Thursday, December 30, 2010

Faking it...


Ever since the "phone call" with my missionary son on Christmas, I've been thinking a lot about what I can offer him as he struggles to know why he's really there serving full time and preaching to a people about making changes in their lives and sacrificing and committing themselves to a new plan of life, even though he doesn't fully believe in that plan for sure himself.

It's a hard dilemma. He is finding a lot of "success", and loves the people, the culture, and the connections and bonding that he's making with them, and I keep emphasising that that is a miracle in and of itself - the ability to get beyond one's self, to care so deeply about others and their needs that desires and passions are centered on serving, helping, assisting and connecting with them. That is one of the greatest miracles of life!

But when he asks me if I believe he really should be there and "fake it" to the end, and will it be worth it? And is it the right thing to do? and "why do I still feel empty inside"? I can't help but wonder what to tell him... I hesitate. I stumble. I can't utter the words that I know it is the right thing for him to do. All I can come up with is that I want him to find happiness in his service and find joy in his love for the people he is serving and to not worry about the rest. But that comes across as shallow and empty. Honestly, I don't know what to offer him. Do you?

Ned's most recent post used the term: "fake it until you make it". That clicked with me as the title to what this thought process has been as I contemplate advising my son, and then reflect on my own life. When I think about it, I've been playing the "fake it until I make it" game so long I don't know how to think or act otherwise. And that makes me sad. Yet, I'm the good and faithful father. I'm the patriarch that knows all. I need to be the guiding light, the messenger of hope, the champion of what is right and true. So, why do I feel empty inside when I should feel full of light and knowledge?

***



The other night I finally watched "Inception" and it struck me that I've been living my life in different dream states. I have layered dreams of varying realities, stages upon which I play my life... sometimes I'm a gay man fantasizing about life in an open, loving relationship with another beautiful man. Other times I'm a married man to a wonderful wife, with family and kids and everything is well and we're working together for the common goal of "perfection" through living the Gospel and experiencing that redeeming effect of the atonement. And then there is the layer where I spend most of my dream state of reality being pulled by both other dream states until I feel like I'm going to literally rip apart.

I've been playing these roles within these dream levels that I find it hard to know what is real and what is just that - a dream. So, I keep "faking it until I make it" survival mode.

If that's the case, what then is reality? Like the Leonardo di Caprio character, once one lives his life in these different dream states for so long, it becomes very difficult to even recognize what is real and what is just a dream.

***

So I feel hypocritical in telling my son that what he is doing is the best for him. I feel hypocritical in telling him to just keep "faking it" until he finally gets it and gains that conviction that he personally feels is lacking. I do have my convictions that have come at a terribly personal sacrifice and price, and I cherish them, but I don't "know" it all, and as such, I keep "faking it" until some day I might "know"...

but the idea that he's got a gay father who hides this basic truth from him, a man who pretends to be one thing on Sunday, the priesthood leader and faithful husband and devoted father and believing, never doubting, church member; and then another thing all together opposite in his mind, a conflict and battle raging inside of dream states of drastically juxtaposing worlds where love and expression and honesty and faithfulness create images and feelings of a fantasy that can only exist in a dream world, for they NEVER could be reality...

leaves me void of advice and council to give my son. Do I tell him that the only way to live this life, the only way that I know how to survive living in this life...

is to "fake it until you make it"?

Where is the wisdom in that?

When he asked me point blank what I thought he should do, and if I could even understand what he was going through as his doubts are getting the better of him, I wanted to reveal to him right then and there my "secret"... It was the first time that I thought he might be able to understand and accept me for who I really am, but with wife and daughters listening in, I couldn't do it - it wasn't the right forum for them. But the thought has resonated with me since then... I can see the day that he will be able to accept this truth about his father. Yet, I am haunted by that possibility: Will he accept the hypocrisy that has been the story of my life once he knows the truth?

Maybe none of this is real!... maybe I'm just lost in a fourth-tier dream state and there is no way of getting out without losing my mind.

Friday, December 24, 2010

My 5th Christmas with you!



This is my 5th Christmas as Beck on this blog! I'm still here!

I want to wish each reader a MERRY CHRISTMAS! Hopefully you can find in these silly meanderings of my mind some kind of value for you in yours. I'm still here for my 5th Christmas because of just that - value and validation I find from this community, and I thank you for expanding my beliefs, questioning the status quo, pushing me to think outside the box, and encouraging me to find ways to be "me".

Though my path may not be yours, though I may frustrate you in the slow pace I'm taking in my coming-to-terms-with-my-attraction-for-men journey, I appreciate the love and sustaining support that I feel along the way. I sincerely hope that I can extend to you the love I feel toward you and I thank you.

There is so much to hope for! There is always HOPE!

Thank you for being out there!



BUON NATALE!

Beck.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Vanity Christmas Shopping, etc....


I went vanity Christmas shopping yesterday. This is where I tell myself that I'm shopping for the wife and family members, but end up gravitating toward the "mens" departments and stores and find myself vanity shopping for myself. Seeing that I don't really do a lot of shopping, and can count the times I enter a mall during the year on one hand, I tell myself it is appropriate, particularly when I've told my wife that I no longer what her to buy me any clothes.

In the past, I've allowed her to buy me clothes and she's done a great job for the most part, but she tends to buy on the "extra large" size. In the last year of so, I've been trimming down quite a bit. I've stayed at 165 lbs (and with my 6'-3" height, I'm pretty thin - but still needing to work on the lean and fit part). In the past, I've been embarrassed that I'm skinny (a major hold over from my teenage years where "skinny" translated to "weak, wimpy, and sissy.") So for decades, I wore over sized clothes, bulky sweaters etc. as a means to try to disguise my wimpy skinny body.

As I've been slowly embracing my gayness and self-expression, in a way to say that I'm "changing" and becoming more "self-affirming", I have gravitated in the last year or so to much more tight-fitting clothes, low-rise jeans, and now skinny-jeans. And I really like the "new me" that is emerging. I'm tired of hiding under layers of ill-fitting clothes.


I have loved my 30" waist low-rise bootleg jeans, and thought I should venture into the "skinny jean" world. After all, it appears that "skinny" is in and is the new cool and hip. Could I do it? Could I pull it off? At my age? Is it appropriate? Am I nuts?

I bought a pair of 30" skinny Levis and took them home without trying them on, but soon found out that the skinny cut of the jeans is tighter than I thought, so I had to take them back and upsize to a 32" waist in the skinny cut... And I love them! Is that vain? I figure it's about time that I became more self-affirming. Is this stupid or what?

***

Anyway, yesterday, I went to Macy's at the mall to buy my wife some clothing, and sure enough ended up in the Men's department looking at the "super skinny" jeans. I was proudly sporting my new "skinny" jeans, wondering what the "super skinny" jeans would feel like. As I was browsing, I noted out of the corner of my eye that there was a great-looking 20-something standing near another display of jeans. I caught him looking at me as I glanced his way. Our eyes locked! I didn't turn away. He smiled and I blushed a bit and smiled back.


I moved to the dress shirts, as I wanted to get some "fitted" shirts, tired of wearing dress shirts that swamp my gazelle-frame. A couple minutes later I noticed that he was looking at dress shirts as well. He was kneeling down sorting through some shirts near the floor while I was looking at the fitted shirts on a table. He looked up at me again and I looked at him and we locked and I smiled this time more readily. He was sporting tight jeans and a tight-fitting shirt and a scarf that looked hot. I had a scarf on too but unfortunately my shirt wasn't as nice-fitting as his (that's why I was seeking out the fitted shirts).

This was the second time. I was beginning to feel my heart beat faster. Was this really happening? I mean, this really doesn't happen much, if ever, to me. After all I'm an old fart... why would a 20-something be doing this to me?

I moved to another aisle of shirts and he stood up and stared right at me. I could feel his eyes burning through me and I was beginning to not know what to do next. So I looked up at him shyly and said "hey", and then slowly walked off. This was the third time! I didn't know what I was supposed to do... After a few paces, I turned around quickly to sneak a peak and he wasn't watching so I assumed that I had blown it and kept walking.

***

So there you have it. I bought some fitted shirts, some skinny jeans, and some tight sweaters... and I'm loving it. I'm ready to toss all my extra-large clothing out of my closet forever - both physically, but also symbolically.

And now I think I'm vain enough to actually believe that I was being checked out by a 20-something hot guy.

