Monday, April 13, 2015

Marriage Equality

My entire life I have been someone who tends to be inclusive rather than exclusive. I am not the type of person who pushes people away over disagreements. However, years of debating the same people and hearing the same tired arguments against me and my family have taken a toll on my well-being. I have come to the conclusion that the best thing for me is to purge the people from my life who are unwilling to see that Marriage Equality has no effect on their life but has profound consequences in my life. My new unyielding position is foreign to me. For years now I have been paying the price to include these people in my life and listen to their arguments against me and my family, but I am not willing to pay that price anymore. I have the right to live free of criticism, to pursue happiness, and to be surrounded by those who love and accept me just the way I am.

Anyone who knows me is aware that I’m not one to shy away from a debate. I know it may not seem so, but I don’t engage in debate every single time someone posts something to social media which I disagree with. I am a very opinionated person and I enjoy engaging with people who think or feel differently than I do. Occasionally I will debate with people when I already know them to be rigid in their stance if for no other reason than to provide an opposing viewpoint to people who may see their post and read the comments. The world is not black and white, there is a lot of room for gray and my opinion has changed a lot in several aspects of my individual ideology. I enjoy maintaining online relationships with people from all walks of life and engaging with them about their disagreements with my opinions and beliefs or discussing their viewpoints and stances. These exchanges allow me to challenge my own beliefs and either change and adapt my position or obtain further education to strengthen my initial opinion.

As a result of my desire to engage with a diverse group of individuals, I have been deleted and blocked by quite a few people over the years; although, I have never once deleted or blocked a single person on Facebook. Occasionally, I’m left wondering which stance of mine it was that pushed them over the edge, but that’s neither here nor there. I enjoy learning about people’s opinions and viewpoints and discussing mine with them whether I agree with or oppose them. I believe the world is more beautiful because it is filled with such a diverse populace. I truly do enjoy reading through the back and forth debates I find and occasionally instigate online.

I recognize that occasionally these debates may get a little heated. I heard an interesting analogy recently that I thought was spot-on for internet debates.  From the Thinking Atheist podcast episode, “A Night of Cognitive Dissonance:”

There is something to be said about talking to somebody in person. When you have a dialogue with somebody in person, and when you’re not just hastily typing out your rabid, angry comment, there is a level of discourse that you have with another human being that you just lose completely when you’re on the internet. All sense of decency can go out the window; and I recognize that my sense of decency has gone out the window from time to time too. However, in real life, it is a totally different story. It’s like the road rage effect. If you’re standing in a line with a bunch of people, and you’re not surrounded by 2,000 pounds of automobile, and somebody comes up and cuts in front of you, you don’t bump them and start cursing them out. At the most aggressive, you may say, “hey, you just cut the line,” or, “hey, the line is back there.” But when the same thing happens when you’re surrounded by the protection of your metal cage, and somebody cuts you off, you flip them the bird while screaming and yelling, chase them down the road and flash your lights. Anonymity brings out the worst in people. [Both on the road and on the net.]

As I mentioned, I don’t engage every single time I see something I disagree with. One matter that is of particular interest to me though is Marriage Equality. This is an issue that I will engage about nearly every time I see someone dissenting. This is something I’ve been fighting for and debating about for over a decade now. My opinion on this is not changing. I have been fortunate to watch the general opinion of the country change over the years from 80% disapproval ratings for Marriage Equality to now a favorable opinion over 55%! The progress we have made is incredible. I’d like to believe that I had a part of changing the minds and hearts of at least a few of those people by living my life in an authentic way and engaging with them about why Marriage Equality is so important to me.

This summer, the Supreme Court is going to weigh in on the issue of Marriage Equality once again. I am hopeful they will rule in favor of National Marriage Equality, but I’m prepared to continue fighting for my rights if they rule in favor of the laws against my marriage. Either way they rule, I expect to see social media blowing up with status updates, memes, and news articles about this subject. I feel as though the time for debate on this subject has come and gone. Ultimately, people in my circle of friends know that I am gay and married to a wonderful man. People associated with me who oppose Marriage Equality are already aware that it is important to me and understand my stance on the matter. As I mentioned, this is an issue I’ve been fighting in support of for over a decade. I have reached a point that I don’t feel I hold anymore sway through debate with the people in my life who are still against equality.

The argument for Traditional Marriage makes me feel like my family is not deserving or is less than or second class. I can no longer associate with people who oppose Marriage Equality. I just want to get this out there ahead of the SCOTUS ruling so there is no doubt on my rigid stance. Whether before or after the ruling, if I see a friend of mine post anything online opposing Marriage Equality, including unfavorable comments on someone else’s post, I will end my relationship with that person. I realize that I have people in my family who still oppose Marriage Equality, and they are not exempt from my decision either.

I understand that some of these people I have mutual friends or common family members with. I don’t have a desire to avoid functions where these individuals may be in attendance, but I have no intention to engage with them whatsoever. However, I understand that a sincere change of heart on opposition to Marriage Equality is possible. Should one of these people feel a desire to reconnect with me, they need only reach out and open a new dialogue.

I have been thinking a lot about this lately and have mulled this blog post over in my head for a few months now. I have reached a point in my life where it’s important to surround myself with people who influence me in a positive way and enrich my life. My husband Cameron is someone who has influenced my life for the better in more ways than I am capable of describing. There is no more room in my life for anyone who seeks to prevent us from having equal rights and fair treatment under the law through Marriage Equality.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

"I have a right to defend myself. And to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible" ~Dan Savage

I recently watched a YouTube video of Dan Savage (the guy who started the “It Gets Better Project”) speaking to a group of high school journalists and I feel that everything he said during the short excerpt which made it into the YouTube video is absolutely true! Of course there were several students who walked out during his rant, but their refusal to hear his words as he points out the hypocrisy which exists in modern day bible thumpers just further exacerbates the inequality LGBT People face. We’re constantly talked down to on the basis that it says in the bible that being gay is sin, and we listen to it, but when we point out how ridiculous that is, people refuse to hear us.

If you are a Christian who believes that same sex marriage should not be legally recognized in this country and you’ve ever worn a cotton-poly blend, or you’ve ever eaten shellfish, you are a hypocritical bigot.

I’ve posted a transcript from Dan Savage’s speech below for you to read over and think through …

“The Bible, we’ll just talk about the Bible for a second. People often point out that they can’t help it – they can’t help with the anti-gay bullying, because it says right there in Leviticus, it says right there in Timothy, it says right there in Romans, that being gay is wrong.

