Wednesday, March 31, 2010


Another year goes by…

And then another year, and no word from Fabrizio. It pained the RM to endure this silence. He had thought a lot about their last phone conversation and still could not believe that he was like Fabrizio. He couldn’t be. He was now serving in a bishopric. He was honored and respected as a leader of the church.

He followed Fabrizio indirectly through mutual friends in Italy. He heard things like, Fabrizio:
• has left the church completely.
• has taken up drugs.
• has dropped out of / got kicked out of medical school.
• has a boyfriend.
• has multiple boyfriends.
• has AIDS.

The RM tried writing and calling Fabrizio, but there was no response. He started corresponding with Fabrizio’s sister, Silvana and she became his primary source of information. Silvana told him that Fabrizio purposely tried to get AIDS because he wanted to die. He no longer had any will to live. He stopped eating, too. He just lost all will to care about anything.

Silvana knew how close Fabrizio and the RM were. She knew of their relationship to the point that she probably knew it was much more than the RM led to believe. She wasn’t blaming the RM for this change in her brother, but she was placing blame at the church in Italy and their lack of efforts to provide any kind of support, fellowship, brotherly love toward him – and it was killing him – literally.

The RM decided to return to Italy with his wife. He met up with Thomas and SIlvana but by the time he got there, Fabrizio wouldn’t see him, didn’t want to see him ever again…

And he didn’t… A few months later, the RM received a phone call from Silvana telling him that Fabrizio had died. The last couple of months were gut-wrenching and painful to watch her brother suffer so.

And then she shared these words:

“Do you know what his dying wish was?” she asked.

“No, tell me…” the RM replied earnestly.

“He said, softly touching my hand… um… do you think the Church would allow me to have a Mormon funeral? And I responded: I don’t know, maybe… why do you ask? And then he said: Because that is what I really want. I want you to know that I have always been a believer of the Church. I know it’s true! And you know what else… the only good thing I ever did in my life was getting baptized and then bringing the missionaries to you! The only good thing I’ve done is then baptizing my sister into the true church!”

And she wept. The RM wept.

And then she continued: “And he got his wish…”

“The Mormon funeral?”

“Yes, the Mormon funeral. He had so many people there. All those people that were so afraid to reach out to him, to love him unconditionally, to be there for him… but weren’t. They were there, honoring my brother as one of them. Where were they when he really needed them?”

The RM sobbed uncontrollably… “I’m so sorry… I’m so, so sorry, Silvana.”

“It’s not your fault,” she tried to comfort him. “I’m not blaming you. You live on the other side of the world – what were you supposed to do?”

“I could have loved him unconditionally as he wanted me to,” he muttered.

“You did love him unconditionally,” she demanded.

“No, … really I didn’t. I didn’t support him when he was reaching out for support. I didn’t see the pain he was feeling because of my own short-sightedness and self-loathing. No, I’m just like the rest of them… I helped to kill Fabrizio, too!”

“Stop talking that way… I know how you felt about my brother!” she inserted boldly.

“I loved your brother.”

“I know you did!”

“I’m so, so sorry I didn’t do more…”


To think back on this now, I find it so ironic that I am posting this very personal story on this MOHO gay-Mormon blog. As tears still stain my cheeks, I am so, so sorry. I feel the pain of those words I last spoke to him. Many years since his death, these wounds are still very deep and painful to share. I have kept them hidden inside me for all of this time. It’s funny… some things can heal with time. The hurt can dissipate. The pain can subside… But not this! It still aches inside my gut. I feel responsible for watching the demise of my dear, dear friend, and not being more proactive to take steps to stop his self-destructing behavior – and why? Because I was afraid! I was too afraid of myself. I was scared of who I really was. I wouldn’t allow myself to be truthful and honest about my feelings, my attractions, my desires to be with him, to really be with him. I refused to permit myself to think that I could be gay. It was not possible! It was not true!

And yet, he knew. He always knew. He knew the first day we met. He knew that night in his bedroom – the night of our “first meaningful kiss”. He knew that night in my guest bedroom – the night before entering the MTC. He knew all along. And he was right… And I still feel such pain, such guilt, such hurt for allowing this wonderful, beautiful, kind and gentle brother to disappear and suffer such a horrific death… alone…

Would I do anything different now? Would I have the strength and courage to not be afraid? Am I doing anything for others in this situation now? Aren't I still hiding? Where is the progress? Aren't I just as pathetic now as I was then? What have I done to show that I really am sorry for not doing more and helping others to not end up in such a tragedy?

I'm not sure I like the answers...

I think of meeting him again someday and telling him how sorry I am… that he was right… that there is such a thing as a “gay Mormon” and that I am one, too. I dream of embracing him again and hoping that he’ll forgive me and he’ll allow me to kiss him… to kiss him one more time.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Chapter 3...

