Monday, May 31, 2010

New Tricks

Our dog is getting old and somehow this has come as quite a shock to me. You would think That I would be a little more informed and aware. After all, I have seen "The Lion King" and watch the lifetime channel way more than I care to admit.

I don't know what I thought would happen - that I, as a conscientious dog owner, would give her what Michael Jackson's mama gave him to stay young, and that it would work without the nasty side effects and that I would, in perpetuity, have a bouncing puppy eager to run with me or rip my shoes to shreds.

All she wants to do now is lay right in the middle of the room like a rug on the rug and snore. I created a large dog run chain so she has access to the whole back yard so she can chase chickens if she cares to, or do her respective 'thing' in the garden or lick the rabbits silly.

But she sits there at the fullest expanded chain and stares at the door. For hours.

Apparently she is content to do this because given an option, she chooses to stare at the door rather than anything else presented her. Its creepy.

Something creepier I have discovered is that I think I am pron to do the same thing; stare at what I want to do and be satisfied to look. I think I am being all proactive because I talk about it a lot. But looking closer, I am just doing a lot of looking and talking.

How am I going to step-out and be a doer of the word, a doer of the stuff and not just the commentator? How am I going to get to the point where I am not the one staring at the door waiting for something to happen?

Here is today's plan. As soon as I post this I am going to get on my knees and pray for guidance. Then I am going to do something I don't want to do - maybe clean up something or toss something into the trash that has been cluttering up my like or my laundry room. Then I am going to do something.

Do something.

Maybe I can interest my dog in a walk. Or in mowing the lawn.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

My Lovely Lovely Garden

I am an ardent gardener. I had to look up "ardent" in order to create that last sentience, but my puny vocabulary does not diminish my love for all things

My neighbor has a huge perennial bed with a bridge, dry stream beds and a pond. Looking at it today, there is not a tacky fiberglass flamingo or plastic flower windmill on the lot - which reminds me that I've gotta remove the three gnomes I put by the...I mean..., Gnomes? What gnomes?

My friend told me that he almost gave up on his lovely garden space last spring. I told him he was crazy. Of course I tell him this at least once a month because he is truly a loon, so calling him crazy has lost a lot of its initial impact. This time, however, I meant it more than usual.

He told me that some blue haired lady had stopped by to look at his garden and was there for 15 minutes walking and looking around. He greeted her, as any loony neighbor should, and the first thing out of her mouth was “I see weeds, so your no better a gardener than I am.”

He was so discouraged that he almost mowed over the whole thing and laid sod.

I am awfully glad he didn't. What he has created in his front yard is beautiful and unique if imperfect. It brings joy to the neighborhood. It nourishes souls, it brings people together. It smells good. I myself sometimes hide there for hours while my kids look for me.

How sad for all of us to loose such a wonderful space because my wacko neighbor dude was overtly discouraged that some hag...sweet old and well-coiffed lady, found fault.

There is a way to keep people from finding fault with what you create or plant or communicate.

Don't create or plant or communicate. In fact don't go any where, don't do anything, don't rock the boat. Don't even get in a boat. No boats or flower gardens or blogs or books or calling attention to ones self in any way.

Sounds beige to me. Sounds like there are going to be a whole lot of imperfect people hiding under very crowded bushel.

I cant imagine living a life with no skeletons in closets or coloreds in my past, or without having been around the world-weary block. There is enough pressure without expecting to learn without experience, make bricks without straw, or keeping your pretty perennials perky and perfect.

My friend still has his garden. I leave him little messages that tell him that he is, in my book, more than okay with me. I do this to let him know that I love both him and his garden - faults and all.

I tie these little notes to his weeds.

Monday, May 17, 2010

Helpful Hints From The Voice Of Experence

Face book is the devil. I have to set a goal to only get on once a day, and I can see that being to much. I have been following a conversation from a friend who is celibate. (Yeah, right)

No, really! He made a decision in the army, I think, to stay chaste because he is a gay Mormon and he won't have sex until he can do it in what he feels is the right way. Good for him.

The whole celibacy/chastity/moral cleanliness issue has moved me to think, and this doesn't happen often.

How the heck does he do it? No, I am not going to call him up and ask. I don't even know what that would look like. “Hey dude from facebook, speaking of chastity and not doing it, how do you do it, not doing it and all?...”

So I made my own list. A lot of these I do (or don't do) now that I am of the mind that marriage should be in the bounds of marriage-only. This following this list keeps me in a temple recommend. It keeps me in a relationship and with a family and free of funky diseases and complications. It is not for the week of heart. I think my chaste army friend would be proud.

