Thursday, August 30, 2007

Letter From A Friend

My neighbor and very good friend sent me an email a couple of days ago. She knows about my homosexuality, but didn’t know the full extent of my relationship with Jonah. I haven’t told her not because I don’t trust her or because I feel she’ll judge or condemn me, but because even though she is fairly liberal, she is quite a devout Mormon, and I felt she would not agree with my choices. Anyway, I guess my sister-in-law, who she is also really good friends with, had innocently revealed to her that Jonah and I are getting married in March. I had actually sent a mass email to most of my friends telling them about the goings-on in my life, but I had censored my emails to my bishop and this neighbor and my mission president, for example, and didn’t tell them about my future plans. It wasn’t that I felt they would judge me; I just didn’t want to disappoint people I admire and respect a great deal. Well, my neighbor now knows, and my heart kind of sank. But I am glad my sister-in-law told her what I didn’t feel I had the courage to do myself, and here is an excerpt of my neighbor’s email to me:


Congratulations are your current acting successes...

[Your sister-in-law] just told me that you are planning a March wedding. I am mostly at a loss for words. I hope you will be happy and of course you will always be my friend. I would like to meet your partner someday. From what I have heard it seems he has had many of the same struggles you have had with how “what seems to be” fits (or doesn’t) with a lifetime of teachings and perceptions. I hope you will both be able to stay true to all other ideals you have apparently both been taught. I also hope you will always for your lifetime continue to know that the restored Gospel is true, even as you cannot make sense of how your own compelling situation fits. And for that matter “we all fall short of the glory of God” so I am not going to be the one casting stones

I have become a serious blogger on what is affectionately known as “the bloggernacle”, a collection of Mormon based sites with a bunch of very bright and thoughtful commentators and responders. One of the frequent responders…is homosexual and has been excommunicated, but he absolutely loves the Church and apparently he has a bright and burning testimony on all but that one subject. He has been married and has 5 daughters whom he adores. He is a wonderful theologian and a former Nauvoo Temple worker. I don’t know how it all fits for him, but every time I read one of his posts I think about you.

She ends her email with some stuff that I don’t wish to share because it is personal to both of us, but that is the general gist of her letter.

It’s a nice letter, and I appreciated it. I don’t know why I felt I had to explain my actions to her. After all, I didn’t feel any condemnation or judgment from her letter. However, I felt I needed to, and so I wrote her back. Many of the thoughts in this letter are things I have already stated in past entries, but it helped solidify some of my thoughts, and so here is what I said (and if I repeat what I have already said several times, tough! It’s my blog. Deal with it! :-)

Thank you… for your kind words and for not judging me based on my current choices (not that I thought you would). Yes, what [my sister-in-law] told you is true; I am planning on marrying my partner in March. I wish I could fully explain why I feel this is the right path for me at this time.

This has been a very interesting past couple of years and has been filled with challenges and epiphanies and growth. The irony is that I don't feel my testimony regarding the truthfulness of this church and its gospel has changed. I still believe in the restored gospel; I still believe Joseph Smith saw and did what he said he did; I still believe the Book of Mormon is true; I still believe Gordon B. Hinckley is a living prophet; and I still have a great love and affinity for my religion. If so, one might ask, why don't I continue to live it as I have been taught? There is no easy answer to that question other than to say that I simply can't do it anymore. I wish I had the faith or stamina or whatever to do what my religion has asked me to do. I just don't right now. For so many years prior to meeting Jonah (my partner) and coming out of the closet, I just felt miserable, uptight, guilty, unworthy, repressed, and frustrated with life. No matter how hard I prayed or fasted or magnified my callings or served or read my scriptures, I just couldn't get rid of that negativity in my life. No matter how hard I tried, I never felt I could overcome or successfully deal with my homosexual feelings in a positive way. In my prayers I would often lament my situation and the unfairness of my life or ask Heavenly Father to please just spare me the agony of having to live life with this burden. No matter how many Priesthood blessings I received or how much counseling I got from my leaders and therapists, it didn't change how I felt inside as far as my sexual attractions and desires were concerned. And living a facade pretending I was somebody I never felt that I was or trying to fit in a box that I just didn't seem to fit in was lonely, isolating, and wearying on my soul.

I had determined I was just going to live my life in celibacy and just continue to plod along through life when I met Jonah. We were just friends, but there was something fateful about our meeting; I would even say inspired, and it was clear from quite early on that we were good for each other, although I refused to admit it. I was determined to follow the commandments as I was taught them because I have always tried to do the right thing and be a "good Mormon boy." Jonah never pushed or pressured me to do anything that would pull me away from my faith. In fact, he was ready to let me go if needs be (although he didn't want to, and I began to realize that I didn't want him to, either) because he knew how important my religion was to me.