So you have my post of yesterday where I'm the cool-headed, omniscient, self-aware and got-my-head-on-straight kind of guy. And then the next day, you have me being vain, adolescent and juvenile, thinking a guy could actually be hitting on me.

I guess I've got a long way still to go. I don't have this gig figured out as well as I think I do...

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Another way?


I received an email from a faithful reader after my last post. It said:

"I fear you've been drinking too much of the prevailing "koolaid" in the MOHOsphere. Your choice isn't just in living a "lie" or divorce. It's a false dichotomy. Maybe you do need to step back and reconsider things?"

As I read this I realized that maybe my writing style may be too subtle in trying to get over the message that I'm trying to portray. What my last post was trying to point out is that those like me in long-term MOMs do not need to necessarily fall in the trap of this false dichotomy of thinking. There is more to our choices than just a) living a "lie" or b) divorce / leaving the church. What I'm trying to say here (and I think I've been trying to say it now for nearly 5 years of blogging) is just the opposite. I'm trying to make the point that there are other ways, different choices and paths, that allow us to shine, be passionate, reflect the full color spectrum of life AND be happy in our marriage and still have a testimony!

Sure it's hard. And sure, there are compromises. But there are hard compromises in every relationship and situation. I'm not here to say that mine is the chosen path for you. I'm not trying to be the poster-boy of the MOMs out there. I certainly have demonstrated that I don't have all the answers, or even a few. But I am saying this:

1. I chose to marry at a different time and space. In that mentality, I was completely satisfied with my chose and felt it the right and passionate thing to do.

2. I came out to myself more than two decades later, and came out to my wife a few months later. With this time delay, I had created a wonderful life with my marriage, marrying my best friend, and we had created a family with kids and home and career and callings that bind us together in ways that I treasure.

3. But with this revelation, came grief and sorrow, confusion and frustration. I was convinced we were heading for divorce, even if I completely brushed it under the rug and never came "out" again. So, in one sense it was to choose to live the "lie" or divorce.

4. In the last six years of living with this revelation between us, I have had varying success of being able to find another way. Sometimes it's easier to not talk about the elephant in the room. Sometimes it's hard to feel alive when I'm constantly looking over my shoulder to see if she's watching. And it's certainly hell to live by hiding and sneaking behind her back. But sometimes, it's wonderful to be able to express myself openly, with passion and love without recourse or worry. This understanding between us of "what I need" verses "what she needs" verses "what we need" is an on-going, life-long process of hard compromise, but I feel for me and my situation, for the wonderful life I've been able to create and live, it is worth it. And I will forever seek to find this OTHER WAY.

Maybe you feel I have been drinking the "koolaid" - that leads to nothing but heartache, dishonesty, dullness, and worthlessness. And why would I cut myself short? Maybe I am "the exception" in this community. Maybe I'm the odd ball of all MOHOs who believes there is another way. Maybe you dismiss me and this blog because I don't prescribe to the standard message of authenticity meaning only what you want it to mean, fitting your definition of what is right and real and honest for you. Maybe I am never going to know "true happiness" and what it really feels like to completely be one with another man as I have so passionately desired, having only tasted of that feeling.

But maybe that's okay. Maybe having my wife to snuggle with and be partners with and create a life with, to serve together, to struggle together, to achieve together, to travel together and experience the world together, and to grow together, and see her acceptance of me over time, maybe having my children around me, and eventually their children and seeing our family blossom as our kids move into adulthood and find their own way, maybe as I serve and find ways that are acceptable and respectful to us both as I find ways to be more 'expressive' and more "ME", maybe as we come through this loving each other even more...
then maybe it's worth seeking this OTHER WAY.

I was called out, and rightfully so, that MY WAY does not mean that I am suggesting others, particularly young MOHOs who are not married now, should have hope of following this same path.
I do not.

That said, I do want to be able to be accepted by the community and find validation and support and encouragement and love, even if I am the "exception".

I'm naive enough to believe that this "other way" is worth FIGHTING for! And that I'm blind enough to truly feel I can find JOY!

There is always room for exception. That's what makes us all so "exception"-al!

Right?

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Friends, affection, and choices...


I'm going to attempt to blog again... I'm still feeling a bit numb since my mom's death, and yet, life goes on, and hope survives.

I have come to a realization since the funeral. When I saw friends rally around me including and particularly

1) my kindergarten-high school locker partner best friend,
2) my college roommate and best man,
3) my dear "Thomas" in Italy,
4) "Will" and "Tim", my young men,
5) my special client of 20 years,
6) neighbor friends
7) ward friends.

I have been touched by the kindness and gentleness and tenderness that has been sincerely shown and extended to me. I have found myself a blubbering idiot at times, breaking down in their arms, not because of the loss of my mom, but because of being overwhelmed by their meaningful friendship toward me. It has been an amazing revelation to realize like George Bailey that with true friends, it is a "wonderful life"!

I have found myself breaking down barriers within me. I wrote a while back about putting up barriers, particularly toward Tim and Will, and my other young men friends, in order to somehow preserve feelings between me and my wife, and in the process feeling like I was dying on the vine, a last leaf holding on...

But since this last month of overpowering love and affection shown toward me, I am tossing that self-imposed barrier to the wind and allowing myself to respond to love and affection with my natural tendency of even more love and affection in return. I have found myself hugging and kissing my men-clients, my priesthood brethren, and my young men buddies with reckless abandon, not giving thought to what others might think or say.

The other Sunday, Will gave the benediction at Sacrament Meeting, and since I was on the stand, he immediately afterward turned around and swallowed me in the biggest body hug you could imagine right at the podium. I melted in his arms, with stake presidency and bishopric working around us in our embrace to greet others after the meeting.

Last Sunday, Tim was set apart in a new calling. After the setting apart, there was the normal shake and back-patting (the prescribed three times) with the men in the circle, but with me he grabbed me and wrestled me and picked me up off the floor
into a bear hug and we nestled our heads into each other's necks for some time. And I kissed him and he wouldn't let me go. He rescued me again! Finally, he and I both realized that the other brethren in the room were watching us, and one of them said something like:

"I think Tim and Beck really like each other!"

Upon which, the Bishop responded: "Really, you think so?"

Upon which, Tim blushed and shrugged his shoulders and neither of us said anything, but just smiled that omniscient smile.

***

At the same time, I've found a closeness and support from my wife and kids. I have found a unity and togetherness in my marriage as we've worked through this adjusting period. And my wife has been more open to my expressing the need to be "me" in this limited way.

It's made me reflect upon this path I'm on... Yes, I'm living a lie. Yes, I'm not honest in my feelings for others. Yes, if each of these friends really knew the "real" me, would they treat me the same way? Would I even be serving in the church position I'm in? Probably not. So, the facade continues...

I guess this sounds pretty pathetic. I have to have a devastating family loss to bring out my emotions and feelings for others and break down my personal barriers again. I have to sneak my "gay pon farr" satisfaction under the guise of priesthood leadership. It's pretty damn pathetic, indeed, to sneak the snuggles where I can get them.

Oh the web we weave, spinning and spinning and spinning... in order to keep some kind of order in our universe... a balance of needs, including family, marriage, church, testimony, friends, and "the gay".

Is there really any hope in juggling these needs and trying to make it all work? Or, as I've noted in other blog comments, it really does come down to just two ultimate choices:

choice A) keep "the gay" under wraps, and stay married and in the church but securely in the closet and drive yourself to the cliffs of insanity as you live a dishonest life, or

choice B) bite the bullet, down the stiff medicine, and face reality that d-i-v-o-r-c-e is inevitably in the future, and loss of family, church and community, but be real and authentic and lose the facade.

I feel like Eve: "Is there no other way?"

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Writer's Block...




I'm still having a hard time getting back into writing. Lots of things are going on, but I just don't feel inspired. I've fallen out of practice. I've had some of you say that I should just force myself to write anyway. That's easier said than done...

It seems that the more time I allow to slip by, the harder it is to start up again. Thus I'm forcing myself to write this awful post.

So how should I get going again?

Some have asked their readers what they would like to know about the particular blog author. I've always thought that my blog should be for me, sorting out who I am and analyze what I'm hiding from - it started out that way, and it's stayed that way through the years.

But I need some inspiration. Any suggestions?

Friday, November 19, 2010

It's harder than I thought...

No "Beck Boy" pictures mesmerisingly staring back at you this time. I'm not in the mood.

