Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Giving Our Lives for Ransom

I did not know Todd Ransom, nor the other gay Mormons who have given their lives up recently as their last measure of sacrifice. But I have talked to my friends, his friends, people whose lives he had touched for good, and seen the outpouring of love online in the days following the news of his suicide to know what a remarkable young man he was.

I cannot assume the reasoning for giving up his life was based purely on the conflict between being gay and Mormon. But it had to certainly play a large part. His last post “Sunrise - accept this offering - Sunrise” brings me to tears. I know all too well the clash of the mind, heart and soul while trying to reconcile one’s being with the seemingly incompatible spiritual beliefs the Mormon faith teaches. I was ready to sacrifice my own life in a different way, by forcing myself to marry a woman, in order to show my last measure of devotion to the eternal plan I had been taught. Hardly even knowing him, I would have been there for Todd in every way I possibly could before he made his final sacrifice.

As gay Mormons, we are extraordinarily familiar with the concept of sacrifice in order to find favor with our religion and our God. Many of us have denied who we are, our happiness and our well-being in order to find spiritual comfort and acceptance to a strictly held view of righteousness. Many of us would gladly pay a steep ransom for the sure knowledge that our souls were saved in the life to come. Unfortunately, too many think the heavy price of that ransom can only be paid with their lives.

Let’s give of our souls in service for that ransom. Let’s try harder to be a true friend to those who are struggling. Let’s try harder to be more open and express our own needs and weaknesses. Let’s try harder to help open the eyes of those we come in contact with to show them we are as deserving of God’s love and mercy as anyone else. Let’s try harder to provide refuge for the weary, for those who have known anguish, self-loathing and grief, for those who feel they have been rejected for no other reason than who they are.

We are all imperfect individuals, but that does not decrease our capacity to love. I know of no other group of people as needing of the loving embrace of acceptance and support as our fellow gay brothers and lesbian sisters in the Mormon church. Though we may rail about why the church and many of its members chose to ignore this issue as lives are lost, and though we may publicly march to send a loud message of tolerance and understanding, we must face the fact that change comes slowly.

Because progress is measured in glacial increments when it comes to the church and homosexuality, it falls to us to create the safe haven so many gay Mormons desperately need. It falls to us to not let our own insecurities and quick judgments get in the way of offering our friendship and love to every one of God’s children. It falls to us to convey to our fellow gay Mormons that they are not alone, that they are loved and that they are accepted because one suicide, let alone three, is too many.

Let’s give our lives for Ransom.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Family Reunion

I have a few posts I still need to write that come chronologically before the three in this series including an amazing first date, the genesis of the MoHo Map, coming out to my best friend, attending NYC Pride and meeting several other MoHo bloggers. But because of the significance of the events that have happened recently, I have decided to abandon the timeline for a bit to share my coming out story.

- - -

The days leading up to my trip home for the family reunion were tortuous. I couldn’t sleep. I couldn’t eat. I was so busy, yet at the same time I couldn’t accomplish anything. My mind was awash with playing out the scenario in my head when I would come out to my parents. Some people have asked why I have been so intent on telling them, and I think that it is because I do consider family to be one of the biggest joys in my life. I knew that letting them into my life would be difficult, but at the same time a relief. I had never really been open with them before in terms of emotions and feelings, so I didn’t know what to expect.

I don’t get involved in anything until I have researched it out and have some knowledge of what is to come. So either to my benefit or detriment, I had researched many people’s coming out experiences and then prepared for each and every situation I could think of just in case. I told myself that I would prepare for the worst and hope for the best, though I genuinely expected the worst. I tried to incorporate many of these issues into my coming out letter, that way I could establish a firm foundation of expectations with my parents.

I had previously ordered “No More Goodbyes” and “In Quiet Desperation” in preparation as well. I had read through NMG very quickly, my heart both aching and celebrating with each story. I am a very empathetic person. I tend to genuinely feel the emotions of my friends and close acquaintances and sincerely wish and hope the best for each of them. The stories in NMG were so simple yet so profound that I told myself that when I came out to my parents I would give them a copy of the book. (I even wrote the author, Carol Lynn Pearson, thanking her for the tool I thought would soften the blow for them.)

For all intents and purposes, I let time get away from me and I wasn’t able to finish my letter to the degree of liking I preferred. I knew I was working on a document that would define my existence and act as a launching pad for the future. Yes, I would be there in person to answer questions, but this letter would be left behind, something that could be added to family history. I like writing. I wanted to get it right. But it was all over the place. I couldn’t tie it all together. I was also surprised at how difficult it was to write because it encompassed a topic of such a personal nature. I could only work on it a little at a time, though the pressure was growing the days before the flight. I didn’t finish it in time.

The night before the trip, I packed my suitcase and only got about three hours of sleep. Then before I knew it I was off to work on the subway with my things. I don’t even remember what I did that day. I probably was working to get things in order so they wouldn’t fall through the cracks while I was gone. Never before had I taken off more than two days of work in a row, so I was looking forward to the break, but I was just watching the clock waiting for the shuttle that would take me to the airport. The time came, I bid my coworkers farewell and, with a deep breath, took off on what seemed like the greatest adventure of my life.

- - -

The airport was chaotic, the flight overbooked. The airline offered two hundred dollars to reschedule, but I told myself they would have to add another zero on the end for me to even begin to consider rescheduling. I don’t think I could endure the waiting anymore than I absolutely had to. Once aboard the delayed flight, I tried to relax and read the rest of IQD. I bought the book to read ahead of my mom because I knew once I came out to her, she would head to Deseret Book. Knowing this would be what she would find, I wanted to read it preemptively.

I had read and loved the beginning part about Stuart Matis. But the second part I found difficult to read. I don’t know if it was the attitude of the arguments or my unease and lack of sleep, but I found the writing to be labored and excessive, almost to the point of bemoaning same gender attraction with sackcloth and ashes. Needless to say, I didn’t get through the end. I think I dosed off for a few minutes, but I was still stressed and just wanted the flight to end.

Four hours later after landing, I ran to baggage claim and waited for my suitcase to turn the corner of the carousel when a particularly attractive guy chose to stand right in front of me. I am hesitant to say this, but looking at him and feeling at least the superficial attraction that eye-candy garners, I still felt a bit guilty and ashamed of that reaction. I brushed it off like I always did, and when my bag appeared, I grabbed it and headed for the parking lot without looking back.

My dad had come to pick me up and was there waiting. I loaded my things into the backseat and then hopped into the front, sharing a smile and a quick hug before we headed off. My dad is one of the most loving, gentle and caring souls I know, and it was refreshing to see him again. The conversation beyond initial pleasantries mostly focused on my physical appearance.

I hadn’t seen him in six months, and in that time I had come out to myself and subsequently lost 45 pounds. I am actually still losing the weight. I realize that I had used weight as a protection mechanism against me accepting who I was. I reasoned that if I hated myself, so would everyone else. I had also wanted to punish my body for feeling the way it did. (Luckily, I am no longer in that tragic state of mind and am on my way to feeling and looking great!)

On the way home we did have an interesting exchange. Between my mom and dad, I had supposed that my dad would be more agreeable to accepting my coming out news initially. I had actually been dropping subtle hints in the weeks leading up to the family reunion to prepare him. As he was driving, I mentioned in passing how great it was to be home. He replied that I would always be welcome at home. Seeing this as a perfect opportunity to prepare him further, I lightly replied, “I’ll hold you to that.” He gave me an awkward glance and a smile and the conversation moved on until we reached the house.

I was mauled by my mom and my older sister the moment I stepped out of the car. (I had avoided mentioning the weight loss to anyone in the family and hadn’t posted any recent pictures of myself just so I could enjoy this moment.) They both were amazed with how I looked and wanted to know my secret and what diet I was on. I wasn’t about to tell them that the secret was coming out to myself and accepting who I was, but I managed to put together some answer about not being on a diet but simply being aware of what I ate, controlling portion sizes and recognizing when I was full. They were incredulous when I told them I had not exercised one bit to achieve the weight loss. My mom, always the one to be happy with children making healthy changes, was beside herself, though was a bit sad because she had gotten a shirt two sizes too big for me for the family photo. I told her not to worry about it and that we would make it work.

We talked for a bit, enjoying the family being together again. I relish our family conversations. I never laugh so hard as when I do when I am with my family. The conversations are intellectual, joyful and exciting. Only getting together once or twice a year, we also have a lot to talk about. I was trying to enjoy it, thinking it may be one of the last normal conversations I’d have with them. I was determined to enjoy the next four days before I came out, appreciating every moment because I was convinced everything would change once I did. I went to bed that night both smiling over being with my close ones again and frowning at the sadness and conflict my news might mean to that familial unit.

