Tuesday, November 27, 2007

'Weak things' Become Strong

Earlier this month, our Gentlefriend voiced these sentiments:
"My SGA is a unique mortal gift to make the most of. I must frequently remind myself of the good qualities it has given me. Navigation within the complex forces of marriage and Church membership can draw out the best that is within me. I am challenged to develop compassion and spiritual sensitivity. I get tired and discouraged and many times get off course, but then, in the midst of the tempest when the sweet Spirit whispers, "Peace, be still", I am reminded that He knows the way and will guide me Home if I let Him."

Also at this Thanksgiving time, Beck paused to count his blessings, and expressed a similar recognition:
"Instead of bemoaning that I'm a gay man trapped in a hetero life where things don't add up right, I am grateful for the "gifts" I've been given, the "talents" that God has granted me, and the knowledge of Him whereby I can use these talents and magnify them as I seek to follow His plan. I do not bemoan that I am gay. . . I may not have a trail guide, but I have the Spirit, and I'm grateful for those promptings to keep me on the path. This is a tender mercy. "

I have been thinking similar thoughts lately. There is so much about my gayness that I have grown to appreciate and am now thankful for. I have come to realize that much of my orientation is reflected in a unique set of personality traits, most of which are really not sexually operative one way or the other. I acknowledge that throughout my life I am and have been:
  • Attracted to men, and admire the masculine hero
  • Desire connection and fraternity with men
  • Stimulated by the power of the male form
  • Hunger for intimacy and acceptance by men
  • Spiritually dependent on Priesthood power
  • Desire to be open and loving, to serve others
  • Emotionally sensitive and vulnerable
  • Empathetic to all forms of suffering and injustice
  • Willing to be on the edge and question everything
  • Artistic, creative and musically talented
  • Lover of beauty and design
  • Detail oriented and a perfectionist
  • Generous and forgiving
  • Domestic
So what's wrong or inferior with any of this? Nothing!! Certainly not by LDS church standards. Now I know that all these characteristics do not uniquely qualify me to be gay or otherwise, and there are lots of gay men who possess other sets of qualities. But for me, I saw these attributes in myself conform to what I considered to be stereotypically gay, weak vulnerabilities, especially when combined with my lack of arousal towards women, my non-aggressive nature and a non-muscle-bound uncoordinated body I felt frankly embarrassed with. I often longed to be someone else, a stronger man, more physical, secure and confident. I discounted many of my personal characteristics as largely feminine and secretly wished for a set of more macho traits of 'manliness' that I simply was not. I lived in regret, because I was not a perfect man. But now I've come to respect my wiring and circuitry. I've decided to no longer feel apologetic or inadequate for what I consider to be my 'gay' attributes. Like Gentlefriend and Beck, I have come to value my unique gifts.

And then a surprising thing happened to me: as I truly accepted this 'gay list' in myself, I began feeling very much more male and more connected in my brotherhood with all men. I don't have to sexualize every hunk of a man to wonder if I measure up; I may look twice at an attractive guy, but it is admiration of beauty, not longing or lust. Even though I never really believed that raw masculinity was the mark of true manhood, I allowed myself to be deluded and demoted by my insecurities. But no more! Screw all that mamsy-pamsy thinking! I'm just as good a man as anyone else, even if I don't particularly care for team sports or fast cars or sexy women. And if anyone thinks, "That's so gay," well then, let them. I can live with it. I can live with love in my heart for even the intolerant.

Being 'gay' by most standards involves a physicality that is more than characteristics of how we view and interact with the world around us. Sure, there are sexual aspects to my gayness that will never be realized because of my choice for fidelity to my wife and family and the church. I try not to dwell on the sex inherent in gay lifestyle. It's just a part of being gay that I cannot do. The world and the church react most negatively to the sexual intimacy between same sexes. But I choose to love and respect my brothers who are there though, and my hope for them is to live their lives with joy and love. I'm happy to let the Lord work out the details of their eternal lives, knowing that I am not a worthy judge, nor should I try to understand the end from the beginning. I believe true love is good enough for me and anyone else committed to faithfulness and devotion, regardless of the religious lens or culture people live in.

This brings me to the sweet and universal sentiment expressed by Elder Wirthlin in his most recent General Conference, who speaks of personal transformation by the power of love:

"True love lasts forever. It is eternally patient and forgiving. It believes, hopes, and endures all things. That is the love our Heavenly Father bears for us.

We all yearn to experience love like this. Even when we make mistakes, we hope others will love us in spite of our shortcomings—even if we don’t deserve it.

Oh, it is wonderful to know that our Heavenly Father loves us—even with all our flaws! His love is such that even should we give up on ourselves, He never will.

