27 February 2010

Exposing Yourself

This week brought the big reveal of the identity of blogger Scrum Central, who I think is a central blogger in the liberal side of queer mormondom. It also brought a lament from Beck that he isn't ready to break anonymity.

I support revealing your true identity as appropriate, so why would O-Mo still choose to go by O-Mo? Is he secretly afraid of his own homosexuality? I sure doubt it. If it becomes relevant to a conversation, I tell people. I've personally spoken about my homosexuality with well over half of my hundreds of Facebook friends, and I'm pretty sure many more know. I'm hardly closeted. Before I was as open as I am now, I didn't feel "afraid" as much as I wanted to take things a step at a time, in order and wisdom as I saw it, to keep things at a pace I could emotionally deal with and so I could respond to people's questions attentively and individually. A careful rolling-out with the opportunity to educate and inform before the grand opening. It's just good marketing. :-)

I think, however, there's a difference between sharing your story with friends and family who genuinely know you and will be impacted by their loved one being one of those gays, and revealing your name in a forum where most people don't know you personally anyway.

I remember reading stories on Evergreen and wishing I could see their faces, at least, even if I couldn't know their names. I wanted to see whether young or old, confident or shame-ridden, sharp or sloppy, and I simply wanted confirmation that they were "real" people. But while I might use my real name and photo in a story for publication on a web site or in a book, having my identity visible for all to see on a public web site I'm constantly updating with personal stories, thoughts, and details, is another story, especially when the posts are of such a nature that people are sometimes finding my blog by searching for things which are obviously not family-friendly or savory, and the subject matter is of a nature which potentially begs for over-involved stalker-crazies and people who think they know what's best for you without ever having met you personally. It's just not worth the downsides, to me, though it may be for others.

My blog is public, so it can be found by anyone looking for people talking about this stuff. But I'm already careful about how much I share about my experiences with others and make sure to disguise timelines or identities, to not connect too many dots to other people involved. Those who know me well often figure out who and what I'm talking about, but some of my friends don't even make the connections, which I think is as it should be. If I had my real identity out there, then that many more people would start making the connections, and I'd be even more cautious about sharing personal stories, for the sake of the privacy of others.

Homosexuality is a big part of my life, but I'd just as soon keep this blog mostly on-topic and not fill it with the other personal details of my life or have people who know me only on the basis of homosexuality coming to my other more private, personal spaces unless we've discovered some things besides homosexuality in common and have connected on some level. That may change, but that's how it is now, and I have no sense of guilt about it, nor do I think others who are more public with their whole personal life are wrong for doing so. I just draw my own lines.

I have thought about posting a picture of myself here a time or two. Just so passersby can at least see that I'm a real person. But I like the fun of being those hands poking out of the closet, maintaining that image of the tentative and cautious moho barely emerging from his closet, which reminds me of where I am and where I've been and sets a sort of tone for the blog. The mystery is part of the fun.

Homosexuality aside, I generally don't make anything online public if I can avoid it. There's an exception or two for particular aspects of life where sharing ideas or talents demands some reduction of privacy, but those still stay on-topic and not connected with my other online worlds. I'm quite familiar with internet safety, and I have chosen the more cautious route in most cases, and I've been glad I have.

For some of us, this just isn't the forum to be "out" with our identity, even if we're totally "out" with our homosexuality in our private lives (which I think is where the most impact will come). For some, this is where they believe they'll make the greatest difference, and internet searchers will be happy to see real faces online sharing their stories. For others, they simply aren't ready to be "out" either in blogs or in their personal lives, and while many are working towards that openness, some have reasons to simply hold off indefinitely, and I don't have any right to presume to know those reasons aren't valid.

So to those of you who aren't ready to come out and aren't sure you ever will be, only you know your motives or whether it's from cowardice or wisdom, and I don't think you should allow pressure or guilt to make your decision for you. In general, I encourage working towards increasing openness, but we each have our own timeline and our own reasons.

25 February 2010

Friend Web

You know that app on Facebook that allows you to create this sort of "cloud" or interconnected web of friends? It's actually pretty cool, and it's fun to see which friends are your "hubs", with a lot of mutual friends, and see the lines connecting everyone, etc. But though I've used the app, I've never posted the results to my wall. Why? Well, the Utah section is, like, 95% guys. That's sure to raise an eyebrow or two. No, mine will remain private, to avoid outing people en masse.

