Saturday, June 29, 2013

Sex for Young Gay Mormons

Matt here.

One of the more memorable experiences of my college career was listening to a friend tell a brief story. He said, "Yeah, I couldn't stay with him. Every time we had sex, he'd curl up and cry after." That picture horrified me. Tangled up bedsheets and a young twenty-something in the fetal position between the bed and the wall. (That's where I would put myself, if it were me.) It makes me want to just hug him and tell him it'll be all right. It's just sex! It's just sex.

I would, of course, be lying. But in that moment when the action is finished and all that's left is the pain, when the past can't be changed, when it seems like sex is the sinniest sin you can sin (except for murder or denying the holy ghost), then, in that time, seeing sex as just sex is the best, kindest thing. Stop the pain, first.

Sex is on my mind because for the first time ever it's throwing itself at me. I've been in the Bay Area for just a couple of weeks, and I'm fairly certain I could have been with someone every night--there's no shortage of willing men--but I know myself. My cells are still infected with Mormonism; my neural pathways have yet to reform. Some significant part of me would still say I was sinning. Some significant part would end up crying between the bed and the wall.

I did in fact cry after my first experience with a man. Not until the following afternoon, though. I had driven out to my favorite beach on Puget Sound, and I sat in my clunker and looked out on the water and felt that I had Done Wrong so profoundly that I bawled until the snot started dripping. My religious friends would probably say I was feeling the natural consequence of my sin, designed to keep me from doing it again. Helping me learn my lesson: Stop touching hot stoves. Yet I didn't think that I'd Done Wrong; I just felt it. And there are an awful lot of ways to make someone feel they've Done Wrong that don't involve them actually doing wrong.

Mormonism had an awfully long time to mold my feelings, and I don't feel bad admitting that they still have a rather Mormon bend. Truth be told, they will probably always look Mormon-ish. I don't actually want sex to be just sex, although I can see how that perspective could be useful. As I told a friend recently (while debating the merits of hooking up versus not), I really like having sex tied with relationships and trust. I like the spiciness sex gets when it's a little bit scarce, a little bit special.

So, young gay Mormons, my advice is to take it very slow. Build relationships. Don't give in to pressure or expectation before you're ready. Know what 'ready' looks like for you.


To This Day (Ted Version)

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Yesterday was a Rainbow Day

Wednesday was a good day. Finally, after all the effort that has been put forth, the federal government is going to recognize same-sex marriages. And finally, five years after the horrific battle that was Prop 8, it is dead, and it is over. Crowds waving rainbow flags erupted in cheers outside the courthouse in DC. Facebook feeds blew up in celebration. Gay and straight people alike gathered in various cities around the country to celebrate the latest and greatest victory for LGBT rights.
            When I heard the news, I was alone at the breakfast table. My roommates were all gone for the day. I scrolled through post after post on Facebook in awe. I’m not married yet or a Californian, so that’s probably why this wasn’t hitting me as hard as it was some people. Then I came upon a graphic by the HRC. A simple three-tiered wedding cake held a double-bride topper. Most of the bottom tier was painted red. It read: “More that 30% of all Americans live in a state with marriage equality.”
            Finally, it hit me. Thirty percent. Three-Zero. In between the lines I read: Thirty percent of the places you could live in this country will accept you and protect you. This is when the tears came.
            Most recently today, they came in a Youtube video made by Youtube. They compiled several of the coming out videos people had posted, along with a few proposals you might have seen. In the background Macklemore was singing “Same Love.” I broke down again.

            When I really think about it, very little has changed on a literal level. Federal benefits covering both spouses. Joint tax returns. It’s just names on paper. But when I saw an instagram pic of my friend at the Stonewall in New York, I knew it was so much more.
            What I and so many other people around this country heard yesterday is this: We’re fighting for you. We’re on your side. No longer will we tear you apart. No longer will we turn a blind eye when others abuse you. We the people are throwing our hat in with yours. This is OUR fight.
            After so much anxiety, rejection, pain, and tears over the years this was the most incredible thing that could happen. Society is on our side now. The tipping point has passed. Things are getting better, right now! The group of people who will hate and condemn and hurt us is a dying people, growing smaller by the day.

            So for me, and for so many others around the country, yesterday meant one word: hope. And all I can say in response is “God bless America.”

