Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Out & About


Coming out to my family was an out-of-body experience. As my mouth began moving, forming words I had rehearsed time and time again, I forfeited all control to some invisible force-- there was no turning back and the universe made sure of that. There I was, sitting at our dinner table with my parents, my sister, two of my brothers, and all three of their spouses, and I somehow mustered the words: "I am gay." Out loud.

I had prepared myself emotionally for the impending possibility of coming out to the remaining members of my family over Christmas break, but I hadn't made any concrete goal to do so. It was merely an "if it happens, it happens" kind of sentiment. I reworked the practice letter I had carefully written so many months ago (taking out the parts about being in love-- one step at a time, people!) and saved it on my iPad just in case.

After we finished a round of games on Wednesday night, just as we had every night before, we sat talking and laughing as a family, enjoying our last night all together. When a lull in the conversation and a shuffling of chairs threatened my final chance to tell them all in one setting, I spoke up. 

"Before we go to bed, and before Conrad and Jamie head back to Arizona tomorrow, there is something I want to talk to you guys about. Something that has been on my mind for a long time, and tonight seems like a good night to talk about it."

I fumbled for my iPad, opened the letter and with a shaky and emotion-filled voice read every word. At parts, I had to pause and collect myself, dab my tear-stained cheeks and push forward. I prayed the letter would never end because I was terrified of what was waiting on the other side.

"...I testify that Jesus is the Christ, an unblemished example of pure charity and love. He knows me and the desires of my heart fully, and when that day comes, I will bow down before Him in humility and say without shame, 'Lord, I have done my best.'

With all the love I possess,
Jack-Jack"

I shut off my iPad, wiped the tears from my face, and waited. Waited for applause, boos, crying, shouting, incoming balls of yarn, anything! Finally, after a few hugs and what seemed like an eternity of quiet, my brother Conrad finally opened up and got the ball rolling.

We spoke for two hours as a family about my past, my present, and most of all, my future. They shared thoughts, kind words of support, and testimonies of the Gospel. Their reactions ranged from angry, ignorant and uninformed, to concerned, loving and supportive. I can't say I expected otherwise.

I haven't had much contact with my siblings or father since that pivotal night, but to know I have finally broken free of my shell of silence and exposed an important part of myself to my family is overwhelmingly relieving. This part of me has been clawing at the walls of my heart, mind and soul for years. 

There are still many miles to go before we see eye to eye on the issue and the choices I may or may not make, but at least one thing is sure: I no longer have to fear living in the dark. The truth has been illuminated to a few more people, chipping away at the barricade that conceals my whole self. These fresh holes in this wall give me a taste of a future where I can be seen for who I am, a gay man, struggling to find his place in this world, just like everyone else. 

When that glorious days comes, when the truth has completely penetrated the walls around me, and my world is flooded with light, I will finally stand tall in the glow of understanding, and bask in the warmth of complete emancipation.

And corny metaphors aside, I'm simply atwitter that I can now officially be everyone's favorite guncle! :D

Saturday, August 6, 2011

A Practice Letter To My Siblings

*For those interested, I have three older brothers and one older sister. They are all faithful, active members of the LDS Church, all married with children. I was fairly close with all my brothers, but I was the closest with my sister. She and my mother are the only ones in the family who know I am gay.

My beloved brothers and sweetest sister, the time for me to be completely honest with you, you whom I lovingly call my family, has come. My entire life I have smothered a great part of myself, supressing not only my thoughts and tongue, but my longing heart as well. Neatly put, I "suffer" from Same-Gender Attraction. I've always hated that "diagnosis." It describes a disease, something you kill with chemicals and antibiotics. Unfortunately, homosexuality, contrary to certain beliefs, has no antidote.

Let's try this again: I am gay.

Funny how three such tiny words have been the source of so much pain throughout my short life. I cannot count on all our fingers and toes combined how many times this word has cut me, whether from bullying classmates or even inside the walls of my own home, igniting a rage of self-loathing and sadness. I denied each and every accusation, going so far as to kiss the girls just to get them off my back.

I will spare you the tedious details of my tormented adolescence, and instead, present to you my present here and now.

When I returned home from my mission, equipped with the armor of God in its shiniest and sturdiest form, I also returned home to a conflict I left unresolved. I thought, as so many do, that if I served the Lord with all my heart, might, mind and strength that my "tendencies" would be vanquished, conquered, forgotten. I prayed for that daily, pouring my whole being into a vocation that would never be answered. It wasn't until later, much later, that I gained greater insight on the matter and realized my feeble cries for complete metamorphosis were in vain; God does not simply revoke someone's soul and send a new model. That's not how life works.

Believe me, I've read many a sermon, talk and study on the matter of homosexuality. Often, my efforts in finding answers only left me more conflicted and confused. Elder Holland even said himself, "Some things, including the cause of your feelings, we may never know in this life." That's not the kind of council one wants to hear for any trial, let alone one that is as heavily debated, scrutinized and misunderstood as homosexuality.

The first few months after my mission were fine; the fire of missionary work that still burned in my heart allowed me to coast for a while. Time, as it always does, eventually extinguishes that flame, requiring us to light a new, brighter one. Scripture study became frustrating; prayer, lazy and intent-less; even church meetings weighed me down-- it seemed every lesson, talk and testimony was about one thing: marriage.

Put yourself in my shoes. Imagine an upbringing submersed in a religion as family centered as ours is. Now imagine the crippling realization a boy of only eleven years old would face when he finally acknowledges the foreign feelings growing inside him. Would you ignore those feelings? Would you deny that they are even real? Would you carry on through life as though that realization had never occurred? I did. I tried, at least. There comes a point, though, when even the best actors must break character.

What of my testimony, my faith in the Gospel? Those things are still intact, but there is definitely room for improvement. For the longest time I let my spirituality crumble under the weight of this burden and I began distancing myself from the church because it made me feel so miserably alone and provided little hope for my future. I firmly believe one of my greatest gifts and callings in this life is to love. I felt it growing up, I felt it on my mission, and now, as an adult, I feel an unequaled desire to love and be loved by another. I refuse to have that gift relegated to simple acts of service and charity. Love is life. Life is love. I choose to live. And by so doing, I have chosen someone to live and love with.

It was not easy, and it will come at a price. This I understand. My decision to enjoy an enriched life of companionship over a muted life of celibacy is one that could easily compromise other important relationships, like family. I am fully prepared to face the rejection and misunderstanding that so often accompanies a gay man's decision to embrace his sexuality. I don't expect you to understand. I would, however, pray for your support and compassion. If we could trade hearts for a day, you might not be so quick to judge.

