Elbow: Gay Companions 4eva!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Gay Companions 4eva!

This will be the last of my San Francisco chronicles, I promise. Another reason why I had such a great time there was because I met up with a mission companion that I hadn't seen in eight years! He and I were together four months and we had the best time. I was sent to him having recently been made senior companion, but I had only been out in the field for about two months. He was new as well and our energy together was pretty amazing. Having a companion that you can laugh with and have fun with, even when you're dying from walking under the hot sun and dust filled air all day. He and I were just so cool together.

Once we had this "falling out" (over post-its) and he was getting on my case about saying something to an older sister member in our ward. And I felt like his accusation was a little off and I remember arguing with him about it and noticing how intensely stubborn he was and the more I got frustrated I realized that I was just as stubborn as he was. We of course resolved it, but I remember him saying some pretty hurtful things to me and even still to this day it's kind of hard for me to forget, not that I feel like I'm still hurt by them but I sometimes think about what he said to me when that particular theme comes up in my life.

I remember one time when we were changing out of p day clothes and I looked over at him getting ready to get into the shower and I had a hard time not wanting to keep looking. But I was a good missionary and felt like I kept integrity in good standing with what I was trying to accomplish as a missionary.

Anyway, when I first moved to New York to start school I had recently become a married man and I got an email from my companion filling me in on his life, in the email he told me that he was gay and that he and his boyfriend were living together. Part of me felt so overjoyed that he was gay, and it was a big shock to me. I have excellent gaydar and he completely escaped my speculation. But there was also a piece of me that felt bad for myself. When I read about his life and read about what he was doing and how he felt about everything I got jealous. I felt like I had become someone that other people wanted me to be and I wanted so baldly to be the person that I wanted to be. I wrote him and told him how proud I was of him, and how much I loved and supported him and I hinted that I had some of the same issues, but because I was married I felt like it was inappropriate to engage in that kind of a conversation.

Well, we lost contact and then recently when I left New York and was separated from my wife, I found my old mission journal and I looked him up and called him. It was like nothing had ever changed. We laughed and shared some really good moments over the phone and I came out to him and he gave me some good advice as to how to handle my new identity as a gay man. I told him of my plans to go to San Francisco and he mentioned that he was going to be in town that same weekend. So when I was there we met at Dolores park, had an ice cream and just talked. He looked pretty much the same except 20 pounds heavier and he just looked more at peace and more settled. He has a great job, he and his boyfriend are doing really well and I'm just really proud of him. And come to find out, his boyfriend lives like 30 mins from where I'll be starting school.

I feel really blessed that I got to meet him and that we were able to talk and share things about ourselves that we otherwise were not able to share. He's such a good and honorable person. He's sweet and kind and real. I love him and am so happy that he is happy. I was thinking back on how fast time goes. Life is too short to live for the Church, or to live for my family. I have to live for me. My companion and I were the best of friends on the mission, we were the best missionaries we could be and now that we are off the mission and even have left the Church so to speak, I have a sure knowledge that we are who Heavenly Father wants us to be. God would be unhappy with me if I had decided to stay married and pretend like I was straight. And God would have felt unhappy with my companion if he had stayed in the Church out of fear or out of a desire to serve his family.

It was hard to say goodbye and it was crazy that we hadn't seen each other in so long and he had to hurry to catch a flight. When we were talking and saying our goodbyes I asked him how he met his boyfriend and he mentioned that he had met him on a website and I was curious which website it was and he got embarrassed and I was like "hey, look at me and my life. There is nothing to be embarrassed about!" He consented to tell me with his face red he said that they met on Bear411.com. I laughed really hard, because I would have never thought of him as a bear, but looking at the extra pounds he had put on I can see why. I won't tell you his screen name although it's almost as funny as the site, but I can't judge because he's the one with the man.


Blogger Waterfalls said...

this is a cutting from a web site about coming to terms with homosexuality within your family. I found this profoundly interesting. if you are interested in the web site it is...


My favorite story in the Bible is about the adulterous woman brought before Jesus. It is my favorite because, to me, it illustrates two important concepts about God's nature. The first is God's unending capacity to love and forgive and the other is that judgment is God's domain, not mine.

If you recall in that story, the church elders stated, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the very act of committing adultery. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" (John 8:4-5)

Jesus knew the scriptures of which they spoke. In Leviticus 20:10 it states: "If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbor, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death."

