Saturday, June 27, 2009

Walking the Fence

Over the past year, I've found that walking the fence is one of the most difficult tasks that I've ever faced in my life. It didn't take more than a few months to find out that I was not the first or last one to try. There was a mutual understanding between Mark and myself that 'Pushing Daisies,' our favorite television show, appealed to us on a very personal level as GMBs (Gay Mormon Boys).

For us, a line was drawn that we could not cross. Like the main characters on the show, Ned and Chuck—both men's names, I might add—had a limit placed upon the level of their intimacy of tragic proportions. Even though we felt very strongly for one another, we knew that there were limits to how far we could go exactly. We both understood that, together, we could not go any farther than cuddling and making out. Although this was the main reason we felt compatible with one another, it was also the source of our demise.

In the past year, I've seen many GMBs defining and walking these rigid lines. For the most part, the topic is simply taboo. Often, we're taught from a young age that gay and evil are synonyms when in fact the two are anything but mutually exclusive. As a good friend once said to me, "I wish I didn't have to explain to people that I'm a good person and I'm gay. I choose to be a good person." GMBs adapt in several different ways. The following types form a spectrum of fence-walkers:

The Repressor—An all-too-common response to homosexuality is counseling in order to repress these feelings and replace them. Whether these 'remedies' purport to repress or fix the feelings, the basic message is the same: "gay is evil." I couldn't think of anything more difficult than admitting that one of the most essential parts of myself is evil. Upon being in invited to one of these support/counseling groups by a high school friend, I was initially insulted especially when he said that it would help me live the most normal life possible."

The 'Out' Mormon—In my life, I've come across maybe a half dozen GMBs who are 100% out and 100% active in the church. Some are even able to serve missions. Consequently, scrutiny comes from both sides of the fence and it becomes impossible to please the most closed-minded in the gay and the LDS communities. Also, by being 100% out, GMBs accept the limits LDS standards place on their relationships.

The Ever-In—One of the most complicated solutions is to fully embrace the gay side (sorry to wax so 'Star Wars' suddenly), but not share with those who would disapprove and are affiliated with the church. Generally, this means the family, but in some cases high school friends and mission friends. In my experience, GMBs in this situation often choose not to pursue relationships that present any risks. Upon mentioning that one of my siblings—close to his family—knew he was gay, he simply disappeared (I believe) because I presented a threat.

The Schizo—At the risk of sounding incredibly insensitive, I've observed that many guys consider certain GMBs just plain insane. A select few GMBs are able to resolve the conflict between religion and homosexuality by living a life of self-contradiction. They, in fact, divide their psyche into two selves. One goes to church, the other to the orgies. Consequentially, trying to live both lives comes at the cost of one's integrity and perhaps one's sanity.

By no means do I intend to imply that any of these methods are unethical or unacceptable (I lie somewhere in between the 2nd and 3rd categories). Each GMB's situation (esp. with his family) is different from the other and comparing my situation to anyone else's will only lead to my unhappiness. Looking at other GMB's situations and understanding them, however, has helped me to not blame myself for them making choices different from the ones I make.


David Baker-@DB389 said...

GMB, I just found your blog and I wonder why I didn't see it before. I love your descriptions of the various classes of MoHos, this is one of the best versions I have seen. I have lived pretty much each of those and have found my balance on the fence between fully out and ever-in. and would like to think that it is possible to be an Out Mormon in a marriage to another man (more or less within church standards lol). The difficulty comes int he form of dating. So I have rambled plenty for this comment but largely, I just wanted to say that I enjoy your writing.

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