Monday, July 11, 2016

Say Something

I'm going to be honest, because I don't know what else to do. I apologize in advance because this wont be eloquent, and it won't be pretty. A ton has changed since I last wrote. I've left BYU. I've left the church, and i've come out publicly. All fantastic, wonderful things. And I thought making all these changes, cutting ties with the oppressive system of BYU and the LDS church, FINALLY being able to be me with out looking over my shoulder every minuet of every day, I thought after all that I could finally be happy. I expected that my life would start looking better for me, maybe I would be able to see life in a more vibrant, beautiful way. Somehow, outside of the church, the world looks even darker. The world is a mess. People are killing each other, killing us, and nothing is changing. The world seems like its been thrust into some hellish nightmare built on hate and intolerance. Orlando, Black lives matter, Dallas, five suicides in five days. Friends and relatives fighting tooth and nail for their damn weapons while the bodies continue to pile up, oblivious to the pain being caused.

Whats worse? God is no where to be seen.

Ever since my mission I've felt nothing. No love from this so-called loving Heavenly Father. My alleged constant companion has left me, not intermittently, but permanently since I returned from my mission. No amount of prayer, fasting, tears or curses has changed that. And I want to make something clear, this isn't since leaving the church. This has been since I returned from my mission three years ago. Like God used me for his divine purpose then discarded me like trash. I don't understand it. I'm not perfect, but I've tried damn hard. I spent over twenty years in the closet, trusting God to fix me, or make my life work somehow. I pursued my education and my career based on my patriarchal blessing, trusting that "God" had a plan for me, and that he would open doors for me. I believed my mission president when he told me, after two years of tireless and fully devoted service that said god would guide me, and prepare a way for me. Where is he? This God who loves me so much, why is he hiding? Is it my sexuality? Or maybe it is the choices that I have made of education and employment and religion that disqualify me from his eternal love. Decisions I made in his divinely inflicted absence. I don't know. I don't know what has happened, but I am broken, battered, and I can't hold on much longer.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

My Pain

I'm sitting here, five o'clock in the morning, after a day spent battling depression, and the ever present self-doubt. Spurned on, no doubt, by Adele's crooning in my ear, I have decided to write my heartbreak at the LDS Church's most recent change. I specifically state the church, because if this change is from God, then life is not worth living, and death would be just as bad.

I am sure that this topic needs no introduction nor clarification, but The Church of Jesus Christ [sic] of Latter Day Saints has recently clarified its stance on Gay marriage. Shockingly enough, they still hate it. My pain comes not from that specification, but rather from the depth of hate shown with this policy change. From now on, children of gay couples will not be granted baptism. I am not going to dwell on that much. Many people much more intelligent than I have already said much more than I ever could. I want to talk (or, more honestly, rant) about the subject of apostasy.

I fully embrace the fact that I struggle with my faith. Yes, sometimes I even fall into the category of a heretic, but I never in my life thought I would ever be labeled an apostate, much less labeled such because of a sincere desire to love and be loved. Now, as soon as I do get married to another male that I will love, and who will love me, I will forever wear this label. This label will earn me church disciplinary action, and that action will likely be excommunication for said apostasy. In the Church Handbook for Bishops and Stake Presidents, excommunication for apostate individuals is justified by a scripture in third Nephi, chapter 18 verse 31, which states that "But if he repent not he shall not be numbered among my people, that he may not destroy my people." Destroy. DESTROY?!?! Yes, the Mormon church is afraid that the eternal doctrine of "love" (which was mentioned numerous times in the official statement released in the form of a highly scripted Q&A session) and forgiveness that they claim to teach will be DESTROYED by.......what? More love? Acceptance?

Let me get straight to the truth as I see it. Since Thursday, calls to suicide hotlines have grown. Depression has grown. Many of us who were finally toying with the idea of becoming more active in Church were slammed face first into the gutter. People are literally dying, and the church is trying their damndest to push the LGBT community as far away away from them as possible.

So to the church I say this. This is not a passing fad of immorality. This is not recreational marijuana, nor is it premarital sex. This is real life. This is our reality and our hell, and our blood is on your hands.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

My Return to the Blog-o-sphere!!!!

Hey Guys,

It's been a really long time. First off, I am alive. I am currently listening to "Miley Cyrus and her Dead Pets," and thoroughly pleased with life. The last few months haven't been overwhelmingly good, so its nice to feel content and happy again. Here is a scatter-brained, disorganized recap of the high points.