22 February 2010

My "Big Five"

After reading Chedner's post, I decided to go back to the MyType app on Facebook and take the "Big Five" Personality test, which categorizes you into one of five main personality profiles.

You are: The Friend

Kind, sympathetic, cooperative and forgiving. Friend types are very concerned about the welfare of those around them and are generally kind and friendly to everyone. They are very sympathetic and tend to be emotional. They are generally cooperative and accommodating, but don't usually like to take the lead in social groups.

I don't internalize people's struggles (you know the type: the girl in the singles ward who knows everybody's business because it gives her life meaning), but I care about them. Emotional? I've never claimed to be unemotional, but I've been told by many that I am kind of objective and detached. Maybe that's why people are so caught off-guard when I do get all broken and messy...go fig. Cooperative? I guess so. I mean, that's probably not how I earned the name "Beast" as a child, and I usually preferred to work on my own rather than with a group, but my family worked very hard on getting me to be more of a team player, probably so I'd be less of a social reject. ...well, at least I'm more of a team player.

Your Personality Traits

You scored in the 34th percentile on Extraversion, which is average. You enjoy social situations, but you also see the fun in a quiet night at home. You can be assertive when the situation requires. You don't need to be the center of attention or to lead and organize events, but don't mind taking over if it's needed. You like to balance your periods of activity and downtime to avoid getting burned out.

Pretty much right on, yeah. I still need a lot of alone time, but I'm probably the most "extroverted" now that I've ever been. Yep, I used to be the kid hiding behind mommy's leg and feeling super withdrawn in most social situations.

You scored in the 93rd percentile on Agreeableness, which is high. You are always concerned with the feelings of others and tend to put their needs above your own. You are trusting and cooperative, you try to avoid confrontations if possible. You are quick to feel sympathy for others and try to help where you can.

Yeah, pretty true...except I'm not that trusting, probably. ...well, maybe I've had gullible tendencies in certain ways because I expected everyone to be as straightforward as I tried to be, but...I'm slow to warm up. I do feel sympathy, but I don't think I'm a bleeding heart. Pshaw.

You scored in the 25th percentile on Conscientiousness, which is low. You don't like to worry or take things too seriously. You tend to be impulsive and dislike planning things in advance. You're not too concerned with punctuality and organization. You tend to be laid back and like to just go with the flow.

Impulsive? I've been called that, but generally only by people who schedule nose-picking. Other than that, it's mostly true, though there are certain aspects of life in which I'm organized, like keeping my photo files on my computer more neatly arrayed than a Relief Society centerpiece.

Emotional Stability
You scored in the 92nd percentile on Emotional Stability, which is high. You are above it all and are rarely affected by stressful situations. When everything goes haywire you're the one calmly assessing the situation. You are generally relaxed and calm and can handle anything that comes your way. You tend not to worry about what others think of you, and it takes a lot to get you upset or sad.

High emotional stability? Tell that to my former flings, baby. Depending on who's trying to get me upset or sad, yeah, it's usually true. I don't know if "above it all" is accurate, but I do tend to focus in crazy situations and have been told I "work well under pressure". *thinking "under the sheets" but not typing it*

Openness to Experience
You scored in the 74th percentile on Openness to Experience, which is high. You place a high value on creativity and inventiveness. You appreciate beauty and tend to get really involved in artistic experiences. You are adventurous and are always looking to try new things. You value intelligence in others and enjoy having intellectual debates and having your views challenged. You are always ready to challenge authority, convention, and traditional values.

Yeah, I'm pretty much crazy-go-nuts. OK, so I'm no skydiving or "extreme" sports junkie, and I certainly don't anticipate getting into whips and swings and stuff, but I'm...intellectually adventurous, and I love to travel to new places and try new foods, etc. OK, that just sounds lame in comparison. Involved in artistic experiences? Maybe I do, but not, like, all weird and froofy about it. As if. But yeah, if you can't carry on an intelligent conversation (not deeply philosophical but at least meaningful and thoughtful), I'm probably gonna get bored with you. Nothing personal, I'll just think you're a vapid waste of a brain. ...oh, see, being "The Friend", I just can't end on that note. Let's see...um...even if I'm bored with you, I can still like you a lot and value your strengths...but making out is not a suitable substitute for conversation...but that doesn't mean I won't give it a fair chance... I'm totally kidding. ...making out is a perfectly good substitute. OK, kidding again. I have lots of unintelligent friends. Shoot, this just isn't going well. Hey look! A hot Abercrombie model!

