in myself and comfortable in my skin and genuinely proud of who I am becoming, homosexuality and all.

November 8: I'm grateful for the occasional glimpses of eternal perspective I get, where I see how my tendencies, temptations and proclivities have helped me and will probably continue to help me love, support and encourage others, regardless of their problems.

November 9: I'm grateful for my parents, both of whom try so hard to understand what makes me tick and who have really developed a firm grasp of how everything fits together.

November 10: I'm grateful for [specific friend #2] because he has to fight really hard to stay sober from pornography, and therefore has learned a lot of great tactics that he teaches to others.

November 11: I'm grateful for the gift of beautiful music that soothes the savage beast inside me. No matter how horny or freaked out I can get, a few specific songs can calm me down and remind me who I am and what I'm capable of.

November 12: I'm grateful for my sister. She's the first person I ever told I was gay and she's been my champion since that day (and in fact for a long time before that). No matter what I do, she loves me and that is a huge comfort.

November 13: I am also grateful for my brothers. Their unique perspective as straight men helps me see how lots of the feelings I have aren't really unique and that everyone feels the same way sometimes.  Their differing approaches to life have also shown me two very different examples of things done wrong and things done right, and if I'm wise, I can pick and choose from each of their experiences the things that I want for my life.

November 14: As if it needed to be said, I'm grateful for cars. That has been the greatest beard in my life, although I'm excited for the day when I'm brave enough to show the world that gay and car-guy are not mutually exclusive terms.

November 15: I'm grateful for the other bloggers out there who write such different perspectives and lead such different, but genuinely good lives. More positive examples of life done right.

November 16: I'm grateful for those of you who have ever sent a supportive e-mail, left a kind comment or shared an enlightening experience with me.  I love hearing from readers and it always leaves me feeling uplifted and encouraged.

November 17: I'm grateful for the (now very young) missionaries who are setting a good example for me. I hope to join them soon (and I'm grateful the maximum age didn't lower with the minimum).

November 18: I'm grateful for the somewhat weird passion for style that being gay may or may not have ingrained me with. I don't dress very well, but there are times when I get it just right and think, "Man, that's really not fair to all the straight men out there."

November 19: I'm grateful for pop music, also a gay stereotype. But really, is there anything better than "Call Me Maybe" or "Party in the USA" when you're just in the mood to rock out to some bubblegum?

November 20: I'm grateful for [specific friend #3]. Even in his borderline homophobia, he loves and accepts me for who I am and asks thoughtful, genuine questions so he can understand me better. Beyond that, he still invites me over for non-serious bro-night video game marathons where we spend 8 hours killing alien zombies. The future is bright, folks.

November 21: I'm grateful for the arts. Dance, music, theatre and art all have a place in my heart. And even though I'm nothing but a prole, they still beautify and uplift my life to something beyond the grey box it might otherwise be.

November 22: I am genuinely grateful for the influence of the Gospel in my life. Through my ups and downs and the crises of faith I experience on a just-slightly-less-than-regular basis, the lessons of the Gospel ring true and I know where I can turn for peace.

Happy Thanksgiving to y'all. Hope it finds you in good company and with full bellies, even if you're not celebrating today.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Hefting my testimony

In the introductory pages to the Book of Mormon, the testimony of its divinity is given by not only Joseph Smith but also by 11 other witnesses who either met the Angel Moroni or who saw the plates before they were taken back to heaven.  What's interesting to me is that while many of these witnesses eventually left the church, some never to return, none of them ever recanted this testimony they gave of the Book of Mormon and its origins.

Right now, in addition to a few other things I'm working on, I'm trying to gain a testimony of the Book of Mormon. I've read it a few times before and prayed and pondered over it. I've had good feelings about the book, but nothing as equivocal as Jeffrey R. Holland's testimony of it given in his October 2009 conference address, wherein he said "...I want it absolutely clear when I stand before the judgment bar of God that I declared to the world, in the most straightforward language I could summon, that the Book of Mormon is true..."

One thing I found interesting as I started reading from the beginning last night was the word choice the eight witnesses of the gold plates used.  They said, "And this we bear record with words of soberness, that the said Smith has shown unto us, for we have seen and hefted, and know of a surety that the said Smith has got the plates of which we have spoken" (The Testimony of Eight Witnesses, emphasis added).  They saw the plates and they hefted them. I imagine them holding the plates in their hands and doing a light bounce with their arms to measure the weight of the plates, tracing the engravings and playing with the rings with which they're bound and running their fingers on the thick gauges of gold.

That's what I did last night. The plates weighed on my mind.  I felt them with my heart and I gave them a gentle shake to feel the gravity and truth of the words they contain.

Good word, eh?

I had a dream my life would be...

One more CTW post in the pipeline.  Just like me, when everyone else in the world has moved on, I'm still living in the past.  But it's a good post, at least in my opinion, so I'ma post it anyway!

Till then, a little variety in the form of my emotions...

I've reflected on this before when one of my girlfriends got married last fall and I'm trying not to dwell on it, but I'm just having a hard time with the life I'm living right now.  I take full responsibility for it and I know that if I had made better choices then my life would be different than it is.  I don't blame my circumstances for being too difficult (although at times they seem that they are) and I'm trying hard not to blame the actions of others either.

But I have to admit, when I think back to what I expected my future to hold when I was 6 years old, I wonder if that freckly little kid wouldn't be a little disappointed, and not just because I'm not a champion race car driver in Formula 1.

It's tough.  Sometimes it's just tough looking around and realizing that former mistakes are still guiding your life, than some dumb habit you picked up is still rearing its ugly head and preventing you from doing what you feel like you want to do.

I had all these plans.  I was going to do the proper thing and serve a mission when I was still young, then come home and go to BYU and study something cool. And I'd have a dog and a really bitchin' set of wheels and I'd probably be the Elders' Quorum president and I'd live in a huge house with a bowling alley right next to the library (because I loved the idea of making bowling pins crash while my house guests were trying to read my extensive collection of books). I had all of these huge dreams, most of which I knew weren't going to happen, but I still hoped they would.

It's hard seeing how far you are away from all of that. I know they always say that it doesn't matter where you are on the path as long as you're moving in the right direction and while I know that's true, it's still hard.  That's all. It's just hard. I'm glad I'm moving in the right direction, but I just wish I was there already.  For how much I love travel and road trips and taking my time to get places, when it comes to this whole personal improvement thing, I hate waiting.

I'm sure there's some reason behind it all. I'm sure that if/when I go on a mission, I'll meet someone who is where I was and who needs to know that it's possible. Or maybe if I'd served at 19 I would have been called to some country that was about to implode in violent rebellion. Or maybe there were people I needed to meet while I waited to become the guy I want to be. But I just look at where I'm at right now and how far it is from where I want to be and it's just hard.

I know it's hard for everyone. Not just for me and not just for people who are gay and not just for people who are addicted to something, but for everyone. We all feel like we're being pushed to our very limits at one point or another and we all have those white-knuckle moments where we want to let go. And we all have those moments where we want our upswing to just go a little faster so we can reach the top and get off the ride and enjoy the view and whatever other metaphor you want.

