Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Why I Wear a Mask: Past and Present

I've had an interesting 7 weeks since my last post.  I've been thinking about what it would be like to "live a maskless life", to not have to hide any part of who I am.  Through some recent experiences, I've realized that to some degree, I'll have to wear a mask no matter what I choose in life.  I long for a time where absolutely no mask is necessary.

5 years ago, I never would've dreamed of dating a guy or pursuing a relationship.  I never would've have allowed myself to hang out with other gay men because I was too worried that something might happen, that the temptation would just be too great.  For the past 34 years, I've been a church-goer and have enjoyed many aspects of the LDS church.  I don't think I'll ever fully let go of that and I certainly don't see myself being anti-LDS or angry.  I may get to the point where it's too painful to attend or where I don't feel there's a place for me, but I don't see myself cursing the church. 

So, in a sense, I've worn a mask all that time so that my church-going friends and family couldn't see this part of me that wants things that are contrary or different to what they want.  I've hidden that part of myself for the most part, but I have been blessed with some family and a few close friends who know I'm attracted to men.  But to them, I'm "struggling with same-sex attraction" and as long as I'm not planning to act on it, I'm still loved, righteous, and ok.

Recently, I've allowed myself to have some new experiences.  The other night, I hung out with 6 other gay men.  There was drinking and socializing and acceptance and connection.  All in all, I really enjoyed myself.  The guys were kind and interested.  I felt a sense of freedom I'd never felt where I could totally be myself.  But even in that group, there was a part of me that wanted to keep a different kind of mask on.  I still have mostly positive feelings toward the church and I still hold a lot of my experiences from my mission and growing up in the church near and dear to my heart.  I wore a bit of a mask that night because I feared that I might offend others because of my continued beliefs.  I'm sure a lot of the guys there had similar experiences and feelings and I probably would've been pleasantly surprised to hear how similar our experiences had been.

Long story short:  I feel the need to wear a "good Mormon boy mask" so that my LDS friends and family aren't burdened or aware of my gay journey.  It'll just make them sad because of what they feel I'm throwing away.  And on the flipside, I feel the need to wear a "gay mask" so that my new gay friends aren't offended or think that I'm not sympathetic to the strong feelings they have against the church.  I'm sure there are many gay, LDS men who still love the church and hold it in high regard.  And there are others who are so hurt and pissed about Prop 8 and all of that stuff.  I'm somewhere in between.

As I continue on in my journey, I'm sure the need to wear both kinds of masks will lessen.  I put a lot of this on myself, I realize.  I admire the guys who are 100% out and who are able to live that freely.  They may feel that there is ZERO need to wear a mask and I long for that.  But I'm still figuring out what I want and until I'm more clear on that, I'll continue to wear different masks.

I don't see this as being fake.  The good that comes of this is that I can try on new and different things to see what makes me happy.  I could either run right back to the church and commit to a meaningful, service-oriented life of following my spiritual convictions.  Or I could fully embrace the gay thing and find a wonderful man and find new ways to express my service and spirtuality.  The good news is:  I don't have to figure it out within an hour.  Until I'm more clear, I'm excited that I can choose to have new experiences with new people.  I feel confident that doing so will lead me closer to a resolution.

I would appreciate kind, supportive comments on either side. Go easy on the judgment as I'm just a guy in the world trying to figure things out.  The title of this post says "Past and Present".  I'm committed to not having to wear a mask in the "future", so I left it off. 


Sunday, October 9, 2011

I couldn't bring myself to watch General Conference this time

So, I didn't watch any of conference last week.  This is the first time in my entire life where this has happened.  I'm wanting to catch up and I'll start this week.  Any suggestions on which talk(s) I should start with?

In the past, I've always looked forward to conference weekend.  I would keep my schedule clear so that I wouldn't have any interruptions to conference.  I usually look forward to the messages shared and feel comfort and strength as I take in the talks.  I've even felt in the past that some of the talks are specifically for me.  But this time around, I think I just felt a little too broken hearted to watch any of it.  I'll accept accountability and say that I didn't prepare myself this time around.  It's not out of rebellion that I didn't watch.  I just felt that it would be too painful right now. 

I'm sure that I would readily agree with most of what was shared.  I still have favorite speakers (Oaks, Bednar, Eyring).  But I was in such a heavy space last weekend that I couldn't handle any messages that were too hard to listen to.  I'll catch up and take in conference in palatable, bite-size pieces this time.  Did anyone else have a little hesitation this time around?  How did you overcome it and welcome conference with an open heart and mind?