I was going to blog on my thoughts on the new CHI, but I've put that on the back burner right now as my earthly life has forever changed this week. And though I somewhat expected this day to come, it still doesn't matter how much you prepare yourself or anticipate the day when you lose your parents, it still isn't enough to adequately prepare you for the ache I now feel.

I have worked through the obit and the funeral services yesterday and this morning and made all the arrangements (which has been a blessing in its own way) and have tried to be "patriarchal" (being the only son)helping my sisters through their pain and tears, but right now it is hitting me really hard, and I can't work, and I don't feel very good about things and I don't particularly feel very patriarchal.

I don't want to celebrate her life. I don't feel like celebrating much at all. Of course she was a great elect lady, a truly amazing source of love and devotion to me, and she led an amazingly wonderful life. So much of who I am and how I feel and why I feel the way I do comes directly from her impact on my life.

I know she was suffering and didn't want to be here anymore. I know she wanted to go, but I didn't want her to go. I selfishly wanted her to be better and return home to her life as it was before and that everything would just continue on.

On Sunday she was doing well... a bit lethargic, but still okay, so I took off on a business trip, coming to find out that soon thereafter she began slipping away. I managed to get to her bedside in the ICU by Wednesday afternoon in time to see her, to have her see me and recognize me and to acknowledge that she knew I was there, and then... within an hour or so, she was gone...

I know that in and of itself should be enough of a tender mercy for me to hold onto. She did care and wanted me to be there and did all in her power to make it so and was "granted" that wish that we both had... it still sucks!

I have seen others die before, but never my mom... watching her slowly, slowly stop breathing. It was the most heart-wrenching experience I have had to do. Of course she is "better" on the other side, and is free from the pain and suffering and so why should I linger over the idea that I still want her here? Let her go!

I have blogged that I firmly hold a belief of strong hope in "the Plan". I feel I grasp the concept of eternal life and families lasting forever. But watching her spirit leave her body, witnessing her last breath and finally feeling her last heart beat and then coldly nothing... it's hard! It's really, really hard. It is harder than I thought it would be.

I have regrets. I regret that I was worried more about my next job and next trip and next obligation than in spending time holding her hand or running my fingers through her hair. I regret that I wasn't the supporting son that was always there for her - sure, I was there, but she wasn't my top priority. She was always going to get better and so there was nothing to worry about, right?

Mom never "knew" about me. I never felt the need for her to "know". Yet, she knew. She knew I was different and she loved me for who I was and never questioned my feelings or motives. I guess I should have been strong enough to have told her, but for what purpose? I already knew she accepted me for being me.

Just a few more days to be the "strong one" and the patriarch of the family, and then I can have my true breakdown... right about time for Thanksgiving! Wow, what great timing!

I feel like an orphan. I don't care if I'm not a dependent child, but I still feel so alone and orphaned. Being parentless leaves me empty.

Family is so over-rated! :(

I don't know why I'm blogging... I probably shouldn't. You don't know me and you never knew her and so why am I sharing my emptiness? I just need to write some things down to myself about my thoughts and memories, but I can't bring myself to doing it...

All I want is some pathetic pity...

Does it get better from here? Where's the "it gets better" sound bite in this one?

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Will it ever get better?




Okay...

so, I've been out of town and slow to respond, but here's the deal...

I came to the conclusion that I am a sane person (relatively speaking) and that I can function maturely and in control of my passions and emotions (for the most part) and that surely I can meet a fellow MOHO in a public and open forum for good friendship and conversation.

And, so despite my personal commitment to promise to do otherwise, I took the steps and met a fellow community member that has gone from an on-line acquaintance to a friend, a brother, a dear man who understands me (which isn't always something even I can do), and who, for whatever strange reason I still can't comprehend, actually wanted to meet and know me face-to-face and appreciate who I am and to understand better my story.

We met in a very public space, in a very "sacred" space, out in the open, but private enough to have a conversation that I will remember with great fondness for many days to come. That's it... nothing more. A hug goodbye and we left, unsure if we will meet again, but sure (at least I am) for being better having spent that brief but wonderful time together.

So there you have it. Nothing earth-shattering (sorry to disappoint those who wanted more). And yet, personally impactful and moving nonetheless. Maybe I've disappointed others for having done so (again) without my wife's knowledge, I don't know, but it felt like the right and appropriate thing to do at the time, and so I did it.

I don't need to justify why I did what I did. Nor, do I need to explain my reasons for why the timing of this meeting doesn't fit well with a sit-down in-depth dialogue with my wife. Circumstances are such that stress and pressure keep such discussions currently at bay - at least to be had at another more calm and appropriate time when we are together. The HOW I'm going to tell her is something for another post on another day.

So, what does it mean? How have I changed? How am I doing now that I've broken my promise?

Well, to be honest, I feel really good and at peace. I feel the meeting has become a catalyst of sorts for a discussion that will be happening soon with my wife (that should have happened years ago) that can involve principles outlined in loving advice from MOHO Hawaii in the previous post comments. Maybe not as forcefully, but ending with a better direction of at least not hiding future meetings from her. Ultimately, that is my goal - to be able to make these connections of affirmation without repercussions or guilt and with her understanding the need, and not feeling pain or threatened by such meetings. I've lived my life "alone" for too long and such repression does no one any good.

I read in someone's blog a few days ago a quote that went something like this: "Even seven thousand years of joy cannot make up for seven years of repression" or something like that. Well... what about 30 years of repression?

My new MOHO friend asked me how I do it? How I manage to live the way I do? How I am able to keep up the facade and still function in some sort of sanity and normalcy?

It makes me wonder, too. If it gives him such pause as to how I am doing it month after month and year after year, and now decade after decade, how am I able to do it? And why do I do it?

And then I wonder if I would ever really change? Would I permit myself to truly be myself?

He asked me where I would like to see myself in 5 or 10 years. I said I hoped that I would see myself as being "free" - not free of marriage, or the bonds of the church and culture with which I am immersed and choose to be living my life willingly - but "free" from the guilt and repression, and "free" to be myself and hopefully find joy therein.

I've thought a lot about that answer since last Friday and I'm not sure if I'll ever get there. I wrote on Abelard's blog this evening that the "It Gets Better" campaign is wonderful for the younger set, those coming out in the teen and early twenties with their lives ahead of them, but as for those of us who are well into mid-life years, with years of repression accounted for and neatly packaged up and stacked in our tidy closets, I struggle to see that it really does get better from here...

All of this seems so self-centered and so self-serving. It's all about me, after all, no?

That's when I stop and count my blessing, realizing the "good life" that I do have, and that somehow, in the right time and place, all I want is the opportunity (and willingness and courage to take action) to LIVE and be real, and be me! Including meeting fellow MOHO brothers in public and "sacred" forums of face-to-face interaction and connection in plain daylight... no hiding.

Maybe then there will remain some hope that it's never ever too late for life to "get better".

Thursday, November 04, 2010

All is not well in Narnia / Seeking wise counsel...


Things have been going well, really well regarding my marriage. Our relationship has strengthened in the recent past, and getting away together has been a truly bonding experience. We've talked about it since returning, and we both have expressed how it feels like we've passed through that wardrobe into Narnia and back - that so many magical experiences and growth have occurred and we've changed so much, and yet, stepping back through that "proverbial closet", we see a world that is the same, no change, not even the passage of time, and our reality quickly returns with some disappointment or at least a bit of dissatisfaction. It's like we are different people in that other space and time. I am more open and free and expressive and "myself". She is more accepting and loving and comfortable with the real "me". And we can be ourselves and leave the worries of years of hurt and baggage and just be! And then we return home... and quickly, things revert back to where they were. The difference is that somehow, you don't lose your memory of the feelings of magical experiences and confidence in your relationship. You still take that with you, as you resolutely move on, carrying a hope that somehow, maybe naively thinking, things are different or slightly better.

Some wonder how a gay guy can continue to make a marriage work after all these years. Well, for me, it's a lot of work, but most things that are of any value at all require work and constant effort.

Some wonder how a gay guy can continue to pretend to be straight and live in a straight world, culture, marriage.

Yeah, I wonder, too...

I wonder why, if things are really going well in my marriage, why, for heaven's sake, would I now be feeling a desire, a need, a requirement, to have some good-ol male-bonding connections face-to-face and not just through this distant and detached media of blogging and chatting?

