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.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

A Letter to My 10 year old Self

Sunday, October 20, 2013 0
I was reminded, today, of one of my favorite Youtube videos on the Soul Pancake channel: Talk to Your 10 year old Self:

So, I figured, why not. Let's write to my 10 year old self.

Hey buddy,
    I miss being you, so enjoy it while it lasts. That doesn't mean life sucks in 14 years, just different. In fact, life is probably more exciting than ever. But, there is no reason to rush things. But, maybe there are some things to make life a little better and to give you some enthusiasm for what's to come.
    First, don't be afraid to make friends. You don't always have to read on the weekends. Those kids that you talk to in class are actually pretty fun outside of class as well. Don't hesitate to make some connections. They really do think you are a cool person. Remember that throughout your life. 
   Also, learn to say "no". People look up to you and will start asking you to help out. However, that's no reason to destroy your sanity. Professors can handle it if you can't take on another project, friends will understand if you need to sleep, and your job can't work you into the ground. Start sticking up for yourself early. (You'll learn some more about that in orchestra in high school. Have fun there.)
    Don't try to change who you are to fit in with other people. You are pretty awesome. Once you start being yourself, you will actually find the absolute best friends who will always be there for you. Maybe you will have a little more fun on Friday nights if you start learning that now. (Plus, make sure that you are always open to be the best friend to others, too. You can go a long way as a comfort to those around you).
    You will make a good decision not to worry about dating in high school. That's complicated. And you already are starting to figure out why. It's not important for now, so just make friends, do well in school (like I need to tell you that), and just enjoy yourself. 
   Play music, play sports, go on runs with your best friend, and just have fun. It seems that you love to take on more stress than would be wise. Learn to walk slow. Enjoy the time with other people and looking around for the fun things to do. Once you start doing that you'll be a lot less stressed and you'll enjoy life a little more. Go to your therapist earlier than when you are 24. It'll make things easier. And be honest.
   Society is going to start changing. It's going to be more "accepting" towards some things and less accepting towards others. Don't let them define your morality either way. You make your own choices and learn to pave your own way. I remember all the goals that I had when I was your age: GO FOR IT. Don't let down. Don't be afraid because there is no money or you don't know if you'll make it. Have a backbone. You'll do awesome.
   Lastly, start trying to understand what you believe in and why. Find out who God is and make that relationship strong. Don't ever let it go. He'll direct your life better than anyone or any organization can. Once you have that connection, you'll never have worry.

Little buddy, you are awesome. You will do great things, embarrassing things, world-changing things, stupid things, and you will still be the best. By the time you are my age, you'll have worked with homeless people, with gay Mormons, top-notch professors, doctors, lived in Italy (twice), and had an awesome life. Don't back down and never give up. Remember: Expect miracles. Make miracles. See miracles.

Rock on.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Tearing Yourself From the Darkness

Saturday, September 28, 2013 0
One of the greatest messages I hear from the gay Mormon community (which I think corresponds quite well with that of the general gay populace) is hope for the future and for living life well now. The purpose of the movements and for blogs like this is to help people who are struggling to realize that there are possibilities/choices/opportunities for them in life. Hope and optimism, while feelings that everyone needs and wants, finds particular meaning in the gay community. This is partly why I finally came to accept my sexuality and approach other gay people, albeit warily: they were happy and hopeful.

However, underlying many of these people's stories of acceptance and possibility is a history of dark struggle and deep turmoil. I don't have too much knowledge about gay people outside of the LDS religion, but for those within that church I can empathize with the struggle that being gay and Mormon places on a person. It seems at many times that there is an impossible tug-of-war between the two. This situation has caused many to contemplate, attempt, and even commit suicide.

This last week or so I realized that I had found my dark place again. I had started to resent everything about the world, society, and God. I find myself throwing my anger back at God many times. I don't know why it is. Maybe I think an all-powerful God that sees so much struggle should have the power to alleviate it. Maybe I think an all-loving God that sees so much struggle would want to do so. He should know that I can't handle this, or that I wish for an easier life, or that I have a myriad of other worries so it would be really nice if this situation just simmered down. I've gotten past the point of wanting to not be gay anymore, because let's be honest, sometimes it can be pretty great. However, I wish that social pressures were different, that church members were more understanding, and that His doctrine was just a little more clear.

Well, with these thoughts ruminating in my head, I was reading Descartes' Meditations for my philosophy class and I came across a little gem: "Indeed, I have reason to give thanks to [God] who has never owed me anything for the great bounty that he has shown me, rather than thinking myself deprived or robbed of any gifts he did not bestow."

