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

Monday, December 3, 2012

Thankful for Dark Paths

"...[A]nd they did press forward through the mist of darkness, clinging to the rod of iron, even until they did come forth and partake of the fruit of the tree." (1 Nephi 8:24)

I am queer in many ways. I always knew I was queer, even before I came out, I was intellectually, politically,  culturally, and socially queer. That is, in a word, different. I was different from the norm. I found problems with, and continue to find problematic, the racial, classist, sexist orders that shape behavior and thought patterns in the church and in society. Until recently, I've embraced openly my sexual minority identity, as well.

Recently, I've had trouble identifying as a "gay" man. There is certainly truth in what Elder Oaks and Holland have noted about identity. Yet, I think the identity of "gay" is far too circumspect for me. It suggests a limitation and retreats solely to my sexuality. Yet, queer openly acknowledges the many ways I am different, "odd" as it were, from society. It is inclusive of my erotic desires, but also recognizes my intellectual leanings, but more importantly, it also is inclusive enough that there is room to continue struggling with cognitive dissonance. That struggle is one I may never be over, but being queer suggests I don't have to, however, the more myopic term "gay" may implicitly suggest that I struggle no more with the Laws of God and my erotic, emotional desires.

I am queer, and the dark paths of life have shown that to me. In the darkness, I found myself. In the dark it was just me, only me. The expectations of others were no longer visible, the social pressure was dimmed, my own thoughts were darkened and opaque, my self-perception was obviated and invisible. In the dark, it was only me and my God, unfettered by the distractions of the world, by the cultural and social pressures of the church and its communities, unspoiled by my own periods of self-loathing. In the dark, I experienced God, because, in the dark, I had to trust He was there. I had to trust more than that. I had to trust that He loved me more than I could fathom. It was and continues to be in those moments, that I feel His presence and His love.

I find His love expressed to me in the form of my friends who are gay, who treat me with respect, love, kindness and do not judge me. Then I enter the toxic online communities of Northstar or others and find judgements of others who "give in," unhealthy doses of shaming meted out, unhealthy social and cultural pressures to live to cultural standards (as if those standards were synonymous with eternal standards). In other online communities, unhealthy shaming of individuals with faith, I find individuals attempting to reconstruct and reproduce systems of oppression for queer people of color, I find exclusionary tactics, all under the name of "love." Certainly this is not where I find God.

I am thankful for dark places.

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