Monday, October 29, 2007

The Parental Debate

Four years ago I came out to my parents. They already suspected that I was gay, but it was still a bombshell for them. What hurt them the most, however, was the fact that I had confided in my friends and sought their advice and even the advice of some of their parents before I had trusted my parents with my dilemma. They were absolutely heartbroken and I still think my mom gets upset about it, even though it was so long ago.

After I joined the church I stopped talking with my parents about being gay and they didn’t bother to bring up the issue- not until my mom asked me about it a year ago when I got home from the mission. I snapped at her and told her I never wanted to talk about it again; she cried and I left the room. I’m sure that my parents still wonder about me. And now that I’m coming out again- even if I’m only peeking out of the closet- I wonder if I should go to them for advice and comfort. Even though they were disappointed when I came out in high school, they were so compassionate! They both wasted no time in telling me that they loved me just the same and only wanted to see me happy. I love them so much!! Oh man, I’m crying as I’m typing. Well, I could go on forever about how wonderful they are, but I’ll cut to the chase. I don’t know whether it would be wise for me to talk to them again. Have I already made the same mistake I made in high school- talking to my friends before I seek guidance from my parents- cutting my comfort off? But since my parents (and none of my extended family) are members of the church, I don’t want my homosexuality to somehow get in the way of the possibility of them joining the church in the future. I mean, they already have a hard enough time dealing with me being the black sheep Mormon of the family- my mom cries every time I talk about the temple or getting married because she can’t come. I definitely need to keep praying for guidance, but maybe one of you can be an inspired messenger- any suggestions?

Friday, October 26, 2007

Healing Waters

After all these apostate, speculative, and maybe even blasphemous-sounding posts, I think it might be appropriate to share my spiritual side. Yes, I do consider myself to be a spiritual person. I sincerely appreciate all the feedback that I’ve received thus far concerning my unorthodox propositions. If I ever post something that you think is completely ridiculous, feel free to voice yourself. :)

I deeply feel that there exists a divine reality outside the realms of natural human understanding and reasoning. I know that I have had multiple experiences in which I have felt that I have connected with this divine reality. I’ve not only felt peace and reassurance, but a soul-moving anticipation of the glorious existence that waits for us beyond mortality. Paul calls it the “earnest of the spirit” –a sort of foretaste of the superior and infinite joy of Heavenly Father’s kingdom. I really can’t express very well in words the nature of these feelings, so I’ve collected a few scriptures and quotes that best convey how I feel the Spirit:

“Now, we will compare the word unto a
seed. Now, if ye give place, that a seed may be planted in your heart, behold, if it be a true seed, or a good seed, if ye do not cast it out by your unbelief, that ye will resist the Spirit of the Lord, behold, it will begin to swell within your breasts; and when you feel these swelling motions, ye will begin to say within yourselves—It must needs be that this is a good seed, or that the word is good, for it beginneth to enlarge my soul; yea, it beginneth to enlighten my understanding
, yea, it beginneth to be delicious to me.” -Alma 32:28

Oh My Father
For a wise and glorious purpose
Thou hast placed me here on earth,
And withheld the recollection
Of my former friends and birth.
Yet ofttimes a secret something
Whispered, "You're a stranger here."
And I felt that I had wandered
From a more exalted sphere.

"If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world" -C.S. Lewis

And here’s me reprimanding myself:
in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding
In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths. Be not wise in thine own eyes…” –Proverbs 3:5-7
So now you've seen both sides. It really is an inner battle that I'm going through right now and there's no easy way out. The Lord says that he speaks to us through our mind and heart, but my thoughts and feelings are so muddled lately that I'm not sure what to trust anymore. I thought I knew myself, but some days I feel like a stranger in my own skin. Who the heck am I? Every time I think I know, life seems to throw me another loop- it's just one big vicious cycle of identity confusion. Les Mis keeps popping into my head-
"Who am I? Can I conceal myself for evermore?
Pretend I'm not the man I was before?
And must my name until I die
Be no more than an alibi? Must I lie?
How can I ever face my fellow men?
How can I ever face myself again?
My soul belongs to God, I know
I made that bargain long ago
He gave me hope when hope was gone
He gave me strength to journey on.
Who am I? Who am I?"
"I had a dream my life would be... so different now from what it seemed!
Now life has killed the dream I dreamed."

