Tuesday, July 17, 2012

The Gay Lifestyle

More than once when talking with a person who I wasn't out to, he or she has said, "I don't hate gay people. I just don't approve of the gay lifestyle."

The gay lifestyle.

Ugh. Makes me shudder. That is my least favorite phrase ever. Because every time I hear someone say it, I want to grab them and shake them and say what does that even mean???

Today I'm going to set out to answer the question. This is what MY gay lifestyle is.

Here are some things I do every day:

  • spend too much time on the internet
  • eat food that's probably bad for me
  • wonder when I should schedule my next dentist appointment
  • work
  • sleep...sometimes too much
Here are some things I worry about:
  • money
  • the future
  • school
  • my family
  • my relationship
  • my friends
Here are some things I do for fun:
  • play the cello
  • write stories
  • read books
  • spend time with friends and family
  • Facebook
  • plan
Here are some things I want to do in the future:
  • get married
  • own a house
  • travel around the world
  • have a steady job that I love
  • graduate college
  • train service dogs
  • write a book
Here are some things I do with my girlfriend:
  • bake
  • watch movies
  • listen to music
  • do homework
  • go on dates
  • eat lots of food
  • cuddle
And here's the thing...I am still unsure what's so insidious about any of this. This is my lifestyle and I'm gay...so which part of this is so terrible?

Monday, June 18, 2012

Line Upon Line

I just had a talk with my dad that was actually kind of excellent.

I had resolved last night to try to talk to him about coming out to my mom, but my resolve was waning.

He was outside doing yardwork and I was sitting watching him. He took a break and sat beside me. And we began to talk.

He told me that he was worried about my mom. That she's been questioning her testimony. And she think that God doesn't love her anymore.

I told him that was pretty ironic considering she's made it sound like I'm not worth loving if I don't have a testimony.

He said that he has never heard her say or imply anything like that.

I told him, yes, I know. That's just how I feel, how I've come to feel from things she's said.

A pause.

"I need to tell her," I said. "About me."


"I can't keep lying to her. It's not fair."

"To her or to you?" he said.

"To her."


He got up and started shoveling again. I was frustrated because I thought that he was just going to disregard the conversation.

But then we started talking.

He talked about how now is not the time. He's been trying to work on her little by little. He's been trying to bring her around. She's not ready yet. I know he could be making excuses. But he gave me examples. He sat with me. He was willing to talk.

He told me, "The Bretheren have told us that we don't know what causes this but none of us are in a position to judge."

He told me that he had given the high priests a good talking to when they started to say homophobic things.

He said that he had asked my mom if one of their kids turned out gay if she would go to their wedding. And she said, "I don't know."

He said he wants us to live close to them.

He was understanding. He took the time to see my relationship as instrumental to my life. He talked the way I talk - planning on it influencing my decision making.

It was better than I expected. I'm not coming out to my mom anytime soon. But progress is happening.

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Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Law of Chastity

I showed up late to Relief Society today so it took me a couple minutes to realize what day it was.

It was Law of Chastity day.

For any non-Mormon readers I've got, The Law of Chastity is basically the rule that says not to have sex before marriage. Sounds simple, right? It should be. But it never is.

Like I said, I showed up late, so I missed the first half. The second half was the Second Counselor in the bishopric and his wife just kind of...talking. They said that sex is the icing on the cake of a great marriage. And then they ran with that metaphor. They talked about how the cake is the relationship and you would never frost just batter or eat just frosting.

But here's the thing, I just can't really get on board with that metaphor. Because 1. I hate almost all frosting and I love almost all sex and 2. I see sex as much more important than just an optional addition. 

To me, sex is an important ingredient in the "cake." It's no flour, you know, it's not the thing holding everything together. If sex is the flour in cake, then yeah you're probably doing it wrong. But to me it's kind of like butter. Yes it's technically possible to have too much butter and if you include it in the wrong proportions to everything else your cake will suck. But if you put in just a little too much your cake will actually still be delicious. Possibly more delicious than the recipe because, let's face it, butter is awesome.

But butter is an important ingredient in baking. It's not the whole thing, not in the slightest. You don't want to eat just straight butter (well some people do, but I don't), you want all the other good stuff with it. But it's right in there with everything else, a really important part of the mixture. It's not just an afterthought or something thrown in for kicks.

Oh well. I always did like brownies better than cake anyway.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Why I Cannot Hate the Mormon Church

I'm living in Provo again. How do I keep winding up in this valley? It's like living in some weird Twilight zone, honestly. I used to think it was just because I went to BYU, but no – the whole valley is just weird in a way I can't even entirely put my finger on.

My new ward seems really great. My roommates already know everybody because they've lived here for over a year now and they're friendly with many of our neighbors. Going to church still isn't exactly my favorite thing on the planet, but it's a lot more tolerable than it was in Bloomington or during my freshman year. I have some theories about why this is the case, but I'll save them for a later post.

Something happened in sacrament meeting this week that just exemplified entirely for me why I just can't bring myself to hate the church entirely and I thought I'd share. It seems like the gay Mormon blogosphere can sometimes be kind of down on the church and I feel a little weird for not hating the church. But I just can't.

We had three speakers in sacrament meeting – for any non-Mormons reading, Sunday services consist of a few (usually three) members of the congregation speaking for about fifteen minutes on a topic that is usually assigned to them – so nothing too out of the ordinary. What was extraordinary about this particular sacrament meeting was one of the speakers.

