Please, No More Suicides

 I came home from work today, and got the news that a friend that we thought was missing, then I thought was found, was found, but had committed suicide.  I hate suicide.  I can generally handle death, but suicide emotionally catches me off guard and knocks me completely off balance.  It crushes me from the inside when I loose another friend to it. It hits me in a way nothing else ever does. 

  Its that feeling, of maybe we could have prevented this, if only…  if only they had known how much they matter, how much we love them. The thing is, I’ve been there, and I remember, apart from helping me minimize how much i was isolating myself, and  such, no one could have said anything to get me out of that moment. The things that got me out of that moment was my dog, or remembering my friends myself. People trying to reach out to me were pretty walled out. 

 I dont know what could have helped my friend. I dont know if we could have. She took off alone to go camping, she needed space, sometimes you have to give someone space. But I can tell you right now, that my heart is breaking and I can’t stop crying and I just feel so shocked by it all.  

 I dont blame her, I dont think she was selfish, or any thing like that. I just am sad, sad she is gone, and sad we couldnt keep her here longer. and thats all really. 

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Ten Pages and a Vulnerability Hangover Later…

 You know how that one time, I did a fast for understanding and change. And you know how the day after a lady from church asked me to help her understand my position on Gay Marriage.

 It’s been about a month, and that lovely dinner/face to face conversation I planned never happened. I got sick, and really busy.

 Then yesterday, out of the blue, another friend from my church messaged me. She had once saw a blog, or a post on my fb saying I supported gay marriage. She sincerely wanted to know why, when our church teaches the opposite. She wanted to understand.

 I could see this slowly, but likely becoming a thing. These requests for a quiet, non dramatic, non confrontational, tête à tête. Pleas for just some help to understand a different view point, in a mutually respectful way.

 And since every time I get that request, trying to answer becomes super emotional, and deeply personal, I decided to write a paper, that I could share with the sincere and respectful, not with the masses. 

 I wrote extremely personal things in there. I shared sacred personal experiences, things i don’t tell just anyone, but that without, my position becomes little more that a trite argument that we’ve all heard before.

 Writing was difficult. Words felt inadequate.  It was painful to start with, but became cathartic in a very positive way. I surprised myself, and my “readers digest” version of how I came to my position on things wound up being ten pages long. 

 When I finished that monster, and sent it off two my two friends,  I felt I had accomplished something great. Small, difficult, but great. And when I got the message back it had been read, and had given one somethings to think about that they never had before, my feeling was- job done. 

 Then I woke up this morning. Vulnerability  hangover smashing in on me, making my heart feel so over exposed. No matter how many times I do this, it never seems to get easier, or make me feel less horrible the next morning. But, I do recover quicker, it seems. So tomorrow will be fine, rather than a week of feeling exposed, just one day.

And in the end, it’s always worth it, if one person can just understand a little bit better how not different people actually are from themselves.

 

Imagine Me and You- Great FILM!!! Why is it Rated R?

So, a few nights ago, I stumbled upon one of the greatest romantic comedy films I’ve ever seen. The thing I don’t understand is why it is rated R? Makes no sense. At ALL. 

 So I found this movie with Piper Perabo  called Imagine You and Me.  I watched it. I laughed, and then I was heart broken and balled my eyes out, and then it ended on a really happy good note for everyone, so I cried some more. 

The thing about this movie, with excellent acting, and only the occasional accent slip from Piper, excellent plot, excellent story line. No swearing, No nudity, no sex.  light kissing. Seriously, this is a good wholesome movie in my opinion. There is no reason at all for this to be rated R. Ok, so two girls end up falling in love (this isn’t really a spoiler, its clear pretty much from the start that is what is going to happen), and now we have to put an R rating on things? seriously?  how messed up is that line of thinking? maybe a PG-13 to give parents guidance for their kids, if they so choose, but no reason at all for an R. 

