For the natural man is an enemy to God, and has been from the fall of Adam, and will be, forever and ever, unless he yields to the enticings of the Holy Spirit, and putteth off the natural man and becometh a saint through the atonement of Christ the Lord, and becometh as a child, submissive, meek, humble, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which the Lord seeth fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father.

- Mosiah 3:19

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Resetting Sobriety

Slipping with my sobriety is always hard. Last night, I succumbed. There was a 20 year-old kid who has been stopping by my office for a while. He apparently was a friend of one of my students. We chatted briefly after one class (as he met his friend after class was over and while I was erasing the board), in part, because we had a friend in common. He approached me and, "You're so and so, right?" I acknowledged that I was "so and so." He then asked, "Do you know A?"  I said yes.

We chatted for a few moments and then I left back to my office. A few weeks ago I ran into him in the gym. He asked about A. I told him what I knew. Afterward we had lunch together and chatted a bit about his work and A. He then asked if we could have coffee. I told him I don't drink coffee. A few days later he showed up at my office, I talked with him and he asked me if I could help him with a paper he was writing, and so I did. After that he started stopping by. Last night he came by my office, just as I was leaving. He asked me if we could grab dinner, I acquiesced.

He then said he had a big paper that he needed help with, I told him I couldn't help and that I was on my way home. He asked if he could drop by my home and get some help at home. At this point I knew what he was trying to do. I denied his request and hopped on the bus. After getting home, I received a text message, he was "freaking out," and asked for help. I tried the best I could over texting, but it was fruitless. By this time, my addictive patterns and pathways were well lit. I eventually invited him over. He came over and we sat on my couch for three hours working on his paper. After it was complete, he closed his computer. I was about to get up to show him the door, he put his hand on my thigh and pushed me back to a seated position. That was the end. I showed him the door three hours later. At the door, with my head hanging low from what I just did, he ran to me gave me a hug and grabbed my head and gave me kiss. He then picked up his bag and walked out the door.

As I reflected on this incident and how I have lost my sobriety, I realized that my life is stressful. Questions of the church remain, frustration and uncertainty around my dissertation remain, and funding for my graduate education remains tenuous. But I paused today and met with the Institute director. It was  a pleasant feeling to access the Spirit and speak with a god-fearing man of faith. I took solace and comfort in that visit. I'm not sure how to process what happened with the kid, but I move forward.

Thursday, October 18, 2012


Last night, I went out with an acquaintance - gay former Mormon - I ended up at a bar in the gayborhood. As I sat sipping diet coke, I listened to this acquaintance tell me of all his hookups with guys from scoutcamp, to priest's overnighters, to his midnight liaisons at BYU, there no compunction in the slightest for what he engaged in.

He continued then to tell me how he had dropped out of school and ended up starting a tech firm that he boasts is worth some $20M. But it was here that he was stuck. Sex and money was the extent of this man's life. It was the source of his appeal for all the men (most of them younger 20 or under) that he hooked up with.  I tried to prod, searching for some dimension, some depth to this man. I failed, at least last night. I want to believe that people derive a sense of their lives and purpose from more than sex and money.

I suppose what as most off-putting about the entire night was not the fact that he was having raunchy, kinky anonymous sex (of which he showed me pictures and videos and to which I covered my eyes), but it was the  arrogance, the self-absorption, the self-centeredness of the man. He boasted of his contacts - meeting Bill Gates, meeting the Secretary's of State and Education, CEOs of large tech firms, etc - and boasting of his wealth, and his ability to make a success. Yet there was a certain sadness in his story, despite all the "things" he accumulated, he said to me plainly, "I want a boyfriend." I simply nodded.

As a confirmed Marxist, I'm rather tame when I meet pro-capitalists individuals, but this one was different. An hour into our "drink" his friend showed up. This kid was a punk! Arrogant asshole. The top of his class as undergrad and a whiz at computer programming. He couldn't help but tell me that he makes $58 an hour and he's only 22. To which my friend responded, in a pissing contest manner, "I bill out at $550 an hour." They both proceeded then to belittle people the bar, calling larger women "whales" and so forth. I was thoroughly disgusted.

I signaled to my acquaintance that I had to leave, he was sad that I was leaving. I think his sadness stemmed, in part from both of them thinking they were better than me and that I amounted to nothing more than a hill of beans to them. I didn't tell them what I did, nor did they ever ask. I simply sat back and allowed both of them to assume that I am under-educated, under-employed brown man.

