...so intense it would bring me to tears if I weren't furious.

A lot has been going on lately. The day started off in first hour Seminary. A substitute teacher gave an off-the-cuff lesson on how the swine flu epidemic was designed by conspiring men and facilitated by caffeinated soda, and how airplane exhaust causes other outbreaks of sickness ('How do I know these things? My wife is in health and wellness.' Talk to me after class about how you can buy our amazing health smoothies, or sign yourselves up for our pyramid scheme today!...). He then proceeded to somehow launch into homosexuality. It was like, "Running out of things to say? Fill the extra time with a perennial favorite: ripping on the gays!" A wonderful way to begin the day: music and the spoken venom.

After school, my dad (he's not my bio-dad, and I don't usually live with him, but he's like a dad) was waiting to take my sister. Before they left, though, he sat down with my mother and I to talk about "you-know-what". Apparently my sister told him; I expected as much.

Ignorance does not feel like a strong enough word--I would sooner describe his state as a dogged, almost fanatical commitment to irrationality. The man was in a frenzy: he refused to even consider that sexuality might not be a choice, and when I asked him why someone would choose to be hated and despised, his answer was, "Why do people kill people? Look at serial killers..."

Then there was a heated theological debate that touched on Biblical references to homosexuality, sin, modern revelation through prophets, personal revelation, and the Church's position(s). Facts, logic, common sense...these meant nothing in the face of such vehement bigotry (which, in his defense, he was raised with). Desperate, I tried a different route--telling Dad that I had prayed and fasted myself and had had to find my own answers--but it was equally futile. I was told in very plain language that if I "chose this lifestyle", I would destroy myself, physically, through AIDS, and/or spiritually, through sin. I would be giving up happiness in this life and the next. I could not go to heaven--much less the Celestial Kingdom--and would ultimately burn in hell. "Sin against nature" was a frequently-used term, as were "abomination", "off-the-wall thoughts", and "temptations". The issue was not even homosexual actions--it was just being gay. The thoughts alone, I was told, would ruin every aspect of my life and being.

In the end, I was told that I was loved no matter what. For this, at least, I am extremely grateful. Bless him for that. As for the rest, well... I have to go on "a few" dates with girls, go at things with an open mind, this sort of thing. In short, my parents think that my dating a few cute girls will turn me straight. (Actually, my mom more or less accepts me as I am, but she is at the same time hopeful that I am just...confused.)

I am lucky to have the knowledge that I do. I am lucky to have the support of people not blinded by insane bigotry. I am lucky to know myself. I am lucky to still be accepted by my family.

The concept of re-orientation is alluring (not the least to the parents and loved ones of gay people), but the failure of re-orientation is obvious.

People wonder why gay Mormons are killing themselves off? People wonder why LGBT teens are four times more likely to commit suicide than straight teens?

The only thing I wonder about is how people can still be so ignorant. It is frightening, and to me it is a strong case for coming out. The only way to educate and hopefully change the prejudiced, as I see it, is to show them that someone they know and love is gay. At this point--and this is more or less my answer to Abe's question "Where are you in your journey?"--I am a few straight dates away from coming out. Unless the sparks fly during this, "the Great, Straight Experiment", I am finished. I am finished living a lie. I am finished being afraid to be myself. I am finished with Seminary. I am finished with being a pathetically spineless people-pleaser, losing myself in my efforts to placate others. I am finished trying to sit on a fence that is painfully sharp--jagged, even.

If I were someone reading this blog, going through the archives, my response would probably be, "Poop or get off the pot, you wretch." And my answer to such an imperative, if it were posed to me today, would simply be, I am finished. I am almost finished. I'm just now washing my hands, in fact.


David Baker-@DB389 said...

Wow, I am proud of you for having the talk with your family. I believe that ignorance is a huge factor in why so many GLBT teens commit suicide and coming out and letting those round you see that their words, their actions hurt not some far off image of "The Gays" but instead an actual human being... I believe that that has the power to change people. Personally I would urge you to stay in Seminary if only to speak up, but that is a personal call.

Abelard Enigma said...

It angers me whenever I hear of a seminary teacher, or any teacher in the church for that matter, teaching as doctrine the philosophies of men.

Regarding your parents, it reminds me of a similar talk my parents had with me when I was just a couple years older than you. Only, the topic was my decision to join the LDS church. To say they were not pleased is an understatement - they too pushed me to date good Christian girls hoping it was just a phase and that I would eventually grow tired of Mormonism and quit. But, after serving a mission and getting married in the temple, they eventually came around and accepted my decision.

I share this in hopes that your parents too will come around and eventually accept you for who you are. It may seem like they're overreacting now - but it's up to you to show them that gays are not the evil family and society destroying monsters that many make us out to be.

Alan said...

Bravo. I wish I'd had your courage when I was a teenager. I'm actually going through a similar thing with my own dad right now, so I can relate. He's not quite as aggressive as yours but he clings to some of the same ideas. At least he's still talking and has invited me to educate him if I think he's missing things. I hope the same for you eventually. Hang in there, you have a lot of support from your other "family".

And too bad about your doof of a seminary teacher. Just goes to show you that ignorance and bigotry must be fought constantly. And I agree with David; consider hanging around if only so you can call anyone else out if they try the same thing again. Quote Pres. Hinckley and tell them they are certainly not following the prophet, that should work.

Frank Lee Scarlet said...

Thank you all for your comments and support! My thoughts about how to respond to your comments has led to a new post.
Thanks again--you guys are the best :)

Good to be Free said...

I know I'm late getting in here but I wanted to make sure that you knew you had all the support of us out here.

There are a couple points.
1. Dating and even marrying good Mormon girls does not make it all "go away" I and many other guys out there would be more than happy to speak with your parents about this. It is a fallacy that the church has recognized.
2. It sounds like your dad could use some reading material. Start him out with the current church literature on the subject.
3. Maybe a statement to this effect would help him understand, "Mom and Dad for years you have asked me to rely on your testimony of the church and I have because I trust you, I trust you with my life. Now you need to trust me, trust that I have studied, fasted, and prayed to know certain things."

It may not be enough to help them past the ignorance, but at least you will help them see your sincerity.

Finally, if your parents would ever like to talk to other parents, I'm sure mine or several others out there would be willing to talk to them.

Good luck and we'll be praying for you.

Bravone said...

I'd be happy to talk to your dad and let him know of my experiences if that would help. Maybe he and I could do lunch or you could join us if you want. I join Chris in saying that marrying doesn't change orientation. I don't anticipate that my orientation will ever change, but that doesn't mean that I can't function successfully in society or even in a family, though that may not be possible or a choice for others.

I don't mind 'outing' myself to him if it would help you. Let me know your thoughts.