Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Need input

I need some assistance.  I've been racking my brain trying to come up with a new theme and some new polls for January - and I'm coming up blank.

Is this something that is even worth continuing into 2010?

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Catching up

I haven't been keeping up with blogs lately - I haven't been feeling all that well the last week or so and just haven't been on the computer much.  I went to the doctor yesterday and got some drugs; so, I 'll hopefully start feeling better soon.

First off, a belated merry Christmas to everyone.  I was planning on writing a Christmas blog post, but it just didn't happen.  So, I hope everyone had an enjoyable Christmas holiday.

For the very first time ever in my entire life - we had a white Christmas.  It snowed pretty much all day Christmas Eve.  At first it wasn't sticking as the day before it had gotten up to 70 degrees.  But, as the day wore on the temperature continued dropping and the snow kept falling with an accumulation of about 2.5 inches on our yard - which was till on the ground Christmas morning.  By noon Christmas day it had started melting and the streets were pretty much clear - but even today there are still patches of snow under trees and next to buildings which don't get much sun; and, we're supposed to get more snow this afternoon. I'll have to say that white Christmas's aren't as glamorous as they sound - it's cold!  And I slipped and almost fell when I went out to get the newspaper.  I'll take a balmy Christmas, thank you very much.

And, in case anyone is wondering, that is an actual picture of my house on Christmas morning.  I risked life and limb to go across the street to snap that picture.  Next is a picture of my backyard.  It may not seem like much snow to all of you Utah folks - but it's a lot for us.  Something to consider is that we don't have snow shovels.  Our local cities don't have the equipment to keep roads clear; so, it was pretty icy Christmas Eve night which resulted in quite a few accidents.  Also,many flights were canceled at D/FW airport; so, a lot of people woke up Christmas morning in an airport terminal.

Christmas day was pretty quiet overall.  Christmas Eve we had two of our children over with spouses for our Christmas dinner.  My daughter then spent Christmas day over at her in-law's while my son and his wife spent Christmas day with us.  We slept in and made Eggs Benedict for breakfast before we even started opening presents.  Christmas afternoon we went to see Avatar in 3D - it was good, but not great.

I had one present that I bought for my wife that didn't arrive before Christmas.  I bought the latest "Star Trek" movie on DVD from Borders online.  It came today, and I discovered I had ordered the blu-ray version - and we don't have a blu-ray player.  Actually, I knew I was getting the blu-ray version, it's a 3-disk edition and I thought it also came with the regular DVD (which a lot of movies are doing); but, evidently not this particular version I got - I failed!  Fortunately I was able to return it at the local Borders bookstore and didn't have to hassle with sending it back.

Saturday morning I had signed up to clean the church building.  There were 3 families there; so, it went pretty fast.  Plus, it was pretty clean to begin with since it hadn't been used since the previous Sunday.  I took it upon myself to go around the building to find things in need of repair (lights out, broken tables, etc.) and sent an email to both our ward and stake building coordinators.

Since Christmas I've just been chilling.  I have to keep a box of kleenix nearby as I've been blowing my nose constantly.  I have some sort of sinus infection for which the doctor gave me antibiotics.

I'm starting to think maybe I should just give up on the idea of being a teacher or work in the I/T industry.  Both area's are pretty dried up - at least from my job searching.  I just need to find a job - any job.  Realistically, I don't really need to make that much - the children are grown and we're pretty much debt free (just the house and a car payment).  The biggest worry is health insurance - I need to work someplace that offers health insurance.  Right now I'm still covered under COBRA - but that's going to be running out in the next few months.  And, this watered down, over compromised, pork filled, health care bill that is currently being peddled through congress isn't going to do much, if anything, to help people in my situation - I'm neither old enough nor poor enough.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

When did I know?

We've past winter solstice and now the days are getting longer - and I realized I'm running out of time to blog about the monthly theme, which would be most embarrassing - especially since I'm the one who came up with the theme.

First off, I'm going to draw a distinction between 'knowing' and 'accepting' - I didn't accept that I am gay until a little over 3 years ago; however, I knew that I wasn't quite like other boys at a much earlier age.

Warning:  This blog post may be a little more graphic than usual

Note:  Much of this I've shared before in bits and pieces,

To be brutally honest - I've had a fascination with the male physique for as long as I can remember - I've never had the same fascination with the female body.This goes back to my pre-pubescent days when I'd have a friend sleep over and we'd do the "I'll show you mine if you'll show me yours" thing.