“We can learn to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about gay people. The same way, the same way we have learned to ignore the bullshit in the Bible about shellfish, about slavery, about dinner, about farming, about menstruation, about virginity, about masturbation. We ignore bullshit in the Bible about all sorts of things. The Bible is a radically pro-slavery document. Slave owners waved Bibles over their heads during the Civil War and justified it. The shortest book in the New Testament is a letter from Paul to a Christian slave owner about owning his Christian slave. And Paul doesn’t say “Christians don’t own people.” Paul talks about how Christians own people.

“We ignore what the Bible says about slavery, because the Bible got slavery wrong. Sam Harris, in A Letter To A Christian Nation, points out that the Bible got the easiest moral question that humanity has ever faced wrong. Slavery! What’re the odds that the Bible got something as complicated as human sexuality wrong? One hundred percent.

“The Bible says that if your daughter’s not a virgin on her wedding night – if a woman isn’t a virgin on her wedding night, she shall be dragged to her father’s doorstep and stoned to death ... Callista Gingrich lives ... And there is no effort to amend state constitutions to make it legal to stone women to death on their wedding night if they’re not virgins … At least not yet ... We don’t know where the GOP is going these days.

“People are dying because people can’t clear this one last hurdle. They can’t get past this one last thing in the Bible about homosexuality.”

(By this point in his speech, several students had walked out)

“One other thing I wanna talk about is — you can tell the Bible guys in the hall that they can come back now, because I’m done beating up the Bible.

“It’s funny, as someone who’s on the receiving end of beatings that are justified by the Bible, how pansy-assed some people react when you push back.

“I apologize if I hurt anyone’s feelings, but I have a right to defend myself. And to point out the hypocrisy of people who justify anti-gay bigotry by pointing to the Bible, and insisting we must live by the code of Leviticus on this one issue and no other.”

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Accept no one's definition of your life, but define yourself" ~Harvey Fierstein

I’m sure that everyone reading this has heard on the news about all the suicides occurring recently across the country by teenagers which were victims of homophobic bullying. In case you haven’t heard about the suicides, the first one was Billy Lucas, a 15 year old from Indiana who hung himself on September 9th. Next was Seth Walsh, a 13 year old in California who hung himself on September 19 and died in the hospital on the 28th. The next we have 19 year old Tyler Clementi from New Jersey who felt compelled to jump off the George Washington Bridge on September 22nd. Lastly, was Asher Brown from Texas, another 13 year old who shot himself on September 29th.

Everything about all these situations is so horribly sad. Even sadder is that these are just the four that made news headlines. There are others, I’m sure, that just didn’t get mentioned nationally. I was reading about these tragedies online and found this video:

Some other statistics I came across that I find interesting are:
~ Gay Teens are 4 times more likely to attempt suicide than their heterosexual counterparts.
~ For every successful suicide, there were 20 failed attempts by other teens.
~ In Utah, Suicide is the 8th leading cause of death.
~ Utah males commit suicide four times as often as females.
~ Utah has ranked in the top 10 states with the highest rates of suicide for over 20 years.

This past weekend was the 180th semiannual General Conference for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. General Conference consists of four 2-hour church meetings over the course of the weekend. On Sunday, October 3, 2010, to a live morning audience of around 20,000 and millions more watching via satellite broadcast around the world, a saddening message was spread. Elder Boyd K. Packer, the President of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles (the LDS modern day equivalent of Jesus’ 12 Disciples) gave a speech explaining that gay people can overcome same-sex attraction (Mormon Leaders have a difficult time using the word Gay or Homosexual) through the power of the Priesthood (the supernatural power given to worthy males of the faith). Further explaining his stance by stating that God doesn’t make mistakes, he believes that clearly those feelings homosexuals have been experiencing since childhood are tools of Satan. He went on to say that people who are activists for legalizing same sex marriage are advocates for legalizing immorality.

Many have said that Elder Packer is a homophobic bully using his power and authority to promote a hateful view. I think those words are a bit harsh. Yes, he’s a leader within the LDS Faith, so we can assume that his views are not exactly pro-gay. Unfortunately, I don’t think he fully thought through the aftermath that may come in the wake of his sermon. Having grown up within the LDS faith, I can personally attest to the self-loathing experienced as a direct result of the words spitting forth from the Church’s Salt Lake City Headquarters. At the time I was experiencing all the turmoil resulting from the hatred I felt toward myself, I was told I suffered from ‘Depression.’ I have since come to disagree with that assessment, I suffered from Oppression. I developed a deep seeded detestation for myself because I was constantly reminded that I was sinful or wrong for experiencing feelings that I didn’t choose and couldn’t control. I think this speech was incredibly untimely, given the increased awareness of suicide resulting from anti-gay bullying. The words he used were mean spirited and the meaning behind them could easily have been delivered with more tact and with a loving rather than condemning tone. To quote the Executive Director of Affirmation: Gay and Lesbian Mormons, David Melson, “We see no potential for good coming from his words and much possible damage, to the church, to individuals, and to families. The LDS Church should be a source of love, compassion, and conciliation, and not of fear and unfeeling petty hatred."

There will be dire consequences resulting from this speech. Will there be successful or failed suicide attempts? Perhaps an innocent child or two will be kicked out of their family home, no longer welcome. Maybe a teenager listening in will take this as his/her right to bully another innocent gay teen to death. No one knows yet what the full outcome will be, but certainly there will be grief and further self-loathing experienced by many. Hopefully, that grief can be further avoided if people take some time to educate themselves, their family, and their friends on these types of issues. The American Psychological Association and American Psychiatric Association have both concluded that same-sex attraction is normal and that “reparative” therapy – like the kind being advocated by the Mormon Church – is unhealthy and harmful. Furthermore, Same-Sex Marriage does not advocate immorality; it promotes monogamy among same-sex couples. Regardless of whether or not the government (or the LDS Church) acknowledges a relationship, the relationship will happen nonetheless.

