Friday, March 16, 2012

In which Brett Explores the Dark Side of Sexual Repression

There is a trend, I think, toward believing that choosing celibacy is a legitimate option. At the very least, there seems to be a trend toward feeling like suppressing your own homosexuality is desirable. I don't want to tell you how to live your lives anymore than I want you to tell me how to live mine, but I would like to share a story with you.

Jonathan and I, a little more than a year ago, moved in with a guy a named Eric, who was renting out a spare bedroom in a condo he himself was renting. Standard sort of shady Craigslist roommate search. Well, Eric gave off a gay vibe from the very beginning, but we decided we'd probe it gently. He was super evasive, so we wound up getting more direct, to no avail. He once answered a question of "do you like boys or girls" with "um, girls are good."

Well, one evening after we'd been living with him for a couple of months we were out for drinks, which was a semi-normal occurrence for us, and Jon and I decided we would go and hit a gay club after. Eric decided he wanted to come with us, and we didn't see any harm in it. Having a straight friend at a gay bar is kind of fun, right?

Not exactly. I spent the first hour or so telling Eric how to avoid accidentally flirting, and coaching him on all the gay lingo he might come across. Turns out it was totally unnecessary. He went home with a guy that night, turns out he's a total bottom.

Eric was raised Baptist, not Mormon, but a lot of the same ideas apply. He was wracked with guilt, just like he always was after he got laid. We figured out that every time he came home from a vacation and went on a cleaning spree that lasted a week, it was because he had had sex.

And that was his pattern:
1. Do everything you can to be straight and celibate.
2. Decide that you can never have a meaningful relationship with a man.
3. Opt for anonymous sex with a stranger instead.
4. Go on a cleaning spree to begin repenting
5. Reaffirm your commitment to abstinence and heterosexuality.
6. Start over.

I'm not saying this is the definitive pattern that every guy will go through if they try to repress themselves. But I do think it's important to realize that you may not be as strong as you think you are, and you're fighting a powerful force of nature. Eric was good kid, but he had some really unhealthy self destructive habits. With time we were able to help him break out of that, but it took a lot of work to get him to the point where he was able to realize that a health, committed relationship with a man was better than having sex with strangers all the time.

Given the choice between the two, don't you think you'd prefer the one to the other?

Monday, March 12, 2012

In which Brett marvels at how the world, and his perceptions of it, have changed

I recently started a new blog to document my upcoming travels. You can read about it at Lambda Vagabonders. (Shameless plug) It got me thinking about how much I missed this one. The times I'd shared with the people who read my blog. The whining, the hiding, the envy, the whole spectrum of emotions that I'd experienced while typing away on this blog that I thought only a few people ever read. If only I'd known how many people were reading, I don't know that I could have kept typing.

Then comes a point when you realize: things are quieter now. I'm laying on a couch in the house Jon and I rent. Dr. Sharma cancelled class today and I only had the one on MWF. I haven't been conflicted about my sexual orientation in ages. I literally don't think I can remember the last time. I've grown to accept and love myself, and the world around me is changing in that direction too. I never would have believed, when I was a scared, gay 17 year old at BYU that things would ever work out this way.

Most of my old friends stopped updating their blogs a long time ago. I think the trendy thing is either semi-annual or annual updates. Not wishing to appear a slave to fashion, I think I'll opt for something like every 8 months, and then randomly switch to periods of activity. :)

Reading through the blogs, the dichotomy amazes me. People seem to, after a couple of years, take to one of two camps. They either decide to accept themselves and who they are, or they decide to loathe themselves at what they perceive to be the behest of the church, although I doubt the church as a formal body could really care less what they do. If I were the church, I'd really just want you all to go away. But I'm not, and I don't.

It's well exemplified by Michael, who is happily married to a man and even changed his name to his husband's, on the one side, and L, who is, I assume, happily married to a woman, active in the church, and an ardent opponent of gay marriage and "the lifestyle," on the other. I can't help but feel almost sort of sorry for L, which is funny because I used to so look up to him. I don't want to judge him, but I know what it feels like to wake up hating yourself while defiantly claiming to love yourself. I hope he, and those who choose his path, find happiness.

As the world turns, it becomes astoundingly more accepting of gay people. Currently, six states allow gay marriages. They are NY, CT, MA, IA, VT, and NH. Marriage is also allowed in DC. By 2013, marriage is expected to be allowed in MD and WA, and possibly in a couple of other states. For example, it passed in NJ, but was vetoed by the governor. About this time one year ago, Gallup found that the majority of Americans are in favor of gay marriage. 53% favored legal recognition of the unions compared to 45% opposing. It is difficult, in light of this overwhelming support, to imagine that there are still gay men out there who actively fight against gay marriage, gnashing that it must never come to pass. At the risk of sounding overly pompous, I feel for all of them.

I understand that many view me as apostate. I remember way back when the big apostate was "mohohawaii," who was so bold as to post on things like finding a boyfriend! In retrospect, I feel like he may have been a bit too forceful, but his intentions were good. No doubt many will feel similarly about me. Nevertheless, I hope that you can all look forward to the world changing for the better, at least in terms of how people feel about you. I hope that all get to be very happy, regardless of which path you take.