Notes From All Over

I'm posting tonight mainly just to post, because it's been forever and I keep meaning to.
  • Around the beginning of April, my therapist had me consider whether reading so many Moho blogs was the best decision for me, since it exposed me to so many of the negative thoughts and experiences that people have. I wondered if the blogs had filled an important role in my earlier stages of coming to terms with myself (that of helping me understand that there are so many others like me) but that my needs were evolving past that point. As a result, I thinned down the list of blogs I read to only those with generally positive, pro-gospel themes.

  • For some reason I also happened to stop reading blogs altogether at that time. Tonight I finally caught up with them, and I'm happy to say that things seem good. It's probably largely due to the fact that I don't read depressing blogs, but it makes me happy to see others who are making it and are sharing their thoughts. I've become pretty disillusioned with the Moho community in general but there are individuals whom I really look up to.

  • I bookmarked a post called Moderation by Original Mohomie because it was just spot on. I also bookmarked this post on a newer blog because I just loved L's heartfelt comment to it. It reminded me of the writing style of The Perks of Being a Wallflower.

  • I watched the movie Crash for the first time recently. Twice. I think it's my second favorite movie, behind Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind.

  • Coming home from my short vacation at home, I had a layover in Las Vegas. I decided to buy a magazine and after considering all of my options, I settled on Details. It manages to be interesting and not too gay at the same time. I'm thinking of getting a subscription but I'm upset that I just barely missed the issues with Zac Efron and Hayden Christensen on the covers! Some luck!

  • I made a new friend from Malaysia through that chat thing on the side of my blog. I've also become great friends with a few new Mohos. I find it wonderful to be able to help them out in ways that I was helped by other people just a year ago, while receiving help and encouragement from them at the same time. Unfortunately I face the difficult decision of whether rooming with SSA guys is going to be the most beneficial step for me right now.

  • These new friendships have got me thinking again of something I've occasionally considered in the past: When all is said and done, is it better or worse for a person struggling with SSA to meet others like him? I look at the amazing experiences I've had and the personal growth I've experienced as a direct result of having friends in the community and I want to say YES! But I look around me and see almost no one who escapes the new temptations unscathed, and I see everyone leaving their testimonies behind, and I wonder if they couldn't have made it work by staying away in the first place.

    It's certainly a conundrum. I feel like the healing that comes through associating with others is necessary for almost everyone. But the almost inevitable results are impossible to forgive. It's a necessary impossibility. Or something like that.

    Maybe the answer lies in having just a few close, trusted friends from whom you can get emotional support and fulfillment. This sounds like the best solution for me about now, at least as I work through my issues and toward getting my needs met through relationships with OSA guys. I guess it's a case of danger in numbers. The trick is to find those few close friends, those with similar goals, and to be there for each other. Besides, that's what always worked for me in life anyway.

  • I love flavored Tootsie Rolls!

What it Looks Like to Come Out

This is a photograph of what it looks like to come out to someone.

Well, depending on your situation. If you come out to someone on a sunny, warm St. Patrick's Day in 2007, the kind of day on which you can wear shorts and a polo and feel just great (besides the intense inner turmoil).

And if the "someone" is actually your two best friends, where the first one has been your best friend for five years and has had feelings for you the whole time, but you haven't been able to explain why you don't know if you're attracted to her or not. If she knows you better than anyone else, and you love being around her, but your relationship has become strained. And if you go to see the other best friend sing in a concert in the city, and that friend is someone you can always trust and always talk to.

And if you steal them both away from their other friends for an hour, and take them into a little valley by the capitol building. If you get nervous trying to find a place to do it, while they wonder why you're acting so strangely, and you settle on a little bench overlooking a path and a sign with red spray paint on it.

And if you think it's the hardest thing you've ever done, and you just sit there silently between them on the bench. And you think about not doing it. And you begin to cry, wondering again how life will change after that day. If you know that you need to do it, because life is getting too hard to live without someone to talk to, and you really, really trust them.

And if you do it, and you spit out as much as you can, trying to answer anticipated questions through the tears.

If you stop talking, and for a moment feel completely empty and alone as they sit silently at your side. And then they reach for you and embrace you, and you feel the love and comfort of eternal friendship, and you "let it all out," and you never want to let go.

