Friday, November 30, 2007

Who has to know?

"I'll keep you my dirty little secret . . ." (All American Rejects). We all have secrets. Sometimes it's best to keep them secret. Sometimes the secrecy becomes a problem that festers in a relationship, or in my case, a family. I have had some realizations lately about traditions in my family that could have cycled onward in my life but that I have been able to escape.

Without disclosing things that aren't mine to disclose, I will say that I belong to a family with secrets. Sexual secrets that are swept under the rug. Secrets that are dirty, unhealthy, even disgusting. And I've been a part of it. I've had my own dirty little secrets. I'm referring to things that are degrading and harmful.

Another family tradition, however, is the appearance of perfection. We have this innate need for everyone to know that we are living normal, happy, righteous lives. The result is that we have lived double lives. We hide, ignore, suppress, and bottle up the problem, and then outwardly live the life we want others to see. But it caught up to us- to my dad specifically. Watching the pain that experience caused my family has taught me so much about what I can do to break this cycle.

Without that realization, I would likely have ended up getting married to a woman, pretending to be the perfect Mormon I wanted to be, but I would have had a secret. I would have lived a second life. I would have turned, at best, to pornography and masturbation. At worst I would have cheated on her. Either way would have been devastating to our relationship and to our family. Even if I had told her early on in the relationship that I had same gender attractions (and I would have), I would have quietly found ways to satisfy those attractions in unhealthy ways. I have seen many relationships where this is happening.

Now I am not in any way implying that this is what mixed orientation marriages always are. But it is something that I would have had because of my family tradition and the way that I have learned how to handle myself and my attractions growing up. I am so grateful I was able to recognize it. Some of you may be disappointed if I were to pursue a relationship with a man. I would rather, however, have a healthy, complete, honest relationship with a man than a fake relationship with a woman and a secret sexual impulse.

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

It's up that I fell

We talk a lot about the plan of salvation and what our place is in the plan. I think it is appropriate to look at Adam and his role in the plan, and consider ourselves as having similar opportunities and choices in front of us.

When Adam was created he was innocent. He didn't know right from wrong, although he was told what he should and shouldn't do. He was commanded to be happy, to dress the Garden of Eden, to fulfil the measure of his creation, and to multiply and replenish the Earth. He was also commanded to be with Eve, who was created as a companion for him because man was not meant to be alone. They were commanded not to eat the forbidden fruit. In fact, they were told that if they did eat it they would die.

Often when we think about how the Adam and Eve story applies to us as gay Latter-day Saints, we get caught up in the Adam and Eve part- the gender. It's Adam and Eve not Adam and Steve. We also get very caught up in the commandment to multiply and have babies that fill the Earth. Though those are important parts of the story, I would like to point out some of the other aspects of the story that I believe are just as important.

1. Man was not meant to be alone. When Eve partook of the fruit Adam was not going to partake. He resisted the temptation until she reminded him that her absence would make him a lone man in the garden. That was the motivation for him to partake of the fruit. He couldn't fulfil all of God's commandments by himself.

2. Man is that he might have joy. One thing that hit me over and over in the temple the other day was how much God wanted us to be happy. He commanded Adam to be happy. Adam, however, couldn't be happy until he learned right from wrong. The only way he could learn right from wrong (that we know, at least) was to partake of the forbidden fruit and be cast out of the garden. That is what he did.

Many Latter-day Saints talk a lot about Adam's fall being a good thing. The reality is, though, that he was breaking a commandment! He was doing what God told him not to do and reaped the negative consequences of it- death! Despite this, it was what many Mormons call a fall up. Now I believe there is sin. I believe that sin is wrong. I don't think Adam's transgression justifies sin, but perhaps there is a point to be made here.

Like Adam, we all have the ability to choose. We all want to be happy. We all want to be with someone. For some people that means breaking God's commandment and partaking of the forbidden fruit. It brings negative consequences, no doubt. At the same time, it may be necessary for some (I will include myself) to learn for themselves out of their own experiences. It may also be necessary to have broken the one commandment to fulfil God's other commandment to be happy. I have decided that if I don't partake of the forbidden fruit I will be alone, unhappy, and unable to progress in the areas where I want to progress. I would rather live with all the thorns of the dreary world with someone than as a lone man in paradise.