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Playing with Fire

I told you that the Dragon would be back. Here he is making his stand against spiritual experience:

The Dragon: “How can you claim to know that what you believe is true?”
Draco: “The primary way (or at least the method most emphasized in the church) to know between good and bad or truth and falsehood is through a feeling/thought of reassurance or peace.”
The Dragon: “And how can you rely on these thoughts and feelings?”
Draco: “I can rely on them because they come from God through the Holy Ghost and because Satan cannot falsify these feelings.”
The Dragon: “But how can you be sure that this peace comes from God and that some evil source is unable to imitate them?”
Draco: “Well, the scriptures teach us this principle in several places: Moroni 7 and 10, Ephesians 5:22, and D&C 50 to name a few.
The Dragon: “That’s all very well, but how can we be sure that what the scriptures are teaching is true?”
Draco: pauses to think “We can know that the scriptures are true by praying about them and receiving a confirmation from the Holy Ghost.”
The Dragon: “But look- you’ve already fallen into circular reasoning. Your argument is invalid; you say that you know but in reality you only believe and call it knowing. Your sense of knowledge of religious truths is an illusion.”

In case you missed The Dragon’s criticism, here’s another example:
Some one gets up in sacrament meeting and says (like so many of us members say), “I know by the power of the Holy Ghost that the church is true.” When he says “by the power of the Holy Ghost” he of course means that he has felt some spiritual feeling or divine assurance. So we could ask this person how he can trust that what the “power of the spirit” supposedly reveals to him is true. Here, some people will get confused and say something banal like, “I just know” and feel appeased in their minds that this is a sufficient answer. With some prodding, however, most will eventually say “because the scriptures [or some other authority] says so” or “because that’s the way God speaks to us.” Then we can ask him how he knows that the scriptures or the prophet is telling the truth or how he knows that this is God’s manner of communication. He is forced to, unless he can provide outward empirical evidence (which, according to church doctrine, has a lesser value that inward spiritual evidence), use his first premise as his conclusion- “by the power of the Holy Ghost.” If a testimony is based on personal spiritual experiences, one can never arrive at knowing with surety- he can only claim a firm belief. The Dragon would also say that people want to know the truth so badly, that they find ways to assign truth to any set of beliefs. They contrive and interpret their feelings to mean that they have found truth so that they can find reassurance in knowing- in being right. After all, who likes to live in doubt? But let’s get back to the dialogue:

The Dragon: “You said that Satan cannot falsify feelings of the Holy Ghost, correct?”
Draco: “There are certain feelings that Satan cannot imitate- they come only from God.”
The Dragon: “Then what is ‘carnal security’ and what is ‘false hope’? Are not these falsifications of the peace and assurance to which you cling? If a force in opposition to God can provide imitations of feelings, then how can we trust our feelings alone to confirm truth? I might feel peaceful about pursuing a homosexual lifestyle and have hope in my future with that pursuit. How can God expect me to recognize the difference?”
Draco: “Well, the scriptures and the leaders of the church teach us how to distinguish between the two.”
The Dragon: “Ah, but how can you trust these authorities? Once more you have wrapped yourself in a circle. All that you have done is to choose to believe what you want to believe and put faith in those beliefs. It is comforting to say- empowering for you to say- that you have reasons to believe, that is, your feelings and your authoritative sources. But these reasons are only parts of circular reasoning which can never prove any truths. The only reason you favor one religion over another- or over atheism for that matter- is because you want to believe it. You have faith, but you cannot obtain knowledge in the manner which you have explained. There is no escaping your circle. Your “testimony” is simply a list of things that you have chosen to believe, but you do not know them.
Draco: “If that’s true, then why do so many people say that they know just as I do?”
The Dragon: “There is safety in numbers. It is much easier to convince yourself that some religious principle is truth if many others ascribe to it. But they only know from their own personal spiritual experiences which I have already shown to be inadequate for proving truths. Their knowledge is also illusory. A tomato will never be a vegetable no matter how many times people call it a vegetable.”

Perhaps people will say that I shouldn’t meddle into these kinds of questions- that I’m setting myself up for apostasy and reasoning my way out of truth, or maybe placing my reason above God’s wisdom. So then am I supposed to be satisfied with doubt? Or what if what we call “God’s wisdom” only consists of the ideas that we assign to him based on what we think we know, while his real wisdom lies outside our orthodox sphere of ideas. Based on the Dragon’s argument, all I can do is to choose to have faith or not to have faith (or at least to have faith in other doctrines) depending on what I want to believe. I can contrive or interpret my spiritual experiences to point me either way.

