Friday, March 30, 2012

Why does it always come to this?

Number 17


Recently an article was published in a periodical (New Era), the audience are LDS youth.  The title of the Article is, "How to Survive in Enemy Territory" by Boyd K. Packer

I have included a few references to the article to share in the struggle that I am faced with.  This is not to slight and point out how wrong these statements are, but bringing the reader into my experience.

I do have the advantage of age, maturity and experience that helps me attempt to look at these things objectively.  But for those that are tender in years, limited life experiences and conflicted, confused and torn....these words may seem hurtful and hopeless.  I understand that the leadership of the church has every right to defend their beliefs and have laws to uphold those doctrines and practices.  Yet on an individual level, when a son or daughter of God reads this text they may internalize more shame, guilt, and reduced self-worth.  The highlighted areas are those of concern and I will address why they are of concern from my perspective.

President Gordon B. Hinckley announced the following in general conference: “People inquire about our position on those who consider themselves . . . gays and lesbians.  My response is that we love them as sons and daughters of God. They may have certain inclinations which are powerful and which may be difficult to control. Most people have [temptations] of one kind or another at various times. If they do not act upon these inclinations, then they can go forward as do all other members of the Church. If they violate the law of chastity and the moral standards of the Church, then they are subject to the discipline of the Church, just as others are.
“We want to help . . . strengthen them, to assist them with their problems and to help them with their difficulties. But we cannot stand idle if they indulge in immoral activity, if they try to uphold and defend and live in a so-called same-sex marriage situation. To permit such would be to make light of the very serious and sacred foundation of God sanctioned marriage and its very purpose, the rearing of families.” President Hinckley was speaking for the Church

"You have that same agency. Use it wisely to deny acting on any impure impulse or unholy temptation that may come into your mind.  Just do not go there, and if you are already there, come back out of it. “Deny yourselves of all ungodliness.” The key word is discipline —self-discipline.  The word discipline comes from the word disciple or follower. Be a disciple/follower of the Savior, and you will be safe.  One or two of you may be thinking, “I am already guilty of this or that serious mistake. It is too late for me.” It is never too late.
You have been taught at home and in seminary about the Atonement of Jesus Christ. The Atonement is like an eraser. It can wipe away guilt and the effect of whatever it is that is causing you to feel guiltyGuilt is spiritual pain. Do not suffer from chronic pain. Get rid of it. Be done with it.  Repent, and, if necessary, repent again and again and again and again until you—not the enemy—are in charge of you."  Boyd K. Packer

A reader that has same-sex attraction will read this and feel that they are immoral (even if they do not act out on the "sin").  These individuals may also feel increased guilt, impurity, unholy and ungodliness.  The only answer would be to internally destroy themselves to attempt to find peace.  I tried this path for 40 years and came to a point where I could no longer self-loath, self-depreciate, self-destruct.....there was no peace in this.  Considering that I have a few more tools in my kit to use to work around these type of is no wonder that the LDS church is losing youth to suicide.  This becomes the answer to escape from this dissonance!  I almost arrived at this conclusion myself, but knew that change was a viable 2nd option.  I sought help, found people to confide in, and had an amazing counselor.  Not everyone has this type of support system in place.

There needs to be more conversation and assistance to individuals that are struggling with these feelings.  Local leaders in the church need to listen with compassion, love and concern.......not meting out judgement.  I do know there are many that offer the kindness and is just unfortunate to see suicide in the news so often for the youth in the LDS church.  It is hard to encourage the compassionate local attitude when on the general level things can be perceived by the individual as hurtful.  Even the title of this article places individuals in the offensive or defense without even reading the script......

Here is hoping for more compassion!

Thursday, March 29, 2012


Number 16

Just expressing myself here.....not intending to create conflict.  In a previous post I outlined my time and energy commitment to the LDS church.  I dedicated decades of service to this organization.  I performed all tasks willingly like most do, I tried to live exactly like the religious culture dictated.....accept callings, serve faithfully, give time and talents to the work of the Lord.  I found great reward out of each of these activities and opportunities of service.  I was afforded many opportunities to lead, love and share for which I am grateful.  These experiences have helped bundle me to who I am today.  Many people now and in the past have said I am super nice, dedicated and work hard (sometimes to a fault also). 

