30 April 2008

Moho Book Recommendation

I've known of a couple of guys who have recently started coming to terms with their homosexuality and are looking for resources to help. A few of my friends and acquaintances recommend the "Jason Park" books, but I just have to pipe up and mention that I'm not so sure a Jason Park book is the best for a guy who's just realizing his SGA. But it probably depends on the person. I, personally, would recommend 'In Quiet Desperation' as a first read. It was good for me for a few reasons, including the following:

1) I really identified with Ty's thought processes.
2) Stuart's story served as a bit of a cautionary tale and was strangely hopeful in the way his parents dealt with the aftermath.
3) Ty tends to stick to what is generally known about SGA and admits where there is, as of yet, no real consensus; he's (in my opinion) more careful to not lead people into a certain, specific mode of thought regarding SGA than most authors on the subject.
4) It often brings the reader back to the scriptures in a meaningful and atonement-centered way. It's far less clinical and mechanical than the Evergreen-sponsored books I've looked at. It seems to me to be more emotional and spiritual in nature, an approach which I think then makes the more mechanical efforts more meaningful.

I will admit openly that I have only read part of Jason Park's book, Resolving Homosexual Problems, and it looks like it has a lot of good advice to offer. My beef with it is exemplified in the title: it seems inordinately fraught with the implication that all things SGA are 'problems', trials, meant to be eschewed. It just seems harsh to me for someone who is still tender about the issue. The author constantly encourages the reader that change is possible without clarifying well that the statistical evidence indicates that changing from SSA to OSA may, in fact, NOT be possible for some or many people. If the reader is one of the statistics of inability to change, where do they find encouragement?

It's a book about change. And forgive me for my apparant faithlessness, but I just really believe that with an issue like this, a person needs to feel whole, loved, and welcome in the gospel even as they are to then more meaningfully approach change from a healthy viewpoint.

There very well may be people out there who would not benefit from In Quiet Desperation the way I did. I just take issue with the notion that 'Jason Park' books are "always good to start with." I think there are probably better ways for most people to begin learning about homosexuality in a gospel context without feeding into a probably already existing feeling that they can only be truly happy and at peace once they have "changed". I realize not everyone sees it the way I do, so I will just shrug and respect their opinion and insistence that Resolving Homosexual Problems is a great first read, but I simply have to speak up and share my opinion, too. I mean no disrespect or slander towards Jason Park. I think his writings do have a place. I just prefer other writings first.

Glimpses of the one you felt for

*** Published 27 Oct 2010 ***

It's hard when you realize you don't bring out the best in someone in whom you used to think you saw the best. You interact with them, and the interaction is always stifled by something. They don't smile like they used to. They don't feel like they can just be themselves. And neither do you. Then you see them with other friends, and they look so at ease, and for a moment, you see the person for whom you feel so much affection, but you realize that person is only there when you are not, and it's a little like mourning the loss of someone you no longer know.

Lost That Lovin' Feeling

*** Published 27 Oct 2010 ***

It's been quite a while since I've had a consistent...drive. I suppose my experiences with a few confusing friendships and observations of the emotional weirdness and NCMO sluttiness around me may have had some influence on my eagerness to engage in such behavior, but I can't help but wonder if I'm just plain getting old. Maybe I'm depressed. Maybe I'm "maturing". BORING!

I kind of miss feeling an overflowing sexual energy.

29 April 2008

Why Be Friends When You Can Just Have Sex?

Addendum (AKA damage control): the statement in the first paragraph was misrepresented as originally written. Upon re-reading the entry and reviewing that evening in my mind, I've realized my own mood and disappointments colored the comment, and I connected meaning to it that may not have been there. I also originally decided to simplify the story, but simplification isn't worth leaving someone feeling completely misrepresented, even if I didn't say who it was, so I have revised this entry in an attempt to represent it at least somewhat more accurately.

Reminder #3,593 how I'm just not normal.

During a conversation with a few gay friends, one asked who each of us would most want to have sex with out of the people present. I was tired, and the question seemed crude and juvenile to me, and I refused to answer at first, but when pressed, I was the stick in the mud and answered seriously: I said none, but if I had to choose, it would have to be the person I knew best, because I just couldn't enjoy sex like I'd want without trust and a real connection. Everyone else seemed to have an answer, and one said something like, "Well, there are people you want to have sex with, and there are people you want to know." This person may read this entry, and if you do, I still love you, but due to my already-disgusted mood that evening and the thoughts I (probably incorrectly) associated with it, that statement was quite a turn-off. I realize the question was posed mostly out of lighthearted fun, and the answers weren't meant to be a deep exploration. I don't think he meant he actually would be physically intimate with someone he didn't have a real connection with.

