Saturday, June 27, 2009

Final Notice

It's been two weeks since I was excommunicated, and things have been good. I did receive the letter today. I knew it was coming, but it was still hard to read. I won't post the entire letter, but I'll just give the highlights.

I was told that I had been excommunicated and that I could appeal the decision if I felt there were errors or unfairness in the ruling. Then it said:

"You are no longer a member of the Church and do not enjoy any privileges of Church membership. You may not wear temple garments or pay tithes and offerings. You may, however, attend public Church meetings if your conduct is orderly, but you may not give a talk, offer a public prayer, partake of the sacrament, or participate in the sustaining of Church officers."

I think this was the hardest part of the letter for me. Even though it's been two weeks since the decision was made, and even though life has gone on just as before, and even though I do not regret the decisions that brought me to this point, to see it there in black and white somehow made it seem so final and, admittedly, left me with a profound sense of sadness. I was not sad because I felt regret or remorse. I was not even sad out of a sense that I had failed in my duty as a member of the church. I was just sad that I'm no longer a member of a church I still love very much. It just hurt to know that I've been "kicked out of the club," so to speak.

Look, don't get me wrong. Whatever your attitude towards the Church and its stands on same-sex relationships; whatever your attitudes towards homosexuality, the fact is that as it stands right now, I violated the covenants I made. I broke the rules. Am I happier than I was when I was living according to those rules? Yes. But I did break the rules that were set before me, and so I do not fault the Church or its leaders for the decision to excommunicate me. I'm not a member because of my own choices. There are those that say that the Church needs to change its rules regarding homosexuality. That's not for me to say, nor do I know what the future holds as far as this issue and the Church are concerned. I just know that as it stands now, I did something that merited excommunication. So I am blaming no one. I'm simply saying that after years of belonging to something and working hard to live true to that, it just made me feel sad to know that I am no longer a part of it officially (although as I've repeatedly said, no one can stop me from belonging to it in my heart, nor do I think it's possible for me not to belong to it).

The letter next said,

"Let me reassure once again that this council did not reach this decision lightly. The Lord’s plan of salvation provides a way for all of Heavenly Father’s children to regain his presence, and to that end there are covenants and commandments governing our conduct in this life that all are expected to follow. For reasons you explained at length during our counseling together and during the council’s hearing, you have chosen to go a different way and have thereby become subject to the consequences outlined in this letter. This is a necessary step in the process of repentance, and a spiritual protection for you as you struggle with these feelings. We still love you and consider you our brother in Christ..."

I think that's all valid. Next I was encouraged to keep doing the things I've always done such as read my scriptures, pray daily, maintain contact with my leaders, continue to have faith in Christ's atonement, etc. I was also encouraged no to let this experience embitter me, and my Stake President made the comment, "This has clearly been a long and exhausting struggle..."

I was also, of course, encouraged to repent and do those things which would enable me to come back into full fellowship again. This was to be expected. As I've said, if that means giving up Jonah and the happiness I feel with him, I simply am not willing or able to do that. I can't go back to the way life I was pre-Jonah nor do I have the desire to.

And then, of course, my Stake President told me I could call him any time if I had any questions or needed assistance or counsel. He's a good man.

I actually felt inspired to write him the other day. I wrote:

"Dear [President],

"I felt impressed to write you a letter. First of all, I want to thank you for all the help and counsel you have given me and, most of all, for your friendship. I also wanted to apologize for the difficult position in which I must have put you and the other high council members at my disciplinary council. I know just as it wasn’t easy for me, it couldn’t have been easy for you or the other men in that room. I know it was a hard position to be in, and as [my neighbor], my mom, and I commented to one another while we were awaiting the outcome, we were not at all envious of the position you were in. I know my actions are partly to blame for that, and so for that I apologize.

"I want you to know that I love and care about you very much, and I feel the same from you, and I want to assure you that that will never change. I also wanted you to know that I am doing very well. The week after my hearing, I went to church as I usually do, and I felt such a reaffirmation from my Heavenly Father assuring me that He is well aware of my individual situation, that He knows I am doing the best I can, and that I need not fret about my future at this time. I have felt an enormous amount of love, peace, and happiness.