Another year slipped by…

The scene is set: Fabrizio didn’t make it through the first year of his mission. He was sent home for behavior “unbecoming” a missionary. The RM started receiving calls. At first they were infrequent and then slowly became more frequent until they were almost daily. Fabrizio tried to put a good spin on his “being sent home”. Initially he explained that his dad was really sick and because he’s a non-member, the church decided to send him home to be with his family and take care of his parents. Though that didn’t sound completely true, the RM went with it and didn’t push for the real story.

But then, over the course of the following months, more and more came out. Fabrizio endured a nasty and wrenching disciplinary action where he was excommunicated from the church for homosexuality. He was devastated, and cried into the phone. Hours of phone calls and some letters passed between the two (note: this predates the Internet and emails). It was an agonizing period for both. And it was agonizing as well for the RM’s spouse. Every time Fabrizio would call, the cloud of doubt hung over the marriage like a brooding winter’s storm. The RM ached for his friend, his heart passionately longing to help, but what was he to do? What could he do being so far away.

He tried to offer hope and encouraged Fabrizio where he could and tried to keep things positive. Fabrizio continued to attend church and even attended missionary conferences and young adult events across the country (leaving his home stake where word was getting out about his excommunication and the reasons behind it, and being sent home early from his mission and the entire stigma that goes with it). But, eventually, it was too much. The signs of being ostracized
were overwhelming any attempt at reconciling the differences he was feeling between the church he loved with all his heart and the person that he was inside.

The calls became less frequent and more distant. Fabrizio started being more cryptic in his language.

One day he called and simply left a phone number and told the RM to call it. He didn’t understand but then hung up and called the number… it was the help line from AFFIRMATION, a support group for “gay Mormons”.

The RM was confused and called Fabrizio back:

“A support line for gay Mormons?” he asked incredulously.

“Yes, gay Mormons”, Fabrizio quietly but firmly restated those words! This was the first time that the two were using “gay” and “Mormon” together in a sentence.

“But, there is no such thing as a gay Mormon”, the RM insisted… “either you are “gay” or you are “Mormon”. You can’t be both. They don’t exist!”

There was silence on the other end. The RM could tell that Fabrizio was crying. He could tell that something was terribly going wrong between them.

Finally Fabrizio replied… “I thought you would understand… I really thought of all the people that I know and love, you would understand!”

“I can’t go there,”
the RM responded with a bit of shaky uncertainty in his voice. “I just can’t get my head around it. I don’t believe there is such a thing as a “gay Mormon”. Are you suggesting that I am gay…. like you?”

“Only time will tell. Only you can know for yourself… but… I think you know what I’m saying, my friend. One day you will come to realize that you and I are the same kind of people. We love the same kind of people… the same kind of young men. “

“I… can’t…”

Fabrizio kept talking… “I’ve seen your interaction with the missionaries first hand. I know how you look at them, love them, care for them more than your marriage.”


“And I’ve seen the way you act around me, get excited. Remember our kiss? You are gay, my brother. You are a gay Mormon!”

“I can’t accept this! I won’t accept this. This is not right. This is not true. Sure, I have attachments to guys. Sure, I love you, but as a brother, not as a lover… I love my wife!”

“I’m sure you do… and that is what’s going to be very tough for you. Mark my words… the day will come when you will face the music as I have. Someday, you’ll be reaching out for help. I hope someone will be there for you when that day comes.”

“I’m here for you… I’ll always be here for you.”

“I wish I could believe that. But, just as all the others, as it comes down to “gay” or “Mormon” you’ll leave me behind, too, unless you face the fact that you are just like me.”

“I’m not like you!” The RM yelled passionately into the phone. “I’m not you, Fabrizio! I do not believe these things. I can’t support what you are saying. I don’t want to have this conversation anymore!”

He hung up the phone violently. Months passed by with just a letter or note. No more phone calls. Fabrizio was becoming more and more distant. And the RM didn’t reach out to him anymore...

(to be continued)

Monday, March 29, 2010

Chapter 2...

Fast forward a couple of years…

Fabrizio and the RM continued to write and call each other frequently. The feelings from that “first kiss” are ever present in their conversations. Nevertheless, a lot has happened and yet everything is still the same. At this point in the story, the RM is now happily married, having fallen in love with the most incredibly wonderful woman who makes his heart beat faster every time he's around her. Their mutual best friend is also happily married now and has a young daughter. Fabrizio sees life passing by and changing quickly in others and wonders what change is in store for him. He decides to suspend his medical school studies and submit his papers to accept a mission call. Though he is a bit older (23), and with no support from his parents, he feels it is the right time to do this.

