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: " 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.