Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Double Stuff Oreo Blues: Rediscovering What I Already Know

Life is really interesting.

She has this way odd way of teaching.  At one moment, she'll be like, "Hey look at this!" regarding some important discovery which empowers you enough to make a life altering change. You feel like your life will never be the same. I've heard people say this when they go to a Celine Dion concert (putting that positive vibe out into the world, pleassssee), a good book, meeting an inspiring person, a traumatic experience, etc.. And then as you go about with this life change with full purpose of heart life sneakily gets in the way of that change and makes you forget what you learned, only to later on come back in and teach you what you already knew/experienced before. "That sneaky Mom!" (said in my best kids voice)

This spin wheel of emotions and purpose I've experienced in most aspects of my life; to the joy I experience in eating well/exercising to my own pursuit of happiness, helping others, etc.

Of most pertinence in my mind in this revolutionary wheel of change is my experience  in coming out as gay to family and friends this year. While still to this day perhaps the hardest thing I've ever done, it was also one of the most meaningful. I hadn't planned it, but in doing so I had learned about my own self worth and felt empowered more than I ever had before. It was like crossing the finish line of a  grueling 26.2 mile marathon race and knowing you made it. I felt SOOO good. The coming out experience brought it's own rightful opposition, but I felt like I could take it all on, something I thought would lead me on for the rest of my life. Of other things I learned, I felt confident in my relationship with Derek as something good as well as my other day to day action's I had been making. I felt like I was living an inspiring life.

                  (This picture was taken in the middle of a very grueling marathon I ran in 2012)

Months pass.

And slowly, out of my noticeable eye, that confidence and purpose slowly began to diminish. Not that I wanted it to. Oh I tried alright to keep the momentum going! But life, people, thought, it all got in the way.

And it led me back to a very depressive cycle. Things only got worse when I felt like I had to be living a certain way, full of wisdom, hope and truth because I had already gone through such a trial and come out. And because of such I was (I've been) so mad with myself. It's kind of like eating a whole package of double stuff oreos (ahem) when you believe yourself to be a health guru. People were coming to me asking for advice, or on the other hand  trying my beliefs, and I couldn't respond with full confidence.

This idea of forgetting knowledge/self confidence was something I had never previously been privy to or given heed to. Or I guess I mean to refer that specifically to my worth as an openly gay, equal rights affirming man. I didn't realize it was something I myself would have to upkeep. Reality check Bryan: Coming out isn't an end all. self acceptance isn't something someone just finds. Life isn't about learning something to then easily live by it the rest of your life. It's a very real and hard day to day battle that one has to face each and every new day. And there will be times where one is on top and on bottom. E.E Cummings (one of my favorite poets) once said "To be nobody but yourself in a world which is doing its best, night and day, to make you everybody else means to fight the hardest battle which any human being can fight; and never stop fighting."

And that's Ok! (That may be forever stamped catch line for every blog post I make, or conversation I have with someone). 

It is a normal human experience for each person to go through these type of stages. The only that matters is that I believe in myself, and I do all I can do to continually feed my pool of faith.

I remember reading once in one of Truman G. Madsen Books that we won't always feel the same way about something we once did all the time (he was referring to spiritual highs), and that in those trying times it is necessary to "walk in remembrance" of how we felt. I think that's an important principle to remember. I know a lot of my life lately has felt pretty indifferent, in that I try to do things or feel a certain way, but I don't. Perhaps life is such a way because if we were to always feel certain things,whether good or bad, our own health couldn't stand it. I'm not sure. I'm just hypothesizing now.

But back to my main point, there are some very important self truths I feel necessary to reaffirm once again, that I believe WHOLEHEARTEDLY in:

1. Derek is one of the most amazing people to walk the earth, and the nearest man I've ever encountered to reach such perfection. I don't know how he does it.
2. I am perfectly acceptable as I am, gay and all.
3. Loving, healthy gay relationships are not bad. They are very good actually.
4. I am of worth, always and forever. 
5. Love is the only thing that matters. 
5. Persistent Double stuff oreo consumption may or may not lead to coronary heart disease and or stroke.

I also find it necessary to reaffirm what I don't know which I find to be just as important and peace bringing:

1. I do not "know" that God exists or that the LDS church is "True" as it claims to be.
2. I do not know what if anything  will happen after I die.

To the above mentioned statements, I'm not sure I'll ever fully know the answer to either. I find more peace and contentment in being open to whatever the answer may be while then also living my life so as to never let such  questions  bombard my own  present happiness. 

Along with my current affirmations, I also recommit to seeing the best in myself and others
and to always do my best.

In a similar light, something I've struggled a lot with mentally is establishing a set purpose to my life that I can take confidence in. I recently came across this article from the Gentle Awakening Website, which is run by a friend of mine, that I've found truly enlightening. I think others might feel the same way also:

I don't mean to constantly be talking about my own self confidence in these blog posts, but it is an important thing that heavily occupies my thoughts. I want it and I want it for others, and if I have to say it a million times to remind myself or someone else to have it, I will. 

And on a happier note to make it blogpost official, Derek and I are engaged! I intend to make a post on that shortly regarding the story.

And as I am failing to find an appropriate way to end this post in a non awkward way, I'm just going to say ta ta for now! With love and best intentions :)

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

That Thing Called Happiness

"It's a helluva start, being able to recognize what makes you happy"
-Lucille Ball

Happiness has been on my mind a lot. Like any right minded person, it's what I want. Badly. Now and always.

Sometimes life gets complicated, usually through my own accord subconsciously, and sometimes through no control of my own, and I forget what makes me happy. Or how to achieve it. Or believing that it can be mine. And in my despair there are a lot of people in the world who want to tell me how to be happy. Those people who say such things are for the most part genuinely sincere, and usually come from personal experience or intelligence.

I admire anyone who attempts to try and listen to all the people who tell them such things. From my own experience I think a lot of sad and depressed people in the world are such a way because they're trying to make room to give heed to what everyone tells them to do. We tend to call these type of people people pleasers. I Bryan Clark, on many occasion (and I'm sure many more in my lifetime) have been known to be a people pleaser. It's in my nature. I don't think it's necessarily a bad thing, ALL the time.

And I've heard a lot of what people say in regards to people pleasers who struggle with their own happiness:

"Live life for yourself!". 

"Do what makes you happy!" 

"Let it go". 
"Put yourself first"
"Don't worry about what other people think!"
"Just be happy"
And on they go.

And all those statements and people making them are right. i agree 100%. If only it were so easy for people pleasers to believe it all the time. There's a reason we try to please others. Whether it's a right or wrong way to do it, it's because we wish to show love to the person(s) we are pleasing. Any attempt to show love is a good thing in my book.

I spoke about being in a funk a couple of weeks ago, post same sex marriage legalization in Utah. Well that funk has been more like a month long funk. And I'm tired of it. I don't like feeling miserable, or confused or lost. And yet it happens, and I've been there for awhile now. I own that fact.

And I'm working on it.