The RM can’t help but wonder if Fabrizio is doing this because he has an urgent desire to preach the gospel, or whether he feels life is passing him by, and knowing that he has no prospects for ever marrying, decides this would be a good filler of time as he figures out what to do next. The two friends talk about these things, and the RM encourages him to serve a mission as he feels prompted to do so by the spirit. Yet, deep down, he is worried for Fabrizio. Something feels wrong – like a deep sadness inside him.

A few months later, he receives his call and is coming to the MTC in Provo! At this time the RM is still teaching in the MTC and so naturally they are excited to see each other again. Since he has no family in Utah and is flying in from out of the country, the RM naturally becomes his “family”. Their embrace is electrical as they fall into each other’s arms again.

Over the course of a few days before reporting to the MTC, they go see movies together, go shopping, attend the temple and discuss the joys of the eternal plan - and just hang out, but mainly just talk. In some ways it is so magical to be together again and to share these anxious moments and renew feelings for each other with physical touch. In other ways, everything is different. Being married now changes everything. And being in America changes even more everything! The touchy-feely-ness seems less appropriate and even wrong here, while at Fabrizio’s home it felt completely right. Why was that? And with the RM’s wife watching the two of them interact, questions arise as to why Fabrizio was always sitting in the RM’s lap or nestled on his side in a snuggle on the couch? This made the RM self-aware of the inappropriateness of their behavior together and an uneasiness settled over their marital bliss.

On the last night before entering the MTC, Fabrizio was doing his last packing and organizing. The RM came into the guest bedroom and the two talked late into the night.

“You need to be good!” the RM warmed his affectionate friend.

“You mean, I need to be more American?” Fabrizio asked jokingly.

“You know what I mean! This isn’t Italy anymore!” the RM emphasized. “You need to be careful about being too affectionate. Some of your companions may not understand you.”

“Do you understand me?” he stared into his eyes, now full of tears. There was a knowingness about those words that hit with force like a blow square in the gut from a jr. high bully.

“You know I do.”

“Then, why are you pulling back from me? Why isn’t it the same as we were together in Italy?”

“You know why… I’m married now. Things are different. And you’re going to be a missionary tomorrow, and that makes things different as well. Rules and obedience and all that stuff.”

“Yeah, I understand, I guess… But is it really different between us?” he pondered out loud - uttering almost silently with a heavy melancholy tone.

The RM hesitated for a long time. He reached for Fabrizio’s hands as they fell together on the bed in an embrace.

“No, not really… deep down, nothing has changed,” the RM sighed as he held his confused friend, feeling just as confused and conflicted.

They kissed each other’s cheek and forehead, but this time the RM felt that Fabrizio wanted more, but he wasn’t prepared to give him more.

He pulled apart… “You’re a missionary now! Remember who you are and who you represent!”

Though he wanted to more than anything, he just couldn’t kiss him again the way they did in Italy. His sleeping wife in the next room would not understand. He didn’t understand! So many thoughts and feelings raced through his mind and heart. What was happening? Why this torture? This was so confusing. He couldn’t do it.
The RM broke the embrace and stood up. Fabrizio stood up before him. They stared at each other holding hands.

“I love you!” Fabrizio sobbed.

“I love you, too!” the RM struggled to get out through tears. “Now go to bed… you’ve got a big day ahead of you tomorrow.”

The tension in the room was enormous. Both young men were so conflicted by the contrasts of duty verses passion, right verses wrong, the spirit of the law verses the letter of the law. Was this wrong to love such a boy as he did? Why were these feelings still haunting him? He was “happily” married now, no? So, what was going on?

NOTE: The worst is yet to come… there wasn’t going to be a Chapter 3, let alone a Chapter 2, but there is more of the story yet to be told.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

First meaningful kiss...

The most significant and meaningful kiss of my life was the first kiss I gave the woman that became my wife! She was and is the only woman that I have kissed in a romantic, meaningful way. That kiss was a miracle that changed my life forever. This post, however, is not an account of that miracle kiss. I have debated long and hard about actually posting this entry. It is something very personal to me, but something that occurred nearly three decades ago (after my mission but before meeting my wife), and something that also changed me forever.

In the end, I have felt this was a good exercise (thanks Abe) to get down on paper and maybe it will help you to peek into my world and glimpse a bit more of who I am...

My first meaningful kiss...

Once there was a recently returned missionary who, within the first year of coming home, returned back to his mission field to attend the wedding of a dear friend he had become very close to during his mission. In route to attending this wedding, this particular RM detoured through a city he had served in to meet up with another very dear friend. This friend and the RM were about the same age and really close, maybe closer than what would be considered “appropriate” between two young men for the typical homophobic member of the church coming from a Utah perspective. These two were very “touchy” and affectionate with each other, and it was obvious to everyone that they liked each other a lot – in a brotherly way. However, because this was not the U.S, such things were not particularly unheard of and no one really said much about their relationship thinking the RM had simply adopted the cultural norms of the friend.

