Thursday, December 30, 2004

Letters to the Editor :)

Within the last week, I received two WONDERFUL emails from people who had read my blog. I was actually surprised by the emails because no one had ever commented on my blog before. I was also surprised because both emails were very positive. I’ve emailed other gay men (from personals sites, etc.) who basically put me down for taking the path I’ve chosen. These two emails were nothing but support and respect.

The first email was from a gay man in Florida. His name is Bill. Besides having excellent grammar, punctuation, spelling, and writing abilities, he gave me some excellent advice. I’ll publish his email – and my response to it – in this blog. I liked it that much.

The second email I got was from a wonderful Mormon woman in St. Louis, Missouri. She also said very nice things about my blog. Her comments were a little more personal, so I won’t share them on the Web. Both emails were huge pick-me-ups! If you two are reading, thanks a million for your kind comments!

In my response email to Bill, I explained a few things. First, I explained what I meant by “Health Risk” in my blog entitled “The Path I’ve Chosen.” Also, I explain why I think I was born heterosexual, but because of certain circumstances became homosexual.

In Bill’s email, the parts I loved the most were the parts about not hating one’s self because of his or her trials. Read closely because he is a wise man.

Anyhow, here’s the email I received from Bill and my response to that email.

To GayMormon:

I am very moved by your honesty. Let me tell you up front that I am a gay man who does not believe there is anything wrong with being gay. However, I do not judge you for having beliefs which are different from my own. What right do I have to do that?

I would not try to dissuade you from your efforts to overcome homosexuality, even though I do not believe it is something you should (or even can) overcome. Your reasons are very valid for your own belief system and I honor them. The only thing I would take exception to involves health. I assure you, heterosexuals who are indiscriminate or careless are at risk for AIDS and STDs as much as gay men. And you already know from your family's experience that unplanned pregnancies are another worry that heterosexuals have.

I can tell that you are an insightful and intelligent person. What is most important is that you are a man who strives to do the right thing and wants to do good. When you feel down on yourself for the aspects of yourself you feel are bad, do not lose sight of the fact that you are overall a good man. Everyone you know is flawed. I know you imagine your baggage is the worst. But no one is perfect. I am not a Mormon, but I do know the teachings of Christ and self-loathing is not a tool for redemption. As you strive to love others as Christ taught, you must not stop loving yourself.

I do not know enough about your religion to understand the culture you are living in, but gee, lighten up! Why can't you date nice girls without worrying about when to tell them about your sexuality and how unfair it is to marry them? Is it OK for you to slow down and just enjoy someone's company? Take everything a step at a time. You should be free to enjoy the company of someone you like (and allow them the enjoyment of being with you--don't forget that aspect) without feeling bad because of issues that may never enter into the relationship.

I would be interested to know more about why you are certain you were not born gay, but instead are gay because of circumstances. Perhaps you will write about that in your blog, or perhaps, if you want, you will E Mail me back. As for myself, I believe I was born this way and that's OK. However, my father died when I was very young and my life circumstances fall right into the classic nurture vs nature explanation for my sexuality, so who knows?

I have no agenda in contacting you, other than the fact that I was moved by your blog. Such raw honesty is inspiring. I know you have lots of support in your church and family when it comes to overcoming homosexuality. While I am not interested in changing your mind about that, I would like to offer an ear (well, E Mail) for those times when you need to vent and your usual support might not be the best place to go. I listen more than I talk back. And what is most important to me is not that you decide on the side of homosexuality, but that you never hate yourself for the struggle, no matter what the outcome.

My name is Bill and I live in Florida. I have been to Salt Lake and know it is a beautiful city. I took the tour of Temple Square and heard the Mormon Tabernacle Choir rehearse. While I will never be a Mormon, I have some insight into the source of your inspiration.

Whether you elect to write to me or not, I will be reading your blog. I wish you all the best in securing the life that you want for yourself.

Take care,

Bill

NOW HERE’S MY (GayMormon’s) RESPONSE…

To Bill:

Bill,

Thank you so much for all the kind things you said. It certainly was refreshing to get an email from someone who respects the decisions I’ve made and the path I’ve chosen. Typically I get emails from gay men telling me I am stupid for not accepting and living a homosexual lifestyle – but they say it in more polite terms, of course.

To be honest, I’ve considered both lifestyles. In fact, I am constantly considering both lifestyles. However, because of my belief system and circumstances, I think living the life of a heterosexual is best for me. It’s the route that will bring me the most joy. I don’t expect others to understand it – just respect it. Thanks so much for your respect.

Likewise, I truly understand what homosexuals are all about, and I don’t judge gay men. Just because I have chosen to live a heterosexual lifestyle, it doesn’t mean I think homosexuality is a choice. It’s not. It’s definitely a part of us, and, like you said, it probably isn’t something we can change. That’s why I am more liberal on gay rights issues, even though I am conservative overall. Anyhow, my point is I would never try to dissuade you or someone else from living a homosexual life just as you would never dissuade me from living a heterosexual life.