So in attempt to try and help myself just "Be happy", I came up with a list of things I think help me feel that way (In no meaningful order), that I plan on incorporating much more into my life:

1. Derek. Well he's really pretty much already stuck with me, and for some crazy reason (he says love) he wants to stay.
2. Dancing in my underwear. Yes. In all sincerity, this thought makes me smile everytime. Saturday morning, there's no pressure on for the day, and what do you do but blare some T. Swift and dance with your dog in your undies. Ahh yes. I like this thought a lot.
3.Entertaining. Derek and I have greatly missed not having our own place. We like to throw parties. Usually around food. And we miss it. Soon enough. 
4. Laughing at myself. Yes, laughing at myself and not taking everything so seriously all the time makes me happy.
5. Running, hard. I love to just sprint as hard as I can on my runs and spread my arms out, as if I'm about to fly. It makes me feel empowered. 
6. Working out. <This includes having/maintaining a big chest and 6 pack abs. I find a man's physique to be beautiful (obviously) and I like feeling apart of that beauty. 
7. Dressing well. Ah yes. There's nothing like sprucing yourself up and looking good to make me feel happy and refined. It's classy I think. I acknowledge it's comfortable to be in gym shorts and t shirts all the time. But there's a class and sophistication I admire to the thoughtful dresser.
8. Making people laugh. I usually do this by making fun of myself (in a non self critical way). Or being random/awkward. Yes, I like those laughs. Or acting out random voices with people.
9. Doing sporadic, spontaneous things. Yes, this brings me exhilaration. There's nothing quite like leaving behind the plans and just living in the moment.
10. Working hard. Pretty self explanatory. I want to feel accomplished in my education, career, community and personal relationships with others.
11. These smiles:

Wednesday, October 8, 2014

A Loss of Meaning In a Thought Filled Endeavor

I've been in a funk lately.

A funk I haven't felt in a long time.

You know  those times where you've been feeling pretty good about yourself and what you're doing, and then out of nowhere Kaboom! Like a tidal wave you lose all your confidence? All of a sudden every reason and belief that you've been standing on for purpose and direction suddenly lost meaning. You feel extremely humbled,

embarrassed even.

And every word I speak has become meaningless. I've lost my words. And it's been the hardest thing for me to gain back that ground.  I feel like a walking self conscious mess, because every where I go and every person I talk to I'm over thinking what I should be doing or saying; worrying about how I may offend them by saying this or that, and then in my mind fearing that there pre-conceived judgments (which may or may not be real) may be right. That thought may be a little confusing. Let me give an example. The legal acceptance of same sex marriage in Utah.

I've been very vocal and adamant the past few months about my support for same sex marriage. I've felt good about that before and felt validated in the things I said. Biased of course I am, as I'm in a relationship with a man. I did also feel I had valid reasoning for my support aside from my own selfish reasoning.

Then this funk happened.

And when I heard the news, I couldn't help but think "What will my Mormon family and comrades think of me if I came out vocally and shared my celebration of this news?". And then that thought led me to thinking of their disappointment, which for many people it is. Then that disappointment led me to feel confusion for myself, doubting if there was any worth I had in feeling validated in my happiness for same sex marriage legalization in Utah. Then I think well why should I feel happy about same sex marriage? Why should I stand up for something that my beloved Church and other friends so adamantly oppose? And the reasoning to do such don't come. Or they don't make sense, or feels void. Consequentially the confusion settles in with the loss of meaning. I act in support as I've acted before, but I'm not sure of myself anymore.

I feel a loss again of who I am.

It's a nasty place I tell you to be in. Not just in regards to how to handle the whole same sex marriage debate, but in general, it's a nasty place to not know who you are and what to stand for. I'm sure my Mormon friends are thinking, 'well of course you know who you are and what you stand for'! 'A child of God', a 'member of the true Church of Jesus Christ'!

Those assumptions so genuine and also so naively imposed upon me cause me heart ache. I have believed in those statements for so long and found worth in them before, to a certain extent. There came a point needless to mention over again but where my life experience caused me to question such statements, in search of greater truth and understanding that was encompassing for all. I don't believe that it was Satan or the devil that led me to do that. It was a sincere, selfless intention to find understanding and truth. Anyways those are my own justifications , but also besides my point. I've been unsure of myself the past while.

And I've found that my uncertainty 100% of the time leads me to think of myself in the most grotesque of ways: As stupid, disgusting, a waste, lazy, unaccomplished,  a nobody, evil, etc.

I feel like I need a resolution to this message, and I'm not sure I necessarily have one. I just needed to get these feelings out in the open I guess. And let people know, I'm trying. I don't ever want to give up on anything or anyone: not my Mormon heritage and the good that's come from that, not my fellow LGBT peers/allies who are seeking for understanding and love, nor anyone/anything else. It's been a very difficult thing for me to do, and I can't help but feel it must be for others out there also. That perhaps I'm not the only one who goes through "funks" like these, where suddenly everything becomes meaningless, and you feel like
 an abandoned person at sea, struggling to stay
And that that's
to be there.

I don't necessarily need praise that I'm a marvelous person and that things will work out, as I don't need on the other hand the criticism that comes from what I do do. I just need to be understood.

I'm not sure I'm right or that I'm wrong right now. And I think that's ok. What I do know is I need to be the best person I can be with what I do know in showing love. So even if I'm a self conscious mess and I say the strangest things, or I get offended over the most trivial things, or cry unannounced, blow up, or I'm unusually quiet, please know it's because I'm trying to figure out how to be my best and to love the most.

Thanks to those of you who have taken the time to read this and who show me the meaning of unconditional love.  So yep, that's all I have to say for now.

Monday, September 29, 2014

An Original Poem From Kent

A friend of mine graciously entrusted me in sharing this very intimate and personal poem of his, that he wrote concerning his coming out experience. I was very touched and moved by it as I found myself relating to a lot of what he said. With his permission, he's allowed me to share it. Thanks Kent! You are a marvelous friend and I look forward to our continuing friendship.

