Elbow: A Schizophrenic Wheelchair Bound Mute

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

A Schizophrenic Wheelchair Bound Mute

Most of us have all been there. Sitting with a friend or wife/fiancé and feeling the anxiety of coming clean and telling the deepest darkest secret of homosexual attraction. And of course there sometimes are tears, a cathartic release of emotion, laughing, shaking, all of the above. And if that person is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints then most likely they’ve said something to the effect of: “we all have our challenges, and we all have our individual handicaps.” I may not be in those words exactly, but most everyone who is gay has heard that sound byte before; comparable to schizophrenia, to alcoholism and even a wheelchair, homosexuality as a handicap.

The interesting thing about someone who is not gay bringing up this type of information is that I’ve felt that myself. I’ve sat in the dark before, contemplating my existence as a gay man, my existence as a gay missionary, gay husband ect… and sometimes the “handicap awareness voice” comes from within and tells me that homosexuality is my wheelchair, being gay is my psychological illness, and that being gay is just my very own version being addicted to alcohol.

Isn’t the universe funny? I mean, here I am a nice, smart, attractive and very obedient Mormon boy who until early adolescents, realizes that he is like unto a paraplegic. “Only bad people get addicted to cocaine!” And in the meantime I’m the one who’s addicted to looking at naked guys kissing each other…karma’s a bitch.

But seriously, I have felt that offense, and I have noticed how it makes me feel when others try to tell me that I’m like the cripple who is destined to live his life with others looking at him in pity, and being unable to do normal things like have kids and get married. And then there is the exception to the rule, like the Down syndrome couple that find each other and people look at them like they are freaks, but cute freaks nonetheless.

Is that my life? Am I really a schizophrenic wheelchair bound mute who is destined to live his life in such dreadful circumstances? And can we even compare alcoholism to homosexuality? I mean people don’t call young alcoholic boys derogatory names like “faggot” and “cock sucker.”

Maybe there’s no way to compare because it is what it is, and it’s very different from anything else that’s out there. Maybe that’s why people are so quick to compartmentalize and place being gay in the box with the schizophrenics…it’s just the only thing that people can do to understand it if they aren’t living it themselves.

As for me, I’m ok if you want to call me handicapped because I call myself that sometimes. I recognize that my attraction is debilitating, whether I like it or not. I wish that I could be “normal” like other guys and feel completely aroused by a woman, I wish that I could walk into a locker room and not have to tell myself to stop staring at other guys dicks. I want to be able to be free from worrying about my worthiness, and if I’m a bad person because I want to get it on (naked and hard) with Jake Gyllenhaal. And if along with that handicap comes a caring and empathic individual who dresses well and knows a lot of musical theater songs, so be it…but it’s not easy.


Anonymous jaredj@hotmail.com said...

I sympathize for you and your situation. I am also a gay Mormon and I know what you’re going through. All I can tell you is that it gets easier. I am not out to everybody that I know, but I have confided in several people recently and have received nothing but support from them all. I never thought that I would be so comfortable with myself at age 25. However I have come to realize that being gay isn’t the curse that I once thought it was. I have made so many great friends in the past few years who share my situation. I have never felt so close to anybody than I do to my friends now. Growing up nobody ever questioned my sexuality, and I think that made things all the more difficult for me. Although they were shocked to find out, they all love me just as much, if not more than they did before. Hang in there guy…

12:12 PM  
Blogger Loyalist (with defects) said...

i cant tell you how much this rings with me.

2:18 PM  
Blogger Kengo Biddles said...

Honey, who doesn't like the idea of Jake Gyllenhaal? I mean, really? :)

But seriously, I think we all need to come to terms with our struggles, and understand that we're not less of a person for dealing with them. We're not "handicapped", per se, but rather have thoughts to deal with, just like the rest of humanity. So how are we different? We're not.

That we get our own set of epithets, well, that's just a bonus.

2:47 PM  
Blogger SG said...

Elbow my brother:
We're not handicapped at all. We actually have extra talents and abilities. We have the ability to love more, to empathize more, to care more deeply, to be better chefs and to win at Trivial Pursuit. We have an extra dimension to our spirits, not one less!

I love you brother!

