Taken to Trial

I guess it's been a full three weeks since I last posted. I swear I've wanted to post things but always manage to put it off. I've realized that my blog is becoming no different than any other journal I've tried to keep-- I don't recall ever keeping a journal for more than about a month straight, even on my mission. I'm glad that at least I have recorded my experiences in coming out to my parents. That was the main event that I was looking forward to record as I started the blog. Those were kind of official, well-thought-out posts and I think they unintentionally drew me away from more of a journally feel. So, to get back into posting, I've decided to delay all the serious topics that I've been wanting to write about and have some fun.

Partially inspired by by Original Mohomie's list of signs, I've started to think of evidences for and against me being gay/SSA'd. If I were in a courtroom where I was suspected of being gay, this is the material I'd expect either side to use. These are just some things I thought of after a few minutes, so the lists will definitely grow with time. It's interesting, though, that several of them are pretty recent; it will be interesting to record where I am now and compare it to my earlier and later self.

-I've unknowingly started using glittery lotion. The words "soft shimmer" and even "infused with subtle light reflectors" didn't tip me off. The first time I wore it happened to be the first time I met Danish Boy and he exclaimed, "How cool-- you sparkle!" or something like that, after which Hidden looked at me and said, "You are so gay."
-I have, in a hidden folder on my computer separate from my "straight" music, a collection of music by artists such as Aqua, Backstreet Boys, Clay Aiken, Kylie Minogue, Madonna, and S Club 7.
-Behind my bed is a secret stash of books including In Quiet Desperation, Carol Lynn Pearson's No More Goodbyes, Kim Mack's The Unconquerable Soul, and Jason Park's Resolving Homosexual Problems.
-I'd rather watch one episode of So You Think You Can Dance than a lifetime of sports games.
-Total items in my roommate's medicine cabinet: 6. Total items in my medicine cabinet: 39.
-My web browser checks every four hours for RSS feeds from 31 blogs written by gay Mormons.
-A large portion of my wardrobe is from Express Men; it also includes five scarves and eleven pairs of shoes.
-Three of the last four friends I've had over are feminine enough to cause suspicion. The fourth one happens to be gay too.
-Every look in the mirror includes time spent looking for pluckable eyebrow hairs.
-I was recently enjoying (really enjoying) my first listen to Mika's album Life in Cartoon Motion when I started realizing how gay the album is, especially the song about Billy Brown falling in love with another man. The song about big girls then reminded me of my several of my friends.
-Also on my computer is a collection of 42 music videos or live performances by Britney Spears, totalling 1.5 GB. Wow. Wow.

-Musicals just don't do it for me. I felt no deep connection to Mean Girls either.
-I apparently walk like a straight man. I've been told by a reliable source that I couldn't be pegged by my walk.
-I kissed a girl a few weeks ago!
-When it comes to noticing other people's advances, I'm known to be as thick-skulled as any SSG.
-I wore socks with sandals until 2003.
-My favorite music video is The Pussycat Dolls' Buttons (Hey, hot is hot!).
-Shoe shopping is boring to me.
-I have no desire to rid myself of body hair unless, one day, I find it on my back.
-I get crushes on some girls and am nervous talking to them.
-Most people I come out to tell me they never would have guessed. If everyone in the world assumes I'm straight, that's got to mean something, right??

Unfortunately, it looks like the prosecution has pretty strong evidence. Ah, who cares? The facts can be wrong sometimes. That one guy on the jury is pretty cute, though.

Telling My Parents - Part 3 of 3

It’s funny how much more comfortable I felt with everything as we naturally began speaking again of my issues. The warm sun was shining through the window and I curled up into the rectangle of light cast on the carpet, expressing how great it would be to be a cat.

My parents began by making sure I knew that they loved me exactly how I am and that they would always love me because I am their son. I mentioned how great this “coming out” experience had been—surpassing any expectation I ever had. I told them about my fear of the worst case scenario in which, after telling my parents, they would refuse to speak to me again and stop paying for my schooling (and rent… and food…). I guess deep down I knew I had nothing to fear because I knew the awesome love of my parents; I suppose I was just nervous, not scared.

Earlier at church, a former seminary teacher had asked if I was dating anyone at school (I’m not) and recommended setting a goal, like her son had done recently, such as asking one girl out a month. This fueled a discussion with my parents about dating possibilities for me and more about the possible reality of being alone until I die. My dad, full of concern, said, “I think the worst thing you can do at this point is to give up and think that things will never work with a girl.” I agreed and resolved to keep trying.