I didn't want to fall in love with Jonah. I wanted to stay true to what I've always known to be true. But I also was aware that Jonah was making me happier than I'd been in a long time, and I can't quite describe how right it felt to be with him, in spite of what I've always been taught. It certainly felt more right than the past relationships I've had with women.

The decision to be with Jonah was certainly not an easy one nor did I make it without plenty of thought and prayer. Nor has it always been an easy adjustment. But here is what I am absolutely sure of. Since I made it, my life has been much, much happier, and I have been more at peace than I have in a long, long time. In spite of the contradictions, I know these feelings of happiness and peace are fruits of the Spirit. I do not pretend to know why doing something I've been taught is wrong has brought me far more happiness and peace than when I was trying to do everything "right," nor do I pretend to know how this will all pan out in the afterlife, but I know I am much happier now, and I also know my relationship with God is good. In some ways, it's even better than it was. My prayers are no longer filled with self-loathing, unworthiness, guilt, frustration, thoughts of death, or sadness. On the contrary, I consider myself one of the most blessed and happy people I know. I feel like I can finally be myself, and that it's okay. I do not know why this is so. But I trust Heavenly Father, and while I don't necessarily know that he condones my choices, I do know that he is very happy that I am happy, and I do feel he has blessed me greatly by putting Jonah in my life.

Through all of this, I have tried to retain my Mormon values. I still attend church; I still pray; I don't drink or smoke; Jonah and I have been dating for two years, and we are still both celibate; I have tried to be honest and forthcoming with my leaders and my family; even though I am unable to get married legally, I am trying to do my best under the circumstances. Jonah and I are monogamous and spiritual. We each treat others as we would want to be treated. In short, I'm really trying to live my life as best I can under the circumstances life has given me.

I have finally gotten around to reading Gordon B. Hinckley's biography. At the very beginning of the book there was a quote in which he said, "I have done nothing more than try to do what has been asked of me, and I've tried to do it the best I could." When I read these words I felt the Spirit whisper to me that I was doing the same. I am doing the best I can with what I've got, and that will have to be enough. The Spirit has encouraged me a lot during this time, assuring me that I will be okay and that my relationship with Jonah is a blessed and, dare I say, righteous one. Again, I do not know why this is when I am so obviously living my life contrary to what I've been told I should do. But that is what I feel. I do not feel deceived in this matter (although the adversary is very good at what he does, so maybe I am and just don't know it; however I find it very hard to believe that so much good, happiness, and peace has come out of something evil).

In spite of the fact that I am lacking in answers, I know life is better now than it was before, and if I am doing wrong, I would rather do it and feel the way I do now than do what is "right" and feel the way I did then.

I love this church very much. My religion is as much a part of me as my sexuality seems to be, and some of my very best qualities come from having been raised Mormon. It will break my heart if I am excommunicated from this church, which I realize could be a possibility based on the choices I am making. I hope I can somehow avoid that. It hasn't come up yet, and I'm certainly not going to bring it up myself.
I once thought that if I ever came out or acted on my same-sex attractions that my world would somehow implode, that the powers of hell would lay hold on me or something. What I've come to realize is that life has actually gotten better for some reason. My family and friends still love me, and while not all understand, all have been very supportive and loving throughout. I've realized even more how much God really does love me. It's been an incredible and wonderful journey.

I've just finished reading a terrific book by Carol Lynn Pearson called
No More Goodbyes which I think every member of the Church should be required to read. Although it contains some ideas that members might find controversial or even objectionable, I think it really puts a human face on this issue and would at least open people's minds a little. At the very least, it would help people better understand what people like me go through. If you haven't read it, you might take a look at it (although you are a very open-minded woman). My mom is reading my copy now.

I love the leaders of the Church. I truly think they are good and inspired men, but I do think the issue of homosexuality is one they have not been able to get a good handle on. I truly think they are earnest and compassionate, but just don't know the answers. But then neither do I. It's a delicate problem. I don't expect Church policy will ever change on this matter; after all, it's Christ who is at the head, not men. But I just can't continue to do what has been required of me. I don't know what the consequences of that choice will be, but it is what I have to do right now.

I certainly didn't mean for this to turn into a sermon. I'm just explaining my actions. It's not that I feel I have to; I just want you to better understand where I am coming from. It's been especially hard to know how to tell or whether to tell my friends who are LDS about my relationship or upcoming marriage, especially those who I admire and respect as ones who really try to live their faith. In a heterosexual relationship, a member of the Church can send out announcements and expect that everyone will be pleased and overjoyed about the news. In my case, I fear disappointment and concern. I've never set out to hurt anyone or cause anyone to worry about my salvation.

