Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Coming Out Atheist

Andrew over at Irresistible (Dis)Grace took me down memory lane with his post Growing up as an atheist Mormon.  I started to write a comment to his post but ended up writing this post instead. 

Along with coming out about BDSM and then later homosexually, I also had to come out again about my atheism.  Strange thing was that it was harder to do.  I had repressed it longer.

I recall a time when I was probably around 7 or 8 and started pondering the meaning of life.  I remember it was nearing the time that I was to get baptized.   I was always doing a lot of thinking. One summer afternoon I had an epiphany as such that whatever it was I was supposed to believe in was all crap.  Unfortunately, at that age I didn't know any better and dismissed that thought.  I had long discovered in my youth that it was NOT OK to have dissenting opinions about beliefs in the nature of God as I was continually made aware.

The rest of the story was just as Andrew said.  Basically trying to understand why none of it was engaging or appealing.  To me it was all pretty silly.  And there was always that nagging feeling in me that I was always disregarding what I felt to be right.  But fear compelled me to set it aside for social acceptance and try harder to understand why they "felt the spirit" and I didn't.   What was this "burning in the bosom"?   What was that?   Ironically, I never felt that feeling until I actually started taking that path of authenticity which led me right out of the church.  And now I understand what that feeling really is for me.  It's a real physical sensation and is always associated with deep emotional healing.  Ironic in that most of the time that "burning in the bosom", that healing, comes to me through the very things the church spends it's time and money on to demonize and condemn.

It's interesting to me that the church can be a healing place for some but complete anathema for others.  A part of me resents the church for manipulating people like that.  But then a part of me sees that many church members, such as my mom, seem to know where the truth stops and the dogma starts.   Still, I would love for her and everyone else to be truly free of such nonsense but then, in the end, it's her truth.  Who is to say I have any say over her truth or anyone else's for that matter.   Just like no one else has any say over mine.  

Saturday, December 12, 2009

My Life As an Enabler

I have been for awhile kicking around the idea of writing an article concerning codependency and the Mormon Church. Not just the relationships with the people in the church but the relationship with the institution itself.

Well, Hypatia, over at Seeking Desideratum, essentially beat me to it and brilliantly as well in her article: Religion and Codependency.

I don't really have anything to add.

Thank you, Hypatia.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Wanna fight?!

For the past several months I've been in one of those moods where I feel like picking a fight with Mormons again.  I get really fed up with the stupidity and I just want to make a point of telling people they are being hypocritical. 

I used to be on a mailing list with several friends.  The list was intended as a social community to stay in touch.  On occasion politics would get brought up and create heated debates filling my inbox with 30 page email posts.  I despise politics. I have a hard time doing nothing more with it than mocking it.  Equal opportunity left and right so I didn't read most of it.  Just skimmed for key words to get the gist of what they were saying. Unfortunately I found that on a few instances a few of them managed to find a way to offend me when they took whole classes of people and demonized them for a political point.  The first of which was right after hurricane Katrina.  The next one was last year when one expressed his outrage that our government was endorsing immoral and perverted sexual behavior in referring directly to gay marriage.  The comment was out of the blue because the discussion was about the economic bailout prompted by some article on a Mormon blog that happen to mention that gay rights were an example of corrupt government.   ( It seems that no matter the topic many Mormons will find a way to make it about "Teh Gays".) 

For the most part I just stay quiet.  And I eventually left the group as I didn't want to be tempted to spew a bunch of angry words as I made the mistake of doing a few times in the past.  I'm still friends with most of the people from that list on Facebook, just not the ones who made those remarks. 

But here is my problem.  On occasion they continue to throw out their view of life and take for granted that they think they are "preaching to the choir".  Every so often they express their disgust for the declining morals of society and then go on to list what they are.  They always seem to include homosexuality as that is one of the many things in the Mormon church's handbook of things that destroy societies.  It's those people I want to pick the fight with. And sometimes all I have to do is post something on Facebook that disagrees with the church and wait for the arguments to start.  It's as if all I really want to do is state my piece and let them make a fool of themselves as they state theirs.  So, which choir do I think I'm preaching to?   

I hope that those people will take me off their friends list rather than just "hide" or ignore me.  That's all I really want.  I feel like I'm walking around amongst people who despise me but rather than be honest and tell me up front, they do it behind my back.  But after they remove me then I can hate them for it.  I never said I wasn't a hypocrite.  I just want them to see where they are one too.  And those that stay with me I would hope that they learned something of the whole discussion and got some perspective.  I hope I get some perspective too.

I've been cranking in my mind how there could be a connection between the people who so strongly believe their religion and those that see religion as a form of mental illness. And that's just it.  If we do see it as a mental illness then the correct way of dealing with it is clinical.  Meaning that we must employ the skills of a psychologist.

It's like the time I realized a solution to the rocky relationship with my dad.  I had for years been expecting a 60+ year old man to have the maturity of a 60+ year old man.  But when I realized I had to handle him with the skill and patience the same way one would with a deeply troubled 5 year old child, things started working out and our relationships improved dramatically.

Unfortunately most of us, including me, don't have the patience and skills to deal with the insanity that is religion despite having dug out of that hole myself.  So we end up fighting with the insane.   Lose-Lose!

*Sigh*

And here I am, trying to pick a fight with insanity.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Comeuppance

We got a new employee the other day.  She is transgender.  It's our first one and a first for most of the people who work here.  Hell, I think it's a first for the entire fucking region!  So, the buzz around the office has been, "Have you SEEN 'HER'!"

 I completely respect transgender people and I will defend them.  I don't need to fully understand the nature of what it's like to be transgender to respect and honor someone who is.  Because I'm out to some of my co-workers, some of them will come up to me and ask me about it assuming I know anything about it or actually understand it.  Most of the time people are just confusing sexual orientation with gender identity. But I'm not an expert and I tell them the truth, "I don't fully understand it but here is what I know from a clinical perspective...etc."   

But, I was really holding out for the inevitable to happen.  The gay/trans jokes.  It's bad enough working in a cultural environment that is sexist and homophobic but this?  It was just too much for most people to keep their stupid mouths shut.

So, one day, there we were, me and two of my co-workers, who I'm out to, where all doing some work together when a third co-worker came in to help.   But, for reasons only known to him, probably because the buzz is still fresh on everyone's mind, he just randomly tells a very rude gay/transgender joke.  One co-worker, she feigned not to get it.  The other co-worker, he just stared in shock. Me, I just turned and went back to what I was doing as the joke teller, seeing that no one laughed, tried to explain it, digging himself in deeper.  Shortly after which he seemed to appear embarrassed and left the room.  I didn't bother saying anything to him.  I was going to get my revenge later.

I friended him on Facebook. 

He avoids eye contact with me now.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Unlovable

As much as my life has gotten a million times better I still, for whatever reason, find that I dance on that edge of suicide from time to time.  As I am doing now.  What were the triggers this time? 
People and friends, who I thought were friends,  turning their backs on me, pushing me aside like I'm nothing.  My existence is somehow anathema to them.    This too shall pass, but when?  Will I have any friends left?  And what is a friend anyway?  Loneliness is terrifying!

Ever since LDS conference I've been feeling the cold shoulder from people.  No doubt because of the talk by Oaks in which he tries to expound on all the conditions that must be met before God can give unconditional love.  Is that the Mormon God or Oaks's God?  It is one in the same, as Oaks speaks for the Mormon God.    I don't believe in that God.  I don't care if an imaginary being loves me or not.  But they do.  So they can't love me because I don't meet the conditions that their God requires.    Who are these people?

Sunday, October 4, 2009

I am a Queer Spirit

Well it's been a few weeks since the Queer Spirit Retreat out in Utah and I've just now had a chance to take a moment and decompress the jumble of thoughts in my head.

The retreat was an amazingly positive experience for me and completely opposite of what the LDS religion could ever offer.  And in a sense, because it was in September, it marked the two year reunion of my personal crisis that led me down the road of confusion, despair, apostasy, awakening, renewal, joy and peace.  Now, two years later, it marks the beginning of a new and happier chapter of my life. 

I'm rather amazed at just how little drama my life has anymore.  It used to be that so much of my life, every little detail, every little thought, decision, action, expectation, and desire was weighted down with anxiety.  Because every little thing had to be scrutinized for its value good or bad, I had to have certainty where something was going to lead me, heaven or hell, and most of the time I just couldn't get it.  No longer do I feel the need to do that anymore.  Now every so often when I meditate on my life,  I amaze myself at just how uncomplicated it all really is when we let go of the things that we have no control over.  Letting go.  Letting go of beliefs that do not work for us.  Letting go of needing to be right.  Letting go of ego.  And in letting go, what is left is pure authenticity.  Honesty. 

Oh, the lies we tell and believe.  I look back at my life and see the trend as I was spiraling down to my own personal depths of becoming homophobic and how I didn't recognize the irrationality.  My world view and personal identity was defined by lies.  And those lies covered the pain.  My ego was in control of my life, protecting me with lies.  The ego is stupid.  It doesn't know what a lie is but it wants to protect it no matter what.  The ego can't know if what it's protecting is causing more harm.  It just protects it with whatever we give it.  And what I always gave it were lies.

When I came out to myself and finally accepted my sexuality, I found myself craving absolute honesty.  I was no longer going to deceive myself or other people to protect my beliefs or theirs.  And if the truth hurt, the honesty hurt, I knew I had to let go of my ego.

When I think about what it takes to be honest I still find myself struggling with it. Growing up in a religious culture that required me to deny the reality of my surroundings so that it would conform to a belief, a lie, has given me this horrible, habitual, dishonest, thinking pattern that I fight with all of the time.   So many things where never to be thought, spoken, or acted upon.  It all builds up and permeates other aspects of life. 

We have to hide our fears and pretend to be happy.  We don't want people to think the religion is making us depressed.  We don't want to make the church look bad.  We certainly don't want to admit to ourselves that we have compromised the things we know to be true so that we can belong to the "one true religion" in order to receive all the blessings from a god that we hope exists.  We even convince ourselves that we know that "He" really does exist.  Lie after lie after lie.   After awhile I didn't know what was true anymore.  I didn't even understand how I really felt about things.  I couldn't at any moment in my life make a decision without consulting an authority.  My thinking was done for me.  And yet my life was in shambles. 