I realize that thus far I have been fairly one-sided in my blogging, so maybe next time I’ll flip things around so that I’m looking at all these issues objectively. After all, objective reasoning was part of what led me to baptism in the first place (the other part was obviously faith).

“To one who has faith, no explanation is necessary. To one without faith, no explanation is possible.” -Thomas Aquinas

Monday, October 22, 2007

Defying Gravity

I pretty much live and breathe music. Just like writing, music can serve as an escape for me- but more than that, I feel like it makes life thicker and more complete- like ice cream with your cake or something like that. I love when the lyrics play to my immediate experience. This can make each emotion seem more poignant and precious. So in behalf of all the amazing experiences I’ve had lately, here’s Celine Dion:

“So suddenly, so strange,

life wakes you up, things change.
I've done my best, I've served my call,
I thought I had it all.
So suddenly, so strong
My prejudice was gone
You needed me, I found my place

I'm there for now, these days”

In the two short weeks since I have jumped on board the moho train, I feel almost as though I’ve stepped into someone else’s life. And it’s not a bad thing! –because that someone has actually been me all along- the raw, honest, mask free me. I owe a huge thank you to Brady, Gimple, and Narcissus/Hans Olo, and Calvin for helping me find my footings- you guys are the best! And it’s been awesome meeting more and more of the family as I launch this uncharted course. Sorry if I seem shy at first; that’s just how I am sometimes. All in all, I am so excited about life right now, even though I am not sure where I will end up when the dye is cast. Take it away Elphie!

“And this gift or this curse I have inside-
Maybe at last I’ll know why…”

“I’m through accepting limits ‘cause someone says they’re so.
Some things I cannot change, but ‘til I try I’ll never know.
Too long I’ve been afraid of losing love I guess I’ve lost,
Well if that’s love, it comes at much too high a cost!
I’d sooner buy defying gravity!
Kiss me goodbye- I’m defying gravity,
And you can’t pull me down!”

And with the last word, it’s Julie Andrews:

“What will this day be like… I wonder?
What will my future bring… I wonder?”

Friday, October 19, 2007

Say When

So is there any way that homosexuality could ever be acceptable? I can just picture what would happen if all of the sudden the first presidency announced that being gay is a legitimate lifestyle. I’m pretty sure that I would be happy camper. But maybe I’m on to something. Haven’t there been other cases in which at one point certain practices were acceptable- even ordained by God, but later the policy changed? What about polygamy? Certainly the majority of Christians outside the church consider our doctrine of plural marriage to be repulsive and damnable. Even some members within the church have a hard time agreeing with the idea of multiple wives. We know that polygamy has been okay at certain times in the past- Abraham and Jacob from the OT, for example, and of course it played a significant role in the earlier years of this dispensation with Joseph Smith and other church leaders. Church doctrine even suggests that plural marriage/companionship will exist in the celestial kingdom. And yet, at other times (like right now), polygamy is a hideous sin that merits excommunication. In the Book of Mormon, Jacob condemns the practice. So we know that it is possible for a lifestyle to be acceptable and good at one point, and disobedient and sinful at another, depending on the will of Heavenly Father.

Now what prevents homosexuality from qualifying as a similar situation? Granted, I can’t find any scripture that would support this- only scriptures that call homosexuality an “unnatural affection” and a terrible sin. But remember that polygamy is also condemned in various scriptures, so perhaps we can’t assume that homosexuality is always bad. We can also recall scriptural instances in which things like “smiting” and murder are acceptable. What if homosexuality is actually okay at the right time? Perhaps the general authorities speak out against it because it is only not acceptable right now. Why would this ever be the case? Maybe it can compared it to blacks receiving the priesthood. This was something which, for a very long time, the church did not permit. Why? The only doctrinal reason provided by the church is that God said so, but a deeper explanation might be that, culturally or socially, it was prudent to deny this privilege. Perhaps Heavenly Father knew that, had the policy been altered earlier, the church would have lost members who harbored feelings of racism- more members than the church would have gained from the policy change. And there’s no denying how many members felt- have you ever read what Joseph Fielding Smith and Bruce R. McConckie said about blacks? Another way of saying it, suggested by biggins in a comment to a previous post, is that God always approved of blacks receiving the priesthood, but that human fallibility or racism prevented change. Either perspective can play into the rest of this argument.

