September 29, 2011

Taste of Disaster...

This may very well be one of the most sensitive posts I've ever written, which, as you can imagine, says a lot. If you've followed along with my crazy stories and long pauses (which I'm sorry about), you'll know that I like to be frank. I don't see the point in beating around the bush, nor do I try to flower up something when telling it like it is works.

Some of you may be wondering what could possibly make this post so sensitive, and I understand your concern. So far, I've talked about ex-boyfriends, being molested, working at a gay bar... (Wait... did I mention that one? Oh well. Cat's out of the bag now!) I know that if I were you, I'd be wondering, "What else has this kid got up his sleeve?"

I think the reason why this particular subject will be difficult is not because of the topic's originality. In the past, I've explained how my life was before the Church, and that the gay lifestyle I was living was in the past. I talked about the struggles I am going through now, but not about present boo-boos. That's because I really haven't had any. Except this one...

"Wait! Wait! You don't have to tell us! We don't have to know!" I know that, and I'm fine with you tapping out of this post if you don't want to read on. It is personal. But I also feel it is important.

The least you need to know is that since baptism, I've tried very hard to put the past in the past, and have for the most part been successful. But every now and again I find myself struggling with the temptation to just go out and engage in the very thing I've been trying to avoid. To be totally honest, I become tempted to drive to LA and go clubbing, or go to a gay bar, or flirt with other gay guys. I want to be seen as attractive by the same people who I am attracted to. Makes sense, right?

Now, I know that this can cause some problems. Actually, it did cause some problems. A little more than a year ago, I went to visit a friend who was working at the time at a popular steak house. I sat at a table, ordered a meal, and then chatted with my friend when she found the time. It didn't take me long to realize that at the bar, which my table faced, there were four men who were making my Gay-dar go absolutely nuts. And try as I may, my eyes kept going back to the bar.

Yes, there were a lot of things I could have done. Anything from moving to another table, taking my meal to go, or even sitting on the opposite side of the table I was currently sitting at. All of those things would have worked! But I didn't do them. Instead, I was looking sheepishly over my menu at those guys. One of them apparently had a ping on his Gay-dar, because without warning, he looked in my direction. For one horrific moment, we locked eyes. My stomach began burning so I looked away, but I could tell he hadn't stopped staring. Then I could tell that all four of them were staring.

"What have I gotten myself into?" I wondered, but it was too late for that.

I wish I could tell you that I wasn't excited, but this was kind of what I had been secretly hoping for. It was the fire that I just could help but play with! And as every pyro will tell you, when you play with fire, you sometimes get burned.

Burn One came when one of the guys left his stool at the bar and actually sat himself down across from me. I was speakless. I couldn't imagine what to say, but luckily(?) for me he did all the talking. Nothing too original. Just, "Hi! Looks like a nice meal. My name is.... What's your name? Do you come here often?" I suddenly became this mute who could look anywhere except for into the eyes of the guy sitting across from me. This apparently had no affect on him. He just kept on going with his one-sided conversation.

Well it wasn't very long before the other three came over, all of them oozing with flattery. "What a nice shirt you've got there. Look at his dimples! Such lovely skin!" (That one I knew was a lie. I don't have horrible skin, but it's nothing to shout about either.) And it all felt really good. Finally, I was being flirted with by people I wouldn't mind flirting with back.

What made it worse was, my friend who was working there knew these guys. They were apparently regulars and they were all on good terms. So, for better or worse, I let my guard down a little. "Hey," I thought. "If they're friends of her's, they can be friends of mine." I started to open up to them. I talked openly back at them. And I flashed them that smile to which they seemed to enjoy so much.

Burn Two was when they invited us, both my friend and me, over to their house which would happen the next day. They were having a little get together, nothing special, and wanted to know if we could come. Or, at least that was the way they pitched it to us. "Nothing fancy, nothing serious. Come over and enjoy yourselves. And for heaven's sake, there is no need to worry about anything."

I felt it important to tell them that we were both activate Latter Day Saints and we didn't drink, something they were doing plenty of. I didn't want to say any more than that, hoping not to read too much into things and offend them. They thought my declaration was charming and said they had a lot of non-alcoholic drinks we'd enjoy. So, against better judgement, we agreed to go.

If I was sitting in your seat reading this, I would be either skirming in my chair or shaking my head while repeating, "Don't do it! Don't do it!" But we did go.

They had a pool and so they told us to bring our swim trunks and a towel. They provided a really good lunch and, as promised, a lot of nice non-alcoholic drinks, which was good. My friend, also a convert, was a heavy drinker before she joined the Church. One of her weaknesses is alcohol. Knowing that, prior to us arriving at their house, my friend and I made a promise to each other: neither of us would allow the other to do anything that we would be ashamed of the next day. We would physically get in the way of the other person if they tried to engage in anything bad. With that in place, about an hour into this thing, when someone (who was already a little tipsy) offered my friend alcohol, without even hesitating, I kindly thanked the woman and told her that we were okay drinking our cranberry juice.

As I said before, I like to be frank. But there is a difference between being frank and being inappropriate, and so I will skip or lightly touch on things that happened from here on in.

I regret that the promises we had made prior to coming to this event were highly ineffective. While I didn't DO anything, I allowed a lot of things to happen to me. In fact, it was the lack of response from my part that kept the problems growing and becoming worse. My friend, to her credit, never drank. But I... I was not so lucky and I got burned.

I left that place feeling like scum, like the lowest of the lowest people on the earth, like I'd falled into a vat of black tar and no amount of scrubbing would ever make me clean again. I was ashamed of myself and my so-called standards.

I knew I needed to speak with the Branch President immediately and tell him everything. (Something you should know, not this will help my image one way or another, is that I tell my bishops or branch presidents everything. In the same way in which I don't hold back to you, I don't hold back for them.) And at once, we began working on the repentance process. It took a long time, but I was eventually forgiven for that serious sin.

My point is that I could have easily avoided this situation had I not allowed myself to dwell on my past life and how I want to mingle it with my present life. I believe that I didn't start to go wrong when I went over to those guy's house, or even when I kept glancing at them from across the steak house. I know that it began, as it always begins, with my thoughts. I wanted that to happen, so it happened. And when it happened, there were no barriers that I could suddenly put in place to over-ride what deep down I really wanted to happen. It wasn't like I could suddenly dig into my backpack for those morals I like to expose to sunlight every now and then, but only when they suited me.