This is just my time to feel this way, I guess.  My time to remind myself to be humble and not seek after the laud and praise of men and focus more on my journey. It'll pass. It always does. Just gotta keep moving forward.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

CTW SLC Part VI- Bobbie's story

As some of you may remember, I've posted a few times about gender confusion.  The first was somewhat caustic and marginalized people who may be confused about their gender and the second was an admission of guilt for that attitude and an open call for more understanding on my part. I don't think I've ever been hateful towards those with gender confusion, but I think that too often, I viewed them with pity because they were so clearly damaged. (Sidebar: I did not know the difference between pity, sympathy and empathy until fairly recently.  Pity is a very negative emotion. Be wary of it Avoid it like the plague.)

Well, it's taken nearly a year, but I feel like that understanding is starting to open up a bit more. I read books on the subject, found blogs of people who were either considering or in the middle of gender reassignment and tried to find those who had experience with it, but usually, those witnesses I found were secondary and the books and blogs I read were impersonal. I still found myself faced with an initial gut reaction of confusion. I simply could not understand why a person would want to be a different gender.

As I stated in my first post on the subject, I am perfectly content being male.  I am no paragon of machismo or masculinity, but I have never felt that I should be a girl.  I am genuinely grateful to God that I was born a man for many reasons, including, among many other things, the ease with which we achieve sexual satisfaction, the fact that it doesn't hurt when our bodies expel gametes and the intrinsic social and professional advantages of being male, deserved or not.  While I consider myself a feminist, I am grateful that if the feminist movement doesn't pan out well, it won't necessarily affect me as much.  Not that I support it, but chauvinism works in my favor, so if that's what's common, I'm glad I'm on the easy side of it.

And, to add to that, I know women who are proud of their womanhood, of the grace with which women have become synonymous. Proud that they get to wear cuter shoes, proud that they get to bear and feed children with their own bodies, proud that, now at least, they can be taken seriously both in the home and in the professional world.  Both gender stereotypes have so much to be proud of.

With respect to all of the primary information I have about gender, I could not understand why someone could possibly feel uncomfortable in their skin that way.  Sure, it would be nice if crying or flirting got me out of speeding tickets, and I know women who wish they had a johnson while camping so peeing was easier, but by and large most people seem happy with their gender.

Enter Bobbie.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

CTW SLC Part V- Marriage Panel

View my other CTW posts here

Both Josh Weed and Steven Frei spoke on a marriage panel, with Craig Mangum and John Gustav-Wrathall.  Craig was previously married to a woman before their divorce and his subsequent, recent marriage to a man and John was married to his now-husband about 15 years ago. John affiliates with the LDS church; Craig does not. In this wise was a widely varied perspective addressed, including people with many different stories.  It was fascinating.

To open, I'm going to address what each one of them said marriage meant to them, mostly because it's just so darn cute.

Steven said that marriage is what has brought him the most happiness in his life, Craig said that it has given him a sense of family and commitment, with all the related peace of mind that attends that, Josh said simply that Lolly is just so good and John related a touching story of his husband sitting with him in his hospital room after a surgery, holding his hand and watching TV.  Tears may or may not have flowed during this part of the discussion.

CTW SLC Part IV- North Star's Participation

"My goodness," you're all thinking, "how could he possibly still be talking about Circling the Wagons? Hasn't it been more than a week?

Well, yes, Mr. or Ms. Snarky-pants, it has, but I'm not done.

loljk i don't actually think you're snarky for thinking that. *tangent over*

North Star had a fair presence at CTW this year. Steven Frei, president of the organization and oft-contributing writer at its sister blog, gave a keynote address, as well as Josh Weed, the therapist from Washington state who gained international notoriety when he came out on his blog as a gay man in a mixed-orientation marriage. Josh also contributes to Northern Lights.

In reality, it was North Star's participation in CTW, as well as the rave reviews the event garnered last year, that made me want to participate. It was a rare treat to see Steven and Josh speak in person about issues that plague the gay Mormon subculture and, indeed, society at large.  However, much of the blogosphere did not share my enthusiasm about their potential contribution to CTW, as both Josh and Steven are faithful Mormons in happy mixed-orientation marriages.  For many, their participation was an affront to the values of CTW, which does not encourage or advocate reorientation therapy.

However, in my opinion, the real values of CTW advocate creating safe spaces for people of all different orientations to be able to discuss these issues, and in that vein, Josh and Steven's participation was gratefully received by many.  Their lives seem just as authentic and genuine as anyone else's and their contributions to the conference were specifically calculated not to prescribe a specific life path to anyone else, but to offer some perspective on how they made it work.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

North Star podcast on CTW

North Star invited me to contribute to a panel discussion via Skype on Circling the Wagons as part of their Voices podcast series. I was honored to discuss this event and found the discussion to be very interesting and edifying.

Have a listen here!

Saturday, November 10, 2012

COTM: Straight six is better than straight sex

Taking a really quick break from CTW while I continue to organize my thoughts, so here's your car-like substance of the moment!

Tonight, I went to see Skyfall. I love Bond movies. I always have. I've stuck with them through the good (You Only Live Twice), the mediocre (A View to a Kill) and the dreadful (The World is Not Enough).  I am particularly fond of this current reboot of the franchise, starting with Casino Royale of 2006.  The movies are smarter, more stylish and deeper than previous installments, coming off as genuine spy movies rather than comic-like MI-5 impersonations.

One thing that I have always loved about James Bond is his taste in cars.  Without regard to how well done the movie is, James Bond always drives an interesting car.

The obviously most famous of James Bond's cars is his Aston Martin DB5, which made its first appearance in the iconic Goldfinger.  The DB5, now one of the most famous cars in history, isn't actually that remarkable.  It's somewhat slow, even for the era, with a 0-60mph time of 8.5 seconds.  Contemporary, similarly priced Ferraris were much faster and, many would argue, prettier and more exotic.

1964 DB5. Sourced here

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

CTW SLC Part III: Turning the corner

Read Part I here and Part II here:

The first paragraph of the first speaker’s address cut me to the quick. Joseph Broom’s words chastised excessive judgment, quickness to anger and general lack of love for others.  Even though he didn’t know who I was, I knew he was talking to me.  He (and the Spirit) gently reminded me that while I am free to make my own choices, my job is to love and support others and only make judgments for myself.  I appreciated so much that sentiment that was echoed again and again by almost every speaker. It reminded me that my inherent lovability as a son of God is not contingent on my obedience and the same principle extended to everyone else in the room.

While I disagreed with some of the statements made by a few speakers and while I did not necessarily morally approve of decisions made by others, I also recognized that I am far from perfect myself and I don’t have all the answers, or even most of the answers. My interpretation of morality is valid, but it is most valid for me and has little sway on the decisions or inclinations of others, especially when used as a weapon to shoot down their choices.

One thing I would like to air out here is that I never fully got over how turned off I was when a few of the speakers spoke of the General Authorities and doctrines of the LDS church. Some of them seemed so bitter and venomous to many of the teachings of the LDS church and its leadership, and that animosity was upsetting to me, especially in the CTW environment that encouraged unconditional love to all. The spirit of contention with which some spoke drove away the spirit of love.

Thankfully, those sentiments reared up once or twice early on and then never again for the rest of the day. Indeed, every speaker, without regard to what decisions they’d made for themselves or how they’d decided to manage their lives, sponsored spreading genuine love and understanding to all those who identify with the abbreviations “LDS,” “SSA/SGA,” and “LGBTQ,” and, I’d add, h. sapiens.

