Friday, August 29, 2008

Ultimatum of sorts...

My wife has given me an ultimatum of sorts.

"I'm moving on with my life. You are welcome to come along with me, and I want you to come with me, but I'm no longer going to beg you to want to..."

I know she sees me pulling away from her physically and our intimacy levels have fallen off the charts like congress's approval rating, and she sees me becoming more upset about Church and becoming more distant spiritually from her.

Is this the beginning of the end, or is she just sensing me moving away from her and she's tired of the fight and is deciding she's waited long enough for me to make up my mind what path I'm going to take?

I have been drifting a bit. I have been allowing myself to not be intimate with her for some time... I'm scared.

We're going away together this weekend without the kids... I hope to find some rekindling spirit to show her I'm hers, but what if I can't?

Commitment has held us together. This "ultimatum" is making me rethink my commitments...

What do I have to do to show her my love? Why do I always have to keep proving myself to her? Why do I allow her to feel distant and insecure? I've been fighting this for 27 years of marriage... How much am I willing to fight to keep her?

Is this the "inevitability" factor kicking in?

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

CLP responds...

With the encouragement of several here, including Hidden who gave me her email address, and not exactly sure why I was doing so, I wrote Carol Lynn Pearson. I gave her my gratitude for her compassion and thanked her for what has become her life's work to increase tolerance, understanding and love for our gay brothers and sisters within our religious community. I voiced my frustration at the amount of stories that seemed so fatalistic regarding holding together a mixed-oriented marriage or in keeping faithful to testimony and gospel convictions within the confines of the Church, and how stories like mine don't have many examples of success and as such, one is left to feel the inevitability of failure to stay on this path I've chosen for myself.

I wrote, not expecting a response. But within a few hours, there she was, writing me back! I was stunned.

I share some of her words to me, respecting confidentiality and the spirit of intent with which these words were written specifically for me, hoping that it helps others in the process who are in similar situations as mine...

Referring to living a life as a gay man, going through the motions of life, enduring, yes, but not living, she noted:

"...You could find satisfaction identical to this man’s, except that you have been cursed with a great deal of passion, and so will find life not as easy as he does."

Regarding the lack of success stories of those like me, she said:

"So, no—I do not have in my files a lot of the “good stories” you want, stories of a marriage that not only endures but is deeply joyful. I know many stories of marriages like yours that survive. Especially older men have written to me that there is no way they would jeopardize what they have for the possibility of finding the man of their dreams. Several have said that they attend Evergreen, not for the possibility of being “changed,” but for the support they find there for the decision they have made to stay in the marriage. On the other hand, a young man wrote to me that he, 100 percent gay, had decided to marry his best friend; but, he said, “I could never go to Evergreen; I know that I will always have to guard against being in a room with that many gay men; I will have to be vigilant every day of my life.”"

Regarding advice for me...

"Yes, there are gay-straight marriages that survive and have various levels of satisfaction. Last year the Deseret News did some features on a group of such marriages. What I cannot in good conscience say to you, is that your feelings are going to change. But I can say that yes, it is very possible for you to say, “Above all I intend for my marriage to come before everything else and to be faithful to my wife for the entire journey and for us to continue to love each other deeply with the very best love we have.” Either way (and I have said this to every gay married man who has ever contacted me), either way you are going to make a large sacrifice. Only you can know which road will ultimately bring you the greatest amount of peace.

I send very best wishes for all angels to walk with you on this journey. I know that the pain and the conflicts you feel are enormous."

She ended with these sincere and kind words for me that have affected me deeply...

"And I certainly honor you... for your determination to create your own original path amid the paths to your left and to your right, none of which feel authentic to you. Of course you can succeed in what you are so committed to."

* Passion is a curse...

* You're not alone, though there aren't many of you...
* It's possible, but it will take large sacrifice...
* You can succeed in what you are so committed to...

Nothing earth-shattering, but something to think about nonetheless.

Any thoughts or feedback?

Sunday, August 24, 2008

More insights at Church...

Actual things you learn in Priesthood Quorum....

Women (W) equal money (M) and time(T); or W = M x T

And everyone knows that time is money; or T = M

Thus; W = M x M or money squared.

And we all know that money is the root of all problems (P); or M = sq. root of P

Thus; women equal problems; or W = P.

* * * * * *

Though done flippantly, this was an actual part of the Priesthood lesson...

