Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The Little Drummer Boy - Some Christmas musings

Holiday greetings to everyone! Yesterday as I was driving and shuffling through my Christmas playlist, I happened upon Josh Groban's rendition of The Little Drummer Boy. It's one of my favorites. Seriously - ALL. THE. FEELS. If you haven't heard it yet, please rectify that immediately. If you have... listen to it again. It's delightful.


Anyway, the second verse really resonates with me:
Little Baby, I am a poor boy too. I have no gift to bring that's fit to give a king. Shall I play for you on my drum? 

I often feel poor and sometimes worry that the gifts I have to give aren't fit for a king. Or maybe aren't worth giving. But this song reminds me that as long as we do our best, it will be good enough for the King.

The moral of today's post: Don't worry about how small or insignificant your gifts are. The simplest gifts are sometimes the best. Give someone your time, your talents, your kindness, your smile. Whatever it is that you have to offer.
 
 
 

Thursday, April 30, 2015

All T (truth) but no shade. Just some real honesty.

You’ll have to pardon me for the length of this post. It’s quite possibly the scariest post I’ve ever written. But I’ve decided at this point in my life that being less than 100% honest and open with the world is living less than 100%. My life has been compartmentalized into 3 eras: pre-college, college, and post-college. I hope nobody gets offended that they did not hear about this sooner. Most people know me from only one of my phases. It’s time to consolidate and tell the whole story. Here I go with the ripping off of the band-aid already.

I’m gay. It only took me just under 19 years to figure that out. I’m not surprised if this is news to people who knew me as a teenager. I was a good Mormon kid - I went to church, I did what I was told, I didn’t party or drink or do drugs. Call it denial or youthful ignorance - It never occurred to me that I was gay. After all, you can’t be gay and Mormon! And I grew up in Bakersfield, which I like to refer to as the Texas of California. So there's that.

I remember the moment when it suddenly clicked: my roommate at the time came in and wanted to have a life chat about the feelings of depression he’d been going through. After a bit of conversation, he told me that he was gay. I already knew. My gaydar was (and generally still is) impeccable. As he told me more about his experiences and how he felt, it struck such a strong chord with me that I finally realized that I had been feeling the same way for a long time. And for the first time, I was able to put a label on all the feelings that I’d been so confused about. I’m gay. All of the awkward moments in high school suddenly made sense! [Cue montage of all the times I got caught staring at the cute boy that was in all of my classes, feeling super awkward in the locker room, being sent to therapy as a 16 year old and not knowing why I was there, etc.]

I was so excited - I finally knew what my problem was and how to fix it. My Sunday School teachers always told me that through the Atonement of Christ, I could be healed and my heart could be changed. I spent the next year or so trying really hard to “overcome my struggle with Same-Gender Attraction”. I began attending meetings at Evergreen, an organization dedicated to "helping people who want to diminish same-sex attractions and overcome homosexual behavior". I joined North Star and attended all of the "Matis-sides", where all the Mormon Homosexuals (or MoHos, as we pretended to like to be called) went to enjoy each other's company and talk about the church and foster healthy, platonic relationships with other men. (Spoiler alert: relationships were rarely platonic and most of these firesides merely served as a forum for scouting out the next hookup. Eeeew.) I took advantage of the free reparative counseling provided by the school. Looking back now, I see that everything was always so clinical, in and out of the counselor’s office.


Let’s find out the root of your homosexuality. What happened to you when you were little that made you decide to be gay? Did a male figure in your family ever abuse you? What are you triggers for thinking about men? Pick a hymn to sing in your head when you’re in your “danger zone”.

About this time, I went to talk to my bishop, as suggested by every Sunday School lesson ever, about my "struggles". He proceeded to tell me that being gay was one of 20-something points on “ The Circle of Sexual Deviance" and explained that homosexuality was opposite on the wheel from heterosexuality, adjacent to bestiality and pedophilia. I wouldn’t be able to go on a mission unless I could “kick this thing”. God loved me, but he did not need a homosexual missionary tempting every companion and making members and investigators feel uncomfortable about me being near their children. I left his office feeling confused, devastated at the blow to my self-esteem, but more resolved than before to overcome this trial that I had apparently volunteered for in the Pre-Mortal Life because I was just that awesome and stalwart before I was born. (Yes, that was from an IRL Matis-side talk by some professor from Utah State.) I told lots of my friends about my struggles so that I could build up a support base, and be accountable when I was having gay thoughts. (Sounds suspiciously similar to AA. But we won’t go there.) Bad idea - I lost a lot of friends that way. In retrospect, I suppose those people weren’t my friends after all. I’ll spare you an extensive description of my depression during that time, but after a several very angsty months, I thankfully realized that there wasn’t anything wrong with me, I hadn’t done anything wrong, and I didn’t need fixing. That was a very liberating realization! It put me at odds with the teachings of the Church (and therefore BYU’s Honor Code), but I decided that I wanted to finish my schooling at BYU, so I’d better keep my head down and not get into trouble.