 I just had to say that bit. I loved this movie. its one of my all time favorites, Im sad i’ve never heard of it till now, and I think its rediculous that its rated R.  

 

Ok, So I just re -watched it.  It says the F word 3 times. I guess thats why its rated R? still seems a bit much for an R rating.

Why I Changed My Views On Marriage Equality

I have always been a very devout Mormon. I’ve had a very deep testimony of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and of the Book of Mormon, and of the Prophet Joseph Smith, independent of my parents since I was in my pre-teen years.  I’ve also thought Civil Unions were a good Idea, and fair, since about high school.  Marriage, however was nothing I could reconcile between my beliefs, and my desire for people to be treated fairly, and Children, I thought, really did need the influence of both a Mother and a Father.

Dispite the fact that I am gay, and there fore had a great deal of empathy for my friends who had left the church to find love and fulfillment in life. I understood, I thought, why they were choosing as they did, but I knew what the prophets taught, and so I often judgementally felt they were trading great eternal happiness for something short term, and less valuable.

A few years ago, when my state voted on marriage equality, I joined in the ranks of many from my church campaigning against it, and even shared annonomysly, my story to that point, to help the cause.

Yesterday, 24 hrs after my fast for greater understanding and compassion within the church, and a better approach to this issue within my relegious community, I recieved a message on fb from the very woman I had annonymously given my story to, in the effort to campaign against gay marriage.  She is the wife of one of my former church leaders, and very strongly in agreement with the church position on the matter.  She said she would like to talk with me sometime, about my views on Gay marriage, which obviously have done about a 180 in the past two years. I was nervous when she said that, because a lot of people just want to pick a fight with you about it, but I dont like fights.  But she said that she would trust me to show her another view point without being defensive or argumentitive, and that precisely because I wanted to leave the matter agreeing to disagree, that is why she wanted to discuss it with me. She wants to understand, without feeling she will be attacked, just as I want to be understood without being attacked.

So I’ve set about trying to figure out how im going to explain this to her, because it was a journey to get here. I thought about sharing some of the scriptures i’ve come to interpret differently, some of the church documents that make it clear our leaders have no idea what the Lords ultimate answer on this will be, and things like that.

But as I did so, I knew that was the wrong approach. Thats exactly what she and I dont want. This matter for me is a matter of personal revelation, and personal testimony. I can support my postition as well as she could with facts, and figures, and quotes, and resources, but that never was what brought me to a new opinion.

The thing that changed my mind, in reality was two years of learning to understand my own, and the experineces of others, Mormon, Christian, Aithiest  who are gay. It was two years of pleading constantly with my Heavenly Father to understand why, and what, and how he feels, and how I should feel.

It was a dream, as revelatory and personal and sacred as any  that really started to change my mind, that convinced me that God, perhaps, didn’t feel about things how I was told he did, and more personal revelation and answers for myself  in my own life personally that came after that that changed my mind.  And once I was open to the possiblility that maybe God didn’t feel about it how I thought he did, and the possiblility that my path in life wasn’t perhaps to be as I planned it, or my parents planned it, or as my church planned it that I began to notice something.

I began to notice the generally distructive nature of most Mixed Orientation Marriages that I knew about, mostly resulting in ugly divorce, or at a minimum constant self loathing and angst by the non straight individual in the marriage, and sometimes, resulting in adultary, pornography issues, or even suicide.  And then I looked at my friends, Gay, Married, or in a committed relationship as married as the law in their part of the land allowed. Raising kids, being parents and doing a damn good job of it. They were as stable and steady and as good of parents with as good of kids as any heterosexual couples. They weren’t permiscuous, or Godless. They were good people, with as strong a moral compass as anyone. They loved and cared for their spouse. They treasured their marriages/Partner, They treasured and loved their kids.

