Tuesday, July 29, 2008

I don't play games very well...

Okay - here's the deal... I don't play games very well, and I don't like forcing others to play, but like Samantha said, this one is fun... so...

How to Play

  1. As a comment on my blog, leave one memory that you and I had together. It doesn't matter if you knew me a little or a lot, anything you remember.

  2. Next, re-post these instructions on your blog and see how many people leave a memory about you. If you leave a memory about me, I'll check your blog to see if you are playing, too. If you are I'll come to your blog and leave one about you.

Monday, July 28, 2008

Church musings...

I was very uncomfortable with some comments made in Priesthood Meeting yesterday. The lesson was on "the eternal nature of the family" and very quickly the topic changed to the deviants that are trying to destroy the family, and the idiocy of the Supreme Courts of Massachusetts and California trying to redefine definitions of the family. Though the word "gay" and "gay marriage" were never mentioned, everyone knew who the 'deviants' were.

I was squirming but I didn't say anything. I wanted to. I wanted to think of a rebuttal, but I couldn't articulate it in my head and I was afraid that my emotions would get the better of me as my heart was racing, and I couldn't loosen my tongue. The subject changed a bit and the opportunity to make an impact passed and so I hung my head in shame and silence.


I've been connecting with a couple of new "brethren" of the queerosphere and really have enjoyed the additions of SILVER and DICHOTOMY.
The warmth I've felt from Silver is real and passionate. And the discussions I've been having with Dichotomy have really resonated with me... to the point that I am coming to terms with a new reality - that is: How in the world am I permitting myself to be angry and frustrated with the attitudes of my fellow quorum members when I will not give "voice" or provide the "face" for then to see how hurtful and unintelligent their comments are? How do I expect any tolerance or understanding or decreased oppression toward me and my fellow gay saints if I do not help them to see a REAL person they know and love who fits the category of their disdain?

It is really easy to despise and dismiss a group of people when we disassociate ourselves from them, or when we think we have nothing to do with them, or know of no one personally in that situation so we are at liberty to dismiss them. If I could have thought to reverse the conversation and say: "What if it were your son who came to you and said he was "gay" - would you react the same way by telling him that his family doesn't include him, or that he's a deviant, or is unable to ever know or experience love and affection?" How many of these brothers have gay sons or daughters, gay friends, gay associates? I would submit very few if any have any relations or know of no one personally who is gay... but, in reality, they know me! They just don't know it. And who's fault is that? Is it their fault that they don't know me? How could it be? I'm the one hiding - even if it is partly because of their intolerance. How would their attitudes change if they did know this about ME? How would they soften their harsh rhetoric knowing me as I know me?

How can I ask for increased tolerance if I stay quiet and tolerate their intolerance? How can I ask for leaders of the Church to be more tolerant and less oppressive of people like me, when people like me are "normalized" into the fold and just need to stay quiet (don't ask / don't tell)? How am I to help those to follow me when I stay quiet? Isn't that what got me in this position in the first place - that those in front of me (married gay Mormons remaining active in the church and faithful to their spouses) who remained quiet and endured the oppression and the ignorant beliefs - leading me nowhere but where I find myself today?

I've got so many questions racing in my head... I never felt a need to speak out before... I'm not an activist! Yes, I kick against those pesky pricks, but I don't want a fight, I like my anonymity. I like flying below the radar, I enjoy trying to have my cake and eat it too! It was a private matter and nobody else's business. Now, after some thought and contemplation from some discussions with Dichotomy, I find myself seeing the day when I should speak up for "righteousness sake", for giving face and voice in the lives of sheltered people into seeing a real live, walking and talking, loving and hugging (and kissing) gay Mormon who lives in their neighborhood and associates with them each week in quorum meetings...

I don't know where this is leading. But the thought process is invigorating and liberating.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Nothing a little workout can't cure...

I realize now that my journey into cold-turkey abstinence from all things gay (including PG websites, underwear ads, swimming competitions etc. all those really "hard-core stuff" - get the picture?) wasn't the right thing to do. Though my motives were to be more sensitive to my kids and respectful to my marriage, it was an over-reaction... something I'm very good at. I was uptight, angsty, uneasy, and difficult to be around. Not the "cleansing" I expected.

I've tried (since falling off the wagon) to still limit my viewing pleasures and to cut way back on downloads... not a perfect path, but maybe a more manageable one, seeing that I'm not perfect.

So, I've decided to take up something in its place that will keep me occupied and productive... I've started a weightlifting / strength-training program. Now, don't laugh at me! This is very new and different and I feel awkward and stupid. But I have a home gym and some weights that I have seldom used and I'm getting into a morning ritual of working out a bit.

