26 December 2007

Just For This Moment

***Published ex post facto on 16 Oct 2010***

While driving home alone from Christmas festivities, the music I was listening to wasn't keeping me awake enough, so I needed some music which was a little more...engaging. Thinking of music I couldn't help but sing along with, I decided to pop in Wicked. Yes, this did the trick. How could I NOT bust it out a little with Dancing Through Life and Defying Gravity? Seriously.

But one song stood out to me more than ever before. Suddenly, I realized how much I identified with it, and I listened to it twice just to catch it all and marvel at my newfound understanding of the emotion behind the lyrics which had made some sense to me before but which now sounded like an echoing memory from my own heart and mind. Oh, precious.

In this scene, the heady, logical, introverted loner, Elphaba (the "wicked witch"), finds herself in a romantic situation with the sexy and fun-loving Fiyero, the guy all the girls want but who Elphaba, despite her suppressed attraction, had decided would never choose someone like her. He was the hedonistic "player" but was now exploring this new world Elphaba inspired him to see, in which simply going along with pop culture and "dancing through life" was revealed as a copout and a relatively meaningless way to live, compared with trying to change the world and living by your own convictions without regard to society's imposed pressures. So that's a bit of background, as I see it, for those of you not familiar with the musical.

As I listened to the lyrics, I realized I identified in many ways, and it was interesting to think that I had been quite so in the moment, in a way. I'm generally one who thinks a lot about future consequences and how actions will affect others and myself. But in one particular relationship, I experimented, in a way, because of who and how he was and how that drew me in.

I found myself thinking, "But what about the fact that we can't possibly turn this into a romantic relationship...ah forget it, just for now, I'm here and in this moment, and for now, I'm going to enjoy feeling this close with someone again and enjoy the ride (without letting it get too out of hand). Come what may, I want to see what it's like to let go a bit and just enjoy this while it lasts."

Call it part "gay adolescence", part attempt at another approach or perspective, part marveling a bit that this kind of guy really could be attracted to someone like me, part genuine affection in a friendship-turned-fling. I felt a genuine connection and affection with him, but I also let my teenage girl traits overpower common sense.

The outcomes of my own relationship and the one in the musical are very different, but I nevertheless identify more with the lyrics now than I thought possible, and it weirded me out a little to think that I had "been there":

ACT TWO, Scene 4: A clearing in the Great Gillikin Forest. Night. A campfire.

Elphaba and Fiyero are alone at last...

Kiss me too fiercely
Hold me too tight
I need help believing
You're with me tonight
My wildest dreamings
Could not foresee
Lying beside you
With you wanting me

Just for this moment
As long as you're mine
I've lost all resistance
And crossed some borderline
And if it turns out
It's over too fast
I'll make every last moment last
As long as you're mine...

Maybe I'm brainless
Maybe I'm wise
But you've got me seeing
Through different eyes
Somehow I've fallen
Under your spell
And somehow I'm feeling
It's "up" that I fell

Every moment
As long as you're mine
I'll wake up my body
And make up for lost time

Say there's no future
For us as a pair

And though I may know
I don't care
Just for this moment
As long as you're mine
Come be how you want to
And see how bright we shine
Borrow the moonlight
Until it is through
And know I'll be here holding you
As long as you're mine

(Fiyero studies her face.)

What is it?

It's just-- for the first time, I feel...wicked.

As I listened to the lyrics, I wish I could have seen my own expression. It was probably a curiously amusing combination of nostalgia, longing, self-bemusement, realization, and the sort of amused expression of a parent whose child has just done something foolish but entirely understandable.

Never before had I experienced quite the degree of abandon as I did in this brief fling which came to mind while listening to this song. I'm not usually one to experience things for the sake of experiencing them. I've usually been mindful of the future, including whether a relationship had a future, and if it didn't, I'd not invest in it much, at least not in certain ways. But I tried doing things a little differently that time.

Yet, after all is said and done, and romantic attachments with the other party in this "fling" are dissolved and I don't want to "go back", and even though I can look back and see that the relationship was a bit immature and hormone-based, something about that kind of a connection leaves me wishing, longing to experience it again.

And even though I can think of relationships with greater depth, better communication, more history and commitment, and a deeper "connection", there's something about the romantic connection that brought part of me alive, that made me feel complete and activated in really positive-feeling ways, and so even though this particular "fling" was a fleeting and relatively shallow thing, I'm left longing for a relationship which includes that chemistry, that vibrance, that feeling like all is well in the world while you're with that person, that sense of total and exhilarating intimacy and trust, as illogical as it may be, fade though it may, along with the "deeper" things. I realize the energizing happiness I've felt with a couple friends-turned-romantic is theoretically unimportant in a "real" relationship, but it still feels so beautiful, so enlivening, so motivating that while feeling it, I have to believe I can feel it along with, or on the way to, the abiding, lifetime committing kind of love, too.

19 December 2007

A Passing Dream

***Posted 16 Oct 2010***

Missing the contact, thinking of it fondly and wishing for more, but feeling like it was with someone else, someone who is gone, who no longer exists, or maybe never did, like a passing dream. It makes it easier not to want more.

18 December 2007

Identifying with the Weepies

I like the sound of the Weepies a lot. The lyrics, though, are probably what really hooked me, in the end.

Nobody Knows Me At All

When I was a child, everybody smiled
Nobody knows me at all
Very late at night and in the morning light,
Nobody knows me at all

I got lots of friends, yes, but then again,
Nobody knows me at all
Kids and a wife, it's a beautiful life
Nobody knows me at all

And oh when the lights are low
Oh with someone I don't know

I don't give a damn, I'm happy as a clam
Nobody knows me at all
Ah, what can you do? There's nobody like you
Nobody knows me at all


Simple Life

Can I get up in the morning
Put the kettle on
Make us some coffee, say "hey" to the sun...
Is it enough to write a song and sing it to the birds?
They'd hear just the tune
Not understand my love for words
But you would hear me and know
I want only this, I want to live
I want to live a simple life.

I dreamed you first
But not so real
And everyday since I've found you
Such moments we steal
Like little thieves, we rub our hands
We hold our hearts between them.
But will you hear me and know?
I want only this, I want to live
I want to live a simple life.

Move on, move on
Time is accelerating.
Drive on all night
Traffic lights and one-ways.

Move on, move on
Parking violations waiting
Turn off the car, breathe the air
Let's stay here.

I'll kiss you awake, and we'll have time
To know our neighbors all by name
And every star at night.
We'll weave our days together like waves
And particles of light.
I want only this, I want to live
I want to live a simple life.

Not Your Year

Scattered shadows on a wall, you watch the long light fall
Some impressions stay and some will fade
Tattered shoes outside your door, clothes all on the floor
Your life feels like the morning after all year long.

Every day it starts again
You cannot say if you’re happy
You keep trying to be
Try harder, maybe this is not your year.

Movies, TV screens reflect just what you expected
There’s a world of shiny people somewhere else
Out there following their bliss
living easy, getting kissed
while you wonder what else you’re doing wrong

Breathe through it, write a list of desires
Make a toast, make a wish, slash some tires
Paint a heart repeating, beating “don’t give up, don’t give up, don’t give up.”

Living in Twilight

You look darkly on the day
With memories to light your way
A little sad but it’s all right
We are always living in twilight

No one knocks upon your door
Until you don’t care anymore
A little alone but it’s all right
We are always living in twilight

Living in a dream, walking in between the sunrise and sunset
Living in a dream, walking in between sunset and sunrise

You get tied up in your day, so I let go and walk away
And now we’re loose ends of the night
We are always living in twilight

So it goes, though no one knows you like they used to do
Have a drink the sky is sinking toward a deeper blue
And you’re still all right
Step out into twilight


17 December 2007

Do What You Enjoy

***Published, unfinished, 16 Oct 2010***

Talking with a friend at the gym, he seemed somehow detached. Disinterested. He talked about not understanding being torn. If you don't have enough reason to stay in the church, don't. For work, be selfish and do what you enjoy. You don't have to support a family, so why worry about that? Find what you're good at and what you love doing and do it.

Talking with another acquaintance, he talked about something from the other night at the club, and he said, "Why not? You only live once."

You only live once. Do what you enjoy. It dawned on me: as much sense as those lines make in a certain context and in a certain frame of mind, something inside of me tells me there's just something more to life and making decisions.

I realized that this is why some people are so confusing to me, like when they jump into the gay world but won't be seen in public. Maybe they're not acting out of awareness of how their decisions will impact those around them but out of what "feels right" in the moment. While I need to learn to let go of my analyses more, I don't want to be like that. I think there's far too much more to consider in life than what feels right to me at any given moment. There are consequences to foresee, people to consider, reality of truth even when you don't feel motivated by it. That goes either way, incidentally, in most cases. I'm not just talking about "gospel" truths here.


Man, I feel really adrift right now. I don't know what to do with all of this crap in my head and my heart. I just want to live truth, but I have to figure out what that is first, and I'm tired of the effort...

And no, don't tell me I "already know" what the truth is. You don't have any idea.

On a lighter note, I got a nifty little duster thingy at work today. Weeeee!