Fortunately, my family and friends (including you) have received my news with little judgment and much love. I'm not saying that they necessarily understand or agree with my choices, but I have been uplifted and gratified by the responses I have received. Jonah hasn't been so lucky. He comes from a very strong Pentecostal background, and many in his family have done or said things that have torn him down. I am very fortunate that those around me have shown me much Christ-like love. I pray that Jonah's family's hearts will at least be softened someday.

… I actually have a group of friends on what we call the Blogosphere [or Queerosphere] comprised of gay LDS people (mostly men). Some are still very active, some are married, some are single, some have fallen away from the Church, some are hanging on with everything they've got, some are in same-sex relationships. It's been very interesting and inspiring to read their stories. I always promised myself I would never become bitter or angry towards the Church like some. Why should I? It has given me some of the greatest blessings and opportunities I've had.

I also have a very dear friend who got married and divorced and came out roughly the same time I did. He is also a very good man with a strong LDS background, and it has been really helpful to have each other to rely on as we both go through our various transitions.

…Anyway, I didn't mean for this to be as long as it turned out to be. I appreciate your love and friendship, and, of course, you will always be my friend, too.

I love you very much.


Anyway, there it is for what it’s worth.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Proof I'm Gay?

I was channel surfing this evening and nearly squealed with delight when I found a rerun of an old Doris Day/Perry Como special televised the year I was born, 1971.

Does that make me gay...or just a nerd?

Sunday, August 26, 2007

His Luck Just Ran Out: Lessons from the Green-Eyed Monster

A couple of months ago I wrote this post (which you may want to read first before continuing) about a dear friend of mine, who, for clarity's sake, I will call Jake. He and I were roommates my first year of graduate studies, and he went through my program with me, so we have been friends for just over three years now.

In my previous post I wrote about my brief jealousy over his good fortune and how lucky he seems to be without much effort on his part. But I also made the observation that in spite of his good luck, he has a lot of problems and that one day his problems would catch up with him and that I didn't necessarily want that to happen because I do love and care about him. Sadly, however, that day has come much sooner than I ever thought it would and under very tragic circumstances that I wouldn't have wished on Jake in a million years. Just as I was pulling into town to visit Jonah, another friend called me to inform me that he had some very bad news about Jake. It seems that late last Saturday night/early Sunday morning Jake (who has a very serious problem with alcoholism) was drunk driving the wrong way on the freeway and hit another car, and in the process, killed its driver.

While devastated by the news, I, unfortunately, wasn't surprised. Those of us who know Jake knew it was just a matter of time before he ended up killing himself or someone else. Sadly, he has taken another human life due to his poor choices, and I fear his luck has run out (although, knowing Jake, don't quote me on that). He already has an arrest from another DUI, and I hear through Jonah (whose sister works in the District Attorney's office) that the prosecuting attorney is especially tenacious and ruthless when it comes to these kinds of crimes. It is likely Jake will do anywhere from 5 to 20 years, depending on his plea.

I truly feel bad for everyone this tragedy has touched. I feel bad for Jake. In spite of his foolishness, if you knew Jake's heart you would know that he would never intentionally hurt another person. He is a man with a good heart and a lot of problems he can't seem to manage. That doesn't mean I don't think he shouldn't pay for his crime. I do. Jake had plenty of warnings and plenty of chances before this incident occurred, but sadly he ignored and wasted them. But I also know Jake's heart, and I know that no one probably feels as much loathing towards Jake as he does himself right now. I know he feels terrible about what he has done and carries much guilt and remorse. Jake is not a religious person. He's not even sure he believes in God, and death absolutely terrifies him. Because Jake can be a rather fragile individual, some friends were concerned he might try to take his own life rather than have to face what he's done. Although I understood where they were coming from, I doubted he would do it because I think the fear of what comes after death terrifies him more. In our last conversation yesterday Jake said he would probably be calling me a lot. I think there's something about my spirituality that he finds comforting. I don't say that in a boastful way at all. Honest. Jake, himself, has told me as much, and I think he feels I can help him through this tumultuous time. I'm not sure I can, but I will try. But I genuinely feel bad for him and for the promising future he had that will be snuffed out, at least temporarily, when he goes to prison. I also feel horrible that he will forever carry the guilt that he took another human life. I can only hope that Jake will learn from this terrible lesson; that hopefully this will at last will be the impetus that helps him get the help he needs.

