Saturday, August 31, 2013

Insignificant Pleasure and Sacrifice

Matt here.

August has gone pretty well. I've had a few excellent dates, a few mini roadtrips, a few visits from friends, a few job offers, and a few top-notch meals--lots of good things went down over the past thirty-something days. One thing I haven't been doing, though, is going to the gym.

For the past several months my roommate and I have gone together four or five times per week, and I've been pretty proud of it. Not only could I see my pecs starting to fill out and my biceps get defined, I felt healthy and strong. Now that I haven't been for several weeks, the difference is pretty severe.

I haven't been going because, let's just say it, there are other things I want to be doing when I get home from work in the evening. Sometimes I'd rather eat dinner instead of be hungry for a couple more hours. Sometimes I really want to read a book or practice the piano, or (more recently) maybe I just want to sit in front of the tv and absorb vicarious and imaginative experiences, often involving vampires who don't sparkle.

Maybe it seems like a silly thing to be concerned about, but the truth is that I'm noticing a distinct drop in my quality of life. My back pain is resurfacing, my sleep schedule is swinging everywhere, and my motivation and energy levels have sunk into the basement. I feel gross, and I don't like it.


This all reminds me of being at BYU, back before my cohort had chosen sides between the gay and the church. Most of us were going to church even if we didn't believe in it, and many of us were "experimenting" even if we believed it was wrong. We were still building up the whatever-it-was we needed to push away outdated beliefs or hold ourselves in check. It was such a raw time.

And I guess I'm not building up the whatever it is I need to hold myself in check, health-wise. I've never had a problem turning down sex, but cookies? Ice cream? Different stories. I know I should go to the gym like I used to know I should go to priesthood meeting, but I just can't get myself to go. It's the other side of the table, I guess. With the gay, I needed to loosen up a bit and disregard the church's limits. With my health, I need to rein myself in and show a little discipline.

The decision to be healthy means giving up insignificant pleasures for long-lasting, overall well being, just like they told us about Mormonism. Give up those relationships, do as we say, and you'll be happier. It seems to me the principle of sacrificing insignificant but immediate pleasure is sound--it's the Mormon application that's flawed--and I intend to apply it more intentionally in my life over the coming months. 

I'm sick of feeling gross.

Monday, August 26, 2013

I Don't Know How to Break This...

I baked a sweet red velvet cake.

Ate a delicious breakfast of cinnamon pancakes.

I spent a lovely day in San Francisco.

Cleaned my room since it needed it so badly.

I’ve done everything else I’ve needed to do.

But I did not write a blog post. 

Saturday, August 24, 2013

A small note

Matt here!

For the past couple of weeks my life has been packed--packed!--with mostly good thing that have kept me from sitting down and writing coherent things that aren't for work. These things have included job interviews roadtrips, visiting friends, and two separate ant attacks.

I'm not gone. I haven't forgotten about the blog. But I have to be honest--the silence is broken. There are gay conversations going on all over the place, and while I do like to participate in the general noise, all the pressure and urgency I once felt about gayness is gone.

Next week I should have a thoughtful post. Until then, stay awesome.

Monday, August 19, 2013

What is Femme Anyway?

Passing the spotlight to this article for my post this week because it's too good to ignore.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The water rushed over me. Pouring every inch of my skin, I felt at ease. It was as if each drop cleansed of my day’s sins. The water gave me a second chance. My senses reminded me that everything was, is, and will be okay.

My body argued otherwise. Once reassurance rushed through my veins, I caught a glimpse of my reflection. Despite my best stare, it wasn’t enough to stand out. Like a ghost on a TV show, with its body so faded the audience sees through it to the back of the studio set. There I stood, blurred and unsure. Why, despite my best efforts, could I not be registered as whole? Could I keep blaming this on my circumstances? Being the youngest child? The only queer family member blazing his own trail? Was I truly living in the shadows, dulled enough by others so that I myself did not make my own appearance? Was this a disservice done to me by others? By my community? By society?

Or was it me?

Did I believe in myself enough to give fully of myself? Or did I hold back, and my confident exterior was only a mirage in my head? The faded image that stood staring back at me that I so desperately wanted to see clearly in front me?

It’s time to begin. Off. On. 

Monday, August 5, 2013

Do I Need to Repeat Myself?

(whenever an authority figure would ask that^ question, I would get chills. Sorry if that's what the title induced for y'all!)

