Thursday, April 20, 2006

FACADE

One of my favorite Broadway musicals is "Jekyll & Hyde". There's an ensamble piece called "Facade" with lyrics that hit home to my current situation. They state:

There's a face that we wear
In the cold light of day -
It's society's mark.
It's society's way.
And the truth is
That it's all a facade!

There's a face that we hide
Till the nighttime appears,
And what's hiding inside
Behind all of our fears,
Is our true self,
Locked inside the facade!

Every day
People in their own sweet way,
Like to add a coat of paint,
And be what they ain't!

That's how our little -
Game is played.
Livin' out a masquerade
Actin' a bizarre charade -
While playin' the Saint!

But there's one thing I know,
And I know it for sure,
This disease that we've got
Hast got no ready cure!
And I'm certain
Life is terribly hard -
When your life's a facade!

Look around you!
I have found
You cannot tell... By lookin' at the surface,
What's lurkin' there beneath it!
See that face!
Now, I'm prepared to bet you,
What you see's not what you get -
'Cause man's a master of deceit!

So, what is this sinister secret?
The lie he will tell you is true? -
It's that each man you meet
In the street
Isn't one man, but two!

If we're not one, but two,
Are we evil or good?
Do we walk the fine line -
That we'd cross if we could?
Are we waiting -
To break through the facade?

I know it wasn't written for the context of this blog, but it certainly applies to my life. I feel like I am living two lives, and at timesI feel not "one man, but two!"

Am I the faithful and devout LDS stalwart of the community or am I the earring-toting gayboy ready to hop in bed with your hottie son?

Am I the honorable returned missionary and inspirational Sunday School teacher, or am I the doubting believer who doesn't seem quite able to "fit" with my fellow Mormon Men?

Am I the devoted husband and lover to my best friend and wife, or am I the lusting creature who fantacizes of making love with "mankind"?

Am I the confident professional that has it all figured out, or the self-doubting and disturbed societal misfit, who hasn't got anything figured out?

Am I the fearless father or the fearful fool?

Am I the business man at a convention in San Francisco selling my professional services, or am I the sly one on the side cruising Castro streets seeking to know the other side?

Am I the man of convictions, or the man of doubts?

I am all of the above?... we all have these Jeckell & Hyde moments, but for the troubled souls that define themselves as I do in my profile, we are troubled indeed.

Now, nothing is new here. This is the struggle of life of everyone. This is the struggle that we chose to be a part of when we left the pre-existence to experience this mortal life! I'm not saying "oh poor me..."

But,

There is something sad about this struggle. Though it really is ultimately a struggle of good vs. evil, and seeking true JOY, the struggle isn't chosen. There is good and evil on both sides, and JOY can be felt and realized on both sides! These desires for men, the attraction for the same-sex, is so strong and unrelenting, that when you refuse to cave, when you fight to resist, it just comes back even stronger.

That has been my experience. And for the most part, I'm so tired of the fight. I don't feel that strong anymore...

I remember one recent case in particular...

I had really been "good" (as Mormons define "good") for some time, keeping my thoughts and actions under control, and within the guidelines of "worthiness". I was on an assignment to take a group of young men and women to the temple to perform baptismal ordinances. I was feeling good about my "self-discipline" and the "control" I was in. I was the "master of my thoughts" and I thought that the Lord was really helping me to fight this internal battle. Though I still didn't feel worthy to participate in the ordinances (not from any external discipline, but internal self-punishment), I felt okay in entering the House of the Lord and chauffering the youth around, while letting other priesthood holders do the spiritual work itself.

After most if not all of the youth were dressed in their temple whites, and out of the dressing rooms, I was asked to be sure everyone was out of the Mens' room. As I entered the room, I saw no one. Then, I turned the corner and there coming toward me was the most beautiful male creature I'd ever seen before. He was maybe 19 or 20, sculpted athletic body of perfection, cute smile and drop-dead gorgeous, wrapped in a white towel, very low on his hips. He smiled at me and I melted right there on the spot. My knees got proverbially weak and all I could do was stare - and timidly smile back. He moved slowly passed me to his locker, sensing that I was taking in the view and liking it... and he didn't seem to mind. I quickly hid myself in my locker stall and started shaking...

First of all, this was the temple! I was trying so hard to fight temptation, and yet, here in the Lord's house, I was being tempted with inappropriate thoughts. I lusted after him! Though only with my eyes, I wanted to touch him, and caress those ripped contours. I couldn't believe this was happening to me! Why? What did I do? I wasn't seeking this? In fact, I was seeking just the opposite... I was seeking peace with who I was and that I was not going to be like "this". But, I was like "this". I didn't do anything. It just happened. My attraction for him and those like him was involuntary. I was convinced of that. I asked myself... do "normal" men go through this? If a "normal" man saw him in the same situation, would he have the same reaction I did, or would he say to himself... "Cool dude, he must work out!", or even yet would he say to himself... "looks like all my guys are out of here" and not even notice? I wonder what would have gone on in the head of a "normal" man, because for absolute certainty, I was shot through the heart with quivering guilty lust! And I knew this wasn't the reaction of a "normal" man.