*rapidly diminishing pitter patter of feet*

21 February 2010

Fun With Polls

Some of you have noticed a new poll to the right about how well I know my blog visitors. I have a decent idea of who visits: a few friends, quite a few people I don't know well or at all. But I got curious, so I'd enjoy seeing responses.

As for my previous poll regarding where people are at with the church, the results of the 53 votes (with my estimates of Facebook friends in parentheses) are as follows:
Non-LDS: 1% (2%)
Ex-LDS: 15% (7%)
Inactive: 24% (22%)
Active in their own way: 26% (17%)
Active but dating: 7% (8%)
Strictly active: 24% (33%)

I was surprised how similar the blog poll results were to my Facebook numbers, though there were more "active in their own way" folks and strictly actives visiting my blog than I expected.

There was only one eyebrow-raiser: during the space of 4-5 days towards the end there, the only category receiving votes was the "strictly active" category, at about 1 vote per day. It made me wonder if we had an internet vigilante who believed the righteous needed a louder voice. But I found no really clear evidence of it in my visitor stats, so it may have been legit.

...have I mentioned I actually enjoyed Statistics in college?

Not Reaching Out, Part Deux

After publishing my previous post, I pretty much expected the sort of comments I got. But as usual, being challenged has helped me think through things a bit more (stop rolling your eyes and saying, "Oh great, more thinking." It's what I do. Get used to it). :-)

This sounds like you analyze every relationship at every level as if it were a chess game.

Well it kinda does, doesn't it? But these scenarios I'm talking about amount to about half a dozen times in my adult life. Not a pervasive pattern, but a nuisance. Most of my friendships develop pretty naturally and organically. No, there's no "battle plan" or "model" I try to follow in relationships. People and interpersonal dynamics are too complex, too individual, and too dynamic to possibly hope to fully understand or write a definitive play book. But I try to identify my own patterns, which does help me with future relationships and communication...though it's admittedly sometimes more about trying to solve the puzzle for puzzle-solving's sake (now I'm thinking about the 3 episodes of House I watched last night...I think I may finally be hooked) but telling myself there's a practical application. Dang it.

If you want to reach out, but don't, please don't be mad at them for it.

True. So instead I'll just be mad at them for being jerks in the first place. ;-) OK OK, it's really about the dynamics of the relationship, not anybody's particular personality flaws, theirs or mine. I care about these cusses. I just don't want to give them the remote control to my emotions again.
Detached, carefree person + invested, sensitive person = messiness in many cases.

Unless I'm confident my vulnerability has waned, I worry about ending up in the same mess. I'm trying to learn to let go of that fear and manage the lingering caution. Just going along for the ride again, though, is not an option. What's that saying about insanity being expecting different outcomes from the same, repeated actions? Yeah...

Perhaps they are doing the same and both of you are denied some positive innocent friendly companionship as a result?

It's possible they're doing the same, but most of the people this has happened with are quite different, quite non-analytical. As for companionship, it's about weighing the emotional risks vs. the benefits. Friendship hardly seems productive when one person (*raises hand*) is dysfunctionally hurt-prone in that particular friendship, due to sensitivity and past heartache. I think sometimes it's best to move on rather than be that annoying, needy person in someone's life who just can't seem to let go after the friendship has outlived its usefulness. It's also not fair to contact them out of some thirst for affirmation when I don't really want friendship again. My motives matter, too. But yes, no matter what the trade-offs or benefits, we might be missing out on what could be positive friendship, which is what sometimes brings me back to test the waters.

I bet half the people you are wanting to connect with really don't think of things the way you've described them here.

If you mean they don't analyze things like I do, you're probably right. If you mean they don't see what they've done as manipulative, you're probably right. If you mean they might say, "I don't know what happened: everything was fine on my end," you're probably right.

I've been in that position, where I cared about friends and wanted their friendship but didn't return their feelings or desire for more time together or more emotional intimacy, or whatever. I was unintentionally insensitive to a couple of female friends who I think had feelings for me and didn't know what to do. I might have said, "I value our friendship, just potentially not as much as you do right now." But...ouch. I thought maybe they needed distance for their own sake, to detach a bit, but I wasn't about to ask for that because it might send a signal that I wasn't interested in friendship, when I was. I watched them go through inexplicable reactions to things I said or did and wondered why they were so emotional. It seemed, at times, like they were torturing themselves by continuing to spend time and keep contact with me, manifested by emotional reactions, including anger. Being friends almost became a chore, but I did want to prove I wanted their friendship, so I continued to deal with it and enjoyed the good times and endured the stressful times and repeated mini-DTRs. "Women," I'd grunt.