Obviously God, being an all-loving parent, wants to save as many of his children as possible; so perhaps He had to wait for the proper social circumstances to arise before blacks could be given the priesthood. What if homosexuality is the same? Couldn’t it be that society- that the general membership of the church- is simply not ready to accept it? How many members would leave the church if gay marriage suddenly became a legitimate covenant? I think the answer is: too many for things to change right now. So maybe I should support politicians who endorse gay marriage so that society begins to change. But then again, it’s hard to imagine millions of homophobic people and the children that they raise with the same prejudices changing their minds about this issue. I guess I can still hope that things will be different in the next life.
I wonder- If I ever make it to the highest degree of the celestial kingdom, will I be able to make worlds where homosexuality is the norm and heterosexuality is a horrible sin? I sure hope so.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Meet The Dragon

As a missionary, I was pretty much as “flecha” as they come. That’s Spanish for “arrow” –it means that you’re really a stick-to-the-books, no nonsense, sometimes-bordering-on-overbearing kind of a missionary. I was so sure of my testimony and what I taught, and sure that people needed to know what I knew.

In the mission you hear questions like, “Why does it matter what church I go to? All of them teach you to be good...” or “Why should I go to your church? God already led me to a different one.” These questions come up all the time and you eventually find out the best ways to answer them; “Well Christ only organized one church when He was here, so there should only be one true church today…” or “God always conducts the church through a prophet…” and a number of other responses which help people understand our claim of absolute truth. Sometimes investigators or hecklers present more challenging questions and doubts, but truth be told none of them were faith-shaking or scary for me. I was confident in my testimony and knowledge of the truthfulness of the gospel and in my ability to defend our doctrines.

But now that I’m back at school and studying philosophy, I regularly have to deal with questions that can be pretty frightening if you really think about them. I feel like most people in my classes have blinders on; they either shrug away the questions with a quick answer or insist that asking such questions is a waste of time or dangerous because they lead people into apostasy. Orwell was right: Ignorance is Bliss (sorry- that was a little bit cynical). If I want to keep and fortify my testimony, I have to find answers to these questions because they are sources of doubt; I see no element of faith in dismissal. Isn’t the most repeated message in the scriptures “seek and ye shall find?” So by now you’re probably wondering of what kind of wild questions I could possibly be thinking. Well they’re not simple questions, so I’ll throw out just one for now. If you’ve ever read Plato, Aristotle, or a number of other philosophers, then you’ve probably seen the dialogue format of presenting an argument. I think I’ll try that here so you can see that this is a real battle that goes on within me. Let me introduce you to the Dragon:

The Dragon: “If most religions help people to be better and to feel closer to God, does it matter what faith a person follows?”
Draco: “He should seek out and follow the religion that teaches only true doctrines. This is the best religion.”
The Dragon: “How can he know that the doctrines of any given religion are true?”
Draco: “He must rely on spiritual experiences.”
The Dragon: “You mean miracles?”
Draco: “Not in the usual sense of the word. I mean that he must pray and receive an answer from God as a feeling or reassurance.”
The Dragon: “I see. So “God,” or perhaps more appropriately “some divine source,” since not all religions believe in your idea of “God,” should tell me what religion I should follow.
Draco: “Precisely”
The Dragon: “And He will tell me that I should follow what you call the best religion, or that religion that teaches only true ideas.”
Draco: “Yes.”
The Dragon: “And does He always give the same answer?”
Draco: “He is one God and thus has only one truth- so yes, He will always guide people to the best religion.”
The Dragon: “But there are millions of Christians belonging to sects that claim opposing truths. And there are millions of people belonging to other religions- Buddhists, Muslims and Jews. All of these millions of people profess and are sure that they have had equally confirming spiritual experiences that justify their faith over other beliefs. So if millions- many more millions than those belonging to your church- assert that they know that their religion is the best religion, how can we be sure that your spiritual experiences are more valid and truth proving? Perhaps there are just as many millions of people who have had spiritual experiences specifically guiding them away from your church as those who have been led inside.”
Draco: “Then their experiences were false or inspired of evil sources, because this church is the only one that contains a fullness of truth.
The Dragon: “How do you know? Perhaps it is you who have had false or evilly inspired experiences.”
Draco: “But I know that what I believe is true!”
The Dragon: “Prove it.”

