Thursday, October 30, 2008

Sit back and relax, here is my story

I have recently entered the world of blogging and have searched to find other Mormons who deal with same gender attraction. What I have initially found are stories of young men who are coming to terms of what they are tempted with and how to reconcile it to our religion. Others yet cast the religion aside to follow their ‘natural’ desires.

I am sure that my story is not unique, however I cannot say how many others like me would communicate or share what they are going through. I have made sporadic yet honest journals entries in the past of what I am going through, but have never shared them, even with my wife of seven years. You see I find it hard to be honest with her about how much my life is plagued with same gender attraction. I know it hurts her to know that I feel the way that I do, but I can’t deal with it.

Let me share my story with you. I have always, always known that I have been attracted to men, from my earliest memories, this I know. When I first realized that it was shameful to feel this way I kept it to myself and didn’t talk about it. My daydreams were centered around being romantically involved with manly, good looking men, even when I didn’t realize what being romantically involved meant.

I remember being around 6 years old when I saw my first superman movie. I remember daydreaming out the window in school, envisioning Christopher Reeves flying up to the school and taking me away from the boredom that I was faced with; I knew that I wanted to kiss him.

All through my growing up, I continued to feel attracted to other boys, but mostly men.

When I was in my junior year of high school my mom took me on a trip through Europe. When I was on a train ride from Paris to Rome I came into contact with a traveling school group from Canada. I visited with them for a while and then I got bored and I left. A couple of students went with me to go get a drink on the food car. One’s name was Angelo, an attractive young man from Canada. We hit it off fairly well and exchanged addresses, as I enjoyed corresponding with pen pals.

We wrote for a year or so, getting to know each other. He even talked about flying down to visit sometime. I shared with him the lack of desire that I was experiencing about going on a mission. One day in February I got a letter from him telling me that he was gay.

We had talked on the phone a few times, and the interesting thing is that he called me the afternoon that I got the letter. He called me right when I got home, right when I was reading the letter. He was worried that I hadn’t responded to the letter yet, when I hadn’t gotten it. I don’t remember what I said on the phone, but I didn’t reject him, yet I didn’t commit to anything either. I think that he was into me.

I told him that I would continue to write him and ask him some questions. I don’t remember everything that I had asked, but I did know that asked him if he went to gay bars and if he was attracted to me.

I never did get his response, as it was intercepted by my mom, who opened the letter to read it. My life felt like it was again falling apart. The next morning when my mom was driving me to school she was riding me hard, and I had had it. I was about a 45 minute walk from school but I was so upset I jumped out of the car when she slowed down at a stop sign. I made the walk to school, not dressed well for the cold weather, missing my first class.

After school I was scheduled to work in the high school greenhouse and I was glad for an excuse not to have to go home right away. Later on my mom came to pick me up in a martyred kind of mood that she is known to have, but at least she wasn’t in my face about it. I wasn’t allowed to correspond with Angelo again, and she said that she was going to have dad call him to ask him to stay away from me. Yeah right! We lived thousands of miles away from each other! But I knew what was meant.

I waited a couple of days to sneak a phone call into him to apologize for what had happened. I couldn’t leave it the way that it was. At that time I got my very first email address through the high school and so I gave it to him. He didn’t have an email address, but he had a friend who did. It’s funny to think back to a time when it was hard to get email.

My mom put the word out to the teachers at school in whose classes I had access to computers to let them know that I was not allowed to use my email. Fortunately I was able to hide it well and they didn’t enforce my mother’s sentiments.

Angelo was distraught with what had happened. He had cried a lot because of what had happened. I never did find out what he wrote. My final year at high school was coming to an end and I had to say goodbye for the summer.

That June I got my patriarchal blessing. I did not know whether or not I should go on a mission, and so I decided that I would do whatever the blessing said. I fasted and prayed to find out if I was to be a missionary, and to find out if it was a good idea to get married someday. I guess that I wasn’t sure what could happen, but I thought that it was possible that those things were not meant for me.

Of course God wanted both of those things for me and so they were clearly stated in my blessing. A couple of days later I took all of the letters and pictures that I had received from Angelo and ritualistically burned them in a small fire on the farm.

I didn’t contact Angelo again until I was away at college, it is a good example of how hard it has been for me to give it all up. We started communicating again, but it was never the same. We stopped writing and that was the end.

When I was at college I had a blast, being free from my mother’s control. I could do whatever I wanted to, and to this day I am grateful for the choices that I made those first few weeks. I knew that I could do anything, but I made good friends, who helped me to become more spiritual and prepare for my mission. I was also fortunate enough to have been followed to college by my closest friend, one of which I confided my secret.

