Saturday, July 28, 2012

Something tells me...

...I'm into something good.

North Star, which is an organization designed to give support to gay Mormons striving to live within the standards of the LDS church, is relaunching its blog this Sunday. The blog, Northern Lights, which last saw its most vibrant activity in 2010, will feature regular updates from such individuals as Ty Mansfield, Bravone and Josh Weed, as well as (Gay) Mormon Guy and a handful of other talented Latter-Day Saint bloggers and commentators who have experience in the world of homosexuality.

I was incredibly terrified, then incredibly humbled when the editors of the blog asked me to be a part of it, especially given the talent and faith of the bloggers already on board, and I'm only a little ashamed to say that it seriously stroked my ego. I am looking forward to getting to know these ladies and gentlemen better through their blog posts and I invite, nay, impeach y'all to do the same thing.

I'm looking forward to it, but I'm also somewhat terrified at the prospect of posting fresh, interesting content both here on my blog and through Northern Lights, so I'll be posting more personal stuff here and linking to my broader, less sensitive posts on North Star. That said, if any of y'all have some great information or are made aware of something interesting going on in the world of the Mormon homosexual, my inbox is always open to tips, because I'm seriously doubting my ability to write that much. Guess I should get used to it, since it's what I want to do with my life.

And as usual, if you wanna chat about anything, hit me up!  God loves ya and so do I.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Outed, the July 2012 edition

Yesterday was a big day for gay pride. Maybe not gay pride in general, but GMP's gay pride.

I woke up with a notion that I'd tell my oldest sibling that I was gay. I'd been worried about telling him, because I know he holds some pretty revolutionary thoughts about homosexuality. He's a very open-minded person and I was worried that his acceptance of who I was would lead to him encouraging me to express that homosexual side of myself and lay aside my religious convictions.

But when I told him, he was understanding and respectful of my decision to stay in the church and seek a life of obedience through either celibacy or a mixed-orientation marriage. He expressed skepticism that I could lead a happy or fulfilling life through either option, but he is a very sexually-motivated person, so it makes sense that he might think that way.

We had a discussion about the choices I was making versus the choices he made when he decided to leave the LDS church. Like I said, he has some pretty revolutionary ideas and at length, he came to the conclusion that most members of the LDS church were living in self-deception and that the tenets of the church perpetuated that idea. I have to admit, it was hard to hear him talk that way because he's my brother and I love him and because he was actually making a lot of sense. All I could do was express that I felt like the Spirit was a strong enough witness to override some of my doubts and misgivings and that all I could do was act on what I knew in the moment, which meant doing what I thought would bring me the most happiness.

He's a very loving, sweet individual. He's selfish and willful, but he is such an understanding, nonjudgmental person. I have a lot to learn about him in that respect.

The other thing that was weird is that yesterday, I was working on a school project with a friend from class, a girl that I never really talked to outside of school. A work-wife, if you will. Somehow, we got talking about feminism and gender equality, then transitioned to her conversion and the problems she had to overcome about the role of feminism in the LDS church and the church's treatment of the fringe: liberals, feminists, activists and homosexuals. Somehow, and I genuinely have no idea how or why I did this, I said, "I know what you mean. I'm gay and I've always found it hard to find a way to get over Mormon culture's intolerance."

Uh... what?

Her eyes widened, then lit up. She grabbed my hand and wrapped me in a surprising hug. "I am so happy you told me!" she said, adding that it's important for each of us to know that we're all children of God, regardless of our challenges or beliefs in this life.

Weird, weird day. A friend says it's a sign that I should come out publicly. I say it's a sign that I need to get more sleep so I have more control over my brain-mouth filter. I don't regret coming out to my brother, nor do I regret it with this girl (much, anyway), but it was certainly surprising to hear myself being so cavalier about all of it.

[Written while listening to Midnight Sun, by The Sounds. Highly recommended]

Monday, July 9, 2012

Homeboy's a bit lonely tonight

First, let me justify that title.

A friend of mine showed me the most redankalous YouTube video a few days ago. Like, so awesome that I'm jealous I wasn't a part of it.  If you have a spare five minutes, enjoy it.

Off. The. Chain. It's had me talking street since I saw it. I had to look up like half the words on Urban Dictionary but I love it so much. So that's why I just called myself homeboy. Now you know.

Anyway, homeboy's feeling a little lonesome tonight. Not like that's news to anyone, it seems like every other post is a sad post on my part.  Blogging tends to bring that out in me. I promise I'm not like this in real life. Mostly.