As it worked out, the RM and this friend, Fabrizio, spent a few days together prior to the wedding of their mutual friend. Much of this time was spent alone, on a train, in his car, walking around, eating out, and hanging out. They had a great time together and were really enjoying the “freedom” of their relationship as two friendly brothers instead of as a friend and a missionary with a name tag, companion, and mission rules to obey, holding hands, hugging and being in “touch” with each other almost constantly. They shared deep thoughts in lengthy discussions, both spiritual and otherwise, and there was a real sense of bonding between them. The RM felt something for Fabrizio and Fabrizio sensed it and knew maybe more than the RM on what was going on inside his American friend, but didn’t really say anything about that particular subject.

On their last night together, they returned to his parents’ home. His mother and father and a brother and sister were there and they had a fabulous dinner together with warm conversation and great spiritual connections. The RM felt like he was not a visitor or stranger in this home. In fact, he felt just the opposite – he had come home!

That night, the two went to his bedroom to make sleeping arrangements. There was only one twin bed in the room. Fabrizio’s mother set up a spare mattress on the floor next to the bed, and supplied her son with some extra bedding and kissed us both good. The two shut the door and smiled with a sigh. They giggled a bit at the whole scenario and argued between them over who was going to sleep in the bed and who was going to sleep on the floor. The RM insisted on taking the floor and Fabrizio wouldn’t hear of it and they broke into a bit of a wrestling match and collapsed together on the mattress on the floor. They talked for what seemed like late into the night while holding each other and then finally settled down to reconciling themselves to needing some sleep.

The physical attraction and tension between the two was beyond anything that the RM had felt before in his 21 years living in America. Fabrizio turned off the lights and they proceeded to cautiously strip down to their underwear, Fabrizio with his tighty-whities and the RM with his garments. There was enough indirect light coming through the windows that they could still see each other clearly. The two smiled and then came to the twin bed and cuddled together, holding each other. The RM breathed in the moment as he held his special “brother”. He had never felt so amazingly whole and happy and real.

Finally, Fabrizio slithered down to the mattress on the floor as they whispered “good night” to each other. For a moment, they both were still. No one spoke. The summer air though silent, thick and heavy remained suspended around them increasing the sense of tension. The RM listened to the breathing of Fabrizio. He was feeling so excited and wanted something more – “a simple “good night” was not good enough for such an occasion, no?” he thought…

He slipped down on top of his friend and with a bit of abandonment, the two started kissing. At first it was just a peck on the cheek, and then the other, and then a bit on the forehead and the neck, but then they kissed a single, meaningful kiss on the lips. It was magical and full of those proverbial fireworks!! Both were obviously excited and each knew and felt just how much. To the RM’s surprise, Fabrizio pulled back and, looking directly at the "excitement" under his garments the RM was wearing, said something like: “um… as much as I’d like to, maybe we’d better not continue this, if you know what I mean? I mean, maybe you should remember who you are and we’d be better off if you were up in that bed and me remaining down here.”

This was strange hearing such caution from the fearless and usually instigating Fabrizio. He was always the encouraging one, the affectionate one, then initiator of touch. He was the teacher and the RM was the pupil. The RM was a bit embarrassed, and acknowledged instantly that though he really didn’t want to, he recognized it was probably the appropriate thing to do – the only thing that he should do and there really was no room for arguing. A bit of shame had entered that dark bedroom on that summer’s night. So, he slipped up to the twin bed, carefully rolled over, and earnestly tried to gain control of his racing heart and emotions, not understanding what was happening to him. What was happening? Wasn’t this what this cultural brotherhood between them, this “special bond” was all about? Why could he not go any further? Did he just cross a line he covenanted not to cross? He hungered for more, but that was it – there was nothing more.

The next morning, not a lot was said between the two of them as they grabbed a quick breakfast. Nothing was mentioned about “the kiss” and the associated “mutual excitement”. The RM soon had to catch a train, and with a quick “all-knowing and all-saying” hug between the two of them and a meaningful tear streaking his cheek, he slipped out the door, down the stairs and out of the country.

As for the “rest of the story”… well, yes, there is another chapter, but that is to be shared on another day. Needless to say, this event, this “first meaningful kiss” between them, was never, ever forgotten. Something changed inside both of them. They both knew it, but neither discussed it, or the ramifications of it, for a very, long time.

Monday, March 22, 2010

The good and bad of living passionately...

Yesterday, I did a stupid, immature, and inappropriate thing. Something happened that I don't think I've ever done before. Maybe I'm just a pathetic "drama-queen", but I couldn't take it anymore. I stormed out of Priesthood Meeting, and not quietly, slamming the door behind me on the way out! I'm not sure how I can go back (at least not immediately) and I'm in the quorum leadership!