What does this mean for my desire to date men?  I'm not sure where I'm at with that.  There are 2 guys that I'm crushin' on right now and I want to get to know them.  But one of them is married and I don't think the other is interested anyway.  So, not a lot of movement.  I suppose that's a good thing.  Gives me more time to figure out what I want.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

What I really want in a relationship with another man

I've compiled a list of things that I would want in a relationship with another man.  I'm not actively pursuing this right now, but if and when I do, here's what I want:

1. I want a man that I can come home to every day, talk about how our day went and have dinner together.

2. I want a man to cuddle with.

3. I want to watch a movie with my man and have him lay his head in my lap while I play with his hair or give him a scalp massage.

4. I want a man to lay with me in bed as we listen to music together and talk about the specific things we like about each song or recording.

5. I want a man who will love me unconditionally.  I have a sibling or two and my mom who love me in this way.  But no one else loves me on that deep of a level.  I have friends who love and care about me and would do anything for me.  But there are still limitations.  I want to give 100% of myself to someone and have that in return.

6. I want to take a long, hot bath with a man and wash each other in a loving and relaxing way.

7. I want to make plans for the future with a man who wants to build a life with me.  I also want a man who is committed to doing good deeds and acts of service, a man who has a love of Jesus Christ like I do.

8. I want a man who supports me with my career and music goals and in turn, I want to support a man in his profession and be an anchor of support.

9. I want all access kissing and cuddling passes with a man, free to express love to each other in a physical way.  I want to please a man in other physical ways too and be pleased in return, but to me, the meaningful forms of physical love like kissing, embracing, and touching are most wanted.

10. I want a man who thinks about me throughout the day, who can't wait to get home to me, who calls or texts to check in on me.  I want a man who appreciates thoughtful gifts and expressions of my love to him.

Now, as I review this list, every single item is ok for me to want IF it's with a woman.  But the small, minor detail that it happens to be a man that I want these things with magically makes these wants sinful and wrong.  It's so hard for me to wrap my head around that concept.  My list does not consist of whoring myself out and being promiscuous and irresponsible.  It's totally about finding the love of my life and making a life together.

At the end of the day, I want the exact same things that straight LDS people want.  Only one detail is different.  I've spent my life trying to align my will with "God's will" and want these things with a woman.  Instead of feeling like I am making progress and getting closer to that ideal, I feel further and further away from that.  And I feel more and more like I want these things with a man. 

I'm down to 3 options:

1. Pursue this list of wants with a woman and not be happy and fulfilled.  Other guys find happiness but I honestly don't think I could.

2. Pursue this list of wants with a man and feel happy and fulfilled, but feel the wrath of the Church and possibly God.

3. Do away with this list of wants and form a different list of wants.  I've always been focusing on another list with righteous desires and good things.  But I'm at a point where I want to pursue things on this list like everyone else gets to do.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Am I more gay than you?

My last post served as a shout out to married gay men for their commitment to their spouses and families.  I wonder how some gay men (in the LDS church and otherwise) are able to marry a woman, let alone date a woman while others like me don't even have an interest in asking a girl out.  As I think about this, a few questions come to mind:

1.  Is your level of attraction to men just not as strong as my level of attraction?  I believe that attraction is attraction and that everyone is attracted to both genders to some degree.  Now, that might not really translate to physical attraction.  But I think that straight men are attracted to various things about other men and enjoy spending "bro time" together.  And I believe that gay men like me can be attracted to women in ways that are non-physical.  Throughout my life, I've had a handful of girls who I've become extremely close with, but we've never crossed the line of being physical and I have no interest in dating them or having a romantic relationship with them.  I absolutely love their company and spending time with them, but that's it.  It's not me being a snob and totally shutting the door to women, but the thought of asking a girl out is painful for me to consider.  So, within this range of attraction (I should specify a range of physical attraction), I think some men are nearer to the middle than I am.  Some of you who are married were physically attracted enough to your wives to ask them out on a first date, to marry them, to have children with them.  I admire that, but I don't even have the desire at all to ask a girl to go on a date.  Am I falling short?  Is my attraction to men stronger than yours?  Are you doing things I'm not?  I think in many ways, I'd be an ideal husband to a woman, but where many of you can make things happen in the physical aspect of a relationship, I would completely hate the experience.