As much as I emphasis here my attraction for men and all the complications that go with that in a marriage with a straight wife coping with a gay husband, may I say that if it weren't for my wife and the support she has been for me and the love and commitment she has shown me unwaveringly, I am convinced that I would not be the man I am today. Despite regrets and compromises to make this work, I am a witness that my "W" in the above equation does not equal "P" as the problems I have are not caused by her or equate to her. She is my strength. She is my joy.

I have told others that if it weren't for her coming into my life and my being in the situation I was in at the time (read "naive"), and my "falling in love with her" (the only woman I have ever been in love with or remotely attracted to), I don't think I would have ever married. It's a miracle that we are together and I recognize that we are together as best friends through it all. She still loves me more now than ever, despite the heartache I've caused her. And I'm still "falling in love" with her...

I thank God for this miracle in this gay man's life.

It is possible.

It can happen.

We are going to make this work!
P.S. I did wear my blue shirt and green tie (Thanks Max Power for the MOHO uniform tradition) as a form of internal rebellion of sorts! It felt liberating!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

On a lighter note...

I've been pretty "heavy" lately.

So on a lighter note:

1) I love this photo. I just do.

2) In a weak moment of insanity expected of someone like me confused by my midlife crisis, I went out and bought some low-rise jeans that fit really comfortably and look good on me. They are my first pair of jeans that look "designer" and not something Mom would have bought me thirty years ago before a new school year. I'm thin enough that I can actually wear them. So why am I afraid to wear them in public?

3) My meager work out sessions, brief as they may be, are moving along quite well, thank you very much. I actually found that I have biceps! They've been hidden under decades of lack of activity or any strength training at all. Since I'm skinny, my arms are skinny... but I'm finding a bit of toning and shape and definition after a month. It's amazing that this midlife body can respond like this! I'm never ever going to be "muscular", but some definition is kind of exciting. It's giving me a bit of boost in my self-esteem of something "masculine" that I've never participated in before. I'm motivated to keep it going... and it keeps me focused on something productive.

4) I can't wait for Church tomorrow. No, really - don't laugh. I'm actually promising myself to be positive and reach out and stop brooding over hurt feelings... No promises, however, that I won't wear my brand new low-rise jeans with a blue shirt and green tie, instead of my standard uniform of white shirt, tie, and conservative suit. :)

Thursday, August 21, 2008


Enough already. I promise this is the last post I'll do centered on this theme and I'm prepared to move on.... I promise...
I've finished reading "No More Goodbyes".

Overall, it is a great read as it encourages dialogue in a community where there is none... or it is all one-sided as I and others have pointed out numerous times. The message of love and compassion, tolerance and understanding is without parallel. Carol Lynn Pearson is definitely the champion of these virtues. The plea for these virtues is real and heartfelt and moving.
The metaphor of reaching out and risking ourselves to bring our brothers and sisters in from the plain (a reference to the rescue missions of the handcart companies of 1856), is tugging and reassuring and the "right thing to do", and deep down we all know it - we just don't always do a good job doing it.

What I am struggling with, however, is the subtle message that is not even implied, but is there nevertheless, of the inevitability of gay faithful Mormon married men in my situation who will, without a doubt, 1) leave the church, and 2) leave the marriage. I know that CLP's husband did that very thing and she may feel it is only a matter of time before I do the same - or become insane if I don't - and who knows whether I already am going insane for not. Maybe I'm reading too much into it, but there isn't an example that I can find of a story of one like me who has remained faithful and who has remained happily married, and has done so without giving up and losing his integrity, honesty, authenticity, and sanity.

So, seeing that CLP has countless stories at her disposal, where are the stories like mine? Where is the hope for a life like mine? Am I really just delusional to think I can avoid the inevitability?

What am I missing? The book has left me feeling quite fatalistic. Yes, the audience is not for me... it is for straight church members and straight family members who need some education and sensitivity training on how to love and respect and honor and appreciate their gay brothers and sisters. That's all good and fine, and necessary and needed.

But I guess, as I've noted before, I'm still looking for the CLP stories of wonderful and creative and successful gay men who are happy and full of life and excited to be engaged in good things and are faithfully committed to their love-filled marriages and faithfully devoted to their spiritually-enriching religion. Is that too much to ask for?

In the end, I didn't feel uplifted. I feel empty. And I hesitate (sorry Dicho's wife) to encourage my wife to read it as I don't need her feeling the emptiness I'm feeling right now and the fatalistic inevitability that I sense as my only future with her.

Now, that doesn't mean I can't leave it out for her to pick up on her own... :)

I don't believe in fatalistic points of view. I don't believe in inevitability either. Call me naive, call me delusional, call me ignorant, call me insane... I just won't accept that there isn't another way...