The best part about Adam's fall, is that even before he fell God had set up a plan to redeem him from the negative effects of his choices. In Jesus Christ the "death" part of eating the forbidden fruit is swallowed up. I don't think it is a healthy attitude to go and do whatever you want believing that you can fall back on the Atonement in the end. I do want to point out, however, that despite wanting Adam to fall so that man could progress, God never gave permission or indicated acceptance for eating the fruit. I think that's the point of this post, that there are choices we all face that are somewhat similar. Because we are different people, we may choose different things. In the process we will experience different consequences and realizations, both positive and negative.

As I anticipate comments to this post, I expect there to be warnings about apostasy. I'm not claiming this to be revelation, just thoughts. I expect some to say that sinning and repenting doesn't make you stronger than resisting sin (I would agree. That is not the point I was trying to make here at all). I also anticipate a comment telling me that same gender togetherness is only temporary and will lead to loneliness in the eternities. I expect warnings about justification too. And I anticipate some thoughts about what happiness is and how pleasure can be confused with happiness. That's all fine. Perhaps those will be posts for another day. All I ask is that you be respectful of my opinions, reasonable and mature in your reaction, and apply the same allowance for learning by experience to me that you have already applied to yourself.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Criollo cocoa

I just downed a pint of Haagen Daz Reserve Amazon Valley Chocolate ice cream. It felt wonderful.

Monday, November 26, 2007

We won't hear a word they say

I would like to start a petition to remove the following words from our vocabulary:

This is an arbitrary word that weakens any argument. It is a word we use to distance ourselves from a person, idea, or thing so that it is easier to hate that thing. For example, child molesters are evil. Now you can hate child molesters. You don't have to empathize with them. You don't have to sympathize for them. You don't have to consider motives or individual circumstances. They are distant, generalized, and evil.

What would happen if we replaced the word evil with a word or phrase that actually means something? Molesting children causes a lot of pain and hurts children in terrible ways. Suddenly it's not distant. We still can see how harmful molesting children is, but we allow ourselves to think about the molester independent of molesting. Maybe the perpetrator is a child himself. Maybe he is a victim himself. Maybe there is something we don't know about him.

This word also weakens any argument. It is a word we use to categorize things that we don't like. It is so specific to personal preference, exposure, and cultural bias, however, that we just can't use it to say that something is bad. For example, I used to hate hamburgers. Growing up, I insisted that ground beef was gross, and I wouldn't eat it. I refused. Homemade or McDonald's didn't matter, it was gross.

I had my first hamburger on my mission, and it was delicious. Ever since I've had to limit my hamburger intake so I don't get fat. What made it suddenly not gross any more? Increased exposure. I tasted it! It helped that my preferences matured and I lived in a society that encourages burger eating. If I had served my mission in India, it might have been a different story.

This is a word that I am as guilty of bastardizing as anyone else. Never. What a final, generalizing, hasty word to use. We should never say never. It implies knowing something that you don't know. We live in a changing world. The conditions that make something so now will eventually change. For example, I'll never be able to understand you. Well, then suddenly I find myself in a similar circumstance. Suddenly I understand. (that was a really unspecific example. sorry).

Clearly these words need to be eliminated from our vocabulary. Who's with me? Let's rid the world of ignorance one word at a time. Cause these aren't the only three. If I can get enough support with these words, then maybe I'll enlarge the blacklist. Before you know it, we'll have our own little censored community where no one gets offended and where all statements are perfectly neutralized. And, hopefully, where no one says anything stupid.

We've been giving in to wrong

I had an interesting conversation with my mother yesterday that has given me some thoughts I'd like to share. Perhaps I will make it two posts because the thoughts are somewhat unrelated.

My mom doesn't like being around me now. Although, she likes being around me much much much more so than she did the summer before my mission. Suddenly talking about that brought a huge point home to me. I recounted my history to her.

After I graduated high school, I was on top of the world. I was so happy. Everyone loved to be around me. I was passionate and confident and I had big dreams. I was full of life. Then I went to BYU and started change therapy with a referral from Evergreen. I started changing. That was the point, right? After two semesters of it, I went home. I was suicidal that summer. My mom hated me. No one liked being around me. I wanted to kill myself, and determined that I would do so after my mission.

