29 July 2011

PE: Sometimes We Don't Know Where We're Going

I recently moved to downtown Salt Lake City and am still kind of learning the area. Anyway, I was driving around trying to find this restaurant, but it wasn't exactly where google maps said it was. To be fair, it was close... but I thought for sure it didn't exist when it wasn't EXACTLY where google said. It just happen to be a few doors down.

Anyway, I got to the parking lot of the strip mall where it was located and found this:

I immediately parked my car and took a picture, noting the irony of it all. But then I was asking myself, "why is it that anything written in graffiti on a dumpster seems so much more profound?" I suppose its because it is illegal and if you are going to risk doing it, it must mean something important to the writer. 

Growing up Mormon, you really never doubt where you are going. You know exactly where it is you are going. My life was planned from day one and I knew what to expect until I I realized I didn't fit in the puzzle. All of a sudden, I had no idea where I was going! For me, it was really scary to all of a sudden no longer have my google map... or realizing that the map I had been following all my life ended up leading me to the wrong location.

But guess what? I have found so much joy and excitement in not knowing exactly where I am going. It is only when you are not quite sure of where you are headed when you accidentally find hidden treasures in life. Like this dumpster. If the restaurant was exactly where the map had said, I would have never found it.

But there are more substantial lessons to be learned, treasures to be found. I have met so many amazing people and have added so much depth to my life due to this path I've taken into the unknown. It really has been wonderful. And now, I don't worry about knowing exactly where I am going... because it is in the discovery of the destination that the joy lies.

26 July 2011

THT: The Worst Kind of Harm

I don't work tomorrow... which is why I am writing a slew of posts. Anyway...

I was thinking how it seems the church and members of the church find assurance in the fact that they say they "love our gay brothers and sisters" and are "against bullying of any kind." I mean, those of course are good things... but personally, the church that screams "GOD HATES GAYS!" does so much less harm than my church does. The LDS church has been involved in the worst kind of harm.

Here is what I mean. As gay people, or as any person really, we can avoid a church that preaches hate against gays. We don't have to have anything to do with them. They can think what they want and make whatever judgments they want and the most it can do is hurt our feelings. They can deny membership and service and friendship to us, but that is it.

When a church steps outside its congregation, however, and actively seeks to prevent non-affiliated people from attaining the level of happiness they seek, when it goes beyond the borders of it's constituency to prevent people from attaining their dreams and goals for their lives, THAT is harmful in the worst way. The church has reached its hand into the lives of people who don't even have any kind of affiliation with it.

If I had to choose between a church existing that actively spoke about hating gays and bullied them on the streets and a church that claimed to love gays and not bully, but actively participated in taking away homosexual's rights and ensuring that they remain second-class citizens, I'd choose the former. At least then you would be in a relationship legitimized by society that you could depend on to be a rock in the stormy waters of hate and prejudice. At least then you could still move forward knowing that the laws of your country protect you equally as much as they protect the bullies. The church is just a bully disguised as your friendly neighbor who "loves you, but hates your choices." I don't think anyone should feel relieved that the church made a statement against bullying and for love. It's by their fruits ye shall know them... and lets be honest, it is because of the church that thousands of couples are treated like second-class citizens.

PE: I'm dating this boy

It has been over two months since I met Sean. It has been really wonderful. I was so full of doubts about the relationship before it really began. I had a whole list of reasons why it wouldn't work. But it has worked. I thought it would be nice if I shared some things about him and my relationship. Its been awhile since I've talked about really personal things.

Funny thing... he actually found me online. Through this very blog. He just wanted to meet people and make some friends because he had just come out and knew no one. So I invited him to game night with some of my friends.

We can talk for hours. One thing we've done quite a bit is go to the Broadway theater to see indie films. Awesome. His family is amazing. I practically lived at his house while I was in the process of moving to Salt Lake and his parents are some of the best people I know. We've had countless dinners with his family. We've gone back-country hiking with his parents in Zion National Park. He is so selfless and never ceases to complement me and encourage me. He isn't Mormon, but his whole extended family is and he grew up here and wanted to be Mormon growing up, so he knows enough about it to understand on a pretty deep level things that I have dealt with. His mom's cousin was Stewart Matis.