I wish to be more open with each of you. I want nothing more than to have "the talk" with each of you individually, where you ask me questions, I bear my soul, explain my actions, but I know that some of you may not want anything to do with "it." To you I say: I have made up my mind and heart and you're going to have to deal with "it" one way or another. I have never been more secure, content and excited in my entire life. You might recall a similar feeling when you met your current spouse.

I love each of you tremendously and can't think of four more important individuals in my life. You each mean so much to me and the role you play in my life is irreplaceable. Know that I believe in a loving Heavenly Father who has a unique plan prepared for each of us, and sometimes life unfolds in mysterious and unforeseen ways. To that end I testify that Jesus is the Christ, an unblemished example of pure charity and love. He knows me and the desires of my heart fully and when that day comes, I will bow down before Him in humility and say without shame, "Lord, I have done my best."

With all the love I possess,
Jack-Jack

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Lost

Losing a folded piece of fake leather with a few bucks and some plastic cards inside shouldn't be so devastating. People lose wallets; wallets get lost. Just like wedding rings, cell phones, car keys, or chapstick-- we exert so much energy keeping track of such "valuables" that the moment we realize they're gone, a nagging feeling of defeat washes over us. Or at least, that's how I remember it.

It's awfully ironic I lost my wallet last night. My wallet protects much of my identity: my driver's license, my school ID, my debit card, my membership cards, my expired temple recommend, my $15 dollar gift card to Cinemark Theaters... For last night also happened to be a night I faced other identity woes and discretely wiped away silent tears in the back of a car full of friends.

As you've probably noticed from careful readings of my blog, I fall into the pit of self-pity, the den of despair! the grotto of grief!! about once a month (hence, me posting once a month). I would be lying if I said I didn't have days in between when I'm emotional, sensitive, bitter, angry or jealous, but every 4.5 weeks I am routinely bludgeoned by "Dark Day:" a period of roughly 24 hours when I am reduced to an inconsolable mess of emotions, upheld by frail and wobbly limbs, keeping me sustained just enough to wallow in my own suffering. Last night might've brought a lighter shade of "Dark Day" (maybe a charcoal, even an ash gray), but this morning I'm still weak, still recovering slowly.

My identity is so strained. I feel downright exhausted from stretching myself so thin-- I still keep a toe here and a toe there, but the here and there are growing further and further apart. I want them both, but can't commit to either. I find myself running in circles, finding a resolve, loosening my grip on that resolve, and eventually abandoning it all together.

I've lost desire and motivation to keep commandments-- I have managed to skip church two weeks in a row and yesterday I drank a latte. I'm still unequivocally in love but hate myself for getting in his way, for being the source of much of his pain, regret and sorrow. I've lost my faith in so many things, and as a result, have lost such balance. I've lost touch with wonderful friends but have lost interest in rekindling their friendships. I've lost sight of Jesus, and now, I've lost my wallet.

If you don't hear from me for a couple days or weeks, it's because I've boarded Oceanic Flight 815, and if all goes according to plan, I've gotten myself perfectly lost on an isalnd free of expectations (but certainly not free of mystery, intrigue and adventure!). I've started over.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Getting Through the Night

Below is my final paper for English 333, a personal essay and close read of a poem of our choice. I chose Robert Frost's "Acquainted with the Night" (Thanks, Aaron!) and felt the final result was blog-worthy. It's a tad long, and at times disjointed, but nonetheless... Enjoy!

Getting through the Night

Robert Frost’s “Acquainted with the Night”

The silence of night still catches me off guard. Distractions and detours during the day come in abundance, providing just enough noise and clamor to cage my wandering mind. But at night, I’m left to dance alone with empty stillness. And maybe it’s because of this uninvited quiet that night has become both my best friend and my worst enemy.

I am an active member of the Church of the Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and I am gay. Some may contend, labeling this an oxymoron—a Mormon certainly can’t be a homosexual, nor can a homosexual be a member of Christ’s church! Which is exactly where I find myself; I sit beneath the crushing weight of both truths, performing a balancing act deemed impossible. But nobody does a more respectable job of reminding me of the daunting and turbulent journey before me than the unsettling still of night.

“I have been one acquainted with the night” [1]. In Robert Frost’s poignant sonnet, he paints a dreary picture of a man walking the streets of a desolate city by night, describing his lonely travails up the streets of heartache and his encounters with misery. Our elementary school textbooks taught us what night is and how it perpetually occurs: the earth turns its back to the sun, leaving us with a world devoid of light and warmth. But anyone “acquainted with the night,” anyone who has “outwalked the furthest city light” knows it’s much more than merely an absence of light [1, 3].

Upon my first reading of Frost’s heartbreaking poem, I quickly drew comparisons to my own life. The speaker faces a night of solemnity, his words heavy with anguish and strained hope. I easily connected with the speaker and his walk; like this character in the poem, much of my journey has been endured alone—much of my journey of self-discovery and acceptance must be done alone. Isolation invites introspection, and introspection incites understanding. The speaker of the poem also recognizes his responsibility to endure his walk with night without the aid of another; when he “passed by the watchman on his beat” the speaker “dropped [his] eyes, unwilling to explain” [5-6].

His lack of willingness “to explain” might suggest he is refusing support, counsel, even a friend, but in my experience, this period of personal struggle is necessary for refinement and growth. If we were to exert the constant energy required to keep everyone involved and contributing, we just might unravel.

For anyone enduring the struggle of same-sex attraction, depression, addiction, or just loneliness, there resides within the heart the hope that there will come a day when the sun will rise, the rain will subside, and the warmth of day will be restored once again. Yet, I often fear my life on Earth will be always be accompanied with heartache, and like the speaker relates of his own experience, I fear I, too, might walk “out in rain – and back in rain.” The mercilessly cold rain of night never lifts, but soaks him throughout his entire journey.

Each time I sat down to explain to a friend, a parent, a stranger what it was I faced in life, I rested on a false hope that they could make everything okay. I clumsily assumed that the more people who knew me, all of me, the less freight I would have to bear alone. I was mostly wrong. However supportive, however loving my listener was, I knew that the only thing that I had accomplished was filling someone else with worry and sorrow.

There comes in all of our darkest nights a glimmer of hope that echoes throughout the streets, suggesting someone has come to our rescue, but more often than not, after we’ve stopped to listen and stood still, we realize that the “interrupted cry” does not yell to “call me back or say good-bye,” but calls out in their own necessity [7-10]. We all have our separate burdens to bear and mountains to climb.