Then I later found myself on their side, and I understood a bit better where they were coming from. I had one guy friend (with whom I had a sort of romantic entanglement but who withdrew from the friendship more than I did once the romantic stuff was wearing off) later tell me he thought I was crazy-emotional over what happened between us, but he had since been in a relationship that put him on the other side, and he sympathized with me.

If you mean they're not doing anything manipulative, I disagree for the couple of cases I'm thinking of, though I'd be happy to be wrong. I'm not going to discuss the "evidence" here, but I'll just say I'm not just inventing to explain some puzzling behavior. I've observed their manipulative or selfish behavior with other people in addition to patterns with me, and I don't presume to be a special exception. But the kicker: I know I've behaved in ways that were emotionally manipulative without having intended them that way, usually due to some insecurity, and I'm glad my friends who struggled with their feelings for me stuck with it and kept coming back because some of those have become my most lasting friendships, even after their feelings subside and our mutual interest equalizes.

Though I don't think they mean to be malicious, the problem comes when I'm no longer emotionally equipped or interested enough to withstand or entertain their lashes. Maybe I'm weaker than those friends of mine who endured. Or maybe I'm just afraid and insecure and haven't learned to deal with that.

...reach out with the simple motivation of genuine concern and interest in them, no focus on yourself

I think I have done this, with the possible exception of letting down defenses I put up for a reason and believe must stay in place. However, something that's harder but I think is necessary is letting go of the fear of being hurt again. I suspect that fear only makes it that much more likely that it will happen again, a sort of self-fulfilling thing.

You think way too much. Just call. Or text. Or facebook message. Or don't. lol.

I think I get that. I mean, I almost did that the other day when I was thinking of someone I haven't talked to in a long time. But there are actually circumstances in some cases, in addition to the vulnerability thing, which I chose not to go into in the post which are relevant but...just not right to publish, I guess. And with that, I shall let this go, maintaining my throne as King Overanalysis. On the other hand, last night I did just say, "Screw it, I want to contact him, so I'm going to," and I sent a brief e-mail to check in.

I think I've learned a thing or two from all this and responding to your comments, so thanks! But it'll do no good if I sit here blogging all day and thinking about what I've thought about, now, will it? ;-)

19 February 2010

Not Reaching Out

Every once in a while, I feel like reaching out to someone I've been hurt by or who has expressed a desire to backpedal our level of interaction when I didn't share that desire. It's happened with a girl or two, but it's admittedly been more so with a small number of fellow mohos, usually when there's been an attraction on my part, whether or not I actually "fell" for them. I tell myself, "It's not worth putting yourself at risk by reaching out in some way and just giving them the upper hand again because they've never proven they can have the upper hand yet show real sensitivity and open, honest communication while having it (maybe for fear they might lose the advantage or lose your friendship?), and you'll just end up getting hurt again." Then I remind myself, "They can only hurt you as much as you allow them to. You don't have to expect anything from them or hope your interaction will be what it was before things went south. You could just check in like you do with other people you've not been so vulnerable with." Then I think that the fact that I'm even debating this really does mean I'm not as "over it" as I'd like to be because if I were, there'd be no question, no risk.

Or I think it at least means that even though I'm pretty sure I couldn't be "hurt" the way I once was, or I've detached enough to not be vulnerable in that way, I wonder if we can reconnect in any way more than incidentally without it going in that direction again, and if it's only going to be incidental, I'd almost just as soon leave it alone entirely. I'm not sure I've never navigated that successfully.

I figure I've hurt a small number of my friends because they kept coming back after we realized their interest was greater or more invested than mine, and I felt bad that they couldn't just relax and be friends, and I didn't want to push them away myself but could see it would probably be best for them if they would withdraw. I genuinely cared about them, but having to constantly rehash things or walk on eggshells to avoid hurting them was so tiring that I wondered if it wouldn't be better to just go our separate ways. Sometimes, they have withdrawn, and while I felt bad, and it stung a little that they felt they had to protect themselves by removing me, I also knew it was probably best for them and cared about them enough to just let them do it. And I was happy when they'd come back, but there's always this undercurrent of me having hurt them, even unintentionally, so I try to be really careful without walking on eggshells or underestimating their resilience.