It is interesting that even in such a open, non-religious, pro-gay rights household, he grew up to become a self-hating Christian. Suicide was definitely something he contemplated before coming out. We share a lot of similar experiences in coming to terms with our sexuality.

He's in Australia and will be until the middle of November for a study abroad. I miss him fiercely. I went with his parents to see him off. We went up to the security check-point together to say goodbye. It had been a rough couple days for Sean and saying goodbye was pretty emotional for him. If we lived in a better world, our goodbye kiss would have been more substantial, but we settled for a quick kiss as to not cause a scene at the SLC airport. I regret not feeling like we could embrace that moment. We sacrificed it for the comfort of others.

It sounds dramatic to say that we live in fear... but the fact is, we do. Anytime we are in public, their is this ball of fear inside that prevents us from being ourselves completely. We know that if we are going to hold hands, we are likely going to receive some kind of punishment from society. It could be something as small as staring and pointing or something as huge as verbal and even physical abuse. We are both willing to take on a little risk. It is worth it. But we still hold back plenty.

It seems crazy now to think that I would ever consider a life of loneliness. That I would sacrifice a loving, supportive relationship because a religion cites 7 passages of scripture and says it means God hates fags. Sean is an amazing support to me. He loves me and I love him. We care deeply for each others well being. We feel whole together. Together, all the bad things in life fall to the wayside. Being in a loving relationship makes me look forward with eagerness for the day I marry the man I choose to spend the rest of my life with. To build a life with. How dare anyone cite God for the reason they try to prevent me from achieving that level of happiness.

THT: It's not me, it's God

Why do people insist on blaming God for their prejudice and hate? "I don't have a problem with gays, but GOD does, and I'm obligated to do what HE says." It is the same with Mormon leaders. "Well it isn't that I have a problem with it, but President Monson says..."

I heard this quote recently that went something like this:

"You know you have made God from your own image when he hates all the same people you do."

This all gives God a bad reputation. It isn't that people hate God, they just hate the God people tell them about. Interestingly, if you ask non-believers what they think about Christ, people like the guy. They think he is a great role-model, a great teacher... they just hate Christians. Why is that? There is some disconnect between Christ and the people who name themselves after him.

My beliefs and faith are constantly developing. Truth is, I give thought to my spirituality and my faith every single day. I feel like I am definitely on the road to leaving religion... but not leaving my faith. It has taken me some time to realize that leaving religion doesn't have to mean leaving God.

18 July 2011

THT: The Power to Create Worlds

I went to see Harry Potter today. Whenever I think of Harry Potter I am so amazed at the brilliance of it. There is a line in the movie when Harry Potter asks Dumbledore "Is this real? Or is this all just in my head?" to which Dumbledore replies, "Of course its in your head Harry! But does that make it any less real?"

I've thought on that many times before. The power we have to create reality. In the church, we strive to reach the highest level of the highest kingdom of heaven where we will have the power to create worlds. Sometimes people spend there whole lives in preparation for this possible future. But you know what I realize? We don't need to waste time, simply waiting for the next life to take part is something like that. We can create worlds right here, right now.

Look at JK Rowling. Has she not created a world? A world that millions of people share? A world that we all feel as though we have experienced? "But," you say, "it is just make believe. It is only in our heads." Yet this make believe world is probably the only real shared experience you have in common with millions of strangers that you otherwise would have no shared experience with. You can meet a complete stranger who is nothing like you, yet you walk into a room with candles hanging from the ceiling and you will both reflect on your memories and experiences with Harry Potter and the world Rowling created. Amazing.

We can help create a new world every day, right now. If we were up to it. We could create a world of equality. A world of love. A world of peace. A world of beauty. We could also create a world of hate, or darkness, or prejudice. Maybe not in a day... but over the course of our lives, we can do a lot to make a world. Even God didn't create the world in a day... or even seven. If one human mind is able to create a world of magic and wizards that the whole world embraces, how can we believe we have no power to create a new world together here, right now?

The human mind is powerful. And as Dumbledore suggests, it can define reality. That is why belief is such a powerful thing and why i believe it is important that we make sure that what we believe is actually going to create a better reality. Will believing that being gay is wrong or that it is evil for two men who love each other to marry create a better world? I have seen that it does not. It creates heartache and pain. So let us use our power to create a new world.