Attending a university such as Brigham Young University also presents its fair share of complex frustrations. Students here, and to no fault of their own, receive the idea of homosexuality like the bitterest of pills. Jagged little pills, maybe. They hold preconceived notions that all gays are foul, loathsome creatures of the flesh who engage in despicable acts of sin.

What they don’t realize is that their own campus is populated by a startling number of homosexuals who believe and adhere to the standards laid out by the Church. Like me, there are many men and women of faith and value who bear this unthinkable burden and must resort to greeting each night in the same manner the speaker of the poem does: by “peering down the saddest city lane” [4].

This “peering” down lanes of others, viewing their personal plights, is an inevitable comparison drawn by Mormon homosexuals. Who has overcome? Who stands conqueror? Who are the fallen, scattered upon the hard city streets? Who still stalks the empty, wet lanes, calling out into the night? And with whom do I belong? The emptiness of night ignites a fury of comparisons, of peering and pondering, of questions begging to be answered.

Ambiguity is one of my surest companions. In night’s deep desolation, there is so much that teeters between the known and unknown, the good and the bad, and of most prominence, the right and the wrong. Frost further expounds upon the unknowns, the gray matter, when the speaker catches sight of “one luminary clock against the sky” sitting “still at an unearthly height” [11-12]. He sees the clock and notes how it “proclaimed the time was neither wrong nor right” [13].

As I have explored the world around me and sought after what I know to be good, what I feel to be right, I have encountered countless unknowns. I have even embraced some of these unknowns and acted upon them as something of an experiment, a test of my own commitment to endure. As the final line of the first stanza reads, “I have outwalked the furthest city light,” the speaker too has found himself seeking the darkest ends of the city [3]. What purpose would there to “outwalk” the city’s light? Possibly, he was seeking something new, something strange, an answer, a question, an opportunity to see something different, an opportunity to make a mistake, or maybe a road leading to foreign place. Oftentimes, the darkest corners of life have the strongest lure because we all bear innate feelings of curiosity. Curiosity could kill the cat, to be sure, but it might also set it free.

He further expounds upon this notion in the next line, a line we’ve already examined: “I have looked down the saddest city lane” [4]. We’ve all done it—a car sits mangled on the side of the highway, a team of ambulances and police cars on every side, disaster before us, only seconds old. And yet, we actually look, searching the “saddest city lane,” hoping to catch a glimpse of someone else’s tragedy. It may as well be our own.

Night’s percussive rain and moaning winds become the soundtrack to my perfect moments of solemnity. I push on knowing the morning does indeed bring sunlight, again bathing me in temporary warmth and rejuvenation. But day is fleeting. Dusk always looms.

I can’t say for certain what my future holds, and I don’t yet know what to make of my present, but I do know I can count on my colorless nights. I have walked their vacant streets, searched their abandoned alleys, and I have dwelt in solitary silence beneath their perfect shadows.


Friday, December 4, 2009

For my birthday...


I think I'll cry myself to sleep, thank you very much. Not entirely because I'm sad, but because I'm grateful beyond words.

For a year that brought so much unrestrained joy.
For a year that proved even my life isn't all that bad.
For a year that taught me who I really am and who I'm
definitely not.
For a year that gave me a best friend.
For a year that provided me the strength to say "I'm gay and that's okay."
For a year that made me buff.
For a year that pushed me creatively, intellectually and
spiritually.
For a year that allowed me space and freedom.
For a year in a queen sized bed.
For a year in love.
For a year in the BYU choirs (especially Concert Choir).
For a year of watching Kristen Wiig videos.
For a year of clubbin' and gettin' my freak on.
For a year of Cat Deeley.
For a year of hot springs and road trips.
For a year of starving student cards and shared meals.
For a year of cute underwear and new shoes.
For a year of spooning.
For a year of Britney's comeback and Gaga's ascent.
For a year of long, tight hugs.
For a year with you in my life. Yes, you.

A part of me is also rather disheartened this night-- I've been feeling kind of distant and lonely lately. I think it's the end of the semester and the prospect of change that gets me in a funk, but I'm hoping today will be different. Day 1 of Year 23. There's no better time to refresh than Day 1.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

"Maybe I'll just be a songwriter..."

Admittedly, I've only managed to compose three or four complete songs, but I've written pages and pages of others! Some dreadful, others promising, a rare few are (in my humble opinion) quite special. As soon as I sit down with my guitar or at the keyboard to compose the tune however, I hit a wall. But the second I'm up and about, showering, mowing the lawn, doing laundry, etc., I can't keep up with myself! Unique and wonderful melodies began swirling around my head, but by the time I'm in a position to record the music, it has escaped me.

Only recently did I resurrect my voice recording tool on my computer and it has quickly become my new favorite toy. To sit in the bathroom (the acoustics are better there) with my mic hooked up to the computer and to just belt out whatever tune I'm working on is quite thrilling. If it sucks right off, I can start over, but I try to record everything. Then I'll play it back and cringe at the poor quality, but rejoice in the possibilities!

So far, I've only recorded two songs, but I don't feel confident to post them yet. Maybe I'll invest in legit recording software someday. In the meantime, I wanted to share one of my more recent song lyrics I penned in church one day. It's tentatively called "Break Me" and is still in its rough, unedited draft.

Naked, weary and cold,
I am a passenger
on this unforgiving road.
I fumble, I falter, I fail,
I've become a stranger
to myself.

With no where else to fall
I fall to my knees
With no one else to call on
I call out, pleading

Break me, Father,
Into nothing.
Please start over,
Make me something.
Pull me apart
At the seams,
It won't be hard,
My body's weak.
Break me harder,
I'm used to the pain.
Break me, Father,
and start over again.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Pieces

Ready, set, typeeverythingthatcomestomind!!