Monday, June 24, 2013

The Real Acceptance Project: Making Efforts to Accept Everyone and Every Experience

Friday evening, I had the opportunity to attend a film screening of the latest documentary, titled “Families are Forever,” put out by the Family Acceptance Project (FAP). This initiative, through San Francisco State University, outreaches to families with LGBTQ youth who are religious or ethnic, in order to preserve the family unit and foster acceptance and love of families toward LGBTQ identified individuals. For anyone wanting more information on the project, this is their official website, a statement by The Cesar Chavez Institute through which the project was done, and the project’s research as published in this journal and this journal.

I acknowledge, but do not wish to focus on, the technical and research aspect of the project. Those so interested can read about the research as linked to above. The one thing I will comment on is use of the “LGB” acronym in this research, and thereby the exclusion of the T: transgender. The articles in both published journals each start out by using the acronym “LGBT.” But as the study and article proceeds, the acronym explicitly becomes “LGB.” In fact, people identifying as trans have, statistically speaking, some of the highest rates of homelessness: one-fifth of respondents identifying as trans in this survey had been homeless at one time. 

I came into the film screening with two questions about the project, which I asked in the Q&A session following the presentation:

1. What, in this research, defines a family?

2. Does this project address the needs of those who left their respective religious communities, and repairing relationships between the family and the individual?

The project’s director did answer these questions, albeit in a manner I found to be indirect and dismissive. However, addressing them could benefit the project in assisting more LGBTQ and religious identified youth, as doing so dismantles the project’s prioritization of marriage and active membership in the church. In reality, the structure of families and the experiences of LGBTQ and religious identified youth vary.

What defines a family is crucial in when we discuss “family,” as the term is recycled throughout the study and project. Is family defined as a group of people headed by heterosexually married biological parents? Are single and widowed parents included? What about families headed by other family members, like grandparents or aunts and uncles? And, is family defined as having blood relatives? The different structures of family affect one’s experience within it. While I was assured that the project studied “many different types of family,” the research did not clarify this question for me. Knowing what I know about the LDS church and its enforcement of normative family structures, the possibility of relying upon other forms of family than the normative and traditional ones seemed slim. However, the variance in family experience should be accounted for, as the different heads of a family constitute a LGBTQ identified youth’s experience. Moreover, should family be defined as blood relatives who put others in situations such as homelessness? While this does not address the needs of LGBTQ identified homeless, maybe there’s something wrong with how we, as a society, are defining family. A crucial difference between blood relatives, who may disagree with us, and family, people who love and accept is, should be made. After all,

A reality for some LGBTQ and religious identified individuals is that they end up leaving the church they were raised in, whether forced to or voluntary, and remain content to not be attending church. I see this situation an important one to include in the FAP. Many will question why no longer religiously-involved LGBTQ identified individuals even matter in movement such as this. If they are no longer attending Church, why should this affect them?  Despite the inactivity or religious relocation of these individuals, their families may remain faithful and religious, which can cause friction in a relationship. The fact of the matter is that religion can be more than just sitting in a chapel. Religion becomes a way of life for many individuals and families. From these beliefs sprout customs, a culture, a navigation of how to live one’s life. As seen in the documentary “Families are Forever,” the Montgomerys had a life envisioned for their son before he came out to them. The religious culture within families rings true for Mormons, and for many other religions. And these traditions remain in tact with families, independent of a LGBTQ identified individual’s activity within an organized body of religion. I, personally, am still asked to pray and participate in prayer at family gatherings and meals. I, daily, deal with how was I socialized and how the conditions it mandates on my activities now. Simply quitting attending church does not free oneself from religion’s effects. And should LGBTQ youth want to leave their church, I would hope this project addresses, embraces, respects, and works with that. And should they want to stay in their church, I would hope this project addresses, embraces, respects, and works with that. I don’t think there’s one way to live as a religious and LGBTQ identified individual  – we have many different experiences. And they should not be placed on a hierarchy, with one lived experience prioritized over another.

I applaud the work that FAP is doing, as the homelessness and rejection of LGBTQ youth is a pertinent issue in our society. However, I desire for the FAP to be accountable for the variance in experiences of the religious LGBTQ community, and to not prescribe one way of living to the entire body. This privileging of family structure and activity within religious spaces does more to promote assimilation into traditional family structures and religious spaces, overlooking other experiences. And maybe those other issues are what need to be accepted, by everyone. 

Monday, June 17, 2013

Embracing Difference and Critiquing Sex

In the wake of celebrating my birthday, moving out of my apartment in Santa Barbara and back home for the summer, I’d like to direct anyone reading this to two authors who have their stuff together this week for some thoughtful insight.

