Sunday, October 30, 2011

Is he ever going to grow up?

Since I've become a bit more active in blogging recently, I have noticed that most of my readership, or at least most of those who choose to leave comments, are fairly new to me. And so you, the new reader, may stumble across this odd corner of the MOHO bloggosphere and wonder who this Beck guy is.

I feel the need to reclarify for you AND for me, why I'm still here, why I still blog and what is my purpose for still hanging around.

I "joined" the MOHO community before it was even called "MOHO". I started searching for connections to others in my situation about six years ago soon after coming out to my wife. I was seeking support from others who had faced such situations, particularly as married gay men to straight women.

Through the miracle of the Internet I found a few loosely connected bloggers who had begun to give voice to this "predicament" of being active members of the LDS or Mormon Church, finding themselves undoubtedly gay, and how to deal with those juxtaposed ideas. Again, I found a few men who were in my situation of being married and the complexities of that situation. This intrigued me and I soon began to blog myself. That was over 5-1/2 years ago!

Most of those first timers have either gone away to better things, or have moved into different, more quiet directions than blogging on a regular basis. I understand this. I, too, have dropped off the radar quite a bit. My first few years I was blogging two and three times a week, or ten or twelve times a month on average. But now, I'm lucky to feel so inclined as to blog once a month, though I've tried to be regular. I guess I felt like I had said what I needed to say, that life had settled down for me and that I had come to accept with joy, who I am, including my gayness and fondness and deep attraction for men.

I was content to take down my blog and move on, as so many others have... particularly with the MOHO community growing to vast and large and numerous that following so many is completely impossible, and so much more difficult than when the intimacy of a few faithful bloggers used to be. I'm grateful that there are so many of you out there. I'm grateful that this "community" has come together, informal as it seems. I'm grateful for all the support and opposing as well as supportive views and comments I've received. This process has opened me to much broader thinking, less judgmental thinking, and more acceptance of others as I've come to accept myself.

But as I've chosen to physically isolate myself from other MOHOs, a choice I do not take lightly, I find myself still needing an outlet to allow my alter-ego, my hidden self, my gay voice to be expressed and to allow this side of me to have expression, even if to voice "silly" emotions, immature thoughts, or confusing messages. And so I still blog... sometimes more, sometimes less. I still do this for me, in order to receive some self-therapy through the written word and interaction of communication - a communication that is silent in my "real" world.

Thus, I am still here. Thus, I still blog.

But, dear reader, know a few basics about me:

1. I am happily married, and have been for 30 year, to my best friend, a beautiful, supportive woman who loves me deeply and I her. I say "happily" because I really do feel it. I always haven't... 20 years of those 30 were literal hell, as we pulled away from each other - or at least I allowed myself to pull away from her, but we are coming slowly back together and I find each day a bit better.

2. I am a firm believer in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. I have a firm witness in my personal Savior and know He is my Lord. I accept his plan and do my best, each day, to emulate him and serve those around me.

3. I am an active member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. I hold a significant leadership position and find joy, peace and spiritual enrichment in that service, particularly with my connections in helping others around me where I feel I can offer help and encouragement.

4. I struggle with my testimony of all that the Church teaches and professes. I am currently really having a personal struggle with the prophetless leadership that I feel is going on, and I seek to understand why I feel this way. I struggle with the way the homosexual issues have been treated by leaders in the Church and I wrestle with personally resolving them in conjunction with the core beliefs I hold to be true in items 1, 2, and 3 above.

5. I have chosen to be faithful and completely devoted to my marriage, my family, my kids. This is my priority and I put them above all else.

6. I still desire very much to have emotional and physical touching relationships with other men. Sometimes the craving is so strong that I feel beyond the ability to cope. But the above keep me anchored. Why, because I have felt the Spirit assuring me that I'm okay, that my efforts are accepted, that God understands me and where my heart really resides.

If along the way, I blog about things that seem silly, stupid, repetitive, naive, or adolescent in nature, if I go in cycles or circles and you seem frustrated with the lack of progress, well, join the club. This life is a life of repetition and cycles. I am a work in progress. I may not be making the choices that are best for me, still living deeply in a closet, cloaking my thoughts and feelings and attractions in a facade that may seem fake, or lacking authenticity to some who may choose otherwise, and see my choices as folly.

