Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Irony and Loss

Lately I've had a lot on my mind. There has been a lot of drama between my parents and I. It's been a situation of frustration and irony. My parents have been aware of my being gay since I was about sixteen years old. I am now a few years past sixteen, ha ha! In all that time they have chosen to ignore it, run from it, and avoid it. I have tried multiple times to share with them how I am feeling and what I am thinking. Yet through it all they have put up a wall to it. They have refused to address the topic of my being gay.

It's ironic really. It's ironic because their efforts to avoid this topic have led to where we are currently at in life. There is an important lesson to be learned here, in my opinion. It is a lesson that my parents have been forced to relearn time and time again with each of their children. Ignoring things will never make the problem go away but only make things worse. This is something that had they learned with the first child, they would have spared themselves a great deal of agony. Each of my siblings has brought a new issue or view to which my parents have had a difficult time adjusting to or even addressing.

For my parents, they must now face the troubling reality that their child is gay, out of the closet, and wanting to pursue relationships with the same gender. For my parents, this is horrifying. So much so that they have refused to support me financially. I do not regard this decision as damaging but rather reality and an opportunity for us to grow in healthy ways. My parents are using it to express their dissatisfaction with my choices. They are upset at it. But for all their being upset they have never once sought to talk to me about it. Communication relies on a two-way discussion. You cannot demand something without first learning what that something is.

Years ago, had my parents chosen to act differently things might have been different. I do not mean that they are to blame for anything. Rather, because of their actions, I was able to grow strong and realize that I cannot accept their lifestyle anymore. I chose to come out to my parents when I was a teenager because I felt lost and confused. I had hoped they would be able to provide me with the help that I felt I so desperately needed. To my shock and, at the time, horror they provided none of that. Instead, they sought to desperately ignore it. This has been there attitude ever since. Even now, with all that is happening, they are desperately trying to avoid knowing anything. They'd rather hide behind such useless phrases as "love the sinner, hate the sin." My dad has repeatedly told me that he neither condones nor condemns "my lifestyle choice." Yet through it all, he has never once asked me what is going on or how I feel or why I am doing this.

Denial is a defense mechanism. It is a tool that we humans use to shield ourselves from unfortunate or unpleasant things. But denial never solves problems. Rather, it allows those problems to grow. By not addressing my concerns and fears, they left me to fend for myself. In so doing, I found proper strength, courage, and hope. I found that by accepting who I am, I could be wholly human.

So, my advice to all parents with children that come out to you as gay or lesbian or bisexual is to talk to them. Listen first and then talk to them. It might be scary at first but I can guarantee that they are even more scared than you. Dialogue helps everyone grow in understanding. Don't just let your own personal issues stand in the way of reaching out to your child. If you do not reach out to your children, they will seek knowledge else where. Talking to your gay children won't stop them from being gay. But it will build the friendship and support network that will be of value to you and them all the remainder of your days. Love isn't about keeping each other at arms length. It's about taking the plunge into the unknown together and staying by each others side. Remember that.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Other Side

For me, there are two sides of being bi, and at the same time, there is no difference whatsoever between those sides. Perhaps I'm being slightly Taoist about it, but it's not the attraction that I want to talk about. I want to talk about what happens when you don't necessarily choose someone because their gender is priority in your choice for a temporary/life partner. Today, I want to talk a little about that choice.

I love my boyfriend dearly. I've looked at him and sometimes wondered, "Would I still like you if you were a girl?" My imagination being what it is, I peeled away the masculine features and could see a very feminine form of him. I was still physically attracted to the different perspective that my eyes took--and I still was attracted to him when I brought my mental perspective to him being a man.

I've struggled a lot with my bisexuality while being in this relationship because I'm still not totally comfortable with it--despite the years of experience that I've had with it and all of the talking and emotional processing that I've done with so many people. My boyfriend's parents were uncomfortable with the idea of me being bisexual at first, but they warmed up to me. What's funny is that I have started to feel bad that I didn't have gender as a filter for who I loved--feeling bad for the chance that he ever would feel like I'd love anyone else more than him.

Then sensibility came back to my mind. He can suck it up or leave if he can't trust you.
He has never pressured me into changing for him, except that he's noted that he does not want a polyamorous relationship.While I agreed, looking forward to the awesomeness of monogamous love, a little part of me whispered, Oh...okay. Part of me asked myself if that's what I really wanted, and that part of me still wonders.

He's a great friend and a great lover, and the only way  I could ask for someone that could connect closer to me would be myself. I've never met someone that can handle so many aspects of me that have turned off or pushed away other lovers. It is a big priority to me that someone can handle my autistic outbursts, quirks, and sensory overloads. It's less of a priority that my partner be able to be a man or a woman whenever I please.


Personally, I can say that in choosing someone that I want to be with (short or long-term) I choose the person that I love the most in the most ways. It's not like people are dropping out of the sky for me, but out of all of the people I know and have known, I tell myself which qualities I like and to what intensity I like those qualities. My boyfriend is amazing on so many of those levels.

While not every bisexual will want to be in a polyamorous relationship, I have to ask those bi people: How do you choose between the two?  Do you crave female and male relationships, or do you just stick with one partner? One gender? One (insert hair color here?)