And if eventually you let go, ready to start the slow process of understanding, ready to face a very new life filled with more honesty, more openness, more pain, and more love. And if you wipe your eyes and look.

That's what it looks like.

My Best?

I often feel uncomfortable when people talk about how they did their "very best" on their missions. "How can you have done your best?" I mutter in my head. "That's impossible. You could always do better." The pessimism almost certainly comes from my own experiences.

As a 19 year old preparing to face my fears and go out to accomplish what was asked of me, I made a deal with God that is probably familiar to many a Moho. I promised God that I would put away all of my fears and hold nothing back, that I would serve with all of my heart, might, etc. etc. in exchange for the simple blessing of being switched from gay to straight by the time I returned. This was no passing thought; I prayed deeply and sincerely about it and felt confident that God was willing to keep his end of the deal.

Despite the optimism, I didn't become the super-confident missionary I needed to be overnight (or over the space of two years, for that matter). I found myself doing less than AP-caliber work (I lacked AP-ness-- teehee, say it out loud). I blame a large part of it on my suffering from what my therapist recently diagnosed as social phobia.

Did I love my mission? Yeah, I loved the spiritual highs, the baptisms, the friendships I built, the culture, the testimony I gained, the packages I received, the lives I helped change, the train rides, the DDR. Did I hate my mission? Yeah, the door approaches, the street contacting, the difficult teaching, the zone leader exchanges, the companions, the 18 months it took to speak Japanese, the phone calls, the unkind members, the biking through blizzards while ice shards made my eyes bleed.

And in the end, I found myself back at home with no change to my attractions. Had God let me down? No, not necessarily; I could have listed thousands of things that I could have done better as a missionary, so I could not claim to have done my best. Having started my mission with "best" as my main goal, such a realization was crushing. If I wasn't straight, I couldn't blame God.

I was recently praying for forgiveness of recent sins and rededicating myself to the Lord, when I found myself promising to "do my best." My thoughts turned to my mission. At first the pessimism set in, and I thought the task impossible.

But then I remembered a significant lesson I learned from Robert Millet in an Institute lesson last year. We're taught that we are saved by grace "after all we can do," a concept akin to doing our best. Is it really possible to do "all we can do?" Don't we fail every day? Brother Millet pointed out that rather than seeing this as some vague requirement to be absolutely perfect, we can understand the principle through the words of the king of the Anti-Nephi-Lehies: "It was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God."

I remain confident that I can do my best simply by living in a repentant state. I hope by doing so the Lord will be able to mold me as he sees fit.

I'm Staying

I haven't much been in the mood to read blogs for the past ten days or so. Reading a computer screen while laying on a bed is a sore for sight eyes anyway. But since I've dropped out of school, I've slowly come to realize that you can only do nothing for so long before you start feeling like there's nothing to do.

So I caught up on the blogs tonight and found myself rather sad at the state of the Mohos. Out of the 45 blogs I read regularly, like... three or four of them are written by people who still like the Church at all. Okay, that may be exaggerating, but it seems like the leaving-the-Church stuff is all I hear and see around me.

I guess I'm just sad for everyone. They'll tell me that they're actually happy with their new, easier, "authentic" paths. They'll even tell me that they feel sad for me. But I'll just keep on being sad, wishing that they could have held on longer and wishing that we all could have some answers that would make things easier.

I don't stay in the Church because it makes perfect sense. I don't stay in the Church because the leaders are perfect. I don't stay because I agree with everything my ward members say at the pulpit. I don't stay in the Church because it's easy. I don't stay because I'm never sad or depressed or lonely.

I stay in the Church because it's true.

If Jesus reads the blogs, I just want him to know that I'm still on his team.

My Life Hurts

Not only am I down, but I've been kicked several times while down. Last Sunday night I felt like I was coming down with something, and by Monday it was in full force and I had almost every symptom of illness you can name.

I need to backtrack, though. In early December, I did something to my back during a snowball fight at work that made me unable to bend my back for a few days. Though the pain lessened, it never fully went away. While sledding after Christmas, I redid whatever it was that I did to my back, so I finally made an appointment with the doctor to see what was up. He had me bend and stretch a bunch of different ways and diagnosed it as a muscle spasm. He prescribed some ibuprofen and told me to go to physical therapy.