It really came down to the instructor (my neighbor that loves to push my buttons about homosexuality) belittling my comment that I made pointing out a different position than he was espousing, and then telling me that I should "listen better" and maybe then I would correctly understand.

Passion is a great way to live! I feel passionate about many things, including my beliefs in gospel principles. But, like any great passionate person, the good passions (love, affection, connecting and caring, risking etc.) are countered with bad passions (anger, combativeness, ease to take offense, etc.). I feel and am grateful to have feelings! Much rather be a feeling person than a non-feeling lump.

But why now? Why did I explode, and do so so dramatically? I can't help but feel my insecurities of who I am are at the foundation of this personal battle I have with this particular instructor.

I couldn't sleep last night... so I wrote the following to the group leader:

Dear Brother ________:

I've had a rotten Sunday! I've allowed what happened at Priesthood Meeting today to fester within me and I'm still feeling upset about it, and I can't get to sleep without unloading, so I'm going to unload on you.

First of all, regarding "passion", I guess it can be a good thing and a bad thing. I've learned from experience that as passionate as I am about some things in a good sense, I've also got a bad temper and I allow my passion to overwhelm me in a bad sense, too. I recognize this and am trying to curb my taking offense so easily - obviously I've got a lot to still work on.

But I am currently feeling like I am more of a liability to you than an asset. My dramatic exit from the quorum meeting was immature and inappropriate. I know that. Yet, it was how I felt at the moment. You see, I've had run-ins with Brother______ several times in the past, and every time I come away with feeling like I was made to be stupid or feel inferior, and he coming off as omniscient and superior. His arrogance and superiority push my buttons and I erupt. I am sorry for that. What I am not sorry for is being told that what I feel passionately about, having felt the Spirit personally teach me in my personal scripture study, is not of value, and that I should "listen better" to his instructions. This is insufferable. Many times with lessons in the past I have felt to say something but bit my tongue. I guess I should have bit harder this time.

That said, I know I am in the wrong. I am the one that lacks humility. I am the one who takes things too seriously. I am the one who doesn't see the humor in such exchanges. As such, I don't know that I feel like I can stand in front of the brethren with any kind of authority as part of the group leadership, and I feel unworthy or unable to do so. Maybe it is time for me to move on and slip into the back row or disappear from quorum discussions all together. I don't know... maybe after conference if I conduct in April, all will be forgotten and we just move on. Fortunately, I'll be out of town next time that Brother______ teaches so that gives me two months to heal my bruised pride and ego.

Bottom line... I'm sorry for my outburst, but I'm not sorry for feeling passionate about things.

Thanks for listening,

I can't help but feel that something has changed within me. I'm a fighter, but good grief, I've got to pick better battles...

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Dead dreams...

"After opening on Broadway last year, The Light in the Piazza picked up a reputation as a musical to admire but not necessarily adore. (That dichotomy was evident at the 2005 Tonys, where it picked up six awards, more than any show, including Best Score? but not Best Musical). Its major virtues and less-than-wholly satisfying elements have all been transferred more or less intact to a worthy road production. To really love this show — and, befitting a show that celebrates flowering, impetuous romance, it does have its lovers — you probably have to fall into a unique cross-section of the theatergoing population. On the one hand, its elegant, unpatronizing, and tricky score has a serious appeal for musical sophisticates who like pondering the fine points of melody and counterpoint as they (try to) hum. On the other hand, to buy into the show's romanticism, you kind of have to just go with it and stop thinking about the ethical dilemmas that the plot sets up and then almost abandons. If you can manage that balancing act, you might be among the significant minority who find this Light heavenly." -- Entertainment Weekly.

Over the weekend, I attended a wonderful interpretation of "Light in the Piazza" at Weber State. It was all that a romantic musical should be. And maybe I'm just a hopeless romantic at heart to fit in that "significant minority" who find it heavenly. Is it a bad thing to be a hopeless romantic? Is it wrong to not let things go?

I can't get out of my mind a certain quote that has paraphrased into my mind as:

"Be careful with your dead dreams. In Italy, they tend to come alive..."

Isn't it pathetic to live a life full of misgivings? I'm feeling quite nostalgic lately, longing for something I can't have, a time and place that has passed, and along with it, opportunities and authenticity muddled, love lost.

More on that to come...

Monday, March 15, 2010

Making lemonade...

An interesting quote from yesterday's Gospel Doctrine:

"The ability to turn everything into something good appears to be a godly characteristic. Our Heavenly Father always seems able to do this. Everything, no matter how dire, becomes a victory to the Lord. Joseph, although a slave and wholly undeserving of this fate, nevertheless remained faithful to the Lord and continued to live the commandments and made something very good of his degrading circumstances. People like this cannot be defeated."

