22 July 2010

Out and About On Facebook

Maybe this is something that I shouldn't do.  Maybe this is something I should have done a long time ago.  I don't know.  Regardless, I'm doing this now.  The recent loss of life has, for whatever reason, hit me very deeply.  I feel like I can't sit still anymore when it comes to being who I am.  If I lose friends, they weren't really my friends.  If my family gets angry, they'll just have to be angry I guess.

I am coming out on Facebook.

"Speaking Out"

Most of the time, I am of the opinion that my personal life is just that--it's mine, and it's personal. I don't share a lot of details with many people. But there are times when you have to put your personal discomforts and insecurities aside. I am nervous to do this but I feel that the responsibility to do this outweighs my anxieties.

On Monday, a young man named Todd Ransom chose to end his life. He was just 28 years old.

I didn't know Todd, but I know pieces of his story. They are pieces that are part of my own life, and the lives of many wonderful people I have gotten to know and trust, and love. Please read these pieces with an open mind and an open heart. I do not share them lightly, or for dramatic effect, or to the detriment of my family. I just want you to see, and hopefully find, some piece of awareness.

Todd was a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. He was a man who was loved by many. He was a son, a brother, an uncle, a husband. He was a volunteer. And he was gay. Being from an LDS background and being gay is a very difficult and painful thing. I know this because, like Todd and the two other people we lost to suicide this month, I am gay.

The LDS religion is an all-consuming religion. It is a part of every aspect of your life. So when you are gay, every aspect of your life is suddenly between a rock and a hard place. You have leaders that you look up to, that you look to for guidance and hope, telling you that you are a threat to the family and to religious freedoms everywhere. You hear that you are immoral and wrong, a disgrace and an embarrassment. If you have the courage to come out and speak to your priesthood leader, you are told that your only hope is to deny yourself the love and companionship you have been taught is the only avenue to happiness and eternal life. Is it any wonder that there are many young men and women who are consumed by despair when presented with these options?

To quote my good friend Michael, we all lose when we lose someone to suicide. "No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less...; any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee." (John Donne)

For some of us, the pain of a suicide is especially strong. We know what it feels like to lose someone, no matter how they die. We also know what it feels like to be in such agonizing pain that death is the better option. And my heart aches for those people. I spent years hurting myself to try and ease the pain I felt inside. I spent nights crying, feeling like there was something wrong with me and I couldn't do anything to fix it. I tried to die. And I survived. Now, I am glad that I did. But there are some who don't get the chance to tell their stories.

The intolerance has to end. The silence has to stop. Not talking about something doesn't mean it doesn't happen, doesn't make it any less real, and doesn't make it go away. Silence has real consequences. Right now, there are so many of your brothers and sisters out there who are suffering in silence. And some would rather die than step away from a Church that teaches intolerance.

"The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works." (Psalms 145: 8-9)

"Beloved, let us love one another: for love is of God; and every one that loveth is born of God, and knoweth God." (1 John 4:7)

Compassion is the pure love of Christ. I know my Savior loves me. I know He died for me. I know that He knows me better than anyone else ever could, and I rejoice that He alone will be my judge. I listen for His voice and I strive to follow the teachings He left behind.

I plead with you to do the same. We have to say that enough is enough when it comes to blind, hurtful words. The price is much too high if we don't. I promise you that someone you know is gay, whether you are aware of it or not. What message would you like to send to them?

There is always someone listening.



Now we'll just watch and see.

01 July 2010


Some choices are easy to make.  There's no real fear of their consequences.  Something in you knows what choice needs to be made, so you make it.  Easy. 

Some choices are much more difficult and require much more thought.  For me, that leads to some sleepless nights and stress.  We weigh the options and try to measure the consequences.  We pick up each piece to examine it and try to see what future it could possibly bring.  The simplicity doesn't exist within the threads of these choices, but a choice must be made.

Other choices are placed in front of us because of the agenda of someone else.  These are the choices that, if you were really given the choice, you would never see and never have to make a decision about.  These are the unimaginable, the dreaded, the choices that present themselves in your nightmares, because facing them in the real world is, by definition, a nightmare.

For me, and I would guess for a few others in this great wide world, one of those nightmare choices would be having to decide between my family and being who I am.

My brother-in-law once said that if I decided to live my life openly, there would be a day when I would have to choose between my family and my lifestyle.  On the recent family vacation, my youngest sister brought this up in a discussion we had at her insistence.  She has remembered those words from my brother-in-law and is worried that the prophetic day is moving ever closer.

And yet, if that choice was actually given to me, it would be one that I would choose to never see.

Both of my sisters are married.  My youngest sister even mentioned to me that she could understand how I felt to a certain extent, because given the choice, she would rather spend time with her husband than with the rest of us.  But that's how it's supposed to be.  You grow up, you find someone you love and want to spend the rest of your life with, and you do.  You leave the nest.  You build a nest of your own.  You find the pieces of your life and you make something beautiful out of them.

I love my girlfriend with all my heart.  She is amazing and beautiful and I miss her when I'm not with her, even if I know I'll see her in a few hours.  She loves me completely, she treats me well and wants to be with me.  We both want to spend the rest of our lives together.  And just like my sister, I would rather spend my time with her than with the rest of the family.

My brothers-in-law have been welcomed with open arms.  Naturally.  They married my sisters and my parents couldn't be happier.  They honor their Priesthood and are sealed to my sisters.  They golf with my dad.  They are good fathers and husbands.  They get birthday and Christmas gifts from my parents and grandparents.  Their phone numbers are programmed into cell phones across the family.  My parents ask my sisters about them, wondering how they are and hoping they are well.

This is not the case for me.

My parents don't want to meet my girlfriend.  Neither does my middle sister and her husband.  They don't want to hear about her, have her in their home, or even think about her.  I'm fairly confident that they hope that I'll come to my senses and escape the spell she has on me.  There won't be a birthday card for her in August.  There won't be a gift under the tree in December with her name on it.  She won't be invited to the next barbeque.  Therefore, I do not have the option of being with my girlfriend and being with my family at the same time.

If the choice was given, I would change that.  I would give up the compartments I keep my life in.  I would spend more time with my family because I wouldn't have to give up any time with my girlfriend.  She is my future.  She is my life.  Time without her is empty.

So whether they know it or not, making that choice will not be my choice.  It will be theirs.  They will be the ones who ask me to give up her for them.  I know the reverse will not be true.  They will be the ones who force that decision, not me.  And if they don't want me to have to choose, they shouldn't put it in front of me.