Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Those Godless Gays

I read a comment to a story about the gay marriages in New York in the online edition of The Deseret News. It said:

New York now rejects the moral definitions of its Judeo-Christian founders. It has defined same-sex marriage -- once the very epitome of being immoral -- as being moral. The godless among us are winning the battle of claiming that there is no such thing as a moral code, because they believe a moral code is the province of what they call, "weak minded religious people."

May the rest of the country wake up and more vigorously defend marriage as between a man and a woman, thus preserving traditional definitions of morality, before immorality is taught as morality to our children in schools.

I'm always bothered when people like this individual refer to those who support gay rights as being "godless." It's the same feeling I feel when those who believe in God accuse atheists as having no morals simply because they don't believe in God. I just don't get it.

Even if you believe homosexuality or gay marriage is wrong and that it goes against what God commands, isn't the term "godless" laying it on a bit thick? I mean if "godless" in this case means anybody who promotes or teaches or lives in a way that is contrary to what God teaches or commands, then aren't all of us "godless?" There's not one person on this earth who doesn't sin or do things that are contrary to what God has commanded them to do. If there were, why would we even need Jesus or his atonement? Plus, even if a person sins by this individual's definition, does that mean they are without God? Does that mean they have abandoned God or that God has abandoned them? Frankly, I can't imagine God abandoning anybody - at least not the God I know - so I hardly believe anyone is without God, even if they think they are.

Does this individual believe, then, that all people who support gay rights or who are gay don't believe in God? Well, that isn't true, either. I know many of us who do. I can assure you, I do not consider myself godless nor does my partner. I know many gay people and supporters of gay people who are very much worshipful of a god, whoever they deem that god to be. Many of us are living our lives trying to be the best people God has created us to be.

"Godless" is such a loaded term, and I find it very ignorant. I feel much the same way about gay-rights supporters calling anyone who disagrees with them "hateful." I do not feel everything is so black and white.

Think me immoral if you like (although I don't feel I am that, either), but please don't call me "godless."

Another comment I read in a Salt Lake Tribune article referred to two friends of mine who were among those who recently legalized their union in New York. The commenter called their union "disgusting" and "wrong." This couple has been in a committed, monogamous, loving relationship for 16 years (longer than some of the heterosexual couples I've known in my life). I know others who have shared their lives for far longer. Please explain to me what is so "wrong" and "disgusting" about that.

I don't know what opponents think is going to happen if gay people start getting married. Heck, it's been happening in Massachusetts for some time now, and the sky has not fallen. How is the union of two loving and committed people causing our world to go morally bankrupt? Please don't accuse me of indoctrinating your kids and recruiting them to be gay because that isn't how it works, folks. If your kid is gay, he or she is already gay. He or she doesn't need my help. Nobody recruited me, and I sure as heck am not getting a free toaster oven if I try to recruit you. I can no more make anyone out there gay than they can make me straight. I tried many a time to make myself straight, and I assure you, I'm just gay. That's just who I am.

And please don't tell me that if the gays start getting married, pretty soon people will be marrying their children or cats or refrigerators. It's about two consenting adults who love and are committed to each other and simply want the same ten thousand rights heterosexual people automatically get when they marry one another. Don't tell me we can have those rights just a freely and easily because we can't. Do you know the legal costs involved in some states? My friend (who has been with his partner for 20 years) paid $22,000 to get some of the same rights married heterosexuals get for free. Where's the equality in that?

I never asked to be gay and spent many years trying not to be. But I am. It's not going away, and I've reached a point in my life where I'm quite happy to be who I am. I feel God loves Jonah and me very much and blesses us each day. No "godlessness" over here, I promise you.

I know people out there think homosexuality is a sin and draws one away from God. I disagree with them, but if they want to think that, I suppose that is their prerogative. All I would say to them is if they really got to know some gay people on a personal level, they might see us in a different light, and even if they still disagreed with us, they might at least realize that it is not their place to judge us, but God's. As for me, I'm quite at peace in my relationship with my Father in Heaven.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

My Laugh For The Day

Today before Sunday School officially started, the instructor asked if any of us had any good news to share. I guess he's had some depressing things happen to him this week and wanted those of us having good things happen in our lives to share them to serve as a sort of pick-me-up for him.

