Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Jeff Part 1

Hi, I’m Jeff and I’m excited to be a part of this blog.  Many people have strong and varying opinions on gender roles, homosexuality, marriage, and family values.  Hopefully some of the thoughts I share will help you understand a perspective that may be different from your own. 

For as long as I can remember, I have been emotionally, spiritually, physically, and sexually attracted to guys.

In elementary school, that attraction caused me to seek to be around other boys, but at the same time I felt much more comfortable around girls. I enjoyed the types of things girls did (playing house, making crafts) more than I enjoyed the activities that boys occupy themselves with (sports, camping). At first I had both boy and girl friends but over time I started to spend more and more time with girls. Eventually, I became uncomfortable around boys and felt alienated from them.

By the time I reached high school, almost all of my close friends were girls. At the same time, the sexual aspect of my same gender attraction started to intensify.

Being raised in a faithful Mormon family, I naturally wanted to resist the temptation to act on these attractions. I wanted to serve a mission and get married in the temple and do all the things that I had been taught were good and right.  I tried to obey the commandments and to keep the spirit in my life.  In general, I succeeded, despite the very real and difficult trials I faced. I battled to resist the temptation not only to commit what I had been taught was sinful, but also to succumb to feelings of inadequacy and unworthiness.

I served a mission and emerged from that experience strengthened in my resolve to obey the commandments as I had been taught. My testimony of the truthfulness of the Gospel of Jesus Christ was solidified, including my belief that God's plan for us included sealing of husband and wife for eternity.  I knew in my heart that I was going to be a husband and father and that my family would continue into the next life. This deeply personal belief is central to all the choices I have made since then.

Perhaps the hardest years of my life were those that followed my mission. I attended BYU while working part time at the Missionary Training Center.  My spiritual health was never stronger, but with my hormones in full gear, my desire to be with a man also grew more intense. 

I don't recall ever believing that the attraction to men would ever go away, or necessarily wanting it to. But I did hope and pray that I would develop an attraction to women, or at least to a woman. Unfortunately, my prayers seemed to be in vain as one after another, my relationships with women failed to blossom into the type of love that could sustain a lifelong commitment.

In the years after I graduated and moved out into the real world, I lost hope. I thought that perhaps the blessings I sought might not be in my future. From time to time, I gave up on those dreams and began to look elsewhere. However, no matter where I went or what I did, I always returned to the belief that anchored me - I knew that God had a plan for me.

To make a long story short, one day I met a girl who was different from all the others I had dated previously. Everything clicked and the relationship progressed easily, even effortlessly. I was emotionally, mentally, and spiritually attracted to her. The physical attraction was not so simple - although I thought she was beautiful from the beginning, it took time to get used to the idea of intimacy.

Eventually, I came to know that she was the person I wanted to spend my life with. I shared with her my experience with same gender attraction. She was very understanding and, to my surprise, was completely willing to enter into this adventure of life with me.

Now we have a young son and a daughter on the way. Although our marriage has its trials (as any marriage does), I have never been happier in my life. I can't imagine a better existence than the one I wake up to every morning.

One of the most important lessons I have learned is that obedience brings blessings. If we will follow the guidance that God has imparted to us through prophets, scripture, and personal revelation, we will be happy – not because God will punish us if we don’t, but because God knows what will make us happiest in the end.

Looking back, if I had always chosen what I wanted at the time, or even what I thought I would want later, I may never have chosen what I did.  But God knows the end from the beginning, and if we trust him, we will eventually come to understand why he was leading us in another direction.

I am reminded of this story told by President Gordon B. Hinckley:

Long ago I worked for one of our railroads whose tracks threaded the passes through these western mountains. I frequently rode the trains. It was in the days when there were steam locomotives. Those great monsters of the rails were huge and fast and dangerous. I often wondered how the engineer dared the long journey through the night. Then I came to realize that it was not one long journey, but rather a constant continuation of a short journey. The engine had a powerful headlight that made bright the way for a distance of 400 or 500 yards. The engineer saw only that distance, and that was enough, because it was constantly before him all through the night into the dawn of the new day. . .

And so it is with our eternal journey. We take one step at a time. In doing so we reach toward the unknown, but faith lights the way. If we will cultivate that faith, we shall never walk in darkness. (2002 April General Conference, We Walk by Faith, Gordon B. Hinckley)

If there is anything you would like to hear about in my next post, let me know in the comments below. 

