Tuesday, November 9, 2010

It gets better ???

First off, I have to say that I really love the It Gets Better campaign.  The thing I like most about "It Gets Better" is the positive focus.  The gay community plays the victim so much that it's refreshing to see a positive perspective of being gay.

I love watching the videos.  It seems everybody who is anybody - and even a few nobodies and anybody wannbes - has made an "It Gets Better" video; although, my favorite - by far - is the one created by the LA Gay Mens Chorus - it brings tears to my eyes every time I watch it.  It's beautiful and sad at the same time - sad because I just don't see myself ever being circled about by my straight family and friends.

And ... I find myself wondering:  What about those of us who accept our homosexuality much later in life?  "It Gets Better" is focused on gay youth - I get that and support it.  But, what about people like me who lived most of our lives pretending to be straight and have finally accepted who we are?  Does it get better?  Or is this as good as it gets?

I no longer have to deal with bullies trying to rip away my self esteem.  Echos of being called a queer and a fag are distant memories.  In that sense I guess it has gotten better ...

But ... my life is filled with diametrically opposed conflicts
  • A part of me regrets that I didn't accept myself much earlier in life and pursued a relationship that feels right.  Yet if I had - then I wouldn't have my wife and best friend; and, I wouldn't have my children who mean the world to me. 
  •  I am gay celibate.  Yet, a part of me regrets that I never took the opportunity to experience the love of another man when I was younger.
    • Part of me yearns for male companionship - yet I cannot - I must not - seek it as doing so would hurt those that are most dear to me.
    • I want to proclaim to the world that I'm gay - yet due to my personal circumstances I must remain in the closet. 
    • I attend a church that teaches me that these feelings I have are unnatural and impure - and that acting on them is a violation of God's most sacred commandments.  Yet - they don't feel unnatural or impure to me.  And, even though I have consciously chosen to deprive myself of a man-on-man relationship - I don't encourage others to choose the same path I have chosen.  In fact, I support them if they choose to live their lives to their fullest in a deeply committed relationship with someone of their own gender.
      • I continuously seek for answers - answers that always elude me - answers that I doubt even exist.

      So ... is this it?  Is this as good as it's going to get for me?  Am I doomed to spend the rest of my life seeking balance where none exists?

      And what happens when I die?  Religious leaders tell me that these feelings I have are only for mortality - that I will magically change into a heterosexual upon death.  I hear their words - but their words sound hollow and feel wrong.  What if I don't want to be a heterosexual in the afterlife?

      Yet ... if I remain a homosexual in the afterlife - am I doomed to spend eternity trying to reconcile the irreconcilable? Doesn't that sounds like a definition for hell?

      So ... does it get better?  Or, for people like me, is this as good as it's ever going to get?  Ever ...


      MoHoHawaii said...

      Welcome to middle age. You can always stop the ride and try a different one, but as you mention, there's a point where the costs (to yourself and others) outweigh the benefits.

      If it's any consolation, I think everyone who is our age, regardless of their situation, has these moments from time to time. I know I do, not about sexuality but about career choices, education, family relationships, etc. It's always a mixed bag by the time you become an old fart.

      I guess I should be more uplifting, but then I'm a useless geezer. It would be out of character. :- )

      A.J. said...

      I am in a similar situation. I don't have any answers. Just know I c are about you. -A.J.

      Anonymous said...

      I am a heterosexual male married to a woman for 15 years, so it is not easy for me to understand what you are going through. However, I would like to understand more. I don't want to get too personal, but I am curious, can't the simple act of sex with a woman just satisfy the basic need for a sexual release even though you may be repulsed by it? Of course, I may be selfish in this way because sometimes I am not feeling super attracted to my wife, but I want sex and since it is as good as it gets, I just take it and am content. Of course, I haven't felt 100% completely satisfied, but at least I got sex. I could never tell my wife that, obviously. However, as I think about it, I realize that it would be much more difficult to always be wanting what I could not have. It is very true that we tend to not give much thought at all to sexuality in our society today and so we rarely think about it in terms of what do I want compared to what I've got. Please accept my apologies for not being able to relate better. All the best!

      Abelard Enigma said...

      MoHoHawaii - I suppose you're right. The thing is, I also have these moments of reflection on career choices, education, family relationships, etc. - in addition to my reflctions on my sexuality. It's just doesn't seem fair :(

      A.J. - I want answers, dammit!!! :) But, I do appreciate your friendship.