11 December 2007

Moho-Friendly Travel

Yes, folks, in quaint little Waco, TX, you can find the Town House MoHotel. The decor is conservatively frumpy with a touch of inexpensive style. Every nightstand has a Book of Mormon and a copy of Resolving Homosexual Problems. They regularly rent out the space for slumber parties, but only for 5 or more people in odd numbers. They even have extra wide futons for group spooning and other forms of "healthy touch", though beds are remarkably narrow, barely accomodating one person each, "for your own safety". Pay-Per-View service offers on-demand viewing of Evergreen promotional videos, So You Think You Can Dance, American Idol, Brokeback Mountain (edited, offered as a "cautionary tale"), Angels in America (edited -- it's about 9 minutes long after cutting the vulgar language, cross-dressing prophet scenes, inappropriate sterotyping of LDS women, and heavy-handed, sexualized cynicism), and Latter Days (completely unedited for "educational" purposes, of course, so you know what your "gay" friends have been watching all this time).

09 December 2007

Marriage With a Girl? Not Now

Maybe, if a day comes when I have a firmer "testimony" of god-sanctioned male-female marriage or see things from a more mature perspective, I'll more readily choose the lesser attraction for the eternal blessings of doing so and the happiness I will then be convinced it would bring her and me. Until then...

Maybe I just haven't met the "right girl", the one to whom I'll actually experience a fuller attraction to. I mean, I can think of probably half a dozen people I've been attracted to enough to consider a relationship with, and seriously, that's not a huge pool of people. So you never know, right? Until then....

I tend not to say things which could be construed as "negative" because they're often passing thoughts which are, I think, fairly tempered. Still, my occasional spark of desire for marriage or dating girls is quite fleeting, yet I post that because many gay mormons seem to avoid acknowledging having such desires. But amidst recent talk of marriage and relationships, and the fact that I've mainly been expressing sparks of hope of finding such a relationship, I thought some balance was in order. At the risk of rocking the marriage bandwagon and flip-flopping, I'll just go ahead and say that recently, at least, I felt only disinterest and some bitterness towards the very idea of doing so myself, and now I'm back to a sort of bland, detached acceptance of the possibility.

Maybe it's because of recent events in my own life and feeling the exhilaration of mutual attraction and how different it feels from anything I've felt with a girl. But whatever the reason, this is not a fun thing to have to work on wanting...

Why To Come Out

See the companion post: Why Not to Come Out

Reasons I can think of, past and present, valid or less-so, for why I have chosen or would choose to "come out" to people (feel free to add your reasons--I'm interested in people's motivations here):

1) It's just part of me. Why should it be that big a deal?

2) How will people ever overcome their prejudices if their closest friends and loved ones do not reveal themselves and open up?

3) Why avoid the issue just because it might test the relationship? Why not find out how true your relationships are?

4) There's something liberating about allowing people to know the fuller picture, the more complete puzzle, and discovering that they accept you for you, even if they don't understand, and allowing them or helping them to see past labels.

5) Sometimes it's helpful to other people for them to know your life isn't as perfect and cookie-cutter as it appears.

6) Get people off my back when it comes to asking about why I don't date, why I'm not seeking the ultimate goal in life to find an eternal companion and make babies.

7) Until those of us who experience this speak up for ourselves and stop silently letting everyone else grasp at straws, progress towards understanding will be entirely too slow, and those who feel alone will continue to feel alone until more people speak up.

8) It sure would make strained relationships with girls easier sometimes.

9) I wouldn't have to make up excuses for why most of my wardrobe is Banana Republic-style and why I love Project Runway. (OK, so I don't make excuses. It's more fun to just let people wonder.)

10) There's something to be said for just being "authentic" and "genuine" and welcoming the same from others. Doesn't the world need more of that, in some ways?

11) I don't want my mother holding out hope that more grandbabies are just around the corner. There may be, but right now, making babies is not on the top of my list of fun things to do with myself.

12) If they knew you were dealing with this before making any apparently drastic decision, it could soften the blow when you do decide to date a guy and have a relationship, rather than looking like you suddenly decided you are gay and went off the deep end.

13) It's nice just to have a little sympathy sometimes, or understanding of why you're not always chipper or as "faithful" as others think you should be.

14) You don't have to hide your copy of In Quiet Desperation in the back of the closet with your porn. OK, so I don't have porn. At least not in the back of the closet.

Note: Stop freaking out, reason 14 is a "funny".

Why Not To Come Out

See the companion post: Why to Come Out

Reasons I can think of, past and present, valid or less-so, for why I have chosen not to "come out" to people (feel free to add your reasons--I'm interested in people's motivations here):

1) It's not everybody's business. It's a part of me that people can find out, or I can tell them, when it's pertinent, but it's just one part of who I am, and it's not necessary in most relationships. Why go there until it seems to be blocking the relationship or becomes obviously significant?

2) Sometimes, I'm just tired of answering inquisitive questions, explaining myself, helping people understand what it's like, easing their worries, dealing with their prejudices...

3) I don't want to be labeled as "gay" and have that become the primary aspect people see in me.

4) If I were to meet a girl with whom I wanted to explore a relationship, I wouldn't want people saying, "Wait, you like boys! What are you doing?!"

5) Maybe I can do the most good to increase understanding and tolerance without people disregarding me just because I'm "one of them" and therefore already tainted and biased.

6) I haven't wanted to make it seem like this is the one and only reason for not pursuing relationships with some girls.

7) Sometimes, if people were to put too many pieces together, it could be embarrassing when they make certain connections.

8) In some cases, outing myself would also out, in turn, friends who are not ready to make their own situation known.

9) Some friends' families have implored them not to make it known in general. They don't want the family name brought into it, or they don't want their children's lives to be made harder by people's judgement and intolerance.

10) When I was really unsure of which way I was to take all of this, I needed to know I was making decisions of my own accord and not due to pressure from those close to me.

11) Telling certain family members who aren't great at keeping secrets would mean telling the whole family, so even though I felt I could probably talk with certain family members, I didn't, because I really wasn't ready for the others to know.

12) Sometimes, I haven't told people because I didn't want them to inaccurately ascribe some of my personality traits or decisions solely to this. "Oh, THAT'S why you like baking cookies so much!" "Oh, of course you WOULD like Sondheim musicals." *grin*

13) Sometimes, it's more comfortable to compartmentalize life.

14) How many of my friends have come to me and confessed they're "straight"? I just make deductions and assumptions. They can do the same. I'll not try to hide it, but I don't need to just come right out and say it.

The Perfect Friend

I think I've always held out this desire, even if I'm not always aware of it, for that "one friend". You know what I'm talking about? That one friend with whom you can do everything, call any time, talk about anything. The one who will always be there, no moving, no taking back burner to the newest flame. One with whom you agree on most significant things, with whom you really identify, and who complements you in important ways. And it'd be great if they're a cuddle buddy, too. Hm....OK, so maybe that's a "spouse" or "life partner", but even in that context, I actually think it's a fantasy relationship.

And if you think you have it, it may actually be what we refer to as "codependence". Maybe investing in various friendships which fill different roles is simply the way to go. That's not to say you must amass friends around you like some obsessive collection, but you have different friendships with different people. Nobody is going to complement you perfectly in all aspects of life and personality. By building a great foundation of close friendships, I am choosing which aspects of myself I most want to be brought out and supported.

And when I'm pining away for the "perfect friend", I sometimes think of ways in which I may be able to better extend my own love and friendship to those closest to me whose friendship has stood the test of time. Rather than waiting for the perfect friend (or romantic partner) to show up, I can work on perfecting the friendships and family relationships which matter most to me. What you value is clearly indicated by your investment. And sometimes you discover what you value by investing more proactively.

New Moho Uniform

OK, so my friend, "A Girl Who", recently sent me a beautiful discovery, one I absolutely must share with the world.

Considering this new finding, it might be time to officially retire the blue shirt and green tie in favor of an entirely less subtle, much more fun way of indicating our brotherhood. Behold, the moho cufflink:

Keep it in mind for your moho loved ones this holiday season.

06 December 2007

Coming Off the Emotional Rollercoaster

Last Sunday, after having been through a funk, depression, numbness, manic phase, and awkward acceptance, I crashed. The night before (Saturday), I had started watching a movie which showed a lot of tenderness between a couple. Close-ups of sweet, tender kisses on the neck, holding each other... As I watched, I longed for that kind of intimacy. I was very tired, and I decided to go to bed rather than fight my increasing emotions.

The next morning, I went to church, and it was fine, but I was feeling this inexplicable funk again. When I got home, it hit the fan. Somehow, everything came rushing back, and I broke down and cried harder than I have for a long, long time. It was a gut-wrenching cry, one in which you know you're letting something go which you really don't want to let go. I was mourning a loss all over again and feeling very alone, very sad. Maybe it was my own little pity party, but whatever it was, I just let it out. I had to.

During church, I had had a sudden, strong desire to play piano, which I haven't done in many, many months. Now, after a good, hard cry, I needed the therapeutic effects of playing the piano. I grabbed my books and drove to campus to find a piano free somewhere. But as I parked, I was still breaking down somewhat randomly into tears. I didn't want to be seen. So I called a good, long-time friend and went to visit him. We mostly talked about anything but what was bothering me. It was a good distraction to occupy my mind for a while. Then he asked, and I explained what I was feeling. That at this point, it wasn't so much about the fling, I didn't think, as it was about having tasted, again, the beginnings of a romantic relationship and what that could feel like, the sweetness, the tenderness, the beauty, the connection, and that I was mourning the loss of that kind of relationship, at least in the way I had always imagined having one, once again.

