The response from this community to my previous post has been overwhelming to say the least! I've tried to distill the advice. Though it may seem like I'm totally at a loss of what to do, deep down, I know what to do (whether I choose to do so is another story). Some suggest I shouldn't even be doing this, others suggest I should pull the plug on this blogging gig of illicit secrets, others are intrigued as I am by it, others still are mainly worried for my wife's sake, and rightfully so. That said, I feel like I need to get this out of my system before I can move on with what I want...
I need to explain that Thomas was my first. He started it all. He opened me to the world of man-to-man affection and emotional (read non-sexual) bonding. So, being the first, he has a key soft spot in my life and nothing will change that. He taught me to be honest with my heart. He encouraged me to not be afraid of natural affection between men (cloaking it in a cultural difference between Americans and Italians - and there is a huge difference) and I took to his coaching and encouragement and demonstrations of affection as if I were coming alive from the inside for the first time in my life. I had been so closeted through my adolescent years and so afraid of so many things that when I was with him I felt so open and free and alive and human for the first time! Combining these affectionate encounters with spiritual encounters of teaching, of gospel discussions, of testimonies, of missionary work, of service to others - all led to a flooding of spirit and passion mixed together and wrapped up and personified in him. My mission president observed us together and actually encouraged me with this relationship and deemed it a precious thing and admonished me to cherish it.
Obviously, as I look back, I was experiencing the joys of my homosexuality as well as the bonding, the passion, and the spirit. I was finally feeling WHOLE. It was an incredibly life-altering experience. I interpreted it as love, true love, brotherly love in the truest form, etc. I did not want to think about the sexual aspect, but it was there. But, the point is, I was finally feeling alive as a person, as the person that I am inside. It was as if I came alive anew. It is difficult to explain, but from this friendship, I came home a much different person.
Had I known at the time (and maybe only Abe understands why I wouldn't have as these were different times) that I was gay, I don't know what I would have done with this new-found wholeness. But, because I didn't know, or wouldn't allow myself to think that way, I immediately challenged myself to find a way to get this feeling of passion and wholeness back into my life. I ended up channeling all my energy, my spirit, my emotions, my passions into a source that substituted for the love lost by being separated from Thomas - the MTC. In the MTC, I focused this feeling inside me of who I really was as a person and I channeled it into the missionaries and opened my heart to them and became extremely affectionate with them. Again, I found a way to experience intense male-to-male bonding in a controlled, safe, emotional and spiritual environment of brotherly love.
Because I went chasing off after Thomas when he got married and blowing all my savings (if that doesn't tell you that I was gay and giddy and madly in love with him, with passion dictating my actions - I don't know what will - for who else (read non-gay /non-passionate) would have done such a thing?) I came back to the MTC a few days late into the fall semester and districts were already assigned to other teachers and I was left to teach "retention" (the evening study hall) with none other than my wife-to-be. It was this thrown together coincidence, caused by my unbridled feelings for Thomas, that created the meeting and the love-at-first-sight of the only woman who I've ever felt that way about. We dated in the MTC with us teaching together and that stirred all my emotions and passions and spirit and love into the place, the missionaries and into her. We became friends. We courted in the MTC. We dated in the MTC. Our relationship was centered on the missionaries and we built our friendship around our concern for them. Out of this came a romance and love and we were soon engaged. (Again, who but a gay guy would have his courtship with his future wife built on the bonds of passion centered on the MTC? No straight guy I know of!).
So, Thomas, for me, became of symbol of all things good that I felt inside as I was free to be who I was inside. In the MTC world, I was free from judgment and harsh realities of dating and BYU single-life pressures. Those feelings of romance that I felt for Thomas were easily transferred to the one woman who was attracted to me directly because she saw me glowing, and inspiring, and so outwardly expressive and sensitive to others - and all these emotions that were stirred by him and transferred to the missionaries - she saw as endearing and attractive - and she fell in love with that person.
In time, the fairy tale ended. Life went on and reality set in. We weren't compatible sexually. We struggled in many ways. The passion ended. I withdrew from life. I settled into a routine. I fell into my closet and wrap myself in my shell and disappeared. For years we lived like this.