-- Hartman Rector, Jr. Oct 1972.

The context was a discussion of Joseph being sold into Egypt, then eventually thrown into prison. Bad things happen to good people, but good things happen in bad circumstances, as good people continue doing the best they can and not lose the faith or the will to keep keepin' on.

Though I don't equate my homosexuality with being a "dire" or "degrading" circumstance, I still see it as a challenge for a person in my situation. That said, I remain confident in the Plan and that someone has a hand in my life with a perspective and understanding and view much more vast that I have. That said, I remain confident also that good things can happen BECAUSE of this circumstance and situation, not despite it as I work to do the best I can.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

"What ifs" : a recent chat...

As a weird coincidence, especially following the thoughts behind my most recent post where I was contemplating the "what ifs" of whether choices or decisions were made differently some 30 years ago... I had this interesting exchange with Thomas last night. I think it reflects growth on my part... for a change, I'm the calm one, the less angsty one, and I see that as a good thing. (Thomas, for those who haven't followed, is a very dear friend that I met and fell in love with on my mission - I've posted several times about him, but not recently).

I had a hard time sleeping last night. I kept thinking about our chat. I've decided to share it here in hopes of receiving some feedback. Here's a translated version of our chat:

ME: So, what’s up?

THOMAS: Life here is about the same – nothing new to reveal to you. It’s nice to hear you say that you’re doing better. It’s about time that you found a bit of tranquility.

ME: But you, too, no?

THOMAS: Life is strange! At times I don’t understand why certain things happen that stain or mark us for the rest of our lives – forever!

ME: Like what?

THOMAS: I often think about things and wish I knew more assuredly the answers. Instead, I don’t succeed in knowing why certain things happen. So, I often become melancholy as I can’t accept the reality dealt to me.

ME: I know what you mean… so what would you change if you could?

THOMAS: If I could return back and do it all over, I would change lots of things.

ME: There are times when I have felt more at peace, more tranquil in my life. I still am confused with doubts that return and I don’t know if I’m going to be able to hold my “reality” together. It scares me, but at the same time I'm at peace. I have thought of how things would have been different if I had chosen a different path back then. But, we can’t turn back the clock, no?

THOMAS: Unfortunately, no. The errors committed you can’t repair anymore. It’s like this: When you’re up against a dilemma and you don’t know what to do, it becomes difficult to choose if you go here or there, especially if you don’t have the right knowledge of the thing you’re choosing.

ME: Okay? And so…

THOMAS: Well, this is what I’d do if I went back in time: I would be less naive and less good, and instead, more rational and less emotional. Being naive, good, emotional… these characteristics haven’t served me well – they haven’t helped me at all! And I wouldn’t have the traditions of religion on my shoulders telling me to live so rigidly.

ME: However, you can’t be less naïve without experience and knowledge. And those require you to make tough choices. To be less naïve, you have to face your dilemma!

THOMAS: In fact…

ME: So, the important thing for me right now is to not worry so much about what could have happened, the “what if” scenario of the past – I just need to go forward from here from where I am…. And I want to add: I am grateful to have known the “Thomas” that was good, and kind, and naïve, and emotional! That boy touched me very profoundly probably more so than a rational or less emotional boy ever could!

THOMAS: You’re sweet! But how has it served you knowing this “Thomas” if you have NOT been with him all these years? What was the point of knowing and feeling and loving each other as we did, as we do? Good grief, we’ve lived our whole lives separated from each other!

ME: I know, I know, but I’m still grateful for the decisions we’ve made. We both have families and beautiful children. You have two beautiful daughters. What would have been is just a dream.

THOMAS: A dream… Do you know what I dream?

ME: No, what?

THOMAS: I dream often of what it would have been like if we chose our hearts 30 years ago!

ME: And that would be to do what?

THOMAS: You know…

ME: No, I want to hear you say it…

THOMAS: I dream that we would have lived passionately together as partners for the past 30 years! Living together, loving each other.

ME: Nice dream. I thought that was my dream, not yours! I’ve had that very dream as well. But do you think we’d have been happy?

THOMAS: I don’t know… but then at least all of this emotion and love for you would have served a purpose. What’s the point?

ME: I don’t know either. Maybe it’s best to leave it in the realm of dreams. Sometimes reality isn’t as beautiful and neat and perfect. I’d rather fantasize with you about the “what if”, but be grateful for the choices we've made, and for the here and now – that I knew you once – that I had a dear, dear friend and that I will always love you for touching my life.

THOMAS: Why do you have to live so far away? I need you here. I need you to hold me.

ME: I’m always here. I’m still holding you.