I spend a lot of my time on Tumblr, an online blogging community where people blog pictures, videos, moving images (more appropriately called gifs), and text posts. People are able to then reblog these posts, which can be done by clicking this button:

Today, as I gear up to do some substantial writing, it's been helpful to go back through my old posts on "Breaking the Silence" to familiarize myself with points I've already made, but need to make again, and will probably have to keep making. One post in particular has aided substantially in my research, and I feel the need to reblog it today: "Age, in Boy Scouts and in Love." Again and again do individuals write off news headlines and various cases as progress, without thinking about who that progress does not benefit and at who's expense is that progress occurring. And in social movements aimed at changing a body and institution as large as a church, it's important to keep in mind that on a broad level (individual may be different), progress that continues to oppress even one person or demographic is progress for no one, in the grand scheme of things.

Stay tuned.

Also, I'm 2 days and 6 episodes into Netflix's original series Orange is the New Black. Do yourself a favor and watch it, but be advised that it does have mature content.

Also, all my posts on "Breaking the Silence" can be found here.

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Don't judge me.

Matt here. This will be short.

Today I wished again that I were straight. I was watching a show, and two of the main characters were finally getting it on after thirty-some episodes, and I wanted to be him. I wanted to find her attractive, I wanted sex with a woman to be enticing. I wanted to be like the other 95 percent of humanity.

Some years ago, when I felt like this, it made me wonder if Evergreen was on to something. Heck, I think they were on to something, even if their conclusions about it were wildly wrong. I do crave straightness, I wish I were like straight men. It makes sense to want to be normal. Evergreen was wrong, I think, to suppose that straightness can be cultivated, but not in identifying the craving.

I remember being very young, perhaps seven years old, and wishing on a star. I wished to be Wolverine. There's nothing wrong with that. Wolverine is awesome. Being straight is awesome. But I'm not Wolverine, and I'm not straight.

There are worlds and worlds of alternative universes in my head. Sometimes they make me so sad and dissatisfied with the world as it is. It's hard to feel sometimes that being gay is also awesome.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

My Grandmother

                The divorce happened when my dad was eleven. He was the fourth of six children, and all six children stayed with my grandmother. She spent the next twenty years working to support her children on nothing but a high school education. But she did it.
                My grandpa moved on to greener pastures. After decades of distant and unconcerned parenting, he eventually realized that home was where he’d left it. By then he was on his third marriage, and his children were mostly grown with families of their own. He has spent the last few years trying to repair his relationship with his children, but it’s been a slow process, especially with the younger ones.
                I remember sitting in my grandmother’s home a year ago, listening as she told me how difficult that relationship still was to some of my aunts and uncles, even though it’s been years since my grandpa came back into their lives. That estrangement felt so familiar in that moment. My relationship with my own parents was strained, especially since I’d come out. As my grandmother talked I broke into tears.
                “What’s wrong, honey?” she asked me.
                “Sometimes I worry that will happen with my parents and me, too. Things haven’t been very good lately.”
                She paused for a moment, then said, “You know why, though.”
                I did. And I told her how difficult it had been, hiding everything. And then how hard it was becoming an outcast in my own family. I hadn’t chosen any of this, I told her.
                She admitted that she didn’t understand much about being gay. And that she believed me when I said it was never something I chose. She surprised me then, asking if I’d ever had a partner. Yes, I told her. For two years.
                She could see what that relationship had meant to me as I spoke. And when I finished, she said, “Nicholas, I don’t know how this will all work out, but I have nothing but love and acceptance for you.”
                She smiled the purest smile as I wept. Then she added, “and you’re still one of my favorite grandchildren.”
                Throughout my entire coming out experience, these were the words I needed. This was what I needed to hear from my family, from my parents especially. And they came from my selfless grandmother, the matriarch of the family.
                My grandmother passed away yesterday. She’d been feeling ill, but no one expected this. Her body just stopped. In her wake she leaves a massive family who sees her as the strength and cornerstone of our lives. Her love, acceptance, and selflessness changed us all forever. Of all people, she was the one who first accepted me, even though she didn’t understand.
                The last time I talked to her was three weeks ago. I called about an assignment I needed some family information for, and we had a really nice conversation. I especially remember smiling, feeling genuinely happy and loved during that conversation. My dad told me that she was really happy I’d called. She always said that to him, every time I visited or called. She lived for us, her kids and grandkids and great-grandkids.

                As we move forward, working for greater acceptance as LGBT people, it is people like my grandmother that will make the difference. People who are willing to love first, then listen, and then love some more. I hope that I can offer that same love to others. Because when it comes down to it, that’s really all that matters.