- - -

The next morning we drove two hours to my uncle’s house. My uncle travels with his family during the summer and leaves behind a beautiful home complete with saltwater pool and slide, spa, basketball court, fire pits, barbeque, massive flat panel television and surround sound, pool table, foosball, air hockey and more. I was appreciative of everything to distract me from my own thoughts of dread. (I also secretly believe that my mom used the pool as an excuse to get us away from the city where we grew up just so we wouldn’t be tempted to meet up with any friends and thus steal time away from the reunion. She is an empty nester and wants to make the most of her family time, bless her heart.)

The days were full of family activities like swimming, cooking, eating out, a water balloon fight, picnicking, going to a movie, celebrating a birthday, fireworks, playing card and board games, crafts and many more fun-filled excursions. My mom had created a whole schedule listing activities by the hour just to make sure we maximized the time we had together. Some of the non-traditional activities included a thirty-course blind palette taste test, a patriotic flag ceremony and devotional, a Deseret Industries thrift store scavenger hunt and a family fireside on patriarchal blessings. (Yeah, we are weird but in a good way, and we have a ton of fun!)

I am glad we had so much scheduled fun because waiting until the last day to come out would have been unbearable had I not had planned activities to get me there. My family could tell something was up anyway. I was breaking out, something I do more when I am stressed. And this time it was bad. I wasn’t sleeping at all. I tried, but I was worrying so much and trying to work on my letter. I was texting more than usual (mostly to you fellow bloggers) to the point where my family thought I had a secret girlfriend (how wrong they were). I know I had wanted to enjoy the last few days of normalcy with my family, but I was beginning to think I should have just done it at first because I was slowly tearing myself apart, to the verge of breaking down.

On one of our excursions, we headed to an old pioneer valley for church and a picnic lunch. There is antique chapel and a congregation that still meets there so we went for Sacrament Meeting. It was the Fourth of July and the day before I was planning on coming out. The service was very pleasant and quaint. After the sacrament had been distributed, the member of the bishopric who was conducting got up to start the testimony portion of the meeting. As is custom, he started with his own testimony which included some patriotic themes to honor the holiday. It was all perfectly fine until I heard the phrase, “and I know that the country is currently run by people influenced by the devil...” It just went downhill from there.

The one thing I had going for me about coming out to my parents is that they are both members of the Democratic Party. Being a bit more open-minded than the usual conservative, cookie-cutter Mormon, I had hoped that this open-mindedness would extend to their only son. After a lovely picnic I was in the car with my mom on the way home. I brought up the interesting testimony which led to a fantastic political discussion including a conversation about the prejudices felt by Mormons who are Democrats living in conservative areas. I took the opportunity to ask my Mom there was anything on the Democratic platform that she did not agree with. Without skipping a beat, she responded “Gay marriage.”

She qualified her comments by saying that she thought that they had the right to be together and that there were many loving partnerships with good people, but that the Plan of Salvation was about the family unit being sealed in the temple, which a gay couple simply could not do. I was a little dismayed but I understood where she was coming from. Family to her is everything, and a celestial family bound for the eternities has always been her unabashed goal. The conversation moved on to other topics, but my mind remained on what she had said. I wondered if her views would change at all learning about me, or if she would always be saddened for the family she expected but might not attain. I wondered if she would ever be able to support me getting married to another man.

That night was the worst. I was worried and nauseous. I was up until 5 AM finishing my letter, thinking, praying, worrying, fidgeting and pacing. I was having second thoughts. Why was I doing this? Did I want to change everything? Were my feelings all that important in the eternal scheme of things? Was my happiness worth the sadness of my family? After a few calls to some friends (where I went into the garage to make sure I wasn’t heard at all), I calmed down and regained a level head, but I was still worried and exhausted. I was wrestling with myself, wrestling with the exact wording of the letter and wrestling with the decision to come out that I had thought I already made. Finishing the letter, I read it over once quickly to proofread it, posted it online and then collapsed onto the bed. In the chaos of my mind, sleep came slowly.

- - -

My sister knocked on my door early at 6 AM, asking if I were going on the sunrise hike. I grumbled that I wouldn’t be. I was, however, meeting an old friend for an early breakfast because that was the only time we could coordinate our schedules to do so. I roused myself, took a quick shower and headed out to an IHOP that was close by. I took my letter on a flash drive so I could print it somewhere in town because the house had no printer I could use. After a lovely breakfast, I drove around the city endlessly to find some store that was open.

Because of the federal holiday, all of the FedEx, Kinkos and OfficeMax stores were closed as were the libraries and every other place I thought might have a printer for customer use. I started to think I would go crazy, having invested so much into writing this letter that I could not print! I finally found a Staples where the only employee there graciously printed out three copies of the letter for me. (I am pretty sure he got a good look at what it contained, but at this point I was just happy to have a physical copy I could give to my parents.)

I got home and stashed the letters in my luggage along with NMG. I then proceeded to pack my things, just in case I needed to make a quick exit that evening. I didn’t think I would have another chance later in the day. Hearing the tales of the gorgeous sunrise hike coming from down the hallway, I joined my family as they returned and tried to act as if everything was normal for the rest of the morning.

At some point, I made it my goal to tell my dad I needed to talk to him and Mom alone later that day. It was an awkward conversation because I had never really asked for anything like it before. He agreed, of course, and I proceeded to tell him that Mom might not enjoy the conversation too much and that I needed his help to perhaps step in and maintain the peace. This statement alone probably caused him to worry even more by the look on his face. I told him not to worry and that it was only a precaution. I don’t think that worked. He looked worried the rest of the day.

Later in the afternoon, I was helping my mom with the laundry and I mentioned to her that I would like to speak to her and Dad privately sometime. She immediately responded quite emphatically, “I hope it isn’t bad. I can’t handle anything bad right now.” I wept on the inside. I took a beat and forced a smile. I don’t know where I got the strength from, but I replied that it was something good and left to go be alone to recompose myself.

I don’t remember much about that afternoon. I was in a daze. I might have gone swimming or played some games. I don’t know. I was doing a lot of thinking and worrying. I had already told my parents I wanted to talk, so there was really no going back at this point. I was lost in a stupor of thought while sitting in the living room when all of a sudden my pensive musings were broken by my mom addressing me, asking, “How about now?”

I snapped out of my daze to the realization I was alone with my parents in the living room. Everyone else had, amazingly enough, gone outside to play in the pool. I had supposed the conversation would happen later that night, not at that moment. It was so early still! My heart started beating out of control. I had to catch my breath. Thoughts raced through my mind. Was I ready for this? Can I blow off the whole thing? Where can I run and hide? Could I survive this? How would things change? Would my parents still love me? I was about to find out, right then.

Accepting that this is what fate had in store for me, I responded affirmatively and said I would meet them in their room shortly after getting something from mine. Once in my room, I quickly sent out a mass text for support. I checked the many encouraging and loving comments on my letter I posted online and then fell to my knees and offered a quick prayer. I retrieved the letters and the book when my phone started to fill with additional thoughts of love and strength from many of you. I was invigorated and made the determination to go through with it and actually come out.

Leaving my phone behind so I wouldn’t be distracted, I headed to my parent’s room. My hands shaking and clinging to the letter for dear life, I tried to take a few deep breaths to calm the butterflies in my stomach and to get my heart the oxygen it needed because it was pounding so quickly. Everything was about to change. For better or for worse, my and my parent’s realities would never be the same once I told them I was gay. I was seconds away from having the most important conversation of my life.

Monday, July 12, 2010

A Week of Happiness

The past week of being out and open with my parents and getting to know my true self has been pure bliss.

The comfort of being gay, open and myself has been enveloping while the relief of the weight being shared is simply glorious. I don’t remember ever being this happy.

I just got home from the two-week journey (with a red-eye flight and a day of work included). Though I am exhausted, the trip was one of the most worthwhile things I have ever done in my life.

I cannot wait to write about the story of my coming out, parental reactions, meeting many of you fellow bloggers, lots of experiential firsts and some follow-up conversations with my parents (in addition to all of the other posts I owe you). I have a lot of writing to do!

But at this instant, I must rest. So look forward to a flood of posts coming up soon.

Happy One Week Anniversary!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Parent’s Reaction to My Coming Out

Good news! I wanted to let you all know that coming out to my parents went very well. I am happier now than I think I have ever been. Thanks you so much for your love and support!

It was much harder than I thought it would be, but they reacted so amazingly well. I cannot describe the relief I feel.