First, this article here, as messaged to me by a friend. I appreciate this article so much because it reiterates a point I so strongly believe in, and even focused on in my workshop last month: embrace difference. Embrace it in coalitional politics between different communities, religious and non-religious, because it can be so beneficial in our politics. Race, ethnicity, gender, sexuality, religiosity, ability—the possibilities are endless.  Embrace it in the varying experiences of those religiously and LGBTQ identified. Whether active or inactive in their church, everyone’s voice and experience is crucial in queer religious movements. Embrace it in general, because it’s not always about our own way or own experience.

Second, an article here, on the New York Times website from a Feminist Studies professor at none other than...UCSB (shameless plug). As someone who is personally critical of many representations of gay sex scenes in mainstream media (are men’s bodies really supposed to look like that? Why is everyone white and adhere to their gender assigned at birth and its traditional representations?), it’s useful to be critical of the societal harms these images perpetuate and utilize the potential that representations of sex have as powerful societal statements. 

Saturday, June 15, 2013

I feel warm and bubbly, like a hot tub.

Matt here.

After a two week whirlwind of applications and travel, I'm installed in a house in Berkeley, California. I love it here. I fell in love with the city while I was here doing my first publishing internship, and coming back is delightful. There are flowers everywhere, like I remembered, and it's cool in June. The buildings are all old and, well, crappy, but in the right frame of mind "crappy" becomes "filled with character," and I have the right frame of mind these days.

My parents came to help me drop off my couple-few boxes of stuff and take a look around, and they happened to meet one of my roommates. There are two of them, friends I met shortly after graduating, gay guys who got together soon after I met them. One has LDS history, the other doesn't. My mom is very pleased with the arrangement because apparently the missionaries stop by for dinner every few weeks and give a little lesson, and she hopes I'll come back to church someday. Long odds on that, but I'm happy that she's happy with my friends and what I'm doing.

I'm certainly happy with it all. I love that I'm at a point in my life where I have solid relationships with people who've known me post-BYU. My history is slowly flaking away like dried mud. Or . . . dandruff. Or something. It feels inexpressibly good to know these people who didn't know me when I was in denial or depression. It makes all that negativity seem further in the past. It makes my current happiness seem more effulgent.

The next few months will be interesting. I set up a Grindr account the other day, and my roommates and I had fun going through and deciding who to block right off the bat. From that interesting service, I already have a couple of coffee dates. And in the past few days I walked down to the university and found an armful of places I want to go, including a gay and lesbian center; I went to an old movie night at a local theater, and after that to another gay couple's apartment for wine and witty, innuendo-laden conversation; and I had the first of an unknown number of dinners with the missionaries. I had my first day of nonprofit interning, and submitted the last papers for my Navy officer application. (Forgot about that, didn't you. So did my recruiter.)

My life right now is full of movement and laughter and introspection and light. Hope. I hope yours is similarly outfitted.

Monday, June 10, 2013

On Turning 21

Tomorrow (Tuesday) is my birthday! I will be turning the big 21 this year, and have already lined up the week with plans and outfits to properly celebrate the occasion.

Around the time of my birthday is when I reflect upon the past year: how that age treated me, what kind of year I had, and what I’m looking to improve as I begin a new age. This is something I’ve done since I was young, intensified by the fact that new advancements and privileges within the Church come with age. Thus, it’s always been a time for me to reflect and predict.

I have to say that when looking back at this past year as a 20 year old, I sigh. With relief. I started writing for “Breaking the Silence” 4 months into my 20th year of age. And already, 20 had dealt me a few hard blows that I was still trying to catch my breath from. Had it not been for my classes, wonderful family and friends, and opportunities on campus, bouncing back may not have happened. It was only this past week that I realized this, and how much has changed since I turned 20.

In fact, thinking back, I wasn’t even excited to turn 20. Reflecting on 20 makes me extremely grateful for the place I’m in now. I’m learning to embrace new things, new experiences, and whatever comes my way. And I am beyond enthusiastic to turn 21 and see where the road will take me. 

