29 March 2010

Getting Connexted

Alright, if I were wanting to date, this whole online social network thing might not be such a terrible thing after all. As it turns out, I've already made a couple of interesting connections, run into a couple of friends I didn't know were on there, and even ran into someone I knew a while back but didn't know was gay. Aside from messages from friends, I've received close to 50 messages from fellows kind enough to welcome me to the community. Isn't that sweet? One even asked me if I'd like to have my...eh, nevermind. Let's just say it was a 'generous' offer I ignored with severe disgust and blocked that user from ever contacting me again. Probably 30 or so of the messages consist of little more than, "what's up?" or "how's it going?" or some variation, leading me to believe they aren't exactly taking a 'personal' approach. Some said, "like the profile!" or, "hey, handsome!" or something like it. Flattery will get you nowhere. ...Usually. Only 10 or fewer actually mentioned specifics from my profile. A few asked specific questions. I've replied to most or all of the messages in these latter two categories. Some have responded back, some haven't. Maybe I wasn't interesting or flirty enough. I'm OK weeding some out that way. If we don't click, or they were looking for something more along the lines of, "I'll show you what's up," then it's best to just move on.

I've carried on a dialog with just a few of them. They're mostly cute, not gonna lie, but it's all in good, clean fun, and they actually had something to say besides "what's up?" Some of the conversations have fizzled out, others are carrying on incidentally. No conversation has led to meeting up, and I don't really plan for any to, unless it's with mutual friends. Although I must admit, there's the occasional one with whom I don't necessarily have main interests in common, but our conversation has been fun and engaging, and he's ridiculously spoon-worthy, and I'm trying to keep my motives in check because part of me wants to cut to the chase and just make out already. No, I wouldn't do that, even if I thought that's what he wanted. It's not what I want. Dammit. Stupid principles. (Note for those of you who will read this as me being all "angsty": I'm kidding--it's totally my choice to follow my principles, and while I'm mildly conflicted between wanting something and wanting something else more or believing something that keeps me from doing what part of me wants, I think being conflicted is a sign of healthy...oh, forget it, call me angsty if it makes you feel better about life.) I can definitely see how guys get themselves in 'trouble' on sites like this, but there are guys on there who seem genuinely interested in getting to know people in the non-carnal sense, though obviously some guys who seem that way at first later reveal through their actions or words that they're jonesin' like nobody's business.

I also discovered adding pictures multiplies your profile views by MANY times, and I thought that reflected the shallowness of people on the site until I remembered how few pictureless profiles I checked and how when you're browsing, the ONLY initial information you get is a name and a pic, so it's a big factor. It's a little unnerving to see that my profile was viewed nearly 200 times the day after I posted pictures. I felt so...exposed. I had a brief moment of self-flattery when I saw I was the 5th most viewed profile at the end of that day, but I quickly reminded myself of the many factors that came together to create my one, brief moment of glory: new member, newly posted photos, added friends around the country, and had been logging in repeatedly all day to check the messages I was getting. Then I saw a really homely guy in the top 10 because he was new, too, and I was sufficiently humbled. :-)

I was also interested in the ages of guys contacting me because there are apparently some guys in my age range:
  • 19-23: 11
  • 24-27: 10
  • 28-31: 14
  • 32-35: 9
  • 37 and older: 4

One problem: now that I've conducted my experiment and am running out of results and have explored but don't intend to start dating, I may be getting a bit bored with this site. I'll always have Facebook...

Addendum: OK, so one conversation has just led to possibly meeting up briefly. Another experiment. Here's to hoping he's not a pscyho-stalker rapist or a *gasp* woman...

...don't worry, I'm not naive. I'll only meet someone in a public, neutral place. ...I mean, except when I'm meeting certain bloggers who invite me to their homes...alone. ...I wore my chastity belt just in case.

Skimmers outnumbered? Go fig...

Results of the survey asking whether readers skimmed or read through my posts:
  • Neither - I avoid your blog as much as possible: 1 (2%)
  • Mostly skim, rarely a whole post: 7 (17%)
  • Skim some, read some all the way through: 8 (19%)
  • Most posts all the way through, but sometimes skim: 20 (48%)
  • Every post all the way through, with few exceptions: 5 (12%)

OK, so there are more "readers" than I thought. Interesting. Of course, most skimmers probably never bothered to answer because...well...they don't care. :-) But it's good to know a few people read.

28 March 2010


I'm increasingly tempted to weed out the blogs from my feed which are extreme. I don't have much interest in or patience for either fluffy, devotional blogs or bitterly anti-church gay activism. Both seem, to me, like people trying to convince themselves or parade their righteousness. The extremes seem like people afraid to acknowledge reality because they're so entrenched in ideology.

But I haven't yet. I think there's value in occasionally hearing the "extremes". I don't want to be able to accuse myself of turning a blind eye, or a deaf ear, to viewpoints which might challenge my own or at least remind me of beliefs about which I'm being defensive. I know I, years ago, looked at people who did that as "afraid of the truth" or "unable to argue." Now I see that at least some of those people can argue but are genuinely just not interested in the argument because they don't feel the need to defend themselves and/or know it's probably not going to convince anyone anyway, just as it wouldn't have convinced them before they experienced their paradigm shift.

And then there's the other factor: wait a few months, and those uber-devotional blogs will have a streak of reality, and the uber-bitter blogs will be injected with open-mindedness. Those who were militant or overcompensating out of insecurity will become more secure and consequently more humble and open to challenging data and perspectives. I don't have the energy to keep seeking out and adding, deleting, and re-adding blogs to my blogroll as they shift and change. It's easier to leave them all and just remember which ones I like currently and roll my eyes at the others. ...I wonder which bloggers roll their eyes at mine?

So, in summary: I don't actually read all of the blogs in my feed on the right, there are even fewer whose articulated beliefs I fully support, and some of them I may even remove if I think they're just too destructive or offensive to link to in good conscience, but they represent a wide range of perspectives, and I mostly think that's kinda nifty.

25 March 2010

Whoring Around Online

I feel mildly ill.

Facing the prospect of actually dating (men) has been interesting, daunting, exciting, and somewhat nauseating (in a not-so-great way). I've always just met friends of friends and naturally gravitated towards certain guys who I got flirty or romantic with, and we had to try to be "just friends". But if I am going to be open to a relationship, it sure as heck ain't gonna be with a conflicted moho, which almost all of my friends-of-friends are, but with someone who is more settled, more mature, looking for something real to actually commit to.

