Friday, June 25, 2010

A window to the past / "the envy of guys"...

Digging through a box in the back storage room of my office, I stumbled across three notebook journals that I wrote my senior year of high school and my first year of college. I had forgotten that I had kept these journals and remembering those trying times, I was scared to read them, but I had to.

Have you ever had that experience? These writings are over thirty years old! I haven't reread them ever. It's like a time capsule that has been discovered, and of course you have to read and discover what was going on - particularly this being a recording of my inner thoughts and feelings. What was I thinking? What was I feeling?

As fascinating as it was to reread my own words, I am sad for the boy that I'm rediscovering. I realize that instead of imagining a journal full of hopes and dreams of the future, of dating girls and partying with friends and having a fun and carefree last year of high school, I find a troubled boy, a boy that is too self-reflective, one that feels different and alone and worried and confused. I find a boy that is hung up on his "envy of boys". This was a different and more naive time and place - at least in my isolated and very sheltered world - a place where thoughts of being "gay" or really knowing what that even meant were not even contemplated. That is how I saw myself for years to come... I was not gay, I was just "envious of boys". And I beat myself up for having these feelings. And I was ashamed... Is this just normal adolescent "not fitting in" angst? Or is this something more?

At the risk of personal embarrassment, I have pulled just a sampling portion of a few entries and summarized them here for you to look into the past and see the boy that I once was. This is the first of maybe a couple of posts - covering the senior year. If you get through this post and care to respond, I am interested in you sharing your thoughts of what you observe from these words penned from this scared and oh-too-serious 17 year old's hand... and what they say about me today, now 33 years later.

Sep 2nd

Kevin is my best friend. He is my faithful and enduring friend. He’s my locker partner for many years. We’ve gone on dates, sat at games, walked and talked and shared things together. But after a certain point we stop. I don’t want to stop! Oh how I want to get closer and be close. How I wish I could confide and tell him everything inside me – open and out – and then have him understand the real me, turn around and then do the same thing. I really don’t think this will ever happen.

Sep 3rd

...I find myself being so jealous and envious of the guys at school. So many guys are so good looking, with muscled chests and full beards. I’m so skinny and am so ashamed of my body, and all I can grow is peach fuzz. And I ask myself: Why not me? I have thoughts of becoming more manly, more masculine and more like them. I don’t know what to do with my thoughts.

Nov 29th

...Life is made of countless decisions and choices, like grains of sand along the foggy beach, and each choice must be made surrounding the complicated age of 18. Wouldn’t it be great if life could end then without facing myself and my future… when and where to work, when and where to go to college, who to date, when to apply for a mission, who to marry, what occupation, and I wonder why my feelings are so different from other boys… I am totally bewildered on where to turn for help. Help me, please?

Dec 24th

O how I wish that love would swell and bloom, grow and overcome my home, not merely love and peace, but true caring, feeling and understanding so that I could open up to my family and let them know me better…

O how I wish that I were six-and-a-half feet tall, towering over other guys, with broad shoulders and big biceps, and not feeling so inferior and different.

O how I wish that I were worthy, honest enough, chaste, charitable with the true love of Christ, to be able to share and live with Him, to feel his spirit, his perfect body, his love.

O how I wish that Christmas would always last with the real meaning of giving and understanding.

O how I wish that I could relate with other people better, particularly guys, and speak easier with no pain or shaking nerves.

O how I wish that I were better…

Jan 27th

...I am ashamed of who I am. I regret how skinny and underdeveloped and pussified I really am (I’m such a puss!) which calls indeed for immediate changes in my values systems of my goals...

Feb 20th

...I still have a problem of envying other guys, those who are stronger and taller and so beautiful. Indeed, my values are low in this area and I need, again, to strengthen my mind, to control “it”, to keep these feelings within grasp, when fleeing down the road of an incorrect or lustful, or envious “thought”.

Feb 26th

...Why do I do this? It’s an envious sin that I got into the habit with and I don’t know how to satisfy myself and being content with who I am. I know I am weird, but maybe I need psychiatric care to cure my problem. I have brought it to the Lord countless times , but I don’t seem to have the required self-control of my mind to keep these thoughts and others of ill-quality from creeping around in my mind – this thing in my head that is supposed to realize right from wrong – and all I feel is that the answer, at least for now, is not now.

Do you offer any advice? I only talk about these things in here, not a soul as I know to this point knows about my feelings about this subject. That’s why some of these entries are on this subject. I am so ashamed…

Feb 27th

...As I said, I am so different from the other boys of this ward. I mean different looks, different acts, different wants. Thus, I don’t hit it off that well, but I am trying to relate, but I don’t . I’m just different. My hair is different. My way of dress is different. My attitude is different. I try to be proud of the way that I am and realize that I am this way because that is the way my spirit is, that is the way I am made. I am me!