As I turn 21, however, I realize that 20 is not completely behind me. I may turn a new age and start a new chapter in my life, but I carry with me everything previous: the lessons I’ve learned, the emotions I’ve felt, and the experiences I’ve had. I have always adored the following passage from Sandra Cisneros’ “Eleven” for this exact reason:

What they don't understand about birthdays and what they never tell you is that when you're eleven, you're also ten, and nine, and eight, and seven, and six, and five, and four, and three, and two, and one. And when you wake up on your eleventh birthday you expect to feel eleven, but you don't. You open your eyes and everything's just like yesterday, only it's today. And you don't feel eleven at all. You feel like you're still ten. And you are--underneath the year that makes you eleven.
Like some days you might say something stupid, and that's the part of you that's still ten. Or maybe some days you might need to sit on your mama's lap because you're scared, and that's the part of you that's five. And maybe one day when you're all grown up maybe you will need to cry like if you're three, and that's okay. That's what I tell Mama when she's sad and needs to cry. Maybe she's feeling three.

Because the way you grow old is kind of like an onion or like the rings inside a tree trunk or like my little wooden dolls that fit one inside the other, each year inside the next one. That's how being eleven years old is.

You don't feel eleven. Not right away. It takes a few days, weeks even, sometimes even months before you say Eleven when they ask you. And you don't feel smart eleven, not until you're almost twelve. That's the way it is.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Utah: Not As Bad As You Might Think.

Matt here.

 Pardon me, but this will be short. I got an internship in San Francisco that starts next week, so I came to Utah this week. I stayed with my sisters for a couple of days, and then a couple of straight friends, and then tonight with my gay big brother. (No relation.)

I came here under duress, because my people live here. Now I'm thinking I wouldn't mind moving here, if for some crazy reason I'm unhappy in San Francisco. Cause my people are bomb, and now we're going to a farmers' market.

 Love, peace, and taco grease.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Ode To A Last Blog Post

This blog has done some great things with getting me to express myself to me. And express myself to others. It even almost helped save my relationship. It has done great things, but I think it is time to close. I think it is time to end. Because now that actually have real emotions to write down, I don't want to. Because I have been spotty at best. Because half-Asian decided to start reading these, and I don't think it is fair to me to have to cater to him when I write.

My feelings now involve a lot of, surprising enough, emptiness. With a drizzle of sadness that seems to be filling that void I've created. Slowly but surely rising, letting me know that this relationship was ruined by us.

I lied. I never cheated. But I lied. And that is unacceptable. Because my relationship developed into that unhealthiness that you only read about where we both lied, to save face, to give the impression to the other person that everything was peachy. When it wasn't. So, we lied to keep up the appearance of goodness, just like Mormonism does.

Yesterday, I told half Asian that some part of me wants to get back with him. Again, I lied. It isn't some part of me. It is the large majority part that wants him. But I'm not getting it. Too many hurtful things said. Maybe not the strongest examples, but some I'm willing to share.

Me: "Half Asian, find someone perfect for you. Please. Do."
Half Asian: "I won't. You were it."

Half Asian: "When we first broke up, I thought about calling up the honor code office, but then thought that would be the most A-hole thing anyone could do. The second time, it didn't even cross my mind. But this time, I want to."(Last line paraphrased)

Perhaps most surprising of all, I'm not reacting to this final breakup with anger or even my pet emotion, cynicism. I'm reacting with emptiness.

I know half-Asian will be reading this, so I want to say this to him:

1) I will miss you, and I'm sorry for everything.
2) I only want two more interactions with you. You giving my stuff back to me. Second, you reading this blog post.

And I'm done. And the links are in remembrance of happier times.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Just Being