I never understood their behavior and sensitivity until I found myself on their side of a friendship. I hate the idea of being in their position indefinitely (especially with someone less sensitive than I am, because I'm pretty sensitive but still did some pretty clueless/thoughtless things) or putting another friend in the position I was in, confused and feeling ultra-cautious all the time, so I figure it's less messy and better for everyone to just stay apart and not initiate contact even if I'd welcome contact from them.

So I'm left with this mix of thoughts and emotions: I want to know how they're doing and what's going on in their lives. I want to know what they ate for lunch today, how the new job has been going, how life across the country is treating them. But to reach out and ask would be to initiate contact they haven't requested and when they haven't done anything to reach out, which puts me right back in the position I was in when we parted: more invested and more pushy than they. So I refrain. And I figure they probably don't even notice, or so I tell myself to make it easier to not reach out. While their lives are marching on just fine without me, they at least probably occasionally wonder what's up with me. But if they really cared to know, they'd ask me. They'd text me or e-mail or call. They'd reach out. But what if they're thinking the same about me and refusing to reach out out of defensiveness? Let's be honest, though, they weren't the ones getting hurt. If anyone should be defensive, it's me, but I'd be willing to reach out...except...fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice... The burned child fears the flame. What excuse does the unburned child have?

It dawned on me recently: I need (or want) them to reach out, genuinely, sincerely, selflessly, vulnerably. I just don't care to put myself back in the position I was in which led to the need for "space" in the first place, and contacting them is, by definition, putting myself back into that place. Especially when the other person has contacted me unexpectedly only when they had something about themselves to tell me about before suddenly running out of time, or they texted me until I texted back, then never replied, as if they just had to prove they still had the upper hand and could make me reply without needing to reply back to me. And I don't play those kinds of games. I walk away from them very shortly: I have no patience for them.

Sometimes I wonder, "But what if they just need to know that you're open to hearing from them, that you're over it (or getting over it) and do care about them, so they don't go away thinking you simply don't care?" And then I remember, "That's not what they were doing before, and it's probably not what they're doing now. If they really care, if they really want contact with you, they'll initiate it. Even if they think you're upset, if they're too immature to make themselves vulnerable by reaching out when they fear you might not return it, then they are proving exactly the traits which led to your 'break-up' in the first place, and nothing has changed." So I shrug in resignation and give myself a quick, reassuring nod to affirm my confidence, and move on to something else, wondering if I'll ever figure it out.

16 February 2010

An Amicable Break-Up

OK, so it's another misleading blog entry title. I was just reading the blog entry of a man who refers to himself as "disaffected" from the Church, and I thought, "I don't think of myself that way. I just...don't know that I believe any of the doctrines anymore. I still espouse most of what I regard as the underlying principles, and even most of the standards of behavior, but the doctrines and institution don't mean much to me. I don't see it as 'disaffected', with the somewhat dejected connotation it carries."

My parting with the church hasn't been a messy divorce, a disillusioned drama-fest, or a nasty fight from which we just never recovered. It's been more like a marriage that fizzled over a long span of time, and we woke up one day and said, "You know, it's probably time we just separate and spend some time apart to find out what we really want," and though there's been no official divorce, and there's no particular malice or anger, there's also no real desire to get back together. The relationship just...doesn't seem to be what we used to think it was. It was OK when it started, and it was actually really good for a few years, and we made it through some rough times together, but staying together at this point doesn't seem to be helping anyone. It's probably only delaying what may be inevitable, and we're just going to be holding each other back (don't give me the line about "no unhallowed hand"--I'm referring to my interactions with individuals at the personal and ward levels, not holding back the entire mission of God's kingdom on earth), so it's best to part ways now before it gets even messier to start anew.

