Monday, May 18, 2009

I want to know...

My childhood best friend came with his family to visit us yesterday. This guy was my best friend in Kindergarten and remained so through college. We camped out together, and did sleep-overs in our backyards. He was my high school locker partner. We car pooled together. We group dated together. We were roommates together in college. We submitted our mission papers together. We received our calls together. We were in the MTC together. We were together at our respective weddings... you get the picture.

Over the years, we've drifted apart. He moved across the country and so I saw him sparingly. We would write each other or he'd call on my birthday, but not a lot of face-to-face visits. Then, when I lost my father last year, he was suddenly there for me, comforting me. And several months ago, he moved his family back to Utah - still not close by, but a lot closer.

Anyway, our families spent Sunday evening together and it was fun getting caught up on the last 30 years and reminiscing on all of those good times back in school and college and mission days. In most ways, we haven't changed. Though he's now a new grandfather and is greying at the temples, he's still the same lanky, skinny kid I came to love and count as my best friend all those years ago. And yes, he is straight and happily married and has no clue of my attractions. And no, I never pushed our relationship back then - for many reason - but primarily because I didn't know / wouldn't accept who I was at that time. And no, I have no intentions of letting him know. I see no point to it.

What is amazing is that we still have a feeling of "best friend" friendship that has spanned the space of decades. And as we embraced, it was warm and good and of value beyond measure.

Contrast this with my current thoughts and actions of meeting and becoming a kind of "best friend" with a fellow MOHO, who knows I'm attracted to men, and who I know is attracted to men, and all the layers of feelings and emotions that come with this different kind of friendship. As we embrace, it is warm and good and of value beyond measure...

So, what's the difference? Why do I have no qualms about the one, and I'm scared to death of the other? Is it just the safety net of straight-gay verses gay-gay that underlay our relationships? Why should there be such a difference? Why am I so confused? Both are based on friendship and nothing more. Both are based on covenants and commitments to families.

So why am I happy and feel content with one and uptight yet very excited and coming alive with the other? Why is there such a difference? Should there be a difference? Aren't all friendships good? If I know who I am and am committed to my values, should there be any concern? Am I ignoring the alarms going off like an annoying fire alarm that isn't signaling a fire, just a battery warning chirp? Can't I have both? Or is one destined to become too complicated while the other will always remain safe? Am I liking the idea of this new friendship because I like this guy for who he is, and he for me, or do I like the idea of liking a gay guy who likes me because I'm a gay guy and I like him because he's a gay guy and that is what is the basis for the friendship?

I guess this is really a rehash of the same past questions I've constantly asked myself and with which I constantly place myself, (in most ways "Becknesses" never change) but recycled now with a new wrinkle - not one of one of my hot young men where I'm the mentor / teacher willing to teach and counsel and advise, nor one of a long distance love affair with a wonderful and sympathetic man in another country - this is one where our respective gaynesses are out there to each other and we like it... The last thing he wants is to destroy my commitments to my family. The last thing I want is to destroy his commitments to his family. Yet, I still want and desire to "know" something more that only this friendship can bring... Is it possible to "know"?


Scott said...

I don't like gay-relationship to straight-relationship comparisons, because I think there are enough differences to make the comparison iffy, but I'm going to make one anyway...

Imagine it was your friend writing this post, angst-ing about the contrast between his friendship with you and his budding friendship with the new female executive in the office next to his--about which he feels very "uptight yet very excited and coming alive".

The difference seems rather obvious, doesn't it?

Please note that I'm not making any right/wrong judgments. I believe that it's entirely possible for a grown man to have a close female friend without any issues or scandal (or for a grown gay man to have a close gay male friend, etc.) If you and fellow-MoHo truly and honestly (no lying to yourselves, now!) believe that you can make it work without endangering your families, then go for it.(*)

Mostly I'm just pointing out the difference: With one there's no potential for anything more, and with the other that potential will always be there, vibrating under the surface and giving the relationship a different dynamic.

(*) Of course, I don't need to mention that if, on honest examination, you decide that you can't be friends without becoming more, you either stay away from each other or you come clean to your families now, before anything happens, and then proceed honorably with the relationship.