My friend told me about a past relationship of his and some of the parallels and similar emotions and thought processes he went through, and he reassured me that he was pretty sure I could find a better match for myself. He expressed his appreciation for what I (and my gay/SSA friends) must have to go through, and that he doesn't know how we do it. I said, "You've gone through a divorce and shared custody and financial burdens. I feel like an idiot being so bent out of shape over a fling and the loss of just barely the beginning of a relationship." He said, "You know, they say it's better to have loved and lost..."

I've never been to the "loved" stage. Not truly. Not deeply. Not in that sense.

But OK, I'm accepting that again. After our talk, I went and practiced piano for a long while. It was really good for me. I was able to focus my energy on something constructive and vent some raw emotion through music.

Since then, I'm feeling fairly "normal" again. I'm able to hang out with my fling buddy without much awkwardness, and now without bitterness or anger. No strong drive to be closer, more physical, more intimate. I've accepted that it was partially a fantasy. I'm back to enjoying his cuteness, his little charms, his beauty, his personality, without needing to be closer to him than other people. I still find it weird, at times, when he seems closer to my roommate or others than to me, but it doesn't hurt anymore. It's just the way it is.

30 November 2007

The Unplucked Monkey Fruit

I understand being torn between two apparent extremes (believe me, I do), but from my sort of tentative, moderate viewpoint, I sometimes feel like I'm some intriguing but unplucked fruit surrounded by curious, swaying monkeys swinging wildly between extremes or sometimes approaching my middle ground but not staying long because they're uncomfortable in such a tentative position or fear they'll be left behind by the others in the extremes. It's a lonely place. Nobody stays. They just pass through. Maybe I'll move some day, too, and stay on a "side", or maybe I'll start swinging constantly back and forth, but for now...

I'm kind of amused by this imagery. Bunch of monkeys. Monkeys are fun.

Dreaming of Max Power

So I had a dream a couple of nights ago, the likes of which I haven't had for quite some time. It was nice. Now, don't get me wrong, it wasn't "one of those dreams", just a good one.

I don't remember the details....at all, really. But there was one thing I couldn't forget: the hottest makeout I've dreamed about for a long time. With a very hot guy. It was tender but passionate, sweet but hot. It was oh, so welcome after going to bed feeling particularly lonely that night, in my great and spacious bed all by myself. So, as you might have guessed, this is where our blogger friend, Max Power, comes into the picture.

But perhaps not how you might be imagining. Right after this hot makeout ended, the unknown, mysterious hot guy I was making out with faded away, and then in came Max Power. He came right up to me and started making advances, none-to-subtle, I might add. After a brief fight against his eager groping and wet lipsmacks, I woke up startled and uncomfortable, frightened for my virtue.

Apparently, mohos in distant lands are so starved of affection, they may come for you in your dreams. Be warned, readers, it may happen to you.

Disclaimer: Any resemblance to actual people or events is purely coincidental.

Detached Rainbow of Emotions

I wrote some fairly volatile feelings in a post I may or may not ever publish. I did so in the midst of the biggest depressive dip I've had in a long while. I'm feeling a bit better now. I've even experienced a sort of detached manic stage today, coming off of the depression. Tends to happen. I try to temper those upswings, so I come out of them pretty even-keeled. I was even chatty--and maybe a little flirty--with the girl who cut my hair tonight. It was kind of fun, in a detached way.

That's my buzz word for the day: detached.

I've been through a very confusing relationship. It started normally enough, then got a little too intense too fast, as our kind tends to do at times (though I still surprised myself). Then we decided to back off a bit. He backed off way more than I had in mind. I didn't like going from talking every day and being rather close to hanging out only in decent-sized groups and acting like casual acquaintances. My perception of the depth or degree of friendship was a bit out of wack because we each interact with people very differently and have very different social styles.

So, as a result, I've been running through a wider gamut of emotions than I have experienced all at once for a long, long time.

At the start and through the "honeymoon" phase:

I felt passionate and animated by the new friendship and spark of attraction.

I felt soft-hearted and tender when he'd do adorable things or we'd talk about personal subjects.

I felt connected, appreciated and appreciative, loved and loving (at least in the shallow sense, which still feels nice!).

I felt motivated to do more, to be better, to trust more and let go more.

Then things got weird. And whether or not any of my perceptions have been accurate, my feelings since then have been:

I felt stung and hurt at being, as it seemed to me, so easily and quickly put on the back burner, once the idea of a more "romantic" relationship was decidedly (by both of us, strangely) not an option. And not even put on the back burner to simmer, but just to be done. Like the friendship had gone as far as he wanted or needed it to go, and without the romantic component, now it was business as usual.

I felt foolish for letting myself get as emotionally invested as I did in a brand new relationship.

I felt cheap for being that vulnerable and trusting, when I should've known the relationship didn't have the depth I imagined.

I felt angry at him for seeming too insensitive to understand why I needed to distance myself more from the friendship for a while rather than act like "casual buddies" until I sorted some things out.

I felt angry at myself for even being so selfish as to get involved with him in the way I did, when I knew he was trying to figure a lot out. I had told myself, "better me than someone who will use him and leave him or try to pull him into a romantic relationship." Hm.

I felt shallow and selfish to be hurt over it rather than simply saying, "I knew something like this was likely to happen, being his first such experience, and I always kept that present in my mind, even though I hoped it would be different. What did I expect? The kid's going through a lot right now and has no idea what to do with it all. He's younger, he's newer to all of this, and he has other things he really needs to focus on, and this is a lot to process all at once, especially since we had a mutual attraction going on. How is he supposed to know what to do with that kind of friendship?" Well, I tried, I think. But unfortunately, I think my own insecurities about my friendships reared their ugly head.

Yet through all of this, the exhilaration of the romantic spark, the vulnerability, the insecurity, the pain, I felt more "alive" and "normal" than I have for a long time. I felt sort of...dare I say...human. Frail. Passionate. Connected. Ha, oh my gosh! I think, just NOW, something makes a little more sense to me! "I hurt myself to feel." Ha! Um...just check this out if you have no idea what I'm talking about.

I feel more sympathy than I have felt for a long time. I understand now, I think, what some people in my past have gone through in relation to me. And even though I did nothing intentionally, I ache for what they have been through because I now know a little of what it might have been like.

The past couple of days have been different. I've had pretty minimal contact with said boy. He's moving soon, maybe for a while, maybe for not too long, but with him leaving, I decided to end the whole "let's not hang out until I sort this out" thing. I mean, I can deal with whatever I have to deal with for a few weeks until he's gone whether I like it or not. And rather than leave the friendship on this funky, distant note, or cutting him off entirely, I'll just deal.

And maybe for that reason, as a defense mechanism, or maybe because I'm so thoroughly emotionally drained, or both, I feel...detached. It's refreshing, in an odd way, to rest from so much feeling. But the detachment is a bittersweet medicine for me. I've remembered that the fantasy "perfect friend" does not exist and that I will benefit from investing more energy in various friendships which fulfill different roles and needs in my life rather than pining away for the one "complete" relationship. That's, I think, beneficial.

But there are sadder lessons learned. I feel like I have, once again, locked the armor back over my heart, a little harder this time, a little more cautious, the key put away but not quite thrown away because I hang on to a fool's hope that I will need it again someday. I've remembered the beauty and quickening of what I'm not allowed to feel because it's supposedly misdirected and immature. I have once again been slapped upside the head with the reminder that a same-sex relationship of a romantic nature just doesn't work from a doctrinal perspective. And though I thought I was pretty OK with that, I think I'm mourning it all over again since I've remembered what it feels like to wish it were OK.

Regarding the specific relationship, I have forgotten the sweetness of the physical closeness, the familiarity of his natural aroma, the tenderness of eye contact, the unjustified trust, the feeling that we have given ourselves over, just a little bit, to each other. I beg your pardon for sounding juvenile about it all, but while most people were going through this stuff in adolescence, I was wondering what was so different about me.

A few days ago, I missed these things, the sweetness of it all. Now I would miss it if only I still knew it. Those are concepts I can still appreciate enough to write about and remember like blandly fond memories but which now seem, once again, strangely and sadly foreign. Detached.

29 November 2007

Too Straight

Just left my first-ever chiropractic evaluation. After some measurement and palpation, the doctor came to a conclusion. So, by doctor's recommendation, I may need to work on being less straight.

I took some small comfort in this advice.

Eternally Solitary

I've been going through a nasty range of emotions lately. This is an excerpt from what I wrote earlier this week on a paricularly bad night. I've hesitated posting it because it's likely many will see this as weakness, instability, or irrational emotion. Maybe that's what it is. In fact, I know a lot of the emotion has been more intense than I can explain. I don't know quite why I'm feeling everything I'm feeling, but I think it's worth taking a risk, here, and looking like a boob.

I feel utterly and eternally alone tonight, and that's partially, I'm sure, because I'm tired, and partially because--in relation to a friend in whom I invested a lot of energy and emotion--I have felt repeatedly reminded how little impact I have in his life and how quickly he gets over anything related to me. Why it keeps bothering me, I don't know. I should know better. I never thought I would sound like this: like an emotionally needy basketcase pining away for a relationship I blew out of proportion in my mind.

Maybe part of it is knowing that this friendship-turned-fling-turned-who-knows-what will not have time to heal before the other half of the fling leaves in just a few weeks, and who knows if I'll be here when he gets back or if we'll see each other again? Cut your losses and let him go, part of me thinks.

And he's talking about getting closer to the church, yet he's also getting closer to guys who have been dating guys? Why should the apparent contradiction bother me?