Monday, November 5, 2012

CTW SLC Part II- First Impressions

Read Part I here

[This part of the story is most difficult for me to post. It airs out a lot of very ugly emotions I had in the first ten or fifteen minutes of my attendance at Circling the Wagons 2012.  I want the reader to understand that I am as disgusted with myself as you will be, and I insist that you read the other parts of the story after you finish this one to ensure that I am not painting CTW in a light I do not intend and to hopefully offer me some redemption.]

I have to admit, I was disappointed initially. One of the cornerstones of CTW’s existence is unconditional love to LGBTQ Mormons; this is not new to me. North Star, Evergreen International, Affirmation, and any number of other gay Mormon support groups advocate the same thing.  However, unlike more conservative groups like North Star or Evergreen, the focus is placed less on finding joy in full fellowship in the LDS church and more on finding authenticity and joy in whatever life path feels correct, including those which do not include activity or membership within the LDS church. I have nothing but respect for those who take that approach to seeking reconciliation.

However, as a gay guy who sometimes feels like he is barely holding on to the church’s standards, I have found that the more I associate with those who have left the church or who are choosing to live a life contrary to its standards, the more difficult it is for me to want to be in the Gospel.

I found myself judging those around me and contemplated leaving for fear of being indoctrinated into leaving the church and getting married in California, New York, Iowa or one of the other great states that recognize gay marriage.  I was nervous to be there and I felt like my faith would be attacked, like I would be asked, right then and there, to choose between gay and God, and I worried about the pressure I'd feel from Adam and Steve over here.

I steadied my nerves and prayed that God would help me see through the heathen words of those around me and understand some of the underlying truths that had to be in there somewhere.  After all, this was a conference for gay Mormons. Surely, they'd acknowledge the second part of that descriptor, right? Surely it wasn't all about convincing your parents to march with you in the Pride parade and only about crafting the perfect letter to urge President Monson to allow gays to marry in the temple.  Right?

More to come...

Circling the Wagons SLC 2012 Part I: Hitching my mustang to the wagon train

Circling the Wagons is an organization that seeks to reach out to LGBTQ/SSA/SGA [alphabet soup] people who identify as Mormon, either as a function of their culture or their current religious affiliation, and help them reconcile their faith with their sexuality. They do this in no prescribed way; as such, members of the organization and attendees at their second annual Circling the Wagons conference November 2-4, 2012 came from broad and varied walks of life, with virtually the only congruity being some kind of relationship with the LDS church.

CTW’s 2011 conference popped up on my newsfeed one day and I instantly regretted not knowing about it sooner so that I could plan to attend. Seeing the mainstream media's attention given to Bishop Kloosterman's talk and hearing some of the positive feedback on the mission of the organization, I knew that next year, I needed to be there.

However, this whole travelling-the-world thing and also having to work overtime to recuperate all those Guatemalan quetzales meant that I completely forgot that the conference was to be held the first weekend in November, or, um, yesterday.  I realized my mistake Friday night and desperately sought ways to attend. Cheap flights didn’t match the CTW schedule and my car isn’t exactly a Prius in the fuel-economy department, so I began to lament that I’d have to miss it yet again.  In a last fit of desperation, I texted a few friends, asking if anyone would like a last-minute, extremely short, no-expenses-paid trip to Utah.

As luck would have it, the best friend with whom I most often travel didn’t have any plans and would be willing to help with gas. He asked what I was going out there for and I sheepishly responded, “A conference,” hoping he’d drop it.  I’m out to this guy already, but I never like rubbing it in his face that I’m gay.

He didn’t drop it, and I expounded that it was a conference for gay Mormons. His response shocked me.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Both sides working together

So I sat down at the piano today for the first time in a few months. Between travel, work and plain ol' laziness, I haven't had a ton of time/desire to play in a long time. It was rusty, but not awful...

I only started taking an interest in the piano when I was 16 or so; as such, I am not nearly as good as I wish I was. It takes me months to get a song to the point that I could maybe sing along with it and I've never been confident enough to play in public because, quite frankly, I've never perfected a song, or even come close.  It's something I regret about my childhood, having a mom who taught piano (and tried to teach me) and being too petulant and willful to practice. Frankly, something I'm looking forward to with the eternities is being able to have as long as I want to practice and perfect the piano.

[Vaguely depressing rant over]

So I sat down, pulled out some music I'd been working on, and plunked my way through it.  It was pretty terrible, but it always has been, so I broke it down. I played right hand first, then left hand, then put them together, then broke them apart, and so on until I had it to where I was satisfied with my night's work.

To cap off my sesh with the ivories, I tried playing a song I memorized in high school, a really simple, beautiful melody that's easy to sing along to. I haven't played that particular song in probably a year, so it was rusty. I tried to remember the notes and harmony, but was having a lot of difficulty getting it quite right. Trying to figure out what I was doing wrong, I played my right hand and then my left, but it just didn't sound right.  I started the song over, this time using both hands, and something clicked. The song came together with near-perfect order and fluidity.

The interesting thing about this song is the way the melody occasionally transfers from the right hand to the left. To those familiar with the piano, this is unusual. In most cases (at least for novices like me), the right hand almost exclusively handles the melody and the left hand provides the beat and harmony. Playing one hand at a time is difficult, because your brain has to transfer from remembering the melody to the harmony, then telling your fingers what to do.

Play both hands at the same time, however, and your brain knows what to think, because even though there's more for it to do, it can do it cleanly, remembering all portions of the music in one long strand, rather than fractured into sequences of melody-harmony-melody. It's only when both hands work together, guided by a mind that knows how to direct them individually, that music is made.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Quick Journal Entry from Vacation

So, I know I keep saying how my vaca was a respite from queermo, but the reality of it was that I am a gay Mormon whether or not I'm in the United States or in Australia or in Nairobi. I'm going to think about it, no matter how exotic my locale, especially when the men of that locale tend to be pretty exotic as well.


A few weeks before my trip, my brother came out to visit. He was actually moving across the country and passed through on his way. He'd mentioned that his SUV was having a hard time towing the car hauler and his wife's car, so I volunteered to drive it the rest of the way for him so he could unload it and return the car hauler and enjoy a more relaxing, easier drive.

(It seems like my lot in life is to deliver cars for people. That might be a bad thing if I didn't love it so much. Plus, his wife drives a NICE car.)

We were returning the car hauler to the local U-Haul and I ran into an old friend I met at school who lives nearby. I was asking about his singles ward and some people I knew there, including one acquaintance I have who was less active when he attended my ward. My friend said that he was inactive and I expressed a little disappointment. My friend replied, "Well, he's gay, so..."
After we finished checking in the car hauler, as my brother and I got in his car, he asked, "Does that make you feel awkward when Mormons talk about other Mormons who are gay?"

Well, in the moment, no, but after some thinking, I've decided it does. I ruminated on this a lot when I was on vacation, for whatever reason.

In the LDS culture, being gay is somehow a get-out-of-reactivation-efforts-free card. Being gay (as defined as living the lifestyle) means there's nothing a well-meaning home teacher or elder's quorum president could say to bring you back into the fold, so they think.

This thought troubles me in a few ways.

One, it seems to convey the message that gay is just one step beyond reparable.  Addict? We have a Family Services program with 12 steps designed just for you.  Philanderer? The Gospel of Jesus Christ can fill that void in your heart.  But gay? Sorry man, we got nothin'.