I believe that people are all just creatures of habit. You can shape your habits to be whatever you want them to be, but when you are faced with something, don't think for a minute that suddenly you're going to transform into this wonderful person when you haven't been doing that so far in your life. I see some people getting ready for marriage or families and they think that once they're married, they'll start reading their scriptures more regularly. And that might happen. Maybe that is a goal they'll work on to improve. But I say that more often than not, if those scriptures were not a huge priority to them then, they won't be sorely important to them later.

Likewise, in my thoughts, I was yearning (and sometimes desperately begging) for some situation to arise where I could feel important and attractive in the eyes of a guy for whom I felt the same. And really, substitute the gender for the appropriate replacement and isn't that what we're all searching for? (Not that I'm trying to redeem myself in any way.) But those thoughts were the habits I was forming. In my mind, I allowed that fantasy to play out, each time being more and more colorful, splendid, and meaningful. I allowed myself to actually hoping this would happen, thinking that if it really did happen, I wouldn't actually do anything. "No, I am an active Latter Day Saint. I know the Church is true. There is no way I'd do something like that." That's what I was telling myself anyways.

What actually occurred was that I was almost not a Latter Day Saint at all, and all I would have been left with would have been a testimony.

My point, if you've actually continued on with me this far, is that through small and simple things are great things brought to pass. We know that! It's scripture! But it works both ways. When we plant the seeds of destruction in our lives, we might think, "Well that's nothing! It's so small and insignificant! It won't harm me!" But I'm telling you that it will. One seed planted close to a wall can grow up and destroy the entire defence.

There are a lot of people who will complain about the strictness of the Church. They'll question their beliefs because the Church asks too much from them. They'll test their limits and walk as close to the line as they can. But I want to warn you, especially if you deal with same sex attraction, that it isn't worth it. I could easily make a list right now of the top five guys in my ward who I think are the most attractive. I could miss the days where I had intimate relations with men, recalling those times like cherished memories. I could allow my eyes to linger just a little too long on attractive men, or even try mightily to be close to them. But all these things are not innocent. They aren't helpful but rather destructive. And most importantly, they are laying the groundwork for a future fall which, like rocks in hidden in the fog, your ship will be dashed and thrown upon.

After thought... I thought I should make it clear that I am sharing this post not to make my reader feel uncomfortable, nor to share a sensitive story just for the heck of it. I tell you this personal experience because if by me sharing it you, whether you are also struggling with the same attractions I am or not, that you will learn from my example. I've heard it said that knowledge is making a mistake, learning from it, and never making that mistake. But wisdom is learning from someone else's mistake and never having to mess up in the first place. 

Flirting with the Idea of Dating, Part Two...

I’ve been meaning to update the earlier post, “Flirting with the Idea of Dating.” I have all but failed the goal of dating at least one girl a month. And perhaps that wasn't what I was needing, or maybe I need to revisit that goal in the near future. But I told you I'd keep you informed and so, for accountability's sake, I have failed miserably, hahah! I think I've been on two dates since January and it's September! And while I'd like to weakly point out that that was two more dates than I had last year, it still is a long way short of my goal for 12 dates by the end of the year. But who knows? The year isn't over! October might be the month of dating! Heh! Anyways, just wanted to keep you all informed.

September 19, 2011

Quick Problem...

Recently, as in about three minutes ago, an old friend got in touch with me via Facebook. This friend, who we'll call Spencer, used to volunteer himself in the same ambulance group that I volunteered in. We met some time ago, like 1990-something, at an event where stand-by medical folk were needed. Always being people-friendly, I engaged in conversation with Spencer and we became friends.

About three months later, the ambulance explorers, as they called us, were invited to come to a three-day campout in the mountains. It sounded very exciting and so I went. Once there, I saw Spencer again and we shared the same excitement for the campout.

During the campout, we would often talk about and do dumb things. We went streaking, snorted pixie-sticks (which is just plain stupid), and water ballooned the girls (which wasn't as stupid). We were buds, Spencer and I. So this one night, we were out walking, when suddenly... well, I'm not sure exactly how it happended, but we became intimate. I'm not tring to down-grade what happened, but it was a one time thing in which we didn't even keep in contact after that, which I'm not sure makes it better or worse, but whatever.

Anyways! This guy, Spencer, just got ahold of me on Facebook and I don't know what to do! Advice would be wonderful! If you don't want to post your comments here, you can always email me. lewis_nomad@yahoo.com

I'd appreciate it! Thanks! :)

August 9, 2011

An Unnecessary Fixation...

I don't know if you can tell by the vast amounts of posts I've been conjuring lately [tongue in cheek], but I really have been giving my blog a lot of thought lately. To be honest, not much has changed which might explain for my lack of posts. And yet...


I want to return to an older blog, "Wisdom in Thy Youth, Part 3," where I said that I learned something very crucial to my situation. If you remember, with some help from a good friend, I had come to the realization that the more I dwell on my problems (no matter what they are), the worse they seem to get. Makes sense, right? The closer you peer into a microscope, the less you can see of everything else and the narrower your scope is upon your fixation.


Taking my own advice, I haven't been fixing my sights solely upon my situation of same gender attraction. And, as a result, I've been much happier. The problem seems lessened. I don't stress out about it as much or as often.


I know that forgetting your problems isn't easy. I’m not that naïve. I know from experience that forgetting the painful thorn in our sides is not exactly easy or simple. It hurts! It’s there! And in some cases, it seems darn near impossible remove the thorn! And you know what? It may be. But how does ignoring the good and focusing on the bad change or improve anything? The short answer is that it doesn’t.


Speaking of complaining, Elder Holland said, “I have often thought that Nephi’s being bound with cords and beaten by rods must have been more tolerable to him than listening to Laman and Lemuel’s constant murmuring. Surely he must have said at least once, “Hit me one more time. I can still hear you.”


Long story short, nothing will make a problem worse quicker or more efficiently than complaining, bemoaning, and focusing on it and I can honestly say that my life has improved greatly since I’ve tried implementing that into my daily life.

July 1, 2011

Manly Things...

Lately, I’ve been trying to engage myself in activities that don’t exactly interest me in hopes of releasing my inner-man. I know he’s in there somewhere, so I’m knocking on the door asking him to come out and play. As such, I have been planning on playing more sports, working out, camping, and other means of getting dirty.