I left the bar disgusted, and realized that my life could always be far worse. Certainly I'm happy and I don't need alcohol, money or even sex to experience happiness and contentment. The truth that "wickedness never was happiness" rang true to me last night. But let me qualify, to me complete self-conceited living is pure wickedness - attempts to break free from that self-conceited lifestyle is the essence of the gospel. I hope I'm not self-conceited.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012


I fed the missionaries two days ago. Good, upstanding young men. One had posed the question on whether I was happy and content before I "came out." I paused and reflected on that question before I answered. Truth is I'm not entirely sure. This raises and perhaps even begs a larger question about the nature of happiness itself. I told the missionary, who seemed quite genuine in his query, (as I have a tendency to call missionaries out when deferring to robotic or routinized interaction) that the nature of what I feel is quite different.

To wit, when I was "struggling" to remain faithful and honor my covenants, my relationship with God and the Savior was conditioned on how well I lived up to both the putative (or self-imagined) and real cultural and social expectation of my family, the church community, and my limited understanding of God and the nature of things Divine. Under these conditions, my happiness was inherently tied to fulfilling imagined expectation of myself and others about our place before God. Thus, I'm not certain if I ever felt happiness in the measure it was intended. Sure, there were times I felt happy, because I fulfilled this or that expectation. But it was not lasting. Yet, I was more or less technically obedient.

In the last year, I've experienced love and happiness in ways I've never thought I could. I can say confidently that I am happy now, I feel content, I feel a sense of relief, a freedom from expectations that once determined my level of happiness. I am now happy in spite of those expectations. I feel a measure of God's love for the first time, as it has been shown to me through my parents.

And this is question that is both raised and begged: What is the nature of happiness?

I've asked this question before, more specifically what is the qualitative difference between "Mormon happiness" and "non-Mormon happiness"?

Recently, as I've started dating, this answer to this question is beginning to make some sense. As I've been able to get some long-term traction with my addiction, I've been able to think a bit more clearly. This clarity has been conditioned by the two guys I'm dating.

The first, I call him B is from the south. He is 26 years old and an undergrad. B and I have set some very clear boundaries for physical intimacy. We have not done anything, nor do we intend to until we both feel that this dating thing has potential. This has allowed me to experience dating and to develop healthy intimacy. For example, this weekend we went out for dinner, drove around, and then played with his hair. During this time we simply talked, laughed, and genuinely had a good time getting to know each other. I've been on three dates with him and after each on feel fulfilled, there is no desire to engage my addiction. This is healthy. I feel content and happy when I'm with him.

The second, I call him J is also from the south. He is 33 years old and also an undergrad. J, I sense is taking things very slow, I really appreciate that. I met him for date one last Friday, as we had dinner we just got to know each other and laughed. There is something deep about him. After dinner, I thought it was over, but he grabbed me and wanted to have frozen yogurt with me, so I followed and spent another hour with him just talking. At the end of the night, he asked if we could do it again. Since then we have been texting, we have date 2 scheduled for next Wednesday. Again with J, after I left I felt fulfilled, there was no desire to engage in my addiction. After each text I feel fulfilled. This is healthy intimacy.

In both of these situations, I sense I'm not as lonely as I think I am. Yet, as I've thought seriously about both of these men and a future with them, I reflected on R74 or the same-sex marriage vote in Washington. I then started to ask myself if I could actually envision myself marrying a man. I've tried hard, but there is something that continues to haunt or perhaps quicken my moral senses. It is here, that I realized there is a hierarchy of moral norms connected to happiness. At the very top of this hierarchy connected to a pure form of happiness is honesty and complete submission to God as the highest norm, and that includes total fidelity to all covenants. And then down the hierarchy. It is this hierarchy that I know exists independent of my own rationalizing, and reasoning. This hierarchy is eternal. And it is the empirical and spiritual reality of that hierarchy that haunts my dreams and brings a measure of discomfort at the idea of marrying a man.

Yet, that places me in yet another pickle. I recognize that the queer theorist in me will simply attribute what I'm feeling to internalized homophobia and that by not talking a decisive stand, I'm simply reproducing it.

But at this point, I will continue dating and keep interrogating the significance of happiness and how I might live that life without having to necessarily sacrifice a life of companionship. Perhaps that is inevitable. Perhaps what I ought to be seeking is simply resignation to the inevitability of being alone, but not necessarily lonely.