Sunday, August 31, 2008


Today we had about 8 families visit our ward - Louisiana refugees fleeing Hurricane Gustav. Our bishop encouraged us to open our homes; and, the response was so overwhelming that they held a sort of lottery to see who was able to invite a family over for Sunday dinner. I was one of the lucky winners :) It was a young couple with a 6 month old baby. It seems their company brought their families to the Dallas/Fort Worth area and is putting them up in area hotels. The husbands will continue working, albeit remotely.

It was just my son and I since my wife is in California with my daughter - who gave birth to my newest granddaughter on Wednesday (mother and daughter are doing fine). We scrapped our dinner plans and I found some pork chops in the freezer which I thawed and threw on the grill. In talking with them, turns out, the husband is friends with one of my sons former mission companions - OK, every sing with me now "it's a small world after all ..."

Anyway, it was fun. Our local newspaper said that they are expecting as many as 45,000 refugees from Louisiana in just the Dallas/Fort Worth area. We're far enough North that Gustav will have little effect on us - other than bringing in a lot of warm humid air up from the gulf and chance of rain on Wednesday.

Monday, August 25, 2008

Matthew Mitcham, final post

Just in case you missed it (like I did), here are Matthew Mitcham's dives from the final round of the 10m platform and the medal ceremony. Be sure to watch it to the end to see him jump up in the stands to hug his mother and his boyfriend.

“I want to thank absolutely everyone who helped; my partner Lachlan and my mom [Vivienne] here to support me and watch me get gold, because it was so important to have those two people here with me,” Mitcham said in a post-dive interview. “I didn’t think I had a chance to get the gold and to actually get that was mind-blowing. I was crying thinking I had silver and to get gold, I was a blubbering mess.”
There has been a fair amount of editorials in the gay news outlets criticizing NBC for not mentioning his sexual orientation. Personally, I'm glad they didn't bring it up. He is Australian, a gold medal winning 10m platform diver, and he happens to be gay. For me, the big deal is the fact that it wasn't a big deal.

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Our man Matthew Mitcham

Our man Matthew Mitcham won the gold medal for the 10m platform diving in the Beijing 2008 Olympics.
The 20-year-old Sydney diver produced the highest scoring dive in the history of the Olympics with his sixth and final effort to become Australia's first male Olympic gold medallist in diving since Dick Eve in 1924.
Matthew Mitcham is the first Australian to go to the Olympic Games openly gay at the time of his competition; and, he is the only openly gay man competing at the Beijing 2008 Olympics.

Friday, August 22, 2008

3rd visit with the new shrink

Someone asked me: Since I've had 3 visits with this new shrink, does that mean he's a keeper? My response was that I'm keeping my options open. I'm just going to take this one week at a time. As long as I feel I'm getting something out of the sessions then I'll keep going to him. If the sessions start going south and I start to feel like I'm not getting anything out of them then I'll evaluate if I'm ready to stop going to a shrink or if I need to find a new shrink.

One of my therapist assignments was to purchase the book "The Feeling Good Handbook" by David D. Burns. (not to be confused by another book by the same author titled simply "Feeling Good") I ordered it on Amazon and it arrived yesterday. I've only thumbed through it a bit. It's a workbook where I actually have to write stuff in it. I have reservations about this.
  • First of all, I don't write in books. I don't know why, it's just one of my quirks. I get upset when I pickup a book and find writing in it. I don't even mark, highlight, or otherwise notate in my scriptures - because that's writing in a book. I tried once, and now I get upset every time I come across one of the passages I marked up.
  • Second, this is a dang big book - a 732 page workbook. I thought about writing my thoughts on a separate sheet of paper; but, there are lots of parts where you just write a few words. Keeping my thoughts separately while maintaining their correlation with the associated section in the book seems like more trouble than it be worth.
  • Third, if I'm going to be completely honest then the book is going to have to be private! Just like I said when I wrote down my life history - there are things I'm not ready to tell my wife and don't know if I'll ever be ready. If I'm going to be completely honest with myself and write down my true innermost thoughts and feelings, I'm not comfortable with the idea that a family member could pick up the book and read it along with my notations. I need to figure out a way to keep it private. I almost wish they had published it in the form of a personal diary with a lock. Maybe I should purchase a little hasp and lock to glue onto the book. It's not totally secure, but it's sends a strong signal to others that it's private - in case I accidentally leave it lying about. Hmmm, gonna have to think about this a bit more.
We talked about things I used to enjoy doing. I mentioned model railroading is a hobby I used to enjoy. I'd like to enjoy it again, but I just can't get motivated. I also told of a time when I was trying my hand at music composition and had even started setting up a home recording studio. And, my biggest passion right now is photography. For our next visit, he wants me to bring in some of my favorite pictures that I've taken as that will tell him something about me.