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

The rest of the story...

... My wife wouldn't let the issue die. When we got to the car after the meeting block, she was all over me wanting to know who I offended? or what did I say to someone? or who did I pick a fight with? Even these questions demonstrated her understanding that I'm a fighter and don't like to be pushed into a corner, and have been known to "stir things up a bit" in a church setting.

I just shrugged and grunted responses (I wasn't about to have this discussion in the car with the kids), which just made her more curious and anxious. Who knows what was racing through her head.

Finally alone for a moment at home the dialogue went something like this:

"So, are you going to tell me what's bothering you? You know you can't hide."

"I don't want to discuss it."

"But, I'm not going away so you may as well get it out now."

I saw the determined look on her face and knew she was now getting worried. So I began...

"A couple of weeks ago, Brother S made a comment about gays and gay marriage and how evil it all is and how they all need to be rounded up. I didn't say anything, and I felt terrible inside that I didn't. This really, really bothered me. I made a promise to myself that I wouldn't remain silent anymore."

"So this is what's still bothering you today?"

"No. But it happened again. This time Brother D made a closing comment to his lesson about an editorial from Carol Lynn Pearson encouraging more compassion and understanding for our gay brothers and sisters to stop the onslaught of suicides. Brother D implied that this is sophistry - saying something good, such as love and compassion for all, but cloaking it in acceptance of sin."

By this time my lip began to quiver...

"And you are upset because you identify yourself as a "gay man", right?" she asked most solemnly.

"Well... yes..." I stammered. Even readmitting this to her remains difficult as I know it still causes her pain and worry about our relationship and her self-esteem.

"And so.." she encouraged.

"And so, I don't feel that showing love and compassion for gay brothers and sisters is sophistry. It is so ignorant to have such statements made in priesthood. I just don't know if I can go to priesthood anymore - and I'm in the leadership of the quorum!"

"So are you saying you're ready to make your declaration?"

I must admit that this word "declaration" shocked me a bit, coming from my wife. I wasn't expecting it and didn't know how to react. I haven't planned on making any declaration. I just wanted to speak up and check comments that seem to go unchecked and seem to be coming at a more frequent pace.

"No, I'm not saying I'm going to make a "declaration" to my priesthood quorum, though that would be fun to do in a certain sense to shock them off their seats... What I am saying is that I feel frustrated that such feelings exist and that they get away with saying hurtful, insensitive and unthoughtful things. I don't want to remain silent anymore and just take it."

"Well, you realize these are mainly older guys who are set in their ways of thinking and aren't going to change," she responded. "You'd probably never hear the same comments in the Elders Quorum."

"Maybe, but it doesn't make it right!"

"Do you think you can make a rebuttal in the quorum without getting too personal, too emotional, losing your temper?"

"I don't know... that's why I often just don't say anything. The spirit is prompting me to open my mouth, but emotions get the better part of me and I'm afraid anger will be the message they hear."

"Well, why don't I come into the quorum next week and set the record straight about their insensitivities?"

"What? You?"

"Yeah, why not? I can deliver the message that we need to be more sensitive to others and less judgmental."

"I don't think that's going to happen. No... but, since I'm conducting this month, do you think I should say something next Sunday, or is the moment gone and it will be out of context and out of mind by then and it's a lost cause?"

"Maybe you should talk to the bishop about it."

"What good would that do?"

"Well, he needs to be told that his HPs are old goats that are ignorantly spouting off judgments of things they know nothing about."

"I don't think I'm going to talk to the Bishop. I think he already knows their attitudes and opinions."

"Well, then how about the HP group leader. Do you want me to call him?"

"Why are you so proactive here?" I asked puzzled at the way she was taking this.

"I don't want you to be hurt."

"I appreciate that, but I'm okay. I just am tired of the fight. I don't want to go to Priesthood anymore. It's like I'm on edge waiting for the next sly remark that seems to come every other week now."

There was a pause.

"I just am tired of not standing up for what I feel is right."

There was silence.

"I love you," she finally offered.

"I love you, too," I countered and we kissed, and then the kids came in the room.

A while later, I could tell that she was deeply worried.

"You still have a problem with this, don't you," I pressed.

"Of course I do," she replied with a concerned self-absorbed kind of voice.

"I knew I should have never said anything to you... now you're all worried all over again, like I'm going to run off with a boyfriend or something. I don't know how to tell you this, but I'm not going anywhere."

She didn't say anything more and we haven't talked about it since.