Wow. I think too often I dwell on the negative or difficult parts of my life without realizing that there is a plethora of things I don't have to worry about. I know this seems like just another "be grateful and you'll be happy" post, but seriously. God is not intentionally depriving or robbing us of a happy life or an easier time. One of the things that I believe most about God is that he puts us in situations that will give us the greatest possibility of happiness and success (however you want to define it) in this life and the next (if you want to believe in it).

Following that, my homosexuality is really just a means to a happier and more fulfilling life. Shouldn't I seek to embrace that possibility? I'm not suggesting that someone leave the church and marry a man (not that it is a bad thing either). I just think that this is something that God has given me to have a wonderful time on earth--even a fun time. Why not? Why can't I be happy and gay and Mormon? God wants that! I think I need to remind myself that, instead of identifying ways that being gay can be problematic, I can actually look for ways that it makes me happy. (Not that it makes me "blessed", but just happy and hopeful).

So, a couple questions for the gay Mormon populace: how do you see being gay as a means to be happy? also, what are your ways for pulling yourselves out of hard times?

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Just some feelings...

Sunday, September 22, 2013 3
So, about a month ago I ended my sessions with an amazing therapist. He said I "graduated" even though I felt as ridiculously unbalanced as before. But, he said to email him in a month or so and let him know how things were going. After re-reading the email I just sent him, I realized that it was a good description of how I feel a lot of the time. I wonder if others feel the same way, so here is my email:

I know we said I'd email you after a month, but I don't remember when the last time we met was, so I figured tonight was as good as any. Well, that might not be true, because I'm in one of those "reflective moods" which generally turns out a little depressing sounding.

In any case, I'm doing 'fine'. That's generally the answer that I give people when they ask, even though it makes them a little uncomfortable that I don't say something more positive. 

The real issue is that I'm having an internal "freak out", but I'm managing to keep everything under control on the surface (whatever that means). It feels like a large rush of rage, anger, frustration, fear, desperation, and all the negative feelings are just festering inside me. Ever since school started, things started getting weird, as if I just retreated into my impersonal, academic self. I can't let out emotions around people anymore and I'm always putting on a facade of happiness. I have some close friends that I've told about my stresses, but even then I end up laughing about it to them as if it wasn't a big deal.

Then I watched a film, which you might have seen since it was even on national television, of the two guys in SLC who got engaged (with a rather cheesy flash mob). I instantly became angry and upset. I was furious that my stance in the church wasn't allowing me to have that experience of marriage to a man. I was enraged at my homosexuality that I feel too uncomfortable to have that experience with a woman. It left me quite hopeless and frustrated. I had quite the mini-mental breakdown and had to throw myself at my work to be able to avoid it. But it has left a sour taste in my mouth ever since.

That being said, I'm generally doing well. I'm branching out in my ward trying to meet people and become well-established there. I taught priesthood on Sunday and I've been called as the choir director. I've signed up for some musical numbers as well. A good friend of mine and I climbed Nebo the other weekend and I'm in a soccer class with one of my best friend and on a soccer intramural team. I'm feel quite "well-rounded", but at the end of the day, I just see it as putting a happy veil over a sucky situation. And that may be what it is. But I continue to ask myself if 1) I want to just be repairing cracks in the depression wall the rest of my life, trying to keep the flood at bay. and 2) if that is even possible. 

I've come to the point where I just want to give everything up. I'm so tired of the struggle to stay on top. My dream: move to a beautiful European country, work some base job of minimum wage, and just live. No more worries about homosexuality. I'd just go with the flow. No worries of religion. I'd live in a little Catholic town where the only church is a small parish. No worries of "being the best" and "making it big". I'd be giving all that up for the simple life. It seems so much easier right now.

But, I always come back to realizing that there is more to life than just "making it through". I don't think I could live with myself if I just lived and died. I want to do it well. Whatever that means. That's honestly the only thing from keeping me from running. Oh, if I just had the courage to run. Maybe that same courage could be used to actually face things here.

I don't know what else to say. That's pretty much how I'm feeling right now.

Uh...Yep. This is that moment during our sessions when it gets uncomfortably silent because I have no idea where to go with it.

So, I guess I'm going to hear from you soon. Thanks for all your help.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Yearning to be Understood

Tuesday, August 20, 2013 3
I'm relatively new to my single's ward in Provo having just changed apartments, so I'm not too well known. However, I have a couple of friends that I have made and one of them was apparently watching me during a Sunday School lesson in which we were shown a MormonMessage about the "Expressions of Love". She said I looked 'uncomfortable' or that in some way was in disagreement about the film (the thought of the expression I must of had while watching this film makes me laugh--especially if it was so pronounced that she could see it in a dark room). She asked me after the video why I was having some strange aversion to a relatively simple video of people showing that they love each other. I told her that was a long discussion, probably not suitable for a mid-Sunday School chat.