Two, I dislike the attitude of pity with which we address the lapsed-into-gayhood Mormon. "Did you hear about so-and-so?" "Oh, poor guy."  "That's so sad, he was such a good home teacher."  Somehow, being gay seems to be like a trainwreck you hear about on the news. No one could have done anything to prevent it, and so they stand around watching the news of the gay guy's spiritual death with eyes dry with pity instead of wet with sympathy or love.

And three, the incongruence with which the first two things exist with the idea that everyone needs to bridle their passions for a higher cause.  Apparently, being gay is simultaneously something you should fight, but also some kind of terminal spiritual disease that is impossible to overcome and therefore warrants a quarantine against religion or fellowship.

I could be a little sensitive because I haven't been an actively participating part of either the gay scene or the Mormon scene for awhile now, but the hypocrisy with which we regard lapsed, gay Mormons is an offense against God, because His commandments and teachings advocated reaching out to the sinner more than the saint. It's also an offense towards the gay man because it sends the signal that his lifestyle choice is beyond repair, even if we tried to bring him back.

I don't know for what I am advocating here, because for the scads of Mormons who leave the church because they are gay, the lack of fellowship is probably welcome and refreshing. It somehow seems very disingenuous, so for a solution I'll have to hypothesize a little more.

For another blogger's view of this whole fellowshipping-the-gays situation, read Name Withheld, over at unnatural selection [sic]. The gay biologist has a pretty fresh view of it.

Friday, October 19, 2012

Finding courage and expunging pride

Alright, so I kind of mentioned this yesterday, but it took me all of three hours of being home from vacation to remember how difficult and tricky life could be.

While I was on vacation, I made a very concerted effort not to think about gay stuff. It came into my mind as frequently as ever, but I tried really hard not to think about it.  One thing that certainly helped was how difficult it was to be where I was. I spent my month in a Spanish-speaking country where it was hard to understand others or make myself understood, so lots of my energy was spent thinking in Spanish and trying to understand out the language better.

If you believe Maslow's hierarchy, which I sometimes don't, you know that if your more basic needs aren't being met (food, water and sleep), then you don't have the time or energy to think about higher needs (shelter, clothing, feeling appreciated, meaningful work). In that respect, my need to understand and be understood by the Spanish speakers around me superseded my religious or emotional needs. Being away was a great time to do something that had nothing to do with Mormonism or homosexuality, and yet was constructive because I was learning a new language and culture.

However, there were moments, even over there, when it was difficult to ignore my sometimes-dualistic feelings towards the LDS church and towards my orientation.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Pressing the resume button on just about everything...

Well, I'm back. Back to the daily grind. Resume thy activity, blogosphere... Maybe if you're good I'll tell you more about my vacation. Or maybe I liked being unplugged so much I'll continue it for awhile.

Naw, honestly, I had a great time on vacation. It was so nice to be so unplugged. My mom required one e-mail a day to make sure I was still alive, but other than that, it was Facebook-free, GMP-free, wholesome living.

It's taken me a full five minutes to upload pictures, change statuses, pay credit card bills and reply to old e-mails, as I predicted, but unfortunately it's also been easy to press the resume button on all the angst I had before about life. I've got a lot to think about for the time, maybe I'll have something to talk about later.

Saturday, September 22, 2012


For a few reasons both within and beyond my control, I'm going to be unplugging for a few weeks. I guess this won't be any different from times in the past where there has been a lull in my posting, but I'll likely be gone for about a month, which I think is the longest I'll have been without posting here. I am looking forward to the separation from life, technology and the world of gay blogging and I hope that this time spent focusing on things other than the gay will be effective at broadening my horizons and seeing more possibilities in life.

There's a phrase that goes, "When all you have is a hammer, all of your problems look like nails." I'd like to counter that by saying, "When all you have are nails, your tools start to look like hammers."  Both are true in my case.

All I have in my arsenal is a frankly pitiful blog that's rife with selfish posts about loneliness and depression. [Note: selfish here is used in its literal sense. Very little of this blog pertains to anyone but me and therefore, it is by its very nature a selfish blog.]  Because of that, most of my problems look like nails that I can hammer out by blogging about them.  This just isn't the case.

Conversely, seemingly every problem I face pertains to homosexuality in some way.  Therefore, every time a new tool comes along that could solve some other problem (therapy to address anger-control issues, talks on improving our relationship with God), I instantly view them as tools to help me address my homosexuality. I am hoping that this time away will help me realize that not everything is about me, nor are the things that are about me always about my homosexuality.

Plus, frankly, I'm sick of blogging and e-mailing and texting and Facebook. It's exhausting work journaling for an audience. A wise man would have deleted this blog and all its vestiges months ago and taken his thoughts to a pen and paper, but no one ever accused me of being wise. So instead, I am going to take this hiatus from life, fall off the edge of the earth, and stick my head in the sand somewhere until I'm content to return.

I'd say something like if you need to email me, I'll eventually respond, but that's giving others' demand for me way too much credit. I have a feeling my return to the plugged-in world will be something like this:

Seriously, e-mail away and I will return them, although not for some time.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Northern Lights- "Automobiles and the gay man"

As many of you may have noticed, cars are really one of the few things that get me going when I'm feeling depressed. I have decided to defend the stereotypical gay mobiles in my latest post over at North Star. It's light, it's somewhat interesting, I think it's funny. Pretty much the antithesis of everything I've ever written over there.  I just needed some variety.

So, go have a look!  There are two cool pictures if nothing else.

A whole new level...

I have reached a whole new level of gayness.

I'm almost ashamed to admit it.


I bought designer underwear today.

My old Hanes been wearing out lately so I went online (remember how much I both hate and love shopping for underwear?) and found some designer underwear on sale at only slightly higher prices than regular stuff. So I bought some. In pink, yellow and electric blue, with funky patterns and plaids for each.  Yikes.

You know how some closeted guys hide their porn under their beds? I'm going to have to start hiding my underroos.

Peace out world, keep moving forward!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Which lobster are you? Danielle Mansfield posts at Northern Lights

Danielle Mansfield offers a powerful metaphor in her post over at Northern Lights. I highly recommend reading the whole thing, as I am incapable of rendering the nuance and loveliness with which she tackles a very depressing concept.

In her essay, she addresses issues of shame, agency and compassion. The stinger for me was this metaphor she gives about cooking a lobster. Apparently, if you only cook one lobster at a time, as soon as the water starts warming up, the lobster will claw his way out of the pot. If, however, you cook two lobsters in the same pot, one lobster will try to climb out and the other lobster will pull him back down into the water until both are killed. The implications here are obvious.

Are you the lobster who tries to climb out but feels constantly pulled back into your old ways? Are you the lobster who, perhaps out of jealousy or narrow-mindedness, prevents people from climbing into a new life, insisting that the pot is the place to be? I sometimes feel like the former, but too frequently feel like the latter.

Danielle addresses a number of other compelling issues in her post. Spare five minutes of your day and have a look at it.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Cars of the Moment: The Japanese Supercar Edition

Japan's automotive industry is generally known for sensible family transportation. Here in the US, Honda is known for the Accord, Toyota is known for the Corolla and Nissan is known for the Altima, all of which are generally designed to get you, your passengers and your stuff from point A to point B cheaply, reliably and in relative comfort.

