Thursday, January 24, 2008

Live Your Life and Don't Get Stomped by Giants

I have recently been corresponding with a young man who is going through a moment that I think bears some attention. I think there are some important lessons here for us all. He writes:

"My main struggle hasn't been my sexuality per se, but with falling in love with someone in the church who I believe is also gay but who is hell bent on trying not to be. This person prides himself on being my best friend but he's spent his whole life running from what's clearly inside him that he's just never able to let anyone really get close to him. We share an apartment together as well, and it's a minor miracle that he and I have gotten as close as we have. I'm really the only one he ever has been close with, until recently that is.

He met a girl who's 23 (he's 30 this month) this past September and he claims he's head over heels in love with her, so much so that they've set a wedding date. They're scheduled to be married in the spring of this year. I've been in agony over this, and I know I shouldn't but it's tough not to be. I really feel a connection with him and I know he does with me but he's so brainwashed by the church that he's determined to take this path. I'm at my wit's end. In the meantime, I have to "pretend" I'm ok with this. He wants me to be best man at the wedding (he has no idea of my feelings for him, although so many others who know of my sexuality say it's written all over my face, as are his feelings for me, which aren't nearly as overt). I just recently came out to him, hoping it would strike a chord in him and get him thinking about his own sexuality, but instead he posted on facebook the absolute next day that he was "definitely in love with Kim (who is his fianceƩ).

What advice would you give me? I feel like I may be losing him to his new wife because of the f*cking Mormon guilt trip that's placed on him. It's things like this that make me feel so bitter towards the church, and I don't want to feel that way. I have so many people who are Mormons that I care deeply about and turning on the church or having negative feelings towards it feels like I'm turning on them as well."

Because I have been recently moving, I wasn't able to respond for a couple of weeks. Recently I did respond asking him to catch me up on what was going on so I could send him my thoughts if he still wanted to confer. He added:

"The situation at hand hasn't changed that much except that his time away has increased more and more. During the time he is around, he has been more snappish and short with me for some reason for which I can't explain. When I have called him up on it, he tries to tell me that "it's how I'm receiving what he's saying and not how it's delivered" (a regurgitated, recycled Mormon saying that members use when they're called up on something that they can no longer substantiate, something I'm sure you're well aware of). When that doesn't work, he'll say he's just under stress with all the wedding plans. Whatever...

At one point he stated that his relationship was a gift from Heavenly Father and it took all of my will to not ask him why this relationship from God has him acting in a way that's not Christlike. Interesting irony, no?

What's more, my temple recommend expired this past July and I've made no efforts to get it renewed. Nor have I kept up with my tithing since then (finding out about how the church spends its tithing/offerings put a stop to that, for sure). The thing is, when he first asked me to be best man, he wanted me there for his sealing as well (why is it that I can't type "sealing" without rolling my eyes?) and I came clean as to my current temple status. He encouraged me to talk to the bishop and I haven't made plans yet to do so, although I will at some point. Either way I'm caught in between because I would like to be there at his important moment because I love him but I also don't want to be there to witness his sealing to someone else. I should be the one he's being betrothed to.

Interestingly enough, when I mentioned the sealing just this past weekend, he seemed more indifferent than before about my presence there, as if it would be no skin off his teeth if I wasn't there. I don't know if it's because he really feels that way or if it's because, knowing what he knows now, he doesn't think I'd ever get back into the temple and is just resigned to the fact that I won't be there."

I responded:

"This is a lot. I completely understand what you are feeling, but I have never been in this exact situation to be honest. I have had MANY friends get married to women, but never anyone that I was in love with-- I did know a guy who I had a crush on and he sort of admitted he was gay and it was hard for me to see him dating these insipid girls who were running around BYU, I wished he was dating me of course, but by the time he actually got married it was years later and I had gotten over my crush.