My window of opportunity is gone. A suggestion was made to leave an anonymous note. My wife suggests I discuss it with the bishop or the HP group leader. The fire is gone. I was planning on reading my version of Mosiah 4 to the quorum next week, but now it feels out of place and petty.

I don't know. What do you think?

And what about my conversation with my wife? If you know us, we don't often talk about "the issue" as it causes her pain and feelings of doubt about our relationship and the permanence of our situation - that things aren't going to change. Should I have said anything? What do I do now?

For those who were anxiously awaiting a more dramatic conclusion, I'm sorry... I don't make this up... it's just want happens. It's real - not fiction. For me, this is drama to have had a successful conversation with my wife and not have it end worse than it did. Is that progress? Assess the status of my marital relationship and let me know what you see. I'm too close to judge what's going on...
I think I think too much. Too much contemplation... I need to get back to work and let it all go...

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Are we not all beggars?"

-- Steve Walker's "Touched".

Three Sundays ago, the discussion of the "sanctity of the family" in priesthood veered off into a strange condemnation of gays in the church. I've noted that I sat ashamed of my silence and promised myself not to silence myself ever again.

Well, yesterday, a different teacher gave a very good lesson on inspiration and revelation - that when the Lord speaks directly to us, the debate ends and that communication comes with "authority" from God. Of course, the discussion veered into who has "authority" for revelation of what sphere and the "authority" of the Prophet and the importance of current revelation over previous revelation.

I was fine with all of that. The teacher wrote on the board "very nearly the truth" and stated that we need to be very careful of inspiration or proposed revelation by others that may seem to be true, may very, nearly be true, but is not. He whips out his Sunday Salt Lake Tribune and begins quoting from an editorial in the paper written by Carol Lynn Pearson pleading for love and compassion toward our gay brothers (and sisters).

He read quoting CLP: "I believe, with these historians (of the Mountain Meadows Massacre), that we LDS people are hungry for the truth and that we want to apply true religion in our lives. I believe with Anne Frank, that people are really good at heart and I know that there is no better heart than the Mormon heart, leader and member alike.... Many messengers today, of which I am one, have ridden in with reports and pleas for help regarding the ongoing self-slaughter of so many of our best and beautiful young men. For many it is too late. For others - if you and I care enough - we can change history."

He took those words and testified that such speech is dangerous - for accepting sin in the guise of compassion and tolerance and love seems "very nearly true" (using the words of Joseph Smith about those who profess revelation that may seem almost true, but not fully true, and thus not worthy to follow), but in the end nothing by sophistry - that condoning homosexuality in the spirit of love is wrong.

By this point I was boiling. As I was about to say something, he noted the time, concluded "in the name of Jesus Christ" and the closing prayer was said... no time for comment, no time for correction, just time for everyone to condone what was just concluded.

Again I was upset that I didn't say anything. I was obviously distraught through Sacrament Meeting for my wife kept asking me "what's wrong" and I just shrugged. I was really trying to work through my feelings. I was feeling that priesthood meeting is becoming more and more difficult for me. As much as I am wanting to fight the fight from "within", how am I to do so? Thoughts of leaving the building, never to return, were not in my mind as much as "what do I do? What do I say? How can I allow such comments to be unchecked?"

During the sacrament I pleaded for answers. Again my wife noticed how bothered I was by something and now she was becoming alarmed. My answer came in a Sacrament talk which quoted King Benjamin. With liberties to the Nephite King's words I quote:

And ye will not suffer your gay children that they go hungry or naked... but ye will teach them to walk in the ways of truth and soberness; ye will teach them to love one another, and to serve one another...

Perhaps thou shalt say that this gay brother has brought upon himself his misery; therefore I will stay my hand and will not give unto him of my love and compassion, nor impart unto him my substance of understanding that he may not suffer, for his punishments are just -

But I say unto you, O man, whosoever doeth this the same hath great cause to repent... For, behold, are we not all beggars? Do we not all depend upon the same Being, even God, for all the substance of love and compassion and understanding, which we have?

I say unto you, wo be unto that man, for his substance shall perish with him."
-- Mosiah 4:14, 15, 17-19, 23 (with some liberties taken)

I felt that King Benjamin, were he there in Quorum meeting, would have delivered his speech to my fellow priesthood brethren in this manner.

Since when does extending love and compassion and understanding toward our gay brothers and sisters in hope that they will not be cut off from family and lose hope and see no alternative but "self-slaughter" signifies acceptance of sin or condoning sin? Since when is love considered "very nearly the truth" but wrong?