"I will admit it is strange knowing I am no longer considered a member of the church on record, but nothing can ever stop me from being a Mormon in my heart, and as you and I have discussed, nothing can excommunicate me from my Father in Heaven, my Savior, or the love they have for me.

"I cannot explain to you just why I feel I have to make the choices in life I am currently making while still maintaining a testimony as to the truthfulness of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. I can’t really explain it to anybody. But I have felt such a happiness in my life since making these choices, and I have felt an assurance that this where I’m supposed to be in life right now. I know my Father knows my heart, my testimony, and my spirit, and thus I am at peace. I do not know what the future holds, but this is where I need to be right now.

"You are a good man, [President], and I consider you a friend. I’m sure as someone who holds stewardship over a great many people, including me, you worry about your 'flock.' And that’s okay. That is appropriate. I just wanted to tell you that I hope you won’t let my situation weigh too heavily on your heart. I also hope you won’t put any blame on yourself for what has occurred. I don’t know that you do; but if you do, I’m telling you not to. I don’t know why things are the way they are, but I feel that both you and I have done the best we could do as far as this particular circumstance is concerned. Most of all, I just want you to know that I am doing fine. I’m still doing all the things I’m able to do. I had a great day at church on Sunday (even though I was expecting it might be awkward or uncomfortable; it wasn’t at all).

"Please be assured of my love and my appreciation for all you have done for me. I know the Lord is very proud of you and all you do in His service.

"Take care.

"All my love,


I do not know what his reaction was when he read it, but I did receive a call from his executive secretary today saying he wanted to meet with me. Unfortunately, I am not able to meet with him today as he was hoping because of work conflicts, but I'm hoping to meet with him soon. I want him to know I am well, and I also want to know that he is well.

Anyway, just thought I'd give you all an update.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

A Father Knows His Children Well

You might think my first day at church after being excommunicated might be awkward or uncomfortable or depressing, but "au contraire, mon frère!" Truth be told, I had a perfectly lovely day at church today.

I will admit that as I approached my wardhouse, I felt a feeling of weirdness, but as soon as I entered the chapel for Sunday School, things seemed just as ordinary as they always have. One of the guys on the very council that excommunicated me (and who is also a good friend who always sits behind my mom and me during Sunday School and Sacrament Meeting) greeted me as always with absolutely no indication that anything was amiss. I sat down and listened to the lesson as I always do and listened to the comments. It was a lesson about what things we should devote our time to learning. It was pretty good.

My neighbor who testified in my defense the week before came up to me and said she was happy to see me there, and I thought to myself, "Yeah. Of course. Where else would I be? This is where I belong," and I just felt a feeling of ease and peace.

In Sacrament Meeting, a girl I taught some time ago in Primary was the Youth Speaker. At the time I taught her in Primary, her parents were having some marital problems and were going through a separation. She was quite an insecure girl and was in great need of a father figure, and she kind of adopted me as that person. It was a role, I admit, I was reluctant to take at the time, but I did. Now her parents are together again (in fact, her dad teaches the very Sunday School class I just mentioned), and she has grown into quite a confident young woman. It warms my heart to see that and, again, I was reminded of the good I have done in this church.

Her father then spoke about his own father and also spoke of how much Heavenly Father knows us as individuals and that he is aware of our individual situations and knows our individual hearts. I felt like much of the talk was directed at me by a loving Heavenly Father once again letting me know that he knows my very situation and that all is well.

There was a lovely violin number in between the talks, and then my former bishop gave a terrific talk about following Christ and also reaffirmed what was said in the previous talk about God knowing our individual situations and how all He expects from us is that we do the very best we can, and again felt Heavenly Father telling me that He knew I was doing my best. It was just an awesome day and an awesome reminder of how much my Heavenly Father cares about each one of us (and specifically me, in this instance) and how He knows exactly (and I mean exactly) what each one of us is going through.

