Monthly Archives: May 2008

Hard Rain

It was the heaviest rain I had ever seen, worse than anything I had experienced even back in the south during the summers when the clouds would open up and you couldn’t see more than fifteen feet in any direction.

I was huddled under a overhang from a metal roof of the house next to the bus stop.  My companion and I were waiting for the bus that would take us back to our part of town and the sudden approach of the storm didn’t allow us time to find more substantial shelter.  He now stood next to me pressed up against the cement wall trying to avoid the waterfall pouring off the tin.  He was a Brazilian from the northeast and constantly talked about the beautiful beaches near his home.  The thought of his northeastern beaches annoyed me because the rain was cold and my wet clothes clung to me like an icy second skin .  I hugged my knees to keep as much body heat as I could.

I was miserable.  I was a couple of months from the end of my mission and I had been transferred to a “problem area” by my mission president.  When I arrived I found a ward plagued by recent excommunications of prominent members, internal fighting, and an apathetic leadership.  After a month of work fueled by missionary optimism, the realization set in that this ward had been this way for long before I was there and would remain the same for long afterwards.  We, the missionaries, were powerless to change it.  Nothing was too hard for the Lord, but it was obvious we weren’t going to be His instruments for change in this situation.

Our own efforts to find people to teach was proving less than fruitful.  We had traveled to a distant part of our area to deliver a Book of Mormon to someone who had ordered it from a pass-a-long card.  Media referrals had just recently arrived in Brazil and we were still learning the best way to approach them.  When we clapped at the door of the address, we were greeted by an exuberant “Elders!”.  This may have been our first media referral, but we were pretty sure that this wasn’t normal.  We were invited inside and were asked, “so, are you two going to teach my new member discussions?”  As it turns out, the woman had already been baptized by the missionaries in the neighboring area.  It was technically our area, but there were only a couple of streets that were ours and required a long bus ride to get to our meetinghouse.  According to the rules, she should have been turned over to us, but she had friends in her ward and it was nearby, so we simply gave her the Book of Mormon, ate a slice of cake (there was always cake), and walked back to the bus station.

I wondered how much more rain could fall from the sky.  All the books in my bag had been double wrapped in plastic bags, but everything else was ruined.  It didn’t matter.  It wasn’t the first time I had gotten trapped in the rain and even with only two months left, it wasn’t going to be the last time.  I sank into a depressed frustration.  What was the point in this?  If the Lord knew that we weren’t going to have any success in this area, why were we here?  Why was I here?  My last three months were to be spent constantly trying to motivate a ward that much bigger issues than a sluggish missionary program.  If the Lord knew I wasn’t going to make any real difference, why even send me here in the first place?  Sure, there was the whole “planting seeds” standby that missionaries used but while I believed that missionaries often made impressions that didn’t translate into immediate results, many times missionaries made no impressions at all.  There were areas that I had served on my mission where I knew I had already been forgotten by the majority of the people in the ward.  So why had I been there?  What good had I done?

I was shivering heavily.  Maybe the Lord hadn’t expected me to succeed.  Maybe His goal was for me to fail…miserably.  Surely not, I thought.  God wants His children to do well and be happy, right?  But then again, we can’t always win all the time.  Sometimes we have to lose and we have to lose big.  Sometimes we need to be knocked down so are forced to pick ourselves back up.  It isn’t God that does the knocking, but life.  If I hadn’t been sent to this ward, some other Elder would have.  Maybe he would have done better, maybe not, but it was my turn here.

Sometimes the bishop doesn’t care.  Sometimes the media referral is taught by someone else.  Sometimes the rain is very heavy and very cold.  Sometimes your mission/job/marriage/life just plain sucks.  It isn’t fair, but we never had that guarantee.  The only guarantee we were given was that if we got back up every time we fell down, that it would be worth it in the end.

