Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Agency is the greatest gift of God...

Monday night, November 7th, I had the opportunity of attending Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays. It was a reading of 11 different short plays that were done simultaneously in 44 different theatres in America, Canada, and Australia. Before the readings they had a short live feed from New York on Broadway explaining a little about what these were about. Then the plays were read in each city. After the readings they had an open mic discussion with some of the writers in New York where you were able to send your questions to them via Twitter and they would answer them. It was a really neat experience. Most of plays were very comedic and really funny. There were a few, that I will admit, brought me to tears, they were very touching. Which got me thinking why do people fight gay rights so much? Especially the LDS faith I once attended.

All through my life I was taught and preached to about agency. Which according to the faith is the greatest gift of God. Meaning that we are free to choose how we want to live and punished accordingly. We are not forced to do anything we shouldn't because that was Satan's plan. So why do they fight so much to control that which is not what they believe? This is one of the big reasons that pushed me out of the faith. I couldn't stand the hate and fight they had with Prop 8 in California. The leaders of the faith asked members to donate their time and means to help fight Prop 8. Bishops went to homes of faithful members and personally asked them to donate money and waited for them to give them that money.

I couldn't abide by their stance anymore. I couldn't support the hate and this was when I first really stopped going to church. I felt more hate in my heart from the faith than ever before. And so I started asking questions; Why does it have to matter who you can and can't marry? Why is everyone so afraid of something that is different from themselves? Why was there so much hate in a religion that preaches love? I had to leave. The feelings I had were hurtful not only to me, but to others. And to see so many of my "friends" testify of the evils of homosexuality and to see that hate burn in their eyes turned me away. It was truly awful.

I started looking into it. I found more and more scientific evidence proving being a homosexual is not a choice and proving there is nothing unnatural about it. Many other animal species have homosexuality as well. And when you look at it, it is evolution. When you have an over population of a certain animal you will see homosexuality greatly increase. It's a way for mother nature to control populations. With 7 Billion people now on the planet it is not surprising that there are more and more homosexuals than ever before. So why shun them? Why hate them? Aren't they in a way ahead of us in an evolutionary stand point? Aren't they helping us and the planet?

Which brings me back to my original point. I believe everyone should have the right to marry who they love, LGBT or straight. We're all human. We all deserve the same basic rights. No one is better than anyone else. The hate the LDS faith and the Catholic church showed in their fight of Prop 8 is wrong. Jesus taught love everyone so why do they purposefully fight against those that are different?

That is one point that has always plagued my mind. That is one of the big issues I had with the LDS faith. They don't preach love. They don't preach harmony and temperance. And they certainly don't follow what they preach about agency. They are a faith of hate, just like every other religion I have studied. You are taught to think less of those that think different of you. You are taught that they cannot be truly happy without having the LDS gospel in their lives. The LDS faith teaches they are the one and only true church on the face of the planet. That if you are not part of this church in this life or the next you will forever be banned from heaven. That you will never live in the presence of God. I thought God was merciful, kind and forgiving. He/she/it isn't jealous, hateful, and unforgiving.

So I started to reach out. I found my own answers. I fought against them because it isn't about who you hate or you persecute or tear down that gets you to heaven, if there was a heaven (at least at that time I thought heaven may still exist). Heaven is for those that help one another. Treat others with kindness and fairness. Those that lift up one another and not tear them down. Just because someone is different does not mean that you make them feel unworthy and rejected.

So I stand with my friends and everyone else out there who is fighting the oppression. You are not alone. You have me as your ally and I will do all I can to make sure you have the right to marry who you want and to be yourself without receiving harm. You are wonderful and don't ever forget that. Keep fighting because one day we will win.

The tides are changing, slowly, but they are changing...

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

How am I not myself?

As I discussed in an earlier blog, I spoke as if I was suffocating my inner self. He was begging and pleading to be let out. Me repressing him and building those walls around him was hurting me more than I thought and I had to help him take down those walls within myself.