  • *I've been quite happy lately-- only one fit of hysterical sobbing in recent weeks.
  • *I want to write more on my blog but struggle to find worthy material. I've been reading more blogs as of late, and as a result, feel a greater pressure to write something profound on each post.
  • *I like seeing my best friend every single day. If that means I'm needy or clingy, so be it.
  • *I want to go away-- far, far away.
  • *I've been forming back-up plans for when I fail at life.
  • *I've gained weight and feel healthier, thanks to my nightly mint chocolate chip protein shake.
  • *I'm pretty sure I would be the best husband in the world.
  • *I've had a hard time wanting to make new Moho friends because I'm afraid of getting too attached. I don't deal well with change, and let's face it: change is inevitable.
  • *I think I'm doing really well in school, but then remind myself of my effortless class schedule.
  • I'm constantly a victim of intense jealousy, but have seen improvement in my ability to overcome. It's usually all in my head, right?
  • *I hope people love me as much as I love them.
  • *I have a strong desire to watch 'Lost' with friends because, as their friend, I know how it will bless their lives. They just won't listen and I fear for their well-being.
  • *I had another long talk with my mom about "the issue." I hate lying to her, but it's the only way to keep her at ease.
  • *A few weeks ago, as I lay curled on my bed, bawling into my pillow so no one would hear me, I did something really bizarre: I took pictures of myself. I wanted to see how ugly I am when I cry.
  • *I've developed a lustful crush on Enrique Iglesias (see banned video for "Sad Eyes" and drool).
  • *I started reading the Book of Mormon again. But stopped.
  • *I saw Paranormal Activity and had to sleep with the light on for a whole week. I had horrific nightmares as a child and somehow that movie stirred that childlike fear within me.
  • *I like being gay, yes, but hate what it means to "be gay."
  • *I have so much love in me, and lately, I've felt like it has done more wrong than right.
  • *I think I'm going to treat myself to some new shoes.

Thursday, October 1, 2009

Identity Crisis

Recently (try, like, 8 hours ago), I found myself fumbling for answers to questions I've become somewhat of an expert at avoiding. Questions that serve as stinging reminders of what I don't know and what I'm scared to find out.

"Would you consider doing therapy?"
I successfully attended 2 whole sessions of counseling at BYU and found it more cathartic than transforming. In retrospect, it was nice to hear my struggles regurgitated so neatly. I suppose I found counseling cumbersome because I never really went in thinking, "I'm gonna walk out of here with a new outlook, a new motivation to change my behavior and situation," rather, I walked in the doors because I thought it'd be good for me. I have been dreading change and so appointments with my Bishop or a counselor tend to be lacking something imperative: desire. Therefore rendering them fruitless. Until I find that desire to really change something therapy would be ineffective.

"Would you feel comfortable spending the rest of your life with a woman?"
Comfortable? Sure. Content? Possibly. Fulfilled? Probably not. I have dated girls, made out with girls, and somewhere along the way have even felt sexual arousal in the company of a girl. Those experiences assure me it's not impossible for me (and this is something all homosexuals cannot claim) to be in a relationship with a woman. The only thing stopping me is... me. I've only been out for a year. One year out of nearly 23. I justify this postponement of "trying" to date girls by telling myself that I owe it to myself to embrace this side of me wholeheartedly, even if it's just a "phase." I recognize that the danger in this is becoming too comfortable living this way and never wanting to go back. That's kind of where I am right now -- I don't want to go back.

"Why have you decided that your sexual orientation determines who you are?"
I am completely aware that being gay does not in any way define me, but it's definitely a large and important part of me. I have many other qualities and traits that shape who I am, but I'd be lying if I said my homosexuality hasn't been dominating my lifestyle for the past year. It's changed how I dress, how I talk, how I think, how I socialize, how I dance, how I look at others, how I view love... And I've never felt freer. But that freedom comes at a price -- I've lost another part of myself, and admittedly, it's the more important part. I've forgotten who I really am, that is, a child of God, blessed with an incredible family, creative mind, and loving spirit, allowed such opportunity and experience in this life. I know I've been the source of such terrible sorrow for my Father in Heaven because I have abandoned Him in my attempts to discover this part of myself. This part of my existence that has now begun to consume my every waking breath, thought, and action. The only thing harder than turning my back on God will be facing Him again.

"Who are you?"
Attempting to answer this question literally brings me to my knees, fists pounding the floor, face buried in the carpet -- I don't know anymore. I'm more alive in many ways than I ever have been, but also deadened in many others. I love myself more, but hate myself in new ways. I long for a life of love, family, fatherhood, but cower at the thought of failing it somehow. I doubt my ability to achieve. I doubt my ability to change. I fear once he leaves I'll do something stupid. I am terrified of living alone. I'm trying not to lose the one thing that makes me happiest. I am not eating much because I'm so worried. I am afraid to admit that I am wrong. I am longing to feel the Spirit again, but am too weak to do what it takes. I am a boy, sitting at work, doing everything humanly possible not to breakdown in front of so many nameless faces. They don't know me.

But neither do I.

Monday, September 14, 2009

Think Happy Thoughts

Despite feelings of overwhelming sadness/hopelessness (things for another post, another day), I am going to compose a cheery, pleasant post in hopes that by reflecting on the positive aspects of my life I'll actually get some sleep on this dark and stormy night.

  • *I made BYU's Concert Choir this year! It's a select ensemble of 80 mixed voices (20 per part) under the direction of my favorite woman in all the world, Sister Hall. It's a thrill to perform with such experienced, disciplined choral singers and the music we create everyday is truly spectacular.

  • *I have the most splendorous friends. They keep me centered, sane, and, at times, LITERALLY act as flotation devices when I find myself drowning emotionally, my darkest and messiest moments for sure. Can I also just add how incredibly hilarious and brilliant they are? Writers, actors, artists, comedians, world travelers, web guys... so freakin' talented indeed! One bestie in particular makes me happier than I've ever been, and we have three wonderful months left to enjoy each others' company before he graduates from BYU and enters Grad school. Three whole months! (The glass is half full! Yes it is! Half full! Half...full...)

  • *I am in the best shape I have ever been in. I have muscle definition, have formed delicious abs, and after trimming my leg and arm hair (I know, right?), tanning, and dressing how I've always wanted to dress (namely, H&M, Forever XXI, Express, Nordstrom Rack, and many, many more!), I've never felt sexier.

  • *I love my job. I get paid $12/hr to speak Korean and, on good days, watch Hulu videos. Plus, my co-workers, Roger and Adam, have become so dear to my heart. And did I mention the perks of working for NuSkin? The occasional free movie ticket, company party at Lagoon, team breakfast, and all the free beauty products a gay boi could dream of -- and that's saying something!

  • *I have seen more good movies and listened to more great music in the last year than I did in my previous years combined! I've been exposed to a whole new world of entertainment and art through my gay friends, and as a result, I've never felt more inpired to be an artist.

  • *I've come out to my mother, a life-changing event to say the least. It has strengthened our relationship for sure, and given me yet another outlet for comfort and support.

  • *I discovered Kristen Wiig (see photo) and haven't been the same since. Don't fret, baby, my hands are paralyzed too.

  • *I have accepted myself and, in turn, have come to truly love myself. I may not fully know who that self is yet, or where I am going, but I have come to finally embrace me for me and I've never felt more self-assured and, as odd as it seems, powerful.