We see ourselves in terms of yesterday and today. Our Heavenly Father sees us in terms of forever. Although we might settle for less, Heavenly Father won’t, for He sees us as the glorious beings we are capable of becoming.

The gospel of Jesus Christ is a gospel of transformation. It takes us as men and women of the earth and refines us into men and women for the eternities.

The most cherished and sacred moments of our lives are those filled with the spirit of love. The greater the measure of our love, the greater is our joy. In the end, the development of such love is the true measure of success in life.

Do you love the Lord?"

And here, I think lies the quintessential question to living gay in the world and the LDS Church. Can we answer it honestly? I must confess, "Yea Lord, thou knowest that I love thee." (John 21:16). My life of perceived weakness has become much stronger, as I focus with faith on the God-given gifts bestowed upon me. I have the love of God in my heart for all men, and I am not ashamed to feel weakly male any longer. I can feed His sheep with the talents He has blessed me, according to His direction, and shall no longer be afraid of who I am or what I might accomplish with His love.

Of all the aspects of my belief that I am most sure of, because of my experience in living with conscious faith, it is that I know Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love me, the little Geckoman. And since they first loved me, I love them (1 John 4:19). And since I truly love them, then I am blessed to love others in the way I know the Lord loves me, which is as a gay man, a son of the true and living God.

Monday, November 19, 2007

"Do you need me?"

Last week I had a great time interviewing with four different companies, and not much time for anything else. The trip to Denver was fantastic; I came home so excited with the possibility of working for this company. Then I had another great phone conversation with a major company who wants to fly me to their headquarters to be considered for an innovation team they are forming. That would be neat, too!

However, all the while, my wife is beginning to worry about the reality of leaving Arizona and the new dimensions that will surround our lives. We are now 'empty-nesters,' and the rules are changing about what to take with us and what to leave behind. I think my wife is wondering where she fits into the wagon of my future. We have an open, mutually supportive marriage. But lately, my wife has been experiencing anxiety around the theme of "Do you need me?"

This has given me some cause to consider just what it is that I value the most. I could honestly say "No, not really," but that fits only a small part of my feelings. Pragmatically, I may not "need" her; nor could I deny that at times I wish I had a man partner to connect with. But this doesn't jive with the tremendous respect I have for her as a wonderful person who I love dearly, who others love dearly. She, along with me, has paid her dues in our family and relationship. I don't want to imagine life without her, the simple friendship and intimacies we share.

True love isn't based on need, it is based on choice, deep feeling and abiding commitment. My true love is spiritual and reflects the relationship I have with God. My attractions to same gender are based on hunger for intimate understanding and connection. The same goes for heterosexual attractions by my spouse, brothers and sisters, every human being. Connection is a need, but it is not necessarily love. True love goes beyond need to devotion. My true love helps me realize this.

"No Sweetie, I will not leave you behind in the desert. I love you because I simply do."

Monday, November 12, 2007

Apologies and Confessions

Sorry readers, I really haven't felt like writing much. Lately I use the computer to job search, email, take care of mundane business, and read others' blogs. But when it comes to reflecting on my life, I'm feeling a little blah. And tired. It's not like I don't have time on my hands, I've never enjoyed such an extended vacation! The days do seem to get by with lots of little projects, and I'm reading more than ever. I'm not sure I even want to go back to work...

Here's another apology. With all the upside-downness in my life for the last 6 weeks, I forgot the password to the email account (www.geckoman56@gmail.com) I link from my blog. So I wasn't able to go in and check on correspondence. Just recently I figured out my password and got back into the mailbox. Unfortunately a friend tried several messages, but of course got no response from me. When I tried to reply, his email account was closed...so Adam, please try me again. I wasn't intentionally ignoring you.

Confession: I waited over a week to get some feedback from the 2 days of face to face interviews I had with the local company, and now I'm feeling a little unsettled. Because I'm so wonderful, I was very hopeful this would be a slam-dunk, and I'd get an offer. I could just get back to work, and let all my logistical problems of moving melt away. Well, not so fast, nothing's ever perfect. Yes, they liked me, but had some 'concerns' about my idealism and openness and hunger for innovation; they're not sure if I would be happy with their 'little' job, as if I might be too big for it. I was quite excited about the opportunity, but now I'm not so sure about what they really mean. When people dig and want to know your feelings, your strengths & weaknesses, and 'describe the perfect job' I told them what I really thought and felt. Maybe they weren't ready for my level of honesty: when asked about weakness I said I sometimes lack of focus. My creative mind LIKES to wander; it gets me to places you don't go if you think and do only the same things. The perfect job means I get to make real decisions and be the top technical dog. And one of my strengths is that I'm curious. (The interviewer said, "Well, I've never had anyone give that answer before!") So maybe I should have been a bit more cautious, reserved and conventional. I'm frustrated that if they said they wanted an R&D innovation manager... well then, what does that mean to you? It means to me what I am, inside and out. I'm still on their list, but they want to interview other candidates to see what might be out there; so in other words, hang in there--we'll be back to you in a month or two. Arrrggghh!