Stay awesome! You were born this awesome!

-Amber

Monday, June 27, 2011

Support Group

Much apologies for forgetting last Monday. To make up for it this one will be a bit of a long read. Also mostly because I've had words in my brain all week and want to get it out there.

So this past two weeks or so I've been having very real and frank conversations with lots of people. Most of these were with my roommates and close friends, but I'm slowly branching out to family. That may seem kinda backwards for some people, or so I've been told before. Many a councilor and church leader who I've discussed my sexuality and depression with have asked if I have a support group of sorts. Not like a group that meets every week called 'Lesbians Anonymous' or something, but people I talk to and that know the situation I'm in. When I would say yes, it was always followed with the apparently unsatisfactory answer of the names of my close friends. Every one of them, without fail, said that that wasn't good enough...I needed to tell my family. This always made me scared and angry and all sorts of other things. "Don't you understand? I can't tell my family". The idea was so scary to me. Family would always be there, which is why they make a much stronger support, but it's also why I didn't want them to know. If they reacted badly and didn't care to understand then that would be the relationship I would be stuck with for the rest of my life. I interacted with my friends on a more regular basis, especially since coming to college and having them as roommates and such. In my mind it seemed like the people who I was around more would be the better choice to tell.

It's taken me years to understand this was not the right idea. I would even go so far as to say it didn't really click until this last weekend. I understand now that since high school I've been trying to find someone that could be my support. Someone who would be there to lean on no matter what, and knew everything I was going through...and would be a constant in my life. I could never understand why I couldn't find someone who could be that for me. I really tried. I stretched myself to the breaking point, and others as well, trying to make them into something they couldn't be. I wanted consistency and unconditional love that wasn't their job to provide. I needed my family.

Slowly I told them, starting with my brothers. I got more understanding than I ever thought I would get from them (on this particular issue). I felt so much closer to them over this one thing, because I had shut myself off from them before. We don't really talk about my being gay, but I don't feel like I have to hide myself from them anymore. They can be a part of ALL of my life now. My parents are a little different story. They've really known since about my freshman year in college, but I never actually said anything and came out until this last Christmas. We never talk about it. It feels like this topic is no longer on the table. It feels almost just as bad as not telling them was. I feel cut off, and hidden. It makes me feel like it's still a part of me that I'm supposed to be ashamed of. And I know that I shouldn't expect instant understanding. I didn't even have that for myself when I came out to myself. It's taken me seven years to get to where I am today, being truly okay with myself and loving me for it.

This weekend I had a small wake up call from a good friend of mine. She reminded me that while friends are great to have, and coming out to random strangers is fun and a bit relieving, it's really the important people in my life who I should be talking to. I'm not saying that friends can't be good support or important people (but probably not the strangers at Walmart). I really don't know how I could have gotten through a lot of life without my friends. I'm just saying that I realized that I need my family. I need them to be my support. I need them to know, even if they don't quite understand. These people are the most important people in my life and I want them to know who I am and what I go through. Being lesbian is a reality of my life that is always going to be there, as will my religion (Mormon), experiences, and my family. I will always have these parts of me because they shape who I am.

I am generally a big believer of talking about things. I would always rather talk with you and be offended than continue to live in silence. Having kept this part of me a secret for so long I can tell you that in takes a huge amount of energy and strength not to talk about it. It weighs you down everyday that it goes unsaid. I know I've waited a long time for other people to want to talk about it, but I think I need to step up and be the one that starts it. Don't take them for granted. Let the important people in. They may need it as much as you do.

~Bridey

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Born This Way

Today I went to a fireside at the tabernacle on temple square in Salt Lake.
I drove there from work, so I got there a little late and I still wore my fire boots and nomex pants.
All that information is irrelevant though.
The point is, I went to the fireside.
I sat on the long wooden bench off to the side.
And I listened.
I listened to a man who has no sense for when to use metaphors and who doesn't know that Easter isn't about coloring eggs. He said that people like to fold their arms, puff out their chests and say "I was born this way, get over it." Then he said that we need to let Christ change us.
I don't have any problems with Christ. Or with letting Him help me become a better person.
But, I stood up. And I walked out of the tabernacle not even five minutes after I sat down.
I don't often leave meetings, even if I feel offended.
I wasn't offended.
It just wasn't the talk I needed to hear at the moment.
Because, sometimes I wonder how important the things we're born with really are.
I was born a Mormon.
I don't know if the lesbian part was there at birth, but I do know that from the day I was born I was Mormon.
Not because of some kind of destiny, or plan of God's.
But because my mom is Mormon. And I inherited all of her good genes.

There are a lot of things we're born with that we cannot change, even with Christ's help.
Blue eyes. Sure, I could put in some contact lenses, but that's just a cover-up. It's a mask that hides what's truly there.
Mormon. No matter what I choose in my life, the Mormon part of me will always be there. I cannot run from it or hide it. This isn't to say that I can't leave the church and live my own beliefs. But it will always be a part of me that I will not forget.
Lesbian. Maybe I wasn't born this way. But, considering the odds, it's very likely. My brother is gay too. He has a different father. I inherited all my mom's good genes.
Even if I married a man, had children, and lived happily ever after, I'm still lesbian. Putting things in the closet doesn't make them go away. It just makes them go crazy to the point that they starve to death or beat the door down.
I am not the type of person who starves.