My mission was wonderful. It brought the life back into me. I was so happy. I was in my element. I was on top of the world again, but my world revolved around one purpose. When I came home, suddenly I lost that purpose by default and was left with nothing. I went back to change therapy. I was miserable again. So I stopped. Now I am bouncing back. I'm taking my life in a new direction, but once again I feel alive. I hope that she'll recognize the new passion and confidence in me, and the big dreams. I hope she'll want to be around me again.

Friday, November 23, 2007

We should get jerseys . . .

I came out to my Aunt last night. She's pretty much awesome. I suppose I had been kinda obvious all day. I was wearing really hot jeans from banana republic and a slimming, loud designer shirt. And I acted unapologetically the way I wanted to act: like myself. I'm getting so good at that! It's amazing how naturally being yourself comes. . . almost like just being yourself. Oh wait.

Anyway, she was driving me home from a family event and she asked how I was doing. She's single, just turned 40, and as a born again Christian is one of two nonmembers in my close family. I told her that I was beginning to feel like she had previously described- isolated. She asked why. I explained that I was becoming liberal and everyone else was still conservative, and it made me feel isolated. Long story short, she told me that she was becoming liberal to, and that if I had a reason why I was becoming liberal, I could tell her and she wouldn't judge me. So I told her.

She wasn't surprised at all. What ensued was a very relieving and highly enjoyable conversation. I told her my whole story. I even told her about dating guys and how hard that was at BYU. She was very supportive. She told me not to make drastic decisions but to make gradual changes instead. I still can't get over how supportive she was! She told me how hard it was to hear about all the hell I had to go through, and about how much was still ahead of me. She laughed about all the little things that had made her suspicious and all the things that now made sense. It was a wonderful experience.

She is one more player on my team. That makes 7. Almost enough to play baseball. Almost. Maybe my dad will join the team. And maybe, just maybe, my mom.

From the movie Ratatouille:
"Dad, I. . . I don't know what to say." (Remy)
"I was wrong about your friend, and about you." (Django)
"I don't want you to think that I'm choosing this over family. I can't choose between two halves of myself." (Remy)
"I'm not talking about cooking, I'm talking about guts. This really means that much to you? . . . We're not cooks, but we are family. You tell us what to do and we'll get it done" (Django)

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Struggle We Have Left to Win

Invincibility lasts 19 days. I didn't know that until yesterday. There is so much that I am learning about myself right now. I'm not putting it up in the blogging world because of how sacred it is to me. I often feel the public has a tendency to profane things that are personal and meaningful and judge them.

I remember when I really realized that my parents were fallible. It was a crushing discovery, but it was liberating. Realizing your own fallibility is likewise both crushing and liberating. Once it happens, you can really dig down and discover what your strengths and weaknesses are. What your joys and pains are. What your beliefs and hopes are.

In any event, I am now discovering what lasts more than 19 days. That is what I think my future is. I wish I had more support. But I am going to do it with or without support. In the end we have to do what is right for ourselves. We all have such individual needs, and such different ways of securing those needs. I believe that God wants our needs met, and that He has many resources with which to meet them. I'm tired of meeting everyone else's expectations. It's time to meet my own.

Monday, November 12, 2007

Forever Barred

A few blogs lately have been changing names with every post. It drives me nuts. That being said, I have changed my blog name. I am no longer Forever Barred. I am now Innumerable Ecstasies.

The phrase forever barred comes from J.M. Barrie's Peter Pan. As Peter is looking in Wendy's window, he sees the Darling family enjoying time together. "There could not have been a lovelier sight," wrote Barrie, referring to the family, "but there was none to see it except a little boy who was staring in at the window. He had ecstasies innumerable that other children can never know; but he was looking through the window at the one joy from which he must be forever barred."

On my blog and in my life I seemed to focus on that one joy that I felt I was forever barred from. Eternal family. I'm not attracted to women and thus am not pursuing marriage. In so many ways I just felt barred from that ideal, nuclear family.

Nothing has really changed about my situation. My attitudes about life, however, have changed a lot. I am no longer focused on that one joy from which I may be barred. Instead I am focused on the "ecstasies innumerable" that others may never know. Maybe I don't have and won't have the perfect family, but at least I get to hang out with fairies and mermaids and fight pirates and live in tree forts and above all fly. And love. I am not barred from learning how to love.