To experiment or test the waters, even though I'm not ready to "actively look" (I have way too much other stuff to figure out without bringing someone else into the uncertainty that is my life right now or distracting myself with a relationship), I set up profiles on a couple of sites where they survey you and match you up with others based on your answers (personality, preferences, etc). Very few results interest me, but occasionally they match me with someone I'd consider a first date with. But I had a realization: I found one match I actually thought had real potential, and he said he wanted a lifetime relationship and kids. My initial response was, "That's what I've always wanted." My follow-up response was a sinking feeling in my stomach and a blow to the head: there was no way in Hades I was ready for anything like that, even if that's what I thought I wanted. It was an odd sort of realization, but the thought of actually meeting someone, falling in love, and living with them the rest of my life and adopting children to be raised by two daddies was just too much yet. So I can't honestly say I'm looking, right now, for a lifetime commitment, but I also don't want to look for a "just for fun" kind of relationship to offer temporary companionship.

When I've fallen for someone or felt attracted, it's easy to imagine being together, but it's also never been in the cards for us to actually commit to anything. It's never been on the table at all. When faced with the potential reality, some things become clear. And I have to wonder if this is why I've fallen for guys who are, in fact, "unavailable", whether because they're emotionally detached types or say they want to find a wife and have kids. It's "safe" to fall for them, and I don't have to force myself to either face commitment or face the fact that I'm in a temporary relationship.

I probably still haven't fully come to terms with the more objective "idea" of a male life partner. More appealing, still, is the idea of meeting a great woman I'm genuinely attracted to and having children together, our own offspring we raise as equally invested biological parents. But what if we couldn't have kids? Would I have the same reservation? Is this more about kids, or is it more about my unshaken paradigms about the morality of same-sex partnership? Is it the Spirit whispering me away from a damning path, or simple fear of commitment to something new and uncharted? Is it a healthy recognition of what I am and am not ready for, emotionally, financially, mentally?

Whatever it is, I realized I was, in fact, looking for a "learning relationship", one that could potentially progress to more but would more likely be a stepping stone relationship, since I've never even had a "real" relationship to begin with. And this realization made it hard to know what to look for. Would I even want to date someone who is willing to date such a red flag: a guy my age who's never been in a relationship? Do I look for someone who isn't looking for a lifetime relationship? Then we're both understanding that it's temporary? But what if I fell for him and wanted to spend my life with him, and he ended up saying, "Hey, I told you I wasn't looking for anything serious"? 500 Days of Summer was a great movie, but I don't want the experience firsthand. But if I found someone looking for a lifetime relationship, and they fell for me, and I wasn't ready for it, and I ended up losing out on a great relationship because I jumped in before I was personally ready to make of it what it could have been...? Yeah, that's when I decided there are just too many "what ifs", and you just have to do the best you can, recognizing your own limitations and taking some risks, trusting there are plenty of fish in the gay sea. ...which I still struggle to believe.

I wanted to explore this idea of finding potential dates more, while I'm still not actually wanting to do anything about it, so I set up a profile on a gay social networking site that's hugely popular here and is one of the less cruisy sites, as far as I can tell. But judging from the onslaught of messages that consist of nothing more than, "Hey, how's your night?" and "Thought I'd say hi," I'm feeling a little gross about being there. Seriously, dude? Your pic shows you in underwear with your legs spread--not to mention our tastes and interests don't match up at all--and you expect me to respond to you when my profile clearly says I'm not looking for hook-ups? Sick. I feel cheap just being somewhere where people do this. I don't want to be anywhere near that scene, let alone affiliated with it. I'm no manwhore...well, Chedner might beg to differ, but I expect him to eat those words after his latest declaration. ;-)

Fortunately, not everyone there is like that. I have a few friends there who I don't think are just looking to hook up. And while I must admit I don't see why you'd have a profile on a gay site unless you were at least partially testing the dating waters or wanted to maintain gay-centered social circles, there are people on there I'm pretty sure aren't using it for hooking up or even dating but just to keep in touch with friends and connections, somewhat like LDS people on sites like LDS Linkup, or LDS Singles.

I set up a profile on LDS Linkup back in the day to make friend connections, but I didn't even use that 'cause it seemed limiting and one-dimensional, based on one common thread. It weirded me out that many people used more profile space talking about their callings and missions and desires for eternal companionship than about who they really are as a person. But let's be honest: while LDS culture has its downsides, they're typically much less trashy than sex-centric "gay culture". No, not all gay people are trashy or promiscuous, but what holds "gay culture" together is not religion, or profession, or ethnicity, or cultural tradition, but homosexuality in and of itself: romance and sexuality. That's really not that much to build a culture around. So when I see someone's profile who only has pictures with gay friends at clubs and beaches, I'm turned off because they're portraying their life as one-dimensional gayness. I'm interested in people who live beyond the club.

So Facebook is my social network of choice because it's more like real life to me, with profiles that are more natural and usually based on more than one facet of people's lives. But now I have this profile (on a trial basis, mind you) on a gay-themed site, partially out of curiosity, partially to see if I can approach the prospect of dating (though I have to admit, it hasn't been especially encouraging, and I am a friends-of-friends kinda guy), and while I've discovered there are some good guys out there, some of whom seem to be genuinely interested in "real" relationships rather than getting action, the dominant tendency seems to be this lusty, shallow connection based on shirtless mirror pics (a big turn-off in a potential date, by the way, though I won't pretend not to enjoy some hotness), and I can't get over how unhealthy and immature these guys seem. Mind you, this isn't necessarily completely unique to gay guys. I have a couple of female friends who have done the online dating thing and been propositioned and felt cheap because of the response they've received, too. Guys are pigs.

Last night, I was chatting with a friend and sharing with him a few of the profiles of people who contacted me (apparently putting pictures on your profile and being logged in multiplies your profile views by 10 and garners messages...go fig...), and there were a couple of guys I thought were really cute, but when discussing it with him, I was forced to look beyond the "cuteness" and realize they probably weren't good matches. The more I told him which profiles were interesting to me, the more I realized I wasn't finding much of what I would actually be interested in when I started dating. I was being shallow. Ew. ...until one. Yes, he's friends with a couple of people I've met and thought seemed like decent guys, he seems down-to-earth, he's over 23 (*whew*), we have some common interests, he's not a total hotbod, he's potentially kinda nerdy...that could work.

So maybe there's hope to at least meet some decent guys who aren't embroiled in moho conflicted culture but also haven't fallen for the ridiculous trappings of pop gay culture, lured by the idea that promiscuity, substance abuse, and shallow pop culture are the only alternative to being active LDS.

Oh, got another short, come-on message while writing this. I'm feeling nauseous again...I kinda wanna run screaming from the gay fresh-meat vultures and consider doing something for real when I'm actually ready to date, but I'm the kinda guy who forces himself to wait until emotional reactions subside a bit before deciding...