Here is the truth-- you can't stop him from doing this and if you try it will only make him push you away. I will tell you from experience that some of these guys do this and then realize what a mistake it was and end up getting divorced in less than 5 years. I have seen some go as long as 8, and I have seen some that are still going on today. Some seem to be succeeding greatly in the marriage, though to be honest its impossible to tell what is really going on in another person's marriage. A lot of guys in our situation need to do this for their own sense of "effort". If a gay guy is going to leave the church at some point, it is certainly more powerful to the haters to say-- 'I WAS MARRIED FOR X number of years and I know it was wrong for me. Don't tell me this and that because I tried it and it didn't work.' One of my closest friends (actually the guy who encouraged me to make my video blog) is just getting out of a pretty sticky divorce. He was married for about 3.5 years to a woman. So here's the thing. He knows on some level what you feel for him. He is going to have to push you away a little bit at least in order to make this marriage happen-- in order to "receive this gift from God" if you will. If you pit yourself against this marriage you will lose. You can't stand up against the pressure the the culture of mormonism and the guilt/fear rhetoric that we grew up in and expect to win. No matter how much he loves you back, he has to choose the church right now. If you decide to embrace this and be a supportive friend even though you think it is a mistake, then you both benefit. He gets to continue to have a gay friend that he can confide in, and if his marriage does dissolve or go under, you will be there to help him pick up the pieces. My friend needed a lot of help and comfort, and I was able to be there! I wasn't in love with my friend, so maybe you are saying it was probably easier for me to stand by him. The truth is he really separated himself from me during the year he got married. After he was settled into things he got back in touch with me. I would like to help you get through this, but you have a lot of choices, and none of them are easy!

Now the last thing I want to say is this-- we need to talk about YOU. Now I don't know to what extent, but you need to realize that continuing to focus yourself on him and his life does your life a disservice. If you can move forward on your own path (a much wiser one than your friend is taking in my opinion).. dating, exploring, etc. and searching for someone who is available and ready to love another man, then you will feel even more free to be there for your friend in his marriage. Let him do this-- he clearly craves this fight that he is drawing to himself. You will be happier if you move yourself forward and focus on what you can do to create the life you want. As much as you feel for him, there is a disconnect in loving someone who is not ready to love you back.. or someone who is unwilling to acknowledge their love for you in this case and is marrying someone else. DONT fall into the trap of basing your self-esteem or your attractiveness on whether or not he chooses you. That would literally be like saying-- Im going to let a giant stomp on me and I'll hate myself if he crushes me. Thats a self defeating behavior. Whatever you may want from this-- he is going to choose this marriage because HE NEEDS THIS MARRIAGE. Don't pit yourself against this desire of his because you will make yourself the loser in the situation. Let him do this-- be his friend-- and focus on YOUR LIFE and how you can start today to create the one you want. If you go to the temple or not-- set the intention today that you will start to move your own life forward. When we are living our life, we feel a lot less affected by the choices of others. Truly living has a powerful effect on the human spirit. We are not immune to the sticks and stones of the world, but we are certainly more prepared to let them bounce away harmlessly."

I would also like to add that it can be so easy for us-- those in and out of the church-- to start to feel bitterness toward the church. I believe that we are being marginalized as gay men and women in the church. While new statements saying "We honestly don't know why people are gay" have become more prevalent in talks and press releases from church leaders, the fact remains that we are not able to be fully embraced in the church as gay people if we are pursuing a same sex relationship, or even if we are legally and lawfully married to a same sex spouse. If we keep our sexuality and our feelings in check, we are at least allowed to sit at the back of the bus. Maybe that's enough. I don't think so. ALL THAT BEING SAID, we have to live our lives in a way that does not allow our frustration to turn to anger and our anger to bitterness. Of course we are frustrated! We are not the only ones who feel marginalized and ignored. People feel frustrated EVERY DAY by things in their lives. We always have the choice. Real power or fake power. Fake power to me: taking our frustration, embarrassment and fear and moulding it into a sword of anger and bitterness and then swinging wildly at anything in our path. Real power to me: taking our frustration, embarrassment and fear and feeling it-- sharing it in a spirit of love and compassion-- and releasing it to the Light when the time comes. Emotions pass through us to teach. If we hold onto them and use them as sources of power they stop teaching us and start infecting us. Be teachable and be then able to release when the time comes. Don't curse the dark room, light a candle.

I believe that the true balm to every ailment in this life is living our life happily. If we go after what we want in our short time on earth, we will always feel that we are engaged in something meaningful and authentic. What I want is not what you want. Only YOU can be the one to pursue authentic LIFE and LIVING.

10 comments:

MoHoHawaii said...

Great advice, Clark.

It seems as if your correspondent feels feelings toward his roommate that are both brotherly and ... hormonal. When this happens it's hard to think clearly and act in ways that are not colored by the romantic urges.

I think it's time for him to pull WAAAY back from this situation, for his own good.

Chris said...