No lie, the very first thought that rushed in to my head was how great I think it is that gay people are finally being able to legally wed in New York. If that's not great news, I don't know what is.

I chuckled to myself as I thought how funny the reactions would be if I were to say such a thing in Sunday School. I actually don't think the instructor would have minded, but I'm sure there would have been some shocked faces in the crowd. It actually kind of gave me the giggles.

The next thought that ran through my head (again no lie) was how grateful I am that that stupid "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" law will be history soon.

These were the things I was feeling thankful for today, and in my mind, they are two pieces of very good news. Of course, I remained silent like a good excommunicated member, but the image of my sharing those two pieces of good news with my fellow Sunday Schoolers tickled me so.

The lesson, by the way, was on witnesses and was pretty good. I genuinely like this instructor's lessons, although I didn't feel the congregants were participating as much as usual.

Sacrament Meeting was on gratitude, and the two speakers (my former bishop and his wife) were excellent.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Having It All

I miss Jonah so very much. I've been down the last couple of days. I don't get down that often, but this month has been harder than usual. I wrote recently of feeling down because of feeling stuck in my acting. Rereading that post, I realize how ungrateful I must have seemed writing it.

I am so blessed and lucky to actually do what I enjoy doing for a living. How proud it made me to attend my high school reunion 2 years ago and actually say that I was making a successful living doing what I always said I would do. How fortunate I feel to go to work and act and perform instead of waiting tables or sitting in a cubicle all day. I have little right to complain.

The other day, my future nephew-in-law asked me how many shows I've acted in, and as I went through and tried to remember all the shows I've done, I figured my current show is my 97th (unless I missed some, which is entirely likely). That means I've done nearly (or have actually done) 100 shows, professionally and non-professionally.

I've dreamed of being an actor since my first show in the third grade. My mom continually recounts a story about how I came home from elementary school and announced that I was going to be an actor and never deviated from that goal (although there were very, very brief periods when I considered becoming a lawyer, a psychologist, or a history teacher (but none of those lasted).

I remember returning from my mission and wondering if I could maintain my values and still make a living in the theatre. It's the only time I ever seriously considered abandoning my career goals, and it frightened me immensely to consider giving up the thing I felt most passionate about.

I remember praying about it and getting the very distinct prompting that this was what I should continue doing with my life, and it made me feel good that perhaps God actually approved of my career choice. Happily, it is a decision I have never regretted.

I've had the chance to play some great roles in some great shows, and, yes, I have also taken roles just for the paycheck. The ones I feel passionate or moved by are the most worthwhile, however.

My only regret is that I have not been able to have my career and be with Jonah in our home at the same time. This has been hard because my career has been quite successful during the time I've been with Jonah, and I, unfortunately, have spent more time away from him than with him since we had our commitment ceremony, and this has been due to my career.

I said in the aforementioned post that I was almost hoping not to get cast in The Tempest because I miss my husband so much. I've also been given an opportunity to audition for a play that I think I'd really enjoy doing, but I am foregoing it because I want to spend some time with Jonah, and if I were to get cast, I would have no break at all in which to see him, and it would be unlikely that we would spend more than a couple of days together between now and the end of December, and we've already been apart since April (aside from a couple of days here and there). It just isn't enough.

The cast for The Tempest still hasn't been announced, so there's still a chance I could be cast, and there is a good chance I could be cast in the show immediately after that, which is a musical, so aside from a week or two, I could end up being away from Jonah for a while, which is not at all appealing to me.

I have another opportunity to audition for another show, a contemporary comedy-drama, which is kind of what I am in the mood to do. I'm kind of burned out on musicals, and just want to play a lead in a contemporary straight play, so it's an exciting opportunity. It would also give me more time with Jonah. The downside is it doesn't pay as well as I would get doing The Tempest and the musical, and especially if Jonah and I are possibly buying another property, it would be good to earn more money.

The trouble with earning money and maintaining my career is that it keeps me away from the guy I love; the guy I miss. Ultimately, that isn't healthy, either. We've made it work for a long time, and we have both been supportive of each other's career, which have forced us to be separated; but I think we're both getting tired of it. Jonah certainly doesn't expect me to give up my career, but we both agree that maybe a small break from it is due. Jonah, although tired of his job, makes much better money than I do, so we think, for the time being, that it would be foolish of him to give up his job, although he probably will do in so in a year or so.

