Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Happy to Say: "I'm okay"

So, this is my first post of 2016. There’s been a lot I’ve wanted to say, about a lot of different topics, but I haven’t been sure how to word it in a way that’s useful to anyone. However, the past month has given me some added perspective and I’m ready to share again. I hope this is helpful to some of my readers.

Over the past few months, the following events have occurred in my life:

1.       One family member called me to repentance since my last post. He/She stated that I was slipping away and leading many others in the wrong direction.
2.       Another family member asked me why the gays don’t just build their own church.
3.       Another family member refused to give me his/her blessing to find happiness in my own way (finding a great guy to build a life with). When I asked this family member if they still thought I could be happy marrying a woman or by being lonely and celibate, they responded affirmatively (despite seeing me miserable for years as I’ve tried to consider both of those options).
4.       I was laid off from my job.
5.       For the past 13 days, I’ve been unable to walk. Standing on my feet currently causes me intense pain. I have a separate foot condition (gout) and my meds regulate that. Incidentally, I have three other family members who also have gout. But this latest issue is something new and different. My Cobra insurance hasn’t kicked in yet, so I haven’t seen my doctor about it. But I’ve endured a lot of physical pain while being confined to my bed or my couch.

Now, this isn’t a sob story. I’m not asking for pity at all. Nor am I putting my family on blast. At the end of the day, I have a family who loves me and wants the best for me. We just can’t see eye to eye on the gay thing. I share these events to give some context into the rest of this entry.

The easiest way to catch you up without having a clear message this time around is to categorize. Here’s how I’m doing physically, mentally, emotionally, socially, romantically and spiritually. I hope that this update is encouraging to many of you. The whole point is that if you can say "I'm okay" during the hard times, that's a triumph.


Since the lay-off, I decided to make fitness a bigger priority. In fact, I’m in a contest with a few friends to lose weight. It was all going pretty well until about 2 weeks ago when I couldn’t step on my right foot. I started using crutches and primarily used my left foot to get around. But then, applying any pressure on my left foot was intensely painful as well.

My brother Neil has been an amazing nurse during this time of incapacitation. He’s been my on-call gopher and has infused this trying time with humor and the patience of angels. Heck, I’ve had to pee into bottles and he’s emptied them over and over again. Just keeping it real, guys and gals. He sat with me during a panic attack and was totally present during my general sense of apathy and restlessness that comes from being immobile and in a great deal of pain.

During this fortnight from hell, I’ve had time to reflect and was reminded of a few things. Physical health is a privilege. If you are in good health, whether through good habits, good genetics or good luck, please get on your knees and thank our Heavenly Father for that blessing. I’m grateful for the body I’ve been given. A recent physical has me in great health otherwise, but man, these 2 weeks have been among the most trying I’ve experienced in recent years.

Another thing I realized is that I have a unique relationship with my brother Neil. I may not have romantic love in my life at this time, but I've been reminded that having a triplet brother who would drop everything to be by your side when in need is something that I get to experience in a way that is especially deep and special. Having a triplet brother and a triplet sister is like having a built-in, automatic best guy friend and best girl friend. I should thank my mom for that. She raised us to appreciate that connection and to love each other. Throughout the years, the three of us have shown up for each other in ways that I feel are extraordinary. I needed a reminder of how special my bond with Neil is and how lucky I am to have been born with two wombmates. The past 2 weeks have certainly done that. 

As a quick update, I’m feeling the pain go away. I plan to see my doctor about it and get an official diagnosis once my Cobra is active. I’m guessing that it’s plantar fasciitis, but my symptoms don’t match that description perfectly (stay away from WebMD, it’s scary!). I will get right back on track with my fitness contest, even if these 2 weeks have put me behind the competition. I’ll just have to approach it carefully and put more emphasis on the nutrition part of my regimen. 

I've been mindful of some of my friends who don't have full use of their bodies. It was humbling to think that they've moved on, found effective ways to deal with the hand they were dealt, and they do so ably and beautifully, so what am I complaining about? It reminded me that I can handle my lot in life with more grace and acceptance.  


I suppose things are good here. Don’t see any major issues. That said, I’ve come to realize that denying yourself of dating and romantic relationships for 35 years does some things to you mentally. It has stunted my development in a variety of ways. I’ll be dealing with that for the rest of my life. In addition, when you’re very clear that a number of your family members disapprove of choices you’re making, it can mess with you, especially when you’re already at such odds with who you are versus who you’re supposed to be. But I’m working on making it work – for me. 