Elder Packer’s words are incredibly interesting to me in light of other words uttered by past Mormon leaders. President Gordon B. Hinckley served as Prophet of the Mormon Church from 1995 until his death in 2008. During the time he served, Larry King asked him directly if gay people are born that way, he can be quoted as saying, “I don’t know. I’m not an expert on these things. I don’t pretend to be an expert on these things.” Apostles Jeffrey R. Holland, Dallin H. Oaks, L. Tom Perry, and even the current Prophet, Thomas S. Monson have all made statements indicating the church does not deny the possibility of a biological factor, even going so far as to state that ‘same-sex attraction’ is a result of biological, chemical, and environmental factors. Did I miss something? Was there some miraculous breakthrough in scientific research proving that there are no biological factors at play in the development of homosexuality? Perhaps these breakthroughs are only available to privileged people such as Boyd K. Packer.

I would also like to point out the hypocritical position this puts the church in. Back in 2008, the Church Headquarters issued a letter to be read to the California congregations, urging them to use their ‘means and time’ to promote the Yes on 8 Campaign. Ultimately, this resulted in California successfully being the first state in history to unconstitutionally allow the people to vote to remove a right from a minority group. Of course, the Gay community all over the country was outraged over this. There were protests in every major city from Los Angeles to New York. Eventually, in an attempt at a truce, the LDS Church issued a statement in which they backed the Utah Common Ground Initiative (a series of laws which would provide certain rights to same sex couples). Now, a leader comes out and outright states that laws of this kind are promoting immorality. This seems a bit hypocritical if you ask me, but as Ambrose Bierce can be quoted, "Hypocrisy: prejudice with a halo.”

My friend Braidan Weeks recently changed is status on Facebook to state: “Learning to love someone regardless of the "choices" they make or the person they become is Christ's true challenge [for us]. We need to love and guide one another. We should never force anyone's hand … or let fear, hate, and shame darken our light within. I'm not telling you to accept me but to allow me to live my life in love.” Braidan beautifully put to words the exact feelings I hold within my heart. My mother and I have often discussed this very topic. Some people would argue that being gay is a challenge to see if someone loves God enough to endure a life of solitude … Maybe they’re right in the thought that being gay is a challenge, but I’d argue that the true challenge is to see if people around us can love us unconditionally. Yes, we have differences. No, we don’t fit into the mold of ‘normalcy.’ Yes, we are LOVABLE! The question I’d like to ask here is this: If the test is, in fact, to love unconditionally, will you pass?

I want to close this blog with a few more inspirational videos. The first one I saw on CNN regarding the bullying problem. I feel the message, while sad, is empowering. Ellen DeGeneres is a modern day hero! After that video, I’ve posted a few songs with lyrics that touch on these issues:

JoJo ~ Exceptional

You're beautiful but you don't know
Can't see what's there inside your soul
Always feeling like you're not good enough
You wish you could be someone else
Sometimes you just can't see yourself
But I can see just who you are, who you are

You're exceptional the way you are
Don't need to change for nobody
You're incredible, anyone can see that
When will you believe that?
You are nothing but exceptional

You never think you measure up
Never smart or cool, or pretty enough
Always feeling different from all the rest, oh
You feel so out of place, you think you don't fit in
I think you're perfect in the skin you're in
You're just perfect just how you are,
just how you are, yeah

You're exceptional the way you are
Don't need to change for nobody
You're incredible, anyone can see that
When will you believe that?
You are nothing but exceptional

If you could see the one I see when I see you
You'd know how lucky you are to be you
I see through into you
And you are

You're exceptional the way you are
Don't need to change for nobody
You're incredible, anyone can see that
When will you believe that?
You are!!
You're exceptional the way you are
Don't need to change for nobody
You're incredible, anyone can see that
When will you believe that?
You are nothing but exceptional

Scott Alan ~ Blessing (Performed by RJ Helton)

I'm taken aback by allegations:
-I've misdirected my life
-I've changed, I'm a different man
-How I love ain't right

But I only wish, you'd understand
Who I love is exactly, what God has planned
Just try to remember...

That I'm still your baby, your blood, have your eyes, have your smile
I'm sorry this hurts you, I'm sorry this numbs you
But I'm not ashamed of this fire I've inflamed
I was given this gift to love from heaven's hands
Don't abandon me now for loving another man
All I ask is in time, you'll give me your blessing

I know deep down you love me, I could use that love right now
I know time heals the hurting, I just hope you'll come around
Cause I'm finally proud to state who I am
Your close-minded thoughts won't leave me condemned
And I'm sorry this hurts you...

But I'm still your baby, your blood, have your eyes, have your smile
And nothing has changed here, I'm still the same
You taught me to love with my heart, I still do
I was given this gift to love from heaven's hands
And I know this is not the life you had planned
But I ask that in time, you'll give me your blessing

Cause I couldn't remain living inside this lie,
Every day that I did more and more of me died
I'm just here to remind you
That I'm still your baby, your blood, have your eyes, have your smile,
I'm sorry this hurts you I'm sorry you're wounded
But I'm not ashamed of this fire I've inflamed
I was living this life for somebody else,
Now this is my chance to live life for myself
All I ask is in time, you give me your blessing
Give your blessing
Your blessing

Tim McGraw ~ One of These Days

Used to chase that boy home from school
We called him frekled-faced, red-headed fool
He was different...he wasn't cool like me
Sticks and stones didn't break any bones
But we never left well enough alone
And one day he ran away from home, you see
And I passed him as he walked away
And in his eyes I heard him say

One of these days you're gonna love me
You'll sit down by yourself and think
About the times you pushed and shoved me
And what good friends we might've been
And then you're gonna sigh a little
Maybe even cry a little but
One of these days you're gonna love me

Patty Sue was a small town beauty
I took one look at her and had to pull her to me
Lord knows she should've seen right through me
When I promised her the world
But at 17, you only want one thing
I left her standin' with my high school ring
Innocent tears in the pourin' rain
As I walked away
And I still see her in my dreams
And to this day she's whispering

One of these days you're gonna love me
You'll sit down by yourself and think
About the time you turned from me
And what good friends we might've been
And then you're gonna sigh a little
Maybe even cry a little but
One of these days you're gonna love me

Now everybody stands up
The congregation sings
It's a song of sweet forgiveness
And as the chorus rings
The wind blows clear my memory
The pages start to turn
Then suddenly I'm singin'
The moment that I learn

One of these days I'm gonna love me
And feel the joy of sweet release
One of these days, I'll rise above me
And at last I'll find some peace
Then I'm gonna smile a little
Maybe even laugh a little but
One of these days I'm gonna love me

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

“From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.” ~Socrates~

“From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate.” ~Socrates~

I think that quote pretty much sums it up. Some of the most homophobic people I’ve ever met in my life have come out of the closet at later times in their lives. As sad as it is for me to admit it, I was once incredibly homophobic. No, I didn’t participate in any hate crimes or anything of that nature, but I did joke around about other kids in my high school who were very obviously gay as well, though none of us were out at the time. My crass joking enabled me to make friends without them questioning my sexuality. I used the other kids as a defense to prevent myself from a similar fate. It is definitely not a part of my life I am proud of, but it happened nevertheless.