There have been outliers, to be sure. Honda used to make the Prelude, a fun little coupe built from spare Accord and Civic parts. Toyota had the Celica, MR-2 and Supra sports coupes for a long time before relegating them to history due to low demand. And Nissan still makes the fun-to-drive Z sports car and roadster.  Even so, ask someone to name a Japanese sports car and they'll likely be hard pressed to come up with something.

And that is a travesty, because to those who know, Japan has consistently been producing some of the finest supercars the world has ever known. They are few and far between, but they are almost always great.

Let's start with today, then look to yesterday before moving on to tomorrow, shall we?

The Lexus LF-A is the product of 10 years of research, development and testing. Test mules, the mocked-up and cobbled-together vehicles automakers use to try out different engine and suspension settings, have been rounding Germany's Nurburgring since 2003. Design concepts have been teased at major auto shows since 2005. Finally, after four different designs and hundreds of gigantic conceptual changes, the LF-A was released to the public in 2011, with only 500 models available worldwide and a strict buyer selection process that would prevent owners from flipping their rare cars for more money in the used marketplace. 

I'd think that for each of those lucky customers, the wait was worth it. 

Now, my distaste for Lexus and Toyota in general is well-documented, but this car breaks with tradition, both in general and for me specifically. Look at the thing. Even (or perhaps especially) painted fly yellow, it looks aggressive and modern. The scoops in front of the rear wheels, the blade-like radiator vents protruding from the rear window, the bonkers-sexy interior: from stem to stern, this car's intentions are clear.

But if you're still not convinced, turn the key and listen to one of the fastest-revving V10 engines in history. Taking from Toyota's extensive experience as a manufacturer for Formula 1 racing, the engine is ultralight and mounted so low in the chassis that it doesn't even clear the top of the front wheels. The Lexus has a digital tachometer because, rumor has it, the engine is so quick to rev that a conventional analog gauge mechanically wouldn't be able to keep up.  

The whole car's structure takes shape with the use of carbon fiber, a lightweight and strong material that only recently has made the jump from aerospace and astronautics to automobiles. The carbon strands are woven in a gigantic industrial loom that was repurposed from one of Toyota's original fabric looms. A tiny piece of Toyota history goes into this car. With a racetrack-chic exhaust wail and a loud, backfiring crack with each banging gearchange, this car is designed to thrill and scintillate. How unlike Lexus, and how refreshing.

Nissan has been making a fantastic car for markets other than the United States called the Skyline GT-R. After a hiatus in the 1970s and 1980s, the R32 Skyline GT-R was reintroduced in 1989, featuring a technologically advanced all-wheel drive system with something they called ATTESA E-TS, that could split engine power up among the wheels. For example, more torque could be sent to the outside rear tire when the vehicle was turning a corner, giving it exceptional balance and maneuverability. Further improvements were made for the R33 Skyline and R34 Skyline, with each of them gaining notoriety from the gaming crowd for their near-dominance in the Gran Turismo video game franchise. Fans of the cars were vocal. America, known to every major automaker as the least forgiving and most fickle automobile market, was ready for Nissan's supercar.

After a few tantalizing concept cars, the production Nissan GT-R (no longer a Skyline) was unveiled for the 2008 model year. With a probably-underrated 485 horsepower coming from a twin-turbocharged 3.8-liter V6 and, no hyperbole, the most technologically advanced transmission, all-wheel drive system and driver interface, that first version of the "R35" GT-R was capable of sprinting to 60 mph in 3.2 seconds, faster than the $600,000 Ferrari Enzo, never mind that the Nissan cost only about $80,000 after dealers inevitably marked it up.

Fun fact: Polyphony Digital, the developers of Gran Turusmo, was contracted to design the vehicle's driver interface, which allows drivers to change suspension and drive settings and view real-time performance stats from the navigation screen.  Fun fact II: All vehicles sold in Japan are required by law to be limited to about 88 mph and the GT-R is no exception. However, if the navigation system senses that the vehicle is on a racetrack, it automatically removes that speed governor.

Later improvements to the engine, transmission, suspension have culminated in this, the 2013 Nissan GT-R. Until the R36 generation bows in a few years, this is likely as good as any Nissan will ever be. With 545 (!) horsepower, a cataclysmic launch control system and enhanced aerodynamics, the GT-R is one of three cars than can get to 60 mph in less than three seconds. The other two? The Porsche 911 Turbo, at nearly double the cost, and the Bugatti Veyron hypercar, which starts at a jaw-dropping $1.5 million.

Not bad for a Datsun, eh?

Remember that old Honda Prelude we mentioned before? Most of them came with VTEC, an innovative variable valve timing system that allowed an engine's timing to change with revs so that it could pull strongly from both high and low RPMs. Its technology is beyond my understanding and therefore, in my mind, miraculous. I've driven a few cars with VTEC and they're all a blast.

But the system owes its very existence to Honda's original supercar, the 1990 Honda/Acura NSX. This car was revolutionary in so many ways that it's difficult to quantify. First and foremost was the VTEC system, which made its first appearance in the US market on the NSX (which was badged as an Acura here). This system gave the NSX and its 3.0-liter (later enlarged to 3.2 liters) V6 engine performance on par with the more expensive Ferrari 348 and less exotic Porsche 911 and Chevrolet Corvette. 

However, Honda's innovations did not stop there. The NSX was also the first vehicle ever to have an all-aluminum monocoque body. In layman's terms, the car's stunningly styled body and frame were one unified piece and were made out of expensive, lightweight aluminum, making the car about 500 lbs lighter than a comparable steel vehicle.

Above and beyond the exotic-for-the-time materials and interesting engine technology, compared to its rivals, the NSX was very easy to live with. It was low-slung but still had great visibility, its interior was built with Honda quality and Acura luxury, and it was reliable and predictable when driving quickly. Unlike the fragile Ferrari 348, the tail-happy Porsche 911 and the tacky, uncomfortable Corvette, the NSX was the first supercar you could reliably drive every day and still enjoy on the track each weekend, and damned if it didn't light fires under the butts of every sports car manufacturer's management, who now had to scramble to match what plebian Honda had created with its supercar.

Said Johnny Liebermann of Motor Trend, "Do you enjoy your modern Ferrari? You have [the NSX] to thank for it."

Can't think of any higher praise for the same company that makes the Odyssey minivan...

In the next five years, we can expect to see another sports-car renaissance from the Land of the Rising Sun.  While Toyota Motor Corporation has acknowledged that it may not build a successor for the LF-A immediately, the Lexus brand has the LF-LC sports coupe on the pipeline. While it may be considered more of a grand tourer than an outright supercar, it still looks plenty interesting, with some classy details and Lexus' new spindle grille taken to its logical extreme.  It will surely be a step in the right direction for Lexus' brand image.

LF-LC concept interior. Unreal and totally awesome.

There also will be a new version of the Nissan GT-R, and while details are sparse and incomplete, it will surely bring a whole new level of performance to the table. Nissan isn't a brand that usually ruins the recipe in one generation, so we could probably expect the R36 GT-R to improve on its predecessor, at least in most quantifiable metrics.