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Jimmy Part 1

Hello,  My name is Jimmy,  this is my first post for this blog.  I am thrilled to be part of this blog and to share my message here.  My reason for sharing is to hopefully help the reader find hope, healing, inspiration, and courage in what we are sharing.  Enjoy the journey and feel free to share with others. 

“Hey, Jimmy”,
Oh no, who from my miserable childhood knows me?  I cringed as I turned and met the smile of a fellow nerd Drake (name changed).  He and I had spent a year together in a Pickler ward (name Changed) back when we were in Jr. High.  He moved out of State. I moved to a very loving Plum Park ward (name Changed), it was one that helped to save my life.  Prior to living in that Ward, I spent The previous 8 years in a small rural town of Arizona.  Everyone in that town called me Jimmy and when I left I vowed to not be called Jimmy.  I despised that name.  Now, here I was Coming out of an ARP Meeting and even worse to my estimation a PASG Meeting.  ARP is short for Addiction Recovery Program, and PASG is for guys addicted to porn.   In order for you to grasp my terror, You gotta understand why I despised the name Jimmy.  For that, you need to know my story. 

My Story has changed over the years, and not because the facts have changed, but because over time my perception of those facts have changed.  So as I share this story, facts (reality) and fiction (the story I told myself) became blurred.  So for those who know me,  the details of this story are not meant to create wreckage, There has been enough of that in my life.  This is not a gripe or a blame piece, nor is it an exposé. I will change the name of folks and try to be as general as I can to prevent future harm.  I will also leave out the most of the graphic details because perception is not reality, yet when the two mix heartache can follow.  I ask your forgiveness in advance if any of this causes you the reader harm.  I pray instead that my story will bring you hope and healing and inspire you with the courage to be compassionate both with yourself and others.  (Note all names have been changed.)

I was born with a digestive disorder that made me projectile puke everything I ate for the first two weeks of my life.  Two things came of this, the Doctor recommended goats milk, so all my siblings took a turn at milking goats every morning until I was 8 years old.  Something I never had to do.  Now, I don’t remember them complaining about it, but I am sure that it wasn’t the most fun thing to do in the bitter cold mornings, and I was held face out away from everyone for most of my infancy.  This might be one of the reasons why I had an aversion to touch for most of my adult life up until now.

At 4 years old while my siblings were playing a game on the hill next to our house, I got in the way and my sister fell on me and I fell on a barrel cactus.  As horrible and vivid as that memory was, it pales in comparison to the memory I have of a conversation between one of my brother’s best friend and I.  Between our house and that hill lived the Black family, and when I went to get my brother Justin for dinner, Barney told me to go away.  I persisted and he became upset and told me that I wasn’t Justin’s real brother.  “you were adopted”.  I went home asking my mother what adopted meant.  She answered and then punished my brother for telling me that.  My story had just changed for good.  From then on the suspicion started.  I began to wonder and found evidence all over the place that this might be true.  I have 3 brothers and 5 sisters all older than me.  My oldest Nephew was a year younger than me and the next older brother was 5 years older than me, so why not.  So I started calling my mom and dad, Grandma and Grandpa.  The funny thing is when I spoke frankly with them about this as an adult and after I finally saw my birth certificate, they said, “We always thought that was odd, but didn’t want to hurt your feelings.  You were a very sensitive kid.”

At that same time I met my first friend… we were best friends.  His name was Cloyd.  He taught me football the way 4-5 year olds would.  And yet he moved right after this time.  That hurt more than anything.  Then soon after my Father’s Mother died.  I cried because in both case, I didn’t get to say goodbye. 
My dad was a loving man, but busy running the local grocery store and teaching school and coaching sports. I remember him lovingly wrapping my blistered hands with gauze the day that I decided to pick up the Harley Davidson Motorcycle that was driven by a boy that had come to visit one afternoon.  My family called him “Bonehead” because that was what everyone called him.  I think that was his nickname.  I also remember my dad treating my foot after I stepped on a nail by the church after primary one Wednesday afternoon.  Each time I got seriously hurt my dad was there giving me a blessing and fixing my hurt.  This was the dad I cried for when he died a few years ago of cancer, who I still grieve for as I write this now.
Things changed when I started school.  I didn’t want to become too attached to anyone.  My grades were good until I got to 2nd Grade.  There we had a man for a teacher.  He threw temper tantrums and made threats that scared me.  I started to believe that men were mean and bad.  I didn’t like him and became very suspicious of all men, including my dad.  That same year we moved and got to ride the bus.  My next door neighbor had a mental disability and was bigger than me.  One day she took me by surprise from behind and almost choked me to death with a scarf and beat me repeatedly in the face.  It went on forever, and the man who drove the bus stood by and watched.  He punished me for not fighting back.  He thought it was his duty to make me a man I guess. 
This was only the beginning of a series of fights and trouble brought on by kids bullying me.  My father owned a grocery store in the town.  And the local mine went on strike.  So folks were coming to my father asking for assistance.  One day, a kid my age and his mother came in asking for credit for groceries.  My father turned them away because her husband had put $400 of credit on some fancy tires he didn’t need the month before.  Although healthy for the pocketbook, his was not healthy for my social status.  To the strikers, I was a “scab”.  Which meant I had a target on my back.  I came home each day exhausted from running every recess.  My father saw this as being lazy so he made me walk/run around the field between our house and the river 2 or 3 times per day. 