I feel badly for his family, who will have terrible legal costs and hospital bills (Jake broke his knee and ankle in the crash) to deal with and, very likely, will have to endure separation from their son. I feel badly for his girlfriend, who's away in China right now and will have to deal with her grief there. I also feel badly that their relationship might not endure this trial. I feel badly for all of his friends who have been affected by this tragedy. All of us feel horrible about this event, although I do notice it has also brought out some people's true colors.

But, mostly, I feel awful about the poor man's family that has lost their father, uncle, brother, etc. because of my dear friend's poor choices and addictions. The victim was in his early fifties, and while I do not know much about him beyond that, I am sure he must have left behind a family of some sort. Some poor family will forever feel that loss, emotionally and physically, and it breaks my heart. I am sure they will feel much anger towards my friend, and who can blame them? It's just a sad tragedy all the way around.

When you read about these cases (or at least when I do), I always tend to feel a great deal of sympathy towards the victims rather than the perpetrators, but now that I'm on the other side, I can see both sides. Jake is not a bad person; he just made a huge, irreparable mistake. It's just so sad to me. I feel much sorrow in my heart for all involved.

Jonah was right. In my last post about Jake, Jonah reminded me that "I wouldn't trade places with [Jake] in a minute. I would much rather be me than him." That's more true than ever now.

On the upside, I got to see Jonah, and we had a fun week together and also went house-hunting, so that was exciting.

And next week I start rehearsals for a show I've been wanting to do for seventeen years, so I'm very excited about that.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Giving My Family More Credit

I learned a valuable lesson yesterday about giving my family more credit. I love my sister-in-law very much. She’s pretty conservative, and she and my brother and their kids are very active in the church. But she’s also very loving and nonjudgmental and has really been cool about my relationship with Jonah. She asks about him often and has always made me feel that she considers him important because she knows he is important to me.

Jonah and I changed our marriage plans. For various reasons, we have decided to get married in Hawaii instead of Vancouver, as originally planned. Because my mom will be serving as a witness, I have told her about my plans, and I have also told my youngest sister because she lives in the same house. But I haven’t really told anybody else. I intend to, but I just haven’t yet, for several reasons.

Anyway, the other day my sister-in-law was at the house and noticed my ring and because it was on my left hand she asked if it there was something I had to share. However, because my youngest niece was there I felt uneasy about getting into it all, not knowing how informed she is about the goings on in my life. So I kind of skirted the issue.

Anyway, Friday night the news about my wedding came out, and my sister-in-law was understandably hurt that I hadn’t told her personally. I received the following email from her:

Dear Cody,

You can imagine how surprised I was last night when your mom told me of your upcoming wedding. I can only imagine how hard it must be to keep your feelings quiet or have to hesitate, at all, in the sharing of such important news. It seems that we have a very good relationship, but I would like to
think that we are close enough to share our life changing events and feelings with each other (actually, I would like to share more. I miss our long talks.) Why didn't you tell me? Especially when we were talking about it. Am I rude, insensitive or judgmental? I hope not. I hope that you can feel my love. I can understand not bringing it up in front of [my youngest]. I have been wondering how you have been doing and what you were deciding about your relationship with Jonah for a very long time. I didn't bring it up
because it is such an adult topic and I am surrounded by a little angel. Which is probably exactly what you did too. Please know that I love you very much. We look forward to Sunday evenings to be with you. So, really, how are you and what is going on?

Love [your sister-in-law]

I felt badly that I hadn’t given her more credit. This was my reply:

You are absolutely right. I didn't not delve into the subject further at the time you asked about the ring because [your daughter] was there. Believe me, I wanted to, but I just wasn't sure it was the right time to do it. Frankly, I don't know how much she knows about my relationship with Jonah, and I don't wish to confuse her or anything, I guess. The fact is, I really haven't announced my engagement to very many people yet. We're still in the planning stages. Originally, we were going to get married in Canada, but just recently decided to do it in Hawaii instead, so I guess I haven't told many people until I know for sure what we're doing. In no way have I ever felt you be insensitive or judgmental about my relationship with Jonah. In fact, you have been cool about it. At the same time, it is hard for me to talk about it the way perhaps a heterosexual person might. In our church culture, especially, a man and a woman can announce their engagement and expect it to be received with joy and celebration whereas if a man and a man do the same thing, it will more likely be met with concern and perhaps even disappointment and judgment. I haven't felt those negative feelings coming from you in any way, but I do know how closely you and [my brother] and your family try to follow our Heavenly Father's commandments and try to live your lives the way he taught. I guess maybe on some level I'm afraid of setting a bad example for your kids with my choices or making any of you uncomfortable. Even though [my brother] has been good about it, for example, I still sense that he is not comfortable with the choices I am making. Perhaps that is a misperception on my part. I guess I just don't want to make anybody more uncomfortable than they have to be. Perhaps that's wrong of me, especially since I've spent a good portion of my life holding everything I feel inside, but I guess I fear sharing too much, like I'm going to rock the boat or something. Does that make any sense?

