My Gay Travel: Our Coffee Shop Story

Our Coffee Shop Story

We were normal busy college students. Anna was in her fourth year of college and I was about to graduate with a B.A. in Religion and Liberal Arts.

Anna and I met while I was working at a coffee shop inside of Anna’s college. Our mutual friend, Paula, decided that we would be PERFECT for each other and decided to hook us up in the way her Jamaican blood dictates, by force. She then took Anna to the coffee shop I worked at to meet me. They got to the counter and said hi, Paula had a funny look on her face and forced Anna into my view, Anna shyly ordering a strawberry Italian soda, no cream. As I mixed her Italian soda we talked about the Saints hat I was wearing, she told me it looked good. I blushed and flamboyantly responded, “My buddies took me into a sports cap store and made me pick a football team. I picked the Saints because their clothing was the most fashionable.” I handed Anna her Italian Soda while she and Paula laughed. We talked for a few more minutes; Paula then took a cardboard coffee sleeve from its holder and ripped it in half, Anna and my eyes followed our friends confident black Jamaican hands as the Left one proceeded to write my phone number on one half of the textured cardboard and Anna’s on the other. She handed Anna’s number to me loudly stating in her Jamaican accent, “If you don’t call her, I won’t give you any tips!” They then went to their next class, leaving me in the coffee shop alone with half of a cardboard coffee sleeve and the number of a girl who I knew almost nothing about.

Over the next two weeks Anna and I chatted with each other while she was between classes. It was like clockwork we talked, Anna would leave the coffee shop to go to class and then Paula would be at my counter asking, “So, have you asked her out yet?” I would always respond by telling her no, “No” while thinking, “I’m gay, can we talk about the cute guy who always sits in front of that window?” She would then order a drink, pay for her drink, pick up her drink, look into the tip jar, look at me and smile before she walked away. Soon enough my other customers overheard our daily ritual and found out about the game Paula was playing. My customers not only found out about Paula’s matchmaking scheme, they started joining in! I then realized that if I did not ask Anna out, I would have no gas money! The next day I answered Paula’s question with “I will do it tomorrow.” I decided to put my gay bias aside and take my financial future into consideration…

On the morning of “tomorrow” my roommates informed me that it was Valentine’s Day and invited me to go to dinner with them, I told them I would be bringing a date. So, On February 14th, 2012 I dragged myself into work with a bouquet of Lilies. As the day grew into the afternoon Anna walked up to the register and handed me a brand new fashionable Saints hat while energetically saying, “Happy Valentine’s day!” While replacing the old hat on my head with the new one I told her thank you and asked if she would like a free drink. She said yes. As I mixed her up another Strawberry Italian Soda, no cream we talked about our mornings. When I was handing Anna her drink I grabbed the bouquet of Lilies and asked her out, she said yes!

The date went really well, Anna survived my friends and another date was set. From here we got to know each other. Over the next couple weeks I found out that she doesn’t like cooked fruit, she is GRUMPY in the mornings, and that she has a big heart. I also realized that along with us having started to develop a relationship I had developed feelings for Anna that I previously only felt for men. I decided that I would see what happened over the next two weeks before I needed to let her know that I am gay.

Over the first month our relationship became built with dancing, movies, and hanging out with our mutual friends. We had alone time, just like any other young couple that is starting to get to know each other. Soon, we started moving from the back and forth game of dating, and into a relationship based on honesty, trust, love and compassion for each other. We talked about the do’s and the do not’s, the birds and the bees, and most importantly the negotiation of “What if we end up getting married?” I then realized that I had fallen in love, as a gay man I was in trouble.

I needed to tell Anna that I am gay. A few nights later after we were doing some “get to know each other” games I started a serious conversation with Anna. I come out of the closet, again, and told her, “I’m gay!”

Anna’s first reaction was, “wait, what?” She then explained to me that this did not matter due to our spiritual, sexual and healthy connection with each other. She continued and said, “This connection is the type that every couple wishes for. We have no problems, we had never argued, and we openly and honestly love each other. You being gay is just who you are, as long as you love me and I love you why should you being gay matter?”

We then had a serious discussion about the future of our relationship. We did what my Mormon friends call, defining the relationship (the D.R.). By defining what each of us thought our relationship needed to be we opened up a line of communication that has allowed me to be fully honest with Anna about what I, as a gay man in a heterosexual relationship needs and what Anna, who is FULLY heterosexual, also needs. From this conversation we decided to see where the relationship would go. We agreed that if the relationship turns into something unhealthy that we would end the relationship. W decided that we would not fix something that was not broken.