I also talked about how I like to meet with other gay people, such as my excursions with the gay christian network. He said that makes perfect sense to him - to want to connect with people who are aware of and accept that part of me. He even went on to say how important it is to connect with people in a face to face setting rather than over the internet (I had previously talk about my blog and our little queerosphere). But, then I explained that my wife doesn't like it when I meet with other gay guys, it makes her uncomfortable. He said that is perfectly understandable - but we'll each have to make compromises and hers may be allowing me to to do certain things even if it makes her uncomfortable.

He started to talk about things I can do to connect better with my wife. But, then I said that will be very difficult to do since she is leaving tomorrow for 3 weeks (going out to California to be with our daughter when she has her baby). So, he said we'll just table that for now. He did mention the possibility of bringing her with me to therapy; but, I just don't know if she'll agree to that.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Gay culture

I don't read "Out" magazine, nor do I visit their web site. But, the following article was linked on another forum that I read which I found very interesting

Has Manhunt Destroyed Gay Culture? A cost-benefit analysis of our quest to get laid

The author explains how online services, like Manhunt (and presumably others, like, craigs list, etc.), used primarily for hookups, have reduced gay culture to a meat market. Sex has become the handshake for gay men. This wasn't written by some right winged conspirator seeking to demonize gay culture. This is a guy who actively participates in this culture. He writes
I am not scolding. I have done practically every stupid thing a guy can do on Manhunt. I don’t like to think about the number of books I could have read, languages I could have learned, and friends I could have stayed in better touch with if I had not wasted so much time cruising online these past 12 years.
Which brings up a question: Why do we feel this need to meet other gay guys? I know it's certainly true for me. But why? I'm not looking for sex. So, what am I looking for? Why do I crave the interaction I have here on the queerosphere?

A number of years ago I spent 3 months in France on a temporary assignment for work. I don't speak French, which wasn't a problem at work as everyone was able to speak English well enough for us to communicate. However, out in the community on evenings and weekends it was a very different experience. I was in Orlean, which is not one of the big tourist areas; so, there were a lot of people I encountered who did not speak English. While eating in a restaurant, I would often just point to an item on the menu and hope that I didn't just order lambs brains or something. It seemed that whenever I ran into another American we would became instant friends as we would talk and share places we've been and experiences we've had. Thinking back, I realize that if I had run into these same people here in the US, we probably wouldn't have even noticed each other or given each other the time of day. But, in France, we were strangers in a strange land. We didn't speak the language, the culture was foreign to us. So, we latched onto someone, anyone, with whom we could relate - someone with whom we had a shared language and culture.

Is it the same with being gay? Growing up in a heterosexual world, are we all strangers in a strange land? Do we just feel this need to connect with something familiar? To talk with others who have shared feelings and experiences? Do we just want to feel like we are not alone in the world?

There is hope. I see signs that gay men are wanting more out of their relationships. Groups that cater to gay men and women without focusing on the sexual aspects are growing in numbers. For example, the Gay Christian Network recently surpassed 10,000 members worldwide. The problem, as I see it, is that these pockets are still isolated. Most gay men probably don't even know they exist and see services like Manhunt as the only way to meet guys.

So, if we have this innate need to meet and interact with others like us, how do we satisfy it without putting our integrity and values at risk? How can we be "in the gay world but not of the gay world?"

Thursday, August 14, 2008

First impressions

Yesterday's news release by the LDS church titled The Divine Institution of Marriage is an interesting and unexpected turn of events. I'll have to read it more closely and ponder it a while before I decide if I will blog more about it. But, there is one thing that jumped out while I read it.