I feel like an idiot. I feel used and set aside but kept in a drawer like a tender reminder of something you used to cherish but now see as a childish fancy. Am I someone's childish fancy? Meanwhile, _I_ went in more experienced, eyes wider open, but did it anyway. What the @#$% was I thinking?

I feel like I'm just the bum at the crossroads, the guy everyone says "hi" to as they're bouncing back and forth from one extreme to another. Nobody stays in the grey, or the moderate. It's uncomfortable for most. Unbearably uncomfortable. Seems indecisive (though I must say it actually takes a surprising amount of decision to determine to not be swept away one way or another). So they come for a moment, to check in, then they're off like a shot to the safety of more decided extremes. One moment, someone says, "I think I know what I want. I want a gay relationship." The next moment he says, "I'm getting closer to the church. Church was so good today!" What the hell?!! How do people do that? I know what it's like to be torn, but to jump in one pool with both feet then jump out and jump into the other? How? Why?

Now, after what feels like another abandonment, I'm left here feeling lonelier than I have in a long time. Feeling like nobody really understands where I'm coming from or what I'm saying. Nobody is quite as unsure (or willing to admit they're unsure) of what they want. And those who would be closest to me seem to feel unsafe being so, maybe because they simply can't identify with me like they, or I, once thought they could. And I'm not at all interested, right now, in some intangible deity coming to rescue me and make me feel loved. I want a human! A living, breathing human! I'm tired of the ethereal! I'm tired of abstract theories and tentative wishfulness! I just want here and now for once, damn everything else!

I'm sleeping in the middle of my bed tonight. Maybe I can delude myself into feeling less isolated and alone this way. And rely on my dreams to bring me some form of solace and the companionship I want, if only for a few beautiful moments.

28 November 2007

Sexuality Getting in the Way

I have had a couple of female friends get very upset, when talking about the issue of sexuality in general, and seeimingly magnified by the issue of homosexuality, because as they see it, our society is so hung up on sexuality that it kind of ruins everything.

Why sexuality is a problem:
It creates false icons we all want to look like.
It kills the beauty of relationships by overfocusing.
It seems to derail people so often from the gospel path.
It taints all conversation in our culture.
It maims puppies and kittens.

...or something like that.

They're astounded at how much people seem to focus on sexuality. They're dismayed when sexuality is always mentioned as a component of a relationship. They're confused at why the idea of lack of sexual intimacy is even such a big concern for so many, including gay men considering marriage as a possibility.

I must mention that these girls are, in fact, girls, and that one is a self-proclaimed asexual and the other having experienced physical attraction of a remotely sexual nature only two or three times.

I don't get that.

At all.

OK, kind of. There WAS that whole time in my life when I suppressed my sexuality because it couldn't POSSIBLY be geared towards boys for real. Back then, I marveled at people's stupidity over sexuality. Now, I'm stupid, too. Dang.

So I guess all I'm trying to say is: what's love got to do with it? Wait, not quite. I'm saying: I think they have a point. As I discussed in my post, Regaining Perspective in a Lovesac, there's a lot more to a relationship than mere physical gratification.

So with that in mind, doesn't it kind of make the whole dilema those of us of a less heterosexual persuasion have about getting married to someone of another gender seem less troublesome? I mean, if sex is just a small part of a relationship, what's our deal? Why don't we just go for it and overcome our "nature", which everyone has to do in some way or another, to do what God so clearly wants for us: in this case, an eternal marriage?

Some thoughts:

1) That's assuming God really does want everyone married in this life. Is it possible he did, in fact, have other roles in mind for some of us for our days on the earth?

2) Acting against one's "nature" in favor of some doctrine requires a fairly strong "testimony" of that doctrine. While many have a testimony of the gospel in general, you'd be hard-pressed to find some among even them who do not have doubts and/or questions regarding certain points of doctrine, at least as they apply personally. That doesn't exactly "excuse" inaction or "disobedience", but maybe it helps temper our judgement of others as we allow them to live by their own individualized timeline, which may frustrate you or me but may well be along a path on which God may be leading that person. That person's voiced frustrations and hesitations may be only the tip of a very large iceberg of personal experience and perspective.

3) While I intellectually understand that sexuality is, perhaps, icing on the cake of a relationship, I also know that my mutual attractions with guys have been more enlivening, invigorating, intense, joyful, and humanizing than my attractions to the few girls I've been attracted to. It's more complete. Feels more "real". More genuine. It's not just about the physical attraction, it's just different. Not sure I can describe it.

Maybe I'm fooling myself and it's just physical. But it doesn't feel that way. And don't get me wrong: it's not that I don't feel a genuine connection with the girls I've been close friends with, some of which I have been attracted to on some level. It's just hard to choose the lesser attraction.

I don't think it's just about sexuality. That's the most obvious difference, though, to point out. Especially for those of us who thought ourselves to be devoid of sexual and fully romantic feelings but then discovered a whole new aspect of life we had been vigorously suppressing for so long, and when we finally acknowledge it, it's a bit like a kid in a candy store, for lack of a better description.

But ask anyone what makes a romantic partner different from a really close friend or exciting new acquaintance. There's just an added dimension of attraction, and it's not only about sexuality. Or is it? Hey straight people, you tell me. I guess I can't say with much authority...

26 November 2007

Ripe for the Harvest

I just had a thought: what if I approach the idea of marriage like I approached a mission: I wanted it, even though it did not fit my personality type exactly, and I approached it WITH mission, with purpose, understanding it was not "for everyone" to serve a mission but that I was fully capable of facing the challenges that were to be presented, and that I would have strength added to my own to fulfill whatever command I was confident the Lord gave.

Yet even now, remembering this and believing that I am, in fact, fully capable of "handling" the challenges of marriage and carrying through with that "call", I am still not sure how genuine it would be to do so. I mean, obviously it's the ideal according to LDS doctrine and culture. I just am not sure it is what I want, or what I even believe to be best. I'm not sure marriage really is the Lord's call to me, but I feel some draw, right now, to it.

I desire the fulfillment and happiness I felt in the one or two sort of romantic relationships I've experienced with male friends mixed with the depth of communication and connection I've felt with some non-romantic friends (male or female). Just that small taste of what it might be like to be coupled with a great guy, and that "completeness" of attraction, left me wanting more and made life in a romantic relationship with a woman seem totally bland and bleak in comparison.

Yet right now, after reading what would normally seem a thoroughly and irritatingly preachy e-mail response to my "coming out" to an old roommate who is now married, in which he proclaimed some simple (even simplistic) principles of the gospel and the joy marriage has brought him...I'm in a strange, almost ethereal mood, in a sort of peacefully familiar, although somewhat nebulous, perspective. I have a strange feeling that I can, in fact, navigate successfully through a marriage with a woman, and a faint glimmer of a desire to try it. That I could do it honestly. And that I would feel an abiding peace in doing so, even if I would have to give up the thrillingly romantic feelings I long so much to allow myself to feel.

But I remain, as of yet, extremely wary and will wait this out. Perhaps there is a war going on for my soul right now, heteroangels against homodemons duking it out to win this tortured soul, each with their own brand of healing.

Maybe his fervent--even if overly simplistic--e-mail has actually been just what was required to prick my heart with the Spirit at the right moment.

Maybe I'm on the rebound in the aftermath of a semi-romantic relationship from which I've painfully distanced myself and am now grasping for the next most comfortable thing, and the only thing I feel I'm actually allowed and could feasibly achieve (a sort of consolation prize that doesn't seem half bad after facing the reality of the loss of a more desirable prize), the familiarity of a good old-fashioned marriage and family. It feels like home, but it also feels a little like a lobotomy, like there's a vague sense that a piece of me is missing, but the part of my brain that recognizes the missing piece has been neatly disabled, so I'm blandly complacent.

Maybe it will pass.

Maybe I'll abandon my "testimony" as a lost cause and go after what I "want" with less regard to established doctrines of which I am not sure and may never be again.

Maybe I'll determine my "testimony" was a nice story I told myself for a long time and which helped me through a lot, and now the training wheels are to come off, and I am to embark on a lonelier (yet less divisive), more down-to-earth journey in a starker reality towards new depths of understanding.

Maybe my "testimony" will be rekindled in time, with a little effort on my part and help from friends and family, and I will find the strength to do things I am "scared" to do or am just not sure of at this moment.

I just don't know right now, but even now, in my dreamlike acceptance of the potential joy and peace of marriage and children, I'm sort of blandly, emotionally open to any of the scenarios above.

This, no doubt, is worrisome to many of you: that I'm dangerously, spiritually apathetic and open to a path that can only lead to distance from God, eternal damnation (loss of progress), denial of my divine worth and potential, and moral degradation. Loneliness in the eternities when I am separated not only from my earthly companion but from my friends and family who, presumably, will have made it to the Celestial Kingdom without me.

Others of you may be worried in another way: that I'm perched precariously on a downslide into the self-deceptive entrapment of tangled, man-made practices and doctrines that can lead only to a diminished and robotic, Stepford-style existence, seeking the praise of those who would be moral arbiters in exchange for the liveliness of my soul and needlessly giving up my true self in a self-loathing gesture of resignation.

Maybe I'm ripe for the picking? Nearing readiness to be sifted or tempered, perhaps?

Or I'm just in a mood and writing about it in the moment, and in an hour, I'll be back to the daily grind.