You see... I'm feeling the itch, the twinge, the prompting, or yes, even the temptation to rendezvous with some of you! Some old, some new! Some requests have come to me from old friends and a couple of new ones. For the record, I've been MOHO-visiting-face-to-face celibate now for nearly 14 months! In the MOHO lifespan of a few years, that's a good chunk of time - nearly eternity! :) I've done it deliberately as I've chosen restraint in my face-to-face encounters in order to "strengthen" and "focus" attention toward my marital face-to-face encounters.

And here I am looking seriously at jumping off the wagon of self-imposed gay-male friendship celibacy.

Should I take the plunge?
Should I be brave and do what "feels best" for me? Should I do so without her knowledge again and break a trust and hide behind my timidity? Or should I be confrontational and demand my independence from these self-attached shackles? I'm not seeking the standard answers of what works best for you in your situation that isn't mine. For those that have followed along and know some of me, I'm seeking what you think is best for me (and don't say that I'm the only one that knows the answer! If I knew, I wouldn't be asking, right?)

Should I be congratulated in my restraint and honored for my noble respect for her feelings? Or is it high time to stop acting so cowardly and disingenuous? What think ye oh wise mass readership?

Oh to be in Narnia again...

Saturday, October 30, 2010

Mi sono ritornato!




For what it's worth...

I'm back!!!

I've been out of the country for a couple of weeks and then out of town on business an additional week that has kept me super crazy busy.

But it's all good. I'd rather be traveling the globe and / or super busy at work than otherwise. Good things have been happening and I may decide to report on where I've been and what's going on from time to time... Beck is still around, maybe just not as intensively as before - that is, until the cycle repeats and the angst returns.

So, best wishes to any readers still out there. You are in my thoughts and prayers.

Saturday, October 09, 2010

Arrivederci



Sometimes...

things get too crazy...

and you just have to go!

Monday, October 04, 2010

Seeking divine wisdom and balance...


Conference, for the most part, was very good. I sincerely sought to find ways to really listen instead of just having it on in the background as I’m often known to do. It didn’t always work, as serious family concerns interfered. But, as I said, for the most part, it was good.

I love Pres. Uchtdorf! He is quickly becoming a favorite. His honest manner and sincere, personal approach really touch me. Though it gets tiresome hearing about his days as a commercial pilot, he can even joke about it and make fun of himself. His message on simplicity and slowing down, and “using a pencil” was very appropriate for me. His message on pride / being prideful and encouraging humility and charity, and serving wherever we are asked, not seeking praise or being so self-absorbed touched me as well and made me check myself and my motives for the service I render.

Of course, a rough spot in the conference experience was the stern message from Elder Packer. I really am okay with him delivering a message on the sanctity of the family, on marriage being between a man and a woman, and even on the concept of temptation:

Paul promised, 'God will not suffer you to be tempted above what ye are able, but will with the temptation also make a way to escape that ye may be able to bear it." You can, if you will, break the habits and conquer the addiction and come away from that which is not worthy of any member of the Church."

These are long held positions and teachings and I really don’t have a problem with them. We are here on earth to be tried and tested, and our test will be that which we can bear. I am convinced of that.

But when he says:

Some suppose that they were preset and cannot overcome what they feel are inborn tendencies toward the impure and the unnatural. Not so. Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? Remember, he is our Father,”

I have to admit it gave me pause. I feel the utmost assurance that what I feel is an “inborn tendency” is neither “impure” or “unnatural”. I feel it is good, and I have personally felt that reassurance recently in profound and personal ways that give me confidence and hope for the future.

SO, why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? I wonder that, too. I don’t think Heavenly Father has “done” anything to me. I just am. Yes, the laws of choice (as Pres. Monson addressed in the priesthood session) still apply to me, and I do have the right to choose, the responsibility to choose and recognize the result of my choices) do apply to all of us… but I ask: Please brethren – ponder (as Pres. Eyring taught), and seriously think about that question: Why would our Heavenly Father do that to anyone? I certainly hope that members of the church as a whole will ask that question! I feel that many will not even feel the need to ask such a question, accepting the standard answer as the “truth” and no further inspiration is needed. Oh if only they had a son or daughter, or could see or understand what “not” asking the tough question and being silent in our petitions is doing to our gay brothers and sisters…

My belief is that Elder Packer isn’t in the frame of mind to ponder that question, as he “knows” he already has the answer, but I ask myself if other brethren will put themselves in a different mentality and ask themselves the tough questions, and realize there may be a different answer than the pre-supposed response. I hope so. I feel that sincere pondering and questioning of that “why” question will bring further understanding and “revelation” with the passing of the torch to the next generation. I feel some of the brethren are “getting it”, but due to the hierarchical system firmly in place in the upper levels of general authorities, it is not their position to overshadow or override their superior priesthood leader. Elder Packer isn’t going to change his position. Though Pres. Monson could have corrected him, he chose not to. It came off as if Elder Packer is the bulldog that can’t be controlled and is left penned up in the backyard incessantly barking, straining his chain to be heard, so let him off his chain temporarily and do his dirty work while I speak on less controversial, though pertinent subjects…

I wasn’t angry, but more perturbed at what seemed to be cold and stern and stubborn “digging in the heels” approach. It was to be expected (even though out of context or sync with the rest of what is going on – read Elder Marlin Jensen’s reaction to the recent Oakland Stake Conference). I am even more perturbed this morning that the sound bite most used on the radio and in media summarizing the conference isn’t on gratitude, service, doing good, holding fast, receiving the Holy Ghost, or any other worthy and poignant message – no, the sound bite is of Elder Packer’s stance on the “gay issue”. That grieves me, especially as it implies this was the focus and the point of the whole conference, and the fallout of misinformation that will continue to be addressed from this talk in future quorum discussions…

All I can think is this: with one being a literal heart-beat from the office of prophet, I pray for a long and healthy life of the current prophet.



Meanwhile, I’m not going to worry about what I can’t do. I can't fret over what is not mine to fret. I can't control that which is not mine to control. Instead, I will try to do better, work harder, be more humble, serve more willingly in helping and lifting others, invite the Holy Ghost more into my life, and simplify my life in order to accomplish more the good that I can do!

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Hopelessness triumphs...



Reading the story of Rutgers student Tyler Clementi, and the apparent suicide off the George Washington Bridge, because he was outed on the Internet, has really hit home. A young man of 18 tender years, with exceptional musical talents and on the verge of a new hope-filled college career before him, is snuffed out.

It gives me pause.

First, that others would violate one's sense of privacy and so carelessly destroy a life in the process.

Second, that one would feel that his life is not worth living because others now know something very private about himself.

Third, that for some, the culture, society, expectations, standards, or whatever are such that despite all the good efforts out there, there is still no apparent support structure for such individuals.

I grieve for the Tylers out there. I grieve for their families. I grieve that we still live in a society where it is some kind of recreation to play with other's lives and feel we have an entitlement or right to expose someone literally to the view of the world. And I grieve that we live where so many of us, me included, would feel desolate and destroyed in the process - to the point that death is a better option than living...

I find myself identifying with Tyler. Some of you know me personally. I have revealed many (maybe too many) personal details about myself - in an effort to keep my blog honest, true and real, even to a fault - to allow you to get to know the "real" me. I've allowed you to peep through the curtains and follow me around and even get inside me and know my inner-most thoughts and feelings - such that if you really wanted to find me, you most easily could. And finding me, where I live, where I work, what I do, where I go to church, you could follow, stalk, and out me.

And maybe you'd think it would be good for me if I were more honest, and more out there, and more public in who I really am. Maybe I may be deserving such exposure, as no one should be allowed to say and do things under the cloak of anonymity. It's all for the best in forcing authenticity on all, no?

In the campaign for helping gay teens in particular to know that "it gets better" is very appropriate and worthwhile. Though I'm not a teen, in many ways, I am a teen in the coming-out timetable. In some ways, the campaign is very helpful in seeing the hope over the despair, putting face to life being worth living in an "out" and "authentic" way. In another sense, it's like that image of hope can never be my reality, and thus, hopelessness triumphs, despair wins.

In Tyler's situation, I can reason that that bridge, (or my thoughts have contemplated the hotel balcony, or mountain cliff) sure looks like a compelling alternative.

No one has that right! And particularly not for a joke or a source of recreation. We each should allow everyone their privacy, and allow self-determination.

I ache for Tyler. I weep for Tyler. In a real sense, we are Tyler.

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Professorial Enlightenment...