But, when I really knew that I was different from other boys had to be 7th grade.  My family moved the summer between my 6th and 7th grades to a small town in Northern California.  Here I was in a small town with no friends and starting Junior High School - with the dreaded locker room.  My Junior High School was next to, and shared a locker room with, the High School.  The high school boys were in the back of the locker room with the junior high school boys in the front - meaning that the high school boys had to walk past the younger boys both entering and leaving.

This was the first time I had ever seen a post puberty naked male body - with hair growing in places I never imagined (especially since I was a bit of a late bloomer in the puberty department).  My fascination with the male physique went into overdrive.  Whenever I would see one of those older boys naked - I had to look.  It was almost an involuntary reflex. Unfortunately, however much I tried to hide my peeks, my curiosity did not go unnoticed among my peers - so this was also the first time I was called a 'fag' and 'queer'.  I remember coming to school on day to find "FAGGOT" spray painted across my locker door.

This fascination continued into high school.  My family moved again the end of 8th grade; so, I started 9th grade at a different high school where nobody knew me.  Fortunately, I had become more adept at hiding my locker room inquisitiveness; so, high school was a bit better with the name calling.  But, I had other OGT's (Obviously Gay Traits) which prompted the occasional taunts of 'fag' and 'queer'.  It seems my peers knew me better than I knew myself.  It was in high school when I developed my first crush - for a boy (a friend of mine).  It was my junior year in high school when I first dared to think I might be gay - but I dismissed it.  It was a different era.  I grew up being taught that homosexuals were perverts who hung out in public bathrooms waiting to molest boys.  I wasn't like that - so, of course, I couldn't be one.

Fast forward:  I graduated from high school, started college, joined the LDS church, quit college to work to raise money for a mission, served a mission, got married in the temple, got back into college, had a baby and wife was pregnant for the 2nd time, and was finishing up my college degree.  By this time I was convinced that I was 'cured' of my unnatural and disgusting attractions to men.  I felt I had done everything God had asked of me and had been rewarded with heterosexuality.  After all, I had already sired one and a half children - homo's didn't do that! (I actually was quite homophobic as well.)

I was in my last year of college and discovered I was missing some P.E. credits; so, I signed up for a P.E. class.  This was the first time I was in a locker room situation since high school.  The young man whose locker was next to mine would always dress and undress while standing facing me.  Here I was once again faced with that beautiful naked male body - and it hit me like a ton of bricks that I wasn't 'cured' after all.  I wasn't the good little heterosexual boy that I pretended to be.

From there I evolved from being a 'cured' homosexual to a person having a terrible dark and dirty secret that I was prepared to take with me to the grave.  It would take me more than two decades before I progressed to accepting myself a full fledged queer.  I really don't know what the catalyst was to allow me to finally accept myself for who and what I am. My children were growing older and leaving the nest, so perhaps I wasn't as focused on them causing me to look more inward - I don't know.  Whatever the reason - I have accepted myself as a homosexual; although, truth be told, I'm not always happy about it - but I still accept it.  It's just that, for someone in my position (heterosexually married) - it's dang inconvenient at times.

A question I think every gay man reflects on at some point is "if there were a pill to turn me from gay to straight, would I take it?"  When I began this journey 3 years ago I would have answered 'yes' without a moments hesitation.  Today - I'd have to say 'no'.  Although I still have a great appreciation for the male body - I've come to realize that being gay is more than that.  Being gay permeates my very being.  It affects my likes and dislikes, my personality, even my very soul.  If you take the gay out of me then what would be left?

So, there you have it - I knew at a fairly young age - but I didn't accept it until much later in life. I sometimes reflect on how different my life would have been if I had accepted it when I first knew it.