No matter what anyone may say, I'm Mormon. I'm gay. And I was born this way.

Now listen to Lady Gaga because I know that's what you were hoping for with this post.



Friday, June 24, 2011

Gays and spirituality

It's Friday night.  (Technically it's Saturday morning where I am, but where many of you are, it's still Friday.)  I'm not used to spending weekend evenings alone, but I have today.  After class, I went to the gym, to a bookstore, to the grocery store, and arrived home before 9 pm.  Someone suggested that the place where I live is a "ghetto" part of our town, so I was glad to get home before dark.

Then, I sat down and ate a roll of grocery store sushi/sashimi (seriously, it was some kind of mix of the two) with milk and a granola bar.  When I was eating the sushi, I tried to be mindful.  I tried to eat it one piece at a time.  And I did not read.  I tried to pay attention to the taste and the flavors.  My favorite was the bright green zing of the horse raddish.

I'm enrolled in a summer Russian course.  It's full-time (8:30 am to 5:30 pm, with various breaks), and keeps me quite busy.  That is part of my excuse for not writing last week.  I've missed you.

I want to know more about gays and spirituality.  Gay Mormons.  Gay Jews.  Gay Catholics.  Gay whatever.  We're everywhere.  To some, it means being faithful and/or celibate within the bounds and strictures of organized religion.  For others, it's (merely) a heritage--something that taught a now ethereal form of general goodness, but that perhaps is sometimes heavy--sometimes threatens us with the shame and guilt we associate with that part of our past and this part of our present.  Among perhaps others, there is a third group of gay Mormons, gay Jews, gay Catholics, etc., for whom religion is part of our identity and standards, but who have also molded (if you'll permit me to say it this way) those beliefs to fit the way we live.

[There must be lots of outside and in-between here.]

What are our stories?  What do we believe?  What aspects of our lives are spiritual?  Do we yearn for spirituality?  Do we yearn for it more than others?  Are religion and spirituality synonymous at any level?  Do we feel sick sometimes thinking about the disconnect with our former lives?  Do we often end up with something syncretic and tolerant?  I think of Gerard Manley Hopkins' Carrion Comfort, of Angels in America, and--what else?  Lots of us lose the faith, but what do we replace it with, if anything?

(P.S.  I didn't watch this video tonight, but I've read a book by this woman [Pema Chodron], and liked it.  Maybe you'll like what she has to say, too?] 

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Don't Say Gay

Have you guys heard about the "Don't Say Gay" Bill?
Because it's not about being careful about offending people in the LGBT community. It has nothing to do with those awesome Think Before You Speak videos encouraging people to quit saying "that's so gay" when they really mean "that's so stupid/unfair/obnoxious/ridiculous/etc"

No, this bill is about keeping teachers from saying the word gay in school. Or from students speaking about their gay fathers or their lesbian mothers.

"The Tennessee Senate passed a bill on Friday that would bar teachers from discussing homosexuality with elementary and middle school students."

While this may be a tough subject for people who have values against homosexuality, the fact is there are gay families in the world. I think that if elementary and middle school age children can learn about the changes about to take place in their bodies, then they ought to be able to discuss homosexuality as well. The truth is that "gayness" will always be part of our lives whether we are straight, gay, bisexual, or whatever. There are people around us who are gay, and they need information on their bodies, on relationships, and on their lives. Aside from the whole adolescence/puberty thing, what about families?

When I was in middle school I learned about different types of families. There was traditional or nuclear families with the mother, father and children. Then there was the single-parent family in which either a mother or a father raised children alone. There was also something like the extended family in which children are raised by an aunt, uncle, or grandparents. It makes sense to include (possibly under nuclear family) those in which there are two same-gender parents.

Anyway, Don't Say Gay. Or, do. Watch this video.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Old and Older Stereotypes

There are stereotypes that have persisted in American society for a long time now concerning gays. Among evangelical Christians gays are considered everything anti-male, anti-American, anti-moral. They are the antithesis of all that is good in this world. Your stereotypical gay man is a slut, sissy, shallow, without morals, molesting children, doing every drug he can get his hands on, drinking away his liver, hateful of religion, and a sick and perverse creeper.

In the book Homosexuality and Civilization the author describes the stereotypical (or even mythological) gay man or men that engaged in same-sex relations (whether with young men or adults) in ancient Greece. Those kind of men were athletic, courageous, devoted to the preservation and sanctity of the state. Statues were built to such men, their acts were memorialized until they slipped into myths. Some of the great Greek philosophers argued that the ideal love is that between a man and a man.

Stereotypes reveal how societies think and view the world. They are a reflection of a desire to turn complex individuals into 2-dimensional, flat beings. My point in comparing ancient Greece's view of men that seek other men for romance and that of America's views is to show the drastically different views of things.

I find it fascinating that one society saw a man that took another man for his lover was someone to be saluted and admired. That man was expected to be a pillar of city and to defend all that was good. I also find it fascinating that over 2,000 years later my society thinks the opposite of such people. 