Thanks to Justin's informative post and Kengo's link, I was able to download and listen to the entire presentation and subsequent Q&A session of Prof. William Bradshaw's lecture on "The Evidence for A Biological Origin of Homosexuality". Typically, I have not been that interested in why I am the way I am. I have already gone through that battle and have come to the conclusion earlier than later that I have always been this way. It is the acceptance of that that has become more real to me of late (thus my recent posts of confirming once and for all my feelings about the eternal nature of this).

That said, having a BYU microbiology scholar, past-mission president and member of a stake presidency speak at BYU out in the open and not in the shadows of some hidden or secret covert operation, on such a subject as to the origin of homosexuality, was indeed entertaining at least, and intriguing at best. So, I had some time this morning and I listened to the whole thing.

My first reactions were that I had heard of and read several of the evidences quoted, including the handedness research, the finger-length study, the older brother study, and the twin study. In the end, it was nice to understand but still didn't wow me or make me feel like standing up and screaming from the rooftops: "Hey, world, I was born this way so get over it!"

Indeed, the thoughts were kind of just the opposite. They were okay... so in some cases I fit this research data and in other cases I don't. So some apply and some do not... what does that mean? Trying to tie the causes to biological mechanisms is a scientific approach, and thus, leading me to conclude that it is a mortal condition. And if it is just "biological" or "mortal" then it won't necessarily be "immortal". But then, again, spirits are spiritual matter, and there is spiritual biology in that matter, and our intelligences were never created, etc... so...

My thoughts went beyond mortal to the immortal - both pre-existent and post-mortal. If it is just biological, then good, I am not needing to feel any guilt for having a self-assurance that I did not "CHOOSE" to be this way... I just am! This self-evidence does not negate my agency or the role agency has in the Plan.

I appreciated that he shot down the "nurture" argument, as to the fallacy that because I didn't play catch with my dad nearly enough in my early childhood, preferring to play house with the neighbor girl down the street, was reason enough to make me gay!

So, I was sort of ho-hum about the lecture until the end, and the following Q&A session with Prof. Bradshaw opened up and became more intimate, sharing his personal feelings and beliefs about the subject and how it all fits into the Plan. It was his compassion and deep and sincere love for me, as a gay brother, that I felt come through and hit me more powerfully than any scientific statistic or evidence. It was his desire to learn, to not be afraid to question, to recognize so much that we don't know and to seek more knowledge and understanding, both in a scientific sense, but more so in a brotherhood and Gospel sense. It was in the latter that I felt he made the most impact - that I am not a second-class citizen, a reject, a defective being, that I am not sick, and need to be made well or whole, that I am not broken or "damaged goods" (as I have definitely felt over these decades). I am fine and I should be loved for the person that I am, that we are, and that there is no guilt associated with "why" I am the way I am - it isn't anyone's fault, and therefore, there isn't or shouldn't be any blame... and that support each other and strengthening each other and understanding better each other is more important and the biggest lesson he's learned.

It was impressive that this scientist, taking a scientific approach, came away with a far different conclusion than many of his BYU peers and that he testified to his conclusions leading him directly to his witness of the "truth" of these things.

I liked it when he said that talking to gay brothers and sisters, the confirmation that they have almost exclusively felt that they have "always been this way" should be scientific evidence enough! AMEN.

I wasn't there. Eyewitnesses in this community can say more than I. But, like me, you can listen to it at mormonstories.org. If I knew how to link, I would, but it is story no. 191. Even if you aren't interested in the biological reasoning, I would ask you to skim to the end and listen to his concluding remarks and the questions and answers. Powerful stuff, considering the current political environment and the explosive nature of the issue at large being discussed at BYU of all places. I, too, find this significant. I hope it is the beginning of a new leaf turned for the church and BYU to come out of the shadow of gloom and despair, and to face the issue in a more straight-forward and honest manner. I know if they would, it would help others like me living in the shadows and hiding from the long arm of cultural and religious retribution, to speak out and be heard and give face and voice.




So now I'm left wondering... if this self-awareness is eternal in nature, what's the point? What is the eternal purpose for me being me? Where does the Atonement fit in or does it? Where does my marriage fit in? If I will always be me, even with the hope of a perfected "me", how will it all work? Those are questions I'm afraid biological evidence cannot answer.

Thus, it's back to faith...

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A faith-building conundrum...



So, I have a new personal twist on the same ol' conundrum...

If my “personal revelation” of my previous post really did come from God, and wasn’t just a justification of current convictions based on my own opinions mixed with scripture and theological teachings, then what does that mean?

If from my “personal revelation” I conclude that:

1. I have always been this way, that the essence of who I am, which includes my thoughts and attractions , are coequal with God, that my pre-existent state, my current mortal state, and my post-mortal state will still include the fundamental essence of who I am…

2. This is not just a mortal “trial” to endure…

3. Enjoying my attractions for what they are (and even taking in the view) is inherently good and not immoral or evil…

4. God truly understands all this…

5. God has a sense of humor and is willing to chuckle with me, not at me, about the ironic situation I’m in and the juxtaposition of such thoughts flowing in my mind of wanting to consume a good looking guy while meditating about the temple film about the “forbidden fruit” (which in and of itself is a bit humorous) in His house…

6. God loves me precisely for who I am…

7. All this brings pure peace and quiet comfort to my soul… and finally answers a decades-long earnest and sincere prayer of arriving at some kind of self-acceptance and self-awareness…

If all of this is true, because it came personally and profoundly to me from Him…

Then how do I justify these self-evident truths with those that are professed by the Brethren to be polar opposite as the real truth, that…

1. My attractions are not eternal or immortal, but are just for this life…

2. This is just an earthly trial for me to struggle with or at least deal with…

3. Taking joy in anything related to my attractions is evil and wrong and should be overcome…

4. God understands but can never accept imperfection as perfection…

5. Such thoughts could not have come from inspiration from God, especially not in His house…

6. God loves me, it is true, but desires me to rise above this temporary situation…

7. Peace comes only from accepting Christ’s atonement in order to overcome this burden…

So, I know I’m slow here, but either one is right or the other is wrong, for both can’t be right as they are opposing views. If truth is eternal and there is only one truth… then which is it?

Am I allowing my thoughts of self-justification, and self-acceptance to get the best of me to the point that I’m willing to feel the need to package it all up in my religious beliefs and imagine such “personal revelation” as truly God-given to justify my “enjoying the view” and embracing my attractions? Have I allowed myself to be convinced of this through others’ misguided philosophies and now find a trial of faith upon me? Or is it the truth and witness of the spirit that whispers to my soul, to the point of audibly hearing the thoughts in my mind and feeling the impressions as being truth, just as I know truth has come to me through many other witnesses of faith and testimony of other Gospel Principles? Or is the opposing point of view, ummm – how shall I say this - not completely accurate?

I have no doubt that I felt the spirit, and the calmness that has lasted with me, with a sense that all will be well, and that God is on my side and is cheering me on, and laughing with me. I do not feel a need to lash out or be bitter or angry or frustrated with the Church. There is no “trial of my faith” going on here. I do not doubt my faith. Ironically, if anything, I feel a reassurance and increased abundance of faith.

Friday, September 17, 2010

I saw, I felt, I knew...


I’m uneasy about sharing this experience, but I want to record it for my sake in order to not forget, and maybe doing so here, may help others who may read this. But, what do I know… I think in reality it just makes me out to be a pretty messed up man that doesn’t know what he wants as he continues to play the game of acting – acting the straight-arrow, straight-active, straight-loving, normal card-carrying guy. Maybe I'm just full of it... Or, maybe I’m on the road of acceptance and understanding a bit by bit – line upon line...

The other evening I found myself in the temple. I was there to be with a dear friend who was participating in temple ordinances for the first time. My thoughts were centered on her and the goodness and joyfulness of the occasion. And then…
I walked into the endowment room and there sat in the row directly in front of me was the most beautiful, cute, innocent-looking, gorgeous guy I’ve seen in a long time. He made me quiver all over as I sat quietly and reverently. At first I scolded myself for even having this mini-attraction reaction. I closed my eyes as if I were in the motions of meditation and prayer (which I was) and started talking to myself inside my head…

“What do you think you’re doing?” I exclaimed with a bit of perturbed attitude.

“I just looked at him! Did you see him? Didn’t you notice how gorgeously cute he is?” I countered.

“Yeah, I saw him… and he’s a looker all right, but for heaven’s sake, get a grip on yourself! You’re in the temple! Concentrate on why you’re here!“

“I know, I know…” I muttered out loud as I kept my eyes shut and head hung.

