Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Trying to Regain Focus

This weekend was not kind. I had a nice time visiting Utarr, but it was filled with a lot of personal drama and angst. Nothing was going poorly outwardly, but I was just having a hard time keeping my thoughts collected and positive. There was a lot of what's-the-point going on as I visited with old friends and compared my life with theirs.

And then, amid all of those misgivings I'd had about life, I started to slip back into the old cycle of porn and self-loathing. I'm trying really hard to stem that tide of contempt and keep it from crashing onto me and sending me back to where I was a year ago, but I readily admit that I'm having a hard time with that.

Before I left for Utah, I had a conversation with a friend. I told her everything, all of my problems and sins and proclivities. I figured she'd be a good ally and I wanted her to know everything about me so that I could feel like I wasn't hiding anything from her anymore. I encouraged her to check up on me and be blunt with me often, just to have something to check myself by. And I even admitted to her that she was someone I could see myself with, someone I could share her load and my load with. She took it all like a champ and promised to be my friend and help me any way she could.

I hoped that telling her all that would make me feel better. I hoped that by letting her in, I could start to lay the foundation of a great friendship and maybe a great relationship, and I hoped that I could feel confident and less shameful about everything.  But that wasn't the case. Instead, I dreaded her text messages. I hoped that she'd get freaked out and give me the cold shoulder. For some crazy reason, I wanted her to hate me and cut me out of her life. I ended the conversation feeling better, but woke up the next morning feeling so ashamed that I told her everything, including the parts about my shallow romantic feelings for her. I admit that I regret having that conversation a little bit, and I wish I didn't regret it. Reading her in on everything was a good decision and I have no idea why I wish I hadn't.

After I made my mistakes this week, I tried giving myself a pep talk. I told myself that I was wrong and that my mistakes were bad, but they didn't define me. I remembered that I'd made mistakes before and that I'd come back from them. But it all felt so hollow. I felt like I was telling myself lies, like I was trying to minimize or hide my problems, a sure sign of that old shame cycle.

Last night, as I was driving home from a friend's house, I felt like I needed to pull over and just have a conversation with Heavenly Father. I told him about all my mistakes and I asked that he'd help me feel guilt, but no shame, so that I could move forward and get it fixed. I frankly asked him, "What's the point? Will it ever get any easier?" I reminded him of all the progress I'd made, but then told him that I still felt like crap. I told him about when I'm at church and studying my scriptures and participating in discussions, and yet I still feel incredible attractions to a few guys in my ward. I asked him why I felt those things even as I participated in one of the most holy things I am currently allowed to do. I asked how I could possibly hope to have a girlfriend, much less a wife, when I'd catch myself looking some actor's abs every time we'd go see a movie together.  I told him that I was afraid to get married or to go on a mission or go through the temple, because I was worried that all of a sudden I'd screw something up really bad and be so much more accountable for that mistake. I asked him if I really was in for 70 or 80 years of a life of quiet desperation. I asked when my "It Gets Better" moment was going to come.

Finally, I reminded him that I followed the second great commandment very well. I told him that I am a good friend and neighbor and I'm usually nice to most people. And, even the first great commandment I follow most of the time. I asked him why the few times I disobeyed seemed to nullify all of those other good qualities. I told him that my finite, mathematical mind didn't understand how my disobedience, which probably accounts for maybe 5% of my time alive, completely overcame that other 95%. I just don't understand why I'm cursed with such a poor self-image that a few mistakes can convince me that I'm destined for the 7th circle of Hell.

But, I admit, as awful as it felt to say all of those things to him, I could tell he was listening. I'm still worried and concerned about my long-term and I am still ashamed and wish I could just go to sleep for a few weeks because I'm so emotionally and spiritually exhausted, but at least he was listening.

Ugh, I'm trying so hard not to sound emo right now. Guess that'd be today's main failure. Better than the alternative failures I suppose.

Thursday, January 26, 2012


Once I made a list of all the places I wanted to see in the world. It started out as my short list, but then it got longer and longer until it filled two columns on two pages.  That kind of depresses me, if I'm honest.

Here, watch these videos!