Acceptance, Trust, Vulnerability. It’s Ok to be open. My life experiences.
By: Kent R. Zeller
An original poem.
My soul is weak, my body is tired. As I look to the Savior, I realize How meek and Humble he is.
I feel empty. Tired, wounded of the battle at hand. Tempted of the loose land in front of me. Shaky, emotional, finding who I am. Acceptance of self, I have felt nothing like this.
For many years, 17 to be exact, I have felt alone, felt forsaken, lost, abandened. Is this how Christ felt? To not have friends to bear him up?
The love comes from above. For a while, I have questioned the love for me. Vulnerability opens the way for healing to take place. Fear closes the bay of acceptance from entering.
A choice here, a choice there. Choices all around. A choice before me. How can I make a commitment to one when I don’t feel won.
God hasn’t left me. I turned my back on him. That is the key.
Please help me dear Lord! My soul screams the goal. I want to feel loved, I want to feel accepted, I want more than from above!
I feel lost, I feel unseen. People want to meet me, develope a relationship which I am seeking. Tired, a few great friends around me. Acceptance I have felt. The battle within a little less intense.
I thought actions mean’t alot. Words mean more to me. This is how I’m lifted by encouraging words around me.
For many years I thought I was useless, worthless, stupid, and not loved. Compliments came my way, I took it as a lie.
Negative self talk took over my life. Like   book, someone else writing the words of my life. Feeling stuck in a rut, looking up to the birds in the sky. The sky is the limit, so why do I feel I have the potential of a minute?
Moving to Utah, the way was opened up. My life is changing for better, no more hiding, no more secrets, I am done saying nay to myself. Finding who I am. Realizing I am not lost. The cost is great to this point, rebellious i feel inside.
The way back to God is righteousness, the way Christ’s life was spent. Feeling tossed to the side. Trampled, torn, and twisted by my thoughts. The chaos inside, this is not free! The key, keeping the door locked inside.
Acceptance of me. Acceptance of God’s creation, which is part of the fee, will make me free!
I am safe! I can be open. No more hiding, no more lying! Acceptance, realization I am created the way God wanted me to be.
Feeling bitter inside. Then why have I felt so lost? Why did I feel you forsake me? Torn up inside, I love my family from a distance, but feel unaccepted close up.
I am acceptable as I am. God loves me most. I am safe to open the door with the right key.
Stop being locked up inside. This is not happiness. Allowing others to help accept me is only part of being free.
Acceptance comes from within. Accepting me for who I am. The other part is acceptance from God the other puzzle piece to the plan.
29.5 years it has taken me to learn this. I feel very behind in relationships for the plan. Is marriage what I want? No obligations to anyone. Only to myself, to my God who truly loves me from above.
Deep down inside I need to look to help others. Before I can do that, internal acceptance is required.
I am working on that. What is the plan for me? God created my body, my weaknesses he gave to me. From time to time I looked to my God. Great faith I had miracles I have witnessed.
How can I expect acceptance from God when I am just learning to accept myself? Miracles I've seen. Miracles and healing through the years. A dark room, my thoughts kept me down. Bound to never see myself as I should. The potential I have.
Great faith while in the dark room. The light slowly dwindling. Have I learned what I needed? My soul feels like it is night. Possibly the darkest & lightest part of my life.
The might of choice before me. A path is lighted in front of me. Happiness with my reach. Belonging is what I seek.
While in this pity & dark state. Are my emotional trials suppose to bring me closer to the Mark set up for me? Stop hating yourself Kent!You do have belonging, acceptance, and Love. Even if it is weak inside, rely upon others around & who see who I really am!
The curse of flesh, the natural man strong inside. Can I feel loved in this world to be free of my thoughts? Will i find belonging? Am I worthy of it? My vision is blurry, clearing the murky water of my life.
Will happiness find me? Which choice will I make? The pull of two choices before me are a cause of voices I’m not sure to follow.
Acceptance of my weakness, is the entrance of happiness. Admitting ot myself that I am of value, of worth, smart, & liked is important to me.
Emotional wounds healing! Acknowledging who I am. No more shame! No more guilt! for the battle has taken me down.
Appearance is huge & emotional wounds are just part. Allowing myself to think, not matter the resentment.
A struggle. I am gay. For many years I did not admit or believe I am. I am attracted to men. The other trial of my life.
Patience to make a choice. To be open and vulnerable about such a part of who I am. God wants me to stop hiding. He wants me to be who he created me to be.
Don’t fight this on your own! You have so much to offer. A valuable piece to the plan.
For so long I damned myself. Being rejected by my peers, feeling rejected by my family and finally rejecting myself.
Is this the mission of my first bit of life? Learning to love me for who I am? For the feelings i possess?
I didn't ask for these gay feelings. But I’m beginning to question how i treated myself for so long. No matter of my feelings, the vision of who I thought I was; I am learning to elevate over the depression, accepting who I am.
The progression of this, the neglected part of me. Remember Kent! You are of worth! You are of value, you are smart & I’m beginning to believe and love me.
People may hurt you. The lust of the world around. I want a relationship to feel that acceptance & love.
For first it must come from within. That is what God is trying to tell me.
This is not all lost. I am finally feeling free of my personal hell and damnation.
Turmoil, grief, & sorrow has taken my world! Thinking, and being taught, “Being gay is bad,” what about my feelings?
For now  today I may understand what Christ went through. I cut myself away from the feelings of God. This is my trial & I am beginning to be grateful. For I can understand and relate to the struggles of mankind.
To live the gay lifestyle or be faithful to my God. That is the choice laid before me. I am not alone! I have an angel by my side. Three more; Jessica, Jeremy, and Andrew.
My heart has been hurt, I am letting it go. For acceptance of me is part of the load.
Can Christ relate to me? Has he felt my pain? I believe he does, so help elevate my blame.
For I believe in the Atonement. I believe in happiness. Just always remember Kent, I was and is upon Christ’s mind for I do have a portion of his time.
Please don’t judge me Father. For I've had plenty of that. Help me accept me for who I am, for in doing I’ll be safe, and finally free.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

My Journey to Self Acceptance

This post will be extremely uncomfortable I forewarn you, if not for you than for me. I’m going to paint you a picture- the most graphically emotional picture my nearly 26 years of life experience can muster. The people in this picture love me and I love them. They have imperfections as do I. Rather than what’s typical for me and for others, at least in a public sense, to focus on the good and ignore the bad, I’m going to paint the dark colors to my life painting. I've lived a beautiful life- a perfectly imperfect, human life.

 I do not paint this in the hopes for pity or to show how terrible my life has been, I do this simply for the desire to let others know they’re not alone.  I think about my life and I wish in my teenage years, as I continue to wish now, that I had people who were completely real to me about the good and the bad, and yet were still confident in their character. That’s what I need as I believe people need. I need to know as I believe others do that we don’t have to buy into anyone’s facade of “happiness in perfection”. That we can be happy and completely accepting of our whole selves.

My  coming out video was the hardest thing for me up until this point in my life, but I believe this is even harder as I intend to go into the details of how I've gotten here. No one has really ever done that for me. I've never really shared a lot of what I intend to. This is my 100% authentic story:

I was born with a sensitive spirit. I've been told that my whole life, I've seen it for myself as I've noticed the keenness I have towards the presence of those around me, than I felt my peers had. I innately see people’s needs, wants and desires. I've always had the tenacity to tailor myself according to those needs. To give an example, I remember ever since I was young child that while I would pee, I would use the side of the toilet, and not actually go in the water, to avoid the sound of peeing and thus an uncomfortable feeling for those who were around me.  I've always wanted to make people as comfortable as possible. I guess that trait has been what’s fostered my love to clean, cook,  and do other domestic things that I felt would be of need in my household.

In that I also come from a very big family, the 8th of 9 kids to be exact. So I was always on the younger end, and add to that fact the inevitable truth that with such a large family, attention to each child has to be spread more thin. My parents did the best with what they had.

Because of my sensitive nature and need for approval from my family and peers, I had a very insecure childhood. I don’t blame my siblings for some of the things they said or did to me, as I was indeed very different than the norm, even in my family. I was never into manly things, such as sports, athleticism, etc as they were so adept in. Because I was different, burned forever into my mind are the names I’d be called such as “Fairy”, “Or Don Gay”. Or just simply “gay”. They were hurtful terms from people I wanted to feel respected by.  In fact I remember one song vividly where they would sing together over and over at the end of the song “From the bottom of Don Gay”. Because of such terms and my own insecurities, I kept to myself mostly, and had little to no friends. The friends I did have in elementary school and on to junior high saw my insecurity for friendship and to their imperfect advantage preyed on it. I would be the blunt of jokes; it never helped that I was Mormon in a non-Mormon community. I was the one they’d tell to go go do awful pranks (such as saying cruel things to random people or doing otherwise cruel things) and I would do it: I wanted their approval. I remember vividly one night when two of my friends told me we’d be watching a pg movie, after I told them I didn't watch rated R (because of my religion) and they expressed they wanted to. When I came back into the room to watch the movie, what came next was being tied down to the chair, as my eyes were then forced open to watch a pornographic moment of a rated R movie. I was horrified. And my self-esteem had found a new low.