I am going to write a dedicated post on the whole experience as soon as I get the chance, but I wanted to update you all in the interim on the good news. Yay!

Monday, July 5, 2010

My Coming Out Letter

Here it is. My coming out letter. I haven't had the time I wanted or needed to really go over this, but here is what my parents are going to read this evening while I am in the room, ready to answer any questions they may have and give them a copy of "No More Goodbyes."

This has been one of the most difficult, personal things I have ever written, and I appreciate all of your love, support and help that has gotten me this far.

- - -

Dear Mom and Dad,

I have been writing this letter for 15 years. I have started and stopped many times, finished and deleted it over and over, and now I am trying again.

I love you so much! I cannot describe how much our family means to me. You are the biggest support in my life, and the pillars of strength that you provide have been crucial. Thank you for raising me to be a good person, who seeks for the best in everyone and every situation. Thank you for raising me to love the Lord and His church. Thank you for the amazing job you have done. I don't know how you do everything you do. You are great examples for me to live up to. I love you.

All my life, I have always wanted to please you as your son. Your respect means the world to me. One of my biggest fears in life is disappointing you, you mean that much to me. I would never want to cause you any grief or heartache. I have always tried to be a good son and bring you joy. I have never wanted to let you down. Please know that giving you this letter is by far the hardest thing I have ever done.

All my life I have been guarded about my feelings. I am sure you have noticed. I don't open up. I don't share too much information about me personally besides the some of the week-to-week activities of my life. Much of this is because I don't like feeling vulnerable, and these mechanisms have been ones of defense and protection. I don’t open up because I don’t completely understand what is going on, and there is a clarion reason why.

I am sharing with you something that is at my very core, something that I have hidden from the world, something that defines me, something that only the Lord and I know about and have conversed about regularly, if not daily. I am not sure if you have ever suspected, or maybe this will shock you, I do not know.

Mom and Dad, I am gay. I have consciously known since I was in the fifth grade, and before that I was innocent enough to not realize it wasn't normal. Most importantly, I did not choose to be gay. It is the way I am, the way I have always been and the way I have felt since I can remember. It is my reality.

I share this with you under complete confidence and would hope you hold this information to yourselves only and not tell anyone else, including all family, relatives and acquaintances for the moment. Please let me handle telling them and anyone else at my own pace and in my own way.

It has taken me a lifetime to begin to understand it and I don’t fully. I don’t think I ever will. I am just coming to terms with it. I have never been attracted to women. Before, I thought it was out of respect and admiration of the female gender that I never wanted to pursue someone, hold hands or kiss. Now I understand that my heart just wasn’t in it. I have never been in love.

I want to share a brief glimpse with you of what my life has been like. I do this so you can really know me. I am the same person, you just know more about me and hopefully this will lead to an openness of love between us. I really hope it will.

Growing up in the church as a closeted gay young man has been beyond difficult, nearly impossible. I have always denied the attractions I felt, thinking if I was a better person or more holy or more dedicated to the church the feelings would go away. I have cried and pleaded with the Lord until my knees were bloody that he change me, that he heal me of the terrible burden I had been dealt. I have cried to Him in tears nightly asking why I was the way I was. Through all my dedication, work and devotion, I have never been changed and I still feel the way I do.

In the church, I am taught that part of me is evil, that part of me is beyond forgivable, that I have a sickness to be cured, a malady that can be purged, that the part of me I had no choice in becoming is bad. I have been pressured into silence and fear that I could not openly discuss this issue. The church ignores it mostly. But I wanted to make very clear to you that I have never consciously chosen to do wrong. To me, it is as ridiculous as saying that everyone who is born with green eyes is sinful. I have never chosen to be gay.

I am a good person. I am faithful and God-fearing. I am a servant. I am a good son. I am a good brother. I am a good uncle. I am a worker. I am temple worthy. I am a believer. I am the same person you knew this morning. But I am not happy.

I have experienced happiness through our family, through the joys of others, through the gospel and through good times and experiences. But deep down inside, I’ve had only the outward appearance of happiness because I have been miserable to my core. The gnawing of my feelings was ever-present. At every moment of the day, during every waking hour, I could never escape who I was.

I have been bottled up, not truly ever able to be myself. The church teaches me that I have a disease that can be healed, a wrong that can be righted, a burden that is to be carried throughout my life until I die and will be straightened out. Instead of addressing the personal issue of me being gay, the church classifies me as suffering same sex attraction or same gender attraction. Those terms remove the humanity and seem cold and clinical to me.

Because of what I was taught and the gospel that I believe in, I have hated myself since I can remember. I hated that I didn’t fit in with the eternal plan. I hated that I couldn’t be myself. I hated my appearance. I hated looking into the mirror. I never understood how anyone could remotely like or want to be around a creature as wretched as I. My spirit has always been at war with my body. I tried to punish my body for feeling and reacting the way it did. I gained weight purposely as a defense mechanism so I would continue to hate myself.

Having known so long, but never admitting I was gay, I created emotional and physical walls around me to protect myself from ever being true to myself. My support system is my family and the church. I even work around members and used that as a way to stay hidden from the world though I was there in plain sight. I actually think being a closeted gay man has enhanced my ability to empathize and perform the tasks at my work which require so much careful wording and subtlety.

However, I was not being honest with myself or you. Not everything in my life been as peachy as I have painted it. In the darkness of my divided nature, I have suffered through many bouts of depression and fleeting thoughts of suicide. Please do not be worried. I know there is too much to live for, too much good that needs to be done, too much love that needs to be offered and too much service that needs to be performed for those malicious thoughts to last more than an instant. I like life, family and the gospel too much to give up that easily.

In the church, I have been encouraged to marry the gay out of me. I was convinced if I tried harder I could change. I have hoped that finding the right girl might ignite a spark that would erase the feelings I have always known. I did and have done everything right. I forced myself to believe that if I could just get married to a girl then I would be committed enough to the gospel truths I know to continue to be faithful, make things work and do my very best to be the fantastic husband and father I know I can be. I so very much desire the peace of mind of having a place in the eternities.

I was ready to get married. I was willing to do it. I was willing to live with my secret my whole life long to live the normal approved life I have always wanted. My senior year at BYU, I decided that I was going to make the ultimate sacrifice to deny my feelings and get married. I made the commitment. I bought the ring. I went to the temple and sought the confirmation from the Lord that the choice I had made was correct and approved of. I prayed, fasted and pleaded, showing the lord that I was willing to do anything for him and sacrifice anything to fit into the plan. But I did not receive the calming answer once I presented my decision.

I had a stupor of thought. I felt bad about the marriage. I was so confused and lost, I didn’t understand. I thought that I had presented before the Lord was the right thing, part of the plan and the way things were going to be. But I simply felt that the marriage wasn’t right and I was frustrated that my offering to the Lord was not being accepted. I went back to the temple every day for two weeks straight, trying to ascertain the will of the Lord, to find my place and gain approval for the path I had determined would fit what I had been taught and knew to be true.

In frustration at the answer I had received, I called you, Dad, in tears from the Provo temple parking lot and poured out to you more than I ever had before. The closest I ever came to telling you about my feelings was on that night, when I told you that my really only concern about the marriage was that I just didn't find her attractive. You calmed me. You helped me organize my thoughts and see the pros and the cons of each aspect of the marriage decision. You gave me great reasons to go through with it. You also said that there was no ticking time bomb, which was exactly how I felt.

I was overwhelmed by the pressures of the church and of getting married at BYU. I was overwhelmed by family pressures to wed. I was overwhelmed by my own desire to fit in and be normal. When you said there was no ticking time bomb to getting married, the spirit flowed into me and confirmed that to me with such force. I was so surprised with the answer but accepted it. You said exactly what I needed to hear.

Looking back, I am glad I didn’t get married my last year at BYU. Even though I was willing to devote everything to it, I have since come to the realization that getting married would be unfair to my wife because I could never truly love her to the fullest potential. But then, I supposed that I simply had not chosen the right person and the confirmation I sought was denied because I had not found the person I was meant to be with yet.

Graduating from BYU, I tried to fill my time up with so many other things so I wouldn't have the time to think about my predicament. I dedicated myself completely to different causes so I could work my feelings into submission. I determined that since I couldn't change my feelings, I would just ignore them. I have become so good at compartmentalizing the pain and grief I feel that I don't know how to truly feel anymore.

I continued dating, trying to find the person who the Lord would accept me marrying. Moving to New York, I still pleaded with the Lord to change me so I could live up to His and your expectations of me. I cried myself to sleep most nights thinking that if only I were better I could be made whole. I read my scriptures, went to church and went to the temple regularly, all searching for the answers I desired. I was still avoiding my feelings, keeping them hidden and secret. I didn’t understand, I still don’t, the “whys” of the attractions I feel.