Eventually, the bullying got so bad that by High School, I believed that my dad saw how bad it was getting and wanted to get me to a safer environment.  So we moved to the Valley of the Sun.  Things got much easier then.  I had a new start, but the scars were already there. 

(Stay tuned for more)

Friday, January 17, 2014

Kent Part 1

Hello my name is Kent and this is my First Post for the Jonathan and David Experience. I look forward to sharing my experiences with you now and in the future. Our Group is dedicated to teaching men how to develop "Healthy" relationships with other men while staying true to the Faith in Jesus Christ.

Throughout my life, I have never felt like I quite belong or fit in.  Until recently I always thought this was a bad thing.  It was when I decided to actually start to see who I was, what my wants and needs were when I finally started to be happy.  

Now I actually had a pretty good childhood.  I grew up on a ranch living in Snowflake.  I worked with my cousins and was always very busy.  I realized that I was attracted to other boys when I was around 12.  I thought it was just curiosity and didn’t really think a lot about it.  If there was one thing that I craved growing up though, was for me to have a best friend.  

This was something I really never had time for.  I was always very responsible and got whatever job done that I was asked.  I also really liked working with my hands and figuring things out and was always the go to person.  I felt this tremendous weight of responsibility to do all ranch/farm work before I took time for myself.  I never wanted to let anyone down.  Growing up I was definitely a people pleaser.  

In High School I played football because that is what everyone, especially in our family, did.  I actually really enjoyed it but never felt like I was good enough at it.  I think the reason for that was that I felt I had to be perfect and to be honest, there was a part of me that was scared of getting hit too hard.  It seems a bit ironic now that I played lineman on both offense and defense and was hitting and getting hit every play.  I just lived in fear that someone was better than me because I messed up ever so often.  

During High School was a great student and studying came easy for me.  It was also during this time that I never truly felt like I had that one person that I could just talk to about anything.  I knew that these attractions to men weren’t going away and that I really didn’t want to date much for any reason other than that is what we were supposed to do.  I think up to this time I was still just curious of another boys body and I felt different in my mind.  I was so preoccupied with these thoughts and I never really thought much about girls.  I still didn’t know what this meant.  

Like so many others that I have since talked to, I thought that if I just go on a mission, the attractions would leave and I would be able to get married and live the “typical” mormon boy life.  It was for this reason that I never told another person, including bishops, about these attractions.  I just needed to be more faithful, read my scriptures more and pray more.  I would be doing all these things on my mission and things would end up great.  

I served my mission in New Zealand and was actually very lucky.  My first companion was another ranch kid from Idaho that I got along with so well.  Everything clicked and it was also when I could just be myself and I had a mentor/friend to look up to which I never quite felt that I had.  The other part of the mission that I just loved was the camaraderie and love being missionaries.  Any time we greeted another elder, it was with a hug.  I loved these hugs.  Time kept going on and I realized that a lot of the attractions to guys was not near as strong.  They were still there but not as strong.  
It came a time when we started teaching a gay guy (although at this time, I didn’t know he was gay).  The first lesson was great and we set up another one.  When we came back he let us in on some of his true colors.  I got uncomfortable but also curious again about what it was like to be gay.  We found that he had no intentions on joining the church, just that he wanted to have some good looking missionaries over.  It triggered some stuff in my head that I couldn’t really get out.  

I knew the time was when I needed to tell someone else but it was not going to be my companion.  I finally got the courage to talk to my mission president and let him know.  He didn’t really know what to do other than give me a blessing and stay focused on the work.  There were definitely times throughout the mission that the attractions had come, but they never lingered.  I really enjoyed my mission and was excited to come home and start a family just like I “should.”  