Then, one day, I was reborn. I was made YM President and I found a new source to "be myself" again and to find that WHOLENESS that I was missing. I started feeding that passion and emotion and brotherly love and service and craving for male bonding into the young men. Soon, deep bromances developed, and this time, now more sexually aware of myself as an adult, I became squarely cognisant of my sexual attractions I had for a couple of these young men as they prepared for their missions (this is where Will and Tim come into the picture). It scared me and I started to hate myself for I finally put it all together that I was gay.
I confided in Thomas, and he gave me strength and hope and encouragement without judging me. His goal was to keep me from hating myself or doing harm to myself and he didn't internalize what it all meant to him or that I was in love with him...
Two weeks ago, for whatever reason, it dawned on him for the first time that I was "in love with him" when I was a missionary, and it was like a switch turned on inside him and he awoke to the realization of my feelings for him, and opened to the possibilities those feelings might mean for both of us, and for his own sexuality. (It was like the scene in Thomas Hardy's Far from the Madding Crowd where Mr. Boldwood all of a sudden falls in love with Bathsheba when she sends him a joke Valentine card. All of a sudden Mr. Boldwood was open to the possibilities that before never reached his consciousness). He told me yesterday that he found himself on the morning bus commuting into work and his thoughts of me and my pain and confusion and passions and feelings overcame him and he started to cry - tears were shed and he said that he hadn't shed any tears for anyone in years and here he was crying on the bus. These feelings are bursting within him. Is this an evil thing? A cruel joke like a carelessly placed valentine? I don't think so.
All my feelings for him have been packaged with goodness, wholesomeness, spirituality, kindness, sensitivities. Yes, we are now discussing passion more openly, including the possibility of physical intimacy, but it is theoretical, not actual. Even so, some have suggested that my emotional attachment to him has been equal to committing adultery in my heart. I beg to differ. I don't feel it that way. Maybe I'm too naive or too blind to see, but I see these feelings as WHOLENESS within me.
For the first time in my life, I have opened myself honestly and completely and have shared my same-sex attractions with him without fear of judgment or trepidation. He has been the first man who has embraced those key elements of who I am and has returned his affection to me with love and sweetness and understanding and acceptance. I feel WHOLE again. Is this evil? I don't think so.
I'm giddy as a school boy because I'm perpetually stuck in my adolescent stage and I'm acting like a teenager - I know that. I never got this far with Will and Tim - they were spared the pain of knowing that I was gay (though I tried to show them in so many obvious ways) - and so for Thomas to respond so positively and openly to me as a gay man has turned my longing heart and head in a teenage crush. Do you blame me?
Some comments jump to conclusions and assume that I am ready to pursue an adult-type gay relationship with Thomas. If you think that, then you don't understand from where I come. I've tried to explain that I am stuck in the "romantic" image of this relationship, the adolescent view of what "gay" really means. I'm so slow in my coming out that I would not and could not jump to that extreme of a change from teenager to adulthood even if my thoughts and desires and passions express themselves in a way that would seem that I would. I have more thoughts on this adolescence that I've been saving for another post.
To ease your minds, I wrote him last night and told him that I was pushing too fast and smothering him with my passion and that I needed to turn it down a bit and come to grips with myself and my situation and his situation and the appropriateness of our love letters. I told him that all that I said was true and that I couldn't retract it, but now that it was out, we can't go back to where we were, and so I worry where we go from here?
I was worried all day about his response. I then received this (translated):
"Don't worry. There is no problem. I am happy that you have opened your heart to me: if this is the truth, it is useless to hide it. We are adults, no longer teenagers, and we can have patience, patience that our lives have toughly taught us. Be calm! That is what God wants. I don't want you to have this fight within you, I don't want you to suffer, because you already have suffered too much. Be happy with what we have. It is a miracle. We don't need to make any other mistakes, more than those we've made in the past. So, I ask you again to be calm. Don't worry about me... The truth between us doesn't make me suffer, instead, I feel nothing but joy. I want you to always be able to tell me everything, that your heart is always open and not closed to me. You are mine. I will have patience and am content to wait... and if it never happens, I'm happy just the same. Be at peace with your family - promise me! I know that you will make things right with your family! I believe in you..."
You can judge for yourselves, but I think this has been a good step. We've toned it down and are trying to enter a more real / adult phase of this new reality between us...
Now, and I don't know if I can, I will try to turn my heart back to my family... but give me a moment, a brief moment to enjoy the feelings of being WHOLE for once in my life...