When my family moved to Utah my parents have expressed since to me their worry for my ability to make friends, and because of such, had bought our families first dog. And to their credit that was my worry and fear too: that I would never have real friends. It wasn't until high school that I began to gain any sense of confidence in myself: when girls started to notice me and express their interest. I was taken back by this every time, that anyone could like me. Me the person who was so different and not anything like what the popular kids were like In a indirectly spoken sense I would flaunt my “romantic ability” to my triplet sisters. I wanted their approval of me too- but it was for them to acknowledge how superior I was, I desired to feel like I was better than everyone else.

It was around the age of 14 when I had the first curiosities and inclinations towards my sexual orientation. It started off as a curious wonder when I watched the sex ed video in 6th grade, and while watching the video realized my penis was different than the one shown (you see, I’m uncircumcised). I was never told about this and was always too afraid to ask.  So I remember the first time I researched online to see if there were others like me, because I felt so lonely in the way I was. It was from that innocent first moment that I had by accident had my first encounter with gay porn and subsequently masturbation. Those encounters came and went throughout my high school and first year of college, as I would go periods with and without it. But it was the beginning fuel to what came to be an intense disdain and hatred for myself, a hatred that I would go to all costs to keep hidden. I couldn't talk about it, as any public discourse on the subject was on how evil it was. I didn't want people to think I was evil as I had desired so very hard to be good. But it was there, secretly, and was something I tried my best to ignore. There was one moment when my triplet sister caught me in the act of watching porn, that has perhaps fueled the most embarrassment and hatred for myself then I've ever known since. I cried and begged her to leave the room to her confused credit. I still shutter thinking upon that 15 year old boy.

So it was this conundrum I dealt with, writing a few times in my journal about the fear that I might be gay, or depicting out my own homosexual fantasies. There was one time when the next door neighbors I was friends with happened to be reading one of these entries, when I became super embarrassed, ripped the pages and stormed off crying. It was one charitable woman, I have no shame in mentioning, Trina Smith, who then took me in her arms, hugged me, and shared the book “You are Special” for the first time and then told me I was special. That moment meant the world to me.

But oh how I hated myself so. And because of such hatred acted out irrationally, including one time wrecking one of my parents car while I went “joy riding”. They were so worried about me at that point. My whole family was. I was so embarrassed. One name I was called at that moment, which was “Jekyll and Hyde”, stuck with me with such great shame, and has been stuck ever since with self disgust.  You see, my family has come a long way from where they’re from. We are much more openly affectionate (Ie hugs and verbally saying “I love you”) now then it was back then. Those type of formalities did not exist- and I don’t blame my parents. All you have to do is look at their family history they come from and not help but feel proud for how much they've improved on. But a 15 year old me was not about to step into my families shoes. I hated myself. I remember I used to cut myself, and how I showed it off proudly to one friend (as I would make up other dramatic untrue stories about myself) just so she would feel sorry for me. I wanted someone to feel sorry for me.

Growing up in the large family I did, I also experienced the pressure of being compared to my older siblings. They are wonderful, accomplished people. Particularly I was often compared (or I would compare myself) to my two oldest brothers, I felt I was constantly told to be like them and that they had everything together.  Many of my teenage journal entries almost come off as worship to them, saying things like “if I was half the man they were” or “I’ll never be as good as they are” type of sentiments. I couldn't see them as anything but perfect and myself as anything but evil, wanting to be good.

I guess another indication of my sensitivity and need to be accepted was regarding my weight. I was the guy who in nutrition class, admired the times we’d speak about “anorexic” people, because they had the capability to starve themselves to look better. Oh how I wanted to look thin. I am naturally larger built as a Clark and I hated that.  In my senior year of high school it was of such personal pressure that I dropped 40 lbs and got my skinniest. My mom could see something was up, and would express her worry about me being anorexic, but there was never a time to talk openly about it. If I was open about that I had to be open about everything else, and it was just not something we did in my family or I could do for myself.  That desire to be the perfect body continues to thrive on in my mind, albeit now I feel I've got a healthy grip on it

But I did gain some confidence and I gained more of that when I went on my mission for the Church. My homosexual feelings there seemed to thankfully be put on the back burner the whole time. At the beginning of the mission they did play a poignant part, where I had almost went home. Being completely by myself, away from all I knew, not understanding anything that was going on around me or having the commodities I once had known, was hard. And thinking that I would have to do it for 2 years felt like a nightmare. I got a tension headache that was constantly there that lasted for 2 months. At one point I panicked so much about it all that I had a “panic attack” during sacrament meeting and was immediately shipped to the mission capital. I had scans done, saw a doctor and a psychiatrist. Even then I did not have the trust in anyone to answer truthfully to the questions of whether I was gay or if I had any desire or thought to commit suicide. I did. But I held off, and I was blessed by the hand of God with the most charitable mission companion and president. Those two, Elder Hansen and Presidente Peterson are still some of my most favored people, who have forever changed my life for the better. So it seemed to go away and while I was very selfish in my mission, I worked hard, gained more self-confidence and became better.  

So I came home from my mission, a true changed man I felt, but still with the ignored fear in the background that everything I had done for good wasn't enough, because of the gay desires I’d felt.  I always thought it would be something to “go away” that God would forgive me of in the next life. I never saw myself addressing it at all in this life, only that it went away upon me getting married. I had lied in all my previous church interviews concerning my shortcomings, again because I couldn't fathom the thought of anyone associating me with being gay.  But oh how the guilt weighed on me, and only grew over time.

I’ve chronicled before how I desperately tried to pursue a romantic relationship with a woman.  It never seemed to work for me. I wanted the “perfect” woman as I thought outwardly that I was the “perfect” man. Or I guess I thought in finding the “perfect” woman it would somehow also make me what I wanted to be. But to my fortune nothing ever came to be. I did everything I possibly could to be the perfect person I wanted to be, which never was ever good enough for me.

It was November 2012 when at the prospect of graduating BYU next semester still single, weighed so on me. I was that “perfect boy” in so many people’s eyes, all of whom couldn't understand how I could not be married yet. But I knew. I could not nearly contain the hatred and shame I had held for myself all my life.

 It was a solemn winter. I was stuck in my apartment at BYU during the winter break, alone, when things reached the worst point for me. After viewing some sexual material I then made the jerk reaction to post a craigslist ad and I set up to meet a guy in the park late at night to do things with him. I went to that park, and circled it several times, but never stopped (as I saw the guys car parked there). I went home- but how close I had gotten to do something weighed so shamefully on my mind. It was then I made the decision to kill myself. There was no way I could live with myself.