So far, I played kick ball and, on my turn, got the ball stuck in a nearby tree, ending the game. I twisted my knee running. I actually took my shirt off at the beach the other day and pretended not to be self-conscious. I recently went shooting and last year, I went paintballing. I can’t exactly say that any of these have brought me any closer towards my goal of being more masculine, but it was fun trying.

Why would I want to do these things? And what do these things have to do with being manly? Your guess is as good as mine. But in my mind, it’s all about emulation. As much as this might be controversial to say, and as little as people might understand or agree with this, I want to be attracted to the opposite sex. I don’t know if missing a shower once in a while, or becoming an expert marksman, or getting tackled will get me to that goal. But, for now, I’m faced with some questions.

First off, why do I want to become more masculine? Carol actually asked me that question and I was surprised that I didn’t already know the answer. She apparently figured that out from my lack of response, so she said, “If it’s really something that you want to be, then awesome, but if it’s just for other people’s benefit…” And it made me think, ‘Am I doing this just for other people or am I doing it for me? Or, more importantly, am I doing it for the Lord?’

Even so, I told her, “I like being me, right up until I’m around other people.”

“Any other people,” she asked.

“Yeah, other people. Some girls, but mostly men. And it doesn’t even matter if they know I’m struggling with this problem or not. It’s just me trying to be more like them. Does that make sense?”

“Yes, it does. So is it so that you will feel more comfortable when you are around them? Or do you currently feel like they feel uncomfortable around you when you're being you? Does THAT make sense?”

‘A little too much sense,’ I thought to myself. But, as always, she hit it right on the nose. All this time, I’ve been trying to act straight, I’ve been doing it to impress or to fit in with other people.

“Okay,” Carol said. “So have you enjoyed the new activities that you’ve tried?”

“Mmmm, some of them,” I said, trying to be as truthful as possible.

“It sounds like you had a few setbacks, but really, twisting your ankle and getting a ball stuck in a tree happens to everyone.”

“It’s true. I'm not saying that I'm doomed to never be able to play kickball. Nor am I claiming kickball to be the manliest of all sports either,” to which we both laughed.

Going back to the original question (Is doing all these things getting me anywhere?), because if the answer is No, why do them? I guess I should ask myself if these things have already changed me for the better. And the answer is… yes. But not in the way I might have been originally hoping for. When I was playing kickball, I was not mindfully doing it to become straight. I did it because I wanted to participate in our Branch activity. I didn’t start working out so that I’d transform myself into some straight Adonis. I’m doing it to keep in shape. The more I really think about it, the times I’ve come closer to meeting my goal, are the times when I wasn’t consciously working towards it.

Perhaps this doesn’t mean that I can never think of working at becoming straight. Perhaps that isn’t even something that can or should be worked towards! But the more I do things that I don’t necessarily enjoy in hopes of achieving what I feel my Heavenly Father wants me to do, not only do I think He’ll be pleased with me, but I also think that I will enjoy doing those things. And, in a blog that is all about changing my desires, that conclusion is very comforting to me.

June 13, 2011

Songs of Old...

I got a call yesterday, just as I was leaving Church. When I answered, the voice said, “It’s about time you answered your phone!”

Now, for those of you who know me, you might know that that is a phrase I hear quite often. I’m notorious for responding to phone messages a week late, if at all. But this call was different, because I immediately recognized the voice, and the voice belonged to Brice Singer.

I may have mentioned Brice before, but just in case I haven’t, Brice belongs to the beginning parts of my life, way back in the days of Mister Saul and Doublemint. But Brice was more my age.

Due to reasons of my own, I don’t like to get graphic with this blog. It isn’t my intent to share dirty secrets or fill minds with things that will only harm them. But I feel it is somewhat necessary to say that I had a lot of love affairs in my earlier years. But from start to finish, there were only two guys who could ever claim my affection. I’ve already shared the sad ballad of Nick Pine. But the first was Brice Singer.

So you can probably imagine how I felt when I got the phone call. I felt an old elation that I hadn’t felt for him in a long time. It was as if it really hadn’t been ten years since we last saw each other. But I also felt instant dread. I’m Mormon now. I’m nothing of what he used to know. And yet, while we talked, he assured me that, “cult or no,” he would always be my friend.

I was talking to Carol Wanderly about this phone call and, like she often does when I bring up these kinds of instances, she became few in words. And I realized that it was probably uncomfortable for her to hear of stories like that. It made me also realize that even though Brice would always accept me, it wasn’t his approval I was striving for. For that matter, it wasn’t that of Carol’s. My aim since I joined the Church has been and always will be to please my Father in Heaven and it is his approval that I need to keep in mind.

It would be all too easy to slip into a friendship with Brice. He’s smart, funny, and generally a handsome guy. But I am just not sure if my motives would be in the right place. There are times when I think that it is safer to let some people go. Harder, but safer.

What are you thinking, readers? Do you think I’m cold? Analytical, perhaps? Well, perhaps I am. Perhaps I’m quite selfish, thinking only of my own happiness and not that of old friends… old relations…

April 19, 2011

A Friendly Reminder...

This was the message I received today. I have to admit, I already had a second part of that original blog written out that I was waiting to post today. But now that I got this message, I'm not sure I want to send it. Hahaha! In all seriousness, this was a very kind and loving reminder which I needed. And to that friend, I say thank you. I love you very much as well.
 
 
 
I was going to leave this comment on your blog, but a) it was long, and b) it was quite personal. So here it is.
Let's get one thing straight (no pun intended). Being gay does not equal being imperfect. No matter what people tell you. And in the second place, NO ONE IS PERFECT. We're not supposed to be! If we were, there would be no need for the Atonement. We're supposed to do the best we can, but the Lord doesn't ask us to do more than that. We waste so much time on guilt. Sometimes we think we're supposed to..."godly sorrow" and all that. But the Lord wants us to be happy. That's His ultimate goal for us.

I'm going to be candid and straightforward right now. You may take my advice or leave it.

I think sometimes gay Mormons equate “being happy” with “being straight.” And since everyone’s goal is “being happy,” it means that gay Mormons’ goals sometimes become “being straight.” But you might as well say your goal is “having blue eyes.” Nothing you do in this life will change your eyes to blue. The only person who has the power to do that is God. So it’s kind of in His hands and His hands alone. That’s a harsh and direct way of saying that, I know. But who says that having blue eyes will make you happy in the first place!?