Last night, we were watching The Return of the King and everyone we were watching with was commentating the whole. damn. movie. Which is seriously my biggest issue with watching movies with friends. I'm like, sit down, shut up and enjoy the movie. And pass the popcorn.

Alright, so we're watching this awesome movie and people are talking over it and every time Frodo comes on the screen, everyone jeers and mocks. To be fair, Elijah Wood played Frodo very weak; he was kind of an anti-hero who was constitutionally incapable of being strong.  

But I kind of identify with that a lot. Frodo didn't volunteer to carry the ring to Mount Doom, but when he was chosen, he took up the responsibility.  He knew his duty and did his best to accomplish what he needed to. But at the end of the day, he was a meek Hobbit, ill-equipped by nature of his birth to fight orcs and lunatics. (Besides, I'd bet even the mighty Aragorn would have a hard time hiking through Mordor five minutes after being stung by a huge spider.)

So as if the senseless mocking of one of the great characters in fiction wasn't enough, then the gay jokes started coming.  Sam's tireless devotion to Frodo, Frodo waking up after the adventure to the smiling faces of his three friends in bed with him, Gandalf the Gay Grey watching over the whole lot with quiet satisfaction. I dunno, I love this awesome group of people I call my friends, but there are definitely a few sheltered Mormon kids who grew up in small, conservative areas and don't really understand the art of tact when it comes to sensitive issues like homosexuality. Or race. Or science. It made me want to stand up, yell "I'M GAY, YOU DOUCHEBAGS!" and run from the room, just to prove some point.

Thankfully, I didn't do that. But I did stew about it all night. I dreamt about it and woke up so mad at the world (and my roommates) this morning. And thankfully, that too passed at the first of many selfless things they did for me today. They're good people and I don't really censure them too much for their points of view.

But still, it just brings me back to that year-old consideration of mine: should I come out? Would it be a good idea to show the world and the church that "normal" guys like me can be gay without being flaming? Or would that just subject me to the ridicule that usually gets reserved for Samwise and Frodo?

It's all good, it really is. The people who know are supportive and fantastic and I love them for it. Really, they're all the support a guy needs. I just wonder sometimes. 

Friday, July 6, 2012

Growing up

I found this image on Facebook today.

It stopped me in my tracks. I love Calvin and Hobbes. When I'm at home, before bed I read a chapter of a novel and a week's worth of Calvin's adventures with his tiger. I always have and I always will, and when the time comes, I am going to relish introducing my kids to Hobbes' quiet wisdom and Calvin's reckless imaginative zest for life.

The image made me think about where I'm at right now. I thought about those childish things I put away and will never get out again if I can help it, like my immature attitude towards repentance and shame. I also thought about the childish things I put away but really miss about myself, like my old notebooks that are filled with rudimentary 2-D drawings of cars and airplanes and the imaginative games I played with my Hot Wheels and car mat. And I thought about those childish things I want to pass onto the next generation, like my love of literature and poetry and my childlike trust that most people are good. In fact, I should probably dust that last one off and exercise it more.

I dunno. I'm rambling. I wish I knew where I was going with this.

I guess the crux of it all is how content I am with the course I'm taking right now. I'm not happy with life, but I am content. I can see how the path I'm on is going to lead to greater things. I'm still far from perfect and every day brings new mistakes, but I'm even content with those. I dunno. Looking forward to see what the future's gonna bring, and hoping I grow out of the crappy stuff and into the good stuff soon.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

My pacesetter, Moroni

A few weeks ago, I wrote an incredibly negative, selfish, pessimistic and judgmental post about how I needed a pacesetter who could live a life of faithful service within the church while still dealing with homosexuality and loneliness. In that post, I selectively ignored the men that I know who are currently either celibate or in devoted mixed-orientation marriages so that I could focus on those who chose different paths as a means of justifying the possibility that I someday will choose to leave the church, which isn't something I want.

Anyway, so I'm being whiny and emo and honestly, just pining for attention (isn't that what blogging is about?) and that night, I read something that slaps me in the face as hard as a book ever has.

I was reading in Mormon chapter 8. In this chapter, Moroni is closing the record of his father, Mormon, who was killed in battle along with almost every other Nephite during a war with the Lamanites. He is orphaned as bitterly and poignantly as anyone has ever been orphaned, left to walk the earth alone for the rest of his life, constantly looking over his shoulder to avoid the murderous Lamanites that would see him dead along with the rest of his countrymen.