That sealed the deal, and my opinoin for me. By their fruits, ye shall know them. I looked at the fruits of forcing people to live alone, celebate, with little to know hope of love and companionship. I looked at marriages, forged for religious reasons sometimes based on a lie, I looked at the rare ones, that were mixed orientation marriages that were genuine, authentic, and I think work. I looked at the ones that were trying really hard, and having faith  but were feeling constantly tortured, and in a state of mourning.  And then I looked at my Gay /Lesbian married friends and I saw that sometimes- it works for someone to be alone, and stay single, but usually it doesn’t. I saw that sometimes it worked for people to enter a mixed orientation marriage, there was love there, love for kids loved for spouse, honesty  and communication- but usually it didnt work.  and I looked at my gay/ lesbian friends that were married, and i’ve yet to find an instance there where it wasn’t working, and where I couldn’t enthusiastically endorse their union.

Im sure there will be bad gay marriages, just as there are bad straight marriages. Im sure there will be struggles, and sometimes parental failures, just as there are in any family or home. I changed my opinion though, becuase what i’ve seen so far from my friends is equal to the good and the best marriages and families among my straight friends.

I believe in modern prophets, and I believe they are called of God and inspired in how they lead the church. How can I believe that, and believe not only in marriage equality here on earth, but that somehow in the heavens, in whatever crazy way God comes up with, I think there will be a solution even there for LGBT sons and daughters of God. And I dont think it will be that he changes us and takes this part away from us. I haven’t addressed my opinions on gender here, but I think  my next paragraph will cover that as well. I think that anyone who has a testimony, and trusts God, and wants to have an eternal marriage and family in the next life, will, even if it isnt the traditonal familiy we now hear preached. I dont know, or presume to guess how God will work that out, I just feel he will, and it wont be by ripping these families apart or by making people like me straight.  And I can only say I’ve come to that conclusion through personal prayer, and a personal relationship with God.

As far as Modern Prophets, especially the Proclamation on the Family, words of President Kimball, and other leaders of the church, and so forth. Well, a lot of things will say “here is our current policy, unless the Lord reveals something new its not changing. … we dont know everything on this matter or how it will be resolved”  They say that, and then they turn around and say “This is doctrine, it wont change.”  Well,  a lot of similar happend when they were saying that Blacks would not recieve the priesthood. Scriptures were quoted, unchanging doctrine was proclamed, and then after 150 years a revelation was recieved, and it changed.

I believe that happend  not because God couldn’t have straightened the matter out sooner, or because the Prophets and leaders weren’t inspired of God. I believe it happened because leaders are human, but also the culture and climate at the time. I think sometimes God gives us a lesser law, because we can’t handle the greater law.  The opinions and culture of that time would not have been supportive or a good growth experience for Black people in those years. It would have been a stumbling stone for other members at that time that were racist. So for a hundred and fifty years, some of Gods children were temporarily denied blessings that he gladly would have extended to them, while slowly he changed, and prepared his people for greater light and knowledge.

Slowly on the matter of Gender and Sexual Orientation, God is changing and preparing his people, in my opinion, receive greater light and knowledge on the matter.  At the current climate of the  world, we need the procimation on the family. I dont think its completely accurate. I can’t see how we can be so black and white on the issue of Gender- alot of which is cultural, and a lot of other aspects of it, both physically and emotionally that are clearly not always black and white as the proclamation proclaims them to be.  But, there is also a lot of good in that document- as far as helping husbands and wifes work more equally together, and reminding people how important treating your family correctly, and raising them with morals and values is.  I also think its important for the church as a statement so that they can continue to take the gospel to other countries that are far far less than tollerant.  If they were to change that now, I imagine there would be countries, like Russia, that they wouldn’t be able to do their work in, and share other valuable and important beliefs.