25 November 2007

Skepticism on JIM Dandiness

For those not familiar with the acronym "JIM", it refers to the Journey Into Manhood weekend, an experiential weekend designed, as I understand it, to help men work through emotional scars and developmental roadblocks to clear the way for the development of the whole, masculine man they have always been, consequently clearing the way for an increase in "natural" attraction towards women. I affectionately refer to those who have gone on JIM weekends as JIM-dandies.

Now, to be fair, I really want to make it clear that I have never been to JIM, do not know specifically what happens there, and have not extensively researched reparative therapy in all its nuance and clinical theory. I can only speak from the bit of reading I've done and the conversations I've had with some close friends about their experiences with JIM in a broad, general sense, as they sign a contract not to divulge certain details about the weekend.

A good friend of mine recently went for the first time. A couple of other friends did, too, actually, but I haven't seen them as much to see the effects. This friend who went obviously took away some valuable tools, and I was excited for him to go and am happy for the experience he had. I think it was a huge help and well worth what he spent on it.

Still, I'm not interested in JIM even after seeing how much of a difference it has made in a friend of mine. I guess the skeptic in me never rests, and I believe individuals are so very unique that one experience that is amazingly beneficial to one may not be so to another individual with a different set of perspectives and circumstances. Not better or worse, just different. And yet, even though I don't wish to go, myself, I have recommended, on occasion, that some friends look into going for themselves.

I mean, I did enjoy the sort of sneak-peek activities one of the JIM directors did with us at the last Evergreen conference. I realize that was a very tiny, shallow sampling of what goes on at the weekend, but I like activities that make you leave your comfort zone enough to learn something about yourself or see something from a refreshed perspective, to shift paradigms where necessary and clarify others. I don't doubt I'd take away something from a JIM weekend, but I'm extremely doubtful it would be worth the investment and airfare. When I read testimonials or listen to a description of what it's supposed to do, there's nothing ringing inside of me that says, "That's ME! That's what I need. That's my issue, too!"

And when my friends get together and talk cryptically about JIM things and principles, it really grates on my nerves after a while because of the culture-specific lingo they use and the things they can't say. Maybe this is what it feels like to be a member of another faith in Utah? Or one of my straight friends hanging out with my moho friends? Poor saps.

With one friend who had just been to JIM recently, I noticed he started verbally qualifying every attraction with traits and/or qualities. It sort of went under my radar at first, but after a couple of days, I realized that this was his way of defusing the attractions and possibly convincing himself they aren't really the attractions he thought, unless I'm overinterpreting. It seemed like every time he saw an attractive male, he tried, in a sense, to "explain" the attraction by some trait he admired and wanted for himself. And I understand some of the ideas behind that line of thinking, but I have to ask some questions about it.

Honestly, any man or woman could deconstruct their attractions in many ways. They could name traits and characteristics that draw them to a person. Emotional, spiritual, character, social qualities that are attractive. I see traits that draw me to people around me. Sometimes, I'm not physically attracted to someone until I get to know them. Many other times, I'm very physically attracted before I know them.

Some people look at that and have learned to analyze those initial attractions, determining what qualities they are ascribing to the person just because they have always assumed people who look like that are a certain way or have certain qualities the admirer has only dreamed of having. But...that's not unique to same-sex attraction either. Statistics indicate that good-looking people get hired more. Isn't this because all human beings, whether for sexual reasons or not, ascribe qualities to them? They're more confident, more socially adept, more capable, more trustworthy. Those are false notions, but everyone does that, sexualized or not. And again, how is it different for opposite-sex attracted people? Do we not all, to some extent, wishfully ascribe qualities we desire in a companion to those whom we find attractive?

Sometimes we look at such and think that what we "really" are doing is seeing qualities we would like to emulate or which we desire for ourselves, and so we sexualize them or turn them into romantic qualities. But in reality, what quality would you find attractive if you DIDN'T admire it or have some desire to possess it yourself? Truly. How could you be attracted to a trait you don't admire? So this approach makes sense on one hand but seems moot on the other.

I guess it's the attitude behind certain "techniques" or ways of looking at things that I take issue with. Maybe my perspective is a strange one that just doesn't work for most people. I just don't think I see a need to redefine my same-sex attractions, or convince myself they aren't really the kind of attraction straight people experience, to honestly approach the possibility of a relationship with a woman.

I mean, if I were to apply the analytical "reparative"-style line of thinking, as I understand it, to my attraction to women, I'm pretty sure it would have similar results as doing it towards men. So I see all these men reframing their attractions to members of the same gender while unquestioningly embracing any attraction to women, and I think, "Is that REALLY honest? Is that really fair?" Nevertheless, I will not deny it may be a very useful tool. And I will also say this entire exposition may be moot if I'm missing certain nuances or subtleties to the therapeutic approaches I'm discussing because I've only learned of them secondhand.

Another problem. I beg pardon, in advance, from my many friends who have participated in and swear by JIM weekends. In fact, of my closer moho friends, most have been to a JIM weekend, and some have staffed them. Among those friends with whom our perspectives generally agree, almost all of them are JIM-dandies, as I like to call them. So there's probably something to all of it that is greatly beneficial and positive and correct. I really like the subtle changes I've seen in my aforementioned friend. He seems to have more of a sense of ownership of his life, a grip on his emotions, and added perspective on interpersonal relationships, as well as additional coping and processing tools he may have lacked previously. That's awesome.

My problem: I don't like being reprogrammed by other human beings. I like input. I like learning from varied perspectives. I absolutely bristle and refuse to let someone use cultish tactics on me. I don't care how much I could learn quickly, it amounts to giving someone far too much influence on my thought processes, and I won't have it. One might say, "Well, you'll never heal, then, because you'll never allow anyone in enough to help you." OK, I can appreciate that. But I do let people, or ideas, in. I just don't give over my skeptical reasoning unless I've been inspired to do so. So, barring a revelation or inspiration to do so, I will not participate in secretive faternal organizations.

So yeah, I'm a skeptic, but I'm a fair-minded skeptic, I think. I see the good effects these JIM weekends have had on my friends, and I acknowledge that and support, I think, a great deal of what is done, despite my own reservations and concerns about what is done to the thought processes of the participants. I just don't think it's for me, and I have to shrug it off when guys come back from these weekends insisting I should go. Sorry, but I guess we'll just have to let that be one tiny rift in our friendships.

I've heard some say, "Maybe it wouldn't be good for you simply because you wouldn't get out of it what you could. Not now, anyway." The implication is that I would just remain so reserved and not "open up" enough to my "process" that I would only get out of it what I put in. I've heard this used to explain one friend's luke-warm experience. I can fully appreciate that you only get out of an experience what you put in, but what bothers me so thoroughly about that knee-jerk reaction I've heard from a few people when I question JIM the way I do is that many of them seem to be coming from a very specific perspective: homosexuality is ALWAYS merely a symptom of deeper issues that can be addressed and resolved, thereby diminishing the homosexual in you and magnifying the heterosexual. And SINCE homosexuality is ALWAYS a SYMPTOM of altered development, and not a result of natural development, EVERY homosexual man has ISSUES to resolve. So, in that mindset, if you're at one of these weekends, and the other men have just born their deepest secrets and sobbed uncontrollably in front of the group or screamed at the top of their lungs about their deeply guarded anger and bitterness and frustration, if, when your turn comes, you share some dilemas or conflicts you've had but do not release a torrent of vulnerability and break down in front of the others, you MUST be holding back because you SURELY have deep wounds you are not putting forth the energy to access. You are being lazy, holding back, not trusting enough, not reaching deeply enough. Because, in the mind of a man at a JIM weekend, a homosexual cannot possibly be SO emotionally healthy and at-peace as to not have deep-seated issues to bring out. I really can't speak for the mind of a man at a JIM weekend, but this is my personal perception.

Sorry, but I don't buy into that. But I can understand how the group would feel betrayed and not trusted by someone not showing the same degree of vulnerability they all did. I can picture them then closing off to that person who was supposedly not giving enough. These kinds of weekends are a prime breeding ground for groupthink, but hopefully most of the men rise above that tendency, although I'm inclined to think that's discouraged simply by the fraternal nature of the experience and the need for total trust and vulnerability.

To be fair, I want to say that almost every person I've known who has gone to a JIM weekend has come away saying it was, undoubtedly, well worth it, they would at least consider doing it again, and they feel like better men for having done it. Many of them (not all) have called it a life-changing experience. A couple have said it was good in many ways but probably not meant for everyone.

I tend to think of this: an experiential weekend like this, which is so focused on brotherhood or fraternity and gaining a sense of masculine belonging, is going to attract a certain crowd, so OF COURSE it's going to be greatly beneficial to the vast majority of people who go. It ATTRACTED them for a reason: the issues addressed are the ones drawing them to it in the first place. Those who choose not to go MAY not need the same kind of healing. Is that so hard to comprehend?

That said, I actually, honestly have NO DOUBT I would take a great deal from going to a JIM weekend. From what I've heard and read, it would be a definitely growing, learning experience in some ways, probably in some significant ways. And I may have a revelation one day that I need to put an inordinate (for me) amount of trust in some carefully selected strangers to speed up my healing journey and maybe even try to "change" or "diminish" my homosexual attractions, but for now, at least, I'm not interested. I like to learn from friends and study and my own experiences. I like to learn from real life situations, at my own pace.

21 November 2007

Choosing Sides

***Posted ex post facto on 15 Oct 2010***

Maybe I can't just choose a side because I've never fully jumped into the 'out and proud' side enough to compare and contrast accurately with the 'gospel living' side, but I'm just not comfortable playing the "cling as tightly for as long as you can until it drives you batty and you swing back to the other extreme" game.