It took me several minutes to gain enough control and exposure to exit my locker stall. I wanted to be sure he was dressed and gone...

I was so embarrassed that this happened. The self-loathing that followed was tremendous. I hated myself and all that encompassed me... the internal me... this "creature inside me, this Mr. Hyde" that would try to get out of me every now and then... I hated him! How could I be having these feelings? Where did they come from? Did other men have feelings about "young women" in the same way?

As I write this, it sounds like I'm a predator. I'm not. I don't go stalking anyone. I don't lurk in the bushes or locker rooms to find "young men" that turn my desires upside down... But, undeniably, there are those unsought occasions when BAM you are brought down to the reality that no matter how much you want to pray it away, you are attracted to men! And the secret is, deep down, you like it...

The truth be told... I liked the attraction. I still do! I love looking at beautiful men, athletic young men, "hotties"... they excite me and that attraction comes from inside me whether I resist it or not. Now, whether I linger on it is another matter. Whether I respond to it and try to do something about it to advance the feeling is another matter again.

So far I've been able to keep my "Mr. Hyde" deep inside me. But I feel like HE is getting stronger and desiring more time and action... and that scares me. What if something similar to the temple scenario plays out again, and this time he drops the towel in front of me and I don't resist his advances???

It's all a facade... Life is terribly hard - when your life's a facade!"

Am I playing the Saint?

Do I have a disease that has no cure?

What is my sinister secret?

Why do I feel such deceit?

This is more than temptation...

This is real...

5 comments:

Foxx said...

Jekyll & Hyde is one of my favorite stories. In high school, I went through a period of feeling VERY two-sided and out of control. Not that anybody else could tell, but inside I felt that way.

I agree that to some degree or another, all people go through this kind of dichotomy. We have to ask ourselves who we are and if that is who we want to be.

Fortunately (and unfortunately for some), the facade must crumble. You can either be part of the force that tears it down or you can be part of the force that tries in vain to patch it up before it fails.

The reality of it is, you are somewhere in between your perceptions of your own Jekyll and your own Hyde. And, as you have experienced, the more you try to polarize and separate yourself into two selves, the more the real you fights against it.

You can separate and eliminate parts of yourself. You cannot, however, do so and remain a whole and intact individual. The only way to be whole is to accept and understand yourself and teach yourself how to handle situations like these, where 'Hyde' seems to rear his ugly head. You have to accept all parts of yourself as parts of you - accept reality - in order to take responsibility and make decisions about your behaviour.

You can make yourself into who you want to be, but you can't do it by hiding from yourself.

Elbow said...

The thing is, I have had similar experiences. It's not fair, and as I read what you were saying I felt like eventually something has to happen right? I mean there's all this sexual energy bottled up, and it's not being released emotionally or completely physically so what's going to happen?
I don't know. I think you sound a lot like me, however if you have been reading my post I probably would have taken a picture with my camera phone (just a joke-kind of) but since you were in the temple it makes it worse on feeling guilty.
Foxx is right, polarization is only going to lead to a complete disconnect from what is a complete person. Sooner or later it will be easier to fall into temptation because the impulse side isn't communicating with the controlled side.
I have no answers, just angst. I'm here for you. I completely understand where you are coming from.
Bytheway, thanks for the coment you left on my blog.

Chris said...

I never understood the idea of the integrated self until I began to deal with my sexuality in an honest way, first with myself and then with those I love. I was living a life of cognitive dissonace, and there were huge parts of myself that were completely disconnected from each other. I wasn't whole, and I didn't realize how destructive that was to me. I lacked integrity.

Beck, I see that same disconnect in what you describe. I know it. I know it! I know how much you hate to be hit in the face with your attraction when you least expect it and when you think you are doing what you need to do to manage and control and diminish it. And I know how odd it is to like looking at another man, to feel that attraction and arousal and enjoy at practically the same time!

Hang in there, brother. I have no answers for you other than to be honest first with yourself about what you want and need, and then extend that honesty to those around you. That is how I have come to understand integrity.

Dave Walter said...

Beck,

We gay men are wired to find other guys attractive. It frustrates me to no end that religions and conservative factions of society continue to make people feel guilty and shameful for experiencing the perfectly natural human sensation of lust. Arrgh!

What concerns me about your post, though, is that you compare the good Mormon with raw gay sexual attraction instead of with the good gay person. It's as if you regard being a good, "straight" Mormon as wholesome and being gay as depraved. There are gays who are every bit as wholesome as straight Mormons.

Beck said...

Again I am amazed at these inspired comments from strangers who take the time to care about me... This is amazing!

I'm asking myself who I am and what I want to be. I am somewhere in between and this "fence sitting" is an unstable position to be in. I feel I can "fall" any minute.

I love looking at men. It is exciting and I have come to admit to myself that this desire, this attraction is NOT A SIN!

I know there are GOOD GAY GUYS! It is my religious upbringing and inculcation that keeps me putting my GOOD GAY GUY mentality into a BAD GAY GUY setting. Dave, your points are well taken and I appreciate them so much. I stand corrected because I look in the mirror and keep telling myself that I am a GOOD GAY GUY!!!

Thanks... more to come.