Society is strange, wouldn't you agree? Thankfully, people are realizing that gays (men and women) are not made different by their sexual preference from their heterosexual peers. Whether you choose for your partner a man or a woman should make no difference to anyone. It does not prevent the opportunity to have children (or refrain from having children), expressing the fullness of love for your partner, hinder your spiritual journey, etc.

One last thought until next week. Whether you believe in some kind of divinity or spiritual realm or not, your conduct towards others is always important.

And now videos that have nothing to do with each other, but are in some ways thought-provoking.


Monday, June 13, 2011

Never Give Up, Never Surrender!

Forgive my lack of originality today, but this has been stuck in my head all week...I promise I explain why at the bottom.

by Dee Groberg

The Race

"Quit, give up, you're beaten!"
They shout at me and plead.
"There's just too much against you now.
This time you can't succeed."

And as I start to hang my head
In front of failure's face,
My downward fall is broken by
The memory of a race.

And hope refills my weakened will
As I recall that scene,
For just the thought of that short race
Rejuvenates my being.

A child's race, young boys, young men
How I remember well,
Excitement sure! But also fear.
It wasn't hard to tell.

They all lined up so full of hope
Each thought to win the race,
Or tie for 1st or if not that
At least take 2nd place.

And fathers watched from off the sides
Each cheering for his son,
And each boy hoped to show his Dad
That he would be the one.

The whistle blew and off they went
Young hearts and hopes afire
To win to be the hero there
Was each young boys desire.

And one boy in particular
Whose Dad was in the crowd
Was running near the lead and thought,
"My Dad will be so proud!"

But as he speeded down the field
Across a shallow dip,
The little boy who thought to win
Lost his step and slipped.

Trying hard to catch himself
His hands flew out to brace
And mid the laughter of the crowd
He fell flat on his face.

So down he fell and with him hope
He couldn't win it now...
Embarrassed, sad he only wished
To disappear somehow.

But as he fell his Dad stood up
And showed his anxious face
Which to the boy so clearly said:
"Get up and win the race!"

He quickly rose, no damage done,
Behind a bit, that's all
And ran with all his mind and might
To make up for his fall.

So anxious to restore himself
To catch up and to win.
His mind went faster than his legs
He slipped and fell again.

He wished that he had quit before
With only one disgrace,
"I'm hopeless as a runner now.
I shouldn't try to race."

But in the laughing crowd he searched
And found his Father's face,
That steady look that said again,
"Get up and win the race!"

So up he jumped to try again
Ten yards behind the last,
"If I'm going to gain those yards," he thought
"I've got to move real fast!"

Exerting everything he had
He regained eight or ten,
But trying so hard to catch the lead
He slipped and fell again!

Defeat! He lay there silently
A tear dropped from his eye.
"There's no sense running anymore
Three strikes; I'm out; why try!"

The will to rise had disappeared
All hope had fled away;
So far behind, so error-prone:
A loser all the way.

"I've lost so what's the use?" He thought
"I'll live with my disgrace."
But then he thought about his Dad
Who soon he'd have to face.

"Get up" an echo sounded low
"Get up and take your place,
You were not meant for failure here,
Get up and win the race!"

"With borrowed will, Get up" It said,
"You haven't lost at all,
For winning is no more than this
To rise each time you fall."

So up he rose to run once more
And with a new commit,
He resolved that win or lose
At least he wouldn't quit.

So far behind the others now
The most he'd ever been,
Still he gave it all he had
And ran as though to win.

Three times he'd fallen stumbling
Three times he rose again,
Too far behind to hope to win
He still ran to the end.

They cheered the winning runner
As he crossed the line 1st place,
Head high, and proud and happy
No falling, no disgrace.

But when the fallen youngster
Crossed the line last place,
The crowd gave him the greater cheer
For finishing the race.

And even though he came in last
With head bowed low, unproud,
You would have thought he'd won the race
To listen to the crowd.

And to his Dad he sadly said,
"I didn't do so well,"
"To me you won!" his Father said
"You rose each time you fell."

And now when things seem dark and hard
And difficult to face,
The memory of that little boy
Helps me in my race.

For all of life is like that race
With ups and downs and all,
And all you have to do to win
Is rise each time you fall.

"Quit, Give up, You're beaten."
They still shout in my face,
But another voice within me says,
"Get up and win the race."


I know it's really easy to pick out all the religious symbolism in this, but I hardly ever read it that way. I look at it from a general life perspective. Life is gonna be really hard sometimes. What may not seem a big deal to some may be a mountain to others. Sometimes you're going to fall, have horrible days, weeks, months or years...i don't know. But I really do believe that you need to keep trying. If someone can't get up, help them. If you need help, don't be afraid to ask. I know I've had some days where the only thing I felt I could do was just stay in bed and try again the next morning. This week has also not treated my very kindly. And it gives you that feeling like when you're well and you think you're never sick, but as soon as you're sick the only thing you think is "I have always been sick and will never be well again!" But I really think you only truly fail at life when you stop trying all together. Never give up.