  • *For the past year of my life I have experienced the unmatched joys of true love and companionship.

Yay for happy thoughts! Now I'm going to put on one of my favorite movies (Ratatouille or ESotSM?) and drift peacefully off to sleep.

Monday, July 20, 2009

It's almost that time.

"Rosie O'Donnell is so dumb." "Why?" "Because she's a lesbian."

"Ellen DeGeneres is an idiot." "Why?" "Because she's gay."

"I liked Brandon and Kapono until they opened their mouths. They're so gross."

"I'd go get my shot gun if I saw those gays..."

Needless to say, my emotions have been a ticking time-bomb all weekend. Returning from my third straight family reunion and having endured such hateful comments makes me think one thing: the time has almost come to make things known to my family. I don't know how much more I can take, sitting quietly in the back of the car, suppressing the tears. There have been times I came this close to screaming to my brother, my father or my sister-in-law, "That queer you speak so hatefully of is sitting in this car, sharing your name."

But I don't. That would only make things worse. Then again, what could be worse?

Tick-tock, tick-tock, tick-tock...

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Marriage & Mango Ice Cream: A Terrible Analogy

Scorching a vat of 8 gallons of milk and cream is never a good idea. Not only does it fill the entire house with a horrendous stench, it results in hours of stirring, peeling, pitting and freezing seemingly gone to waste. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that I forced down 4 bowls of our homemade mango ice cream in hopes that our tireless efforts wouldn't be fruitless. No pun intended.

The first bite was the worst. However, each bite thereafter became surprisingly more and more enjoyable. The 40+ mangoes we'd peeled and blended into the cream were virtually undetectable but there was a refreshing, almost exciting splash of something in the ice cream. The soft ice chunks in a creamy, sugary froth were beginning to taste halfway good. I emptied the first bowl quickly and went on my way, mingling with my fellow party-goers. It wasn't 2 minutes after I had put down the plastic spoon when the foulest, most unbearable taste polluted my mouth. I had to do something quick. Without another thought, I piled some more icy sludge in my bowl and began slurping and chomping on yet another tasty bowl of mango-less ice cream.

Three bouts of rancid aftertaste and three bowls later I gave up on my feeble attempts of convincing myself that the ice cream was helping. The ice cream had for short turns provided a delightful distraction during the moments of consumption but when all was said and done it was entirely to blame for the aforementioned displeasure.

And now the clever tie-in: Lately, I have fallen victim to a common problem among those of us "having gay," as an elderly chap once put it. I blame it on springtime and the inevitable surge of vow-sharing, aisle-walking and entirely characteristic spurts of merriment taking place around Utah. I was lucky enough to spend two straight weekends as a spectator/guest at two different weddings last month and both times I came away with a yucky taste in my mouth. Like scorched milk. But longer-lasting.

The notion of marriage has become somewhat of a conundrum; I won't deny my innate desire to marry and produce offspring, but a part of me can't shake the feeling that, for me, marriage is just another pipe dream. In the glittery, shiny moments of each wedding, when he recited his vows, shedding real tears; or when she strolled down the aisle all aglow, almost floating through a dream, I tasted sweet sugary yumminess. I wanted more. I yearned to partake of such happiness. But driving home both times I experienced a tremendous feeling of despair, a foul aftertaste if you will.

It was the long drive home from the second wedding, alone with my outspoken mother, which became the cherry on top of a heaping mound of mango ice cream. You know when a parent asks you a series of questions, almost as if they've recited them several times before, and instantly you know you've been the subject of recent family discussion? Her nerves were obvious and I could see dread smothered all over her face, like she was bracing herself for the worst. Sorry Mom, now is not the time to inflict such pain. I'll spare you for a little while longer.

Do you have a girlfriend? No. (Ha!)
Anyone you're interested in? No. (Ummm... well....actually...)
Do you ever date? No. (Not girls. Faking interest gets old incredibly fast.)
Do you hang out with your fun-lovin', social-superstar, dating roommates? Yes. (No.)

It reminded me just how formulated Mormon lives are and how when something strays from the norm in the slightest degree, red flags instantly wave and whirl around it. (And now, for the final allusion to scorched ice cream): Daily it seems, I force down numerous helpings of meeting expectations, playing the role of innocent straight boy, careful not to draw too much attention to myself. But several bowls of such scorched pretense leaves me with the nastiest taste in my mouth. And sometimes I fool myself into thinking the only way to rid myself of it is to eat more. Boy, I can be such a fool.

Monday, May 11, 2009

At Night

I often wonder how/why I let myself get this way: sitting in my car for at least an hour in perfect silence, making not even the slightest movement---not even to brush away the streams of tears on my face--staring deeply into the nothingness of the night. It's what happens when you witness another casualty from this hellish war, but this time, the fallen is someone close and immediate. It's what happens when you are reminded how far you are from being okay. It's what happens when the only thing that keeps me going is the thing I will have to soon let go of. That's what happens, I suppose. Being swallowed in the silence of the night, completely oblivious to my surroundings, entirely aware of the burn in my chest is becoming the routine end to each day's battle.

But tonight was just a taste of what's to come. I think I'm lost and confused now? I can only imagine how black the night will be when I finally have to cut the chord that feeds the life, love and purpose in my veins. Even the thought of it makes me numb.

I'm hurting this night.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

Walking Barefoot

A poem dedicated to Lucy and her picture.

Shedding my shoes, slipping out of my socks,
I embarked on a journey over small jagged rocks.
With each poke, each prick, every last pinch,
I stifled a cry, refusing to flinch.
I pressed on despite feet, bruised, bloody and sore,
But soon found myself hurting, down on all fours.
Diffusing such discomfort seemed really quite clever
Until my knuckles and knees were rubbed raw like leather.
I was only half way, half the pain still remained,
When I threw in the towel and took a much needed break.
It was then that I saw it, just an arm-length's apart
A fist-sized gray stone, shaped much like a heart.
Just seconds before giving in, accepting defeat,
An emblem of love lay just at my feet.
Tracing its edges with my outstretched hand,
I forgot the sting I felt and released a tearful laugh.
With newfound motivation and strength to restart,
I fired a fervent prayer from the depths of my heart.
Jumping to my feet I continued on my path,
when suddenly my afflictions didn't seem all that bad.
Those brief moments of anguish, thoughts of giving up,
Were eclipsed by a reminder of the power of love.

I'm struggling. Struggling to figure things out in my head, struggling to have a positive outlook. I am weighed down by thoughts of doubt and feelings of self-reproach, constantly reminded that I'm doomed to live a life of second-bests. I'm usually the strong, positive one so I feel no guilt whatsoever for feeling depressed, hopeless and discouraged.