This latest news release includes the following statement:
"The focus of the Church’s involvement is specifically same-sex marriage and its consequences. The Church does not object to rights (already established in California) regarding hospitalization and medical care, fair housing and employment rights, or probate rights, so long as these do not infringe on the integrity of the family or the constitutional rights of churches and their adherents to administer and practice their religion free from government interference."
This seems to suggest that the LDS church is willing to 'accept' civil unions for same sex couples. However, the General Handbook of Instructions (2006 edition), which is the authoritative source for formal church policy states
"Marriage between a man and a woman is ordained of God. The Church accordingly opposes same-gender marriages and any efforts to legalize such marriages. Church members are encouraged "to appeal to legislators, judges, and other government officials to preserve the purposes and sanctity of marriage between a man and a woman, and to reject all efforts to give legal authorization or other official approval or support to marriages between persons of the same gender." [emphasis added]
"Church Handbook of Instructions", book 1 p.187
Which suggests to me that the LDS church opposes any and all efforts to grant legal rights to same sex couples. So, is this a change of policy? Will we be receiving a letter from the First Presidency with this new policy superseding the 2006 edition of the general handbook of instructions? Until then, does this latest news release supersede the general handbook of instructions?

Same Sex Marriage vs Civil Unions vs Domestic Partnerships - A rose by any other name would smell so sweet. Has it all come down to terminology and nomenclature? How silly is that?

I don't buy the argument that calling it 'marriage' will impose "restrictions on religious freedom." How does the terminology or nomenclature have any effect the examples included in the news release?
  • Tax exemptions and benefits be withdrawn from any religious organization that does not embrace same-sex unions
  • Forcing religious organizations to allow marriage celebrations or receptions in religious facilities that are otherwise open to the public
  • Asserting pressure on religious schools and universities to provide married housing for same-sex couples
  • Student religious organizations are being told by some universities that they may lose their campus recognition and benefits if they exclude same-sex couples from club membership
I agree that these are serious possible ramifications which need to be addressed; however, do these issues become moot if we use terms like "civil unions" or "domestic partnerships" and only become issues if we call it "marriage"? I'm sorry, I just don't buy that argument.

And, in the LDS church, don't we already have certain religion motivated restrictions on heterosexual marriage - which is allowed under the law? For example, my family are not members of the church, neither are my wifes. When we were married in the Oakland temple, there were no family members in attendance - and there are no legal recourses available to force the church to allow non-members to attend a temple wedding ceremony. Why would allowing two men or two women to marry suddenly change the first amendment to the US constitution? This just seems like a red herring to me.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


Had my second visit with the new shrink yesterday. I handed him my timeline and my "day in the life" scenario assignment. I also handed him a few of the poems I've written and told him that I thought it might give him some insight as to what's going on in my head. He read through the timeline asking me questions as he charted my family history on a separate piece of paper (if I had known he wanted a family history, I would have brought a pedigree chart and a family group sheet). He looked briefly at the "day in the life" and poems and commented that he wanted to take time to read them more carefully and that we would talk about them during our next session.

During the course of the session, he mentioned one thing that I found interesting. He observed that I've come to terms with my sexuality and have made a conscious decision to not go down that path, but to stay true to my marriage vows - he called it a paradox. Then he continued commenting that I've said goodbye to that life and am now going through a sort of grieving process.

Just wondering what other queerospherians think. Am I grieving for a life that's not meant to be? Can you grieve for the loss of something you never had?

No wonder I'm so screwed up - good thing I'm seeing a shrink.

Monday, August 11, 2008

I have a question

The July 1974 issue of the Ensign has the following question: Why does the Church oppose homosexuality? Why is it wrong? (4th question down)

The answer, in part, says
Homosexuals and lesbians seldom are happy people. Theirs is a relationship that is unnatural, one not bound by fidelity, trust, or loyalty, and one totally lacking in the meaningful family relationships that marriage offers. Homosexuality often espouses emotional problems because of the constant insecurity inherent in a relationship neither sanctioned by nor protected by the law.

Because there is no legal bond, homosexuality too often encourages, or at least permits, promiscuity.
So, my question is: shouldn't we be encouraging same sex marriage rather than fighting against it?

I'm just not grasping this circular logic - homosexuality is bad because same sex unions are not legally recognized; however, we must do everything we can to keep same sex unions from being legally recognized - because that would make homosexuality good? And we know it's bad, so we have to keep it bad by preventing same sex unions from being legally recognized.

I am really bothered by some of what I am reading in blogs about the situation in California. Stake Presidents meeting with people one on one soliciting donations for and also stating that the stake will be getting back lists of the donors and how much they paid. Perhaps that information is in the public record; but, for church leaders to actively solicit - and track - donations to a political organization is an invasion of privacy and a violation of trust - as far as I am concerned. I sure am glad I'm not living in California right now.

