Sunday, June 12, 2005

My Night Out

I just wanted to share an experience I had recently. I went to a show with another gay guy. Let me explain. I met this guy on the Internet, and he and began a little friendship via the Net. He is very sympathetic toward my situation, and he wants to help me so badly. Well, he eventually invited me to a show in New Jersey, and I accepted. I thought it would be nice to talk to another guy about my issues in person. So I went to the show with him.

Unfortunately, I did not have a very good time. It had nothing to do with the guy, either. He was a very nice, friendly person who tried his hardest to help me enjoy the night. Nonetheless, I was uncomfortable the whole night through, and I simply couldn’t be myself. I just didn’t feel natural talking to someone who knew I was gay. It was one of the most awkward experiences of my life. I just didn’t enjoy it that much. Like I said, the guy who was kind enough to give me the ticket had nothing to do with it. Admittedly, I wasn’t attracted to him at all, but I don’t think that was the main issue. I just didn’t feel comfortable in that situation.

My point is I don’t know if I will ever feel entirely comfortable in similar situations. It just didn’t seem natural. Okay, I’m probably being ridiculous. I’m sure if I went out with guys more often, I’d become more accustomed to it. Nonetheless, I don’t know if I want to go through the acclimatizing process.

Quickly, I just want to address a few comments that have been posted.

First, I’m glad that Scott has reaffirmed his situation in life. I am happy that this blog has provided an opportunity for introspective thought. That’s interesting that your great uncle was likely gay. I’ve always wondered how gay men of earlier times lived their lives. Interesting that he chose not to marry at all.

I don’t know the details of the Sgt. Matlovich situation, so I can’t make any sort of statement regarding the Church’s dealings with him. I have no problem with the tithing system of the Church, so I’m not going to get into it. I have issues with other aspects of Church bureaucracy, but those topics can be saved for another blog site.

C.D., if I could find a man to whom I am deeply attracted and who is also deeply attracted to me, I am sure I would give in to my desires. Fortunately or unfortunately (depending on your perspective), I have not found such a situation. In fact, I believe it would be very difficult to find such a situation, even if I wanted it. You see, Mormonism is much more than a religion – it’s a culture. I really think it would be difficult for me to be attracted to men outside the Church on more than just a physical level. I want somebody who shares my same values, who understands my background, who can appreciate my situation. That type of person is hard to come by. Plus, even if I did find the perfect man, I don’t know if I could be completely happy living as a gay man.

Now, to address C.D.’s topic of sexual frustration. I have to admit that I am feeling a lot of sexual frustration these days. Funny enough, I have found that my greatest moments of sexual frustration occur at church. I just realized this today. I go to Church, I see all these good-looking guys, and yet all of them are very off limits. It’s very frustrating to me. I was wondering why I have been getting grumpy at church, of all places, in recent weeks. I’ve realized that at church my conflicting desires meet head to head. It just ends up stressing me out and frustrating me. Ahhh! This is a perfect illustration of my current fence-sitting position. I really need to come down on one side of the fence, and soon.

Last quick note: C.D.’s twisting of Joseph Smith’s comments seemed a little twisted to me indeed. Only in modern society would one interpret his comment that way. Oh, how different society is these days.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just wanted to tell you that I have been reading your blog for over three hours, in some way it is very comforting for me. I am a not so straight or straight laced active but stuggling LDS woman who is 100% in a love with a LDS gay man. My boyfriend lives in Utah and I just recently visited for the first time. I do not see how anyone, especially a LDS who is not stereotypically anything could live in such a place. He wants me to move so we could be closer and I HATE THE PLACE! It is just creepy on so many levels. But, what I wanted to say to you is that you are not alone, and you are not fucked up in any way, there is nothing wrong with you or the way you are. I personally don't believe in being gay or straight so some people think I am messed up. As a women the biggest problem I have in dating my gay man is that others think we are a sham! This makes me so angry, who are they to say what we have is not real, if not mayble more real than most couples have? You can not listen to anyone else gay/straight/church official anyone when you are trying to figure out who you are. You can only listen to you your heart and choose what is best for you in your life. DON'T BE AFRAID TO DATE WOMEN! BUT ONLY DATE THEM BECAUSE YOU WANT TO, not because you feel obligated! Also realize that Mormon women are often very repressed and complex themselves, they are also struggling with no telling what in their on lives. The biggest problem I have in dating the men I am with is that I don't trust him all the time, but that is mostly because of my problems, I am overweight and I always doubt anyones love for me, his being gay just doubles the amount of people trying to get him, which doubles the insecurity in me. The way you are makes things more complex, but not impossible. I wish you luck, in whatever path you choose, Texas Chick

12:53 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't let fear run your life.
Your porn addiction is their because you are lonely and wanting a sexual realionship! THAT IS NOT A HORRIBLE THING! I have been in a dark place in my life and I have been looking a porn and masturbating. I am a woman, and I look at all kinds of porn, including gay males, so what does that mean? I think I just need sex in my life and belong to a church that does not allow any exploration, I mean for some people the marriage thing works, but what about the rest of us, what are we suppossed to do?