Happiness comes from doing meaningful things with your life. From learning new things. From gaining new experiences. From cultivating meaningful relationships. Romance CAN bring happiness, and the Lord wants marriage and family life to be a part of everyone’s happiness. But just because you’re gay, don’t exclude yourself from all other forms of happiness. Sometimes you have to shut your ears to the members of the Church and just start listening to the Lord Himself. Things get confusing otherwise. (Which makes my message of advice kinda hypocritical. But whatever.)

So maybe it’s time to reevaluate your goals. “Being straight” may not be the place to start. “Doing something meaningful with your life” might be easier to work towards. It’s hard in the Church because so often, the message is, “Start your own family and then your life will be filled with happiness.” But happiness comes from “family life.” And you came from a family too. You don’t have to be the patriarch of a family to have happiness in it.

And whenever I hear anyone say, "That's so gay" I always say "I didn't know that thing could have a sexual orientation. Or did you mean that thing is stupid? Because being gay and being stupid are pretty different things." It makes me mad.

And I love you dearly.

April 17, 2011

The Double Life of Michael Liberty...


Sometimes, no… let’s be honest. Often, I get wrapped up in feeling pretty crummy over not being able to get over these feelings. I would almost like to compare it to the double life of a secret agent… except that makes it sound fun and exciting. And let me tell you, it’s neither. But I feel like I’m living two lives. On the outside, I’m happy, funny, perhaps even mistaken for being righteous. On the inside however, I fully recognize just how sinful and hypocritical I probably am.

I know it sounds pretty dramatic, but in a way, I allow those feelings to over-dominate my life. I’ve talked about this. And obviously, the next step is that it affects my happiness. But what it also does is hinder my spiritual progression. I mean, if the whole plan given to us by our Heavenly Father is that we can be happy, then I’m flunking that class altogether.

I have a friend named Ben. Lately, Ben and I have been spending a lot of time together. He’s pretty nice, friendly, and generally light hearted. But there is one mannerism that Ben has which just pissed me off to no end. Ben says what a lot of people say: “That’s so gay!” “Don’t be gay, man!” “You’re so gay!” And so on… Now, I’m not going to get into the fact that Ben doesn’t know that I really am gay. I’m not going to talk about how he is meaning “gay” as in “stupid.” I know he isn’t bashing me, because if he really knew how him seemingly constant barrage of sentences with ‘gay’ in it actually affected me, he wouldn’t do it. But Ben’s comments only remind me of what I’ve been trying to ignore. I am gay. I’m imperfect.

I feel guilty, and I don’t like it…

April 5, 2011

Something Old, Something New...

Dear Readers,

I would first like to apologize for the apparent neglect I have been showing my blog these last few weeks. While it was never my intention to conjure posts every day, I still feel that I owe you all something substantial at least once a week. But with my birthday, which was yesterday, and other events in my life, I have not been able to stay as dedicated as I had hoped. So, with that said, I am sorry.

Having said that, I want it known that I am very happy at present. I believe I left off last explaining how I had a prayer answered. A bit of a cliff hanger, as soon of you have told me privately. Heh! While I hadn’t intended on sharing too much concerning that situation, I’ll divulge (hopefully) enough to appease your interest.

About three weeks ago, I came to realize that I have been praying to be straight for a long time. I was almost frustrated when I thought about how many times I begged Heavenly Father to somehow lift this same gender attraction from me. And yet, nothing had changed. True, I am not out sleeping with guys or even dating. But I was no closer to being straight.

Then I realized that I had always been praying for the same thing. It was always that I would stop being attracted to men, and while I think that that was a righteous desire, I became aware that there were other things to pray for. So, for possibly the first sincere time in my life, I prayed to find women attractive. I told Heavenly Father that I wouldn’t care who it was, that I would honor that attraction as well as the woman. I explained how I would love to have a family, but I didn’t want to marry without any attraction to the woman I was married to. I knew that all men, straight or not, still find other people than their significant other attractive. I told Heavenly Father that I was willing to join the ranks of people who dealt with that attraction while balancing a committed relationship, if only I could have that. By the end of the prayer, I felt much better, as thought the Spirit was hugging me with comfort.

That was Friday. On Saturday, we had the opportunity to have BYU’s Young Ambassadors in our sandy little town, who performed Harmony at a local performing arts center. After the show, I was telling a friend about how awesome the show was. When I turned around, I saw a girl standing behind me. I immediately recognized her as a performer who was obviously coming out into the crowd to greet them personally. She was blonde, short, and extremely engaging.

“Well of course she is, Mike. She’s in show business!”

Yeah, yeah I know. And I tried to tell myself that that was all it was. But deep down, I felt that there was more to this girl, Melody Randle. But even though I felt a strange pull towards Melody, there was something else I wanted to do. So after a little while of conversation, I politely excused myself to talk to another of my friends. But the next person I saw was another performer who was also making his way towards me.

Now, I want you to know that I am a firm believer of free agency, which means that there needs to be options. There are a lot of good roads, a lot of bad roads, but usually only one perfect road. I could talk more about that, but I think it’s fair enough to say that I was being presented with two options at that exact moment, even though I didn’t quite realize it yet.

Even so, I began talking to this guy who I later found was named Flynn Kennedy. He was tall, handsome, and I instantly knew (thanks to the miracles of Gay-dar) that he was batting on my team. Somehow I knew that Flynn was one of those people who, prior to joining the Church, I had the habit of dating. They’re fun, exciting, and usually the life of the party. So far, in my mind, I became instantly scared of him. And if you think about it, and your perfect temptation came walking up to you, wouldn’t that be a little scary? Flynn isn’t exactly monstrous, but he’s a little too much of what my carnal self is looking for that it makes me really happy that he lives in Utah.

So, as I said before, with free agency comes the ability to choose. And with the ability to choose comes opinions. And as bad as it sounds, if I were to be honest with myself, I would have to say the feelings I have for Melody came from Heavenly Father, whereas the feelings I have towards Flynn are… not. Which means I have some choices: pursue a relationship with Melody, pursue a relationship with Flynn, pursue one with both, or drop them both. Now it may SOUND like an easy decision, but I assure you it isn’t.

