Consider for a moment the little boy playing soccer. He's wearing a blue jersey. He's smaller and less-sure on his feet than the other players but he has the ball. He dribbles it down field to the roar of the crowd. He kicks it in the goal and half of the crowd goes wild. The other half ignores him and looks at the ground in shame. The little ball player has scored for the wrong team.
I think I am that little ball player. I don't exactly feel at ease in the gay community. I don't embrace all of their ideals. I sometimes feel very small and unsure. But then I'm not altogether on the Mormon team either. I certainly don't agree with a lot of their ideals. Who's team am I on? When I try to win friends on either side, I'm losing on the other. One crowd roars while the opposite crowd ignores me and looks at the ground. So I keep running up and down the field, kicking goals for both teams and I am just EXHAUSTED!
Does anyone know what I'm talking about?
Sadly, I'm a kind of person who (stupidly) values acceptance of others. So I give it my best when others are watching. Sometimes when I'm among gays in the city, I have to be a certain kind of person to fit in. It's not a comfortable position for me to be in. But when I am with my conservative friends, str8 LDS friends included I have to bend my behavior and values in their direction to feel accepted.
Specifically, I have a personal example. Since all of my close friends moved up to the big city, leaving me in Provo (small Conservative college town) I sometimes find myself feeling lonesome. Lonesome is a particular feeling that I don't handle very well. I can do pain, anger, and malice, but lonesome. . . I loath that feeling. So I log on to web sites, I make phone calls and send texts. I start making plans just to avoid the quiet moments when I'm alone and feeling that terrible feeling of "lonesome." By the time I've gone on 3 dates in 2 days, made out with several pairs of lips and possibly pawned off my virtue to a couple of strangers, I've degraded myself a few levels. . . all to keep the space filled up so I avoid "lonesome." Where does that leave me? Let me tell you. . . "lonesome" catches up in those quiet moments, and its worse off after a weekend of trying to blend in with the gay crowd.
Sometimes all I want to do is talk and enjoy the sunset. I want to listen to good music and share stories about childhood. I want to go to a church meeting and then drive to the top of a mountain and consider the peaceful moments. I want to hold someone and be held in a healing embrace. I want to cry and not be embarrassed. I want to identify with a fellow-believer and share testimony. I want to hike to the top of the cliff with a friend and throw a paper airplane off it. I want to kiss someone and be kissed back and feel like I'm being uplifted and not down-graded. The guys I meet don't like these things. Most gay men drink. They want to skip to the make-out session. They don't want to pay for dinner, or let me pay. They're non-committal. They have no concept of God. They are bitter. They aren't accepting of their own sexuality. They care way too much about the way they look or the way I look. They don't like conversation (cuz guys don't talk- gee I shoulda thought of that before I decided to be gay right?). So pretty much everything I want or wish I could enjoy in the presence of a decent man, it just a fairytale.
I have made some friends recently that tell me I'm special. I am thinking of about 5 new friends who say that I'm different from most other guys. They pay me compliments that I really enjoy. They say they want to be friends. They buy me dinner and tell me I am always welcome in their home, because they trust me. All of these things are so appealing to me. Yet, all of these 5 new friends have eventually propositioned me for casual cuddling sessions and just plain sex. In some cases I have indulged them because I want to keep hearing the compliments and feeling the acceptance (is it real?). I am now in a sad state, because I have let down my guard enough that I am even defining myself by these less-than uplifting relationships. I'm a ho. That's my fault. I have been playing on their team. . . scoring for them because I like to feel included.
"Jeromy," I say to myself. "What's going on here? 1) Why are you so eager to please those who applaud your unique virtue and then degrade it? 2) What is it about you that makes you so appealing to these kinds of people? Finally, 3)what are you doing to make yourself available to such friends? Aren't there other avenues to explore, more wholesome and good?"
All very good questions
I realize this is very personal. I heard from some other friends recently that this is not a unique problem. We all play for the wrong team at some points in our lives, and we feel badly about it later. One friend of mine decided recently to erase his profiles on all gay dating websites, because he felt he was devalued by the gay community. So, I see I am not alone in this. I am honest enough with myself to make an example of my life, if it proves a point.
1) Why do I please those who applaud my virtue just to take advantage of it? Because I am bitter against the team I WANT to play for. I am angry at my rightful team. I feel I have been sold out, unwillingly and I feel already degraded and powerless. I speak of the LDS faith. I speak of its members and my friends who are of that faith. I have profound feelings of betrayal and abandonment. Accepting their love and praise sometimes feels like voluntarily drinking poison from their glass. I have a hard time with love and praise because it has too often been tainted with bigotry and hypocrisy. The alternative, is to cater to those on the other team, the only gay team, who accept me for what I am. Sadly their acceptance forces me to fit their mold and ideals, one that makes me feel dirty. Eventually I start acting like them. . .dirty.
2) What makes me appealing? I think its the talents and inner-light that I refined while once still in the fellowship of the gospel. I have faith. I'm optimistic. I value family. I play several instruments. I write fiction, poetry and music. I am constantly striving for my better self. I still pray. I have try to lift others up and encourage love and happiness. I learned all of these things from a great example. . . my father and mother. . and from a church which teaches faith on Christ. All of this is appealing to others who don't have the same upbringing. It fascinates them that one of their own could be accepting of this down-trodden state of homosexuality and yet still maintain all the positive parts that the LDS faith has afforded. (geeze jer- no wonder you're feeling bad. Whose team are you on? Do you even know?)
3) What am I doing to make myself available to those who like me, but don't value the things I do? Good question. I work all day long in a very conservative office where every single co-worker is LDS. I come home and turn on my computer and immediately log on to 5 different dating webpages while I cook dinner. I do this because I guess i am desperate (no kidding Sherlock) for friends who might possibly understand me. Over and over again, I think I've met someone who knows how I feel, and eventually I realize they're just like everyone else. They don't really get me. No-one does.
k guys. . I'm feeling a little like poo here.
I am playing for the wrong team, but the right one is so darn mean. You tell me, what is a guy supposed to do?
(Dang Jer- you sure know how to bring us down. Pick a brighter topic next time, mkay?)