In my next post I will talk about life after the mission to current times and about how I came to be where I am now and where I am now.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

Brad Part 1


  Hello, my name is Brad and I have to start by saying that I am not a gay man, but all my life I have had tender  feelings for other men and it has been somewhat of a struggle to develop close male relationships in our culture.  It has caused confusion and frustration until with the help of the Spirit I was able to come to understand why I had such feelings and in the process I have learned the Eternal nature of my relationships with other men.  In this blog I will share with you my journey in coming to terms with who I am and my relationships with men.  I hope you learn and if you are carrying a similar burden, I hope it can be lifted.  


      This blog has been in the making I think my whole life.  I grew up in a small community in the White mountains of Arizona where if you were not a cowboy, hippy, jock, or Mormon you were an outcast.  I have to admit I was not a cowboy, hippy, or jock.  I was an inactive Mormon, thus making me an even bigger outcast.  To say the least I did not fit in at all.  Home was really hard, Dad was a cowboy and did not or could not understand this strange son of his that hated sports and boots, and loved playing with dolls and writing poetry. 

    School was the hardest.  I hated it with all my heart.  I had a low self esteem and I have to admit I was a feminine boy to say the least.  I hated school.  I did not fit in anywhere.  We were also poor growing up and children can be very hard on others.  When the teachers would take off my tennis shoes and wrap my feet in a blanket to keep them warm they really were doing me no favors.  Children pick up on the underdog and tend to make life terrible for him.  I was the underdog in every way.  As I grew older it got worse.  I was terrified of people and could not even look them in the face.
By the time I arrived at high school I was a mess.  My memories of high school are of being beat up by girls at the bus stop and bullies at school, teased, humiliated, and rejected in every way.  I remember one girl who got off my stop just to beat me up.  She did it quit often.  I remember trying to hide out from the hippy group so they would not beat me up.  It was a horrible experience to run from door to door trying to avoid them.  Each and every day was filled with dread and terror.

     I really tried to fit in, but was not allowed.  If I had an idea it was shot down with scorn only to be accepted a few minutes later by a popular person.  I have memories of being kicked down the hall by a huge football player.  The part that got me was the teachers allowing it to happen because the football player was popular.  I remember being spit on, pushed around, laughed at, harassed, teased, and called horrible names.

    I think the hardest part of the whole experience was being called a faggot.   From as long as I can remember I was called a fag (a very used term in the 70's).  Everyone in the school called me faggot.  I remember going into the locker room one day and hearing "Hey coach, have you heard the latest, Brad is a faggot".  I remember looking right at the coach thinking he would defend me, but he laughed with them and did nothing.

    It was all so confusing to me.  I knew I was not a faggot, or as we say now, gay.  Yes I liked doing so called girl things, but I had no sexual attractions to men at all.  I was what I like to call a tender sensitive person who didn't care for sports.   It is not that I didn't like sports, I tried, but I just was not that great at it and I enjoyed doing other things more.

    By the time I was 18 years old I was really confused.  Everyone, including family members told me I was a sissy, girl, fag.  I have to confess, I still had no sexual attractions for men.   At about age twelve I started working in a local coffee shop.  I spent many, many hours there with women mostly.  I think because of that and because I was sensitive in nature I developed some pretty feminine characteristics.  My voice was soft, and my hand gestures were feminine.  I worked in the restaurant business and often I was told the first impression of me is that I was gay.  The confusing part is that I knew I was not gay, but everyone else thought I was.  People can be so judgmental at times.  If we are a little different they assume or make up what they think in going on.

     By this time I was totally confused, but determined in my mind that I was not gay, what I was I had no idea, but I knew that I was not gay.

    I decided at 18 years of age to get active in the Mormon Church.  It was a hard thing to do.  Most of the people were the very ones that had abused me, but none the less I moved forward and a year later found me in the mission field.   I served two wonderfully hard years as a missionary and developed amazing relationships with companions.  It was a life changing experience for me to be loved and accepted as never before.  I grew to be confident and secure in who I was.

     I realized that I was a sweet, sensitive, tender man who loved others easily and in particular felt strong bonds with other men.   I was not sexually attracted to them, but I was emotionally, spiritually, and physically attracted to men.  It was still a struggle because I worked in the food and beverage industry and everyone thought I was gay.  Just last week I showed my family a video of me on a TV show when I was 25 years old and my daughter understood exactly why people thought I was gay.

   Until next time. By the way, the way this blog works is every one of us – me, Kent, Jim, and Jeff – will post.  So every four weeks you will hear from each one of us in turn.  For the first couple posts from each of us we will share our history and after that we will teach topics that are dear to our hearts.  Have a great experience.   Brad