I went home and read CLP's editorial. Not once did she mention changing Church principles or standards. All she admonished was for us to recognize that we can change the history of self-destruction of gay members by extending an arm of fellowship and love to them so they don't take their own lives out of despair and lost hope. How is this sophistry? How are we to tolerate the belief that it is better for gay members to do so - for they "brought unto themselves their misery - therefore their punishments are just".

I profess that King Benjamin would be on CLP's side - which I would propose is the Lord's side on this issue as well.

The story doesn't end here... for when we got home from church, my wife wouldn't let the issue die and she wanted to understand completely what was bothering me and wouldn't tolerate my shrugging it off as "nothing"...

To be continued...

Friday, August 15, 2008

Circling the Wagons

Recently, Dichotomy gave me Carol Lynn Pearsons' "No More Goodbyes" to read, encouraging me to extend the invitation to my wife to read it as well. I told him that I would read it first and then as prompted move to the next step in hopes of strengthening a dialogue between me and my wife. My cautious and hesitant motives are in being sure that such dialogue will be healthy and strengthening to our relationship and build positive connections as we go forward TOGETHER in this journey, this "pioneering trek" of ours.

I have not finished it yet, so I will withhold a "review" of the book. However, I was on an airplane yesterday and had a chance to get into more than 2/3 of the engaging and easy read. I had a row to myself and so I took advantage of this confinement and quiet time to concentrate and devour the words of compassion and examples of stories not too dissimilar to my own. Some stories are encouraging, most are readily identifiable, some are heart-retching.

I found myself at the end of the flight overcome with emotion. I was touched by the message that we are not alone in this, that we must "circle the wagons" around each other and strengthen each other and build a safer Community of Saints around ALL of us.

I started to shake and lose my composure. Embarrassed a bit, I let everyone else go ahead of me as they exited the plane as I tried to regain so kind of control of my emotions. When I was the last one off the plane I had to pass the mandatory smiles and salutations of the flight attendant and copilot. The flight attendant asked if I was okay and "to have a good day". I just shrugged and smiled back.

* * * *

"Circling the wagons." What a splendid, Mormon thing to say! That early pioneer, crossing-the plains trek is still in our blood, that awareness of danger, that efficient determination to protect the loved ones. We Mormons do it quite spectacularly and often. But sometimes we fail. Sometimes we don't quite know how to do it, or even if we should do it, particularly those sometimes when the loved one is a homosexual."

-- Carol Lynn Pearson

* * * *

I don't know how I'm feeling right now...

This whole "tough speech" of the recent Church message on the "DIVINE INSTITUTION OF MARRIAGE" released on Wednesday, though sprinkled with a few positive baby steps (as pointed out most effectively by MoHo Hawaii in his most recent post) - baby steps that I celebrate for what they are - positive developments of the Brethren to come to the table of discussion and accept normal vocabulary of the word "homosexual" and it's use in describing an individual, and in accepting the legal rights of civil unions etc.).

But, I can't help but feel, particularly in the context of this current political debate juxtaposed with the message of Carol Lynn's book, just how poorly we, as a Church culture, are NOT circling the wagons and strengthening our gay brothers and sisters in the Gospel; instead, how we are continuing, as a religious society, to build the cause of hate and disdain and tearing down family ties (implying the subtle subtext of bias and intolerance and acceptance even of our own family homosexual members, and keeping us closet-dwellers entrenched even further in our closets for fear of what may happen to us if we dare to come out), in the name of strengthening the "divine institution of marriage".

It feels to me like the few of us "fringes" who are in the Church as gay Saints are expendable. Since we are few, we can be statistically dismissed as collateral damage - for the higher cause is to protect the many and to preserve the bigger picture of the Church's message as the Church establishes its Zion.

This isn't a self-pitying "poor picked-on me" attitude here. But, help me to understand where is the pioneering spirit in today's religious society of working together to protect ALL in "circling the wagons" is to be found in today's rhetoric? I am not a political activist. I have no desires to pick a fight. But why do I feel more and more like the circle of wagons has just excluded me? And I'm left to fight and defend myself and my family alone without the benefit of the community as a whole?

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Just a midlife crisis?

"Low riders, Bill? Why don't you buy a sports car like every other man going through mid-life crisis?"

In the Deseret News on Thursday, there was an article by Mormon author Orson Scott Card "Science on gays falls short" which argues that gay marriage is not an idea to be taken seriously, essentially because scientific evidence of the causes of homosexuality insisting that it is not a "choice" is inconclusive.