2:57 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If some choose to call it a handicap, well then lets make lemonade out of lemons--want to have a wheelchair race? :)

4:01 PM  
Blogger Wayward Son said...

Great Post.

I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. A lot of people say being gay is like being an alcoholic. They reason that if someone with the genetic proneness to alcoholism never touches the stuff they’ll never become alcoholics. Awesome, if only I had just been isolated from other guys all my life, I’d be heterosexual. I think people like to believe stuff like this because it allows them to maintain their just worldview. They think a benevolent God wouldn’t give a trial like this to an undeserving person; so gay people must have done something to warrant it.

The handicap analogy is probably the other most popular, and I suppose it is probably better way for others to understand our situation. I just don’t like the idea of being defective. I got to the point in my life that I was no longer ashamed of my attraction to guys. It took me a long time to accept this. I often feel like my homosexuality is as much a part of me as my blue eyes; its just who I am. I guess maybe I’m defective in the same way that a handicapped person is defective: nothing to be ashamed of, but not the ideal human condition.

In any case, it is a weakness. And we know God gave us weaknesses so we could be humble (Ether 12:27). And most importantly, Christ’s grace is sufficient for us, and his strength is made perfect in our weakness (2 Cor 12:9). He can succor us because he has suffered exactly what we have (Alma 7:12-13). So when we are overwhelmed by it all, we should go boldly to Him to find help in time of need (Heb 4:15-16). I know you’ve probably heard this all before, but I just rediscovered it all recently and drew a lot of strength from it.

I think sg is right with his comment. Maybe we just need to focus more on how our weakness can also be a strength. Sorry, about the ridiculously long comment…

5:40 AM  
Blogger Beck said...

Wait a minute... you seriously mean that normal guys don't like looking at guys kissing, staring at other guys in the locker shower room, or dreaming of Jake Gyllenahaal?? :) That seems like pretty "normal" non-schizophrenic non-wheelchair bound, non-mute stuff to me!

Pretty harsh to call what I've experienced my whole life as abnormal. It took a long time for me to realize that other guys didn't see the world the same way as I did. And I'm still trying to sort out what is "normal".

I'm with you, man...

6:40 AM  
Blogger Mormon Enigma said...

I used to think of my gay-ness as a handicap. It was my cross to bear, the thorn in my side. But, my perception changed a few short months ago. That's when I started calling myself 'gay'.

A better analogy, I believe, is a tall person. I have a brother-in-law who is 6'8". He is limited in the types of cars he can drive, he has to stoop to get through many doorways. But, it's not a handicap per se, It's just that he lives in a world made by shorter people so he has to adapt. I live in a heterosexual world so I have to adapt (some days I do a better job at adapting than others). But, I don't mind other people thinking of this has a handicap if it helps them accept me for who I am.

It no longer bothers me when I notice cute guys. For me it is no different than a straight guy noticing cute girls. I just try to not be too obvious about it, especially when I'm around my wife. And, I try to not get carried away in my thoughts ("that guy is cute, let's just leave it at that"). Lusting is wrong for both straight and gay guys.

BTW, I wasn't familiar with the name Jake Gyllenahaal until I googled him. Then I realized that it is because I've never seen any of his movies (e.g. Brokeback Mountain). Not too bad, but I'm more of a Steve Sandvoss fan :-)

9:14 AM  
Blogger -L- said...

Everyone is "broken" or "defective" in some way... and the ways multiply throughout life. While the analogies people use for homosexuality are not perfect, the idea that it's most fundamentally a defect makes perfect sense to me. Reproduction being the central purpose of the reproductive system, I think sabotaging the entire enterprise with misdirected sexual desires is just plain... broken. It's not a morally culpable problem any more than being born with a congenital heart defect is... but it's still a real problem, despite that we are prone to wrongly take it personally.

11:00 AM  
Blogger Thrasius said...

Dude, your post is awesome. You totally hit the issue right on the head and I couldn't agree with you more. For me it makes it easier to think of this as a terrible handicap..not because I feel sorry for myself, but because it makes me understand that I am having to sacrifice and may not be able to live my life in the same way as most other people. But it is such an amazingly peaceful feeling on the days that I accept my self-declared fate.

8:21 PM  

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