Thursday, November 8, 2007

What Happened in November is What I Needed

In his post, "What Happened," Therapevo Ydata said:
I do not know if anyone else has noticed the change in the MoHo world. This place used to be special to help those who are dealing with SSA and trying to find others who understand them. . . Quite frankly, it now seems to be the path from MoHo to MoHo whore to Homo. This is no good. . . It has also become really relaxed about every issue with the church and nobody is concerned with this!

Playasinmar indicated that I was one of the people that possibly demonstrates this trend. Whether or not Therapevo Ydata was referring to me when he wrote his post is irrelevant. The point is, he's right. I have noticed a drastic change in the "Moho" world, and I have been one of the ones who has changed the most.

So what is this transformation? (I don't think I became a mowhore, I'm not even going to address that.) I think the best way to show the transformation is to quote myself.

September 24: "I am an active Latter-day Saint who struggles with Same Sex Attractions (S.S.A.). There I said it. . . I live in hell.
September 26: "every time I see a good looking guy I distract myself by imagining myself standing over me and smashing my head with a baseball bat."
September 26: "I told my therapist how much I loved this new blog. I explained how much it meant to me to have these comments of support and to discover that there are other people in my age group going through exactly what I'm going through."
September 26: "I just got back from yet another date with a girl I'm not attracted to. Why do I subject myself to this? . . . You know, I have always clung to this hope that I would be cured- these horrible feelings ripped from me. I have now accepted that they will be with me for the rest of my life. I'm ok with that now."
September 27: "Today I was walking and I saw a hot guy, and I said to myself, "wow he's hot" and then I kept walking. It was awesome. I didn't have to stop and analyze it. I didn't beat myself up with a baseball bat. I didn't hate myself, because for the first time in my life I don't think that I'm a monster."
September 29: "if God is keeping His promise, and I have kept my promise, then isn't that proof enough that the Church is true and I should follow it? It is this promise that makes me stay in the Church."
September 30: "Church was, as usual lately, ridiculously unspiritual, cold, callous, demeaning, and unpleasant."
October 5: "I'm beginning to wonder if there is such thing as goodness and happiness, or if they are just vain hopes that we dream up to make up to get us to our graves."
October 13: "With every passing day I get more and more comfortable being me."
October 14: "Sometimes I am afraid that being a moho is just a transition from mo to ho. I have started to wonder why I am staying in the repressed Mormon lifestyle."
October 14: "I still receive revelation. I always thought that if I accepted the fact that I am attracted to men I wouldn't receive revelation. I also thought that if I ever questioned the Church, I wouldn't receive revelation. Well, today in church, I received revelation."
October 17: "It is so hard to be alone. I just want a companion, someone to be with. And I just want some affection."
October 21: "I got home last night at 3 AM and I was feeling really happy. And I was wondering why I didn't feel that happy in Church. . . Suddenly I realized that it was good that I felt good. And then I realized that Church should make me feel good. . . I went to Church and it was awesome. I haven't enjoyed Church like that in a very long time."
October 31: "I have let go of the expectation and the demand for change. I have given up the desire to have God remove my pain from me and am now submitting to what He apparently wants me to live through. That's the result of my journey so far."
November 3: "I have never felt this alive- this complete- this whole."
November 5: "After deliberating and dabbling in new things, I think I have found my path."
November 7: "I feel really empowered right now. Since I have accepted the fact that I have same gender attractions, realized that I am not a bad person for them, and experienced new emotions, I have been so happy. I have felt so comfortable. I have been so alive."

So in less than two months, I went from living in hell to being happy, comfortable, and alive. That's a big transformation. I don't think that I was "relaxed" or indifferent to Church issues at all. I think that both Church and spirituality played a big role in my transformation. I think I agonized over them. Maybe I've become a "Homo," but if being a "Homo" makes me feel like this and being a "Moho" makes me feel like I live in hell, then I want to be a "Homo."

(The first time my dad "caught" me he looked at me with more disgust than I have ever seen and said, "Are you a homo?" I will never forget the hatred and the fear and the anger in his voice as he said that. I said no, by the way.)

