17 November 2010

PE: My Story Part 5 - BYU

So now we find ourselves in January 2007 when I begin my schooling at BYU. I moved in with my MTC companion just a few blocks south of campus and was ready to face my next phase of life (or so I thought). Neither of us had cars, but we were pretty fresh off the mission and walking around Provo was like a nice stroll in the park compared to 10 hours on our feet in a single day walking around our areas in Asia.

Winter semester isn't typically when people begin their year at school. Usually they start in the fall. So both of us were moving into a ward that had been established over the past semester. Can you say "fresh meat?" No joke- that is exactly how we were treated. We were the new boys that all the girls had crushes on. Here I am, never having any real sense of self-esteem, and totally clueless about girls- just looking to have a good time at college.

I'd be invited to this or that and if it sounded fun, I'd go. It wasn't based on how cute the girls in that apartment were. But it got weird when after hanging out girls would thank me "so much" for coming and hanging out with them. As if I were gracing them with my presence. This blew me away. I guess it was kind of scary. Who were these people?

Well it wasn't long before girls started becoming a little more aggressive in making sure I understood that they were interested. But I sure wasn't. I blamed it on post-missionary syndrome. I was still adjusting to life in America. Eventually though, my roommate began dating. He would come home and talk to my other roommate about his date. They'd swap stories. I'd listen.

I just kept myself busy with a full schedule of school and work, and time passed by, but my "post-missionary syndrome" didn't. It wasn't long before I had to stop using that as an excuse and start at least attempting to date. I tended to like the sporty, independent, smart girls who didn't feel the need to always "look pretty." It also helped if I was never quite sure if they liked me. So yeah, I went on dates. And as long as the girl never showed obvious signs of liking me, I'd keep dating. Problem was, I would never show obvious signs of liking her. The first girl I dated probably got fed up after 3 months of us hanging out and me never making a move. I think I held her hand once after two months.

It is so embarrassing to think of it. I had to plan exactly how I'd be able to hold her hand. Movie. Check. Blanket (that I brought to HER house to watch the movie- as if that were subtle). Check. I even planned what part of the movie would be best to "make the move." Then I sat there stiff going over the action I would take over and over in my mind. My hands were sweaty. I felt sick. But when the moment came, with great effort and awkwardness, I grabbed her hand. Trying hard to make it seem natural- making sure not to look. And just when I thought the most uncomfortable part was over, I realized how uncomfortable it was to hold her hand. She started rubbing her thumb on my hand. In my head I was thinking "what is she doing? Why do people hold hands? This is so strange."

But that was only phase one. My roommates had been talking that night up. They wanted me to kiss her. So for the rest of the movie I was worrying about how my hand was sweaty and how and when I'd kiss her, and where. I picked a time in the movie that I thought would be perfect. Well, turns out she wasn't too into the movie because she fell asleep on my shoulder. But that wouldn't do! If she didn't see the part of the movie I had picked that would be perfect for the kiss, I would fail! So when that part was about to come- I kissed her on the... HEAD... the HAIR to be exact. I told her, "oh, I love this part!" She kind of roused, but I was so devastated by the awkward hair kiss that there was no way I could attempt another. Plus, I could at least say I kissed her so my roommates would be satisfied, and that was good enough for me. I just wanted to get out of there.

Yikes. That pretty much explains my dating experiences. It was SO unnatural for me. SO uncomfortable. I was forcing myself to go through the motions of what society had taught me were appropriate when you like a girl you are on a date with. But any time a girl obviously liked me, I ran. I disappeared. It would only last as long as my unsurity of her feelings for me. The moment I knew she was into me, that relationship ended. Now, I did eventually kiss a girl (on the lips even). It would have never happened if she wasn't so forward about kissing. It was just about as awkward as the story above. After kissing, I had this sense of satisfaction. As if I had proved to myself I was straight. That I was normal. That I was exactly how every other guy was. At the same time I thought- "why the hell do people kiss?" I just didn't get it. I mean, I knew that's what two people did when they liked each other, but is that the only reason? Simply because society had determined what kissing was a symbol of? People talked about kissing as if they enjoyed it. I mean, some of my roommates would do it for extended periods of time even! WHY?