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Something to Check Off the Bucket List

Full disclosure: This post is rife with pride and vanity

A few days ago, I was watching a movie with some friends, a movie that starred an actor who I find very attractive.  Without dwelling on it too much, he's quite simply the ideal male, everything I want to be physically, and just plain fun to look at anyway. I was thinking about how good he looks and all that and a funny thought popped into my head that someday, I'd like to be good-looking enough that someone would want me from a strictly physical standpoint.  To be sure, I've had my share of admirers, but most of those came in time, after they'd had a chance to get to know my great personality and quirky-sexy side. I wanted something different this time. I believe the words I used in my head were, "Someday, I hope I'm hot enough to set someone's loins on fire..."

Fast forward to last night. I was downtown with some friends at a trendy spot for hip young things like ourselves, waiting an hour and a half for a table. We got seated and fairly rapidly started racking up a nice, trendy bill and having a good time. One of the topics of conversation was who would make your "list," the end-all list of people you'd hit on or hook up with if the rules didn't apply (I lied and said things like Scarlett Johansson, Zooey Deschanel, and Natalie Portman, instead of Chris Pine). After about two hours of great service and delicious dinner and dessert, we squared up our bill and parted ways.

As my gal pal and I were driving away, laughing at our entertaining evening, she got a text from one of our friends, whom I hadn't seen in about a year. She said, "Wow, GMP really got hot. I think he just jumped to the top of my list."

Loins of the world, consider yourselves ignited.

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Psychological Studies and Open Letters to the World

I had a most interesting experience this past week. Someone who found my blog reached out to me and asked, via an obviously-copy-pasted letter, if I wanted to participate in a research study being carried out by a doctorate-hopeful from CUNY. Her topic was Sexual Orientation and Religion. With trepidation, I called the number at the bottom to see if it was some weird spam attempt or if it was, in fact, legit. A real person, Chana Etengoff, M.A., answered the phone, sent me her credentials, wowed me with her responses to some of my concerns, and less than a week later, I'm in borderline tears over the phone with a woman I've never met about what it's like to be gay and Mormon (and also a pioneer ;) .

The biggest concern I had going into the study was the angle she'd take in presenting her data. My biggest problem of many with the American Psychological Association is its stance on treating people with unwanted homosexuality, and indeed, I was concerned that this doctoral dissertation would take my hopeful views of a faithful life of chastity and celibacy and skew me to look like a religious nut or a repressed, timid little boy. And yet, she responded to my answers with kind, open-hearted candor. I have faith that I will not become a skewed data point.

Before my interview, she explained what she was doing, in that she wasn't taking questionnaires and plugging data into formulaic logarithms, but was using very nuanced, qualitative research to portray a wider view of the struggle found in homosexuals with religious backgrounds. She reassured me that there was no hypothesis attached to her project and that she was merely seeking information, and I trust that to be true.

It was a great experience. I loved bearing testimony of the things I feel are true and I enjoyed exploring those religious parts of my sexuality in a clinical, safe environment. I talked Atonement, the possibilities found in reorientation therapy, mixed-orientation marriage, etc., and she responded with understanding and appreciation for my views.

My reason for participating was to give voice to those of us who do struggle, but still choose a life of celibacy and devoted religion, and my audience was both the psychiatric community that tends to discount religion as something that gets in the way of my identity, and the religious community that tends to vilify homosexuality, whether or not it's being practiced.  I hope very deeply that Ms. Etengoff's study will change both of those erroneous viewpoints. I had the opportunity to convey that sentiment in an open letter that was part of the study.  I think I'll post it later.

I'd have no qualms in recommending Ms. Etengoff's study. Also, something that makes her work unique is that she also asks if the subject's family members would like to participate as well. It's not a requirement to invite a family member to participate, but she mentioned to me that her study is the first to take responses from both gay individuals and their family members (other studies have taken parents' responses, but they weren't necessarily parents of other subjects in the studies).  I think that will yield some interesting data.

If you want to participate, shoot me an e-mail and I'll pass along her cover letter.

Saturday, January 14, 2012


Psychologically speaking, shame is a non-productive emotion. Instead of being a function of how we feel and, from a gospel perspective, how the Lord feels about our actions, it is a function of how we perceive others will feel about our actions.  Therefore, shame breeds an unconscious need to withdraw from others to avoid that possible embarrassment from being "found out." Because it motivates one to try and resolve something alone, without the assistance or help of others, shame is the antithesis of repentance and the Atonement.