Another thing happened that was a great reminder of that. There is a lady in my ward I have known my whole life. Her husband died a couple of years ago, and every time I've seen her since then, I have felt great concern for her. I kept feeling prompted to write her a letter telling her I was concerned about her, but I kept ignoring it because I wasn't quite sure what I would say in the letter. Finally, about a month ago, I felt the Spirit practically smacking me upside the head to write this letter, and this is what I finally wrote to her:

Dear [Sister],

I’m sure this will be a strange letter to get. I am not sure why, but you have been at the forefront of my mind these past few weeks. When I see you at church, I have felt very compelled to write you, and I have no logical reason for doing so. I can only assume the Spirit is directing me to do it. At first, I just ignored it, but I have felt more and more compelled to write you, and so I have finally decided to act on it.
All I can say is that is that I have thought a great deal about you since [your husband] passed away, and for some reason I have been concerned about you and am hoping you are doing well. I realize it has been nearly two years since his passing, but I do think about you a lot. I assume one reason for that is that my own mother is a widow, and I know that even though she sees her kids and grandkids quite often, there are still times when she feels lonely and rudderless. I know she sometimes feels the pain of an empty nest. I am currently home with her now, but am not often home because of work, and I know she gets lonely and bored and pines for the times she shares with her children and friends. That may not be the case with you at all. Perhaps you are doing great. But I simply wanted you to know that having seen my own mother’s experience, I know the loss of a spouse and having children move away can be a challenge.
I guess all I want to say is that I have been thinking about you and hope you are doing well. Like I say, I’m not sure why I have felt so worried about it, but I have, and every time I try to ignore those feelings, I feel more and more prompted to drop you a line and just let you know that someone is thinking about you and cares about your well-being. I’m sure you have many people in your life that feel that way, and you’re probably doing just fine, and I don’t know that my words are even necessary. But like I said, I feel (and have felt) prompted to write to you, and I knew if I didn’t do it, it would keep eating at me.
I’m sorry if this letter is awkward, and I hope that I am not out of line writing it to you. I feel kind of dumb writing it. I just wanted to convey my love to you and let you know that you are not alone. [Your husband] was a great man and a good example, and I’m sure you must miss him just as I know my own mother still misses my dad who’s been gone 17 years now. I know it gets easier with time, but the temporary separation from one’s eternal companion is a difficult thing, even when you know you will eventually be reunited. I just wanted to remind you that you are not alone and that Heavenly Father is very much with you and looking out for you. I’m sure you already know that and don’t need me to tell you that, so take these words for whatever they might be worth to you.
I hope you are well.



She wrote me back a few days later saying:

Dear [Cody],

Since I don't often get a chance to talk to you in church, I wanted to let you know how kind it was of you to share your thoughts and feelings with me. Thank you for following the spirit and bringing a spirit of peace to me, for I have indeed been through a very difficult time these past several months.
It always makes me feel good when someone shares a thought or remembrance of [my husband]. So thank you for your kind words and for the message that I truly needed to hear.
With gratitude,


I've seen this sister at church several times since this correspondence, but it was today that she came up to me and once again thanked me for my thoughts and said how much they had meant to her. She looked so happy today (whereas some days I have seen a sort of sadness and loneliness in her). It all reminded me that the Lord knows exactly what she's going through just as He knows exactly what I'm going through and how He works through other people to help each one of his children. Her thoughts, my neighbor's thoughts, the talks I heard, the high councilman's greeting, etc. were all ways my Heavenly Father let me know He's just as with me as He's always been.

You know, Jonah and I were talking the other day about how even though I've been formally excommunicated from the Church that the Lord is still with me and hasn't withdrawn His spirit from me (at least, that hasn't proven to be the case with me), and he brought up the fact that if being in a homosexual relationship was so awful, the Lord would have withdrawn his spirit from me a long time ago, and yet just relatively recently he chose me to help this woman in my ward. He could just have easily chosen another ward member, but he used me, and thank goodness I was willing to (finally!) follow those promptings.

I do not feel any loss of Spirit at all. I do not feel that my relationship with God has diminished in any way. He is a loving and merciful being, and I am grateful for His enduring love and for a great day at church.

I am currently reading a really good book about the Puritans called The Wordy Shipmates by Sarah Vowell. I highly recommend it. It's a history of the Puritans, but told in a very light-hearted way and includes pop culture references and social commentary. I'm really enjoying it.