For me, being gay at BYU was a… um… delicate balance. I refused to hide my rainbow under a bushel and pretend to be someone I wasn’t. If I was asked directly, I would always answer honestly. On the other hand, it would have been imprudent to broadcast my gayness to the world. I developed this policy: “Everyone who knows me well enough has probably already figured it out. Anyone else - that’s for me to know and for them to be curious about.” I found a few really great friends and built my own support base. I tried to be active in Church and to keep out of trouble.

It bears mentioning here - I went on dates with boys every so often. I figured I deserved the same dating opportunities / experiences / mishaps that all my hetero counterparts did. I also figured that since I had voluntarily signed the Honor Code that I should hold myself to the same standards of propriety as my hetero counterparts. This was a point of confusion for many of my friends and dates. My Mormon friends were disappointed that I was breaking the law of chastity by dating men, and the men I was dating were disappointed that I was keeping the law of chastity by sticking to the dating standards I’d grown up with. Heh.

Anyway… shortly after I returned from my semester abroad in España, I felt a sudden pull toward the Church. My gay friends told me it was a social pressure to conform, while my Mormon friends were probably excited that I was finally repentant. I think deep down I just needed to know once and for all if I could be happy being 100% devout in the Mormon faith. (Side note - the full accounting of my adventures and misadventures in and out of the LDS faith shall be saved for another lengthy exposition.) I immersed myself in the social life of my ward (congregation), and made lots of great friends. Which leads to the story of when I dated a woman.

We had been hanging out a lot, and I absolutely adored her friendship, and then the weirdest thing - I had romantic feelings for her. I still think she’s the only woman I’ve ever been truly interested in having a relationship with. [Insert inverted jokes from all my gay friends about how it’s unnatural and perverted to have feelings for a woman. Tee hee.] We started dating and it was the best, most solid relationship/friendship I’ve ever had. We dated for 9 months. There was a point toward the end where I realized that - no rush on it, no stereotypical societal pressure - the next step would be getting engaged and then married in the temple. In so many ways I wanted that future. She was my best friend and would have been the best companion ever. Sigh. But despite my flux of activity in the Church, I was still having my doubts, and it wouldn’t be fair to her to be in a relationship with someone who is not on the same page religiously. So I put on my game face and we broke up.

After graduation, I spent the summer half-heartedly looking for a teaching job in Utah, then made my poorest life decision to date and moved to California to blindly take a teaching job. I thought that was my opportunity to start fresh and build a new life. Nope! After a few months there I had a breakdown and moved to Washington, where I had my real new start. It was a rough start, but right away I felt more at ease here. It’s probably a combination of the more progressive way of thinking that’s prevalent in the beautiful Pacific Northwest (which is more aligned with my own progressive way of thinking) and the fact that I had a truly fresh start - I knew two people in the whole Evergreen State when I moved here. There were no reputations to precede me here. I was just Brian, a summation of my personality and experiences to the present. I didn’t have to be awkward, oblivious, closeted Brian, or Elders’ Quorum Presidency Brian, or fabulous glitter-bomb Brian.

I love that being gay isn’t a “thing” here. In Utah, when I would tell people I was gay I was generally met with one of two reactions: a curt aha-type sound followed by a million questions about my “struggle” and what I was doing to conquer it, or a fabulous outburst of glitter and rainbows and hugs. There were also the people who were “OMG I’m so happy to have a fabulous token gay friend because that means I am progressive and accepting but I will vote to deny you your equal rights in a heartbeat because being gay is a sin. [Giggle.] Love you!”. In contrast, I remember during my first days at Apple when I mentioned to a group of coworkers that I had a date that evening. They asked, “With a girl or a guy?” I said it was with a guy, nobody batted an eye, and they continued on, recommending some good eating spots.

You’ll notice that I have not included any names in this posting. Many of you know the people mentioned in my stories. Please respect them by directing all questions and/or speculations about my story to me directly. I would be happy to talk one-on-one about my experiences or answer questions.