I was complacent for so long that it just became second nature to continue to pretend to be someone else; to continue to wear the mask. It was easier to pretend to be who I wasn’t just to make my family and friends happy, but it tore me up inside. I was always depressed. I felt lonely and complete emptiness even though I had all the support I needed from them.

So how and when did I realize it wasn’t worth it? How did I build up the courage to help the real me tear down the prison I had kept him in for so long? I was lost. I thought I had no one to go to. Even though my real friends were all around me rooting for me to find true happiness. I just didn’t know how to reach out to them. I was on one side of a chasm and they were on the other and there was no bridge. No visible way to cross to the other side.

I almost gave up. I almost continued to wear the mask and then one day I watched the movie I ♥ Huckabees. It opened my eyes. It explained so many questions I had about me and how to change. I connected with Jude Law’s character like he was me. He did things to keep people happy. He told stories to keep people happy. He did what he thought others wanted him to do rather than being himself. Then close to the end of the movie the line “How am I not myself?” was repeated over and over again. It was showing him he was wearing a mask. He was holding his own inner self hostage, just as I was. It hit me harder than anything else I have ever felt before. I knew I had to change things if I wanted to be happy; if I wanted to fill the void I constantly felt; to rid myself of the emptiness I felt in my life every day.

So I took steps. I started slowly. I moved to a new student ward and then never went; that way I wouldn’t be harassed by a bishop that already knew me. At first I felt guilty. I couldn’t believe I was doing this. I had gone to church for so long it felt awkward, as if I was cheating, but then I heard me from the inside tell me this was right. The small window in his prison that was opened allowed him to breathe. He wasn’t completely bottled up anymore. He could finally communicate with me. He gave me encouragement. He loved the feel of the fresh air on his face. The putrescence of the hole he was in was slowly going away and he would never let me put him in there alone again.

With each step forward another brick was removed. More fresh air was let in. He gained strength. I gained strength. Each week my emptiness was slowly disappearing. My depression was going away, but that is when my family and “friends” noticed my changes. They thought I was harming myself, that I was doing irreparable damage to my soul. So they tried to “fix and save” me. For a time I went back here and there. I went back because I was scared of losing the connections I had with them. So again the bricks went up. I was slowly building the prison again. I was torturing the me inside again, but this time he fought back. He wouldn’t allow me to suffocate him again. He knew what was best for me, but what was I supposed to do? I had little, if any support. Where could I turn? Who would help me?

I felt alone again. I almost went back. And then I met the one person who gave me more support than I could have ever asked for. He was there for me. He saw me through my darkest times. He listened to me. He helped me be strong. He gave me the support I needed. He helped me build the bridge to the other side of the chasm. He was there when I needed to cry to let out the rage I felt inside. He saved me and did more for me than he will ever know. His name is Josh. I consider him my “other” (a term from the movie I ♥ Huckabees). He was there through it all. He helped me dismantle.

I owe a lot of my happiness and completeness to him. He helped me see there was another way, that I did not have to destroy myself to make others happy. I could be myself and I did not have to wear the mask anymore. I no longer had to carry on the facade. I was able to fight back. With every step I took backward I was able to take two steps forward. He pushed me forward when I was about to give up. It was the hardest thing I have ever done in my life, but it was worth it. The biggest obstacles always come with the greatest and most fulfilling rewards. My rewards were my happiness, my completeness, and the world’s greatest friend.

And so started my journey to be myself. I gained confidence. I was able to stand up to my “friends” and family. I eventually let them know my real stance on faith and church and god. I had more strength than ever. I still battle them to this day. I lost some fights and lost many “friends,” but I never lost the war. I still have to defend my happiness to them, but my inner self is completely free. He no longer hides behind the walls I built around him. There are no longer two Jons. He is me and we are now one.

I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t feel more complete. Every day is fulfilling. Every day I am reminded how being me is what gets me up in the morning. I am no longer getting up to make other people happy. I am getting up to make ME happy.

Thank you Josh...