Wednesday, January 7, 2009

Choices

It seems that all of us, at one time or another, reach a realization that our choices, as a gay Mormon, are limited. It often comes as an epiphany - I had my epiphany over a year ago, which I discussed in a series of blog posts
Elsewhere, I've seen it referred to as the Four Paths
  1. Reject the religion, choose/create a new faith/meaning, and enjoy a “full” relationship with a same-sex partner.
  2. Enjoy a “full” relationship with a same-sex partner and maintain belief in (and ties to) Mormonism, albeit on a more restricted/limited basis (i.e. no callings, temple, or priesthood privileges).
  3. Maintain belief and full membership in Mormonism and marry an opposite-sex partner.
  4. Maintain belief and full membership in Mormonism and remain single and celibate.
I've seen similar discourses on other family blogs.

However we classify it, this realization seems to be an important part of our coming out progress - but it leaves us with, what can be, a difficult decision: Which choice to make - which path to go down.
  • For some, the decision may seem obvious.
  • For others, the decision is much more difficult, often vacillating between the various choices or paths for weeks, months, even years before finally settling on one.
It may be complicated by the presumption that we are not choosing between good and bad, rather all choices have both good and bad points - and we find ourselves trying to decide upon the most good and least bad choice.
  • Some find happiness and contentment in their choice.
  • Others choose a path and then, not finding fulfillment or happiness, revisit their choices and choose a different path to follow.
  • Yet others find themselves faced with a dichotomy between the choice they feel they should make and the choice they want to make. They may find themselves going through a mourning process for the rejected choice which was not meant to be.
We may find that once we've made our choice, the other options do not fade away - rather they linger in the background, continually beaconing to us, perhaps even causing us to doubt the choice we've made.


Choices - we all make them, or are in the process of making our choice. But, what drives our decision? What tilts us in one direction or the other?
  • Is it our physical desires?
  • Is it our faith in the LDS church - or lack thereof?
  • Is it our fear of loneliness?
  • Do our family and friends factor into our decision?
One thing I do feel strongly about is that the choice we make is ours - and ours alone. It is not our place to judge another for the choice they make.

Here in the queerosphere we are a rather eclectic, loosely coupled group - consisting of both young and old, male and female, married and single, religious and atheist, conservative and liberal. The only thing we all have in common is an affinity towards those of our same gender. This is the bond which ties us together, our common trait. Yet, it is a trait so strong that we able to have a rapport with one another regardless of our path.

The queerosphere is a virtual island of misfit toys - only Santa isn't coming to rescue us. We live in a society that doesn't want a Charlie in the Box; fortunately, we are able to find solace and understanding with each other.

As we begin a new year - I just want to express my gratitude for my friends and acquaintances I've made here in the queerosphere. It is through the support I've received here that I am able to accept myself and have been able to make my choice.

14 comments:

Evan said...

Great entry, Abe. I enjoyed reading through it.

I pursued a relationship a year and a half ago... eventually the idea of figuring out how I really felt about my religion popped into my head. Me and the ex split up so I can figure that out. For a little while, I figured I should just be celibate. I began missing my ex off and on, and would feel lonely at times.

Now I'm open to dating, but plan on being as active in church as possible... don't be surprised if things change a month from now.

Christopher said...

I agree. This is a great post.

You have certainly expressed the way I feel about the very limited options we have as gay latter-day-saints. Every one of them has bad and good, and choosing one will always be hard, no matter which one we choose. Trying to decide which is the lesser of four evils is a pretty lame game.

The mourning for the choice not made seems to ever be lurking...the whatifs. I suppose that's just something we gay mormons, or any human being for that matter, just have to get used to in order to stay sane.

Grant Haws said...

Thank you for the entry. It really is true that although we all have to make our own choices on where to take this, we still have the comfort of eachother. I have met a lot of people in the gay Mormon blogosphere and it has been comforting to see that people appreciate other people's experience as a gay Mormon even if they chose a different path. Thanks.

Beck said...

You left out the choice of staying married, remaining faithful, and yet having a "boyfriend" on the side... As oxymoronic as that seems, it still is a possibility - difficult to balance and probably impossible to achieve, but still a choice... :) You know - that cake-having-and-eating-gig.

Anyway, I agree that this community of misfit toys does help me to keep a more real view of my choices, and I thank you.

Bravone said...

Well articulated. Thank you.

October Rising said...

it's definitely a lot to think about and there are a lot of decisions to be made as we each find our own paths. and yes, it is great that we all have each other! it's been a huge blessing for me too!

Mariah and Byron Edgington said...

As a recovering Catholic straight, I can just barely understand your dilemma. I wouldn't presume to 'get it' fully, but I've had to make a few choices of my own, and they involved relatively benign confrontations with the hypocrites I once listened to slavishly, obeying their dictates on pain of 'mortal sin' and 'eternal damnation'. Guilt survives in inverse proportion to our ability to make choices we feel are right for us. It's good that you feel so much regard for your kid-hood religion to devote so much discernment to it. Too bad the institution doesn't have the same devotion to your crisis. I feel it's their loss, and their hypocrisy to not embrace you as you are, as they're required to do.

