Off The Fence: 6 Months Later
It’s been about six months that I hopped off the gay/church fence on the side of the church after years of going back and forth (and back and forth and back and forth and oh-my-gosh-I’m-getting-seasick). There have been ups and downs, but I generally maintain the feeling of peace I had when I first decided I was going to stay in the Church. There have been a few breakdowns, but except for a nuclear meltdown soon after the decision were made, my relatively few emotional dips have lacked the edge of despair that they used to have back on that old rickety fence.
I have learned a great deal in the past six months and have spiritually grown a lot (I think, anyway). There are areas in my life where the need for improvement is glaringly apparent, but I feel I am making progress, which is the first time I’ve been able to say that in years. It has been interesting as I have directly confronted issues in my life that I was too scared to approach before. I feel like I am more honest with myself and with those around me. As I have done this I’ve made some observations that I thought were surprising:
Right after I made the decision to stay in the Church, I knew that I wasn’t strong enough spiritually to handle all the doubts and questions that I still had, so I basically put off dealing with them. I knew I was going to have to work them out one day, but I couldn’t do it right then. As I have progressed, sometimes I have taken some of these questions out and have taken a look at them. If I am able to make progress with them, I try to resolve the concern. Otherwise, it goes right back in the mental procrastination box. I see this as an exercise in faith in the same way I view my initial concerns and then testimony of the prophet-ness of Joseph Smith to have been an exercise in faith. Sometimes working spiritual stuff out takes time.
Lying To Oneself Is Never Good
You might say, “um…duh,” but how often do we lie to ourselves in order to make ourselves feel better about our situations? I think we all do it. For example, there may be some official ideas of the Church that sometimes bother me…a lot. In the past, I would probably try and immediately talk myself into thinking that I agreed with the Church on every issue, but I’ve found that that weakens my testimony instead of strengthening it. Now I try and openly acknowledge to myself if something bothers me or if I don’t agree with something. If I find a potential solution to my dilemma, I try and work it out. Otherwise I toss it into my procrastination=faith box for sorting out later. Interestingly, as I have tried to maintain this attitude of honesty with myself, I’ve found the need to toss stuff into that box to come much less frequently than I anticipated.
I’m Still Gay, And I’m Cool With That
While I never expected the Lord to remove my attraction to men and give me the hots for the womenfolk (He hasn’t, btw), I find it interesting how comfortable I am with my homosexuality. Okay, most of the people at work don’t know and I don’t foresee telling them, but I usually don’t feel weirded out when I realize that other people think of me as gay, because, well, I am. I also have discovered that I still want a relationship with a man and, while the intensity of that desire isn’t the overwhelming thing it once was, I still sometimes see a gay couple holding hands in the park and still feel that pang of longing. Instead of burying that feeling, I allow myself to feel it for a bit. I do this because I have no intention of ever running from my sexuality again. I allow myself to want a relationship with a man for a few moments and then I move on. Because I have things to do.
I Choose “Peace” Over “Happiness”
I have chosen to live according to the doctrines of the Church – potentially alone for the rest of my life. Why? Because there is a peace that comes by knowing you are living your life in harmony with your core beliefs – it is a peace you can feel even in the midst of unhappiness. This isn’t to say that I am generally an unhappy person, but as I have said before, I remain one-hundred percent convinced that I would be happy living in a monogamous relationship with another man. Sometimes I am unhappy directly because of the choice I have made, but even through the unhappiness, I can still feel that peace. True, my sexuality is part of my core, but my spirituality runs even deeper.
It’s been a big six months. I’ve decided to stay in the Church, came out to family and ward and world, and openly write about being gay and Mormon on the Internet. Who knows what the next six months hold./?/!