Tuesday, April 25, 2006

IMAGE VS.REALITY


After much internal debate, lifelong denial, and spiritual inconclusiveness, I've come to the realization that being gay (meaning that I'm unquestionably and inexplicably attracted to the male form and desire sexually from the same sex), is something that I did not seek, nor can I change. I am the master of my choices of how I deal with this reality, but not the author of why this choice is before me in the first place.

Over the course of my life, I've slowly and reticently been "wired" or "programmed" or whatever you may want to call it, to the attraction of, or the beauty of the MALE FORM. It took me a long time to realize that while other guys around me saw each other as 'well-built' or 'athletic' or what have you, they didn't dwell on the absolute magnetic pull of the beauty of the male form to affect themselves in any way other than casual admiration.

My reaction has always been, from early adolescent recollections to the present, to be much more than casual admiration... there has been the drive to seek out and touch and explore and "know" that admiration in whatever way possible. I have fought those 'reactions' or 'stimuli' my whole life. My religion and belief system has taught me and drilled in me that these reactions or stimuli are WRONG and need to be repented of or they will become sinful. That belief system was so well-ingrained in me from my early childhood, that I have suppressed these urges to "know" more of this attraction for the better part of my life.

I've wondered why I've been able to do so when so many others haven't. Why? Am I so prudish as to think that I am better than others because I have been able to resist these 'temptations' due to my religious training or my disciplined upbringing? Of course not! In fact, I now feel just the opposite! I feel worse off because I have allowed so much time to go by in this internal fight and war raging inside me like Jeckyll and Hyde! I'm beginning to feel regret for having never truly "known" what these attractions are for, and the resulting horrible waste of a life in the process. I'm not judging anyone here, be it very clear! I'm just judging myself (after all, this is my blog, right?).

Maybe I've been able to resist because of my faith, because of prayer, because of the strong social and belief structure of my family. Maybe I've been so obsessed with disappointing my family, particularly my parents. Maybe I've blessed at times in my life to not feel these attractions at all. Months, even a year or two, have gone by when I've been able to resist completely any urge (my early missionary months, and the time spent serving in the bishoprics come to mind) and I ask myself why I was able to do it then... was the Lord "blessing me" in different ways than He is now? But it is true, for me, that I have been able to resist and control and manage these urges or desires or impulses or stimuli or whatever you want to call them, and I've been totally sane and happy at the same time.

However, now is not one of those times. In fact, I feel such urges all the time. I can be walking down the street, or in an airport concourse and "spot" the hottie passing by and I melt inside desiring to 'know' what it must be like to be so beautiful (envy), but also, I want to have some of that meat (carnal lust). I find that when I'm in a gathering of humanity, I seek out finding the "hottest looking guy" or the "cutest guy" in the crowd. Why do I do this? It's like constantly on my mind!

In the past, I've hated myself for feeling this way, for "lusting" at the good looking guys. It may have started as envy, but it hasn't ended at envy. I've prayed and fasted, and searched the ways the Atonement can be applicable to me, and have found solace and peace and a repented (changeable) heart. But, I'm finding lately that I don't feel like I should fight these urges anymore and when I realize the lack of internal fighting, it scares me... Am I becoming undisciplined? Am I becoming so shallow? Am I becoming a slave to my lusts? Am I becoming human?

for I just might give in... and either

1) lose all that I hold sacred and dear, or
2) LIVE for the first time in my life!

I guess it is obvious to this cyber-audience that I'm so naive and stupid and such a "virgin" when it comes to these things... (some may be reading this and say "this kid is a moron!" and I don't blame you). I really don't know what I desire. But, this is where I am in this search for finding the reasons behind these feelings.

Because my physical contacts are limited to emotional, spiritual, and occasionally romantic hugs of affection and kisses on the neck or cheek with another guy, (particularly in my very homophobic and Mormon heterosexual suburbia world that I live in) I'm starving to know more, to feel more, to discover more... and the anxiety level is excrutiating. The db level in my brain is deafening! I don't wonder why, anymore, I just wonder how...

Because I'm a married man, living a heterosexual life in a very hetersexual Mormon world and environment, I have succumbed to finding some relief thru secret "images" in cyberspace. Again, you may think I'm into "porn", or that if I say I am not then you may think I'm in denial again, but as I've discovered the wide range of gay images out there, I honestly find most satisfaction in the "beauty of the male form", the male fashion model sites, the athletic or sports model sites, where guys are still clothed, in a PG-13 audience way, or are nude, but in an artistic non-erotic way.

I am embarrassed as all get out to admit this to myself that I seek these "images" as a resource for finding peace and a means of controlling these powerful and relentless physical urges. Self-loathing begins and I'm trying to resist doing anything self-destructive... I don't "jack off" to the images, at least not often, and yet I find enjoyment in the envious beauty of the male form, the well-sculpted yet athletically thin manliness of the flesh. I know in some circles I'm coming to terms with my "issues" finally in my life, while in other circles, I'm allowing myself to sink into the abyss of selfishness, and the self-destructive temptations of the flesh.