Addendum: ...and then there's the random guy you find whom you knew years ago and suspected incidentally but never imagined having a bit of an underwear fetish, let alone seeing pictures of him in...costume...

...and then there's that random guy who totally knows you and your "anonymous" blog, but you're sure he must be thinking of someone else until he says "So it is you!" when you post about having created a profile, which is kinda wiggy until he says who he is, and you realize he's someone you've heard about for years but never figured you'd have direct contact with (behold the power of the small, gay world), and he points out superfluous hyphenation, so you remove at least one thoughtless hyphen from your latest post and wonder what possessed you to use it there...

24 March 2010

For You Skimmers

Just a short time left to answer my poll about whether you skim or read my posts, which may be skewed towards more dedicated readers by the fact that skimmers probably wouldn't notice it in the first place, since I haven't announced it or drawn attention to it.

20 March 2010

His Interest Is In Girls

So, there's a certain adorable "Idol" winner whose name I'm not going to mention because I don't want the random Google guests stumbling into my neck of the blogosphere in search of gossip about whether he likes boys. I think he seems like a good kid, and I also think younger guys shouldn't be hounded about their sexuality, though it is natural for people to be curious. As I was tonight. I wanted to see what people were saying about him, so I searched. I know, I should be ashamed of myself, seeking out the gossip I find distasteful. I slapped myself on the wrist before clicking further. I found several references to an answer he apparently gave a Malaysian interviewer when asked about the gay rumors, which people are quoting as "proof" that he's not gay:

I have to say that is some really smooth wording, really well executed! I wonder if he was coached on that response? Whether he's hetero and was trying not to sound like he was disgusted by the suggestion, or whether he's homo and was playing a mental slight of hand, it was well fielded and focused.

It took me back to when I found ways to answer such questions in honest but "directed" ways, to satisfy curiosity and thereby evade further questioning while directing attention to what I believed was most important in the answer. Some would say I'm just trying to make everyone gay in even thinking such a "clear" answer as "my interest is in girls" could mean anything except that he's straight, but I suspect those are mostly people who don't know, firsthand, the workings of the mind of a young guy whose beliefs conflict with his attractions. "My interest is in girls," to such a young man, does not mean, "I'm primarily sexually and romantically attracted to females and don't experience homosexual inclinations." It's a declaration of what one wants in life, regardless of sexual orientation. It's a statement that regardless of whether guys are more attractive, a gay relationship is not the goal but rather a relationship with a wife and children. And it's a lot easier than trying to explain, to a casual, pop-culture, worldwide audience, that you're gay in the sense that you're attracted to members of the same sex but not gay in the sense that you seek out same-sex relationships and that what you hope for is to find a girl you can marry despite this inherent challenge in such a hypothetical relationship...

But who knows? Maybe he meant, "No, I'm not gay," or, "I'm attracted to girls and not guys." Whatever he really meant by it, his response seems to have put many fans at ease to finally have some kind of definitive answer from him, even while some will simply believe what they want regardless of what he says. The kid's really young, and he has a lot to experience and figure out, and he should be allowed to do that without everyone trying to shove him into a box or mold to fit their paradigms and defend their egos. ...but I still think of him as the world's most-loved moho. Is that wrong of me? ;-)

19 March 2010

Have You Ever Noticed...

...that a lot of guys who are often described as "sweethearts" are often also, when they get upset or threatened, the most insufferably catty b!#ches? Or is it just me? Ha, just wondering...

Note: this wasn't triggered by anybody specific, just a general observation I've made many times, and someone just said something that reminded me of it.

17 March 2010

O-Mo Is Fake And Filtered

Filtered? Usually. Fake? No.

I do keep an unfiltered journal with more complete details of my more tentative and exploratory thoughts and reactions and details which affect other people's privacy and sensitivities and would therefore be completely self-serving and inappropriate to broadcast here.

I don't consciously "try" to project a particular image of myself here. Why would I? I don't know most of you people, and the ones I do know can come talk to me about this stuff rather than relying solely on my blog, and for those of you who know me personally, I don't think I could somehow fool you through my blog posts.

What some people regard as frustratingly "filtered" is often actually what I regard as my truest expression. I tend not to go off on the hyper-emotional rants most bloggers seem crazy for or seem to think is most "authentic". My passing emotional reactions are valid, to me, and are occasionally useful for others besides my trusted friends and family to read or hear, but are not the "truest" expression of how I think and feel about things: the truest are the lasting impressions and thoughts, after the reactions born of sensitivities, insecurities, defenses, etc have passed.

I think most people aren't used to...eh, nevermind. Maybe I'm just different from a lot of bloggers and blog-readers...and maybe most people...in some pretty fundamental ways. *shrug*

16 March 2010

Constipated Again

So many thoughts, and so relatively few I feel ready to articulate here or think would be pertinent or of any use/interest to readers. I have dozens of drafts of posts where I start writing or at least write a title for an idea and save the draft because I don't have time (or interest) to hash it out. I guess I'm more interested in experiencing, processing, and figuring out than articulating right now. When I sit to write about additional questions people have asked me, I sigh, shrug, wonder what the @#$% good it'll do to write about it here anyway, and go back to perusing Facebook, reading news, watching clips from Ellen, reading blogs, researching Le Corbusier's love life or the history of the phrase "son of a gun" or organizations for agnostic people who desire principle- and value-based lives, paying bills, checking a dating site to see who they've matched me up with this time for the sheer curious heck of it (even though I've never used a dating site to contact anyone and don't intend to anytime soon), IMing with someone, looking into hobby-related things like how to sell photographs, seeing what's new on Netflix, seeking gainful employment, or looking into what kind of grad program I'd like to go into but getting frustrated that I don't know what I want to study and going back to Facebook, etc. When I start getting stuck in the cycle and realize I'm not going to do what I need to be doing anyway, I decide to get off my duff and go to Chopin performances or run errands or work out or meet friends for lunch and dinner and skiing and games and Utah-style cabaret instead because I might as well be doing something besides getting distracted. *smirk*

Yeah, I have trouble focusing sometimes. I wonder if I have a mild form of ADD? Or maybe I just completely lack self control in certain regards. Maybe I should care.

I also have 87 saved text messages to myself, most of which are random thoughts I have in the course of an average day and want to remember. Most of these will never make it to elaboration, let alone publishing. But I will look at them again at least once and very likely may at least transcribe them to an unpublished draft before deleting them from my phone.

I wish there were a way to pause time, so I could hash it all out, articulate it, and then go out to collect more data/experience, then come back and pause time again... I also wish I could download my brain and archive it for access and input by others, but I'll be taking most of this stuff to the grave, methinks. Of course, most of it wouldn't be useful to others who haven't experienced exactly what I have with exactly my perspective, anyway...so I guess it's no big loss. Mostly a lot of random, mundane experiences and "hm" thoughts with occasional profundity or paradigm shifting thrown in haphazardly.