Indeed.

I would add further that what your correspondent ultimately deserves is to fall in love with someone who is available to him. His roommate clearly is not, and that will do him no good.

Clark said...

I think you are both right. There is obviously something enticing in the unavailable-- but I think more than anything its fear that keeps a person hooked to someone who is not available. Face that fear head on and suddenly find the need to pursue that dead end road unnecessary. I hope that my correspondent will follow your wise counsel, brothers.. thanks for your comments!

Parallel Mormon said...

Clarky,

First of all, I meant to say way back when that "cream and crimson and silver and rose, and azure and lemon and russet and grey, and purple and white and pink and orange and blue!" is from Joseph's Amazing (Technicolor) Coat (though I cheated and Googled it).

Bud, it takes enormous magnanimity to steer this brother away from bitterness against the Church. Your advice to him that he should move on without bitterness would please even Dear Abbey herself.

I can honestly say that my decision to marry was largely from love for K, my testimony and my desire to fulfill my part in the Great Plan of Happiness. However, my decision was also tainted with some self-basement, shame and fear. I have since grown confident and happy in my decision, ultimately because I love my wife and honor my covenants, but if for no other reason, surely for our beloved daughter. I could never betray the woman who bore me my little E, and I believe gratitude to be a key to good character and humility. K got ill, toxemia, went under the knife (C-section), battled several post-operative infections, and all this to bear me little K. E saved me, so if for no other reason, and since my Savior really saved me for my Father, I'll staying in the way for good.

Though I would have advised this brother to strive without ceasing to overcome his SSA and eventually marry like his roommate, I would also add that the reality of Mormon guilt and shame do not of necessity negate other motivations which may be stronger. I love that you acknowledged that this roommate needs to follow through with his marriage, and your advice for this poor chap who lost out on love, the advice being to move on and focus on himself, in and of itself is good indeed, in my book.

You obviously do not need my two bits on the matter, but I am glad to see you out helping others. I was worried about you after your more recent posts where you were down. Looks like you have bounced back.

Take care!

cl2 said...

So--are you Lawrenzz? I haven't had time to read these posts--and I'm not a "member" of youtube. Someone from exmormon.org directed me to your videos. I just wanted to tell you HOW REFRESHING!!!! I haven't listened to all of them yet--but you address all the issues I've dealt with in my own journey. I'm the wife (separated 12 years) of a gay man. My story can be found at wearewildflowers.com I am Colleen. I no longer believe in the church. When I wrote my story for wildflowers, I was still questioning.

My ex and I are good friends and I am now in a relationship with the "love of my life" who I had wanted to marry 30 years ago, but he was not a mormon.

I just wanted you to know how very REFRESHING your videos have been for me to listen to.

cl2 said...

WHOA! WHOA! WHOA! I didn't read the whole story on this most recent blog--I know I've read the exact story on exmormon.org.

AND for parallel mormon . . .

I went through toxemia, preeclampsia, c-section and had twins 22 years ago for my gay husband. I married him knowing he was gay.

IT ISN'T OKAY THAT GAYS GET MARRIED. You have NO IDEA what I have been through and what my children have been through. I don't care what the church says. I have met VERY FEW gays that were able to stay faithful to their spouses. I do know some who are still married--but all but one that I know have have cheated on their wives.

IS THIS FAIR to the woman?

I "guess" I can't judge because I can see how, after all the h*ll I've been through--and it was LIVING H*LL--that there has been good come from our marriage, but here we are almost 25 years since I found out my ex is gay and we still have gays marrying women??!?!? Have we not learned anything?!?!?

Some of the gays in the LDS church (and at BYU) need to stand up and say, "I refuse to use a woman's life in this fashion"--as that is what you are doing. You are conducting an EXPERIMENT at HER EXPENSE. (Most women don't know you are gay when you marry them,--RIGHT--I'm one of the few who did know.)

I have empathy for your situation--but, please, please, please--THINK ABOUT THE WOMAN before you take her into this h*ll on earth. Think about her right to be married to someone she can be authentic with.

Read my story. It isn't pretty.

cl2 said...

I'll say ONE MORE THING and then I'll hopefully only read. I am very, VERY opinionated on this subject (I wonder why).