The conflict I have is mine to own and non-else.  Since separating from family, religion and my previous life....I have experienced EXTREME loss.  Again this is MINE to own.  What I find most difficult to deal with is the loss from church and family.....really they are one in the same to the LDS faithful.  When I was preparing to leave the church and leave my (socially acceptable) marriage, I told people that would be key to Rachel's survival in the church to ensure that they would be there and available to her as she went through this change in her life.  I guess that shows that I did (even though that is diminished and dismissed by so many) and still do care about Rachel.  I wanted to "fortify" her transition. 

Doing this required me to fade into the background.  To disconnect.  To dismiss myself.  To depart from the old and begin with the new. 

Given that departure, my circle of influence has been depleted.  I feel like I stepped back from those prior associations too soon and too far.  I disconnected too completely for the comfort and safety of those I love.  Now I feel disappointed in myself and those that I associated with just because of my honesty!  Who would have thunk that honesty could create such an ostracizing experience for me.  Again, this is MINE to own.  I did not have a handbook on dealing with this kind of transition.  There is not a handbook in the church of how to "deal with" people like me.....other than to help me stay in the church, be celibate and hopefully not kill myself in the process.  I just wish more conversation (open and honest) could happen. 

I had a friend post this event on Facebook for people to attend:

Homosexuality and the Mormon Church: A Civil Conversation on Empathy and Difference

April 12, 6:30 PM at the SLC downtown library, conference room #4.

"For many, if not most in the Mormon community, the on-going conversation about homosexuality and Mormonism has failed us. This failure has resulted in broken homes, broken hearts, and a deep misery that's even led some to take their own lives. These tragic results have led many to blame and point fingers rather than find more constructive ways of sustaining the conversation that lead to understanding, growth, and hope. At the heart of this failed conversation lies the unresolved tension that often exists between our beliefs in the way things should be and the reality of how things are. After conducting over 100 interviews with gay Mormons, their loved-ones, mental health practitioners, ecclesiastical leaders, sociologists and more, the community organizers and producers of the documentary Far Between have developed a simple yet sustainable method of engaging one another around this divisive issue in a way that will draw each of us further into the conversation rather than drive us further out. They'll share ways of sustaining the tension that allow each of us to focus on the most salient questions long enough that, together, we can find better and better answers. They'll suggest ways that we can navigate this space between the principles of a beloved ideology and the realities of our "lived experiences". They'll share how by conscientiously loosening our grip on ideology for a moment in an effort really seek to understand someone's lived experience of being gay (or being devoutly Mormon, etc.), we'll be one step closer to operating from a space of true empathy. The community conversation will provide an opportunity to engage with other's lived experience while not forfeiting or shifting our opinions on the issues. The organizers hope that the community conversation will help each of us to open ourselves up to more nuance, more compassion, and, frankly, better decision making."
These are the type of conversations that I wish could happen, but they won't because of fear, misunderstanding, judgment and prejudice......and I recognize that judgement and prejudice goes both ways.  I would like to help this chasm move closer together, but I do not know where to start.  I am not sure I have the energy to put something together like this.  I am too affect change like this at present.  It would be a great idea, but it will fade into the background just as I have.....

Monday, March 26, 2012

It Gets Better

Number 15

I know that I need to eventually do an, "It Gets Better" video of myself sometime.  I feel personally compelled to do one.  The conflict that I have with myself is that overall, it does get better......but sometimes daily it is a struggle just to keep going.  I was telling a friend yesterday my desire sometimes is to just run away.....when I get overwhelmed.....when I get sad......when I get angry of the way I am treated.  Then my sense of responsibility removes those thoughts from my mind, and in a weird twisted way I make myself more overwhelmed because of that responsibility.