Gosh, I must be on one again. Whole Foods produce guy was gorgeous. Seemed well groomed but not high maintenance. Tall, thin. Square jaw. Good hair. Beautiful face. Casual but engaged expression, not cocky or lazy. Nice eyes. And I mean "nice" as in "not mean", not "nice" as in "acceptably aesthetically pleasing". Then cashier-guy caught my eye, too, to a lesser degree. I checked their name tags. Produce guy has a more appealing name. But don't flatter yourself, D-Train. Who am I kidding, of course you're going to. And now the guy next to me in the library is quite the hottie, too. I'm too old for this crap, gawking at "hotties". OK, so I don't think I gawk or stare. But I do admire. But he did catch me looking. But it's OK, folks, I played the ol' "oh, I'm looking at the person next to you now, and now the next, because I'm just scanning the room casually..." card. ...I'm not getting blips on my 'dar, and I think he's studying engineering, which severely reduces gay potential. How many gay engineers have you met? I think they're few and far between. ...of course, most who are probably don't "act it": I think the vast majority of engineers come with one of three pre-packaged personalities, and "flamboyant" is certainly not one of them. Oh, he just left. Sad. Do you do that? Get disappointed when a hottie leaves even though there was never a chance you were going to do anything about it other than admire from afar? What am I, a teenage girl? Ew. I know, I know, "get a boyfriend already". Bah. I have a draft started about what I think of that advice. I may never finish it.

Yep, that thing that happens when I realize I'm being totally unproductive...yeah, just hit it. Time to go.

10 March 2010

Thankful For Francos

So, I've never watched Scrubs much, maybe parts of episodes here and there. But one day not long ago, I was bored and watched an episode for kicks, and it was funny, and I enjoyed it. Not hooked, but it was fun. And there was someone I hadn't seen before: one of the students who I really enjoyed watching, despite his dopey "dude" demeanor. He was adorable. Friggin' adorable. And hot. Nice combo. And I thought, "He looks a lot like James Franco. That's crazy." Of course, James Franco is a long-time crush of mine, but this kid gave him a run for the money. Yes indeed.

So...just today I stumbled upon his name while reading about the tragic probable loss of a show I really enjoy, Better Off Ted, along with other tragic ABC cancellations or probable cancellations, Scrubs included, and lo and behold, his name is Dave Franco. Yep, James has a hot younger bro. Of course. Now if only they had a gay brother with a great personality and who didn't realize how hot he was and was therefore attainable...I'd so be willing to relocate. "Whatever it takes," eh, "Danish Boy"? ;-)

08 March 2010

Same-Sex Survey Skepticism

Mr. Curie has been posting a series I've enjoyed (and not just for the *ahem* illustrations) about results of twin studies relating to homosexuality, and I've found his thoughts interesting and agree that additional tests and surveys would further illustrate correlations.

But...there's something I can't shake from my mind when reading about these studies. I'm a bit skeptical of studies, particularly those about politically or socially charged issues, especially those involving self-assessment and requiring the disclosure of very sensitive information. See, back in college, I participated in a few surveys for various psychology department projects, sometimes for some promised incentive but partly for the fun of seeing how it worked and how they designed the surveys. I know: I'm twisted.

Here's the thing: when one survey asked questions about sexual orientation or homosexual thoughts, I fudged. I was really conflicted. I believed in the importance of responding accurately for their results to have meaning, but I also was going to school in my hometown and absolutely refused to risk anyone finding out about my deepest, darkest secret. They assured participants the individual surveys would only be seen by those compiling the results, the sheet with the name and the survey were separate papers, and names would not be associated with responses and would only be used for ensuring no duplicate surveys were submitted, yadda yadda yadda. Didn't matter. But what if someone matched the short answer writing with my printed name incidentally, and it was someone I knew? Or someone breeched confidentiality practices and left the surveys in a nosy acquaintance's house, and they somehow matched them up? Maybe an old acquaintance with a grudge? Or...aliens landed, infiltrated university psychology department files and worldwide news media and publicized a 24-hour "O-Mo has same-sex attraction" worldwide public service announcement...

Anyway, whenever I see these surveys, I think of all the closeted respondents who won't even admit in an anonymous survey that they've had naughty thoughts about members of the same sex. Straight folks don't have much incentive or reason to hide their heterosexuality, but non-straight folks certainly have motive to hide their deviant sexuality, which leaves me wondering how many more homos those surveys missed...

07 March 2010

Why Suddenly Give Up On The Church?

Talking with someone not long ago, he asked me why, after all this time, I would "suddenly" give up on the church and the gospel in general by distancing myself in almost every way possible. There was more to the conversation, but for now, I'll focus on this question. At the time, I just told him it wasn't nearly as sudden as it must seem. I said it wasn't a casual decision, and I wouldn't call it "giving up" as much as acknowledging I just hadn't believed it for a long time and had lost many reasons to keep attending church or to keep choosing to trust what I'd felt years ago but about which I hadn't felt any real confirmation in the last several years and which had stopped making sense or seeming necessary for positive and productive perspective and living.

There's a flipside question I've gotten from other people, too: why didn't you get your butt out of there way sooner? Maybe some of the following thoughts might articulate some answers to both of these questions.

I have experienced, in the past, nagging questions I couldn't find answers to, and I got frustrated about that. I studied and researched and talked to parents and church teachers, and I got answers that partially satisfied but left me a bit flat. I couldn't make sense of some things, and I didn't know how the church could be true given this or that historical fact or doctrinal twist I'd not been aware of before. The bulk of this took place a couple of years before my mission. Eventually, I realized that I have a limited perspective and knowledge, and if God knows all and wants us to become like him, then one day we may know, and today is surely not that day. Just as I can't explain calculus to a student struggling with algebra, surely I was not ready for all things universal while such a spiritual infant. I placed some questions on the back burner, found satisfactorily temporary responses or coping beliefs regarding others, and carried on with faith in what I had felt and what I did believe. I trusted that one day, even if not until the next life, I might understand some of the seeming unanswerables. The church wasn't perfect, I had learned, nor its leaders, but the gospel was, and the Spirit's whispers were all I needed to keep going, to keep believing, and I found happiness in doing so and focusing on the positive things I did believe while letting go of some more troubling questions. No sense being troubled about things I probably couldn't know anyway and looking for faults with a religion which taught such wonderful doctrines I hadn't seen anywhere else but which, more importantly, had rung true in my heart and mind and brought feelings of peace, joy, longsuffering... Besides, being active in the church and serving and building friendships based on gospel principles brought so much happiness that I wanted to share that with everyone. I needed to spend my time learning and sharing the doctrines which could bring people joy rather than dwelling on the earthly foibles of the institution.

