Monday, April 26, 2010
Time Difference: I Don't Have the Time to Be Gay
I’ve known I was different since the fifth grade.
I always wanted to hang out with the other boys, not just because of mutual, youthful bonding, but because of some other inexplicable attraction that I did not consciously understand. In my innocence, I didn't know exactly what I was feeling or why it would be wrong. I just accepted it as who I was and was happy.
In middle school, I was in the throes of a building full to the brim with the pangs of young love fueled by puberty, and I thought I was turning out all wrong. I found myself looking at the other boys changing for gym and was embarrassed at what my body was doing so I changed in the bathroom stall where no one could see me. Something was wrong, but I hadn't chosen to do something wrong. I was a good person. I did everything right. But I still felt befuddled at what my body was screaming at me. I was confused and held it all in, not daring to talk to anyone about it.
I tried with all my might not to feel the way I did and convinced myself that I was interested in girls, even though I was always subconsciously on the lookout to catch a glimpse of certain boys walking through the hallways. This continued throughout high school, except this time I learned that there was a word associated with how I felt: gay. And it terrified me.
Determined not to entertain that word, I dated girls, went to dances and did everything I could to run away from that word. I tried to not let myself even think and consider the actual possibility that I was. I tried to fill up every second of my day with an activity, school, church, scouts, clubs, band, anything to keep myself so busy that I wouldn't even have a moment to consider my difference. Everyone just thought I was an overachiever, but I knew the truth.
I reveled in the fact that I had found a way to prevent myself from engaging or patronizing my difference. I would just be so busy doing things that I wouldn’t have to even think about the constant agony.
My eyes were the only problem because I couldn't control them or what life threw in their direction. If anyone really wanted to know the truth about me, all they had to do was follow my eye line. I was tortured by what I knew I was and what I wanted to become. I felt dirty and outcast on the inside even though I had never done anything wrong and seemed perfect on the outside.
On my mission, I threw myself into the work. I devoted every ounce of my strength and being to serve with all of my might. I knew that the scriptures said that bringing souls into the gospel would bring me great joy and, even more importantly, forgiveness of my own sins and salvation to my soul. Even though I had done no outward wrong, I felt that my mission was the chance I had to redeem myself from my difference. I worked so hard, had a broken heart and a contrite spirit. I was not free from my wandering eyes or temptation, but I brought as many people into the church as I could, secretly praying it would be enough to cover my past mental lustings and cure me heading into the future.
During college I followed the same pattern I had learned to avoid my feelings which were consistently present. I filled my schedule taking too many classes, was in the marching band, got involved in student organizations, had a part-time job and was a pillar of dedication in my ward. But at BYU, it is impossible to not see some sort of eye candy every moment of the day.
I was a desirable candidate to date in the ward because the girls saw me as a returned missionary, go-getter and an active priesthood holder who was accomplishing so much. I was always pursued rather than being the pursuer and would go on dates to give the appearance that I was doing my part. But the struggle increased with every month, to the point where I thought I would have to get married to cure myself of the word that had haunted me my entire life. I went through the steps, but my heart wasn’t in it and I couldn’t do it.
As I moved out on my own and into the beginning of my professional life, I continued to avoid my feelings by working too hard at my job and dedicating every free moment of my life to my singles ward. I still do. I volunteer for everything, be it cleaning the church or temple, working at the bishop’s storehouse, going to every meeting, fireside and family home evening. I have a hand in every activity so I can be so busy enough to not remember that one word.
Even now when I decided to blog about this struggle, I have either subconsciously or consciously increased the amount of my other activities and responsibilities to prevent myself from having the time to simply write a post.
My whole life, I have tried to not feel the feelings I've felt. But since that hasn’t worked, I fill my life with so many other commitments that I falsely convince myself that I simply don’t have the time to be gay.