Any ideas? What do you think? What's going on? Why are our rolls reversed: why is he now longing for our relationship to rekindle and I'm at peace where I am?

Monday, March 08, 2010

So, where would you be?...

In Church yesterday, the question was asked: "So, where would you be if you didn't have the Gospel in your life?"

My immediate thought was: "Duh!...I'd be living with a gay partner somewhere in Europe without a doubt!!!"

The responses were typical from the class members, with one even trying to be funny: "I'd get a 10% raise and Sundays free!"

The teacher went on to discuss the blessings of the Gospel in our lives and that we are a happier and "better" people because of it and therefore we should share it with others - so why wouldn't we?

And I sat on the back row pondering: "Am I really better and happier? Is someone who is living in Europe with a gay partner any less happy or better?"

And then I thought that indeed, I would most likely be in Europe as my ancestors would not have joined the Church and immigrated to the United States. And if I am who I am, I most likely would be in a gay relationship and I would imagine it to be a committed one. I would like to think that it would be one full of love, but who knows - maybe I really would be miserable and a thug of some kind.

So, am I better? Am I happier?

I do know that this isn't a fair question. We can't play the "what if" games. I've done my share of that, and it goes nowhere very quickly. I can't second guess the choices made, or the choices of my parents and their parents who help to make me who I am. I can only go forward from where I am. And where I am is being a gay man who is a husband and father who believes in the gospel... and is happy and better for it.

And yet, I still wonder - where would I be without these blessings / struggles / conflicts / choices in my life?

So where would you be?

Friday, March 05, 2010

Full circle...

Do you believe in coincidences? Do you believe that things happen because of chance?

Do you believe that we come together for a reason?

Is there a greater plan in the works with an unseen hand overseeing our connections? Or is it just by chance that we meet and make what we do of our meetings and nothing more?

I believe that we do connect for reasons beyond our understanding. I do believe that there is a higher purpose for these connections, and that there is a loving hand influencing our lives for good.

Such has been brought to evidence in recent events in my family. The "chance" of certain events coming together, the prediction - no, it was more a prophetic statement of fact - some 19 years ago of an event to come... a confirmation that what was happening then, all of the lined up stars and improbable coincidences that occurred then, that have now come full circle in an amazing and incredible way, fulfilling exactly that prophecy.

It is too much to think this is all by chance. There has to be more to it. There must be a higher purpose. Is it presumptuous of me to think so? Is it possible that the birth of a son in a far away eastern nation was meant to be brought to us, to grow and learn, to become a man, and to now return to his place of birth to serve the very people that sent him away?

(And to think he's survived a father who has questioned his own foundation, a father who has come to terms with being gay and liking guys, and a marriage of his parents that has been on the rocks for most of his life, and just now figuring out how to make it work).

I am so grateful. It is a very tender mercy. It continues to be a miracle. He has come full circle.

Monday, March 01, 2010

A day late... A dollar short...

I know the "first crush assignment" from Abelard was for February, and I'm a day late, but I've debated whether I really want to post this or not... but I've debated enough and have finally decided to do so, in hopes of you understanding me a bit better... This has been very therapeutic. This first crush has led to many, many subsequent crushes - even to this current day decades later. In many ways, the young boy in this story is still the same boy inside me.

For what it's worth...


Once upon a time there was a 15 year old boy. He was a very tall and skinny boy, and a good boy and always tried to please his elders, his leaders, and his parents. One of the ways he tried to please them was in achieving the rank of Eagle Scout. He was not very interested in scouting or in associating with his peers as he felt “different” from them and much preferred doing things on his own. But, in the spirit of doing the “right” thing expected of a “good boy”, he worked hard and did is duty to his God and his Country and earned multiple merit badges, most of which were done at his initiative and self-motivation to the pleasure of his parents and leaders.

That was until the day when the pending Eagle Award was achieved, including service project, camps, hikes, leadership etc., except for one merit badge… Lifesaving!

This particular boy was not a great swimmer. But the real stumbling block wasn’t swimming as it was his insecurity around other boys. He felt intimidated and afraid of locker rooms (from a long reaction to abuse at jr. high gym classes) and his self doubt and lack of confidence doomed his efforts to achieve this non-negotiable hurdle of a merit badge. His parents had enrolled him twice in a YMCA lifesaving course but to no avail, and soon he gave up and quit. All his good intentions of being a “good boy” were in vain as he could not, and would not obtain this last requirement.

Then, one day, a wise and kind leader came to him with a proposed plan: What if he were to set up private one-on-one lessons with a slightly older boy who would step him through the requirements – without intimidation, without anyone around, without any pressure from leaders - just the two of them. At first the boy was uncertain of this plan, but aiming to please, he reluctantly agreed.