1. Are you looking, but not looking, but secretly looking? Own the temptation. Come out and say it. Then decide to do it, or to not. Get off the fence. Choose the right.
2. Do your eyes wander? More when you don a pare of sunglasses? Try not using shades when outside as you can - except when driving or playing softball or operating heavy machinery.
3. Let those practicing medicine or animal husbandry compare anatomy. Putting a photo of a buff, but mostly naked man, on the fridge may assist to curb one particular appetite, but feed another.
4. You probably will not find your soul mate in a club called “The Trough” or “Meat”. Try frequenting beaches or parks or laundromats where there are lots of other people – not just single adults.
5. Stop all the flirting and/or hitting-on. Be as friendly as you want, but when you sound like Joey Tribbiani or a bad cartoon, your intent may not be as innocent as you protest
6. Reality check!: People, especially Men people, and especially when aroused, will say any thing and promise anything and everything to get what they want. And they may want you. (What are you doing there in the first place, Brother?)
7. Do you imbibe? Are you a different man after a dentists visit with Novocaine? Medications and alcohol and sometimes lack of sleep makes us vulnerable. Vulnerable is good in certain emotional relationships and in creative writing. Not in your chase for being chaste.
8. Reading iffy novels and magazines or on-line soft porn may not, bare bones, keep you from a temple recommend, but where exactly do we think this form of entertainment will lead us? Toss the graphic or lurid portrayals of sex. This may include the “Titanic” and most of the book of Psalms.
9. There is something to be said for not feeding the flame. Trying to keep things “cool” with porn is like putting out the fire with a bucket of gasoline. Men: in the A.M. at the first sign of “morning”, would you try jumping out of bed and getting your hands on something you could show your mother. Ride a bike, go for a jog, call the weatherman.
10. Get a life! Do something physically active. Get a hobby! Try spelunking or ceiling art painting, or beekeeping. It worked for Michelangelo. Run from self-pity... Embrace literature, Produce good works, Stroke the passion for math and music, Multiply the manifestation of affection and friendship where sexual attraction is absent.
11. There is power in wielding priesthood for Mormon men. There are things to wear that remind us of goals and promises. Wear them and be strong.
12. Chances are if you see it and get all hot and bothered, they will too. Keep your shirt on unless you are shooting hoops, cleaning up, toting that barge or lifting that bale. Don't undermine what little self-control others may be mustering. Do unto others. Hopefully they will keep their clothes on too.

That there's the list. What would you

Thursday, May 13, 2010

What I Think You Think. I Think

I am an arrogant fat head. That's what my wife called me last night. I think I am more concerned with the “fat head” part than I am the "arrogant" part.

I have always liked myself. Well not always, but even when I didn't like me, I think, down deep inside I knew I was OK. Even when I hated myself for being gay I really liked my smarmy sarcastic humor that I could create in seconds flat to defend my honor. There is nothing like rapier whit to defend honor. Mine was not so much rapier ar rapper; not the most intelligent of rhymes, but a lot of them at once.

I laugh at my own jokes. I think I am hugely funny. I want you to think I am funny, too. I want everyone to like me. If I think you think I am not funny or likable I go nuts. I calculate our next meeting to set up a good joke.

Being gay made me weird. And when I thought you thought I was weird, It got even weirder. I really didn't mind being gay as much as I was terribly concerned what everyone else would think if they knew. I could live with the gay. I just couldn't stand anyone thinking badly of me.

Bizarre, Huh?

The problem was, gay was disgusting. At least everything I knew of gay was. It was sordid, way before sordid was popular with movies of the week. It was filthy; anonymity in a rest room or in a secluded location. Secrecy, Double life and double standard. The occasional politician and scandal.

Walking home from school one afternoon I found a stash of pornography on the side of the road. From that day on I had a face to put on what I thought it meant to be SSA. It was not a pleasant face. It still took me awhile before I connected dots from what I was feeling to what I thought it was to be gay. Gay equaled bad, sordid, disgusting, hidden, scandalous, deceitful, outcast.

And I was Gay. And I liked me.

So, somehow I needed to be okay with myself I was going to have to be OK with bad sordid, disgusting, deceitful... This is the road I went down. I was born with what I feel was a healthy sense of self – a self that was attracted to men. This was okay with me until I was told it was wrong. My heart kept telling me I was okay, my head was so involved with what I thought I was supposed to think, or what I thought the world was going to think of me that I tore myself up.

I am attracted to guys, and therefore I seek out children? I prowl public showers? I pick up hitchhikers?

There are dangers in the world. There are monsters and predictors and they are as
scary as those in bad movie channels. And I was one.

I believe my true self was trying to tell me to lighten up. Did I know that the Lord loved me? Yes.

Did I know I was gay? Yup.

