Friday, February 26, 2010

Choices and Birthdays

I learned something new today. I was over at Rob’s blog (Scrum Central) earlier today, reading about Stuart Mathis. I debated whether or not to post anything to commemorate the day of his death, but as I read Rob’s blog, I noticed a picture that hit me as curious, odd, and incredibly poignant.

Stuart was celebrating his 16th birthday on the day that I was born. This was the first time that I realized he and I shared a birthday. I thought of what Stuart must have been feeling on this day – and compared it to my own experience of turning 16. I remember the party – the first time my parents agreed to stay downstairs to show all of the kids that we were now old enough to be trusted. I had dreams about dating, about driving, about growing up, and about freedom.

Did Stuart have the same outlook on life at age 16? Was he convinced that even though he knew he was gay, he would live a life dedicated to God and the church – as I was. Did he dream on this day of his first date, urging his desires to want to date women while secretly longing for men?

Suicide is a difficult subject for me to discuss, because as a gay Mormon I definitely came to the point where I had to choose between life, and acceptance. I had the whole thing planned. My death would not have brought about memories – it probably wouldn’t have even mentioned the conflict between my gay self and my religious self – I would have simply left a note of love, and jumped. I chose jumping for a couple of reasons: 1, when you hit the ground it is over quickly, and 2, there would be one last rush of adrenaline. Nothing like proving to yourself you are alive before you die, right?

On the day I came out to my family and told them I was leaving the church, my dad suggested that he would rather have a dead son than a gay son. Strangely, it was the exact opposite that I had heard from them when I came out but was committed to reparative therapy (in that they suggested they would rather have a gay son than a dead one). I never questioned my choice of acceptance over death until that moment. But soon enough, my life was so caught up in love that now I question why I ever put myself through the option.

To those teetering on the edge – we’ve all been there. We know what it is like. It is dark, and scary, and difficult. My mom ripped out Stuart’s story out of my copy of “In Quiet Desperation” because she didn’t want me to even read into suicide as an option. It isn’t worth it. You’ll miss out on too much.

Live instead. Live the life that Stuart and the others felt they could not. That is the greatest lesson we can learn from the pain we share with Stuart.

Stuart, I certainly would have preferred to celebrate our birthdays with you this year. We are grateful for your pain. It has touched and taught so many people so much.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Red Underwear

Ok, funny story.

I remember going shopping once with my mom when I was 4 or 5. I must have been just about to start kindergarten, and we were shopping for new underwear. I was browsing the aisles with her when I noticed a rather muscled man in a fancy pair of red underwear. I pointed to them and told my mom “I want those ones.”

She informed me that those underwear were for older men. I asked, “How old do I have to be before I can wear them?”

She paused before responding, “By that time you’ll wear garments.”

I remember being very disappointed. Garments weren’t nearly as cool as those red underwear.

It’s funny to look back at events like those in life, and think, “I was so gay.”

Thursday, February 11, 2010


Before I came out, I had a very hard time admitting that I was gay. Even when I knew that I was, I knew what it was, and even admitted to myself that, yes, I like men, I still hated using the word. I remember once when I told my mom “I’m not gay because gay people have sex with other men;” she told me how proud of me she was because I felt that way. Now, I’m very grateful to be able to self-identify with that term, and realize it has a whole slew of meanings.

So I find it a bit strange that during this time of my life, I also had issues with the church’s preferred PC term “same-gender attraction.” It wasn’t until I was recently forced to think about this term that I realized why I detest it so.

Strangely enough, I was on an LDS forum that I frequent, when I ran across a forum posting about love. It had nothing at all to do with homosexuality, but a member of the church asked the question “How long do you think it takes to fall in love.”

Of course, various answers ensued, and there was a little bit of bickering about what love really is. Finally, someone posted this, which I found absolutely true and beautiful (and which I had to clean up for grammar and spelling, hehe): "I ... believe that love is a choice, not a feeling. And the amazing thing is, when you make a choice to love then your feelings swell within you anyway, so the feelings are sort of like a sign of the love, but [they aren't] the love."

Bingo. Yup, in a sense, being gay is a choice. Of course, when I say that I mean that allowing yourself to love the person that you are attracted to is a choice.

But even attraction doesn’t sum up what being gay is or means. That component of love, that choice that results in a feeling, is a binding power. It supersedes attraction and it supersedes sex. To reduce all that love is to a simple “attraction” demeans it as much as it would to reduce it to “sex.”

And that is why I hate using “same-gender attraction.”

I have said it many times, but the choice is not whether or not to be gay, it is whether or not to allow yourself to love. Since feeling, attraction, sex, and everything else that goes along with love are part of that choice, I can understand how someone on the outside would think that a choice to be gay is a choice to have sex. It is also a choice to feel. It is also a choice to be. It is also a choice to acknowledge attractions. It is a choice to stop running.

I am gay; and that has everything and nothing to do with sex, it has everything and nothing to do with attraction, but most importantly, it has everything to do with love.

Returning to the Blog-o-sphere

Hurrah! I’m back. Sorry for the absence. I was trying to decide what exactly I should do. Now that this story is all written and told, I wasn’t sure if I wanted to start a new blog, or just continue this one. For now, I’ll just continue here.

But the tone will probably change a bit…