Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Newbie Neighbor ...

So, I've know a guy for a few years, now.  His dad had a stake calling in our stake. He left and returned from his mission recently and has been moving from place to place.  I've caught up with him recently and realized that he was struggling.  Now, I am not a mind reader, but I guess the gaydar started kicking in.  I had a strong feeling about what he was dealing with.

So, we did decide to meet up and talk.  He told me what he was struggling with.  It was something that he has been struggling with for a long time.  Yep, he has always been attracted to guys.  This is why he has been moving around.  His family doesn't know how to handle it.  He isn't sure what he wants or how to choose, so he has made some choices recently that have taken him away from the Church.

So, he needed a place to stay.  But, he also needs a little guidance.  He is old enough to make his own decisions, but is still young enough to have a lot of questions.  So, I offered him a place to stay.  I figured it was a good way to help out someone who is struggling.  Plus, it is a good chance to help him out.  I don't know how; I don't know where or when.  But, it is easier to help out someone when they are close to you.

Now, the question is ... How much do I try to help out or do I let him struggle through making his own decisions?

I have a new

Sunday, January 15, 2012

"From the time I really accepted myself ...."

"When Queen Latifah enters a room, heads turn.  Even when she is dog-tired.  In sweats.  Hair tucked under a trucker's cap."This is how the article in Parade magazine starts.  Then, it said something that caught my eye.  "'I accept that I'm me,' says Latifah."

It says, "Latifah, 41, unwittingly shares what she believes is the secret for her success.  'I a me.  I don't have a choice!  From the time I really accepted myself, everything got brighter.  People were attracted to me for me.'"

Now, I don't know what she is talking about.  I know that there is speculation that she is gay.  She has also struggled with her weight.  It has got to be difficult to be a woman, a black woman in a tough business, entertainment world.  No matter what her understanding is, she hit the nail on the head.

I remember when I first came to grips with my struggles.  I was in high school.  I really wasn't too different from others.  I liked guy things.  I played sports.  I was musically gifted.  I was a smart kid.  Camping and hiking and blowing up things was fun.  Most everyone seemed to like me.  I wasn't so different.  But, I knew I was different.  It was a huge thing (internally) in my life.  But, something changed when I reached my junior year.  Something hit.  I began to come to terms that I liked myself.  I don't know why it hit then, but it did.  It wasn't that I hated myself, but it was an understanding that I liked myself.  I was a good guy.  I still didn't understand why or how or ... anything else.  But, I decided that I couldn't hate myself.

I went to a year of college and another epiphany hit me.  I was loved by God.  Now, that doesn't seem so odd.  I grew up Mormon ... I knew that God loves all of his children.  But, we all need to have that moment when we know that "I" am loved by God.  Not just learning that God loves everyone; God loves ME.  I had that moment and it helped me plan for my mission.  I served a mission and 2 years later came back home.  My family had moved and my scholarship was not held for me while on my mission.  So, I went back home to ... Provo.  And, I started up at BYU.

It was during my time at BYU that the next piece of the puzzle unfolded.  I realized that, like Queen Latifah, that I needed to accept myself.  I realized that I could admit (I'd known since late grade school) that I was attracted to guys.  I shared this with the first people, some church leaders.  Luckily, my experience was incredible.  They cried with me and prayed with me.  They shared the thought that it was probably something that was genetic.  And, I could admit that God loved ME and I was gay.

Isn't life fun?  I've had several moments when I've learned a lot about myself.  I am not sure what tomorrow holds for me.  But, I do know that for today, I am okay.  I've never been happier.  I've never been more close to my Savior.  And, "from the time I really accepted myself, everything got brighter."

Friday, January 13, 2012

Mourning ...

Mosiah 18:9 ... Yea, and are willing to mourn with those that mourn; yea, and comfort those that stand in need of comfort ...

It is funny how hard this post is to write.  I had just decided that I'd write a few posts on this blog ... and this was the first one I could think of.  And, it is taking me much longer than expected.