I'm getting very close to adding my letter supporting same sex marriage on

Sunday, August 10, 2008


I've been working on my timeline. It's getting quite detailed - I'm up to 8 pages. I'm including both positive and negative events in my life. However, writing about some of my past negative experiences has had an effect on my leaving me feeling melancholy. It's forced me to think of things I've kept buried and would rather not think about.

I was talking to my wife about my timeline. She mentioned what a great way it is to capture a personal history. The thing is, there is stuff in my timeline I'm not sure I want my posterity to know. There is stuff my wife doesn't even know - and I'm not ready to tell her, and don't know if I'll ever be ready. No unconfessed sins or anything big like that - just stuff that has happened to me that I prefer not to think about; things I've done that I'm not particularly proud of.

Should my posterity know about the real me - warts and all? Or should they only know about my public persona - the fake me that I project to everyone? The facade I've built up over the years. Should I carry my secrets with me to the grave? I just don't know.

Friday, August 8, 2008


To date, Outsports is only aware of five publicly gay Olympians heading to Beijing (out of 10,708 athletes)
  • Matthew Micham (Australia, diving)
  • Judith Arndt (Germany, cycling)
  • Imke Duplitzer (Germany, fencing)
  • Gro Hammerseng and Katja Nyberg (Norway, handball and a lesbian couple)
So, if you don't have anyone else to cheer on ...

Tuesday, August 5, 2008

First visit with the new shrink

I met with my new shrink this morning. His approach is very different than my previous therapist. Although, I need to think about it a bit more before I decide if that's good or bad.

Turns out he has been in Germany the past two months doing counseling at a US military base. He is also in a brand new office (which is actually an old house) - and I was his very first patient in the new office and since returning back to the US. So, things were a bit disorganized which he kept apologizing about throughout the session.

Most of the session was spent with him asking me a lot of questions getting background information. He told me that, generally, his first two sessions with a person are this way and that next time he'll be asking me a lot of questions related to my family history. After that, the sessions become more 'process oriented' - although, I'm not really sure I understand what that means.

During the questioning, I explained how I ended years of denial and admitted to myself that I am gay in the Fall of 2006 and then told my wife a couple of months later; but, I was not interested in pursuing a same sex relationship and that I wanted to remain in my marriage and active in my church. He asked me about the Mormon church's view regarding homosexuality. I explained that the church separates attraction and behavior - that there is no sin in being attracted to your same gender, there is only sin in acting on those attractions. Although, later in the session I explained my fears of coming out and not be accepted by other members of the church even though I haven't done anything.

At the end of the session, he said that it is a difficult paradox I am faced with; but, that he feels strongly that it is something I can learn to live with and accept. He then gave me 6 things to consider doing this week. He emphasized that they were not assignments, just things to consider doing, but that I didn't have to do any of them.
  1. Create a timeline of significant events in my life (both positive and negative) and rate their significance
  2. Track and chart negative thoughts
  3. Read "Feeling Good" by David Burns
  4. Check out the web site for Toastmasters
  5. Read "Iron John" by Robert Bly
  6. Do a "Day in the Life" exercise
  • The timeline is a tool to promote discussions on significant events in my life and how they might have affected how I am today
  • Tracking and charting negative thoughts is to promote discussion on what sort of self deprecating thoughts I have, if they are rational, etc.
  • "Feeling Good" is a book on cognitive therapy
  • Toastmasters resulted from me telling him that I felt I had difficulty relating with other people. He thought that might be something to consider
  • The book "Iron John" analyzes a Grimm's fairy tale by the same name to find lessons especially meaningful to men. It is, evidently, the book which spurred the mens movement. (according to wikipedia)
  • The "Day in the Life" exercise is where I'm supposed to imagine that a miracle occurred and I woke up tomorrow morning and everything about my life was just the way I wanted it; then, I'm supposed to describe how my day goes.
So far, I think I'm impressed; although, I'm sure I'll have a more firm opinion after I've had a chance to sleep on it and think about it some more. I made an appointment for next Tuesday. I figure I'll give him, at least, two sessions before I decide if I will continue or move on looking for the next shrink.