I can understand a Deseret News article written by a famous Mormon author taking such a stance, though I'm not sure it has anything to do with furthering the cause of understanding the pros or cons of gay marriage. However, when Card goes into the realm of married gays, I have to question if he really knows what he is talking about, or is he just being belligerent and biased.

He states about people like me (MOHO MOMs):

"Ever since 1973, the homosexuality normalizers have done their best to avoid pointing out the prevalence of what is called "bisexuality", but which might just as easily be called "indeterminacy". A large number of men and women marry and conceive children before (at the age of a normal midlife crisis) they discover or reveal that they "were always" homosexual.

"Obviously, whether or not they were fantasizing a different partner, they successfully mated and reproduced. This makes hash of the doctrines of inevitability".

I guess people like me who came out later in life, who have been married, and who have children (though for some of us MOMs this wasn't possible - but that's another subject), have done so because we've CHOSEN to express ourselves in this new way as the result of a midlife crisis!

Is that why I'm here? Is this what this is all about? I thought it was because of a society and culture that brainwashed me into thinking that there was no such thing as a GAY MORMON and to shun all thoughts (and be ashamed for even having them) and to get married (and hope they'll just go away) and just live in that closet over there (for we really don't want to know that you exist) and oh, by the way, if you do come out, it is easily explained as a CHOICE brought on by a midlife crisis!

I think I'm going to scream...

I don't have to wonder why members of the Church are so ignorant of people like me. They devoutly read the church-sponsored newspaper spouting such statements by a popular author as "the truth". There is no effort to expound on any counter points (as would be expected with good journalism) and the casual reader is left convinced that people like me in our society and culture just don't exist and that if we inconvenienty by chance do make ourselves known, well, we're just confused because of a midlife crisis we're going through - nothing to be taken seriously.

Now why didn't I think of that? I think I'll bag this angst gig with this blog - trying to figure out why I've allowed this to go on so long - and head out and get me that red sports car after all. What do you think?

Saturday, August 09, 2008

Every four years...

Both men's swimming and gymnastics this week.... Whooh hoo!

(The teenage adolescent "authentic" self manifests its true colors and finds real interest in sports about once every four years or so... maybe I should allow the Olympics to assist me as I journey to sublimate the passion and emotion of my suppressed sexuality...)

I'll try to keep my drooling admiration to a minimum... :)

Thursday, August 07, 2008

Still a disconnect...

Just a few quotes in my recent search for understanding "authenticity". I still don't get it, but I'm trying. I struggling with where that which I know to be true from personal experimentation in my life fits into that which is part of the "core self", and how to live in harmony with both, even if currently the two are not resonating together.

"When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be."

-- Lao Tzu

"Secrets aren't lies... they're simply the truth when you're ready to tell it."

-- From a website to remain nameless.

"The unexamined life is not worth living."

-- Socrates

"Authenticity refers to the truthfulness of origins, attributions, commitments, sincerity, devotion and intentions."

-- Wikipedia

"Finding authenticity is not an event, but a life-long process of emerging from ourselves as the music around and within us changes, and we continue to seek resonance. Far from discouraging, this realization brings with it the realistic hope that we will many times experience the miracle of rebirth. This process is terrifying at times, and it is exhilarating."

-- Bob McCue

"And now as I said concerning faith - faith is not to have a perfect knowledge of things; therefore if ye have faith ye hope for things which are not seen, which are true... And now, behold, because ye have tried the experiment and planted the seed, and it swelleth and sprouteth and beginneth to grow, ye must needs know that the seed is good. And now, behold, is your knowledge perfect? Yea, your knowledge is perfect in that thing, and your faith is dormant; and this because you know, for ye know that the word hath swelled your souls, and ye also know that it hath sprouted up, that your understanding doth begin to be enlightened, and your mind doth begin to expand."

-- Alma 32:21. 33, 34

"... 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

It still seems that one who is "authentic" (and this seems to be used heavily and constantly by the gay community in arguing the need for all gay people to "come out" and to "not stay in the closet" and to leave those notions of outside influences aside) is saying that one is "honest with himself". I've read many a "testimony" by those who have abandoned the past and the cobwebs of their closets and vibrated and resonated in a new awakening of "self", and I'm fascinated and intrigued by these stories and I want to know more and to understand what they are experiencing... but I still have a major disconnect. Maybe that disconnect will always be there as I stay in my closet.

