Friday, January 28, 2011

Coming Out, Part 3

My mom finished reading the letter first. She is the speed reader in the family and tears through volumes of books every year. She had a look on her face that I could not quite read - one of wanting to express motherly love and sorrow at the same time, all while controlling her emotions to remain objective. She wanted to talk right then, but I insisted that my dad be able to finish reading the letter before we talked.

To make chit chat for a bit, my mom then casually asked who my fifth grade teacher was because I had mentioned in my letter I had consciously known I was gay since the that grade. I was again thrown off by a question from my mom. At first I thought she was trying to place blame on why I was gay and it had something to do with my poor fifth grade teacher (I knew I was gay well before that, I just didn't know the word associated with it), but I realized quickly that she just wanted to have some context of the stage in my life when it all began. I casually replied to her query right as my dad finished reading the letter.

Seeing him lift his head I was all of a sudden acutely conscious of how much I needed their acceptance. I needed them to acknowledge what I had been through and who I really was. My parents are my best friends. I do not know what I would do without them. I had waited so long to come out because I didn't want to disappoint them or cause them any strife or harm.

At that moment I was the most vulnerable I have ever been in my life. The risk was taken, my deepest secret exposed. I had opened up the tender inside of my soul taking what seemed like the greatest leap of faith over the widest chasm of doubt of my existence, and I would either fly or fall. I recalled all of the stories I had heard of friends coming out to their parents, the rejection, the heartbreak, the closemindedness, and said one last silent prayer before the trajectory of my own story was determined.

My dad, with his metered voice said, "I have considered before now and made the decision long ago that my children will always be welcome in our home no matter what. Horizon, you will always be welcome no matter what. You are family."

I was flying. My heart lept for joy. I would not be kicked out. I would not have to run into the night with tears in my eyes. It wasn't a tacit endorsement of what my life might become, but it was a positive beginning point.

My mom conveyed similar wonderful support quoting my letter that I was, in fact, the same son she knew that morning and that nothing would change that. She told me that her fear was that I would want to abandon the family because of being gay. I exclaimed that my biggest fear was being cast out of the family for being gay! (It just goes to show how important family is to us, that both of our greatest fears was losing it.)

In that instant, the burden I had carried my whole life. the weight that pulled me down, was shared and instantly became lighter. The knots inside my stomach loosened and I found myself breathing again as if I hadn't taken a breath since I entered the room. It was so wonderful to be exposed to the light and finally be my true self without the fears that had so traumatized my whole existence.

We talked some more, but for the first time in the longest time, I was happy.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Coming Out, Part 2

The mood was instantly serious and the room went deathly quiet as I handed two thick white envelopes to each of my parents. Watching them remove and unfold the stapled papers and start reading was perhaps even more difficult than giving them the letter in the first place. This was it. They were about to know everything about me.

The rustling of the papers as they read was torturous noise as I sat in the silent room and watched. I analyzed their faces as they read. Having worked so hard composing that letter, I knew the three magic words "I am gay" were about halfway down the first page. I expected some reaction, an exclamation or outbust of tears when they read those words. But each of them read through turning the page without reaction, just the same look of stoic concern on their faces.

I was taken a bit off guard at this. I had expected some reaction, not simply no reaction. Though I had asked them to read the letter all the way through before commenting, I didn't actually expect that to happen! In my life, I prepare for the worst and hope for the best. I had faith in my parents' reactions, but I was ready to make a quick getaway if I needed to. The waiting for a reaction was gnawing at my insides.

Then my mom did something I had not prepared for at all: she giggled.

Hearing that sound completely threw me off. How was I supposed to react to that? Did she really just make that sound? I hadn't even considered that reaction beforehand as a possibility so I didn't prepare for it. I was befuddled.

What did she find humorous in this serious matter? Was she laughing because she didn't know how to react? Was it a nervous laugh? Didn't she realize how serious this moment was?

I broke the silence and somewhat accusingly asked, "What?" being unable to calm my mind.

"Oh, I just read where you wrote that living in New York didn't make you gay. I know that. I just thought it was a little funny," she replied.

I smiled out of exasperation as the tension lifted. I didn't respond. I couldn't respond. The silence continued and she kept on reading.

In that instant, in comparison to the angst and torture I had put myself through the whole week of the family reunion and my whole life before that, I experienced the first inking of a feeling I had not expected but yearned for so deeply: hope.

That was the first sentence my mom ever said about me being gay, and she said it with a smile.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Coming Out, Part 1

The following post continues my coming out story immediately after the events described here.

When I entered my parents room, I sat down on an old decorative church pew from an ancestor’s pioneer home, my dad sitting in an armchair to my left, my mom laying on the bed to my right. Sitting on the hard wood, l bowed my head an looked at the floor, contemplating the momentary semblance of piety. I almost felt like I was in a confession about to share my true soul for the first time. I couldn’t quite force myself to look up.

The air was filled with a nervous tension based on the awkward conversations I had with my parents earlier asking them if I could talk to them. I was sure they could hear the beating of my pounding heart reverberating throughout the room. My chest felt as if it might explode from the intense pressure.