12:55 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is in response to your entire blog which I have read with much interest and joy/pain over the last week:

It's been almost 20 years since I was at BYU and in your same position. I want you to know just how much your sharing has helped me. In fact, I don't think I've ever heard of a story so similar to mine. You are the type of Mormon that I was, happy, believing, loyal, full of integrity and honesty. My distance from the church has been very painful over the years, mostly because I felt that the church body was like one big loving, trustworthy family. I felt less trusting among non-members and thought that they were “less-than” and sinful.

As a Mormon, whenever I ran into another Mormon on the street it was like we knew each other, even if we had never met before. The church was just such a safe and secure environment for me. I felt that the people in it were more honest, trustworthy and sincere than people outside of the church. When I left, it was like I was going to live in a jungle among a tribe that spoke a different language and practiced human sacrifice! (Well, you get the point.) While most of my experience with non-members was very loving and positive, there were just so many differences in customs and expectations that I was fearful and uncomfortable with my new non-member surroundings much of the time. I felt alone and homesick for the Church.

I didn’t have my family to help me either. While my mother and I were incredibly close growing up, we had a huge falling out over my sexuality. Like you, I was also my mother’s best friend and felt that there was no one in the world that she loved like she loved me. Through all my little struggles as a kid she had been there. We used to share for hours about every little thing that I was “into” at school or in sports. We shared a flare for the dramatic and we loved to dream together and talk about great “what if” scenarios. She was a great inspiration to a lot of people in the church and the model of a fun, involved, loving Mormon mom. I can hardly remember anyone in all the various wards we lived in that didn’t idolize her in some way. But she literally broke my heart the way she reacted to my struggle with homosexuality. She doubted me, she minimized the importance of my dilemma, and she stopped really listening. Her solution was for me to hide my sexuality! She said that it was just my little trial and that I should never act on it no matter what. I couldn’t believe her reactions! Here I thought that my mother loved me above all else and she was telling me that the biggest struggle of my life should just be brushed under the carpet. I pleaded with her; what about marriage, did she want me to live a lie? Apparently, she thought that as long as the woman was happy in the marriage—and she was sure that there were women who would love to marry her favorite son—that would be enough. What about my needs? What about my longings? What about my need to be happy in a marriage? What about being the unique person I was created to be? These questions were too much for her. She was uncomfortable talking with me. The one woman I thought would always love me no matter what was now uncomfortable talking to me about the MOST important dilemma of my whole life. I was crushed, angry, destroyed. My mother chose the church over me, she chose a “culture” and a “system” over her own flesh and blood. Both of us lost so much because of this situation. I was so hurt by this that I could never find a way to be comfortable around her again. All that I felt when I saw her was betrayal. It is a sad, sad story. My brothers and sisters worshipped my mother and sided with her against me. I don’t blame them as much because they are all younger and depended on mom then. Nevertheless, it was a barren time for me.

I connected somewhat to my dad during this time. I too felt that perhaps my upbringing or my relationship with my mother and distance with my father had "caused" my homosexuality. I thought maybe if I could bridge the gap with him that I could repair my sexuality. He wasn’t judgmental at all and told me that some of the nicest people that worked for him were gay. Although we never created a bond that felt sustaining to me, dad was very helpful during this time and shared a number of things that helped me to choose my integrity over my fear of the churches condemnation of my sexuality.

Being gay, I knew that the official church condemned me outright. In your shoes, 20 years ago, I had few options and no way to get the feedback you are getting. No Internet! At my worst point, about a year home from the mission (I too was an early district leader and zone leader, but I wasn't bucking for AP :)) I thought that there was little reason to live. I couldn't get my gay desires to go away, I wasn't going to drag my fiancé through my sexual confusion, I knew that fulfilling my family tradition of becoming a Bishop at 30, a stake president at 40, a mission president at 50 and a regional rep at 60 was not going to be if I was gay. In addition, I was NEVER prepared to fake it, to lie, or to conceal my struggles in order to participate fully in the church. What the hell good would that have done. To me the church was about truth. If I could not participate fully and serve in church callings with complete honesty what kind of leader would I be. Concealment and half-truths would not do, it just was not ME! Mormon, jack-Mormon, non-Mormon, or ex-Mormon I AM an honest person who has real integrity and I refuse to lie for anyone’s benefit! So, I just didn't know where to go.

Having lived in the "mission field" all my life, I knew that there was an entire universe out there that was not Mormon. I gambled on the possibility that I could adapt and I privately renounced my membership. I told God that I was never going back and I haven't yet. I guess you could say that I quit cold turkey. It was quite a shock. I never had the chance to talk to dialog with caring people the way you are doing or hear the many points of view that are being so lovingly presented to you. I envy you. You had a technology that I did not and you took the initiative to use it by posting this blog. I think it is paying off for you.