This is the most challenging area of 2016 so far, even more so than the physical setbacks of the past 2 weeks. I’m still so upset about the church policy changes, the number of gay suicides within the church, the church’s response, the statements made by church officials, and the insensitive or uninformed comments I continue to see on this whole topic from those who seem to have never met a gay person in their lives. I haven’t blogged about my feelings on these changes for a while because it’s a very emotional thing and I haven’t been able to find the right way to articulate my thoughts. But I stand with the LGBT youth of the church. I know how they feel. I know how dark it can get. I know that they don’t have many options in their circumstances when the very people who should love them the most turn them away. To these individuals: I love you and I'll continue to walk with you.

These policy changes were quietly tucked into the latest version of the church handbook and it came to light somewhat unintentionally, as I understand it. Some argue about the way these changes came to be known (Reddit, John Dehlin, etc), but that’s irrelevant. A couple of days later, a video with Elder Christofferson is released from the church about why the policy is a positive thing but offers no comfort or clarification, at least, not to me. A week passes by and the policy is revised to allow already-baptized children within same-sex parent households to maintain their membership. We don’t hear much else about it until two months later when Elder Nelson announced that what started as quiet little policy change was actual direct revelation from God. In the same address, Elder Nelson’s wife challenged the gays to just pray the gay away, as if we’d never thought of that. A month later, Elder Oaks is asked how he feels about the gay suicide crisis that’s occurring among LDS youth. His response was that he will be accountable to a higher authority for what he’s taught on the topic and adds that “Nobody is sadder about a case like that than I am.” I appreciate the sentiment, but I can think of several people who are sadder by this suicide epidemic happening than he is.

I’m not here to trash-talk the Apostles of the LDS church. Even now, I tune into conference to listen to what they say and I try my best to apply it where I can. I hold great reverence for their calling. However, I’m okay stating publically that I simply cannot agree with these policies and the intense pain they’ve caused me and many others I know and love. It doesn’t feel right to me. I don’t understand all of God’s ways, none of us do. But this direct revelation from Him just doesn’t feel good to me. I can't accept that it comes from God. I think it’s okay to question and to challenge things like this when they don’t sit right in my heart. The Brethren have admitted to being wrong in the past and President Uchtdorf has challenged us to understand and be forgiving when it comes to these imperfections from men that many esteem as perfect or near-perfect.

I think a member of the church can hold to their beliefs and, at the same time, wish me happiness, even if it means finding a great guy to spend my life with. I think they’re separate things. But I don’t get to control how or if or at what level that support is offered by others. I just struggle with the idea of refusing to wish someone happiness just because they might approach obtaining it in a different way.

As for being called to repentance, I was very upset upon receiving the message. It made me wonder if this family member was just skimming what I was writing on this blog or taking time to fully digest it and understand me. This blog was meant to show my love and support of the church, but also, to help other members of the church understand what a tricky thing it is to love the church when the church increasingly doesn’t love me. Entry after entry, I feel like I’ve taken great care to speak well of the church, even while being honest about my experience as a gay member.

In the end, I decided to put the rebuke aside for now until we can chat about it in person. Since then, I can’t seem to shake my sadness for being called out this way, especially when I’ve made it abundantly clear time and time again that I still have a love of the church and that I’m trying my best to remain a part of it, even if that’s becoming increasingly difficult. I was told that even though I might think I was doing some good in the world, I was not. 

I feel like I’m saving lives. Now that might sound like I believe I’m a superhero. I’m not. But I have had numerous parents and members of the LGBT community reach out to me with gratitude and heartfelt expressions. They read my blog and feel hopeful that they can have a strong relationship with God and be gay at the same time. THAT is the message I want to send and will continue to send. "Have I cheered up the sad and made someone feel glad? If not, I have failed indeed." 

The message I received from this family member didn’t feel very reassuring in that regard, all because I’m not making the exact same choices he/she is making. This member of my family is truly one of my favorite people on earth, but he/she refuses to see that I'm having a completely different experience in the church than he/she is having. I’m clear that God loves me and has my salvation in mind. But my family member doesn’t seem to think I stand a chance of being with God again unless I agree to loneliness and celibacy or marrying a woman.

Elsewhere in this area, the lay-off knocked me down a peg or two, but I can’t take it personally. I worked for a start-up company and it was run by 2 families. I enjoyed the job and the people I worked with, but ultimately, when cuts needed to be made, it made sense that I was on the chopping block. After all, I wasn’t family. Still, getting laid-off never feels good. You always question yourself: “Maybe if I’d been more exceptional, more dedicated, more talented, I wouldn’t have been laid off.” I’ve reached a level of acceptance and can now look back and just be grateful for the experience. They were good to me, I was good to them, and I learned a lot during my time working for them. That’s a good thing.

