Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Frustration

I haven't had much to say lately. Well, actually, that's not true. I have a lot to say. But now that I have moved into a new phase of life, I'm having a hard time figuring out the right way and the right place to say it. This blog was originally a form of therapy for me. It was a place I could write about my coming out experience, my changing religious beliefs, my evolving family structure, the end of my marriage, and the beginning of a new relationship. But I'm out now, and my life has found a certain stability that it lacked when I started this blog.

So that's my first frustration. HURRICANE needs a new voice and I'm struggling to find it.

My second frustration is what I feel is the failure of my ongoing dialogue about gay Mormon issues with many Mormons, including the gay married Mormons that I share space with here in the gay Mormon bloggosphere. I'm certain that I bear some of the responsibility for that failure. I feel a great deal of frustration that so many who look at the world through the LDS prism see homosexuality and homosexual relationships as monolithic. Committed partnerships, truck stop trists on the New Jersey Turnpike, an honest divorce, a long-term secret love affair. From the LDS perspective, all seem to be the same because they are homosexual in nature. It seems obvious to me that they are not.

I'm generalizing my interactions here. In fact, I have made a lot of progress toward mutual respect and understanding with many of the LDS people who are most important to me in my life--family, including my dear former in-laws whom I still love like my own parents, and many longtime friends. It seems to be online where I encounter most of my frustration.

I'm aware of my own bias. I acknowledge that when I see men living through situations similar to my own I want to encourage them to follow a similar path, for their own sake and for the sake of their wives. I want to tell struggling young gay Mormons to accept their sexuality, embrace themselves and the blessing of being gay, and see what life outside the confines of Mormonism might offer them. I see the struggles of so many and think that so much of the pain and loneliness felt by those in and out of marriages could be alleviated if they could just accept that homosexuality is normal and homosexuals can live happy, healthy, well-adjusted lives as homosexuals.

John Galt suggested to me that I've forgotten what it's like to be Mormon. I suppose he's right. As odd as this is coming from a former LDS bishop, I can no longer understand why we are willing to endure so much pain for religious beliefs which utterly fail to explain human reality. This is not just a criticism of LDS Mormonism and homosexuality. I read in this morning's paper about the recent decision of Conference of Catholic Bishops in the U.S. to reiterate the church's prohibition on articifical contraception. I find myself scratching my head when I encounter moments when religious dogma is more important than the daily realities of people's lives. Too often it seems that tradition is exalted above actual people. That frustrates me.

I'm picking on religion here, but dogmas are found in many varieties. I know that some of my critics here in gay Mormondom think I'm dogmatic in my embrace of gay pride. I'm willing to admit that I might be at times. I try very hard not to be, but I know that I fail. I try to understand my own truth and recognize that it applies to me and no one else. But sometimes the evangelical zeal grabs hold.

The holidays are soon upon us. My children and KK (and the dog!) arrive tonight for a two week visit. I think it's time to stop convincing for awhile. We often try to convince others primarily as a way to convice ourselves. I don't want to do that anymore. I'm happy with where I am in life. I don't need to convince myself or anyone else of that. I think the best convincing I can do now will come through the example of a life lived fully and honestly.

Bear with me will I try to find a new voice.

17 comments:

Anonymous said...

"I see the struggles of so many and think that so much of the pain and loneliness felt by those in and out of marriages could be alleviated if they could just accept that homosexuality is normal and homosexuals can live happy, healthy, well-adjusted lives as homosexuals."

Unfortunately, for me it is very difficult to personally move beyond the life I have and all that it involves, even though I do accept "my homosexuality", though to a limited degree. Please know that your VOICE is crucial to this dialog. Please don't be frustrated with those of us, like me, who are slow learners. It doesn't mean we don't crave and seek your VOICE. Though you were able to make your transition in a year's time, it may take others a lifetime. Don't be frustrated with the timetable of others who remain "strugglers".

Thanks for your VOICE!

Beck

Elbow said...

I want to sincerely and whole heartedly tell you that I love you, and most importantly that I respect you.

You have come to a place in your life that is good, and productive. You are progressing and you are learning amazing lessons from this mortal experience. I honestly feel happy for you.

I've felt disconnected to you since I've been "sticking it out" in the marriage department with my wife. You and I had a really strong bond and then it fizzled out because we had different things to take care of, but I
still think back on our conversation that we had on the phone about 6 months ago when I was feeling so low and depressed. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for your willingness to talk to me and communicate honestly about what it's been like for you.

I don't think you've forgotten what it's like to be Mormon, I don't think of you as having given up on the truth. All I know is that the path you are on is the path that is available to you for the greatest amount of progress, and the progress of those you love.