I love acting so much. But I love Jonah so much, too. I wish there was a way to have both at the same time, but I do not have as good of a theatre network in the city where we live than I do here in Utah, and furthermore, the kinds of theatre opportunities I look for do not seem to be available to me there.

Relationships are about sacrifice, and I think I may have to take a break from my career to be with Jonah for a bit, and that's both hard and good. On the other hand, while I'm home with Jonah, I hope I can at least find work I enjoy doing. I don't exactly want to work at Walmart or wait tables at the Cheesecake Factory.

I guess we'll see what happens. Why can't one have it all at the same time?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Amazing, Spiderman!

I opened my mailbox today to find this:

Me likey! Me likey a lot!

Not only nice eye candy, but a great actor. I've really admired his work since I saw him in Boy A. And I like the character of Spiderman, so I look forward to seeing this. Hope it's good.

To Risk Or Not To Risk? That Is, Indeed, The Question.

So Jonah wants to buy another house and either rent that one out or move into it and rent our current house. Obviously, the goal is to have an investment that hopefully will prove to be a source of income. Jonah says that since we aren't intending to have children and, therefore, will have no one to take care of us when we get old that it might be beneficial to create something that will provide us with a nest egg.

Home prices where we live are amazingly low, and we could get a really nice piece of property for relatively cheap. If we choose to live in the new property, we would be paying a much lower mortgage for a house that is equivalent or better than our current one and then our renters would be paying for our current mortgage, and perhaps we could get a profit.

If the renters live in the new property, we could charge rent that is higher than the mortgage and, therefore, pay for the property and make a profit as well.

I have friends who have bought properties and rented them out, and they agree that, if done right, such a venture could be profitable and beneficial

This sounds all well and good in theory, but I must admit it makes me nervous and anxious. First of all, I feel I'm out of league as far as real estate is concerned. Secondly, if we go about it the wrong way and can't get anybody to rent the property (or can't get them to rent it for as much as we want or need), then we will be stuck paying for two properties when I feel I am barely able to pay for the one we currently have. I do not feel I am a gambler or a risk taker, and there is always a gamble or a risk involved in such a deal.

I will say this: Jonah has very good instincts. When it comes to his gut, Jonah is right about 99% of the time. He feels this is something we should at least try to do (or, at the very least, research), and because experience has taught me so, I am trying to trust his judgment and get on board.

Jonah's parents had the opportunity early in life to buy property, and they didn't, thinking it would not be worth it. That same property they failed to acquire is extremely valuable, and Jonah wonders if some of their present financial difficulties could have been averted had they bought it when they had the chance. Jonah doesn't want to make a similar mistake with us.

Jonah also has some money saved up to do this and also has a wealthy friend who would likely to be willing to help us out if we need it. I, on the other hand, do not feel that my own finances would be adequate for such a venture.

I've been taught my whole life to stay out of debt. I already have car payments and student loan payments I am still making as well as our mortgage, and if this venture were to fail, I would be in serious debt.

I'm also not eager to be a landlord. I don't want to deal with any of the headaches such as late rent or maintenance concerns.

Yet it could be a good investment, and furthermore, it could actually improve my financial situation.

Jonah has started sending me properties to look at. It reminds me of when we were looking for our present home and how overwhelming and stressful it felt to me (plus how long it took to find just the right place). I've been looking through some of these places, and there are, indeed, some really good deals, but it's giving me a bit of anxiety as well.

Jonah says (often) that we have to guide our lives by faith, not fear. And like I said, while I consider myself a practical, pragmatic guy, Jonah's leaps of faith are usually spot on. Where I can only see the present reality, Jonah sees possibility, and even though he doesn't always know how things will work out, he believes they will, and he is usually right.

If we do this the right way, it could be a really good thing. If we go into it the wrong way, it could be disaster. As I've thought and prayed about this, I found it interesting that a friend's Facebook status leaped out at me today. It said simply: "If you do it, you'll regret it. If you don't do it, you'll regret it. So you might as well just do it."