That was my last dating experience with a girl. During those first 3 years or so, I would decide to try to date again every 6 months or so. When it didn't work out, I just quit for months at a time. In the meantime I was loosing my spirituality. My secret outlet was pornography. I knew I couldn't ever (nor did I want to) act on my feelings that I had learned to bury. But somehow I still needed some kind of thing to channel these buried emotions towards. And gay porn was easy to explain away. "It doesn't mean I am gay... it is just an addiction. I just respect girls too much to watch them in those types of situations. Looking a girls would be worse- disrespectful. It's just because I value women so much more than the normal guy." In reality though- images of women made me uncomfortable and a little grossed out. Don't get me wrong, the female body doesn't gross me out... but sexual things involving females grossed me out.

I'd talk to the bishop about my pornography problems, but I never mentioned that I was looking at gay porn. Bishops just assume what kind of porn you are looking at and never seem to ask. So although I was trying to overcome it, I still felt like I was hiding something. That I was being dishonest. And I could never say the words "gay porn" to a bishop. That would be incredibly embarrassing and uncomfortable. Plus he might think I'm gay! Which I certainly wasn't (haha). I just thought porn addiction was porn addiction no matter what type you looked at, so it didn't matter. But no matter what I tried, I would always come back to it. It was something I just couldn't seem to get rid of. I became hopeless.

Well, this battle went on and I became more and more detached from church and God. My misery was ever increasing. My friends were dating and getting married and I couldn't see how that was ever going to be a possibility for me. I didn't get to enjoy dating like most do. I didn't get to have those kinds of relationships. I was dying inside.

Eventually, to help with the sadness and guilt and everything I started to go dancing at clubs with some friends every now and then. One of my friends who was an experienced drinker in the past, introduced me to some drinks. So every now and then I'd go dancing and drink to forget my problems and just have a moment where I could enjoy my wretched life. I don't want you to think I became a drunk. I didn't. It was only on the few occasions that I went dancing. But those nights saved me. They were the only times that I felt something like happiness. Counterfeit or not, it was a much better feeling then the one I lived with.

Eventually though, I felt I needed to get myself on track and clear up my life. That brings us to the beginning of this year- 2010. Hold on boys and girls, you are in for a wild ride.


BLB said...

The guys in straight porn are hotter, FYI. ;)

No girl has ever shown interest in me. I guess it was all for the best. =] This actually gave me an idea of a post I've always thought about writing myself, so thumbs up.

Anonymous said...

My singledom reflected so much your experiences here... wow. Awkwardness with girls, the over analyzing, the depression, etc. It was a dark time for me.

I enjoy your blog, keep the posts coming. :)

Gay Mormon said...

Will do! I don't really have a problem with that if you haven't noticed haha. But yeah, keep the comments coming!

Boris said...

Reading this brings back memories I rarely revisit. My RM at BYU experiences took place over 40 years ago at a time of considerable social and political upheaval in America. Somehow, I survived a year and a half there without ever once dating--it was actually a relief when my draft board made it clear I would soon belong to Uncle Sam.

Gay porn was very difficult to find in those days. There was no internet or cable TV to bring it into our student apartments. The adult arcades that might carry a few (mostly Scandinavian) gay titles were concentrated in larger cities, such as Denver. Of course, there was San Francisco, already on the way to becoming America's gay Mecca, but I was not one who could afford to fly out there for a holiday weekend. So my masturbation fantasies usually depended on my ability to mentally photograph some strikingly gorgeous hunk I had glimpsed running sweaty and shirtless on my way to/from classes.

I was still in denial about being gay (after all, this was pre-Stonewall), but I had already lost faith from the realization, so strongly reinforced by the BY-Woo milieu, there was absolutely no place for me in the Mormon universe.

That was then. Today, when I read your blog, and experience both your honesty and your optimism, I can feel a sliver of hope for the current generation of gay Mormon youth. I am truly looking forward to the next installment in this series.

apronkid said...