March 3rd

...I notice how my moods have varied, how at times, I’m in tune with the spirit and then at other times I’m in tune with an evil influence, straight from Lucifer in person. What I need is more self-control, self-mastery of my body and mind, to always be the guiding pilot of my affairs of my life. If I but stay worthy, if I but keep the commandments, if I but keep myself and my feelings and desires under control, I’ll be able to live out my calling, to be a missionary, a father, a leader (as mentioned in my patriarchal blessing), and will live a full life.

March 20th

...I still have recurring dreams and thoughts about being more masculine. I imagine myself stronger and manly and the envy of other guys. I can’t get rid of these thoughts. I dream of Kevin. I want to be closer to him. He is such a special guy. I don’t know what to do. I must admit that I get a lot of enjoyment out of these thoughts. These wicked thoughts live in my mind and the enjoyment comes from the devil.

March 23rd

...Help me to be worthy to receive thy help with the right attitude. Help me to think of others, to lose myself in the service of others that I might become a happy person. Indeed, help me to be happy and choose thy way, to have clean thoughts and not these wicked thoughts, and to have clean actions and to repent seriously of my weakness of envy that I might someday be able to dwell with thee in the Celestial Kingdom and find eternal bliss.

April 7th

...An interesting thought struck me today which helps me a lot with my hang-up of envying guys. The thought was that when you ask for something from the Lord and you don’t get an answer (I have never got an answer about why I have these feelings that I shouldn’t have), maybe it is because you are having him do all of the work. You must give and meet him half-way. I thought about this and realized that all of this time I had been ordering God to take this away from me, leaving none of the work for me to do… Interesting! So, what do I do now?

Monday, June 21, 2010

He's trying to do something good...

There seems to be a lot of emotional reaction stirred up over the upcoming fireside presentation scheduled for Idaho Falls this next weekend. I understand where the emotion and reaction come from, recognizing the misinformation, hurtful guidance and misleading or confusing council in the past when homosexuality and Church come together in the same place.

I know the word "professionals" sends a nasty chill up my spine and makes me leery of what might be said, labeling those like me as "diseased" or "broken", needing to be "fixed". But, I would like to give the benefit of the doubt that this event has the potential to be something different... at least I hope so. I've known Bravone (Steve) personally for almost three decades now, and have found him to be nothing but honest and caring and genuine. As I understand his motives, he isn't doing this for his own purposes of being in the spotlight or gaining notoriety or fame or acclamation. What's in it for him? I mean, wouldn't it be better if he just let it die and not continue to poke at it? Wouldn't it be easier to just disappear and say nothing or do nothing (as many of us in his situation do)?

Instead, he is doing it to help others, to offer his hand of support - and why? Because he cares! This guy truly cares! He is trying to do something, trying to get more information out there, trying to improve dialog and dismiss the misinformation that circles around the church. As one who has gone through hell and back, as one who has left the church and now come back, he knows both sides, and simply wants to help. And he's doing it at his own personal risk, putting himself out there not as the "poster child", but as a voice - a sensitive and genuine voice - of one who knows.

I think he should be commended for his efforts. I think we should withhold judgment and let the event speak for itself. Hopefully the feelings and discussions and workshops will bring more understanding and different perspectives as members and priesthood leaders see real faces, real lives, real people - faces that represent the silent ones like me.

I commend Steve for trying, for being an ice-breaker, and hopefully for making it easier down the road for others to follow and continue to bring "face" to this discussion.

Steve, you're a better man than I, and I am in awe of what you are trying to do (and I still say you are absolutely CRAZY for even attempting to pull this off - it's a "damned if you do / damned if you don't" scenario, where potentially both sides will scoff and reject you - so who wins?), and I thank you for that - for "trying" instead of just sitting back and watching it take fold from a comfortable, safe and anonymous distance.

Saturday, June 19, 2010

So why should I long for anything more?

Over the course of the last week I've seen three movies with my wife (two in theaters and one on DVD). Typically for me, I may see a film once a month at the most, so this is really stretching it...

The first was a little Italian art-film "Mid-August Lunch" about a middle-aged Roman man being stuck on a holiday at home taking care of his elderly mother, and everyone else's mother for that matter.
Not something you'd think would be worthy of attention, but it really is quite good, if only for the Italian scenery, Italian food, and Italian language. The expressions, the gestures, the tastes and smells, the relationships and family ties - they keep swimming through my thoughts as I relive memories and emotions and feelings that will never die.

The second was "The Red Violin", a story of a 17th century violin and the mystical journey it takes through the centuries, and the lives it touches along the way, from its creation to its final destination on the auction block. It was filmed in Cremona, Italy, a small, peaceful place in this world that will always be dear to my heart. I recognized they alleys and piazze and streetscapes as if they were my home, as they once were.
Memories of riding my bike over those cobblestone paths and courtyards. As I watched it, I kept wondering what my life would be like if I were still living there. Would it be different? Would I be different? Or would it be very much the same as it is here.