And then there's Honda, which is (finally) bringing us a new NSX supercar. After teasing us with the underwhelming (and front-engined!) Acura ASCC concept, then telling us it would evolve into the NSX's successor, then abandoning the project, then finally unveiling a proper mid-engined sports car called the NSX concept, its road to production in 2015 is all but unimpeded. The company's impressive SH all-wheel drive system, which will come standard on the NSX, works similar to Nissan's ATTESA. It allows torque to transfer from left to right and front to rear to give each tire its optimal level of power to keep the car going in whatever twisty line you want it to. You may have seen Tony Stark driving a new NSX Roadster in The Avengers and you probably saw Jerry Seinfeld fight with Jay Leno over who had the rights to buy the first NSX if you watched the Superbowl (and/or its commercials).

Acura NSX concept
What's interesting about each of these new cars, the LF-LC, R36 GT-R and 2015 NSX, is that they're all but guaranteed to have hybrid powertrains. The details on the GT-R are rumors at this point, but it will likely rely on gas and electricity for its motivation. The LF-LC, which will likely compete with base Bentley and top-of-the-line Mercedes touring cars, will likely see tons of hybrid technology from Toyota's extensive experience building green cars like the Prius and RAV4 Electric Vehicle.  The NSX will feature Honda's near-ubiquitous 3.5-liter V6 and electric motor mounted behind the driver and powering the rear wheels while individual electric motors will power each front wheel. Through-the-road hybrid systems like this, where the electric motor and gas engine see little interaction with each other but still provide prodigious performance, seems to be the new normal for sports cars, with even manufacturers like Ferrari getting in on the game.

While the advent of the electric motor makes a manual transmission an unnecessary impedance (electric motors make full torque starting at zero RPM, so individual gears are redundant), and while that fact makes me very sad, I am nonetheless excited to see Japan's technological prowess again translate to some pretty awesome cars.

Images sourced from Wikimedia Commons, Lexus and Nissan USA

Sunday, September 9, 2012

One brief beef I have with a common anti-gay marriage argument

Tonight was another good CES fireside in which Elder Holland urged the young singles of the church to plant their feet boldly where they stood and dare to keep their standards high. It was an uplifting, entertaining, emotional fireside and he had some amazing stories and lessons to share. I really admire Elder Holland's emphatic, almost frightening conviction with which he invites and encourages listeners to live on a higher plain.

However, I have just one or two little issues I took with aspects of his message.  These may or may not be motivated by the fact that I've had a really bad attitude and some really caustic feelings towards the Church and that my pride has been puffed up recently by who-knows-what, but here they are.

First, he encouraged us to be more loving. There's nothing I hate more than being loving.

Just kidding.

No, he encouraged us to be loving and free of judgment towards those who live different lifestyles, have different standards, dress differently, etc. He illustrated his point by sharing a story of love shared towards a spiky-haired, pierced and tattooed woman who attended a stake fireside he gave a number of years ago.  Awesome. I am pro-love, so no qualms yet.

However, in the next sentence, he encouraged us to remember to continue to judge righteously. He likened our righteous judgments to those of parents who prevent their children from eating too much junk or running into a busy street, where no level-headed person would ever censure a parent for "taking away their children's agency" in this way.

He encouraged us to do the same, to prevent harm or accident from befalling us by keeping good company, taking care of our bodies and avoiding sin and temptation. So far so good, on paper at least.

However, in practice, I've noticed that Mormons as a culture are mostly incapable of giving righteous judgment without, in his words, "checking their religion at the door." We tend to censure, scorn and ostracize those with whom we disagree and our actions cross from "righteous indignation" into hate. Elder Holland himself said these words with what I felt was a hint of venom, the slightest tinge of sardonic scoffing towards those to whom he was referring, those outside our church and its standards.

He continued by encouraging us to be active in political discourse and stand up for our rights. Again, I totally agreed, until he said that we were justified in taking away others' agency if it was a matter of celestial, eternal importance. Again, he used a metaphor involving running red lights. Paraphrasing, "I as a good driver know that running red lights is wrong, but why should we penalize those who choose to run red lights? Isn't that taking away their agency?"

His point was that it is necessary to take away agency in matters like these, but the fundamental difference between his metaphor and the issues to which we all know he was referring (gay rights, abortion, etc.) is that running a red light can cause irreparable harm to someone who had no control over your actions. In exercising your agency to run a red light, you can take away another person's agency to live without their permission.

However, with gay marriage, one man is not taking away another man's agency to marry; rather, two people are willingly entering into that contract with one another. No one's agency is being taken away. You might disagree with their choice, but it has no affect on anyone but themselves. This argument breaks down somewhat in the argument about abortion, as it could be argued that you are removing a fetus' right to live, but still, there is palpable difference between reality and metaphor.

Other than that, I really enjoyed his fireside. I don't know what I'm going to do about it because I'm still so miserable at church that it takes all of my energy to attend, but here's hoping that I'll have some urge to be a better disciple due to Elder Holland's convicting words.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

"Etymology and the gay Mormon mind"- Northern Lights

My most recent post went live over at Northern Lights. This one was kind of difficult to write. As regular readers know, I have not been on a spiritual high right now and Northern Lights is not the proper place to air out negative, spiritually destructive emotions. It's supposed to be a place of faith and encouragement, where gay Mormons and their allies write about how fulfulling it is to suffer from same-gender attraction.

They are wonderful men and women who blog there and they all tell a unique and fantastic story that is truly faith-affirming. But I sometimes don't feel as though I fit in well there because I don't always partake of the belief that it's a fulfilling life being gay and Mormon.

So, in this latest post, I tried to air out some of those feelings I'd been having as a way to try and show the world (and other gay people who think like me) that life can be tough and it's okay to be mad about it. My good friend showed me in a conversation I had with her that the bitterness is sometimes the best first step to take on the road to recovery, as long as it's given a properly brief time slot. And another one of my friends said that his greatest complaint about Northern Lights was how plasticky and fake it felt, like people were showing their best selves in their blog posts. He sought something more real.

(For the record, I disagree. I think Northern Lights is part of a balanced blogosphere diet. They provide lots of examples of faith and God knows the world could use more of those.)

I dunno. It was a hard post to write. I feel like a fish out of water. But I guess that's not a unique feeling for a religious gay kid. I should be used to it.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

In which I become addicted to spiritual highs

So, as I mentioned a few days ago, that fun meltdown I had last week is turning less and less raw with every passing day. I went and saw a therapist and I'm going to start working through a lot of the relationship and addiction issues that contributed to that anger and dissatisfaction I had with my life. I'm not going to lie, I still feel pretty lonely, but all things considered, I'm feeling better about life, more and more so every day.  One thing that certainly helped was all the love and support I felt from my friends and people from this blog. From the absolute bottom of my heart, I really appreciate it. Internet community FTW.

Just wanted to share a quick insight my therapist had.  I had mentioned that after giving up porn, I was feeling great, like I could conquer the world, for a few weeks before feeling like crap again, even though I hadn't relapsed.

She had this incredible insight at that moment. When addicts binge, they stimulate the pleasure centers of their brains. That's what was happening when I was looking at porn. The funny thing is, after I stopped watching porn, I didn't stop stimulating that pleasure center.  I felt so awesome for giving up porn and I felt like such a spiritual giant and I was so proud of myself and I felt pleasure for it. Instead of masturbating down low, I started masturbating up high. Then, just through the natural process, the "high" of not looking at porn and feeling good about that began to wane. I was able to divert the coming-down and withdrawal symptoms of porn by feeling self-congratulatory, but there wasn't anything to help combat coming down from that.