So be it. I recognize my alter-ego I allow to give expression in this blog may be pretty silly, immature, or adolescent, and I need a good dose of authenticity and grown-up-ness. But, please, gentle reader, recognize that I am more than just this one side of me who, like a giddy school girl, longs to kiss a man... I am a whole and real person. I try to be as real and authentic as I can. I hope you can accept me for who I am.

Until I can come to the "unity" of my two lives withim myself, until I can find a way to bring it all together into the "real" world, until that time, I still need you. I still need your feedback. I still need love and support. I still need a good slap on the head, or a blunt wake-up call. I still need this community and its support for me. I hope, as this community has evolved to the numerous bloggers, with very view reflecting my exact predicament and circumstance, that there still is room for one like me in it. I sincerely hope so...

Thank you for listening and understanding. Like always your feedback is gratefully requested...

now back to the silly blogging...

Friday, October 28, 2011

Hum a good hymn!

I hate it when this happens. It shows how little self-control I have... and how truly weak I am... and maybe how much a man like me needs to be married to a woman.

You see, my wife is out of town for over a week - and when that happens, the temptation meter jumps to the max! I feel overwhelming desires to do things, think things, that she wouldn't approve of (and that my core values wouldn't approve of either). I want to watch gay-themed films, and doing so will undoubtedly trigger desires to long for some guy to hug, which will lead to me really needing to kiss a guy. I know I don't have anyone in my life that will provide that connection (unless... um... any takers? :) ), and so these desires fail to linger in the real world, but instead, they linger in the mind - a dangerous place that destroys will power, positive image, self-mastery, self-worth.


I really need her here to keep me steady, sane, safe, in control...

Is there value in mixed-oriented marriage after all? Is it normal to fall off the wagon when the parole officer is looking the other way? Why do I feel like a playing mouse when the "cat" is away?

Or am I a just a slutty boy simply wanting to get it on with anything male that moves?

Why does this happen? Is this really my "core value"?

I hate this... got to stay strong... got to stay clean... I need to think of a favorite scripture or hum a good hymn!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

One last wish...

I love autumn!

Truth be told, I love all the seasons and look forward to each one. I certainly can imagine life lived without the changing of distinct extreme seasons, but I don't know that I could live such a life, even as spectacular as the tropical paradise may be.

There is something magical about the blazing beauty of the brilliant leaves caught in that brief moment of full jaw-dropping splendor, particularly with the low-angle sunlight of a fall late afternoon. Such a light caught the mountains out my window for such a micro-moment. I snapped a couple of shots before it was gone - a burst of color, of life shouting like the Whos in Whoville that it is still here all around us and to embrace it, wake up and notice and be thrilled, even touched by the spirituality of the miracle of life's cycles.

A few days ago I noted this comic in the paper and it gave me reason to pause...

I wonder! Yes, I still wonder if it is possible for me, once my "work is done", after I've done my duty and played my part well, that I will "get one last wish" to be what I "really want to be". I have a resilient hope that this is still the case. This hope is resilient, but maybe foolish.

I have chosen my path... and thus, this is my color, hidden behind securely closed doors, lacking the brilliance that can only be found in being seen in the sunlight. Is it too late? Some readers, as I've found out in recent comments, actually follow my slow pace of change, are still hoping, still awaiting that day when I get that "one last wish" to show my true colors. At this stage of life, is that really practical? Even possible?

I firmly believe that none of us is a finished product. We are all a work in progress, and that work is not finished. There is still time for improvement... there is still time to be better, to open the door, to come forth.

I sat on a plane yesterday and had a very interesting conversation with a fellow stranger - something I don't readily do, being much more intent to keep to myself, read, organize thoughts or sleep. But he was much more interested in having a conversation with me. He told me of his life, of travelling all over the globe on business, of being once a member of the church, of being recently divorced, and of having lost his daily connection with his kids. It was easy for me to tell him that it wasn't yet finished... there is always hope, and that none of us is a finished product - we still have much to do to be better.

He responded that I had touched his life, that he was going to give it some thought and re-investigate his options and look forward to finding spirituality and enlightenment again in his life.

I have pondered how easy it is for me to encourage others, but how hard it is to encourage myself, particularly when I face these inner struggles of authenticity consistently bubbling to the surface.