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Feeling Things I've Never Felt

"We're both looking for something we've been afraid to find. It's easier to be broken. It's easier to hide. Looking at you, holding my breath. For once in my life, I'm scared to death. I'm taking a chance, letting you inside. Feeling alive all over again, As deep as the sky, under my skin. . . Maybe I'm wrong, but I'm feeling right where I belong with you tonight. Like being in love to feel for the first time" (Lifehouse).
This post is again really just an excuse to post lyrics.

I feel really empowered right now. Since I have accepted the fact that I have same gender attractions, realized that I am not a bad person for them, and experienced new emotions, I have been so happy. I have felt so comfortable. I have been so alive.

It makes me wonder- surely my parents have experienced this. When they were young, they must have had these feelings. Did they want me to never experience them? Did they want me to always hate myself and attack and suppress and deny my feelings? Did they want me to never know what it is like to want someone, to be with someone, to have someone?

I suppose they did want all of those things for me, they just wanted them accomplished in a way that I feel will never happen.
"Hearts need a beat, like awake needs asleep, Like a pen needs a page, to learn right you need a mistake. Oh, yeah. . . Strike all the bells, hit 'em hard make 'em all yell, celebrate, infatuate, lock us up, yeah, incarcerate, oh! Oh, I swear, I know, I believe it. Oh, I can't stop hearing all the singing. Oh, my soul has never had this feeling, and it feels like so, so, so much love in you. You got so much love in you. I'm amazed that I'm talkin' to you. You look like the songs that I've heard my whole life coming true" (The Rocket Summer).

Monday, November 5, 2007

Delusions of Grandeur

"Don't give up because you want to be heard. If silence keeps you I, I will break it for you. Everybody wants to be understood. Well I can hear you. Everybody wants to be loved. Don't give up" (Josh Groban).
Dating girls. I briefly mentioned that I wasn't going to date girls and referenced something that a former girlfriend said to justify it. I didn't expect it to start a small debate on the subject, but people have been talking about it. I have avoided the subject, but after Draco's post, I feel ready to revisit the topic.

The reason that I'm not dating girls right now is because of how unfulfilling it is for me. The last girl that I dated was great. She was cute and funny and liked musicals and good books. Every date, however, was like a homework assignment. I was constantly focused on what I needed to do and how to do it- like a series of chores. I just wasn't interested in her. I was only interested in having a wife and being "fixed." Nothing was natural, it was all deliberately accomplished in a failing effort to have something that I wanted but couldn't have.

So then deciding not to date left me wondering if I would ever learn how to love anyone. It left me wondering if I would always be alone. I couldn't stand the thought of that- a lifetime of celibacy is so much to ask of anyone. So what was I supposed to do? Start dating guys? Just hang out with friends constantly? Become a recluse? After deliberating and dabbling in new things, I think I have found my path.
"I'm so alive. I'm so enlightened. I can barely survive a night in my mind. I've got a plan. I'm gonna find out just how boring I am, and have a good time- Cause ever since I tried trying not to find every little meaning in my life it's been fine. I've been cool with my new golden rule . . .Stop trying to figure it out (you try to figure, you try to figure it out), it will only bring you down" (John Mayer).

Saturday, November 3, 2007

We Are All One Big Learning Gang

"Man I just saw something. I'm glad that you are here. I got to start to thinking, and seeing things so clear. . . What happened in November is what I needed. And I'm sorry, that it shows, but life ain't so bad you know. Now the sky's such a sweet blue. You made this come true. My heart feels so new." (The Rocket Summer).
I went to the temple today and it was an amazing experience. My head feels so clear right now. I feel really secure.

While I was in the temple, some things that my mom said came to me. I went home this past weekend and my mom spoke in Sacrament Meeting. She said some beautiful things that I think were directed towards me but that she didn't know how to say to me so she said them from the pulpit instead. Here are some excerpts from her talk (it's all her words except for the two Patricia Holland quotes):
“It’s easy to love those that are kind to us and we’re friends with, but we need to also love those that we have a difficult time loving.”

“Even when people bring upon themselves their own misery, we still have a responsibility to love them.”

“And so I went through and I tried to find characteristics of the Savior’s love, and I came up with four . . . And that is the Savior’s love is accepting, compassionate, empathetic, and unselfish.”

“The Savior’s love is accepting. He loved the leper, the Samaritan, the sinner, children, and even those, or you could say especially those, who society shunned.”