I think there's more to it than that (in other words, more besides the "emotional" aspect), but I'm not interested in defending my decision, not here and now. My point is that I don't really care to refer to myself as "disaffected" or "ex-Mormon" or "apostate" or "son of perdition" (thank goodness for missing out on that whole "calling and election made sure" thing) or "rescued from the clutches of Mormondom". I just say I'm from an LDS background. Rather than an ugly divorce where I see her through a bitter lens, or saving myself from an abusive relationship, or childishly refusing to speak after a nasty fight, I see it more as a natural, civil parting of ways with a quick hug and an "I'll see you around." That's not to say it's been an easy decision, or a painless one, or hasn't had its complexities and difficulties to deal with, but I've just not experienced it as a bitter break-up. It remains to be seen whether we will come back together with greater perspective to give it another go, or have permanently grown apart and may interact here and there but on a more distant, casual level than before, or whether the passage of time will set in forgetfulness of the good times and leave only tainted memories. But for now, we're old friends who just don't relate as much as we used to but maintain a civil acquaintance with some memories of strained times but mostly fond memories from when we were more on the same page. No, not disaffected: just no longer "together".

15 February 2010

Why Does It Feel So Good?

There's so much about this question I have wanted to explore, but I'll stick to the short version for now. This time, this issue/question was jogged by reading a post on Dichotomy and commenting on it, though my question is from a non-married, slightly different perspective, stemming from that discussion but not meant to be directly applicable to his scenario.

I've asked myself, many times, why it is that an embrace from someone I feel chemistry with or just "clicked" with, who is a potential romantic interest (assuming we were both available or looking) by virtue of their being a gay male I find attractive, but have known for two months can feel so much more comforting and fulfilling than an embrace from someone who is not a potential romantic/sexual interest but has known me my whole life and has proven their love and commitment as a friend. What's with that? Isn't that backwards? Isn't it somehow juvenile? Is it my own emotional immaturity or search for fulfillment in all the wrong places? Is it totally normal? Should it be normal? It's certainly not rational. Stupid romance, attraction, and sexuality...maybe they'll make more sense to me someday.

On a very related note, why can the former hurt me so much more easily than the latter? Why do I open myself more to vulnerability with them? What does that say about my emotional health in relationships, or is that a normal human condition, to become vulnerable inordinately quickly where there's attraction, whether it be sexual and/or romantic and/or emotional? Shouldn't my long-term friends be more able to hurt me? Do I not give as much or invest enough in those friendships to feel emotionally at risk or vulnerable to be sliced asunder? Or are they truly able but choose not to, and that's why our friendship has lasted? Or have I been hurt, but our history attested to the fact that we were committed to our friendship through the rough times?

And how are some people seemingly immune to that? Have they just never opened up with someone enough to vulnerable? Have they never loved enough or cared enough or let down their guard or emotional walls enough? I think I used to be so guarded that I never "let anyone in" enough to lose the emotional upper hand in a friendship. But even when, in moments of pain, I wish I were as impervious as I once thought I was, I still would not go back to how I was in order to gain that protective shielding.

But I still imagine I have plenty to learn about real intimacy, earned vulnerability, deliberate commitment...and with that, ladies and gentlemen, I've decided it is way too late for me to be blogging. It might end up a rambling mess so long nobody will ever read it.

...shut up, Max, no my posts are not all like that. Gosh.

09 February 2010

New Appreciation for Signing

Thanks to you-know-who-you-are for posting this on you-know-who-else's Facebook wall.

You can turn on captions to see the direct ASL translation.

And the only time I can patiently listen to this whole song:

OK, so he's not necessarily "hot", and his large volume of videos hints at a possibly unusually narcissistic streak, but I'm kind of a sucker for the dorky, cute silliness. Something tells me we wouldn't make a good couple (assuming he were gay and available and I were emotionally available...), but I'll enjoy watching him and pinching his cheeks from afar. Him and good ol' Matthew. Oh, cute.

08 February 2010

Laying Down the Law: Delay Cuddling

It's decided: absolutely no cuddling of any kind (or, for that matter, hand-holding, which to me is more intimate, or kissing beyond maybe a peck goodnight after a couple of dates) until I've hung out with or gone on dates with someone at least four times prior. If I'm still interested in developing a friendship or relationship with someone after that many times with no real physical affection, I can be fairly confident the relationship (friendship) is probably off to a genuine start, and I've had time to assess what kind of relationship/friendship I'm interested in without muddying things with sexuality or creating false intimacy or a misleading sense of harmony born of physical affection. And no, I'm not interested in sexual gratification without a relationship, so that doesn't apply to me. And I've also had time, by then, to figure out whether we have enough of a "real" connection to merit the trust and affection of physical intimacy, or whether I'm just horny or needy at the time. That's not to say I can't spend a whole evening with someone and form a connection that would merit some (basic) physical affection, but waiting lets me really assess with a clearer head, I think.