Will I allow my inner colors to shine? Will I see that living in darkness will never permit the real "me" to be seen in the light? And is that okay? Or really, in reality, it's just too late?... Winter is coming and that's reality.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

The game continues...

This game I'm playing seems to get more and more complicated...

I survived Sunday in teaching the youth about "anchors" in our lives, and digging deep and searching for answers, and finding something inside of us that serves as a
"firm foundation" when all else feels like lake bed sands of liquefaction.

I had to dig deep and find something upon which to stand firmly, something I believe in, something real. When I get in these funks where I find nothing but void in the direction of the prophet, I turn to my favorite chapter in the Book of Mormon, Alma 5, and I find a quiet place and slowly read those words addressed to the members of the church who are doubting or unsure, and I find wisdom in the counsel to remember how I felt, to dig deep and recollect the "mighty change" that occurred in my heart, to remember those that came before me and their "mighty changes" as well, and to ask myself: "Am I converted still?" I find wisdom in the teachings of that chapter in avoiding pride and envy, and instead, remembering the poor, the needy, the afflicted, and to remember the process of fasting and prayer to obtain personal revelation... all good stuff. Nothing in this chapter says that because the prophet said so, so be it. Instead, it's search, ponder, seek, help, lift, remember, find your own personal revelation and find again your own "mighty change" of heart.

Though I'm still funking over my disconnect with an ineffectual status-quo prophet (who, as as youth I held in such high esteem, waiting with eager anticipation for the day he would be prophet), I do feel deep inside the ping of remembrance of "change", though I need to dig pretty deep, and it gets harder each time... I need to fill the void.

I have found service is the way that fills my void. Trying to befriend and lift others, offering fellowship and brotherhood in ways that I can... but though that works to fill voids, I still am empty inside. This disconnect of my soul feels like a Carlsbad Cavern of sorts to fill, not a small cave.

And yes, the game continues... Tonight we, the leadership, have an activity with the youth where they are to ask "tough questions" to see if they can stump us (some questions have been written in advance for us to prepare somewhat intelligent responses). The goal is to find enlightenment with the discussion that will follow the tough questions. I hope we can admit that we don't have all the answers. Wouldn't that be a good thing to admit?

And I hope good things will follow... yet, I'm trembling to know how the Bishop or I will answer this question that we received yesterday:

"If the only sin of a gay couple is that they are not married, why would the church be so against gay marriage? Those getting married are only trying to obey the commandments, right?"

This question shows that the incredible youth of the Church today are thinking, questioning things, trying to figure out why the brethren are taking such a stance when logic and reason dictates that wouldn't gay marriage strengthen commitment and help stabilize relationships instead of hurt them? And it's interesting to see that the questioner does not see being gay as a sin as much as not being married is a sin. I find that very interesting and intriguing. In my day (yes, I'm not acting as one of the ancients), this would have been an abomination to even think such a thing, let alone ask it in a church function. These things were not discussed. You were an abomination to even have such thoughts of homosexuality. The closet door for most of us in the 70s was firmly shut and chained and locked with those Harry Potter vault locks, and keys or combinations thrown away forever. Why do you think it took some of us DECADES to come out to ourselves?

He asked me if I would take this one. I said "Sure, but you may not like my answer..." I think he'll end up taking it, but look to me for support. I guess I'm now struggling with the ethical internal battle of whether there should be a difference in what one "personally" believes and holds to be the truth on the matter, verses the "party line". And what changes when one is speaking "for the Church" in front of vulnerable, yet inquisitive and savvy youth, verses speaking "for oneself".

So any thoughts of how to handle this one? What would you do? Should there be a difference in the response based on the role and setting (Think President Hinckley with Larry King regarding similar questions)? Or should there be the personal answer first and foremost?

Oh the balance of playing the game of the one who is anchored, secured, tried and true, who knows all answers, while feeling untethered, unsure, and a bit empty. I'm so tired of hiding, or wearing this facade. I'm tired of being in these positions of authority and feeling such a hypocrite. I don't know how much longer I can play this game...

Saturday, October 15, 2011

The angst unfortunately returns...

I find myself in the situation where I have to teach the youth of the church why it is so important to gain a testimony to anchor oneself in this world of amorality, not so much "immorality" as "amorality" - that moral relativity of no right or wrong, no absolute truth, no need to worry about anything as long as you don't hurt anyone else, and no consequences to any personal actions.