The world terrified me.   Meeting new people terrified me. I would have so much anxiety I could never look at anyone. I could never actually speak honestly. I was so ashamed of myself that I would lie or divert attention to someone else just so people wouldn't pay attention to me.  I judged people.  The judgments were all lies I told to myself.  All lies I believed.  It all lead to my own personal crisis two years ago in September where my entire world turned upside down and I spent months dancing on the edge of suicide. 

But I finally came to some closure early Saturday morning at the retreat as I noticed two individuals off in the distance standing on the stairway to the upper floor of the 2nd ranch house as I waited to watch the sunrise. I knew they saw me.  But I didn't have the courage to talk to them.  I still wasn't quite free of my judgmental thinking and how it had ruled my life to the point of mental breakdown.   Always judging people by what I think they would be thinking about me, always afraid that they would hate me for my sexuality, queerness and just general social awkwardness.   Again, all lies.

But I knew their story from the night before and I was in empathy with them.  I had only faced early death as a choice.  They were facing it as an inevitability.   I had no right to judge anyone, especially myself.  Still, that morning, I just stood there for about an hour and cried. Mostly to mourn the loss of my old life, the life that I wanted but never had or will ever have. But in the end, whether I talked to them or not, just their mere presence that morning was a major healing experience for me.   And had I spoken to them that day I would have known that they would reciprocate that empathy.

After all these years, looking for my place in the world I didn't realize that I didn't need to leave Utah to find it. Well, actually, I DID need to leave Utah to discover that I didn't need to leave Utah.   My community wasn't where I was located; it was the people with whom I associate with.  But I was always waiting for someone to come knocking at my door to invite me. Ironically when they did I would judge them too harshly and push them away. I've gotten to that point now where I realize that if I don't go knocking I will never know what it's like to live. And if I'm going to accept someone else's effort to reach out to me I must be able to reach back and be ready to do it blindly.  But most importantly, I have to stop judging people.  I will never know what others are truly thinking about me anyway and in the end it doesn't matter what they think.

Two years ago I would never have even thought about doing something like this retreat.  But here I am.  It's really strange to admit this, but after 40 years on this planet, I finally feel like I've grown up a little.

Sunday, September 13, 2009

My Two Dates

Online dating is a bitch. Well, dating in general is a bitch.  At least it is for me.  Much of the time it's just awkward but every so often it seems like people act stupid, unfair or cruel -- especially on the Internet!

Sometimes I get guys who start off flirting with me but then never seem to get past that stage.   It's always nice to start like that but if I put any effort into starting a normal, sane, conversation and it just kept going back to this flirting, it's not fun anymore, it's obnoxious.  The worst ones are the ones that sound like a broken record.  Who knows, they are probably drunk.  It's just one of the many experiences that put me on edge about the whole Internet dating game.

And then there are the ones who try to converse but don't seem to have much to say.  The conversation is really just two and three word sentences.  Minus even more points if they insist on using all of the internet/texting alternate spellings. 

Him: "hi"
Me: "Hello"
Him: "wut u in 2?"
Me: "Oh, lots of things.  It's all in my profile.  Anything specific you would like to talk about?"
Him: "like 2 c u." 
Me: ...

Sorry, conversation is over.

Now sometimes I'll let the alternate spelling slide by if there seems to be intelligent and earnest conversation getting through.  I realize that it can be difficult to type for some people and the ironical things is I'm a notorious misspeller over the chat myself.

Many, many months ago, I was contacted by someone named Dan.  The conversation started off much like above but he had just enough to say that kept me interested for longer than usual but I found myself still getting put off by the exchange.  His was acting coy, truthful but terse.  He surmised a lot of correct information about me but refused to answer specific questions I posed to him.   A few times he stated that he would prefer not to answer when I asked him the exact equivalent question he asked me.   WTF? 
  
Despite all of that I did learn that he has a current boyfriend or "bf" has he put it.  And they had been together for around 15 years.  That frustrated me.  Why was he so interested in me?  He already had someone.  Was he looking for an affair?  I know a few people like that and I'm not a fan of that particular lifestyle.  Although, I did wonder if this was an open relationship.  I might be OK with that but at the time I just didn't want to deal with it.  So, I left the conversation hanging and ignored him.   It was stupid, I felt like he was being unfair and I assumed he had cruel intentions.  Besides, I'm more interested in friendships or serious relationships rather than hookups.   And it felt like at this point he was pursuing a hookup.

As the months went by, it appeared like Dan was stalking me, which didn't improve my opinion of him at all. I could see that he was checking my profile for activity every few days.  He could tell when I logged on but I assumed that if he could see that I wasn't visiting his profile he would get the idea that I wasn't interested in him.  I just wanted him to go away.  Although, he wasn't harassing me so I didn't feel the need to block him.

Then many months later he contacts me again.  This time, for whatever reason, I was more relaxed but I was still a bit defensive and felt determined to stay in control of the conversation.  I replied in a curt manner -- or as curt as could be perceived over a short text communication.  He was a bit more open with me this time.  Almost immediately he told me wanted to have a threesome.   WHAAA?!

OK!  That wasn't what I expected.

But I was still suspicions that he was looking for an affair so I asked him in my most snippy tone -- albeit lost in the text only communication - who I would be having a threesome with.  When he told me his boyfriend, Scott, well, of course, this was one of those types of couples.  What is one of those types of couples?  I have no idea, just lots of assumptions and labels and shit that I had been taught over the years about "those" types of couples.  I had so much negative vibe about it all I couldn't even give you specifics. 

But, all this time, he wasn't playing the game I thought he was playing.  After several more exchanges about why he was so coy and discreet I realized I was being a huge hypocritical asshole.  Considering the place we live and the culture of the community and the type of work they were in, etc., I would have done the same thing had I been in his situation.  It was still a game but I had completely misjudged what game he was playing and I immediately thought it was one of those shitty type games.

Although I was skeptical about a threesome, I was curious, and I was also looking for friendship.  I wanted to get to know them and try to understand what it was they were looking for.  Besides, I didn't have any friends out here who were gay.  Dan and Scott offered to take me out to dinner and I accepted. We had a pleasant time talking about the weather, work, religion, and life.  

For whatever reason, whether it was Dan's approach or perhaps just the awkwardness of using simple text based communication, I had gotten it completely wrong.  And I had thought the worst of this person, these people.  The stupid, unfair and cruel thoughts.  My assumptions were simply my bias based solely on labels about people that I had grown up believing.  Stupid, unfair and cruel labels that had become deep seated beliefs fully ingrained into my thinking -- in other words, emotional baggage.   The kind of emotional baggage you don't know you have until it suddenly slaps you upside the head and turns you into an asshole.

Scott did say he wanted to keep in touch.  And I feel like I could be friends with these guys but that part about the threesome...I don't think it will happen.  I'm just not that drawn to the idea enough to really care about it.  Besides, it just brings up a completely different set of emotional baggage.  This time it's a matched set that has never been used.  Boy, they sure look spiffy with their reinforced zippers, castor wheels and rather pleasant blue floral pattern.  Who knows what may be lurking in those bags that will dial up my asshole mode to eleven.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

I Must Needs Be Labeled

Over the past few months I've been thinking about how I would go about resetting my blog.  I felt like I had gotten to a point where I was writing myself into a corner on account of how I talked about my goals for the blog vs. where it ended up going.  Ultimately, I was using this blog to search for my identity.  But upon trying on different things in that attempt, I found myself getting locked into conditions that I wasn't comfortable with.   I started to worry a lot about being consistent, as if I was writing to an audience that was expecting me to only write a particular way and only about particular things. 

I wanted to present myself in a way that showed that I was mature, refined and intelligent.  Am I any of those things?  Who am I?  What am I?  What does it mean to be something?  I have been trying to figure that out my whole life.  I needed a definition.   I wanted to find my voice.  And I was searching for a role.  What is my role? 

It took me awhile to realize that when trying to define who I am by assigning myself a role, I'm no longer myself.  I'm that role.  And what was defining this role?  Perceptions?  Who's perceptions?  Mine?  Or my opinion of how I think others would perceive me.   Yeah, not just how I think others would perceive me but my opinion of how I think others would perceive me.   Such that I would attempt to predict how they might perceive me in a particular way, and then I would add to that judgment a judgment, good or bad, based solely on what I judge they might be thinking. 

Complicated?  Yeah, and fucking ridiculous too.  It's all a judgment of a judgment of a judgment of a judgment where all judgments are pulled out of my ass. I could probably channel that creativity into something more productive.

Unfortunately it's a bad habit from decades of habitually not thinking about the habitual thinking patterns that feed themselves with more bad habitual non-thinking. 

Wait, does that even make sense?  Yea, it does now that I've reread it a few times.  I just had to think about it.

We are taught in our youth that labels matter.   Yes, we are taught this.  We are taught to identify ourselves by those labels.  Is that why insults and name calling hurt so much?  Is it no wonder why we are cautioned not to use them to intentionally hurt people?  If labels didn't matter, we couldn't use them to hurt.  But they do matter and we do use them to hurt.  All the while we tell ourselves that we don't mean to hurt people. But we do. And we hurt ourselves too.

We give others permission, we give ourselves permission and sometimes we think we've been given permission by The Lord God Almighty™  to use labels, sometimes to intentionally hurt people.  The scriptures are full of labels.  Lists and lists of them.  All based on the author's personal bias.  Who is the author?  God?  It depends on who you talk to but many believe it was god.  Many of those believers gave themselves important, authoritarian sounding labels which gave them power over those who didn't. 

I spent decades being deceptively beaten into submission and subjected to the dictates of importantly labeled people.  So, any of my efforts to define my existence had basically been done for me.  I didn't have to figure it out.  I took it for granted that the labels placed on me, as to my identity, were who I really was?  

It started with simple labels that put an identity to how my behavior was being perceived by others: shy, quiet, bashful, funny, obedient, mature, depressed, arrogant, obnoxious, intelligent, annoying.   These were incidental moments, but over time, I adopted them as to who I was.  I could identify with these things easily. The definitions came from a dictionary.