By the way, I agree completely that sexual promiscuity on either side of the fence – heterosexuality or homosexuality – is equally risky to one’s health. I didn’t explain my logic in my blog, so let me do so now.

You see, I have framed my problem as an all-or-nothing decision. Either I’m gay and NOT Mormon, or I’m Mormon and live a heterosexual lifestyle. (I know Mormon men who try to live the gay lifestyle and be active churchgoers, but the church excommunicates practicing gays and is against homosexuality entirely, so I don’t consider being both a viable option.) The Mormon Church is against sex outside of marriage. Because of its strict chastity code, I am a virgin man who plans on having sex with only one woman – my wife. Hence, I would have very little health risk because of sex. However, if I were to live a homosexual lifestyle and abandon the church, I would likely have many partners. That’s why I said health was one of my reasons for not practicing homosexuality. Rather complex, I realize. Perhaps I should include this section in my blog for clarification.

My favorite part from your email was the reminder that I am a good person and that I can’t hate myself. You’re absolutely right that self-loathing is not one of Christ’s teachings and that no one is perfect. I sometimes forget those two things. It’s easy to forget when you’re so consumed in a church and culture that views homosexuality as a sin. Thanks for the reminder.

Also, thanks for the dating advice: one step at a time. I like it. I’ll keep you posted on the dating situation.

You asked why I think my sexuality is a product of my upbringing. Here’s why:

The reason I think I wasn’t born gay is because I have distinct memories of being attracted to women/girls. For example, when I was a little boy, probably eight or nine, I remember going into my friend’s grandmother’s attic and finding some pornographic magazines – Hustler, Penthouse, Playboy, etc. Anyhow, I remember being very aroused by the naked women inside. In one of the magazines, there was a small steamy story with photographs illustrating what was happening in the story. I can actually remember the storyline … girl’s car breaks down, girl walks to gas station, girl meets guy, girl and guy eventually have sex. Anyhow, I remember looking at the beautiful naked girls over and over. I remember having an erection and telling my buddy, “I want my wife to be just like that.” Then, after looking at the pictures for several minutes, I noticed that I hadn’t even seen the guy’s penis. I had been so focused on the woman that I didn’t even notice the guy. I remember thinking, oh, I didn’t know these magazines had guy’s parts in them too. I then went back to staring at all the naked women. That’s one memory.

I also remember in the fourth grade my friend and I found a pornographic puzzle. I remember working on the puzzle for hours because I was so excited to see the naked women depicted on it.

Anyhow, those are just two examples. I realize they aren’t the most conclusive memories, but you’ll just have to believe me when I say I remember being attracted to women.

It wasn’t until junior high and high school that I remember being attracted to men. Of course, I denied most of my feeling back then, writing them off as “a phase.” I remember coming to the realization that I was gay in either the 10th or 11th grade. I was sitting in the dining room recliner and had just finished fantasizing about other men. Then it hit me like a rock: if I like to fantasize about men, I must be gay. I just started crying because that was the LAST thing I wanted to be.

In any case, I am now a gay man and I guess I’m not exactly sure why. I suppose it could be genetic, but I am skeptical. I think my relationship with my father, my personal interests, and my childhood friends were bigger factors in my becoming gay.

First, my father and I had a terrible relationship throughout my childhood. It wasn’t entirely his fault. He is a very hardworking man who did the best to raise his family. Because he was busy supporting his five sons and one daughter (I’m the youngest), I didn’t see him very much growing up. Plus, he was raising teenage boys for the first time and was heavily involved in their sporting events, high school activities, etc. As a result, my father’s main role in my life was that of punisher. If I ever did something wrong, my father would intervene to administer the punishment. That was our main interaction. Suffice it to say, we didn’t see eye to eye growing up, and I still don’t have the best relationship with him.

Second, all five of my older siblings were VERY involved in sports. All four of my brothers played sports on the collegiate level. I, on the other hand, did not like competitive sports. I was more interested in speech, drama, academics, and student government. My mother and siblings had me play sports through junior high school, but it wasn’t until the 10th grade that I broke off from all of it entirely. I personally believe I always felt a bit inferior because I wasn’t into sports like my brothers.

Third, my best friend until the 4th grade was a girl. We were very close, but then cruel children started teasing me for having a girl best friend. I broke off our friendship and tried to find a guy best friend. Again, I think that was a factor.

Wow, this email is a novel. Sorry. I just start rambling, and I can’t shut up.

Thanks for offering me your ear (or Inbox) whenever I need to talk. I’m sure I’ll take you up on that.

Thanks again for your great advice and understanding.

Sincerely,

gaymormon

P.S. You have impeccable writing! No spelling, grammar or punctuation errors. Very impressive! Also, your email flowed flawlessly! Are you a writer?


1 Comments:

Blogger Funky Fresh Freddie said...

Very well said, Bill.

I am a strait man living in Northern California. I have a few gay friends who are very dear to me and have also struggled with these same issues you are faced with. All I can suggest is to keep your head way up and accept the fact that you may never again have significant relationships with those who don't agree with your choices. I say, fuck 'em!

3:35 AM  

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