Really, I just want to catch all of you up on my life, or at least the triumphs I have been having lately. First off, I came out to my family. All of them. My grandmother and parents have known for a while, but I decided to make it official. A big thing that prompted this was an article I read online. it was not a good article. It talked about a gay man in the Salt Lake area who was brutally attacked. (article here. CW violence) It was graphic, terrifying, and to be honest, the entire article made me want to retreat into my shell, and hide. Make my life a little easier by following the Status Quo. Almost immediately after that, I realized that the best way to get acts of violence like this to stop, is through visibility, and so I came out to my brothers within that week. 

They took it amazingly. I felt no love lost. Honestly, nothing has changed at all, except my middle brother is more likely to bring up drag queens in conversations. (Yes, I am a fan of RuPaul.) By the time I made it home for vacation, everyone in my immediate family knew. It was amazing. The entire time my family was camping, I slowly turned up the heat, talking more and more openly about my experiences with being gay. The miraculous thing was watching my parents (who have told me to not get too comfortable being gay) relaxing, and starting to even make little jokes and comments. Again, it was amazing. 

The best part of the entire trip home was our family campfire devotional. My dad lead the discussion, and though I have no idea what gospel topic he discussed, I do remember his testimony. In his testimony, he talked about how happy he was when he was able to watch his sons doing things that make them happy, whether it be performing, playing sports, or succeeding at school. And then, with tears in his eyes, he expressed his love for us. He told us that no matter what we do, he will always love us. That he wants us to be happy, It was amazing. I never thought I would hear that coming from my dad, who has routinely ignored my sexuality. 

If all this is not enough to make me feel #blessed, I got a letter from one of my grandmothers, expressing support, It was all and all an amazing trip. 

I know I am lucky. I know that many of my friends, no, my family in the LGBTQIA+ community do not have the same support that I do. If I have any advice to give, it would be give it time. No, time does not heal all wounds, and unfortunately some people will never be accepting of things they do not understand, but I can say that in the last two years since being outed to my parents, I have seen great improvement. And if your parents, family, and friends never come around, always remember that you are loved. I love you, and there are others in your same shoes. Reach out if you need help. 

And lastly, if you have not checked out Mika's new album, entitled "No Place in Heaven," check it out. As a gay man, he captured exactly what we all go through in his own eccentric and almost psychedelically happy way. I find it amazingly cathartic.

Thats all for now! Look for more coming from me soon.

Update/correction/whatever: Good News!! turns out that the incident in the article I read was faked. Never-the-less, homophobia is real, and the artilce still had a profound effect on me. 

Sunday, January 4, 2015

When God is no longer safe.

BYU is failing the LGBT Community. Trust me, I don't say that lightly, and I am not simply throwing it out here for shock value. I firmly believe that Brigham Young University is failing the LDS LGBT community, in fact, I feel that it is appropriate to say that this university's core ideal of helping students reach God seemingly does not apply to me and those like me.

Lets start with some background. Three months ago I wrote a post about a mission companion who had made some mistakes. (If you're new to my blog, or need a refresher, click here) His Bishop was everything you could ever ask for.....understanding, caring, genuine, and ultimately, this inspired man did all he could to help my friend. I saw this story as both a testament to the church, and a tragedy, the tragedy being that I could not expect or even hope for the same treatment with my bishop, as Homosexuality in and of itself is a few gray millimeters away from eternal damnation.

The time has come when I need ecclesiastical advise. I have made mistakes. I do things I know I shouldn't, and regardless of how I feel about the church I know that God has standards that I need to keep, and I know I am not keeping them. (Where to find those standards is the topic of another post.) Leaving the church is something I have struggled with, and I understand that it is highly likely that I will eventually leave the Church. That isn't a problem, the problem is that I do not feel myself becoming distant from the church, rather I find myself being distanced from God himself. I can live with out the church but I do not want to leave God behind. What I need is someone to help me, someone I can talk to about my mistakes, feelings, and struggles. This is where BYU comes in.

