Sunday, July 01, 2007

A trail without a guidebook...


I have commiserated with several of you, some personally, and others through this blog or emails, how I feel very alone and confused in this path I have chosen for my life. Though I know I am not alone, that there are many others like me out there - there must be - and though I find a great sense of community of support from this amazing community of bloggers in this corner of the queerosphere, I still find myself very lonely and confused just the same.


There isn't a priesthood lesson on "how to talk to your wife about being gay", or a Sunday School manual that addresses "how to understand that being attracted to young adult men is totally natural".... etc. There isn't even a book on tape from good ol' Deseret Book that shows us "how to make a mixed-oriented marriage work in ten easy steps".


No... and there aren't obvious examples of those before me on this "path I've taken" who can show me the way and demonstrate that it's possible - that this path actually leads to a wonderful place of breathtaking beauty, as the waterfall in the photo I took above that I found almost by accident unexpectedly.


When I was on my tropical island Paradise a couple of weeks ago, I took many hikes through jungles. Some hikes were well traveled and obviously marked with a well-trodden path that led to the appointed destination, and many there were who found themselves on this same journey. There were other trails that I took from a wonderfully accurate and detailed guidebook of "lesser known paths" where jungle growth enthusiastically tried its best to cover the tracks of the few who found out its secrets. These trails, not marked at all, but nevertheless there for the taking - if you knew from where to look and follow the signs - led to even more incredibly amazing vistas and beaches, waterfalls and bathing pools, volcanic cliffs and fishing holes. But to find such trails, you needed the "guidebook".


In my personal trail as a very gay and yet very married and active, believing and participating member of the church, I still haven't found that "guidebook" and yet, here I find myself on the path just the same. This path is at times completely thick and obscured by tropical growth and I can't see which way to go. And so I get lost.


Why does it have to be this way? Why is there not someone before me showing me the "ten steps of how it's supposed to be done". Where are all the other very gay and yet very married and active, believing and participating members of the Church who already know those ten steps? Why do I feel so alone in this process? I know there are traps out there, thickets and thorns, cliffs and slippery slopes. But where's the trail marker? Where's the rod to hold onto?


I gave a lesson today about Lehi's dream. We know the Rod is strong and iron and immovable and that it is WE who let go and move away from the Rod that we become lost and lose our grasp. The rod didn't move! The rod is still there! But even the "word of God", as strong and iron-clad and immovable as it is, is still pretty amazingly silent on my needs for an example and guide through this personal "mist of darkness" I'm going through in this life as a gay man... (Now if there aren't enough mixed metaphors for you in this last paragraph I don't know where you'll find more :))


It's pretty lonely out there... I feel at times that there isn't anyone - at least among my immediate friends, family, associates, clients, neighbors etc. that I know who have gone down this path I find myself on. I don't know whether this path is destined to lead me to a dead end where I cannot go forward, nor go back. I don't know whether it will lead me on a journey to a cliff upon which the only way to go forward is to jump. I do know that I have the spirit, the Holy Ghost, who rarely, but occasionally prompts me in unquestionable nudges forward. I forget his spiritual teachings and promptings most of the time, as I prefer to do this journey "on my own", but when I do find myself listening, and on occasion being pricked in an unmistakable way, I REMEMBER who I am and why I've chosen this path in the first place... I just wish it didn't need to be so quiet and lonely most of the time...


On that note, I feel impressed to introduce to any of you two or three readers that follow along with my blog, an amazing and inspiring individual who is also on a very unique and lonely path of his own as a gay partnered man striving to find spiritual sanctuary within the LDS church as an excommunicated man. His path is not my path, and I guarantee there isn't a guidebook written for him either on his trail, but his story is such a revelation of hope to me. I hope to all of you... Please meet John Gustav-Wrathall at youngstranger.blogspot.com. (If I knew how to make a link within my text I would, but since I'm a technologically challenged ninny, you'll either have to go to my links in my sidebar or type it in yourself in your search engine). I don't think you'll be disappointed and I urge you to welcome him into this "community of saints" (in the fullest and broadest sense that those words mean of us gay men and women being guidebooks of support for each other, helping each other along this path called life).

11 comments:

J G-W said...

Beck: You have to be your own role model. You just have to find the darn trails without the guidebook. That is the burden of this generation of gay men. Whatever our path is, so many of us are the first or among the first to go down some of these trails.