Jonah knows that I carry a bit of trepidation. But he also knows I'm genuinely trying to have an open mind and heart. I know, ultimately, he is looking out for us. But is this the right thing to do? I still don't know. I just know I'm feeling anxious about it.

So, what about any of you? What are your opinions? Do any of you out there have any experience with real estate deals or renting? What advice do you have? I welcome any thoughts on this.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

A Little Slice Of Heaven

So, I know I've written about the fact that I am not a very social person. I don't particularly enjoy parties or big shindigs; I rarely go out to eat with friends unless it's one-on-one or one-on-two; I don't tend to go to group activities; I enjoy my alone time a lot.

Last night, I was engaged in a work-related activity with some of my fellow cast members. When we finished, I was quite ready to go home. Very impromptu, one of my friends said she wanted to go out to eat to celebrate her birthday, which is today. It was very last minute, and I wasn't particularly in the mood. However, I like this friend a lot and felt it might be nice to support her on the eve of her special day.

I called my mom to let her know I would be late (yes, even at 40 I call my mom if I'm going to be late so she won't worry) and headed off to the place we were eating to meet my friends.

The place was a small plate/wine bar. Not my kind of place at all. I freely admit I have little sophistication or couth (plus I don't drink), and when I go out to eat, I am in little mood to savor or nibble; I want a full, big meal at a cheap price. Sometimes I think small plate/wine bar establishments come off as a bit pretentious. I don't fault those who enjoy them; they just aren't my personal bag.

We were seated at an outdoor table, and the sun was setting and the evening was cooling off. There were only six of us in the group - four of my co-workers, the birthday girl's sister, and me - and that was nice. Six is about all I can handle in group settings.

As suspected, the prices were more than I would normally wish to pay (yes, I am cheap - ask Jonah, lol), and I saw that the place did not take separate checks, and I had no cash, so I fretted about whether that would be a problem (I always hate figuring out the bill and who owes who what at the end of a group dinner). But a friend agreed to charge it all on her credit card and have each of us pay her back (I actually wrote her a check at the end of the night (yes, some of us still write checks occasionally. I have not quite entered the 21st century.).

We each decided to order at least one small plate and then just share among ourselves, which I think is kind of the point of these small plate establishments. Some people got two or three; I just got one (like I said, I'm cheap).

My friends, all who drink, ordered a bottle of wine, although I think only four of them actually imbibed. The wait staff was very friendly and joked around with us. We thought, being the loud, obnoxious actor-types that we are, that they would find us annoying or, at the very least, that the other patrons around us would, but everybody around us seemed unbothered by us, and the wait staff seemed to find us charming and funny.

Slowly throughout the evening, the wait staff would bring us our small plate dishes a couple at a time. Normally I rush through my meals (like I said, not much couth), but the dishes were meant to be savored and shared slowly and casually.

The dishes themselves were, indeed, small, but very good. Among the ones I recall were beets and lettuce leaves, mushrooms and brie, scallops and pasta, mussels in a tomato-type sauce, pork tenderloins and corn, an apple walnut salad, curried cauliflower, Cajun green beans, asparagus wrapped in bacon, and a cheese plate (with four different cheeses, apricot compote, almonds, apple wedges, and some crunchy thing I couldn't identify.

I particularly enjoyed the cheese plate (my selection), which had some of the best blue cheese I have ever tasted; the mushrooms and brie; the pork tenderloins; and the curried cauliflower. Everything else was good, too, except I didn't care for the Cajun green beans (well-prepared, but too spicy for my taste).

As we talked and shared and ate and savored, I realized how much I enjoy these friends of mine. There was a very light breeze blowing, there were people all around us laughing and chatting, and I became acutely aware of just how much fun I was having hanging out with friends and just how much I was enjoying myself and my time with them.

We, of course, laughed and told stories and shared mutual experiences, and at one point we each told a story or two about when we first met the birthday girl or our favorite memory of her or what we liked about her. Some were serious, some were funny, one was even acted-out by another cast member. And at the end of the evening she said how her birthday meal with her couldn't have been any more perfect or lovely.