It's ridiculous just how much I can relate to your story.

After I kissed a girl on the lips I was so satisfied with myself. I finally did it! But seriously, I felt so sick. While I was kissing, I was thinking, "Aren't I supposed to be feeling something besides satisfaction that I've finally kissed a girl?" It didn't occur to me that I'd rather be kissing a guy...

Isn't it funny how bishops just assume what kind of porn your looking at? I've always looked at gay porn, thinking that I was just way to respectful of girls to ever look at straight porn. (That's why I got sick to my stomach looking at girls right?) Of course I told my bishop, but then his discourse would always be against straight porn and be about respecting women. In my mind I was always screaming, "But I'm looking at boys!" haha

Funny coincidence: I'll be going back to BYU this Winter Semester after taking a year off of school. I'll be living somewhere south of campus and I will be the new guy. I really, really don't want to be "fresh meat" haha

JonJon said...

I was only able to get myself to kiss a girl by age 25 and it totally grossed me out. I felt like I had to do it because I got tired of trying to evade conversations about first kisses because I had no story to share and couldn't stand the thought of admitting that I still had virgin lips. :)

Anonymous said...

I think it's a crazy curse and blessing that my imagination was able to cover up my uncomfortable, awkward, and fake relationship with my ex girlfriend. We were together for nine months, and I suddenly became her Edward, I'm good at acting so I acted for her, but really to force myself to feel what I thought I should. It was great to feel like I was normal, it was like I finally didn't need to worry about anything, I had a girlfriend! When we broke up, I didn't cry, it was logical, she asked for one more kis with tears streaking down her cheeks, and I gave her an amazing last kiss. I walked back inside, and immediately picked back up where I had left off on a role playing video game. I don't think when I cried 6 months later, that I was crying because I missed her, I was crying because I just missed that close affection. There's just something magical about having another body close to yours. Anyways, I like to think maybe I can convince myself I'm just bi, and then get on with my life. In my dreams though, I don't even hold back with a smooth, lean man, with hair hanging in his eyes, reclined on a comfy loveseat (ha ha, pun intended) shirtless by the beach in amber light with the wind from the ocean rippling the white curtains...oh it's ON then. Sigh, I get carried away. I think we all do. Oh well, sometimes I just don't care.

Gay Mormon said...

@Mike- Perhaps you are bisexual, but from the few words you've written here, it doesn't sound like it. There are so many people like us who did convince themselves it would all work out if they just got married to a woman. I can give you the names and emails of tons of those people who have since divorced. Now they are later in their lives and although they love their family, they regret thinking it would all work out. Will they ever know what it is like to build a family with someone they are actually in love with? Maybe, maybe not. They are starting late.

Now, there are others who stick it out (though they are the extreme minority). Still others, who are bi, can live fairly normal lives as a heterosexual. But if you are gay (which I might argue you are), it is a dangerous thing to think that things will just work out.

Anonymous said...

Oh I know that it's dangerous to hope for that kind of future, when deep down I know it would be torture. But, it's the only hope I know, I don't know what else I should or could hope for. I know of the many men you speak of who have gotten married, and that for the most part it hasn't worked out. That it ends up in divorce, and a lot more heartache. I know I am gay, that I am attracted to men, but more than that I want to love and be loved by a man. It's hard to admit, but now that I do, it's freeing. I can't say that with that one statement I've cast off all the things that I've been taught, but I know if I want to find true happiness in this life I have to accept that in some way. It's very hard for me to know what is right anymore, all the things that I used to think were true and right and good, are different. I want a family, so much. I don't know what to do.

Steven Lester said...

Mike, there are states, if not Utah (because I don't know), which will allow a same-sex couple to adopt. When you adopt, those kids become yours forever within the bonds of love, temple or no temple. If they won't let you in during mortality there is always the Millennium, during which there are going to be a lot of Mormon bigwigs surprised by what they have done or not done to their charges that is condemnable. I think you would make a great Dad.

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