Then came the really profound thing. The greatest thing addicts fear is normalcy, because we're used to living on a different level than normal life. No matter what our drug of choice is, be it alcohol, ecstasy, Vicodin or pornography, we feel more pleasure than is either normal or healthy, so normal life by comparison seems very lackluster.  There's every likelihood that what I have been feeling for a long time is just the result of me getting used to living at a more realistic plane than the one of hedonism that I was used to. To be sure, I had done a lot of avoiding and had bottled in a lot of those vaguely unsatisfied emotions and needs and that's why I exploded like I did, but the basic framework of my meltdown really might just be due to the fact that I'm just not used to living a "normal" life yet (as if the life of a gay Mormon could be anything but abnormal, haha).

Not that I shouldn't have been proud of myself for giving up porn, but it apparently caused problems that I should have been more realistic in addressing.  Anyway, there ya go.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012


Good news and bad news.

Those rockin' awesome wounds I had from a few days ago? They're feeling less fresh. For the most part, I can get through my day without constantly being distracted by what a basketcase I am. There are moments when I just can't get started on life, but I guess that's to be expected after a near-breakdown like I had Sunday and Monday.

I'm going back to therapy. This experience has scared me enough to make me think that I'm really ill-equipped for crises. I've got an appointment with my old friend Max this Friday and I'm making a fix-it list for her today so I make sure to cover everything. I'm looking forward to it, I've really missed having someone to talk to. In spite of their best efforts, the Evergreen support group I used to go to made me really uncomfortable and I just couldn't be honest with them like I could with Max.

So, that's all good. Plus, there's all of you, the people in my life, who have gone out of their way to make sure I'm feeling loved. As syrupy as it still feels to me, I'm grateful for the motivations and intentions behind those kind words.

But a nice little negative consequence of my recent insanity came up today. My mom (who doesn't know what a rough time I've been having lately) asked about my mission papers and going to the temple. The time has come when I can start moving forward on those two options for my life and I'm just not sure what to do. I feel like going to the temple right now is a huge mistake because, frankly, I'm kind of angry with God right now. I just don't understand what I'm supposed to do and I feel really alone in more ways than one.

Like I said earlier, no option feels correct. I feel like I can't just leave the church and go gay, but church has been making me so unhappy lately. My motivation to sink myself deeper into its doctrine (much less proclaim that doctrine to others) is zero right now. I'm really hoping I just need some time to get my head around all this, but frankly, what if this kind of meltdown happens while I'm on my mission? What kind of hell could that wreak?

When I was a baby, I had pneumonia really bad. My childhood doctor came over for a visit one day after church, listened to my chest and told my parents that I had to get to the hospital immediately. A few days later, that same doctor told my parents that they needed "to prepare" themselves, because I wasn't getting better and if I didn't rally soon, they were going to lose me.

I guess today I feel a little like that doctor. I need to tell my parents that they need to prepare themselves. It's different because I'm not getting worse and they're not going to lose me, but I'm afraid my life isn't going to turn out quite like I planned it, at least in the near future.

Monday, August 27, 2012

In which I bear out most of my shit

(There isn't going to be a "light-at-the-end-of-the-tunnel" moment in this post. Skip if you're looking for something uplifting. Also, adult language. Hope you can deal with it, because today, I really just don't care)

Today, for the first time in months or possibly years, I sobbed.

As I mentioned before, it apparently isn't just my struggle with pornography that has led me to doubt and wonder if the Church was true. I've been clean about three months of pornography, which is likely the longest I've ever been since I started looking at it at age 17. There's still work to be done, but from a strict obedience standpoint, I'm doing better than I have in years.

And yet...

For the last few months, I've been unhappy. I haven't been sad per se, but I have been unmotivated, lazy, obstinate, depressed, willful and unpleasant. I attend parties and get-togethers, put on a happy face and make jokes, laugh till I cry, make lunch plans with old friends, the works. I go to church and hear the speakers express uplifting words, I see the good examples of those who serve faithfully in their callings, I even participate insightfully in Institute and Sunday school. But underneath it all is a cold, black core of a man who has become bitterly jaded and unhappy with his life.

I saw all these areas of improvement, ranging from reading my scriptures more to eating less red meat to working out better. I tried to get stronger and build myself into a man. I bought a bicycle, thinking going carbon neutral would help. I brushed my teeth better, polishing those pearly whites to a sheen they haven't seen in years. Hell, when I was in the shower once, I looked down and thought, "If that were bigger, I'd be happier."

But the plain and simple fact of the matter is that since about the time pornography stopped being a scapegoat, I have felt alone and forsaken. There have been brief moments where I see empathy and love in the world all around me, but for the most part, I am lonely. I crave the presence of the Spirit but I feel it retracted from me. I pray for little miracles to help me see that I'm not alone in this world and they seem to go unheeded. I feel like I'm talking to the wall whenever I pray and I think that no one is listening. It's been a deeply frustrating three months, three months that I thought would see the Spirit and blessings of the Lord pouring out on me as a reward for giving up pornography but instead have been filled with spite, jealousy and bitterness on my part. I even tried to punch a hole in the wall underneath one of my posters, but apparently I'm so weak that I couldn't break anything but the skin on my fist.

For the first time since these feelings started coming, I talked them over with someone today. Last night, as I struggled to fall asleep amid the anger and bitterness I felt towards my Heavenly Father, I texted my brother, who is faithfully trying to live the teachings of the Gospel, asking if we could talk. He returned my call this morning and we spoke for awhile. As the tears started to flow from both of us, we tried to figure out why this life is so hard, why God has chosen us to live these lives with thrilling highs followed mere minutes later with painful lows. I told him how I felt like God had forgotten me and to my surprise, he agreed. He said that God had indeed retracted from my life because for whatever reason, I need to do this alone. I need to be tested and tried and I need to do it without His help. He said he felt the same thing often and while he may not understand completely the breadth and scope of what I'm dealing with, I can see that he understands the underlying emotions.

And then the praises came. He told me how strong I was, how godlike I was and what a good person I had always been. He told me how much he loves and prays for me and how much he looks up to me. And again, I felt nothing. I saw none of myself in those words. I never do. Whenever people praise me for being so wonderful and brave and faithful, all I can think is that they are just saying that to be nice. I feel none of that, no bravery. All I see is this scared little bitch cowering under his covers, wishing that he were braver. He told me I was my own worst critic and I gave myself too little credit, but his words, and the words of my bishop and parents and friends who have said the same thing, have always sounded a little syrupy, if well-meaning. They still do. But whatever. He loves me and I appreciate the efforts he made.

We hung up the phone and I went to take a shower before being overcome with a poignant sense of, "Who gives a shit? What person in this universe gives one single fuck about me and what I do with my life?" I couldn't even look myself in the mirror, I was so ashamed. I turned on the water so no one would hear me and crumpled to the ground and sobbed. Sobbed with every muscle in my body, sobbed like it was going out of style, sobbed until my ears ached and my stomach was sore and my forearms were bleeding from the prints of my fingernails. I prayed for some time, just hoping that I'd feel some kind of presence from above. I offered gratitude for a brother who cared enough to cry with me on the phone for an hour, for friends in real life and friends I'd met through this blog and friends I knew were praying for me. And then I was done. I was done crying. I had offered my last ounce of energy and I had nothing left. I lay on the rug for a few more minutes, got up, got in the hot water, and was done.