Sarah said...

The only thing we all have in common is an affinity towards those of our same gender.

So does that mean I can't consider myself part of the queerosphere?

:)

I guess that just makes me even more of a misfit. Thanks, everyone, for accepting me, even though I am a bit different from all of you.

Carter said...

I think you have left out one option – leave the church but remain with your wife. I doubt many people have taken this option; I’m sure my wife and I are in the minority. However, I feel that our relationship has only grown and improved since leaving the church. There is too much black and white thinking in the church that leads people to make bad decisions for their lives.

Generally speaking, I would urge any gay man to seek an intimate relationship with another man. This is probably the healthiest and best course of action. However I, like many of you, entered into a marriage relationship under the guise that this was what I was supposed to do. Imagine my surprise when I couldn’t suppress my gayness as it comes popping out in all the most unexpected places. The church encouraged me via doctrine and otherwise to turn away from myself, to reject who I was, and be something that I was not. So, rather than getting closer with my wife, I found that I was drawing further apart as there raged a constant battle inside.

Today, both she and I accept my homosexuality. I love being gay. I love being me. I don’t have to worry about it coming out and having my congregation reject me and think I am evil. I don’t even have to suppress it at all.

My pearl of great price in all of this is the fact that I found a person that is perfect for me. My wife is my best friend and intimate companion. Yes, there are struggles that a romantic relationship should not have to bear, but our highs are higher than any other relationship I know (our lows might be lower – but the highs are so great!).

Neal said...

Abe,

"One thing I do feel strongly about is that the choice we make is ours - and ours alone."

Ultimately all of our choices are ours alone. However, I don't think we need to MAKE those choices alone. I would hope we would not make a choice without invoking the help of HF to know His will for us. Of course, this doesn't apply if you've decided to throw your faith out the window.



Carter,

"Generally speaking, I would urge any gay man to seek an intimate relationship with another man. This is probably the healthiest and best course of action."

And I would urge just the opposite! I would urge you to put God first in your life. That is, after all, the first and great commandment. Perhaps you should consider what it means to love God with all your "Heart, Might, Mind and Strength".

Carter said...

Neal,

"And I would urge just the opposite! I would urge you to put God first in your life. That is, after all, the first and great commandment. Perhaps you should consider what it means to love God with all your 'Heart, Might, Mind and Strength'."

I put god first for thirty years and discovered that who ever created the Mormon god seemed to be thinking in the 1830's rather than the present. It does not appear that any god out there has put people first - I will not serve a god that doesn't value me.

Sarah said...

Carter,

I am going to tell you something similar to what I told someone else this week. God and the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints are separate things. I don't think that God is the "Mormon" God or the "Catholic" God or the "Buddist" God. I think he (or she, maybe :) is just God. He is there and he loves each one of us and wants us to be happy. It just so happens that you and I grew up with a certain framework of understanding God from a strict Mormon point of view.

I know with all my heart that God lives, that he exists, and I have received my own witness over the last few months that God judges us each individually based on what is in our hearts. I do not believe that God will condemn two men for loving each other, especially if they are good men who have done the best they can to live the way they feel is best, and yes like Neal says, follow the path that they feel God has directed them to follow.

Maybe this is no longer what I used to think about God based on my upbringing, but I can't stop believing in God just because he is not exactly what I thought he was growing up in the LDS church.

This is just my opinion and feelings, of course, and I do not judge you for your opinion and feelings. I still value you as a friend and a part of this queerosphere, but I wonder how happy you can truly be living without God in your life. Me, I would not survive if I thought there was any chance that God was not up there watching over me.

Just my 2 cents...

Carter said...

Sarah,

"I still value you as a friend and a part of this queerosphere, but I wonder how happy you can truly be living without God in your life."

Thank you for your friendship. As to the happiness - I have never experienced more happiness in my life than I have now. God is a tricky thing, and I leave open the small possibility that there may be a god... but I don't think so. Life without god has been like taking off the blinders and stepping into a wonderful world I had only dream about. And not, as many people might assume to live a hedonistic lifestyle. In fact, overall I think I am a far more moral and ethical person with my current paradigm than ever before.

That being said, I don't know if people are actually designed to not disbelieve in god. I think we evolved with a need to explain the unexplainable and hope for a life beyond the present one. I believe that the idea of god is a natural consequence of the emergence of our consciousness.

I once had a friend who left the church to pursue life authentically - he said he had never been happier. I questioned that happiness. I know now that I was telling the truth.

Formerly known as Peter said...

I believe in God, because I believe in inspiration. I believe in Christ, because I believe in forgiveness and our absolute need for it.

That being said, I don't describe God the way most Latter-day Saints do, and I don't think they would accept what God has told me in relation to these options. But that's the beauty of God--He leads my life independent of others approval.

Regarding the "four options"--I used to be a big proponent of "The Church only gives people 3 choices." Now you mention a fourth. Carter mentions a fifth. I am beginning to think that maybe our real options aren't even countable.