But after that appointment, my back started feeling worse. Come Tuesday of this week, I could no longer sit for more than a few minutes. I decided to stay in bed, where I went through periods of heavy shivering with my electric blanket on its highest setting and intense sweating, sometimes experiencing both at once. I soon began living in fear, as each cough or sneeze would bend my back and leave me whimpering in pain.

On Wednesday, I was sitting at my desk for a few minutes and my leg went partially numb, and then it hurt so bad I could barely stand. I began to suspect I had a pinched nerve rather than a muscle spasm. Thankfully, I met with my bishop and he gave me the name of a great chiropractor and told me to go to him first thing on Thursday.

I had been skipping almost all of my classes because I was much more comfortable taking my DayQuil and ibuprofen and lying around trying to get in bits of sleep here and there than trying to move. In the process, I've missed at least two tests and a book review paper. I was hopeful that much could be excused upon my return with the help of a doctor's note. Unfortunately, we discovered that I was unknowingly dropped from my parents' insurance last month and was left with no option for getting excused from school, let alone finding out what was wrong with me.

Thursday looked happier when I was able to enroll in the Student Health Plan right away, and I looked forward to seeing the chiropractor and being able to stand and sit again. Driving the short distance to Orem, I almost stopped in the middle of State Street to hop out and relieve myself of the pain of sitting. To my delight, I discovered upon arriving that the chiropractor's office is closed on Thursdays.

Rather than try to accomplish anything, I decided to once again pull off my clothes and crash as a miserable mess onto my bed among clean and dirty laundry, used tissues, and empty Ensure bottles. My wonderful time was highlighted by the discovery (in ways that you probably can but shouldn't imagine) that the ibuprofen had been making my stomach bleed.

Somehow I don't really feel depressed from all this. I guess I don't really have the mental energy to do so. I mean, I break into fits of crying and "Why me's" and loss of hope and wanting to not exist, sure (That's not depression, is it?).

I've rearranged the pieces of my computer so I can navigate the internet while lying in bed. This is where I will exist until I muster the strength to get up to Orem in the morning. I guess there are some things that aren't so bad. My roommate even poked his head in tonight to make sure I didn't drink out of his carton of orange juice.

2007: My Year in Review (Part 2)

(First, one experience from May that I forgot to mention: Hidden wants to take me to see Carol Lynn Pearson's Facing East in Salt Lake; after finding out that we've procrastinated buying tickets until they're already sold out, we resort to creating a poster that says something like, "Desperate for Facing East tickets... We love you, Carol Lynn" and sitting outside the theatre all day. Soon, we have ushers and members of the theatre company doing what they can to help us. The director of the play invites us inside and (after telling us that what we're doing is technically illegal) promises that we will be the first to get any tickets that open up. He takes a photo of us and mentions that he might put it on the company's website. I think, "Oh, crap." We eventually get tickets and I meet Carol Lynn.)

In the second half of 2007, I had fewer large, distinct experiences relating to my homosexuality. If the first half of the year consisted of big steps upward, the last half was kind of a steady slide downward. It was a slide that even seemed to manifest itself in other areas of my life, such as grades and spirituality. It will be easier to talk about the experiences by focusing on topics rather than time periods.

I was incredibly excited to live with my friends, but to my dismay, the whole thing seemed to crash before it even took off. One roommate seemed almost nonexistent and I spoke about twenty words to him before he moved out for reasons I never really figured out.

There were certainly a number of positive aspects of the situation. We did plenty of group cuddling while watching movies, we sometimes went to church together, and we invited other Mohos over with little fear of what we said or did. Still, things began to fall apart. I had a good friendship with one roommate, but the relationship soured more quickly than any I'd ever experienced. We had been BFFs, but now we're uncomfortable spending more than five minutes in the same room with each other.

For some reason I almost completely stopped seeing or doing things with Mohos other than my roommates. The Matis firesides became my small connection to the outside world, but even there I began feeling out of place; I felt like I wasn't gay enough to fit in with all the hugging and lisping going on.

Along with all of this, I wasn't doing the things necessary to keep up on my spiritual health and I knew it. Prayer, one resource I could always turn to, became somewhat boring as I wondered what to say. Church seemed as lonely as ever.

Near the end of the year, I found myself with a roommate that had essentially "gone gay," a roommate who was dating my best friend, and a roommate whose Pakistani food stunk up my entire wardrobe. I was drowning in school and faced letter grades I had never encountered before. The blogging world had become dark and cold, with more Ho than Mo.