Putting the book “No More Goodbyes” and the copies of the coming out letters I had printed on the floor next to me, I raised my head and timidly looked up at my parents. I couldn't quite read their faces. A combination of concern mixed with a decent attempt to look unconcerned was evident in their faces. I felt similarly conflicted. I was going to tell them I was gay, and there was no going back.

This was the moment I had geared up for but still I felt woefully unprepared. Everything was about to change. I took a deep breath trying to calm the tempest within me and then began to speak.

I tried to open with some sort of lighthearted remark to let some of the pressure out of the room but failed spectacularly. I managed to get a smile from my mom which calmed my nerves slightly. Seeing my parents smile had always made me feel comfortable, and it was the brief glimpse of normalcy I needed to continue.

Glancing back and forth from my mom to my dad, I thanked them for what wonderful parents they were and for their never ending love and support. I knew that once I started speaking, things would get easier, so I forged ahead though I felt like I was recklessly running toward a drop off of unfathomable depth.

I told them that I had been through a lot of self-reflection recently as evidenced by my visible stress, breaking out, not being able to concentrate and really not being myself the past several days. It was then that I said I was about to tell them why.

I paused as my voice broke, but I could not stop or my voice would fail me. I tried to sound confident and not have my voice waver or falter any more. I told them that my significant weight loss also factored into what I was going to share with them and that it was one of the many positive things resulting from what I was going through.

Realizing that my eyes had drifted again to the floor where my letters were, I paused and looked up again wondering what was going through their minds. We had never really talked this frankly before. I didn't know what to expect from them. Could they guess what was coming? Did they already suspect? I could tell that they were trying so hard to be open and keep a smile on their faces.

I said I had written a letter explaining everything that I would like them to read. My mom perked up a bit at this because she loves receiving and reading notes and letters from her children. I was a little wary of how her emotions would change and wondered how this letter would rank among the ones she holds onto for keepsakes. I picked up the envelopes off the carpet, the paper vibrating in my shaking hands.

Asking them to read through the whole letter before asking any questions, I said the last thing they would ever hear from their only son before they knew. Almost tearing up, I said, "I love you. Giving you this letter is the hardest thing I have done in my life."

Friday, January 21, 2011


It has been exactly six months to the day that I last posted.

I am sorry I have been gone so long! At first, this break was not planned or intentional. It just happened because of an uptick of my day-to-day responsibilities (and quite possibly me discovering the game Angry Birds during my daily commute). However, the delay in posting turned into a sabbatical from blogging for a few important reasons.

In the past half-year, I have still been heavily involved in the gay Mormon community but my blog has not been the primary vehicle of my interactions. Instead of hiding behind the words on a website, I am experiencing life first hand. This blog initially was a sounding board for thoughts, ideas and feelings as I processed one of the biggest decisions and subsequent paradigm shifts of my life. The words were a manifestation of the transition as I learned to accept who I was – who I am.

On a smaller scale, I started worrying too much about the quality of my own writing. So many of you so eloquently voice your heartfelt experiences and reasoned arguments that I want to put my best effort into participating in our community. I hold myself to high standards especially when it comes to writing. One of the primary things I do every day is write and edit. Before when composing an entry I would work on it for quite some time, and if I couldn't get a sentence just right I would agonize over publishing it until I was happy with the cadence, flow, beat and structure of each post.

If you will forgive me, I am going to try to post more regularly but I am going to spend less time agonizing over every word. I apologize if some of the edges of my future posts are a little rougher than what I have published before, but I celebrate my imperfections because I am an imperfect person.

One of the primary reasons for the break was because I spread myself too thin. Balancing an ever-demanding job with everything that I wanted to do in my personal life became too much of a juggling act. Work days became long and arduous. Free time to think and reflect became a rarity. My priorities were challenged due to my limited time. Pensive moments and blogging fell through the cracks in my schedule.

Additionally, I wanted to do everything I possibly could to help the community. I helped create the MoHo Map and continue to maintain it, offered to help administer the MoHo Directory, attempted to write book entries on gay Mormon issues and helped organize a potential new community for the advancement of gay acceptance within the church. With everything that was happening in addition to my work and church responsibilities, I couldn’t really do my best in any of them so the time I invested into blogging was sacrificed in order for me to concentrate on other priorities.

So much has happened in six months. One of the benefits of this sabbatical is that it has created a buffer of time on this blog because events started moving quickly and I simply could not keep up in real time. At first, I was using this blog primarily as a journaling function. It will continue to serve that role as well as being a place for discussion and reflection of both yours and the humorous and serious thoughts running through my mind.

Still, the mission of this blog remains as it has been from the beginning: celebrate the good, create beneficial connections and relationships, promote the positive, be as uplifting and helpful to others as possible as we take this journey together.

The collective voice of this community has immense value. I think I can give back and contribute more to the running dialogue that I have benefitted so much from before. I love telling stories and I have some to finish up and some new ones to tell.

You are all amazing. Some of my best friends have originated through this blog and I hope to meet many more of you.

Horizon is back!