I lost a friend this past week.  Out of nowhere, he was taken from us.  It was a very senseless and somewhat tragic way to die.  It was purely the fault of another person.  But, none of that seems to matter.  What matters is that he is gone.

There are a few main reasons why this has been so hard for me.  1. He is still 'somewhat' young.  He was 40 years old.  But, he was full of life.  He loved to travel and has seen a few fun and unique places in the world.  He lived in at least 7 or 8 different states.  But, it is the places that he didn't get to see that make it hard.  He loved sports.  During the funeral, we heard many more stories than I knew of ski and boarding trips, wake boarding on his boat, football games and pick-up basketball games.  He spent most of those with close friends and family.  I've been to a couple of long distance BYU football games with him.  We were at the first game played in the new Dallas Cowboy's stadium with us all fighting to get on the (biggest) jumbo screen.  I was with him when we played #1 Florida State in Tallahassee.  We shaved what we had on our chests and painted B - Y - U on them, walking proudly into the stadium of 40,000+ FSU fans.  But, it is that he won't join us on any other adventures.

Another thing that bothers me is 2. he is my age.  We are the same age.  This is something that could easily have happened to me.  Not that I am worried too much about it, but it has made life seem very precious and frail.  He had just spent Christmas with almost all of his family (brothers, sisters, nieces, nephews, Mama).  He left them to return 2 weeks later for a missionary farewell.  He didn't return.  It was a real blessing for his family to spend the week of Christmas with him.  They had some really choice outings.  They got some pictures and videos.  At the time to go, they hugged and joked about seeing him too soon in 2 weeks.  We saw him in 1 week.

I had a lot in common with him.  3. We were both single.  Yeah, yeah .. contrary to what people say, that isn't the thing in common that we had.  Like I said, we both loved to play and attend sports.  We were still both BYU fans.  We both loved to travel and loved spending time with family and friends.  We both had similar interests.  We both had similar personalities.  We both dealt with being gay in an LDS church.  4. He was also my best friends' brother.  So, I have the opportunity to know and love all of his family.  My best friend and his brother and sisters (9 immediate and 3 step) had just found out that he was gay.  He didn't act on it much and, until recently, had pretty much decided to live a lonely, celibate life in the gospel.

I had my suspicions about him for the last few years.  Call it intuition.  Call it gaydar.  Whatever it was, it was a slight guess on my part.  But, I didn't talk to him about it.  I spent the last 2 weeks wondering if I should have.  Wondering why I didn't.  I know how lonely it can be to be gay and LDS.  I've been there and I wish we could have been there, together.  Because of all we had in common, we could have helped each other not only decide on what path was needed to be taken, but to take that path.  It was a friend thing.  Something that we all need and don't get enough of.  Now, his family is left with more questions than answers.  I wonder if I can help fill in some of that void for them.  I want to console them with the fact that he was a good guy and living a good life.  Maybe it wasn't the life they wanted him to live?  I want to help them understand the pain and loneliness that comes with being gay.  Maybe it will help them understand and love another.

My friend was one of the best Uncles, ever.  He took in several of his nephews and nieces and helped them find jobs and consoled and counseled with them.  He was with them all the time on visits and fun and games and achievements.  He was always smiling.  He helped several of them pay for missions.  He helped several of them pay for college.  Others, he just helped.  Wouldn't it be good for them to know what he was dealing with?  Maybe one of them or someone they know will have the same issues.

I am not going to reread my post.  It may have some grammatical errors or ... just be incoherent at times.  I guess this post is for me.  It was very therapeutic writing it.  I know that I have a lot to do.  I still miss my friend, a lot.  I am still helping his family grieve the pain.  But, I know that there can be many good things from his life.  And, I know that they will see him again.  I miss you still everyday.  I hope you are comfortable ... but not too comfortable that you aren't helping us out.  Good bye until we meet again.  I love you.