One paragraph struck me. In it, she's talking about John Winthrop, governor of the particular colonists she is writing about. She is talking about the idea of predestination and writes the following:

"Winthrop and his fellow Calvinists believed in the doctrine of predestination. Since God decides everything, God decides whether a person will end up in heaven or hell before the person is even born. The people who are going to heaven are called 'the Elect.' This is God's own aristocracy. And if that sounds like some frolicsome foxhunt, understand that to be a Calvinist is to be the Duke of Discomfort or the Duchess of Fear. Because here's the thing: How does anyone know? How does anyone know if he's saved? He can't. What he can do is work, try, believe, repent, love God, and hate himself. The diligent, hardworking, and pious are the 'visible saints.' If a person seems saved, odds are he is saved. Thus, he will spend every waking hour trying to seem saved, not just to others but to himself. Because if he says or does or even thinks heretical things, isn't that just proof he was never saved in the first place?"

This paragraph got me to thinking about how we as Mormons sometimes are so worried about all the things we're doing in this life to achieve exaltation in the next, that we seldom find the joy on the journey we're on and instead feel guilt or unworthiness for all the things we're doing wrong instead of appreciating and rejoicing in the things we're doing right. There are certainly remnants of Puritanism to be found in our religion. I spent a good portion of my life trying to live up to a certain ideal and feeling terrible about myself because I was unable to. I finally feel like I'm living life on my own terms instead of somebody else's idea of what I'm supposed to be. Wrong or right, living this way has brought me a great deal of happiness, joy, and freedom, and I think things are working out well. Whether I'll feel that way in the next life remains to be seen, but I've decided that instead of stressing about what I have to do to achieve a great reward in the next life, I'm going to enjoy the journey I'm on right now and just live the best life I possibly can. That doesn't mean I'm not continually trying to improve myself or progress, but it does mean that I'm not beating myself up anymore when I fail. I've decided it's a better way to live...for me, at least.

Saturday, June 20, 2009

And Now...A Word About Garments

Not wearing garments has taken a bit of getting used to. I always feel like I'm not fully dressed. I feel naked without them. It's odd.

It's ironic. Before I got my temple endowment in 1991 and started wearing garments, I always slept in just a pair a briefs. I liked it. At the time, I thought wearing garments would be impossible to get used to. Frankly, I like wearing as little of clothing as possible. I get hot pretty easily, and I also find that the less I'm wearing, the more free and more comfortable I feel. If it were socially acceptable, I'd be probably go around naked (or at least in my underwear) if I could.

When I started wearing garments, it did take some getting used to. Now, after 18 years, it's become a habit, and now I'm finding it's hard getting used to not wearing them. On the other hand, now that I'm sleeping in just my briefs again, I am reminded how much I enjoyed it before (although I certainly don't have the same physique I had then). I do enjoy the freedom of being almost nude. I suppose I could sleep in the nude if I so desired, but as I've told Jonah, I don't enjoy sleeping in the nude; too much stuff hanging out and getting in the way. I need some support. ;-)

I bet this post is more information than any of you wanted to know.

Since I've been excommunicated, I have tried to find the humor in it or the bright side in it. Sleeping in just my briefs is one of those things. Being able to wear designer underwear is another. And poking light fun at it is still another.

Example: the other day Jonah and I were at a store together, and a nice man waited on us. After we bought our stuff, I commented to Jonah that I was really struck by that man's spirit; that he just seemed like a really nice man. I said, "Sometimes you can just tell that somebody is good by the spirit they convey," and Jonah jokingly said something to the effect of, "He's probably one of those Mormons," and I said something like, "I can't tell. They took my decoder ring away when I got excommunicated. And all those toaster ovens I earned converting people."

Sometimes you just have to laugh about it.

I won't lie. It's odd not being a member on record. It seems unreal. But, overall, my life remains the same. I'm still living the same life and have the same spirit I did before I was excommunicated.

I was mowing the lawn yesterday, and that was a good time to just think. And as I thought about it, I just said to myself, "I couldn't have done any better than I was doing, and I'm not willing to go back to the way my life was before I found Jonah and came out. God knows my full heart even if nobody else necessarily does."

I have no regrets.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Excommunication (or UP and Away)

Be forewarned: this is a long post!