Is it painful, and hurtful sometimes. Does it create a culture that misunderstands people, and denys some the blessings I think they will ultimately be entitled to. Yes. But, I think in time that will change, and already its changed a lot. But at the pace that will not hurt the work and kingdom of God going forth as it needs to into the world.  Its all about Gods timing, and I think mercifully, to many of his LGBT/SSA Mormon sons and daughters, he has provided a path of personal revelation, and personal comfort and peace.  Sometimes, our opinions are going to change, and not agree with the church. I think thats fine. Sometimes, we will have to take a different path, that may hurt our friends and family and ward members. But ultimately I think all will be made right in the end,  and probably not exactly in the way I nor my church leaders Imagine it, but in a way by which no one feels ripped off.

Thats my thoughts, my opinions, and why I now dont personally side with my church on the issues of Gender and Marriage equality, and same-sex relationships. But I still believe in the Gospel, and in Prophets and revelation, and the Book of Mormon.

 

A Special Fast- Please Join In

For those of you not of the LDS faith, tomorrow is the first Sunday of the month, its a day we call “Fast Sunday”  not because, as I thought as a kid, Sunday is shorter or faster. Usually, it feels longer. Because Fast Sunday is the day we  fast, or abstain from food or drink for 2 meals or 24hrs.  (interpret that as you will, it sometimes leads to debates if 2 meals is 24 hours or if 2 meals is infact just two meals, not three.)  any way,  We do this in conjunction with a day of prayer for something personally special and meaningful.  Sometimes, we have Special fasts that aren’t on fast sunday for things like- a cousin  in a hospital, or  for guidance and strength for our families, or our ward (parish) or things like that.

I have decided I want to do a special fast tomorrow, and I want to get as many people joining me as possible.  Before the church changed its policy to allow Blacks to recieve the Preisthood (again) it took 150 years of change, and people in africa finding out about the gosple, wanting to join the church, being told they couldnt, praying fasting, studying the scriptures, petitioning church leaders and God. Finally in 1979, a revelation was recieved by the prophet changing the policy and allowing black men the world over to receive the preisthood, and extending temple blessings, baptisim and other ordinances to all worthy members  of appropriate age.

I know not all of you will believe that came of revelation. Not all of you even believe in God. I do. I believe and error got into the church, and I believe God corrected it, when his people were ready to be corrected, and when they asked and pleaded for him to do so.

I went to the play Godspell last night, and I was particularly struck by the reference to the unjust judge and the pleading widow. The point of that parable in Matthew being that God is a just judge,so he is even more inclined than the unjust judge with that woman to hear our pleas for mercy help and change.

If you’ve been reading my blog, you will know my opinions, you will also know im getting tired of watching people struggle.  I would invite everyone who reads this to join me in 24 hours of either fasting, prayer, or just sending positive thoughts out into the universe to help support those LGBT mormons, and former mormons that are struggling greatly with depression, suicidal ideleation, and just not feeling like they can fit any where. To help soften the hearts of the members of the church, to open them to sympathy and understanding of the experiences of those within their community who are struggling, that they might be more compassionate, and for the leaders of the church to find inspiration for a better way of  handling this issue within the church.  The church is changed from inspiration from God, outside political pressure usually just results in more diggin in heals, because we are a church founded on the doctrine of revelation, modern current revelation, and revelation is what changes things, and  you can have that on a personal level, or the prophet can have that for the church. but that is how change occurs for us.

If you wish you can include all christians struggling, and anyone else you feel, but this fast is a special plea to God for the Mormon community, and I would appreciate anyone joining in anyway they feel appropriate, any sort of spiritual or mental energy you wish to put towards this.  All efforts are appreciated.  I plan to start at 9 pm PST.  Thanks.

Far Between, a Project Worthy of Support

Yesterday, I had another heart felt conversation with God, the need for change, and a plea that he will talk to his Prophet and help that to happen.

I recently read a really good book for Gay Christians. It’s called God and the Gay Christian. I loved it, as it went through scriptures in the old and new testament that are used as a reference to homosexuality. The author deeply researched and gave a proper context to these scriptures, and as a deeply religious gay evangelical christian, he affirmed the importance of the bible, while showing our interpretations don’t always match the likely intended meaning of the authors.