Now, if you knew me, you'd know how foreign this is to me. I was always intimidated by the jocks and the athletes at school who were always so much bigger and stronger than I was. That intimidation has extended well into my adulthood. I still feel very weak, and scrawny and skinny and inferior. I would rather be strung up a flag-pole with only my underwear on, or be found dead in a back alley than be found in a weight room. Gyms of any kind, including the mall-type fitness centers still give me the chills. Locker rooms make me want to vomit, remembering past experiences of abuse in those testosterone dens. Even though I know I could catch some beautiful eye-candy in the flesh, I just won't go to gyms. They just are too intimidating and I feel so out-of-place I get sick thinking about it.

So, like I said, don't laugh...

But, after a couple of weeks, I really am enjoying it. I'm starting slow and I don't have a lot of time, but just a little bit every day has helped me to feel better about myself. I enjoy the pump, and I enjoy the feeling of muscles burning. I'm still weak and scrawny and skinny and inferior, but I see progress already.

I'm not really doing this for my health's sake. I'm not that committed. It's all for vanity, for self-confidence, and for staying away from the computer at down-times. Aren't those good enough motives? I'm not after getting big, but if I could be more "normal sized" and look younger and be stronger and more confident and LIKE MYSELF a bit more, then maybe there are benefits to this new goal.

Maybe someday I'll be willing to take my shirt off at the beach and not be embarrassed... this 40-something may still have something to show after all.

I feel vulnerable and stupid for sharing such a "teenager" type post, but it feels good, and it's what's happening - so deal with it and don't make fun of me - give me a little encouragement!

BTW, does anyone know where I can get some 'roids? :)

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Fate verses Chance...

How much do you believe in "fate" verses "chance"? Do you believe we are placed here in the circumstances we find ourselves "for a reason" or "just because"? Do you think there is a greater force working over us and through us as we come in contact with others, or is there nothing but happenstance working in our lives? Have you ever felt that you were "destined" to meet someone? And if so, do you believe that there is a "reason" for such meetings? Or, have you ever really "connected" with someone, even if that connection was for just a brief moment?

Hollywood is full of such stories and examples. Great literature often wraps itself in the development of such encounters.

When I met Samantha in person last year, she testified to me of her assurance that we, in this little community of the bloggosphere, have been put here together for a "reason" - that this isn't just something of chance or happenstance. I have come to feel the same as she does.


Several years ago, I had an amazing experience that was out of a Hollywood script or the pages of a great novel. I was standing with my wife and kids in southern Utah taking in the wide and spiritual vista of the summer's late afternoon glow over the colorful desert landscape at an isolated location. We were alone, or so we thought. Soon, we noted, however, that there was one other couple nearby. They were speaking a foreign language that was surprisingly understandable... Yes, they were marveling at the scenic view before them in Italian. Not wanting to intrude on each others space, we both stayed silent for a while. But, then I couldn't help myself and I started speaking Italian to him and my wife to her. Within minutes we were chatting about all sorts of things, of our common interests, of our likes and dislikes, of our love for the desert and the West, of our love for all things Italian. We found ourselves amazed at how similar we were. Massimo and I shared the same profession and the same passions! Before we knew it, the sun was setting and over two hours had quickly passed by... and to the relief of our children, it was time to say goodbye.

Like we often say but never do, we told each other that we would write and keep in contact with each other. We shared contact information, gave each other affectionate hugs, and then we parted - never knowing if or when we would see each other again, but knowing that we had an amazing "connection" in a breathtaking place together.

Was this chance? Was it "meant to be"? What is chance and what are things that are "meant to be"?

Well... whether it was the spirit, or whether it was my gay-sensitivity kicking in, or my desires for friendship with this attractive, beautiful man, I don't know - but we did continue to stay in contact with each other. We shared our work together and swapped photos of our favorite places in each other's country. We opened up to each other about our desires and our passions. But, neither thought we would actually have the occasion to meet each other again...

until yesterday... when Massimo came into my life again five years later...

I knew he was passing through the area on another visit of the West and the desert, which led him back to Utah. He called. Things were quickly arranged. And yesterday came where he paid a visit to our house and we fell into each other's arms in an embrace of sincere brotherhood and kisses of friendship. We ate together, took photos, shared stories, updated each other, and felt each other's spirits again. We told each other that we needed to find a project where I could work in Italy with him and he with me. We talked about writing a book of our experiences in each other's countries etc. It was magical. We "connected". And now he's gone on his way again... (how I longed to go with him, but alas that was too Hollywood of an ending, us driving off together in the western desert sunset... ahhh!)