Man, that Dragon is tricky! I’m sorry to say you’ll probably be hearing more from him in the future. This argument is inspired by Hume and William James, just fyi- not that you probably care. I just didn’t want to take credit for someone else’s idea.

Saturday, October 13, 2007

And Then There Were 6...

I realize that I have done a lot of posting this week- I guess I've just had a lot on my mind. Now I think I'd like to put down a little bit of my history so you know what I mean when I say that I'm coming out for the second time. Midway through my senior year in high school, I finally gathered the courage to tell my friends and family what I had known for quite a long time. I started by telling my most liberal friends, which was the easiest and most reassuring. Then when I felt like I had enough moral support, I came out to my parents- my mom first and then my dad. They were pretty devastated. I had always grown up being taught that homosexuality was a horrible thing, which I think is true for a lot of children in Christian families. My family, though not LDS, are very religious and morally driven people. So once my parents knew, I started being less careful about who found out that I was gay. And of course, like all juicy news in high school, the word about me spread furiously. I was pretty well known at my high school since I was involved in choir, band, drama, and leadership activities, so even a lot of the underclassmen could enjoy the rumor. Unfortunately my younger brother, who was a freshman at the time, found out from someone else before I could tell him myself. He confronted me about it one day on the way to school- I remember him telling me that he thought it was gross, but at the same time he let me know that he was still my brother and that he loved me. That whole year and for much of his sophomore year as well, he had to endure a lot of teasing from classmates about me being gay. I still feel guilty about what I put him through, but love him so much for how he handled it. My mom told me that he always stuck up for me and would just tell people to shut-up if they said anything derogatory. What a stud!

Anyhow, I was out and excited about my new prospects; I was looking forward to going to college and dating guys. And then just when I thought that my world had already been turned upside down, Luisa and another dear friend of mine, Skyhawk, invited me to listen to the missionaries and go to church with them. You see, while I had been coming out I had also been going through a religious crisis. I wasn’t sure if I even believed in God anymore, but I wanted to find answers and to know how my homosexuality could fit into my spiritual beliefs. I admit it, I used to be kind of anti-Mormon- at least doctrinally anyway. Many of my good friends were Mormon, but I had always thought that they were kind of loony. So against all odds I ended up joining the Church about 8 months after I had come out (I’ll save the details for another time- it’s a very long and complicated story). A month after I was baptized I went to college where no one knew about me being gay. I just started over and decided not to talk to anyone about it ever again. My parents assumed that the gay thing had just been a “phase.” This was just over four years ago.

You can imagine that I was worried when I started my mission a year after having joined the church. I mean, 24 hours a day with other guys for two years straight? And I have to sleep in the same room and see them undress and act like it’s not awkward for me? But Heavenly Father really blessed me and my temptations during the mission were limited- it was like my sexuality was turned off so that I could focus on missionary work. I finished the mission sure that when I started school again, especially now that I had transferred to BYU, I would have no trouble dating girls and getting married within a year. Exactly one year ago today, I was released as a missionary- and here I am.

It didn’t take me long after I had come home to realize that my attractions toward guys had not gone away, as much as I wanted to deny this. But I was determined to make things work, so I started going on dates with girls when I got here in January, and in June I started dating a girl seriously. We just broke up last weekend, which is another story and one that I’m not sure I want to post. In short, it was a pretty painful event- I told her about my SSA and everything. Having a relationship with a girl, rather than suppressing my homosexual feelings, has only made them more obvious until they have become something which I cannot not keep to myself any longer. I am tired of hiding and lying and faking, so for the past few weeks I’ve been telling (and in some cases retelling) some of my closest friends about my dilemma. Apart from meeting moho family and family friends, I talked to Luisa, who had known about my SSA in high school and has been so patient and loving- she is my voice of reason when I am feeling confused. I also told another dear friend, Falula, with whom I have been the best of friends since I started college. She is a fellow convert and a true light and joy in my life. I don’t know where I would be without her! Then of course I talked to my late-girlfriend- I guess I’ll call her Wendy- and I’m still not sure how that’s going to turn out. Needless to say, after four months of dating, it was a huge blow for her. I also came out to a couple of my mission buddies- Ricky, who was one of my favorite companions, and Tito, who was never technically my companion, but we were just as close as companions. Today- oh, in about an hour or so, I’m going to lunch with another favorite mission companion, Ken, and I think he’ll be the last person I come out to for now. And I guess that makes six- six people outside the moho world to keep tabs on me- to help me be sure that whatever ends up happening, I’ll have plenty of support. So to Luisa, Falula, Wendy, Ricky, Tito, and Ken- thank you for being understanding about something that a lot of people can’t handle, and thank you for being so caring. I love you all!