I've seen her around at activities, but I've never talked to her. She's confined to a wheelchair, so it's hard not to at least notice her. She speaks slowly and sometimes unintelligibly. I found out from her talk that she has cerebral palsy.

She introduced herself and said, "I'm getting my PhD in math. When I say that to people, the thing they respond with most often is 'Oh wow, I could never do that.' But really, most people probably could they just won't." She went on to talk a lot about kind of applying that to a spiritual context and things.

One part of her talk stood out to me in particular. She was talking about resurrection, about eternal life. She said that she looks forward to the resurrection because even though she has cerebral palsy, she knows she will be resurrected with a perfect body. Then she'll be able to do all the things she sees us doing.

While she spoke, her face shone. I could tell that if there was one thing in the entire world that she knew to be true, it was this.

How can I hate the thing that gives this genius girl who cannot walk the ability to hope that someday she will be exactly who she wants to be?

I cannot.

The church may be flawed. It may not be for me. I may not believe it's true. Many people may have been hurt because of it. But looking at her, with her hope in her eyes and her voice, I knew that I just could never bring myself to hate the church. Because for every person who's been hurt, there is a person who's found hope.

I can't deny peace to anyone.

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Sunday, April 8, 2012

New Beginnings

Today, for the first time ever in my life, I went to a church that was not the LDS church. Judging on the length of this post alone, the Unitarian Universalists made quite the impression.

As I've previously discussed in this blog, my issues with the LDS church can be traced to several years before I realized I was gay and are entirely separate from "the gay thing". And while I did start to feel distance from the church over the three years between that first crisis of faith and when I came out to myself, I didn't really realize that divide between who I was and who the church wanted me to be until after I started dating Doricha.

I went through stages with my personal faith, ranging from wanting to continue attending the LDS church to wanting to never attend church again. In that first little while after I came out to myself, I had such bigger fish to fry than where to go to church. My soul was in tumult over my sexuality and my faith system kind of took a back seat in all of it.

So I guess it's a sign of progress on my part that I'm finally feeling ready to start looking to maybe find a new church. 

I casually looked into Buddhism for a short while but, while I liked some of the basic tenants, I couldn't get behind many of the core beliefs. Then I stumbled across Unitarian Universalism. A good friend of my from high school was hard core UU and was one of the most open-minded, loving, accepting people I've ever known. I looked at my local congregation's website and this looked like stuff I could really get behind: open to everybody especially LGBT, committed to social justice. Most of all, they teach their children to love and respect everyone regardless of what they believe. And they teach their children to learn from their friends' beliefs.

The service itself was incredible. I went by myself, entirely unsure of what to expect. As soon as I walked in the door, a very kind lady said hello and introduced herself and invited me to make a nametag for myself. She also pointed me toward another table where I could put my name down to get a permanent nametag. At that other table, another very kind lady offered me a pamphlet of information on the congregation and the Unitarian Universalists as a whole. She encouraged me to fill out a contact form and join the email list if I wanted to so I could know what was going on in the community.

I walked into the chapel (is that what it's called in every faith or just Mormonism?), entirely unsure of what to expect. It was absolutely beautiful. It was in the corner of the small building which allowed floor to ceiling windows on nearly every wall. There were lots of rows of chairs grouped in sections much like the pews in an LDS chapel. They were all facing a stage like that of Protestant churches I've visited. It was a simple stage with a pulpit but no barrier between the congregation and the speakers. A small choir was seated on the stage as well as (who I later found out was) the two ministers and the two ministers in training for the congregation. Around me were all kinds of people. A surprising amount of older people considering  had always kind of thought of UU churches as being for hippies. A good number of families with small children, although I didn't see many high school aged kids. Do they have a service of their own? Or do they go to the morning service? (There are two, one at 9:15 and one at 11:15 and I went to the later one.)

The service itself was beautiful. It featured short musical interludes, singing from the congregation (although I didn't recognize any of the hymns we sang), and sermons from the pastors. (What's the difference between a pastor and a minister? More jargon I don't know from being Mormon.) The first sermon was for the children in the congregation. The female minister gave them a short talk about how today was Easter and that was a very special day for some people in the world and how it's all about new beginnings. She talked about flowers and bunnies and stuff. And then she led them through a very short guided meditation. The other minister joined her with a hand puppet hippie dog (kid you not) who had some great quips which the congregation got a good chuckle out of. Apparently the hand puppet is called Minister Barkley.

After the short part with the children, they were dismissed to their classes and just the adults were left in the congregation. The did an offering, where baskets were passed around and some people gave money. (I think this is mostly the norm is Protestant services?) During this time, anyone who wanted to was invited to come to the front and light a candle for a joy or a sorrow in their life.

After this, the two ministers in training gave sermons. Both talked about Easter, but it was very very different from the talks I heard in the LDS congregation later that day. The topic that the ministers had chosen to discuss was New Beginnings. How appropriate. How appropriate for me. And the sermons were beautiful, bringing in tenants of many faiths and opportunities to learn from all people.

The entire service just felt so good. I have not felt that good at church in years. I was completely at peace and I felt so comfortable, even though I didn't know anyone around me. Being in the light-filled room surrounded by people who were ready and willing to accept me for me...it was beautiful.

Next time, I'm going to go to their before-service meet and greet. Maybe I'll go to both services, just to see what they're like.

I know one thing for sure: I'm definitely going back.

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