Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Uncomfortable discussions...

Isn't it odd that my wife doesn't talk about "all-things-gay" with me for months at a time, leaving that subject on the shelf as a book to get to someday, and then all of a sudden a certain distinguished senator from Idaho has a certain not-so-distinguished experience in a Minnesota airport toilet stall, and out of the blue she's curious about "gay" behaviors in public restrooms? And she's asking me lots of questions about what goes on in those places (other than my desires to get in and get out as fast as possible) and did I know the secret toe-taps or how I place my bags may be sending messages to others that I'm available? (Thank you, Media, for opening up more bad press about the perversions of being gay).

Why can't we have a normal conversation about things like... like what I'd like for Christmas, like a 2008 wall calendar for my office? Huh? (see After all, it's for charity, right? I'd be helping a great cause, no?

I guess not... :)

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Still Feeling...

Life has been very stressful lately, full of the stuff that doesn't really matter and not enough of that which really is important. Too much work. Too much travel. Too much...

I wanted to follow up on my last post, but now the idea and articulation are gone, interrupted by life.

Let me say this: I'm anchored in my testimony of the Gospel, of Christ and the Atonement, even of Joseph Smith and the restoration. I am anchored in my belief of the Plan of Salvation.

What I'm trying to say is: I'm feeling things changing inside me. And I associate this change directly with my acceptance of being gay. Before, I was straight arrow, following fully through and through, never questioning, always seeking to be obedient. Now, I find myself more crooked arrow, always questioning, being cynical, more willing to doubt, while still seeking to be obedient. I am only pointing out the change. Am I wrong to associate my "self-realization" of coming to terms with being gay and "self-questioning" and realizing I'm not ever going to be the "straight arrow" I thought I was, with questioning and doubting or being cynical and slightly rebellious??? Why do I feel this way? Am I allowing this thing to get to me where I shouldn't? Why do I need to revisit these issues of obedience and discipleship? Why do I have to doubt what the Spirit has already told me to be true? Why do I feel the need to DISTANCE myself from other straight-arrow Peter-Priesthood types? Is it because I'm uncomfortable with them because I'm "not like them" anymore?

Am I heading down the wrong path?

I'm not going off the deep end. I'm still who I am - a believer, seeking to follow the spirit and do what I should. I just find it interesting that I'm noticing that I am no longer the unquestioning believer and I'm finding it okay to explore my rougher edges... and at least see "other ways" than just the "only way". I don't feel it necessary to be straight-arrowed anymore. I am fine with being edgier... letting my hair down (figuratively and literally), being not so perfect...

Is that because I feel I'm broken anyway? Is that because I feel like I've missed out on something on the "other" side? Is that because I feel like I was misled and have been lied to?

I don't know. Sometimes I think I really know who I am. I am anchored. I have a firm foundation... Other times, I think I really don't know who I am. Am I "BECK" or am I the "ME" that I portray to the rest of the world? (More on that topic later).

I feel the Lord knows who I am. I hope I am not getting so prideful to miss the fact that I'm not becoming the best I can be as I dwell on these "issues" too much. I hope I'm not drifting away from the spirit or my attempts at discipleship.

You know... I don't think I really know who I am. I'm still coming to terms with that basic knowledge. I just find it interesting to note the "change" that has occurred with my attitude. Now I need to decide whether that is a good thing or not... and whether I can "still feel" the spirit in my life as Alma asks.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

Can ye feel so now?

This week I had the privilege of taking a newly baptized member of the Church along with my teenage son (who is actively questioning the validity of Joseph Smith) to Temple Square to see the Joseph Smith movie. My son and I had seen it before, but this was the first time for this new member. I hoped that the interaction of a newly excited member with my doubting son might spark some thoughts and eventually some action on his part to find out for himself whether this Joseph Smith story is just that - a fabulous, incredible story, fabricated by an ingenious youth or whether it was simply true and that was that.

I must admit that whenever I see a graphic visualization of such key indescribable events involving Divinity being portrayed in a cinematic manner - such as the First Vision, the visits from Moroni, or the restoration of the Priesthood from angelic messengers - I get wigged out. I don't like the representation, no matter how professional the images and media have become. It makes it feel fake, sacrilegious surreal, even hokey. (Is this just me, or do others feel this way?) Yet, the overall portrayal of the Prophet was spot on! The ending messages that "we don't need to see him to know he's a prophet" and "shall we not go on in so great a cause?" (D&C 128:22) are powerful enough to overcome any such shortcomings, and in the end the spirit was clearly there to retestify to me that he IS a prophet and that I should be going on in this great cause!

Yet, there I was somewhat nervous about my son's and the new member's reactions. Was this a wigged-out experience or a spiritual one testifying of truth? Was I feeling embarrassed or even apologetic for the incredibility of the story? Were my own doubts being made self-evident by even feeling such an overwhelming sensation that this WAS such an unbelievable story to swallow!

I was pleased to find that both my companions that night left reassured that this was more than just an incredible story. I asked the new member if it didn't seem too incredible to believe. The response was amazing: "The spirit has told me it is true. I don't need to worry about or doubt such things. I've made up my mind and now I don't need to constantly ask myself if I was right. I've chosen this path and that's all there is to it." My son was very struck by this commitment. Overall, it was a good experience for all.

My point? Well, I'm not sure that it's coming across very well... I guess it is this: I never ever doubted these things (the Church's origins and restoration) ever from when I was a child and first remember hearing them. I never doubted them through high school and seminary, nor as a missionary, nor as an adult leader in this Church. But, ever since my world was turned upside down and I came to terms with my attraction issues head on and all that came with that truth-seeking encounter so late in life of who I was and why I continue to have these feelings of attraction, I have exposed myself to doubting things that should have been resolved and put to bed long ago. Clarity, black-and-white, absolutes... they all have become much more fuzzy, grey, and theoretical.

Here I am still being the "good soldier", the "righteous father" and doing the "right thing". But "good" and "righteous" and "right" don't feel as "good" and "righteous" and "right" as they once did. Such words have lost their power and meaning. Why? What has changed?

I am reminded of Alma's question:

"And now, behold, I say unto you, my brethren, if ye have experienced a change of heart, and if ye have felt to sing the song of redeeming love, I would ask, can ye feel so now?" (Alma 5:26).

Why can't my world be black-and-white clear and exact again as it once was? Will I ever have the unquestioning faith that I once had? Why have I allowed this "issue" to tear apart my world and beliefs of all things (not just things regarding being gay) and make me re-examine things that should have been resolved long ago? How many times do I have to have the Spirit remind me of what I've already learned in spiritual convictions of the past?

Don't get me wrong... Count me as a believer! The spirit has witnessed to me enough times to not doubt... and yet, it's still pretty stormy and grey out there...

Saturday, August 11, 2007

It is a miracle!

I had a remarkable experience yesterday in meeting another MoHo. I really have never intended to meet anyone, and have told others that I don't make this a habit or even a goal, but it happened again, and it was so wonderful!

We had lunch and then just talked. It was so good to feel spiritually and brotherly connected in such a miraculous way with someone so incredible.

None of this would have happened, this connection, except for this "Community of Saints" that is this blogging queerosphere. I remember discussing this with Samantha about a month ago when we met and she stated emphatically back to me that this is no mere coincidence, this connection we make with each other. It is real! It is a miracle!

I believe it is a miracle, too! I feel very happy today. I feel very at peace. We are all on different paths with different challenges. Some are transitioning into marriage. Others are transferring out of marriages. Some are struggling with any kind of relationship. Some are dealing with MOM commitments and challenges, while others are contemplating other kinds of relationships, including gay partnerships, celibacy etc. Some have left or are contemplating leaving the church, others are remaining faithful, while others aren't sure, while even others have left and are now miraculously coming back. There is no "ONE WAY" in our lives. And right now, I don't care which way you are going or what you may be dealing with. I just want to say "thank you" for being part of my life.

I'm not sure what I expect to evolve with this blog. I use it for my "alter-ego" to speak and have voice in a world where "Beck" is silent otherwise. I guess, in that sense, there will always be a reason for "Beck" to exist. Is this good? Am I compartmentalizing? Am I becoming schizo? I don't think so... I think "Beck" is helping me to become a better me...

Yesterday I met a wonderful person that made me feel wonderful to be who I am. We bonded. It was wonderful!

Thank you all for your voices, your efforts to do your best, your influences on me to do better!

Saturday, August 04, 2007


Since the posting of the Church's support material pamphlet of "God Loveth His Children" in the Gospel Library, I must admit that I wasn't moved much when I read it. It didn't seem to be applicable to me. As I read it, I felt the audience was for a much younger person, one who was a young adult, maybe, who was beginning adulthood with adult decisions of life-long consequences before them. I am grateful for these efforts to reach out to this generation of young gay members. But somehow, I felt it didn't center on my situation or my generation. And thus, I wasn't even going to post on it here in my blog as I've enjoyed the discussion points made in several other places around the community. However, I've been struck with the meaning of the word "overcome" and am confused by its meaning in the following excerpt:

"While many Latter-day Saints, through individual effort, the exercise of faith, and reliance upon the enabling power of the Atonement, overcome same-gender attraction in mortality, others may not be free of this challenge in this life..."

I, among many, am confused by this statement of fact. It is nestled within a paragraph centered on marriage in this mortal life for those of SGA. Does this imply, that those of us who somehow have married and been "successful" at it for some time now in a mixed-oriented marriage, have somehow found the enabling power of the Atonement efficacious to overcome SGA?