“It’s not like you’re ever going to see him again, so get over it and focus…"

“Focus… right!”

I opened my eyes and looked forward toward the presentation. But as I did, I couldn’t help but notice him again – after all, he was sitting right in front of me.

“You’re focusing on the wrong thing!” I said to myself.

“I know… I’m sorry. But I can’t help it. His cuteness is sitting right in front of me.”

“You’re a basketcase! Totally hopeless…”

I closed my eyes again and breathed heavily and tried again to concentrate on why I was sitting in that room.

“No you’re not hopeless,” a calm voice came over me. This time it wasn’t me talking to myself. It was another voice, maybe it was more of an idea, or thought, but nonetheless, words were tangible and I “heard” the message.

All at once, I was overcome with the desire to look and behold. I started studying his hazel eyes, the line of his young sideburns and the way the hairline at the back of his neck was cut square and true; the spikiness of his blondish brown short cropped hair, the glow in his smooth face – he radiated with a cute innocence with a strong sense of wonderment, awe, and total confusion. I noticed that it was his first time – recognizing the colored tag pinned to his white shirt, and how his father was sitting next to him trying to reassure him and comfort him and give him encouraging whispers and tender touches of the occasional shoulder squeeze. He was a new pre-missionary for sure, preparing to go preach the good word for sure.

“It’s okay to look,” the voice said. “I understand.”

“You do?” I questioned. “You heard me thinking?”

“Of course I do.“

At that moment the lights went out and the film presentation began. I was confused. But a real strong sense of calm and peace came over me. As I thought of the pre-existence and the creation, of being a spirit child and even an intelligence before that, I kept pondering on the fact that we are co-equal in our existence with God. The essence of who I am – that fundamental essence of my thoughts and my being ME – has always existed. It wasn’t created. I am ME!


My mind raced to my recent study of Joseph’s sermon at King Follet’s funeral… that:

1. The mind or the intelligence which man possesses is coequal with God himself.

2. The intelligence of spirits had no beginning; neither will it have an end.

3. God never had the power to create the spirit of man at all. God himself could not create himself.

I was overcome with the feeling that the Father really does know me, and loves me for who I am, INCLUDING my attractions that are an integral part of who I am.
I started feeling a bit giddy. When the lights came up, I looked at the young missionary again and started feeling compassion for him, and empathy as I noticed his endearing confusion and questioning brow of what was going on. I, too, was there one day long ago. I, too, didn’t understand – and still don’t. But, as I looked this time – all of the feelings of guilt and shame were gone from inside me. I looked at him and felt his goodness and glory radiating. He was delicious. I had this overwhelming sensation and image of wanting to swallow him whole and consume every bit of him and feel of his spirit and innocence and excitement and sparkle.

“That is good,” the voice whispered.

I started laughing a bit. I was happy. I was sitting here in the Lord’s house, and I was having this amazing discussion of thoughts in my soul regarding my spirit and my desires and attractions, while studying this amazing young guy and wanting to consume him and taste of his goodness and beauty, all while feeling so at peace about it all.

I pondered how for the first time I felt that God personally knows and loves me for who I am even with or even because of these thoughts of attraction going on. I have always been this way. And it’s okay! All the pent up emotions of guilt and shame and disgust inside me flowed out of me. I was free of shame for being so oriented in my attractions. I was overcome with peace and tears swelled up in my eyes. Thank goodness the lights went out again and I was able to sit in the darkness again and gain my composure.

In the Celestial Room, I continued to observe him with his family now encircling him in love with hugs and squeezes of support. His eyes still were so cutely confused. I learned that indeed he was a newly called missionary and that he was going soon to Norway on his mission. I wanted to reach out and shake his hand and congratulate him or say something, but then my friends came into the room, and that opportunity passed.

As I focused on my friend, I hugged her and saw her confused but radiant expression, I brought her ear close to me and whispered: “Line upon line, precept upon precept”. She knew what I meant and smiled.

“But there were no angelic visitations,” she sarcastically replied.

“All in time…” I responded, and then added, “As I look at you, I see an angelic visitation.”

She beamed with delightfulness and holiness.

She wasn’t the only angelic visitation that I saw, felt and knew that evening. I saw an angelic young man that was delicious to devour. I felt a peace and comfort from a voice inside me, and I knew that God personally knows me, is co-equal with me, and loves me.

If He knows me, if I am co-equal with Him, and if He loves me AS I AM, then the same thing applies to you, too!

Now I need to go tell my wife...

Wednesday, September 08, 2010

One note short of a full chord...



Listen to who I am (JonJon) wrote:

“I think members of your tribe also allow you to be your true authentic self in a way that allows your true authentic self to emerge. They don't hold on to expectations of what they want you to be or what you have been in the past. They treat each interaction with you as an opportunity to know who you are in that moment, instead of allowing past perceptions to distort how they treat you in that moment.

“Interactions with members of your tribe aren't limited to two roles interacting with each other, or two people trying to be what they think the other person expects/wants them to be. All of that is stripped away and it's soul to soul. Do you ever feel in life like you are merely an actor playing a part? Did you know that it doesn't necessarily need to be that way? Did you know you can show up as yourself and that when you do, it makes it easier to find members of your tribe?


“Of course, the scary part is that in order to find your tribe, you have to allow yourself to be known. As you are. No roles to cling to. Mother, father, son, daughter, academic, Mormon, disaffected Mormon, homosexual, leader, follower, clown, skeptic, insert job title. All those roles have to be stripped away to leave just you. Naked. Vulnerable. Ready to be known.

“When you do that though, when you strip away the roles and allow yourself to be known, you find members of your tribe and you experience a two way flow of love and energy that is beautiful and nourishing and healthy and sustainable. It's truly transformative.”



I really like this. I call it soul-to-soul, or spirit-to-spirit communication. I like the word “connect”. It is a real, and dare I say “authentic” connection between two people. I’ve experienced this numerous times. It is life-altering when those connections are made. I’ve never termed it “finding your tribe” before, but I like it. We are all different, and yet it doesn’t matter when we are “ready to be known”. Those differences or unique aspects of who we are shine forth and be just are! And tribal connections are made.

This tribal connection has happened with me when I am naked, vulnerable and willing to truly be myself. I truly love being naked! I love my vulnerability. I love my true self. I love who I am. So, why then, do I spend 90% of my life acting? Why am I entrenched in a role-play?

I am a huge role-player. I am currently playing the role of heterosexual husband, father, family member. I am playing the role of church priesthood leader, example, teacher. What’s funny is when I stop pretending to be who I am supposed to be and just be myself, I do better with others, I feel less anxiety, and I am able to connect with others. I feel more "tribal".

The other day I had an ad-hoc spontaneous discussion in the hallway at church with a few sisters. I love music and find music one of the ways to strip it all away and be naked and vulnerable and ready to be known. One of them had played a beautiful piano solo that had an interesting way of playing incomplete chords… like you’re expecting the full chord, but it came up one note short. I pointed out to these sisters how I loved that in the piece… how beautiful it was to not be a complete chord, but to be one note short of a complete expected chord. The beauty was in the incompleteness, the naturalness and intentness on not being a perfect chord.

One sister piped up: “It sounds like you, Brother B”.

I replied: “In what way?”

She answered without any hesitation: “Well, you’re unique. You’re atypical. You’re not like everyone else. You’re one note short of a full chord. And we love you that way!”

We embraced and I teared up for a moment. As I struggle to come to terms with my “differences” and “uniquenesses” it hit me that they love me BECAUSE of those things, not DESPITE those things. And I love them for the same reasons!

I know I’m a bit quirky, whacked, and yes, even touched. I’m different! I accept that. I told them that I had been accused of being “one taco short of a combination plate” but never “one note short of a full chord”. We all laughed.

And yet, I’ve gone back to that concept and appreciated that input. They love me FOR my uniqueness, FOR my being atypical, FOR not being “like” everyone else. Maybe I’m not as good of an actor as I thought I was. Maybe I am more vulnerable and naked and real. But at times, I feel like I have to play the full chord, that it would be wrong, or imperfect, or incorrect or inappropriate to leave that last note off. And yet the beauty comes with not playing that last note.

Wouldn’t it be sad if we were all perfect role-players, perfect actors, full chords? Isn’t the joy in our connections with each other coming from our uniquenesses, our differences, our challenges?