I’ve been affected by homophobia my whole life. I know I’m not alone in my thoughts on the matter either. I was recently discussing the random thoughts running through my head and the precautions I take without realizing it. The friend I was talking with said she’s got another friend who voiced similar experiences to her. Sometimes I do things to protect myself without even realizing it. For instance, a few years ago, I was at the store purchasing a Valentines Day gift for my boyfriend. The item I bought was clearly for a man, I also bought a Valentines Day card to go with it of course. As I set my items on the conveyor belt at the register, I placed the card down first and the other item on top of it. I just did it, without thinking twice about why. Then I took a step back and evaluated my reasoning on a deeper level. The conclusion I drew was that I was trying to prevent other people in line with me from seeing I was buying a card to go with a gift for a man. I’d deliberately hidden the card beneath the other item. It irritated me that I did that. I’d been out for nearly five years by that time and I was and am completely comfortable living as a Gay man. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean that people around me are so comfortable with my sexual orientation.

Another example happened just a few weeks ago. A girl I work with was throwing a birthday party for another coworker. There were several of my coworkers there with their husbands and boyfriends. I tend to feel incredibly uncomfortable around straight men I don’t know. People kept asking me if I was okay and wondering why I wasn’t my usual self. I was at the party for over an hour before I finally opened up and started having a good time. I tend to withdraw and hang in the shadows until I can be sure that the straight men there won’t think that I’m coming on to them for merely making conversation. Sadly, I’ve heard horror stories about gay men having a good time in social situations, but the minute other people find out they are gay, suddenly they’re getting beat up. It’s a horribly reality, and frankly it scares me.

A close friend of mine (we’ll call her Jessica) actually avoided an incident this last weekend. She has a second job as a bar tender on the weekends. The bar she works at is a straight bar, but there is a transvestite who comes in fairly regularly (we’ll call her Tina). This last weekend, Tina was dancing and another patron came over and was dancing with her. No one seemed to think much of it. Later that evening, Jessica overheard another man telling the guy who’d danced with Tina that she was in fact a man. The conversation continued and multiple homophobic comments were exchanged. One of the two men decided they needed to teach Tina a lesson and proceeded to make plans to beat her up. At this point, Jessica approached them and said that there was no place for their bigoted, homophobic attitudes in her bar. She then informed them that if they even touched Tina, it would be the last thing they ever did. A while later, she heard them making comments again, then one of the men got up from the table and started walking toward Tina. Luckily Jessica was able to step in front of him and ask him to leave. Then she stepped over to the table where he and his friends were sitting. She proceeded to pick up the beers and pitcher they just ordered and pour them out. When the other men protested she spoke up and said, “I told all of you that homophobia has no place in my bar! Your friend has made it so none of you are welcome here anymore tonight. Please leave.” Luckily for Jessica and Tina, the men left without further incident.

The last incident I wanted to share was not necessarily one of hate, just intolerance in general. A close friend of mine lives in the heart of Downtown Salt Lake City. He’s less than one block from Temple Square. Needless to say, twice a year, when the LDS Church holds their Semiannual General Conference, finding a parking space anywhere near the area is unheard of. In fact, the parking garage to my friend’s building is normally closed for public access, but they open it up and charge people to park there during those two weekends each year.

The big weekend happened a few weeks ago. My friend made plans in advance so he wouldn’t need to leave his condo for any reason. He and his boyfriend were getting things done around the house and decided to take a walk to a nearby grocery store. As they were making their way back, they each had a hand full of groceries and had linked arms. They weren’t kissing, or even holding hands. Furthermore, it was during the time between Conference sessions so there weren’t a lot of people out. There was a group of people near the corner standing and talking as they approached. Suddenly, a man left the circle and approached my friend. He casually said, “There are people around here who don’t appreciate that kind of display and I would like to politely ask you to leave.” I can’t even fathom the audacity of this man to feel this sort of request is even remotely appropriate. My friend was not strolling through Temple Square, he was walking on a public sidewalk along South Temple, further than one city block from the Temple grounds. Clearly this man was a visitor to this part of the city. I happen to drive by this stretch of road every day and I’ve seen gay couples holding hands and walking together on multiple occasions. It’s not out of the ordinary. Despite the reputation of Utah and the surrounding area, Salt Lake City is quite tolerant and accepting of each other’s differences.

In reaction to this strange request, my friend looked from the man, to his boyfriend and back. He was already irritated at having to stay inside for the majority of the weekend and here was this man asking him to leave. His response was much calmer than it could have been. He looked the gentleman in the eyes and said, “I live in the building on the corner. I will not leave because I’m going home and I do not know what display you are referring to which is inappropriate! When did it become inappropriate for two people to walk along a city sidewalk with their arms linked together?” He didn’t wait for a response before they began walking again, this time a little quicker but their arms remained linked nonetheless.

People fear what they don’t understand. I know this is true, but why do they so often feel the need to act on this fear? Whether it is action against gay people, people of different religious groups, races, or cultures, we hear all too often stories of hatred, animosity, mistrust, oppression, judgment, and condemnation. As a human race, we need to take a step back from other people’s lives and ask ourselves, “Does this actually have any affect whatsoever on my life?” If not, then leave it be and move on!

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Evolution Of My Theism

It’s been a while since I’ve posted and I’ve had several topics run through my brain of what to write, but I haven’t had much time to sit down and get it out. Today, the topic at the top of my head is the changes in my belief system. As mentioned in previous posts, I grew up within the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (LDS). This set of beliefs was taught to me from birth and I accepted them as absolute truth. In fact, when I was a child, I was told that I belonged to the only true church on Earth. My best friend, who lived just across the street, was within the boundaries of a different ward (a geographical region within the LDS faith). Due to the fact that she was in a different ward, she attended church at another building. One day, I was talking with my grandmother and I asked, “Grandma, which church is true, mine or Kimberly’s?” My grandma replied that both were true. My response was a priceless line which has been laughed at within my family for years, “but mine is truer!”