 I watched “Prayers for Bobby” which had me bawling. I had heard a similar phrase of “I never wanted a gay son” several times in my mind. I then began to research all the gay suicides I could find, and gathered up enough emotional evidence to feel I had been a victim my whole life and a complete tragedy. I took a belt to my bedroom cloak closet and then in one instant, stuck my head into it. I was there for a good 30 seconds, on the urge of passing out, when I took myself out. I couldn't do it. I was too afraid. Afraid that life actually had something better for me than what I felt at that moment. That tiny shred of belief has to this point kept me from the several attempts, some more or less dramatic, at killing myself. But I tell ya many times that that desire is still very real. It’s a dangerous mindset to get in to think about killing yourself. I find that any small thing that goes wrong for me almost instantly begins to fuel that desire again to end my life. Such is one of my thorns in the flesh.

But I lived on, thankfully. I had one particular roommate who was a particular savior to me. But my hatred was still there. I had lived, but I needed to then do something about it. So I came out to two of my sisters, under the understanding that I was doing everything I could to follow the Church, to soften the blow. It was also this moment I started to date guys. My hatred went on in other forms. I spent countless hours just telling myself how much I hated myself; I would go in the shower and just cry for time on end. Anytime I would go out with a boy, or even think about doing something with one, I would pound my head into the wall until it bruised, telling myself over and over how disgusting I was. It was then I also took more to cutting, keeping mainly to my arms. I would do anything I could to abuse myself, for I felt there was no way a person like me, who had been living such a double life, could live with any sense of worth.

And the self-abuse raged on. It found it’s form in dating multiple men at the same time, lying, and letting others take advantage of me (such as sex) that were not particularly my will, but I was so dead inside I didn't care anymore. I was already going to hell. It's a frightening feeling, to feel empty, broken, hopeless. 

School became less and less important. I hardly attended class at all, even up to my last year. I would sleep in, crawl in a ball in my bedroom and just cry. I’d get to work late(which caused more problems), stay up late cramming last minute for tests, and I was sick, tired, and hollow. A completely broken, hollow man. I saw no hope. Suicide was always on my mind and the thought of spending one more day of life always felt more than I could bear. That picture I had gained of the perfect person, the one that was meant to go all the way to the top ( I legitimately saw myself as an apostle of the Church, or wanted to believe I’d be), with the perfect kids, job and wife, was gone. And would never come back.

Then to make the story shorter Derek came into my life, at just the right time. And as noted by the journal entries I've previously shared, was a struggle to commit to. To love. To have around at all. And yet he was patient enough to persevere, and I believe God kept giving me the strength to keep putting one step in front of the other in the dark.

It’s been the biggest miracle of my life to come out to my family and friends. I've noticed how it’s made those around me more loving towards me, accepting of others, and also accepting of themselves. I’m so glad to have made those hard decisions to do it- I don’t want to picture life in any other way.

It’s been in my vulnerable decisions to open up to others, particularly regarding this thing concerning my sexuality that I always hated, that has given me the self-confidence I always wanted. And the ability to love myself for me. All of me. And to do things not to please others, but to please myself. I feel happy, inside and out- and it's the most wonderful feeling alive to experience.

There has been so much good to my life, which I hope to also mention in future posts on my blog. But that is not the only side to my life. This side shown here is just as real as all else now, and will be part of my life story.

Again I wish to emphasize and express gratitude for where I’m at now, which is in a good place. I am so thankful, for enduring, for trying to be better, and for being gay, which has allowed me to grow in a capacity I could have never done without it. This is a 24/7 battle that is mine to face and I know there is much heartache and despair in my future as much as there is joy, as perfection and imperfection. And I commit to do my best to embrace it all as I've attempted to do in this blog post.

I believe in love, I believe I can make a difference,  I believe I am worthy of love.

And that’s my story. For now.

Monday, September 15, 2014

Soul Sharing Take 3

I always like to take time here or there to reflect back on where I was a year back from my journal entries. I did that this morning and couldn't help but see how greatly things have changed for me, physically, mentally and emotionally in that time frame. I thought perhaps it might be beneficial for people to see where I was compared to where I am now. I imagine it might raise a lot of questions as to how those changes came about, and if anyone has those, feel free to ask. Some of those potential questions may also find answers in my previous blog post concerning my faith. So without further adieu, here's my sharing of journal entries, take 3:

September 17. 2013

I went home this previous weekend to celebrate with Peter for his Mission Farewell. Derek ended up coming home with me, which was a big step to make, but I think it all worked out really well. He was well received by everyone, always helped out, and my family was gracious to him.  I think he had a good time. Peter gave a very powerful and heartfelt mission farewell. It was neat to see the mission fire in him to when at one moment he raised his voice and spoke emphatically from his soul concerning the things he knew. I love that boy and have no doubts he’ll be the best missionary. He’s much farther along than I was.

I had a long discussion (unanticipated but needed) with Derek in the car on the ride home about our relationship and taking things a step back. He cried. I cried. It didn’t end well when he told me he didn’t understand and after all the emotions I poured out, I was exhausted. I dropped him off at his house, we had a minor scuttle of raised voices (albeit no harmful words were said) and then I left. I spent the rest of Sunday evening crying over the whole matter and feeling things were done between Derek and I. Yesterday (Monday) was not much better. I skipped my two classes, never went into work, and stayed in bed all day eating candy (and feeling sick from it) and watching the first season of New Girl. Not a productive day or something I’m proud of.

Derek had been experiencing some hardships and particularly hard words from his parents and was having an especially rough day. At the beginning of the day I told him despite his request to see me that we shouldn't for a few days. But after hearing of his family situation, I knew he needed someone. We went shopping at the mall and I ended up buying a jacket and some shirts at Macy’s. I also saw Bro. Phillips from my Glenwood ward while there and he asked me if I was still single (ironic). 

I bought Derek some McDonalds and he ended up staying the night. I had two 5 mile runs today which felt nice and did a good job at making me feel better.

Now in regards to today, I've been having a relatively good day. I woke up, and skipped my first class since it was a lab and I had already done the work for it. I went into work in the afternoon as normal and it’s been relatively busy today. I've been busily reading up on church statements and talks concerning homosexuality and earnestly praying as to what to do.

I want a temple marriage. I want a family. I want to be happy. I want to follow God. That is what I want and what I am going to take confident action in seeking after in my life, taking those first small steps now.

Peter goes into the MTC tomorrow. I will miss  him.


September 20, 2013

It's been another good day. Derek and I had another long chat last night, that climaxed and ultimately disappeared again in the land of un resolved issues and confusing abyss. I told him everything yet again about marrying in the temple and getting worthy. He then told me at one point I was being selfish for leaving him out. He also got really quiet and sad and then told me some deeper things he was struggling with and how he couldn't lose me. He makes this so hard. It's even harder when we have discussions like this, he only tries harder to impress me and hang on. He brought me blue flowers today (2nd time in a week), lunch for tomorrow, and a box full of printed out pictures. It was a beautiful, thoughtful gesture, and I was so grateful and at the same time felt so guilty. Afterall, this whole problem doesn't deal with his love for me, but whether are homosexual relationship is ok in the sight of God. He believes it is. I don't. And I'm trying to understand, but things haven't/aren't changing. Derek means everything to me and has loved me more than anyone has. I don't want to lose him in my life, ever. I also can't hang on to something simply for another person. I need to have my own convictions which I'm trying to attain. Oh, I need courage and strength. We did in a positive manner resolve to be better at not pushing the chastity boundaries.