My friends ordered another bottle of wine (a different one this time), and we ordered three dessert plates among ourselves (myself included): a chocolate torte, bruleed bananas with a Nutella mousse, and red wine-soaked Oreos with ice cream. I didn't partake in the Oreos and ice cream, but the torte was phenomenal, and I quite enjoyed the bananas and mousse.

After our meal was complete, we just sat talking and laughing and enjoying one another. Jonah called, and I handed the phone to a mutual friend that Jonah has a very innocent crush on as a joke. They talked for a bit, and then my friend handed the phone to me. I talked with Jonah for a bit and then said I would call him back in about twenty minutes when I got home (which actually turned out to be about an hour later).

We just stayed and talked and laughed and sometimes grew very serious, and even though the establishment was closed by this time, the wait staff seemed in no hurry to be rid of us. And as I shared my times with these friends of mine, I became very, very conscious of how much I value and love each one of them (even the birthday girl's sister, who I barely know), and I thought, "This must be what heaven is like - this feeling of love I feel for these dear friends of mine who have touched my life in various and important ways."

And I looked around at them, none of them active in the LDS Church (although they all grew up in it) but me (who has been excommunicated, so I guess technically I can't be considered an active member either) - three of us gay - some of us drinking - and I thought, "By the LDS Church's standards, none of us would be considered bound for the 'highest kingdom,' and yet these are all such good souls."

And I thought, "These are the people I want to spend eternity with. My husband is who I want to spend eternity with." I have a feeling wherever I end up in the afterlife, it will be a great place, and these people will be with me, and I will be very happy.

Last night was a beautiful, wonderful, lovely night. And to think I almost missed it. I wouldn't normally spend $22 on just myself for a meal (which is what I ended up paying - I told you I was cheap!), but last night I did not care. $22 is just money. The feelings I felt and carried; the experiences I had; the time I spent with these dear friend; the love that filled my spirit; the realization of how dear these friends really are to me; the memory of that glorious evening - those are mine to hold on to forever.

Heaven. Sheer heaven.

Wednesday, July 06, 2011

Feeling Baffled

So I have this friend. He is straight (or at least claims to be - I'm still not so sure, but that is beside the point). On the night of July 4th, he and his roommate (whose sexuality I am unaware of (but again, it's beside the point)) were walking together in Liberty Park in the Salt Lake area holding hands. They were not holding hands to make a statement (at least, my friend claims it was not for that reason) nor are they romantically involved in any way nor do I think they were doing it as a joke. They were just holding hands.

Anyway, they walked by a woman who scolded them with a "Follow the prophet!" Next a man chided them, saying, "Hey, you dropped your purse!" and teasing them about wearing high heels (which they weren't).

My friend was confused about why these people felt the need to chastise him and his roommate or to belittle and tease them. They were simply enjoying the July 4th festivities and their hand-holding wasn't causing any harm to anyone around them.

My friend said, "First of all, since I'm not gay, these people made assumptions about me that aren't true, and secondly, even if they were true, why did they feel the need to belittle us? If we had been a guy and a girl, no one would have thought twice about it or made any rude remarks."

My friend went on to say that in many cultures it is perfectly normal for two men to hold hands or show affection for one another in ways that might be deemed as odd or inappropriate in other cultures.

As I heard my friend tell this story, I wondered, "Why is it so hard for some people to 'live and let live?'" Look, even if one thinks it's wrong for two guys to be holding hands and enjoying time together, do these people really think that making rude, stereotypical remarks about those guys' sexuality or telling them to "follow [a] prophet" they might not even believe in or have any connection to is helpful or needful?

Whether my friend is gay or straight, was his holding the hand of another man causing any harm or injury to the people around him? Isn't holding a hand an act of affection or love? Is that such a negative, terrible thing?

And what impression did those people leave my friend? The first was self-righteous and probably made my friend (who grew up in the LDS Church, but is no longer active) feel even less connected to that religion. The second was an ignorant bigot and treated my friend and his roommate in a contemptible and mocking way? Do these people think such actions are endearing?

Why are people so offended by two people of the same sex doing nothing more than holding hands? I'm even quite sure that if my friend and his roommate had been two girls, they would not have been treated that way. What is so threatening about two guys holding hands?

I find some people baffling. Things like this truly confuse me. I think it's sad.