The people I know who do that...I don't "get" them, to be honest. On one hand, they seem so much more deeply desirous for male partnership than me, and on the other hand, they're inexplicably "churchy" and ultra-conservative. Most of them have "acted out" far more than I ever have. Most of them have done the gay clubbing thing. Most of them have enveloped themselves in the gay crowd.

But could it be BECAUSE of that fact that they feel the need to run so thoroughly away? Could it be that because they've never practiced moderation in their lifestyle, they disregard one or the other extreme and everything in between?

I just am not comfortable around people who seem to be so completely devoted to churchy living as possible and yet seem deeply divided and conflicted, almost to the point of it oozing out their pores. I love some of these people. Some are my friends. And they SAY they're happiest this way. They say this way of living brings them the most peace. And yet, they're seeing therapists and avoiding even mildly tempting situations because they're seemingly scared to death of themselves, or because they feel like they won't be able to control themselves given the opportunity to have any degree of physical contact. That is, in my opinion, no way to live.

20 November 2007

I'm a Breast Man

For once, the following accusation may be accurate:

Moho Bomb

Intriguing. While reviewing my stats to see who had visited my blog recently, I saw that one of today's visitors arrived at my blog after entering a unique and highly suspect Google search.

Be warned, oh mohos, that a dastardly plot may be underfoot. There are foreign groups who apparently have other plans for us than we ever imagined. It would seem someone in a far country has been reading our blogs and monitoring our misery and hopelessness and has decided to do something about it.

The silent and suspicious visitor from Croatia had entered a search in Google for just two words: "MOHO BOMB".

Now try not to alarmed, my angst-filled moho cohorts (mohorts?)! We cannot know what evil designs this mysterious Croatian is orchestrating. But I can think of just a few options, some of which are not as dark as you might imagine:

1) It is a bomb to obliterate mohodom as we know it, thereby putting us out of our supposed misery and saving the world from our confusing presence.

2) Even more unnerving a concept, it is a bomb actually made of mohos. A small band of scientists in Croatia has discovered the enormity of bottled-up energy in sexually-repressed mohos and has designed a device to harness that emotional explosivity and thereby release unprecedented destructive power upon the world.

3) Somebody has designed a "bomb" for us to use. Or maybe it's a pill that "cures" us, and they're marketing it as the "moho bomb". The Croatians heard about it first because market research turned up a large pocket of gay mormons there. The tag line on their commercials could be "nuke same-sex attraction before it nukes you".

4) They were searching for "da 'moho bomb,'" and they found him, baby.

19 November 2007

Step Into My Shoes for a Moment

For you people who experience heterosexual attraction and who may come across this blog in an effort to understand the issue of mormon homosexuality a little better, let me see if I can help you understand what goes through my head and heart on a daily basis. Now, I can't fully justify my apparent indecision and my difficulty in focusing less on this issue than is helpful and due. I feel a need to do that moreso than I am doing now. But maybe it would be helpful to hand you my shoes to wear for a few minutes to consider a reason or two that it is so difficult to do that. Not so you can feel sorry for me, not so I can feel justified in being weak or undetermined, but...just for understanding.

In that light, consider the following, if you will:

1) Single guys of my age always think about relationships, girls, dating, prospects, etc. I know this because I do sometimes spend time with/around straight guys and I know what they vocalize. Single girls of my age probably think about it moreso. My female friends are always talking about dating and relationships and the cute guys they run into. That being considered, it is sometimes wearying to graciously smile or nod understandingly when someone tells me I'm dwelling on my attractions too much by noticing the cute boy at the store and saying so. Not vocalizing it does not, in fact, make it go away. Been there, done that. And "noticing" does not mean "lusting after" or "going insane with desire for", at least not to me.

2) Consider how you might respond if you, as a heterosexual male (I'm choosing males as the example because I am one, so if you're a female, just flip it around), were told that you are not to be with a woman. That in order to have a family of your own and live according to the gospel, you were to marry a man and have children with him (assume the biology works here, OK?). If you are faithful enough, you will learn to rely on the atonement to heal you, and you will find a man with whom you can build a happy marriage. If you choose not to marry a man, you must remain celibate and not date women. You may have female friends but must never do anything that could be construed as romantic. You must not date women because it's against your eternal identity. In fact, it's probably best that you not spend time with women who are interested in men because of the temptations it would present. Even if those women are determined not to date or have romantic relationships with men, spending time with them is not going to help you want to find a man to marry, so you'd do yourself a favor to limit your heterosexual interactions. And it's nice for you to have guy friends. That's OK. But you need to work on dating them one-on-one and finding one who can be your eternal companion.

Now, this is obviously weird to think about, and it would never happen. It's not a perfect analogy, and it's not meant to fully represent what I am going through because even though I am mostly attracted to guys, there is still something deeply ingrained in me that makes being with a woman feel "right" in a sense, whether that's because it's an eternal truth, indoctrination, etc. But the point is: why don't you just buck up and make your decision to do what you know is right by working towards marrying a man? "Simply" have faith and shun those women and start dating a man like everyone else. Have some maturity and realize that being with a man is what God wants for you and is what we were ultimately created for and start doing what you can to diminish your attractions to women and increasing your attractions to men.

Again, I'm not trying to justify myself, but I do hope someone can understand a little better by thinking of it in these terms. I am trying to be mature about this and look at it from an "eternal perspective", but I guess I have to admit that I'm just not quite there yet.

18 November 2007

Trade Spaghetti for Liver? You Crazy?

I do still hold out some hope that I'll find a great girl to whom I'm attracted, even if she doesn't turn me on physically quite like a guy would. Besides, I'm a chest man, either gender, which gives me some hope. That's not to say I'm attracted to the female chest as much, but...just saying I don't have the mastophobia so seemingly rampant among guys of my persuasion. Weird, I know.

I might be willing to sacrifice some physical pleasure and intensity of sexuality and even giddy romantic attraction for the rest of a beautiful relationship with a woman. I would never marry a girl just to satisfy my own desire for normality or to have a baby-maker. That seems terribly selfish and wrong. I would have to be truly attracted. It would not be selling out, despite what so many who have no such desire or hope might insist. It would be giving up one thing for another, which I would also be doing to pursue a gay relationship. I have to decide what things I want to give up, or what is right and acceptable to God, or truth, or myself, to give up. And what things matter most to me about a relationship and family.

Nevertheless, for now, my desire to date girls is still just a faint flicker.

The hard part is figuring out how to not want what you do want, or how to want what you don't. I love spaghetti, and if you come to me telling me I shouldn't like it and should instead eat liver, you'd better have a @#$% good reason for it. I mean, I could probably handle choosing not to eat the spaghetti, but to decide not to like it? Whatever! And not eating spaghetti gives me no desire to stick a big chunk of nasty liver in my mouth. Maybe this isn't a great parallel, though, because I would guess those vomit- and euphoria-inducing drug aversion therapies so infamous in BYU's history would work pretty well for that.

OK, so I wouldn't equate dating a girl to eating nasty liver. That's just not right. Sorry, girls, you aren't really chopped liver. There's a lot I do like about you. And not just in the "it's good for you" kind of way. You're enjoyable. Just not enjoyable in the same way as....OK so that was really not a great analogy. I can think of a lot more positive things about girls than about liver... *awkward cough* Moving on... *setting shovel aside and climbing out of hole*

Or maybe it's more about focusing on the aspects of each type of relationship that you really do want and finding a little of both, or the best combination you can? Making a sort of priorities list of what is truly rewarding about a relationship, which would definitely take stepping back and looking at things in a mature way.

But then if that examination points me to aiming for a heterosexual marriage, then how do I decide to proactively seek something my heart is weary of? How do I truly open myself up to a potentially painstaking journey? Or do I just try to stay open but let life lead me where it will, in this aspect, and seize the opportunity/-ies when a particular girl appeals to me? To me, this seems the healthiest approach. Put myself in situations where I might have the opportunity to meet a cool girl who catches my eye (e.g. going to ward activities, hanging out with people other than strictly mohos). And if something comes of it, great. Let it happen naturally. Give it a little effort, but don't kill it by forcing it too much.

Again, I understand that in an intellectual sense, but wanting to actually do it...? Ugh. Maybe the crux of it is actually this: why am I choosing to do it? Do I really believe a same-sex relationship would not serve me well? Do I really believe the ideal is a male-female pairing? If so, why? Is it cultural bias? Is it social convenience? Is it eternal doctrine? Is it my life goals? Maybe if I can answer those questions to some satisfactory degree, taking the harder steps will seem more doable.

AIDS Benefit Concert Breakdown

I wanted to write about this at the time it happened a few weeks ago, but I wasn't in a writing mood, and I was distracted by a lot of other things. It's about attending an AIDS benefit in Salt Lake at which a friend of mine was singing.

I'd never been to an AIDS benefit. I didn't know what to expect. I had visions of scantily clad drag queens dancing down the aisles singing "We Are Family" a la Bird Cage, but I figured that was an exaggeration.

It was. But there was a Carol Channing-esque drag queen who sang some twisted variation of Hello Dolly. It was pretty comical. And then there was the small guy who sang a song about a kite from some Charlie Brown musical (You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown??). The song ended in a sort of descending scale and sudden decrescendo as his kite he was singing about fell to the ground and his head dropped in disappointment...it would have been a perfect Viagra ad, but you had to be there.