Speaking to my mom, my dad said he would be more worried for me if I were younger and hadn’t had some of the experiences that I’ve had. But, knowing that I’ve served a mission, come so far and accomplished so much, and recognizing my strong character and immovable testimony, he knew I would be fine.

The real reason we had gathered that last time was for my dad to give me a blessing. I hadn’t even considered the opportunity before coming home and was excited; I had desired a blessing while at school but was reluctant to approach anyone about it. In preparation, my dad asked if there was anything specific I wanted help with. I thought for a while and, getting up from my sunny rectangle, fought back emotion as I told him, “I guess I just need help with endurance. Loneliness is something that’s hard to be patient with.”

I think the tears began spilling from beneath my eyelids as soon as my dad placed his hands on my head. This was an amazing expression of love. I felt perfect comfort. The things he expressed were full of love and wisdom and were clearly guided by the Spirit. He warned me to choose wisely those with whom I associate. He explained that when the temptation is at its strongest and I feel I can’t go on any longer, that there would always be a means of escape; that I had to find that escape that would allow me to regain my perspective.

I don’t recall ever seeing my dad cry. Now, though, he had trouble getting the words out as he spoke for both he and my mom and expressed that they would do anything to let me not go through this; but that somewhere there is purpose in the trial. I felt the burning of true parental love and knew I was experiencing something similar to the love that the Savior has for me.

When the blessing ended I remained sitting in my chair as I wiped my face and expressed silent gratitude. My dad wasn’t going to wait for the traditional post-blessing hug, though, and embraced me from behind as he buried his head in my shoulder and sobbed. It is a moment I can never forget and that will never fail to bring me to tears. I felt infinitely connected with this man with whom I’d shared few hugs that didn’t feel forced.

We got up as time required that my dad get to the airport. He told me to call him any time, day or night. He added that one thing that was reassuring to him (in terms of possibility of change) was that I don’t have some of the typical effeminate mannerisms of gay guys. I shared a knowing smile with my mom, recalling our gaydar talk from the night before.

They asked if I wanted to ride with them to the airport and I did, but faced the dilemma of how to get upstairs and into the garage without my sisters seeing my puffy red eyes. Luckily my mom offered to sneak my shoes into the car while I escaped to the backyard through the downstairs window and met them in the driveway. A simple drive to the airport was never my idea of fun, but that day was different. I felt truly happy to spend another hour with my two new best friends.

Telling My Parents - Part 2 of 3

I'm not exactly proud of the quality of the writing but I'm glad to actually be getting this all down. I promise I'm almost done! In other news, judging by the post times of all of my posts so far, I think my most productive time is 2 to 4 AM...

One of the first things my Mom asked was something like, “Who are you attracted to?” I responded, “Like, specifically?” I wasn’t sure what she was getting at. “It seems kind of early to talk about that…” Thankfully my dad added, “Yeah, that’s not really relevant…” And with that, our discussion began.

We talked about possible causes. I said I couldn’t recall any instances of abuse in my childhood; I tried to explain that I felt loved and cared for by both of them. We talked about the process I’ve gone through since beginning to address the issue last September. I became emotional only as I described the difficulty of figuring out how to live as a Mormon with these feelings. I talked about my new friends and how they knew what I came home to do. “I have at least seven people praying for me right now!”

My mom didn’t understand much at first and I expected as much. Some of her first advice was, “Well, through prayer and scripture study you can overcome those thoughts.” I told her that was a nice thought but that she was wrong. She was genuinely worried for me and apparently frightened at the implications of what I was saying. “Can you promise you'll never act on it?” she asked. “I don't think you'll ever truly be happy if you pursue a gay relationship,” she said while looking at me with hope that I agreed. I completely agreed. “At the same time, though,” I explained, “and this will be hard to hear, I need to know that you would love me even if I did make that choice.”

My dad had little or no experience with the subject and knew so. He at least knew what not to say, though, and everything that he did say was helpful and insightful. He realized and helped my mom realize that I’ll likely deal with SGA for the rest of my life. He said he didn’t think that my basic dilemma in controlling thoughts was much different from anyone else. There was nothing wrong in finding someone attractive—for example, if he saw a woman with “big boobs”—but that the trouble came in dwelling on inappropriate thoughts. As an aside, I commented, “I don’t get what’s so great about boobs.”

I introduced and gave them copies of the Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman interview and In Quiet Desperation. After talking about the book I assured them that I wasn’t suffering from depression, that I wasn’t contemplating suicide and probably never would.