And it's relatively difficult to explain myself. How do you just drop on someone that as other people are watching this and thinking, "I can't wait to have this kind of relationship!" you are just wondering, "This is something that I may never have." That whole lesson was on "Eternal Marriage" and I was bombarded with statements like: "This is the most important thing you could ever do to show your love to God and your spouse." and "True discipleship includes marriage in the temple."

Well, that's just awesome because I'm gay and that's not allowed.

Being gay brings a whole new meaning to this picture.
Now, I'm not discrediting that Eternal Marriage, especially as the LDS Church understands it, is not one of was I left out of the Plan of Salvation? While logically I know this as false, my heart still questions it often. I firmly believe in the gospel and I understand the value and purpose of eternal, heterosexual families. But then I'm gay and I yearn for something different.
the core practices of the gospel and makes up quite the important chunk of the Plan of Salvation. I mean: Families -- Isn't it about...Time? However, sometimes it leaves me wondering:

More basely, lessons like this leave me wondering: if there was a man that I loved, even if I never broke the law of chastity with him, I would never be able to talk about our love like this. We wouldn't be accepted in the church community, the thought of holding hands in a sacrament meeting is laughable, and trying to tell my parents or ward members would be something to be put in the best drama movies because it would not end well. Could you imagine living in a world where you had to keep all affection to someone you loved hidden? Something that your social circle still believes as heinous or outrageous? 

I've had friends tell me that all single people feel loneliness and frustration of being single in a church that emphasizes family life and marriage (at a relatively young age). Let me just say that I'm sick of hearing that. While yes, they may find it frustrating and uncomfortable with the thought of being single, when they do find love it will not be shameful. It will not be condemned. They won't have to hide. They'll be able to tell their friends and neighbors, through parties, and even have a reception in the church. And they should be happy, that's awesome! Yet, as someone who is not attracted to the other sex, that seems as such an impossibility.

I doubt that many people in the church would think about that as they prepare a lesson on eternal marriage. It is quite the difficult lesson to sit through as a gay Mormon and raises far more questions than inspirations. Am I part of this plan? Can I find love that is approved? Will I ever be able to share my "expressions of love" with another person? I'm not pressing for a revolutionary change in teaching the material or hoping that the church will curb their whole Sunday School lesson plans for me, but, we all yearn to be understood and for our perspectives to be taken into account. 

So, to my friend: yes, I was a little uncomfortable. I'll get over it of course, and I'll encounter it many times in the future. But there you are.

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Living Acceptance

Wednesday, August 14, 2013 0
This post will be more of a reflection piece of some thoughts I've been mulling over during the past week.

One of my friends came over to visit while I was sick and told me that, apart from being sick, I looked so much more at peace with life than ever before. Apparently I was radiating "happiness vibes" and she simply asked if I had any insight into what changed from when I was struggling with my reconciliation of the church and my sexuality.

Nothing has really changed, at face value, of how I feel about homosexuality and my religious beliefs. I still live in this strange gray world between the two that takes quite a bit of give-and-take. I still have doubts about where I'll be in 5 years, I still get mixed messages from friends telling me to either "be true to myself" and forget about the religious constraints of Mormonism or to "be true to God" and forget that I'm gay. Throughout this whole issue, I've always wondered: "Why can't I be both?" Why can't being true to myself coincide to being true to God? Why is there still this myth of a black and white world where homosexuality is incongruous with Mormonism (and many religions). I heartily believe that this is possible.

When I reached that conclusion a couple of months ago, I was finally able to tell myself that I was "ok" with being gay and Mormon. However, telling myself that never made it true. I still struggled with what it meant to accept my "complete me". As I would attend church I would still feel lonely, misunderstood, and ignored. Meeting with some gay friends left me confused and worried that I still didn't understand what was going on with my sexuality.

Finally, I decided to start meeting gay guys in person and developing relationships with people who understood what I was going through. By meeting them, I wasn't trying to probe into understanding how they dealt with their sexuality, but I wanted good friends and just hang out with other guys who "got it". These "pseudo-dates" (from what they seemed) led to some great relationships and better friends. It was at this time that I started pulling myself out of this confusing dichotomy of Mormon and gay.

I realized that accepting my sexuality was not just in my head: I could do something about it. I can have relationships that stays within the bounds of the Mormon Church's delineation of chastity. Last month I met my best friend that has really helped me through a lot and through it all we have confirmed our commitment to the gospel as explained by the LDS religion. We are two gay guys hanging out, hiking, camping, playing games, watching movies, and more: but, we get each other.

