Thursday, April 2, 2009
I'm sorry Sir, I'm afraid you have... HOMOSEXUALITY!
Over the past couple of months, I have found myself drawn to bloggers from all over the country who write about the challenges and trials that they are dealing with in their lives. I have been overwhelmed by the courage of so many people out there who face their trials with strength and determination, even when times get really tough. I've been especially fascinated by the stories of individuals who are in the fight against Cancer. Their stories almost always begin with an explanation of the symptoms that led them to wonder if something was wrong. So many of them talk about their experience hearing their Doctor declare with certainty... "You have Cancer." That final diagnosis that forces them to face the reality of their disease, muster up the courage to face the future, and find the strength to somehow continue to LIVE despite the illness that is determined to kill them.
And so I begin my story...
I guess I always knew there was something different about me. I mean, let's face it... most little boys don't throw a huge tantrum every time they play "Super Heroes," just because their sisters wont let them be Wonder Woman! Along with an unusual affinity for lady superheroes, I also loved to sing and dance with the girls, bake in the kitchen with Mom, design dresses for my sister's formal dances, and dream about all of the fabulous decorating possibilities for my bedroom.
Yes, I was a little sissy, but I didn't think too much of it until my first real symptom occured one day while on the Balboa Island Ferry in California. We had all found a seat on the benches and since I was the last one to sit down, there wasn't a whole lot of room. As I squeezed in between my sister and some man that was seated next to me, I suddenly became completely aware of the hairs on his legs touching mine. I literally felt a jolt of electricity throughout my entire body. I had no idea what it was, or what it meant, but I knew it was something... and I knew that I liked it.
Years later, in middle school, I realized that I was very much drawn to the boys. I was really good at being included as one of the girls, but it was the elusive "Boy's Club" that intrigued me. I knew there was something different about me, but wasn't able to identify what exactly it was that separated me from them. I didn't necessarily recognize any sexual attraction to other boys, but I was absolutely interested in the popular good looking boys in school and knew that I wanted to be like them.
In high school, I used humor to make me fun and popular. I learned how to make myself fit in, without really ever fitting in. I was welcomed INTO the group, but I knew I wasn't really ONE of the group. As puberty took a hold of me, I started to realize that my feelings toward other guys was probably more than what it should be, but chose to ignore those feelings. I tried to date girls, and be really interested in them, but I could never figure out exactly how that worked. I tried so hard to have crushes on girls in school, but it never really worked out. The reality is... even if I had gotten myself involved in some sort of relationship with a girl, I would have been terrified. I knew that I didn't want anything to do with them and even the thought of kissing one made my stomach churn.
My freshman year in college challenged me once again. As a freshman in the dorms at BYU, I experienced every day the awkward right of passage called... PUBLIC SHOWERS! To most guys this was no big deal, but to me it was like trying not to throw up while riding the Gravitron at the state fair. I hated the way I felt around naked guys. I was curious, confused, and at times, somewhat turned on. All the while, I suppressed any belief that these symptoms could ever indicate something bigger than just a little healthy curiosity.
After my mission, I continued to suppress my feelings the best I could. Even when the symptoms would flare up, I just kept telling myself that they were no big deal, and that they would go away if I continued to ignore them. During a particularly bad flare up one day, I remember hiking up somewhere in Rock Canyon and making sure I was completely alone. I didn't what was going on with me, but I needed to see if I could find some answers. I knelt down and began to pray to my Heavenly Father. In quiet whisper, I said... "I think I'm gay."
Immediately after hearing myself say those words, my stomach tightened, I felt sick, I was embarrassed, and I was overcome with complete denial. I knew that this reaction to what I had said was not some sort of divine inspiration. In fact, it was absolutely clear that I was unable to say to my Father in Heaven what I was not able to admit to myself. In that moment, I promised myself that I would never say those words again. I was embarrassed and ashamed, afraid of what the consequences would be, and terrified to face the reality that had stirred in me for years. I simply wasn't ready.
Just as the pressure builds after shaking up a bottle of Diet Coke, I knew that whatever it was inside of me, was building up pressure and was about to explode. As time went on, I knew that something had to give.
At this point I was no longer able to ignore the constant and persistent symptoms that I had been feeling for so many years. I knew it was time for me to admit the truth. To face the reality of what I had been feeling. To arrive at a final diagnosis, with no second opinion necessary. I had... Homosexuality.