~Bridey

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Jesus

I'm a Christian.
I believe in Jesus.
And I try to believe him, too.

I had an interesting question on one of my youtube videos today.

"If Jesus tells you TO DAY in person that GAYING in wrong and is an abomination in His heavens and is against his will (like the mormons preaching) what would you tell HIM? He came down to taste physical life in order for us to have no excuses WHATSOEVER."

You're welcome to check out the comments and the video for yourself http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Owij1sYWi44.
Otherwise, my reply went something like this: If Jesus had the time to speak to me in person, he wouldn't bother telling me that "gaying" is wrong. He wouldn't tell me that I'm a sinner; he wouldn't recite the ten commandments or say that my state of being or even my actions are an abomination in his heavens and against his will. The Jesus I know and believe is the one in the Bible. The one who gathered the sick and afflicted around him so he could heal them. The one who took the time to bless each child. The one who fed thousands on only a couple baskets of fish and loaves. If the Savior of the world came to me, it would not be to condemn me or to point out all my flaws or mistakes. He would embrace me and express his love for me.

I think that one particular thing that goes unaddressed here is my personal stance or opinion on homosexuality. Do I believe that it is wrong to express homosexual feelings? You know, sometimes I do. But, to be honest I also feel like it's wrong for me to participate in heterosexual affection. So what does my view matter anyway? I believe in personal revelation, exploration, and adaptation.

and I'm just going to end it there...if you read these posts and have questions, then just post a comment.




Friday, June 10, 2011

Dan Savage

Hey friends, Justin here.

Who's heard of Dan Savage?  He's a sex advice columnist who's recently perhaps best known for starting the It Gets Better Project.  Anyway, he's got a ton of video clips, interviews, etc. posted on YouTube.  Here are two that I saw tonight and enjoyed.

This one's about coming out to very religious parents.  Give them a year-long grace period, and then demand acceptance, he says.



This one is titled: Dan Savage on What the Institution of Marriage Means.  Pretty self-explanatory.



Enjoy!  Meet y'all next week.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Be Alive!

Bradley here, and I decided to share a simple piece I wrote today. I was feeling impulsive and whatnot, and felt like expressing what has been on my mind. Enjoy!

Be Alive!

Small talk. Classes. Dates.
Look past the useless chatter.
Groups of girls giggle about trifles.
Dudes grunt and ramble incoherently about sports or whatever.
They say eskimos had a hundred words for snow. Well, I feel like today's internet generation will have a hundred words for "Awkward."
Heaven forbid they let a silent pause go by without filling it in. Usually with something menial.
Let the pauses rattle on.
Introversion is not a crime.
Be blunt. Sarcastic if you have to.
Who the hell cares what you think. If you believe it, stand up for it and defend it.
It' okay to reveal yourself emotionally.
It's totally okay to disagree completely.
It's okay to stand for what you believe.
Don’t sit passively and let the river wash past you.
Get up and go somewhere. For you. Let yourself be alone every once in a while, and for pete’s sake, ENJOY it.
If you don't enjoy your own company, how can you expect anyone else to?

Too few people are ever satisfied: when we’re busy we say we want peace and quiet. When we have plenty of free time, we complain we’re bored.
If you have something to say, say it. Don’t wait for someone else to miraculously pick up on it. Throw yourself out there!
Be wrong sometimes. It won’t kill you.
Decide to look past the mundane and have an awesome day - For no reason at all. Have an awesome day because you decided to. Enjoy yourself, no matter what your routine says.

Be impulsive.
Run to school. Walk backwards to class. Skip like a little kid again. Give someone you love a hug. Give someone you just met a hug too. Let that stranger in. Who the hell cares what you look like, Who cares who you love? Nobody.

Slide down railings. Push all the elevator buttons. Write inspirational notes and hide them under a stack of napkins in the food court. Someone’s bound to find them and have their life changed.
It’s amazing just how little it takes to make someone’s day. Be that person who changes their life for the better.

Do something for someone that they’ll be telling their kids about someday.

If you feel like randomly sitting in the middle of a hallway, do it. Sit on a busy curb and wave at people.
Learn to play ukulele and give street performing a try. In random places.
Buy a huge package of something funny at the supermarket: like a 50 pack of slinkys. Just for the hell of it.
Get a bottle of sparkling cider and drink it straight from the bottle.
Make a musical instrument out of rubber bands PVC pipe, and spoons.
Carry an umbrella in the middle of summer.
Dress in a tuxedo for no reason at all.
Carry sidewalk chalk in your back pocket.
Place out of order signs on random objects. On chairs, doors, light-poles, friends, whatever.
Sleep on the floor for a night just to remember what it feels like.
Pick a random book off the library shelf and read it.
Leave a treasure hunt of clues hidden in books for someone to find later.
Turn the pay-phone upside down in its cradle as you walk past.
Take a bath with bubbles.
Run in the sprinklers fully clothed.
Build a pillow fort in your living room.

Above all, be alive. Truly ALIVE.. it doesn’t take much if you know how to do it.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Thoughts in Videos

There are a lot of thoughts in my head right now. So, instead of talking about them, I'm going to find videos that are similar to my thoughts.


video

I like the speech the father gives on qualities and aspects his gay son lacked. It brings home the idea that there really is no difference between gay people and straight people.