I've personally seen the disastrous affect in the life of someone very close to me who has declared his amorality, and how that position has pulled his anchor up from the rock and how is tossing helplessly in a rough sea of life. Watching this happen to one I love so much, has been painful and stressful as I seek ways to help anchor the anchorless.

So, I should be amply supplied with motivation to address this topic, no?

It is important to be anchored, to have core beliefs that provide that foundation upon which to build a meaningful life, right?

So, why then, am I so hesitant in approaching this assignment? I am an anchored person, a moral person with a firm foundation upon which I remain fixed though torrential storms of life pound upon me. So why am I in a funk...

I've been so these last two weeks since General Conference. I really sought for guidance and inspiration at the feet of those who have been called to lead and teach, particularly at this time when I feel like my family is coming undone at the seams, and that the lives of those I love are suffering so tremendously with pain and depression, loneliness and loss of hope. So why did I come away from conference so empty and void?

I particularly love Priesthood Session where I can feel of the brotherhood and enjoy the male bonding of singing and being taught together. Usually I come away uplifted, and I know what the spirit feels like inside me. This time I came away empty. Maybe it didn't help that I was distracted by the most beautiful guy sitting across the aisle from me. He was wearing a crisp black suit and tailored shirt and sharp stylish tie. His eyes were piercing blue and his blond locks cascaded to his shoulders, his blond short beard glistened through his tanned complexion... but I digress.

Yes, I was distracted... and I fought that distraction and tried to concentrate. I took copious notes in hopes of keeping my attention to the speakers' messages - but the spirit was gone. All I could think about was him.

I came home depressed. I couldn't laugh it off like I have done before. I pleaded with Heavenly Father to touch my spirit, to help me to know he was there, and that he really did understand me. I needed to know that the Prophet who typically spoke on Sunday morning, was in tune, and that he understood the bigger picture, and that he understood me. I wanted something more... I wanted to be assured that prayer was real, that my prayers were being listened to, that this was all real and true.

When I heard the prophet tell of the power of prayer, I had hope, but then that hope was crushed as his example of knowing the truth of prayer was centered around leaving a $5 dollar bill in his pocket and it was taken to the laundry and he prayed as a 12 year old boy that it would come back to him because he "really needed that money". And when it did, he "knew" that his prayer was answered!

I about fell off my chair! I audibly gasped a sigh of ultimate frustration! It was as if all truth fell away from me. I came undone. I walked around in total disgust. I know the stories in Fast and Testimony meetings of lost keys, of lost money, of finding this or that, and I can chalk those up as being what they are - limited views of the power of God in our lives and witnesses of his "love" for each of us to remember us and help us with the little insignificant things in comparison to the bigger issues. I get it: Heavenly Father finds our keys, our cell phone, and sends help and inspiration when we need it. But where is He when we face depression, loneliness, helplessness, and hopelessness? Where is He to help me to understand that my "attraction" to the blond beauty in priesthood is just the way I am and it's all okay (I've had that feeling before - and even in the Temple - in a very profound way that I've blogged about last year, but not this time - this time it was just a feeling of "you're really no good and unworthy" - that feeling of angst that I had for years and had moved beyond after that "profound witness of the spirit in the temple that I was loved and understood by Him", for this last year or so... well it all came back and consumed me in hopelessness).

And I became disgusted with the prophet - disgusted that he was no different than the little ones who worship the God of lost keys and money, but not the God of one who can accept me for me and help me to stay "anchored" as loved ones are being tossed to and fro.

I became disconnected with the prophet. I have spent the last two weeks struggling with the gulf of disconnect that has overcome me. I have become lost, my tethering rope to my anchor is gone. I feel afloat and hopeless. I feel alone. Everything has come into question again in my life. I feel that if the prophet doesn't get it, then who does? And if this isn't the truth, then what is? Or is there really no truth, no absolute, no anchor, no right and wrong... am I left not with morality or immorality - just amorality?

And now how am I to be an example of an anchor for these youth tomorrow when I feel so unanchored myself? when I don't feel like I'm guiding my family, my loved ones and giving them strength in their serious time of need when I feel so weak? when I feel angst returning and assurance fleeing? when I start asking the haunting question of who I really am?

I'm broken...

I guess I'll keep faking it. Un-authenticity continues to be my core mantra.