I grew up in Star Valley, Wyoming, which is a small community on the Idaho border. The predominant faith in the area is overwhelmingly LDS. As I got older, I never thought to question anything about the religion. Nearly everyone I knew was an active churchgoer. Those who didn’t attend or belonged to other religions were not necessarily treated with a cold shoulder, but it was common to feel sorrow for the sake of their eternal salvation. When I discovered I was Gay, a ‘grievous sin’ ranking up there with the murderers and rapists, I was clearly troubled. Eventually, I came to a place where I was at peace with my sexuality and when I finally stopped lying about my sexual orientation, I stopped attending church altogether.

Shortly after I stopped going, my bishop (the presiding leader of a ward) asked me to come by his office after church services one afternoon to talk. I explained that I was Gay and would not be attending church anymore. He counseled me of the dangers I faced and explained that in the next life I would be attracted to women. It was a sin for me to seek relationships with men, but I shouldn’t actively seek relationships with women at this time either because it wouldn’t be fair to either of us as neither partners’ needs would be met. At that time, he asked me if I felt I was born this way. When I responded in the affirmative, he put in plain words that some children, through no fault of their own, are born addicted to crack cocaine. Even though this does occur, it doesn’t make it appropriate to start using crack cocaine as an adult. Although I was mortified at having listened to a grown man compare the love between two adults to a crack addict, I was cordial and attested that I had made my decision, it was not something I came to overnight, but I had carefully considered all my options for years.

When I first stopped going to services, I still had a strong belief in the teaching of the LDS Church, I merely felt they were misguided in this one area. Then more time passed, and I began to question more and more of the beliefs until I renounced it completely, holding the belief that Joseph Smith was a man of God, but his church had changed over time and was no longer what it was at the onset. I still believe part of that last statement. I don’t think the LDS Church of 2010 is anything like Joseph originally had planned and I think he’d be sadly disappointed at what it has become.

My childhood faith preaches that God’s love is unending and cannot be comprehended by human beings. God loves all his children unconditionally. Then in the next breath they tell me that God will cast me out of his home because I fell in love with, and made a family with someone of the same gender. This is incredibly contradictory to me! I don’t have children of my own yet, but when I think about how much I love each and every one of my nieces and nephews, there is nothing any of them could do which would make me love them less. Furthermore, if something were to happen where they needed a place to live, nothing would stop me from opening my door to them. Not only that, but my parents have the same love for me. Just over a year ago, I moved back home to be with my family for a few months while I worked through some personal issues. Shortly after I moved home, my ex-boyfriend was kicked out of his house by his stepdad. Not only did my parents open their door to me in my time of need, they allowed him to move in with us too. If God’s love is so unconditional, how is it possible that a mortal, such as myself or my parents, is more capable of extending love to another than God is capable of.

The evolution of my beliefs continued as the wheel of time kept pressing forward. I soon began questioning all organized religion. Sure, at the core, they all want the betterment of the human race, but when you mingle them together, it results in war, hatred, animosity, mistrust, oppression, judgment, condemnation, and a slew of other awful things! Eventually, I began to question the very idea of God at all. I believe that it is possible that there is an omniscient male being in control of everything, but it’s highly unlikely. It’s also possible that there is a monster made of a spaghetti-like substance that would like nothing more than to torture all human beings. A creature who plans a specific damnation of all beings for the next life. To me, these two beliefs are just as likely. On the other hand, the idea that the universe exists due to natural laws of physics, laws which exist regardless of mass belief, is a more charming explanation. I believe in Karma. Good deeds are rewarded and bad deeds punished. I feel this is a natural law of attraction.

In closing, I wanted to share an interesting statistic: Just over 10% of people do not believe in God. Another, more startling statistic shows that in prison, less than 1% of people don’t believe, meaning that over 99% have faith in God. Furthermore, on the opposite end of the spectrum, members of the National Academy of Sciences (people with a generally higher IQ score than your average Joe), when polled, 72% have a ‘personal disbelief in God’ thereby claiming Atheism, and another 20% claim ‘doubt or agnosticism’ leaving the remaining 8% with a belief in God. I find these details completely fascinating!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

“It’s our second date, and I’m not sure I love you. It’s time to break up.” –Gay Haiku

My last blog seemed to be a little heavy for some people, so I figured I’d keep this one on the light side. I want to share some of my dating stories here; the only problem is that I don’t know which one to start with. Dating is such an interesting experience, and I’ve dated a fair share of strange people which has naturally resulted in a fair share of dating stories to be told. One of my favorites involves a very nice, well intentioned guy from the Middle East. At one time, he told me what his birth name was, but I don’t recall that now. When he got his U.S. Citizenship, he changed his name to an ‘American Name’ to make it easier on everyone else. Though I’m sure no one reading this will know to whom I’m referring, I’ll refer to him as David moving forward.

For some reason, unbeknownst to me, I find ethnic men irresistible. I’d seen David at the local gay bar on multiple occasions, but I was too intimidated to approach him. Exteriorly, he was exactly my type, but my miniature self esteem lead me to believe he was completely out of my league. Thus, my interactions with him had been nonexistent. It was your typical Friday night for me and my best friend. We pre-partied at my apartment while we got ready to go out, called a cab around 11:00 PM and hit the bar for one last drink before dancing the night away. My friend and I got separated while we were getting our drinks, but before I knew it, she was stumbling up to my inebriated self telling me that she wanted to introduce me to her friend. This didn’t strike me as odd because she knew nearly everyone in the bar and I was frequently introduced to her old pals. This time was different; she was introducing me to David! What made this different was that she wasn’t actually friends with him. I’d pointed him out to her on previous occasions and she had no idea who he was. Being the fantastic Fag hag (although she hates that term LOL) she was, she’d set out on a mission to talk to him and introduce him to me. By the time I met him, I was too intoxicated to be shy or withdrawn in anyway. All my inhibitions were thrown out the window and we ended up dancing and kissing the night away.

As the lights came on in the club and we all made our way out to the night air, he began trying to persuade me to go home with him. Luckily for me, I’d set a firm boundary about not leaving the bar with someone I don’t know. The boundary was so clear in my mind that even in the smashed state I was in, I was able to stand firm on my no. However, I did get his telephone number and promised to call him on Sunday. He told me that he didn’t believe I’d really call because I was too drunk to remember, but I put my mind to it, and I did follow through on my word. I called him two days later and we decided to go on a date the next day. It was toward the end of September, so the haunted houses around town were all open. The plan was set; we’d meet at Nightmare on 13th the following evening for a Monday jaunt through a spook alley.