Imagine being faced with an option that is comfortable. It is familiar… what you’re used to. It poses problems, sure. But then doesn’t everything? And then there is the other option which is just about opposite in every way. It’s new, and by new I mean it’s like a six year old on the playground with a crush, pulling a girl’s hair and then running off shouting, “I love you!” Seriously, the earlier post about straight guys acting all goofy when they’re around girls they’re interested in ought to be updated with this new-found revelation. I have a little more sympathy (empathy, more like it) than I did before.

March 2, 2011

Wisdom In Thy Youth, Part Three...


Last Friday, I was speaking with an old friend, Cory Lawson. We’ve kept in touch over the years, though I haven’t always been the best at calling. But that didn’t seem to matter. When he answered the phone on Friday, we spoke as if there had been no time in between us at all. We began talking about my struggles being gay. I asked him if he knew of anything I could do to relieve the attraction I have for the same gender. And what he told me opened my eyes to a whole new way of going about not only this problem, but virtually every problem.

He said, first of all, you (meaning me) have to come to realize there is no conquering anything. I was confused and almost in objection, but I let him talk. “Think about it,” Cory said. “When in your life have you ever conquered anything? You haven’t. You only outgrow it. Before you joined the Church, you had these feelings, right?”

“Yeah…”

“And they’re still there, right?”

“Yeah…” And I thought, ‘I wouldn’t be having this conversation with you if it wasn’t so.’

“But you don’t have sex with men anymore, right?”

“No.”

“Then you’d say you’ve improved, right?” When I agreed, he said, “Just from what I know about you, I’d say that you’ve improved in this department by about 90%. Now the other 10% is what you’re trying to work out right now, right? It’s the basic attraction plus the every now and again dwelling on things that you know you shouldn’t dwell on.”

“You’re right on so far,” I told him.

“So basically what you are telling me is, you’ve improved 90% of the way but since you are focusing on the 10%, it seems like you haven’t improved at all.” There was silence on the other end of the phone. I was speechless. He continued, “Then my advice would be to stop beating yourself up. I’ve noticed that there are times when I find myself trying to be perfect in a certain thing and the more I try to work at it and stress over it, the more it seems to be out of my reach.”

“Yeah,” was my award-winning response.

“Michael, when you think a lot about something, especially weaknesses you might have, that something grows into an exaggerated version of the truth. It begins to define you, because all you can see is this one thing. You probably struggle with a lot of things, don’t you? What’s one thing you struggle with other than same-gender attraction?”

“Uhhh… I… uhh…” Just then, a massive list of faults began to pile up, but before I could answer, he just continued right along, as Cory sometimes does.

He said, “That’s exactly my point! You really have to think about other problems you are facing in your life. Have you ever had a problem with lying?”

“Sure,” I confessed. “But it was mainly before I joined the Church.”

“Do you still struggle with that now?”

“No. Well, sometimes I catch myself lying or about to lie, and I quickly correct myself.”

“In other words, you’re still tempted to lie, and sometimes you are about to, but you fix it.” Another one of Cory’s habits is repeating things I’ve said. “You probably don’t sit around all day and think about not lying, huh? You probably don’t tell yourself that you’re a liar and that you need to be 100% perfect at not lying, ever. Is that about right?”

“I guess. No, no I guess I don’t.”

“See! That’s my point! Do you think it’d be any different with this other struggle you’re going through? Or any struggle you are going through, for that matter?” He didn’t wait for my response. “I don’t think so. So why focus on it so much?”

“It is probably the most important issue in my life, at present.”

“It could be, yes. I’ll give you that. But think of it as being like diabetes. For a diabetic person, they have certain foods they have to stay away from, regardless of how tempting they may be. They are always aware that those foods are dangerous for them, but they don’t obsess over not being able to eat them otherwise it’d just make them want to eat them even more. Instead, they go about their life, doing whatever it is they enjoy doing. They have diabetes, but they don’t let it control them. They don’t completely ignore the problem either. If they were to stop taking their medication, they would face some serious dangers. They might even die. So you see, they have to be protecting themselves continually, while not allowing themselves to think too much on the subject. Do you understand?”

I was feeling slightly overwhelmed, but I was seeing the symbolism. If I were to keep doing the things that I know will keep my safe, I will most likely be fine. Like the diabetic who stops taking their insulin, if I stopped doing those things that protect myself, I’d be facing some serious problems. I need to take care of myself, but if I let my problem control my life, I’d be placing myself in unnecessary jeopardy.

Years ago, Cory taught me about steps. He said that everyone has steps that lead them places. No one becomes an apostate overnight. Nor does anyone wake up and magically become saintly. It’s a process of steps. Step one isn't looking at pornography. That’s like step six or seven. Step one or two is encountering something that is tempting, and then allowing that thought to linger in your mind. “So instead of combating pornography, perhaps you should be identifying step one and then avoid it.”

“So, to answer your question about relieving the attraction you feel towards the same gender, I don’t know if that’s something you can change. But what you should be focused on is obtaining an attraction towards the opposite gender, and somewhere along the way, you’ll slowly grow out of your former attractions. You can’t conquer it on your own, and the more you think about it, the harder it will be. But if you honestly believe that Heavenly Father wants you to be happy, then you should stop making yourself miserable by focusing on the 10%, which is pretty much out of your hands anyways.”

When I got off the phone with Cory, a scripture came into my head. It’s a pretty popular one, so I’m sure you’ve heard of it: “Ask, and it shall be given you…” That scripture was followed up by another. “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss…” Perhaps I’ve always been asking for the wrong thing. Maybe the reason why I’ve been struggling for so long with this problem was simply because I was going about it the wrong way. I was asking the wrong question. So I prayed right then for the ability to become physically attracted to a woman, that I may one day enter into the happiness my Father has prepared for me. And although I won’t get into the particulars, my prayer was answered.

February 27, 2011

Wisdom In Thy Youth, Part Two...

The second conversation I had was with a good friend in Northern California, Joy. We were originally talking about employment difficulties, and when she brought the gospel into it, I didn’t immediately see the parallel. Hopefully you’re brighter than I am.

She said, “A while ago, I had an epiphany that changed my life. Hear me out. I am a literal daughter of God. I know that. I also know that my spirit once lived with Him. My spirit knew who Heavenly Father was, recognized Him, worshipped Him, and loved Him. My spirit was happy there and it wants to be back there again. Even right now, my spirit longs to return to my Father in Heaven. But my spirit also knows that it has a job to do on earth. There is a purpose to being here and my spirit knows that it has things it needs to accomplish before it can return to live with God again.”