I recognize what I need to do, to provide for my children.  I need to continually place myself in positions and opportunities to provide for their needs.  They deserve so much more.  They deserve so much more than I can give them.  My guilt and shame kick in when I think about them.  I know at times they are angry, confused, bewildered.  They have every right to feel and express those emotions.  I was not allowed (or did not allow myself) to feel these type of emotions for decades.  I hope that each of my children will find their voice, express themselves and be honest and authentic.

I was sitting in church on Sunday (I do still attend with my children) and noticed how UN-authentic some people really were and are.  Now I am not labeling religion or religious people as not being authentic.....but there are some that are fake, self-promoting, and insincere.  It is aggravating to see this, and so many people not calling these type of people out for who they are.  I have and currently experience many people in my life that are like this (I just happened to reflect on it at church).  When will people just get honest........

Back to "It Gets Better".....I need to feel committed to doing this and to stick with it getting better.  It truly is, but I have to fully believe it within my soul......I am getting there.

Sunday, March 25, 2012

When I knew.....

Number 14

Last night I attending a concert from the Heartland Mens Chorus called, "When I knew".  Dan Savage was narrating the performance.  Dan Savage is the organizer of the, "It Gets Better" campaign on YouTube.  He read the stories from the chorus and the audience that told the story of bullying, discrimination and coming out.  Each story was moving.

In that same vein, here is my "When I knew" story:

When we moved to the house on the farm there was lost of space and area to explore.  One of those places was the gravel pit.  This is where the city would dig and find gravel for roads, so there were big piles of gravel, indention's in the earth which allowed water to accumulate.  We had a make shift swimming hole (although we did not swim in it much, at least I didn't).  My brother, sister and I would go over there to play all the time.  We would create stories and make-believe all the time.  One thing that I would consistently do is pretend there were mer-folk in the water.  They would come out of the water and visit us.  We would make up names for them all and pretend to have romances.  I would make up names for my mer-men (secretly) and would create in my head a whole romance.  I know that I did not share with anyone about those romances, but I would make up the conventional female names to have romances with outwardly.  This began my internalized homosexual crisis.  It is amazing how society can keep people silent for so long based on norms and values.  That was 35 years ago.......

Saturday, March 24, 2012


Number 13

Have I truly accepted who I am?  I have been reading other blogs, books and articles on people like me coming out.  One of the many themes that is talked about time and time again is acceptance.  When children grow up, they each continually attempt to find acceptance.  Acceptance of their words, acceptance of a relationship, acceptance of parents or authority figures, acceptance of their actions, acceptance of their choices.

When I was a child, I remember my first friends were my siblings.  I wanted to be their friend and playmate.  I wanted them to choose to play with me.  I wanted my parents attention and having their attention meant that they accepted me.  That experience broadened as more people were introduced into my life....extended family, neighbors and school-mates.  I will give you examples from these groups:

1)  We had cousins that lived down the road.  Heather, Melodie and Holly lived down the road from us.  They were each fast friends.  We did a lot together around the farm, exploring and generally being kids.  We had a wonderful time together.  I always looked forward to going over to their house.  Their house was more modern then ours and they lived closer to town.  I felt accepted among them.  Those were fond memories.

2)  When I was about 5 or 6 my parents were building a house outside of town on the "farm".  We lived in town during my first year, next to the gas station that my parents owned.  Whenever my dad would go to the new house to "build" I would always want to go.  Every time I had an opportunity to go with him, I felt included and accepted by him.  I know that I created more work for him just being there (I know this because of my own experience with children) but I am gratified that he brought me along.  My dad was not very expressive with words, but I actions spoke volumes.

3)  The Birch's built a home down the road from us, they would be our closest neighbors for decades.  They had 3 sons similar in age with me.  It was great to have someone even closer than cousins and with a newer "log cabin" house.  It was an adjustment to not just show up on their doorstep and expect to play.  We now had to plan things and ask permission.  It was a good framework with interact from.  I did notice over time that our mothers did not become fast friends, there was some dissonance between the 2.  That would sometimes limit that interaction.  That affected the acceptance that I felt with the neighbors to a point.  These boys did not become my best friends, we really did not do similar things in middle and high school.  I really think that this relationships main influencer was the mother of the boys.  She was never negative towards me personally, but I just felt something different....non-acceptance.  The sad thing about this group is that it affected my mother profoundly too.

