Wednesday, September 28, 2005

Mrs. Robinson and Mr. McCullough

Today I got an email from another coworker, including the following excerpt:
I don't know how many people have come to you with their own personal stories since reading your article but I am about to add my name to that list.

I have a [teenage] son who only last year admitted to his father and me [he] is struggling with same sex attraction. He apparently has felt challenged with it for years but thought he'd outgrow it. While I am thankful that he felt safe enough to share this information with us, we have had a difficult time knowing how to help him. Your article is a great resource. He, like you, has had a hard time finding an accepting "box". He also struggles with why a loving Heavenly Father allows some of his children to be challenged this way. The answers all seem so trite.

Her email made me smile--I was touched that she would share this with me. Then I sat on the floor, tried to clean up a mess S-Boogie had made, thought of this woman's son (whom I've never met), and sobbed uncontrollably. I don't cry easily (though more so lately than I used to, which I think is a good thing), but for some reason the thought of this poor kid with such a hellish struggle ahead of him really hit me hard.

The fact is, it sucks to be gay. Either your religion tells you it's wrong, so you have to decide between deeply-held spiritual beliefs and deeply-rooted sexual desires, or you have no qualms with homosexuality but you have to live in a society filled with people who do and feel it their duty to tell you so. Or you immerse yourself in a subculture that is still young and, to be frank, immature (not speaking of gay people but of gay culture). Or you try your luck at some other untried, untested path and hope for the best.

I don't mean to say, "Boo hoo for me, poor Master Fob." Much of my pain is caused by decisions I've made--and the important ones I don't regret making--but even the pain that comes through no fault of my own I can handle. What makes me ache is to see others go through this hell.

As I was despairing over this on the floor this afternoon, Simon & Garfunkel came on the iTunes shuffle singing, "Jesus loves you more than you will know." I laughed. If I had written that juxtaposition in fiction someone would have called it trite or contrived. If I had read it in fiction I would have called it trite or contrived. "God bless you please, Mrs. Robinson, Heaven holds a place for those who pray."

One of the things that concerned me about the email is that my coworker asked, after the quoted excerpt, for my "help/direction." My fear in publishing "Getting Out" was that people would assume I am some kind of expert on the subject just because I wrote something. I can offer thoughts based on my limited experience, but I don't have answers. It didn't take me long to kick myself for being so damn presumptuous. She wasn't asking for answers--she's not stupid--she was asking for my thoughts based on my limited experience.

This made me think of a BYU forum I watched yesterday, given by David McCullough (author of 1776). He spoke about how the great leaders of the past were not aware that they were living in the past. They didn't go around saying, "Isn't it great to live in the past?" and "Look at these funny clothes we're wearing!" They lived in the present. George Washington and his contemporaries were not experienced revolutionaries. They didn't know what they were doing. They just did their best and hoped something good would come of it.

I'm not comparing myself to George Washington. I don't pretend I will have any fraction of the effect he had on history. But I, just like the pastors of Christian ex-gay ministries and the gay activists who are making the Governator's phone ring off the hook hoping to convince him to pass the Legislative-approved gender-neutral marriage bill, am doing my best and hoping something good will come of it. I wrote "Getting Out" with the intention of opening up a dialogue between those of us whose experiences don't quite fit the mold--people like my coworker's son and Melyngoch's & my Mutual Gay Friend and Freelancer & Mandi, none of whom I would know if I had not written the essay (and talked about it on my blog). Maybe all of us who have no answers but do have thoughts based on our limited experiences can figure out something together.

13 comments:

Th. said...

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I had a really great comment to make and then I read Post#23 and forgot all about it.

Fiddle.

It will probably come to me the middle of fifth period and then disappear again.

As long as I don't remember, I'm curious which birthday it will be when S-Boogie gets a new name.

Braden said...

'Brozy and I headed down into periodicals last night.

I'm even more flattered now at your having complimented my writing.

And I think you're a great guy too.

Cricket said...

Maybe all of us who have no answers but do have thoughts based on our limited experiences can figure out something together.

That would sure be nice. I think in a big way we're afraid to make answers, even to ourselves, because that would mean making somekind of definate "decision".

Maybe the best 'answer' is not to lock ourselves into a lable- show society that gay, str8, or bi doesn't mean all that much in the big picture.

200 years from now, the fact that you are gay and Freelancer is bi and I am str8 will not make a differnce to the energy crisis, or global warming, or weather or not trees still grow.

He also struggles with why a loving Heavenly Father allows some of his children to be challenged this way

This one was hard for me at first too. I was raised being told it's wrong to have SSA or relations with SS. I was always told the bible says it's wrong, it's against God. But the Bible also says to love, have no hatred for your fellow man, and the biggest part- that God made every little bit of you. He counted the hairs on your head! He KNOWS you're gay, He made you that way and guess what? He loves you because you are His creation. I don't think He sees it as a challenge. It's just another part of you. Society has made it challenging.

Sometimes I have moments of clarity when this difference doesn't seem like such a big deal. I wish I had more of these days...

Cricket said...

I forgot to add this site:

http://www.christiangay.com/he_loves/He_Loves.htm

It's a good read...

Anonymous said...

Maybe the answers aren't as important as having someone to talk to that still accepts you and cares, regardless of what you tell them.

Anonymous said...

In case it wasn't clear in my comment, I think your article helps people to know that you are one source where they can get this acceptance. And that may be just as good a service to provide as if you could provide the answers, because some answers have to come from within one's self. To feel accepted often frees one to look more closely within one's self for the answers.

Th. said...

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Besides, no one really wants to have all the answers given to them. Really, I think people want to find them on their own. Easy answers are meaningless answers.

Tolkien Boy said...

Where there are answers, there is no art.

Feel free to quote me.

B.G. Christensen said...

"Where there are answers, there is no art." --Tolkien Boy, 2005

Freelancer said...

This is a great post and poses a lot of valuable insight. I agree with Th. While it would be nice if the "right" answers just came to us, the experience would be void of the true "experience." Life's not really about what happens, it's about how we react to what happens and the journey between those "happenings." That's what defines our character, who we are on the inside.

B.G. Christensen said...

By the way, I'm really confused by the question about S-Boogie getting a new name, Th. Are you referencing something I don't remember?

ambrosia ananas said...

Master FOB, I was very impressed with your articles. I really need to go write something, anything really, so that I can persuade you to send me more of your writing. You're good.

Also, your daughter is adorable.

Th. said...

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It makes me a little melancholy that I see more and more of you meeting each other in the real world while I'm stuck in a completely different desert....

All I meant, Mr. Fob, was that she might not like being called S-Boogie when she's sixteen.