Monday, August 4, 2008

Open season

I mentioned in my last post it felt like the psychologist I was seeing didn't seem comfortable talking about the gay thing. What I didn't mention is, at the end, he asked me if I wanted to make another appointment, in a tone that almost felt like he was hoping I said 'no'. I went ahead and made an appointment; but, I've been thinking more about that visit and decided that he and I just weren't hitting it off, so it's time to cut my losses and find a new shrink.

Rewind: I had tried calling several other psychologists before the one I visited. I went to the website for my insurance company, searched for psychologists in their network within 10 miles of my zipcode, got a list sorted by distance and just started at the top with the one closest to my house and worked my way down.

Shrink-1, I was specifically looking for a male psychologist as I'm not sure I could open up to a girl. I have a hard enough time opening up to my wife - it seems impossible for me to open up to a woman I don't even know. Anyway, when I called Shrink-1, I got an answering machine that listed out the names of a couple of psychologists, neither of whom were the guy I thought I was calling and both names sounded to be more of the female variety.

Shrink-2, Again I got an asnwering machine, left a message, but he never called me back

Shrink-3, Called and talked to his receptionist. Turns out he was out of the office and wouldn't be returning for a couple of weeks.

Shrink-4, Got yet another answering machine. Upon listening to the message, I learned that, due to paperwork demands, he no longer accepts insurance.

Shrink-5, is actually a psychiatrist rather than a psychologist. Decided to hold off calling him. Although, I may rethink that if I decide I need to have my meds reevaluated (since psychiatrists are M.D.'s and can prescribe medication, psychologists cannot)

Shrink-6, listed "christian counseling" has his specialty. I had visions of being carted off to Exodus International, so I decided to pass on him.

Shrink-7, according to his profile, he is an old geezer. In fact, he listed "geriatric psychiatry" as one of his specialties. Perhaps it was my pride, but I decided to skip over him.

Shrink-8, got an answering machine - only this guy actually called me back, so I made an appointment with him and have had two visits with him.

It's been a couple of weeks, so I decided to call Shrink-3 back to see if he is back in town. He is, so I made an appointment for tomorrow afternoon.

I called my insurance just to make sure there weren't going to be any problems changing to a different therapist. Turns out they gave me an 'open authorization' which is good for any psychologist on their network (which is rather vast) - and it's good for 1 year.

So, for Abelard, it's open season on psychologists. I've me got a list - and I know how to use it! There are 55 male psychologists within 1o miles of my home - so, I'll just keep working down the list until I find the right guy. And, I can always go back and expand my search.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Second visit with the shrink

What do you see in this image? This is the first of the ten cards in the Rorschach inkblot test. I'll post my interpretation at the end of this post.

Had my second visit with the psychologist today. I'm starting to think he is more uncomfortable talking about the gay thing than I am. He kept referring to it as "that issue I'm dealing with". I don't know, maybe he's just trying to be sensitive towards me, not yet quite sure how comfortable I am about it.

We talked about the conflict I feel being gay in a church that is largely homophobic. Turns out he grew up in Montana in a small town where Mormonism was the predominate religion. So, he has some familiarity with the church. In particular, he was asking me about the culture - which I thought was interesting. Our culture is evident even to non-members.

I explained about how I'm struggling with the churches decision to get involved in the politics opposing gay marriage in California - that I've never been at such odds with the church before. I explained how the church normally takes a position of political neutrality, to which he responded "what about abortion?" I responded that the LDS church strongly opposes abortion, that it can be grounds for excommunication, but that the church does not get involved in the politics of abortion. He was genuinely surprised! Why would the LDS church would pick this one issue to get involved politically but not others?

One thing he did mention is the importance for someone in my situation (gay and in a committed heterosexual marriage) to have a support group - people whom I talk to. He said he felt I was finding that in the online relationships I've built, which, he said, is a good thing. But, the reality is, it's not enough. As I was driving home, I thought that, maybe, this is what I'm looking for - real flesh and blood people around whom I can just be myself and not have to be constantly on guard about what I might say and do lest they start wondering about which side of the bread I butter.

It's not that I want to sit around talking about 'gay' all the time. But, it would be nice to be with a group of people where it just wouldn't matter, who may be right there with me in likes, opinions, etc. Basically, I want to be with people like whom I've met in the queerosphere - except I want you to live in Texas so that I can invite you over for dinner once in a while :)

Back to the inkblot test. According to Wikipedia, popular responses including bat, badge and coat of arms. Personally, I see seahorses, seriously. I wonder what that is supposed to mean?