And let's be honest: if someone is still interested in hanging out with me after at least four times of little hope of getting any action, even in the form of cuddling, that's an indicator that they probably are genuinely interested in me as a person. Of course, some are remarkably patient, so it would also depend on how often we hang out, how persistent they seem, whether I'm feelin' it, etc. And it could backfire: I might unintentionally send the message that I'm not a physically affectionate person, which I really, really am in certain friendships and in romantic relationships. But I'm not very concerned about that.

Ugh...I'm not big on hard-and-fast rules, but sometimes, you've gotta just draw a line somewhere to keep yourself reminded and level-headed. I'd kind of made this rule for myself loosely but have fudged it...and I've never looked back and thought fudging it was a wise decision. Not once. Maybe I'm learning. This rule is now firm. ...er.

07 February 2010

Reminder to Self: No Mo' Mohos

I need to stop getting to know mohos, particularly the newbies. I'm in a different place than almost all of them and have no interest in pretending otherwise, the new ones are way too volatile, I don't have the energy to break through their judgments or deal with their detachment when they realize I'm not kidding about my agnosticism or they rekindle their "testimony" and no longer need an understanding ear or shoulder for their passing phase, and becoming attracted to the occasional one who flirts back is seriously an exercise in futility, self-deception and sure heartache.

I will keep ties with those I already know. They've become friends for a reason, and I'll keep the opportunity to have them accept or reject me despite or because of my beliefs, traits, whatever, as I do with them. I love even those mohomies and mohoneys with whom I've fallen out or experienced detachment, and I appreciate their friendship and care about them, but I don't have the energy to be someone's shiny new toy they act all excited about and become enamored with at first, only to lose interest once they've examined it thoroughly and the honeymoon has worn off. I thought I did again, but I don't. Obviously, some of this is to be expected in any relationship, but it's somehow magnified for me in mohodom. Will I purposely reject friendships that have potential? Probably not. I don't think I have it in me. And not all mohos are equal: many are quite understanding and loving. But will I severely limit the interaction I have with conservatively LDS gay boys? Definitely, especially the newly-coming-to-terms ones. I need to be more strict about keeping my distance.

If I am starting to spend time with a moho I've admitted to finding attractive, stop me: it won't end well. If I'm hanging out with conservatively LDS folks, hit me over the head before they have a chance to disappoint my expectations of them seeing past my apostasy into who I am at heart and what I have to offer as a person, regardless of my beliefs. Remind me where it will surely lead: to them detaching before I do, despite still caring about me and wanting to talk occasionally, and considering me a spiritual detriment to themselves, their goals of eternal marriage, and their social circle even while I'm still attached and mostly overlooking their perspectives I consider largely flawed and destructive because I see qualities in them I love and respect. Make me sober up and take a month's vacation from them.

I can't keep doing this. I'm really feeling a drive to leave Utah and Idaho (and every conservatively LDS place) and stop trying to reconcile and find harmony beyond what I've done with those who were already my friends. I know it's an emotional reaction right now, and it'll pass, but I'm not sure it should. There's a lot I like about many conservative places: down-to-earth and humble people, appreciation of simple pleasures and happiness money can't buy, "clean living", family orientation, and others. But those qualities, not necessarily the places themselves, are what I like, and I can find those things in other places; they're not traits monopolized by conservative, small LDS towns in Utah and Idaho.

I'm tired of being perceived as the pitiful fallen former-stalwart whom people I love and enjoy "care about" but with whom they don't necessarily feel comfortable or at ease anymore, not necessarily because of my behavior, demeanor, or personality, but because of my beliefs, which I have to admit is pretty understandable (I don't care if my neighbors act like model citizens: if I know they're KKK members, I'm not going to find it easy to interact with them). I'm tired of trying to ignore people's emotional distance and withdrawal and not interpret them as signs that all they see when they interact with me is their friend or loved one who "used to believe and has obviously become spiritually lazy or sinful enough to lose his testimony". Even if they eventually come around, I'm not convinced it's worth it. Let them find another punching bag for their self-righteous judgment on their way to learning what I think is a more Christlike discipleship or eventually going off the deep end in grand fashion.