            When I moved from Provo, Utah to Seattle, Washington, a lot changed. I’ve written before about the mini-identity crisis I had when I first got here, unsure of who I was or what my identity was supposed to be. In Utah I was gay, and I was reconciling that with the history I had of being Mormon. These two identities ruled my world, and they clashed in some chaotic ways. In Seattle, however, neither of these was socially significant. All the effort I’d had to put forth to maintain them, and to reconcile the differences between them, was suddenly unnecessary.
            I fumbled around for some time, months even, to try to figure out who I was. Today, I still don’t know how to define myself in compact little boxes, but I’m much more content with that. I am comfortable just being me, whatever that is at the time.
I was told last night at dinner and drinks with my classmates that I was incredibly laid-back and super friendly. This caught me by surprise. Growing up I was always the “smart” kid that no one could completely relate to. I was the model Mormon boy, and so people had to be on their best behavior around me. Apparently I still maintain some of that self-image, because to hear that my classmates saw me as the easy-going guy that is friendly to everyone took me by complete surprise. The more I think about it, though, the process of learning to let go and be okay just “being” would definitely make me that kind of person.
There is another identity, however, that has shifted even more. Not from one end of the spectrum to the other, but from extreme, to simply neutral. That identity is being gay. When I was in Utah, I was involved in everything LGBT. I helped organize the BYU group each week. I went to every social. I dated, I went dancing at the club every weekend, and being gay was always at the forefront of my mind.
Here, however, there are many days I almost forget about it. I’m a little less flamboyant, though to be completely straight-acting would betray my nature. Besides the fact that I come home to a boyfriend every night, I don’t really think about being different. I’m in a relationship, just like millions of others in this country. I have friends, I go to school, I go out on the weekends from time to time. Being gay simply isn’t at center stage anymore.
Obviously, the move to somewhere that collectively doesn’t care whether I’m gay, straight, trans, or whatever is a huge factor. The fact that I don’t have to defend my sexuality or my relationship is huge. The support and complete normalization of my relationship by our roommates, classmates, and professors also really contributes. But I’ve also dealt with all my demons, and am laying everything to rest. Not only does that make life much easier, but it makes it much more fulfilling.
I watch the fight for equality in the rest of the nation, and sometimes think “Why is this such a big deal? Why can’t they just treat others like normal people? It’s not a huge issue. LGBT people and relationships have been socially normalized in almost every major city in the nation, and things are just fine. Why can’t we all just go about our lives?”
I know that it’s more complicated than that. I know that because of some people’s world-view LGBT people are a huge threat. But to be quite frank, that world-view comes from ignorance, fear, and sometimes even hate. It’s a world-view that this country and this world would be better off without.
            Capitol Hill is the gay district of Seattle. It is a beautiful district, where rainbow flags hang over every place of business and couples of all sorts hold hands as they walk down the street. Apparently a gay man was attacked last night in Capitol Hill. A group of men from out of state were standing on the corner, calling people fags as they walked by. Finally, one man stood up to them, a gay African-American man who wouldn’t stand for being verbally abused on his own territory. The group of men retaliated with fists instead of words. They are in custody, but it was something that I didn’t think I’d hear about in Seattle. It’s because of abuses like this that I don’t get the luxury of truly forgetting this identity. There is still work to be done.

            I hope that in time all couples will get the luxury I have. I hope that couples will be greeted on the street and in stores without uncomfortable glances at their interlocked hands. I hope that straight couples and gay couples will sit together, completely aware of how incredibly alike their relationships are. I hope that in time it will become like eye color or hair color. It simply is, and it isn’t anything to get riled up over. Even race isn’t to this point yet, so I understand that realistically sexuality will take time to become just another “thing”. I do think, however, that this is what “healthy” looks like. We will have arrived when both those who are a certain way and those who aren’t, are just enough. 

Monday, June 3, 2013

The End?

(Warning: these next two posts are likely to be contemplative and emotionally expressive. With it being the end of the school year, I am having a major case of “the feels” that can only be alleviated by writing them down).

From my personal experience with the intersection of my gay and Mormon identities, an interesting thing in coming out as gay has been the shattering of many personal long-held beliefs, and rethinking them so that they better fit me. Most recently, I’ve been forced to reevaluate my future and what it looks like now that I no longer hide behind the façade of a heterosexual Mormon male.

I can only speak for my own self and experiences, and not sure if anyone else has thought this too, but I always used to see myself eventually reach a point of “settling down” with a wife, kids, “the quiet life.”

Obviously, the wife part no longer applies here, but what is interesting to note is the belief in the existence of an end point. A point in my life where the struggle and pursuit of happiness has reached its completion in a “happily ever after,” as many fairy tales have coined it.

I should know better than this. I myself am a child of divorced parents, obviously proving that marriage and settling down with people does not guarantee an end. I personally think this craving for an end point comes from a desire for comfortableness and stability, something many people want. Is it bad? No. It’s just important to be critical of our desires and where they come from/what they cause. And in this case, it comes from religious teachings and social norms that we’re taught as members. Not only that, but now it comes from a place of fearing to experience life to the fullest. All of these sources cause me to miss out on the current opportunities in my life. 

Living is constantly achieving balance and working things out. It will be tomorrow when I debate in class about if America has made any progress within the past half-century, and it will be when I’m old and preserving my health as best I can. There’s no end point in sight.