4)  My abuser was a person that I continually tried to find acceptance from.  To me he was an authority figure.  Everything he said was gospel.  I would do anything he would say.  Sad form of acceptance.  I remember vividly one experience where he told me I would die (because I had done something unacceptable to him).  I cried myself to sleep for months, waiting for the end.  I believed that contributed to my inability to wake up during the night and go to the bathroom.  I wet the bed for years.  I know that this was a psychological problem, yet I would be taken to the doctor to examine my physical self to fix.  It was a shame that abuse or psychological needs were not considered at that time.  I was looking for continual, consistent acceptance from this person and it was driving me insane.  Hard to write about this but I feel compelled to share this as a way of separating this experience from myself which gives me the ability to look at it objectively  for a brief moment.

5)  School and church children were one in the same in my community.  Very homogeneous and in my opinion VERY unhealthy.  There were very little differences or diversity among us.  I did look for acceptance among my peers because those are the people I would spend most of my time with during a given day.  I sought acceptance from both male and female friends.  Knowing early on the appropriateness of gender and sex roles.  I could only be attracted to girls and jostled for position with the boys.  I remember vividly when certain boys would move into our class, I could probably have fit in with the girls conversations much more easily about how cute he was, or who would talk to him first......but I could not do that.  Instead I would find out who that new kid liked and who preempt his ability to like that girl.....thus I would get his attention.  Weird, twisted and messed up.....I know.....but that is how I adapted.  That is how I sought out attention and acceptance.

Now, fast forward......I am still looking for acceptance personally, professionally, and socially.  I use the experiences I have had in the past as guideposts.  I do feel much more confident in my identity and self.  Sometimes acceptance becomes a non-issue because of my ability to not always need acceptance.  I believe the strongest acceptance any person can ever have is that of them self.  2 years ago, I found myself....18 months ago I finally accepted myself......14 months ago I needed to change my life in order for my accepted self to exist......every month it is a continually battle to foster my inner self given all the societal judgments about who I am.  I am me, and grateful for that person.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Get in line........

Number 12

OK, so over the past year I have begun to formulate my own faith, belief and spirituality.  I do recognize that I have let go of a significant piece of my life when I left the church (even though I still attend at times with my children).  Since I am gay and not living a celibate life, I had to leave the church - my choice.  I know there are some that just stop attending church and get lost in the shuffle but never "un-member" themselves from the church.  I knew that if I became a "practicing gay person" personally I would need to leave the church and not go against church doctrine while still belonging to the church.  I recall being offered the life of celibacy by a couple church leaders.....thanks by NO THANKS!

Back to the spirituality.....sometimes I feel that the religious system I was a part of thins that they have the corner of the market on spirituality.  The Spirit is bestowed upon them after baptism, I gave that up.  I pray in the same way as I used to, but I gave up that connection with heaven when I left the church.  I read my scriptures, but I gave up the ability for inspiration when I left the church.  In essence I have become a heathen.  So how do I built spirituality in my own life?

I have thrown out prior religious convention.  I try to not bind myself with my prior construct of spirituality that was fed to me for decades.  I use my feelings, promptings (not from the Spirit because I cannot own that anymore), intuition and guidance from my own experiences.  I know God lives and loves me.  I am his son (one of many).  I know that Christ redeemed us from this earthly life.....yes ALL of us.  I lay my faith at their feet to figure all of this dissonance that exists in this life.  I am doing the best I know how in the circumstances I find myself.  I know I will never be part of the "normalcy" that once was.  I am glad that I am on the path that I trod now.