This video makes me cry happy tears. I wish all people responded as this video invites people to do.

This video reminds me of a lot of what I've been reading surrounding homosexuality in American history.
I just love this video, ha ha!

Those are my thoughts in video format.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Friends Can Make the Difference

The last few weeks I've been talking a lot to my roommates. They're amazing girls. I think the thing I like most about them is how they make me feel when I'm around them.

With roommates in the past, the fact that I'm a lesbian was something that everyone skirted around very lightly. I have had a few who would talk about it very openly with me, and most of them remain my friends today. With the majority of them, however, it either became an issue in some way or something we just swept under the rug never to speak of again. Like the big giant glitter-covered rainbow-colored hippo in the bathtub that nobody wants to mention. Sometimes I was grateful for the silence, because it meant they had no plans to grab their torch and pitchforks anytime soon. But mostly I hated it. I hated never talking about it, and more so feeling like I wasn't allowed to. Feeling like everything I did was screaming at them "I like girls!" and so I needed to stop it. They knew the truth, but it felt more like they were trying to pretend it wasn't so. Wishing and hoping that it would go away soon...like I once did. I thought that was getting the good end of the "coming out" process. The fact that no one immediately said "you know you're going to hell, right?" was a huge step for me.

Then I met these girls. If it comes up it's never a big deal. We talk and joke and everything else like it's just another normal part of life. Because it is! I've noticed that it almost feels like it's not this huge thing on everyone's mind anymore. At first I thought it was like before, when people wouldn't really take it seriously. Treating it like it was some other thing that would just go away if left alone. Then I realized it's the opposite. This is a part of life, but no more than the fact that my roommate likes boys. A little different, but nothing to be scared of. It feels amazing to feel good about this part of me, that I don't think I fully accepted because I still felt I had to hide it. Now I don't. I've told other people and have found that it's not really a big deal. Not to make it sound like I'm belittling this part of myself, but the opposite. It's just another part of who I am and people are okay with who I am. And if they're not, I still have people who are and love it.

Don't give up ever. There are people who will love you for every part of you, and they are worth waiting for and finding. Life feels so good when you know you're being your true self and being loved for it.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Pride

I went to Pride for the first time today.
The parade was long.
And it all wasn't as fun as I expected.
Sure there were lots of people to look at.
And I finally found a nice = sticker to slap on my water bottle.
I know that homosexual is a term often used to categorize people's sexuality, but I felt like there was too much focus on SEX.
Men all over the place walking around in Speedos or boxerbriefs.
Too much PDA.
Condoms thrown out during the parade (which the children picked up!).
Don't get me wrong. I'm not overly prudish.
Or maybe I am.
I just don't think that my sexuality needs to be on display for everyone.
I've been to parades to honor pioneer heritage. And people dress up in thick pioneer dresses and bonnets and they pull handcarts down main street. That's something I can be proud about. My ancestors (or at least someone's) crossed all the crummy middle states (no offense to anyone) to get to gorgeous Utah only to find huge black crickets, a nasty salty lake, and sagebrush. People DIED while making that trek towards religious freedom. Towards life without persecution.
I've seen parades honoring the birth of my very own nation--The United States of America. People crossed the ocean when it took weeks to do so. They fought in the Civil War and the Revolutionary War. People worked together for freedom. Religious freedom. Freedom of Speech. Great people worked hard and wrote some fabulous documents that established the foundation of a whole nation, which they hoped would reach the world--the idea that every person is entitled to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. That's something to take pride in.
Now, a bunch of people marching in high heels and speedos while tossing out condoms...

I realized something today. I'm not proud. I love activism. I love being who I am. I love the idea of loving who I am, and being proud of who I am. But I am not proud to stand with my fellow gay Utahns who shove things in people's faces and encourage each other to go kiss on Temple Square just to show the Mormons that we do whatever we want. Not once did I see a Mormon protesting against the Utah Pride celebrations. Someone please let me know if they saw anything like that. I'm not proud of flamboyancy, or too much PDA, or anything bordering on nudity. I do not like to see condoms thrown out at children--where is the pride in that? Life does not revolve around sex. If that's what it means to be gay or to be lesbian, then I have no pride.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Supermarket Lesbians

My girlfriend and I went to a carnival last night. It’s one of those ones that’s super fun when you’re about seven and super sketch when you’re older. All the rides fold back into being trucks at the end of the week and stuff. We’re both too poor for overpriced carnivals anyway, so we just walked around and looked at the rides and reminisced about childhood and smelled the delicious bad-for-you food.

But we didn’t hold hands.

While we were there I ran into a coworker, one of my managers, and a kid I knew from high school theatre. And then when we went to the grocery store across the street to go buy ice cream later, we found more people we knew in high school and another coworker of mine.

None of them would have cared, but what if it had been someone who did care? We couldn’t take that risk.

The thing that sucks about being a young gay couple is that you always have to be on your guard. We’re lucky, because our friends are very accepting. When we’re in the safe zones of our own homes (except mine), we’re free to be normal. Nobody gives us a second thought anymore.