2.  Are you just more righteous than me?  Maybe you are more diligent in righteous living and keeping the commandments and so you can manage your attractions more easily?  I have always believed that we are blessed when we do as the Lord asks and that our weaknesses can be turned into strengths with the Lord's help.  But I've got to be honest:  I feel like I've been pretty righteous (in a non-proud way) and I seem to be so much more attracted to men and so much less attracted to women than others who of you who aren't even active in church anymore.  I can always do more, sure, but I go to church every week, I serve in my callings diligently, I've never smoked or drank in my life, etc and yet...I have absolutely no desire to date women.  I've spent hours in prayer and acts of service as I've tried to figure out a way to do what I'm supposed to do (date and marry a woman) and yet it's like pushing a boulder that won't move an inch.  Yes, all that matters is that I'm pushing the boulder, but to me, that's not all that matters.  I need more out of life.  So, there are many of you who are more righteous, but on this point, I just wanted to state that it's not for lack of truly trying to live the gospel that I'm not attracted in the least to women.  Are you just kind of attracted to men where I'm totally attracted to men?  I know that it's not my acts or my righteousness that will save me, it's all about the Savior.  But I wish my dedication to living the gospel as taught in the LDS church resulted in less attraction to men and more attraction to women like it seems to do for so many of you.

These are the main things I think of when I see gay men in the church who are married.  I see guys writing books and attending workshops and living these happy, meaningful lives.  They seem so content and grateful and carefree.  They seem to have figured it out and I wonder why the hell I haven't yet when I seem to be doing the same things.  It's kind of like some men are born with 10 toes while others are born with 7 toes while others are born with 3.  Those who have 10 toes can walk much more easily but might be missing a finger.  Those who are born with 7 toes have a harder time walking, but they can walk much more easily than those with 3 toes.  I feel like many of you have 7 toes compared to my 3 toes.  Does that make sense?

This isn't meant to be a "poor me" post.  I'm actually pretty upbeat and try as hard as I can to see the positive things in life.  I know how healing true gratitude can be.  But I sit here scratching my head, wondering how many can make the commitment to give your life to a woman and build a life with her when I can't even give a woman a 2nd date.  I could give a man everything, all that I own, all that I possess, all that I am, everything!  I could do so in a heartbeat but that's a sin.  So if I'm going to figure out how to give that to a woman, how can I begin without me feeling so forced?  If men are that they might have joy, then why would marrying a woman bring me so much unhappiness?  I really don't think I'm less righteous.  Is my level of attraction stronger and therefore, the degree of difficulty is higher?  Will God keep that in mind?  Or does He expect me to marry a woman and have kids just as much as all of you?  I know that no blessing will be withheld from those that are righteous, but I don't want to wait another 34 years to experience what so many of you seem to be experiencing when it comes to finding a partner and building a life with them.  I honestly feel like a priest who has sworn to a life of celibacy.  Is that really what the Lord wants for me?  Those seem to be my 2 options:  A life of celibacy as a single man or a loveless marriage to a woman.  Neither option is appealing at all.  Feeling like I have to choose between the two is a great source of sadness and anxiety to me when I am otherwise a very happy person.

I'm looking for loving, thoughtful and non-judgmental responses on this one please.


Monday, August 22, 2011

Is married and gay easier than single and gay as a member of the LDS church?

As any of my readers know (I don't think I have many yet), I'm new to the blog world and I've been reading a lot of various posts from those of you who are married.  I just have to say how impressed I am by your commitment and desire to do what you feel is right.  I'm amazed that you could be deeply attracted to men but somehow continue to show such devotion to your wives and children.  Some of you are still married and will stay married, others of you were married and are no longer married.  But in both cases, I've been so impressed with the ongoing love that continues to be offered to spouses and children whether couples stay married or not.

With that in mind, let me pose this question for discussion:  As a Mormon gay man, is it easier to be single or easier to be married?  I'd love any opinions on the topic, not because I think I'm right or wrong on this topic.  I'm just curious how my attitude stacks up against your experiences.

Single and gay in the church
As a single man in the church, I spend zero time being concerned about a spouse, whether I should tell her about my attraction, how it might affect the children in the future, whether I'll remain faithful, whether I'll be able to perform sexually, etc.  I do spend a fair amount of time thinking how nice it would be to have a partner in life and to build a family.  Just because I'm attracted to men doesn't mean I don't want children.  I think I'd be a damn good husband and father, but I don't really see it within my sights so this is my biggest challenge as a single gay man in the church who at the present time is still very active.  Will I ever have that?  Will I ever build a life with someone the way married men do?  I get offers to be set up with girls all the time and that's a pain.  I also grow weary of trying to fit in and not stand out.  I mean, if you're single at 34 years old and aren't in a relationship, people talk and assume and speculate.  I hate dealing with that.  I sometimes feel that my life lacks purpose and meaning, despite career and educational pursuits.  If these other goals aren't geared toward building a life and family with someone, you'd be amazed at how unmotivated you can get at times.  I know that married gay men can struggle just as much, but I hope you get what I mean here.