      Anonymous - the thing is, it's not about sex, it about intimacy. Part of me yearns for the warm embrace of another man, the caresses, the hugging and kissing, ...

      Yes, I can be intimate with my wife, but it's not the same. It doesn't fulfill my primordial need for intimacy that I think I would experience with a man.

      But, I do appreciate your efforts to try to understand - if only we had more straight people like you on our side.

      Anonymous said...

      The question is, is what you've got good enough? Like you, I'm a middle aged married man. I have 5 kids, and like you I'm gay.

      I told my wife when we got married that I had a "past", though at the time I honestly thought my past would increasingly become more and more distant and faded.

      Unlike you I spent a decade of my life, from shortly after my mission, until my early 30's, living what I supposed was a gay lifestyle. I had a group of friends from BYU that spent nearly every weekend together, going to movies, hanging out at Denny's at
      3am, or frequenting a gay club in SLC. I fell in love with another man. You are right, it isn't about sex, it's about filling that inner, most deepest part of you that cannot, in any circumstance, be filled in any other way.

      I screwed up though. I became too promiscuous. All these beautiful men wanted me and I became addicted to that. Increasingly I got sick of what I was doing, and I fled back to the church that I had left. I blamed my "gayness" on my being promicuous. Surely the church must be right, and I must be wrong. I wanted, and needed some semblance of permanance and spirituality and familiarity.

      So I married. It's been nearly a year and a half since my life as I had carefully constructed it came crashing down. I first came out to myself, truly accepting who I am. I then came fully out to my wife. I told her that my past had never gone away, and that it never would.

      We've had some tough times since then, but we've had some great times. I renewed a few friendships from when I was at BYU. I have no illusions that if I left my wife and family that anything would be any better. My wife at times agonizes over the fact that she can't fill that one part of me that cannot be filled by any woman. (I do wish I could spare her that pain.) For my own sanity I have mentally left the church. I go for my wife and kids, but I am no longer emotionally invested. I'm not sure where I will be in regards to the church in 5 years, but it works for now and my wife accepts that.

      My wife still loves me and I love her. We love our kids. We are trying to make this all work.

      It's a rough road to follow, but at times it is also a beautiful road. Do what works for you.

      Beck said...

      This is as good as it ever gets.

      And by the way, when you think that this "good" really sucks, just start counting your blessing and realizing all that you do have. It helps!

      Also, look around. Look at others lives and struggles. It ain't pretty. There are a lot of hurting people out there, and a lot of those who have nothing, no one.

      Sounds trite, even stupid, but it works for me. I don't think my life is really going to get any better. Like you, I'm stuck. I don't see a better path forward. I don't see choices that will make life better than it already is. This is as good as it gets.

      And that's pretty pathetic!!!

      Is that pessimistic? Is that hopeless? Maybe. But, when you hold your grandbaby, or have family gather around you for Sunday dinners, or just the simple smile from your wife that she's still there pulling for you and with you, then you realize how blessed you really are, and the hope is still there.

      But it ain't gettin' better!

      Anonymous said...

      Thanks for the response. I think I understand a little better. I too wish more straight people could see what I see. It is so sad and so unfortunate that gay people are so misunderstood and treated so poorly in our society. However, I do see hope for the LGBT community for several reasons: 1. It is talked about. 2. I was able to see how my church was hypocritical (of course it took losing my belief in the LDS church to get to that point) and change to a much more sympathetic view because I actually listened to what GA's were saying and realized I did have disagreements. Once I was able to admit that, the world changed for me. 3. I may be naïve, but I think the world is changing for many people in a lot of ways. At least, I am hopeful that it is anyway. I see you and I as pioneers marching towards equality that we may not see in our lifetimes, but will eventually be fully realized. So even though you're wondering if this is the best there is for you right now, someday someone will be thankful we opened our mouths and called for a change that was eventually realized. This is my dream anyway. Thanks again for sharing your heart felt feelings on here.

      Anonymous said...


      I hope you get this...

      Anonymous said...

      The question is...for gay and married men does it get better?

      Short answer: I think for most yes it does to a certain point.

      For me, I made extremely slow progress when I was very closeted then rapid progress when I first came out then that tapered off until I was making little or no progress at all.