I love Jonah dearly. He is one of my very best friends. He is a good match for me. We are good for each other. We want to share our lives with each other. He makes me very happy, and I think I do the same for him. I have never in my life been so loved by someone (in a romantic way, I mean). In fact, I often wonder what wonderful thing I have done to deserve him.

It is our intention at this time to get married in a small ceremony in Hawaii some time during the first week of March. Anybody is welcome to come, although I can only pay for myself and Mom (and Jonah is paying for himself and his witness). We hope to have maybe a larger reception of sorts on our one year anniversary…. This is a very challenging time for Jonah because his family isn't anywhere near as supportive as mine has been. In fact, it is doubtful that anyone in his family will actually be at the wedding.

I love you very, very much. Even though I don't tell you (and I'm thinking I need to remedy that) I tell Jonah all the time how supportive you've been and how you ask about him and make me feel like he's just as much a part of the family as anybody else is. That means so, so much to me. I just hope you understand that in many ways this is still an awkward phase for me. I've been planning to send an email out to all my friends and family announcing my news and I haven't sent it yet both because we haven't finalized our plans and because I'm afraid. It's like I feel I have to pick and choose who I will tell because I don't want to "bother" anybody with news that maybe they don't want to hear. I still care very much what people think, even though I tell myself it's their problem, not mine, if they don't receive the news well.

I told [my bishop] about my relationship (which he already knew), but nothing about the engagement. And, much like you, [he] is one of the most loving, nonjudgmental people I know. But I also know what he knows in his heart is true and that it doesn't coincide with the choices I am presently making, and I guess I just didn't want to disappoint or overwhelm him any more than I had to. I also fear things like excommunication. I don't want to be excluded from membership in a religion I love so much. At the same time, I strongly feel this is the path I need to be on right now. Fortunately, excommunication hasn't come up, and I hope it never does. If it does, I will cross that bridge when I get to it.

Please understand that I have never intended to hurt you. I guess in my clumsy way I was trying to protect or spare you and your family from any hurt that might come from what might be viewed as "wrong" choices. If it makes you feel any better, Mom and [my youngest sister] are the only ones who really know any details, and that's only because they live with me. I even felt odd about asking Mom if she wanted to be my witness and still feel weird that when she does witness the wedding, she will see Jonah and I kiss each other for the first time.

Please know that I am perfectly willing to talk to you about any aspect of my life that you wish to know about, but that I still feel it can be an awkward subject. I'm finally, finally getting to the point where I feel I can talk openly to Mom about it, where I can refer to Jonah as my boyfriend, or refer to myself as gay without tiptoeing around it, and I'm sure I will eventually be able to do that with everyone. But please tell me how open you want me to be in front of your kids about it because I still feel I have a strong responsibility to be as good of an example to them as I can possibly be. I would welcome a conversation about anything you want to talk about because I do, indeed, love you very, very much, and I have been very happy with how you've handled my situation.



And hers:

Dear Cody,

I am so relieved that I didn't do anything to hurt you. As I told you, I don't feel as free to talk with [my youngest] around. This is such an adult issue that I am not sure how much to tell her or to expose her to. Just so you know, all of our children know that you are gay and that you love them. We love you just the same. We told [our youngest] last night. She was unaware of your situation until your mom started talking about your wedding. When we got home [your brother] and I explained it to her. She seemed satisfied with the conversation we had.

As our children have grown and their questions have come we have done the best we can to answer them. It is hard to know how much to tell each child. For instance, [our youngest son] is at the stage when [your brother] kisses me when he comes through the door, that [he] completely grosses out. He is so uncomfortable with any type of intimacy it is funny. [Your brother] sometimes kisses me just to get [him] crazy. Each child's level is so hard to know.

I thank you for wanting to protect my children. I know that you have struggled with this for many years. Thank you for setting the example that you have. Your support at our families activities is very much appreciated ( like when [our oldest son] was made a Priest ). I have never heard you bad mouth the church or God for giving you this trial. Thank you.

I am glad that you are happy. I went to a missionary fireside a while ago. When I was there they told us to write down who ever we thought about that evening. I couldn't get you out of my mind. I wrote down your name. Maybe I should have sent you an e-mail sooner. I am sorry that I was not able to
emotionally support you sooner.