I woke up later than I'd have liked to this morning, so I had limited time to run and get a chest workout at the gym. I went to class and then studied for an hour before I took my anatomy lab test. My lab isn't normally on Friday's, but because of the conflicts I've experienced, I had to take it today. I got a 90%, awesome.

 I was reading in 1 Nephi 13 today about how the devil perverts and blinds the eyes of people in our days. I also read how they sought after material possessions and tainted the gospel and scriptures and tailored it to their own needs. I was nervous while reading. I really don't want to be one of those people.


September 21, 2013

My heart is full tonight. I've been at work all afternoon, finishing up homework and reading assignments, and then reading in a book that Derek gave me last night, "No More Goodbyes", by Carol Lynn Pearson. I don't think I was ready to handle the emotional drama it's resurfaced in me. I also find nearly uncontainable the grief and sorrow I feel as I read the stories she compiled in the book, and see that I can relate to much of it, but then also see the tragic ending to many. Perhaps I can handle it. I don't want my life to end tragically. I'm a fighter, and I'm special. I know I'm here in this life to make a difference for good. Now I can see, in small proportion, why I've had to traverse these "deep waters" of same gender attraction. In a sense it's felt like I've lost everything. But then as I see more clearly I see I've gained much more. So here at work, as I stare out into the chasm of cubicles at work, my heart is drawn out to good: in prayer, in gratitude, in love. I don't know my future, I don't know where the next year of my life will bring me, but I do know I will love, and I will change, and I will grow. And I will help others to do the same.

I went to the BYU Gym to do a arm workout and then short run on the indoor track before taking my first Orthopedic Impairments Midterm. I got a 95 on the multiple choice- awesome! I studied hard for it (even better that I studied it all while at work and being paid for it). I had a Costco date with Derek, where I bought pillows and some teeth whitening strips, before eating their delicious pizza and berry smoothies. Derek is very dear to my heart, and sometimes I don't treat him or think of him as I should. I hate that I do that. The whole gay mormon conundrum doesn't help me in that. But I do love Derek; He is a wonderful human being.

I feel grateful for my life. I feel grateful for my wonderful family. I am so blessed. I am grateful for Peter's willingness and devotion to serve a mission. I attribute all my happiness and blessings of late due to his mission. I am grateful to God  for his unfailing love.


September 24, 2013

My body still finds me in the trenches of this cold, or whatever it is, battling to keep up a normal life, despite being wounded. I can put one step in front of the other, but not much more than that for the time being.

I avoided school again this morning. I woke up after a restless night sleep, feeling worse. I spent the morning reading more of “No More Goodbyes” and watching Parks and Recreation. I managed to make it to work, feeling good enough. I’ve since spent the majority of my shift finishing the book by Carol Lynn Pearson. I have shed many tears, been caught up in many harrowing memories, and left at the edge of deep chasm of confusion, great anxiety and fear. That is when I let myself feel those things. I must also admit I have felt deep peace while reading. It’s comforting to read of such heroic stories of people/parents and persons out there who do so much to fellowship those who struggle with same gender attraction. It’s also horrific and deeply disconcerting to read of the less successful stories of love. My heart aches. And yet amidst it all, I know God is real, and he loves me, and somehow all of this will work together for the good of each person, including myself. I have to believe.

I often feel caught in the middle of a tug of war of emotions and feelings: my homosexual feelings on one side, and the Church on the other. And at one given time of my life, one has greater sway on the other; I have yet to find equilibrium. My reason gives sway to the motion that there isn’t. So then I turn off life. I can’t hope to choose between the two. Or can I? I can’t stop living. This is where the despair and anxiety fills in.

Audrey Hepburn gives me hope (if I could go back 50 years man maybe just maybe...), in a quote I read of her she says:"Nothing is impossible, the word itself says, "I'm possible!"". I find encouragement in tackling the impossible as possible.

I want to be full of life, as I’ve experienced it before. I want to be of help, of hope, of love. I want to be the best possible person I can be; the person I believe God intends and hopes me to be. I am deeply blessed with such amazing friends and wonderful family who never hesitates to tell me and show their love for me.

Somehow this all must be working together for some greater purpose. I don’t see it yet. But I will keep putting one step further into the darkness, and I pray these steps all aren’t in vain in the end. They have to lead somewhere.


September 25, 2013

There's not a whole lot to say about this day that would seem worthwhile. Unfortunately I've still been feeling sick today, so I skipped my first lab in the morning. My other two classes went well. I then came home to get in a quick home workout and an episode of Parks and Recreation before heading to work.

I read in the news today about a little 2 year old girl who is need of a bone marrow transplant. The news article retold the story of how her mother experienced a similar issue and received a transplant, but then was too weak and passed away. The little girl is still in need of a bone marrow transplant donor. The story jolted me and I really wanted to do something about it. I went online and looked up the registry to qualify for being a bone marrow donor. I filled out the survey in great haste to then find out that I didn't qualify. From my initial excitement to be the possible means of helping someone to knowing I couldn't, I felt dejected and guilty. I could be the means to save a life and I don't qualify to help them. To add to the reason, I didn't qualify because of the sexual relations I've had sex with men, which poses me at a “greater risk for HIV”. I still feel horrible about it. I don't want that little girl to die, or anyone else.

The day has whittled by and all in all I'm happy and at peace with my life. I had a great open talk with Derek last night after finishing that Carol Lynn Pearson book. He shared his opinions on homosexuality and same sex marriage unions as I shared my own. I also asked him to respect me in the areas I was trying to figure out or am struggling with. It was the first time I felt it went over peacefully, on both ends. Life is good.


September 26, 2013

I feel like I am a better person at the end of today than I was in the beginning. I woke up this morning in time to get ready for school and drive over to find a parking spot. Despite my hard reached attempts to find a spot, I was unable to find any after 15 minutes of waiting. Instead of waiting more I decided it wasn't worth it and I headed back home. I cleaned up my room and watched Parks and Recreation instead. I love that show, too much. Too much.

I was lazy before I headed to work. I could've taken my anatomy test since I had felt ready and my professor canceled class for us to take it. But I missed my opportunity. I will not let that happen next time. On my way to work, I managed to scrape the right windshield mirror right off my car, coming out of the alleyway in the back of my house. I was dumbfounded by it. My car will truly look ghetto now: it's a battle scarred, war survivor. I\ shall name her from here to forth Rocky.

Peter wrote his first email from the MTC today. He's been living in Wyview housing and has his class there also. He sounded so great: full of desire to be obedient, help people, learn Spanish and preach the Gospel. I'm so proud of him. I can tell he will be a great missionary, and he's so far ahead of most missionaries I ever knew or the missionary I attempted to be. I could feel the spirit in his email when he wrote, and it inspired me to be better. I can be a lot better. I made some goals for myself after some contemplation, including not watching any rated R movies, getting up earlier and thinking less of myself.

