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.

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