I enjoyed a great many of his point, but as a Mormon, his arguments would have been incomplete and not totally helpful to someone of my faith, due to two key differences of belief, eternal marriage/families, and a modern living breathing prophet.

The Book of Mormon, Doctrine and Covenants, and Pearl of Great price have no mention whatsoever of homosexuality, unless you count one reference to the sin of Sodom in the book of mormon. Which, as the author, and one of my Institute teachers pointed out years ago, was actually inhospitable to to visitors, guests and foreigners.

At any rate, from what I have seen, Joseph smith, and our additional cannons of Scripture add nothing new to the debate. However the belief in eternal families adds a great deal of weight to the argument for mormons, because the family is the most important unit in the eternities, and no one can attain the highest degree of glory without being married, or sealed to a spouse for eternity.

Add to that the words of modern prophets, like Spencer w kimball, president Gordon B. Hinkley and the proclamation on the family, and resent conference addresses by various members of the quorum of the twelve, and you get what you get, an environment creating a lot of deep self hatred for Gay mormons. To the point we constantly struggle with depression, suicidal thoughts, and so forth.

I realize this is common for LGBT of all walks of life and religions. But I saw it the most in an organization meant to be a support for members within the framework of the gospel, and the standards of the church.

I love Northstar, and I love the Voices of Hope project. I think they do a great deal to help those people who need it the most, without separating them from their religion. In the frame work of church standards they do everything possible to provide support and help people reconcile faith and same gender attraction. But I’ve never met a more collectively, rotating depressed group in my life.

That, and a constant and pervasive judgey attitude by a handful of individuals on the leadership committee. Most were not, but nothing was ever done about those who were, and I didn’t need to hear that from a group that was supposed to be a support.

Any way, I think, as I said, Northstar does the best they can within the framework of their mission. And voices of hope has generated conversation, helped struggling people, and saved lives. It helped me at one point, so I am grateful. But, as far as conversations in the church go, it doesn’t do enough.

So when I stumbled upon this film project http://farbetweenmovie.com/ by Kendallville wilcox, who I believe also helped with the voices of hope project, I was pleasantly surprised to see a project meant to help people understand completely, what every dimension of LGBT Mormons go through, so that change can happen.

It’s not a position for or against the church, it’s just the voices of LGBT Mormons, and how this struggle is killing us, and something in the way we handle this has to change.

It’s exactly what I had hoped someone would do for us. So I donated all I could, and I plan to send them at least my blog link, maybe I’ll do another video, or essay, who knows.

I support this project, I hope you will check it out, and if you like it, support it as well, in whatever way you can.

I followed that up with a deep conversation with a friend, , and deeply spiritual person who a few weeks ago almost committed suicide, because of struggles with a love of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, this church, and same gender attraction. Although, I will say that way of wording it deeply bothers me, if it were just an attraction it wouldn’t rip people apart so constantly. And that is part of the conversation for Far Between, I believe, so I will let you check that out. Please, at least spread word of this wonderful, much needed film project.

Why Do I Feel LIke I Massively Botched Coming Out?

  I dont know that there is a right way, an easy way, or even a non messy way to come out. I feel though, that I kind of made it as messy as is possible. Maybe everyone feels that way? I dont know. 

 I came out in stages. I think that was probably wise.  I think I still probably have future stages to come, and I hope those go better.  

But why do I feel i got it wrong? well, probably because I am a really different person now than I was two years ago, or even six months ago, and me now has a butt load more confidence and belief in who I am, and in Gods love for me- no matter how I choose to deal with the fact Im Gay.  

 But I can’t help but look back and be a little ashamed of things I said to people, as I tried to reconsile my head, my heart and my soul- as my friend put it yesterday. I cant help but feel a little bad for the times I dished out that look, that judgy pity filled, I love you but I think you are making stupid choices by leaving the church to be Gay look, that I sometimes gave my friends. 