I received a facebook message from an old friend and co worker of mine off the mission, asking me if I was a homosexual. I was taken back. She then later wrote she didn't mean to offend me but that I was so beautiful, she couldn't believe someone like me could still not be swept up by someone. I was shocked by the message initially and hurt (I really shouldn't have been). I messaged her after telling her I've been exploring my sexuality and she seemed to be very understanding. The whole homosexual issue has become a very tender issue for me lately especially. I don't know what is right or wrong in the exact details of my relationship with Derek in particular. I'm trying to understand that still. He complicates things so much for me, and yet he brings me so much happiness and joy to my life. He is one of the most loving and kind human beings that I've ever known.

I've been wearing my ring today that I got from the DR as usual. I look at it and it reminds me of the commitment I made to give my best and to make a difference in this world. It also reminds me of who I choose to be and become: nobility. But not the nobility of the world of riches and kingdoms, but the nobility of character, integrity and charity. That's what I hope to be and aspire to improve in.


September 27, 2013

 I've continued to read in Neal A Maxwell's book that I'm reading. It's brought several insights into my life, and I believe I've heard God's voice speak to me through it.

One of those was in relation to my desire to be purified. In one part of the book Elder Maxwell speaks of purification and that in order to do so we need to exercise faith and be patient. I thought about my faith and how I am to exercise faith in God. I then thought of God and his purpose for us, which I know is to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man. I then thought of that exaltation of man, and the requirements to receive it. One of those plainly taught since I was a kid is a temple marriage. I then thought if I am to be purified, and to submit my will to God, then it seems clear to me that God wants me to take steps of faith in getting married in the temple. The book later went on to talk about God's understanding being higher than ours, and despite our lack of knowledge and understanding, we are to place trust in God. Perhaps this is my case. I am to trust God and marry in the temple, despite not knowing how these homosexual feelings or my love for Derek is to factor in to this life. It feels excruciating to me, thinking about hurting Derek, or giving up that love for him. I could never stop loving him.

But that is what came to me, and I felt as if God directed me to see it as such. I then read in my scriptures 1 Nephi 19, where Nephi speaks of making the plates, despite not knowing for what purpose they were. I don't know a lot of things. But what I do seem to know is God desires exaltation of me, and that there is greatest fulfillment in that, which includes a temple marriage to a woman.

I took my anatomy midterm this morning, and ended up getting a 90 on it. I studied hard and despite the test being harder than I thought, I'm happy with the score.

Derek came to eat dinner with me again today in my car. I discussed the things I had been thinking from my study and he shared his arguments back. It wasn't the most productive for either of us. We both weren't really listening to each other and in return made each other feel disrespected. I want to have the spirit with me and do God's will. This is not my life but his, and not my will but his. Perhaps this is one of those crosses or sufferings that I have to bear, just as Christ did in his own way, to become exalted. It must be. Actually, my life is not just God's, but it is the life of those I seek to give it to, or give my love to rather. My life belongs to God and mankind. I can't let down. I must remain strong and determined. I am a disciple of Christ.


September 28, 2013

Another day chronicled in my personal travails of life. Tonight finds me well, feeling full of peace, love and joy. I feel joy. It is a wonderful thing to experience life in such a way, to have the spirit with you, to be open and willing to receive the love of God in your heart. To receive of Christ's Atonement and to be made pure. I want to be pure as I want to be full of His light. His image in my countenance. I strive to be that person every day.

I woke up this morning ready to take on the day. I took a nice hot bath to subdue the cold I felt from the icy temperatures. I love a nice hot bath. I did some personal exercises before I then headed out to go shopping for groceries and my sister's birthday presents. I wasn't able to find the things I wanted in the end for my sisters. I hope I can through online shopping and my day on Monday, get that completed.

 I finished my Neal A. Maxwell book. He finished the book by speaking of the prophet Joseph Smith, which always touches my heart. He recounted a quote of his where the prophet Joseph Smith speaks of the blessings awaited the faithful at the end of this life. This is the quote “The spirits of the just are exalted to a greater and more glorious work; hence, they are blessed in their departure to the world of spirits. Enveloped in flaming fire, they are not far from us, and know and understand our thoughts, feelings, and motions...” I thought of my grandma when I read that, and I have every confidence that she'll be fulfilled with these blessings upon her passing. What a beautiful thing. I was also touched by Oliver Cowdery's final words of passing when he said “let me fall asleep in the arms of Jesus”. I quiver with love when I hear that. I do profoundly desire those own blessings in my life, and will do all I can to achieve them.

Derek came to kindly bring dinner for me tonight. We ate together in the parking lot outside, as it had grown warmer in the afternoon. He made a wonderful spread of bourbon chicken with a blue cheese sauce, coconut curry, homemade grape juice and other delights. He is so talented and so kind to me. Truly Derek is a noble of heart among men. I spoke to him of my personal inclinations towards not dating men, and of my desire to marry in the temple and be obedient to Gods commandments. As I did so, it was the first time I felt calm talking to him about it. I felt the spirit with me as I think he did too. He was a little forlorn as I understand, I can't help that. But I think he knows as I do. All of this will work for my better, as I believe his, if I continue to love God and serve him. I believe it. While we didn't settle on any ultimatums, the words were unspoken but felt.

Bit by bit, I'm chipping it at my natural self, pulling off the scales, sometimes with great pain and force, to the person in great anxiousness awaiting beneath. I can see him, feel him and breathe him. He seeks to be seen and heard. God is with me and I with Him.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Reconciling My Faith

A mission friend of mine recently asked me if I had written a post yet on my reconciliation of faith as he'd be interested to read it. I thought it would be a great idea, especially for me, to know where I currently stand and what I desire. So while the task of understanding and reconciling my faith feels nearly out of my grasp (if this is any indication of how this post will go), I'll do my best to give it a go. This post is not meant as an offense towards anyone as it is meant to be a complete reflection on my end of my imperfect, but beautiful world.

Here I go:

I have found that when it comes to my faith and reconciling such, that the most peaceful and beneficial matter for me has been to separate my faith in the Mormon Church, as the Church has been and now is, from my faith in God, or the creator/divinity of this world. And I know how complicated and hard this separation between the two can be; I'm still working on it every day. After all, faith is a journey we take every day through our thoughts and actions; it never stops. 

And more than seeing my life through the lens of faith, I find it most effective to see it through the lens of love, which I believe to be the greatest of all. 

Anywhere I find love I hope to be there and embody.


For a full understanding as to where I am now and where I hope to be, I find it necessary to give a little bit of background to my life; for those personal/familial acquaintances of mine this touches base with, I hope to do so in the best light and with utmost respect.

Growing up, I was handed to me a beautiful legacy of faith. I was born into a typical Mormon family: lots of kids, Sunday church goers, tithe payers, loving, compassionate and immensely spiritual. Memories of my Dad turning on "Sabbath appropriate" music on Saturday night's will forever be burned into my mind, as us kids would put our shoes and clothes out for the next day.

 On my dad's side, our family membership in the Mormon Church dates back to the beginning years with Joseph Smith. It is a strong, proud and respectable heritage line, and I feel very humbled and proud to be a part of it. I also feel proud to come from my mother's line, which started with her as a convert to the Church. I should also mention that I am the 8th of a family of 9 kids, well my triplet sisters and I are 6,7 & 8, but among my siblings, I've always had older siblings to look up to when it came to church membership and what kind of person to be. All these people and examples I have to follow have made sacrifices and laid down legacies of faithful living, and it's marvelous to me.

