29 April 2012

PE: First Conversations

A conversation with my roommate prompted me to look up a conversation I began with someone shortly after coming to the realization that "gay" was real and it was forever going to be a part of my life. As I read through it, it amazed me to be introduced to that old self again- locked in time by a facebook correspondence.

When I was at BYU working at the front desk of the library, there were more than a few occasions where a gay guy would hit on me. Back then it really bothered me because it meant that people might be able to tell! As if I had something gay on my face.

Anyway, one of these guys (to remain anonymous) facebooked me later:

March 4th, 2010
"So...as random as it may be...I just ran into you in the library...and was just curious to chat with you. It's so high school...but thought I would give it a shot. I'm [JOHN]..."

to which I responded,

"hmm... I don't remember helping you (sorry). I wouldn't mind chatting, but just so you know, I'm interested in females haha. Not that I judge. But yeah, just thought I'd put that out there. Anyway, that was pretty bold- so I commend you on that."

to which he responded,
"yes...I read your profile and figured it out. Being bold is the only way to ever know. Good luck!"

Little did I realize at the time that months later I would reach crisis in my life as I grappled with the fact that indeed, I WAS gay. I didn't know any gay people at BYU and I didn't have anyone to talk to about my crisis who might understand. But that is when I remembered this guy [John]. So, I messaged him back:

June 21st, 2010
"I'm not sure you'd remember me, but I thought I'd give it a shot. And this is really weird and random that I am sending this to you because I don't even know who you are. So the truth is I've struggled with my sexuality for most my life. I don't really know how to label myself. All I know is that I've lived hating myself for a long time and it is a sucky way to live.

Last night I kind of talked about my sexuality with three of my closest friends. The truth is I am really confused about it all. Anyway, I've never "dated" a guy or anything and I am not necessarily going to... but if you wouldn't mind talking maybe it would be helpful. Being in this Mormon world makes it so difficult to be able to talk about without feeling judged.

If you are up for chatting on skype or something let me know. Otherwise, sorry for the randomness.

Oh, and ps- you must have had some reason to suspect I might respond positively to your first question... what made you think that? Just curious."
to which he responded,
"What a surprise to hear from you! Looks like you were up late writing your message. I had to look at your profile to remind myself where we had met since I wrote you so long ago.

First to answer your question, the reason I had a suspicion was just an intuition I have about some; nothing to be offended at. While as was at BYU I saw you all the time and always wanted to say hi, but never did so that is why I wrote the email.

I am always willing and available to talk, especially since I understand where you are coming from. I am in a different spot than you since I have identified with my sexuality more and have my own theories, however, I still get it and know what the religious struggle is like. Questions and "polling" people, as I call it, are great ways to get an opinion and help to ease some of the pain and awkwardness that comes along with dealing with these issues.

So, I think you should feel free to email me as much as you want and after I get to know you better I would be fine to Skype or something like that. I typically reserve Skype for people I know better since I am a little shy, if you can believe it. Either way, let it all out and I will do my best to help.

Keep your chin up Jonathan. You have a friend in me and you should take comfort in that. Can't wait to hear from you."

The conversation went on- I asked questions, and he asked me questions in return. Here are questions that I asked:
1. I was wondering if you still do the church thing or not.
2. When did you come to terms with your sexuality? How did you know for certain?
He asked:
1. Do you feel bad about not having been to church?
2. Do you miss the temple?
3. If you have ever acted on your feelings, do you feel bad?
4. If you knew you'd go to Heaven no matter what, would you just
go ahead and come out?
5. Are you happy with who you are?
6. Do you know who you are?
I asked:
1. How do you view the church... or religion in general?
2. Do you ever think about the possibility that maybe you could be condemning yourself?
3. After you were out, what changed about your life and the way you viewed yourself?
4. How did your family react, what do they think?
5. Looking back on your life, when do you feel you were the best person (world's terms not necessarily religious terms)
6. Did you receive a patriarchal blessing and do you value it at all or believe in it? And if so do you fear you have given blessings up?
What struck me about the conversation was how much more I identified with [John] and how my old self reminded me of most the people that come to me with their questions/stories. I was also impressed by [John's] questions and ways of talking to someone like me who was clearly in a different spot than he was. Many of my questions were obviously based on fear. It was a good reminder to myself that I was once in those shoes.