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.

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