As I was reading, the distinct impression came upon me that he was that pacesetter I said I needed.

I shooed the thought away, saying that Moroni didn't have a choice. For him, it was a matter of life or death, while for me, I could live a long, full life whether or not I chose to live according to the tenets of the gospel.

But then I thought:  Was it really a matter of life or death for him?

This is all speculation and I can't back it up with scripture, but I'd bet that if Moroni approached the Lamanite camps with a white flag over his head, ready to surrender his person and the gold plates in exchange for some human company, the Lamanites would let him live among them, at least as a slave or a peasant.

The human brain literally cannot survive in solitude without rewiring itself. Men who spend their lives in solitary confinement start going mad just a few days into their sentences. Heck, I remember I took a road trip alone a few years ago that took me about four days and even though I was talking to people at every gas stop and food run, I still felt like I was going crazy sitting in my car alone for that long.

I'm sure Moroni had the thought at least once when he felt the loneliness come on that he could perhaps live among the Lamanites.

But instead, he chose a life of solitude and probable insanity because he knew that magnifying his calling and keeping himself clean of that society's moral failures was vital to the Lord's plan. He understood that and voluntarily took upon himself that awful burden of loneliness for the rest of his life.

Unlike Moroni, I have friends and family who love me. I also have the potential, if not the guarantee, that I can perhaps marry and procreate in this life, all within the bounds of the Lord's plan for me. But even if that doesn't happen, I'm not the first Mormon to live alone in order to keep the commandments.

PS: I don't want to mislead. I have absolutely nothing against people who elect to leave either part or all of the church in favor of a relationship or lifestyle that they find fulfilling. I don't think they're vile sinners, or even that they're misinformed. They're pursuing the course of life that brings them the most joy, which is what we all try to do, eh?

Monday, July 2, 2012

I needed to feel empowered, so I listened to techno for 20 minutes

I have been doing so well lately. Better than in such a long time. I've been avoiding pornography, thanks in large part to the prayers that I know people are offering for me and I've been able to keep my thoughts pretty free and clear of even the desire to look at porn or check out other guys and stuff.  It's such a good feeling.

But today, I just woke up feeling weak. I don't know how else to describe it, I just was so tired. I mean, I was literally tired, but over and above that, I just felt spent up. It wasn't a hopeless exhaustion or one that made me want to give up and give in, but it wasn't a pleasant feeling.

A few years ago, when I was really in the thick of my pornography addiction and before I'd really started to ask for help and let people in on my life, I had these intense, debilitating feelings of worthlessness and depression. I started, then stopped, then started taking anti-depressants and seeing a therapist and when nothing really seemed to help with the depression, this idea came to me that my feelings were a necessary consequence of my poor decisions. I was carrying the guilt and shame with me everywhere and the only way to overcome it was to overcome my addictions.

For the last several years, my happiness and contentment was contingent on one thing: becoming worthy again. I assumed that as soon as I regained my worthiness, everything would become good again. I'd be happy, life would be easier and things would get better.

This morning, I had to face a reality where I'm not happy, even though I'm not making mistakes. To be sure, I'm very proud of myself for overcoming some of my demons insofar as I have and I also know that I'm much more at peace with myself now than I have been in a long time, but I can't say I'm appreciably happier. I don't want to give up, but I'm a little disappointed nonetheless.

A few months ago, my roommate introduced me to a piece of music. I was skeptical, because his taste tends to lean towards techno/dance/dubstep, while I tend to prefer music that's good (just kidding), but one song he showed me somehow got to me. It's called "Language," by Porter Robinson. The first time I heard it, its lyric-free melodies spoke something to me about my amazing ability to be more. Since there were no lyrics to get distracted by, I felt like I was listening to pure inspiration and the music spoke a deeply personal message to me, one that other people don't understand when they hear the song.

Today, that song came across my shuffle again and I looped it for about 20 minutes. I felt those old feelings come back. I saw my empowerment return. I saw those worries I'd woken up with in a new light. They still existed, but they were overshadowed by this ideal vision of myself, "a stoic badass whose emotions are mostly comprised of rock music and not being afraid of things." I saw this guy who still had feelings, but also had this uncanny ability to rise above them and refuse to let them define him. I still feel kinda sad, but I also feel bigger than the loneliness. Plus, it gave me a chance to evaluate my priorities and what's important to me, like my education, going to the temple when I get home, and serving a mission before the end of the year, all of which are much bigger than me.

Porter knows I'm worth more than the right now in which I find myself.

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