When I am natural and stripped of my roles (and boy are there plenty of roles to be played!), when I just am, I feel available to reach out, to express myself spirit-to-spirit, soul-to-soul, and risk it all – and therefore, be free to love. I want to extend myself, embrace others, touch, feel, vibrate, connect, love. And that is when I feel confident and assured, at peace, strengthened, enlarged, compassionate, passionate, sensitive. I feel happy with who I am when I am this way. I am not acting, or being, or living up to expectations.

I just am. I am ready to be part of a tribe. And I connect.

I actually connect quite easily – when I allow myself to do so. I thrive on it, seek it, and thirst for it.

But why, then, am I allowing myself to be so thirsty? Why do I deprive myself of my tribe? Why am I so willingly playing in this never-ending role-play of life? Why am I content to act instead of just be? Why do I feel compelled to finish the chord and play that last note?

Saturday, September 04, 2010

Dear Wyatt:


A letter to Wyatt (and anyone else who has "moved on"):

Dear WYATT:

Why are you still here? Why are you still caring about me? Why haven't you moved on? Why do you keep hanging around? Why can't you give it up and leave behind the angsty Beck?

We've been "together" following each other for 4-1/2 years now! Can you believe it? It's been that long - spring of 2006. It's incredible to look back at all that has happened in those years, especially for you... You've changed! You've moved on! You've chosen a different path. And you've blossomed and bloomed into a different creature.

I remember the "Elbow" of over four years ago who wrote of his love for the church, his love for the Gospel, his all-encompassing love for his wife. I remember how you expressed those loves with amazing passion and incredible intensity and unfailing firmness and absolute assurance.

You've been able to put the church, and your marriage, and the Gospel, and your past all behind you as you've branched out in a completely different direction. I know it wasn't easy, but I watched you do it with great envy and awe.

I commend you for facing your fear, and congratulate you for not avoiding your true self, for seeking your true "vibrations" (as you so fondly and uniquely use that word).

Why I'm focusing on this particular series of posts of mine on my blog right now is because it was a natural extension of the exploratory process of a form of yearly self-evaluation and part of that is how the church has affected my life, where it is the "evil church" that has gotten me into this situation of being in a MOM in the first place; it is the "evil church" that has kept me hidden from my true self, ashamed and fearful of who I am and who I am attracted to.

So, as a natural evolution of the previous posts, I decided to spell out for myself the role that the "evil church" has played in my life. That's where this recent discussion came from.

I'm not really placing blame here or not taking responsibility for my own actions. The "evil church" did not MAKE me have difficulties in my youth. Nor did it MAKE me get married. Nor did it MAKE me do any of the things I've done. But, my fundamental beliefs did. Yes, I have done them willingly, but maybe naively and ignorantly.

Whether you accept this or not, the church has and continues to influence my thoughts and feelings in profound ways (and that includes both the good and the bad - the results being "mixed") and thus, it has influenced my actions, or even lack of action...

And yes, avoiding the truth of myself, and facing myself. Maybe I'm really afraid of being me. I am afraid! Maybe it's just easier to AVOID it all.


You're right. I'm not Super Gay Mormon Boy! I'm still avoiding... I'd rather stay in my comfort zone of marriage, family, job, and yes, church, than discover the real me. I'd rather sit here and angst over the "what ifs" and linger in the past of the possibilities of what would have happened if I ran off with Thomas before either of us made the "awful mistake" of marrying women. I'd rather live in the drama, and enjoy the wonder of what it would be like to be "gay" then just being ME and letting what happens happen... I'd rather speculate what my needs are as a closeted gay man than face the reality of being one. You're right! I'm a no-good coward! I refuse to leave my closet. I'd rather live in the shadows. I'm more comfortable bemoaning the "poor me" syndrome of self-pity than self-embracing the honest truth.

But again, I have to ask you: why do you care about me anyway? Why are you still here checking up on delusional never-authentic, always-avoiding Beck? Why are you still here? If you've moved on, why are you still looking back and reaching out for me lagging behind you?

Don't get me wrong! I love you! And I love that you DO CARE enough to keep staying and reading and sharing and commenting and trying to influence me for the better, throwing me your wisdom and insights... but I can't help but wonder why?

When is it going to be obvious that I'm not worthy of your time, attention or concern? Because, I'm still here struggling to stay on the path I'm on... I can't run off to the other side of the planet and be a free spirit! At least not right here and now. I can't leave behind the commitments I've made! I'm not ready to leave my marriage, my family, my kids, my job, my religion... if that is avoiding the inevitable, then I guess I'm still avoiding the inevitable. I may be grasping at a false hope... but I still believe.

I still believe in my marriage. I still believe in my family and kids. I still believe in my life as it now is structured. I still believe in my religion. I still have hope. And yet, I now accept that I am gay. I have not embraced my gayness and that is still a source of frustration inside me that keeps me clueless, adolescent, and unrealistic. It keeps me from fully "vibrating" and holds me back from embracing the fulness of my life, but I don't angst over feeling the attractions and accepting them for what they are - amazing, wonderful feelings. Is that hope of somehow finding another way that makes this all work really all that hopeless?

And if so, why do you (any of you, not just Wyatt) care?

Love,

Beck

Thursday, September 02, 2010

The Good and the Bad...





WHAT THE "EVIL" CHURCH HAS DONE FOR ME AND HOW IT CONTINUES TO AFFECT ME FOR GOOD AND BAD…

(NOTE: I didn’t say the “Gospel of Jesus Christ”! I have a firm commitment to Christ and his teachings and I have faith in him, believe in his atonement and its real and everlasting influence on me. In this there is little doubt and abundant hope!)

FOR GOOD…

1. Because of the church, I have accepted callings and opportunities to serve that have made me a better person that I would have been otherwise. I have gained leadership skills and put in positions of leadership to reach out and help many that I would not have done without the church’s influence.

2. Because of the church, I have shed much of my shy exterior and become a pretty good public speaker, no longer fearing crowds or addressing the public in presentations. This has benefitted me in numerous ways in my business life and helped me to be a better man in my profession as well.

3. Because of the church, I have discovered my love for teaching and have been able to cultivate that seed planted years ago and have seen those skills of being able to teach grow and grow. I’m not saying I’m God’s gift to teaching, but I’ve been able to be put in many teaching situations, both privately and publicly and have been able to thrive in ways that would be highly unlikely to have happened otherwise.

4. Because of the church, I have become more compassionate and caring. I may have a compassionate spirit, but that fundamental characteristic has blossomed through the church's influence on me. I believe I am a caring person in general, but the church has taught me, trained me and helped me to focus that caring attitude in uniquely personal ways. I have learned to connect with people and love and have a passion for those connections that come by bonding through the church.

5. Because of the church, I served a mission that changed my life, taught me to speak a foreign language fluently, and welded in my soul a bond of unyielding love for a people, a culture, a country, a brotherhood, a home. That missionary service literally brought me out of my shell and helped me to discover who I was and what I could really do.

6. Because of the church,
that brotherhood made me connect to others and feel things and understand things about myself and where I knew I needed to be and who I really was deep down inside. I found my passion and I don’t ever want to lose it. I directly learned to touch and be affectionate and open and unafraid to express myself with the power of touch.

7. Because of the church, I was taught of the spirit and felt God’s influence in my life and recognized it as the miracle it really is.

8. Because of the church, I was taught to pray and communicate with God. I am still learning what that really means, and I know I need a lot more practice before I really understand it.

9. Because of the church, I married my wife because I was “in love” with her, but because the church instructed me that this was the right plan and path to take. I believed that and still do. I have no regrets and feel this was and is a good thing for me.

10. Because of the church, I have created a unique family. My children came into our lives directly because of the church. My family and my children (and all of the subsequent blessings that come with them) literally would not exist without the church in my life.

11. Because of the church, I rediscovered lessons learned in my past and relearned who I really was, and finally came to terms with my attractions as being just that – undeniable attractions for men.

12. Because of the church, I have a testimony of the Plan and the purpose for my life. I have been able to feel the optimism of the future, the hope in the Plan and the assurance of God’s love for each of us. I have a profound HOPE!

FOR BAD…

1. Because of the church, I learned early on that I was different, and that different wasn’t good and that I didn’t belong or fit with the rest of the guys.

2. Because of the church, I learned that “brotherhood” meant if you played basketball then you were welcome in the quorum, if you didn’t then you were expendable. Because I was no good at sports, because I was uncoordinated, had no body mass or muscles, I was of no use.
My self-esteem was shot. It took me a very long time before I learned another meaning of the word “brotherhood” (see above).

