Wednesday, January 30, 2008

I tried to wear another face

"I found the pieces in my hand. They were always there, it just took some time for me to understand. You gave me words I just can't say. So if nothing else, I'll just hold on while you drift away. Cause everything you wanted me to hide, is everything that makes me feel alive. . ."
Is it bad that every time I hear a song about breaking up I think about the Church?

I've noticed that my Bishop has given up on me. In September I approached him to tell him that I felt like there was a war over my soul between homosexuality and Mormonism. I told him that not only was the Church loosing the war, it wasn't even fighting for me. He proceeded to meet with me over the next few weeks to try and encourage me, but he quickly ran out of things to say. I'll be honest, the visits were annoying and often felt like interrogations based on my roommate's remarks to him.

In early December I told him that I planned on living an open and active homosexual lifestyle after I graduated BYU because I didn't feel like the Church provided me with a celibate lifestyle I could handle. He didn't know what to say, and said that he'd like to meet with me and the stake president because he just didn't have anything good to say despite petitioning the Lord. He said he would ask the Stake President if that was ok and arrange the meeting. The meeting never happened.

I have started to consistently ditch Sunday School and Priesthood meetings. I don't go to ward prayer. I don't go to any of the activities. I make statements of non-testimony to my roommates. I am starting to become, *gasp*, partially less active. All of this is intentional on my part, and yet I can't help but feeling a little disappointed that no one is doing anything about it.

No one is trying to reach out to me and convince me to stay. No one is commenting that they miss me at meetings and activities. My bishop hasn't said anything to me since that last December meeting. Even my family, which desperately wants me to stay active in the Church, doesn't want to talk about it. I love the Church; it was everything to me in my youth, but it isn't trying to keep me. Now I'm not so vain as to think that I am important enough to make something fight for me, but still. I realize that if they were reaching out to me I'd be complaining about it and resisting their outstretched hands, but still.

You know, if you knew how hard it was for me to let go of this Church, then maybe you would realize just how important ones sexuality is, and just how important my sexuality is to me.

"I held the pieces of my soul. I was shattered and I wanted you to come and make me whole. Then I saw you yesterday. But you didn't notice, and you just walked away. Cause everything you wanted me to hide, is everything that makes me feel alive" (Vertical Horizon).

16 comments:

Potentate said...

*reaches out*

Stay, Peter. Please?

[əɪ̯ wʌndɹ̟] said...

I have experienced something quite similar.

I think that when it comes to homosexuality, some in the church would almost rather that we do disappear, rather than try to keep us active. They realise that they haven't any answers for us, and it is easier if they can ignore us and this problem. Of course, that is not true for everyone, but it is a trend I have noticed.

I think it is interesting that your Bishop told you he didn't have anything good to tell you. I think that is quite likely because he thinks about homosexuality in a way that would preclude getting any positive revelation. By that I mean that he probably wouldn't even consider that it could be good for you (and me, and others) to actually have a gay relationship, and that the church at this time, cannot, because of the mentality of both leaders and members, give us what we need. That we might well be healthier and happier living outside of the church and its strictures.

I couldn't honestly tell you that I think you should stay. That would be dishonest of me. I think you should do whatever it is that you feel you want to do, what makes you happiest, and healthiest. For me, that was to not attend church, or any church-related activity, and to date, and actively pursue a relationship.

It is really hard to let go of all that we have grown up with, and believed for so long. It took me several years after my mission to realise that the Church, as it is right now, never was going to allow me to be happy.

When I was becoming inactive, I was also somewhat disappointed as to how easy it was to just disappear. In one of my last wards, (which wasn't very big), no one besides my roommates (who were less- or inactive themselves) even noticed that I was less active. The bishop thought I was totally active and was a fine upstanding member of the church. HA! And then at my last ward at BYU, I didn't go to church even once, and while I did get about 2 visits from my home teachers, that was the extent of any contact to the church I had. And actually, while I was surprised as to how little it seemed people tried to get me back to church, I was glad that it was so. Maybe they just respected my decision (or maybe they just didn't notice).

Anyways... I guess my point is that I do understand what you are talking about.

Stay if you want, go if you want. Just don't do anything because of anyone else. Do what's right for you.

October Rising said...

i may be stating the obvious here but... i really don't think anyone in the church knows what to do with us. as far as no one in the church begging you to stay...maybe that could be a good thing...you are free to stay or you are free to leave...and it's what ever you want to make of it, that's the essence of agency.

Remus said...

They don't want to notice us and acknowledge us for who we are. I feel as if we have been put on hold until they can figure out what to do with us. But rather, we are leaving, because God and the Church isn't answering our needs.