Then there were the more abstract and complicated labels.  These were to deepen my identity and give it greater responsibility: Son, Brother, Friend, Student, Christian, Mormon, Child of God, Sinner, Homosexual, Abomination, Sodomite, Pervert, Pedophile, Apostate.  These roles were harder to define.  Too many different perspectives and opinions as to what these roles meant.  It was harder to adapt to these roles.  They kept changing depending on the time or the place or the other person's perception.  I resisted many of them but they would stir in the back of my mind, beckoning me to define and attach to my identity. 

What did they say about me?  Obnoxious?  Christian? Sinner? Mature? Pervert? Child of God? Pedophile? Am I these things?  How do I know?  How do they respond to the idea of each of these things?  If they think the label is positive can I meet their expectations? Should I meet them?  If it's negative is it true?  What is my experience?  If I believe their perceptions are valid then those labels might be true, even if I don't like them, even if they are not true.  What do I do?  If they are not true am I going to need to take on opposing roles so as to appear unpredictable and inconsistent, also labels, in order to hide or disassociate from them?  Hopefully those labels would be taken away if I did.  Or do I just resign my identity to the labeling authorities' and live accordingly so as not to counter their expectations of what I should do thereby avoiding unwanted conflict? 

It's psychotic.  Once these labels are assigned, they taint how we perceive others and ourselves; we distort who we really are. 

So, all this time I've been caught up in labels, caught up with needing a label for my identity.  Who am I?  What am I?  What am I right now?   Does it have a label?  Writer?  Brother?  Son?  Homosexual?  Pervert? Etc.?  Or can I just believe that I am mature, refined and intelligent?  At least that's what I tell myself to counter the negative labels that I've been forced to identify with.  But, ultimately, that just causes me to take on a role of self-righteousness and arrogance as it's only a reaction to anyone who I perceived as not being mature, refined and intelligent.

No.  I'm not any of these things.  They are all someone else's version of me.  And in the end these roles require that I behave in ways that are also defined by someone else.  None of them describe the being that is me. 

Does it matter? 

I want to understand myself but, again, the moment I think I have an understanding I've already assigned it a role, a label, based on someone else's perception.  It's the classic physics problem wherein the attempt to measure the event causes the event to change.  We are only ourselves when we are not trying to define, label or categorize ourselves.

Our existence seems to evade traditional definability.  Are we then indefinable?  We can't even say we are human as that is really only a label to describe our physical from.  It's not who we are.  The best I could say as a definition is that we are beings who are aware of ourselves. 

So, when I'm not thinking about who I am, I'm not trying to be someone.  At that point I'm just me. If I can be content to never understanding who I am does that mean I've finally found who I am?   I can't really put my finger on why, but this actually makes sense to me. 

So, anyway, back to this blog... I've decided what I'm going to do about it. 

Nothing. 

It is what it is: a public presentation of some guy's journey in life marked with specific points in time by long strings of words that reflect the contents of his brain as he dumps it from a big dump truck and pipes it into the series of tubes that is the Internet. 

He'll think whatever, and write whatever.

You can read whatever and think whatever.  If you feel inclined to comment, you can write whatever.

Win-Win!

Yay!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Looking Back


NOTE:

The following was a letter I sent to my mom in July of 2008. It was an attempt to explain to her my rocky relationship with the church over the years. It's interesting to look back and see what I was working through during my moments of clarity, although, parts of it are aimless and incoherent. It is what it is and marks a milestone
in my path to thinking for myself. WARNING: It's long. But then I had a lot to say.


---

Well, I keep going back to the churches official statement on homos.

http://newsroom.lds.org/ldsnewsroom/eng/public-issues/same-gender-attraction

And it's continually laced with behavior this and behavior that.

OAKS: "The distinction between feelings or inclinations on the one hand, and behavior on the other hand, is very clear. It's no sin to have inclinations that if yielded to would produce behavior that would be a transgression. "

WICKMAN: "One of the great sophistries of our age, I think, is that merely because one has an inclination to do something, that therefore acting in accordance with that inclination is inevitable. That's contrary to our very nature as the Lord has revealed to us. We do have the power to control our behavior."

Remember about what I said regarding behavior that is unconscious.
They are not referring to that. It appears that they don't recognize it at all. What they are getting at is holding hands, hugging, kissing, etc. Behaviors that would get one kicked out of BYU if it was between the same sex. Those are visual, made by choice and are judged by them as sinful, disgusting, abominable, perverted etc. Between opposite sex it's expected and desired behavior.

Wickman is especially offensive when he refers to it as a lifestyle and that we are just simply "afflicted with same-gender attraction". His statement is basically why I have to get the fuck out of here. The reality is not that I'm afflicted with same-gender attraction, the reality is that I'm afflicted by other peoples ignorance and bigotry and fear. The semantics of the argument are to twist it into what amounts to as emotional blackmail.

Check out the section where he uses his handicapped daughter as a tool for manipulating his point. It has a place as an illustrative example but it is manipulative because to me it compares apples to asparagus.

I'm still trying to argue with these people in my mind. I feel the need to challenge these things because it's very clear to me that the truth is getting manipulated with semantics in order to misrepresent or demonized homosexuality as it exists within natural human behavior. It's frustrating to me because I don't know how to communicate what it is they are doing all of the time.

They just don't understand how hurtful it is to be marginalized especially in the very subtle ways they are doing it. It's hard to let go of. Right now I'm lacking any gay affirming influences because I'm so isolated out here. But that's just what they want me to avoid. As long as I can never accept who I really am they will be able to exhort a measure of control over me. I just don't know what to do right now.

Somehow I can't help but think that the truth of my existence has been used against me in order for the church to exhort some sort of control. But what is this control? Why do they want to control? That I don't understand. With control there is no agency. But they keep teaching agency but it's always associated with the teaching of consequences. But that is common sense. However it's tainted. It's loaded down with promises of things to come. I must have faith and I must make the right choice or I will not reap the benefits of the after life. If I fail to make the right choice I will be cut off. Promises and threats, to warn me of the right and wrong choice. And then a judgment on what is right and wrong. It's as if I'm not allowed to think for myself. But then if I don't make the choice I'm told to make, then the church cuts me off and says that I've cut myself off from god. I'm controlled or "forced" to pick the right choice. But what about the reward? Well if I didn't get the reward than I'm told I didn't choose "hard" enough. This sounds hyperbola. The explanation may seem contrived but the experience and the feelings are not.

This is madness. I come to the church for answers and put effort into it and they promise answers and all I get back are reasons why I'm not going to get answers. I get condemnation for something I didn't choose. Telling me (at least in the past) that it was something I did or created and that I didn't work hard enough to be rid of it or I really didn't want it to go away. Why did I put so much trust in the church? Because I was told that the church was [guided with] this mysterious thing called the spirit and that would give normal people knowledge beyond what the world could ever figure out on their own. I wanted this great spirit to give me knowledge and answers.

But those answered never came. Why? I was told that I didn't have enough faith. What was faith? I believed that I would get answers and was told that the reason I got nothing because I didn't have enough faith and if I wanted answers I had to work harder. I didn't know that believing and faith were the same thing. But whatever the case may be, I was lead to believe that what ever was lacking was my fault and I would have to figure out what the problem was on my own and if I asked god he would help though the spirit. In the mean time I invest time and even some money into this church and all I get back is someone telling me that I'm not doing it right.

But then what is the church for? The church is for the people. Then why do the people have to work so hard for the church? Why must I prove to the church my worthiness?

I'm told that I must repent of homosexual tendencies. Tendencies? So these are things that I can "stop doing" or swing back to heterosexual tendencies? That sounds laughable.

To do that, I have to rid myself of them. How? This is so inherent to my ingrained thinking I don't know how to think any other way. I have to destroy that part of me. How? I can only deny that part of me. I have to lie to myself. How can that create a stable personal identity? It doesn't. I should know. I tried it. But I still had no concept for heterosexual tendencies.

It bugs the shit out of me that the church only thinks of it in terms of erotic attraction. I can't even begin to explain how surreptitious that line of rationalization is. It's as if to admit that if it's anything other than sex then it would put it in danger of getting legitimized.

There seems to be this preoccupation with sex. It seems to be one of the most prominent tools used to control and manipulate in the church.

I have never known a time in this church when I never felt like I was being manipulated, controlled and punished. There was always something I wasn't doing right. And it didn't matter how small and mundane. It got to the point that everything in my life had a right and wrong answer. I couldn't trust my own judgment anymore. How could I? No matter what I thought, there was always someone else judging my decision as not in accordance with the "right" choice. I didn't really know what that the judgment of "right" was. I had the spirit but I couldn't figure it out. There was always some authority figures with the spirit who would always tell me my choices were "wrong".

They were always people in the church.

So the church is made out of men. Men who are constantly telling us that the lord directs the church. But then where is the lord on this issue? I guess it doesn't really matter that much. I don't really get the purpose of the lord in this plan anyway. But nonetheless, where is he? Where is the revelation that tells us what the deal is with gay people? No one has asked. The proclamation was never claimed to be revelation.

But what of this scripture: http://scriptures.lds.org/2_ne/4/34-35#34
2 Nephi 4:34-35

"34 O Lord, I have trusted in thee, and I will trust in thee forever. I will not put my trust in the arm of flesh; for I know that cursed is he that putteth his trust in the arm of flesh. Yea, cursed is he that putteth his trust in man or maketh flesh his arm.
35 Yea, I know that God will give liberally to him that asketh. Yea, my God will give me, if I ask not amiss; therefore I will lift up my voice unto thee; yea, I will cry unto thee, my God, the rock of my righteousness. Behold, my voice shall forever ascend up unto thee, my rock and mine everlasting God. Amen. "

So the church is made of men whom I'm not to trust in. But the church says trust in the men as they "are led by god". And the men assure us that God would never allow the men of the church to lead us astray. But who is saying that? Well, God is, right? I go to him and ask him, as he should be the one that tells me what's going on. "
IF I ask not amiss." and then a string of appeasement? It is written as such but that would be silly for that to be what is meant.

But the men in the church want appeasement or I'm not righteous enough. They tell me that it's the reason why, when I went to pray for confirmation, I got a DIFFERENT answer than what they told me. They said it was because I asked amiss, that I was selfish and was denying the spirit. I had done it wrong.