Unfortunately, the haunted house was only open on the weekends at that point in their season. Consequently, we ended up meeting up in an empty parking lot. It worked out well though because we decided to grab some coffee at a nearby Starbucks. Although I’m not a fan of coffee, these types of dates seem to always work out best. They’re totally casual and there are no distractions. You can just sit and look into the other person’s eyes and make conversation. We stayed until Starbucks was nearly ready to close before we finally made our way for the door. The conversation was flowing easily; there weren’t the awkward silences which are typical of a first real conversation. As we walked through the doors of Starbucks, we decided not to call it a night just yet. We ended up walking around the city blocks a couple of different directions. As midnight approached, we started heading back to our cars. Before we went our separate ways, he invited me to his place that next Wednesday for dinner and a movie.

Wednesday came surprisingly quickly considering how excited I was. I realize it was only two days away, but that new, puppy love feeling really makes time seem to move slowly. Here I was, being pursued by an incredibly attractive, intelligent, kind man whom I’d secretly been admiring for months. I drove to his apartment and was greeted with a unique smell of the foreign dinner he had prepared. It was strangely delicious; my Americanized taste buds didn’t quite know what to make from all the new flavors but I really enjoyed it. After dinner, we sat down and cuddled through a Gay Indie flick. It was cute, but clearly a low budget film; as they often are within that genre. As the credits began rolling, he leaned over and started kissing me. It was quickly evident that he was interested in a little more than a little kissing. Again, I had to stand firm on the boundaries I’d set. After all, I hadn’t known him a week yet, and although we’d had amazing conversation, I really didn’t know him well at all. He was respectful of my wishes and didn’t attempt to take things any further than kissing after that.

Later that evening, as I made my way to the door, he offered to walk me out to my car like a true gentleman. As we approached my car, he turned and asked, “So what do I call you?” (This story is much funnier if you hear (or at least imagine) his accent). I was flabbergasted! My initial response was to blurt out, “Blake!” But I knew that would be abrasive and tactless. Though I knew what he meant when he asked, I felt the better road would be to ask him to clarify and restate exactly what he was asking. His reply was truly funny, “If my friends ask, are we boyfriends who don’t have sex?” My emotions were all over the place at this point, I didn’t know if I was mortified, confused, ecstatic, nervous, or a million other emotions streaming through me at that instant. It was probably a mix of all of the above. Part of me wanted to burst out laughing right there, but I knew that would make for some awful Karma. I politely explained to him that we were just two guys who were casually dating and trying to get to know each other better.

I drove straight to my best friend’s house to fill her in on this strange turn of events. We discussed the situation in detail. Our conversation further exacerbated my fears of the evening’s happenings. Being the dramatic gay people we were, we quickly convinced ourselves that he would end up being some kind of possessive-stalker type. Our thought process was that anyone who’s totally ready to commit before having known the other person for a week must be completely unbalanced. In retrospect, I feel bad for cutting things off after that night. I may have been a little quick to judge, but then again, a few weeks later, I ran into him at another local gay bar. My experience there was reassuring that I’d made a good decision to keep him at a safe distance.

David and I hadn’t spoken in several weeks, so I didn’t think anything of it when I noticed him inside. Then he looked up and very obviously saw me. Immediately, he looked away and started dancing incredibly close to the nearest guy he could get his hands on. I’m sure you’re probably thinking that it was all in my head, no one would become that attached after a mere 5 days of talking and then a couple weeks of no contact. He couldn’t possibly have been deliberately trying to make me jealous! (Not that he succeeded in making me jealous, I am just left to assume that’s what he was attempting to accomplish) I may have second guessed his reaction to seeing me in later memories of the situation had it not been for my best friend. She’d witnessed the same actions and couldn’t contain her laughter. She was utilizing the laugh we refer to as her, ‘Hearty Beef Stew Laugh.’ This is one of those full bellied, deep, loud laughs which are unavoidably contagious. She couldn’t get over the comedic display we’d just witnessed.

A few hours later, we’d been dancing and having a good time when I turned to see David right behind me. He wasn’t merely dancing near me; he was standing directly behind me. As soon as his eyes met mine, he threw his arms around me. After what seemed to be an uncomfortably long hug, he pulled back and told me he missed me while tears rolled from both eyes. All at once, I felt awful and grateful. I hate the thought that I had caused someone pain. I’m a sympathetic person with compassion for everyone around me, and knowing that someone was hurting as a direct result of something I’d done was disheartening to say the least. On the other hand, if he was still this caught up on me, all these weeks later, after having only actually spoken on 3 separate occasions spanning 5 days, it was probably best that I hadn’t gotten more involved.

Friday, February 19, 2010

“There’s no torment in coming out. The torment is in being in.” ~Armistead Maupin

After posting my last blog, I planned on telling more dating stories because they can be quite comical. However, I’ve had several people give me feedback that they wanted to hear more about my coming out process. There are so many details involved in the process I went through to finally reach the point of coming out. I fear I won’t be able to adequately fide words to describe my experiences as to provide justice to my coming of age saga.

There was never a time I recall not feeling attracted to males. At different times in my life, it meant different things and resulted in different behaviors, but it was always there. The first crush I remember was on a kid from a movie. In fact, my infatuation ran deep enough that every time I played ‘house’ with my sisters, I took on his character’s name. Additionally, whenever we’d play, my [pretend] wife and I would quickly get divorced. Although my parents were, and still remain married, whenever we’d play, I would not stay married for more than a few minutes. I knew deep down that I was ‘supposed’ to marry a woman, but I also knew, whether consciously or unconsciously, that I’d rather not have a woman in that aspect.

Of course, at the time of my movie star crush, I didn’t recognize my feelings as being a crush. Not for this child actor, nor for any of the other boys from my childhood whom I had become smitten with. Quite the contrary, I developed ‘crushes’ on girls. In retrospect I can clearly see that I mistook feelings of friendship for crushes and vice versa. I can hear your questions in my mind already. “How do you know you mistook your feelings, maybe you were right back then and wrong now?” The answer is simple, societal norms are presented to children at a young age. Everyone is taught that boys should ‘like’ girls and develop friendships with other boys. Naturally, we don’t view ourselves as ‘outside the norm’ as children, so I assumed my feelings were the same as everyone else. Further exacerbating this misconstruction of my feelings, I overheard a conversation between my mother and an attractive female friend she had. I don’t recall the exact words, but it was along the lines of my mom telling her that she admired this woman for her beauty. Hearing this allowed me to feel okay about ‘admiring’ boys for their looks. After all, my mother had expressed these feelings outright. It must be completely normal to recognize that someone is attractive and ‘admire’ them for that attribute. Needless to say, I spent altogether too much time ‘admiring’ boys at school moving forward, though I never brought myself to the point of vocalizing these thoughts.