Most of the time at BYU I feel like the main character of George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece 1984; Winston. I feel like I am a threat to the perfect society to which I lukewarmly belong. Due to this feeling, no matter how much as I want to talk to my religious leader and find peace and understanding, I know with that decision comes the opportunity for my expulsion from school. Not just school though, my life. Provo is monopolized by this school and getting kicked out of BYU would also mean getting kicked out of my home and losing my job. My life would be left in shambles, and what would my crime be? Seeking to draw closer to "God." Recognizing my mistakes and attempting to fix them. For this reason I will continue to hide. I will do what I need to. I will lie. I will attempt to the best of my feeble ability to draw close to God, and go through the motions, because I want to keep my life. Leaving BYU, as appealing as that sounds, does not feel like the right path for me, so I will continue with my current path until I feel it is time for a change. I will continue going to church, studying, and standing up for my personal beliefs where and when I can. What I won't do is progress. A goldfish will only grow as big as its tank, and my testimony will only grow as far as the red tape surrounding it will allow it to. I don't feel comfortable discussing my challenges with the world, or with the church. I don't have faith that my bishop would be concerned about my eternal welfare as much as he would be concerned about notifying the proper authorities. Instead of focusing on repentance and improvement I see him focusing on investigation and reprove.  Maslow's Hierarchy of needs states that until someone's basic needs are satisfied, they will not be able to worry about self actualization. Self actualization refers to personal growth and progression, something the Church does very well at. To me, that religious self actualization will uproot my safety and security. By forcing me, and many other LGBT individuals into a situation like this, BYU fails. How can someone grow spiritually if the very steps the need to take to do so will violate their personal needs? It won't happen.

Monday, September 1, 2014

Double Standards

Yesterday I visited an old friend from my mission. We were always super close, and had great times together on our missions. He was the companion I was closest to. We were soo close that when issues came between us, all either of us had to do was say, "Hey Elder, we need to talk." Where ever we were, at home, in the car, anywhere, we would talk, and fix what ever was wrong. It was awesome to see him again, and true to form we had a great night. At the end of the night he opened up to me, and shared with me a few issues he is facing. He has made some mistakes with some girls he dated, and has spoken to his bishop. Being employed by the church, and attending a church school, he was in a tough spot. Any church disciplinary action could cause him expulsion from school and loss of his job. With that understanding, his bishop worked with him, allowing him to experience repentance without completely ruining his life. My friend kept his job and his endorsement. What a kind bishop.

As we were talking I could not help but think of what would happen to me in a similar situation. I attend a church school. I live in approved housing which is required to adhere to BYU's code of conduct. Conceivably if I fell under church discipline I could also be expelled, kicked out of my home, and left with nothing. With this realization I decided it would be a good idea to find out exactly what the honor code stated about homosexuality, and so I looked it up. I am going to summarize it, but the honor code in its entirety can be read here. To the straight BYU community the honor code states that "sexual not permitted." For the LGBT BYU community, the rules are significantly more constricting. The blanket term "homosexual behavior" is used here. Anything that "give[s] expression to homosexual feelings" is deemed inappropriate homosexual behavior. In short, holding hands with a guy, cuddling on a couch, even a gay date could be described as an honor code infringement.

Now, I want to return to the story of my friend, but I am going to put myself in his shoes. I have been on a few dates with a guy, one thing lead to another, and we ended up making out, an insignificantly minor mistake in the straight BYU community. What would happen to me? Assuming I tell my bishop, would he be fair, or would I lose my endorsement? If I had gone further than a make out session, what then? I don't believe that I would be given any leeway. In fact, there is no doubt in my mind that I would lose everything if I were to violate the law of chastity with another man. It would not be seen as an honest mistake, a learning opportunity or a slight set back; it would be Satan himself manifesting through me and would be treated as such.

How can there be this much disparity between sin? Sex is sex right? Why is chastity grotesquely stricter for me than my friend? How can a loving God allow that? My opinion is that he doesn't. This is not God, it is man. The church needs to eradicate this double standard and begin living what is preached. If the plan of salvation is universal, and the commandments likewise, then let it be so.

I want to talk to my bishop. I want spiritual guidance and direction for my life. I want to be able to ask questions and receive answers, but I am terrified of what that will lead to. Once out there is no going back. I will always be seen as "at risk." I want help not shame.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Moving along

I came out to my straight roommate a few days ago. It was a very awkward conversation. I didn't really lead up to it, except for mentioning the girl from my previous post. Then I said something to the effect, "we're not together because I am gay." Ohh the silence! It felt like it was going to last forever, and just when I was about to get up and start shopping for a new apartment, my roommate speaks.

"Wait, so she doesn't have a boyfriend? You lied to me?"

And those were the first words he spoke to me as a gay man. No condemnation, no disgust, and no searching to determine if I thought he was cute, just playful banter. After a few minutes of joking, he told me it would take a few days for him to wrap his mind around this new information. I assured him I was exactly the same as I was before.

Three days later he walks into the room and asks, "so, you're gay? No problem."

It was an amazing feeling. No negative feelings, no distrust, in fact we are closer now than ever. Most importantly though, I am free. I don't lie, cover my tracks, or hide anything. It is an amazing feeling.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

My Gay identity.