Oops, I just mentioned it. :D

Beck said...

Oh, Scott... just go and rain on my parade why don't you!

The difference is quite obvious... I'm stating it in question form, but of course I know the difference. It's the story of my life.

But what if it were possible? What if a connection could be made that doesn't "endanger families"? What if it can be shown, for the first time in mankind's history, that two gay guys can proceed honorably with a relationship? What if friendship were all that results?

Thanks for your concern, your vision, your understanding, and your blessing...

HappyOrganist said...

You are ignoring alarms of many kinds. I won't explain. You already know that.
If I have to wait 'till I die to talk to 'my' friend, you should wait, too. And my relationship was probably (not to be rude) a million times less likely to turn into anything dangerous, the way you are hinting your own could head. (really. how often are 60yr olds interested in 30?) haha
My clergy leaders advised me to completely sever contact with her. It was (I'm sure) the right thing to do. Even though some things were obviously zero percent likely to happen, the whole message to me (from my leaders) was God didn't need me there (for any reason) (I was confused on that point). And yes, stay miles away from sin (even the thought of it). So that was what I was counseled. And at that point, I was only barely aware of some of my strange interest in her (the rest of it, though probably unhealthy, was not sexual at all). In fact, it still isn't really..
Stay miles away from the opportunity to sin. And yes, you may look forward to beautiful (and darn cool) relationships (with all kinds of people) in the eternities.
That's what I'M waiting for...

Beck said...

HAPORG: That sounds pretty pessimistic - waiting for eternity to have "beautiful and darn cool relationships". This is part of eternity right now. We are living eternity now.

HappyOrganist said...

It's not pessimistic. We're in a fallen state, right now. And if we can't handle some relationships (for any reason - but of course here we're talking about temptation and so forth), then those neat relationships have to wait.

ha ha ;-P

If I have to wait, everyone else has to wait. ;-D

HappyOrganist said...

May I say something here?
Scott says:
"The difference seems rather obvious, doesn't it? ... With one there's no potential for anything more, and with the other that potential will always be there.."

I want to say - the potential is always there (maybe I'm just being Optimistic!).
I said long ago that I felt I'd been hit by a (moving) brick wall. That was specifically BECAUSE I never expected to have one particular problem with a certain kind of relationship. (i.e. I am so not gay - and I fell BIG time for someone female). did NOT see it coming. at all. And was almost suicidal afterward (feeling rejected).
The point I would make here is - any relationship can head unhealthy routes. What I've noticed in my own experience is that 'investment' is a big factor. If you invest too much (time, energy, resources and so on) in the wrong relationship, it can cause problems.
When I've invested much of my time in relationships with certain people (male or female!) - it is (at least for me) simply that investment of energy that then engenders tender feelings, and so on. And once I stopped poorly investing my time (and recommitted to my husband and children), those 'feelings' remedied themselves.
Yeah, don't think any relationship is 'safe' ;-D

robert said...

This is becoming a fundamental and recurrent question on other Moho blogs: Are we in a fallen state? Is there truly an eternal perspective which all faithful should believe? Is being "gay" a trial in this fallen state.

This is some serious "doctrine" which is a matter of faith and belief. I do not face such issues, because I do not share a belief in such theology. Does it mean that I am immoral? Faithful LDS would say yes. Yet, only God knows what is in my heart.

If you believe in the matter of "sin" and other doctrinal suppositions, you are forever subject to the rules of the game.
No same sex love is possible for you based on these doctrines. The faithful might advise you (as some have) to stay away from such ruminations and to extricate yourself from anything which might "tempt" you. While all of this is nonsense to me, I respect your "religious right" to be constrained in this life for the payoff expected in your vision of the eternal.

HappyOrganist said...

I have terrific visions of 'the eternal.' I'm planning on strawberries and cheesecake, myself. ;-D

Ned said...

Beck, I'm not telling you anything you don't already know, but just for the record:

If you don't know how to swim, water can kill you. If you do know how to swim, water can kill you, but the chances of your drowning are less likely.

