The other part of my trip that I wanted to talk about was Carl Lynn Pearson's play Facing East. I got a call from "Stripping Warrior" when I was in San Francisco and he told me that since I was there that I should go and see Facing East. I was so glad that he called me because otherwise I don't think I would have seen it. And I had plans to hang out with "Gay Mormon" who goes by the name of James and so I mentioned that we see Facing East. The combination of such encounters was pretty amazing.
Gay Mormon (his link is to the right) was THE gay Mormon blogger. When I logged on and did a search for gay Mormon men who were struggling with identity, spirituality, acceptance and every day jargon, I found James. He was the guy that inspired me to start my blog. He has since taken long pauses in between his posts, which made it even more exceptional to see him face to face and to truly feel how happy he was. We had talked on the phone and emailed and shared a lot of each others stories but we never had the opportunity to meet up.
So when I arrived at the play I was nervous and excited to finally meet the guy who inspired me to blog and said blog eventually led to me becoming more accepting of myself and more of an advocate for my wife's happiness and because of it I'm happier than I have ever been and my wife and I are closer than ever and she is in such a good place. I guess that's a lot of responsibility to place of James' shoulders, but he was definately part of the process. I respect him for the way that he has handled his challenges and how he has been able to find happiness where people claim there is none.
Anyway, while I was waiting for him I was sitting outside of the theater in the hall way and I noticed that Carol Lynn Pearson (author of the play and of the AMAZING AND IMPACTFUL book "No More Goodbyes") was sitting just inside the doors organizing her book display. I immediately felt myself get emotional and super excited because I was going to meet a woman who is not only a pioneer in the Church for homosexual men and women, but who is elevating the consciousness of the entire Church with her works and words of unconditional love and acceptance. She has not only ispired me to be more compassionate with myself, but she has ispired members of the Church to embrace more fully and with more charity. She's just so great! And when she came out into the hallway I went up to her and told her thank you for writing her book and without hesitation she gave me a huge sincere hug and asked me with such intensity how I was and I was proud to tell her that I was great and amazing and that I had never felt more peace in my life. She listend to me tell my story about me and my wife and she was thrilled that we are still close and still best friends. She asked about my parents (and I'll save my response for another entry because I don't want to get into that now) and how they were handling "it," and she just made me feel...the spirit. Like I've never felt the spirit before in a long time she made me feel loved and appreciated.
She led me to her son who was sitting down and she introduced him as her and Gerold's son (the man who she was married to before he came out of the closet and she eventually took care of him while he died of AIDS). It was amazing to look into his face and see the way that he respected his mother and how proud he was to be his father's son. Just humbling and inspiring. And then I met James. He was a lot taller than I expected, and he was a lot nicer than I thought he'd be. We didn't have a lot of time to talk before the show started, but watching that play sitting next to him almost made my journey and the journey that I was watching on stage even more meaningful.
The play was well written and yet somewhat dramatic in places that maybe were a little over the top, but all in all it was excellent and the point of love and acceptace really hit home to everyone in the audience. It was weird to just sense who was a member of the Church and who wasn't by the people who laughed at certain "Mormon" themed jokes and who didn't get them. But one thing that was consistant was that everyone was touched in a humbling way. There was a guy who was sitting behind me who sobbed through the whole thing. It was a sad play, but the end brought a lot of hope.
When I was talking to Carol Lynn Pearson about it before the show started she said that her Stake President and Bishopric and other members of the Church came to opening night and were all very supportive and interested in how they could be better advocates for gay members of the Church who are suffering from the effects of being brought up in a Church that teaches a lot of self-hate if you are a homosexual. I was glad to hear that her Church leadership was so supportive and that people in her ward were willing to come and see what her play was about. And that they actually liked it and thought it was important.
Afterward I ate with James and we talked about how far we've come, how our families are reacting to our different situations. We talked about dating guys and going out and what that's like being new to the "scene." We talked a lot about the Church and then again we just talked about normal work, life stuff. He's just a fantastic person and reallly fun to be with. I wish we could have had more time to hang out. But I'm so glad I finally got to meet him.
I feel like I've come to an awesome place in my life. The world is open ahead of me. I'm free and I'm healthy. I have a lot of love in my life and a lot of things to look forward to. And more than ever I am determined to be an advocate for homosexual men and women in the Church who are suffering from feelings of low self-worth and depression along with every other obstacle there is when you are gay and Mormon. Being in San Francisco and seeing Facing East and being able to meet James was much needed. And just when you thought that I've said everything about my trip, I still have one more thing to write about, so more to come...