Friday, September 24, 2010

A Series of Sundays, Part 3

February 8, 2009

We lose things and then we choose things.


Sunday was supposed to be a day of rest, though somehow that day of relaxation and rejuvenation did little to prepare me for the rest of the week.  My life now stood inverted.  My weekdays were spent resting up and preparing for the draining effects of Sunday.  The worst weeks were spent sleeping through meetings so as to avoid the negative feelings that would come were I to think critically or feel openly and honestly.  I couldn’t be thoughtful.  I couldn’t be emotional.  Essentially, I couldn’t be me. 

For me, it only seemed right to stick it out.  It was what my brother Darin and my family needed.  Even though we both lived at home that last year of my college experience and his first, we didn’t spend much time together.  It was the one thing we could do together some weeks due to our busy schedules (in addition to a billiards class we both signed up for), and I wouldn’t trade those moments for anything.

men talking front seat car tshirtOn the way to and from church, we’d often catch up on what each other’s friends were up to, the movies we’d seen, the new CDs we were listening to, and how classes were going.  I was really happy to see him in a good place.  He was preparing to serve a mission.  He and his girlfriend were about to celebrate a year of being together.  He was finding satisfaction and success in school with all of his projects. 

“Two weeks ago, the Constitutional Court of Colombia ruled that same-sex couples should have equal rights and benefits under the law.  Christina Navarro has our report on the reaction to this controversial—”

“Let’s listen to something else,” Darin said, putting in a Jack Johnson CD.  I wasn’t surprised by his reaction, though I’d hoped for something different.  It was an opportunity to bring up some things I’d worried about without being so obvious.

“How’s your friend Kellen? I haven’t seen him since you guys were in that show together?” I asked well aware that Kellen was the closest thing he’d had to a gay friend in high school.  

“We don’t really talk much anymore.  We went different directions and he chose a life different from the one I did.”  He said it all so straight-faced and self-assured, I wasn’t sure how to react or proceed. 

"Well, I doubt he's changed that much," I concluded.  It made sense and concerned me that the source of their falling out was precisely what might day be our falling out and I ruled out the possibility of sharing with him the one part of my life I kept tucked away-- behind my vest, underneath my dress shirt pocket in a locked chamber of my heart.

The rest of the day was somewhat muddled.  Following my usual Sunday regiment of reading the paper, family dinner, and homework, I slept. 

I awoke to the sound of a buzzing phone hours later.  “Hey, GMB. What are you up to?”

It was Ezra.  Following a week-long romance, we’d remained friends and hung out regularly as I got more comfortable in the community, and felt free to be more “out” away from my closest friends and those living in The Wood House.

With his encouragement, I found myself among a new group of people.  I picked him up and he showed me where to go.  I wasn’t tired enough to go back to bed and I needed to connect that night. 

“Ishamael’s house is pretty chill.  It’s not huge, so there are a lot of small groups,” he explained as we approached the porch of the brick house lit by what seemed to be a red Christmas light. 

Ishmael's kitchen college party drinking

Following a long round of introductions, I found myself in the kitchen politely declining drink after drink.  A moment later, a guy with piercing white teeth and blue eyes, mouthed the word “garments” from across the room, pointing to the sleeve of his shirt.  I tucked the holy fabric back under my sleeve as he turned back to his conversation and his drink.  My initial thoughts of desecration of the undershirt's sanctity turned to comfort and respect.

Though we’d only seen each other in passing and we’ve never sat down and had a conversation afterward, it was the type of connection I needed in that moment.  To know that another gay Mormon boy would watch out for me, or rather the beliefs I struggled with, provided me with the consolation I needed that Sunday as I reconsidered the religion I’d shared and lived and wore. 


End, Part 3.


naturgesetz said...

It's a terrible thing to feel rejected by your church, especially if you feel you belong in it — worse still, of course, to feel rejected by God. And it's such a conflict when it seems that the church to which you are devoted as the carrier of God's word seems to have gotten something important very wrong.

That is why I try to reassure gay Catholics that the Church does not reject them, even if it says that they should not have sex with men, any more than it rejects anybody else whose conduct sometimes transgresses its moral teaching. It is also why I try to reassure them that God does not reject them (and the Church doesn't say he does). And finally it is why I try to show them, respectfully I hope, why I think the Church's teaching is correct.

I'm not entirely sure where the church of LDS comes down on these questions, so it will be interesting to continue to read of your struggle and how you resolved it.

Anonymous said...

I hate to come across as ignorant, but I didn't get the part about "garments" and pointing to his sleeve.

What does this mean?

A Gay Mormon Boy said...

This is very much tied up in one of the most complex cultural contexts of Mormonism. I speak of it understatedly here out of reverence.

Garments are sacred undergarments worn as a constant reminder of one's faith. With a few exceptions, they are to remain worn and covered at all times.

From the LDS church's website:
Like members of many religious faiths, Latter-day Saints wear religious clothing. But members of other faiths — typically those involved in permanent pastoral ministries or religious services — usually wear religious garments as outer ceremonial vestments or symbols of recognition. In The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, garments are worn beneath street clothing as a personal and private reminder of commitments to God.

Garments are considered sacred by Church members and are not regarded as a topic for casual conversation.

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