3. Because of the church, I learned the power of “expectation” and “obligation”. I became an eagle scout despite hating the program, and being physically abused and harassed in excess by boys in the troop. But you know… boys will be boys.

4. Because of the church, I hid myself and my desires and attractions, even to and especially with myself… to the point that it took me decades of denial and refusal of accepting myself. The church put me in a delayed development of self-awareness. I may have grown in other areas, but I regressed in others.

5. Because of the church, I was a good boy. As a good boy, I didn’t look at porn or think evil thoughts of women – I barely thought of them at all). As a good boy I never ever touched myself… yes, I never masturbated… and I never allowed anyone ever to touch me in that way. This may seem to be a good thing, but it is bad, because it delayed me sexually in exponential ways. No one was more na├»ve on his wedding night than I was. Confusion. Doubt. Pain. It was all there from the beginning and I put that at the feet of the church. It was not intentional, I’m sure, but wanting to be a “perfect boy” in so many ways became a huge negative once marriage was to be consummated. Oh how I wish that I weren’t so perfect.

6. Because of the church, I have been in a perpetual state of adolescent immaturity when it comes to sexuality. And as I became more aware of being “different”, I hid it away and refused to face reality and I regressed and became asexual in many ways that remain with me to this day.


7. Because of the church, I didn’t run off with my first real love… a man that truly loved me. I gave up that chance of potential happiness for something better, right?

8. Because of the church, I married a woman. Yes, I mentioned it as a positive and huge fountain of blessings above, but had I been able to face myself more honestly and not felt so “different” and not made to “fit in” and “do the right thing” and
“be perfect” I probably never should have married. The pain that has come from this reality years later, suffered through each decade by not just me but my wife as well, and all that goes with her self-esteem and self-worth being shot is a huge legacy of what some call “evil”.

9. Because of the church, I still live in the shadows. I cannot come out, not at this time. I’m too intertwined in all the tentacles of the church’s hold on me. I am in higher and higher leadership and deeper and deeper in the commitments. So, I can’t see a way out - not that I’m seeking a way out of the church – but a way out of the darkness and shadows of the closet, a way out of the dishonesty and double life living, a way out of the inauthenticity of self.

10. Because of the church, I still cannot face my wife straight out and with directness and honesty. Though she knows I’m gay, she really doesn’t KNOW me. And I don't let her KNOW the REAL ME. I want to take responsibility for this, but the fear put in my head from the church is always there in my mind. There is a real fear of doing so, being truly honest and authentic with my wife, and everyone else for that matter, and what it might do to our marriage and my association with the church (socially, culturally, emotionally, etc.) that has a hold on me that feels overpowering.

11. Because of the church’s stance on homosexuality, as I come more and more to terms with who I am, I am becoming more and more unsettled and confused by the Brethren. It is causing conflict and doubt that didn’t exist there before. I don’t want doubt. I want assurance.

So where does that put me?

And is the church a bounteous blessing or an evil curse?

Friday, August 27, 2010

Googling clueless Beck!


It is rare that I do this, but the other day, I googled my “blog-self” wondering what others might find if they searched for “Beck”. Initially, most links take you back to the MOHO community. What was interesting, however, is I found a discussion about ME on a site called latterdaymainstreet.com that intrigued me. Typically I don’t find myself fascinating and so to find complete strangers discussing me and my blog among themselves, one using my mixed-oriented marriage to make her point, was creepy, and introspective, to say the least.

A person identified as “Holly” said this about me:
“While it’s by no means a hard and fast rule that “a man who lacks the ability to emotionally connect with his wife must therefore be gay,” I don’t think it’s an unreasonable inference in certain situations. As many people can (unfortunately) attest, being forced or expected to engage in sexual intimacy with a person for whom you feel little desire can cause resentment, anger and emotional isolation…. (It) reminds me somewhat of something described in this blog entry about a mixed orientation marriage”… (which she then quotes my blog from about a year ago where I spoke of my struggles in meeting my wife’s sexual needs).

She continues: “The biggest difference is that this guy (Beck) at least CARES that he can’t bond with his wife in the ways she needs… This to me is AN EVIL. Beck, the guy who wrote the entry, might not be an evil man. But the whole situation is WRONG, destructive, and the result of a society which is, in and of itself, contemptuous of women and misogynist.
“And there are obviously things he doesn’t understand about being in love, due to the fact that he’s never been in a relationship with someone he’s in love with. Some of the questions he poses amaze me, and I think, “If you’d ever really been in love yourself, YOU WOULD GET WHAT THIS FEELS LIKE.”


Then, another person comments to her comment:
“I don’t think marriage or love is always the same – or that all couples experience it the same way. What it sounds to me like you are saying is that in a specific situation where a man knows he is gay but still marries a woman (because of his religious beliefs) – that it is not being fair to either partner but especially the woman in that relationship? That it discounts the feelings of the woman in that relationship? That such a relationship is inherently misogynist?
“I would argue that it discounts both partners’ feelings, and may make them both miserable. I think relationships and marriages are complicated, and that people change.
“But I do think it’s disingenuous for a religion to tell a gay man that he has to marry a woman for exaltation, or a gay woman that she needs to marry a man.”


And then Holly response:
“My point was more along the lines of what you discuss in the second half of your comment–that MOM’s (mixed orientation marriages), particularly in Mormon culture, at least when the spouse with the non-complimentary orientation is a gay man, are rooted in misogyny and a sense of male entitlement.

“Keep in mind that in most of the gay-man/straight women MOMs, it is the gay man who courts and proposes to the straight woman, who often doesn’t find out until AFTER the ceremony that she didn’t get what she thought (or at least hoped) she was getting, namely, a husband with whom she could establish a rewarding sex life–in other words, I’m saying she’s been deceived, typically by a guy who thinks that it’s his right to deceive her, because what really matters is that he uphold his own priesthood, not that he treat a woman honorably or well. I include the post from Beck as proof that, because these gay men are typically very young, inexperienced virgins when they get married and thus have never been in a romantic and/or sexual relationship with someone they’re in love with, they have NO CLUE the extent of the cruelty they’re inflicting on their wives.”


So, from this I gather:

1. I am not necessarily EVIL, though I could be, but since they don't know me personally they wouldn't say so, but...

2. What I am doing (being in a mixed-oriented marriage and making my wife stuck with half-a-man husband) is EVIL!

3. I really don't know what romance or true love is...

4. I am using my priesthood position of authority and personal beliefs over my wife...

5. What I am doing is cruel...

6. I really don't have a clue...


So, as a clueless, evil and cruel priesthood authoritarian doing my duty and keeping my wife in a loveless marriage because I was told to do so by some evil belief system that put me in this lie of a situation in the first place, and now I can't get out, and neither can she, and I remain unable to love for I don't know how... I'm wondering to myself... what have I done? Have I done all this to my wife? Am I keeping her imprisoned in this loveless, clueless marriage?

I talk in my past couple of posts about "what I want" and about the "needs" I have that can't be fulfilled in my marriage with my wife, and yet getting what I want may not be possible within the current framework of our marriage. So, what does she want? What does she need?

I've asked her that. She wants me to want her. And she needs me to need her, all of her. I've tried to do that to the best of my ability. I say I love her and that I am doing this because of the love I have for her.

But maybe, just maybe, Holly is right... Maybe I have never, ever found or felt or experienced true love (for otherwise why would I be questioning if I had?) and so how could I ever put myself (half-a-man that I am) to satisfy her wants and her needs?

I really don't know love at all.
I talk about "love" when it comes to bromantic relationships. I talk about "love" when I describe my relationship with Thomas or Fabrizio, my Italian "friends". I talk about "love" with even some of you MOHOs out there. But what do I really know of love? Infatuation, maybe? Crushes, for sure! Adolescent flirting, most definitely. Devotion, I would hope. But real and true passionate love?

I must be a liar. Or I'm clueless. Or worse, I am both. And I really, truly don't understand love. Or if I had experienced it, I'd know what it was by now.

That's good to know. Because right now, that hits home!

And I wonder... who do you see of this "Beck"? Why are you here wallowing in my decrepit, lie-strewn life with a loveless relationship where I've created the hopelessness and cluelessness because of those lies?

And where can I find real love so that I'll stop longing and asking - instead, I'll just simply know!