Sunday, June 11, 2006

Degrassi and Constitutional Amendments

When I was younger, one of my favorite shows was the Canadian series, Degrassi Junior High. They showed it on PBS after school, and I really enjoyed watching it. I remember what I liked most about it was that it really seemed to deal with realistic and controversial subjects in a very real way, and I had never seen anything on TV deal with the subject matter this show dealt with in the "matter-of-fact" way that it did. At the time, I didn't realize it was Canadian, and was surprised that what I presumed to be an American series would portray teen life so realistically. I actually have the whole series on my Netflix queue, and hope I will enjoy it as much now as I did then.

When the TV network NOGIN came out with Degrassi: The Next Generation, I was excited that a new generation would be introduced to the same kind of daring stories I was introduced to at their age. I remember when it first came out, I tried watching a couple of episodes, and was surprised at how much more tame it seemed to be. However, having seen repeats of some of the episodes from the last five years, I am pleased to see that many of the stories seem to be just as relevant and hard-hitting to today's teens as the original show's stories seemed to me.

Anyway, I'm not a regular watcher of the current series, but every once in a while when they show repeats late at night (which is when I happen to be up), and there's nothing else on, I'll watch. I don't know too many of the characters, but one of the characters whose stories I enjoy watching is Marco, who is the show's token gay kid. Since I often see the episodes out of order, it is interesting to watch his story from different angles: his realization that he's gay, boyfriend troubles, coming out, acceptance and adjustment, etc. I just caught an episode the other night where he finally comes out to his mom after having accepted his gayness himself for about a year. It really was a touching episode, and I actually got quite teary-eyed thinking about the hard road so many teens have to travel in dealing with this issue and thinking about earlier in my life the times I came out to various individuals and how scary it was at the time and how nowadays it just doesn't seem like it's that big of a deal like it was then. Of course, that's hypocritical to say, I suppose, since I'm still very much in the closet with many people. But I don't have the same fear and angst as I did back then.

What touched me about the episode was his mom's reaction; not fully understanding, but loving her son so much. His mom's biggest issue (and my mom's as well) isn't so much that her son is gay, but the fear of how other people will negatively treat him because of his homosexuality. I just thought it was good. It was also a nice reminder of how much my mom really loves me. I remember before I came out to anybody thinking my mom would just hate me or be so disgusted with me, and now realize that those fears were completely unfounded. Does she necessarily understand or condone it? Not necessarily. But I am assured that she loves me just the same as she always has.

Being back in Utah has been weird. Not bad. Just unusual. I feel like I can be more open about who I am when I'm at school in a different state, but here I feel like I'm hiding again, which is odd since most of my friends would probably be okay with it. My ward fellow ward members, on the other hand, probably wouldn't be so okay. Or that's my assumption. And I know it's not that they would like me any less, but their assumption would be that I would be following the wrong path, and I know they would be concerned about my spiritual well-being.

I shouldn't care what people think, but I do. I've always been a people pleaser, and it bothers me when I feel I'm disappointing people. I know it's because of my LDS background, but I've always been taught to be a good example, and while I understand that living life as a gay man is not necessarily being a bad example, obviously in the Mormon faith it isn't being a good example of a what a good Mormon should be, and that bothers me. I think I'm a very good Christian, but lately I haven't been a very good Mormon, and when you're taught your whole life to be a good Mormon, and you're not being a good Mormon, that can be disappointing. But I know I'm a good human being and a good child of God, so I guess that will have to do.

I've been wanting to talk about the recent statement the LDS Church made regarding making our voices known in regards to the proposition of a constitutional amendment against gay marriage. Obviously, I am not surprised by the church's coming out against gay marriage, but it still bothered me that they read that statement over the pulpit because they're always claiming political neutrality, and I'm sorry, but that simply isn't true. I also thought it was an unnecessary action because the amendment was largely political and had little chance of being passed, and we already know the church's stand on the issue. It just felt like salt being poured in a wound. I bristled when they read it (and my mom noticed). It just made me sad and angry. It just seemed unnecessary to me.

The whole debate really gets on my nerves. I just wish the people who are against homosexuality and gay marriage could step in our shoes for one minute just so they would really understand what it's like to be on the other side. They still might not agree, but at least they would understand how it really feels and have a bit more compassion, I would hope.

In church today, they talked about King Saul and David, two people who started out good and then fell due to their mistakes, and even though I'm trying to rationalize my condition, there was a part of me that thought, "That's who I am. I'm forfeiting my kingdom because I can't trust God enough to do what I know is right." Then another voice said, "You've done your best. What more can you do? How long are you going to keep punishing yourself when you've got such good things in front of you. You'll get what you deserve, and you will still be happy." Then the other voice said, "You need to have more faith and just endure to the end," and the other voice answered, "How much more faith am I expected to have? How much more can I endure?" One thing that really resonated with me was that these men who "fell" were still really good people and that God knew full well how difficult life would be.

Anyway, I'm tired of always flip-flopping on this issue, and I'm sure many of you out there are as sick and tired of it as I am. There's just so much residue, and I'm never sure which voices to believe anymore.

I wish I was more emotional. I don't know why this wall is up so high or why I've subconsciously convinced myself that crying is not a good thing. Jonah will write me emails about how much he misses me and that he cries about it. I miss Jonah very much, but I don't cry. My mom's on a vacation, and I miss her, but I don't cry. Life holds many challenges, but I don't cry over them. And consciously, I'd love to cry. I'd love to have a bawling fit over something. But I don't. It bothers me sometimes that I'm so unemotional and rational and practical all the time. It makes me feel like I'm not fully living or feeling. And it bothers me that I only seem to love Jonah with part of my heart rather than all of it when I so much want to allow myself to love him fully. It's not fair to either of us. Someone like Jonah is just what I need. I love him a lot. I just wish I could feel more deeply.

Jonah's been busy with his job and I with mine, and so we haven't talked as much as we usually do, which we both miss very much. I know he's expressed how odd it is not to have my constant companionship, and I feel the same way. But things are calming down for both of us, I believe, and so hopefully we'll get more time with one another.

My acting job is going well. We've been in rehearsal, and we open pretty soon. It's not my favorite show I've ever been in, but I feel very blessed to be acting for pay and with people I love and care about.

Jonah bought me a very nice, unexpected gift. He's such a generous soul. What a great guy (and not just because of the present).


Foxx said...

There's just so much residue, and I'm never sure which voices to believe anymore.

It bothers me sometimes that I'm so unemotional and rational and practical all the time. It makes me feel like I'm not fully living or feeling.

Yeah, me too.

I take consolation in the idea that I can get to the root of my weaknesses by mastering my strengths. It's a tough road, though, for me.

The Ugly Swan said...

This was a really wonderful post. Very well-expressed. Thanks.

Unfortunately, I never have the difficulty of being unemotional and practical. Just freakishly responsible for everyone else's lives, which also makes me feel like I'm not fully living or feeling.