The third was "Letters to Juliet", a sappy and very predictable chick-flick romantic comedy, with the lovely and elegant Vanessa Redgrave (who by the way has aged gracefully, and her eyes and smile are pure magic). Filmed mainly in eternally romantic Verona and architecturally perfect Siena, two cities I know intimately, the story of "true love" never dying and the possibility of returning to find it again decades later. It isn't great cinema, in fact it's quite silly, but the beauty and romance I have with Italy genuinely comes through with loving charm and grace. And Christopher Egan is some dang good-looking eye-candy to go with the rest of the sweet visual package.

As I discussed this trio of films with my wife, we were drawn to all three movies because of our never-ending love affair with Italy and all things Italian. After such visual majesty and heart-tugging affection, we can't help but romantically linger on the idea of returning to Italy, of living there full-time, not just visiting on occasion, and wild thoughts pop into my head... thoughts of finding "true love" again, thoughts of the "what if" type scenarios recycle, renewing my longing for something there that I can't find here. Is it because I feel more real and natural and authentic there? Is it because I lose my inhibitions and become the "real me" there? Is it because I found my first "true love" there? Is HE still there waiting and longing for me after all these years? And can it be rekindled - even the "forbidden" love I secretly long for?

And then I slap myself and snap out of the romantic visual tonic I've been drinking, and come back to reality and realize I already have my "true love". She's right here beside me. I found her through our common entrancing love of Italy, and she is still here loving Italy with me, and still loving me through the years and trials and blessings of nearly three decades. We remain best friends and our passion and intoxicating love for Italy continues to imprison our minds and bind our spirits together.

So why should I long for anything more, no?

Heavy sigh...

Thursday, June 03, 2010

There is always room for hope!


I am doing well. Really, I am! My wife and I have been going through the process of preparing our son for his mission service, and then helping him through that process (shopping, packing, temple, VISAs, farewell, shipping off to the MTC, etc.)to where he is now gone and on his way! The emotions of stress, joy, obligation, excitement, fear, adventure have all been jumbled together in abundance.

It's quite something to go through as a young missionary. It is quite something else to go through it as a parent. How much helicoptering should one do? When to step in and assist? When to step back and watch? It's certainly been a particular time that will not soon be forgotten. I can't help but want him to be happy and well and excited for this new journey. Watching him be scared, stressed, fearful, unsure, makes me ache inside. We are all different, and I'm trying to let him be who he is and make this his experience and not mine. I was a bit fearful, but really loved the experience from beginning to end. But, he's not me... and it's been hard to step back and let it be what it needs to be for him to learn and grow in the ways that he needs to and not in the ways I needed to.

... heavy sigh...

I am doing well. Really I am! My wife and I are still connecting and working together and making our marriage work in ways of love and support - and we're really making it work. I'm sure some will say that I am delusional to even say those words. How can any gay guy say those words and not be delusional? Well, this particular gay boy is saying those words. I feel hope. I sense a confidence and assurance in the path I'm on. It may not be the path that others think I should take or be on, but I don't care. It feels hopeful and right for me, and I'm fine in being labeled as "delusional" and be dismissed as fooling myself into some sense of denial... So be it.

I am doing well. Really I am! I am going through a personal experiment of what total isolation from fellow MOHOs and total abstinence from electronic eye-candy will do to affect my sense of well-being. Will it bring back the incredible building of angst and uneasiness, or will it bring strength and confidence. Don't get me wrong... I am doing this knowing that I am a gay man and always have been and at least for now, will always be a man that is attracted to other men. I am not in any way, shape or form trying to deny this fact or be delusional enough to believe that I can wish it away, or even think that such a thing is possible. I've been there and done that and know that doesn't work. Giving in to what some may say is natural and honest and inevitable (go with the flow of nature - it never makes sense to fight it) and have that desired relationship with another man - is something I am not able to do, and I choose not to. What I am trying to do is accept my true nature as fact, but choose to live my life otherwise. It is my choice and it feels right for me. Whether I can do so and make it work and do so now with less angst, remains to be seen.

Does denying oneself of natural stimuli and physical connection lead to nothing but grief, angst and frustration and ultimate eruption of seismic proportions? Or does this path lead to anything positive, strengthening, reassuring, hopeful?

I know this post sounds like I'm trying to convince myself, and maybe I am... (after all, I'm delusional)... but...

Is there any room in this world for someone like me who admits he's gay, but denies himself of a gay relationship and instead chooses to grow old and happy and content with the wife he loves?

Is there any room in this MOHO blogging community anymore for a voice like mine or has the evolution of the last four plus years made that impossible?

Is there any room for hope? Hope to make this marriage relationship work? Hope to make this family eternal? Hope to remain sane in the process?

Whether you dismiss me here and now, I am still here and though I keep thinking that I should simply go away, I'm still here... giving validity and voice to those like me who say emphatically: There is always room for hope!