Sean said...

Remus,
I feel like God is fulfilling my needs, but maybe I'm just an anomaly. I've sort of been one my whole life. I also feel like we haven't been put on hold. I feel like they have given us guidelines and commandments to follow just like every other member of the church has. We have to find our own ways to be spiritual and it might not be just reading scriptures and praying. I have found that my most spiritual experiences comes from pondering and meditating. Try something else to find the spirit and the connection with God.

Peter,
I've experienced this too. I've also thought about it a lot. Here at BYU it is hard to notice that someone is not there because there are so many people coming and going that it is impossible to know who is still there and who is not. Plus if you didn't have very good relationships with people in your ward, they usually don't notice that you are not there anymore. Those are my two cents on people not noticing you being gone.

About the bishop, I'd like to say the same sort of thing. You would be surprised how busy he is and how many people he actually has to work with. I'm sure that he still thinks about you and still prays for you. Like you said in your post, he, like many others, sees that there petitioning is turning you farther away from the church. So why keep doing it and pushing you farther away? There is probably a lot more to it than you think.

That same thing goes with your family.

Those are my two cents. They are not an attack are anything. They are just my thoughts and experiences.

Sean

Calvin said...

All of this is intentional on my part, and yet I can't help but feeling a little disappointed that no one is doing anything about it.

To be honest, it can be kind of obvious that actions like these are cries for attention. Personally, when I recognize something as such, I don't feel like indulging the crier. Certainly the members of your ward could do better, but I wonder if that doesn't have something to do with it.

By your own standards, though, wouldn't the ward members do better to stop preaching to you, mind their own business, and show you how happy the gospel is making them?

For what it's worth, I really wish you'd stay. It's so sad to see everyone leaving. It would be a noble thing to put your faith above your sexuality.

Foxx said...

The noble thing and the right thing aren't always the same.

Peter said...

"Now I'm not so vain as to think that I am important enough to make something fight for me, but still."

I've been thinking further along that thought and do feel like the Church is missing out as it looses me. When I look back at the thing things I wrote and spoke for the Church, the mission that I served, the testimony I bore, the talent I provided, the callings I served in,-- I was a dang good asset. It bothers me that the Church doesn't care that it is loosing such an asset.

Peter said...

*reaches out*

Thanks autocratic one. ;-)

I think that when it comes to homosexuality, some in the church would almost rather that we do disappear

You're right. It is so much easier to ignore a concept that doesn't fit into the plan that has been drilled into your head. Rather than changing the plan, or finding a place for the new concept, it is easiest just to drop the concept and not think about it.

we are leaving, because God and the Church isn't answering our needs.

I'm going to make a difference between God and the Church. I think God is answering my needs. I see His divine hand turns events quickly in my favor to help me be happy in ways that are too often coincidental to be a coincidence. For example, Remus, God lead me to your blog at the exact time in my life that I needed to help me deal with some family events a week later. The Church, on the other hand, is not meeting my needs.

he, like many others, sees that there petitioning is turning you farther away from the church.
True. Because it isn't what I feel is the right kind of petitioning, the Bishops attempts have been pushing me further away.

So why keep doing it and pushing you farther away?

Hmmm. Maybe that's what I want and these feelings are my subconscious self wanting the Church to help me leave it by being too aggressive and annoying. Maybe I am just too chicken to leave on my own. I need to be pushed away.

it can be kind of obvious that actions like these are cries for attention.

That is an awfully cynical way to look at things. Do you really think that every time someone goes less active they are just looking for attention. Judging from our low retention and activity rates, I wonder if we ought to be giving more attention, then to our members. President Hinckley talked a lot about how much more we need to be investing in less active members and new converts.

It's so sad to see everyone leaving.

You are having a hard time seeing people leave the Church, especially since you have decided to reassert your faithfulness to it. It sounds to me like you are struggling to know how to prevent all these others from leaving, but you don't know how. That is the point of this post. The Church isn't trying to keep us because they just don't know what to say anymore.

It would be a noble thing to put your faith above your sexuality.

Why is putting faith over sexuality more noble than putting sexuality over faith? Both are humongous sacrifices. I think if you knew me better and knew what my religion meant to me, you would find it a noble thing to let that go for love.

For the record, I am still a man of faith, even if I am putting faith in something different than Mormonism, it is still rooted in a Higher Power and in the need for atonement through the Savior.

Chris said...

Is it bad that every time I hear a song about breaking up I think about the Church?

