11 November 2010

PE: My Story Part 4 - Mission

On the long plane ride to Asia, I didn't sleep a bit. It was impossible. But I made it and was thrust into a completely foreign world. The people, the buildings, the sights, the sounds, the smells, everything was foreign to me. I'm not going to detail those two years, I will just give you my thoughts and a few experiences relating to my sexuality.

I'll be frank. My mission was hard. People were mean (not all people, there were incredibly good and nice and selfless people who I love dearly). The days were long sometimes. But I worked hard and I learned a lot on my mission. I learned to love a people and culture that was different from mine. I learned to see the similarities between these people and the ones I had been familiar with. I learned that my culture's way of doing things was different, not better. I had some really good experiences. I had some scary experiences. I had spiritual experiences. And I had some awful ones. Overall, I am grateful to have served. I think it helped me gain a better perspective on life.

Ok, now for my struggles as it pertains to homosexuality. Lucky for me, I didn't embrace this part of me, nor did I ever allow myself to believe it could be real. Imagine having a 20yr old boy and 21yr old girl spend every minute together for weeks at a time. There would be some trouble. Well, for the most part- it wasn't trouble for me. Especially when I didn't particularly like my companion =). For the first year I was really good, but... Explicit content alert, skip to next paragraph if you don't want to know: The only instance I can remember was one time I was showering and the water was hitting a certain area and was aroused and kind of allowed it to go on until, well, climax. I went to the Mission President and thought for sure I'd be sent home. He was so amazing about it. It wasn't uncomfortable at all. He just said, "Well Elder- it happens. I'm not encouraging it, but our bodies react to that kind of stimulation and it isn't the end of the world. You are doing good work. Continue doing it." That is a paraphrase.

Interesting note: In the country I served in, it is not uncommon for men to hold hands. The younger they were, the less common it was because of our western influences, but still- you'd see it. Holding hands didn't mean they were gay. It was just okay by their culture (and apparently it used to be okay by ours as well). But I had conditioned myself to hate anything that would be considered "gay" in my culture. So the day an investigator grabbed my hand as we walked to the subway, I was sick. After that I made sure my hands were occupied.

I also received my first kiss on the lips by another man on my mission. It sounds scandalous, I know. He was the ward mission leader of a neighboring ward where we helped the elders with their English classes. He was recently engaged and was kind of all over the place- a high energy type person. Well, I was playing the piano and he came up behind me, grabbed my head, pulled it back, and kissed me. Don't let your imagination run away with you- it was a peck. But I freaked while the other 3 elders laughed. Anyway, those are side-notes.

The second year got a little harder. If the companion was someone I got along with, and liked (in a hey, he's a cool guy kind of way), I would wonder if they might be gay. One of them I thought for sure was. Well, there were a few times I "tested" my theories by trying to see how they would react if I "unknowingly" sat in a way that might provide a glimpse of certain parts. Geez, why am I so embarrassed to say penis or genitals or whatever. Sorry. Like many of you I am conditioned to be embarrassed by those words. Beyond "testing" some of my companions at times, I would struggle every now and then with masturbation. I shouldn't say struggle- that makes it sound like it was ongoing. There were more instances of it.

By this time a new mission president had come, and I didn't have a relationship with him like I did the previous one. I didn't feel the need to talk to him... or I guess I was just too scared to. I didn't know him like I knew the previous president. Plus he didn't speak English and I didn't want to have to learn how to explain something like that in the language. I mean, even now- in English it is hard haha. I was a bit of a coward I guess. And because of that, even though I worked hard and had success in my last areas, I felt like a failure. Now matter how hard I tried, I always came up short.

Well I felt inspired about two things during my mission concerning my post-mission life. The first was what I should study- what industry to go into. The second was where to study. Before my mission, although I had considered different options, I decided to not worry about it and that I had two years to make those decisions. Well, that is what brought me to BYU- a place I had never imagined myself going before.


Anonymous said...

BYU-Provo has denied me twice, but I got into BYU-Hawaii for 6 months before I got sick of it. I know, who gets sick of Hawaii? It's a long story. I am worried that I will mess up, that it will affect my ability to feel the spirit, that I'll feel like a failure. You're thinking of saying, you just have to take it one day at a time. I know, it's just that doesn't help with the guilt and loneliness...

Gay Mormon said...

@Mike- That guilt and loneliness can be a very dangerous thing. And I know what it is like to feel so scared to mess up. I think gay lds people are particularly hard on themselves in ways that are terribly unhealthy. I know I was. I really believe that you won't be able to feel the extent of the love God has for you until you can love yourself. Love yourself for exactly the person you are, because God loves you for exactly the person you are.

On my mission I felt like God must have been happy about what I was doing. That gave me comfort. But I still didn't feel the love of God for me personally because I still didn't love myself. My advice: Start with you. You are fighting against yourself. How can you love yourself if you are fighting with yourself? And how can you imagine someone else loving you if you can't love yourself. How can you love another person?

Anonymous said...

These are all things I have talked about, over and over again, in therapy over the past few months, with family, and friends, but the simple idea of loving yourself has never been brought up. Maybe it has, but I maybe I haven't recognized it as that simple, not saying that it will be easy to do that, but I imagine what it would be like not just being comfortable with being me, but actually loving myself? That sounds so peaceful, so happy, and so hopeful. You really think God loves me? That he would love me if I let myself embrace everything about me? I want desperately to find true love, to love someone so much, and if I have to love myself first? hmm it is much to consider. Thank you again for your advice, it's really so simple, but sincerely helpful.

Steven Lester said...

On the Otherside, where we all came from, there is nothing there but love, so deep and abiding that you could call it the atmosphere in which everybody dwells. It stems initially from God Himself, felt always even as the light which He grants to everybody as it is seen there. Of course you want to find true love, to love someone so much. Think of where you came from. Also think of the greatest summery of the gospel that ever escaped the mouth of Perfection: Thou shalt love the Lord with all of your heart...mind...might...and strength; and...the second is like unto it (necessary for it to happen) Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself (meaning that you can not love your neighbor without first loving yourself).

And this is scary to do. The reasons that you do not love yourself will not want to be moved out of the way, but they are false. Start out small. Easy. Pick one thing about yourself to love, and then just love it. Let me tell you, the crack that such an act will cause to your crust or shell will release such an outpouring of light and joy that it might surprise you, but it will be essentially very pleasant, indeed. Get drunk on these outpourings of self-love. Then see yourself in everybody else, and love that which is in them that is common between you. And the love will seem to drown you in its richness.

But you must start with yourself.

Gay Mormon said...

@Mike- You deserve love too

@Steven- I agree, part of the "love thy neighbor" also includes the bit about "as thyself." We often forget that last part.

Anonymous said...

Geez - was I the only one who thought it was *hot* when you mentioned flashing your companions?!

-Ty Stoner

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