Sunday I was excommunicated from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, a religion to which I have belonged for 38 years of my life. Although there was always a small glimmer of hope that this might not be the outcome, I feel I have known for some time now that it would be, and I felt quite strongly two weeks ago that this was to be the case, but that I need not fret about it.

I am not sad, as I thought I might be. It does, admittedly, feel a bit strange to know that I am no longer a member of the Mormon faith on record, although no one can ever stop me from being a Mormon in my heart. It also feels very weird to no longer wear my garments, as I have become accustomed to them over the last 18 years.

What I did realize in my church disciplinary council was that I already made peace with Heavenly Father regarding my homosexuality quite a while ago and that in spite of this judgment, things are good between Him and me.

I was scheduled to arrive at the meeting at 6:40 AM this morning. I was, admittedly, nervous and somewhat anxious, but also felt that things would be okay. I brought my mom with me to testify on my behalf, and a good friend and neighbor who would also be acting as a witness on my behalf met us at the Stake Center. We went in together and the Stake clerk, who is also a friend in my ward, told us to wait as the high council met.

Originally, I had anticipated I would be doing this alone, but my neighbor and my mom were willing to act as witnesses for me, and Jonah, in his infinite wisdom, told me I should let them. It turned out that it was a good idea as the waiting was the hardest part of the day for me, and if I had had to do that alone, it would have been much harder. As it was, I had my mom and my good friend to talk with and to deflect some of the anxiety.

It wasn’t until about 7:05 that my stake president came out. I think he was slightly surprised to see my mom and my neighbor even though I had told him that I would probably bring witnesses. He asked me if I wanted them there for the whole proceedings or just for their own individual testimonies. I told him I wanted them there for the whole proceedings. He said that was fine, as it was entirely my choice. We invited all of us in, and again, I think some of the high council members were surprised to see the two women that were with me.

The three of us sat at one end of a long table, and the stake presidency and a clerk were at the other, while six high council members were on one side and six were on the other. Among the high council members in attendance were a friend I have known my entire life; another good friend who I have known for a few years (I get along with him and his wife very well); three men who were all once in my bishopric when I attended a singles’ ward years ago; and another man in my ward whose daughter is a good friend of mine. It was comforting to see several familiar faces. There was also a man I recognized whose talks I have enjoyed when he has spoken to our ward. Of course, my stake president is also a good friend, and I recognized his counselors, whom I don’t know as well. The other six men I did not immediately recognize.

My stake president explained the reason why we were all here today, and asked me to confirm if the charge laid against me (that of a homosexual sexual relationship and commitment ceremony) was true. I confirmed it was. My stake president talked about how he had known me a long time and that we had counseled together about this, and that we were friends. He conveyed his love to me.

It was then mutually decided that my neighbor and mom would speak. I asked my neighbor to go first. She basically said she had known me my whole life and that I was a great example to her. She talked about my struggles and how it seemed my world was without color before I met Jonah. She talked about how I had defended the church during the Prop 8 controversy (not necessarily their position on the issue, but their right to fight gay marriage should they so desire). She said a lot of really nice things about me and my membership. I wish I could remember them all, but I can’t. I will say she was extremely eloquent and strong with her words.

My mom next read a statement she had prepared detailing the struggles I had gone through and why I had chosen the course I had chosen. She talked about what good people Jonah and I are and her hope that maybe in the future the church might change their position on this matter. I don’t know if that will happen or not, but that is what she said.

I was then asked to speak about how I had come to be in this position we now found ourselves in and was also asked to bear my testimony in the process because my stake president wanted the other members to feel of my love of the Church and of my Father and Jesus Christ.

Originally, I was just going to write some thoughts and wing it, but I felt inspired to read a prepared statement so I could be sure to say everything I meant to say. I will not write exactly what I said as most of it has already appeared in this blog in one form or another. I also bore my testimony.

Once I finished, my stake president thanked me for my words and said he could feel of my love. He then left it open to questions from any of the high council members. Several people on the council asked various questions, which I will not post here. All in all, I felt like I answered most of the questions well even if it felt a bit awkward to be grilled somewhat.

After the questions were asked, my stake president told me that I and my mom and neighbor would be asked to wait in another room. During this time there would be a deliberation as well as a prayer held between the stake presidency and later the entire council until a unanimous decision was reached as to what the final judgment would be. I cannot remember what order all this would happen in, however.