3 Stereotypes That Keep Gay Mormons From Seeking Help

I don’t even remember where it was, but I once read a pamphlet for parents of gay teens that said, “you can’t influence whether or not your child is gay, but you can influence whether or not he tells you.”  One of the hardest parts of being gay and Mormon is the feeling of shame and secrecy that can result.  Sure, we are told that there is no shame in the temptation, but sometimes that’s hard to believe when we see those around us (even those close to us) throwing around hateful speech and supporting false stereotypes.

I’m not being overly sensitive here, I enjoy gay jokes and the occasional ribbing just as much as the next person, but at lot of times guys like us need help, whether it is from bishops, counselors, or even just a friends to listen.  If all we see around us are people upholding outdated and antiquated ideas of homosexuality, we are more likely to remain silent and deal with things alone…and that usually isn’t a good thing.

1. Gay Guys Want To Be Women

OMGosh…Seriously?  Sure, you have the occasional transgender, but the vast majority of gay guys are completely happy with the fact that they are men.  “Same Sex Attraction” does not mean the same thing as “Gender Confusion” and should not be used as such.  I’m not confused about my gender.  I am a man.  I am happy being a man.  Why do so many gay guys identify with women?  Well, duh, we both have celeb-crushes on Shia LeBouf (really?  just me? well fine, then).  But most of us don’t see ourselves as women, we don’t think we were meant to be born as women, we don’t think we are women trapped in men’s bodies.  We are men…who love other men.  It is the fear that other people will think of them as less masculine that keeps a lot of men quiet.

2. If You Are Gay, You’ll Come On To Me

Have a pretty high opinion of ourselves don’t we?  Are you attracted to all of your opposite-sex friends?  Even to those that you are, do you find your sexuality so uncontrollable that you are constantly making inappropriate advances?  No?  Then why should you assume the situation would be different for us?  I’m not attracted to the most of my male friends and to those occasional few that I am, I’m smart enough (just like you, right?) to keep that out of the equation because I know that unrequited romantic attention ruins friendships (plus, I’m Mormon, it’s not like the relationship would go anywhere).  Ok, fine, it’s not like there have never been a gay guy that hit on a straight guy, but if your friend is just coming out, he’s going to need his friends.  If your insecurity inserts sexual tension where it wasn’t before, it’ll tell him that he can’t trust his guy friends and he’ll be less likely to talk to someone again.

3. If You Are Attracted To Men, You Are Also Attracted To Little Boys

No. No. NO!  This is one of the most hurtful and messed up things you can say to a gay guy, or any guy.  Seriously.  If you are attracted to women, does that mean you are attracted to little girls?  Not to say that there have never been gay child molesters, because obviously there have, but rape and child molestation have causes way more varied than simply orientation.  Molestation isn’t about sex, it’s about control, regression, and manipulation.  Having grown up in the family-oriented church, a lot of gay guys want kids and many see ourselves as fathers someday (even if we may be unsure of the logistics).  How would you feel if someone accused you of child molestation?  Don’t you ever…ever even insinuate child molestation unless you are damn sure it is true.

You can’t control if your friend, son, brother, or father is gay, but you can let him know that if he needs help that you can be trusted.  I get it, homosexuality makes you uncomfortable.  You don’t really understand it and all you can think about are all the scriptures that condemn it every time you are flipping through the channels and pass Will & Grace.  I understand, but we can no longer feel content to stay in our comfortable shell and turn a blind eye to those around us.  It is almost guaranteed that at least one of your friends, siblings, or relatives is gay (yes, even if all these are Mormon).  Even if he is well adjusted and already has an adequate support system in place and doesn’t necessarily need to talk to you, he does need to know that you accept him for who he is and love him.  Not matter how much you do, showing your personal discomfort by publicly displaying your insecurities will suppress the amount of love he feels coming from you.

And that is a shame.

Top 5 Things Straight Guys Like That Are Really Gay

Straight guys have become really gay lately.  Sure, you don’t see too many singing show tunes and appreciating Jane Austen, but they have managed to adopt some gayery that would make Matthew Broderick proud.  (What?  He’s straight?  …really?)

