Remember those walls I built
Well, baby they're tumbling down
And they didn't even put up a fight
They didn't even make up a sound
A friend of a blogger friend suggested this theme for October. I have a lot to be thankful for lately and I think this would be a great way to share that.
How did you get to where you are today?
Often in our lives the important things aren't events but processes. I can't remember when I gained a testimony of our Savior or of the Church. I can't say when I started considering myself an adult and no longer a young adult. Likewise there wasn't a point when I knew I was gay. Growing up I could feel attraction to other males here and there. It wasn't anything big or distracting. I remember being at the barbershop on the military base getting my hair cut. I was about eight years old. A guy came in and sat waiting for his haircut. I couldn't look away, I found him fascinating and attractive.
In high school I only went on two dates. For one I was asked to a prom because the girl's boyfriend was grounded. I asked one girl to another prom because my friends wanted to go on a group date. I picked her mostly because both of our parents thought we'd be a good match. I only had close male friends and a few female classroom friends.
Even while on my mission (19-21 years old) I was proud of myself because I didn't have to worry about women distracting me from the Lord's work. I didn't understand why other elders couldn't just leave their girlfriends at home. Looking back, it was apparent why. But when all you have is your perspective it's hard to compare yourself to others. I didn't know that I was different from any other guy.
At BYU I dated two women seriously. One wanted to get married. I prayed about it many times and the Holy Ghost would only respond, "Wait." I am so glad I listened! Sometime after that relationship I started to make my first gay friends. The Escape was a great group for me. The men didn't drink and had LDS backgrounds. I went through the turmoil of living two lives. My BYU friends will remember my "other friends" that I would go hang out with. I had to lie to friends and family all the time. The pain and difficulty of that situation dulled after time. I became a good liar.
I dated one guy for awhile. Then I found Aaron. We hit it off right from the bat. We had chemistry and so much in common. I thought he was the cutest person I ever knew. (I still do!) I was hesitant to date him exclusively. I thought being in an exclusive relationship was a bad idea. It would make leaving homosexuality behind so much harder. But my heart was already linked to him. I cared about him and he about me. As Aaron tells the story, we were at a party. I saw him flirting with another guy and I came over. I proclaimed that Aaron was my boyfriend to everyone. Jealousy! Aaron and I have been together for four years now. We've gone through our difficulties but we love each other even more. We really are a perfect match.
Are you happy with where you are? why or why not?
Yes! Someone told me that you know you're in love when he makes you want to be a better person. Loving Aaron allows me to put his needs above mine. Living a double life--as a side effect--makes you a much more selfish person. You don't let people get close because they'll discover the lies. I became a very selfish man. The love and honesty we share helps me put that behind us.
Thanks to following a prompting, I came out to my brother almost a year ago. Following the same prompting I came out to my parents two weeks later. I have become closer to my brother and his wife than I ever was before. Their oldest stayed with us for two months this summer. About two weeks ago, my mother invited Aaron into my parents' home for the first time. It wasn't for long but it was a big step! I can see that my family is changing their ideas. It makes me emotional to see Aaron and them forging friendships and more. There are exciting things on the horizon.
Where do you see yourself in the future?
Aaron and I will still be together and strong. We'll continue to gather friends around us, both straight and gay. I hope we can be an example of healthy and happy gay relationships. We'll be example of the fun you can have without alcohol or drugs. I see Aaron forging familial relationships with my family. My family will become our family. I see myself rebuilding the trust and closeness with my family I had before with Aaron at my side. This next part is maybe fanciful, but it came to mind. My patriarchal blessing says that I will serve another mission as older couple. If that ever becomes possible, Aaron and I are definitely in line!
What roadblocks do you have and/or have overcome?
I am always afraid of rejection. That fear kept me from telling those closest to me about the turmoil I had inside. I thought my straight friends wouldn't want to be near me. I thought my family would be angry. I thought I wouldn't get to see my nephews again. They may have hesitation, but I think they can see that I'm happy.
I have overcome the need to rely on lies and deceit. Honesty takes a heavy load off of your shoulders. It allows you to become an integrated and whole person. Honesty tears down the invisible walls between you and your loved ones. Coming out to your family seems huge and daunting. It will probably be the hardest thing you'll ever do. But it won't be as hard as you think. The Holy Ghost loves honesty and truth. It will accompany you as you increase your honesty.
I have a theory called the Four Sins of Gaydom. Bitterness and Stagnation are two of them I keep at bay. I do not want to hate people or organizations. I was in a rut for many years. It is easy to sit still and let the world pass you by. These are roadblocks I see slowing me down in the future.
What advice do you have for others following a similar path that you have?
Friends. Find good friends. Find friends that meet your values. If you're gay it doesn't mean you need to let all your morals go. You don't need to drink to have fun. Find those people who feel the same way you do. The internet is a great source. This is a plug, but check out The Escape.
Family. There may be times where it seems you have no one. You will have times where you are lonely. If you have been honest and open with your family they can be your best friends. There are those who hesitate to come out to parents, siblings, spouses and others. They fear rejection. At first there may be confusion on their part, but I think their love will still shine through. If you're LDS you know about "attack on the family". Keeping yourself closeted and fearful is helping to tear apart your family. They can be your greatest support and help. Take the leap!
Yourself. With time you can accept you as you are. Heavenly Father may or may not have made you gay. But he allows you to stay gay. There are reasons for that. I used to think it was a curse I needed to endure or suffer with. Now I look at it as one the biggest blessings in my life. It stands next to other greats as my family, Aaron, friends, the Church, and my testimony. I have learned things that I couldn't have learned any other way.
As Aaron sometimes says, "We're good Mormon boys... except for the gay!" Strip away the guilt and shame and pain that you're giving yourself. Stop worrying yourself sick. Set aside the battle you feel you have to fight. You're fighting your best ally, yourself.
What advice do you have for family and friends?
I am the same person I always was. I think my family already can see this. Now I've entrusted you with another part of my soul. I am happier than I ever have been before. Let's continue to show each other trust and make our family that will last through time.
Give Aaron a chance. He's an incredible guy and I consider myself very lucky to have him. I had great taste in who I loved before and it hasn't changed. He is endearing and easy to love. If given the chance he'll show you.
Other people may judge you for befriending your brother/son's boyfriend. After all, love the sinner, not the sin. Aaron is not a sin. Aaron is a person and someone I love. Even in the Church the family comes first. Don't let people pollute your mind with ideas that would tear our family apart. This isn't something I think will be a problem with my family. But many do struggle with it.
My friends, keep being you. Aaron and I are lucky to have so many friends, both straight and gay. You make us happy people. You've accepted us and helped us out. If we can ever help, don't hesitate to ask. We are a family in our own right. Stand up for each other. If people say things about your friends you know isn't true, say so. Compliment your friends when they aren't around. They'll eventually hear. It's much better than gossip. Love one another.
I am blessed. I see a bright future. I'll be holding Aaron's hand. We'll be smiling.