Fortunately, we are all in this together. I'm rooting for you, and so are many, many others.

Consider your blog the guidebook that others can try to use.

Abelard Enigma said...

Maybe you are a pioneer who is leading the gay saints out of the wilderness.

It's pretty lonely out there

I'm here, right behind you. But, don't slow down, I'll catch up.

Beck said...

The Mormon Pioneers had a visionary leader to follow. They went willingly because B.Y. "knew" where he was going and what was to be the "right place".

I don't feel any such "vision".

Thanks J G-W for rooting me and others on in our quest, and yes, I blog for the very reason you describe. I just hope you're not rooting us on like the Donner Party to the Sierra Nevada where we'll end up eating each other to survive...

Abe, I'm not ahead of you, I'm following you. So, lead on, my trailblazing friend!

J said...

It appears to me that the most common theme that runs through all of our blogs is loneliness. Like so many aspects of this burden, it probably can't be shaken in this lifetime. But I do think we can and have to ultimately come to terms with it and learn to minimize it. I haven't learned how to do that yet, but when I do I'll let you in on the secret ;-). I do think having a network of people who understand these feelings is helpful--even if it is a virtual network. Together we can make a composite "guidebook." I just want to let you know that I identify very intimately with so much of what you share on your blog and I know so many others do too. I want to thank you for that.

Abelard Enigma said...

I'm not ahead of you, I'm following you.

OK, now I feel like we're like those two chipmunks in the cartoons :)

"After you."
"No, after you"

...

But, you bring up a very good point - we need a visionary leader who will lead the gay saints out of the wilderness. We have leaders, but they have not personally blazed the trail that we must follow.

Perhaps J is right. Perhaps that visionary leader is not encapsulated into one single person as in days gone by. Perhaps we, collectively as a virtual body, are that visionary leader.

J G-W said...

I think if we had actually been on the Mormon Trail, we would have seen for ourselves that there were many visionary leaders. It's all fine and good having BY to tell you that the Great Salt Lake is "the place." But it's the million hitches between Iowa and the Rockies that make the difference between death and destiny.

We do have leaders who've set out the vision for us... For me, those are President Hinckley, the twelve and the others... But we have our leaders of ten and leaders of 100 too. Those are each of us who are willing to step up, lend a hand, chop wood, carry water, and pull the horses out of the mud.

Beck said...

Okay... okay...

I get it, already. We need to not be afraid to lead out and do what we feel we should. And chopping the wood and blazing the trail is part of the pioneering, and each of us has to do his own part and step into the wilderness.

And I know I'm not alone. I know there are so many great people out there doing it and not complaining about it as I kind of am here. I'm very grateful for the examples around me in this blogging community and I will continue to follow your "leads"...

But, I just wish it weren't so scary and lonely in that real world out there called life. I mean, I'm happy with my choices, and I feel the spirit occasionally nudging me forward, but I just can't help feel like one day there's no turning back and I slip off the path for good...

Beck said...

J:

Your kind words me a tremendous amount to me. I want to get to know your story and hope you'll continue to find strength in mine. I slip up sometimes as my attractions get the better part of me and I claim to have no answers - but I really appreciate you coming along for the journey.

Forester said...

You are all my leaders. You are all my guidebook. I'm so grateful for your examples and vision. I would be lost without you.

Beck said...

Forester: It's so good to "hear" your voice and to see you again among the living. You've been missed. I hope all is well. You are a leader among us as well...

GeckoMan said...

Are you aware of the Mormon pioneer story of Mary Murray Murdoch? See the BYU-I Devotional of July 25, 2006, "Pioneer Faith" by Brian Schmidt, where he explains her story in detail. Sister Murdoch, a 74 year old Scottish convert died on the Nebraska plains endeavoring to reach her son and family in Utah. Her final words were, "Tell John I died with my face towards Zion."

We are all on various paths, some without guidebooks or iron rods. But we can all have faith in ourselves, that we are pointed in the right direction with our face towards Zion, if we're obedient to the Spirit of the Lord.

Sister Murdoch's story inpired me to write a poem a few years ago, which I posted on my blog today.

Thanks, Beck for sharing your thoughts and story. It is a guidebook to me, taken in with a lot of other maps and travelogues.