But out in the world we always have to be careful. Sometimes we act like a couple when we go to the grocery store, but only if we’re going at midnight when the store is deserted. If we go at prime shopping time, we’re suddenly just best friends out picking up some apples. Because you have to be careful.

At first it was, “We have to be careful, what if we see someone who might tell my parents?” But there’s really more to it than that. In some places, it’s legitimately not safe to be gay. We’re fortunate that we live in a fairly accepting community. It’s pretty conservative, but I was never uncomfortable with the idea of admitting to my fellow students that I was into girls. (Except I was afraid it would get back to my parents so I never was openly out in high school.)

But somebody had to pave the way. Somebody had to take the dive and decide to stop caring whether or not it was safe, had to decide to stop caring about being careful, and just go for it. Somebody had to stand up. I have so much respect for the trail blazers. Because it’s probably not that they don’t care what other people think, it’s not that they’re not afraid, it’s that they want it to be easier and better for other gay kids in the future.

It’s because of brave people that we have even what we do so far.

Will I be brave? When I’m finally out to my parents and I no longer have the idea of them finding out to hide behind, will I be brave? Will I stand up to fear of ridicule and scorn? Will I be a trailblazer? Will I make the path easier for those who follow behind me?

I want my answer to be yes. I’m challenging myself today to make my answer yes. I will stand up and I will be brave. I will swallow my fears of being judged by those around me and I will help to make seeing a lesbian couple in the supermarket and at the carnival a normal thing. And someday people won’t have to be brave anymore.

Someday, two girls who are young and in love will walk through a cheesy carnival on a summer night. And they’ll hold hands.


If you liked this post, I would love it if you took the time to check out my personal blog, which you can find at http://alifeheldinparts.blogspot.com, which deals with my personal journey with the Mormons parts of me and the gay parts of me.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Some recommendations (two books-n-uh-movie … n-uh-TV mini-series)


No More Goodbyes

Have you read this book yet?  Carol Lynn Pearson wrote it.  I think she’s one of the most important advocates for gay and lesbian people in the LDS church.

I brought it home once for my parents to read—along with her other book, Goodbye, I Love You.  (In Goodbye, I Love You, Pearson writes about her experience marrying a homosexual man.)

Goodbye, I Love You

(See above.)

The Kids are All Right

Image source: http://www.nypress.com/article-21397-the-lesbians-are-all-right.html

Just saw this one tonight.  It’s R, so if you don’t do that sort of thing, you won’t like it.  It’s about a lesbian couple working through marriage issues while their two children, aged 18 and 15, meet their shared biological father—a sperm donor (played by Mark Ruffalo).  Julianne Moore is in it, and she’s great.  So pretty.

Angels in America

An HBO-produced rendition of the award-winning play by Harold Kushner.  The play itself is worth reading at least once.  Includes a mixed-orientation marriage, gay Mormons, gay Jews, gay Republicans, the AIDS virus, prophets, angels, God, a missing God, the ghost of Ethel Rosenberg, and … well, you’ll just have to see it.  Be prepared, though—it’s like over 300 minutes long.

For the Strength of Gay Youth

Bradley here,

In my online self-search for answers, there was one piece that really helped me reconcile my spirituality and my sexuality. It's a piece I found on Afirmation.org (which in and of itself is a wonderful website) called "For the Strength of Gay Youth". It was written in an attempt to patch holes and gaps in the pamphlet put out by the Mormon church entitled "For the Strength of Youth" in order to provide correct information about LGBT issues as it relates to the Mormon church. It also gives realistic advice and comfort for struggling LGBT members of the church without pushing any sort of anti-church agenda:
While the intentions and motivations behind the pamphlet [For the Strength of Youth] may have been positive, it has often been a source of great frustration for many youth and young adults. Unfortunately, this booklet from the First Presidency has caused many youth to experience feelings of self-loathing, self-hatred and confusion. This is especially true for youth in the Church who experience attractions to the same gender.

It is my intention to provide a guide similar to the pamphlet "For the Strength of Youth", but modified so that it is especially designed to address the unique concerns of gay and lesbian youth of the Church.
Basically, the Afirmation.org version was a life-changer for me and you really should go read it.

In the original version of the "For the Strength of Youth" pamphlet, the LGBT youth get two sentences of guidance listed in the Sexual Purity section, and not very helpful sentences at that:
"Homosexual activity is a serious sin. If you find yourself struggling with same-gender attraction, seek counsel from your parents and bishop; they will help you" (Sexual Purity).
I'm sorry, but the bulldozer approach taken here simply doesn't cut it. No wonder so many LGBT members of the church have taken their lives because they felt unloved and unwelcome. For me though, one section of the "For the Strength of Gay Youth" piece that really hit home for me was the section titled "Entertainment and the Media" which reads thus:
The media is constantly sending us messages about who we should be, what we should look like, and how we should act. Most recently, the entertainment and media industry has found that targeting a gay and lesbian audience can bring them lots of money.13 Be aware that the people who run the media and entertainment industry are not interested in you as a person, or your self-esteem. Their only motivation is to make money. This is especially true with media that tries to send messages about what they think "looks good".