There were other feelings and desires I experienced during childhood which I recognized were ‘outside the norm’ and thus did my best to hide them. I never really enjoyed playing with boy toys such as Army men and trucks. I loved my sisters’ toys, especially Barbies! There were several times I played Barbies with them, or by myself. I knew that if I was playing with my sisters, or any other girl, I was mostly safe from the ridicule. However, whenever anyone caught me playing with them by myself, I’d quickly tear their heads off or something else to demonstrate to whoever saw that I wasn’t actually ‘playing’ with them. I hated having to do this! My heart yearned to be able to play Barbies for hours and hours without interruption or sudden death by decapitation.

As I got older, I began to recognize that I wasn’t merely admiring boys, nor was I crushing on girls. Along with these realizations came the conclusion that I was different. Although I didn’t have a full grasp of what homosexuality was, anything different meant bad, especially in a small, close-knit community like Star Valley, Wyoming. For anyone reading this who doesn’t know, Star Valley has a higher percentage of Mormons than the entire State of Utah. I too belonged to this faith. While we didn’t spend too much time discussing gay issues in church, the topic had been touched on enough for me to know that any ‘inclination’ toward it was awful. I turned to God, praying to be more normal. Obviously, that didn’t work, so I changed my stance on things. I’d slowly gone from feeling ‘abnormal’ to feeling worthless, shameful, hollow, alone, lost, scared, betrayed, forgotten, unloved, unwanted, unlovable, and an assortment of other negative feelings. At the bright old age of 12, I remember kneeling down and praying to get cancer or some other illness that would end everything. That way no one would ever have to know how I truly felt inside. It was so appalling to know that I was attracted to men, even in the slightest degree.

By the time I was 14 or 15, I’d fully accepted the fact that I was bisexual. However, I had no intention of ever succumbing to the temptation of dating men. That would be a sin beyond imagination! I was a strong faithful young man. I was going to serve a fulltime mission for the Church and return with honor to marry a wonderful young woman, and no one would ever have to know how I truly felt inside. Even though I knew I’d never act on these feelings, it didn’t stop me from feeling awful for merely experiencing them. By this time, I’d given up on the idea of cancer from God and had begun making considerations to take things into my own hands as a precaution. Even death would be better than becoming Gay!!! Suicide would become my fallback plan in case I was to realize that I couldn’t fight any longer. It was about that time that I discovered the pleasure and release of cutting. The self mutilation, while it provided a temporary release from reality, a small break in the anguish I was experiencing, it wasn’t enough and soon led to an actual suicide attempt.

Prior to the suicide attempt, I’d sought counseling with my bishop; however, after the attempt on my life, my parents took me to a couple of paid therapists. I use the term paid because I truly don’t feel that they were qualified to be actual therapists, yet my parents were paying for me to visit with them. I didn’t click well with either of the ‘therapists’ I was seeing and found out later that one of them actually told my mom that I was a spoiled brat, begging for attention and a bit more discipline would solve all my problems. Eventually, my bishop recommended that my parents bring me to a counselor in Salt Lake City with LDS Family Services. When I look back at my experience with that therapist, it is bitter sweet. I enjoyed therapy with him because he specifically dealt with the ‘Same Sex Attraction’ issues or SSA as he termed it. It was incredibly comforting to know that I was not alone. He recommended my parents purchase a book designed for LDS men struggling with ‘SSA.’ I remember staying up late hours crying while reading this book. It was such a weight off my shoulders to know that I was not alone. But at the same time, even though traditional therapists had long since abandoned attempts of ‘treating’ homosexuality as a disease, this Church-operated therapy facility was doing just that. He spent time teaching me how to stop these thoughts of SSA. In fact, one of the exercises was for me to envision an actual stop sign in my head anytime I saw a male and felt attracted to him.

After a few months with this therapist, it was clear that things were still getting worse, though the downward spiral had slowed a lot through meeting with him. There were other behavioral issues coupled with the Same Sex Attraction which led him to suggest that my parents place me in an intensive treatment center for troubled youth. My bishop got the approval for the Church to pay for the treatment center. I later heard that he explained to the people making those types of decisions that if they didn’t help my parents pay for treatment, they would end up helping to pay for a funeral. Although the treatment center was not the best of experiences for me and ended very dramatically, I honestly believe that my bishop was right. They had prevented me from ending my own life, for that reason alone, I feel that my stay there was a success.

While my parents were making plans for me to enter treatment, I was busy being a teenager. Toward the end of my Junior year of high school, I had changed the word I chose to identify myself from bisexual to gay. It’s interesting to think back to that time in my life. I was truly living a double life. On the outside, and whenever I was around other people, I truly wanted to be straight, or at least to live that way. But when I was all alone, my desire to let go and embrace this aspect of me was so strong! At this time, I was still planning on fighting it with everything I had so I could have a temple marriage and an eternal family. Deep down I knew the impossibility of that dream, yet I held tight to the hope of normalcy, or at least the appearance of normalcy.

There was a guy in my high school, we’ll call him Cory, who was obviously gay. People talked about it frequently, myself included. The more I began to accept that part of me though, the less I talked about him. Then one night at a school dance, one of my good friends told me, “Cory is Gay!” I retorted and asked her how she knew he was gay. To which she quickly responded, “He told me himself.” That sent a chill through my soul! He had mustered up the courage to actually vocalize how he felt. Not only that, but this girl, and the other girl he’d told his secret to, were still friends with him. It took me a few more weeks before I followed Cory’s lead and came out to the same two girls. They laughed and thought I was joking, but then I explained myself a bit more until they believed me, or so I thought. Years later, when this same friend met my first boyfriend, she acted shocked, like it was a total surprise to her.