I have experienced, in the past, bitterness and frustration at attending church. I've experienced feeling viscerally repulsed by what was spoken over the pulpit by well-meaning but ignorant or misguided members preaching philosophies of men mingled with scripture and knowing most people were so steeped in traditional culture that they'd never question it, despite the unnecessary strife and misunderstanding it would surely promulgate. I've known what it's like to sit in the congregation and marvel that so many showed extreme insensitivity and lack of understanding towards those with real problems and struggles. The A student lamenting their stressful homework week, the Molly Mormon gnashing her teeth over the fact that she couldn't stay on top of cleaning her already-immaculate house, or the wealthy couple imparting their inspiring story about how they were able to buy a home far beyond their needs and thanking the Lord for blessing them with opulence. In those times, I reminded myself that I may be misjudging their words, that not everyone will or should publicize their biggest problems at the pulpit, that I needed to refrain from judging them just as I'd want them to refrain from judging me, and that the smaller lessons in life are valuable too, that there was beauty in the idea of a God who cared to comfort His children even in the smaller things. I told myself I was feeling understandably frustrated that they seemed so clueless that some people have real problems, but I was partially to blame for shielding them from my own, assuming they wouldn't or didn't care to understand them or offer real support. How could I expect from them what I wasn't willing to do myself? I can't fault the ward for not making me feel free to be open and "real" when I'm not ready or willing to take the lead. I reminded myself that we all have emotional reactions, and feeling angry or frustrated when going to church is no reason to stop going, just as feeling angry or frustrated in a relationship is no reason to walk away from someone. "Stay," I told myself, "and get through this, and see what's on the other side. Don't leave while you're upset."

I have experienced, in the past, extreme difficulty dealing with local church leaders and their personal foibles and communication, to the point that I nearly left a particularly fire-and-brimstone, priestcrafty stake conference. I walked outside, breathed some fresh air, and reminded myself that the people and the doctrines are not the same, that local leaders sometimes do or say things the Lord would not have them do or say, that they may be there for their own personal growth and growth of the members, and that sooner or later, we're all bound to butt heads with our leadership or even catch them in wholly unholy behavior, but that's no reason to sour our relationship with the church as a whole. If God called a biblical prophet who sinned grievously, then surely free will allowed stake presidents to completely screw up in certain ways while in their callings. And if I was feeling so angry that I had to leave, perhaps there was an insecurity or defensiveness on my part which I needed to figure out or learn from, and running away probably wasn't the way to confront and resolve it. Perhaps I was missing something. Perhaps his flaws were magnified beyond all reason by my own pride and personal feelings. I needed to exercise patience. I went back in and tried to listen, but it was extremely difficult. I took a few breaths, reminded myself to be calm, to be open, to humbly and prayerfully open my heart and look past his words to the message the Lord would have me hear. At that prayerful moment, a line from my patriarchal blessing boldly flashed into my mind, a line which had previously always left me scratching my head a bit but which now made complete sense and was perfectly applicable to this very situation. It came with a rush of familiar "spiritual confirmation" I'd not felt for some time. Though I was left with questions around my newly shifted paradigm and its ramifications, that particular issue was resolved, and I was able to relax for the rest of the tediously boring conference confident I had the Lord's sanction to listen, consider the message beyond the imperfect delivery or personal bias of the man, and make my own decision (presumably prayerfully) even if it was not what the stake president would want or thought correct. Problems with priesthood leaders bothered me much less after that.

I have experienced, in the past, a desire to get out from under what some regard as the oppressively controlling church "rules" and culture. Even though there's little or nothing about the church's standards of behavior which conflicts with my own values and desires for my life (possible exception being same-sex partnership), I wanted to know that I was making decisions of my own accord and not to conform to social pressures or to earn the praises of men (priesthood leaders, ward members, and friends and family). But I recognized that there is danger in removing one's self from a stable community of support and accountability, and it wasn't worth trading that stability for some self-serving sense of "freedom" which might be gained by turning away from that and could result in self-destructive patterns. Besides, what did I expect to do? Go start sleeping around and doing drugs and lying and stealing and killing puppies? Or more realistically, try coffee? Date guys? No, I wasn't convinced I even wanted to do those, with or without the church (that's another post).

Unanswerable questions, flawed humanity of leadership, cultural frustrations, and rigid strictures were not enough to convince me to leave the church. Church activity was about commitment, covenants, service, and eternal truth. None of these things mattered if the message, culturally influenced though it may be in some ways, was true. If the gospel was true, if Joseph Smith restored Christ's church, if the Bible and Book of Mormon and other "canonical works" were God's word, then the institutional foibles of a church run by imperfect men were no reason to walk away. Besides, if I was going to walk away, it wasn't going to be in the middle of strong emotional reactions to cultural flaws or while I had a nasty stake president who would then surely dismiss my departure as my own pride keeping my from being humble before my priesthood leaders.

I had wholeheartedly believed in the doctrines of the church and the divine guidance of its "restoration" and revelation. I had had what I regarded as spiritual experiences confirming its truth. I had spent years of my life investing in the church and its ordinances and teachings, and I had made solemn covenants in what I'd regarded as holy places, and I refused to walk away from those on anything resembling a casual basis. I couldn't set that aside as if it were no big deal. It was huge. If those covenants were sacred and binding, going back on them by removing myself from "the kingdom" would be a huge decision. While I recognized I couldn't make decisions based on fear of the mere possibility that they're true based on past confidence, and I didn't respect those people who did things not because they believed them but because they were "fire insurance", I simply didn't see a reason to turn away from what I'd once been so sure of and what could be of utmost eternal significance. No, the obedient status quo was better than a misguided attempt at authenticity.

It took more to finally decide to step away.

It took years of not "feeling" (or only incidentally feeling) the truth of doctrines despite feeling "the spirit" or "resonance" or "comfort" or "familiarity" or "belonging" or whatever I occasionally felt at church meetings. It took questions that weren't just unknowable mysteries but became increasingly valid and applicable to here and now and weren't just a lack of answers but were apparent errors in logic or were contradictions I'd not found resolution for but which did have reasonable explanations outside of LDS doctrine or other religious creed. It took admitting there were crucial problems or cognitive dissonance I'd refused to fully acknowledge and deal with previously, much as I'd refused to acknowledge my homosexuality for so long. They weren't even partial answers satisfactory enough to appeal to reason without any spiritual confirmation to back them up, despite prayers for such. It took gaining perspectives and experiences which challenged my paradigms as well as those of the institutional church and even the core doctrines as I understand them (which I may not understand any better than the next guy, I admit). It took seeing how many doctrines have underlying principles and values and that those principles and values are espoused and embraced in a myriad of ways by innumerable people with apparently similar results in happiness, peace, and hope, with or without the same doctrinal beliefs. It took letting go of fear of choosing "unrighteously" or "incorrectly" and focusing on choosing the best I know how. It took...a lot of things.