I look up to you for your strength. I hope that we can be friends and that I can once again meet you with in some starbucks in the city to further discuss this wild ride of "gay Mormon and married".

I'm still trying to find my place in it, my path, and my way to progress the best way I can.

I love you, and I'm so glad to be a witness to your life and your story through your blog and our other interactions.

Anonymous said...

Life is hard. It's tough to figure out how to play the difficult hand that life dealt you. I just don't know where I stand. I really feel trapped sometimes. Like if I was to choose a gay life, I don't think I'd be happy, and if I was to choose a straight life I wouldn't be either. I say this without regard to religon too. God wants what is best for me. I will feel in my heart what is best, not just because someone told me one way or the other.

-Cas

Chris said...

Thanks for the comments, guys. I wish you all happiness. I was thinking about this post tonight, and I know how hard it was for me to get where I am today--so hard that I often didn't think I'd ever be able to do it.

You each have your own roads to travel. Don't let me distract you from where you need to go. But know that I'm happy to share my experience and journey with you--always.

daveincleveland said...

chris, i just found your blog about a week ago, and while i am not mormon, i am an evangelical friends christian, gay and still married, i can relate so much to your struggles with your faith, as i am going through same thing, and while i am still married, and believe me as i am sure you know that is a tough road to hoe, i embrace and accept my being gay and all that comes with it....so much of your blog rings with much similarity to my life right now, but as much as i long to move on to the next phase, it just is not happening fast enough..i will continue to visit your blog and thank you for opening yourself up for us

Anonymous said...

I'm glad you posted this. I think this is important for you to express because I have no doubt that the subject of Mormon thought on homosexuality must be a great cause of personal distress, etc (I don't mean to interject emotion for you, just my impression). It seems like I've been into giving my two cents lately on your blog, so here's a bit more. Life is, of course, relational so we as humans are always concerned with what others feel or think about us, sometimes more than we should. I think that is probably particularly the case with religion generally - for both those on the inside and the outside of any given religion. Those on the inside want others to validate and accept their beliefs and those on the outside want the inside to validate and accept theirs. This is something I've long struggled with and one of the biggest reasons I chose not to serve a mission - I'm just not into convincing someone of something that is personal only to me. That's just the way I see it.

So I guess my point is that maybe we should all stop worrying about whether I (in the general sense) think homosexuality is a sin or whether you (specifically) are a sinner (you know I can hear the church lady saying that now). From my perspective I'm certainly not the one to judge this, just as you should not feel that you need to change my belief of whether homosexuality is a sin. Who really gives a crap what I believe! While you and I may disagree with what will happen after this life based on our differing interpretations of divinity, I for one have a deep love and respect for you as a person, gay or straight it doesn't quite matter. I hope you know that.

Let's focus on what we all have in common. Sinner!

Have a great time with KK and your kids. That should be a very nice reunion after what I am sure was a long fall.

Jason

Jason said...

I had a mild panic attack this morning during a business meeting when I realized that I botched my pop culture reference in my earlier post. I'm fairly sure (but now I'm not sure if I'm sure) that the "Sinner!" line came from another SNL great Chris Farley in the movie Tommy Boy. You know - he catches David Spade in the act of self pleasure, and later after a long line of insults says goodnight with the line "Sinner!"

Sorry to digress, but I just had to get that off my chest!

Jason

Chris said...

Jason, nice recovery on the pop culture front.

And thanks for your post.

Anonymous said...

WeatherMan:

I know what you mean about struggling to find a new voice after crossing a great divide.

I am still married [but just barely], still gay [stay tuned], still Christian [but unchurched], and definitely still mad as the March Hare.

But things have shifted, and I wonder now what my voice will be.

Or can be.

Hang in there.
the Troll

cate said...

Chris,

As I have said before, I have no idea of LDS beliefs or teachings and this comment is coming from a Baptist. I often feel the same frustration of people not looking beyond what they are told by organized religions to examine scripture and scientific findings and form their own beliefs based on intellectual reasoning. I do happen to believe in the Bible as God's (not literal) teachings so my beliefs are based primarily on the Bible. However, as often as I hear people say that the Bible says that homosexuality is a sin, I have yet to find anything in the (NIV)Bible to strictly indicate that. I am throwing this out there because it is something that you seemed to struggle with for a long time.