Did I know that I was eligible for as many blessings as any good straight guy? You betcha.

And yet the fact that others thought I was lowest of the low was more important than what I thought of myself.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

The M Word

Morality has become a great big giant negative M word.

It may have had something to do with the “Just Say No” campaigns of years ago that relied on guilt to decry the unchaste. I suppose that “Say yes to chastity” didn't have the same ring to it.

Plenty of blame to spread around, however, between the fractions who equate pleasure with happiness and place sexual lust in the place of, or confuse it with love.

We, as a culture, seem at ease with handing over our freedoms and our responsibilities to, ...well, anyone and anything else - as if being driven largely by sexual impulse and remaining slave to base instinct is somehow desirable.

Morality has become a term defined by those who are characteristically immoral. And we accept their definition. We politely back off in submission as if we didn't have the right to think and feel for ourselves. Those "unchaste" claim that chastity is impossible, improbable, idiosyncratic and several other “i” words.

If I may be so bold, how on earth would they know? Sex is a need. Sex is the end. Sex is the only way for a large group of people who choose not to say say “No” to our ultimate physical sensual pleasure that is meant to empower and envelope. The matter with drop-of-the-hat-sexuality is one of self focus, gratification and satisfaction that may confine us to a prison of our own making – a prison because it keeps us from making more important and more evolved emotional and spiritual connections.

The Fire & Brimstone approach of promoting moral chastity may have had its place in our history. I think, as a people, we have traveled passed the prissy and through neurotic to a point where punitive threats of hell and pain no longer function as an effective barrier against the proposed sexual freedom.

I don't think threats ever effectively worked on me except as a youth. Don't cross the street or you will die. That was a big one for me. Don't smoke or you will die. That too. After a while I learned to dismiss the “Or you will die” pylosphpy to better behavior. Surely there was reasoning behind these admonitions. Do not self gratify or you will die! Or go blind! Or will suffer great psychological damage and walk with a limp!

The “Or you will die” campaigns of adolescence had their place. I myself have used them on my children when small to keep them out of danger. But, after the initial danger has passed and when I feel more information is appropriate, I expound. I do this in part because I remember wanting more information myself when I was younger. I never got it. Once I decided that, from experience, that I wouldn't actually “die” if I crossed the street or picked my nose, or... other things, and once I perceived that the promised physical harm did not materialize, then the guidelines lost their sting. This turned into "Don't force your moral value judgments on me!"

Many were of this same opinion. If the consequences ended up not being accurate, then was there any value to guidelines? We quickly have gone from “there is no real consequence” to “we cant help our behavior”, to “we don't need to help our behavior because everything is acceptable!” "All is well" as it were. We have no responsibility because we have no choice. It's genetic. Its nurture. Its not my doing. I'm just dancing, I didn't pick the music.

How demoralizing. Are they saying that I don't have a choice in the matter? That I am a slave to ...whatever I am incapable of mastering in a week? For whatever causes, we men have been deemed to be such moral midgets, ethical eunuchs and perpetual adolescents that we're incapable of transcending our sexual kicks.*

Do we really have any other alternative but to sleep in a bed that someone else made? Human nature rules, and there ain't nothing I can do? I learned to make my bed years ago, which isn't really true because I haven't made my bed for years. Lets try again.

Somewhere along the line I made the decision to rudder my own ship. (better!) It has not been perpetually calm sailing – though I would like to end this happily with one of those “ever-after” or “into the sunset” things. There is so much that I am not in control of, but I take great joy in what I can do.

I can choose how to react. I can act. I can deal with what I have with grace and style - as any man can.

If I believe in God, and that He made me in his own image, then I accept that I may have untapped powers and abilities. Choice is one.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

And Now, For News From Our Sponsor...

A leading self proclaimed Ex-Gay was called on to resign from the board of a leading therapy group and asked to apologize to the LGBT community after the Miami New Times discovered that he took a male prostitute that he met online to Europe.

This man, a major anti-gay figure who has worked with the Family Research Council, was a board member of the National Association for Research & Therapy of Homosexuality, and testified as an expert witness in favor of gay adoption bans in both Arkansas and Florida. He has also published several anti-gay books.

This is the second NARTH board member to be so exposed in the past three months. I'm not sure what NARTH means, but it looks important. In February, another leader of an Ex-gay group was discovered as having served prison time for bond fraud. He was the co-fonder of Jews Offering New Alternatives to Homosexuality (JONAH).

Its like a B movie, isn't it? Religious guy or Politician dude creating rules and gets caught with his pants down. And I am torn. I am embarrassed for this guy and the groups he represents. I am saddened to see that these groups will have to endure even more scrutiny that before, and am thrilled at the same time that these groups will be under even more scrutiny. I feel that they should have been under the microscope way before these recent developments.