At this point in time, I was thinking, “Yeah. The missionaries taught me that, too. What’s your point?”

Joy continued. “My body, on the other hand, has never been in the presence of Heavenly Father. It doesn’t fully understand its purpose in God’s plans. It doesn’t know of how precious it is, or of its potential. All it knows is instant gratification. It doesn’t matter what form it may present itself in, my body wants to be gratified with little to no work and little to no wait involved.”

By this point in time, my jaw was probably hanging open. My little light bulb had gone off.

“So, my advice to you,” Joy said, “Is to listen to your spirit. It knows what is right. Sometimes it isn’t always so easy to hear our spirit and to know what it wants. That is one reason why we fast. Fasting tells our body, “Yes, you are hungry. You can wait.” You are consciously telling your body that you are listening more closely to the spirit than the desires of your body.”

“I don’t think I’ve ever heard that before,” I stammered, probably sounding like an idiot in my amazed state.

She only smiled in the sage-like way that makes Joy who she is.

As we talked more about this, it seemed to me that we had strayed somewhat from the original topic. When I told her so, she grinned at me again. “All things can be related back to the gospel. In fact, whenever I am having a difficulty in life, I try to make a parallel between my problem and the gospel. It’s the quickest way to fix whatever it is that I’m going through because it helps me see the situation for what it is.”

As I have pondered on what Joy taught me, I realized not only that she was right, but that I had been thinking about things wrong this whole time. I tend to want to separate “spiritual” problems with “temporal” difficulties. But really, they’re one in the same. Though they may have different outcomes and carry varying levels of seriousness, all problems in life can be solved through the Gospel of Jesus Christ. It doesn’t matter how insignificant or how dire the situation may seem, if it has even the slightest bit of important to us, it does for our Father in Heaven as well. He is our Father and He cares about our lives, every aspect of them. And as much as we’ll let Him, He will always be there to help us.

February 26, 2011

Wisdom In Thy Youth, Part One...

I have recently come to the conclusion that I have some incredibly insightful friends. Three separate times this week, I have been dazzled by their wisdom concerning life and the gospel, and I would like to share with you what I have learned. Unfortunately, perspective being what it is, I’m sure my account of the events might differ slightly with the exactness of our conversation. But I will do my best to convey as close to a word-for-word account of what these three people said.

The first instance happened at the beginning of the week. I was having a conversation with a recently married couple, Jake and Faye. We got on the topic of when I first told them I had same-gender attraction. They were both interesting stories but the case that stood out to me most was Faye’s reaction. At first, she didn’t believe me. Even after a prolonged amount of time of both Jake and I trying to convince her, she still thought we were kidding. While we were talking on this occasion though, she explained why she was so hesitant to believe us.

“I just didn’t think you were gay,” she said.

“Really? Because most people tell me that they kind of already knew,” I told her.

“I guess it’s just that I never saw individual things you did and attributed it to being feminine or homosexual. It was just you and I accepted you as a whole.”

Wow, I thought. That’s deep. And it got me to thinking.

I have always been of the belief that if it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck, it’s probably a duck. So the next natural step is, if a guy looks like he’s gay, walks like he’s gay, and talks like he’s gay, he’s probably gay. Makes sense, right? But that’s not what Faye was saying. She said that I might dress different than other people, and I might have a little more bounce and fluidity to my walk than the normal guy. I might even talk in ways that your average guy wouldn’t. But those are nothing more than the buildup of me. It’s seeing the person as a whole instead of bit by bit. And it is also the acceptance of that person as a whole instead of only what you are willing to stomach.

Most people, myself included, see a person display a characteristic trait and then we define the person by that trait. For instance, we see someone who lies, or who is a Vegan, or who loves the Raiders (heaven help them), and then we label them, categorize them, and place them in a nice little box in which they fit into. Faye, on the other hand, is saying, “Sure that person might lie, but that isn’t who they are. The fact that they lie isn’t what defines them.”

Unless…

Have you ever known someone who has a problem which they let define them? Or, more pointedly, do you have a problem which you let define you? For me, I sometimes get my head so wrapped around the fact that I’m gay that I forget about everything else. It takes over my life. It consumes me. And soon it is the only thought in my mind, it’s all I can see. I have other problems in my life but I don’t focus on them. Because I don’t focus on them, they don’t feel as pressing or important or horrific. Perhaps I'm only seeing a little bit of myself and not the whole picture. And perhaps, I would be happier if I didn't define myself by the little things I do.

So, Faye, though you probably didn’t mean to be the topic of choice for this portion of my blog, you have definitely given me a grand insight on life. Thank you.

February 19, 2011

Top 5 Good List: Number Five, I Know...

Being able to say ‘I know’ about anything is nothing to sniff at. Consider all of the money that goes into teachers, professors, advisors, horoscopes, psychics, philosophers, religious leaders, political leaders, poets, and writers. We spend thousands upon thousands of dollars towards these people in search of knowledge or insight or inspiration. We want to be able to say ‘I know’ and mean it. In knowledge, we find happiness. It’s being able to turn on a light and see that there is no monster in the closet. It’s digging down into the cracker jack box and finding the secret prize. It’s being able to stand firm amidst a sea of confusion and to be able to declare truth.

Some of the most scholarly people in the world don’t know some of the most basic answers to life’s grandest questions. Where did I come from? Who am I? And where am I going?

Those questions have been asked as far back as can be recorded and I imagine they’ll continue for a little while longer. And even though the answer has always been there, people don’t know where to look for it.
Being in the Church has taught me a lot, mainly about myself. But I am happy to be included in the few who can say that we know the answers to those questions. I know my purpose on this planet. I know the reason for existing. I know what is expected of me and I know what I can one day become.

I don’t pretend to be a perfect person. I have a lot of weaknesses and contradictions, much like any other person. But it’s this knowledge I have that makes me want to be better, to continue on, to try even when it seems that all the roads are blocked and someone has made off with my silver lining. And even though I may tend to complain or occasionally get bitter or downtrodden, I know that if I keep trying, one day those challenges and struggles I have will all just fall away.

February 18, 2011

Top 5 Bad List: Number Five, Mehwidge, The Final Fwontier...

Mehwidge….