The prophet speaks of "pornography" as the great sin of this generation. I hear those words and yet I don't feel the image to the left is "pornographic"... or is it? Because, you see, I get a "charge" or "thrill" of sorts from it... I just do... and because I don't have anything "real" to relate to, I find my reality is slipping into the world of "virtual reality" and this can't be healthy! Does that make it pornographic to me? Maybe so, and maybe I'm already in the grasp of Satan's hands and there is no hope for me or my salvation, as I've succumbed to the dark side.

I really don't like the 'hard stuff'. It makes me feel dirty and unhappy inside... maybe I'm still a prude and the religious upbringing is still very much a hold of my own reality, or maybe the influence of the Holy Ghost is still effective in my life. I don't judge those who do, I just don't. I don't want to be a slave to these virtual realities and I want to be in control of my destiny as I have in the past... I obviously need a real man to sweep me off my feet and show me what human contact is supposed to be all about.

But the biggest 'sin', if there is one, is the 'hurt' that these images, though non-graphic as they are, may be to my wife, and her feelings that they are symbols of my "unfaithfulness" to her. I can understand that, and the last thing I want to do is hurt her or make her feel less of a woman than she already feels being married to a gay husband. And, I truly love her and don't want to cause her any more pain than our situation already causes her. She's already told me that it hurts her when my 20-something crowd of cute returned missionary guy friends hang around, as she feels I want to be with them more than her and that they can offer me more satisfaction than she can, (even though the vast majority of them are undeniably straight!). I do want to hang around, hang on and hang in them all the time...

Yet, I know this is pointless as well. My reality and my virtual reality neither give me the human contact of man-to-man physical bonding that I so desperately seek. My cyberworld and my real world have made me isolated from the rest of humanity and I find myself withdrawing from life all together.

And I hate it! I hate myself for this! I hate that I'm putting my wife (and ultimately my kids) through this! I feel selfish! I feel dirty! I feel such shame! I feel so alone...

I'm supposed to be the strong one, the leader of the clan, the business and community and religious stalwart... and yet I'm not any one of these... I'm a confused and troubled man in an endless and hopeless story of regret, denial and destruction.

6 comments:

Elbow said...

I don't know what to tell you. I look at your life and it seems to be so full. A good job, kids ect.. and now you are in such pain.
Would being with a guy make it better?
I don't know.
I am 28, and I am sick of feeling this way, and I have only been married for two years. I'm hoping it will get better, but it's not I guess. I think there is a part of me that thinks "if I just forget about it as much as I can and push guys away then it will get better."

I hate feeling this way. I want to be with a guy, but I have a wife. I want to be happy, but all I've been taught is that happiness comes from living the gospel.

Beck said...

I've been playing the "if I just forget about it as much as I can and push guys away then it will get better" game all my life. There are times when I can successfully push it away and push it back and breathe and live. But, no matter how much I push, it seems to be pushing back harder and stronger. And I'm tired of the tug-of-war.

I firmly believe that living the gospel is what I should do. I know that the moments of JOY in my life have been when I have been living the Gospel the best I can. I do have a testimony... and that makes the tug-of-war that much harder.

-L- said...

Your unmet needs are almost palpable in this post. And I understand from personal experience. My therapist tells me it is common for gay men to have an unfilled need for intimate male companionship (but not sexual). Yet, attempting to address this genuine need sexually could be misdirected and could easily create greater unmet needs. I imagine this could cause more pain, and ultimately make life full of regrets and bitterness.

I recommend some counseling, my friend. And I recommend you include your wife in some portion of that counseling (maybe for herself personally, maybe as a couple). Your wife and you need to agree that this challenge has no good guy or bad guy--it's just one more thing to face together as an eternal couple.

The needs won't go away by ignoring them. They must be managed. How to do that is perhaps the ultimate point we are all trying to reach.

Nice pics by the way. See you, I'm off for a cold shower.

In my experience, artisticly portrayed beautiful men are MORE erotic than frank porn. I'd steer clear. Maybe I'll post on that... hmmm.... Shall I research now or later... ;-)

Dave Walter said...

I agree with L -- but not regarding the pics being nice. Muscle guys don't do it for me. You got any pics of guys with a swimmer's build?

Also, I don't agree that eternal coupling is limited to heterosexual pairs. However, that's really a minor point at the moment. You need to address the more fundamental issues with a therapist.

Beck said...

I recognize that ignoring these issues doesn't make them go away, they just come back even stronger. That's the story of my life and I'm weakening with fatigue from the battle.

Counseling seems to be the recommendation from either side of the fence. I guess in the past I've been able to work it out on my own - and I realize it's stupid to think counseling makes me admit I can't do this on my own and therefore I'm weak...

but then again, maybe I am weak...

Beck said...

P.S. to Dave Walter:

I love the swimmer's build as well... the broad shoulders and trim waist turn me giddy!

P.S. to -L-:

There is a much stronger eroticism to the artistically portrayed male form than to "frank porn". I can testify to that. There's even a more erotic charge to the cute fully dressed guy that's standing in front of you smiling! Does that make it "porn"? Is anything "porn" if it makes one feel erotic?