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!