A very good friend of mine who I have written about here, here, and here is in town this week from the show he is touring with, and we got together to catch up and talk.
I've commented before how interesting it is how our lives have kind of paralleled. Unlike me, my friend was married to a woman, but mostly our paths have been very similar in many ways. Both of us were very strong in the church while we were in the closet, both of us are actors, both of us eventually came out and found someone we loved and wanted to be with, both of us have been excommunicated, and both of us retain a positive relationship with the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. One thing I love about my friend is that he really relates a lot to what I have gone through and what I continue to go through. He's someone I can really talk to about Mormon and gay issues who understands my point-of-view and experiences and relates to them well. I also find it interesting that each of our partners is not LDS but comes from a very Christian background. I just love talking to my friend. We really share a lot of common ground. He was also very supportive and understanding just prior to my church court, and that was very helpful.
He asked about my commitment ceremony (since he was unable to attend), and I told him about it. We talked about his tour (I gotta get on one of those - he is making some very good money). And, of course, we discussed gay and Mormon issues and our experiences with excommunication. It was just so nice to share stuff with him, and it’s just really nice to have a good friend who’s traveled a similar road who understands.
We talked about how supportive our families have been. I know his dad has had a hard time with it, but he seems to slowly be coming around, and that was nice to hear. It was so much fun to see him, and it was just nice to catch up with him. Like the show we were in once upon a time, we really are “blood brothers” in a lot of ways.
I also discussed how odd it's been getting used to not wearing garments. He said it took him a while, too, and that he still wears an undershirt (as do I), but we also discussed our love of sexy underwear, so that was fun, too.
What I loved most is that both of us seem very healthy and happy, and for that I am grateful.
I am happy to report that since I was excommunicated, my life has changed very little. I still do what I've always done and certainly feel no loss of spirituality or presence of my Father in Heaven in any way. In fact, in some ways I feel like I'm even more perceptive spiritually. Weird. Not what I had necessarily expected, but I feel very grateful.
I had an interesting experience in church on Sunday. It was testimony meeting, of course, and it was a good meeting. At one point a man I did not recognize at all, but who has apparently been in the ward for some time, got up to bear his testimony. One thing he said was that he was thankful for the members of the ward who had had a positive influence on him by their friendship, teachings, and testimonies, and as he said this, I got the distinct impression that I was one of the people he was specifically referring to (even though I did not know this man at all). Just as this thought came to my head, the man said, "I remember, for example, a testimony this man in the purple shirt [referring to me] gave a couple of years ago that really had a positive influence on me at the time. he really said some specific things that were very helpful to me during that time." As he pointed to me I kind of smiled, and my bishop saw me smiling and smiled at me as well. I don't know, for some reason it just made me feel validated. After all, the person I was two years ago isn't much different than the person I am now, and if the testimony I think he was referring to is the one I think it is, my homosexual issues were very instrumental in causing me to say the things I said back then. It just reminded me that I did (and continue to) have a positive influence on people. Excommunication has not erased that or my relationhip with the Father or Christ. It’s funny, you just never know the influence you have on anybody.
Another interesting experience I had the previous Sunday (which I thought I had already written about, but I don't see any reference to it in my previous posts) was that it was high council Sunday, and two of the men on my disciplinary council were the speakers that day. As I think I mentioned in my post about my church court, I had asked my stake president if I could still sing in the ward choir and was told that I could. Well, it so happened that on high council Sunday the choir was to sing, and in between the two men's talks, I came on the stand to join the choir and smiled at both men knowing full well they remembered who I was. Like Jonah said to me, it was almost a silent protest in a way. It was my way of saying, "Look! I'm still here! I'm still doing all I can, just like I told you in my church court! Excommunication isn't stopping me from being the best Mormon I can be, even if I'm no longer a Mormon on record!" It felt good. Another form of validation, I guess.
In Sunday School that day I found it ironic that the teacher talked about those things that cause Satan to deceive us, and he shared a couple of stories about people who had been excommunicated from the Church who rebelled against it and became some of the Church's greatest enemies. That isn't me, and I don't intend it to be me. I've said before that I don not feel deceived. I don't see how the peace and joy and love I've felt in abundance in my life could come from anywhere except from God. And it's like my friend and I said to each other tonight, neither one of us feels any bitterness or anger towards the Church like some of our friends do. You always have a choice, and he and I have both decided that our circumstances will not alter our love and positive feelings towards the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.
Last Monday we had a surprise birthday party for my mom's 70th birthday. We invited a bunch of her friends from many different periods in her life. She was so surprised and so overwhelmed by it all. It was so much fun to see the joy in her eyes, and it was something she continued to talk about for days. As part of the celebration she received a book that contains photos from the party and letters to her from people who were there as well as those who were unable to attend. It was such a great party.
As part of the entertainment, I made a list of 70 things I love about my mom and told some stories relating to some of those things. She loved it. It was not hard to make such a list. There is so much I love about my mother. One thing I truly love about her is that she loves me just for who I am and loves Jonah as well. She has been one of my greatest advocates. I am truly blessed.
Life is really good. I do wish I knew where I'll be working come September, but other that that, things couldn't be better, and even as far as my job future is concerned, I feel confident that something good will come my way. Heavenly Father has blessed me so much and continues to bless me, and I know that He is looking out for Jonah and me. One thing I am grateful for is that no job will allow me to go back to Vegas and spend some time with Jonah. That, in itself, is a fabulous blessing.