What I’m about to say may sound incredibly morbid, but it struck a cord within me at the queer conference I was at the other weekend, when the presenter stated it. Looking past the gloom of it, it actually holds some wisdom: the only end point is death. Once I accept that, I accept that life is a constant balance and fluctuation, and it will never end. I am no longer dependent on any end point to make me happy, no longer in search of permanence or a cure-all. I accept everything for what it is and enlist in the process of continually developing myself as a person, as well as my responses to the shifting conditions of my life. I also enlist in the fight for my happiness and well-being, which should never end even if I find the love of my life and a quieter lifestyle. I will always be me and I must always take care of me.  

Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Park Discussion

Matt here.

The park where the missionaries and I were going to meet was about ten minutes by foot from where I grew up, but I'd never been there. I went a day early to scope the place out. Lots of trees, but nowhere really to sit. Not very busy, but a little loud from a large street on the other side of the wall on the far side of the park. On the day of, I brought a blanket big enough for the three of us to sit on and a few bottles of water.


Between my first meeting with the missionaries and the second, I read the Book of Mormon every day, writing notes all up in the margins. Reading it, my mind was busy and uncomfortable. Some of this is undoubtedly because it was put down in English nearly two hundred years ago, and the written style of the times definitely left its mark, as did the King James Bible.

As I read, it seemed pretty clear to me that even if the Book of Mormon is a divinely aided translation of an ancient record, the record's original weaknesses and biases are still intact. Growing up I took it for granted that when Mormon says "if there be faults [in his record] they be the faults of a man. But behold, we know no fault," [link] he was speaking from modesty, not because there might be actual faults. Now, I think it would be a mistake to say that just because something is written in scripture, it's true--even if the book as a whole is 'true.'

For example, parts of it strike me as extremely biased, like this one:

"When Lachoneus received this epistle [from the Gadiantons] he was exceedingly astonished, because of the boldness of Giddianhi demanding the possession of the land of the Nephites, and also of threatening the people and avenging the wrongs of those that had received no wrong." [link]

Maybe this is true. On the other hand, the story is fabulously short of details, and if there's one thing I've learned from being gay and Mormon, it's that there are multiple sides to every story--and these words of Lachoneus remind me strongly of modern Christians who moan about persecution from the gays. According to them, they're blameless, and their narrative represents that honest belief; honesty and earnestness aren't necessarily a safeguard against awful flaws. We've discussed this.


I didn't bring this up with the missionaries, though. To them, I talked about how, as I read, I slowly came to the conclusion that I do believe in God. Just . . . maybe not the Mormon version.

It started, perhaps predictably, with Satan. The idea of Satan as a personage has for many years seemed unnecessary to me. Everything that people traditionally explain with Satan seems to me more appropriately addressed as a natural impulse that ought to be controlled than as the result of a spirit bent on making us miserable. We don't need any help in that department, I think, and in 3 Nephi there are parts (6:17) that make Satan seem like some kind of mind-control alien à la Stephanie Meyer.

You can see the Satan in her eye.
Perhaps as a corollary to that, I have a hard time believing in an interventionary God, up to and including Jesus. All of the experiences I've had that I might call 'spiritual' have pointed me in the direction of "handle it yourself," so I have, and I plan to continue doing so.

Of course, gayness came up when we were talking about this.


Elders H (odd voice) and M (redhead) and I were sitting on the blanket I brought, sipping the water. I pulled my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around. No one said anything for a second, and then Elder H said, "I think you should keep doing what you're doing."

He gathered his thoughts and continued. "We're only accountable for the knowledge that we have, and for whatever reason it seems like God hasn't given you a confirmation of the church. It seems like you're really looking for truth, and I really believe that the church is true, but God has his own reasons and his own timeline. I think you should hold on to what you know is true, and don't worry too much about the rest."

I asked Elder M what he thought, and he gave a textbook testimony, capping it off with his knowledge that God would give me a witness of the church's truth sooner rather than later.

(I kept it to myself, but I didn't believe him. He sounded like he was reading from a script.)

We shook hands and said goodbye soon thereafter. I said they could put me in the area book and visit me now and then as an inactive member if they'd like, but that I didn't want to set a specific appointment. For now, I'm a nonbeliever. Even so, I've recently (two weeks on, as I post this) found myself wanting to read more of the Book of Mormon. Not necessarily to find answers, but just because it's the book of my childhood, and the book most of my family believes. Maybe it will lead me to believe someday, long after Elders H and M have gone home.