My stake president led us into a private office and also asked if he could make copies of my mom’s and my statements for the record. I told him he could. Then he did and then the deliberation process began.

During this time my mom, my neighbor, and I discussed many things, some pertaining to the matter at hand; others completely off topic. I was happy to have people to talk with, especially because the wait was quite long. My neighbor reaffirmed to me that she felt things would be okay for me no matter what the outcome. We talked about the fact that it was taking so long was a good sign; not that we thought it would change the outcome, which I already felt would be excommunication, but because that indicated that it was not easy to come to a consensus and that there was struggle involved. As my neighbor said, if they figured this out in ten minutes, that meant they probably hadn’t learned anything or thought about anything differently than when they came in. The fact that it took a while indicated to us that it was not so cut and dry for everyone in the room.

As I understand it, when the council convenes, six men are designated to fight for the accused and six are designated to fight against the accused. They don’t know what they will be fighting for or against until the evidence is brought in at the meeting. I still think it’s a weird system since essentially all twelve are still very much invested in Church policy. However, based on the questions I was asked, I felt that some of the men I was closest to were on the side against me, so I would assume that would be a hard position to be in, to basically take a position against someone you consider a friend. I may be wrong about the whole system or who was fighting for and against, but that was my impression.

I wish I could remember all the things that were discussed, but it had already been a long week, and I was pretty tired, and so much happened that day that I just can’t seem to recall everything.

It took about an hour and a half, I believe, for a consensus to be reached. While it was hard to wait all that time, I was also thankful that it was not an easy decision to come to. My stake president invited us back in, and I was asked to stand. I was then told that the decision had been made to excommunicate me. My stake president then explained what this meant: that I was no longer a member of the Church and could not participate in things such as giving talks, saying public prayers, bearing testimony, attending the temple, taking the sacrament, paying tithing, making comments, wearing the garment, etc. Most of this stuff I have already stopped doing, so I don’t see that my life will change much. I was also invited to continue attending church in a respectful manner, which is what I have been doing and what I planned on doing anyway. I was also invited to repent and come back. I did find it interesting (and my neighbor also made the same observation) that as my stake president was reading all this church policy to me that his heart didn’t seem very in it. This obviously was a very, very difficult thing for my stake president, and it was clear to me that he was troubled by it all. He also said his love for me as well as the brethren in that room would not change for me. He also counseled me not to let this outcome cause me to be bitter or angry as he has seen it happen to some. He asked me to continue to counsel with church leaders wherever I attended church. He also told me I could appeal the decision if I wanted to (since I feel this is what’s supposed to be, it is not my intention to do so). He then asked me if I had any questions or anything further to say. I asked if as a non-member I could still sing in the choir. He said he didn’t see any reason why I couldn’t. I also wanted to ask him if I could still read scripture in class even if I could make no further comment on them, but I forgot. I will ask him later. I also told the men in that room that I was sorry to put them through this as I know it must have been difficult and maintained that I have only tried to be the best person I can be under the circumstances life has dealt me. I bore my testimony and expressed my love, and then I finished and was invited to sit down. The stake president reminded everyone on the council that the goings-on in the room that day were completely confidential and to be told to no one outside of the room.

We closed the meeting with a prayer. I hugged several of the men, many who were my friends. The first man who hugged me was my stake president, who seemed very torn by the whole affair. He expressed his love and friendship. He also indicated that I would be receiving an official letter soon telling me what the next steps were for me. The next guy who put his arm around me was a man I did not know. He said he felt prompted to tell me to repent and not to give up on myself. His words truly rang hollow with me. I know it came out of a place of love, but I also felt like it came out of what he has always thought. I haven’t given up on myself. I like myself very much. I’m very happy with who I am, and if repenting means losing Jonah, that is something I am unwilling and unable to do.

Another neighbor in my word gave me a hug and expressed his love. The man in my ward whose known me all my life and who was also very saddened by the proceedings said, “We love you, Cody. Come back! Come back!” When I talked to Jonah about this later, he told me, “You’ve never left. You’re doing exactly what you’ve tried to do this whole time. Even though you’re not a member on paper, you’ve never stopped being a member and doing all the things you are trying to do in your heart.”