I was denied acceptance into BYU's visual arts program, my intended major. I can't say I was surprised; due to some last minute decisions I had less than a week to put together a portfolio and construct an acceptable application. Needless to say it wasn't my best. Even then, I felt hopeful, like the universe was on my side. With all the optimistic "for sures" and "no questions" from reassuring friends, I started to believe them and shunned any feelings of inadequacy. In other words I set my self up to be pummeled by the impending rejection.

My brother and sister-in-law awaited eagerly as I ripped open the envelope which contained the answer to one of the most plaguing questions: what next? Even as I held the suspiciously light envelope, I brushed away the nagging voice screaming "Yeah right!!" and read the content of the letter with a forced smile. The first word I saw was "unfortunately." That is very, very unfortunate indeed. Pinning on my good-sport smile I shook my head, the only form of outward expression I could muster. My brother and his wife took the hint and left me to my new found agony, not before offering kind words of reassurance.

I cried into my knees for about 8.5 minutes. I have never been turned down for anything in my entire life, I thought bitterly. I didn't know what to do next. The self-portrait I had been busy working on sat abandoned and had I allowed myself a few more minutes to sulk, it probably would've met its demise somewhere at the bottom of the waste bin. The idea of doing art at that very moment was laughable.

Wanting to avoid the inevitable condolences from loved ones I kept this bit of news to myself and whenever anyone inquired about it I found myself answering rather sharply, "I didn't get in." I didn't want the empty words of comfort from roommates, ward members or classmates. Thankfully though, I did find myself wrapped in some arms, able to let out some needed steam and tears. That's what I needed: quiet time to cry. Words get in the way. I love those cradling arms that boost my morale and never cease to fill me with true affection. Nothing compares to being held in loving arms, for in those hushed moments the calming sense of hope washes over me once again. Denial from some silly department heads is nothing compared to the idea of losing that love. If only I could stay in those arms forever.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Craving Something

Change is time consuming. It wiggles its way into nearly everything I do, begging to be acknowledged and reflected upon. Over the last month or so there have been a lot of changes, mostly internal, but they have brought about an onset of mood fluctuations and deep introspection. And my poor blog has been neglected as a result, because attempting to articulate my experiences as they tangle around me is futile. I need the quiet calm of the morning after to even see straight, let alone convey in words the chaos whirling within.

Last Monday this change was validated with the viewing of a beautiful play called "Little Happy Secrets," performed here in Provo. It's subject matter is simple; a faithful LDS woman deals with her same-gender attraction and endures the brutal blows of dejection, doubt and despair. Despite the stings that come as she accepts her "struggle," she finds herself growing closer to her Father in Heaven and that acceptance, although slow and delicate, sets in. It was all too familiar. The lead actress in the play was outstanding in her portrayal of the lead character, Claire, and her inner plight. I found myself almost mouthing along with her as she stood center stage, eyes mixed with desperation and conviction, voicing my innermost thoughts and feelings.

But more important than my experience there in the second row was the hundreds of audience members behind me. It wasn't until the open discussion with the cast and crew immediately following the show that I realized how diverse the viewers were, each coming in with their own backgrounds, biases and assumptions. The warmth of understanding that seemingly flooded the theater that night was such a beautiful thing. I stood up, dreading leaving such a cherished experience, and knew that every single person who experienced this production with me was blessed with new understanding. Tears tickled my eyelids for the next hour or so as I, for the first time in 7 months, felt 100% hopeful.

I left the theater with my dear soul-sister, Jen, and we sat in my car crying (for completely different reasons), so grateful we could witness something so marvelous. For me, it was the blessing of understanding shed forth to a few hundred people, changing them each in unique ways. It was only 200, but that's a start. I felt like I finally knew what I was craving all month long: a world united in understanding. My life of pretense and facade is growing stale. I felt understanding from some, and now yearn for it intensely from others. My parents, my roommates, my siblings, my classmates, my humanities professor, the cashier at 7-11, the girl with beautiful eyes in my dance class ... I thirst for more. I crave understanding from the world.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Little Things

It's the little things that keep me going:

  • Monday-Wednesday's crossword puzzles
  • Thai food
  • Spontatneous hair dying
  • Hot springs
  • Falling asleep to terrible movies
  • Massages
  • Staring contests
  • Downloading music illegally
  • Foreign candies
  • YouTube videos about Hot Pockets
  • Penelope impersonations
  • LOLing
  • Britney and obscene subliminal messages
  • The sauna
  • Wet secrets
  • Quoting "Arrested Development"
  • Hospital food
  • European DJ duos
  • Lexy, Osker, & Cole (aka The Vegoreos!)
  • And a bundle of other little things that tickle my abnormally small heart.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Where I Stand

After countless rereads of my own blog (I'm a perfectionist and am constantly revamping/ revising/ rewording my entries) I realized that most of my posts don't sound very optimistic or hopeful, like I've given up on what I know to be true.

Let me assure you that I have not given up. Despite this struggle I face, despite my constant state of confusion and awe over it all, I am firm in my commitment to follow the Savior. Admittedly, my efforts over the past six months have been somewhat pathetic: evading scripture study, being "too tired" to pray, becoming a languid observer at church meetings rather than an active participant, etc. "...for the evil spirit teacheth not a man to pray, but teacheth him that he must not pray" (2 Nephi 32:8). How often did I share this scripture with investigators? How often was I completely at a loss for words when active members of the church would confess they hadn't been reading/praying regularly? I couldn't fathom not living a day without a good hour of deep, meaningful scripture study and long, fervent prayer. I couldn't even imagine such idle foolishness!

That's one of the scariest things about being out and open with my homosexuality- it invites so much justification. "Well, I'm gay, so what's the harm in ordering a steaming chai latte?" or "I'm already going straight to hell for liking boys, why not enjoy the ride?" Clearly, these are both extremes, but this mindset is very prevalent among many people I've met recently. People who, like me, used to be fresh off the mission and so full of hope. People who, like me, desperately clung onto their once unshakable testimony as it quickly unraveled before their very eyes. People who, like me, began to forget everything they learned on their missions. It's no wonder the scriptures are constantly pleading with us to "remember!" because it's so easy to forget what we once knew so perfectly.