IF you are going to tell your friends that they need to "follow their hearts" or whatever, marry the woman and see how it turns out (what a lovely statistic--3 to 5 years)--I challenge you to tell them to tell the woman they are marrying that THEY ARE GAY. DO NOT ALLOW THEM to marry someone without telling them they are gay. The woman has a right to know--SHE HAS A RIGHT TO KNOW. I'll be FOREVER grateful to my ex for telling me beforehand. It also made it possible for us to be friends now--as he was HONEST with me. Of course, I had no clue what I was getting into--but at LEAST I KNEW.

I challenge all of you to tell your gay friends to TELL THEIR PROSPECTIVE SPOUSES.

Three to five years--what a joke! You are messing with the lives of LIVING, BREATHING HUMAN BEINGS. This isn't a game.

Clark said...

Wow cl2 thank you so much for your comments. Your voice is a voice that we do not often hear in these parts.. and I am so happy to have found you and found your story. I am very anxious to hear your story in its entirety. I thank YOU for not disappearing into the ranks and remaining silent about your experience. If we all just silence ourselves then there will be no voices that say out loud what many young men and women are thinking but are afraid to verbalize. Not everyone is going to agree with what you say about marriage-- but I want you to know that I am 100% in agreement.. I don't think gay men should be marrying women. I think we all are at risk to be caught up in these experiments. I have often felt as if I am just collateral damage in one religions fight to prove to itself that it is the truth. Its like this: if these gay people are willing to go against the very nature of who they are sexually and emotionally in order to stay in the gospel and be celibate or marry a woman, then doesn't that prove the church is true? I would answer, NO. It doesn't prove anything except that we can be very masochistic at times.. or something like that. In any case-- thank you for your voice. Please make yourself at home here.

Parallel Mormon said...

Clark and cl2:

First of all, we all have a right to be opinionated, especially if by our own experience we have achieved personal insight.

Second, all marriages can be designated "experiments," since it is impossible to know the twists and turns of life's path let alone how we will react and grow at the onset, in the beginning.

But, the experiment is part of faith. Yes, Clark, if the Church is true, then even a gay man can change. You were once happy, beaming, bright, and now that light of truth and testimony is gone, though not because the departure of your testimony was somehow divinely predestined; you own that decision and outcome.

Cl2, the Lord is the one who commanded marriage, and He atoned for all sins to help us come unto Him and overcome all.

I regret that your marriage fell apart, but my advice to you is the same advice I give to my own mother and anyone else--take the big picture into account. The only way you can characterize your 25 year marriage as a living hell is to include your twins boys in it.

We as humans inadvertantly allow pain to lead us into maligning even the best things in life when we narrate our sufferings focusing inordinately on the pain. If my marriage were to fall apart, I would say this: My marriage failed because of my weaknesses and those of my wife, probably mostly from mine. But the marriage was worth it because I got my sweet baby out of it. She makes everything worthwhile, and I would gladly go to hell and back if that was the price I had to pay to have her. She makes everything worhtwhile.

But I have chosen instead to follow the Lord, and so my marriage is worth any challenge because I love my wife, she is the love of my life, she is my family, my home, my lover, my confidante. And did I mention my daughter?

So even if your marriage ended painfully, ever always say it was worthwhile because you got your two boys out of it. Say you'd do it again just to have them, say the marriage was the right thing because you have the proof it was right--your two boys.

Everyone should reject the false and foolish tradition of limited choices. Clark, you'll never be fully happy until you repent and marry a woman. This choice is there for you, you're not left out of the plan. You could be narrating happiness instead of narrating cool accommodation to sin.

But don't get me wrong, you are a very interesting person, talented, articulate, magnetic. And I appreciate you steering people away from physical doom. You're clearly good at this, so I applaud your efforts therein. Please don't let expertise in one area lead you to presume expertise in all areas, though. You can pull guys back from the cliff's edge, but where do they go from there? Only the Truth will really fulfill, and then, only if we choose to embrace it.

Clark said...

Parallel Mormon.. with all due respect, that's dumb. I am already leaps and bounds happier than I was while I was trying to marry a woman.. and that's just the fact of the matter. I know you have a really hard line to hold here, but don't get carried away and assume that REALLY IS the answer for all of humanity. Come on. There is much more to do than defend the church. As I said before.. I am not attacking it.. therefore why are you defending? We have to do what missionaries do.. build on common beliefs. I am not trying to convince you I am right and you won't be able to convince me. I have heard these things my whole life. I would definitely believe already them if I found them to prove true for me. Let's build on what we have now. Its time.