I do not plan to "get in line" like I did before and accept everything doctrinally from the pulpit.  I will continue to ask questions of why one religious convention does things one way and another convention doing something opposite.  I am learning many things about my previous belief system that I should have asked question about and did not.  I "got in line" instead.  I conformed to the expectations, written and unwritten, that the church had.  I have been posed with the question and statements of "why did I get married", "you were living a lie", "you betrayed those you love", "why could you not of endured to the end".  My response now is.......YES, I should have been more forthcoming before marriage or a mission......YES I should have endured to the end.......BUT, within a closed, prescribed, religious system I feel I was set up to fail.

I could have come out and been honest earlier in my life....but I believe that I was not strong enough internally to do that.  I am glad that I did not do it then.  I probably would have made decisions that would have taken my life on to a totally different path and (knowing myself) would probably not be alive today.  There was limited support back then, and very strong people were those that came out.  They were pioneers in their own right!  Instead I chose the socially acceptable thing to do, conform.  I have had many precious experiences in that time.....children, marital experience, work, education that have formed who I am.  I am NOT sorry for those things.

I do believe that there also is responsibility for those closed, prescribed, religious systems to react to situations similar to mine......loss of faith, change of life style, differences of opinion......this would allow for some flexibility within each system.  If there is a change in personal belief or practice those individual changes will not be so devastating.  Yes I used the word devastating.  Devastating to many people, friends, acquaintances.  Each person and organization has to be able to adapt and adjust for each to continue to be healthy.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Finally, I feel comfortable in my skin......

Number 11

What really is a societal norm, and who defines them?  For the society I belong, society has been predominately influenced by Christian, White, Males, conservative, who are heterosexual.  For decades I bought into these societal norms, I was part of the group, one of them, I was a card carrying society supporter (on the outside).

When I started college I began to see others who were outside the societal norm, wonder why they were so angry, listened to their stories and began to internally shift my own belief system.  I would listen to Francoise and her plight as a white, Christian, conservative, heterosexual, female.....she was not far from the norm but she had some poignant stories!  I even ran with her for elected office at the University we attended.  It was a great journey of learning and growth for me.

I remember sitting at the movie theater (on campus where I worked) and befriending Michael.  He was also part of student leadership, which we both participated in.  During the movies we would talk about life, love and our futures.  One day he came in extremely distressed.  We talked.  He was gay, I was one of the first persons he confided in.  I could related to him on a personal level, but never divulging my own, honest feelings.  I wonder where he landed.  He was a great friend and example to me.  He was white, that is all he had in common with the norm.

I was influenced by Winston.  He was white, conservative, male, Christian and heterosexual.  I worked with him in housing for almost 2 years.  Him and his wife were neighbors.  They were driven to obtain their educations.  Good people, lovely friends, great examples.  Winston was trying to find himself, joined the LDS religion....but was probably more liberal than most in the church.  I do treasure our friendship, but have lost contact with him and Rachelle.  I would never be able to have an intimate conversation about my desires with him.....although if I would have, I think he would have been alright with it!

Karen was one of my mentors in college.  She really pushed me and gave me opportunities for personal growth.  Those that know me....know I am not the most conventional acting heterosexual person.  I am VERY expressive.  When I began working with Karen we would have in depth conversations.  She is the first person to ask me if I was gay!  I was SHOCKED on the outside, but JUMPING for joy on the inside.  I did not answer her right away.  I did admit to her that I probably had some BI tendencies.  I did not even know what that meant fully, but it satisfied an honest question from a mentor.  Karen was white....that is the ONLY way she fit the norm.  She was a delight and inspiration to me!

Becky is my final person of particular influence in my life for this thread.  She was did not meet any of the norms.  She challenged my belief system.  I worked for her in Diversity Education.  I was continually to re frame my own language and actions learned from a majority-speak to be more integrated into a diverse population.  This was an opportunity that kept me from my comfort zone for months on end.  I look back and say "how could I have been so blind"!!!  Growing up in privileged (according to the norms) was good for me, but damaging in my interactions with individuals outside the norm.   I finally was able to see things in context and respond in an appropriate, fair method.  This was a choice experience.