I don't know what's going to come next. I still feel crushingly alone, in spite of all the people around me and in my life. I know there are those of you who send me encouraging texts and e-mails, who call for no reason just to chat, who pray for me and love me and who hope that I find the thing that will leave me with lasting joy.

But I have to admit, I don't know where to find that joy. I feel like every avenue for happiness is closed off to me, that my life is just one huge long detour from stopping point to stopping point with no clear destination in sight. I feel very little joy in the journey and I see very little light.  God is not in my life today and His presence is missed. Nothing feels right, no decision seems like the correct one. It's all just darkness. And probably some dragons. I'm sure I'll be okay, but I just have no idea how or when. Kinda ready for it to be my turn though.

Friday, August 10, 2012

Some pretty amusing junk over at Northern Lights!

¡Buenos dias, blogosphere!

I was perusing my new internet home away from home and found something pretty amusing.

"He Might Be a Moho If..." is one of the most hilarious, true to life examples of the genre, at least for me. It had me in stitches the whole time I was reading. Let's evaluate, shall we? [Sidebar: I really, really hate the term "moho." It sounds so lame to me. Non-mohos, it means MOrmon HOmosexual.]

Number 8: When he refers to the type of “person” he’s attracted to, pay attention to whether he EVER indicates a gender. Just a thought. 
Back at home, we have this word we use to describe those who haven't made out in 6 months or more. Until I was 22, I had never made out, but when I did the deed with Toby, the next time the conversation came up with my friends at home, they found out that I'd made out. Naturally, they asked for a description of, ostensibly, the girl, so I was forced to describe this dude I smooched using gender-neutral pronouns and adjectives: "beard-burn" was obviously out.

Number 16:  Watch his eyes during a kissing or love scene–does he even notice there’s a woman there?
Both Easy A and Crazy Stupid Love were tossups between Emma Stone and Penn Badgley and Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling for me. I love Emma Stone, but damned if Penn and RyGos didn't make the teapot whistle...

Number 17: When introduced to groups of people, he connects with the best-looking guy first. Or the exact opposite for those a bit more adept at avoidance or repression–they connect with the homeliest girl.
Guilty. Constantly scanning for the best prospects, I am.

Number 18: When caught checking out a guy, he immediately scans the room like he was just scanning all along. …or he looks the girl next to the guy up and down like he was just sizing up his competition. …no, I haven’t done that.
Indeed. I've even done the fake "sizing up your competition" thing.

Number 24:  He makes friends with the best-looking elders in his quorum at Elders Quorum BBQs, all while artfully dodging questions about why he doesn’t date.
I'm somewhat convinced that if my best friends in the ward suddenly became not-hot, I'd stop liking them a little bit. Sorry guys.

Number 28: While walking through the mall, he shoots a casual glance in the Victoria’s Secret window, looking away quickly to show his remarkable self discipline like a good LDS guy should, but he lingers at American Eagle or A & F.
I purposely linger in front of the lingerie stores when I'm with guys so they think that's how I like it.

And finally, the best one...
Number 29: When confronted with the underwear section at Target (or other applicable store), one of two things occurs: He either avoids it like the plague, or he spends an inordinate amount of time ‘browsing.’ Option two is especially true if he wears garments.
I have a love/hate relationship with the underwear aisle at Target. The men on those packages are like the beta test for the male form, plus the models gotta be able to shape the underwear masculinely, if you know what I mean... I want to avoid it, but as I am not endowed yet, I have to go there at least once or twice a year. It's the chore I hate to love.

There's a treasure trove of amusement on those old posts.  It's pretty great.

The relaunch of Northern Lights has been pretty cool, but if I pointed out a fault, it'd be that it's got a very serious tone so far. That's to be expected, because each of us who is blogging is obviously facing a scary facet of a very complicated life situation. But still, I'm hoping that humor will infiltrate the blog  again soon.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Treating the symptoms while ignoring the causes

My brother is a doctor of osteopathy. It's a unique school of thought within the medical field that emphasizes healing the body's core problems, rather than merely treating the symptoms. He's a full-fledged doctor who works at a legitimate hospital and can write prescriptions and perform surgeries and do anything a medical doctor can, but he was educated to not merely prescribe painkillers to someone with a sore throat. Instead, he finds the root cause of the pain and treats that to solve the problem from the inside out.

My struggle with pornography addiction has been similar.

For years, I have had doubts about the LDS church. I have always wondered why this and why that. I have heard the vile rumors about Joseph Smith's personal life and speculated more perverse motivations behind plural marriage as the early Utahans practiced it. I have pondered about the nature and origin of the Book of Mormon and questioned its validity as a book of scripture.

However, these questions always coincided with my struggles with pornography. I'd relapse and binge, then feel terrible, then doubt the truthfulness of the gospel. I always assumed that because I'd chased the Spirit away with my porn consumption and made way for the Adversary to enter my thoughts. It became easy to quiet those doubts by reassuring myself that it was my disobedience that fed them.

However, after abstaining from porn for longer than I have in years, I've found that the opposite may be true. My consumption of porn may have been a manifestation of my doubts, rather than the other way around. Those doubts may have always been there and merely covered up by a scapegoat of pornography, when in reality, I only watched porn to distract myself from the core problems.  As I abstained from pornography, I treated a symptom of the doubt while ignoring the root cause of it all.

I assumed that after I'd had some time apart from pornography, things would seem brighter and better. For some time, they did. I felt more confident and stronger in my day-to-day life; nothing could touch me. But as time passed and the "new" wore off, I found those same doubts wriggling their way into my head. They consumed me. "What if I'm totally wrong? What if God doesn't care who I marry or what church I go to or how I live, so long as I'm nice and kind and helpful?" I laid awake at night, wondering about the possibilities.

This all came to a head today. I was so sick of these questions bouncing around in my head and I snapped. I woke up for work early, but called in sick. I spent the rest of the day aimlessly walking around the house, checking the fridge every few minutes, washing a dish or two, flipping channels. I browsed the Internet listlessly, wasting my time in front of Craigslist or YouTube or Facebook. I planned on doing some work on the house and yard, but when the time came, I stayed on the couch instead. I had zero motivation to do anything; my brain was broken. I was overcritical of myself and my family, sarcastic and unkind to the one individual I saw when gassing up this morning and completely out of touch with my emotions and reality.

I was (and still am) amazed that removing pornography from my life didn't cure my doubts. But after a holistic blessing from that same osteopath I mentioned before, I see what I need to do to fix them. I have some motivation to do what needs to be done and to literally get my house in order before I can get the answers I need. I'm still shooting for a mission and all the blessings of faithful church membership, but I recognize that I'm on shaky ground, standing on a thin crust of earth ready to give way at any moment.

I do not regret removing pornography from my life and I encourage everyone affected by it to do the same. But it's interesting and surprising what you'll find after you've removed that scapegoat.

As usual, if you want to talk, feel free to e-mail me. But I'm also asking that you please pray for me tonight and tomorrow. I need motivation to work and I need a clear head to get those answers I seek.  Thanks.

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