Please know that I love you. Thank you for always being so willing to talk to me about anything.


[Your sister-in-law]

And mine:

No, you didn't hurt me at all. And I hope I didn't hurt you, either. I, too, like you, worry about how much to expose in dealing with this issue. But I am glad to know that all your kids know, and that you all love me the same (although by your actions I have never doubted that). I just hope I never do anything that puts you or [my brother] or your children in an awkward or uncomfortable position.

I have no bad feelings towards the church or Heavenly Father in the slightest, nor do I regret my choices. As contradictory as it may sound, I still have a very strong testimony of the truthfulness of the church, and although there are some things that occur in Mormon culture that bother me, I have nothing but feelings of love for my religion. Being a Mormon is as much a part of who I am as being gay is, and some of my finest virtues are directly related to how I've been taught and raised within my religion, so I have no reason to have bad feelings towards God, the church, or its leaders.

In spite of my testimony and love for my religion, I have found much greater peace and understanding and my relationship with God has gotten better since I found Jonah and since I came out of the closet. I do not know why this seemingly contradictory journey has occurred, but there is no doubt in my mind that I am happier now than I was when I was trying to live my life "right," and although I do not know what is in store for me in the eternities, I know that things between me and the Lord are good, and things will turn out well, and I trust Him on that.

I do not believe in black and white. I do not know all the answers. But I do know that right here, right now, this is where I need to be. I'm still active (just Sunday School and Sacrament Meeting; I don't go to Priesthood), although I do not take the Sacrament. I still continue to participate in my church meetings (and will continue to do so until I am asked not to) and contribute where I can. I have tried to be completely honest with my bishop and my family about my life. Of course, I continue to support my loved ones in their callings and in their lives. I still respect the church leaders and still believe that Gordon B. Hinckley is a prophet. I am still celibate and plan on remaining so until Jonah and I are married (or, at least, as married as we can be). I try to follow the commandments I still feel I am able to follow. In short, I am doing the best I feel I am able to do under the circumstances life has dealt me.

I am reading an excellent book (although in many ways, a sad one) called
No More Goodbyes by Carol Lynn Pearson. I think it should be required reading for all members. There may even be ideas in it people won't necessarily take to, but I do think it illustrates well what people like me go through. In many ways, I am actually far more lucky or blessed than many others in my situation. At least I feel I can talk about these things with my family, and at least I feel my family is supportive (or at least as supportive as they feel they can be). Jonah, for example, can't even talk to his family about any of this and feels sad, lonely, and isolated as a result. And, of course, when he is sad, I am sad for him. Anyway, it's been a really good read. I recommend it.

I love you dearly… You are truly a remarkable person. I hold you and my brother and your family in very high esteem. On some level, I am envious that I just never felt I was able to follow the path that you and [my brother] seem to be following successfully (albeit with plenty of work): i.e. a normal heterosexual courtship, temple marriage, children, a good LDS family, etc., but that path, no matter how hard I kicked against the pricks to make it so, never seemed attainable. Now that I've chosen a different path with Jonah, life is so, so much better. I am truly more at peace than I ever was when I trying so hard all those years to get my "square peg to fit in a round hole." Again, based on what I know and still believe, I do not know why this is the case, but it is, and I am choosing to be happy now rather than feel repressed, uptight, guilty, worthless, miserable, and always short of perfection, which is what I felt for many, many years.

Obviously, this has not been an easy transition, but it definitely has been a good one. I trust, for now, that is right. Fortunately, I take great joy in the knowledge that my choices are between me and my Father, and right now, I feel very good about where the two of us (me and Heavenly Father) are in our relationship right now.

I, too, am glad that I feel I can talk to you about anything.

Love, your brother,


I’m glad she wants me to share my life. It makes me feel comfortable that I can be more open. This evening as she and their family were leaving, my oldest niece said, “Congratulations! I’m very happy for you!” and I could tell she meant it. That means a lot. One of her best friends is gay, so I know she is understanding.

My mom and I had a really good discussion about being gay and the church, and I’m just so glad it gets easier every day. I wish Jonah could be as open with his family. It makes me sad that he can’t. Such is life, I guess.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Where My Happiness Lies

I've started reading Gordon B. Hinckley's biography, which is something I have intended to read for a while, but never seemed to have the time to do. I think he is a wonderful man and a wonderful example. Now that school is over, I have time to read about him.

In the book, he is quoted as saying, "I have done nothing more than try to do what has been asked of me, and I've tried to do it the best I could." When I read those words, they really resonated with me. I read them six or seven times in a row because they really hit me. A voice said, "That's what you are doing, too."

Now certainly, by the standards of my religion, I am not living my life they way I have been taught to. And certainly I am not equating myself with Gordon B. Hinckley. But what struck me is that he is living his life the best he knows how under the circumstances life has dealt him, and I do feel that I am trying to do the same in my own way. And it's nice to know that I'm not competing with Gordon B. Hinckley. God is measuring me by my own merits, not by somebody else's.

In spite of the fact that I may not be living my life according to the gospel plan as it has been laid out to me, I am doing the best I feel I am able to do with the life I have, and that is very comforting.

In spite of the fact that I am in a gay relationship (and a very fulfilling one at that) which is contrary to what I have been taught to do, I am trying to be in that relationship adhering to the values my religion has taught me. Jonah and I remain chaste, we plan on getting married (as legally as we can), I still go to church, I still treat others in as Christ-like a manner as I am able, I still adhere to many of the tenets my religion has blessed me with, I still love my religion very much. And though there may be some who would argue that the choices I'm making in life are sinful, I have to say that wrong or right, these choices have brought me more happiness and peace than I felt when I was trying to live my life "right." I feel closer to God and have a greater understanding of his love for me. And whether I understand the reasons or not, I feel that things are okay as far as my standing with the Lord is concerned.

I don't believe in black and white. Nor do I believe that God doesn't understand his plan better than I do. And right now this path is right, and I trust that it's right.

I am doing what I've been asked to do in life as well as I can, and that is enough.

There are so many of us out there who beat ourselves up because we can't do what has been required of us and then spend our days feeling guilty and worthless because we fall short. I spent a great deal of my life feeling that way all the time, and it just made me uptight and miserable. Coming out was a difficult transition, and as I've said many, many times in my blog, I do not necessarily advocate the choices I've made for anybody but me. They are my choices and mine alone, and I will deal with whatever the consequences are myself. But I will say that since I've chosen this path, guilt and misery seem so far removed from me. What I have learned is that God loves me so much more than I ever realized, and he just wants all of us to be happy. Right now, this is where my happiness lies, and I do not regret it. I've come a long way since I started this blog (others might argue for the negative, but I disagree). Coming out and having this new life with Jonah have turned out to be very positive influences in my life.

I am grateful for the life Heavenly Father has blessed me with, and I strive every day not to disappoint him. I believe I am doing that as best I can, and that's what counts. I believe when all is said and I done, I will be very pleased with how I chose to lead my life. I'm not even talking about my sexuality now, but just in how I treated others, and in my relationship with my Heavenly Father. I think I am doing well. I hope so, anyway.

No matter how you choose to live your life, whether it be in the church, out of the church, gay, straight, married, single, whatever, at least let go of hate and guilt and self-loathing and misery. Heavenly Father doesn't want that for any of us. I know no matter what else, Heavenly Father is at least happy that I am happy right now. That doesn't even mean I'm necessarily making the choices he wants me to (although I really don't know anymore), but I do know he's happy that I have found some peace and happiness in my life.

I truly view where I am now as opposed to where I was a couple of years ago as a very good thing. And good is what God is all about.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

Adventures In Cedar City and Beyond

It's been a good summer since I graduated in May. I got my degree recently, so it's official now: I am a master of something.

Since I've been home in Utah, I've been performing in one show, and I just got cast in another (one I've always wanted to do). I also got my Actors' Equity card, so that was a big thing (although we'll see if it was the right way to go).

Jonah and I went to the Utah Shakespearean Festival last week. It had been a couple of months since we had seen each other (although we talk to each other nearly every day), so it was really nice to spend some time (albeit short) with him. Last Sunday was his birthday. I have to be honest; I was really tempted to have sex with him. My hormones were feeling very impatient. However, I still really feel very strongly about getting married first. I think it's just my Mormon upbringing and my desire to do as much as I can to live the way I was always taught under my specific life circumstances. So I resisted, and, fortunately, Jonah respects that. And, in the end, even though my hormones weren't so thrilled, I really was happy I made the choice to not have sex yet. I think I would have regretted it. I just want to get married first. Jonah and I did, however, have many detailed discussions about sex during our trip, which I think is healthy.

A week prior to our trip I had been thinking about what to get Jonah for his birthday. I had gotten him a CD, but had an epiphany that an unexpected and more-than-ready gift to give him would be to propose. So I went and bought a really nice gold band. I would have liked to get something with diamonds in it (which I actually think Jonah would have liked better), but it just wasn't in my budget. My mom actually helped me pick it out, which was cool. But I thought Cedar City would be a good place to do it since it's special to both of us (for many reasons). We took a walk to the Centurium, a group of statues of famous philosophers, writers, scientists, etc, which also has special meaning for us. I asked him to marry me under the statue of Shakespeare. I think he was both surprised and moved because he was crying. He said yes, and we took a few pictures of us.

