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. ;)


Trev said...

Thanks for the nice review. Man, that's crappy the way your last semester at college worked out, but I'm glad you go through okay.

Ha ha, when I saw the thumbnail image of your picture on the Moho directory I thought it was a missionary baptism photo because it looked in the small image like you were both wearing white.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for responding to my question. You have been very inspirational to me and I am sure to many more. I was refered to your blog by a friend after I told him that I liked this youtube video regarding choices for a gay mormon. My friend said, "he has a blog and you should check it out". Your youtube videos are the best. I can see that you are very honest there. Those videos and your blog are great and had helped me a lot.

I didnt have the issue of fearing being kicked out of school that you faced while attending BYU, I don't know how you did it. This is why I went to the U instead. My situation is that I am married with a child and gay. We are getting a divorce and things will get better for the three of us. I honestly don't know how to feel about the church or its leaders. All I know is that I know the gospel is true and that Jesus and God love me for who I am, and that includes my gayness. I don't know how to handle this. A gay friend that goes to school at Utah State University has told me to trust the Lord and pray about everything. I think I will.

I have found a group of guys that have gone through the same situation as me. Married with kids and gay, and many now divorced. It makes me feel a lot better to know that I am not the only one that made the same mistake. I was just trying to do something to get closer to heaven.

I believe that love between two people of the same gender is real, wonderful and beautiful just as it is for heterosexuals. I'm glad you found your guy. You are a great person who served the church well and God will not forget that. I dont feel that God is against us, but with us. Church leaders are imperfect men and many things are just beyond their minds. I'll trust in the Lord.

jen said...

<3 this. I really appreciate the things you write... I've used some of your blogs to open up conversations with my family. They hate it when I say the church is abusive... they feel personally attacked. Your writing is so honest and heartfelt, they listen. Thank you!

jimf said...

Sweet photos, but my God, the red-eye in that rightmost one! Add some fangs, and you could be a stand-in for a young Count Dracula! But seriously ;-> . . . don't retouch that photo -- your erstwhile co-religionists can take the red eyes (and the slightly wild expression) as a sign that the Devil is indeed gazing out at them through the eyes of an apostate. Give 'em a little thrill of terror -- there but for the grace of God, etc., etc. ;-> ;-> ;->

jimf said...

> 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, of course, membership isn't just "showing support" -- it's
contributing **money** to an institution which is, in effect,
a super-PAC when it comes to supporting right-wing political
candidates and anti-progressive social causes (as in the case
of Proposition 8, etc.).

> 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. . .

You know, it's a funny thing. Long before I knew what Mormons were about,
I stumbled across a couple of science fiction authors who,
it turned out, were Mormon (something I didn't discover about them
until the era of the Web).

The first was Zenna Henderson
( http://www.philsp.com/articles/pastmasters_04.html ).

Long ago, I came across a story called "Jordan" in a Dell paperback that my
parents must have bought for me when I was 10 or so:
_A Decade of Fantasy and Science Fiction (1960)_, Robert P. Mills, ed.
( http://www.librarything.com/work/315144/covers/ )

I probably picked it out because of the cover. ;->

Anyway, when I finally got around to reading "Jordan", it had
a haunting quality that stuck with me ever after. It wasn't
until years later that I discovered that this story was one of a
series of such stories written by Henderson over a period of many years
about a group of aliens called "The People" -- and, in fact,
"Jordan" was really the end of the story arc
( http://fifdb.com/source/1026 ).

The text of "Jordan" is on-line starting at

All of Zenna Henderson's "People" stories have been collected
in a volume published by the New England Science Fiction Association (NESFA):
_Ingathering: The Complete People Stories_

I'm quite sure that the attractiveness of Henderson's
stories ("People" stories and otherwise) is inseparable from the
author's background as a Mormon.

The second author I was surprised to discover is a Mormon is
someone I didn't encounter until much later -- Orson Scott Card.
My introduction to Card was not via his famous Ender books
(_Ender's Game_, etc.), but was an earlier novel called _Songmaster_
( http://www.epinions.com/review/Songmaster_by_Card_Orson_Scott_Illustrated_by_Dennis_Nolan_cover_Books/content_371865652868?sb=1 )
When I first read this, it seemed like a **celebration** of same-sex
love between a mature man and a younger boy (necessarily Platonic in the
book because of the way the boy's nervous system has been modified).
Imagine my surprise, then, when years later I discovered that Card
is not only a Mormon, but a virulent homophobe as well.
( http://www.afterelton.com/people/2008/7/orsonscottcard )

I still enjoyed Card's _Songmaster_. _Ender..._, not so much.

Anonymous said...

I am a Mormon mother of a gay son. He is "on the lamb" from BYU and is now attending via the internet. He is a returned missionary, and just wants to get his degree, then move on. He just left our home for another city far away with the man he is in love with. My feelings are ones of hope and happiness for him. I'm grateful he has found someone to love, be who he is and God willing, live happily ever after.

Of course our religion puts all kinds of complications in his way and that of our family. He will probably be removed from church records at some point. It saddens me that we aren't more Christlike. But it's a catch 22 for the Church as well, so family centered, thou shalt not commit sexual sin, marriage between man and woman etc. etc. I don't see an easy way out for them to change on this subject. And so it's people like you, my son, and me that need to educate people. Quietly is fine, better I think, and just say, the Church is a wonderful place, but it's run by men and we all are imperfect beings. Someday, we'll let God figure all this out. I want to be on the side of love and my son.

Miguel said...

Anonymous Mormon Mom of a gay son:

Thanks for writing what you did. I'm sure being in this situation adds to a lot of interesting dynamics for you and your family, after all you guys have to 'come out' in a sort of way having a gay relative, but from what little you wrote I can see you love your son unconditionally--you get it--like the Lord wants us to love and that you recognize that although the LDS church is a good place we indeed have a long ways to go.

I hope that it is people like you and other LDS active family and members of gay people start standing up and reasoning when the erroneous comments and rethoric are being spilled around in church.

And I also agree with Jonathan, you'll never stop being Mormon, somehow or other it gets engrained into our very souls. Take the best parts that still benefit you and embrace it in your life and relationships. The rest is just gravy!


ControllerOne said...

The Church's position on gay marriage is the toughest one for me to swallow. I just see it as the height of hypocrisy, coming as it does from an organization that was hunted because it had a fundamental belief in a "non-traditional" (whatever the heck that really means) form of marriage.

Good for you for being brave enough to follow your conscience. I toy with the idea of having my name removed, but just can't bring myself to do it.

Courage friend.

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