Your blog is also helping me tremendously. Many of the gay former Mormons I met after leaving the church were individuals who were never that "into" the church anyway. They could not relate to the loss that I was feeling and so I felt like the only "true Mormon" that was also gay. You have certainly convinced me that I was wrong--you have got to be one of the truest Mormons around. Few people will ever face the dilemma you are facing. Few people could weather it as well.

I think the best advice that you have been given is from your commenter Bill. Bill is truly a wonderful example of the bit of Mormonism that is in everyone. Bill is honest, true, compassionate, listens with his heart, and seeks to support you without "converting" you to any path. This is love. I have learned over the years that what I called love was really just sentimentalism or affection. Sometimes what I called love was really the absence of love but my wishful thinking wouldn’t let me see the truth. Yes, Bill knows what it is to love. Love is kind, love is without guile, love is not judgmental. I see these qualities in Bill's writing and he is an inspiration to me.

One last thing: In my senior year at BYU my bishop (knowing what I was going through) thought it would be good for me to teach a Sunday school class. He allowed me to choose any topic I wanted. I chose the topic of unconditional love and we discussed the unconditional love of Jesus Christ in our classroom in the Wilkinson center every Sunday for an entire semester. I ran very loose with the "manual" and we mostly tried to imagine if Jesus were living today who he’d be hanging with? By the end of the class I found that I was so inspired by what I had learned that I had the courage and resolve to stop attending.

There is so much to say but let me end this by saying that Mormonism is a track, a rail that leads from point A to point B. The object of the journey is to stay on the track, follow the track. The track goes where it goes and nowhere else. If I am truly on a track, then I have but two choices; I can go forward or I can go backward. There is no left turn, and no right turn. I can’t go where there is no track! And since there was no track leading to a free and open search for myself I had to either die (literally or figuratively) or get off the train. The most difficult thing I have ever done, and probably will ever do in my life was to get off the train. I miss it a lot. I hope you find a way to reconcile which is less painful. Nevertheless, because you are sharing your journey it has made my journey less painful today. Thank you.

I love you and wish you the very best.


11:38 AM  
Anonymous Rob said...

I've been where you are now. Of course you will be uncomfortable as you begin the process of coming out--but each time you meet with your friend (who took you out (or with other gay friends) you will gradually feel less uncomfortable. Until you're at home. It's worth the journey. Right now you say you didn't feel you could be yourself, when you were out with your gay friend. But you are in the process of finding your true self. (When you smiled at a fellow on the street one time and wanted to talk to him, your desirec was natural. In a couple years from now, when your friends--straight and gay--all know you're gay, and accept you as who you honerstly are, you'll have no problm talking with a smiling stranger like that. Youll be able to tell your friends, "Hey, I want to meet that guy,and they'll understand."
We only grow when we are willing to move outside our comfort zone. It will be uncomfortable. But someday when you are out to anyone, you will feel a lot more natural. Right now, you are deceiving people--wanting people to think you're straight. Eventually when you're out to everyone, you'll have friends who like you for who you really are. And that will be better.

The first time a gay friend took me to beach, I was so uptight I wouldn't let him hug me, pat me on the back, or put suntan lotion on him. I said, "What if people think Im gay?" I was more worried about what strangers might think than about being honest to myself. He said, "No one here will care if you're gay--virtually everyne here IS gay." He'd taken me to a wnderful beach (the Pines on Fire Island, NY) where everyone we met was gay--although I would never have guessed. Because we met all kinds of neat people that day. We made many day trips to Fire Islamd that summer, and by summer's end I was OK with having suntan lotion put on my back by my friend. I kept taking baby steps. But in the end, it's better to be able to go to sleep at night with a guy you love. (Even when my boyfriend and I are too tired to have sex, it is still wonderful to cuddle and fall asleep to together, snuggled like spoons.) I never even fell in love until after I came out, in my 20s. Repressing all those sexual feelings screwed up my ability to love fully. I understand your feelings for the Church. Many of us have shared such feelings. But our sexual will not go away. And you're certainly not alone. (In famous surveys of BYU students in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s,10% of the BYU students said they'd had homosexual experiences.) I hope that as you and your gay friend (or friends) hang out more, and you begin to see you are gradually getting less uncomfortable, you'll realize you're moving on the right path. For me, the day I could let a gay friend (who I was not attracted to) put suntan lotion on my back comfortably was a breakthrough. Maybe you should ask one of your gayv friends to take you to Fire Island for a day. Tha helped me.... Good luck...

And if you feel guilty about violating the Law of Chastity, keep in mind that all members of the Church are sinners--many (or maybe most) heterosexual young LDS men today hav sex befor marriage.
Rob Adams

5:14 PM  

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