      And I have been in that place of little or no progress for years.

      What I have now is a sense of peace within myself. I know who I am.

      That differs greatly from the conflict and confusion that reigned supreme prior to my coming out.

      Where it has gotten better is that my internal world is OK now and some improvement has been made synching up my internal and external worlds.

      I have partially succeeded in synching both worlds because the people most important to me know the real me and accept me as I am so I no longer care who knows.

      The only exceptions are my wife's family who I have not come out to out of respect for my wife's wishes. Fortunately, my wife's family live out State.

      That freedom from fear allowed me to openly and honestly interact with most of the world.

      Then I learned the vast majority of straight people accept me just as I am or could care less what my sexuality is.

      This caused me to change my focus to the many that accept me instead of the tiny minority that would do me harm.

      This change in focus has had a dramatic affect on my life.

      I now feel safe almost all the time except for the rare occasions when it makes sense to feel unsafe.

      I never realized how unsafe I had felt before.

      So it has much gotten better because I now feel comfortable in my skin and for the most part feel welcome by the outside world.

      Where has it not gotten better?

      Well, in my sexual relationship or, as I like to put it, in my primary affectional relationship.

      I didn't know for years but I know now that I have a much greater capacity for intimacy with a man than with my wife.

      There are discrepancies in our marriage caused by my limited ability to relate to her.

      There is nothing wrong but there is something missing from our relationship. Something vital.

      But, since I have never been in a relationship with a man, I have never experienced what that something or something(s) is.

      Yet my limited experience with men and my intuition tells me clearly there is something.

      So what to do?

      I cannot make progress in a vacuum.

      To make further progress would require having some kind of relationship with another man and I know my wife well enough to know the marriage would not survive.

      So I have come to the conclusion that I have reached the point of diminishing returns unless I am willing to end my marriage.

      Yet I haven't been able to accept this conclusion so for years I have been spinning my wheels trying to make things better while staying within the status quo.

      I guess you could say making things better has long been my gay obsession.

      Which was OK as long I was making progress but now that obession seems almost counter-productive.

      The sensible thing to do if I am to stay married is to focus my energies elsewhere where there is at least some opportunity for progress.

      And that means changing my focus from making things better in my gay universe to accepting what I have and instead focusing on other areas that my gay obsession has caused me to neglect in the past.

      Makes sense right?

      As always there is something I forgot to mention...

      I am talking as an older man (57 years old).

      One more reason I can be as OK as I am with being gay celibate is that my sex drive is no longer driving me crazy.

      But now that that primordial need is receding more and more into the background, other intimacy needs that were there all along are coming into ever sharper focus.

      Kind of ironic considering for so long I thought it was just about sex when it was always so much greater than that.


      alan said...

      Thanks for posting this. The "It Gets Better" campaign did perpetuate an idolatry with youth over aging, which is not good since there are vulnerable people of all ages. Certainly it was directed at young people because they were the ones whose suicides were made public. But as you know, Stuart Matis was in his thirties when he committed suicide; "It Gets Better" doesn't seem to make much sense in his case. If it got better, then he wouldn't have committed suicide! So, obviously, there are systemic changes that have to happen in society not just for the sake of youth, but for everyone.

      Anonymous said...

      I am 54 years old. Female. I just divorced a very good man after 28 yrs of marriage. I have been through hell but am coming out the other side with a beautiful woman by my side. She is my life partner. I HAD to make the change, and do not regret it. I did not realize there was such an incredible dimension of joy and love in this world. I felt stuck too, but the kids are grown, and the longing was unbearable, so the time had come. I also left the church and feel so free now. I never dared to imagine my life the way it is turning out. I hope you find happiness, Abe.

      Anonymous said...

      Abe - I have a related question. You note that you wouldn't suggest to others that they seek this path. And I assume that you, like me, disagree with the church's position on homosexuality. I especially disagreed with Packer's conference talk. Due to my opinions, I assume that I will not obtain a temple recommend. What is your opinion? Does sustaining church leaders require me to agree with everything they say as the "Lord's anointed"?

      Abelard Enigma said...

      Does sustaining church leaders require me to agree with everything they say as the "Lord's anointed"?

      I've been struggling with this very same question - which is why I haven't gone in to get my temple recommend renewed.