So on my sojourn.....I began in all of the societal norms (see above).  I NEVER felt comfortable in all of them.  These experiences challenged my christian, conservative systems consistently.  I have been a liberal for years now, my family and friends have given me grief over it.  How can a person be Liberal and Mormon.  I even remember an experience when I was placed in a position in the church of influence.....people went to the Bishop expressing concern that the church cannot be true if a liberal in placed into a position of leadership and influence.  SCARY, I know!!!!  Although I am no longer a member of the Mormon faith, I still consider myself Christian..... God will take care of this mess.

So according to the norms.....I am white and male.  I do feel comfortable in my skin.  When I came out as a gay male, my internal homophobia subsided....self-loathing reduced, shame and guilt took a different twist.  I do feel comfortable with who I am.  That has been quite an accomplishment!

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

Entitlement in Suburbia

Number 10

I had a wonderful time tonight at my gay dad "therapy" group.  I use the word "therapy" loosely, it is a support group, men in various stages of identifying who they are, and an opportunity to share each others' stories.  It is powerful, enlightening and satisfying.  There are things shared among the group that is bonding.  I feel trusted, heard, and validated.  Whereas through most of my life I was never in a place, among a group where I felt I could be heard and share my innermost feelings.  I denied myself that because of judgement, social norms (which are damaging) and shame.  These feelings were imposed upon me at an early age, then I believed them for myself.  The true damage happened when I self-loathed myself because of those impositions!

After having an invigorating evening of trust and support....a few of us decided to go get a snack and further our conversation.  Once we arrived at this "sports bar" to get an appetizer.....we were met with a loud din that permeated the entire place.  Not knowing that this was a suburban waterhole for the 20 somethings, we took a seat.  For the first 30 minutes we were able to tolerate the loud and obnoxious laughter, yelling, and general disrespect for everyone eating and enjoying themselves.....these 2 tables were in riotous fits of chaos.  I asked 2 waitresses to see if they would kindly ask if these people could tone things down a bit.  I received the comment that these people had been here all day, and that the manager would take care of it. 

20 minutes later the problem had escalated.  I got up from my chair and went and asked a young lady to limit her loudness, because we could not carry on a conversation at our table.  I was told to  Then the 2 tables became aware of my conversation and they all clapped and mocked me as I returned to my table.  I had said my peace.  The wait staff witnessed it and came and apologized.  10 minutes later I received another loud message from the young lady....this was a public place and she had every right to yell.  The wait staff went over to her and ask that she be quiet. 

This example brings to my mind a sense of entitlement that many people have in society today.  There is a general disrespect for individuals and how people are treated.  It runs rampant in "Suburbia America" and it disturbs me.  I find it offensive when individuals that do have good jobs, good houses, opportunities surround in degrading words for others that are less fortunate, don't fit the social norm, or may step outside themselves and speak up, only to be told to "get back in line" that "you are worthless, unworthy and a vagrant"! 

I came from a small farming community.  I was told that I would not make anything of my life from my high school counselor (most of my siblings had the same person tell us that).  I was a first generation college student.  One of the first from my family to graduate from college, then go on to get an advanced degree.  I received help, I needed help to get to where I am.  If those people that were at the "watering hole" tonight were part of the influencers in my life then, I would have been told to go back to where I came from, I do not belong, I do not have a chance.  Is that really fair?  In a country where we are free, can succeed and gain increase.  I am offended that this type of behavior runs rampant.  This general disrespect for others (not knowing others' specific situations, yet being able to judge them at a moments notice).  This tires me.

I do have faith in humanity.  I do hope that the people who do speak up are loud enough to make a difference.  I hope to be one of those difference makers. 

Hateful People

Hateful People

Number 9
It really is disappointing that when a person expresses their soul and heart in words, that some small minded, hateful people....belittle, mock and take light of an individuals experience. The purpose of this blog is to analyze my feelings, sort out my thoughts, and to help others understand what my experience is like.
It is unfortunate that some take this type of expression as threatening, misinformation and unneeded exposure. I would challenge those individuals to express themselves honestly and analyze their own lives. Are they truly happy? Are they creating or eliminating turmoil? Are they drama makers, or solution driven?