Recently, something quite significant has happened within me, mostly due to a beloved friend and his incredible strength: I have felt my entire heart/mind/body/spirit move. I have finally found it in me to turn back around, facing that tree of unspeakable beauty, bearing its glorious fruit. I may have not yet found my way back to the rod of iron, so to speak, but I feel as if I'm once again facing the right direction. Alas, I know the test of genuine endurance is only yet to come, but I, like the righteous holders of the rod, must press forward, doing everything in my power to "heed them not" (1 Nephi 8:33). There is an abundance of distractions within the Moho world, and as I've learned from personal experience, distractions are especially impairing.

I acknowledge the steep and forboding road before me, but thanks to those select few souls who know me (and actually read this wordy blog), I find true hope. I have hope that I can overcome my trials, pass this test, and find happiness. I have hope that God really has a beautiful life prepared for me (even if I have to get through this one first!). I have hope that the universe will unfold as it should. I even have a sliver of hope that one day I'll look back on all this and be overcome with gratitude- grateful to have experienced this unprecedented sorrow and cold only to one day be enveloped eternally in the arms of His love.

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Songs of the Soul

I've been writing songs since 6th grade. I remember my first song was called "You and I," a corntastic story of love, punctuated by the word "baby" about 48 times. Interestingly, around 8th grade, when life really began to turn sour, I penned this opening verse to what would become my first full song, called "Toward the Light":



Sometimes I feel so broken
Sometimes I feel so confused
Sometimes I feel so helpless
Sometimes I feel so abused

I know. Grammy worthy, right? But don't worry, the entire song isn't so predictable. But why in the world was I writing words like that at 13? Things certainly weren't that bad, right? Verse two explores some new vocabulary:

Sometimes I reach within my soul
Searching for answers to my life
I begin to question all I have
Wondering if what I've done is right

I recorded my life through these songs, and even if they all dealt with somewhat overdone, tired issues, they were remarkably fulfilling and cathartic. No matter how trite the lyrics were, they were always true to what I was feeling. Songs like "Stranger" revealed identity issues, deep secrets and a boy hiding something.

I woke up this morning
and looked in the mirror
I saw a stranger
buried in fear
I stood burning cold
Trying to breathe
I looked in his eyes
it was me

I even wrote a coming-out tune at age 15. Did I know it was about coming-out? Absolutely not.

I wish I knew how to tell you
What goes on in my head
All the things I've wanted to say
The things I should've said

I find these simple lyrics very telling, revealing distinct truths that, ironically, I had never even admitted to myself yet. Looking back now, it makes a whole lot more sense why my songs were always about truth, identity, lies and sorrow (Cliche? Yes. Forced? No.).

Danger lurks around my mind
Cold winds pick up from behind
The sun sets, leaving me with black
The world shifts, throwing me off track

Only time until there's a landslide
Only time before I've nowhere to hide...

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

As a Child

I wrote an essay once about myself as a child and the various forms of unique expression I displayed at very young age. During the course of its writing I learned some invaluable things about my current self, coming to the indefinite conclusion that our little selves are often still within us, buried somewhere beneath the fresh layers of conformity and pretense. Shedding some of those layers I aim to better understand the big me by examining the little, truthful me.


  • *As a child I included a Barbie doll on my annual Christmas list for years and years. Finally, my visibly bewildered mother complied (well, sort of) and bought me a Ken doll. I hated him for multiple reasons.
    *As a child I rode every single ride at Disneyland with my mother. When it was suggested otherwise I objected rather fiercely, often to the point of tears. I clung to her like she was the only thing worth having in the entire world.
  • *As a child I was instructed quite explicitly on correct running form by my predominant (but ever so loving) mother. She took me outside one summer day and taught me how to run: no flailing or limp wrists, but strong, manly arm swings. I pretended to care.
  • *As a child I would often lay in bed brooding over the fact that girls had more clothes and accessories to choose from. I was bitter and angry with God, the president, and humanity as a whole. What injustice!
    *As a child I was always Peach, April O'Neil, Chun Li, Belle, Jubilee, or the Damsel in Distress whenever the choice was mine. My brothers never passed up the opportunity to remind me either.
    *As a child I quickly developed strong obsessions for pop stars and movie stars. Everyone knew me as the boy who could tell you ANYTHING about Britney Spears or Kate Winslet. Unlike my brothers' rooms, my bedroom walls weren't adorned by the likes of Dan Marino or Michael Jordan. Britney's rosey cheeks covered nearly every inch of my bedroom walls, constantly reminding me (and everyone else) just how different I really was.
    *As a child I secretly watched films or TV shows related to homosexuality, maybe in an attempt to find answers. Or maybe just because I liked watching guys kiss other guys.
  • *As a child my best friends were always girls: Shelbi, Caitlin, Darcy, Jennifer, Lucy...
    *As a child I endured the stinging insults of bullying classmates day after day. Fag! Queer! Homo! Sissy! It deeply scarred my little heart and caused intense feelings of sadness and self-loathing. Mostly because I could never deny it.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

The Art of Coming Out


The term "coming out" makes me really uncomfortable. It has always invoked within me a strong feeling of resentment toward the speaker, as most who use this common expression have no idea what it means. Can they even imagine harboring three little words within their soul their entire lives and then finally, after years of restless struggle, they decide to "come out" with it all, knowing full well that those three words will affect the hearer forever? For better or for worse. Can they even imagine?

I.
Am.
Gay.

The first time I told anyone, I did it in the most round-about, read-between-the-lines way that it barely qualifies as coming out (especially because this particular friend suspected...). I'll spare you a word-for-word transcript and assure you that it was anything but easy, and ever so freeing. It served as the beginning of a rather pivotal step in my life: slowly but surely accepting the truth and coming to actually say the words. Words that I had hated so ardently before.

That was last October. Now, 3 months later and the commencement of a new year, I reflect on the small handful of coming-out experiences that have followed. I met with my Bishop several weeks ago, a monumental act of bravery for me, and received wise and loving counsel, but left even more confused as to where my heart lied; was I willing to forgo this new life of personal acceptance, sinking back into the darkness of anonymity, or would that only engender further heartache and pain? I somehow agreed to meet him every week and take my time in coming clean on my past, venting my confusion and frustration, and if needed, receiving appropriate blessings and counsel. I haven't received a priesthood blessing for years. I miss feeling its power and influence in my life.

Only a few days after this experience, I felt strongly that I should come out to my dear friend of 15+ years, a girl I have always loved and cherished perfectly. Sitting in my car on a freezing January night, high on a hill overlooking the city, I told her. I came out. Then came that moment, that sliver of a second after you say it, that still haunts me in my sleep: how will their once clueless, loving eyes look at me now? What thoughts are racing through their minds? I felt tears burn my eyelids when all my fears were laid to quiet rest when there she was, my eternal friend, looking back at me as she always had. Her eyes, her mouth, her hands hadn't changed. She was 100% there.