5. Cycling Clothes


I guess you could call it the “Lance Armstrong Effect”: no matter how revealing the clothing, no matter how rainbow-flag colorful it is, you get a sports star to almost single-handedly beat the French and you’ll have a cavalry of straight two-wheeling imitators in stretchy-pants tearing through your neighborhood every Sunday morning.  At least, most of the time, the guys who don the contour-hugging shorts have the body to pull if off (unlike the “Greg Lougainis Speedo”).  French-beating aside, Pearl Izumi sounds like a designer that should appear on “Project Runway” not ESPN2.

4. Metrosexuality


Guys paying attention to fashion and personal appearance have become such the norm (especially in urban areas) that the traditional view of masculinity was dubbed “retrosexuality”.  Thanks to evolving opinions on what makes a man a man, a guy can now be plucked, trimmed, can-tanned, teased, man-scaped, and even pedicured without being labeled a “confirmed bachelor” by his friends.  I’m all for straight guys getting their “queer eye”, but just don’t go overboard.

3. Men’s Health Magazine


It used to almost be a cliche: what do you find in both men’s and women’s beauty magazines?  Pictures of scantily-clad women.  Well, this man-Cosmo was one of the first to break that pattern.  You couldn’t have more shirtless guys in its pages if you put up a disco ball and started blasting Moby remixes.  Sure, the headlines read “What She Wants” and “The 7 Things Every Woman Looks For In A Man”, but, come on, who really buys Men’s Health for the articles?

2. Ultimate Fighting


You’re flipping through the channels and you come across two guys wrapped around each other in Lycra trunk shorts pummeling each other until the blood flies.  No, those naughty websites haven’t infiltrated your cable, you’re just watching the UFC or one of its clones.  I’m not a queer theorist, but come on, there is less homoeroticism on Logo.  Watch the match long enough and you’ll end up seeing the buff, half-naked guys work themselves into positions that would make Perez Hilton blush.

1. Sports Team Butt Slap


Ah, the the classic example of straight-male bonding that makes it ok for you to reach out and touch someone.  To bad it doesn’t extend outside of sports.  Ace that final?  Awesome!  Butt-slap!  Nail the presentation!  Cool Beans!  Butt-slap!  Finish your first countdown-style blog post?  Freaking A!  Butt-slap!

Where Do I Go From Here?

The Death Note

I’d grown accustomed to seeing L and then, last week, Kira kills him just like that.  No more careful conversations between him and Light.  No more homoerotic undertones (the foot massage, I mean please).  No more constant eating.  Boom, dead L.  I watched The Death Note this week and I felt let down.  It seemed as though they were stretching out the series.  Part of me feels that it should have died with L.

But maybe I’m wrong.  Maybe the series will now be better than ever: what I thought should have been an end is really just a turn that leads to a new and exciting path.  Maybe there is hope after all….

I won’t lie.  This weekend sucked to high heaven.  I’m only now barely getting over the weight of the pain and doubt.  Yesterday, after work I came into my apartment and went straight to sleep on my slightly-too-small Ikea couch.  I posted a mildly cryptic, overly dramatic message on my Twitter and made one of those illogical deals with myself where I decided that if no one checked up on my when I woke up, I would stop going to church.  It was one of those self-gratifying deals that you don’t go through with, even if the conditions are met.

I woke up an hour later actually feeling better.  I checked my email and Facebook account.  Nothing.  I checked my cell phone.  My mom had called-twice.  I talked to her for a while and then made pancakes.

I guess we all are allowed our emotional breakdowns every once in a while (even if we aren’t allowed them, it looks like I’m going to have to take them anyway).  I’ve always believed that it doesn’t matter how many times we fall down, as long as we get back up again.  Well, I’m getting back up.  My left knee has a pretty deep gash, I’m walking with a limp, and I’ll probably be in a foul mood for the rest of the week, but I’m getting back up.  Where do I go from here?  The same place I was going last week…just a little slower.