I was listening to the Dreamgirls soundtrack about a year ago and the song "Listen" suddenly struck me as one that gives voice to many of the feelings I had about the LDS Church as I was coming out and then leaving it.

Here they are:

Listen to the song here in my heart
A melody I start but can't complete

Listen to the sound from deep within
Its only beginning to find release

Ohh the time has come for my dreams to be heard
They will not be pushed aside and turned
Into your own, all 'cause you won't listen

[chorus]
Listen
I am alone at a crossroads
I'm not at home in my own home
And I've tried and tried
To say whats on my mind
You should have known
Now I'm done believing you
You don't know what I'm feeling
I'm more than what
You've made of me
I followed the voice, you gave to me
But now I've gotta find my own
You should have listened

There was someone here inside
Someone I thought had died
So long ago
Oh I'm screaming out
And my dreams will be heard
They will not be pushed Aside or turned
Into your own
All 'cause you won't listen

[chorus]
Listen
I am alone at a crossroads
I'm not at home in my own home
And I've tried and tried
To say whats on my mind
You should have known
Now I'm done believing you
You don't know what I'm feeling
I'm more than what
You've made of me
I followed the voice, you gave to me
But now I've gotta find my own
You should have listened

I don't know where I belong
But I'll be moving on
If you don't, if you won't

Listen to the song here in my heart
A melody I start, but I will complete

Now I am done believing you
You don't know not what I am feeling
I'm more than what you've made of me
I followed the voice you think you gave to me

But now I got to find my own - my own

draco said...

"And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity."

[əɪ̯ wʌndɹ̟] said...

Several thoughts:

Chris, everytime I listen to that song I think the same thing. I feel that for many of us, we have been is a somewhat abusive relationship with the church. Like the Deena character in Dreamgirls, I have surprised myself.

I don't know that sacrificing a fulfilled life for a religion is the noble thing to do, let alone the right one.

I agree that while the church is rather callously ignoring us and shoving us aside, God is not doing so. I think that he is telling many of us that the right path for us may not be the one the church, our family, and our friends may have envisioned (for us).

I don't think that it is so sad that so many of us are leaving, but that the church is pretending that we're not, and that being gay and mormon is something that their conference talks can fix. It is sad that they cannot face up to the reality and gravity of the situation. They way the church is dealing with this seems really juvenile to me.

Calvin, why do you wish he'd stay? Because it would make you feel better that you're staying? So you would have someone to commiserate with about your plight? I don't want to be rude, but they way you said it, and the context you said it in made it sound sort of empty of any strong belief or conviction that his staying would be better for him. Rather just that it would make you feel better. Not that I don't understand that. I'm sure that the church would rather that we all stayed, regardless of whether we felt that any of the problems had been resolved or not. Rather it would make the church feel better about itself (if the church were anthropomorphised).

Sneakers in Sacrament said...

What i would love to see in sacrament meeting is two guys sitting together holding hands. It is much easier on the church and it's members for homosexuals to leave. Members of the church do not want to have anything that could confront the idea that the church is 100% and completely perfect. If we leave we can be forgotten and marginalized. "He left because he couldn't live the commandments." It is kinda a slap in the face,to the members and the establishment, to stay in the church, yet it requires one to give so much to simply be hated.

Neal said...

hmmm. So if a Bishop who doesn't know what do do with you backs off then that means the Church and God don't want you? I think that's a stretch. Maybe that just means he has something to learn and is as imperfect as the rest of us.

My experience - you can talk yourself out of, or let your self "drop out" of just about anything if you pity-party enough. Each of us is responsible for our OWN salvation - not your Bishop. Or your Mom and Dad. Or your friends.

The other question to ask - has there ever been someone you knew in your Ward that was going "inactive", and did you make a special effort to seek them out and include them and make sure that didn't happen? (I've ignored these people lots of times myself, I'm ashamed to say) If not, why should you expect from others what you did not give yourself?

I've been through this line of thinking in my own life. Ultimately, it doesn't matter what others think or do; it matters what I think or do! In the end, each of us will stand alone before the Lord and give an accounting of our stewardship. What my Bishop may or may not have done will be something he has to account for, not me. I just need to be damn sure I'm towing the line.

Neal

Just_Listen said...

I understand exactly how you feel, Peter. However, it raises some interesting questions. You said that you are distancing yourself from the church on purpose and are upset that people aren't contacting you and worrying over you. Are you sure they're not worrying about you? And, if they were, would you actually want to know, and would you actually accept them?

Crow's View said...

Don't give up. You are only beaten when you do. You have a lot to contribute. Don't let Satan win this fight.