Jonah at one point on the trip told me he was scared I wouldn't come back after I moved away after school, which surprised me because I thought he knew that he means the world to me, and that this relationship is serious to me. I think he was afraid I would get cold feet, which is understandable. I think the ring solidified in his mind that I'm in this to stay.

It does sadden me (and Jonah as well) that he feels he can't tell his family about us. But what can you do? That's my main regret about the marriage (more for him than for me): that his family won't be likely to attend. We, therefore, are making it a small ceremony (most likely in Vancouver some time after January) with just two witnesses (my mom will be mine, and I don't know who he has chosen yet).

Later that night, we saw the Simpsons movie (how romantic, huh?) which we both enjoyed. The next day we saw Candida (very charming) and Twelfth Night (pretty good, although I liked it better than Jonah did). I was suffering from really bad allergies, so the trip wasn't as delightful on that level as I had hoped, but we still had a good time. I also saw a really good friend that I hadn't seen in nearly 8 years.

Our last day, we had lunch with a good friend and then we saw Lend Me A Tenor: The Musical, which was entertaining, but still needs some work. Then we had dinner with two good friends of mine. That was fun. Then we saw Coriolanus, which was well-acted, but it was raining, so that was a bit distracting at times. Still, we had a great time.

We drove home that night, and the next day Jonah bought me a ring to match the one I bought him, so that was cool. I'm not a big fan of wearing rings, but I'm trying to get used to it.

He and my mom came to see my show that night, and I introduced him to my friends, and they all seemed to like him. Then we laid with each other a bit in my bed that night and the next morning (which, honestly, felt a little weird in my mom's house), and then I drove Jonah to the airport and said goodbye.

I miss him, but I'll be visiting him in about two weeks, and, hopefully, we'll be able to continue looking for houses.

It looks like I'll be in Utah until at least October, possibly December, and that's hard, but I feel we're doing well, and I think it's something we'll have to get used to since my work will likely keep us apart for long periods of time.

Today church was enjoyable. I also got to spend time with my family and some close friends as we celebrated my nephew being ordained a priest.

I met with my bishop today. He's also a really good friend, so I wasn't nervous (although Jonah told me he had felt nervous for me all day). My bishop knows what's up, and he was very loving and nonjudgmental (although not necessarily thrilled with my decisions). He was really good about it, although I know he doesn't fully understand why I'm making the choices I am. He did give me the Church's latest pamphlet to read and asked me to prayerfully consider it. Incidentally, I think it's one of the best written things the leaders of the Church have come up with regarding same-sex attraction, although basically I feel like it boils down to "We're-sorry-we-don't-know-how-to-help-you-and-you'll-probably-never-be-free-of-your-attractions-in-this-life-and-heterosexual-marriage-probably-won't-help-you-either-but-we'd-like-you-to-keep-doing-what-we've-asked-you-to-do-even-though-it-means-you'll-be-celebate-and-alone-for-the-rest-of-your-life-and-we-know-that-isn't-fair-but-that's-what-the-Lord-requires-and-everything-will-be-made-right-after-you-die." I don't blame them. I mean, if that's the way it is, that's the way it is. I can't fault them for that. But I just don't feel I can do what is required. And no matter what, I know I'm happier now than I was before I found Jonah and came out, so I'm willing to take the risk.

Anyway, excommunication or being disfellowshipped never came up, and since I'm perfectly happy continuing to be a member of the LDS Church still, I didn't bring it up, either. I may have to face it someday, but I'm okay with not having to deal with it right now.

An old friend called out of the blue yesterday wanting to get together next week. I'm eager to see him again. It's been a long, long time. I'm also meeting an old roommate tomorrow for lunch. Should be fun.

Anyway, that's what's up with me right now.

Saturday, August 04, 2007


I asked Jonah to marry me on his birthday while on a really great trip in Cedar City (we were there for the Shakespeare Festival). I made him cry (in a good way)! He said yes. We have matching gold rings now. We're saving to get married in Canada (most likely Vancouver) some time after January. I asked my mom to be one of our witnesses. She said yes.

I'll try to post more details about our trip and what's been going on with me later.

I have a meeting with my bishop on Sunday. He's a good friend, so I'm not especially nervous, and I am at peace with the decisions I'm making in my life. But, at the same time, I'm curious to know how it will turn out and what the consequences of my actions will be in regards to the church. I'll keep you posted.