I don't know how many times I've heard them tell me over the years to go back and pray about it until I got the answer that they said I should get.

Manipulation indeed.

Well the men are running this church right now. And because of that I can't continue on. Some times I feel like I'm betraying you(mom). Sometime I feel like I've actually fallen into the trappings of the devil. The men of the church warned me over and over again that the adversary would work really hard to do this and ensnare me to twist and corrupt the words to work in my favor.

Yet no matter what I read I see the words being open ended for anyone to twist and distort them to be used for what ever purpose they want them to be.

The men in the church use their standing as the authority to judge my views as sinful and my life as inherently flawed. And that this flaw is a burden I must carry the rest of my life. But they judge that this burden, as an internal struggle of same-sex attraction, is no different than someone's susceptibility to gambling, tobacco or alcohol? (Oaks says this stuff) His tactics, by using such conditions as examples of comparison, stand on their own merits as missing the point as far as I'm concerned. And I would pray that people would really examine the reality of the church's silly treatment of the gay issue in society and then just leave us alone. Stop trying to fix us. Stop trying to set us aside as perversions of nature who are a threat to children and the moral fabric of society.

I don't see same-sex attraction as the burden anymore. And I can't find compelling reason to even believe that homosexual sex is sinful. And I would be amiss to not realize that the men in the church make sure I understand that I've rationalized myself into this egregious apostasy and sinned against god and nature. After all, homosexual sex is one of the vilest acts of indecency the church has had the privilege to condemn.

But this isn't about sex. It's about love. If I can't accept the reality that I fall in love with other men than I can't possibly learn to accept myself and understand the concept of loving myself. A concept that has been utterly foreign to me all my life. How can I understand what it means to love god or neighbor if I can't even know the basic love of who I am.

No, the real burden is to go though life as a second class human being in the eyes of the church and much of society. Prone to discrimination and threat of life. To be hated by some for no other reason than to fulfill their need to hate someone.

The biggest lie is that this life is a test or exam. It's not a test. It's an experience. But just last Sunday that old line was fed again and again. "This life is a test to see what we will do. To test our willingness to make right choices. And as we make the right choices, God rewards us in heaven." blah blah blah. Right and wrong choices. There seems to be a problem when a group of people who have no knowledge or experience in another person's life has the authority to dictate what is the right and wrong choice for them. And then claims authority to dish out judgment and punishment if the "right" choice isn't made.

What am I still holding on to? I'm still holding out for some more answers. And admittedly I got my answers but they were just too hard to take. I have to give up things I'm not sure I can give up. I have to face head on fears that have followed me for years. It is hard. There are so many dehumanizing and demonizing beliefs that have been ingrained in me. And because of my self-realization, I know now that they must be lies. But the small shred of truth that I see in them feeds my doubts.

I recognize that the very thing the church warns of and fights against is the very thing they are responsible for creating. They fulfilled their own prophecy of the evils of homosexuals. It's that world they created I fear.

I feel like the church has managed to inflict me with severe emotional abuse.
And surely I have felt this religion as more hurtful than of healing. As many others have too. But the baggage that we all carry with us I'm afraid will prevent me from proving the church wrong.

No matter what I do it just turns out to be one big double bind for me.

Monday, July 27, 2009

My Midyear Evaluation

A while back I had a conversation with my mom about some of the things I talk about in this blog. She noted that the tone of some of my essays were angry and cynical and was concerned that I was still holding on to all that garbage and hurt from my past. Well, granted, I am holding a lot of old baggage but, for the most part, I'm not always conscious of it. My topics mostly reflect those parts that have surfaced and I've long sense put past me. However it's true that I'll rant and ramble a bit about things I haven't figured out yet to help me get my point across. That's why I'm writing. Dumping my brain. There is a lot of shit in there and I won't know what I haven't let go of until it finds its way to the surface. That's what writing does; it helps me discover, process and release. Catharsis.

As with any sort of self-discovery that gives me new insight to understanding myself, there is a need for me to express what I've learned, what happened along the way, and what it meant to me in the end. Then to share it with the world for people who might be looking for similar models of thought to which they might find affirmation, inspiration or comfort. It's my way of giving back to the people out there on the interweb tubes. After all, it was they who took the time to share their experiences that gave me the affirmation, inspiration and comfort that I so desperately needed.

As for my tone, well, it is what it is. I like to inject levity but sometimes the topic can still carry some residual resentment that hasn't fully worked its way out. I really try to avoid writing publicly until I've gotten past it or at least gotten to a point of self realization. I reserve most of my current, incoherent, rambling angst for my private journals. There is no sense writing publicly about things that would not stand a chance of being understood.

So, for the most part, I've been content over the past several months despite where I live and what I do for a living. I've had some major paradigm shifts in my thinking in the last 6 months since starting this blog that have put a lot of my residual angst at ease. And, amazingly, many other things have basically started taking care of themselves too, such as: I'm less bothered by my job and more appreciative that I have one, I'm much less obsessed with my loneliness and isolation because of where I live, I feel like I have more freedom despite the fact that nothing has really changed all that much, I'm losing weight very quickly now and have managed to lose 30 lbs since late April while not feeling burdened by hunger or the need to drown my sorrows in a pound of peanut butter M&Ms every day.

But, despite all of the good things, I still manage to find ways to kill my spirits by being a pompous asshole. I usually get my over-confident ass handed back to me on a platter, with garnish. That usually makes me feel even more like shit than before, for a while. But now I recover in a day or two rather than the months it used to take.

NOTE: I'm really not a pompous asshole on purpose. Just chalk it up to my lack of social skills.

Also, things have gotten really busy lately. After all, it's summer time and there are lots of activities vying for my attention. I've been putting longer hours in at work to get some things done and I've been spending lots of time reading, walking and writing letters to friends around the country and traveling for visits. And in all of this time I've wondered what my next blog essay was going to be about. And right now I don't really know. I guess for now it will just be this little bit of mental doodling as I take stock of my current situation.

Here's why:

The things that have been pressing on my mind as of late delve into the specific realm of BDSM and my spiritual growth within that practice. But the problem I have is that BDSM is a highly misunderstood and heavily stigmatized lifestyle. In all fairness there are other cultures, religions and lifestyles in this world that are treated with even worse disdain. I'm not innocent as I've got a personal dislike for a few in particular and have said so.

So, despite this possible opportunity to help people understand, I'm not going to take it at this time mostly because I'm not ready to be an expert on it. Besides, there is a great deal of material written on the subject both good and bad and if someone truly feels inclined to understand it they will make the effort to learn about it. I only have my personal perspective to add and it's not going to mean anything unless there is a dialog about it with some basic common understanding.

So, why in the hell did I even bring it up?

Ultimately, it was just the idea of bringing it up on this blog that was pressing on my mind the most. I had been worrying about what people would do if I, just out of the blue, decided to dive in things that could -- I don't know -- disgust, frighten, disturb? I'm not sure, it's all a matter of perspective and I never know when someone is going to freak out.

I had originally expected that this blog might be the perfect place that I could on occasion share such philosophy, but as things started to roll along, I sort of got distracted and sidelined by other issues that were more pressing on my mind at the time. Then, add to that, some of my friends, family members and coworkers ventured here. Sure, they all know about me and my aptitude for BDSM, but they also didn't really want to know about it either. So here I am, pandering to what people might think and worrying about possibly offending the world view of other people. It's just the thing to keep me from living my life authentically, or am I just learning common decency? Once again, I don't know. I don't believe my life is indecent; that's just what other people believe it to be.

I really don't want to start another blog just for this subject so I'm going to wrestle with my self-censorship on the matter. Not out of shame, not because it's a secret or sacred philosophy, but because it runs deeply personal and I'm just not ready to give it over to just any audience. For those who are BDSM practitioners, you may know what I'm saying. The rest of you I'm going leave you to wonder what the hell I'm going on about.

Am I being ridiculous?

Here I am bringing it up just to say that I'm not going to talk about it. Unwilling to dive into some deeply personal subject matter, and yet, I'm egotistical enough to take the effort to mention something that I'm not going to talk about and make sure everyone knows that I want to talk about something that I'm not going to talk about.

I am being ridiculous.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Apostasy is for Everybody

I used to think that apostasy was a bad thing. In the Mormon faith, the word gets thrown around as if it's equivalent to committing murder. I think few Mormons have ever considered that the word exists outside of a religious context. For instance, to no longer believe in the Tooth Fairy or Santa Clause is an apostasy. To change a political party is also an apostasy. As we mature socially and spiritually, apostasy of any old idea or belief that no longer works is required in order to progress.

Ironically, the Mormon church asks, if not requires, people of other religions and cultures to apostatize from them in order to join the ranks of the Mormons. Of course they don't see that as apostasy because they believe apostates are only people who reject the "one true gospel". So they are quick to belabor the idea that apostasy from the Mormon church is the only true apostasy and thus, A Very Bad Thing.

That is, sad to say, rather cult-like behavior.

Having been born into the Mormon church in the stronghold of the Mormon theocratic society that is Utah, I found myself struggling almost daily to break free of the guilt as a result of my diverging belief system. The cultural pressure was intense. But the uncertainty of the outside world seemed unbearable. The perceived safety of the community was appealing and it gave me a sense of purpose and certainty in an otherwise frightening and uncertain world. Yet, I knew there was more to this world than what I was allowed to experience. The group-think patterns could give me reprieve from the perceived on-slot of the enemy's attacks on us "righteous" folks, but at the same time I felt oddly condemned for my desire to see things from the other side.

We Mormons can be a highly suspicious and judgmental people, and more often than not, only see others in terms of black or white, good or bad, friend or foe, us vs. them. There is no concept at all of moral relativity; no genuine comprehension of the diversity of personal experience. There is no true empathy. Ironically, as missionaries, we were taught empathy as a tool to persuade people into joining the church. But it was taught as a simple language mechanic in order to form the right string of words to fit a situation. These exercises only manifested in superficiality that tricked and manipulated people into believing they were being understood. True empathy never existed. The moment I had true empathy for someone, the last thing I wanted to do was teach them about the Mormon religion.