We hugged each other multiple times and kissed the double cheek thing multiple times. We were ragazzi "mates" and it felt spiritually right and of a "higher purpose". He asked about the church and my mission and that led to Temple Square etc. But, my pointing to a feeling of "destiny" is not centered around missionary efforts here (though some may feel it should be). No, I'm drawn to the fact that we are amici (friends), fratelli (brothers), amati (lovers) in a real and very predestined sense.

I mean, why did we first connect at the same place in that same instance in that same remote place speaking the same language (both literally and spiritually)? Is there a reason for these brief and intense encounters? Why did we not allow time and distance to diminish the spark of intense friendship? Is it possible to bond with someone so strongly and yet so briefly?

Is there a higher purpose in all of this? Or am I just a gay guy who finds any beautiful young male paying the slightest bit of attention to me, a passionate subject of interest and being the helpless romantic that I am (as my gay self lends me to such thoughts) I can't see this for just the fact that it was another chance encounter?

Thursday, July 17, 2008

As plain as the nose on your face...

The family rented the movie "Penelope" this week. It was a fun, light flick that my kids enjoyed. This is not a recommendation of this silly fairy tale movie, but there was a message that hit home that I'm sure the screenwriter, director, and producer never intended.

In my eyes, I saw the message to be that I, this confused gay Mormon boy, must come to terms with myself and love me for who I am, without desiring to be someone else, or to be changed from what I have no control over, or to be worried about what others see in me or think of me. I saw her pig-snout face as a symbol of my homosexuality... something that is a part of me as much as the nose on my face.

I have come to realize that I really do like myself as I am (I'm still working on loving myself - a long way to go there...), but I'm still very fearful of what others see in me or think of me. How can I live a productive, full, fulfilled life, fully "vibrating" (as Elbow says), if I'm constantly worried about what others may think if they really knew "all" about me. It's no big deal. I'm still me. I'm still who I am.

But the image of the photo above, reacting to the revelation of my "truth" speaks volumes as to how fearful I still am of what others may think.

I don't know how to get past this... and move on... and live.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

No big deal...

I had a really vivid dream last night. It scared me how real it felt and I awoke in a pool of sweat. I found myself cuddling in bed with another man. He was holding me and kissing me when my teenage son came in the bedroom to report that he was going off to hang out with some of his friends. His reaction to my being held by another man, naked in bed, was matter-of-fact and nonchalant. It was as if this was no big deal and that everything was cool between me and him. I don't know where my wife or daughters were - as far as I can remember - they didn't exist. And yet, why was I so wigged out that my son "caught" me in bed and yet he didn't really think anything of it?

The man I was with tried to lovingly comfort me and calm me down. When I looked back into the eyes and arms of the guy that was holding me, it was a guy I work with from time to time. I have no physical relationship whatsoever with him and yet in my dream there he was in my bed with me. When I recognized him, it was at that point I awoke in a panic.

I don't dream very often. My dreams are few and far between and often come out as disjointed vignettes. I'm not like J G-W who has meaningful, thoughtful and intelligent dreams. Oh to think what John has to endure as he contemplates much more significant, relevant subconscious thoughts!

In the end, I continue to feel vulnerable and exposed. Why am I so afraid of being found out? What am I so ashamed of? What's the big deal? In today's world, being a 20-something, maybe it wouldn't be such a big deal - but for this old bugger, it still is a big deal.

As I conducted priesthood meeting on Sunday, I thought of all these good brothers before me who were fellow old buggers, who didn't have a clue of what vain and silly things I had done this last week and how confused and torn I was inside, longing to be loved and understood, and yet unable to tell them. What if they did know - would they stone me out the door of the church? My facade securely in place, I proceeded to greet each with a firm handshake, making eye-contact one-on-one, and several I gave warm hugs. I needed that touch. But in doing so, I felt isolated and alone - I felt not apart of them. I was separate. I was different, and they had not a clue what was going on inside me.

We were having a discussion on the post-mortal spirit world. There was a quote that was read that said: "The spirits of righteous people who have died are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and emotions, and are often pained therewith" (Teaching of the Prophet Joseph Smith, p. 326) and "Sometimes the veil between this life and the life beyond becomes very thin. Our loved ones who have passed on are not far from us". (Ezra Taft Benson).