“The Lord is trying to teach us that He loves those who have utilized His atonement, and they in turn love Him.”

“What we want most of all is the approval, praise, and unconditional love of others. Can we give less that what we desire for ourselves?” (Patricia Holland).

“The Saviors love is compassionate. He healed the sick, calmed the storm, raised the dead, fed the hungry, served and allowed others to serve.”

“One of my favorite stories about His compassion, I think for me as a mother, is the story when He raises the son of a widow. In Luke chapter 7:11-15 it tells this story . . . The Savior gave real relief to the people. He actually met their needs.”

“As part of His infinite atonement, Jesus . . . has borne the sins, griefs, sorrows, and declared Jacob, ‘the pains of every man, woman, and child’ (2 Nephi 9:21). Having been perfected in His empathy, Jesus knows how to succor us . . . Nothing is beyond His redeeming reach or His encircling empathy” (Patricia Holland, Ensign, May 1987, 72).
Isn't it beautiful! What a powerful message of acceptance and love from the Savior.

"Past all thought of 'if' or 'when' - no use resisting. Abandon thought, and let the dream descend. What raging fire shall flood the soul? What rich desire unlocks its door? What sweet seduction lies before us? Past the point of no return, the final threshold, what warm, unspoken secrets will we learn? Beyond the point of no return" (Andrew Lloyd Weber).

I've never felt this healthy before

"I'll give you countless amounts of outright acceptance if you want it. I will give you encouragement to choose the path that you want if you need it. You can speak of anger and doubts your fears and freak outs and I'll hold it. You can share your so-called shame filled accounts of times in your life and I won't judge it. (and there are no strings attached to it)" (Alanis Morissette).
I have never felt this alive- this complete- this whole. It is an overload of me when before I was always ignoring me. It is wonderful and exciting and.

I claim to be indecisive. I talk like I'm confused. I say I don't know what I want or what I am going to do. The reality is my actions don't match up to that greatest of pretends. If you follow my actions, then I have already decided.

This post is really just an excuse to post lyrics. I'm going to go to the Temple today.
"You were taken with me to a point, a case of careful what you wish for, but what you knew was enough to begin. And so you called and courted fiercely, so you reached out, entirely fearless, and yet you knew of reservation and how it serves. And I salute you for your courage, and I applaud your perseverance, and I embrace you for your faith in the face of adversarial forces that I represent" (Alanis Morissette).

Friday, November 2, 2007

To being an us for once,

"You know what to say and you say it. You know the rules and you obey them, But I know you are alone. No structure feels like home to you" (Cary Judd).
Last night I saw the dress rehearsal for BYU's production of Chekhov's The Seagull. It was pretty good. There were two major themes that I and others saw in the play that I would like to blog about. One is the conflicts between artistic pursuits and family life. On my straight blog I used to blog about that conflict a lot. (I am an art major working towards a BFA)

The other theme was that the characters all want what they can't have, and the result is their unhappiness. The play uses realism to show the way people naturally want what they can't have and the pain that results from that. After the play, we all stayed for a conversation with the cast, and this theme seemed to dominate the conversation. Many commented that if only the characters would have changed their desires, then they could have been happy.

My first reaction was sarcastic, right, just switch what you want--- it's so easy. Just don't want what you can't have. But the more I was thinking about it, the more I have been trying to figure out what it is that we can't have. I used to think that an open relationship with a guy was something I couldn't have. The reality is, though, that I can have it. I can have a gay relationship. I don't want a sexual relationship with a man though. I want what I can't have.

So what are the things that I can't have? I can't have the attractions magically disappear. I can't have a gay relationship that is condoned by the Church. I can't have a gay relationship and hold a temple recommend. I can't expect to be happy living a double life. These are things that I literally can't do. I think that maybe there is some merit to what the play was showing then. Inasmuch as I want these things that I can't have, I can change what I want. I have done so with the first, so I can do so with the rest.

The question that remains then, is what can I have? Perhaps once I know what I can have, I will be able to intentionally start wanting it.
"But you're perfect tonight, captured by satellite. Perfect tonight, in silent waves of electric light. You are perfect tonight. You look for ghosts in empty basements, though real people are more amazing, Cause we all have something to touch even if it isn't much, not too much" (Cary Judd).