Saturday, September 22, 2007

No to Soul Chemo

Do you know what happens when a person gets cancer? In some cases of early detection, the malignant tumor may be removed before it has spread. If the tumor was indeed isolated and discreet, this may be the end of that person's battle with cancer. Sometimes there are clusters of tumors, all malignant, but perhaps localized, and thus again there is a possibility of removing them and keeping the cancer from spreading throughout the body. Sometimes cancer seems to be gone, but then another tumor appears, and again we remove it and hope for the best. But then, there are cases where the cancer has spread into the lymph nodes, and then eventually the whole body is filled with cancer. In most cases certain genes have mutated and instead of creating healthy whole cells, they code for production of cancerous cells. After cancer has spread throughout the body, there is not much that doctors can do. They often give the person afflicted with cancer a certain amount of time to live.

One way of fighting cancer at this advanced stage is chemotherapy. "Chemo" is basically injection of dangerous chemicals that primarily attack rapidly dividing cells. Oncogenes (mutated genes that cause cancer) code for such cells, and thus chemo chemicals attacks them. However, the genes that code for hair growth and intestinal lining are similar. In other words, chemo takes certain systems in your body to within an inch of death with the hope that in killing almost everything, you kill a lot of the cancerous cells. Of course it stands to reason that you will also kill healthy cells in the process. Your hair will fall out and your stomach and intestinal lining will be obliterated. Some individuals even have a port (shunt) put into their bodies: basically an opening where the chemo can be dumped in directly, often in agressive doses. In the film "Wit" Emma Thompson's character is undergoing intense chemotherapy and radiation and therefore she has literally no immune system. She is placed in complete isolation, almost even from her doctors. This is to protect her from simple opportunistic colds or flus, which in her weakened state would kill her. At one point she muses, "I'm not isolated because I have cancer. I'm isolated because I am being treated for cancer." People who are being treated for cancer in this way often seem to be on the brink of death. Well, thats the point. We are almost killing them hoping to get rid of the bad stuff inside. At the same time we hope enough of the good can survive.

If you have ever watched period films, you might have seen doctors treating patients in a similar way when they fall victim to some serious malady. A medical practice called bloodletting existed from antiquity all the way into the late 19th century. The idea was the same: bringing the person even closer to death in hopes that enough of the bad blood would come out to allow the infirm person to recover. Again, good blood was also seeping mercilessly out, but again thats collateral damage.

Many men and women today react to their homosexuality in a similar way to someone being diagnosed with cancer. We have been told directly and indirectly that homosexuality is akin to murder in its seriousness, and that it is a spiritual killer. The church needs to watch out for feminists, intellectuals and homosexuals. Homosexuality is an aberration, a veritable spiritual cancer. In fact when repressed, I see homosexuality as often having a cancerous effect. The more you try to ignore it, the more powerful it becomes. Ignoring cancer will get you killed. Ignoring your homosexuality can make you feel so out of touch with yourself that you no longer feel like a person at all. That's why we are all here now blogging. Even those that are married and fully devoted to the church are making a point of reaching out to this online blogger community so that they can have some contact. We have to admit it. We are gay. Or if you prefer to follow the ambiguous and reductionist vernacular of many anti-gay groups, we have SSA. Gay would mean that we can't do anything about it. And that's wrong. We can change, right?

The big lie that I want to decry is this: homosexuality is a spiritual cancer. That is a lie. I'll tell you what is cancerous-- being treated for homosexuality. Like Emma Thompson in Wit.. we are not isolated and confused because we are attracted to people of the same gender. We are isolated and confused because we are trying to not be attracted to people of the same gender. Cancer will eventually kill your body. Homosexuality will not kill your spirit. If allowed to flourish, cancer will put you in a coffin. If allowed to flourish, homosexuality continues to be exactly what it always was: the emotional and physical desire to couple with a person of your same gender. Nothing less, nothing more.

I have spent 30 years believing that "giving in to my homosexuality" would lead to my spiritual death. I believed that if I did not take an active effort in trying to control the spread of my homosexuality to all areas of my life, that it would literally kill my spirit. As I got closer and closer to the edge, as I became that frog cooking ever so slowly in warming water, as I gradually became "past feeling", as I (insert your favorite fear tactic here), I became terrified of what I would lose when I did fall over the cliff and become that boiled frog and become that past feeling ex-nephite who was now a son of perdition.

Reader, I want to share something with you. I fell. I boiled. I changed. I can't believe what I found. My spirit is alive and thriving. I am whole. I am grateful. I am humble before God. I'm spiritually quickened. I'm connected to the Savior! What I was so afraid of losing was my connection to the Savior. I'm shocked. I thought I would have to choose one or the other. Gay or Mormon. That is true in a way. I guess I really can't be fully Mormon anymore. I'm not allowed to be with a man in any way (even in a legal and lawful union) and still be temple worthy. But what I realize now is that my connection to mormonism was mostly a need to feel connected to the Savior. And I feel Him in my heart in this very moment. I finally decided that I am not going to be a celibate gay mormon. I'm going to be me. I'm not even sure what that is yet, but I know what it's not. I will not be marginalized. I will not be celibate. I will be respected. I will be heard. I will be loved.

All sexuality is a gift. Homosexuality is beautiful. I hope that each of us will look inside and see beauty, not cancer. I pray that none of us will bring ourselves to the brink of death or beyond in the hope of killing his/her homosexuality. We are so beautiful. When will we learn to stop destroying ourselves? I hope that day is today. Today is our day of life.


playasinmar said...

Shouldn’t the same important things be the same important things whether the relationship is gay or straight?

Three cheers to you for having the conviction to follow your beliefs and not just talk about them.

playasinmar said...