It came after years of forcing myself to go to church when I had no friends there and didn't "get anything" from it. It came after years of trying to read scriptures but repeatedly stopping because I couldn't stop seeing holes in history, doctrine, or logic despite praying to get past those things and stay open to truth beyond perceived errors which could be my own limited or tainted understanding, and not reading the scriptures seemed more testimony-building than reading them. It came after years of praying with a vague notion I was speaking to myself in meditation which was helpful but not divine or mystically cosmic, and "feelings" which could be spiritual communication with God but which now seemed more like my own desires and need for comfort, my own effort at resolution. It came after years of reminding myself that going to church isn't just about me "getting something" but giving service, remembering gospel principles and teachings, offering sacrifice of time and energy, standing in holy places, renewing covenants, and attending meetings and activities with those things in mind. It came after years of waiting to see if I could rekindle the old flames of testimony but getting only an occasional flicker, which could usually be explained in ways other than a spiritual communication from God telling me the institutional church was his, and the president of the church was his authoritative mouthpiece for the world. It came after years of wanting to believe but not being able to, and eventually not feeling the need to.

It was time to step back and consider the possibility that though I used to believe it was true, I might have been incorrect. It was time to see what life would be like without it. Could it be worthwhile? Could it be happy? Could there be meaning? Did there even need to be meaning? Is there goodness? How can you define goodness? Surely there would be more questions, different kind, but would they feel as much like mental gymnastics as LDS doctrine had become? Could my spiritual, psychological, and interpersonal experience, as well as observations and logical conundrums, fit any better into a different paradigm, and vice versa? Would logic seem less contorted? It was then that I decided to live as an agnostic man for a while, letting go of the fear of doing so (with its social and religious, and possible but seemingly improbable eternal consequences), and the commitments I'd made to consecrate my life to the kingdom of God, to see if I could find some truth by experiment or juxtaposition, since prayer hadn't been doing the trick.

The funny thing is I still think like a believing Mormon in many ways: for example, perhaps I wasn't receptive to answers to prayer. Perhaps I was hard-hearted, clouded by philosophies of men which attracted my soul away from an eye single to the glory of God. As much as I think homosexuality and loss of testimony have been independent in my life, maybe I focused more on my sad state in life than on the blessings of eternity and thereby disconnected myself from the Spirit and therefore from the source of all faith and spiritual answers. Or perhaps I just needed to learn in a different way, take a path God knew I'd need to take to arrive back where I needed to be, a learning experience more catered to my needs and my way of learning than a simple "yes". Maybe I already knew and just needed to keep keeping the commandments and forgiving human frailty in the church and would eventually be eternally grateful I had when I realized I'd known it all along. Maybe I didn't have answers because I was tutored enough to learn that there is rarely a strict "yes" or "no" and that was why I wasn't getting one. Maybe several years wasn't enough patience for answers of eternal import. But maybe...maybe there was nobody to answer. Maybe I'm taking my life's reins into my own hands (which, yes, is probably prideful if there's a God who wants me to hand the reins to him for my own happiness' sake), learning to live by my own compass, and embarking on a new and rewarding journey.

I don't know. Maybe I'll let you know how it goes.

Disagree with my decisions and perspective if you will, but don't demean or dismiss my experience with such trite words as "sudden" or "giving up". You don't know the half of it.

03 March 2010

Moho Madness (Maybe He's Right About "SSA" Guys)

An acquaintance has been blogging regularly (perhaps even incessantly *wink*) about his trouble with "SSA" guys and how straight guys are so much better at friendship and so much less fickle, etc (though he seems to have softened his language a bit). I've been discussing it with him to try to identify what's causing his distress, but after a recent discussion in his comments, I just burned out and let it go.

After a couple of recent experiences, though, I've thought, "Screw it, you know what? 'SSA' guys (particularly the ones trying to reconcile their homosexuality with their religious beliefs) often are a pain in the butt compared to guys from other demographics." This seems especially true during the first couple of years of figuring their stuff out, though it varies and can be extended, particularly for those who have moved into the mohaven of Utah and are therefore learning to grapple with the ample opportunity to...interact...with other mohos.

It's not that there's no possible explanation for "SSA" guys being different: they're wrestling with some pretty intense and eternally consequential questions above and beyond the normal "coming out" social pressures. But explanation or not, SSA guys (myself included) have their quirks and annoying commonalities as a general population. Many are conflicted beyond belief, volatile as can be, self-loathing and self-punishing for having impure thoughts (let alone "acting out"), painfully self-righteous when they think they've got it figured it out, toying with extremes because they don't see any middle ground, horny as hell, repeating cycles of lustful abandon and pious repentance, so unsure of what they want that their mind changes daily, and/or fickle about friendships, dropping friends right and left either because they haven't learned homosexuality isn't all you need to build a friendship and realize these shiny new friendships aren't what they thought they'd be after all, or because they can't cope with pressures and temptations, or they're ashamed of what they have done, or they're not ashamed but refuse to face it when they're "caught" in secretive patterns of compartmentalized behavior, or whatever. All of this adds up to a rather exasperating-to-keep-up-with bunch of dudes (and occasional dudettes).

Then I thought, "But hey, I know a lot of great guys who have gone through some of that and moved on, and we all go through some of it to some degree. And I'm glad people stuck with me and are sticking with me through my more volatile or confusing times." Besides, every subculture has its frustrating or unhealthy aspects. I can learn to look past those to the individual and appreciate the good they offer rather than blanketing them in the behaviors of their peers.

Some recent conversations and experiences have sparked these thoughts, most recently the realization that a Facebook "friend" had deleted me (and several mutual friends). I normally notice the drop in number of friends, but only a very few times have I noticed who it was who dropped me. This moho madness is just commonplace enough that when I notice I've lost a Facebook "friend", one of the first things I think of is, "OK, what moho do I know of who's been acting insecure, self-righteous, extreme, or just generally all over the place?" Sure enough, I sometimes find that someone has done a purge. In this case, he may have purged more than mohos, and it may have nothing to do with his own moho volatility. I recognize that. But I have to be honest: it makes me want to cleanse my life of some "SSA guys" whom I suspect of being less sincere than I initially thought or who are particularly volatile-acting.