Nevertheless, I had been facing the disappointing realization more than ever that most guys do seem to think along those lines to some extent. And don't get me wrong--I also totally see a hotty and think, "Oh my gosh, pass me the whipped cream. NOW." The thing is, when I think about actually following through with that, it kind of grosses me out, and I think, "No way. Not without dinner and some really good conversation first." *tongue in cheek* The sad part is, I then look at the random hotty and most often realize I don't have much interest in conversation with him, based on initial appearances, so carrying through with the whole physical thing probably wouldn't stand a chance, and I move along with my day. Of course, that doesn't keep me from biting my knuckle at said hotness and wishing there were personality to back that up so I'd be more tempted...'cause it's fun to be tempted...no, temptation bad!

But many things I've seen and heard confirm every disgusting stereotype about the pigs men are, and I feel like an oddity, an anomaly of sorts. I realize this is probably sounding like a preachfest, and that's totally not how I mean it to come across. I mean, that's the quickest way to kill the fun of a flippant post. I'm simply stating my observations here, actions, behaviors, and attitudes. And I realize I'm not the only one who feels this way. I'm just really turned off to trying to pursue anything with a guy if this is what most of us are about.

Maybe I should just stick with girls. Gosh! OK, I'll start dating girls...next weekend. Oh, I'm busy all weekend. OK, maybe the next weekend. Oh shoot, busy that weekend, too. Too bad...

Honor Code Schmonor Code

*** Published 27 Oct 2010 ***
*** Thoughts on 27 Oct 2010: I do have friends who have had really tough situations related to the Honor Code which I don't envy and to whom I don't specifically preach because I don't know what it's like to be in their shoes. Her beliefs changed, he didn't have another clear option for schooling, she had a family to support, he found the man of his dreams and couldn't bring himself to pass up dating him quietly, etc, so they broke some of the Honor Code rules and thought of it like breaking the speed limit: you know it's against policy, but you're not convinced there's anything inherently wrong with the actions, so you do it secretly until you have your diploma in-hand. I understand that's really difficult. At some point, I still think you have to acknowledge, particularly when you're completely flipping off the Honor Code rather than just "fudging", that you're breaking a promise and should either get through your last year as compliant as possible or finish your education elsewhere. In a way, I'm kinda hung up on the notion that a promise is a promise, hence this more blunt tirade I wrote a couple of years ago. ***

My potentially offensive, insensitive two cents: I don't care how damaged you feel, and I don't care how wrong you believe the code is--if you signed on to it, if you gave your word that you were going to uphold and live by it (which every BYU student has done), you do it. Period. Strap on a pair, insert a spine, and strive to live what you said or go live the way you want or believe elsewhere.

Nobody's perfect. We all have our weak moments. We do things we promised not to. We don't do things we promised to. The difference between a great man and a foolish one is the great man will acknowledge his folly and resolve to do better next time. The foolish man will defend his folly and live by it rather than admit when he is damaging his own integrity.

There are many on BYU's campus, gay, bi, and straight, who have demonstrated a lack of integrity by the very fact that they knowingly committed to something they never intended to uphold, or they have decided what feels nicest right now is more important than keeping their word.

I've done similar things myself at times, so I speak as one who has been a fool. At the time, I justified my actions. Looking back, I know that even in the moment, I knew I was losing character by doing what I was doing. I was losing my spine. So pulpit-pounding I may be, but I would like to see more men, fewer boys.

I mean, with all the fooling around among BYU students, you'd expect to find more balls.

28 April 2008

A Friend's Struggle Fitting In

I had a friend in college who was just starting to come back to church. She had been baptized as a teenager and remained active for a while, but as time wore on, and social ties came and went, she distanced herself from the church and stopped going.

While she claimed, to most people, that she had joined for primarily social reasons, she confessed to me, in private discussion, that she had, indeed, felt what she had been taught was true and really wanted to embrace it, but she just felt like she didn't fit it and since her original circle of friends back home had drifted apart, she hadn't felt happy being among other members of the church. She felt like people looked down on her for not being "girly" enough, not being demure or soft. She thought people couldn't handle her rough-around-the-edges demeanor. She hung out with a somewhat rough-talking crowd, and there simply weren't people like that at church she felt like she connected with. And she was largely correct. The "polite", soft-spoken girls at church didn't know how to react to or relate to this tough broad who had shown up at church with a defensive attitude. So with the exception of a few, they returned defense with defense.

One of her most obviously non-compatible behaviors was drinking alcohol. Regularly. Sometimes heavily. Partying. Going to the bars. These are activities most active LDS girls aren't going to understand or relate to. Heck, I don't. And they are activities which would keep her from full fellowship. But almost her entire social circle was centered around social drinking. She said she wanted to come back to church. She wanted to be active in church again, and part of that was cutting out the alcohol consumption. To reduce or avoid drinking, she had to avoid certain friends. She had to clear her fridge. She had to explain her abstinence to her friends without sounding ridiculous or preachy, which was not easy.

When you cut out part of your life, it is bound to leave a void, a hole, which must be somehow filled. I tried to help her come up with ideas, but we were talking about an entire lifestyle change, and she didn't see how it was possible. I didn't have time to fill in all of the social time left by not being at parties and the bar(going and not drinking was not an option--the temptation was too great to resist if it was right in front of her). We tried to connect her with other people, but there was always the problem of her not being able to relate deeply enough to any of the girls in the wards, and vice versa. And the Relief Society seemed to reach out only when she would stop coming to church. As long as she was attending, she felt like an invisible presence, barely noticed, but when she didn't come, and she'd THEN get cookies and a note, it was hard for her to see them as anything other than a half-hearted attempt to fulfill their duty to keep the sisters active.

She would go for times without alcohol. She went for quite a while a couple of times, going to church, avoiding alcohol, and when she was doing it, she told me and another friend how good she felt, and we could see it in her face, in her eyes. She seemed to be feeling more confident, more peaceful, more hopeful. It seemed she was beginning to believe this could be done, and she could be an active and faithful member of the church.

But the "crashes" came, and they were devastating. She would change to despair and bitterness in the space of a couple of days after drinking or realizing how great the changes she was making really were. It was unnerving and uncomfortable and lonely. She had given up a lot of time with many friends, and there seemed to be nobody to fill in. Without the support of an entire ward, I felt somewhat helpless and unable to offer her the encouragement I wanted that she would develop great social circles and eventually find the strength to be with her regular friends again without being overly tempted to fall back into behaviors because she would always have a support system to help her. I couldn't do it. I wasn't sure it would happen. So all I could offer was my assurance that although it's a hard and lonely road, it would be worth it in the end to have more control over herself and her choices, and even when it doesn't make sense right now and we can't see how it will possibly work out, sometimes it takes several steps in the dark before we can look back, realize how far we've come, and realize that though it's not always clear ahead, we are on a path towards ultimate peace and joy, and we wouldn't want to go back, even if it would, in some ways, be comfortable to go back. But even as I tried to reassure her of that, I could see in her eyes that it may not help. I was beginning to understand that sometimes, those promises simply don't seem sure enough.

It seemed to me that in her eyes, from her experience, making an effort to live by the doctrines and practices of the church today brought misery, loneliness, a huge void, and uncertainty. It alienated her from some family and many friends. And all it offered, in return, were promises that one day, she'd somehow be happy and have "glory" which she wasn't sure she wanted if it meant feeling lonely and "not like herself".

I saw a few things, from my perspective, that I had wished I could have somehow put into her mind:

  • I've been through times when I felt completely alone as a result of being obedient and faithful the best I knew how. It took time, and it took long periods of uncertainty whether it would ever get better. It took more than a few weeks. There were times I saw few rewards for my behaviors. But it was my abiding belief and the peace within me that I knew my motivations were good that kept me going.
  • I wanted to assure her that doing the right thing sucks sometimes but was worth it.
  • I wanted to convince her that sometimes there is a lot of pain and opening of wounds before healing can begin, but refusing to allow or endure the intense initial pain would prevent the longterm healing and leave her with a never-ending ache.
  • I wanted to assure her that not all wards are the same, and everyone else in the church is just as flawed as she or I, so we all put up with each other's flaws and love what and where we can, and even if every member of the church holds a certain false prejudice or treats me badly, it's not ultimately about them anyway, it's between me and the big guy.
  • I wished she could see the commandments as perhaps not always perfect in application but given by authority and are therefore not optional, but also worth following if only to prove that we are willing to put anything on the altar for the Lord, within the existing gospel framework, even if it doesn't always make sense, in the moment, why we have to.

As far as I could tell at the time, it was not living gospel principles that brought misery upon her but the perspective with which she did it and the lack of abiding, enduring conviction of why she was doing it and the lack of certainty as to whether she truly believed the promise that no matter what, it was worth doing. Maybe it was an offering she was not willing to make because she wasn't convinced the blessings would pan out as promised. Perhaps it was more than "she traded eternal happiness for short-term comfort." Or maybe she just didn't quite give it the full effort and needed to exercise more patience and faith in the unseen. What I finally decided was, "I just don't know. Maybe she's made a good effort, and she can come back to this again later and try again, and maybe that's OK. Everyone has their own timelines, and there are lessons learned all along the way. Maybe there are other things for her to focus on which will set her on a track to be ready to try again later. It's not mine to decide." I talked to her about focusing on testimony and sorting out her beliefs, and letting some of the behavioral things come later, in due order. But she was already quite discouraged, worn out.

While her experiences, backgrounds, personality and "temptations" are different from mine--and no, I don't think it's fair to directly compare alcoholism or heavy drinking with homosexual attraction--I think there are parallels in the feelings of isolation, misunderstanding, and other related feelings. Having been with her through her experience adds to and brings balance to my perspective on my own situation. I am not in the same unflinchingly faithful state I was back then. I do question a lot of things. I doubt some things. Sometimes I'd like to have the confidence I used to have that if this is Christ's church restored, then anything is worth laying on the altar of sacrifice, and I can and should be willing to give up even cherished feelings and emotions, and I should trust that the resulting peace will be well worth it. It's hard to know.

Maybe someday. But either way, I'm confident I'll be OK and can live life well. I wonder how she's doing.

27-Year-Old Virgin

Several years ago, I was walking through the university's campus between classes with a friend of mine, a guy in my singles ward who was several years older than me. This was the "grandfather" of the ward, the guy everybody looked at and said, "Wow, I need to start dating...NOW." I wouldn't say he was a cautionary tale; his presence was just...a reminder, a catalyst, if you will. Nobody wanted to be "the ancient one" of the singles ward. He was a whopping twenty-seven years old! Granted, we liked the chap. Nice fellow. Fun. Made a mean shake. But he was twenty-seven and SINGLE! But this is all beside the point.

We were walking on a common path through a busy building towards our respective classes, headed up the fully-loaded stairway of the lobby. He was getting rather worked up about something or another--I forget what now--and I made some comment to him about calming down or he'd give himself a heart attack. He quickly snapped back, in a good-natured tone with an edge, "Well, you'd be acting the same way if you were a 27-year-old virgin!!"

Keep in mind, this was no church school nor located in the heart of mormondom. In this stone, heathen building, the exclamation seemed to echo and roll off of every wall. Heads turned in stunned bemusement. I threw my head back and laughed out loud at the comedy of his pent-up sexuality. He looked mildly amused by his own pathetic state.

Well, old man, it's been years since your public proclamation, and I can now say I've been there, done that. I feel for ya, buddy, I feel for ya. I'd say I've got you beat, but we've been in touch here and there, and as far as I know, you're still ahead. Once again, I think, "I'd rather not find out what it's like to be in your shoes," but let's be honest, I'm likely to get there, myself.

You know the movie "40-Year-Old Virgin"? I haven't seen it, but I saw the previews. I'm nowhere near forty yet, but sometimes, I think I'm closer than I think. Isn't part of the comedy of that movie the idea that such people don't exist? *sigh*

25 April 2008

Being Believable

I started writing this a few days ago, and since "Moderation" was on my mind tonight, I figured I'd wrap this one up and publish it, too, since I see it as related.

As I have kept tabs on various organizations for gays, ex-gays, gay mormons, etc., I find that there's a lot of distrust and misunderstanding among the different factions. Everyone's experiences are highly individual and unique, yet people on both sides often tend to see everything through their own paradigms and completely discount the experiences of people who come to conclusions they disagree with.

I think part of this is due to the fact that everyone tends to dig deeper into their trenches to prove their correctness.

Faithful Mormons will have a hard time believing the "out" individual who claims they never felt happiness or peace in the church and the spiritual experiences they had in relation to it. They won't believe they stayed with it so long if there was nothing rewarding about the doctrines and/or the culture or that they truly didn't believe it at all.

"Out and proud" types will scoff if an active LDS homosexual person says life is all beaming smiles and giggles and living in the church is a cakewalk because their leaders told them so. They just won't buy that there aren't deep conflicts to be reconciled and sorrows to be worked through.

When a friend of mine told me he had gone on a date or two with a girl who was bringing out feelings that excited him, I asked him if he was feeling desires to be physical with her in a romantic sense. Did he wanna get freaky? He answered in the affirmative and then questioned whether I believed him when I returned my coldly skeptical silence. I said, "No, I can believe it." But the skeptic in me was, indeed, demanding more data. "But is it like what you've felt with guys?" I asked.

He quickly replied, "Oh, no way! But it's something, and it's enough to be exciting," or something like that.

I said, "OK, now that I can believe."

It wasn't that I didn't believe he was feeling something and even genuinely excited about what he was feeling. Because of my experience with homos/mohos/what-have-you, I am sensitive to people magnifying their attractions to members of the opposite sex and turning it into something unrealistic in their minds just because they've felt a glimmer of something. They start feeling "cured" or thinking "this is the one" girl who will turn everything around for them. Then, when the newness wears off, or the relationship doesn't work out, for whatever reason, they're that much more devastated that it didn't last or hopeless that they'll ever find another towards whom they feel the same.

Fortunately, I think this friend has a pretty good grip on reality, but every once in a while, I ask clarifying questions like that to see where he's coming from, or if I can still relate.

Incidentally, it sucks to feel "left behind" while others are "graduating" into relationships with people of the opposite gender or claiming their attractions are mostly gone, and so there is probably a knee-jerk reaction against it. Of course, that goes both ways. I see similar knee-jerk reactions from friends of gay mormons who decide to pursue same-sex relationships.

I understand, to an extent, feeling the need to present a less "moderated" face to decisions. If this same friend were to openly admit to many of his friends who are opposed to "fooling yourself" into thinking a relationship with someone of the opposite sex can work out great and be just as fulfilling as one with someone of the same sex, his admission that it's not quite like the sexual feelings he's felt towards guys would be immediate ammunition to violently shoot down or mock his attempt to develop a meaningful relationship with her, regardless of what other rewards and happiness he finds in the relationship. Because of their focus on the supposed necessity of sexual passion, they will not look past that to the many other facets of the potential relationship.

On the flip side, many actively religious people don't want to hear the truth, that it's not the same in that aspect. They don't want to hear that it's not quite totally cut-and-dry. They have overcome their difficulties in life through prayer and fasting, so why not him? Why not this way? It's uncomfortable to look past their paradigm that the atonement will heal any "ill", so he needs to fake it 'til he makes it.

Both paradigms demand that he deny what he truly feels and embraces and wants for the sake of fitting comfortably into their own paradigms. To those who feel pressured in this way, I say own your own decisions. Be a revolutionary. Forge new paths. No trail was ever formed by the explorer who said, "Nobody's ever gone there, or people have tried and turned back, so obviously it's not possible," and turned back to what had been done before.

The topic of homosexuality and whether someone should pursue their apparently natural sexual/romantic desires or whether they can and/or should live dedicated to beliefs which prohibit same-sex romance is heated and full of prejudice and passion from both sides of most arguments. Because of that, I value the openness of the few voices out there who aren't afraid to defy stereotypes and paradigms and don't mask their doubts and difficulties nor their hopes and triumphs for the sake of toeing the party line. They may confuse the hell out of people who want a box to live in. But hey, confusion sometimes leads to a desire to find answers. Those who proclaim it's cut and dry are typically not fooling many people. Gay or ex-gay, astute people will see right through it.

24 April 2008


Moderation: I often see ignorance of this principle in practice among my friends and brethren, the mohos.

Incidentally, I'm speaking, as usual, from a primarily male perspective.

Most of us have spent much of our lives feeling freakish, evil, shameful, or otherwise thoroughly repressed when it comes to attraction, dating, or sexuality in general. As a result, when "coming to terms" with everything and realizing we're not monsters, many seem to then take this one part of the psyche which has become a secret obsession--because talking about it felt forbidden--and magnify it into the primary aspect of personality. The lifelong repression and shame give way to a manic sort of entitlement that leads to speech and actions that, if done in most social circles in the heterosexual world, would probably be considered inappropriate, unhealthy, or otherwise puzzling.

I totally recognize there are more complexities to some people's stories, but these are some simplified versions of things I see fairly often.

Example 1:
When discovering others with similar experiences for the first time, there's an exciting, idealized over-identification and urge to make new best friends with every moho and share every little thought and "past transgression" (all aboard the PT train!) with these people based solely on homoness. Just being LDS wasn't enough to be bosom buddies with every LDS person, but suddenly queerness seems enough of a basis to form immediate and intense relationships. Then, when it goes all wrong or a guy/gal gets burned by one of these people they didn't know yesterday but just divulged every detail of their life to and into whom they invested all their energy, they retreat with all the dramatic flair of Richard Simmons, scrambling "back into the closet," safely away from the dangers of the moho world.

Example 2:
When discovering romantic feelings for the first time with someone else who returns those feelings, it's a total rush and feels amazing after so many years wondering what the *bleep* everyone has been so worked up over since puberty. It's beautiful and animating and euphoric, skipping along those pink, shimmery clouds of infatuation. It's just too dry and boring to step back and say, "Well, my religious beliefs conflict with pursuing this, and I need to figure a few things out first before jumping into something against my beliefs." So most don't. They just skip along in giddy bliss, ignoring inconvenient beliefs which might take the glimmer out of this newfound joy. But when the relationship goes sour, or gets too intense or too "real", many are snapped back to a sense of responsibility. They jump right back into church activity, turning to severe penitence and completely cutting off the now ex-friend who tempted them so awfully. They recommit to living a monk-like existence or immediately ask out a girl from their ward like they should have been doing all along. Gotta make up for lost time. They commit to never looking at another guy to avoid even the possibility of lusting again. Until it all becomes a pressure cooker again, and they fall for the next one, and the pattern repeats.

Example 3:
After discovering that kissing or making out with the same gender is WAY more fun than kissing or making out with the opposite gender, many gain the sense of entitlement in that regard, too: "If straight people are allowed to do it, so am I!" Suddenly, the fact that even straight people are expected to keep their paws off of each other's privates until marriage seems irrelevant because hey, it's just different for us, and we're entitled to a little 'happiness' too! Because they've spent their lives living by what felt like someone else's rules, they take their sense of entitlement to a whole new level.

There are plenty of other examples, but these will suffice, methinks. I think many such behaviors would, in most social circles, be looked on with humor, disgust, or puzzlement by most people, at the very least by most emotionally healthy ones. But somehow, when those of us in unique groups get so steeped in our little subcultures, we lose some ability to see clearly how our actions really affect ourselves and others around us, and how they are perceived by those outside of the subculture, or how...unusual they are.

On the other hand, I have to acknowledge that most of my life, I've had active LDS friends on the conservative side of the behavioral spectrum, so that's my paradigm, and I do recognize that a lot of straighties have similar patterns of sexual behavior. But I am speaking from what I've experienced and observed more closely.

I'll also reiterate that I understand not all cases are as simple as they appear, and I will also acknowledge that it's understandable that these things are done, given the years of bottling most of us do. But I just can't shake the disgust I feel when I see grown men indulging in embarrassingly immoderate and unseemly behavior patterns. I sheepishly include myself at times among those who have done things like that, or at least wanted to, though I like to think mine have been stints of such behavior more than patterns. *grin*

In any case, as I see it, this lack of moderation is fairly rampant among people who otherwise would be pretty moderate people. Entitlement replaces standards. Satisfaction obliterates consideration. Liberation demeans moderation. Appetite drowns reason. And to many outside onlookers, I promise you a lot of what happens in "moho culture" looks like a friggin' mess. I'm not trying to point fingers. If I was, I'd have to point to myself, as well. And gosh, that's uncomfortable. But really, folks, let's try to embarrass ourselves a little less and make our choices more deliberately by practicing a bit more moderation.


*** Published 27 Oct 2010 ***

I wasn't going to comment on these examples but just mention them as illustrations. But this one I can't help but talk about a bit. As I've tried to integrate my life more, I've learned that I prefer for my closer friends to know about my attractions and to have them be as much a part of our interaction and conversation as anyone else's, not moreso. There are some people who don't need to know because it really doesn't affect our interactions or relationships, but I don't feel anxiety about people finding out. And as appealing as running away from the whole moho scene seems at times, I also know there are benefits from maintaining those ties, and going back to "pretending to be normal" just doesn't make much sense to me. I find life more rewarding when I can face it in all its reality. I do, however, recognize there are other circumstances which can justify a complete retreat at times for certain people, and I shy away from criticizing people who choose to do so. I don't know their situations. I just tend to think that more people do this extreme switch than necessary or even healthy. I've found the most peace and reconciliation in the previously uncomfortable task of bringing more aspects of my life and sociality together into one whole.

Sluttiness is Sluttiness

*** Published 27 Oct 2010 ***

It becomes easy to forget that a slut is a slut, whether we're talking about sex, kissing, cuddling, whatever. One type of sluttiness probably has greater eternal consequences than another, but seriously, when physicality becomes a way to "get yours" rather than part of a connection with another person, I think that's unattractive to most healthy people, regardless of gender or orientation.

22 April 2008

He Might Be a Moho If... (version 1.2)

I posted a newly revised and updated version of the old list on Northern Lights. Feel free to add items for the education of our not-so-clued-in friends.

19 April 2008

Mohos Everywhere

*** Published 27 Oct 2010 ***

OK, so I was talking on the phone with a friend regarding how many mohos there are in Utah, and it reminded me that I've never posted an entry about that. So here's the announcement, for those of you less in-the-know on such matters or wondering if the rumors you've heard about the large gay underground in Salt Lake are true: ...drum roll, please...they're true.

Utah is full of gay people. Everywhere. Orem and Provo seem to be crawling with gay people, LDS or otherwise (mostly LDS), open or closeted (mostly closeted). Salt Lake is full of them as well.

