Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Four Years!

Wow, I can't believe how long it's been since I wrote in my blog!  There have definitely been times where I thought, "oh man these thoughts need to go into my blog," but they never did.  Shame on me for not sharing my infinite wisdom with my adoring fans.  I shall have to do better than that.

I also can't believe that four years ago from Sunday, I came out.  Well, that's when I came out publicly.  And what better way to do it, than to broadcast it on Facebook for all the world to see!  I still stand by how I came out publicly.  I had previously come out to family and close friends, so I wasn't being a horrible person by using technology...maybe...but anyway!  I never would've expected my life to turn out how it is right now.

Let's have an update: I'm engaged to a MAN, I work at the Utah Pride Center, I've started my own group in Provo supporting the LGBTQ community, and that's just things surrounding my outward place in the community!  There have been so many other things that have gone in my life.

I think the biggest thing for me over the last four years is my sense of self.  No longer am I totally controlled by outside forces.  Notice that I said "totally controlled".  I still accept influence from others.  But that's the giant difference!  I accept influence, rather than being acted upon.  What a novel concept!  I honestly don't think I would've understood that concept four years ago.  Back then, my world was the perceptions of others.

I was just about to say, "who I am has vastly changed" but I don't think that would be an accurate statement.  I think to many people around me, who I am may seem different, but looking at it myself, who I am is who I've always wanted to be.  I am slowly discovering my true self and embracing it!

I don't think it's possible to ever understand absolutely everything about yourself.  I think it's a never-ending journey.  There are always little nuances and intricacies that wiggle their way to the surface.  It's a fun and fascinating journey!  At least it has been for me.

For those that new me four years ago, and look at me now, I think I know what the biggest change they've seen is: happiness.  My happiness has increased exponentially since coming out!

I was fortunate enough to talk with a friend on the train today.  I knew her back in...2008 to 2009 I believe.  So pretty close to when I first came out publicly.  As we were getting off the train, she asked me, "So really, how are you?".

I haven't given that question much thought as of late.  For those of you who don't know this, I have a big pet peeve around the question, "How are you?" as people are passing.  It's basically being used today as, "hi" or "sup".  I've taken my own personal challenge to actually say how I'm feeling when asked this question.  I dare say it's been a pretty fun experience!  Ha!  People don't really expect you to answer honestly.

Ok, off my rant.  I really thought about that question tonight.  I am really doing well!  I am doing far better than I ever was when I was back in the closet.  I am happier, healthier, friendlier, more kind, sensitive, and more willing to risk new friendships than ever before.  This has lead to a huge increase in my love for others, and the love for myself.  I've started to see what I have to offer the world, and how grateful I am for what the world has given to me.

I think there is some explaining in order.  When I first came out, I said that I was going to stay in the church.  I'm sure there are some other things that I said in there that some people might now accuse me of not doing.  I'm sure friends have whispered quietly (or perhaps they have better things to whisper about than my personal life), wondering what's going on in my brain.  Well, let's take a peek shall we?

First on the agenda, my relationship with the LDS church.  I grew up in it.  It is a part of who I am, and I will never forget or forsake or even regret where I came from.  I have been taught so many wonderful life lessons about love, sacrifice, kindness, endurance, and peace from the church.  I would not give those up for any reason.

And lemme tell you, I still have a spiritual side.  I can feel those same wonderful feelings I felt while in church as I do listening to a beautiful piece of music, or seeing the earth in its natural beauty, or even while sharing my love and care for a friend.  These are the same feelings!  I've just found them in different places.

Also, how I've chosen to follow what I was taught has changed.  Let me tell you something friends, and especially my friends who can be overbearing with their sensibilities...the church teaches you to ask questions.  Believe it or not, it really does!  Unfortunately, some of that has been turned around.  There are times when people might say, "oh, don't question that.  Just keep doing such and such and you will know it's right in the future..."

Well that might be all well and good but it's not the true teachings of the church!  The church has taught through its leaders and its scriptures to seek KNOWLEDGE (that means stuff outside the religion too), and also to look through holy books, as well as to ASK if it is right.  That means, you look up stuff, you do research, you look up scientific journals, you ponder what feels right in your heart, you think of what Jesus would do, you read through religious texts of many sorts, and then you ask.