So to that blogger friend who's been railing on "SSA" guys and their friendship fickleness, I think I do kinda get it. And I can think of a couple of people I may not approve if they try to add me back (not that I think they will) because in my world, people don't deliberately shut out or discard friends and then reconnect whenever it's convenient without a really good explanation. Even with a good explanation, I'm not likely to play along multiple times. I'll forgive, but that doesn't mean I'll play the role of dutiful doormat by giving you the opportunity to do it again and again. I like board games and night games, but some games I refuse to play along with. Sometimes, you've gotta lose friends to learn that it's not everyone else's problem.

Still, I don't believe all "SSA" guys are like that, nor am I about to eliminate all of them from my life to avoid those few negative interactions. I try not to make rash or generalized decisions based on emotional reactions or transitory feelings, so I'll probably just keep letting everyone else do the deleting as they see fit rather than getting all defensive and beating them to the punch. It might be annoying or make me roll my eyes when I find another moho with whom I used to have 50 mutual friends and now have 2 or fewer, but it's usually not particularly hurtful when I'm among those purged, which has only happened very few times. I try to remember that people going through volatile and confusing times need love and support, too, and though I may not be in a place to offer the kind they want or need, I'll try to avoid shutting them out any more than I would someone who isn't part of the "suspect" population. My dramoho quota is full: newbies need not apply, but I've become a little attached to even a few of the as-of-yet volatile lads I already know, and even though we may naturally be more distant now that we don't share the religious views we used to, I care about many of those cusses to varying degrees. No need to push them away unless they push first, and unless it's a sudden reversal, "not pulling me in" doesn't count as "pushing me away".

Oh, the madness of mohodom. Sometimes I swear it rivals Wonderland.

Unrelated Note: Some of you may have observed that I've posted a lot the last couple of days. And yes, I have several more posts started. I think I started 3 drafts as offshoots of this post, alone. This isn't entirely unusual, but I'm kind of on one, so I'm trying to balance between pacing myself and getting it all out before I lose interest in finishing them. Keep up if you will, skim what you don't care about, comment where you can, but I'm just sayin': I'll probably be blatherin' on for the next few days.

02 March 2010

Agnostic Is Kind Of Like Atheist, Right?

A question frequently asked is, "Agnostic is kind of like atheist, right?" This is usually asked with some degree of very deliberate masking of discomfort or fear, probably partially because those asking it are thinking of these cantankerous and destructive sorts when they think of "atheist" (not all atheists are alike), partially because they either can't fathom or are dismayed by the idea of not believing in the all-knowing, all-powerful, all-loving, all-just, all-watchful, all-involved God they have grown to love and worship, and partially because they're afraid of what it means if you don't believe in God, an issue I may address later. I get that. But the answer to the question is "no".

Agnosticism is not a declaration of a creed or assertion of unprovable belief, including the belief that there is no God (some atheists dispute that denying the existence of God can be called a 'belief' but is rather a rejection of the hypothesis that there is a God...semantics: you still can't "prove" there isn't one in the same way you can prove your left hand is not an elephant). Agnosticism is, by definition, the admission that "I don't know."

There are many "kinds" of agnosticism. Many lean atheist, not really believing in a God but acknowledging that trying to prove non-existence of God would probably be a futile effort, and an unnecessary one in light of many more pressing or productive questions and problems to solve. Many are religious in their own way, describing themselves as agnostic Jews or agnostic Mormons, believing the main principles of their respective religions, maybe even the core doctrines, and valuing the general values and social structure they offer but perhaps questioning, disbelieving, or rejecting specific doctrines, creeds, or practices. Many are "spiritual" in a sense, not religious but following mystical thought or believing in a great, universal, cosmic force and finding meaning and direction in seeking out positive energy and harmony in themselves and their relationships. In other words, agnostics come in a wide variety of forms, the common thread being the concession that there are some significant things we probably can't "know", and that's OK.

Agnostics get hit pretty hard from both theists and atheists alike (even though agnostics can also be either). They're called "lukewarm" for not committing to religious order despite doubt or for being a "cafeteria Mormon", or intellectually lazy for not committing to the lack of evidence of the existence of a God as proof that God is a myth. It's the wishy washy stance to take, even no stance at all, some insist. As I see it, though agnosticism can be a copout, the kind of agnosticism I'm talking about has required a lot of intellectual effort to come to terms with and has required swallowing pride and letting go of the need to "be right" about something or sanctioned by a religion. It's not easy to look at the world around you and try to assess what you really are confident about or believe in vs. what you have just accepted because you've seen no acceptable alternative explanation or option. Of course, that's kind of all any of us is ever doing, and we just are more confident about some things than we are about others, but that's no excuse for lacking conviction about anything. ...But now I'm getting into some ideas that aren't going to be easy to articulate, so I'll back up a bit.

Short version: it takes effort and brutal intellectual honesty to actually choose not to take a side when taking sides would be much easier socially or much more comfortable intellectually. If agnosticism is lazy, I must be going about it all wrong because it's not been an easy ride. Seems it'd be a lot easier to just embrace everything taught by church leaders and make my decisions based on that or to reject everything about the church and insist I will never change my mind. That, to me, would be lazy. It would also be easier to say, "I believe the core doctrines but not necessarily the stuff that doesn't make sense to me," because then I could retain the respect of those who will applaud me for at least "trying to hold on to my testimony" or holding on to the Church despite doubt. But that's probably another post. But I've had to face reality: I don't think I believe any of it. I don't feel it. I don't even really have a desire to believe it. I don't need it to explain the world and life. Other understanding has supplanted the void left by "what if it isn't true?" I never thought I believed it only because I needed some crutch but because I believed it was true: period. But now more than ever, if I am to believe it, it will be because I actively choose to, not because I feel a need to or haven't honestly given an alternative a fair chance.

I no longer feel compelled to pronounce belief in that in which I am doubtful or don't believe. It's enough to say, "I don't know," not in a dismissive or shirking way but in a very matter-of-fact way. I believe firmly in principles and in being the best I can and being productive and making the world better, a subjective idea, I admit. I remain open to the possibility that I might have a spiritual reawakening someday. A testimony might be rekindled. But for now, though I believe in many of the principles which I believe underlie the doctrines, I don't know whether I will again believe in the doctrines I used to believe in, not even the "core" doctrines, and that's OK with me. I know believers can't accept that it's "OK", but I don't need them to.

That's one of the beautiful things about agnosticism: the defensive need to justify belief dissolves because you're unafraid to say, "I just don't know," and you're then free to truly explore the answer with far less bias, without the overarching need to "prove" something to a particular group, but to honestly seek the truth the best you know how and try to be open to whatever that is. Contrary to conservative religious thought, this does not free one to act however one wishes, nor does it necessarily make life inherently meaningless. But again, that's another post for another time.

I Want to See a Study...