As Mormons we believe in a personal spiritual guide, "The Holy Ghost". An external spirit-person who's companionship is gifted to us by the "laying on of hands" by priesthood authority upon our acceptance of the "one true religion". This "constant companion" is our spiritual connection to the "other side of the veil", a special gift that we can call upon for direction and guidance when we face challenges and uncertainty.

All too often, as a Mormon, I couldn't trust that "spirit" to lead me where I needed to go in order to maintain my status as an upstanding Mormon. I didn't understand the promptings, they didn't make sense. They were so often in contrast to what I was being taught in church. I feared that I was not able to be in tune with the "true spirit" so, instead, I developed a dependence on what I believed to be our infallible, ecclesiastical authorities for guidance. Even so, their guidance often conflicted with what that "spirit" was telling me also. Still, I followed through, I obeyed, as they instructed; after all, they wouldn't be where there were if they didn't have the "true spirit", right?

More and more, every day, I could see that it was making my life more difficult and miserable, but I was able to maintain that acceptance in the Mormon community; up until my sanity hit its breaking point. It wasn't working for me anymore. I needed to move on. At that moment of announcing my departure, I became the enemy to be feared -- the bad, the foe, the "them". It was heartbreaking. I wanted so much to follow that "spirit" but I couldn't do it as a Mormon. I had to leave. I had to let go of the notion of a certain future for a life of pure uncertainty. It was freighting as hell but the "spirit" was telling me I had nothing to fear. Still it would be nearly a year before I wrote that letter to resign.

I was warned by my ecclesiastical authorities that my departure meant that I would lose that gift of the "spirit" and that it was never too late to repent and come back. FEAR! Yet, at the same time, that "spirit" was telling me that they were all full of shit. And it turned out to be correct. That "spirit" grew stronger instead. It seemed to be more in tune with what was behind that uncertainty than ever before. All I had to do was embrace it, trust it and listen. All the things I was always afraid of doing.

And so it goes, I've learned to listen to that "spirit", have trust in the present moment, and embrace the uncertainty. And I've discovered a wonderful joy that comes from jumping headfirst into uncertainty. It's not something to be feared. It's to be celebrated. Still, uncertainty continues to be a scary place sometimes but it's no longer a fear that dictates my life. It's really just undefined possibilities in which I have the power to take control. My personal spirituality is now motivated by the wonder of uncertainty. Too much of what motivates Mormon "spirituality" is the fear of uncertainty. From my experience, "spiritual" guidance attained through fear is just more fear.

It's quite possible I will carry that Mormon baggage with me for the rest of my life. It's not a conscious decision to retain it; it's just the way the mind works. My experiences in that world shaped my thinking in ways that I may never recognize or understand. There is no sense trying to predict what they are and if they might result in something detrimental. Some of those experiences also gave me some perspectives that I'm thankful I have. There is no use discarding all of it just because it was rooted in a fraudulent belief system. When I'm faced with situations that affront my personal experiences, I can assess their value then. In the mean time I'm quite satisfied with the uncertainty of not knowing.

Years ago when people told me of their experience of heightened spiritually upon leaving the Mormon faith, I thought they were lying, trying to deceive. FEAR! But, when I let go of that fear, I discovered a HUGE world outside the Mormon church that is vastly more spiritually inclusive and satisfying than I could have ever imagined. I can now empathize with them. I understand what they mean. I've experienced it firsthand. Now my empathy has extended outward more so than ever before on a grand scale. I now have a grasp of just how connected we are as a human race. There is no "us vs. them". That's a lie. We are all in this together, trying to figure this life out. Some think they have the answers but don't. Others have the answers and may not know it. Many may not even be looking for answers where as others spend their life in pursuit of them. In all, we are just running around, hitting and shoving and bumping in to each other like children on a playground, trying to cope with our own uncertainty of who and what we are.

As for my current Apostasy, I no longer believe that I or anyone was ever gifted with a companionship of any such external "spirit" from any "laying on of hands" by ecclesiastical authorities. I believe that such spiritual guidance already exists within us, part of our subconscious. I don't know what it is or if it matters that I know what it is. I do know that it's ours. Call it intuition, instinct, gut feeling, a hunch; no one can gift it and no one can take it away. It's for us alone to follow, interpret and understand in our moments of uncertainty. It's our personal identity and it cannot be given a name. It's our truth and it just is.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Christ would never be a Mormon

An interesting little thing popped up on the internet earlier this month. It's a response from the Christian Anti-Defamation Commission (CADC) regarding the results of a survey conducted by the Gallop Poll on the public's view of gay marriage: "Are You Safe? How Moral Corruption Can Be Prevented"

I wonder why that poll or its results would be something that the CADC would bother with. It wasn't attacking or defaming any Christians. I guess for Christianists, just placing the word 'gay' next to the word 'marriage' is provocation enough to be considered an attack.

As expected, the little CADC's article was quickly addressed on many other blogging sights that I follow. My favorite addressed the CADC's misuse of the bible: "Don't be deceived by teh gays!!"

That crap in the CADC's article and what I endured in Mormon Sunday school every week, up until I resigned last winter, is essentially the same damned thing. It's interesting that even though the Mormons have fundamentally different doctrines and ways of interpreting the bible, they will come up with the exact same un-Christian like ideas that the evangelical fundamentalists have, but still claim to be the only source of truth.

No matter how soft the Mormons' think their rhetoric on homosexuality as become, it will never undo the hell-fire-damnation-pulpit-pounding of decades past. The religious culture is too ingrained. Frankly, I believe the new "softer" rhetoric from the church is just a rebranding of the same old shit from the past, making it much worse. For hell's sakes, they refuse to acknowledge the clinical word 'homosexual' and instead prefer the term 'same-gender attraction (SGA)'! It's usually paired with the word 'problem' or 'struggle' or 'suffer' and equated to a handicap or a drug and alcohol addiction. There is no concept of self-acceptance in the gospel if you're gay. Those with SGA are not to accept that part of themselves. It is to be hidden deep down inside and NEVER TALKED ABOUT, EVER! Doing otherwise would lead to temptation, sin and eternal damnation. So, no matter what they say, being gay is a stigma, a stigma that will always be to your condemnation in the church.

It's a typical example of spiritual manipulation and abuse. Invent a moral dilemma and then promise salvation from it. For some it results in an extreme loyalty to the church and its gospel, for others, severe depression, schizophrenia and suicide.

Mormons are not bad people. There is no such thing as bad people. They are good people who are motivated by fear to do what they think is right. Sometimes what they do is actually bad but believe it's for the greater good. It's in God's hands. His will be done. And often, as seen in the bible, God's will was death and destruction. To give oneself over to an "authority" is noble to them. But it's also justification for absolving oneself of personal responsibility when dishing out what they believe to be God's judgment. It's not just Mormons. Insert any fanatical belief system that motivates adherence through fear. Bad things start to happen.

We homos are just another thing in the Mormon bucket of things to fear. But, again, this is more about a culture that stems from people who, out of fear, isolate themselves and paint their own version of reality to immune themselves from new and threatening information. A culture so ignorant and anathema to sanity, it's no wonder why suicide rates are high amongst the Mormons.

During my time growing up as a confused Gayish-Mormon-Boi in Utah, all I understood about the outside world came from television and movies. I was an overly sensitive and highly impressionable kid and took it all at face value. I didn't know what was going on "in between the lines" so to speak. But thanks to my loving, authoritarian, dogmatic, ecclesiastical authority figures, the "truth" of it was all explained to me on a weekly basis in lurid and sometimes disturbing detail. Was any of it true? No, but I wouldn't find out for another 20 odd years.

That steady stream of misinformation and demonization from those trusted "authorities" had really twisted my ability to correctly perceive people. (Hell, I could probably write a whole book on misperception.) So naturally, I developed an unhealthy fear of people, especially the gay ones, which is why I'm going to be in therapy for awhile.

The cultural climate was essentially that most non-Mormons were evil and did nothing all day but do the evil doing. We Mormons were, at all costs, to stay clear of anyone that does do the evil doing. Especially if they looked like they might possibly be a doer of evil, as even the appearance of evil must be avoided. And we needed to be extra vigilant as Mormons because evil doers often presented themselves with a pleasant and friendly appearance to deceive us so they could corrupt us in subtly enticing ways.

Now, just imagine for a moment waking up one morning and realizing that you might be gay, thus automatically making you evil. Hey, that's what the "authorities" warned me would happen if I ever felt the evil gayness inside of me. And the "authorities" spared no expense to proclaim, with their absolute God given authority, all the different evil doings that that the evil gay evil doers would do. They told us in detail what these gays looked and acted like, and about all the horrendous, deprived, evil, activities they engaged in and committed on unsuspecting adults and children. And now, I somehow become one of them, either by committing an evil gay act on myself or allowing some evil gay to act his evil gay acts on me. One particular "authority" also made it clear that it was my own fault if I didn't violently protect myself.

Now, I was never sexually molested but, because an "authority" said so, I used to believe that my gayness was because I was molested as a small child. And because I believed that I was molested -- albeit lost in some repressed memory I'm sure -- I believed that I would become a molester. After all, according to the "authorities", I was "molesting" myself all the time whenever I masturbated. It was only a matter of time, given the opportunity, before I would be tempted to pass it along. I was so scared of having my life ruined by even an accusation of molestation that I went out of my way to avoid children for decades.

Well, the next stage was the inevitable isolation, loneliness, repression, depression and suicidal longings. The "authorities" also were quick to teach that all that misery was because of my depraved self-molestation and evil thoughts of doing the evil gay doings. To them it was God's way of helping us understand what we were doing wrong so we could repent. What more could you want for a 13 year old kid than to ensure he understands his guilt so that he can repent?

Moral dilemma!

Now the "authorities" begin to school me on the ways of "righteousness" so that I would be free of the evil gayness. Making sure I paid my tithing was number one priority. Tithing didn't bother me; I didn't have any money so it didn't apply. The rest of it was all just simplistic promises and lip service. Be vigilant in controlling all "bad" thoughts. Pray to God like you really mean it, because if you REALLY mean it you will be "cured". If you weren't cured, then you were being selfish.