But this week is going to be fun. Three interviews, one of which is a flight to Denver. I love Colorado! Stay tuned, more to come....

Thursday, November 8, 2007

Still in the hands of the Gardener

Well, it's been a week now since the face to face interviews, and still no word about anything. I don't really get it, but I don't pretend to know what's going on behind the scenes. Surely today I'll hear something. Didn't they like me? I thought it was a pretty good fit. Maybe they're interviewing other candidates. Anyway, this little Gecko is trying to stay in the hands of the Gardener and not second guess him.

Timing is always everything. Just this week three more interviews popped up for next week, so maybe I'll have some options to choose between, which would be nice. I'll have my first phone interview with a company in SLC on Tuesday. A company I applied to through Monster.com called; I had a short phone chat with the HR guy, and was invited to get on a plane to Denver. So that will be great to get out of town and see what's there, next Wednesday. Then another face to face interview on Thursday, back in Phoenix for a pharmaceutical company, which is a bit of a stretch, but they're the ones making the invitation, so why not?! I love having choices.

All this dragged out job uncertainty serves to reminds me in a literal way of the fact that in life we don't really know what's ahead--we get comfortable in routines, but we still don't know the end from the beginning. We believe we have a purpose so we just press on. I trust in a plan, regardless of knowing the outcome, hoping for good options, and doing my best day by day. To do otherwise would be to basically do nothing or panic--submit to chaos and despair, which I don't want to subscribe to. Sure, 'shit happens,' but choosing to believe we're headed in a direction to lead us somewhere better, or choosing to believe we're going through this trial today to make us stronger for tomorrow, that's the stuff of faith. I want to be in Zion's camp, even if the trail is tedious; too many evidences along the way already point me in that direction. I won't jump out of the Gardner's hand back into a dark pile of rubble to hide in. The best reward along the way is being home to do the things I didn't have time for, loving my wife and playing with the most wonderful grandson baby in the entire world. I can wait, use up a little more money, have faith in a better outcome, just around the next bend.

Friday, November 2, 2007

"Are we there yet?"

Finally. Real interviews with people to talk to where you can actually shake their hand, watch the laugh lines in their face respond to comments and feel a better sense of connection with real human beings. Don't get me wrong, phone interviews are a necessary business reality and better than no interviews at all. But it's just that more than a month has gone by without face to face interaction along the job trail.

Two days ago I was excited to prepare for and meet real people, with real interest in me and what I might do for them. The talking went well, but the stress was physically and emotionally draining. And the commute home battling rush hour traffic was grueling, and took almost an hour and a half. It was Halloween, the little goblins were coming out, I wanted to be with my little grandson (premiering as a red M&M), and I was stuck in bumper to bumper traffic. So when I arrived home to meet my family's hopeful and expectant questioning, I felt . . . empty. Maybe discouraged and uncertain and afraid would be more telling. Was it 'Trick or Treat?' I didn't expect to feel this way, not after so much anticipation that this was the answer to our prayers for staying in Arizona. After all, we had been to the Temple in the morning, we reviewed expected questions and answers, we wanted this to be the one. And now I just didn't know if I liked the opportunity. I knew I did NOT like the traffic nightmare.

Yesterday was phase two of more interviews. This time around even better discussion and some answers to spoken and unspoken concerns. Another drive home through rush hour via different route home took only one hour. I listened to Schubert's 'Unfinished' Symphony on the public radio station. I asked myself "Are we there yet?" I think so.

Now I am hopeful and excited with the opportunity to work for this company. Early this morning before waking I dreamed about working on a project as if I were already employed. I already have creative plans if they have a job offer for me that is acceptable. I think it would be a great team of people to work shoulder to shoulder with. And they have great expectations for growth and innovation within the company's brand. It would be a chance to launch neat stuff into the marketplace, the kind of stuff to dream about at night.

But the saga continues. The job opportunity in Salt Lake appears to be opening up. I have a phone interview next week. It would be wonderful to be close to family. Maybe I could even sing in the MTC! There are also opportunities in Nebraska and Massachusetts. Anything could happen. "Are we there yet?" Lord only knows.