I am attempting to find solutions in my individual life and navigate my way through this part of my life unscripted. Each of us experience, joy, happiness, loss and tragedy. I would encourage all to focus on joy and happiness.....not making theirpurpose in life to create loss and tragedy. I fully realize that in my life I have contributed to others' loss and tragedy....Rachel being the prime candidate. I do care for her, I appreciate the positive influence she has had in my life.

Now for those of you that are wondering, Rachel is not the person that I am referring to in this blog, she is not that hateful and small minded. She is finding her way and embarking on her own journey to joy and happiness.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Filling that void

Number 8

So my life in the Mormon church was like this:

Sunday, church for 3 hours, choir for 1, usually a meeting that involved me or one of my children for 1-2 hours, study for an hour to prepare for my Seminary lesson the next morning 1-2 hours.
Monday, Family Home Evening, 1-2 hours, study for an hour to prepare for my Seminary lesson the next morning 1-2 hours.
Tuesday, study for an hour to prepare for my Seminary lesson the next morning 1-2 hours.
Wednesday, Youth night, either attending, help, or driving children to these events, 1-2 hours.
Thursday, usually some activity that did not involve me, but may have been responsible for the children that night.
Friday, camping event once a month overnight, or some church event involving one or all of us....time commitment 1-15 hours depending on the event.
Saturday, Youth Dance, cleaning church, Primary activity, Baptisms, Home teaching appointments....a various array of potential meetings and/or activities....time commitment 1-4 hours.

Also, usually there were social events planned by families or couples for game night, eating out, or a movie.  Most of the children's social events involved friends from church, scout or youth group.  Everything about our lives were centric to church activity and social events.  Just reading this makes me start to stress out!  How did I do that for so long, how did I keep up, how did I manage to survive.  I think in my need to keep myself busy to not focus on who I really was, I needed this schedule as a healthy escape.  I am not saying that was my only motivation but it certainly increased that need!

Now I do not have those associations, connection, events, rigorous schedule, and commitments.  There is/was a LARGE void in my life.  I reflected today on the many people that trod this path......and may experience this loss along that same continuum.  Each person will replace those lost "things" with new "things".  Those replacement items come with new commitment, with greater or lesser needs.  I struggle trying to find the time or meaningful commitment to places new things on my plate.  Most of my energy and time is focused solely on my children.  I still have that "church" connection through my children and running them to and fro.....but the connections have mostly been severed. 

I do yearn for some of those church connections that I previously had, but that would require that individual to address a couple of conflicts.  First, the doctrine conflict.....being gay is an abhorrent thing.  Second, the church is their to support its own....Rachel is part of "their own", many probably can't support both individuals so the choice to to support "their own".  I really am fine with the second reason, because I understand it intellectually, although the act of non-support hurts.  There are a few people that have the ability to support the doctrine and the individuals involved (meaning me too) and still function in the LDS culture.  These people are rare to behold, and priceless!  I am thankful for those few!  :)

I hope to continue to add (small, meaningful) things to my plate.  To replace those things lost.  I have had some brief conversations with individuals involved in LGBTQ advocacy activities, and think I might dip my foot in to see the temperature of things before I fully commit.  I know that I need to do this in the future in a MAGNANIMOUS way, but will settle to sit on the side line for now.  I am truly thankful for those people in the LGBTQ population that have assisted me in this transition....and I am mostly appreciative of John and Gigi.  I would not be here without both of you.....thx!  :)

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Yearning for that touch

Number 8

Since for years I avoided any situation where I would place myself to have physical contact with another male, I was wound up fairly tight.  I can remember a few times when a male friend would come up to me, place their hand on my shoulder, place their arm around me in a "buddy"way. or give me a hug....I would literally shy away from them.  I would recoil, like I had touched a hot plate.  It was unfortunate that for so long I would create an outward revulsion to counter-balance the opposite feeling in my heart.

As I alluded to in my number 7.....I even kept my children at arms length.  I am haunted by how I treated my oldest son.....he yearned for physical touch.  Touch is his love language.  He would want to sit my me, want to hug me, need to be near me......I would simply push him away.  I still feel ashamed that I continuously denied him that need he had.  He is a wonderful son, with a bright and lovely future....I hope that someday I can have this conversation with him to ask for forgiveness.