I guess I was a selfish pervert who didn't mean it because it never went away. More guilt. More, isolation. More, repression, depression and suicidal thoughts. And I mustn't forget that there were a few "authorities" back then who instructed that suicide was an instant go-to-hell card. Do not pass redemption, do not collect salvation. So, more guilt for thinking about suicide.

And I thought religion was supposed to foster spiritual awareness and enlightenment.

Yes, moral dilemma indeed.

Thankfully, out of much desperation, I got wise to the ignorance of the "authorities". And out of that desperation, I finally allowed myself to question all of it to see for myself what it really was.

Complete bullshit! Obviously.

Within less than a year, my faith in ecclesiastical "authorities", religion and even god, were smashed into oblivion. I tried in vain to hold on to what shred of faith I thought I had left but I kept grasping at nothing. It was all an illusion. I no longer had any belief left in me. I had become.... AN APOSTATE! It's not surprising as I had resisted much of the doctrine because it never made any sense to me. But the culture wouldn't allow me to question any of it. Questioning was BAD, BAD, BAD, EVIL BAD! That scared me more than my internal evil bad gayness.

Ironically, I quickly discovered just how spiritually empowering apostasy was. And it was AWESOME!

Unfortunately, I had just added "Son of Perdition" to my ongoing list of evil doings. Not that I really cared anymore but, ecclesiastical "authorities" and their authoritarian followers perceive apostasy to be so serious it warrants active endorsement of some rather ignominious un-Christian actions -- just like the ones in the CADC article. All performed in the name of Christ of course.

Another moral dilemma! Not for me, for them. A dilemma that many of them will never realize they have. Oh, the bitter taste of irony.

It's a really surreal and frustrating feeling coming out to a "True Believing Mormon" (TBM). They go from respecting you as an equal human being, in the eyes of God, to suddenly thinking of you as a morally depraved, lower-class, sub-human with a mental illness who is no longer worthy of love, respect or even association.... in the eyes of God. But they will be quick to say to your face that they love you and that God loves you and that is why we have the Atonement. Really? The Atonement? It's as if being gay was a sin. Oh, wait.... I forgot, I have sinned because I no longer see it as a struggle. I've accepted it. I'm now "living in sin". Wow! Sin is such an incredibly misused word.

One TBM friend in particular was outwardly disgusted by the gay part. His way of expressing it was to make rude jokes in front of my co-workers or other people. His tone was sharply underscored with a high level of disdain. Many people noticed it and wondered what was up his ass. Incidentally, he is also the Elders Quorum president and the only other Mormon at the company. When he noticed that my church records were removed, he went out of his way to avoid me. Obviously not setting a good example of Mormonism but who am I to judge? I was such a horrible "example" I felt the need to resign.

Some other TBM friends expressed collective suspicion of my motives as a gay Mormon and some were even concerned that I was going to start demanding that the Mormon church perform gay temple marriages or "sealings". It was easily dispelled through a bit of common sense but it didn't do much to restore their opinion of me.

Right now, I'm giving them some time. I'm letting them see that after all of these years I have not molested their children, ruined their marriages, infected their families with my gay cooties or destroyed their faith in god. Although, I wouldn't mind destroying their faith in God and freeing their minds of the clutches of magical thinking; but alas, I don't have that power.

Thankfully, I don't have to associate with them. I prefer to spend my time around positive and affirming people rather than those who think they can live by the paradox of 'Love the sinner, hate the sin', or the even more insidious, 'we're not anti-gay, we're pro-family'.

As hard as it has been to get to this point in my life, I'm willing to cut them off at any moment if the vitriol becomes too nasty. But, for the most part, I really won't need to do that. Their religious culture will warrant it for me with such wonderfully un-Christian ideas like:
  • Never associate with bad people.
  • Bad people are enemies to the church which include, but not limited to: non-Mormons, drinkers, smokers, fornicators, intellectuals, feminists, gays, etc.
  • Never empathize with, sympathize with or even tolerate the enemies.
  • Never talk to the enemy unless you are calling them to repentance.
  • When in doubt about how to recognize any of the above, consult the General Authorities.
  • Ad nauseam
  • Ad infinitum
Those lessons are absolutely the face of Christian hypocrisy. And, like I mentioned before, it's a moral dilemma that many of them will never recognize they have.

Some would say I'm the one being hypocritical. In a manner of perception I can understand that. After all, I'm spewing my own self-righteousness and pointing out other people's hypocrisy. And though I'm not really claiming any specific code of ethic, I am being condescending in my tone. But at least I'm talking responsibility for it.

Whereas the Christianists are "shouting from the rooftops" with much arrogance and certainty that Christ has given them absolute "truth". And that "truth" dictates that all must obey a specific, dogmatically narrow, philosophy or face terrible consequences. Those who reject their "truth" are looked down upon with fear, disdain and hatred. They say and believe they have tolerance, respect, and love for all people as their dogma dictates they should, but their words and actions say otherwise. After all, they believe they are only performing the will of God.

It really feels weird to say this but, I agree with the other fundamental evangelical Christianists out there who say Mormons are not Christians, although we differ as to why. Besides, it takes one to know one doesn't it? Yes it does. And it just so happens, by their standards, I'm not a Christian either.

Christ was trying to teach people to live without fear. Christianists are just trying to scare the hell out of people.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

WARNING: Adult Content!

So, I realized the other day that I had put up an intermediate notice to my blog warning of adult content. I guess I had originally intended to post more adult oriented things. But then I'm also not really sure what adult oriented means when it comes to writing about my life. And why would I feel the need to protect people from the realities of life?

I did have a friend early on tell me that because I used "strong" language and that much of my subject matter involved the gay "lifestyle", I should warn people of adult content just to be safe.

Ironic in that the gay "lifestyle" I write about is mostly from my childhood.

So, unless I decide to post pictures of S&M porn, which probably is adult oriented, I'm removing the notice.

Besides, most kids will never want to read this stuff anyway, it's long and boring. If they do they are quite likely mature enough to handle it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

A Tid Bit of Tidbiting

I've been worrying that my posts are too long and that I'm trying to fit too many things into these essays. The one I've been working on this week got as long as 2270 words. I managed to get it cut down to around 1850 words.

My longest essay up to this point has been my ugly "Mormon Faggots" essay. I tend to ramble so much in these things that I've been able to lift entire sections out of them and use for other essays. I think I lifted three different ramblings out of "Mormon Faggots" that could be used elsewhere. Not sure if I will but then I'm not going to promise anything.

The essay I'm currently working on was originally going to be posted on June 14th but my experience during the gay pride festival that weekend changed the way I saw a few things. Also the 3 hour drive home put me way past my bed time so the attempts I made at editing that night were akin to a cat walking on a keyboard.

My feelings had changed so much that the tone of the essay had completely changed. The change didn't stem from any specific event that weekend but more of my state of mind at the festival this year. I just pushed myself to stay in a head space that was always in the present. I avoided thinking about work or other distractions. Being active in the now like that allowed me to be appreciative of what was going on around me, to drop all judgments and appreciate that I and the people around me were experiencing and expressing our personal truths without fear of death or dismemberment.

That also allowed me to stop worrying that I might be committing some gay fashion faux pas by wearing a bright red t-shirt, khaki cargo shorts, a blue and tan baseball cap and these wonderfully eye-catching, Gothic, knee-high leather buckle boots. Incidentally, the boots were a big hit! I knew they would be. I had a lot of great complements and conversations because of them.

One conservative gay gentleman asked me why I wore them. I said, "I'm simply expressing a form of my sexuality."

To which he grinned and said, "Ah, you want someone licking your boots."

Yeah, he nailed it. He wasn't so conservative after all. LOL!

But I digress.

I'm still letting my next essay stew for a bit to make sure I've said what I want to say in the way I want to say it.

It's hard to be impeccable in writing. Obviously I'm not as prolific compared to professionals. But then I've always had a fucked up need to compare my stuff to something perfect. But what? I don't know. I just know that it's not perfect for me. There is something in my gut that isn't quite comfortable with it. It's probably my ego rather than my gut talking because I worry more about any criticism of my spelling, grammar and punctuation than I do about the content of my thoroughly elucidate, cankerous ramblings.

It's my fucking blog for crying out loud. It's for dumping my brain. If people don't like it, it's not my problem. Why would I care? Why am I so hard on myself and expect that all posts I make have to be these great literary masterpieces? I don't know. I'm still just trying to find my voice really. And I would really like to be free to just throw shit up here that is just that, shit! Why don't I? It's my space to define my way. Hell, I'm just going to start doing it now with this post. I can always fix the mistakes later if I find them.... or when someone points them out.... in a way that is helpful....

The other day a friend called me and expressed his disappointment in me. He said that he had thought that for sure I had more intelligence than that.

What did I do now?

Well, in a quick little email I had accidentally used the word "your" instead of "you're".

Oh, for fuck's sake.

Sunday, May 31, 2009

Facebook Folly

I had originally intended for my brain-dumping on this blog to be more frequent and on a somewhat regular basis. But I got a bit side tracked. Not in the way that is usually thought of where life gets complicated and work gets busy and all of that. It's all true but I still had plenty of time to write and I didn't.

Through the course of the weeks since my last post, I noticed that my journaling had become erratic and often times it didn't contain much more than a date at the top of the page. I would sit down at my computer intending to do it but I never got past opening up Word to a blank page before distracting myself with something mindless. I kept avoiding it. I thought that I really had nothing to say and yet I was spending a lot of my waking time in a state of emotional crabbiness.

My mind, so I thought, had no need of dumping. Sure I had moments of venting but it was on forums where the other people were anonymous strangers without dissenting opinions. In other words, I was only posting to "safe spaces" but because my venting was in the heat of the discussion, it was only within the context of the dialog so it wasn't something I could make a blog post out of. Perhaps later I will when I really get my ideas in check.

I also stopped posting pro-gay marriage stuff on Facebook too and that ultimately was the real kicker. It wasn't a "safe space". Every time I wanted to post something or comment on someone else's post, I would stop short and tell myself that what I had to say was unimportant or that it would irritate someone. I was especially afraid of what my Mormon friends and family would think, even some of my co-workers as well. I was essentially starting to push myself back into the closet again. Avoid drawing attention to myself by not talking about it. Letting it all pass by as if I hadn't noticed anything was going on, hoping that someone else will address it so I don't have to look like the angry-gay-activist-enemy-dude etc.