We all know that what we see on TV and magazines is not usually reality. However sometimes we get so absorbed in what the media presents, that it's very easy to forget this fact. It's so easy to fall into the temptation of comparing ourselves to an image or person that simply isn't real. We all know that photos are often airbrushed and movies are very often digitally enhanced or changed, yet we still find ourselves feeling inadequate because we might not match up to what the media tells us we should be. We are all different and beautiful in our own individual ways. Don't let the media hypnotize you into thinking that you need to dress or look a certain way in order to be accepted by others. Don't let those who have already been "hypnotized" by the media drag you down either. Establish your own identity and be yourself.

The media can also be very effective at telling us how we should act, react and feel about certain things. The media has been notorious for portraying certain groups of people in a very stereotypical way. This is especially true about gay and lesbian people and other minorities. This is unfortunate because not only does it misrepresent to the general public who gay and lesbian people really are, but it also makes it confusing for those who are just coming to terms with their own sexual identity. It's quite easy to feel confused when you can't identify with the gay and lesbian characters you see portrayed in movies and TV. Again, it may be obvious, but we need to be reminded that not all gay and lesbian people are like the characters on programs such as Will & Grace or Queer As Folk. If you don't feel you "fit in" with the characters on these and other programs, don't worry! It's most likely a good thing that you aren't like a character on TV!
Since I don't adhere to many gay stereotypes, this section was really comforting to me. Said explicitly, "You can't be gay because you don't act gay" seems absurd, but its surprising how much I bought into that mindset. Being bisexual, I already didn't fit comfortably into either the straight or gay worlds, I really needed this gentle reminder that I don't necessarily have to fit the stereotypes. "For the Strength of Gay Youth" concludes, beautifully:
Finally accepting the fact that you are gay or lesbian can be one of the most stress-relieving and freeing experiences that you will ever have. No longer do you have to wonder why you feel a certain way toward the same sex. No longer do you need to fight the war of feelings every day. You finally know who you are and why you feel the way you do. The next task is deciding what you will do with this "new" you [...] Above all, remember that you are in control. This is your life. You have the freedom to make it the life you want it to be.
Jeremy, I like the notion of concluding with a song, so I think I will. This is by Jónsi, the guitarist and vocalist for Sigur Rós. Jónsi is gay and performs together with his boyfriend as Jónsi and Alex. I love Jónsi because (although I have nothing against popular LGBT icons like Lady Gaga) it's nice to know that there are other great gay artists in the indie music world. Enjoy!




(No copyright infringement intended. I encourage you to buy the song legally from Amazon, iTunes, or the like)

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Stereotypes: A Purpose

My neighbors are shooting fireworks, my friends are discussing the negatives of getting high, and Lady Gaga is playing on my computer. What does this all mean? Why am I sharing this? Well, mostly because I find all of this funny.

Race, religion, sexuality, and gender all seem to imply to society that there are shared experiences or that there are shared mindsets, traits, or attitudes that should be apparent in all those that hold in common that connection. Reality, though, is that we are not all the same. When I was younger I did not really understand that. I saw the world through a very self-centered lens. It was not that I saw everyone as the same. I just saw the world as them and me. Nothing else. It was this lens that allowed me to start to realize who I was and what I wanted to define me as a person, an individual. That has led me to in turn see the world as individuals of beauty and depth to meet and learn from.

In USGA meetings there were a few discussions on stereotyping. Now, before I go further on this, I always tease my lesbian and fellow gay friends about lesbian and gay stereotypes. You know the ones: cargo shorts, big ol' boots, rough and tough attitudes, and drivin' around in trucks. Gay men shooting glitter out their palms and dressed so flamboyantly that it hurts to look at them. I actually am comfortable with stereotypes.

I take a simple view on stereotypes: they're there for a purpose. Those coming out may face a vast sea of the unknown. The gay culture may seem foreign to them. It may be totally alien. So what should they do? Should they run from it? Hate it? Lose themselves in it? Many gays have hid who they are for a long time. So finally being true to themselves may be difficult. When you hide who you are from everyone around you, including yourself, to see who you actually are can be hard. Why not try on pre-made personalities first? Experiment a little with the ultra-gay, the activist queer, hipster lesbian, or tomboy gal? When you've got a handle on the gay world, then changes can be made. It's an option that I have found to be a good idea for some.

The suggestion might sound strange. Be who you are, I've heard say. But honestly, when you don't know who you are, why not find out? Try being a crazy party animal and discover if you like that or not. Try finding God and discover if that happens or not. Try reading queer political thoughts and decide if you agree or disagree. Try sports, music, and all sorts of things that may or may not interest you. Life should be lived and lived well! Why not find out just who you are?

A friend posted on a group that I'm in on Facebook about what we looked for in a romantic partner. I find most attractive a person that has discovered who they are and is comfortable with that. Whether that person is effeminate or masculine, religious or non-religious, political or artistic, as long as they have come to realize just who they are I find that attractive. It's a beauty that I cannot help but admire in each individual. The beauty of at last shedding the chains that bind us to mindless conformity and seeing just a glimpse of the potential within us is breathtaking.

Finally, a song of just the purest joy: