09 October 2009

All The Wrong Places

Speaking of large gatherings of clean-cut LDS guys...

Bless my moho heart, it looks for love in all the wrong places. No, I'm not talking about seedy bars or sweaty nightclubs. Many of the kinds of traits and qualities I look for in crushables aren't necessarily discernible on a dance floor or in dimly lit smelly places. No, I crush on the "good guys". "Good guys? What's the problem with that?" you ask? I shall tell you: the problem is that the "good guys" I meet are typically active LDS guys, attractive, sometimes straight, and even when they aren't so very straight, they're bound and determined to live a church-centric lifestyle, meaning no same-sex funny business. That's all well and good. I mean, I'm not looking for that either. Stop raising your eyebrow at me. I'm not. I want "safety" unless/until I ever decide to be open to a "real" romantic relationship (not the kind where you're friends and crushing but it can't go anywhere so it gets all messy...maybe I'll post more about those later). The troubling part comes when I think, "What if I were looking? Would I find someone at all, considering the 'good LDS guys' wouldn't be an option? Or might my tastes change? Am I capable of being interested in anyone who's not a 'good LDS guy' and therefore completely unavailable?"

I also sometimes wonder, "What if I never decide to be open to a 'real' same-sex relationship and never meet a girl I'm interested in? Will I never allow romance in my life? Is nothing better than occasional, messy somethings?" Then I quickly shove that last wholly unhelpful, speculative thought aside as the nasty troublemaker it is. Back to the point...

You see, I know a girl in Utah who has similar questions. Having become basically agnostic, she's not so into the whole "church" thing anymore, so she has been dating outside of the church. A "good LDS guy" generally wouldn't want an apostate former-LDS girl. But as with many formerly LDS agnostic folks, this does not mean she wishes to revel in all manner of debauchery while bitterly scorning the church and all it stands for. She meets people through a variety of avenues, but she is struggling to find good guys outside of religious communities who aren't garishly self-absorbed, selfish, obnoxiously bitter towards the church, or otherwise primarily interested in sex and substance abuse. So she's tempted to go to church just so she can find someone who has retained some kind of moral foundation and selfless perspective but may be doubtful as she is about the whole "one true church" thing or maybe even the whole "God" thing.

In a way, I think I can identify with her dilemma because I, too, don't know where I'd meet someone, particularly a guy, if it weren't within LDS circles. And it wouldn't be, because if I were at that point, I certainly wouldn't want to waste my time messing around with conflicted LDS guys. How ironically twisted.

I know, intellectually, there are good, principled people outside of the LDS church and even outside of religion (I've always thought that if I weren't LDS, I don't know where my spiritual home, if any, would be). But finding them appears to be tricky (maybe the Unitarian Universalists or the American Humanist Association?). And finding gay ones seems even less probable. I mean, there's seemingly so much working against guys who are looking for stable, committed, long-term (e.g. longer than two years) relationships with other guys (and yes, I've talked to former-LDS and never-LDS gay guys about this who have observed the same). While I don't accept the notion that gay men are incapable of truly long-term, committed, monogamous relationships, as some seem to believe, those who practice such do seem to be a small minority. Whether that's a symptom of the emotional deficits purportedly causing homosexuality or the result of years of social stigma and cultural reinforcement is largely irrelevant: it's still seemingly rare! Gay society as a whole seems to have accepted "open relationships" as a normal, "healthy" form of committed relationship. Pardon me and my lack of sexual liberation, but I think an "open relationship" is generally a lazy, self-serving excuse for a relationship, but that's another post for another time (I have a lot of those).

Without any expectation of marriage and family, and until they start realizing they're too old to be hot stuff anymore, many guys seem more interested in getting around than getting intimate. Get a bunch of horny, young dudes dating among each other, and who's going to say, "Hey, you're not getting any of this without monogamous commitment, pal"? 'Cause there are thousands of hotter, younger, more sexually experienced dudes out there willing to just "have fun" and move on. Are the only guys who aren't uber-sluts simply too unattractive to pull it off? No, I suppose not because I'm told I'm not an ug-mo and I've never been an uber-slut, to my knowledge. So I guess they're out there, but the guys with the principles and standards I find attractive seem to be mostly in the church, where I wouldn't have any interest in finding them and dragging them away to the fiery depths of mohell. Nevertheless, while it's easier to eschew or set aside some objects of attraction with whom I suspect I don't share all that many values, it's a little harder to push away my crush on the really good, genuine guy in the ward.

And then you have the mohos bound to live moholy lives who "make mistakes" here and there before recommitting themselves to ultraconservativism (yay for repeated repentance!). I have a formerly LDS gay friend who once marveled at how much more action the "good LDS mohos" were getting than he, an out-and-looking gay guy got. I would assume most people looking for an actual relationship are not interested in being one of the moholy rollers' "slip-ups". Though I must admit every once in a while, I've met someone and thought, "Dang, I wouldn't mind slipping up with you." Oh, the unhealthy contortions of a moho's mind! But I don't really want that. I mean, who would ever want to knowingly get into a situation which is bound to end in an explosion of angst?

Some guys may be into the whole "flirt to convert (to living contrary to church policy)" thing, but I wouldn't be, for a couple of reasons:
    a) I'm not interested in convincing someone to abandon their beliefs or change their entire lifestyle on my account, and
    b) I'm not confident the retention rates are great, and I don't think I'd want to waste the time to find out if they were really committed to the change or just entertaining a fantasy to see where it leads.

Gosh, realizing the dead-endedness almost takes the fun out of crushy, flirty relationships with non-sexual benefits between active LDS guys.

Fortunately for me, I'm not on the market or looking for a relationship (despite desiring that kind of intimacy someday), so most of this is not entirely relevant. Perhaps that's why my moheart seems firmly locked right now except for occasionally crushing on these "safe" boys who will obviously not return the feelings. Or maybe I just am into guys who aren't into me. That'd be a sad indicator of my self-esteem. Or maybe I'm just afraid of a real relationship in general, so I focus on people who are certain to offer only passing fancies.

So here I am in this funky place, where I've had enough pseudo-romances to know I don't want to do that again anytime soon and have learned ways to avoid it (though I acknowledge it could still sneak up on me somehow, as it has in the past), but I'm also not wanting a "real" romance with anyone of either sex for various reasons. Yet even though I am not on the market, that doesn't mean I don't at least partly desire that kind of companionship, so my ol' heart just goes on crushing on these seemingly really good guys who are either straight or otherwise untouchable, and I get disappointed when I find out they have a girlfriend, even though I know I wouldn't want to pursue anything unless both of us were ready to really date and pursue the possibility of a relationship anyway. Go fig.

You might think, "You've questioned this a lot more than I would expect from someone who's totally sure what they want from life and who is committed to living church standards." And you'd probably be right. But there are other reasons for these questions, and when it comes right down to it, to stay in the church only because you believe a relationship of the sort you want would be highly unlikely anyway seems a rather half-hearted and hollow discipleship to me. When I see others questioning along these lines, I want to tell them a decision to pursue or be open to a same-sex romance shouldn't hinge on whether or not it's possible to find someone (a fairly flimsy hinge and decidedly beside the point) but on whether it's what you truly believe is the right thing to do. Not kept in check, questions such as these I've posed serve only as a distraction from the more important, central questions which I think require a touch more soul-searching than, "Gosh, is Mr. Right even out there, and how could I find him?"


Alan said...

Logically, the reason the Church hammers marriage within the faith is so that the couple could go to the temple to be sealed. So if you contemplate a marriage for which sealing is not currently possible (one with another guy), then why would it matter to the Church at least whether you marry another LDS guy or not?

Daniel said...

You think too much. You don't ask someone on a first date if they have moral standards and aim for monogamy. You just go on a first date and stay true to your own standards, and if there is a spark, you go on a second date. And if you fall in love, then you nurture the relationship until all of a sudden you're celebrating 2, or 5, or 30 years together.

Relationships aren't something you plan out with thought experiments. You just let them happen. If you try to find a guy who can historically demonstrate he is good for long term relationships, you'll never find one because he'll still be in that relationship. Just look for people whose personality fit yours and if love happens you both will turn into committed relationship material.

No more hypothetical situations for you!

Quinn said...

I didn't know you could read my brain... you must have ESPn!

Max Power said...

I found my boo on the internet.

Original Mohomie said...

Alan, I think the main way the church would care is about the loss of eternal progress and exaltation of two members rather than just one. The church's institutional opinion, though, isn't the issue for me.

Daniel, ha, I probably do think too much. And you have a point about becoming what each other needs out of love or mutual investment. I have learned that it's possible to fall in love with someone who doesn't meet a checklist but who may have traits you never thought you wanted or whom you grow close to because you've invested in each other. Nobody's going to fit a list of requirements or some mold.
I'm no good on paper either: no serious relationship at my age? That's a red flag. But I sincerely believe in long-term relationships, so hopefully someone will trust my sincerity even while being understandably cautious about my inexperience in navigating such a relationship. And hearts and goals are sometimes drastically changed by relationships.

But like in 500 Days of Summer when he asks her "What are we?" and she says, "What does it matter? Are you happy now?" I thought, "Run away now, boy, run away now. This will end badly." Of course, they all learn something and everything turns out fine for everyone, but the relationship itself...well...I won't spoil any more than I have, but I identified in a way.

I can fall in love with a lot of people. I could probably fall in love with several guys I know if I approached the relationship open to that or didn't think about the long-term relationship. I don't go there because there are aspects of our lives (shared goal to avoid the romance, different life goals or religious beliefs, different paradigms about relationships, different levels of stability or outness with the whole "I'm gay" thing, etc) that would most likely spell disaster if we were to fall for each other unless one or both of us changed, and going into a relationship hoping for someone to change is...well, Mohomie don't play dat.

And when "being in love" is all a relationship is based on, then it typically ends when they fall "out of love", and for some people, that's fine and works for them (the relationship was good while it lasted, lived out its purpose, time to move on), but that's not the way I see things or prefer to approach relationships. I want the kind of mutual commitment and foundation of common values and principles that can carry a relationship through the downswings without infidelity or "opening up" the relationship. I know there are never any guarantees, "even" for active LDS couples married in the temple. But mutual beliefs about relationships help, and though I have many LDS friends or female friends who mostly share my perspective, I haven't found a lot of gay guys who do. So even if it just comes down to "differences" rather than right and wrong, I still don't know how likely I'd be to find one.

BUT, if I ever decided to be open to a same-sex relationship "for reals" rather than these blasted friendships-turned-romantic-turned-oh-crap-we-can't-do-this-now-whats *rolling eyes at myself*, then I'd totally try dating and wouldn't hole myself up because I'd be so sure I couldn't find anyone. You just never know, so it'd be silly not to play the field a bit just because I presume to already know the outcome.

But falling in love, beautiful and essential though it is, isn't all I need. The Beatles got that wrong.

Max, you lucky cuss. :-) And you even found a fellow apostate with a similar background. That might be the ideal right there for an ex-mo 'mo, eh?

I prefer to meet people through friends and find potential relationships that way. I don't really have the sustained energy for meeting person after person, so I'm not keen on the whole internet dating idea, but blogs...yes blogs...watch out, queerosphere, O-Mo's on the prowl!

...OK, I'm not. You are safe...for now. *nefariously shifty eyes*

Anonymous said...

Why do I keep returning to your blog and commenting? Wendy Ulrich, an LDS psychologist who I really admire, said this: "We need witnesses to witness our heart work."

I enjoy witnessing your heart work. And I think you want and need some witnesses. That's why you do this, I'm sure. You already had plenty of witnesses before I showed up, but I'm really happy I get to be one of them now. Even if I am the last and the least of them.

I don't think you think too much. I'm glad you think. And I'm glad you lay it all out for others to see and and consider and ponder.

I like how you wrestle with contraries, and how you write about it. So often we only get the surface story about somebody's life and are left to infer the interior battles and considerations that motivated their actions and decisions.

The questions and considerations you are wrestling with are universal in many respects. They are things I have wondered about and wrestled with myself. Yet I have read so few people talk about them as openly and as explicitly as you have.

What is most personal is most universal.

Sure, falling in love may need to transcend thinking. And someday when you've weighed and wrestled, considered and counted and are finally settled in what you really, really want, then maybe that will be the time to stop thinking so much and just follow your heart.

But until then, I hope you keep wrestling and writing.

For just as we need people to witness our heart work, I've come to understand that we need to witness other people's heart work as well.

I'm a better man for being a witness to your heart work. It stretches and enlarges my own heart to consider your considerations and wrestle with your questions.

Keep up the good work.

Sean said...

I think many of us have similar issues finding guys even when we "aren't looking." I'm very exmo with no intention of returning, but where love interests are it's very hard to find guys with standards. I talked about very much the same thing on my blog the other day.

I finally realized that what I need is like a good exmoho who, although may not be interested in Mormonism, still things some of the healthy aspects of the faith are worth retaining like not using drugs or alcohol.

While such guys are out there, hey look at me I'm one of them, finding others seems to be difficult. And if you think it is bad trying to find a good guy with a few (but definitely not all) LDS standards in Utah think how much more difficult it is outside of the quintessential location for finding Mohos.

So while said desirable love interest may or may not exist for me I have made the choice to lessen my stringent requirements for a relationship and just open myself up to meeting all kinds of people even if their idea of standards differs from mine. But I hope Mr. gorgeous perfect is out there somewhere.

Bravone said...

I don't think you think too much. Being a gay Mormon is so complicated for those who desire to remain within the church. Although denying my sexuality for so many years created some unhealthy addictions that I still fight, I think it was probably the best for me. I don't think I would have had the resolve or stamina that you have.

I can't help but think that someday, your wrestling, thinking, and searching will pay off, an you will not have compromised your integrity in the process.