I haven't been honest with myself for most of my life. However, to be honest, I am trying to be honest now, even if I still withhold certain things about myself to those around me. I am struggling with the idea that authenticity requires negating that which I "know" to be true (and by that, all that goes with that in the Mormon sense of personal revelation and testimony). If I can't do that, does that mean I will never be honest with my true self, and thus never authentic? Should authenticity be a goal that I should strive for? Shouldn't my authentic self be one that is centered on my "self" resonating with God?

I'm pretty ignorant when it comes to philosophy... something that has never crossed my plate - a gap or another disconnect in my education.

I'm interested in it though and trying to learn what I'm missing... I see life from my Mormon boy box. Some may see this as very limiting. I have felt it many times to be very illuminating, with real examples of connection to my core self and my God.

Help me to know what I'm missing.
I still need more time. I want to understand what others see that I can't see...

Monday, August 04, 2008

Let it go...

There is a classic Peanuts comic strip where Lucy finds Charlie Brown at the shore of a lake. He picks up a rock and throws it as far as he can into the water, whereupon, Lucy reminds Charlie Brown how long it took for that pebble to become a pebble and find its exact resting place on the shore and now he's tossed it back to do the journey all over again... and then she walks away, leaving Charlie Brown to say: "Everything I do makes me feel guilty".

My previous post makes me feel guilt. Looking at eye-candy makes me feel guilt. Meeting fellow MOHOs on the side makes me feel guilt. Not telling my wife about my blog makes me feel guilt. Hanging my head in silence at the feet of intolerance in recent quorum meetings makes me feel guilt. Everything I do makes me feel guilty... I am Charlie Brown.

In teaching priesthood meeting yesterday, I struggled with what to teach. So often, we are assigned topics or manuals are handed to us and the prescribed course is established. I hate the curriculum coordination that seems so controlling and limiting, and often wonder why we can't have a bit more autonomy in what is taught. Yet, yesterday, I was given that autonomy... an open book to teach whatever was pressing on my mind that I felt inspired to discuss.

So, I chose to discuss an overriding theme of my blog (tempted to have the brethren just go find me on the Internet and they'd understand me better - wouldn't that be a joy ride!). That of carrying our guilt with us and not letting the full power of the Atonement take hold of our lives. We can accept that Christ pays the penalty of our sin, but do we allow him to take upon himself our guilt? If we have to be innocent like little children to enter the Father's mansion, can we do so as penalty-free individuals only and not guilt-free as well?

Jesus Christ did not just assume the punishment for our sins - he took the guilt as well. The sin, the experience itself with all of its negative consequences and ramifications, and not just the penalty for sin, became his. This is a crucial distinction. In the Atonement, Jesus does not just suffer our punishment for us, he becomes the guilty party in our place - he becomes guilty for us and experiences our guilt...

If Jesus had assumed only the punishment for our sins but not the sins themselves, then when the penalty was paid, we would merely be "guilty but forgiven", instead of being sanctified through the Atonement, being perfect-in-Christ, and being innocent and worthy of the kingdom of God and the presence of the Father. Part of the good news of Christ's atonement is that it renders us sinless, innocent, perfect, and celestial, which could not happen if we stubbornly insisted on suffering for our own sins. In that case, while our sins might eventually be paid for, they would remain ours, like canceled checks. Without the atonement of Christ that removes guilt as well as pays its penalty, we can never receive the innocence necessary to dwell in the presence of God.

-- Stephen E. Robinson "Believing Christ"

Guilt should lead to repentance and remorse. Never feeling guilt would lead one to be "beyond feeling" and having no conscience at all, and thus no feeling of right or wrong or the need for repentance or remorse and sorrow, and thus, no need for improvement or progression.

Living with guilt is damning, is anti-progress and is debilitating. It is not part of the Gospel plan. Feeling guilt for something where no guilt should be harboured, is anti-Christ.

Why, then, knowing this, can I not let it go?

Oh, that I could learn that lesson...

Saturday, August 02, 2008

Down time at the airport...

I found myself this week between flights at the Denver International Airport. The DIA is actually a great airport for people-watching as the concourse is extremely long and straight and very wide and open with moving walkways in the middle and plenty of uncrowded seating. And of course, after a long business trip, I was tired and didn't particularly desire to be productive and wrap up my field report - I desired some downtime. I could have read the National Geographic magazine or the newspaper, I guess, or read my spare Book of Mormon, but I wasn't in the mood for reading either.

So, I did what any other red-blooded American gay boy would do: I started people-watching. Soon, it became a game of sorts. I situated myself where I could get a good view of everyone passing in front of me from either direction. There were lots of people hurriedly passing by; a slice of humanity, so many people passing through the same time and space and then gone.