I did that.  I did it with a few things.  The first thing that I did it with was how I was living as a closeted gay man.  I fought harder than I ever have before to receive an answer.  I researched, I prayed, I fasted, I did all those things I had been told to do in my church.  And do you know what happened?  I received an answer, just like I was told I would.  My answer wasn't a loud voice proclaiming truth.  It was a feeling of peace, and a direction for my life.  The direction I was told was to live authentically and that it would all work out in the end.

I followed what I was told.  Any of you who dare think or say that I'm just doing this out of the blue, or even that it is a choice, are fools!  I followed your doctrine, I received an answer, and I followed my feelings.  And I've never been happier.

Now, how I've chosen to live my spiritual life is a little different, but the principles are very much the same.  The church teaches to follow that which makes you happy, right?  It teaches that anything lovely, or of good report, and so on and on, you should go after.  I have taken this to mean that anything that makes my life happier, more wondrous, more fun, and doesn't hurt anyone else, is a good thing.

So I've changed my behavior.  I date boys!  Shocking, I know...actually, I'm engaged to a wonderful man as I type this!  Well, that's because, like I said earlier, I received my answer, and also, I'm happier, my life is more wondrous and fun, and I'm not hurting anyone else.  I'm sorry, but if my relationship with a man somehow destroys your religious foundation, you must've had a pretty weak foundation to begin with.

I also drink.  Gasp!  I know!  The most horrible evil of all evils!  Alcohol is of the devil!  Well, not in my experience.  I've always been a firm believer in the idea that too much of a good thing, is probably too much.  Moderation is a fantastic idea, and is taught by the church as well.  Hey hey, look at that!  So I decided to try alcohol.

Actually, funny story, the first time I tried alcohol was an accident.  It was an extremely minty drink, so I didn't even know it had alcohol because it was covered by the mint taste.  After I realized what I was drinking, I did the sensible thing.  I let my boyfriend know at the time that I was drinking, and that I wanted him to drive home afterwards.  I drank another cup of the drink, until I started feeling a little fuzzy in my thinking.  I'm smart enough to know that that's what being drunk feels like, even prior to drinking.  And I stopped!

Imagine my surprise when the world didn't come to an end!  I had an absolute blast!  I wasn't crude, I didn't fall over, pass out, or throw up.  I was a more exuberant, fun, and wondrous me!  And it felt great!  So I've continued to drink occasionally.  Guess what? I've still never been drunk enough to pass out, to get a DUI, to throw up, or to make a total ass of myself.  So I plan on continuing to drink occasionally.

I know that might come as a shock to some, but that's me people.  Oh, I suppose because I did that, I probably smoke now, and do drugs, and all that other good stuff.  Surprise coming...NOPE!  I don't do any of that actually!  Do you know why?  It's because for me, it is not lovely, or of good report, and I've seen what it could do to me and those I care about.  So, following my own prescription of asking questions, I came to the conclusion that those things weren't right for me.  And here I am not doing them and still being happy.

I never would've imagined that me being happy, was actually about ME.  Just follow me for a second.  What I thought was happiness, was actually a prescription BY other people FOR other people.  It wasn't for me.  It was a general recipe for what makes a certain group of people feel happy.  And, just so you know my Mormon friends, you are a MINORITY, in the big wide world.  It just so happens that I live in Utah where the church seems like an all-encompassing entity.

I fight for the rights of my LDS friends.  Do you know why?  It's because I hope, and pray that as I fight for what they believe in, and what makes them happy, that they in turn will fight for what I believe in and what makes me happy.

Sadly, some of my best friends have chosen not to support me in my marriage.  I'm not entirely sure why they have done so.  I don't know what they are trying to prove.  I don't know if their religious identity will shatter if they attend a gay wedding.  I honestly don't know because they haven't chosen to tell me.

I say to them, if you have HONESTLY done everything that I talked about earlier (prayer, research, listening to feelings, thinking of what Jesus would do, searching your soul, etc.), and you come to the conclusion that you shouldn't attend my wedding, or be supportive of me, then you shouldn't.  Because if all of those things tell you that you shouldn't, it's probably not the right thing for you.  And I accept that, and I accept you as you are.  Just as I hope you do of me.

I love you guys, and am so grateful for the support that I have received.  I am surrounded by wonderful people.  I have a wonderful life.  I know who I am.  I know that I am happy, and I know that I am in love.  No one can take those feelings away from me or tell me that they are less of the "real" things.  Nope!  I'm authentic, and I'm living as I've been taught.  I've received the answers I have, and I know they're the right ones for me.

May everyone find authenticity, and true happiness.

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