Incidentally, also over the course of the weeks since my last post, several old friends found me on Facebook. Some of them actually talked to me to catch up on things, clear the air about the past, or just say hello. Unfortunately, I also had a few un-friend me during that time too. And I will probably never know why. I could assume that it was the gay thing as that does bother a few of the really religious types but I honestly think that most of them just ignore me or disable the notices. Admittedly, I've done that to a few of my friends but it was to curtail having to sift through all useless spam generated by those stupid games they were playing all damn day.

But, with the un-friending, I know I can't really know anything for sure. And I'm just too chicken to ask. Besides, if I know what it was, it would probably make me hate them even more. Especially when one of them also un-friended my brother but didn't un-friend all the friends we had in common. They were just eliminating my family from their friend list. Do I want to know? Well, yes, but I'm not going to ask. They are gone and I'm sure it will be a better world without them.

What gets me about the un-friending is the audacity of it in the first place. For someone to friend me, even chat with me and post comments to my wall or photo gallery and then one day decide that it was time to cut it off is just really odd. To me, friending someone is to say, "I want to link my page to yours and be associated with you." But, to un-friend seems to do more than just say, "I don't wish to link my page with yours anymore", it also tells the world that "We are no longer friends in real life." Clearly this doesn't apply to the friends who are total strangers to me in real life. It's the ones that I have known personally throughout the years and we have a history together. It's rejection, simple as that.

I hate rejection. It's still my weak spot. It fucking hurts and I fucking hate it. And then to have it happen several times in a series of a few weeks is earth shattering for me. It's odd how a simple little act where someone makes and breaks a friendship on Facebook can trigger depression. But that's what it did. After a few rounds of un-friending, I found myself getting cautious. I started to regress. Go and hide. Don't make waves. Don't say anything that might drive any more people away, especially my friends who hadn't been paying attention recently and noticed that I'd decided to become a flaming homosexual.

Yes, rejection is something that I have always been hyper sensitive to. It is partly the reason it took me so damned long to deal with being gay in the first place. So every time I notice that someone has left, I feel utter terror inside. "What the fuck did I do now?"

Depression has a way of slowly creeping up on me so it took me awhile to realize what was going on. I had essentially revoked my own permission to express myself at all, no matter what it was. I had regressed to the old, emotionless, robotic, overly self-censored thinking from my past. And I resented it. I stopped doing any writing. I didn't want to talk to people about the things going on in my life. It was affecting my social life, my interaction with people at work, my family, everything. I didn't want to risk doing or saying anything that might express my true self in fear that it was something about me that pushed people away. Ironically, my anger, frustration and bitterness did it anyway.

Of course I was blaming everyone else for feeling like I needed to censor myself. After all, I grew up believing that it was my responsibility to do whatever it took to make sure that other people were happy. And no matter what, I would invariably fail resulting in getting horribly criticized for it. So it used to be that any little bit of criticism would push my self-censor buttons.

But this was different. I wasn't getting any criticism. I was just loosing people with no reason as to why they were leaving. They weren't sticking around to criticize. The ones that did stick around to criticize didn't bother me. I found that I was now comfortable enough with myself to brush it off. But I didn't know how to deal with the ones who just up and walked out without saying a dammed thing. That was a new one on me.

I realize that spending all of my time trying to figure out why people end a relationship is a waste of precious time that I could be using to make new friends. I'm still in a transitional time in my life where my social links are realigning. As I grow into a new and complete gay man, sure of who I am and unwilling to pretend to be what other people want me to be, I'm going to be making new friendships, adjusting existing ones and ending others. It's just the way it is. Yet, it's still hard and it's not without some hurt feelings. And quite honestly, there are a few people that, had things been different, I would never have been their friends to begin with.

I'm trying to keep in mind that, for many of those people, I'm no longer the same person they got to know years ago. Many of them, including my family, don't really know the real me. They don't know my real interests or any of my religious or political views let alone my philosophical views about life, love and sex. They think they know because I never corrected them when they made assumptions. Instead, I just pretended to take an interest in their interests and pretend to agree with their opinions. After all, I just wanted to fit in. I needed to hide myself and everyone else from that evil scary gay thing inside. So ultimately, the person they all got to know was a complex shell they helped create for me and I accommodated them by making sure I wore it full time. In many ways I even believed some of that shell was the true me.

But that shell is gone now. Quickly and violently ripped away. So much so that I'm still trying to sort out what is real and what isn't, what matters and what doesn't, who cares and who doesn't and where my spot will be in all of this. And I still wonder why the fuck it couldn't have been different.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Maggie Gallagher is a Caricature

I know that I said that I didn't want to talk about current events or politics in this blog and I'm still not going to. But just to give you, the reader (assuming I have any), some background as to who Maggie Gallagher is, she is an anti-gay activist. Well, she would never admit to that title but that is what she is. Why do I say that? Because she is currently President of the National Organization for Marriage (NOM) which is an organization formed for the sole purpose of lobbying to prevent same-sex couples from having marriage rights. But this isn't about that.

Recently she was on the MSNBC program Hardball, "debating" with HRC's Joe Solmonese. See for yourself: (as long as the video continues to exist)



For me, watching that was frustrating. Maggie outright lied and contradicted herself but neither of them could call her out on it because she would just talk over them. There are words for that. Sidetrack, deflect, avoid...

But then I'm not sure I'm willing to accept that Maggie is a conscious liar though. She is so proud and lost in her beliefs that she appears to be lying when in reality she is just ignorant and damn proud of it.

I say that because I was accused of being a liar the other day. The reality was I was just stating my belief in something that was a lie. As much as it hurts to hear the other person call me a liar, I realized that him calling me a liar hurt worse to my pride than if I was just told that I was misinformed. I felt like I was being attacked rather than just schooled. I honestly didn't know I was believing a lie.

What I've observed over the years is that when people hold conflicting beliefs, most commonly encouraged by religious or political dogma, the amount of mental gymnastics that a person must perform to link the conflict into something that sounds rational and coherent, gives one a sense of pride for the effort involved. It's as if we believe we are some intellectual powerhouse and we can make perfect sense of the "tough issues". Once we've done that our belief becomes an infallible fact.

I once held a great personal satisfaction that I was able to think I truly understood how my sexuality wasn't gay, despite the evidence to the contrary. Going back to my old journals from 2004, (I avoided the subject before then) I am constantly surprised at the contradictions I would write, many times in the same sentence. I remember my state of mind when I wrote them too. I was consciously denying my reality so that a religious belief could fit and I felt a strange piousness in my heart because of that. Then, I would state the reality with a justification as to how I was a special case and then feel justified that I was on the right path. I was essentially creating deeper layers of lies by patching the inconsistencies with lies.

Looking back I can see the insanity. I was not rational even though I had convinced myself that I was. So, even though my convictions were based on lies, I was not lying because I didn't believe they were lies. But when I state my belief I am lying. But I'm not lying because I believe it to be this way...more mental gymnastics.

It comes down to this for me: when my beliefs are challenged am I going to lie to cover up the contradictions or am I going to acknowledge them and admit that I'm not properly educated on all of the facts? Well, it depends on my mood some days but also depends on how hard I worked to form the belief in the first place. The stupid belief I was called on the other day was not something I spent my lifetime trying to form. It was easy to let it go. But, when it comes to beliefs that I've spent years forming, I'm insanely protective of them.

Even though I'm better at killing my pride now than I was in the past, some days I find that I'm so hurt that my pride is the only defense mechanism that I've got. It's sad that I still think I need a defense mechanism. But when I'm afraid of something and I'm not willing, out of fear, to really look at why I'm afraid(double bind), I really bust open the pride and turn myself into an ever living asshole.

What also frustrates me is that few people ever ask the right question that would really get Maggie to think. And that is: what are you afraid of? Of course, as we see in the video, that line of questioning is always side tracked and never gets pressed. But then with some people, continuing to press it would get tedious which doesn't make for good television. After a few layers of fears are exposed the avoidance would pop-up again and again because the root fears always seem to be horrible shameful secrets. And many of us usually end up forgetting we have them anyway. For instance, like being gay. I managed to actually forget about that one for 25 years. Yeah, incredible isn't it? LOL!

Personally, I feel sorry for poor Maggie. Even though no one outright called her a liar, she got defensive when called on her contradictions (lies). It hurts to be called a liar. And it hurts to realize that you really are one. I feel bad for anyone who is hurt. I get conflicted because I don't want to perpetuate that hurt but at the same time I want to slap them upside the head. But that's just arrogance on my part. But what will it take? It took some serious tragedy (mental breakdown) for me to finally see where I got distracted (LDS dogma). What will it take for her and others like her to see where they took the wrong turn? And will they be willing, if or when their "storms" finally come, to be open to alternative ideas, scientific, political or religious?

Is it ALWAYS about religion? Those who realize that religion cannot be used as a defense seem to be getting desperate and calling on more non-religious reasoning but they are having trouble because the peer-reviewed scientific community, which ironically they do not trust, can't help them anymore like they did in the early part of the 20th century. It looks like it's now turning into pure politics at this point. Unfortunately politics seems to be in bed with religious rhetoric now. What a mess.

Going back as far as I can remember when I started following politics, 1980 (6th grade?), it always seemed to be about countering each other's misinformation and fears. The winner was the one who could out "opinionate" the other by sounding convincing enough that people believed their stores as fact.

I learned to despise politics at a young age.

So when someone brings up the topic of why gay marriage or gay rights in general are bad, I'm immediately at a loss for words because no matter what I say it's only a response to a sidestepping of the real issue. The real issue is really about their deep personal fears about themselves. And because I can't respond to their liking, they declare themselves the winner and boast at how they "confounded the opposition". In reality I was confounded by their utter stupidity and realized that arguing with them was a waste of my time and brain cells. And then I'm angry because I know how they perceived it and that the entire confrontation worked against me. And then I'm double angry because I wanted so much to slap them upside the head knowing full well that it would victimize them for real instead of the fantasized victimization that they are currently enjoying.