About four months ago, I reached a point of desperation. It wasn’t caused by anything in particular but by the combined experience and emotions of a lifetime of internal turmoil. Within my conflicted nature, I felt so alone. I felt like I could never tell you. I felt like I could never be accepted. I felt rejected by the church. I felt lost and confused and went to the only place where I knew I could attempt to sort things out before anything rash occurred.

I fled to the temple out of concern for my own well-being and safety. Once there, I fell to my callused knees and prayed harder than ever before for the Lord to remove my burden, to be changed so I could be normal, so I could be free from the pitiful, rejected, pathetic, unlovable, deplorable, wretched, unwanted outcast I was. I cried, my heart broken, no longer wanting to be me, no longer wanting to fight, no longer wanting to live.

Not receiving an answer, in my frustration and anger at myself, I asked the one last question I could think of, a question that I had never thought to ask before. I had never asked this question out of fear of the answer, of myself, of being rejected by my very Creator and thus doomed to exile and outer darkness which would have been too much for me. But I had come to a point where it was the only thing left to ask.

I asked if He accepted me as I was: gay.

That very instant, I felt such a sense of overpowering love from on high that I was overcome with emotion and almost collapsed. I felt the spirit and the love and the acceptance of God so strongly that it was tangible, like an embrace of a broken child who finally understood. Upon feeling that heavenly acceptance, the relief that washed over me felt like pure joy, a sensation I had long forgotten. I cried uncontrollably with happiness at the revelation I had just received.

In that moment, I had a divinely inspired epiphany, a fundamental paradigm shift that I could be my gay self and still be loved and accepted by God. This completely new way of thinking and believing changed my whole outlook on life. I didn’t have a reason to hate myself. I didn’t have to be someone who I wasn’t. I didn’t have to hide. I was not alone.

I know that we are meant to have joy. I want to be happy. I want to love and be loved. I still don't understand. I don't think I ever will in this lifetime. I know I face some agonizing decisions in the future and I don’t know what is next. I just know that the fa├žade I have lived behind my whole life is no longer necessary. I can’t live up to my full potential behind those walls, ignoring and never addressing the issue I have compartmentalized away my entire existence.

This is me. This is why I have never opened up and always shut down at the mere mention of dating, relationships and more. Perhaps with this new knowledge you can understand me more and love me more as your son. I have been prompted to share this with you, and it has taken more courage than I have in order to do it.

I am gay. I have stopped trying to understand why. The world and the church have many differing views of the cause. It is not because of a lack of understanding of the gospel, not because of a biological aberration, not because of an emotionally distant father, not because of an overbearing mother, not because of living in New York and most definitely not because it was my choice.

Please do not think of me as selfish or as taking the easy way out. This is not the easy way. The easy way would to be continuing to deny myself in the comforting veil of ignorance. I am not coming out to spite you or purposely anger you. I have no malicious intent and would never knowingly inflict harm or grief upon you. It has worried me to no end telling you this, to the point of being physically ill. I hope that this can be a turning point in our relationship, increasing the love and support between us.

Please don’t feel ashamed of me or of yourselves. My being gay isn't because of poor parenting. I am the way I am, and I am starting to accept it rather than fight it. You are remarkable parents, my best friends and the biggest support in my life. I don’t know what I would do if you reject me. I don't know what I could do without you. I hope and pray you can still be a support and foundation in my life. I hope you don't shut me out. I am still the same person, the same loving son, the same soul. You just know me better. Now you can start to understand.

I don’t want to be miserable my whole life long. I want to be happy. I am starting to be happy and comfortable with myself. It is a journey that may take some time. I am having to learn everything all over again. Being gay is only part of who I am. You know the rest of me. I love you. I want to make you proud. And I want you to know the real me.

Once again, I implore you to not tell the rest of the family or anyone else yet. Please respect that. Right now, I don’t know what is next. I don’t know where I am being led in life. I have just accepted this myself and know difficult choices are ahead. I know that you will probably need to take some time to ponder, process and pray about this and talk it over, so I may be out of contact for a bit and there may be a time period where you and I need some space. Please take all the time you need, but know I stand ready and willing to talk like we always have at any time.

Mom, Dad, love me for who I am. Instead of being disappointed, hope for the best and be happy for me. I am happier.

Love your son,


Sunday, July 4, 2010

Tomorrow Changes Everything

I am one day away from coming out to my parents.

The family reunion is going well, though I remain very busy with all of the scheduled activities. I am still trying to finish my letter in the free moments I do have.

I am feeling nervous, scared, confident, timid, excited, afraid, proud, ashamed and everything in between.

I vacillate between wanting to tell them and having second thoughts, though I know this will be one of the few opportunities that we can have this conversation.

If there were ever a time I needed positive affirmation and some encouraging, loving thoughts, that would be now.

Monday, June 28, 2010

Coming Out a Week From Today

I have been so busy as of late that my blogging is falling behind (all for good reasons). I have been working on a special project that will be unveiled later today (more on that soon).

However, I did want to give you an update on the topics of the posts I would like to write because exciting things have been happening:

  • Unveiling the special project
  • My spectacular first date
  • Coming out to my best friend
  • My coming out letter to my parents
  • Going to NYC Pride
  • Meeting more MoHos

And future topics I know I will post about:

  • My family reunion
  • Actually coming out to my parents
  • My upcoming Salt Lake City trip

So stay tuned. There are lots of exciting things happening on the horizon!

Monday, June 21, 2010

Thoughts on the Fireside

I am straying from my usual posts to offer a comment that I wrote on GMB's blog about the upcoming fireside that has taken the MoHosphere by storm:

Coming from the perspective of someone who is still involved in the church, I think the fireside would have done two things for me: 1) It would have been a much needed comfort that my needs were at least being attempted to be met, providing a starting point and people to talk to rather than hiding, and 2) I would have been terrified to even go and show my face.

I appreciate that this fireside is more about addressing needs. It was destined to become a lightning rod issue just because it is sponsored by the Church, meaning certain language has to be used. However, I find it hard to believe that in the breakaway sessions, people will not break the barrier of the wordage and address some critical issues. I think that this has the potential to be a really good fireside.

I think I would have been much better off not feeling so alone for so long. This fireside might serve as a catalyst for people coming out to their parents and leaders and revealing that as a group we exist and do not have to hide. The potential future relationships and openness from this single event could cause a lot of good.

The dialogue and the environment must be a safe one. I never felt safe enough to vocalize anything. An admission of being gay is a condition that really alters everything and you can’t go back to the way things were before. And honestly, I don’t know if I would have felt safe going to a fireside like this.

I applaud that the dialogue is happening and that people have the option of going, but I do agree that impressionable minds will be in attendance and the framework provided to them as they begin their journeys of coming out will be key to the direction those journeys will take.

However, I think we may be giving too much credit to the power of this fireside. People are free to choose their own path, and simply because they attended this fireside, I don’t think they will be like lemmings toeing the church line. If it opens up the dialogue for them to find other resources, I think that people will really look for happiness, whether that be by staying faithful or exploring other options.

The unspoken endorsement of a Mixed Orientation Marriage is both inspirational and dangerous. Earlier in my life, I was desperate to get married, and seeing one that worked would have been a very convincing argument for keeping with bearing my burden in order to continue living in accordance to the gospel.

Right now, at the beginning of his marriage, Ty’s viewpoint will be a bit too peachy, still in the honeymoon, to be able to be an accurate judge of the success of MOMs. In order for this not to be simply church propaganda, another viewpoint of a MOM marriage that did not work out would be necessary. I hope that this will come from the breakaway groups.

The two options that the church can endorse are MOMs and celibacy. And that is really where the rub is. Either of those options don’t really symbolize happiness, at least in my mind. This is a high risk, high reward fireside. I think that it will be a great night to provide a sense of community and open the dialogue, though potentially dangerous to endorse a specific course for people to follow.

But I go back to my point, I think people are smarter and more aware than we give them credit. I think that for the most part, they will be able to take the good and then decide where their lives should go. Yes, there are a few who will believe that the words of the church are law, but I find that those who are gay wake up eventually.

There is no easy answer. But in the atmosphere of fear and silence, opening up and at least sending the message that this issue is one that CAN be talked about is the best benefit. For that alone, I would be OK with this fireside.

I hope and pray that the information revealed will not be abused by leaders in the church. I hope that there isn't a child who is forced to go against their wishes. I know some people who would rather die than go to a meeting like this.