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Three year anniversary

Today marks the three year anniversary of my very first blog post. On December 19th, 2006 at 7:48pm I published my very first post.  I started with
To be honest, I've never understood blogging. Why do some people post intimate details of their lives for everyone to see? And why to other people read blogs? Yet, I find myself reading blogs, and now I am writing my own blog.
So, how have I progressed over the last three years?
  • I finally accepted myself as queer after a lifetime of denial; although, to be fair, that happened a few weeks before I started this blog.
  • I donned the "Abelard" persona. I didn't start this blog Abelard - that name was later bestowed upon me by a family member - and it just sorta stuck.
  • I shared with my wife that I'm gay shortly after starting this blog
  • I've made new friends (albeit e-friends)
  • My support for GLBT issues, such as gay marriage, has evolved. I started this journey supporting the granting of marriage-like rights but not calling it marriage. Now I'm firmly in the gay marriage camp.
  • I've evolved (or devolved) from TBM (True Believing Mormon) to QM (Questioning Mormon)
What hasn't changed over the last 3 years?
  • I'm still faced with the question: So I'm a homosexual - now what???
Other changes I've seen in the past 3 years
  • I've witnessed changes in others during this 3 year period, sometimes dramatically - from active church membership to being in a relationship (of the gay sort) and, to a far lesser extent, the other direction (return to active membership).
  • I've seen the LDS church abandon it's long standing policy of staying out of politics and being instrumental in overturning gay marriage in California. To be fair, this was not the first foray into politics for the LDS church - but it is certainly the most extensive in living memory. That, coupled with their support of a gay rights ordinance in SLC, makes me wonder if this is the beginning of a new era for the LDS church? Is the church going to start being more outspoken on political issues? Will it extend beyond gay rights?
So, what does the future hold for me?
  • My current status with the LDS church is very unstable - one way or the other it will resolve itself. As to what that resolution will be, which side of the fence I will eventually choose, is anybodies guess (I certainly don't know).
  • I continue to inch my way out of my closet. When I started this journey I was firmly entrenched in my closet with full intention of staying that way; but, unexpectedly, my closet has gotten stuffy. Where I used to go to painful extremes to protect my true identity, I've become more lax. For example, 40% of my Facebook friends are MoHo's - sharing my friend page with my family, members of my ward, and others.  This may seem like a tiny insignificant baby step - but it's big to me, especially in light of where I was 3 years ago.
It's been a roller coaster ride of emotions the last 3 years - ranging from being gay and proud to cursing god for placing this burden on me.  I don't know what the next year has in store for me (hopefully a job); but, one thing I am sure of is that it will be full of twists and turns.

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

MoHo Polls and December theme

I've gotten behind on MoHo Polls (Thanksgiving did that to me - that's my story and I'm sticking to it). Anyway, I just posted some new December polls this morning. These came from a fellow famly member (I'll leave it to them if they want to identify themselves). I also extended the movie poll as not very many people voted last month.

So, vote on the movie poll if you haven't already - and then scroll down to vote on the 8 other polls regarding early indications of sexual orientation, self-directed gaydar, early sexual development, etc.

As for a theme for December, blog about when you first started to suspect you might be different, early indications that you were special, when did you go from suspicions to acceptance and what was the catalyst? etc.

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Priesthood meeting

Got the following email from the high priests group secretary
This Sunday we will have a group discussion based on this past General Conference talks. Share your favorite talk(s) from the last General Conference Oct 2009. Who spoke , what was said and what stood out to you.

We will draw names to see who goes first.

We will have time for all.
I really hate these sort of "lessons" - I just don't like being put on the spot like this. The fact that I really didn't pay much attention to of this last conference is kinda a problem too. When it comes my turn I'll wing it - but it feels dishonest. But, what else can I do? When they call on me say "I didn't really watch conference because I'm kinda struggling with the church right now"? I can't imagine that ending well.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

New Moon

My wife and I went to see New Moon yesterday. When we arrived they only had one of the ticket booths open; so, there was a bit of a line. It was cold; so, my wife went inside to wait while I waited in line to get tickets. When I got to the front, there was a cute boy in the booth - which, I don't know why, made it a bit awkward to say" two tickets for New Moon". I was happy that it was on the largest screen (this particular theater has 17 screens of 3 different sizes). I am also happy to say that I wasn't the only guy in the theater - nor was I the oldest. However, the theater was pretty empty. We had the entire row to ourselves, as did most of the couples, small groups; and, the entire two side sections were completely empty. Not unexpectedly, I suppose, most of the movie previews were for upcoming sappy love stories. I should also point out that I have not read any of the books; so, I went to the movie with no expectations whatsoever.

As for the movie itself - I'm not gonna lie, half naked wolf boys running around was nice, as was a certain shirtless vampire. But the movie itself was soooo sloooow. Seriously, they could have easily cut out 30-45 minutes and not lost a thing. Way too much lingering.

And the characters, I just don't find myself emotionally connected to any of them. Jacob - dude, she's just not into you, and she's too old for you anyway, move on. Edward - she's way too needy and clingy, go find yourself a nice vampire girl (or boy?). I just don't care about any of them - drink her blood or turn her into a vampire, I don't care. Turn Edward and Sam into gay lovers, I don't ca___ - OK, maybe that might pique my interest a bit. But not Edward and Jacob as that would make Edward a blood sucking pedophile, and that's just not cool. Although, at 105 years old, one could argue that he already is with Belle.