You know how most cities have pride festivals? Salt Lake has two: summer and winter. Crazy, eh? And, as I wrote in Brother's Questions, the BYU Men's Chorus, with their strong, masculine sound, is actually full of gay boys, some of whom have a reputation for making the rounds. But not all mormon homos are Men's Chorus sluts. There are actually many who are mostly just like their peers but attracted to men but not "acting on" that attraction. I personally know at least a few dozen such young men and women at BYU alone, and most of them know others I don't. In Provo and Orem, I've lost count of how many gay people I know, the majority of which are actively LDS. Salt Lake has dozens of others I'm aware of.

I know probably a dozen or so men in the area who are married, most of whom are pretty quiet about their attractions with most people.

I know of several others scattered throughout the country. I would say every ward has at least a couple of people with dominant same-sex attraction, and many wards have several.

And these are just the ones I know about. Who knows what other social circles are out there that I'm not aware of, or who has never talked with anyone about it?

In short, we are everywhere. We have infiltrated every nook and cranny of society. ...Maybe I should choose different wording for that. ...nah. So chances are, someone you know thinks people of their same gender are sexy and/or tends to fall for them more than people of the opposite gender. I guess that's a safe wager considering my readership, but you know what I mean...

09 April 2008

Applying Gayness to Future Possibilities

*** Published, unfinished, 27 Oct 2010 ***

I think I'll be able to apply what I've learned in my man-flings to a possible future relationship with a woman. But I'm also wary of my own motivations for seeking a relationship with a woman. Sometimes, believing you're able to do something doesn't mean you should.

"Just hold on, blessings will come, even if not in this life." That is a comforting promise to many. It, of course, requires faith and confidence that there will, in fact, be blessings in the next life and that this life will be but a small moment in the eternal timeline of our souls. Seriously, less than 100 years out of eternity? How could you possibly set yourself on anything but the best course? How could you exchange an eternity of peace and joy and love for the satisfaction of a for-time-only comfort?

It's a little tougher when you already have doubts as to what the eternities hold for you. If you aren't really certain what it's all going to be like when your brain stops working and your cells cease functioning and begin their transformation back into other components of the earth, that question holds far less comfort. It's not a matter of "fearing" there being nothing, but facing the possibility that maybe this life is, in fact, all there is, or maybe the next life is, in fact, so much more perfect than this one that we will be sorry we insisted on so many unnecessary behaviors when true, abiding, meaningful love is really what mattered and everything else was incidental and arranged after this life.

There's another hitch: I appreciate people's assurances that I will be made straight in the next life, and I will therefore WANT to be with a woman and will be given the opportunity to do so, or to continue to be with whatever wife I may choose to be with in this life. I believe many a moho will be overjoyed to hear that they can be with their beloved companion (opposite sex) and that they will continue to be perfected, towards a heterosexual orientation, but that by then, it may not even matter much because they will have spent a lifetime of loving devotion with their chosen companion and would never trade that relationship for the whole world.

But it's hard to find comfort in the promise that one day I will, to describe it plainly, want what I don't want...does that make sense? My mom asked me, "You would choose to change this if you could, wouldn't you? Wouldn't it just be easier to be attracted to women and marry and have children like you always imagined and wanted?" I didn't quite know what to say. Yes, it would be beautiful to not wrestle with the question of whether I should allow myself to love in the way my heart naturally wants to. It would be amazing to know the joy of wrapping my arms around a beautiful girl and have it feel the way it has with guys I've been attracted to, and to know that we can date openly, without scandal, without the moral dilema of whether we're sacrificing eternity just by being together, that we're actually moving together TOWARDS eternity in the most beautiful of human relationships. ...yes, that would be nice, to put it mildly.

But...do I wish I were heterosexual? I don't know. Sometimes, I don't think so. Sometimes, I think, isn't that a bit like saying, "Given the fact that really delicious and decadent chocolate mousse cheesecake is bad for you, don't you wish you liked health food instead?" Um...maybe...I guess...but I effing LOVE chocolate mousse cheesecake! Why are you asking such cruel questions and bending my brain in knots this way?

07 April 2008

Getting outside of ourselves

*** Revised and published 27 Oct 2010 ***

I think some mohos balk when I say mohos tend to be self-absorbed. Perhaps I'm wrong, but aside from my own observations, I've had several friends from outside moho circles comment on how they like many of the mohos they've met, but they often seem really self-absorbed, stroking each other's legs and egos, largely ignoring the straight people in the room or topics of conversation straight people directly identify with, talking about themselves and their struggles more than asking about other people, etc. Of course, I've heard people say similarly things about other groups, like Mormons, or eating disorder support groups, or whatever. But I do suspect mohos are guilty of this, and I have trouble believing it's all about misperception. I think there's something to it.