Like the movie says, “Mehwidge is what bweengs us together today.” And they weren’t kidding! When you think about it, marriage is kind of the pinnacle of accomplishments of life, or at least one of them. You can set your goal to get that speedy European car, or that three story mansion in Malibu, or the best paying job, or even all of the money in the world. And, on your own, you could very well obtain any or all of those things. But there is one thing you can’t obtain on your own: marriage. Nope. Can’t do it. Marriage needs two people. You can be the hottest of hotties, or the smartest of smarties, but it’s all for nothing if that other person doesn’t feel mutually.

That’s right! We’re talking about love, the dreaded ‘L’ word. You can love your shoes, your favorite books, and your own good looks, but none of those things can love you back. And man was not meant to be alone on this world. We’ve been engineered to need companionship, regardless of how independent or reclusive you might think you are. No one is immune to wanting someone with whom they can share their lives with. Including me…

There are times when I can’t think of anything else but my desire to have someone who I can share everything with. It’s more than a longing for friendship. I’ve had friendship all my life. And it’s more than sex. I’ve… uhh… had more than my share of that, too. It’s being half of a whole. And it is something I don’t confess to desiring often because I just don’t think that I’ll ever reach that goal in this lifetime. I mean, I could do it, but even the thought of it sends me into a spiral of “what if” questions. Like, “What if I do get married and I’m still attracted to men? How is that being an honest, faithful husband?”

One of the biggest fears I have goes a little like this. I decided to go ahead and get married. I find an amazing woman who I love and who loves me. She understands my situation and together we feel like this is just one of many challenges that we’ll face but if we work on it together, it’ll be okay. So, we get engaged. Unlike some couple, we would plan out the wedding together, seeing as I have a long history with fashion sense and interior design, and together we’d get everything all mapped out. She picks her bride’s maids. I pick my groom’s men. And, like any girl at the age of 16 can tell you, she has already known who her bride’s maids would be years ago. To be honest, I already know who my groom’s men would be as well. And we get the show on the road. Somehow our nerves last out until the big day when we’re making our vows. At my right side is this beautiful woman that God has blessed me with… but, to my left is a row of guys who I’m tragically attracted to. Sure, I’m attracted to my fiancé’s personality and her spirit. But physically, I’m attracted to these guys who are primed and groomed to perfection (or at least they had better be).
Do you see the potential problem here?

And what’s worse is that I have a mother who gently mentions having more grandchildren to me, a best friend who I love with all of my heart, and the ever-present weight of Mormon Culture. All of whom are breathing down my neck, either deliberately or not.

*sigh*

Yes, mehwidge is what brought me here. But why does it seem to be the more unobtainable goal for me?

February 17, 2011

Top 5 Good List: Number Four, I Have Hope...

Hope is an amazing thing. Hope opens doors, brings light into darkness, and beckons you onward. Hope overcomes hardships, stands firm in the face of opposition, and carries you through the tough times. Sometimes hope is a tricky boat to steer, but at least you can know that you’re going to reach your destination in safety so long as you keep trying.

I was going to talk more about this topic, but I'm 'hoping' this picture says it all.

Top 5 Bad List: Number Four, Chasity for Life? Seriously?

Whenever I hear the word chastity, my mind take me back to the first time I saw “Robin Hood: Men in Tights.” A wonderful movie, if I do say so myself. In this rendition of Robin Hood, Maid Marian is not simply a virtuous woman, but she wear a literal chastity belt made out of, what looks to be, iron.

Keeping with that mental image, whenever I’ve heard ‘chastity’ since (whether during the missionary discussions or in Elder’s Quorum) I always envision an actual chastity belt. Well, the Church is big on chastity, and so I often find myself giggling inwardly.

Nevertheless, I’m facing a difficult challenge. You see, in my present condition, I don’t think I’m quite ready to jump into a marriage. And since the Church frowns on sex prior to getting hitched, I’m kind of looking at a sad option. Chastity has never been my strong suit to begin with, but chastity for life sounds slightly reminiscent of my own personal hell.

February 15, 2011

Top 5 Good List: Number Three, I'm In Tune With My Feelings...

I’ve heard it said that men have PMS, just as much as any girl does, and different only in a few minor details. While I’m not about to speak for all men, I can vouch that I definitely have my moodier moments of the months. And sometimes it’s two or three times a month! I don’t know what it is. I wake up, same as any day, but then the hot water runs out too soon, I can’t find the perfect outfit to wear, my cereal gets soggy too quickly… and somewhere along the way, my emotional side bubbles up to the surface and that’s all she wrote.

Why on earth is this in the Top 5 Good List? Because I said so, that’s why. Well, that and the fact that it means that I’m real with myself. I’m not trying to say that straight guys don’t bestow that kind of genuine emotional behavior upon everyone else. No, I wouldn’t try to say anything like that at all. *ahem*

Let’s put it this way, I’ve had this conversation more than once with straight LDS guys. “I don’t bare my testimony.” And upon me asking why, they say something to the effect of, “Because I don’t want to feel the Spirit. If I feel the Spirit, I might cry and I don’t want that.”

Red flag! Okay, so you’re so much of a man that you can’t cry? And because you can’t cry, you deny yourself of the Spirit? Tsk tsk, my straight brothers. But I can’t say that I don’t understand them. Shoot, I cry watching Bambi. I should make a bunch of straight guys watch Bambi with me and secretly video tape it. Would that be bad of me? Hehe! I could call it a science project.

No, but seriously. Emotions are meant to be shared. We’re not robots, though sometimes straight guys are a little void of range to their voice, movement of their limbs, spring in their step, etc. Loosen up, guys! Cry a little! You’re not the bloody tin man. You won’t rust! Promise!


PS, I've realized that some of the pictures aren't always easy to see. But, if you click on them, that should help.

Top 5 Bad List: Number Three, I Can't Always Be 100% Me...

There are times when I’m at a party, or a dance, or even just talking to someone, and I realize that I’m holding back. This might be debatable, but I’d like to think that I am a pretty out going, fun loving, energetic guy. But even so, I find myself holding back. Why? I’m afraid of being stereotyped and criticized simply because what I’m doing seems gay. I guess what I’m really admitting here is the fact that I’m assuming that I’ll be criticized. So, before they even have the opportunity to make fun of me, I withdraw. In the military, they call it a preemptive strike. In the Church, we call it judging.

Ouch! But it’s true, isn’t it? And what really ironic is that the whole reason I’m being so prejudice is to avoid being judged. Hey, I never said it was a perfect system I’ve developed! I’m just going off of past experiences.