I was recently shown a video from Ty Mansfield, in which he discusses "Same Gender Attraction.(I'm not to fond of that phrase, but that's for another post.)" You can see the original video here. For those of you who do not know, Ty Mansfield is an LDS gay man who is married to an LDS woman, and has two kids. I want to say first off that I am not happy about the publicity Ty is receiving. I am truly happy that he found someone, got married and now has a family, but in my mind, the Ty Mansfield story is a fairy tale, and I have just as much of a chance to end up married as I do to meet said "princess" in one glass slipper. The cold truth of the matter is that lasting mixed marriages are not the norm, and I am afraid that the LDS LGBT community will begin to see him like the rest of the LDS community does, the model gay life.

Ok, opinions on Ty concluded I want to present to you a short discussion of the inherit complications I see in the Church and its views on Identity, particularly some of the views that Ty shared.

Firstly I would like to start with a talk given by one of my favorite General Authorities, Elder Holland, in the October 2007 General Conference. The whole talk can be found here. Before I get into that, I want to make it clear that I am not attacking the church, or Elder Holland, I am just trying to prove a point. I believe that the church is honestly trying, they just haven't quite gotten it all together yet. Maybe they are waiting on a big chunk of revelation. Elder Holland states that "If your life is in harmony with the commandments, then you are worthy to serve in the Church, enjoy full fellowship with the members, attend the temple, and receive all the blessings of the Savior's Atonement." He later states, when referring to the ultimate goal of temple marriage that some LGBT individuals "may never be free of same-gender attraction in this life." Now here is the big burning question in my mind. If it is not a sin, it does not hold us back from full fellowship and blessings in the church, and is in no way hurting anyone else, then why do we need to be "freed" from it?? Personally, seeing a cute guy does a lot to make me happy, and you know what else makes me happy? Music. Performing. Do I need to be freed from those as well to make room for my eternal progression? God has blessed the world with millions of personal differences, unique attributes that create different people, and being gay is one of mine. Why take that away from me? Why take that away from the world?

Now on to the subject of Identity, particularly assimilating a Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, or Transgender identity. In his message, Ty states that it was not until he shed his gay identity that he was able to marry a woman, and thus partake of the church's "perfect life." I can only speak for myself, but in my twenty some-odd years I have discovered the exact opposite. Accepting myself as a gay man has helped me soo much more than my 20+ years of denial. Let me give you some insight into my life, and hopefully you will be able to see where I am coming from.

 When I was about 14 I found some pornographic videos on my home computer's hard drive (Yup, we are diving right in). As the good Mormon boy that I was, I immediately closed the program, and probably even shut off the computer. For a month after, my perception of that short clip changed from disgust, to interest, and eventually I came back, ultimately becoming addicted to pornography. I eventually noticed that my tastes were not the same as my friends, but even as I actively pursued homosexuality through the internet, I would not admit to myself I was gay. I did not know much about homosexuality, but I knew it was bad. I knew the story of Sodom and Gomorrah, and though I was addicted to gay pornography, I refused to be gay. In fact, I dated a girl for over a year, holding on to her through many instances of her infidelity. In my mind, that's what a good, straight, Mormon boy would do. The pornography became my outlet, and though my internet history disagreed, I thoroughly denied my sexuality. As I continued to deny my feelings, my addiction increased. I entertained thoughts of suicide, pulled away from my family, and spiraled into depression. So, why am I sharing all of this? In my mind, all of the above were caused in a large part by my inability to fully accept myself for who I was, and who I still am. Because of the stigmas attached to homosexuality, my shame, and everything the Church had taught me, I did what I thought I was supposed  and tried to bury my true gay self. I tried my damnedest to be that perfect Mormon boy, to squeeze into a mold that just was not me, and it caused a slew of problems. It is only now that I have accepted myself as a Gay Mormon that I am able step back and get ahold of my life. I am happy again, and not ashamed. I fear for the future, but I am no longer trying to be someone I am not.

I guess that the short of this post is that I am not holding out for a miracle. I am not planning on getting married. I don't want a life like Ty's, and now that I have accepted the fabulous gay that I am, I am happy, and at peace with myself. Sure my convictions are a little shaky, and I have no idea what is going to happen to me when I die, but I am happy and secure. I choose to accept myself. I have walked the path of suppressed sexuality, and that path brought me problems and heartache. If anyone reading this is in a similar situation, please, just be yourself. Being anyone else is a hellish existence.