I eventually commenced my ranking game I play with myself as I size up the male-breed passing before me (sorry I really didn't note the female variety). In my shallowness and lowliness of immaturity, I rank the men before me on their physical characteristics and aura of composure, as follows:

0 = Not interesting at all - typically too old, too fat, too unattractive, too something.

1 = Some redeeming qualities - maybe youth, or being in good shape, or nice hair, or cute, but not necessarily all of the above, usually just one of those qualities.

2 = Now you have those who maybe have two of those qualities, i.e. youth and good shape, but maybe bad hair and ugly, or older and ugly, but nice hair and composure and fit shape.

3 = The beginnings of the full package with some interest peaked enough to follow the eye a bit longer.

4 = The full package together: nice face and hair, well dressed (even if in casual shorts and tee), young (not too old), fit (in good shape / athletic) and cute with an air of confidence and being self-assured - definitely a linger-longer moment.

5 = Mamma mia! The special someone that you could get up and follow with your eyes the whole length of the concourse... someone that makes you do a double-take and audibly sigh "wow".

As usual, there are a ton of "0"s out there. The majority of mankind are zeros! God created a lot of very average Joes out there. (NOTE: In case you think I'm pretty hot stuff and arrogant, don't worry, if I saw me passing by, I'd give myself a "ZERO" as well... I'm too old, not in great shape, have too wild of hair these days, and I lack confidence and assuredness). I would wager that 60% of the men I saw were zeros... and as I paid more attention, I've decided there are lots of men out there that are nine months pregnant and ready to pop any moment. The overweight phenomenon of America is out there on parade! I know it ain't easy to lose that body fat that seems to give up fighting gravity and settles with time around the middle (believe me I personally know), but does one have to wear such a tight tee shirt to exaggerate just how perfectly round your bowling ball is shaped above one's belt?

Sometimes you'd see someone and turn your head and ask yourself "what was THAT?" The beards to the belly, or the short-shorts, or the overly tanned, or the "definitely EURO", and the even more obvious "definitely French!" or the too pierced or too tattooed, or just "too too".

The "1s" and "2s" make up another 15% each.

That leaves the "3s" and "4s" making up another 4.5% each, leaving 1% at truly a "5". I think I hit a couple dozen 4s and 2 5s.

I was so enthralled in this little game of mine, I started being bold and stared at the 3s and 4s to see if they would look back. Hardly anyone did. (like I said, I'm a zero so it's easy to be invisible in a crowd). One guy did do the "double take" and turned his head and looked at me a second time as he walked by. I was brave enough to not look away and I smiled. NOTE: Is this called "cruising"?

Easily an hour passed and I was still having fun, until I noticed that the gate that I was sitting across from, that I was scheduled to depart from, all of a sudden had "Spokane" written on the screen instead of "SLC". By the time I recognized that they had done a last-minute switcheroo on my gate and that the new gate was some 3 miles down at the other end of the A concourse, I had to gather up my stuff and scoot down the people mover in time to catch the flight that I had so much leisure time to catch.

Along the way, I ran into Mr. 5+. His arms were twice my size. His waist was half my size. He was young and tall and cute, with perfect everything... I did a dead stop and twisted my head back to take in his backside and nearly caused a pedestrian traffic accident as I disrupted the flow. *sigh*

I've mentioned before about a vivid memory of my BYU roommates ranking the coeds as they would pass by our window at Helaman Halls and how they'd get into the catcalls and "whoo-hooing" like none other, pushing each other away from the window, jockeying for a better view of the eye-candy swishing by. These were "fine upstanding young men with mission calls in their pockets", mind you, as I would watch them get carried away with the girls in their new spring dresses in April - me not seeing what the big deal was all about. (NOTE: You would have thought that I would have known I was "different" enough to recognize that I wasn't attracted to the opposite sex outside like them, I was attracted to the view of them wrestling each other in my room).

I think I've heard it said by Elder Paul H. Dunn or some other General Authority in my youth that if you don't look then you're not human!

So, as my gay adolescent phase continues in full force (I guess I'm destined to never grow up as a mature gay man as long as I live this pseudo non-real life of pretending), I'm looking and watching and feeling pretty stupid for being my age and acting like one of the guys in the BYU freshmen dorms. You'd think I'd be beyond this. Alas, (heavy sigh) I'm not.

My guilt-genes kick in and I start to feel like I should have been seeking the spirit more and searching out the "one" parading before me in that airport, that needs my spare copy of the Book of Mormon.

But, I'm only human, right?