Regardless, I’m not exactly showing people “the real me” 100% of the time. For example, I’m not reserved, but I was recently accused of it. It makes me sad because I’d love to joke and laugh and act exactly how I want to, and just tell all those homophobes to shove it. But I don’t. Instead, I just bend myself to their liking.

But sometimes I forget to bend. Sometimes I let my guard down, and let me tell you… it gets ugly. A perfect example of this happened just the other night. Some guy asked a group of us what our favorite musical was. To be perfectly honest, I think he was only asking this one girl because he was interested in her or something. But not to be rude, he asked his question to the group as a whole. That girl said, “Singing in the Rain.” The boy next to her, bless his soul, asked, “Is “Tangled” considered a musical?” I let it slide. And then everyone looked at me.

“What’s your favorite musical, Michael?”

“Ummm, I’m not sure, actually. “The Last Five Years” is pretty good, though a wee bit depressing. The 2008 rendition of “Chess” with Josh Groban and Idina Menzell is totally awesome! But then I also love “Into the Woods.” It’s a classic! I don’t know. They’re all so good, I couldn’t possibly pick only one.”

It was about that time I actually looked at everyone’s bewildered expressions. “Wow, Mikey,” one person said. “Those are all a little too deep for me.”

Ugh! I hadn’t even told them all of the crucial reason WHY I thought each of those musical were so stinking awesome! And I thought, “Oh freak! My gay is showing again!”



February 14, 2011

Top 5 Good List: Number Two, Women Don't Make Me Nervous...

Straight guys are a hot mess, let me tell you! They might have the whole procreation thing down pat, but how they manage to get that far is beyond me. I’m not even going to get into topics like table manners. Nope, we’re skipping right along to the fact that they don’t know how to talk to women to save their lives! I mean, it’s slightly depressing to watch, but I can’t seem to look away, like a bad car accident or when professional ice skaters fall on their tushies. It’s just captivating!

First off, their sights are all off. They’re already thinking of relationships before they even know the girl’s name! And, depending on how much Mormon Culture they subscribe to, they’ve already rehearsed future proposal lines. Calm down, my straight friends! How about you get to be her friend first? You know? Get to know the girl and THEN worry about the size of her ring finger.

I count myself as lucky in this department. For the most part, I don’t get nervous around women. It might be due to the fact that I’m not interested in dating and therefore don’t have to worry about getting rejected. See! Sometimes it pays to be immune to the tempting beauty of women and their ensnaring charms.

Top 5 Bad List: Number Two, Unkind Remarks...

There have been times, not often thank goodness, when people I have been hanging out with make fun of gay people. If I was even slightly concerned with saving what little reputation I have left with you people, I’d tell you that I rebuked those people, I stood up for what was right, and I enlightened them about the worth of every soul in the eyes of Heavenly Father. But that just wouldn’t be the truth. No, I didn’t join in, but to my shame, I just folded my arms, bit my lip, and tried to look as indifferent as I could. (It never worked.)

Top 5 Good List: Number One, My Fashionable Sunday Best...

I think I’ve always had a hard time coping with the fact that LDS women can wear darn near anything to Church so long as it’s in decent shape and is modest. So, as my coping mechanism, I’ve tried my hardest to wear the most dapper outfits that I can possibly put together from my wardrobe. And sometimes, I’m not going to lie, they get a bit… loud. For instance, I have two accent pieces (there’s no pretending to be straight with a vocabulary like that) which I like to wear every now and again. The first is what is commonly referred to as my Mr. Rodgers sweater. Personally, I don’t think it looks like anything that guy would have worn, but I can see the vague parallel. The second accent piece is a pink tie that I wear. And by pink, I mean PINK! I wore it to General Conference once and I was told that my friend, who was sitting up in the balcony, could pick me out of the crowd. And that’s saying something!

But to be fair, when you can only have so many variations of the same outfit, you need to get creative with your get up…

February 13, 2011

Top 5 Bad List: Number One, Not Fitting In...

It has come to my attention that I seem to not always blend it with the Mormon guys. Whether it’s sports, or in conversation, or even how I talk, I tend to stick out. And it isn’t as though I’m not trying. I’ll go to the occasional sporting event, though with the exception of kick ball, I’ll rarely ever play. I’ll talk about the same things straight guys talk about, and I’ll only add in my real opinion when their’s finally gets too ridiculous to make sense anymore. And despite all my attempts for playing the chameleon, I get the distinct impression that it’s all in vain.

Paranoia? Hardly. It’s more like observation. I feel like the proverbial wolf in sheep’s clothing. You might be out there thinking, “Yeah, but wasn’t the wolf undetected under that wool disguise?”

I guess it’s kind of true. The wolf might look like a sheep, but you can be darn sure it wouldn’t act like one. It can’t! It’s not a sheep! For example, sheep don’t eat other sheep. That, and you’ve got to know that the minute the wolf opens his mouth, all the other sheep are going to know something’s up.

It’s a little frustrating - no. It’s more than a little frustrating to feel like I’m in an episode of Sesame Street. You know the one? “One of these things are not like the other…” Except, I’m that thing that isn’t the same! And as obvious as it was for those six year olds who watched Sesame Street, I’m pretty sure that my slightly more mature peers can see me and think, “Hmm. You know, that boy never goes on dates. He never talks about girls and never hangs out with boys. He doesn’t play sports or even follow them on TV. And whenever the topic of marriage comes up, his lips turn white and he gets all quiet. There is definitely something peculiar about that Michael Liberty fella.” And that's fair. I probably don’t disguise myself nearly as well as I’d like think that I do.

My Top 5 Lists...

Okay, so I was just doodling the other day and I started making this list of the top five reasons why being a gay Mormon just sucks sometimes. And then, just to be fair, I made a list of the top five reasons why being a gay Mormon is pretty rad! (Yes, I said rad.) Just to give you a polite warning, the art work isn't what it normally is. Let's just say that I couldn't find any pictures that 100% described the situation I am trying to convey, and so I decided to draw the pictures myself... on Paint. What I'm trying to say is, I'm no artist. Heh!

So I'll be posting one reason from each top five list, alternating back and forth from the bad list to the good. That way, I'll end on a happy note! Because that's what this blog is all about! Ending on a happy note...

So, let me kindly introduce my avatar. Oh, and if you have trouble identifying which one is me (which I seriously doubt is going to be a problem) my hair color is always the same.