The diversity of voices is crucial, rather than having just one source of “the answers.” I don't think this can be accomplished by protesting. I wish I could buy a hundred copies of No More Goodbyes and give them out to every attendee at the door, just to show that there are other options. Heck, even a flyer with the MoHo Directory's web address and a loving note on it would work.

It may not be ideal, but some action is better than none. But that is my opinion.

Sunday, June 20, 2010


Before last weekend, I had only spoken out loud about being gay to one or two fellow bloggers over the phone. During those calls, I was in my apartment with my roommates (also Mormons), so I never really felt free to talk. I had to hide, use code words and beat around the bush while trying to make a point. Because of the paper thin walls, I haven’t felt like I could be myself even over the phone.

Meeting GMB in person was a refreshing respite from the closed off walls of my life as we talked about everything imaginable. In the time he was here, we had enjoyably long chats just about everywhere. Sure, gay and MoHo themed subjects dominated the conversation, but we were able to move beyond those. We are both academics at heart and were able to weave theory and past experience into our conversations with ease.

Over the weekend we had ample time to chat. Essentially, though we did have a lot of fun, the conversations were what I was most looking forward to. I truly believe each person’s life is lived as a series of conversations. I think I got less sleep last weekend then I have in a long while due to conversations. Because of the combination of activities in the city, subway rides and long talks into the evening, I think I averaged going to bed at four AM each night (or morning!?!).

Four particular conversations stand out in my memory, each happening at a different location.

After the Broadway show, we went back to my work to get his things and then head to my apartment. In the corner office, where we went to see the view of New York at night below us, we both crashed on the plush chairs and ended up talking. We talked about the play and shared our reviews, but really that first night was more of a get-to-know-you.

Amazingly, the first time I ever said “I’m gay” out loud happened while I was at my work – in the CEO’s office. (I sure hope that the office wasn’t bugged at all!) It was so foreign to hear my own voice saying that phrase I had known to be true for so long yet never uttered in my life. It made me pause, contemplating the magnitude of it. I learned so much that evening, both about him and about myself. Heading home on the subway late at night was a little tedious and took longer than normal, but we got in and chatted even more before heading to bed.

- - -

The next day, after sleeping in and cooking breakfast (strawberries and cream stuffed French toast with a chocolate drizzle – quite the threesome of flavors), we headed across Central Park to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, or the Met. Central Park was gorgeous on a bright summer day teeming with people from all walks of life doing their thing – dancing, skating, sailing, playing, reading, sleeping, busking, you name it.

The Met was equally as glorious, with fantastic exhibits and things to see. We browsed around everything from modern art to Greek sculpture as well as seeing an intriguing and well-curated American women’s fashion installation and a huge Picasso exhibit. The extended conversation here had a running theme of how regionality influences art and literature, including examining the changes of personality and relative existence on creativity. (I warned you we are both academics at heart – we both discussed papers we would eventually like to write given the time and proper access to resources and research. Crazy, I know.)

While we were discussing a stunning freestanding Mayan stela, the topic of regionality led to a side conversation on how I thought that when I come out to my parents they might think that living in New York actually made me gay, or at least contributed to it. This is a fascinating subject that I am working on another dedicated post discussing the differences between the east and west coast when it comes to open-mindedness, the church and coming out. So stay tuned for that one.

We had tasty dinner at the museum (I love museum food. I was raised on it.) and worked our way through more exhibits, discovering an exciting find every now and then that held special significance to either of us. The Met is so big it is possible to find treasures unknown inside and never be able to find the same spot again. We were trying to fit in as much as possible before we were politely ushered out of the museum around closing time, just missing the closing of the gift shop.

From there, we walked and roamed around the city, stopping by the Apple store for the first time for both of us, Columbus Circle and Times Square. (One odd side note, there seemed to be an odd number of people speaking Portuguese walking around that night. We both noticed.) After gazing at the lights and commercial appeal of the crossroads of the world, we ended up at the best cheesecake place in the city, Junior’s.

We selected our cheesecake from the plethora of flavors they offered and sat in the corner of their outdoor seating area, enjoying the perfectly mild night temperature. We both agreed that we are people watchers and enjoyed being in a place where we could just sit, eat, talk and watch those around us. The cheesecake was quite delicious and we ended up in an involved discussion about the MoHo experience, with the MoHosphere as a focal point.

We talked about the types of MoHos that exist in the community as well as the phases of voices that cycle through. One aspect of our conversation that I found extremely intriguing was the perceived roles within the MoHo community and what responsibilities we assume in the collective group. Each of us has a different voice with stories to tell and that richness adds to the fabric of the growing conversation.

Building on his interest in intertextuality, we thought it would be an interesting project to document and map the evolving MoHosphere to see the cycles, effects and relationships this online community has enabled and created. I don’t know when we would have the time to embark on such a challenging project, but it was captivating to think about, especially the MoHo Map. (Personally, I think that building unity is a good thing and that a map would aid us all, new voices and old, knowing that we are not alone in our pursuits.)

Breaking from the conversation, we both realized that it was well past two AM and the restaurant had long since closed. We had been so involved talking at the little patio table for several hours, just the two of us, that the time just flew by. I guess the Chinese proverb “a single conversation across the table with a wise person is worth a month’s study of books” is true, for I learned so much and enjoyed the freedom of it all. Amazingly enough, for the first time I didn’t really care what other people might have thought of us being there so long, talking, laughing and enjoying ourselves. I was just so happy being able to talk unreservedly that I didn’t care what the world thought.

- - -

The last day he was in New York, we made the journey down to SoHo, a neighborhood known for its fashionable stores and vibrant culture. I have never been one for fashion so the experience was new for me, specifically learning what clothes can express about a person (especially socks, apparently). I think as I build up more confidence in myself and my body that I will be able to enjoy clothes more and create a style for myself other than the conservative business wear I have become so accustomed to.

Talking along the way from store to store, from SoHo to Union Square and from fashion outlets to souvenir stands, I was entranced by the sheer idea of being comfortable. Having been guarded for so long, it is an enticing prospect learning to be comfortable with myself. Talking with someone who has apparently found that comfort was refreshing and confidence-building. The entire weekend, I so enjoyed our conversations.

- - -

Looking back hardly a week after, I am amazed at how fast the time has gone by, yet the conversations remain with me. Of all the things that happened this past weekend, I think the most significant development was vocalizing my thoughts and feelings through dialogue and honest, open conversations. I am not quite sure how to explain it, but sharing and interacting with another person in the flesh brought about a sense of comfort and concreteness. It is liberating to be accepted and understood, and having that validation face to face brings a calm reassurance that a gay closeted Mormon can only imagine.

Yes, GMB and I saw and did some amazing things this past weekend. (My next and last post in this series will document perhaps one of the most spectacular events New York City has to offer.) But my favorite part of the weekend were the conversations.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Face to Face

This past weekend I had the opportunity to take a big step forward: I got to meet one of you face to face! I have determined to write a three-part series to try to document the occasion and share it with you. This is obviously the first part.

As always, my home stands open to anyone who wants to visit the Big Apple. I love to host and help my friends out in whatever way I can. GMB, who I started chatting with online a few months ago, had the opportunity to come to the east coast and spend a few days in Manhattan after another trip and had asked if he could stay. I was so happy that he took me up on my offer, and we planned to make the most out of his time. (I will write more about one specific shared adventure in my third and last post in this series. Believe me, it will be well worth the wait.)

Now, I must walk you through some of my thoughts and feelings as I geared up to meet this fellow MoHo blogger. I am a pretty level-headed guy, down to earth and outwardly confident. Nothing really fazes or surprises me. But when I realized I was going to meet someone else in person who knew I was gay, I was instantly discombobulated. I had never seen anyone in person who knew! My emotions were quite the uncontrollable roller coaster ride.

Existing behind the comforting veil of technology in a somewhat anonymous state, I have been at ease interacting with the MoHosphere. I have always been a better writer than a speaker, and online I can craft my image and emotions through well-placed words and thought-out phrases. I can be witty through the written word and use emoticons in place of my face to convey more emotion. Even through instant messaging and text messages, I can think through what to say and feel out the words in my mind as I physically type out the consonants and vowels.

But meeting someone in person, that comforting veil of technology was about to come crashing down and reveal the man behind the curtain. I was to be exposed for nothing more or less than who I am. Surprised with that thought, I instantly began to feel insecure, worried and self-conscious about myself, my mannerisms, my voice, my clothes, my body, my face, my lack of knowledge about gay culture, everything. I wondered if I was ready to meet someone who knew. I wondered if I would even be able to talk intelligently or if my body would just shut off all flow of knowledge from my brain to my mouth. I wondered if this would all be worth it.