Fearing the risks, some people never swim. It may keep them safe, until they find themselves in deep water. At that point they may wish they had learned to swim despite the risks.

You may think you can swim. You may think you can handle this. But what if it isn't your normal body of water? What if there are riptides and whirlpools you can't see from your current vantage point?

If you have to get into the water, maybe Scott and the Happy Organist could stay on shore and serve as lifeguards? I would, but I'm not certified. :)

HappyOrganist said...

Who's talking about water? I thought we were talking about something else...

Bror said...

I desire this type of friendship more now than ever. Is such a friendship worth the risks? This is something I want to know. I long for a friendship where you could express your inner self and be understood and loved for what you truely are inside. A friendship where I could share my joys and burdens with mutual understanding. A friendship to help each other feel happiness in a world where I have never felt quite like I belong. I want to know what this friendship could be like.
I guess the only way to know is to do. I believe it can be done.

Beck said...

ROBERT: I appreciate your tolerance and respect for my nonsensical angst over such things. It is nice to see your perspective. Where I angst the most though is in constantly wanting what I can't have. So I seek same-sex love in a bromancing kind of way, and yes, doing so always with the "eternities" looming over me.

NED: I thought you were an expert swimmer! :)

Beck said...

BROR said: "I desire this type of friendship more now than ever."

So do I... can you tell?

"Is such a friendship worth the risks?"

That is the million dollar question. I think there are risks to take in order to gain the knowledge of self, of connection, of love. For me, this isn't still a sexual thing as an emotional, and yes, romantic thing.

"This is something I want to know."

Me, too. Thus, the title of this post: I want to know!

"I long for a friendship where you could express your inner self and be understood and loved for what you truely are inside. A friendship where I could share my joys and burdens with mutual understanding. A friendship to help each other feel happiness in a world where I have never felt quite like I belong. I want to know what this friendship could be like."

ABSOLUTELY! You get what I'm trying to say here completely.

"I guess the only way to know is to do."

That's the rub... how do you do it? Especially with commitments and covenants and obligations and beliefs that get in the way? Can there be another way?

"I believe it can be done."

Okay. So we agree. Now what?

Anonymous said...


It's been extremely interesting reading this post and its comments. I will say that I may not be at ALL qualified to post here because I never realized the inherent dangers of your "friendship" until I read Scott's post. Anyway, being qualified never stopped me before...

You can have the friendship Bror discusses. I have several female friends who love me for who I am and they know EXACTLY who I am. They know my dreams, desires, my joys and burdens. They are supportive and helpful and friends.

It might be that having a friend like this would be hard for your wife, but it would be far safer.

Do I think you can have this same friendship with a gay Mormon man? Sure, as long as there is NO PHYSICAL ATTRACTION. But as Ned illustrated, the danger will still exist that you may form an emotional bond that could lead to physical attraction...which is even harder to deal with.

I think having a friend that KNOWS you inside and out is an important step. It helps in your self awareness and discovery. It allows you a real space to be who you are without pretense. It allows you to find out how it feels to comment honestly and openly about anything. And it'safest with a woman if your goal is to not be tempted.

I know none of us really gave you an answer you wanted.

I definitely believe male/female can be just friends. I definitely believe gay same gender friendships exsist without any risk. However, these typically work out because sexual and emotional desires are being met in other relationships.

Beck you don't have an outlet for your sexual or emotional desire and it will take any chance it can find to express itself.


Beck said...

DAMON: You are ALWAYS qualified to speak up on my blog. I love your comments and insights and find you very inspiring.

Though a friend who's a girl may be nice, it isn't what I seek, nor need. I need a guy friend, a close guy friend, and my past guy friends are either too far away, too focused on their own marriages, or too straight. Having a MOHO friend is exciting and potentially need-fulfilling. It just needs to be done in the right way. And maybe it is possible, though more risky, even if there is some physical attraction.

I need a friend in the flesh and not just in the cyberspace to know me inside and out. Thanks for helping me to see this as a critical step - risky, but critical.