Jessica Mockett, a filmmaker from Salt Lake City, is trying to make shame a thing of the past.  Her documentary, Shamed, is about the pain and embarrassment that comes from pornography addiction. She aims to reduce the fear and misconception so often attached to this incredibly personal struggle by telling the stories of former pornography addicts and using their challenges to reach out to others who may be struggling.

The trailer, found below, contains snippets of the interviews of two men.  One man says something that really hits home because it reminds me of how I felt when I first started consuming pornography: "You kind of go into this hopeless helplessness-type mentality of, like, "I'm never gonna get better, but it doesn't matter because I can just hide this for the rest of my life."  I hid it for two years and looking back, those two years were some of the most painful, disingenuous years of my life. The desire to hide is a natural one, but it doesn't work. Both men talk about the bad choice they made, not in consuming porn, but in deciding to hide their problems from others.

I'd like to end with this quote, also from the trailer: "The Gospel is not about trying to be perfect or trying to appear perfect, it's just trying to do the best that you can, and seeking the help when you need it." I am not perfect and neither are you and that is okay. Don't be ashamed, be proactive and reach out for help or reach out to help another. As always, if you want to tell your story to someone who loves and appreciates you as a child of God, e-mail me at gaymormonpioneer at gmail dot com.

Mockett is using Kickstarter, an online project-funding platform, to support this project.  Kickstarter gives her a deadline for fundraising, just 31 days away on February 15th, and she needs to raise money for her project by then. She has a unique take on this problem and I want to see her ideas come to fruition. If you feel so inclined, please, donate and share this story with friends.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Gender Confusion- II

I've been wanting to write a second post about gender confusion for a long time now. In the church, gender confusion and homosexuality often get lumped into the same category, which has always bothered me, but for different reasons then than now. Before, I was annoyed that I had to share definition within the church with a struggle I don't identify with or understand, but now, I'm annoyed that the church isn't giving gender confusion its due compassion like it does with homosexuality. For the purposes of this post, gender confusion will be defined as the desire to change to the opposite gender, and transgender will refer to those who have undergone such a change.

When I first started coming out to myself and to other people, I was always very concerned that they'd assume that I wanted to be a girl.  I was happy being a guy and had no desire to change that, even if becoming a girl meant that I could like other guys and still be straight. Thus, the thought of being gender confused turned into something I had to vehemently deny, and as such, gender confusion became something that kind of repulsed me. I always had a problem with the acronym "LGBT," which stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender, because I felt like people who were transgendered had a different set of issues to deal with, versus people who were lesbian, gay, and bisexual.  I kind of wanted a separation from those who were born into one gender but felt more affinity to another.  I fear my earlier post, linked above, may have perpetuated that desire for aloofness from those who are genuinely gender confused more than is either necessary or Christlike.

In the spirit of full disclosure, there is a hell of a lot that I don't understand about gender confusion.  It's not something I deal with, having happily been a guy for about 22.7 years. I have never felt the desire to be a girl more than just occasionally, and never for anything but trivial reasons. And I will also admit (with shame) that being around people who are transgendered makes me feel a little uncomfortable.

However, today, someone searched with the keywords, "lds gender confusion." They found the aforelinked blog post and spent some time reading it. Tonight, when I checked my blog and saw that statistic, I thought about that person and what information (or misinformation) they got from my words. All of a sudden, my heart was filled with love for that person.  Maybe it was a young women's leader doing some research, but it also could have been a person genuinely confused and scared of what their church and friends and family would think about them if they knew.  To that person, and to any other reader who may feel the same way, I'd like to apologize and I'd like to say that I love you.  My heart goes out to you, dearest reader, even in my ignorance and misunderstanding of your feelings.

Regardless of the choices you make in life, you are a human being, male or female, and that alone makes you worthy of love and compassion. If you are currently struggling with gender confusion, I am so sorry for the misunderstanding and misinformation you may take from your friends, family, religious leaders, and members of the community. If you are currently transgendered, I am so sorry for the off-color jokes and disgusted glances you may receive.