Within weeks of coming out to these friends, I entered the treatment center. I spent just over 5 months there. I learned a lot, and discovered new tools to fight my homosexual desires. Yes, during the course of treatment, I reverted backward and was going to try to fight for a straight lifestyle once more. Toward the end of my stay in treatment, I began seeing a Doctor who was going to repair my brain and remove the attraction toward men. The process included a full day of personality tests combined with sexual arousal tests. The results came back about a week later confirming that I was in fact suffering from a ‘deviant attraction to males my own age.’

The way this change therapy worked was to have me write down two stories. One story involved me engaging in a sexual act with a man. The other story involved me engaging in a sexual act with my future wife, specific to include the feelings of love and companionship we would share. Once I wrote the stories, they would hook me up to some machines to monitor my heart and respiratory rates and another machine called a penile plethysmograph, which involved a copper ring which was placed around the base of my penis. This machine would monitor changes in blood flow and therefore determine a state of arousal. Once I was properly attached to the equipment, I would read the story about me with a man. Anytime any of these machines detected a state of arousal, a Tupperware bowl was placed in front of my nose and the lid was removed. The Tupperware contained a moose liver. But not just any moose liver, this one had been sitting out for far too long and had turned colors. The smell was enough to make you want to snort battery acid to find refuge! Once the moose liver had been inhaled long enough for the arousal to go away, I would read the other story I’d written. This story was followed up with a piece of candy to reward myself for the possibility of arousal to the thought of a wife in some future life. Using these methods, we would ‘retrain’ my brain to avoid the ‘deviant arousal’ altogether. Luckily for me, I ran away from therapy shortly after completing the preliminary testing.

Not quite a year after running away, I had fully embraced the fact that I was gay. I was ready to come out to the world and live honestly. I was sick of the shame I felt in hiding all these years. I didn’t know quite how to approach my parents with the news. Additionally, I had a girlfriend still, and I needed to figure out some way to tell her. She and I had planned a road trip together, and I figured it would be the perfect opportunity to tell her what was going on. Unfortunately, she broke up with me first and we canceled the trip. She didn’t find out my secret until about a month later, in the same cowardly way I told the majority of my friends. I wanted to plan out some way to tell my parents, but I was so afraid of their reaction that I couldn’t just come out and say it. My thoughts were to just go on a date and on my way out the door say, “Bye mom, I’m going on a date … with John!” and then run out the door. The only problem with that was I didn’t have a John, or a gay boy by any other name for that matter.

I got online and quickly found, a personal ad / social networking / cyber chat website. I wrote the names of the handles of a few guys I’d chatted with, and across the top of the page, I labeled it ‘’ I folded up the paper and hid it in my room between two DVDs. Little did I know, my younger sister had a habit of borrowing my DVDs without asking. Naturally, one day she happened to choose one of the two DVDs I was using to hide my note. This resulted in my paper landing on the floor. Of course she couldn’t just keep it folded and put it back where it was, she opened it, read it, and took it straight to my parents.

That night when I got home from work, my parents pulled me into the bedroom for a meeting. I had no idea what it could be about, but I was incredibly nervous. My mom unfolded the paper and held it out to me asking what it was. My initial instinct was to quickly lie, the same way I had done for so many years up to that point. I opened my mouth to spout out the best cover-up I could come up with, when I hesitated, thought better of it, and said, “It’s exactly what it looks like.” She acknowledged the fact that it meant that I was gay. Then she got this disgusted, horrified look on her face and said, “But doesn’t that gross you out? A penis in your butt!?!” I was mortified!!! I spent the next little while explaining that love was not about sex, it’s about companionship. Sex is just one aspect of a loving relaionship.

My parents informed my sisters and they each took turns interrogating me about my feelings and attractions and anything else they could think of. Next came the daunting task of outing myself to the extended family and all my close friends. I had won tickets to Lagoon, so I invited my best friend to come up from Wyoming and go to Lagoon with me. The entire day, I was trying to come up with the courage to say what was on my mind. As we were getting ready to leave, we walked out to his car and he played me some songs from the ‘Chicago’ musical soundtrack. After he was finished, I told him that I had something important to say. “I’m Gay.” He looked completely shocked. He spent the next several minutes telling me that it was the worst mistake I’d ever make in my life. It was an abominable sin against God and he desperately wished I would reconsider. After a time, it was clear that I wasn’t going to obtain his acceptance, and he wasn’t going to change my opinion on the matter. That was six and a half years ago. Even though I’m still friends with him, I use the term ‘friend’ loosely. We’re both friends with the same people, so whenever we have our get-togethers, we see each other, but aside from that we really have no contact. And even at these events, the conversation between us is limited. Right after he returned from his mission, we were all together at a friend’s house playing board games, he got up to leave and said that he felt like he should go around and shake everyone’s hand. It was funny and everyone laughed while he proceeded around the circle, starting to my left, shaking everyone’s hand, but ending with the person to my right in the circle. It wasn’t obvious to anyone but me that he had deliberately skipped my hand while making his rounds. To this day, the only physical contact I’ve had with him was once when he handed me his keys so I could move his car and my fingers brushed his palm while I picked up the keys. It’s very clear that he’s very uncomfortable around me. It’s almost as if he thinks I’m going infect him with homosexuality or something.

After the negative response I got when I came out to him, I was too cowardly to tell anyone else in a face to face manner. I wrote out an e-mail to my other close friends and a few cousins explaining that I am gay and that I wasn’t going to change, and they could either accept me as I am, or we could agree to move on from the friendship. To my utter surprise and delight, every one of my remaining friends responded with love and kindness. A few felt the need to explain their feelings a bit further in letting me know that they may not agree with my ‘choice,’ as they called it, but they loved me no matter what and we’d always be friends.

The last friend from high school I discussed this with is actually someone I’m closer with now than we ever were in high school. I didn’t include him in the initial e-mail because we’d never been too close, and I assumed he’d react worse than my best friend had. He found out through the grapevine and let me know his feelings in a letter he sent me while he was on his mission. I still have the letter. It was a very similar response to that of my best friend. It was worded in a way which I still regard as harsh, but on the other hand, he made a point of spelling out the fact that regardless of my decision on this issue, he still thought of me as a friend. Looking back, I have to question his motives in that last statement because in the same letter he mentioned a desire to date my younger sister. When he came home from his mission, he did just that, and they’ve been married for a few years now.

There are a lot more details to this story which I skimmed over. Perhaps I’ll go back in a later post and elaborate on more of the experiences I had, but I think for now, this is a good enough synopsis of my coming out story.