These experiences, although bearing great significance, are merely drops in a very large bucket. I have a long way to go before I can claim the beauty and freedom of "being out," but the distinct feeling of hope that bathed my soul that week is unbelievably sustaining. Knowing that there are people out there that know all of me and still love all of me breathes air into my lungs, pours light over my senses, and fills me with such life. Like I've been freed from a jail sentence, escaping a life of confinement.

I guess that's why it's called "coming out."

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Ever Impending Now

With each new day, each quiet morning, there's that small moment when I finally regain focus and clarity. Lying in the warmth of my bed, I make a choice: who am I today? That's when the knots--those bitter, low knots--tighten within me. Their presence, more times than not, is a mystery; why do I constantly feel...uneasy? Could it be because I know the first words out of my mouth will be a lie? "How's your morning, bro?" My cousin says it every morning and he always means it. My response should be something like, "I'm actually really tired. Tired to death of feeling trapped and alone and confused." But I wouldn't dream of being so blunt with my cousin- it would destroy his pure, trusting soul.

Don't get me wrong- I am probably the least mopey, pessimistic or depressed person alive, but even after accepting my same-gender attraction, I continue to battle the pulverizing reminders of my inevitable unhappiness. And by unhappiness I mean never completely, 100% content or satisfied with what I have. That's my curse, I suppose. Knowing that I will never truly experience what I have come to want more than anything else in this whole world is torturous.

With those knots firmly in place, I shower, eat and leave the apartment, doing good to avoid any further confrontation. I seem more vulnerable and aware of it in the morning. My day is so routine now: I move subconsciously from building to building; I take notes meticulously; I do my homework thoroughly; I strive for perfection because I wouldn't function properly otherwise.

4:00 pm comes around and I welcome my favorite hour of the day: Men's Chorus. I can finally forget myself and my nagging worries, and sing with all I can muster, weaving myself around beautiful melodies and stirring lyrics of music. The Spirit touches my heart more in that hour than it does at church meetings anymore. Our motto in Men's Chorus is "Esse Quam Videri," meaning "to be rather than to seem." I want to. I want to so badly.

Then in the evening, I tell more lies and run (I literally run, too) off to my "family" (Mormon Homosexuals like myself, conveneintly labeled "Mohos"). It is in these quiet hours at night, finally able to let myself breathe and move, the knots loosen. At first, the idea of this sort of openness was terrifying, almost appauling, but I've come to learn that I have no where else to go. They know me as I know myself and that is all I need right now. I am eternally grateful for their friendship, their love and their constant concern for my well-being. Even my best friends of 10+ years don't know me like my mohos do.

But somewhere along this path of acceptance, discovery, and new friendships, I stumbled upon something larger and deeper, something that I knew was very dangerous: I found someone. The feelings were instant and lasting. It was then that I began to develop hard feelings, even anger, toward it all; I was being robbed of something so important, so beautiful. I felt ripped off and I constantly suppressed my urge to scream out like a little child, "It's not fair!" Because it isn't. I'm being cheated out of love.

Happy Birthday to me...

Friday, November 21, 2008

That Was Then...


-->I don't how I got to this point in my life, where publicly recording my heart and its perplexities seems constructive, even beneficial. I have never considered sharing myself in this way, even under the guise of a pseudonym, until...well, pretty much this very moment. Then again, I never considered the possibility of a lot of things, especially the current state of my life before me. As I face this daunting ascent up the face of a seemingly insurmountable summit, it's as if I'm being coaxed up a hundred different paths by a hundred different voices. I envision each of my limbs bound tightly by the hands of those I love as they each run in different directions, pulling me apart into little pieces. Sometimes it feels like that. Three months ago I could never have imagined how hard I'd collide with reality, almost as if I stepped off the plane that day, missed the stairs entirely, and landed face-first on icy, hard pavement.

Let me explain. I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, or a Mormon if you must, and I recently returned home from a proselyting service mission in Seoul, South Korea. I served for a period of 24 months as a full-time missionary and experienced the most transforming, eternally significant two years of my life so far. For the first time in my life I saw myself as I had always longed to see myself: a child of a Heavenly Father. I felt self-worth, the lasting joy that only comes from teaching of the Savior, and the incredible sustaining power of His hand in the midst of my trials. I finally felt like my prayers were answered. I finally understood the scriptures. I finally felt worthy of His love.

Before this important period of breakthroughs however, things weren't always so... spiritually stable. In fact, I went through some pretty dark days where I felt as if I were standing helpless in the eye of a raging storm, a bloody battle, a crushing collapse of all things good around me. I have "battled" (how I hate this expression!) same-gender attraction for as long as I can remember, and from time to time, I have, in quiet acts of desperation, lost the solid footing the Gospel of Jesus Christ has given me, forsaking that which I know is right and true for something else. Something uncertain and tangling.

Everyday was a struggle between what I thought I knew and what I felt within me. The attraction I felt was paralyzing; I couldn't move or breathe when it was in the room. I have vivid recollections of tromping home from grade school in two feet of snow, sobbing hysterically because I was recognizing this "disease" and knew not what to do. It is the bitterest confusion a human can experience. Later, my dear friend, also gay, quoted a statement to me concerning same-gender attraction: "...so foreign to our understanding, yet so central to our very being." I couldn't sum up the travails of my childhood any clearer.

After years of lying, hiding and pretending, I finally decided to get my act together and become worthy for a mission. During this period of refinement I endured the most exquisite pain and confusion I had yet experienced, but it resulted in refinement and recovery, lessening the load I bore. This period put a lot of things into perspective and opened my eyes to the incredible depth and eternal impact of the Atonement. It prepared me for the 24 months of refining and discover I would experience on the streets of Korea. In Korea I felt invincible, untouchable to the fiery darts of the adversary and for once, felt like I'd buried my demons. But I was naive. The attraction hadn't gone away, it was merely bottled up within me, festering and brewing until the day when it could be tapped into again. I foolishly thought I had achieved the impossible, ridding myself of a large portion of... myself!

The plane touched down on August 29th, 2008, and as I exited the plane with my parents in tow, I felt an instant conflict surge within me: I was no longer a missionary, and I'd lost the safety net beneath me. It wasn't even seven days after I returned home and came back to BYU that the neglected, but never forgotten feelings erupted within me, and I found myself at a foreboding fork-in-the-road. I had a choice to make. I'm still making my trek up its steep and slippery slopes, but in the end, I chose emancipation. I choose acceptance.