 And, in great hippocracy, thats probably the thing i fear most now. THAT look. Well, Karma. Right. If I get that look, I feel like I kind of deserve it, and that makes it all the worse. The worst part, is, because I’ve gave that look, I know the thoughts that are behind it. And that makes me saddest of all  because I no longer agree with my old self. 

 Also, I regret the fact that in my process of coming out and to ally with my then beliefs and church teachings, I helped add my expeirence to fight against gay marriage in my state. Well, it passed any way, so it doesn’t matter. But what about when I decide its time and marry a woman? something I once fought against my right to do.  

 I think of the friends I had conversations with “Its ok, you can do it, you can stay in the church, you just have to stay celebate for the rest of your life, unless you can muster up marrying a man.” 

Well, guess who can’t handle that way of dealing with things, and finds that idea to be as hurtful and damaging as my friends did when I said it to them? Me.  

Now, if that legitimately is what someone wants to do with their lives, I applaud them for following their own heart and their own path and doing it. People I said that to were following their hearts and not. So my qualms with myself are for basically being judgy and lacking understanding because I was super fearful of facing myself, and I had to believe that anyone could do that and make it work- because the church said you could, if you had enough faith. 

 My journey, which has brought me closer to God an different perspective on all this, now kind of regrets telling everyone – its ok, im gay, but im taking the church approved route.  That was my intent at the time, but I’ve changed my mind about that and I guess Im just feeling a hypocrite. And I guess, I am also feeling judged, by myself. 

 What the church teaches is fine. What people believe is fine. But im not ok with the way I rushed into conversations, I guess, before I knew my own mind. At the same time, thats how I was able to figure this all out. So it kind of had to happen.   

Im making up for it now, the times i wouldn’t say something or like something because i didn’t want anyone to know about me, or to know that secretly actually I have always at least supported civil unions. I wasn’t as church path-y as I preached even then, all those years ago. 

 So I guess, Im ok that I didn’t do things perfectly. Im ok that I made a mess of it, that i was loud and opinionated at times, and now im going to have to eat my words. Im ok that i had no idea how to do this, or how to tell people, or how much to say. Im ok that i didn’t come out in a perfectly orchastrated way, that I struggled every day with trying to become self aware enough to know what the ……… was going on in my own head.  I feel bad for the numbers of guys I tried to date and really hurt a lot when it quickly failed. But again, if I hadn’t done that, I wouldnt know that I really cant get that to work, and continuing to try is distructive to myself and others. For some people, it isn’t, for me it is. 

 As my co-worker once told me “its ok, we all have our own path.” he was a monk once, he’s marrying his boyfriend in a few weeks. I love that man.  I guess what I am trying to say is, I feel a little bad that I said things that are going to make things a bit awkward for me later. My friends are all fine, my ex boyfriends are all fine. My family is fine. I’m even fine.  its messy. Its hard. Sometimes I wish I could have done it better. I hope i will do it better in the future, and just be true to myself. 

 But life is in the making of messes, and cleaning them up. Im not going to feel guilty about the past, im just going to learn from it, and do better going forward. I think thats all we can do. We all just kind of have to figure life out as we go, and sometimes that results in a massive course change, that shocks and scares us, and probably some that know us.  But I love who I am, and who I have become. and I love who I was, even though I said some things and did some things I wouldn’t now.  Sometimes, its the mistakes of the past that give us the forum and the clarity to do things way better in the future.  we have to grow step by step, and I think I’ve done that a lot. and I will do it more.  

 So if anyone else out there sometimes feels like they’ve made a mess of things, I say, dont worry. There is no mess you can make, that God cant make into an actually really beautiful thing.  and If you dont believe in God, believe in yourself, and your abilities to transform a pile of rubbish into the most beautiful life ever lived.  I believe we can all do that. What matters, is people, and that we love them, even if we dont agree with or understand them. And, I think to do that, you have to develop some love for yourself first.