Our talk was interrupted by a phone call from a realtor wanting to show our home to a client, so we had to scramble to leave within ten minutes. The difficult part of my trip was over, though, and I felt great. It already felt like I had a much better relationship with my parents. I hoped we would have more chances to talk—and those chances came. Whenever my mom and I found ourselves in the same room, for example, we would talk quietly about things. I love her so much for her willingness to try to understand me. She would say things like, “When a thought comes, can’t you just say, ‘No, this is bad! Go away?’” or “Can’t you convince yourself to think a woman is attractive?” and I would try to patiently explain things.

That night my mom was ironing clothes in the sewing room and I joined her to talk(my little sister began to wonder why we kept going to that room…). She told me I probably shouldn’t ever be alone with a guy—and I told her how unreasonable that seemed. I reminded her of something she had said about a gay man we had seen on TV over Thanksgiving and how much that hurt me.

We talked about telling people. She assumed it would be smarter to not tell anyone but I explained how much good had come through telling everyone that I have so far. I revealed my desire to tell the older of my younger sisters before leaving on Monday. I said she might have already suspected it in the past, citing various incriminating facts about myself (lack of interest in sports, lack of girlfriends, etc). This led to a discussion with my mom about other common gay characteristics and gaydar basics.

The next day, I enjoyed an uneventful morning at church with my family and early dinner as the time to take my dad to the airport neared. According to plan, with an hour remaining, my parents and I made our way back down to the sewing room for the best part of the weekend.

Telling My Parents - Part 1

I apologize for the length, but this blog's main purpose is a journal-- so that's what kind of posts I'm going to put in it. I decided to post what I've written so far because the rest of the story will have to wait until tomorrow.

Tomorrow marks one week since telling my parents about my SGA. I’ve been scared to write about it because I’ve worked it up to be a bigger project than it needs to be. I’m just going to write it so it doesn’t end up become something like my big unwritten last-day-of-my-mission journal entry/final testimony (tomorrow also happens to mark one year since I was supposed to write that).

In a lot of ways, the moment came much earlier than I ever expected it to. I had been planning for it to happen after returning from Japan at the end of August. A quick change of plans gave me six days at home immediately after finals. My thoughts throughout most of the 14-hour drive home were filled with planning words, speculating about reactions, and wondering how the trip home had come up so quickly.

My dad works in a different state and wouldn’t come home until Thursday night. Because I was slightly distrustful of my ability to find a perfect moment to talk to both of my parents over the weekend, I told my mom after arriving home on Wednesday that I wanted to speak with them on either Thursday or Friday. Much to my chagrin, even the simple task of telling her that I wanted to talk was awkward and difficult—not because of the planned subject matter, but because of the nature of the relationship I had with my parents. I can only recall a handful of serious conversations I’ve had with either of them, none of which were initiated by me. My mom was visibly startled at my request and began guessing what I wanted to talk about. I expressed to her how disappointing it was that even wanting to “talk” was jarring for both of us.

Thursday and most of Friday came and went with no opportunities arising. I was half relieved and half let down. On Friday morning I was flipping channels on TV and stopped briefly on one of those Christian stations to chuckle at a man healing people by making them collapse on stage. It then cut to the same guy talking to the camera. “Today,” he said, “I simply want you to know that God loves you. He loves you in whatever situation you may be in. If we learn to trust him, he will support us.” I felt kind of bad for chuckling.

With the hope that the talk would somehow happen Friday evening, I stepped outside and called Drex, Salad, and Hidden for our planned pep talk. I’m now a firm believer in pep talks! I hung up the phone with a much needed feeling of peace and calmness that replaced the almost physical sickness I had been experiencing. I talked to my mom about talking; unfortunately, my dad had already gone to sleep and I wondered out loud if it should just wait until August. My mom told me she was much too curious now to put it off, especially after I told her that we would need more than just one day to talk about it. We set the time to talk for 9:00 the next morning. This time it would definitely happen.

I woke up with less than a “go get ‘em” attitude but was ready soon after 9:00 and lay down on the couch to stop myself from pacing. An entire hour passed and my nervousness had half turned to hopelessness. I could have gone and gathered my parents but they seemed busy, and… No, I probably couldn’t have done it. However, they finally walked into the room and were ready to talk. My thought was not, “Finally!” but rather, “Wow, this moment came faster than I expected.”

I had planned my first question: What do you think I want to talk about? My mom said she thought I was going to ask permission to date or marry a girl. My dad thought for a bit and said he thought I wanted money. I wish it were that easy! I hadn’t planned the next part well and the awkwardness was thick in the air. I mentioned something about how difficult the past eight months have been because of an issue I was dealing with; then, looking out the window, managed to say, “For as long as I can remember, through no choice of my own, I’ve been more attracted to guys than to girls” (Thanks to Drex for that line!). After I had said it, I felt fine. The nerves went away and I looked at my parents. “That’s it,” I said.