But what I remember most about the benefit concert is that I had one of the most emotionally releasing moments in a long time, and that I felt so much love and unity and hope in that room. I felt that these were generally hopeful people who wanted love and unity in their lives and in the world around them. I felt we were all there for the benefit of others and that differences of beliefs or opinion or interpretation of scripture were totally secondary to being there to improve ourselves and the world around us and mourn with those that mourn and comfort those who stand in need of comfort...

An especially poignant moment for me was when a man with a very nice voice sang Empty Chairs at Empty Tables, from Les Miserables, and the reality of AIDS and its victims became more real to me. I realized he was singing this for a crowd who, many of them at least, had actually seen several friends die of the disease and probably had many friends who had taken their own lives (which came to my mind because of a recent suicide of a gay LDS youth in the area), and it just brought to my heart the pain and suffering among many in the gay community above and beyond what I experience on a day-to-day basis, as well as the hope and the desire for better. It humanized them, which you might think shouldn't be necessary for a boy who likes boys, but I, just like anyone, have the tendency to color my perceptions with political strokes and supposed differences between "them" and "us", as much as I may try not to. This isn't to say I don't recognize that even the organization we were there to support probably does things with the money I wouldn't agree with, but most of what they do with it is probably what I would deem a "good cause".

As I felt some walls breaking down and a unification of hearts despite existing political, religious, or ideological differences, I wondered why I don't feel this more often at church? Is it me? Is it the wards? Are we so lazy that we just go through the motions and forget our motivations? Are we so caught up in rules and regulations that we forget to simply worship and serve, and to love each other purely?

Then my friend sang a duet with a girl following the Les Mis number. They sang Come Thou Fount, and my heart melted. I don't know, for sure, what it was, but it must have been pent-up emotions releasing at once in a flood of tears. Maybe it was hearing a hymn sung at a fairly gay-dominated function, which was sweet to me. Maybe it was seeing my friend up there, a friend I hadn't spoken to much lately, and missing him and hoping he was doing well but feeling sad that we seemed to be drifting apart. Maybe it was my own conflicted thoughts giving way to simple emotion. I didn't know what was happening to me, exactly, but I started sobbing almost uncontrollably. I was feeling broken down, humbled, and softened. I felt more alive than I had in a long time, more human, more connected in general.

I enjoy that feeling, the rare times it happens. It makes me wonder if I'm really masking a lot of emotion and vulnerability. Am I hardening myself for my own protection? I know some friends would say, "Duh," but I'm not sure we're talking about the same thing. Nevertheless, maybe they're at least partially right. Maybe I "handle" things too much, in a way. Maybe I need to learn to let go more. Maybe I need to be more teachable, more humble, more malleable, more purely loving, more vulnerable, more desirous to just be a good person and help those around me and offer love and encouragement.

What I hadn't felt in my ward meetings for a long time came to me in an Episcopal church in Salt Lake City among a gay-friendly congregation. Go fig. I don't exactly blame the church for the fact that I haven't had such experiences there for a long time. And I don't want to go out and find a gay-affirming congregation of some other church to attend. Neither of those is the point at all. I accept the possibility that it's at least as much me as it is the wards I've attended, but still, I think there's something to be learned.

Note: My recent entries probably make me out to be an emotional wreck and a cry-baby. It's not true. It's just that I write about experiences that stand out. ...OK, maybe it's true sometimes. Shut up.

17 November 2007

So Damned Self-Interested

I've had a realization, of sorts, that I've kind of known but haven't fully looked at: mohos are entirely too self-interested and self-absorbed. Unfortunately and uncomfortably, I include myself in that statement.

When I talk to friends, I'm used to talking about ideas, concepts, experiences, families, friends, events, music, etc. But it seems like I now live in a world where everyone wants to talk about their own life and has little interest in glimpsing into and understanding mine. Does anyone care what I did and felt today? Do my close friends really want to know about me, or do they just want the surface because that's all they care about or see? Am I doing the same to others?

Then another realization: my life is boring, so I most often don't feel there's much to share. There's nothing new happening. I'm not working towards any new goals whatsoever. I'm not volunteering. I'm working the same boring job with no real prospects of advancement. I'm not furthering my education. I'm not entering into any relationships. I'm not doing anything. I'm paralyzed by my own indecision. When did I become such a hollow shell of who I once was? When did I make stagnation my M.O.?

OK, so I'm totally self-absorbed because I'm trying to figure out what I want out of life, and wouldn't you know it, I haven't a clue. Maybe that's the crux of it right there: I'm self-absorbed because I can't figure out what I want out of life at all, so I'm constantly trying to figure out my conundra so I can move on, but moving on requires committing to one side or another, and I just don't feel ready to do that. Will I ever?

For example, one choice to make is what to do with this whole "gay" thing. Maybe I should just go off the deep end to experience what it's like to be a typical gay man without concerns of religion weighing on me all the time. Or maybe I should deny myself of all things homo and recommit to churchy life, returning to a monk-like state of devotion. But something tells me either way, even experiencing something won't be the end-all for me. My brain is too active and understands that even first-hand experience is limited in its scope and perspective because _I_ am limited in my scope and perspective. So maybe that particular type of commitment isn't what I, personally, need.

Maybe this is why I blog? I don't feel like I'm really doing anything productive with my life, so I write things to get people thinking and see what responses I get, so I can feel like I'm doing something without really living. Maybe my blog is just another way of masking the emptiness of my life.

I feel bad that every time I get together with my straight friends now, we always seem to end up talking about homosexuality. It seems like we can't just talk like "normal" people do. I have to expound on my ideas and try to "help them understand" what I'm going through. Maybe that's a large part of my hesitation to tell people. I don't want all of my associations to turn into this one-dimensional interaction.

Yet I think, "Why do I always talk about this? Why can't I just leave it alone?" Then I remember: most single people spend a lot of time talking about relationships, romantic interests, attractions...we all do it. But the difference is mine are not allowed to be pursued, so my talking about them isn't the usual, "So I went on a date with this girl the other night, and..." My discussion takes on a different form. Instead of being about the dating and the relationships, I then am left to talk about why I can't pursue any of it and why my same-gender attraction is an "issue", not a normal, healthy part of daily life.

But I'm not sure it has to be that way. I think it has to be possible to just live. To acknowledge the attractions and move on. To let go of the conundra for now and keep living. And this is where Phillip Brown's recent Community Voices essay on North Star comes to my mind. I love what he wrote, and I agree with it...intellectually. I don't think I've fully internalized those principles yet.

I feel foolish for the years I feel like I've wasted wallowing in a seemingly inescapable mire of conflicting desires, contradictory paths, and undefined goals. I feel foolish for spending so much of my energy consumed in the questions that plague me, the indecision and the ambiguity over what to do with same-gender attraction and what to do with my doubts about the church and its doctrine. Meanwhile, not only is life passing by at an alarming rate, but I'm also too damned (and I use that word quite literally as well as colorfully) busy being all-consumed in my own dilemas to notice the simple pain and suffering and needs in those around me: my friends, my family, my neighbors.

There is so much real turmoil and strife in the world. There are so many who feel utterly alone and unloved in ways I'll never understand. There are people dealing with challenges far more debilitating than my sexual frustration and romantic numbness. And there are simple, everyday nuisances I could help lighten with a listening ear and a supportive arm. And, more dramatically, while I'm busy fretting over the fact that I may never have an intimate partner the way I want one, someone's family is starving to death because they can't afford to eat. While I'm consumed in writing this very blog entry, a child is being violently beaten in her own home by the person who should protect and nurture her most in all the world. Granted, there's only so much I can personally do about certain things, but my point is: How selfish can I be to ignore the world around me because I'm too busy trying to decide what to do about the fact that I like boys?

And yet, even as I tell myself these things, I just want someone I love intimately to hold me tenderly as I fall asleep tonight, and I feel like crying at the prospect of never completely knowing that sweetness. I think I need a reality check.

In any case, I'm really tired, it's really late, and I really should sleep on this. But maybe getting the "raw" thoughts and emotions written is OK sometimes. So what the heck, I'll click that stupid "Publish" button...and then I'll fall asleep clutching a pillow I wish were living and breathing, and I'll try not to dwell on feeling indefinitely alone by remembering there are much bigger concerns to be thinking about in my life and the lives of those around me.

16 November 2007

Nothing Without You

This is a song by one of my favorite musical artists, Vienna Teng, and it's one of my favorite songs of all time. The music is beautifully simple and, in my opinion, intelligently bittersweet (I love bittersweet), the lyrics a bit cryptic (as poetry often is) but moving to me. Though the origin of the lyrics is not necessarily spiritual in nature, Vienna sheepishly admits she likes the way many people have interpreted it better than the original story behind it, so she likes to claim spiritual angst as its meaning now. In any case, I don't have a lot of commentary to offer on it right now, but it always puts me in a very peaceful, very reflective place when I listen to it, as I did on the way to work this morning.

Vienna's web site links to a sample of the song if you want to hear what it sounds like. Better yet, go to her web site and listen to the whole song on her "Jukebox" (just select Nothing Without You from the drop-down list and click the Play button).

It's the quiet night that breaks me;
I cannot stand the sight of this familiar place.
It's the quiet night that breaks me;
Like a dozen papercuts that only I can trace.
All my books are lying useless now,
All my maps will only show me how to lose my way.