My overall opinion of the movie? Wasn't great, wasn't bad - it was just OK. I heard so many people saying how this one was so much better than the first. Personally, I didn't see much difference in regards to pace, acting, effects, etc.

But, enough about New Moon - check out this YouTube video I came across recently.

There seems to be a lot of musical talent in the queerosphere - maybe someone should put together a MoHo quartet ...

Friday, December 4, 2009

Blog spam

I've begun receiving blog spam (comments not related to my posts - generally trying to sell something) fairly regularly. It's been a problem almost as long as I've had this blog; but, it was something that only happened once every few months. However, of late it's been a weekly occurrence and I worry that they may start coming even more frequently. I delete them when they come (I hope I've gotten all of them).

To combat this, I've changed my blog settings to enable comment moderation on posts over 21 days old. Hopefully that will take care of the problem. If not then I'll have to add word verification. As a last resort I'll disable anonymous comments. Although, I truly hope it doesn't come to that as I want everyone to feel like they can say something - even if they are not comfortable revealing their identity. I welcome all comments that are relevant to this blog - even from those who take issue with something I've said.

So, please feel comfortable saying anything you want to say in comments - even if you think I'm a degenerate scuzzbag not worthy of the air I breathe. I only ask that you be civil about it.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Fitting in

I've worked with the youth in the church for most of my adult life; and, I've gotten quite close to a few of the young men I worked with and with whom I've kept up with as they've moved on with their lives.

One such young man's family moved back to Utah a couple of years ago where he finished high school and is now in the military. I've been thinking about him a lot lately. He is a facebook friend which makes it easy to keep up with him. From his facebook posts - it's obvious he is no longer active in church; for example, he recently posted a picture of his new tattoo - one that covers his entire upper back and includes a skull.

To be honest, I'm really not surprised; in fact, I think I would have been more surprised if he had gone on a mission. He always has been a person who just doesn't fit in with Mormon culture.

I always thought of him as my little redneck friend - he is short, wears cowboy boots and the stereotypical big belt buckle, drove an old pickup truck with a gun rack in the back, etc. In class he was loud and obnoxious - he was a leader who could get the class going with whatever he was doing. While other adults viewed him as a problem - for me he was a challenge to get him going in the direction I wanted so that he could lead the class with him. He was involved in the high school wrestling team; so, he is cute, physically fit and likes to wear tight clothes to show off his physique - I never felt that what he wore was inappropriate for the occasion; but, more than once I heard others make derogatory comments about what he was wearing. At high school football games you'd find him shirtless with his face painted and a big letter painted on his chest. A friend of his posted a Youtube video of him stripping down to his shorts and running across the football field after their team won ... and then being escorted off the field by the police. He got 2 weeks in school suspension for that stunt - and our bishop was most displeased with him.

But, he has a heart of gold. He is friendly to everyone - I never heard him say anything bad about someone else (although I heard plenty of people say unkind things about him). He'll do anything you ask him to. At service projects, while the "good" kids were standing around complaining - hand him a shovel and he'd turn into a human backhoe. After his in school suspension for his little stunt - he bought his high school principal a fruit basket as a peace offering and to let him know that he had no hard feelings. He knew there would be consequences to his actions and was willing to pay the price.

I find myself wondering if him distancing himself from the church is a result of the choices he is making - or is it a result of the general membership choosing to not accept him for who he is. Is he seeking acceptance outside of the church because he can't find it within? If so then which is the greater sin? The choices he is making? Or the choices of others to reject him because he won't change to be the person they think he should be? This gets back to the age old question: Should church be a hospital for sinners or a sanctuary for saints? Too often it's the latter when it should be the former.

Should I feel sad because he is no longer going to church? Or should I be happy for him because he's doing what he wants to do? He never had college aspirations - he always talked about going into the military. As I think of him, I find myself wondering if this is a truly a church for everyone - or is it only a church for those who are willing to toe the line? Is it right for us to cut off the corners of all of the square pegs so that they'll fit into our round holes? While we profess to be the one true church - are we really only the true church for the round-ish pegs of the world - the ones that can be easily molded to conform to our round holes?

Something I've always admired in him is that he is a person who is not ashamed of who he is. While many people have a church persona which they put on while attending church meetings and activities - he is the same person at church, at school, and at home. He is honest about who he is - with him, what you see is what you get. I respect that - it's an attribute I wish I had more of in my own life. Instead I have my own persona that I project - one that does not reflect who I really am. I am afraid to be myself out of fear of rejection.