Friday, October 12, 2007

Patriarchal Blessings, Hawaiian Food, and Being Naughty

So I was having a sort of philosophical conversation with one of my dearest friends (I’ll call her Luisa) the other day and we started talking about our patriarchal blessings. She had been encouraging me to read mine to look for guidance and strength to deal with my moho issues. Just for background info- Luisa and I have been the best of friends since 6th grade. She was the one who was my primary connection to the church growing up. Midway through our senior year, she invited me to listen to the missionaries (I don’t remember if this was before or after I had come out) and she’s always been one of my greatest sources of inspiration and encouragement. Really, she's the

So I told Luisa about what had happened when I received my patriarchal blessing four years ago. I had only been a member for three months, but I already kind of knew what this business was about. I knew that I would find out about my tribe, my preparation for the priesthood and a mission, and of course about marriage and eternal companionship. So my patriarch proceeded to give me a very lengthy blessing- declaration of my tribe… check. Council concerning my preparations for the priesthood and a mission… check. And marriage… marriage… marriage? After the patriarch had been giving the blessing for a while and I knew that he had to be finishing up soon, he still hadn’t mentioned marriage or kids or eternal increase or anything like that. I was a little bit worried. Then he started what I knew had to be the finishing-up of the blessing! Oh no! Then he stopped abruptly and after a moment, awkwardly added in that I would find a companion at the right time. And then he finished. So thinking back and rereading my blessing, I wonder if this promise of
companionship is meant for this life or the next. I also pointed out to Luisa, half joking- half not joking, that the blessing never says “you will have a wife” or that I will “take a girl to the temple.” No- it just says “companion.”

So yesterday I met Brady and Gimple- my first moho friends! We just had dinner together at the Bamboo Hut (which is not an Asian restuarant :P) and it was awesome. Seriously, I can't remember when I've felt more like myself. I think that this is exactly what I need- I mean, I've kept everything bottled up ever since I joined the church- pretending, denying, and lying to myself about what I feel. I've been an emotional wreck since I came to Provo in January, but now I feel like things are looking up :)

And as for being naughty- I have a class with Luisa, and as I was settling into my desk before class started, she said, "Oh! You got a haircut!" This was an inaccurate observation; I just styled my hair a little differently today. But then she said, "Oh, well it goes really well with your unshaven face!" Then she told me, like, 10 times before class was over that I was breaking the honor code. I made the excuse that I didn't have time this morning- or yesterday morning- or the day before that.... okay- fine. I really don't like shaving. And I really don't like being a conformist (which sometimes makes being LDS pretty difficult) so maybe I don't always take the grooming standards of the honor code to heart. I'm actually lucky that I haven't had a professor say anything to me about it yet. I guess I just don't have a testimony about not having facial hair. Sometimes I miss my days in Seattle when I would wear pajama pants every day to school- even to my institute classes- and I didn't have to worry about sideways glances. So that's my rebellious side. I guess what I'm really trying to say is- Luisa, you know you love facial hair.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Signs and Confessions

Now that you know a little bit of what’s going on inside my head (and trust me, there is more to come), I guess I’ll share a little bit about myself.

So as I’ve been coming out to some of my close friends recently, I’ve been wondering if they kind of knew all along. After all, I kind of fit the stereotypical mold of gayness- but maybe I’ve been good at hiding it? I made a list this morning during one of my classes of things that might appear, well, pretty gay to other people. So this is a chance for me to be proud of these things instead of feeling embarrassed about who I am. Especially for those of you who know me, I hope you’ll get a laugh out of this.