Even if one thinks homosexual behavior is wrong (and I would argue that two men holding hands does not necessarily imply that they are gay), what is there about two men holding hands that is so offensive?

I do not understand people sometimes.

Saturday, July 02, 2011

Feeling Somewhat Stuck

I think I'm a pretty confident guy overall, and I consider my self-esteem to be pretty good. Lately though, I've been feeling less-than-adequate as far as my acting skills are concerned. This is somewhat ironic because I've had a very good year career-wise, and I quite frequently have people who have seen me act tell me what a good performer they think I am. And yet, sometimes inside I kind of feel like a hack.

This is not really true. I don't think I'm a bad actor by any means. I think I'm a good actor and that I have very good timing. People tell me I'm really good, and companies keep hiring me, so I must be at least above average; but I don't feel I'm a terrific or unbelievable actor, which I what I aspire to be.

Sometimes I will see a brilliant, engaging, moving actor, and think to myself, "Oh, I'd love to be like that." And perhaps I am and just don't know it.

I do think I'm a good actor, a decent singer (though not phenomenal), and dancing...? ...well, I think everybody can agree that I'm an okay mover, but I don't think Broadway or Ballet West will be calling me any time soon based on my dance skills.

I also feel a little stale lately. I felt this way, too, just before I made the decision to go back to graduate school to re-tool and hone my acting skills (which was a great decision). I'm actually in a great show right now with a really talented group of people, and it's been a lot of fun. But on some level it feels like I'm sort of coasting through my part, which I can't stand. I don't think anybody but me feels that way. In fact, I would guess that my fellow cast members, director, and the audience probably feel I am doing an excellent job and working very hard. But I don't personally feel very challenged, and I'm not sure why.

The rehearsal process has actually been an intense one, and physically I've really had to work quite hard (I discovered at the beginning of the rehearsal process that I am more out-of-shape than I had realized), and yet I feel like I'm kind of relying on a familiar bag of tricks and my usual shtick rather than exploring new ways of doing things and challenging myself. Part of it comes from the fact that there isn't a lot of nuance in this show. The particular style, I feel, is very "in-your-face" and blatant, almost like we're spoon-feeding the audience every moment, which I feel is doing a bit of injustice to both us and our audience. But that is what the particular style of this particular show calls for, and I accept that.

And I am (I truly am) having a good time and having fun. Audiences seem to enjoy what we're all doing, and they seem to enjoy my personal performance. The writer of the show recently told me he loves what I am doing with one of the characters I play. A fellow actor said he really thinks I'm great at what I do and admires my performance and choices a lot. It's not like I'm not putting any thought or effort into what I'm doing. But I've always been overcritical of myself (although less so now than when I was younger, if you can believe it), and if my personal performance is not measuring up to what I think it ought to be, I get a little frustrated with myself.

I'm hoping to do a drama next (my current show is a comedy). Something really dark and depressing. lol. Something with some levels and nuance. I feel like I need that.

Maybe I just need a vacation. Jonah and I have been married for nearly three years, and we have been away from each other more than we have been together during that time. I really feel like maybe I even need to take a little acting break and be with him for a while. We miss each other a lot. My career is very important to me (always has been), and I'm not sure what I'd do to support myself if I'm not acting, but I'd like some quality time with Jonah, too.

I recently auditioned for The Tempest by William Shakespeare, and I'd enjoy doing it (and it would certainly be different from what I am currently doing), but I'm almost hoping not to get cast (because I'll have a hard time saying no if I am) just because I'd like to go home for a while.

An old college friend also invited Jonah and me to go to Gay Days at Disneyland, which sounds like a lot of fun. I haven't taken a real vacation in some time, nor have I seen this friend in a while. But if I got cast in The Tempest I wouldn't be able to go.

Anyway, I guess I'm just feeling a bit stale and bored (not with my job, but with my acting) even though I shouldn't be. I think I just need to recharge my batteries somehow.

But please know that I am very grateful for my job and career and for the opportunities it has afforded me and continues to bless me with. I certainly don't want to sound ungrateful. I just feel in a bit of a rut today, and perhaps tomorrow I will feel differently. I'm probably just in a mood.

Anyway, blah, blah, blah. Sorry to invite you to this silly pity-party. It's really not as bad as I've probably made it sound. :-)