You may wonder what sparked this tome of a post. Why today? Why post it at all? To be honest, I’m not sure why today was the day. On October 11, 2014, in recognition of National Coming Out Day, while I was on a ferry headed for Vashon Island, I promised myself that I would be 100% out and honest by October 11, 2015. I still have 5-1/2 months! It also occurs to me that this week makes 2 years since I graduated from BYU. My life has changed in a lot of ways since then. Most of the changes have been for the better. I live in the most beautiful city ever, I have lots of supportive friends and family here, in Utah, back home in California, and beyond. I have a great job with an amazing company that uses religion as a force to do so much good on a huge scale all over the West Coast! And although everyone knows my gay dating life is more a parody of misadventures than a fairy tale, I am grateful to live in a place where I can be open and honest and, most importantly, BE MYSELF.

Thank you for reading this far. I am done now.


Thursday, June 28, 2012

Return of Fancy Word of the Day

Last night I realized that I haven’t posted a new Fancy Word of the Day in ages. So, to celebrate the several fires around the Provo area that are making it literally rain ash, I present to you today’s word:

Tenebrous (n.) – obscure, dark, gloomy. This word comes from TENEBRAE in Latin, which means “shadows”.

Ex: The tenebrous sky was a harbinger of the impending apocalypse.

Note: The pronunciation of this word is TEH-neh-brus, not tuh-NEE-brus. You will now sound like you know what you're talking about when you use this word. You're welcome.




Friday, June 15, 2012

An Insight

Oh hey friends. So the other day I had an insight that I'd like to share with you.

I've been having a rough time lately with my blood sugar and weight gain and such, and I was feeling pretty angsty toward my body. I mean, shouldn't it just do what I want it to and not cause me so many problems? I was ready to never forgive my body, then I had a thought: Sometimes I don't treat my body that well. Case and point: last night's milkshake party. But you know what? He still forgives me. I just have to curl up in the fetal position for a few hours, but then he's like "Okay, we're good. Just don't do that to me again." And no matter how many times I am mean to him, he still forgives me. Maybe I should forgive him too, for the times when I get sick, or when I'm good about eating right and still somehow gain 4 lbs in a week... Yeah. So that was just a thought I had earlier today. That is all.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Estival Festivals

First of all: If you don't know what estival means, you should. It comes from ESTIVUS (Latin for summer) and means relating to summer. There, now you know.

Anyway, It has come to my attention that I have been slacking in my blogly duties. At first I thought: Maybe it's time for me to get a new duty. But instead, I'm going to try to resume my blogging.

So..... SUMMER! I finished finals last week, grades have been posted, so now I have sweet, sweet freedom. Well, it's almost freedom. I'll be working at Rec/RegWhat shall I do with this new-found free-time? Here are some of the goals I've made for my summer:

  • Trip to Seattle - Okay, so this one isn't so much a goal as a plan, but I will be visiting Seattle from May 8-16. Let me know in your comments if you have any suggestions for activities. 
  • Couch-to-5k - If you've not heard of C25k, you should educate yourself here. I don't have a specific 5k race in mind yet, but I'd like to train throughout the summer and run a 5k sometime around August. Also, please check out this inspirational video. I'm pretty sure this will be me at the end of the summer.
  • Camping - I bought a tent, tarp, sleeping bag and pad last yearand they were unloved and unused. Not this summer! Hopefully I can incorporate some hiking and biking into these camping trips.
  • Athletic Activity - Exercise every day. C25K is three days a week (MWF). I've got a lovely pool, lots of biking and hiking trails, and (si Dios quiere) LOTS of sun.
  • Photography - I haven't used my lovely camera a whole lot since Spain, so I'm going to start looking for photographic opportunities.
That's about all I've got for now. Here are some photos that I found that are inspiring me to have the best summer ever!
Pretty Summer!

Seattle!
Camping
Gonna photograph like nobody's business.
Swimming at Alta

Friday, August 26, 2011

Spain Blog

I know I'm terrible about keeping up on my blog, but I've started a Spain blog to document my adventures. Check it out at http://brian-in-spain.blogspot.com!

Friday, October 1, 2010

Insufferable imbeciles

Today's FANCY WORD OF THE DAY is one of my personal favorites; I've been saving this one for a special day. Which is today. Ready?


imbecile (n.) - One who is inane, stupid, absurd, idiotic, marked by mental feebleness or weak intellect.
Ex: You, sir, are an imbecile of the highest order.