-I love shopping, unless it’s at someplace like Home Depot
-I have gone shopping just to buy chap-stick
-I have all the songs from Wicked memorized- “Don’t wish, don’t start- wishing only wounds the heart… he could be that boy, but I’m not that girl.”
-The ring tone on my cell phone is from Wicked.
-I like to sing along with Celine Dion- in the same octave. I also have Madonna, N’Sync, BSB, Britney, Christina, Alanis, Hanson, Jewel, Amy Grant, Darren Hayes, Jesse McCartney, Justin, Mariah, and everything Broadway on my i-pod. Is that bad?
-I have taken ballet and I liked wearing tights. Yes, I liked it!
-I pluck my eyebrows.
-The hairspray that I’m using right now is called “Herbal Essences- White Nectarine and Pink Coral Flower. Oh man, it smells so good!
-Speaking of hairspray- definitely the hottest movie of the summer!
-I’ve colored my hair 5 times this year- in fact, I think I’m due for number 6 pretty quick here…
-I don’t like watching sports. Except during the Olympics when they show the men’s diving and swimming… yep.
-I have softer hands than most girls and even some babies.
-When I went home for summer break, I spent a whole day watching a marathon on Bravo of America’s Top Designer- such a great show, but I was kind of bummed when the cute guy got kicked off- I guess he had it coming; his clothes were too gay.
-This is one of my favorite backgrounds that I put on my desktop -->
-I like using those mud facial masks.
-My handwriting is “really pretty.” Seriously, I’ve made girls jealous.
-One of my favorite movies is The Matthew Shepard Story. Another one is The Little Mermaid.
-I used to wear a thumb ring.
-I have a crush on Matt Damon, Sean Austin, and (sigh) Zac Efron.

And actually the signs go all the way back to fourth grade-
-I had a bright purple coat.
-I had Lisa Frank folders for my homework- the jumping dolphins were so cute!
-All the girls used to play wall ball at recess and no boys were allowed. They gave me the nickname “Frutia” so that I could play with them. I remember my mom was really concerned when she heard this, but she just didn’t understand- I mean it was just a nickname…
-And by 6th or 7th grade I was sure that I didn’t like girls like the other boys did- but all the boys started looking pretty attractive. By the time I started my freshman year in high school, I knew that I was (gulp) gay.

I’m sure I could add to this list; it was far too easy to make. So now you know some of my gay little secrets and tendencies. You know, I usually get offended (despite Elder Bednar’s council) when people call things “gay” or “homo.” But maybe we’re partly to blame, you know? After all, we’re the ones who make all of these “gay” things seem gay. I guess as long as it’s not used derogatorily, I can keep my cool if someone calls some hot new song or some smokin’ piece of clothing “gay.” Yeah, I think that’s a dandy way of handling things. (Man, that last sentence was gay!)

Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Homosexuality in Heaven?

Okay, so I think it’s natural for me to hope that homosexual companionship exists in heaven because this is a union of two things that I really want. Unfortunately for me, the majority of Christians and probably an even larger majority of latter-day saints think that this idea is blasphemous; it’s all in the scriptures- I mean just look at what happened to Sodom and Gomorra! On the flip side, I am free to believe whatever I want about heavenly homosexuality- as long as I don’t go preaching it as doctrine. This fact has led me to wonder if there is even the remotest possibility of having another guy as an eternal companion. So this is what I’ve come up with- perhaps it’s a laughable theory, but then again, aren’t there a lot of religious ideas that we have as Mormons that are subject to scoffing and ridicule?

Men are that they might have joy, right? So does a homosexual relationship provide real joy or just passing pleasure like any common sin? I think that if I were to marry another guy, I would be sincerely happy. Of course there would be the physical satisfaction, but the relationship would go so much deeper than that. It would entail trust, comfort, generosity, kindness, caring, and real joy. It would not just be the passing pleasure or perceived happiness that comes from things like alcohol, drugs, fornication, or pornography- not that I am familiar with those things. No, I want a relationship full of charity, patience, and peace. So if a committed homosexual marriage would bring me joy, why is it forbidden? Or do I just imagine that it would bring me lasting joy, when in reality the relationship would end at death and I would end up in hell, which doesn’t sound like a very joyous place at all. It’s clear that real joy- the kind that the scriptures talk about- is spiritual and not temporal.

Then maybe I need to ask whether or not my homosexual attractions are a result of my mortal body, or if they are part of my spirit. If attraction comes only as a result of having an imperfect body, then my argument isn’t that great. But we have spirits inside of us, and can’t one spirit or intelligence be attracted to another? I certainly think so. Two people do not get married (or at least they shouldn’t get married) based on mere physical attraction. No, the heavier weight should be given to spiritual attraction- attraction to who the person is, not their appearance. And I’m not just talking about the personality attraction between two friends; I’m implying love- romantic, spiritual, deep love. Doctrine and Covenants teaches us that our intelligences are eternal and were not created. So if I can spiritually be drawn to other guys, it’s logical to say that this tendency has always been a part of who I am and will continue to be an inherent trait into the eternities. If this is true, then why would a loving Heavenly Father not have accommodations in his plan for spirits like mine? I already am seeing some holes in the argument- maybe I’ll flesh it out later, but you get the idea.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Paradoxical Ponderings