Another man hugged me. One guy from my singles’ ward said, “We love you, Brother.” Another said he loved me and told me to call them any time. Another said he admired my courage and loved me very much. One of my good friends from the ward said, “Two things. Number one: what happened here today is completely confidential, and you know what that means [he meant he wasn’t going to tell his wife, also a good friend, any of this. It wouldn’t matter to me if he did, but I appreciated the sentiment.] Number two: no matter what happened here today, it doesn’t change our esteem for you. My wife and I will continue to put you high on a pedestal like we always have. Keep on being a good example to my son and daughter, like you always have.” This was perhaps on of the most meaningful comments I received in that meeting. Two other brothers indicated that it was good to have met me.

I didn’t feel sad or surprised when it was all over, and I walked outside with my mom and neighbor (oh, I forgot, when my neighbor hugged me after the meeting was over, she whispered, “It was an absolute honor, Cody.”), the sun was brightly shining. We’ve had about a solid week of rain here in Utah (which is very unusual for June), and this was one of the first times in a while I had seen such a bright, sunny day. I took it as a good sign (and my neighbor told me she, too, had noticed it and had thought the same thing).

All in all the whole process took about three and half hours or so. By the time we got out it was just after the time when our Sunday School started. I was very tired and still had a long day ahead of me with two shows to do at the theater where I work, and I figured an excommunication was enough church for one day, so my mom went to church alone, and I went home to sleep. My mom told me that she ran into the stake clerk, who obviously knew about the proceedings and that he gave her a hug, told her he was sorry, and expressed his love. I thought that was nice. I called Jonah and explained everything, and we had a really good talk. He reaffirmed that I am doing as much as I can and that this formality does not change my relationship with God or the fact that He will still speak with me through his Spirit. We talked about many things, and I told Jonah I felt good about it all.

I took a nap, which was much needed. When I awoke, I removed my garments and dressed for work. It was a very odd feeling to not be wearing something I have been wearing faithfully for 18 years, but I knew it was what was required, so I did. Maybe now I can start wearing some fashion underwear that I’ve never been able to wear. (That was my half-honest attempt at some humor.)

As I drove to work I put my IPod on shuffle, and a song came on that is, interestingly enough, quoted in the second post of this very blog (back in 2006). It is a song called “Different” from a Sid and Marty Krofft musical called Pufnstuf. I quote it again here:

When I was smaller, and people were taller,
I realized that I was different;
I had a power that set me apart.
I learned to take it, to use it to make it.
It's not so bad to be different;
To do your own thing, and do it with heart.

Different is hard. Different is lonely.
Different is trouble for you only.
Different is heartache. Different is pain.
But I'd rather be different than be the same.

At times I'd wonder what hex I was under.
What did I do to be so different?
Then I discovered some others like me.
Wonder no longer. Together we're stronger.
It's not so bad to be different;
Be true to yourself; that's what you must be.

Different is hard. Different is lonely.
Different is trouble for you only.
Different is heartache. Different is pain.
But I'd rather be different than be the same.

As I listened to the words, I knew Heavenly Father was sending me the message that even though I had faced a hard thing because of my choices, it was so much more important to be true to myself. It filled me with such joy and such a confirmation that Heavenly Father has never stopped being with me this entire journey.

Soon after that song, another song which I am not very familiar with from a musical called Triumph of Love called “Issue in Question” played (yes, I have a lot of musical theatre on my IPod. I’m gay! Sue me!). I quote it here, changing the sex of the person he is singing about to more accurately fit my situation:

Issue in question, a rapid heart rate,
Probable cause unknown.
Shortness of breath when there's someone near
Or when I'm alone.
Postulate theory, then explore,
Subsequent query
May unlock the door.
Issue in question,
The rapid heart rate happens when [h]e is near.
Shortness of breath when I'm with [him],
Now it's perfectly clear.
[He] is the cause and furthermore,
Nothing is as it ever was before.
Why this strange anticipation?
Why this sense the world is new?
I'm alive, at last I am alive,
And now the world is, too!
Issue in question, an urge to shout it,
Difficult to suppress.
Simple suggestion, forget about it,
Agonize less. Cogitate, ergo, use my head.
What is this odd emotion that I dread?
Is it love? My God, I hope not.
If this is love, I am undone.
Love's a curse, a cross to bear, or worse,
A war that's never won.
Issue in question, my years of training,
All of it gone for naught.
Disregard passion,
Rely on reason,
As I was taught.
Suddenly none of that applies,
Not when I've gazed into those eyes,
they are astounding
Oh, God, they take my breath away.
Eyes that grace the most amazing face
In ways I dare not say.
Shouldn't I tell [him] the way I'm feeling,
Ev'ry last detail of
How my heart hovers against the ceiling somewhere above?
Never mind logic truth and art.
Only one issue for this heart.
Issue in question?
Issue in question? No question. It's love.

As I listened to these words, I realized that all the reason in the world, all the commandments, all the “training,” etc. does not take away the fact that Jonah is the man I love nor does it take away the happiness I feel when I’m with him. Again, I felt a resounding confirmation that Heavenly Father is happy that I am happy and that all will be well with me.

Jonah was in town the other day to see my show, and one of the things we did was see the movie, Up, with my mom. If you have not seen Up and are planning to, do not read this because I am about to reveal a major spoiler. First off, I have to say the movie was one of the most magical I have seen in some time. It was awesome. In the story, the main character made a promise to his wife that he would take her to Paradise Falls in South America. However, life gets in the way, and he is never able to keep that promise before she dies. When she dies, he is unable to let go of her (or the stuff in his house that represents her) nor is he willing to forgive himself for failing to keep his promise. He decides to strap hundreds of helium-filled balloons to his house and fly to Paradise Falls so that he can keep his promise to his late wife. At a certain point in the movie he finally gets to the place he always thought he wanted to be, the place he always wanted to take his wife, but realizes there is something else he needs to do to help someone else, and because at this point in the film the helium balloons have lost much of their air, the only way he can help this other individual is by throwing all the stuff that has meant so much to him, that he has hung onto for so long, out of the house. This he does, and this enables him to help this other person and enables him to begin the journey to live his life again. He discovers later that even though his wife never got to see Paradise Falls, that the journey they took just being married and together was adventure enough for her and she gives him permission to start a new adventure without her.

As I watched this movie I knew I was going to be excommunicated, and I realized that the parallels were very similar to my own situation. Sometimes in order to move on in life you have to let go of things, even if they are things that are very precious to you. My religion, as you well know, has meant the world to me, but I also feel that God has now given me full permission to begin a new chapter of my life, and in order to do that, I have to be okay with leaving some things behind. Sometimes you have to lose everything to gain everything. Sometimes what you think you want and what you really want are not the same thing. Of course It’s strange to lose my membership. Of course I feel a sense of loss. But I also feel a great sense of peace, freedom, and happiness as well. Things are going to be just fine for me. I don’t think my lifestyle or attitudes will change much from what they already are. I realized that I made my peace with God about my homosexuality long ago. A formal break from the Church doesn’t change that.

Jonah has helped me be happy. He has helped me further appreciate the beauty in life and in the world. He has helped me be less selfish and more loving. He has helped me see things in myself I thought I had lost. He has shown and given me so much love. He has helped me draw closer to the Lord in many respects. How can that be a bad thing?

Don’t be sad for me. Don’t mourn for me. Don’t be worried about me. I’ve realized that things are going to be just fine.

Please excuse any grammatical errors. It's been a long week, and I'm writing this late at night and am tired. Thanks to all for your words of love and support during this time.

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Another Quote

A friend who doesn't know about my situation passed on this quote:

"May today there be peace within. May you trust that you are exactly where you are meant to be and not forget the infinite possibilities that are born of faith. May you use the gifts that you have received, and pass on the love that has been given to you. May you be content with yourself just the way you are. Let this knowledge settle into your bones, and allow your soul the freedom to sing, dance, praise and love."

It just seemed like another message for me from a loving Heavenly Father.

Monday, June 01, 2009

Update On Previous Post

I added the third quote I referred to and my reflections on it for those of you who have already read the previous post and are interested. It's a really good quote. It's worth reading. It's the one by Harold B. Lee.