To be clear: I do appreciate you talking about them. :)

J G-W said...

Keep your passion for life and your connection to God! It is in that intersection of body and spirit that we become a unified, joyful human soul!

I had one thought in response to your essay... It triggered a scriptural association. Jesus said, "He that findeth his life shall lose it: and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it."

Life is full of these paradoxes... We find new life only by passing through the shadow of the valley of death. Peace only comes through struggle. Cancer and chemo are horrible things, but it is often in the face of such dire experiences that we truly appreciate the value of life.

elbow said...

Once again you have proven to be whole and beautiful. I'm so proud of you. I look at your journey and feel as though you have found a greater more compasionate part of yourself and it's increasing with every passing day.

This dicotomy is the most fascinating paradox of the spiritual path. To sin is to not be connected to our Heavenly Father. Either we do or we don't, that's the trial of our faith, not who we love or how we love. Those details have nothing to do with our worshiping the Savior.

(I'm pulling on the necklace around my neck and sliding the chain back and forth as I say "I love you so much.")

Distinguishing Preoccupation said...

Hey, what an awesome post. I couldn't agree more. I am more alive now than I have ever been.

Parallel Mormon said...

Stripping Warrior:

I admire the devotion you have to making a place for spirituality in your life. I also somewhat admire your courage. However, your courage is not focused on bringing happiness into anyone's life, not even your own. It is focused on allowing yourself to surrender to your temptations.

You have proven what many Latter-day Saints deny, and wrongfully deny, that with Heavenly Father it is an "all or nothing" affair. But we read that He makes the sun shine on the righteous as well as the wicked, which is good since we all fall under the latter camp to varying degrees at any given moment. My point is that ultimately it is only a false Mormon folk belief that anyone who surrenders to sexual temptation, gay or straight, is cut off from any measure of the Spirit.

You glory in what you have discovered, and I am happy that you remain a man of faith, or perhaps you have become a man of faith. However, for those of us who blog in search of answers or encouragement, it is necessary to point out that those of us who opt to follow after the Lord have a wife who loves us and sticks by us through thick and thin, and beautiful little children who make everything in this life worthwhile.

I believe you chose wrongly, you are confused, you have been misled by your libido, you have sacrificed intense happiness, but you are my brother in faith.

I apologize for sounding judgmental, but I worry that MoHo brethren may look at your story and think that "it hath profited them nothing to walk mournfully before the Lord" and thereby be tempted to call "wickedness happiness." Yes, we can break the Law of Chastity and still feel the Spirit, still be guided, still feel the Savior's love--that does not mean He approves of our actions, nor does it mean that our sins are the best choice we could make. Has sleeping with men made you more like the Savior? Forgive my brusque question, but this is the elephant in the room that needs to be pointed out.

Your search for spirituality is beautiful, please do not get me wrong. Your choice to sleep around is sad as it distances you from who you are truly meant to be.

I hope no one else is swayed to the same mistakes by you just because you're young, articulate and handsome. If we think better above the waist, and then below the waist can become miraculous too. I know this for a fact.

Chris said...

parallel mormon:

You demean Clark--and yourself--when you reduce his journey to authenticity and peace with God to a simple matter of libido and sexual desire. Sexuality encompasses more than sex. It is a desire for inimacy and love and connection.

Your judgment is decidedly unChristian.

Parallel Mormon said...


Sexuality encompasses many things. One is a drive for sex, a need to join to another human being, a need to connect. There is also the need and capacity to love and care for another being, both the need to receive and the need to reciprocate.

Our homosexuality, and I am gay, our homosexuality is plain and simply a misguided libido, one that through no fault of our own went wrong in utero.

Therefore, we can do the right thing and trust that the Lord will open up a way for us to love a woman, or we can give in to the libido and join to a man. Homosexuality is no excuse for a man leaving his wife, for a cowardly man to buy his sexual gratification with her misery.

Moreover, in the resurrection the gay problem will be fixed rendering us either (a) heterosexually oriented toward our wife or (b) regretfully single for all eternity.

This is why gay marriage is no solution. Yes a man can love a man tenderly and with great nurture--this has to do with our capacity to give love and be loved. Yes a man can experience passionate intimacy with a man (the libido). But once the resurrection cures whatever went wrong with our libido, the two men will have no attraction for each other, and having entered a marriage partnership beyond the bounds set forth in the Melchizedek Priesthood, there is no more marriage relationship for eternity.

In case any MoHo brethren are reading they should take this into consideration.

As you well know, Chris, I have demeaned no one. Only withholding the truth would have been unchristian.

Chris said...

I don't "well know" that, parallel mormon. I stand by my statement.

What you have offered is your view based on your religious faith. Which is fine for you, but not the solution for all.

cl2 said...

AND here I am again. For parallel mormon. Me, being the ex-wife of a gay man agree with the gays on this issue. You are in denial.

I've walked the road of your wife. I had all the thoughts of "we are doing a righteous thing here"--and I've lived and seen the fallout of what you are attempting.

Being AUTHENTIC is much more life giving--as I have done both what you are doing and now am out of my gay'straight marriage. Your wife is losing something, too, and she doesn't even know it. She can't be authentic being married to a gay man who DOES NOT DESIRE HER. It is essential to her well-being.

For now, it is her choice (supposedly). Talk to us all in 5 years, 10 years . . .

Even my ex's friends who are still married are VERY ACTIVE SEXUALLY outside their marriage. Have you been completely faithful to your wife? When you have been married 20 years and have been faithful the entire time . . . call me. AND if you have cheated on your wife even emotionally, does she get to do the same--so she can know what it is like to connect at a very basic level with a man WHO TRULY DESIRES HER?