I spent the days before he came preparing for his visit by cleaning pretty much anything that could be cleaned around my apartment. I mopped, washed, vacuumed, laundered, polished and dusted anything I could see or reach. Heck, I even cleaned out the fridge just in case he looked inside. I was determined that even if I wouldn’t be able to function normally, the things I could control, like the cleanliness of my apartment or planning and making certain events happen, would be top-notch. I got to bed late that night and didn’t get much sleep.

The morning came early and with a two and a half hour nap, I was up and off to the theater district at 5 AM. One of the things he wanted to do most was to see a specific play on Broadway that had special meaning to him, an exceptional one that has a limited run and has been sold out for the past two months. It is one of the hottest tickets on Broadway and almost impossible to get unless you are comfortable with paying about the same as a month’s rent for a two hour show.

However, I had done my research and knew of only one remaining way to get tickets. When the show's sold out, there's a slim possibility that standing room tickets will be made available to the public only to be sold the day of the performance when the box office opens in the morning. That was my shot! I really wanted to make this happen for him, and I was determined to get the tickets, so I headed to midtown earlier than I had ever before to claim my spot in line and hope that the tickets would be available.

Arriving around six, I saw that there were five people ahead of me who must have had the same idea and dedication as I did waiting for the box office to open. I hoped that there would be enough tickets for all of us, so I waited. About twenty people lined up after me in the minutes that followed. Four hours later (and an hour into when I normally start work, shhh, don’t tell!) the box office opened, and I waited with baited breath to see if I had arrived early enough. Slowly working my way to the front, I was relieved and rejoiced to get the second to last tickets available that night. Had I arrived a mere five minutes later than I did, I wouldn’t have gotten them!

I texted him excitedly that I had gotten the tickets and then ran to work, worried about arriving a bit late. Everything ended up fine, and I tried to carry on as normal for the rest of the work day even though I was exhausted. I was working on deadline on a significant writing project that day, and I still can’t believe I got it done in time. I wasn’t able to concentrate. I couldn’t think. My mind was wandering. I was worried that my phone battery might die. I was worried if it started raining. I was worried about if I had the tickets and checked to make sure I still had them constantly throughout the day. Though not soon enough, the time came when I got the text from him that he had arrived.

I texted back that I would meet him outside my building so he could drop off his things before we started our evening’s activities which were located near where I work. Gathering my nerves, I descended the elevator and silently prayed my mind wouldn’t shut down when I met him. Heading out the door of the lobby, I looked around at the hundreds of people moving about, getting off of the bus, coming up from the ground from the subway. It’s a city of strangers. Some come to work, some to play. I was looking around knowing that we were trying to find each other in the crowded streets. Making one more call, we connected. I saw him, standing with his luggage on the far corner of the street on a slightly raised walkway.

There he was. This was it. I was about to be seen. I was about to be known. I took a breath and then crossed the street.

I waved and caught his attention then went up to meet him. Sharing a quick embrace and saying hello, we had officially met and that was that. From the moment he said my name with a smile on his face, just like he had said my name when he was the first to discover who I was online, the insecurities and worries vanished and I was able to be myself, calm, cool and collected. Offering to take his luggage, we headed back across the street to my office as instant friends.

Inside, I was no longer worried. I was confident again. I was myself again. I had been worrying for no reason because I had just been accepted for who I was, no questions asked. I had met someone face to face who knew I was gay and suddenly for that instant the burdens of hiding my true self from the world no longer bore their weight on my shoulders.

We dropped off his things and I introduced him to my colleagues like an old friend. Soon after, I showed him around Times Square, delighting in the look of pure wonder on his face as he witnessed the crossroads of the world. We talked, easily communicating and connecting like any two normal people would. We grabbed a quick bite to eat near a wide, low pool and fountain before heading to the play. Entering the theater, we found the spot where we would be standing and then eagerly waited for the play to begin as we watched the people around us getting settled. Soon the lights dimmed, the audience quieted and the performance began.

The play was masterfully performed. It is powerful enough on its own to stand the test of time while communicating so much universal experience through such a simple story. During a particularly moving part near the end, I chanced a glance at my newfound friend and witnessed for myself how much seeing the play meant to him. It was his first Broadway experience. I turned back to the stage smiling to myself, knowing that the efforts I had gone through to get the tickets were appreciated. I let that happiness fill me up as we stood as friends watching side by side.

Looking back at the entire experience I feel so silly about the childish and unreasoned thoughts and feelings that raced through my head in the hours leading to our meeting up. Having been surrounded by self-imposed walls (and fences) my whole life, it was a relief to tear some down and let in a little light and fresh air. The power of simply being accepted for who I am was so significant, yet sublime, that I can only look back and smile.

I had a friend who I’d met in real life, face to face, who knew I was gay. He wasn’t just a pseudonym on a screen or a Facebook profile anymore, but a living, breathing human being who understood and accepted me. All of me. I could be free, I could be confident, I could be myself, and I discovered for the first time after a long while what it really feels like to be happy.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010


I was called adorable by two different boys yesterday and am still smiling from ear to ear!

That is a new concept for me since I have hated myself for so long. So, thanks for the love and confidence boost!

I really appreciate the friendships that have come about through this blog and the MoHosphere. I couldn't have made it this far and discovered this happiness without you.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Re: Coming Out Letter Ideas

Thank you for all of your wonderful input and insight on my last post asking for guidance on writing a coming out letter. At the bottom of this post, I have responded to each of your comments.

As a quick update, work has been insanely busy this past week and when combined with some pretty severe computer problems, I have not been able to work on the letter like I originally hoped to. (Or read, comment or interact with the MoHosphere. I am going to try to catch up.) I almost lost my letter because of a computer crash but was able to recover it. I had prepared myself to have to start the whole thing over again.

It is interesting how hard it has been to write this letter. I usually have no problem whatsoever when it comes to writing. I enjoy it. But I have found as I sit looking at the screen and the pulsating cursor, I have held back so much for so long and bottled up so much emotion that now as I crack open, aside from the initial blast of thoughts and feelings, I am quite speechless.

I also just finished reading the book, “No More Goodbyes.” (I’ll write an exclusive post on that later.) I know for sure that my letter will be accompanied by a copy of that book when I give it to my parents. My mom reads so much, I wouldn’t put it past her to read it all in one evening (depending on her emotional state).

Thank you again for your comments and thoughts.

@Rob: Thank you for that link and resource. I think my letter is going to have a little bit of everyone’s ideas and concepts in it.

@LDS Brother: Thanks for the well wishes! Do you think you will ever take that step?

@Reina: For me, I think a letter will be best, but I will be there in person to give it to them and talk to them after. I just don’t trust myself to speak coherently if I were to come out to them just by talking to them. I really do hope that they still love and accept me, though I know not to expect that right off the bat. For many people it takes time. Also, thank you for sharing with me that question. I added a whole paragraph on how my parents shouldn’t blame themselves. I can’t wait to have everything out in the open.

@AKLDS: Thank you so much for sharing your experience and letter with me. It is really helpful. I hadn’t considered including too much religious text but you showed me how it could be done. Congratulations on coming out to your mom, and I hope the rest of your family takes it well too.

@Justin: I am sure my parents will have lots of questions too. I have never really opened up to them before, though we are very close. I expect that we will share tears together. As to my future course, I am sure they will ask about it. You mentioned your parents asked about that, and it is the hardest part for me so far, simply because I don’t know my course yet. I don’t know whether I will find a happy balance or go to one extreme or the other. I am a very active, upstanding member of the church, though my testimony has not been as strong as it once was. And I don’t have to worry about your last comment to avoid mentioning any relationships. That is simple enough for me. I’ve never had any. Thank you for sharing your post, for your encouragement and the confidence boost, too!

@El Genio: Thank you for sharing your letter with me. I hope my parents have the same reaction, though I will be there in person with them. Also, thank you so much for the list of questions! I really had to ponder each one and they helped me put myself into my parent’s shoes. I honestly expect to be asked each and every single one of those questions you mentioned. About expectations, I completely agree and understand. I have tried to address the differences between being gay and “suffering” same sex attraction.

@Romulus: I am jealous of the fact that you knew so clearly ahead of time what path you wanted to follow. Most of my current mental and spiritual grief is trying to imagine what is next in my life. But I am at least happy that I am facing those important decisions instead of ignoring them. I am gearing up for their reaction, preparing for the worst and hoping for the best.

