A Group Blog

This blog's purpose is to give voice to the lived experiences of gay Mormons, because, let's face it, we are awesome. But, I'll need your help. My experiences are going to be just as unique as the next guy, so I'll need input from you readers on your thoughts, experiences, and feelings. When you want to post something, just email me your draft to anothergaymormon13@gmail.com and I'll post it for you. And feel free to comment on any post.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Trust Issues

Saturday, August 3, 2013
I was reading the book Insurgent today by Veronica Roth (part of the Divergent series) when I came across a little gem that helped me understand a little bit about my situation and described well what I've heard from other gay Mormons. The context needed is simple: boy tells girl that he wishes she trusted him enough to tell him some of the terrible things that have happened to her. She responds with:

"I do trust you, is what I want to say. But it isn't true - I didn't trust him to love me despite the terrible things I had done. I don't trust anyone to do that, but that isn't his problem; it's mine."

I realized that all throughout my life this was one of the excuses I gave myself for not addressing my sexuality and talking to people about it. I do not trust others to love me or continue to be my friend if I told them this "dark side" of my life. Even though it was something that I had no control over and was not my fault, I could not trust them to be open-minded about it. Now, I think this goes two ways: I think, as the quote says, a lot of it is my problem: I need to be more trusting. However, I think there is more that everyone can do to earn that trust. I mean, when talking about things this sensitive, no one wants to end up like this:

As said, both sides can improve upon their trust issues, but I think society has done a lot over the past couple centuries of fostering such a negative stereotype of homosexuality to create a difficult atmosphere of discussing it. When I was growing up, "gay" was used as a derogatory term to depict something as stupid, useless, or something unwanted (in fact, some of my friends still call things "gay"). My family frequently spoke of homosexuality as "clearly a choice" rather than part of who someone is. I remember even myself echoing their opinions and arguing that maybe a small portion of gays can't control their feelings, but that it was scientifically improbable for that many gay people. Irony comes in the best ways, doesn't it?

This was just entertaining to me...

That said, I've been thinking about the people that I talk to about my sexuality. Few in my life know the whole story (in fact, maybe only one or two people) and these as well as the rest have been chosen quite selectively. Here are some reasons that I've told people. Maybe this could lend insight in how to be open to people around us so that they will feel comfortable in sharing their difficulties instead of letting them fester inside of themselves.

* Be aware of their hard times and be responsive. When I was first considering the implications of living as a gay Mormon a little over a year ago, a best friend-mission companion-long time roommate noticed me becoming reclusive, depressed, and just different than how I normally am. I'm sure other roommates noticed, but this one actually sought me out. When he'd notice me leave late at night to go on my "ponder drives" he would text or call me to make sure I was doing okay and letting me know that he was there for me. He was actually the first friend I talked to in person about this because of his persistence in trying to be supportive. It made all the difference in the world to talk to someone regularly about it.

* Avoid prescribing solutions or fixing them. The second roommate I told was a God-send. I mean this quite literally. The whole time I knew him, he was very open to listening to anything I had to say and always tried his best at asking questions to understand how I felt and understood. I noticed this whenever I would talk to him about dating, friends, the ward, or whatever. He rarely judged me or made suggestions on how to fix things unless I asked him. When I was making illogical conclusions, he would tell me I was being an idiot, but always in a way that showed that he cared. So, I knew that he would be a safe place: someone to converse with and discuss the issues rather than always talk about how to "fix me".

* Keep working on relationships with people. With all of the people I told, I had a strong relationship with them for quite a while. However, despite the time I knew them, what was most important was how much they were investing in keeping our relationship strong. They showed that they were willing to sacrifice their time in being with me, and to me that meant a lot. Some of the first girls I told (and that was more uncomfortable for me) were ones that had always been trying to stay in contact and were always checking in on me.

For every person it is different. In talking to many friends about this, the motives and the explanations are as diverse as the experience itself. One friend said he told people so that he could feel genuine around them. It was a cathartic need and exposing his sexuality came from an inner desire to be himself. Another friend told his bishop and mission president first because he felt that his soul was at stake. Then he told people that weren't super close to him because it was "safe" and he was testing out the waters to see if Mormon friends would still like him if he was gay.

In any case, an understanding mind and a loving heart is something in a friend that we could all benefit from as well as hope to achieve. I was shown this article that could lead a little more insight on how to help others: "Why I Can't Say Love the Sinner/Hate the Sin Anymore".

What do you think? What are reasons that you've told people?


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