Tuesday, July 12, 2005

Mission Nostalgia

I recently attended my mission president’s homecoming. This event was a mile marker of sorts for me because I now have zero connections to the mission (i.e., I don’t know any of the missionaries serving there). That chapter of my life is more closed now than ever.

I had the chance to hang out with a bunch of mission friends this last weekend, and I got so nostalgic. Though those feelings can be sweet, I also hate them because there’s nothing I can do about them. I can’t go back in time. I can’t re-experience my mission. I just have to treasure the good memories from my mission and move on.

I haven’t felt this kind of nostalgia for a long time. I really feel like I’ve done a great job of moving on in life. However, then we started sharing mission stories over the weekend, and a flood of emotions inundated me. My mission really was wonderful. Though I sometimes feel like I failed as a missionary, I treasure that experience more than any other. I love the people, the cities, the history, the culture – everything. Of course, I’m forgetting all the difficult times, but that’s what makes memories so wonderful, right? You forget all the bad and remember just the good.

The mission reunion was also difficult for me because it reminded me of what’s at stake when it comes to my sexuality. If I choose to live a gay Mormon lifestyle, I will likely lose many of my mission friends. I won’t likely continue to go to reunions and mission events. I will likely become part of the mission gossip.

I really don’t want any of those things to happen.

This realization kind of stopped me in my tracks this weekend. It reminded me why I had chosen to fight my homosexual desires in the first place.

I want the best of both worlds, and I can’t have it. I’ve got to make sacrifices one way or the other.

Nostalgia … ugh!


Anonymous C.D. said...

Dear G.M.: I understand what you are feeling. But trust me, there are far richer, deeer rewards to be found in life than simply being accepted--in a superficial way--by a members of a group who only accept those who think/act the same. You think the folk at this missionry reunion are your friends, and worry you would lose them if you lived as an activ gay Moormon. Many might reject who if you chose to live as an active gay Mormon; they might well, in fact, reject you--and gossip about you--if they knew you were writing this blog. That is their problem. That is thei loss. Eventually you need friends who are more open-minded, who will accept you as you really are, regardless of whether you are celibate or in a sexual relationship. Real friends, some gay, some straight, ho are not so small-minded as to reject someone because of his sexual orientation.

Imagine that you were a very light-skinned black person, passing as white in a racist comuunity, and you made friends with white bigots who would reject you if they knew you were actually black. We all like having friends. But real friends are nes ho know you as you really are and think it's just fine.

I know your situation is scary. I've been at that point myself. And I've helped other friends--whether raised Mormon or Evangelical Christian--who had to go through the process you're going through. It always feels like, "I have so much to lose." I is har to see, ahead of time, how much more you have to gain by living openly honestly, and finding real friemds who accept you for what you are. When you eventually come out, incdentally, it is als possible you may help change opinions of some Mormons you know, who might have an aversion to gay people in the abstract but feel warmly towards you. They might start re-evaluating their feelings about ga peole, as they realize that nice people trhey've known and liked are gay. Some may. Others won't. But honesty helps everyone in the long run. Incidentally, I can guarantee you that you were not the only one at that reunion who was hiding the fact he's gay, out of fear of rejection.

10:35 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Dear G.M.:
I totally understand. There was so much good in your past, after all, it is your life thus far and it has been a very good life too. C.D. is right when he says that you're coming out will change peoples opinions about homosexuality. You being gay will put a face on the issue that most of those people at the reunion do not have right now. "Gay" in the abstract is very different than gay brother, gay cousin, gay missionary companion, gay son, etc.

Since revealing myself to my family, my brothers and sisters have really acted supportive and like they just want me to be happy. They now see gay people differently because of my experience. They are more sensitive, less judgmental.
Yes, some of your friends will not understand--this is reality. Some friends will not be able to handle who you are and still be comfortable around you. This is about them--not about you!

When you think about it there is really a small group of people who you rely on daily for support. Right now, none of those people know who you are so none can support you. What I have seen work is to come out to some new people who can accept you--other gay people or other gay friendly people or a therapist or a support group, then, when you are ready, you can begin to tell those who have been supporting you up until your embrace of who you are.

I have a good friend who was once a partner with me. When he was first coming out he and I met and I supported him through the process of telling his best friend. His best friend freaked out and told him he needed time away to think about this new revelation. My friend was devastated but he had me and other friends to support him. Six months later his best friend reconnected with him and apologized and said that he loved him and wanted to continue to be friends. they are still best friends today (that was 15 years ago).

I'm sorry that life is so difficult but that is the way life is. Mormonism gave me the idea that if I just could "obey" all the rules I could avoid the hard stuff of life. But the hard stuff of life came and got me anyway--no matter how much I tried to obey. What has sustained me is not obedience but love. The love of those who accepted me when I could not accept myself.

My heart is with you,

12:53 PM  
Anonymous C.D. said...

Dear G.M.: I loved Andy's characteristically compassionate (and insightful) remarks to you, above. Go, Andy!.... Michael Quinn, who is one of my favorite Mormon historians--all of his books have so much to offer--has written an article on the LDS Churc nd gay rights/civil rights, that is well worth reading and reflecting on. Highly informative, from an award-winning historian.
Go to this site....


7:36 AM  

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