No matter what, the loser is always someone who tries to talk some sense into a nut job.

We humans are truly strange creatures.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Mormon Faggots

I was in a little instant message chat with a gay friend one evening when he suddenly started ranting about his frustration with the Gay Scene. I was somewhat confused. I had no idea what he meant by that. What was this Gay Scene that was all worth getting frustrated over? He went on to tell me about the fucking, shallow, jerks who were spreading rumors about him on Craig's List of his sexual behaviors of "getting around the town". I assume that meant he was being accused of slutting it up. Well, he does live in a small rural community in the west, and I suppose the rarity of gays out there make them somewhat territorial. Hmmm, sounds like a catfight!

Anyway, it got me thinking. There was something bugging me about this gay guy referring to his cruising as if it were a special lifestyle, -- a special Gay Lifestyle. Was the Gay Scene or Gay Lifestyle only about cruising for sex? Why wasn't there a thing called the Straight Scene or Straight Lifestyle? There are a lot more straights cruising for sex than gays. What made it so special that it was given a name of its own? And why does he refer to it as the Gay Scene?

I don't really suppose that I'm going to actually answer these questions with any modicum of facts and figures. Honestly, it's all just a hodgepodge of personal opinion. But I'm going to ponder my experiences and see what happens as I explore this idea of the Gay Scene.

The only real visible sign of gay culture that some people think of as the Gay Scene appears to be the leftovers of a culture that is reminiscent of its heyday in the 70's and 80's, when sexual liberation had matured and being out and proud was the new thing. I saw brief glimpses of it on TV growing up, -- but only after we got cable. Let's see, what do I remember? Ah yes, fabulous gender-bending queens, lots of skinny tan guys with pink feather boas and cut-off blue jeans-- cut to with an inch of their life, -- and those hot, shirtless, muscly men in their sexy leather chaps. Ooo, I need to repeat that. Hot, shirtless, muscly men in their sexy leather chaps. Sigh.

Anyway, was all of that audacious flaunting in the streets of San Francisco waving rainbow colored flags the Gay Scene? No, I think that was just California, although it has since spread to other states. To me it always looked a lot like a Mardi Gras except with less alcohol, less nudity and a visual distinction that looked, well, gay.

Incidentally, what in the hell does gay look like when it comes to judging the person? I can pass for the straightest acting gay guy east or west of the Mississippi and yet I'm as gay as gay can get. On the Kinsey scale of human sexuality I'm a 7. But people insist that I don't look gay. And only the really perceptive guys, who are looking for it, or my mom, will see the signals, but only after a while. And since my gaydar is sorely underdeveloped, I have to make sure I'm in or near the Gay Scene to get anywhere. But I don't know what that is!

What I've seen in the gay world and what I've seen in the straight world looks the same to me.
What I see is that the terms Gay Scene or Gay Lifestyle are pejorative labels used by people who think gays are, to put it nicely, icky. And those gay folks who think of themselves as icky and don't realize the double standard in play, would be the ones who use it on themselves.

The non-gay acting straight folks don't use the word lifestyle to describe their scene obviously. But insist on using that word to describe the Gay Scene. Well, except for S&M. The term "The Lifestyle" or "The Scene" is commonly used which is fine. But then those religious, non-gay acting straights, or rather, Christian anti-gay activists, would never admit to the existence of S&M amongst the straights. They make great attempts to convince everyone that S&M is only an uber-perverted, gay thing. Heh! Sorry to burst your bubble there Christianists, but it's not perverted and it's not only a gay thing! I dare say that the only thing about S&M that can be called perverted is the fucked up version that permeates the everyday life of many Christianists. But that is a topic for another time.

As a matter of interest, S&M is the only real organized lifestyle or scene to emerge from that wonderful leather subculture of the gay community. Unfortunately it has, almost completely, been taken over by heterosexuals. And quite frankly it sickens me! Every time I go online to shop for S&M gear, I have to hold back my gag reflex as I'm being assaulted by blatant displays of heterosexual bondage! Eww! I really wish these straight people wouldn't go around flaunting their sexuality so much!

Anyway, where was I? Oh yeah, the Gay Scene. No wait, not yet. I'm not done ranting about Christianist. Allow me to indulge myself with some reminiscing.

I came out late in life. It wasn't that I just decided to come out of the closet to tell the world, I wasn't able to accept I was gay until late in life. Yeah, it's a long, sordid and sadly pathetic story so I'll spare you all and not tell most of it. But it went like this:

I was immersed in a religious culture that prided itself on demonizing the world at large. And as one would expect, doing it without a clue as to what the world really was. Mostly blanket statements about Satan's influence and ushering in the end of the world. To them Satan was a powerful force lurking around every corner waiting to turn people into miserable tools for evil. And because we had the "one true gospel", the evildoers were jealous and hateful of our fortune. All they were intent on doing was persecuting and corrupting us poor happy Mormons to be miserable like them.

Now, this isn't really about the Mormons themselves. It's about my friend and me as Mormons! And it's not pretty. Like all good, psychotic, God fearing, Christian religions, everything revolves around the denunciation of sex. We were taught, in church, starting at the age of puberty, that masturbation was a form of sexual abuse that makes you gay. And the worst possible thing that could happen to you would be choosing to get sucked into a debasing, vile addiction such as homosexuality. Yeah, that's what we were taught! Homosexuality was a debasing, vile addiction caused by masturbation. And not only that but homosexuality was a sin almost as evil as murder. Actually, depending on whom you talked to and what mood they were in, it was worse than that. All sex outside of marriage was an evil sin as almost as bad as murder, but homosexual sex was as bad or worse than murder! LOL!

I can laugh at it now but it was serious shit back then. Total Fucking Serious Shit! And when the AIDS scare hit our little socially isolated world, that Total Fucking Serious Shit hit the proverbial Totally Badass, Gas Powered, Super Shit Spreading Fan! The times of Sodom and Gomorrah had come! Gay people were no longer just perverted, child molesting, homosexuals. They were now perverted, child molesting, homosexual, ass-fucking Sodomites! And they were here to destroy humanity with the new plague of the century, AIDS! Oh, and anal warts too. LOL!

Still, I laugh at it now but it was serious shit back then! Well, it's still serious shit today but I digress.

My response to such religious programming in relationship to my reluctant self-discovery as a teenager was to stuff it deep down in the back of my mind and forgot about it. The gay world, the straight world, even my personal S&M alone time was all off my gaydar, radar and dungeon play, for 20+ years.

I was well aware of the straight world because all my friends at the time where straight and I had no choice but to accept the overt flaunting of heterosexuality. It was all too disgusting for a repressed, straight, gay-guy like me to willingly or even successfully participate in. Thank God! Though I still donned my S&M fetish gear, I kept it to myself so it didn't count. No one else was involved so no one knew. Sadly, such repressive and split-level thinking was driving me to insanity and suicide.

But, for the most part, the gay world was something that happened out-of-sight in a city far, far away. Except when I saw those brief glimpses on cable TV. There were a few times in college I would hear about some poor fool who, hanging out at the local rest stop down the road from the university, was labeled a fag and beaten within an inch of his life. A few of my straight friends liked to brag about it. I was privileged, several times, to hear about what they liked to do with baseball bats and faggots. Welcome to Happy Valley, Utah, USA! Goddamn, Fuckers!

Anyway, back to my gay friend. His response to the same religious programming was to feel ashamed like me but instead he rebelled and acted out his sexuality. Granted, at the time he lived in a more urban climate void of small town rumor mills and threats of violence. He told me that he started his college carrier by diving right into the world of gay sexual voracity. Whereas I, denying anything gay, watched in shock as all of my straight friends dove into the straight world of sexual voracity. Ironically, I suffered great pangs of guilt because I didn't obey my religious programming and disassociate myself from such evil people.

So what, specifically, had he dived into? He told me about the bars to get hookups, strip clubs, one-night stands, orgies and glory holes in the backs of porn shops. Yeah, I'm sure there is gay slang for this crap but I don't give a shit. It's still the same no matter what it's called and none of it is exclusive to the gay world. I lived in the straight world for 25+ years where I was around straight people who went to bars for hookups, strip clubs, one-night stands, orgies and glory holes in the backs of porn shops too.

So what am I getting at here?

The so-called Gay Scene is really just a gay version of the Straight Scene. There is no difference. The sexual activities and mating habits are the same in both worlds. The cheating, backbiting and game playing are the same in both worlds. STDs are rampant in both worlds. Prostitution prevails in both worlds. Drug and alcohol abuse continues to kill people in both worlds. People fall in love and make commitments to each other in both worlds. They have kids in both worlds. They get divorced and fight for custody in both worlds. They believe in God, go to church and pay their tithes in both worlds. They don't believe in god, ignore, shun or despise religion in both worlds. Both the gay community and the straight community have their fair share of sexually repressed, promiscuous, perverted, child molesting, ass-fucking Sodomites. The only difference is, there are a hell of a lot more straight ones than gay ones. But that's just because of the nature of probability.

So, while I was playing a scared-straight, upstanding Mormon and hating my life, my friend, bless his little faggot heart, was playing a rebellious straight-act, upstanding Mormon and hating his life, but with the benefit of having a shit load of gay sex. Lucky him!

He still lives in shame as a rebellious straight-act, upstanding Mormon and hating his life. But now he is married to a psychotic woman, has four kids, goes to church and the temple, pays his tithing and hates his life even more. He never witnessed much of the straight world except for the fairytale Mormon version. Something to this effect: Grow up and go on a mission, pay my tithing, go to BYU, get married in the Temple, have 11 children, we all turn out perfect, we win our spot in the Celestial Kingdom a few doors down from God's house, and live there for ever and ever and ever and ever, in the name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

His view of the gay world is essentially what his religious programming tells him it is. And, as with all "True Blue Mormons", or any Christian fundamentalist for that mater, he compartmentalizes his beliefs. For him, having a firm belief in the church doesn't conflict with getting some hot man-booty on the side and then teaching in Sunday school about the evil homosexuals. I guess I should cut him some slack. After all, I was a "True Blue Mormon" once. Thankfully I figured it out and got the hell out. I'm sure he'll come around sometime too. At least I hope he will. His sanity is at stake.

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