I don't have my Bible handy, so bear with me as I don't remember a lot of names. The scripture that I most often hear used to say that homosexuality is a sin is when the father gives his daughter to be raped repeatedly instead of the male guests being raped by men, saying that the homosexual act was an abomination. Hello?!?!? All I can see is that it was his duty to protect his visitors, not that one act was better than the other. The next scripture that I hear referred to is about Sodom being detroyed because of the city being overridden by sin. Most of the logic that I hear here is the relationship between the word sodomy and Sodom. Won't anyone point out that the word sodomy came about thousands of years after Sodom was destroyed and any evidence of a real relation between the two is tenuous, at best.

The other objection I have to the judgement of homosexuality and homosexuals is that even if it was not God's original intent, that does not mean that a homosexual is any less rightous than those judging. My basis for this is that the Bible clearly shows that monogamy was God's original intent, yet Abraham who had multiple wives was called by God a rightuous man with whom God was pleased.

It breaks my heart that so many people have had to suffer so much because of a tradition of hipocracy and judgement. I am hopeful that because of strong and brave people like you, the next generation can learn to love and accept themselves for who they are from the start instead of being forced to live a lie.

Thanks for letting me rant for so long. I live in a very "red" area and get so sick and tired of judgement, hipocracy, and intolerance that I want to scream. This is me screaming :)

greenfrog said...

We often try to convince others primarily as a way to convice ourselves. I don't want to do that anymore. I'm happy with where I am in life. I don't need to convince myself or anyone else of that. I think the best convincing I can do now will come through the example of a life lived fully and honestly.

Bear with me will I try to find a new voice.


In reading this passage, it occurs to me that my conception of dogma is this: an idea I value primarily because it is held by others whom I value, rather than by virtue of its accuracy in describing my experience.

I'm not at all sure that's either right or useful, but it seems so today. Such as it is, it suggests to me that there is yet lots and lots of dogmas for me to recognize, consider, and (be prepared to, at any rate) lay aside in preference for experience.

Anonymous said...

It is a horrible indication of my vanity that I always somehow feel like I'm a player when you refer to how gay married Mormon bloggers view things. So, for the record once again, I don't think all gay relationships are "monolithic." Scot, our mutual friend, has long put many of my previously held stereotypes to rest. However, I do believe that no homosexual relationship can equal an eternal heterosexual one, and that's just a facet of my faith. If you consider failing to persuade me otherwise to be a "failure of ongoing dialog," then I can't really apologize, and with all due respect I think you just misunderstand the issue. I'm making my decisions based on "actual people," and "the realities" of life, not just "dogma."

I appreciate your current voice, regardless. And some of the frustration you've described may have its roots in the fact many members of the church would vehemently disagree with your characterization of the "confines of Mormonism." Mormonism has made my family (both immediate and extended) what they are today, and those "confines" have given me more happiness than anything I can imagine. My life is not a perfect progression of unfettered bliss, but it's far from the way you seem to view it.

However you choose to do it, I look forward to hearing your new voice.

Chris said...

L wrote: If you consider failing to persuade me otherwise to be a "failure of ongoing dialog," then I can't really apologize, and with all due respect I think you just misunderstand the issue.

I don't expect you to apologize. And I know you think I misunderstand the issue.

L wrote: My life is not a perfect progression of unfettered bliss, but it's far from the way you seem to view it.

I don't have a particular view on your life -- I don't know you. I only know the online you. On this thread I've spoken mostly in generalities.

santorio said...

but you have not been a failure. you are making an impact--not by writing about what you think--but by writing about what you do, proving that your path can lead to a productive, happy, healthy live. it's great to see so many perspectives and decisions. we read, agreeing sometimes, disagreeing at other times, knowning that the next time we come to a critical junction, our decisions will be influenced by each post and comment. that's much better than the pre-blog days of making these decisions in isolation.

sea said...

You have simply traded on "dogma" (Mormon) for another "dogma" (gay activist). And yes, they are both dogmas. You are simply trying to find your voice within that new set of rules.

Chris said...

sea:

I was never a particularly dogmatic Mormon, and I don't aspire to be a dogmatic gay man. Indeed, I'm not sure I even know what the new rules are (as opposed to Mormonism's very clearly defined and enforced rules).

Dave Walter said...

Chris,

I hope you find the new voice you're seeking. If you continue to address gay-related matters, great. If not, that's great, too; you may find it more satisfying to write about nongay aspects of your life.

I want to tell struggling young gay Mormons to accept their sexuality, embrace themselves and the blessing of being gay, and see what life outside the confines of Mormonism might offer them.

I would love to see you focus on that; you're such an excellent role model. And you have abundant patience with those who state things that the enlightened world realizes are idiotic.

...I'm not sure I even know what the new rules are....

Refreshingly, not only is there NO dogma associated with embracing one's gayness, but there are no rules, either. To paraphrase a now-cliche truism: Everything you really need to know, you learned in kindergarten.