What does "overcome" mean?

I googled the word "overcome" to see what I might find associated with such meaning and came up with the following list - not in any particular order:

1. Overcome fears / fear of heights

2. Overcome temper

3. Overcome your demons

4. Overcome physical challenges

5. Overcome with emotion

6. Overcome obstacles

7. Overcome mental blocks

8. Overcome sin

9. Overcome sports defeats / deficits

10. Overcome drugs / additions

11. Overcome shyness

12. Overcome pain

13. Overcome illness / disease

14. Overcome loneliness

15. Overcome setbacks

16. Overcome shortcomings

17. Overcome procrastination

18. Overcome destructive behaviors / emotions

19. Overcome tragedy

20. Overcome with gratitude

21. Overcome anxieties

22. Overcome poverty

23. Overcome racism "We shall Overcome" (Civil Rights anthem)

24. Overcome bigotry

25. "Jesus has overcome everything..."

If the Church pamphlet is trying to say that we can overcome our attractions and ridding them completely from our lives by praying hard and reading the scriptures and worshipping in our meetings and serving others and doing good, and that some of US have done this and are living "normal" lives with marriage and family in this life and have been able to put these attractions behind us as we do sin, racism, tragedy, fear, anxiety, pain, suffering, etc. then this pamphlet isn't talking about me... You see, I am convinced that my attractions are an integral part of me and I see no point in trying to pray them away, or exercising faith, or tap into the enabling power of the Atonement - for I've been down that road. It is a lonely and hateful, self-loathing path that leads to personal destruction. I don't need to be told that "some" or "many" have overcome these attractions in this life while others haven't or won't. That kind of statement doesn't help. It sets some up for admiration and others for accepting that they are 'second-rate' and will have to wait until the next life, or maybe they just didn't try hard enough... I have come to accept for me that these "attractions" are not going to go away, no matter how hard I exercise my faith or enable the power of the Atonement. They are what they are. They just are!

If, however, the Church pamphlet is saying that by exercising faith and trying to do good and being surrounded by good and praying and studying and worshipping, etc. that I can place my attractions in a perspective that doesn't destroy me, accepting them for what they are, and managing them in a way that allows me to feel my own self-worth, my own sense of divinity, and be of good service, and do good and yes, even be married, and stay so happily for 26 years and raise a family etc. and still be active in the Church trying to live the Gospel and feel the promptings of the Still Small Voice, and STILL be "amazingly attracted to every good looking guy that walks by me on the street, or in the media, every day of every week of every year of my freakin' life", and that is what is meant by "overcome same-gender attraction in mortality" then sign me up - for I am attempting, though inadequately, to fit the bill...

Unfortunately, as much as I want to believe that the pamphlet implies the meaning of the second conditional statement above, I really believe it intends the interpretation of the first. And that's okay... I'm not going to stress over it.

In Teachings of President Spencer W. Kimball (the 2007 manual for Priesthood / Relief Society) the word "overcome" is used twice on page 181:

"If one has homosexual desires and tendencies, he OVERCOMES them the same as if he had the urdge toward petting or fornication or adultery".

Here, in the priesthood manual of 2007, is still the teaching that homosexual tendencies are grouped with the sins of petting, fornication and adultery and as such, must be overcome! What's up with that???

He continues...

"Again, contrary to the belife and statement of many people, this [practice of homosexuality] (and may I add the implied "tendency" as noted above), is OVERCOMABLE and forgivable, but again, only upon a deep and abiding repentance, which means total abandonment and complete transformation of thought and act."

Well, I concur that when talking about the sexual act in my current realm of mortality, there needs to be forgiveness and transformation. But, when talking about thoughts, and tendencies, that are part of every day of my life that just come... I must differ.

I agree that "overcome" is a better word than "change". Change implies repentance. There is nothing to repent of when one has attractions one did not choose. At least the Church has crossed this bridge. I'd just like to see a statement that uses "overcome" in a sense of "management" or even "acceptance" instead of in the sense of "ridding oneself" or "cleansing oneself" through the Atonement. Am I missing the point here? Am I being too picky with the meaning of words?

And why, as Abelard noted, do we not see any guidelines, counsel or advice from the Church for those of us gay young men, who, in a previous generation, were admonished and encouraged without hesitancy and with full priesthood authority to marry and to marry quickly after one's faithful service as a missionary with blessings and promises that these "issues" will be forgotten and put away for good as we move into marital bliss?

Don't get me wrong, I am not bitter! I'm okay with things. I am working out my own salvation and my own marriage, thank you very much, with no help from priesthood authority (dealing with my SGA as I see no point or purpose for doing so) or Church pamphlet hand-holding. I don't ask for it and I don't demand it. I am simply seeking the Lord to bless my feeble efforts in trying to do the best I can as I "overcome" each day while still being in every true sense - a very GAY man!