Now I'm in a place where I'm living my sexuality and my religion. Being in this relationship has helped me feel more comfortable in every situation. I'm no longer confused and angry about the world. I've gone to church and felt the Spirit again. It's become easier to read the scriptures and pray to my God. It's become easier to focus on work and school and activities.

Interestingly, when I was trying to "subdue" my sexuality by abstaining from it completely I actually distanced myself from my religion and the rest of my life as well. By living my acceptance of my sexuality, I have actually been able to accept myself completely--everything that I want to live true to: religion, music, school, work, etc.

I'm not going to advocate this as the solution for everyone. However, for me, it was time to stop saying "I'm ok" and to start living that I was "ok". We all need to find that balance. Is it really enough to say "I accept who I am"? For me, I needed more. I found that establishing relationships with other gay guys was my way of living my acceptance. So the question is, how have you lived that acceptance (or how will you live that acceptance)?

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Trust Issues

Saturday, August 3, 2013 0
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?

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Question: When and Why do I come out?

Saturday, July 27, 2013 0
What does "coming out" even mean? To some it is essentially linked with accepting the fact that they are attracted to someone of the same gender. Once they have accepted it, they tell others to see who will accept them as well. Other people "come out" or tell someone of their sexuality to gain support or someone to talk to during hard times.

Growing up, those who "came out" were instantly shunned. The military had quite the "Don't ask, don't tell" policy allowing gay men/women to serve as long as they were not vocal about their sexuality. Other kids in my high school were ostracized. The understanding was that if you were openly gay then you accepted all of the "gay" stereotypes and wanted to fit into that category. But, that rarely is true (in my experience). In fact, just like in many social groups, there more variation within homosexuals than difference between straight and gay people.

So, the question is raised: when should I come out and why should I come out? Essentially, every guy and girl is going to make this decision. I can't speak for everyone and so I'll draft what I think and what happened to me:

If you read other posts, you'll remember that I've known I'm attracted to men since I was going through puberty. This was not a recent development, however, the labeling it as "gay" definitely was. After returning from my mission I started to feel the "marriage and dating and babies" pressure of the young adult Mormon community and finally I had to confront my sexuality; it was no longer something I could ignore.

As I started to recognize my options, I knew I needed to talk to someone. I was sure I was the only gay person alive and so I tried to make people bring it up. I stopped dating women. I went through some deep depression. Anything for someone to ask me what was wrong. Never happened. I've learned lately that trying to get pity from people in order to talk about things never works (at least for me). So, finally, I told my brother.

He is serving is mission and was going through some hard times so I was trying to relate by emailing him my struggles about homosexuality. Then I had a really great friend who had come out to me and I started talking to him about it. Virtually it snowballed into telling a few really good friends who were willing to listen to me talk and work out my issues.

I had decided to tell my parents because, at least out of respect for their status as my parents, I thought they should know. Every time I had wanted to breach the subject, there was always some reason to not: a baby born in the family, someone dies, some other happy or sad event that I don't want to distract from, etc. One weekend they were coming up to visit me at college for a performance. So, I sent them an email beforehand telling them I was gay and that I would like to talk about it when they came up. This put it on the agenda and forced us to talk about it. While I'm glad they know, there really wasn't that much good coming from it. Looking back, I'm glad I did it, but it seems to raise awkward and uncomfortable conversations that my parents seem like they don't want to have. So, I've decided to look elsewhere for support when it comes to these matters.

Since then, I've told other people but on strict conditions. This is essentially my "coming out".
- I am not "holding back" the knowledge that I'm gay, but I don't feel that everyone wants to know or needs to know.
- If someone asks me if I'm gay or why I'm not dating women or something similar, I will respond simply with "I'm attracted to men" or "I'm gay" or something similar. I don't hide it, but I don't publicize it.
- I do tell people that I know can be a source of support. So anyone I trust to really be of help, I talk to about my homosexuality. Choosing good listeners and good supporters is one of the most important skills I think someone can have for dealing with any big life situation.

The question of when to come out was merely when it seems right. Again, I never broadcast, I just let it happen. I think forcing it either way leads to too much trouble. But, to each his/her own. Choose what feels right. If you feel that a large "coming out" would give you strength to move forward, I say go with it. Many friends have done "coming out" blogs, facebook posts, emails, etc. Go with your gut (or with the Spirit). Some people don't feel the need to tell anyone (although I think it is appropriate in almost every case to tell a potential spouse before marriage of one's sexuality).

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