Some would say this is the torment of a guilty conscience. They don't have any idea. I have to shrug and let them think that. But I am admittedly speaking out of pain. Pain of knowing that, to some I thought of as friends, I lose most or much of my worth to them once they realize I've "lost the faith". Yet I have trouble blaming them because I've been there: I've looked at others that exact way. And I must admit I may be projecting my past perceptions onto some, but a few have frankly confirmed to me that's exactly what they think, after some pressing from me. But I can't take it back because it's the most honest I've been about my beliefs in a long time, and to pretend I want faith in LDS doctrine back would be a lie to please them or make my life easier.

And yes, I do know I have friends and family who are more successful at seeing past my faithlessness to who I am beyond religious doctrines, and I'm thankful for that.

I'm just...tired. I'm going to go take a nap.

06 February 2010

I Don't Wanna Be a Lesson

I saw a preview for MTV's The Real World in which a young Christian gay/bi guy who is sort of (kind of) newly exploring gay relationships (though he apparently left a boyfriend to join the show, so I just don't know what's so new about it) was "hanging out" with another gay guy with whom he'd been making out, but he didn't want a "relationship" because he was still exploring what he wanted, so he told the other guy something like, "It's only been a few weeks. Can't we just be friends? I like spending time with you and I want to learn from you..." The other guy replied, "I don't wanna be a lesson!" I laughed to myself with a silent amen.

This Christian gay/bi/"don't-force-your-labels-on-me" guy seems to have a sort of fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants attitude which sounds attractive on the surface and with which I actually agree in some ways (e.g. not getting overly hung up on culturally constructed labels). And I fully acknowledge I don't really know his perspective except that which editors decide should be on the show and what he's said in an interview, so I may be unfairly correlating him with my own past experience and observation. And he seems like a sweet guy who could be fun to know. But the kind of approach he seems to espouse, in my experience, often leads people (especially those as young as he is--he's 22) to live with a certain disregard for the emotional consequences of their situationally reactive behavior on others with whom they didn't confirm a mutual understanding. Glossing over such consequences frees them up to get what they want out of the relationship and blame the other person's hurt on their being too restrictive and small-minded. ...no, I've never been bitter about this, why do you ask? ;-) Actually, I've observed this more than I've experienced it.

Anyway, he seemed mildly baffled by the other guy's response, but I think eventually, most people will end up in a position in which they'll understand where he was coming from. Potentially uneven interest or emotional investment, mixed with the vague knowledge that this is someone's "stepping stone" relationship, can make for some messiness. But more than that, there's just something that feels kind of toolish about knowing someone regards you as a sort of "coming out" tutor to use until they feel secure enough to go out and look for a "real" relationship, all while enjoying and pushing for physical affection benefits that most people reserve for relationships of the not-just-friendship variety, when you already know that, if they weren't so new and volatile, you'd probably have been interested in a "real" relationship all along...hard to describe maybe, but it's just awkward and feels cheap to be on that side of it.

Of course, in many respects, I probably still am that new guy, so if I were to actually start really dating, I suppose I should expect a stepping stone relationship or two along the way. Hm, so mental note: don't fall for the best ones first...wait, that's just messed up. Ha, perhaps it's best to just play that part by ear and sort of deal with it as it comes. Thankfully, I have other things to worry about for now. I can put off that complicated dating stuff. How convenient...

04 February 2010

A "Say What?" Marriage

There's a question I've been curious about for a very long time: if a gay man and a gay woman get married, would you still call that a "mixed orientation" marriage? Or might you just call it "doomed"? ;-)

Note in response to comments: despite my cheekiness and what many people do believe about them, I don't believe they're doomed and didn't intend for this post to be any kind of assault. See comments for more info and a link to a blog by such a couple.

01 February 2010

Needing a Blogolaxative

I have so many drafts started. So much to say. Yet I've been focusing on other things, and blogging has shifted downward in priority. There's so much about what I'm going through and thinking and observing that I want to share, to see if others have observed or experienced the same, to let someone know they're not the only one thinking it, or to simply provoke questions and conversation, possibly to help me clarify my own perspective.

Yet I refrain from publishing because they're too rough, don't yet accurately portray my complete thoughts, come across as overly pert, or simply aren't thought through or articulated completely, and I just don't want to blurt it all out then have to clarify and re-clarify...that's just too demanding on my attention and time. So now I'm all backed up, having all these thoughts bunching up and compounding together, and I'm wondering how I'll ever catch my posts up with this rolling snowball of thoughts and just scrapping it for now because I'm too busy to try. Blogger constipation's a bear.