I myself was baptized a member of the Church at 8 years old, typical story for a child who's family are all members. I remember my baptism being a happy one: Sister Degenshein, an older woman in our little church ward had made my sisters, her granddaughter Becky (who was baptized with us) and I all cakes to celebrate. I remember feeling awkward wearing this one piece white suit that was so unfashionable (I was still gay back then), but then happy about what I was doing. I didn't know much then, if anything at all, more just repetitious faith filled statements I was told to say about God, or Joseph Smith and the Church.  I was only 8 after all.

Moving forward a little, the Church standards were something that we tried to live in our home every day, and something I wanted to live because of it. I attended Seminary in high school, I read my scriptures, albeit as a teenager I mainly skimmed through most of it and clung to the scriptures that had some simple and inspiring meaning to them. I went to church every week, and despite some of the social pressure I felt because I didn’t really relate to a lot of the other boys my age, I was happy. Well relatively happy, despite the self hatred I had for myself.

I attended college at BYU (I recently just finished). It was never a question in my mind of where to go to school: God’s school was BYU, and if I wanted to find a woman to marry and make anything of my life (despite how messed up I know this thinking is now), I had to go to BYU. So that’s all I applied to. 

My first year at BYU was wonderful. I had other siblings there to support me (my triplet sisters started with me- you can find an article online here that the Deseret News did of us, my dad felt like we were hot stuff: I also had more peers my age who were also members of the Church, and all wonderful people who sought to follow the Church’s standards and be decent, kind human beings. I loved how the Church made me feel and what it was doing to make me a better person.

So I went on a mission for the Church. I was called to Uruguay in South America, Spanish speaking. It actually was the same mission my Dad served in years before; I won’t say how much in fear of punishment. And my mission, well. I could write books on my mission. How to boil it down. I loved my mission. And I gave my whole heart to the people I was in contact with every day. I gave my whole heart to the Church, to teaching, to working hard and to developing my relationship with God. I was quite the imperfect missionary and I had many faults that could be pointed out, but I did all I could to be the best missionary I could be. And I loved the Church even more for that, because of how it was making me work towards something greater. I saw lives change, I felt things I’d never felt before, and I met people I hope never  leave my life. I can’t think about my mission or anyone from it without getting choked up and without tears coming to my eyes. It changed my life forever. And I’m eternally indebted for that.

So I came back from my 2 year mission to BYU, to then spend the next years of my life at BYU, fully invested in faithful living, as the Church had outlined it. I wanted a temple marriage to a woman, so I dated. And dated. And dated. Perhaps the biggest frustration of my life because there were so many amazing woman that I had potential to marry, and yet, I could not bring myself inside to do it. Something always kept holding me back from getting too close, from committing too much. But I still tried. I always thought it just meant it was another girl. I felt so sure of a couple girls at the time, that for one reason or another, never worked out (the ones who I think really personally saw me as a gay person). But I believed in the Church, I believed in what I was taught from a young age, and I wanted the happiness I was promised for doing it all. But I wasn't happy. I was very, very depressed actually. I always blamed it on the fact that I was imperfect, and all the weaknesses I had. I sure desired perfection, as I still do, but I haven’t yet achieved it (nor met anyone who has). It was the Christmas of 2012 when things took a very downward spiral for me. I was still at school, in Provo, alone in my apartment, working full time during the break to earn money. I had reached a point where I had to acknowledge it all, the fact that I was gay, and this was never going away. It was all very dooming to me at the time as I had never ever wanted to “be gay” or desire such. So I turned to finding ways to ending my life.

This is also a subject I don’t wish to dwell too long upon as it brings up in me the most raw and real feelings. Suffice it to say if it wasn’t for one good roommate in particular, I worry about what I may have done to myself. I had already been physically beating myself up a lot, but it was a breaking point. The emotional and physical scars were worn and life had been dying to tell me to accept the fact that I was gay. That I was ok. That somehow I had a life still worth living. I still cling to that thought now, albeit I’d be a liar if I said I didn't struggle with it still. There ya go, there’s my attempt at reconciliation of faith in action there in that last sentence! I am indeed trying.

So I came out. Slowly. Very slowly. It is an immensely difficult process, as it feels like the world you have always known is shattering all around you as you do. And sometimes it does, and sometimes life is surprisingly exceedingly still the same, and normal.

And then I found Derek.

That has been a struggle, as you can see marked by some of my personal journal entries. I have fought and fought and fought internally and outwardly to try and find a way to make my relationship work alongside the teachings of the Church. I've sought out people, I've researched, studied, prayed, fasted and done all I could to search for answers. And it has been the most grueling process to go through. It's felt like many if not most times up until now this constant tug of war I would be in, where on one end I gave up Derek and followed the Church's standards on homosexuality, as I've always tried to do. Then on the other hand I would give up the Church (so nonchalantly) and do whatever I wanted to do. Neither ever brought me the happiness I so desired.

But finally, making my coming out video has brought me peace. Peace that I have so long sought for. And answers to prayers I've so long made. You will be amazingly surprised at the answers that come, the help you receive and the peace of mind you'll feel by being completely 100% authentic with the world. I had no idea. That night I made that video, Derek and I drove up to Park City to get away. And man, I'll tell ya, I felt on top of the world. Not just that, but I felt whole, complete, perfect for the first time. By somehow accepting all of myself, most particularly the imperfections, I had found wholeness.

And that's where I am now. I finally have come to a place where I believe in myself fully. I believe that it's okay for me to date Derek, I believe it's okay for me to not go to Church every Sunday or do all I can to live my life in the "faithful way" that my Church has set it out. And I've gotten here because I've finally been able to find worth in myself. As hard and as crazy as that is, I Bryan Clark, find worth in me. And what I do, say and think. I live my life for love. I live my life for Derek for he is love, and shows me love back. And it's the most beautiful thing I've ever encountered. And I've found God there.

So no, in this post or in my current opinions, you will not find complete harmony with the Church's teachings. I openly question, struggle and am skeptical of things. I'm a science major: I am openly skeptical of all things (including God) but at the same time open to all new understanding and knowledge.

I bear my flaws to you now as I've accepted them as a part of me. And I hope to continue to be 100% bearing of all things in my life, like it or not, uncomfortable or not. I realize that this brings me an immense pain and heartache on a day to day level, as people seek to judge me as they see fit, but I must do this. I have to do this: to experience real happiness, real love and real joy, there's no other road. This is the walk we all must take. The one less traveled. And this is the walk I'm currently on.

 You see, life is real to me, I don't just do things, say things, or believe in things. I mean all that I do and I try to put my heart into all that I am. That's a 24/7 mountain to climb. And it's exhilarating and immensely scary at the same time; in the words of Brene Brown it causes quite the vulnerability headache.

So I haven't given up on anything, least of all God, the Church or myself. But I also hope not to deny anything or to push aside things I don't know for the mere fact of placing my faith and trust in others.I have seen too much damage by the Church when that is done. I also know that there is much love that can be still be done that way, and I won't call anyone wrong who does that. But for me, my faith and my reality: I choose me. Over ANYTHING. I CHOOSE ME. 

And as selfish as that may sound, I've found the greatest amount of joy and selfless living in that.