In the general case of the later denouncement, are only those with no history of controversy allowed to serve communities? If Mr. JOHAH, the homo Jewish guy, has a legal past, does that make anything he says bunk? Yeah, probably. Doesn't give anyone else with a record or a past much hope though.

In the case of the former old ex-gay guy on vacation with Lil Abner the prostitute, has he become the poster child for all these ex gay groups well-meaning or otherwise? Yeah, probably. And all those type of organizations will be discredited along side. I don't know if they should be or shouldn't be painted with the same brush. Honestly, I don't know much about these men or these groups. Every group I have ever been in (all two of them) of gay guys that don't want to be gay anymore has been somewhat distasteful. I spent more time trying to ward off advances than at the actual meetings.

I know my experience is not universal. I know that there are those who are thriving with these groups. I also know that I wouldn't recommend most of these groups for anything other that refreshments.

There are ways to get what's needed if you, as a gay Mormon man are seeking help. Small odds of success generally. Not a lot of men in the press announcing their success. But it does happen.

And its only through the Savior.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Where Have All The Gay Guys Gone?

Kinsey says 10%.

This is a generally accepted figure in connection to number of homosexuals in society. Kinsey actually categorized men into six different groups, varying degrees of hetero and homo. The "ten percent" tends to be a combination of those who consider themselves gay and those who have had a gay experience but who may have moved on to something different.

Now lets throw Mormons into the mix. How many gay Mormons are in the church? Let us turn our scriptures to D&C 121, verse...

Yeah – if only it were that easy. If I had to bet the farm I would bet on the side of more rather than less - more homosexuals in the church than in society at large. I believe that the nature of the church lends itself to sensitive and caring, thoughtful, intelligent men – in much the same way as gay men are drawn to music and art, dance, movement, design and all things creative. It is not happenstance that the percentage of homosexuals gravitate to creative walk of life.

Is the Mormon church any less creative or challenging? Mormon men are taught to be creative, accountable, loving, generous, helpful, thrifty clean brave and reverent, good fathers and husbands. Do we think that these teachings and beliefs might possibly attract those men who have, either though choosing or though genetics, developed these talents and attributes on their own?

I do. I think the church attracts those who are sensitive to issues of the spirit. Many times I sit in priesthood meeting and list those that I know of with SGA to some degree or other. Often those I can count are beyond the 10% range into the 15 to 18% range. And it has never been a surprise to me.

I state this to disarm the notion that homo guys in the church are on their own. Of course this misguided notion will continue to predominate if we don't learn to talk and trust and confide in one another and in our leaders. If we feel as a Priesthood power and an organization that there is power in twos (and we do), then how about four groups of twos? In just one ward?

There are men who do not wish to divulge their homosexuality. Many reasons they have, and most of these reasons are downright respectable and responsible. First is that with sticking a homosexual name tag on their chest they bring themselves to scrutiny in public and private. A man may wish to not act on his homosexual tendencies, choosing to minimize that behavior and it's effects on himself and his family or his family prospects. He seems to have a handle on the beast, and I am not going to incest that he come out of a closet he may not have confined himself to in the first place.

There is power in a name. Rather than label myself based on sexual attraction, I prefer to label myself based on my cherished goal - man of God, or priesthood holder. Many feel this same way.

Second, why would such a man volunteer or speak out when "well enough" seems to be doing the job. No reason to make a speech or read a blog on a behavior "problem" that hadn't reached critical mass as a behavior - and may not ever get there. These men may never feel the need to speak with their ecclesiastical leader because, as far as behavior, it was never an issue. Chances are that it won't be for him. Lets leave this brother be in relative peace with his savior and his decision. They are fine without us.

I think there are many in this boat – who may have homosexual feelings but choose not to act on them because what they feel to be true - priesthood, commandments, temple commitment's – means more to them than sex. These are unselfish righteous men.

Obviously, there are many other Mormon homosexual men in many other circumstances, and I am not trying to peg or categorize or label unduly.

There are men not as secure, who are more than wondering about and imagining a homosexual behavior or two. Maybe he hasn't engaged, but can see it coming. This man may prosper with some assistance and council. A leader/coach he can relate to and confide in or someone who is going though the same issues may help.

Some have left the church to one degree or other. There may be some living double lives. I hope not. I wish them God speed and love. I have been there myself.

So, where are the Homosexual Mormon men of the Priesthood?

Sitting alongside their straight brethren. Going to church, home teaching, leading the singing or teaching primary or leading the scouts through the woods. Leading quorums and Wards or Stakes, and giving blessings and going to the temple.

Just like a regular guy.