My thoughts went to the idea that my loved ones, particularly my recent family member who has passed on two months ago, are watching me. Do they have a clue? Do they know my issues and struggles? Do they see me do stupid things, and are pained at my struggles that I've tried to keep private and closeted all my life. The thought that they are aware of my thoughts and feelings and emotions and are pained therewith give me pause. Maybe it's presumptuous of me to think that I'm this important to be the focus of their attention, as I've thought that those who have died are way to preoccupied with other concerns than with those of us still in our mortal estate - I thought they had more important things to worry about. I'm not real comfortable with the thought that our dearly departed see all that we do in secret. Somehow, I know the Lord knows, but does everyone know?

I don't know about you, but I'm not real comfortable with the idea of dearly departed grandmother or grandfather watching me in the shower or noting my every indiscretion. I hope that they don't see everything, but that they are allowed to see that which is needed to be seen, to help us along the way.

So, with the dream of my son knowing and not caring, with wondering about priesthood brothers knowing about my issues and fear of rejection from them, with these thoughts of the afterlife and dear loved ones knowing every needful thing, and with being too open and exposed in this blog, I keep asking myself - what's the big deal? What am I so afraid of?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

"You're so 18th Century!"

"If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us."

-- 1 John 1: 8-10

I have sinned. I have fallen off the wagon. I am not perfect. I have failed in my attempt to be perfect.

I do not feel it appropriate to share details of the nature of my "sins", but suffice it to say that I was on the road this week, alone, in a hotel in an out-of -state city. It is not good to be alone, especially with confusing hormones raging like a teenager. I have slipped up, have done some stupid and silly things, have lost part of my resolve, and have indulged in vain and frivolous things. I may be excused, some may say, because I should never have tried to go "cold turkey" or to have made a resolution that was all or nothing, knowing that someday I would fail and fall (even though the "cold turkey" approach was my immediate reaction to a situation where I felt if I continued on the path I was on, I would lose everything I had, but most especially the love and affection and relationship of my wife, and particularly of my son). I may be excused, others may say, because of my attractions that have bubbled up in recent days like the volcano ready to erupt, and such things are bound to happen for a gay married Mormon guy so closeted and closed off of any possible way of letting off the building pressure and steam. If I keep such a tight grip on the lid and don't give myself any slack, I'm certain to explode.

Others may be disappointed that I fell, that I lost my resolve, and that I'm not living up to my potential or the example I make myself out to be. They may find my recent arousals and subsequent ventures into self-pleasure as not heeding the warning signs of too intimate of touch, or of allowing curiosity to get the best of me.

Others still, may see this as a bunch of crap and that I'm choosing to live a life of self-imposed conflict, confusion and delusional dishonesty - in other words, a life that is "so 18th Century! I mean, really, why would anyone choose to live like that?"

All I can say is that I am not perfect. I never claimed to be. I'm not the poster-child of the MOHO MOMs. I never set out to be an example with any special knowledge. I've been very honest in my shortcomings, immaturity, and lack of progression. Maybe I've been too honest, as to cloud my thinking and blur my vision, obstructing me from seeing correctly the amount of progress I have truly made, and the amount of integrity I still have in my possession despite all this angst and confusion. I'm trying to do the best I can with what I have been given - no, it's more than that - what I have been blessed with. I refuse to tear down or throw away that which I have created, including marriage and kids, church and testimony. It's been too long down this particular road. I'm too committed. I can't turn back. But I also refuse to throw away these other parts that are very much a part of who I am and still need exploring - they are poorly understood and very confusing to me - still after this 4 year journey now of open dialogue with myself about these parts of me - these parts that long to be loved, understood, sexually complete. I thought I would figure them out after 4 years - or nearly five decades for that matter. Come to find out, I still am not the master of my universe, for they master me.

If you are proud of me that I've sinned, that I've allowed myself to break for a moment from my 18th Century existence, please understand that I am not proud. If you are saddened by my lack of resolve, please understand that I am not saddened.

I just am...

P.S. Don't misread my comments here. I am by no means equating "being gay" with "sin". Nor am I equating my "attractions" with "sin". In the last 4 years of coming to terms with these feelings within myself, I have at least come to realize the fallacy of such equations!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Everyone knows but me...

I feel very vulnerable and transparent right now. I've come to find out that the facade I've built around myself and my world really isn't all that opaque, but, in fact is quite transparent. Recently, I've revealed things through being too personal on my blog and with email correspondences that has caused me to lose the shroud of anonymity that I've sought to preserve for so long. I've been "found out" and this freaks me out.
And then I get freaked out for being so freaked out about being found out.

I feel like I'm wearing the emperor's new clothes and everyone knows but me that I'm completely naked and no one will tell me so to my face.

I feel like an A&F model who is completely naked though somehow delusionally being told that it's okay as I'm marketing clothing for a clothing store while wearing no clothing.

