29 January 2012

PE: How I got from point A to Gay

Alright. So I have been asked if I could try and explain how I got from where this blog began to where I am now. I'll do my best to try and fill in the gaps of history.

I began this blog in October 2010. That was about two months after coming out to my family and about three months after coming to the devastating realization that I was gay. So, by the time I wrote my first post, I had already made decisions that would set me on my path.

It was my last semester at BYU and I felt the intense need to get out of Provo. I could not stay where I was while exploring my options as a gay guy. I felt very paranoid on campus. I thought someone would find me out and turn me in and I would get kicked out of school. My bishop was a complete jerk and I could not rely on him for any kind of help or support. The only thing he seemed willing to provide me was a drop kick out of college. At first I tried to just transfer to another ward, but my bishop wouldn't allow it. He said as along as I lived in his boundaries, I am required to be under his watch. So I moved. I moved to South Jordan.

I couldn't afford to be found out and kicked out of school my last semester of college, so i decided it would be best to lay low. I went to church at random wards every now and then... but I never put myself in a position where a bishop or leader would ask if I were moving into the ward. This wasn't such a great experience because I got a taste of homophobic comments in almost every ward I attended. It was upsetting because all I could do was sit there and take it. I didn't feel like I could defend the gays without putting myself at risk. So, my attendance trickled down to zero.

By the time I received my diploma in January, I was already mentally and emotionally prepared to be out and open. I came out almost immediately to extended family and close friends. I had discussion after discussion with people about what they thought/ how they felt and what my experience was. For the most part, people were loving and supportive. But the church still was not. Every now and then I would go, and almost without fail gays would come up in the lesson. It is like the go-to answer for anything evil or threatening. Church just didn't feel comfortable. It felt like abuse.

Still, I had the idea that if I could just have the courage and strength to ignore all that I could change minds by being an awesome Mormon. But there was a problem. I had no "home ward" anymore. I would have to start attending one ward and get records transferred in... but you can never do that without having a little chat with the bishop. I was done with deceit and lying. I've never been the type of person that enjoys that. I am honest and truthful and it kills me to lie. So I knew that my first sit-down talk/interview with a new bishop would include me divulging the fact that I was gay.

I wouldn't know a soul in the ward. No one would have any history with me. They would not have and experience by which to judge my character. So, I knew that in this hypothetical ward, leaders would know me first by the label "GAY" before anything else. They wouldn't know me and would have no problem excommunicating a stranger and I wasn't ready to stand in front of a bunch of old men who I have never met in my life while they interrogated me in a so-called "court of love." It wouldn't do anyone any good.

So, I thought that perhaps when the church cooled down its stance on gays I could possibly return. For awhile after Boyd K. Packer's controversial conference talk, the church stayed pretty quiet on the issue. During that time I continued my research and reading and thinking about the church, it's doctrine, it's history, and it's claims and what a potential relationship with those things might be. It is hard to know the truth about the church (both from personal experience and documented history) and still feel like it is something you want to be a part of.

I was experiencing life. I was happy and had a meaningful romantic relationship. I could look back on my life and see how I had arrived at a place so much more healthy for me than ever before. So, I thought that I would just continue that life. My name would still be on the rolls of the church, but I was going to live my life how I saw fit and not let it be dictated by religion.

But then recently, the church began releasing more statements and chatter about gay marriage in particular. At this point I have been in a committed relationship for over 8 months and the idea of marriage isn't so abstract and distant. It is a real possibility in my life and it is something that I know that I want at some point. So when the Church started back up with its attack on marriage, it was a clear sign to me that I could have nothing to do with it. Leadership will not take any advice from me. Nothing I can say or blog or anything would make them change their mind. The best thing for me and them would be to resign. At least then they will see me as a number. Another one lost. And at least then I don't have to live with the knowledge that I belong to an organization that actively fights against my choice to commit my life to another male that I love. I won't have to live with the guilt that my membership is showing support for actions I don't approve of.

And so, the plan goes something like this. I find a way to talk to my parents about my decision. I write a letter of resignation to church headquarters and also a letter to my bishop and stake president of my HOME ward explaining my feelings and experience with a copy of the resignation, and then it is done.

I will always have my past. Mormonism will always be a part of me. I was raised in the church. Of course it will continue to influence how I think and how I approach ideas of deity and spirituality. I will still carry the fond memories in the church with me as well as the bad ones. But I will no longer be a Mormon. I suppose I will be an ex-Mormon... although ex sounds so harsh. I will be previously Mormon. ;)

27 January 2012

THT: Taking the Mormon out

As you might be able to tell, I've been quite silent for awhile. Partly because I've been busy with a full-time job and a full-time relationship. But also because I feel as though I have very little to offer to readers.

When I think about the progress of my blog, it seems I began this journey very optimistically (or maybe idealistically). I accepted that I was gay, but... as if to make up for that fact, I seemed determined to be Mormon. Almost as if the mentality was, "I'm gay, but it's okay- I'm a Mormon!"

As I have talked with and associated with other people along this journey, this seems to be a pretty common step or stage that a gay LDS person goes through. Reconciliation. A time that we attempt to redefine our lives to include everything we know, no matter how contradictory it may seem. I wanted to fit everything into the neat little box that I seemed always capable of doing.

If you have followed my posts... or even if you've only checked in ever now and then, it is clear that I have been somewhat unsuccessful if my end goal was as originally stated. I am however, happy. I have made a wonderful transition.

Sometimes I think that the readers of blogs like mine are searching for some other answer. That they are the ones who optimistically look for an example of a well-adjusted, mentally stable, emotionally healthy gay Mormon who is both a pillar of his Mormon community and has begun a life with a same-sex loved one whom he/she loves with all their souls. And although I don't feel like a failure- not in the least, I imagine my 24 year-old self flipping through my blog and thinking, "oh, another disillusioned Mormon who jumped head first into the "gay lifestyle," and then moving on to some other blog.

I'm not sure anything I have to say anymore is anything people looking at these sort of blogs can relate to. I have come to the realization over time that I am part of two worlds that cannot coexist. One must prevail over the other. This is not something I would have accepted as I began this journey of mine. I had to discover it on my own. But the truth is, I cannot have both. I can either build a life and family with a man I truly love, or I can be an active, participating member of the church. I have experienced some of both in my life.

I grew up in the church. I was someone members would speak of fondly and praise. I served a 2 year mission in Korea. I graduated from BYU. The Church has been the bulk of my life experiences. I have many fond memories. I have also fallen in love. Made unforgettable memories in big and small places. I've held hands with a boy walking down the streets of New York. I've stayed up all night playing chess and drinking wine on the floor with him. I've celebrated the new year with a kiss. I've rubbed his back when he was ill. He's brought me dinner after a long day of work. He loves me more than anything in the world and when he walks through the door, I can feel my face light up.

I would never give up the chance to love and be loved the way that I have experienced for anything. And I have only had a glimpse of what this life could be like. I would never forfeit love for a religion that would have me deny it. And so my choice is clear. I choose love over Mormonism. And if I am to be punished by some invisible being for loving someone, shame on that being for crushing something so beautiful. I do not wish to be part of an organization that actively fights to deny me my happiness. I will not support a church that attacks my family.