@Quiet Song: Your comment made me smile! (And I would love to read a copy of that poem.) My family dynamics are pretty fluid. We talk with each other every single Sunday without fail. I am sure the conversation after the letter will be quite interesting, and I wonder if my parents will tell other family members even though I will ask them not to. My family is quite chatty.

@JonJon: You made a wonderful point about keeping it simple. I was trying to get everything out and on paper and you made me think that may not be the best strategy, though I still think the letter will be quite lengthy. Instead of being more stream of consciousness, I am trying to organize my thoughts more.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Coming Out Letter: Ideas?

I am heading home in about a month and have decided to come out to my parents. I am going to do it through a letter followed by a good heart-to-heart because I don’t think I could get through telling them everything in person first and remember everything I want to say. I also write better than I speak, and it will allow me to make my whole case before they ask me any questions.

Right now, I have a rough draft of what I want to say, but it is all over the place. It resembles more of an explosion of ideas, angst and experiences rather than a constructive, well structured and convincing document. I am just beginning so this is to be expected, but I was wondering if I could ask you some questions:

If you have come out (or plan to), what did you tell your parents? What would you have wanted to tell them in that initial conversation? What questions did they ask? What questions would you have hoped they would have asked? What should you avoid saying or what would you have done differently? Is there anything else I should be asking?

Any insight would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Location, Location, Location

I have come to the decision that I must tell you all where I live because so much awesome stuff happens here that I want to write about.

I live in The Big Apple, The Big Easy, the city of cities, The City That Never Sleeps, the most populous city in the US, The Greatest City in the World, The Crossroads of the World, Manhattan, New York City itself.

In New York, you can’t help but feel like you are part of something bigger. I love the culture, the diversity, the opportunity. In New York, you never have to be bored. We have Broadway, the best museums in the country, headliners, the best dance, opera and music performing groups, art galleries, sports, celebrities in the streets, world class restaurants, amazing parks and more.

We also have Fleet Week. This week, active-duty service men and women flood the city as military ships dock, open to the public and let their crews roam free. So now, thousands of wide-eyed, clean-cut, fit young men are looking sharp in their uniforms as they wander the city, making New York all the more beautiful. I love this city.

So if you ever want to visit, send me an e-mail. I know my way around this town and definitely have an empire state of mind!

Thursday, May 20, 2010

An Unexpected Text

I was at work today when I got a very unexpected text from my dad.

I talk with my parents on the phone almost every week. My family is by far the biggest support in my life. My dad hardly texts, so I am always happy to see one from him appear on my phone.

This one caught me a little off guard:
"I was thinking about you and had to tell you how much I admire you and all you do! I am amazed at your ability, your resourcefulness, your dedication. I didn't mean to go on like that, I just wanted to let you know how terrific I think you are! I love you."
Talk about the warm fuzzy!

I hope when I come out to him in July he will still think of and love me the same way. I don't want to disappoint the best role model I have had in my life.

But that is July. Right now, I am happy with the positive affirmation.

I love you too, Dad.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

Body and Mind

I have been avoiding this post. I have attempted writing it several times. I am still learning how to open up and be completely honest with myself. I encourage you to read the entire post before reactively commenting on the first half. So here goes.

I hate my body.

Since the fifth grade, my body has never done what I told it to do. I told it to be athletic, but it wasn’t. I told it to like girls, but it didn't. I told it not to react the way it did to cute boys, but it didn't. I told it to trust my faith, beliefs, logic and common sense so we could be happy together, but it didn't and we never were.

Because of the rebellion of my body, I frustratingly determined subconsciously that in order to prevent my body from winning the war with my spirit, I would force it to not have any satisfaction. I would not let my body serve as a distraction or a temptation. From that point on, I hated my body, and it became my reality.

I convinced myself that I was not attractive. I didn't exercise anymore. I didn’t care anymore. I didn’t want to feel anymore.

I convinced myself that if I detested my body, others would too. I convinced myself that I cared what other people thought of me, so I would try to make them not like me physically. I thought that if I didn't like myself physically, no one else would. And I would be safe.

Relationship with girls never worked out because I wasn’t that interested and because I didn't love myself enough to understand how someone else could be attracted to me. Personality aside, I was not comfortable in my own skin and wanted it to remain that way so I would never be comfortable enough to be tempted in any way. In short, I took away my own confidence in order to protect myself.

My body and my self-imposed lack of confidence was serving as an impenetrable wall that my mind could not wander over. I could hardly look myself in the mirror without feeling depressed and angry at my body, then detesting my own existence.

But when living in the dichotomy of two worlds, sometimes walls have to fall.

When I came out to myself, I also made the determination that it was time to change more in my life than just my sexuality. I wanted to be free not only from my imposed moral beliefs but also from the subconscious prison of my own inadequate body.

I started to take care of my body by actually paying attention to what I put in it, by caring more committedly to cleanliness and by exercising. It was like saying hello to and old friend I had lost contact with. My body and I now have an agreeable partnership rather than the open hostilities of war. I have lost a noticeable amount of weight and am going to need a new wardrobe soon.

And most importantly, I am starting to actually like what I see in the mirror.

Together, we are starting to feel more rather than trying not to feel at all. Instead of compartmentalizing the pain and grief, we are trying to address it more openly and productively. Sometimes it hurts, but having lived in an isolated protective stance, the pain only makes happiness feel that much more wonderful.

I know that I am a mental victim of the objectification of the male body. I will never be a model or a dashing actor. I probably will never be hit on or catch someone’s breath away. I will never be eye candy.

But I am trying to convince myself that I am attractive in other ways. I hope that someone can be attracted to my personality, my true friendship, my buoyant spirit, my willingness to dedicate time to others, my sensitivity, my passion and my dedication.

I still have confidence issues and lingering thoughts of bodily shame, but I am relearning to love my body, and love myself for who I am. The mental and bodily walls I have painstakingly constructed are slowly being torn down, and I am finding confidence and happiness hidden behind them.

If I have learned anything, it is that confidence begets beauty. Therefore, I am becoming more beautiful everyday.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Google Knows I'm Gay

My blogging has finally caught up with me. I have started to be targeted online with gay ads by Google.

Actually, now that I think about it, quite a few companies should know I'm gay by now.

Amazon would know because I just ordered the books "No More Goodbyes" and "In Quiet Desperation." Come to think of it, Visa should know too because that is what I used to pay for them.

I don't think Apple could tell solely from my love of showtunes and pop music, but they should know because I blog and send e-mails from my iPod Touch and just downloaded the Grindr app to see what all the fuss is about.

Facebook should be aware of it too since you just know they store and read all of our chats and messages, right? Not to mention I left my "interested in" section blank which just screams gay.

Comcast should know too since they are my internet provider and they can track everything. And if all of those companies know, the FBI has got to know too.

Geez, more companies realize I'm gay than people I know. Come to think of it, I've been worrying about telling people I am gay when I have been telling faceless corporate America all along.

How is that for a comforting thought on the illusion of privacy?

Saturday, May 8, 2010

One Month Anniversary

It has been one month since I started blogging.

In that time I have come out more to myself, taken down walls I have put up and been able to reflect more articulately on who I am.

I have made some great friends and even came out to a few. My confidence is up, though there is still a lot of room for improvement.

A month ago, I couldn't see where my life was headed. I am still not sure. But the comfort and acceptance I have felt from you have been a great support these past few weeks. I feel as if some weight I've carried around my whole life has lifted a bit.

I thank you.

Many more interesting things are coming. Most importantly, I am going to start preparing to come out to my parents, so I will need your continued guidance. But the future is looking up.

Let's see what awaits us on the horizon.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Re: Should I Tell My Bishop?

Wow! I didn’t expect to get this much of a response on my last post. Thank you all for your sharing your thoughts, experiences and opinions with me about whether or not to talk to my bishop. Your comments were so sincere that I feel like I should respond to each individually.

To answer the question that many of you posed to me of “what is the benefit,” the advantage would be having the ability to tell my parents that I have talked to my bishop when I come out to them. They are very devout, and I think this would be comforting to them. Yes, I realize that I need to do what is right for me, but I want to make it as easy for them as possible because I don’t expect them to take it well anyway.

I haven’t made up my mind yet, though.

@Reina: You make a great point that bishops change, but I know I am comfortable about this one at this moment. So it may make sense now, but I don’t know how that might change, and like you said, wish I had never said anything.

@JonJon: I don’t expect many bishops have helpful training on how to help in our particular situation, since most of the bishops in the church are all normal people like you and me (well, almost). I think talking to others is actually helping and am slowly starting to open up.