Recent exchanges with some family members has filled the bulk of my emotional plate. Put simply, we love each other very much. We just disagree on the way I should find happiness. When I assure some of them that I simply can’t be happy marrying a woman or being single, celibate and lonely for another 38 years, they think I CAN be happy with those two options. Their beliefs and their faith tells them so. But my own experience, wisdom and first-hand accounts can't compete with that kind of faith. They KNOW better than I do what is best for me.

As much as I wish they could look at it from my point of view, I’ve got to be willing to look at it from theirs. I’ll never have a wedding with the full support and acceptance that my siblings all seemed to enjoy, and I’ve just got to accept that. It doesn’t mean they don’t love me, it just means that they need to love me in the way they know how to, in a way they feel comfortable with. At the end of the day, I’m lucky to have love and support from my family, even if it’s not in the exact way I’d like it. Not everyone can say that. 


I’ve been a recluse for the past month. I’m generally not anti-social. I just think the combination of losing my job and then the health issue with my feet has kept me away. Most of closest friends have seen me recently, but I’ll admit, I’ve flaked out and cancelled plans on a few people.

I’ll repair whatever damages I’ve caused with friends and family. Nothing major to fix, thank goodness. I’ve just realized that sometimes, you’ve got to just check out and be unavailable. By doing that from time to time, it makes you MORE available in the end.

To anyone in my life who has noticed I haven’t been as available in the past month, I apologize. I just needed some time to process things. I didn't have the energy to fake it. I’ll be a better friend, brother, son, uncle, etc by doing so. I don’t intend to go back to Hermitville. Just needed some time. 


There’s nothing too exciting to report here, especially with some recent setbacks. But I’m excited to get back to the dating game as I feel better. I’ve come to the realization that I end up in the friend zone a lot. There were 2 different guys that I was chatting with. We’d check in with each other often and seemingly, I thought that things might lead to something more. The next thing I know, they’re both in relationships with other guys. I guess I’m really great to chat with, I’m just not graduating to the “date me, kiss me” level.

I wonder if I just make myself too available as a nice, supportive guy and I get thrown into the friend zone from the beginning. While I’ll take some time to consider my approach and my overall “game”, I don’t plan on changing much. I’m just going to be me, the best version of me, and trust that doing so will lead me to a great guy. Still, I’d love to be the guy that’s flirted with and who is found desirable and dateable. I seem to just be the guy who’s good for a witty or supportive chat. Not too worried, I’m just aware that I’m giving off something that makes guys read: “friend”. 


I’ll admit, through the sheer hell and pain of the past 2 weeks, I’ve turned to prayer more than I usually do. Typical, isn’t it? When things go well, we forget to pray and say thanks. But when something goes wrong, we look upward and ask “Why me?!”

Through the most stressful, scary or hopeless moments of the past 2 weeks, I’ve wondered where God is and if He’s listening to me. If so, why is he allowing me to feel so much pain for so long? I know, sounds dramatic. But yeah, I began to doubt. Anyway, I have felt peace and comfort. I have felt his loving influence for me personally, even if this physical condition wasn’t taken away immediately.

Some people have misconceptions about gay guys in the church. I still have faith, I believe in Jesus Christ, I believe that through Him, I can be forgiven and return to God. I check in with Heavenly Father and constantly have Him and what He wants for me on my mind. Constantly. No really, guys. CONSTANTLY. I feel peace. I think that some of my family and friends would like me to report that I feel major discord in my relationship with God as I set about dating men. But I don’t. If anything, I feel His love in greater abundance.

I constantly measure what I need versus what others need from me when it comes to religion and God. For now, I don’t feel a need to leave the LDS church. I don’t want to leave. At the same time, I don’t participate as fully as I once did. I used to stress out about that and think how disappointed God must be in me for not being more involved. But I’ve calmed down and refuse to feel that much stress about it anymore. I’m just doing the best I can and keeping an open mind and heart, and I think that’s good enough for God, even if it’s not enough for others. 

As full as my emotional plate has been in January and February, I feel good. I feel a sense of peace and calm. My problems are mine, and I own them. They’re not greater or lesser than yours, they’re just different. I’m inclined to think that the rest of 2016 must be better than the start of the year, but even if it isn’t, I’m prepared to face it head on.

The job hunt will work out. Relationships with family members will strengthen. My feet will heal. My weekends will be more exciting. I’ll find someone who wants more than friendship. I’ll handle any challenge with God on my side. I'm winning the war by winning one battle at a time. Maybe by my next post, I'll be back to saying "I'm great!" For now, I feel a tremendous sense of victory by being able to look back at the past 2 months and declare: "I’m okay."