I asked her one night if she would go for a walk with me on the track close to our dorms. We walked for what seemed like hours, in cold weather talking about how I felt.

She was very supportive, and still is to this day, even though we live so far apart and I have not seen her for more than seven years. I knew that my secret would be safe with her. She encouraged me to be honest with my bishop before I decided to serve a mission.

I remember the night that I met with my bishop to start the mission paper process. I started with the confession of how I was bisexual. I don’t remember many of the details, but he was convinced that serving a mission was the right thing for me. He gave me a copy of the Proclamation of the Family and said I should read it. It really had little impact on me, it covered everything that I already knew.

So the time came for me to put in my papers and I was spiritually ready, for the right reasons. I had finished reading the Book of Mormon for the first time and I was on fire. I was called to an exotic, foreign speaking mission. When I went into the MTC I had studied a lot in the language and I was ready to excel.

On my first day I had met with my branch president, I kept nothing from him. When I entered the mission I did the same with my mission president. Looking back, I question whether or not doing so affected my not getting leadership positions in the mission field.

My mission was successful. I had many baptisms and many of which are active to this day, fulfilling leadership positions that I will probably never hold. I came home with great confidence, skinny as a bean pole and ready to get back to life. I learned much and my testimony had grown to where I will never question whether the church is true.

I came back and went to BYU Idaho and was re-introduced to a young woman who recognized my unique spirituality and valued it. I fell in love with her recognition and admiration for who I truly was, and not by the good looks that other girls noticed.

We were married shortly after my 22nd birthday and in the past 8 years we have had four beautiful children.

My wife has always known of my attraction to other men. It was something that I shared with her from the minute that I knew that I wanted to marry her. I felt that it was the honest thing to do for her to know what she was getting into. After much deliberation and my convincing her that I wanted to do what the Lord wants for me.

At times I feel like giving up, but I love my family too much to do that. I know that if I do it will be turning my back on God and what I know is right. I continue to try to do what is right, and always falling short by remaining to feel the way that I do.

I hope that my sharing this will give me strength. I hope to continue to talk about my issues and find more out about me.

10 comments:

Beck said...

What a tremendous story! Thank you for sharing and opening up like this. It is refreshing to read your words. So much of your experience is in common with many - you are not alone.

Welcome to the community!

I love your blog title as it says so much about the path you're on. It is a choice.

Though I'm ahead of you in years, I lack the wisdom you already show and I look forward to being fed by your experience.

Mike said...

I doubt that I have much experience to share, but my insights, considered as wisdom or not I will share, in hopes that I can figure out why I do what I do. Thanks for taking the time to read. :)

Bravone said...

Mike, Welcome! I can tell you will have a lot to offer to our blog family. We are all attempting the path and CAN make it. Together we find strength and hope. I look forward to following your journey.

Bror said...

Wow, what else can I do but give you a hug and say I am glad you found me. I already feel so close to you. Let's fight the battle together. It's so much easier.

Mike said...

I feel so happy to feel support that I deserve from MEN who know what I am going through. Thank you so much for your friendships and I hope that we get the chance to learn more about one another and become better.

Big group hug to all!

Scott said...

Mike, I just wanted to give you a (virtual) hug and let you know that you've got (another) friend.

Our stories are a little different, but a lot of the challenges are the same. I look forward to learning from your experiences and hope that I can provide at least a small measure of support and help to you.

Alan said...

Mike: Add me to the list of those giving you big virtual hugs of welcome and support and complete understanding. One of the greatest benefits of blogging like this is that you realize you really aren't as alone as you always thought you were. As I think most if not all of us thought we were for a long time. That in and of itself is a huge blessing. I look forward to reading more from you.

October Rising said...

wow, there's a lot of new bloggers! thanks for sharing your story.

MoHoHawaii said...

Thanks for sharing this.

I'm curious about the current state of your relationship with your wife. (If you need topics for future blog entries. :-) )

Best of luck to you. Welcome.

I should also say that if you read my blog you'll find that my story started the same as yours. In my case I eventually left the marriage and the church. This happened about 20 years ago. I realize that the path I took is not for everyone, so please know that I support you in your situation and wish you the best.

Andy said...

hey man...thanks for writing this. like you, i'm fairly new to the blogging community. however, also like you, i have found several good friends and sources of support and encouragement. thanks again for sharing with us the personal, intimate feelings of your heart. i too look forward to sharing in your journey.