To the surprise of all, Jesus blatantly violates the scripture by stating, "Let anyone among you who is without sin, cast the first stone." One by one they left, beginning with the Elders. Jesus asks of the adulterer, " Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?" And Jesus says, "Neither do I condemn you." (John 8:7-11) How powerful and beautiful is this statement.

If the story were to be exchanged with a gay man, would Jesus have responded differently? Would He have said, "You have my blessing in stoning this man to death?" I don't think so. I believe Jesus would have said to the gay person, "Has no one condemned you? Neither do I condemn you."

The scripture quoted about homosexuality in Leviticus is 18:22 which states, "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; it is an abomination." When Patti and I read that, nothing could have been more definitive. The Bible stated that homosexuality is wrong. We faced a major dilemma. How could we reconcile our spiritual beliefs with the love of our son if the source of our beliefs condemned homosexuality?

Fortunately, our anguish was lessened the more we studied the Bible. As it turned out, Jesus never said anything about homosexuality. In fact, Jesus often violated the prohibitions in Leviticus because they ran counter to the Christ consciousness He wished us to adopt.

Jesus violated the commandment in Leviticus to stone the woman to death. Would He have violated the commandment in Leviticus against homosexual acts? I cannot pretend to know the answer but I'd like to share what Patti and I concluded.

Leviticus refers to homosexual acts as an "abomination". But it also refers to eating pork as an "abomination". (Leviticus 11:7) It also refers to eating lobster and shrimp (Leviticus 11:10) as an "abomination".

And that's not all. Leviticus also called sewing a field with two different seeds an abomination as well as wearing cloth from two kinds of fibers. (Leviticus 19:19)

So are the millions of people who eat at Red Lobster committing an abomination? The majority of the shirts America wears are made with more than one fiber. Does that mean we're all committing an abomination? Am I committing an abomination when I order a shrimp cocktail as an appetizer?

Is Adam committing an abomination by loving another man?

Ultimately, Patti and I decided the answer was "no" on all counts. The Christ conscience is about love, understanding, and acceptance, not abominations, condemnation, and punishment.

Jesus said it best in John 8:15, immediately after the encounter with the church elders and the adulterous woman, "You judge by human standards; I judge no one." Just when we thought we had scriptural justification to condemn another, Jesus reminds us that we all have fallen short of God's call to love one another. For He instructed us not to worry about the speck in our brother's eye until we had removed the log in our own eye.

Whether I believe homosexuality, or anything else for that matter, is right or wrong does not change the fact that to love another as myself requires my love and acceptance, not my condemnation. Shaking my finger at someone has never helped in changing him or her. If anything, my perception of their guilt only kept them stuck in it. If I treated a person with compassion and forgiveness, it was much more likely to elicit a healed response.

Why does homosexuality exist? I do not pretend to know the answer. My personal belief is that people are born gay or lesbian. It is not important that you agree with me. But I think you can agree on the following statement: God knows and loves you completely. God is not waiting for you to get your act together before He can forgive and love you.

Are you going to require more of your child than God requires of you?

12:14 PM  
Blogger MoHoHawaii said...

Nice story, E.

I once ran into a former missionary companion of mine at a gay conference in Salt Lake. I looked across the room and said to myself, "Flip, that looks like Elder __". (I didn't really say "flip.")

We now keep in touch and visit each other from time to time. It's great to reconnect like that.

1:26 PM  
Blogger playasinmar said...

Bear411? HA!

I thought it was going to be gaymissioncompanions.com, for sure!

5:33 PM  
Blogger J G-W said...

I had one missionary companion I am almost sure was gay. Gaydar was off the chart. But the clincher was, he carried in his wallet a picture that he had taken of a former companion while he was naked in the shower. I went to a mission reunion at BYU and saw him again and he looked very... gay. But at that point I was deeply in the closet/in denial, and we didn't talk much.

I'm not sure about any of the others. My last companion had this occasional habit of completely kicking off all his garments at night. I don't think he did it on purpose, I think it was just a weird sleep thing. But I'll never forget one morning shortly after he'd been assigned to me. I was up and had started doing my morning calisthenics and he popped out of bed -- naked. We were both a bit embarrassed, but he relieved the tension by doing an "incredible hulk" imitation. "GRRR! ARGH!" We both laughed like crazy.

It drove me nuts though. Talk about temptation!

6:08 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home