Friday, November 2

Branded for Life

All my digital life there have been warnings about the permanence of things you say and do. Twenty years ago, maybe it was possible to start a completely new life in a new place... but today, no matter where I go, I carry the baggage of everything the Internet has ever known about me.

Sometimes that's a good thing. If you Google my name, you'll find some of the things I've accomplished - a testament to the reality of what's on my resume. But not always.

Facebook never forgets what you post. Twitter feeds stay forever. And pictures and posts end up in the Internet Archive or Search Engine caches to last for eternity. There have been plenty of people I've known whose less ideal online life has interfered with their real one. Relationships frustrated, friendships lost, and job opportunities closed.

As I merge my worlds, I'll be combining two distinct online personas... and there will be no turning back. In effect, I'll be branded for life.

I don't know exactly what the brand will be. I know what I want it to be - the simple "I'm a son of God." I feel like for those closest to me, I've been able to sustain that simplicity. But for those who don't know me, more likely, it will be some mixture of same-sex attraction and homosexuality, with the gospel and LDS and Mormon mixed in. You don't get to choose how people brand you.

And with that amorphous brand may come a lot of good and bad.

There may be repercussions in my life. Some people may see the brand as too controversial for their firms or organizations, and pass over me in future hiring and selection decisions simply because of it. People may assume that I'm at odds with their thoughts, and set themselves on the defensive. Guys might assume that I'm constantly checking them out, and avoid me altogether. Girls may assume I have no desire to date. Future leaders, without accurate information, may assume I'm unworthy. People in the gay and ex-Mormon community may assume I'm unhappy and unfulfilled.

But I'm okay with that. People have been branded before.

Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands; thy walls are continually before me. (Isaiah, Chapter 49:16)

And when I was a missionary, I wore a brand on my heart every day. This really isn't all that different.

I feel like this is the right path. I know it will close doors... but whenever the Lord closes a door, He opens a window somewhere. :) And as long as the brand I choose involves Him, everything will work out for the best.


  1. That's extremely adult. It helps me today with my own cross, so thank you, brother.

  2. For me, your faith and testimony of the gospel overshadowed your baggage and that's how I remember you. Sometimes, we over-dramatized some things in our minds but the reality isn't really bad at all. Just hold on to that verse and always remember that "You are a son of God."

  3. Unless you live in Provo Utah and work for BYU, it's not going to be as bad as you seem to think.

    1. I'm not really all that concerned about fallout from the Church or its super-active members. I think that Provo would probably have similar responses to what I've had from family members - lots of support.

    2. Agreed. I felt oodles of love in Provo.

    3. I'll clarify. I'm not speaking about LD-Ss necessarily but about potential repercussions you mentioned: "too controversial for their firms or organizations", "guys might assume [you're] constantly checking them out" and avoid you, girls not wanting to date you, etc. I really don't think someone would not hire you just because you're LDS and/or gay.

      Out of curiosity, what happened at work when you were "accosted" because of your faith posted online?

    4. I think I understand, Ryan. So maybe outside of Provo, people aren't aware of the issue or don't care as much about it? That will be a huge relief if it's true. I guess I've never really talked with anyone who doesn't know me about it. I just thought it would compound the stigma and make it utterly confusing.

      The workplace stories were somewhat recent. The first was shortly after I was hired and in relation to my real-life blog. I've been blogging off and on in real life for almost 8 years, and the interviewer had read a few entries on my blog and didn't want anything I said to reflect back on the name of the company. As a condition of my hiring, he asked me to not blog about anything that could be traced back to my being an employee of the organization. I was already living one dual life, and my work is a big part of who I am, so I stopped posting on that blog altogether. Ironically, I still had (G)MG at the time.

      The second time was a firm suggestion to not share my feelings so openly with people. Again, it was concern for how my persona (über-passionate about the Church) would come across to people who have had bad experiences and are potential clients... and suggestions for how it might affect me in the professional arena. The industry lives and breathes by being politically correct. At least those organizations did. Looking back, that's as close to a directive in my personal life as that manager would have ever gotten.

  4. So it doesn't sound like they accosted you... That word communicates to me that something aggressive happened. Not saying it was wrong or right, fair or unfair, but the image I had of accosted was very different than the image you just painted.

    I guess I'd flip the scenario around and ask -- If you were in their shoes (working for a firm in a conservative area instead of liberal) and you were considering hiring a potential writer with a liberal agenda, would you be more or less concerned than they were?

    1. Out of respect for the firm, and because they asked me not to blog about it, I've removed the reference. And it was an aggressive experience - probably the strongest language I've ever had a manager use towards me.

    2. But I forgot to answer your question. If I were hiring a writer, then definitely his or her views would be incredibly important. Word choices make a huge difference in media, and can sway or skew an entire article.

      I'm not a writer though. I mean, I wrote as part of my job, but anything was pure technical writing or emails.

      And as far as me hiring a liberal writer for my own business - doing something other than writing opinion pieces - why not? It's a great habit to surround yourself with people who not only are willing to disagree with you, but who regularly and vocally do so. It opens up new creative avenues when the viewpoints combine.

  5. I think you are very brave. I am grateful for what I am learning from you, and feel inspired to be less afraid to be who I really am.
    Living here in the Bible belt, I have had several experiences where friendships cooled immediately after someone found out I was Mormon. My son who was in 1st grade at the time also got "defriended" at school after giving away a pass-along card. A sister I visit-teach who is less active says she is afraid to let her co-workers know she is Mormon because she and her family are finally starting to have a good group of friends.
    If you can have the courage/faith to do what you're about to do, I want to develop that kind of strength, too. I hope it doesn't sound too personal, coming from a complete stranger, but I will be praying for you. And working on more openness in my own life.

  6. My favorite part of this whole entry:
    "I don't know exactly what the brand will be. I know what I want it to be - the simple 'I'm a son of God.'"

    That is just how it should be, and if I knew you in real life I would try my best to see you that way.


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