Or that I'm modeling something hideously silly though being told it looks great...

Am I that transparent?

Why do I cling to anonymity? Why am I still so afraid to be "found out"? I say it is because I don't need to have extra drama in my life, for my wife, for my kids in particular. But is it also for my profession, for my status, for my ego?

What am I so afraid of? What am I so ashamed of?

Maybe I've been too personal - too detailed - too casual. I've done so to be real with myself. I've tried to use the blog as a reflection of what is really going on, with real events and real commentary on those events, emotions, feelings in my life and not just generic commentary on the subject of the day in the news. But maybe I've gone too far... Maybe I should back off... Maybe I should disappear and reappear with "new clothing".

Why didn't anyone tell me before that I wasn't wearing any clothes?

And why do I feel so vulnerable? It's been four years this month since I outed myself to myself. Don't you think after four years I would be okay with this by now?

Sunday, July 06, 2008

Over or under?

Over or under?

I consider myself a man-hug connoisseur. I make myself open to almost anyone for a hug. I've noted this ad nausea before - but, hey, for someone like me in this situation I'm in, it's what I live for.

Often hugs with good friends come long and hard with arms over the top of the shoulders. If one is over, sometimes the other is under, but still around the chest. Or sometimes one is up over one shoulder and under the other matching the other's embrace in a locked pair.

But what about both being under - around the waist - holding tightly together down low?

I was at a wedding yesterday for another dear friend... three in three months of my dear 20-somethings biting the dust. This friend I haven't spoken about here. But, needless to say, he has been very open to my affection and I adore his innocence and sweetness and kindness toward everyone, and especially toward me. I have always been open to him and he has sensed that and reciprocated willingly, sometimes with surprising gusto. But I digress...

After the wedding ceremony, the traditional parade of family and friends filed to the head of the altar to greet the newly formed eternal family, hugging the couple - and as usual, the Mormon hugs of pats and quick embraces (never a duration over 3 seconds - I know - I was watching and consciously counting) proceeded in normal fashion - both family and friends. When I came to Matthew, I was pretty sure it would be different between us. He grabbed me enthusiastically and squeezed me tightly into him. It was the one-arm-up-and-over in combo with the other under-and-around. It had to have been 30 seconds! He didn't let me go. So the harder he squeezed, I reciprocated, his bride staring at us, my wife looking on... and a line of greeters still to come.

And then it happened... right there in the temple, at the altar no less. I started to get excited down under. So, I kissed his neck and broke the hug, said something quickly to the bride, grabbed my wife and left abruptly, a bit red I'm sure.

I don't know if this abstinence thing has anything to do with it, but I was feeling it pretty good and the "volcano" analogy of "doing something stupid" entered my mind... and in the House of the Lord no less. I didn't plan this. I didn't want it... Well, maybe I did, but not there in that place and time.

But it gets weirder... We stayed after for the photos around the temple grounds. For the most part, Matthew was focused on his bride and his family as it should be. But at one point, as the photographer organized her with her siblings, Matthew was freed up and came over and gave me another embrace. He was obviously very happy and sweet, and we hugged intently.

Then, at the wedding breakfast, he was away from her as I came in and we hugged "intently" again, but this time with our arms both low, around our waists. We transitioned from over the top to under and around with both arms, holding ourselves tightly. It just happened as we dropped around each other's waists. By now I was totally confused... this was the third intimate hug.

At the end of the breakfast, my wife went to the bathroom and I found myself with the groom fairly alone at the entry to the restaurant with well-wishers leaving... and for the fourth time, we fell into the embrace again... and again it was definitely both of us under and around the waists. We held our foreheads together, like we were slow dancing as a couple. And it happened again. I allowed myself to kiss him again. I was getting really excited. I backed off and looked up and noted a man (not part of the wedding party) sitting at a bench staring oddly at the two of us. Had he noticed our embrace? He was staring straight at us. Fortunately, my wife arrived in time for us to make a quick exit.

It takes an awful lot of attention and affection for me to "get going" with my wife. At times it works well, and at other times, it takes a lot of work. But with these spontaneous little encounters with my friend on his wedding day, it wasn't work at all. It just happened.

I can't believe I'm sharing this. I feel I need to get this out. I feel like I'm going to explode. I feel so bottled up inside. If it can be this spontaneous, is that what it should be like for a normal couple? I mean, is this spontaneous reaction what happens to normal married folk? I guess I'm dwelling on just all that I'm struggling with... and how wonderful it feels to be in the arms of another man... even if that man is innocent, sweet, just married, and straight... as all my "men" now are.

I don't know how much longer I can deal with this...