@Abelard Enigma: I wouldn’t be talking to him to confess, but to seek counsel because right now I don’t know what course my life will take. And I have a hard time still identifying myself as gay, just coming out to myself very recently, and I think SSA would be easier on my parents, but might set them on a mission to help me be cured from my “problem.”

@Bravone: I am glad that there is no written record, but I know the church. News travels like wildfire. I just wanted to see if I could really trust my bishop in complete confidence, without him having to check a box somewhere on a computer that the secretaries and clerks see. That said, telling people, even just in the MoHosphere has been liberating as you have said. But I can’t help but feel more vulnerable than I ever have in my life.

@Gay LDS Actor: I have carried this with me for so long that I think I am still walking the line between embracing it and still hating it. I have to keep telling myself that I have not done anything wrong by having these feelings (except, perhaps, lusting after some hot boy who walks by). But I am glad you had a happy experience telling your bishop.

@El Genio: I too worry about the grapevine. For as much as we learn not to be judgmental in the church, I remember entire families being isolated for a single daughter’s pregnancy, for example. I want to be able to serve like I have in the past, without people being worried. Thank you for the book recommendation. I will have to read it and see what it might offer my parents. In a future post I am going to discuss the whole “coming out” issue, so stay tuned! I appreciated your comment on how to phrase my homosexual feelings in order to set the tone from where they carry on from. I will have to really think about that and create a game plan.

@ControllerOne: I am in a pretty liberal part of the country too, so I have hopes for people being a bit more open-minded (though friends and family in other places in the country might not be). I am happy that you received honest concern and compassion. I know that I haven’t done anything in any sense to require church discipline, but I am still trying to figure out if and how I want to move forward and not have that possibility, though I still can’t quite see how I can be completely gay, Mormon and happy all at the same time.

@j4k: I am happy to hear that you have had good experiences with it and that they still trust you with those callings. I can’t imagine telling 10 different bishops, but it is a good point that you bring up that if they don’t pass the information along, you would have to tell every single one if you were so inclined. I had never thought about that. I agree with you that your attitude affects the conversation. I also hold no mirth against the church but the prospect of telling him, or even just considering telling him, is nerve-racking. I hope looking back, the choice seems like it was just unfounded fear.

@Rob: Thank you for your honest opinion. Right now, I think I would be doing it more for my parent than for me, though I always have the hope that I would be accepted and comforted the way I am. I wish whether a bishop reacts well and the accompanying grapevine experience wasn’t ask chaotic across the church. One person might have a good experience and the other feels they have been burned. All because of the way that local leaders are chosen and how the church operates at a local level.

@CasualObserver: I think the whole grapevine issue boils down to trust. Some people in the church believe that the bishop is an infallible person to be trusted explicitly because of the priesthood calling. Others view him as a fallible man doing the best he can with what he knows and has learned. You mentioned the possibility of a bishop asking telling previous leaders about it and I wonder how much counselors in the bishopric are told. I think we all are a little paranoid analyzing it, but I try to believe in the best of a person first, giving them the benefit of the doubt until proven otherwise. But in this case, I really do not want to be disappointed by placing my trust and then getting burned because it concerns my very core.

@Quiet Song: I think you make a good point about using it as an opportunity to address misconceptions our leaders may have. I have had been in a few high profile callings before (i.e. Elders Quorum President) and I think that being gay actually enabled me to better love and serve those in my quorum, not judging because who was I to judge?

Like I said at the beginning, I have not made up my mind yet. I think much of the decision will rest on how and when I come out to my parents and how I decide to both handle and prepare for that experience.

Thank you all again, and I am so appreciative of your concern and support.

- Horizon

Monday, May 3, 2010

Should I Tell My Bishop?

I need some advice.

Mentally, I am gearing up to tell my parents about my "struggle with same sex attraction." I phrase it that way because I believe that it would be the only way they could handle the news.

I'm heading home in the summer for a few days, and I feel a growing responsibility to share with them what my life has been like. (I'll write more about that and my family later, I promise.)

In preparation for their questions, many of which I do not have answers for, I am sure they will ask if I have ever talked to my bishop about it.

I never have. Should I?

I have not mentioned it up until now because I don't want the change in attitude I am sure would accompany such news. I am a solid member, trustworthy and responsible. The bishop is a good friend of mine and, I am inclined to believe, liberally minded.

But I am the same person I have always been, and I don't want the way people treat me to change.

One of my hesitations is that I don't want a negative mark on my church record. I don't want to open a pathway to disfellowship, even if it is just because of the way I feel. Right now I am not sure of what course I should take because I don't want to screw up my eternal salvation.

I have never consciously done anything "wrong." I am not a bad person. I have never talked to a bishop about anything personal besides temple recommend questions, and even then, most of those are yes and no questions.

I must admit that I am a very independent person. I have isolated myself and my emotions in an attempt to ignore the gnawing ache of my attraction. I hardly ever ask for help, so when I do, I have a genuine need.

What might a bishop counsel me to do, besides the obvious: pray, read the scriptures, etc.? I have already happened upon a church pamphlet on homosexuality that really didn't help.

I am also wary of organized support groups because of my aforementioned pride and independence. From the left (Affirmation) to the right (Evergreen), I don't want to be brainwashed. Plus, I don't think right now I could even show my face at a meeting.

So I need your guidance and knowledge based from experience. Should I tell my bishop?

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

I've Been Found Out!

And I couldn't be happier.

In this post I had intended to talk about another wall in my life, emotional separation. But things changed last night.

While I was working on another post, I noticed a chat box pop up in Gmail. One of you, my fellow MoHo bloggers, was saying hello and striking up a conversation.

I looked at the little box in the corner of the screen and pondered for a moment the significance it meant to me. I had never before talked to or chatted with anyone in real time who knew I was gay. I had only sent individual messages back and forth. With comments and e-mails, I am able to think more about what to say, and it feels safer.

But the thrill of chatting with one of my MoHo peers was too great, and so I dove in, almost giddy for an inexplicable reason.

I had previously corresponded with this blogger through comments and e-mail because of some similarities in our lives we noticed through our posts, though only recently. Confidence building because of these shared experiences, we had an invigorating conversation, quite academic at times actually, which I enjoyed. With similar thought processes and both of us reveling in rich, thought-out and properly punctuated communications and language, we hit it off quite well.

From what was being said, even in the casual back-and-forth dialog, I started to get the sense that he was someone I could trust and talk to. He emanated such an aura of both comfort and confidence. We agreed that the feeling was mutual.

In the middle of our conversation, we happened upon subject of common friends. He generously shared his Facebook profile with me, and I discovered we had three friends in common, though most were peripheral to me and not too close of acquaintances.

I mentioned two of the random common friends to him, knowing it would be possible, though implausible, to figure out who I was from that information. I was less worried than my normally paranoid self would have expected because of the calm I felt and because both our common friends had almost 900 people each in their friend lists.

He jokingly asked if telling him the names of the friends we had in common was a challenge to figure out my identity, and I replied that it might be fun, though improbable.

Within an instant, my friend, who might have a better career as a FBI agent or analyst, cross checked the two lists for commonalities and bam, there I was. His next two-word post both excited me and terrified me: “Found you.”

My heart skipped a beat. I quickly concluded he was just playing with me. No one could work that fast.

And then he said my name.

I don’t think I can accurately describe my emotions in that instant. Instead of the dread I was preparing myself to feel, instead of the fear I expected to shortly overcome me, instead of the insecurities and lack of confidence that had always plagued my mind in my lifelong pursuit of hiding from the world, I felt something shockingly new. When he said my name, I felt relief.

I felt a calm release, a refreshing freedom, a reprieve from the mental, emotional and spiritual grief I had known for so long. The secret burden I had been carrying around my neck my whole life had just been shared, and my load was unexpectedly lightened. I was overjoyed.

No one had ever seen my face and known the truth. Only I had ever looked into those eyes in the mirror’s reflection and witnessed the true me. The realization that someone else knew my identity and my deepest secret was the best feeling in the world.

I can’t tell you how happy I have been today. I can’t stop smiling. (My coworkers all thought I was nuts or high on drugs.)

I am sure the moment was not as impactful to him as it was to me, nor should it be. I am sure with time I will look back on this post and sheepishly smile to myself about what I have written. But it was one foot out of the dark.

Our conversation lasted two and a half hours, and within that time, he had written himself into my life history as the first person, other than myself, who had seen my face and knew I was gay. I am grateful he found me, because I’m not sure how long it would have taken me to reveal myself on my own, and the joy I have felt because of it has been indescribable.

And with that, the first person who truly knows me, GMB, has also become the first person on my newly created Facebook MoHo friend list.