I would do the same thing with my daughter (second oldest).  She is still here so I am slowly changing my physical connection with her.  I know that there is anger in her for the things she does not understand about my life and choices, she has every right to feel those things.  I just hope that we can overcome that physical barrier and remove each brick to become more aware and connected in a more meaningful way.  I do not want her to embark out on her own, not trusting those healthy physical connections and boundaries.  Not being present with my children as often as I used to, I seek for those opportunities to be close to them, that it is OK to be close to each other in a physical sense.  

This imaginary physical boundary that I had created was deconstructed over a series of months prior to coming out.  I could feel myself hammer each brick away....yearning for that intimate touch that I longed for.  I am not speaking in a sexual sense, but more of a emotional/ mental relief!  I wanted permission to just touch and to be touched, and feel every nerve ending.  This helped me become more satisfied with my body and dwelling in my physical shell.  Now all I need to do is to simply touch John and all those senses coalesce into a strong woven cord of living....and the satisfaction is almost overwhelming.  This is truly something that I have yearned for, for decades.

I do not want to give the reader that I have reached the pinnacle of my journey, but I am well I my way to a fullness that is indescribable.  Being bound by the chains of "social convention" hampers many.  I hope others can release themselves from those chains that bind them.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Internalized Homophobia

Number 7

Internalized Homophobia.....I really did not know that term existed until when I was going through counseling over a year ago, I finally recognized it for what it is!  Here is my best definition of the term:  "self-guilt, self-hatred, self-destructive impressions to rid oneself of the feelings of same-sex attraction, rarely voiced or shown to anyone external to oneself, a continuous depressive battle."   

Having lived in a very closed, strict religious system these feelings of internal homophobia were ever present in my psyche.  I had to continually run from them.  There were no effective tools provided me to combat these feelings.  There were no venues to express this conflict within the religious system.....because if this type of conversation happened, I would be immediately labeled, relationships would change and my growth within this system would cease.  Every willing, able, faithful Mormon man wants to grow, learn and lead.......leading his family, leading learning, leading followers back to heaven.  That form of leading would be hampered by having honest and open conversations about internal homophobia.....persons that reveal this would and have become 2nd class citizens among the saints.  That is why is it SO important to keep this battle internal.

Here is how I kept this battle internal.  I hated public bathrooms!  This is where I would have the opportunity to "maybe" see things that would be of interest to my gay side.  I would avoid these bathrooms like the plague.  I hated locker rooms for the same reason.  Plus my experiences in locker rooms as a youth were vile, nasty, hateful places to frequent.  I would not be easily expressive physically.  When someone would hug me, I would be guarded, stoic, and stiff.  It would be even worse if the person hugging me was a man.  I would even hold my children at arms length because of that same physical uncomfortableness!  I do wish I could go back and be different towards my children.....the younger ones are getting a good dose of my physical closeness now.  I would look for excuses to not be sexually active in my relationship. 

I continued to think, I was broken and this was what the world would get from me!  There was many days and nights spent in anguish trying to root this abnormality from my inner-self.  Time and time again I tried to extricate these feelings from myself that I would lose sleep, become obsessive, and be very angry with those around me.  Again, my children felt the impact of this.....for that I am truly sorry.

There are thousands of men and women that experience the same self-destructive feelings of shame, guilt, worthlessness, and anger.  My message to you is come out of that shell, talk about your inner-self.  Do not continue to destroy those things that make you...YOU!  It does get better.....but there is HELL to pay to get better.  It is NOT easy.  There are days I want to retreat back into my shell, run from responsibility or give up.....but I cannot.  I need to prove to myself that I am worth it, I need to outlast the bastards, I need to find peace.

It is nice to walk into a public bathroom and not feel like crawling out of my skin.  I can be physically close to those I love.  I have reduced my obsessive behavior....and my anger is subsiding.  The change has definitely been worth it.