Oh call my name. You know my name.
And in that sound, everything will change.
Tell me it won't always be this hard.
I am nothing without you, but I don't know who you are.

It's the crowded room that breaks me;
Everybody looks so luminous and strangely young.
It's the crowded room that's never heard.
No one here can say a word of my native tongue.
I can't be among them anymore.
I fold myself away before it burns me numb.

Oh call my name. You know my name.
And in your love, everything will change.
Tell me it won't always be this hard.
I am nothing without you, but I don't know who you are.

I am nothing without you...

15 November 2007

Regaining Perspective in a Lovesac

As I was discussing relationships with a female friend of mine very recently in a very comfortable Super Lovesac (love it!), she spoke of her moho (LDS and same-gender attracted) boyfriend and how beautiful their (fairly brief, so far) relationship has been. It actually reminded me that I probably don't hate the idea of being with a girl as much as I sometimes think I do. It didn't make me want to go out and date women again, but there were little reminders that could apply to any relationship, really, same-sex, opposite-sex, friends, whatever. It reminded me that I've been a little lazy with my relationships for a while now, and maybe I need to start rethinking a thing or two.

We spoke of many guiding principles. The fact that NCMOs ("nic-mo" = non-committal make-outs) held little appeal whatsoever after having had something so tender, so intimate, so affectionate, so personal, and dare she say, so exciting that the aggressively animalistic nicmo, while it may be "fun" on some levels, suddenly pales in comparison and is shown for what it is: empty, shallow, totally unrewarding, and not worth whatever fun it may hold.

Funny how when you have the genuine article, you see imitations for what they are.

We also spoke of growing old with someone and the fact that she doesn't mind that her boyfriend is surely less physically attracted to her than she is to him. The fact that they can stare into each other's eyes and caress each other's faces and enjoy this deeply, and that they can kiss with a tempered and abiding love and even passion, that they can talk endlessly about everything and nothing and feel deeply connected, attests that perhaps being physically attracted in the way most people experience it is a fair trade for something so much deeper, so much more solid, so much more spiritual and heavenly in her eyes.

We spoke about the beauty (and difficulty) of sacrifice. How she had it confirmed to her that what she wants more than any hot sexual relationship is a deep, spiritual, mature love and the blessings of an eternal marriage and family. And we talked about how when we give some of our concerns, worries, and anxieties to the Lord on the altar, he takes them and makes them lighter and offers a deep and abiding peace and spiritual confidence. This rang true to me on one hand, but seemed like a distant memory on the other.

This set me thinking about the concern many of us share that a woman entering a relationship with a same-sex attracted man, or man with a woman, are being used for someone's selfish desire to conform to a social norm. That they are giving up being loved in the way they always dreamed of for the sake of fulfilling a cookie-cutter molded life. I think this is sadly true in many cases. But I see it from another perspective: if both partners are going into it with eyes as wide open as they can be, and they genuinely love each other, they are each giving up something for the richness of their relationship. There is something beautiful in starting a relationship with an open and willing sacrifice because the other person means that much to you. That, my friends, is love. And I don't mean to imply that only an opposite-sex relationship can display that kind of love and meaningful sacrifice. I'm just saying the old argument that a mixed-orientation relationship is doomed from the beginning because of self-denial is not only sometime erroneous, it's actually potentially entirely backwards when the relationship in question is honest and open.

We talked about other things which may be too personal to share on a blog, but basically, I really enjoyed our conversation and feel that it, more than anything else recently, reminded me of some perspectives which have become clouded by frustration, passion, self-absorption, and simple busy-ness. This is not to say, mind you, that I am suddenly changed or that my doubts are washed away or insignificant, but I think there's a maturity I have somewhat lost over time while exploring new ideas and relaxing my LDS doctrinal adherence. That's not to say the maturity is inextricably connected with the church, but it's a maturity of perspective I tend to lose sight of when I'm not taking the time out of daily life to reflect on the greater perspectives in life, "doctrinal" or otherwise.

I realize this probably doesn't make a whole lot of sense to most readers and is a little haphazardly written, but I wanted to write it out while it's fairly fresh on my mind. Our discussion provided some ideas for me to chew on, so I want to be able to come back to this and be reminded of some of the nuances of our discussion I can't really express in words right now for various reasons. Just thought I'd throw these out there.

14 November 2007

A Dar Story - Blond Bank Boy

Some time ago, I periodically went to the branch of my bank near my place of employment to deposit paychecks, and there was this skinny, elegant brunette kid who was always at the window, and I was usually distracted, while there, by the amazing gayness emanating off of him. Every time I went in, I thought, "Wow, that kid's really gay."

Then one time, maybe the last time I was in, a fascinating little story began to unfold, and it went something like this:

This very straight-looking, almost jockish blond guy is behind the counter. I look for the skinny gay boy. Surely he must be there. Yes, indeed he is. But he's at the window as usual. I guess I may never have the opportunity to talk to him and get a more personal analysis. So I settle for the straight boy to the left who seems eager to be of assistance.

As I hand over my deposit slip and grab a pen to sign my check, he takes the paperwork from me with an enthusiastic expression. I think, "Hm. Perky for a non-gay." And I shrug and go about signing. Then the blond non-gay asks, in a remarkably yet questionably not-so-straight-as-I-thought voice, some question I now forget, probably how I'd like the cash or something along those lines. And I think, for just a moment, I see a flirtatious glint in his eye, with a sort of coy smile.

I tell myself I probably just have my dar's sensitivity set too high and go back to looking at the skinny gay boy, while blond non-gay processes my deposit, to see if there are any more tell-tale signs. No, of course not. It couldn't get any more tell-tale. He's a flaming homosexual for sure, whether or not he knows it. He probably knows it. How could he not?

Back to the straight boy at the counter. We're getting close to wrapping up now. As he hands me the bills, I could swear he brushes my hand just a touch more than your average, everyday female-loving bank employee would. And as he counts them out, his eyes are just a touch playful, maybe even flirty. Is this boy toying with me? Does he presume me to be gay and is flirting with me just to have fun with the gay client? Or is he maybe one of those "straight" guys that go cruising in the park for anything but girls in the middle of the night? What's going on here? Is this some secret, underground gay branch of my bank? Should I speak some code word to be ushered into a "vault" full of shirtless young guys dancing to Kylie Minogue?

We finish our little exchange, or exchanges, and I go about my way laughing to myself at the queer little display that has just ensued. I then laugh at myself as I shrug it off and tell myself I'm just trying to make the whole world gay, this poor blond chap my newest victim of mental pygmalion.

Well, months pass. The seasons change. And one day, a local moho friend tells me there's a new moho he's been hanging out with who apparently knows who I am. I ask how. He says he worked at my bank and worked out at my gym. After some probing questions and a description of the blond bank boy encounter, it would seem the blond bank boy is most likely the new moho on the scene. My sneaking suspicion from months earlier is confirmed after all this time. Oh, I enjoy these moments.

23 October 2007

Don't Think I Haven't Desired the Grave

There's quite a bit of talk in the blog world about dealing with our same-sex attractions in light of the doctrines and practices of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and finding a place in the kingdom and feeling welcome in church culture. Sometimes, it seems like an inordinate amount of that discussion is whining and bemoaning. At times, it is easy to want to tell people to "simply" determine their priorities and move on. But I remind myself of a few things:

I am OK with the possibility of not getting married because I've already been through depression over it and mourned that loss. I'm OK with the possibility of never choosing to find a same-sex romantic partner because I've already been through depression over it and mourned that loss. I'm OK with the possibility of never being able to raise my own children because....you get the picture.

Maybe some of these grand reasons I come up with for being happy and moving on with life are little more than a basic coping mechanism to deal with that which life has denied me. Maybe I'm fooling myself a little in imagining something more wonderful than having a partner (who happens to be the same sex) in whose arms the rest of the universe seems to melt away. Maybe. I acknowledge that possibility.

Still, I choose my path.

But don't think that because I talk about the importance of making your own decisions and not whining about your terrible plight incessantly, I've never been depressed and cried daily over those decisions. I have. It was scary, it was wrenching, it was bleak, and over time I accepted what it is. But it's taken time. And I am trying to move on still. To be fair, I have wondered, at times, whether I'm just fooling myself, convincing myself I'm happy with a lesser existence for the sake of clinging to the comfort of my beliefs and to validate my own decisions. I think it's an honest question, a fair one. For whatever reason, it doesn't feel that way now, but I've been there. I understand that feeling of uncertainty, wondering which way to go. And it's hard, at those particularly trying times, to make any solid determination.

I vented to a good friend the other night about my irritation that there seemed to be so many LDS gay men who wallow in self-pity endlessly without owning their situation, and I felt bad but wanted to slap them at the same time and tell them to stop crying, get on their feet, and "act like men" and stop being so ridiculously melodramatic as to grandstand their misery. But their situation is not mine. And their understanding is not mine. And perhaps they are simply looking more closely, right now, at things I have chosen to gloss over, for now. Who knows? But remembering how painful it used to be softens my irritation and stays my sharper words.

So be careful about reading my preachings--or anyone else's--and proclaiming, "See?! He's dealing with it just fine. He's happy and moving on with life. All you others should just take a lesson and get over it and stop whining." When tempted to say that, and I'm speaking to myself as much as or more than anyone else, just remember: even though right now I feel good about life, come what may, there were nights I dozed, sobbing quietly into a tear-soaked pillow, when I could think of no sweeter release than to sleep and never wake up.