Married and gay in the church
You have the joy and satisfaction of having a family unit and that must be rewarding.  Coming home to a wife and kids who can't wait to see you instead of coming home to your own place.  Having a clear purpose in life is more likely because you're not just living life for yourself.  At the same time, the added stress of providing for a whole family (needs and wants) requires a lot of selflessness.  I am giving by nature, but I can see how I exhibit some selfish behavior as a single gay man who doesn't really date.  Some married men may feel that it would be so much easier to get physical needs met as a single guy.  But let me put it this way:  a lot of you married men are getting more quality time in the bedroom than little ole celibate me gets.  Along with that, you're getting affirmation, affection, and overall fulfillment of family life.  I recognize that it's not all roses though.

I've had some cool conversations about this in the past where a gay married man said it would be so much easier to be single and gay, but I'm not so sure.  Sometimes, I think the stability of a family and spouse would really help me with this issue.  It's just that the very thought of dating a woman brings me extreme sadness, so how am I going to ever get to that?  On the other hand, I don't think I fully understand the plight (sorry to use that word) of what it's like to be gay and married, especially with kids.

Long story short, thanks for your posts.  I find them helpful, whether you're still married or not, whether you're still affiliated with the church or not.  Your posts will be helpful as I make some decisions in the coming year.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Elder's quorum social tonight

I dutifully attended the social that the Elder's quorum put on tonight.  It was open to families and there were many spouses and kids there.  I've formed some good friendships in the ward that I attend and can always find someone to sit by and have a conversation with. 

Starting up conversations and making friendships has always come pretty easily to me.  However, I couldn't help but feel like an outsider.  I think I was the only guy who showed up by himself.  As I was getting ready to leave, one of the couples I was talking to spoke up and said "Oh, do you have a hot date tonight?"  Can you imagine if I would've replied with "Well, I'm not attracted to girls, but do you know any hot guys you could set me up with?"

I dread going to these kinds of things because I feel like I have to play a character the whole time.  Sure, it's my personality or sense of humor that everyone has come to know and (in most cases) appreciate.  But as far as the details of my life, I feel like I have to make up things or avoid the topic to make it ok for everyone else.  I think they must look at me at 34 years old, I'm outgoing, make friends easily, I'm reasonably attractive, and they must think to themselves "why is he still single?"  Many have taken it upon themselves to try to set me up, as if I can't find my own dates.  If I were allowed to marry a guy let alone date a guy, I would have been married 10 years ago and would be the best, most loyal husband around.  But I am getting more and more tired of having to put on an act.

I can be myself and not feel like I have to change who I am in front of ward members, but I'm so sick of having to make things up when it comes to the many questions I'm asked about my personal life.  These kinds of experiences make me want to withdraw and stay away just so I can avoid having to make things up or give BS explanations. 

What if I really could reply with "know any cool guys you want to set me up with?"


Welcome to my blog!

I've been following a lot of other blogs on the topic of being Mormon and gay and have read a lot of interesting things.  I agree with so much of what I see and disagree with a lot too.  I felt it was time to start my own blog and have a place that I can fully express what's going on as I figure out what the hell I'm going to do. 

Here's where I'm at:  I'm in my mid-30's, I've always been active in the LDS church, I have a love and appreciation for the gospel of Jesus Christ and a separate love and appreciation for the organization of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  I have a testimony of the Book of Mormon and of Joseph Smith.  I served a mission where I had some great experiences that have strengthened the testimony I have of these things, and I've enjoyed some cool experiences since then that continue to bring me peace, understanding, and comfort.

Through all of this, I have never been in a serious relationship in my life.  I have no interest in dating women even though that's what I'm supposed to do.  I have a lot of interest in dating men and finding a guy to have a committed relationship with and I'm pretty serious about pursuing that now.  Before, it was never a consideration because I deemed it as sinful.  To a degree, I still do, but I am at a point where not being able to love (both in giving it and receiving it) is killing me.  I may not be dying physically, but I seemed to be dying in other ways (even spiritually) and I need to see if finding someone to love will provide the kind of happiness I'm currently lacking.

I look forward to reading your continued posts and keeping you informed of my own experiences.  I welcome your opinions and feedback.  Thanks for taking time to review my blog.