My time at home for the Christmas vacation was spent unwinding and refocusing. Strong evidence suggests that my siblings are not ready to know about me (Mom, upon seeing Elton John on TV: "Oh, I like his music." Older sister: "Mom, he's gay!), and that my parents don't really understand what I experience. But I was suddenly able to pray long, heartfelt prayers again. I set goals to make 2008 something different from the dark times of the previous year.

Here at the beginning of 2008, I find myself standing, weak and unsure though my footing may be. Some things have begun to heal; some things hurt even more. Somehow the difficulties that come with the effort to live a righteous life seem worth it. The anguish leads me to rely on the only One I can rely on. I'm slowly reassembling the pieces of a broken life, trying to be okay with the fact that some pieces will always be missing. Ha, and searching for new roommates for this fall.

2007: My Year in Review (Part 1)

I've been blessed with a very, very poor memory. Therefore, this summary will not include several events that it probably should. And my life obviously does not consist of only things related to homosexuality, but that's all I write about on this blog.

Having gone to the BYU Counseling Center for three months, I finally get the guts to start attending group therapy. My face turns deep red and my heart almost stops as I come out to the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, 5th, and 6th people in the world. I slowly start to become comfortable talking about it.

I happen upon a link to AttemptingthePath's blog from the message board on It's an encouraging feeling to know that there's another person in Provo like me. Unfortunately, I read this post and panic; I have no idea what he's talking about, but I imagine that he'd moved to Canada and worry that my hopes to eventually meet another person who experiences same-sex attraction have been dashed.

I get the guts to purchase In Quiet Desperation at the BYU Bookstore. I walk past it several times, glancing around to make sure nobody is nearby. Finally, I grab it and quickly walk to the register with its cover against my leg. Waiting in line, a friend approaches and I break out in a cold sweat. Thankfully, she doesn't notice me.

My only nonmember friend from high school types in the wrong window and accidentally comes out to me over instant messenger. My heart pounds out of control for what will be my first coming out to someone I know. I vaguely tell him that I'm "in a very similar boat," and after he figures it out we share a few laughs and talk about my (then slightly naive) perspective of homosexuality and the gospel.

I begin to read blogs like there's no tomorrow. It's almost a feeling of excitement I get when I read everyone's experiences and insights. I'm amazed that several bloggers are in the process of coming out to their parents and I begin to wonder how I'll ever be able to do it.

I decide it's time to tell my two closest friends in the world, both of whom are female. While one is down from BYU Idaho to perform in Salt Lake, I take them on a drive into the little canyon by the capitol building. We park, awkwardly look for a place to talk, and settle on a bench. Sitting between them, I come out to them and promptly begin bawling. Their hugs are the best feeling of the year so far.

I read about Drex and Salad going to a Matis fireside, and I realize that the firesides are held monthly. Interested in going, I take a step out of the shadows and e-mail Drex for information. He responds with an offer to come and talk any time, as well as an invitation to a Heroes marathon; I find out he lives a block away. Come Friday, I knock on his door and walk into a room full of Mohos. Words literally cannot describe how it feels to be there. Life will never be the same.

Hanging out with Drex, Salad, and Hidden makes me feel like I finally have a place in the world. I almost break into tears every night while walking home. I go to every Moho get-together I can; although I always have trouble meeting new people, I feel automatic closeness with Mohos that makes it slightly easier to make friends.

I get impatient waiting to come out to my parents and decide to go home between winter semester and spring term to tell them. I get a flood of texts and calls of support from my friends. Ultimately, the result is far better than I ever hoped for.

Gimple/Sean, Brady, and I decide to room together in the fall. It had been my secret wish to room with Mohos ever since I met them. Fearing the potential consequences of having a single SSG (stupid straight guy) in the apartment, we begin desperately searching for a fourth roommate. In a move that surprises even me, I e-mail EvadingOdd/Pan and ask if he wants to join in.

I make the mistake of falling in love. It's the best thing I've ever experienced. Some people are hurt in the process.

I leave for study abroad in Japan, hoping to take time to meditate and figure out my direction in life as I step back from the everyday routine. Life in Japan is everything but routine and I find little time for figuring things out.