...in which heterosexual men are taught that their attraction to women is a deep-seated need for acceptance and bonding from women which has become sexualized, and they're instructed to seek healthy bonding with women in completely non-sexual ways and carefully control their sexual thoughts while trying to focus on men and see men's sexual attractiveness and just try dating men as they feel ready, try expressing physical affection or even kissing these men as they become more comfortable with the idea...

...of the actual average length of same-sex relationships vs. non-marriage mixed-sex relationships, along with what proportion of each were strictly monogamous, emotionally monogamous but sexually open (possible? That's a whole other post), or both emotionally and sexually open (non-monogamous but labeled as "committed").

...of how many people who support gay marriage also support another significant alternative marriage arrangement: plural marriage. How many who politically support gay marriage oppose plural marriage, and what is their reasoning behind their views?

...on correlation between big spoon preference and traditionally "masculine" identity.

Note: you know how I mentioned I have a crapload of posts waiting to be published? Yeah, this is one from 27 May 2009. I think I'll start going back and popping some of these out here and there for the heck of it, whenever it tickles my fancy.

01 March 2010

Expounding On My Agnosticism

Some questions around my departure from the church seem to resurface in various conversations or I at least suspect would if everyone were bold enough (or uncertain in their own beliefs enough) to ask them. I have avoided blogging about these issues for various reasons:
  • I don't feel a need to justify myself. Being agnostic is quirky that way. Some might call that a copout: agnosticism = you don't have to believe in or defend anything, how 'convenient'. I call it intellectually honest: I do believe in many things, but I feel quite free to admit, without fear, what I just don't know or am not convinced of, and admitting that dissolves most "need" to convince anyone (including myself) that I'm right, though I still wish to share positive principles with those who will share.
  • I don't want to get too "heavy" on my blog by focusing on weighty religious matters like apostasy and eternal damnation of my lost soul. It's more fun to just be silly or focus on "the gay thing".
  • Being agnostic, and not staunchly anti-Mormon or anti-religion, I don't have any interest in gaining followers to lead down a path whose end I don't know and may never know. In fact, I'm a little wary of voicing my thoughts, lest someone impressionable should put too much weight on them and make some hasty decisions I wouldn't want on my head, especially should I experience some reawakening of "testimony" and look back on today as a dark, doubtful time in my life. I'd almost prefer to let contentedly LDS people stay contentedly LDS, gently challenging certain ideas I think are destructive but not going on endlessly to rock the boat or pestering them with my aggressive faithlessness.

But as the questions have recurred, I've learned many people share them. I've learned how far outside of their realm of understanding some of my perspectives are. I've learned that I lack some practice in articulating my perspective and have sometimes opted to just say, "I don't know if I can explain it fully right now, but I definitely identify and sympathize with where you're coming from because I've been there, and I can't blame you for not seeing it the way I see it. I may one day be back in a place more like you're in--it might come full circle--but I may not. Just trust that I'm seeking truth and trying to be the most authentic I can. I feel good about it, and I know you probably can't because of your beliefs (I wouldn't have either if someone were telling me this six years ago), and I just don't know what else to say about that right now." But I don't want to shirk questions. I don't want to run away from concerns as if they don't matter or act like I'm on some unattainable journey their feeble minds just couldn't handle. Despite not feeling the need to "explain myself" to everyone distressed by my "path", I also don't want to be condescending or dismissive.

So I'm going to blog about this stuff because I think it does definitely affect and color my perspective regarding things like church authority, morality, how to act or not act on homosexuality, etc. So in response to my reservations listed above, I've decided:
  • While I don't feel driven to justify myself, learning to articulate my perspective may help people understand where I'm coming from, so they may worry just a bit less or at least understand a bit more. And maybe someone out there is experiencing what I am and can identify or gain clarity or share their thoughts with me. And maybe someone will have an idea to offer which may challenge or deepen my understanding if I "vocalize" my thoughts.
  • I enjoy being silly, but not at the expense of being real. I'll try to keep a balance, but I've gotta "get real" sometimes, as is painfully obvious by some of my painfully long posts. :-P
  • I don't feel dark or bleak about my perspective, and in fact have found real beauty and meaning in facing what may be stark reality but makes a lot of sense to me, despite being labeled "loss of eternal perspective" by some. I'm not going to silence myself based on the possibility that I might, one day, have a different or more complete perspective. If we all held back until we knew everything, nobody would know anything. So to all readers: take it with a grain of salt, as you should all personal perspectives.

So I'll address the questions here, probably one-by-one, as I have time and energy to do so. And as fun as it would be to leave a cliff-hanger each time and imagine my readers writhing in anticipatory agony, it will not be so regular, neat, and teasingly serial as some people's blogs. The cuss has me interested too, but I'm about ready to stop reading just to deny him the satisfaction of gaining one more in the gay mormon blog world's Lost-style cult following. *wink*

And with that, stay tuned for the exciting beginning of...lots of boring posts about agnosticness.

Poll - How Well Do We Know Each Other?

39 people answered my survey about how well my blog readership knows me (they were able to select as many options as applied), and these are the results:

  • We're mutually anonymous: 18 (46%)
  • I think I know your identity, O-Mo, but we've never met (AKA stalker): 0 (0%)
  • We may have msg'd online, but we've never met: 3 (7%)
  • We've met incidentally: 5 (12%)
  • We've spoken or hung out a few times: 8 (20%)
  • We're pretty acquainted but casual friends: 7 (17%)
  • We've hung out quite a bit and know each other pretty well: 2 (5%)
  • You'd consider me (O-Mo) a close friend: 2 (5%)
  • We've known each other for at least two years: 4 (10%)
  • We've known each other since college or before: 0 (0%)
  • We're relatives: 1 (2%)
  • We've seen each other nekkid in the last decade (come on, fess up, I know you're out there): 2 (5%)
  • We've made out, and O-Mo's an amazing kisser (keep in mind nobody I've kissed reads this blog, so I'll know you're lying...OK so the amazing kisser part would be a giveaway too): 3 (7%)

Some readers didn't respond in the week it was up--I can think of just a few people I've known since college or before who read this blog occasionally--but it looks like many did.

I guess I'm the only stalker out there, eh? Or you other stalkers are just ashamed to admit it or afraid you'll sound creepy. :-) I'm pretty sure I know who many of y'all are, and I know your friends or friends of friends. *cue sinister/creepy music* I have connections.

So my readership consists mostly of people I don't know at all or people I know a little bit, with maybe a fifth or a quarter being people I know pretty well, a few of whom I know really well, and I'm pretty sure most of those don't often comment here.

As for those who claim to have made out with me, let's just say it's clear there are fibbers among you. Cheeky monkeys.