While I don't entirely understand your struggle, I do understand the paranoia, fear, and rejection that comes with the territory, and I understand the pain that comes from those disgusted, misinformed remarks and comments you hear. I'm also here to say that it does indeed get better. The ones who love you will continue to love you, and you'll find a way to replace the ones that don't. And, although my convictions compel me to encourage you to look to your God and Savior for comfort, whatever path you choose, the same God and Savior will always love you.

I am crazy busy right now, but in my spare time, I am going to learn more about this erstwhile mysterious challenge that people have to deal with.  If anyone has any insight or would like to tell me their story, please, feel free to e-mail me at < gaymormonpioneer at gmail dot com >.

Saturday, January 7, 2012


I'm sharing this in the hopes that a friend of mine reads it.  I have a specific audience in mind, but I figure it might mean something to someone else, and it never hurts to remind myself of it as well.

There once was a young man who, in the hopes of making the varsity football team, went to the coach to seek a training plan.  The coach drove the boy out to the woods, led him up a difficult trail, and stopped him at a huge boulder, six feet tall and at least as wide.  The coach told the boy, "You come here, every single day, and you get this boulder up this here hill.  Push and pull until you're trembling, and then push some more, and if you've accomplished your goal in time for tryouts, I'll put ya on varsity.

The young man did as he was told.  He visited the boulder every day, spending hours pushing and pushing on its side.  The boulder wouldn't even budge.  He tried tying ropes around it and pulling it, with the same result.  But his dream of being a varsity football player kept him coming back, every single day, pushing and pulling on the seemingly immovable rock.

The weeks passed and he began to feel discouraged.  In all that time, the boulder hadn't moved more than an inch.  His muscles ached and he was sore and tired almost all the time. And in all that, the football tryouts were getting closer and closer, with the rock barely further along than it was at the start.

The day of the tryouts came and the boy gloomily showed up, having hardly moved the boulder at all in his weeks of working and trying and exerting his energy.  He went up to the coach to talk to him about his chances at making varsity since the rock was still in the same place.

He related his discouragement and sorrow at his failure to the coach, but instead of expressing disappointment, the coach merely told the boy when and where varsity practiced and that he expected to see him there.  The boy was puzzled and thought the coach had misunderstood.  He hadn't moved the boulder, so why was he being put on varsity?

The coach told him that the goal wasn't in getting the boulder to the top of the hill, but that it was to try to do so every day. All of that work, pushing and pulling with every last stitch of power had given the boy strength he was lacking before.  His muscles had newfound energy and he was obviously bigger and stronger than before. Although the boulder hadn't changed, the boy had, and that change was what the coach was looking for.

Monday, January 2, 2012

One in a Million

So last night, I was relaxing after a long, long, long day of work and school. I started falling asleep, which is actually something I didn't want to happen, because I had a date that I needed to be fresh and awake for in a few minutes.  To entertain myself and stay awake, I started doing little math teasers in my head.

To preface, this is not unusual for me.  I don't really care for math classes, but I like doing math teasers.  One time, when I was driving home from Utah, I stopped every hour and filled up on gas, checking my fuel economy with my odometer and comparing that with the fuel economy readout on my car's on-board computer.  Some people think that's weird.  I prefer the term charming.

So as I was trying to stay awake, I was just thinking about what an unusual circumstance I find myself in.  I am gay, and a Mormon, and a prospective missionary.  What are the odds, I thought.  Then I decided to find the odds.

Okay, so I'm Mormon.  That's 14 million people out of a possible 7 billion, which is a 1 in 500 set of odds.  I'm gay as well, which, according to some (wildly pro-gay) claims accounts for one out of every ten people.  So far, I'm 1 in 5,000, probably more.  Next, I'm a prospective missionary, which potentially puts me in a bank of 50,000, which, compared to the 14 million in the church is one of every 280 people.  When I serve a mission, then, I will be one person in 1.4 million.  That is impressive to me, and motivates me to serve even more.  I like rarity :)

(I'm surprised that one out of every 500 people is Mormon.  That seems high to me.  Someone correct my math if it's wrong.  Also, I know you could have gotten to the answer quicker, I just wanted to take up more blog space.)

Related Posts

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...