Thursday, November 24

Second-class Citizen

I remember once overhearing a conversation among a group of LDS women - singles and leaders from my YSA ward. A woman mentioned that she knew someone who had just broken up with a guy who was attracted to other men. The responses of the other women were telling. 

"Don't ever date someone like that..." 
"She got herself out of a bad situation..." 
"Promise you'll never marry someone who is gay..."

Something inside me broke that day. I had never realized that being gay was seen as a liability in some circles of the Mormon dating world beyond the simple fact that it made dating hard for me.

That experience was years ago.

Someone asked me if I'm at all interested in girls. And I just realized today that I still feel deep shame, and honestly, unworthiness related to that same issue.

But I don't know how to work through it.

There's a girl I know that was part of that conversation. I've had the desire to ask her out before. I didn't. She had a steady boyfriend, and while I'm an awesome guy in most fields, I feel woefully inadequate when it comes to this. Anyone would be a better option than I would... and she had plenty of options. She still does. Years later, she has another boyfriend, and I still haven't ever asked her out or even mentioned that I had wanted to.

Maybe that would be a good thing to do. Just mentioning it doesn't sound as vulnerable as asking. I could mention it.

But vulnerability is what I'm going for. Is putting myself out there so awful? What's the worst that can happen? I've already rejected myself as wholly undesirable, and I know my entire story. No one can top that.

And being ok with vulnerability is what I'm trying to achieve inside myself. While it's unlikely that anything would come of the conversation from a dating perspective, the authenticity (= courage to live boldly and have courage) gained on my part would be a huge boon regardless of result.

But where is the feeling coming from?

And here's me being vulnerable here.

I think it means that I have a ways to go in accepting myself and loving myself. 

I know lots of guys who are paranoid about their family or friends learning about their sexuality... or at least their friends who are also gay. Those I've tried to befriend kept me on the fringe of their lives - sometimes mutual friends are inevitable and they'll make up a story about how we met, but usually they'll go to great lengths to isolate me from ever meeting people in their other lives.

I know the feeling. I've felt, at least somewhat, the same way. I remember being afraid that people would learn I was gay and facing enormous, looming, unknowable-but-awful consequences... supported by a few bad personal experiences and some awful stories.

"What if it goes away? What if I can deal with it by myself? Why do I need to tell anyone? Won't it just make life harder?"

This isn't a post on coming out. That's a personal decision between one person and God, not between me or anyone else.

But I think that (breathe, David... it's going to be ok) this realization that I feel like a second-class citizen in the dating world means I am still at odds with being gay.

 It means that, somewhere inside me, *I* honestly think that being gay is shameful. That it's a liability. Even though I'm upfront and candid with family, friends, and the world about being attracted to guys, even though I've seen how much it has influenced my life and been a mortal experience that has shaped me, I've still bought into the feeling that it's an unsavory part of who I am... and that I'm less valuable as a person (or more specifically, as a potential dating or marriage partner) because it is something I face.

That...

That sucks.

I didn't want to say that. It actually took me a few minutes to even write the last sentence because "sucks" feels like gutter slang to me. I don't say that when I speak. But it's also the only thing that hit the feeling. It's depressing, frustrating, angering, stupid, and a handful of other emotions all crushed into one.

...

Yeah.

And it's even worse because, likely, if I'm feeling that way, there are a lot of guys out there who feel the same way. And maybe even some who are reading this post and feeling the soul-crushing, gut-twisting shame that I felt while writing it... and wondering just like I am how to get out of it.

I don't know.

But I do know some things I can do to work through it.

I can make the commitment to treat the people in my life like the awesome people that they are - and to never, ever hide myself or them because I'm afraid of someone finding out about me.

I can talk to this girl (or call / write her) and share my thoughts. Not this whole post, but the thoughts I had about asking her out and how feeling second-class made it take so long to share them.

And I can ask God to help me really believe that I am worthwhile, and even spectacular, with all the things that I carry in life. Learning to love myself more is a process - not something I'm going to ever "reach"... but God *does* love me fully, and He can help me along the path to believing more in me.

3 comments:

  1. David, I always appreciate your honest thoughts. I've been told that it would be good if we could be more honest about the things we deal with. Like SSA, drug or drinking problems, etc. I can't do it. I suppose people know what I deal with, but since I don't discuss it, life just seems better. For me, it is a private issue.

    Regarding the ideal dating partner? For me, sex with a woman would have been pretty awful. I don't want it. It actually feels very, very wrong to me. I "know" it isn't wrong, but that is how it feels. And... if I had a daughter that wanted to date a man like me, I think I might rather her have someone that would feel some sort of natural attraction for her. Does it not seem more difficult to be with someone that is not attracted to you? So... in my mind, maybe SSA would not be a quality I would look for as a "positive".

    That certainly does not mean that I don't think you or I shouldn't date. The trick is liking someone so much that you don't mind taking the risk. I once dated a girl and it might have worked. The first night we went out, I told her what I was dealing with. It was NOT normal for me to do this, but I really, really liked her. We had a GREAT relationship for over a year. Everyone believed we were going to marry.

    But after a year or so, I felt very guilty for not wanting her physically. I suppose I loved her so much that I wanted her to have something that I could not give to her. If we had married, it might never have evolved into a physical relationship. To me, that just seemed wrong.

    As far as feeling guilty for your temptations, I kind of think that is normal. Maybe what you feel guilty about is that you think you might give in? That is why I feel guilty. So, I press forward... hoping that I can do better each day. Maybe I will at some point no longer feel like I will give in to my temptations? Maybe then I will not feel so much shame?

    Even still... suppose you were seriously drawn to laziness? Or drugs? Or theft or even murder?? It might be easy enough to admit to someone you love because they know you... they know you want to be a better person. However, generally speaking, I don't know if it helps for people to FIRST see your weaknesses or challenges? Maybe that would be all they would see from there on out? Maybe it would be best to help people see the good side of you first... because most of all, you are child of God. That is what people should remember... that is what is most important.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is exactly the issue - when I ask someone out, the understanding is that we're not going to get married unless I fall in love with them. From that perspective, I'm like any other guy, except instead of being attracted to other women, I'd be attracted to other men. There's no real difference there... except a cultural belief that I'm somehow less valuable as a potential marriage partner.

      As far as guilt goes, guilt and shame are totally different things. Guilt is only for actions I've committed and leads to potential repentance. I can't feel guilt for something outside of my control or that I didn't - in that case I'm just feeling shame, which is never a positive feeling.

      Delete
  2. Thank you. Knowing we are enough is definitely a process and this process is made all the more difficult when we are trying to figure out how to fit in in this world. I think that one of the key things to remember each time I am struggling with this is that this world is guaranteed to burn. The ways of this world are not lasting. We don't want to fit ourselves for this world. That is what I have to keep in mind whenever I feel less-than for not fitting in.

    ReplyDelete

Comment Rules:

(G)MG is how I write to you. Commenting is one way to write to me.

If you want your comment published: No swearing, graphic content, name-calling of any kind, or outbound links to anything but official Church sites.

In addition, comments must be 100% relevant, funny, uplifting, helpful, friendly... well-written, concise, and true. Disparaging comments often don't meet those standards. Comments on (G)MG are personal notes to me, not part of a comment war. You are not entitled to have your ideas hosted on my personal blog. There are a zillion places for that, and only one (G)MG.

And I'd suggest writing your comment in Word and pasting it. That way Blogger won't eat it if it's over the word limit.