A few weeks later, a 17 year old boy named Clark came knocking on his door and introduced himself. The 15 year old knew of this boy, having noticed him from a distance – in fact, he was in awe of him. Though the younger boy was nearly six inches taller than the older boy, Clark weighed at least 50 lbs more, and all solid masculine muscle! The older boy was confident and assured, yet not cocky or arrogant. He was kind and gentle and allowed the younger boy to begin to open up to him. Clark helped him to feel proud to be tall and he enjoyed looking down on this older boy though he envied the older boy’s more mature muscles and air of manliness.

They agreed to an arrangement of going to a local indoor swimming pool at a time when it was not occupied by other classes or events. He remembers being picked up by Clark in a sports car that had standard transmission and was fascinated at the way his powerful arms grabbed the stick shift with confidence and authority. Someday he would drive a car with such confidence and authority, he thought.

They arrived at the swimming facility and the fear of the locker room overwhelmed him, but the joy of being accepted and encouraged by this older boy was intoxicating to him and somehow it was enough to overcome his fears. Clark paid the entrance fee and tossed him a towel and a key to a locker and wrapped his arm around the younger boy and escorted him into the locker room. Clark stripped effortlessly and began to shower naked. That was when the younger boy noticed the athletic beauty of his new friend’s body and he began to get excited. The excitement embarrassed him a bit, but he was eager to be with this boy and so he stripped and showered, too.

Soon they were in the pool together and frolicking and playing, getting comfortable with each other. Clark then taught him rescue techniques and wrapped his strong arms around his chest and effortlessly towed him around the pool with athletic power. When his arms wrapped his body, the younger boy felt tingles and joy inside his body in a way that he never ever felt before! This was new! This was magical! This was fun! It was then his turn, and he wrapped his skinny arms around Clark’s thick chest and it was ecstasy! He forgot that he was in the deep end of the pool, in fact, he forgot all about his fears of swimming – all he could think was how wonderful it felt to have his arms and body pressed tightly around this older boy and how good it felt to be accepted and the confidence levels soared within him!
These encounters went on for several weeks and with each week came more confidence and more excitement. Each visit was followed up by going to get ice cream and sharing and talking together – and becoming friends.

Finally, the last meeting was held at the younger boy’s home. It was evening and his parents weren’t around. Clark had him stretch out on the floor of the living room so that he could demonstrate how to resuscitate a drowning victim. Before he knew it, Clark was on top of him, straddling his waist with his knees, demonstrating the pressing technique on his chest. The younger boy’s lungs popped with pain as Clark pressed firm and hard on his chest. Clark then demonstrated mouth-to-mouth resuscitation and placed his mouth over the younger boy’s mouth and blew air into his lungs filling them completely. It was then the younger boy’s turn, and he was told to get on top of Clark and do the same. The younger boy was scared, but so excited, and became stiff down-under. He didn’t know what to do. He didn’t want Clark to know, but somehow, Clark’s smile and confidence encouraged him, and so he jumped on top of him and pressed his hands on the older boy’s heaving chest.

“Harder!” Clark shouted, as he encouraged the younger boy to press firmer and stronger on his chest. He kept pushing until the older boy was finally satisfied. Then it was his turn to do the mouth-to-mouth resuscitation. The younger boy was shaking with excitement as he placed his mouth on the older boy’s mouth and felt his soft lips and warm breath. He tipped his head and plugged his nose and blew into his mouth as their lips engaged. It was like angels singing!

In the end, both boys smiled. Clark gave him a big hug and said that he “passed”. He signed the card and that was that. With a bit of disappointment, the younger boy waved good bye and was gone. But, he couldn’t stop thinking about what just happened. He wasn’t sure what just happened. What did just happen? He was too innocent and confused to put it in its proper perspective. But, what he did know was that he felt good and warm and peaceful and content and so satisfied inside for probably the first time in his life. He thought a lot about Clark and how beautiful and kind and powerful and confident and masculine he was.

He didn’t see Clark for several months until the next school year. That year he was a sophomore in high school and Clark was a senior. Clark was a star on the football field and the wrestling team, and he was a student body officer. He thought that Clark was too cool to notice him – a skinny, shy unnoticeable sophomore - or to even remember someone as insignificant as himself, as he wasn’t in the popular group. But to his surprise, Clark always gave him a high-five or slapped his shoulder or said “hi” with a big smile as they passed in the halls, even if Clark was surrounded by the “in” crowd. This was probably the coolest thing that Clark ever did. He was kind. He was genuine. He was a real man. The younger boy was full of infatuation inside each time he saw him and smiled back a bit more confidently… and every time, he got a bit excited in a magical, tingly way… deep inside.

Though they never did anything more together, the younger boy will never forget this journey – a journey of a first crush…