I love philosophy. I love to wonder about things- to seek light and truth. I guess this whole blogging thing is just a way for me to express the thoughts and events that I don't usually share with my friends and family because, well, they're all either not gay or not Mormon. It's so frustrating to not have anyone who really understands you- at least anyone who is not deity. Lately I've been pondering and praying about how homosexuality makes any sense at all. Why would God allow this to happen to me? I know that's a pretty trite question which has an equally trite answer: to try me, to humble me, to help me grow. Of course I agree with these answers, but somehow, there still seems to be something that doesn't fit. I guess the question that follows is whether or not God gave me this burden. At the very least, he allows it to persist.

According to church doctrine, the feelings of attraction that I have are not sinful because I cannot control them, but it is bad to act on them in any way. Homosexuality is kind of unique in that way- a sin which only becomes a sin in action, but not in thought. Compare this to lust (which goes beyond feelings of attraction). One begins to sin with thoughts which lead to sinful actions. And what about anger? Angry thoughts can be just as sinful as the words and actions often born of those same thoughts. Stealing has its seeds in covetous thoughts, which are obviously sinful.

"A man does not come to the almshouse or the jail by the tyranny or fate of circumstance, but by the pathway of groveling thoughts and base desires." -James Allan

So all these sins have roots in sinful thoughts. But homosexuality is different. There is nothing wrong with me feeling attracted (not lusting) toward another guy. These thoughts are not sinful. However, as soon as I act on them in any way- kissing for example, which is a perfectly acceptable effect of heterosexual attraction, then I have sinned, according to LDS doctrine. Why is that? Why would Heavenly Father allow me to have non-sinful thoughts and feelings that promote sinful behavior? Some would say, "Well, we're all tempted; there's no sin in temptation. I can be tempted to steal, but as long as I repress the thought and make room for good thoughts, then the initial thought of stealing is not a sin." But homosexual attractions aren't passing thoughts that go away if you hum your favorite hymn. I don't think anyone can say that they have the temptation to steal, or commit murder, or have sex at every minute of every day. But I AM attracted to guys all the time- it is not the same. "Oh yes it is- it's just a temptation that you have to resist." No- there is a difference between temptation and attraction. I can resist, avoid, and even eliminate temptation ("It is our own desires which determine the sizing and the attractiveness of various temptations." -Neal A. Maxwell), but I cannot eliminate an attraction. If you're heterosexual, try it. Just stop being attracted to the opposite sex. Unless you're some freak of nature, you can't.

Let me add one more twist to my question. There are only worthy and unworthy thoughts and feelings- no in-between thoughts or feelings. Either a thought or feeling impedes my personal worthiness, or it is acceptable and does not impede my worthiness. Certainly some worthy thoughts and feelings are better than others, (it is more uplifting to think about God's love than which brand of cereal to purchase) yet they all fall into the same category of worthy thoughts. Think of it this way: having pondered about cereal brands one minute will not impede me from giving a priesthood blessing the next. Now, as I already mentioned, homosexual attraction (which could be a thought or a feeling or both), as defined by general authorities, is not something that causes personal unworthiness- as long as I don't go lusting which is just as unworthy to do for a heterosexual. So we can say that homosexual attractions are worthy feelings, insofar as they do not make me unworthy. Here's the question again: Why would God give me worthy gay feelings (or at least gay feelings that are not unworthy) that I cannot follow worthily?

Now in my head I am thinking, "Draco, you're just mingling the philosophies of men with scripture and twisting words, and you know who else does that!" I admit that last paragraph is kind of a stretch- but remember, these are just musings and ponderings- not firm beliefs. I see no wrong in searching for answers to questions that I think are very pertinent to my salvation. God gave me reason, so I would be foolish not to use it. And of course the only way to confirm human reasoning is through divine confirmation (prayer), to which principle I hold fast. I'm sitting on the fence right now, and I don't think I can jump one way or the other until I'm sure that I'm leaping into safe pastures. "Well you won't receive any witness until after the trial of your faith!" And yet to which side of the fence should I invest my faith? Should I have faith in church doctrine and attempt to abandon homosexuality, or should I have faith that my feelings of attraction are acceptable and try kissing boys? I am so confused.