I think there are reasons for that. I think we've grown up feeling alienated, marginalized, invalidated, misunderstood, and unacceptable. We've already been inflicting a lot of self-doubt and self-punishment for much of our lives. I think many of us have longed and wished for someone to just say, "you're OK. I love you as you are." I suspect most people need to hear that at some point. The problem is that after having found such a community where we can finally be ourselves and learn to fully accept ourselves, warts and all, we often go through a time when any sign of correction or caution is interpreted as lack of support or that old familiar "unacceptable" feeling.

It's almost like once we find a "home" with others like us, it's hard not to succumb to an overpowering sense of entitlement, like we get an exemption from correction because we've been so mistreated for so long. And that may be partially true: it's understandable and maybe necessary to take a step back and just get used to the idea of being "OK" or "lovable just as you are" for a while before getting back to the never-ending task of revising behaviors and thought patterns.

But though it may be hard to do, we need to get over our self-absorption and venture out of the soul-withering shelter of non-corrective social circles. That doesn't mean you have to believe everyone who challenges you is right, and you definitely should surround yourself with people who remind you that you're lovable and beautiful as you are, but if you're surrounded by people who insist you shouldn't have to change or adapt and who blame everyone else for your drama, or who always talks about themselves and the things they care about without digging in to other people's interests and passions, consider the possibility that you're in an incredibly self-absorbed crowd and could grow a lot more (and therefore find more happiness) by seeking other friends.

05 April 2008

Friends Don't Fully Substitute

*** Published 27 Oct 2010 ***

They move, they get married, they go gay, they go ultra-conservative, they fool around with your other friends, they're not there every night.

I guess you could possibly have one of those friends you have a cute house and cats with, maybe a dog, but come on...

Elder Scott's Abuse Talk

Elder Richard G. Scott gave a talk today regarding abuse victims and giving counsel on how to respond to and heal from abuse, advising parents how to watch for signs of it, as well as addressing abusers to some degree.

I was really glad to hear the issue so directly addressed. I almost skipped his talk (watched Conference on Tivo--what will I do without Tivo when my beloved roomie takes it with him when he moves?) but I decided to listen to part to see what it was about. I'm glad I did. I'm so glad we are seeing some difficult but very real-world matters being addressed in General Conferences and other church forums.

I'm curious how those who have been abused feel about this talk. Was it helpful? Did you feel like he understood where you're coming from? Was he obviously sensitive and aware? Was it hard to trust him? Did you feel like he understood what it's like to be in your shoes? To me, the talk was sensitive and helpful, but since I've never been sexually or physically abused, I don't have a first-person perspective on it, so I don't know how I'd respond if I had been.

Any input?

01 April 2008

I Didn't Know Her, But...

I receive Amber alerts by text on my cell phone. When I received the alert cancellation on my phone tonight, I had a bad feeling about the outcome. An adorable little girl, Hser Ner Moo, was found dead tonight in Salt Lake after a full day of searching, and for some reason, this one struck me. I don't know the cause yet or the circumstances, but regardless, it's not the news I hoped to hear.

Tonight, I had been thinking somewhat soberly about the frivolity or relative unimportance of good looks, fashion, a sharp mind, a quick wit, or other things people may or may not have much control over, alont with the supreme importance of simply being the best person you can, full of kindness, purity, honesty, free of guile... I hope I don't distract from or insult her family's grief by writing in relation to her tragedy, and if my timing is awful, I'm truly sorry. I just wanted to say that I doubt anyone is concerned, right now, about whether she was going to be a film star, a prom queen, a Hollywood bad girl, President, or a Nobel Prize winner. This was someone's daughter, someone's sister, a beautiful little girl we all hoped would be found safe and reunited with her family. Something seems so pure about what we feel in relation to a child. I'm not sure why that is so clear in my mind right now, but I wanted to say it. It seems potentially insensitive to be writing an analysis right now, but it also seems important.

Her family is in incomprehensible pain right now. How can I not be mindful of them over myself, for at least a moment? I don't think we ought to live in perpetual somberness over the sorrows around us or expect others to feel exactly as we do when we do. Fortunately, I don't think taking everyone's sorrows upon myself is expected of me. This world is full of tragedy, and there's value in finding the joy we can and enjoying some lightness of heart. I just hope I'm never so absorbed in myself to sincerely feel respect and sorrow for others, including my friends and family, allowing it to bring perspective. This family has a long road ahead, and I will probably be back to business as usual tomorrow morning. I had never heard of this girl until this morning, but her tragedy has brought me to tears tonight and has impacted my life in some small but meaningful way. I hope and pray for peace for her and her family tonight.