On a more personal note - I find myself wondering if the struggle I'm having with the church of late is because I am not conforming to the Mormon mold - I no longer feel like I fit in. I can't talk about some of the things that are on my mind with my church friends if they are perceived to be contrary to the church. I can't comment on what others say if my comment doesn't fit the party line. So, I withdraw - I attend my meetings, but I do not participate. People at church are friendly enough - but they are friends with the fake me. I find myself wondering if they would still be friendly if they knew the real me - the gay me.

Just as being gay is part of who I am - being Mormon is part of who I am, but it doesn't define me. Should it? Should everything I do or say revolve around the church? Is it wrong to march to the beat of a different drum if that drum is playing a rhythm that is dissonant with the drums the rest of the church is beating?

In the distance I hear other drums beating a rhythm that is harmonious with the drum I am beating. How long can I live with the dissonance? Something has to give - either I have to change my beat to fit in with those around me - or I will eventually start to drift towards those distant drums whose rhythms are mellifluous with my own.

I know what the LDS church says I should do - but is that truly the right thing for me to do? Am I a square peg who just can't squeeze into the round hole anymore? Or am I a round peg who is so intrigued by the square pegs I've encountered that I'm trying to be more like them? Or perhaps I am a hexagonal peg which has corners not unlike those of the square pegs and and looks like it ought to fit into the round hole if you pound it hard enough. Maybe I'm a triangular peg that fits in neither the round hole nor the square hole. Whatever the case, things just aren't fitting together for me anymore.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Lesbian/Gay - check

I received a survey in the mail regarding the purchase of my Nissan Cube a few months ago. It is an extensive 9 page survey that covers the factors leading to my purchase, driving habits, brand loyalty, etc. It seemed to be legitimate; so, I filled it out.

At the end of the survey was demographic information: Age, marital status, education level - and then this question
Which of the following best describes you?
[ ] Heterosexual/Straight
[ ] Lesbian/Gay
[ ] Other
[ ] Decline to answer
I had to put my pen down and consider how I should answer this question. It may seem insignificant to others - but it is a big deal to me. The reality is that my gayness may very well be a factor leading to the purchase of a Nissan Cube because, frankly, a lot of straight guys wouldn't be caught dead driving it, especially those of my generation. It's cute and more popular with teenage girls than those of the male persuasion.

I set the survey aside to attend to other errands while I thought about how I should answer. It's supposed to be anonymous - but then it did come addressed specifically to me. It also requested contact information in case someone wanted to contact me regarding some of my answers. And, to many, it'll seem contradictory as I already answered that I'm male, and married (to a woman). Plus, I'm still deeply closeted - am I ready to stick my toe out of the closet?

On the other hand, I'm not ashamed of who I am. I'm gay - so what! If it bothers you then that's your problem so get over it. (I can be quite militant in the privacy of my closet)

Later in the day, I picked up the survey, checked "Lesbian/Gay", answered the remaining questions, and put it in the pre-paid return envelope to go out in tomorrow's mail.

I don't know what tomorrow will bring. Perhaps I'll chicken out and toss it in the trash rather than the mailbox. But, for today, it is empowering - my first "public" declaration. As recently as a year ago I very much doubt I would have answered the same.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Me too

I'm such a follower sometimes. A lot of people have been posting a word cloud created by wordle which allegedly shows the most popular words used on a web site. I say allegedly as I'm suspicious about how accurate it really is.

First I changed my blogger settings so that all of my blog posts, since the beginning, were shown. I wanted to get a complete picture of my entire blog, not just what shows up on the first page. It resulted in the following word cloud

I immediately grew suspicious as the word "skepticism" was so prominent. I really don't use that word all that much (3 times - I counted). It just happens that I've used it in the last couple of blog posts. This made me suspect that, even though I had changed settings to show all blog posts, wordle was only looking at the most recent.

Next I copied all of my blog posts to the clipboard and pasted them into the text box on the wordle page rather than providing a URL. This resulted in the following word cloud

Finally, I edited the text I had copied from my blog posts to eliminate commonly repeated phrases like "Posted by Abelard Enigma", "witty parleys" and "Links to this post". This resulted in this final word cloud which I believe to be fairly accurate.

Examining the most commonly used words in my blog yields: church people think just like gay one or gay people think just like church one.

Hmmm, I don't know what this means - and I'm spending way too much time analyzing this. In any case, my blog is kinda gay.