Six months later we started talking about marriage and met with Elizabeth, a licensed therapist. We wanted to make sure that we were making the right decision and that we would not be harming each other by continuing our mixed orientation relationship. Elizabeth asked us some questions about our relationship and saw that we were doing everything we needed to be doing to make a healthy relationship stay healthy. Elizabeth specifically heard us declaring a lifelong commitment, she heard us committing to each other in the old classic way: that we were committed to each other for better or for worse, in sickness and health, till death do us part, etc.. Elizabeth heard us talking about wanting children, our commitment to high family values and our commitment to do what we need to do to raise children. Elizabeth wanted to make sure that we knew that marriage is not a walk in the park, but a day to day commitment. This commitment is what Elizabeth saw from both Anna and I. Elizabeth also saw in us our spiritual connection with each other, and how this connection allows for me, a gay man, to love a straight woman.

We did everything we needed to do to make sure that we were making the right choice. We knew that it was not every day that a gay guy marries a straight woman, we made sure to go above and beyond what a strictly heterosexual or homosexual couples would do.

After doing all that we could to make sure we were making the right choice for BOTH of us we became engaged (I will post this story later) and will soon be joining the ranks of what is now called a ‘Mixed Orientation Marriage,’ A relationship where one partner is heterosexual and the other is gay or lesbian.

I can imagine that for some of you reading this post that what I am saying does not make very much sense, or that you are not very sure what or how to think or even approach thinking about Anna’s and my relationship. One of the things that Anna and I have found most interesting in our journey is how our society holds biases against things and ideas that do not fit into its narrow definitions of normal; our society expects people to stay in a box. Both Anna and I have experienced these prejudices in our own lives, and have seen these prejudices and biases be directed in very negative ways towards our LGBTQI friends, family and even random strangers.

Anna and I have learned that people stay in this box of socially construed biases and prejudices because it is what society and religion teaches. It is taught that it is best for everyone to follow social norms which allow our day to day lives to go unhindered and uninterrupted with uncomfortable topics and new ideas. We have seen this box stay closed in both the Heterosexual and LGBTQI worlds. This socially endorsed bias happens because of what some heterosexual groups and individuals want and say, AND because LGBTQI individuals are unhappy due to them not able to be who they truly are (due to harmful social and religious ideas and homophobia).

I have been stuck in societies harmful boxes box’s twice, once by individuals who believe gay men are pretending to be gay and another time by people who think that gay men are just gay men and nothing else. Anna has been put into a box because she is a straight, heterosexual stereotype. Our relationship has been put into a box due to it being different.

Personally, I enjoy my box fully open, by having my box this way I am able to see the world holistically. I have learned that the world and its people are all interconnected in what we call life. By opening the boxes that we have been put into we let the stereotypes society has bound us onto free. By doing this we are not letting the harmful bias and prejudices of our society control us, and are instead meeting them head on, in a battle that makes our society a better one to live in.6a00d8341eb8e453ef017d3ffaeb81970c-320wi

Anna and I refuse to live in the closed boxes of stereotypes and prejudices. Through Anna’s and my relationship we have pulled our true, homosexual and heterosexual selves from the narrow boxes of our society that control intimacy and relationships. This has allowed us to live a life of transparency that we have opened to each other and to the world. We strive to live a life without labels or rejection in the hope that other will follow fate and do the same.

In unlikely circumstance we met, in an unlikely love we live. Through me Anna is her whole self, and through Anna my needs as a human are met. By putting us, a gay man and a straight woman, together we created a relationship that death cannot separate. Our relationship has everything it needs, spirituality, sexuality, connectivity, trust, love, humor, and many other needed things.

In essence, our relationship mirrors that of everyone’s who reads this, be it marriage or friendship.

Think about the current boxes our society puts itself in, are you ok with these? If not, why? Put your answer in the comments section below!

 

-thatboyleroy

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My Gay Travel: from socially engrained self-prejudice to love

As I write this I am locked in my bedroom awaiting my damsel to set me free… She is trying on her wedding dress and new shoes, in following tradition I am to avoid her at all costs until the dress is back in its cubby and hidden from my prying eyes.

While waiting I thought I would announce my next posting series. This series will be covering Mixed Orientation Marriages and relationships and will be discussing why some are successful and why some are not.

This is the first post in this series, this post is very much about me and parts of my life journey that have led to today’s reality. I felt that it is necessary to show the beginnings of my journey into a Mixed Orientation Marriage (M.O.M.) so that you know who I am and so you can see what Anna and I see, which is something different and honest.

Here is a little bit of my story, how I got involved in the LDS LGBT movement and the very beginnings of Anna’s and my relationship:

My journey down my life’s road was not an easy one. It, as I now refer to it as, was long, both uphill and down, windy, hot and made of gravel. Some people asked me, “Why are you doing this to yourself?” I always answered, “Because of my faith.” My faith is not defined as a religion, instead I define it as knowing that everything has a purpose and a meaning that effects the future. My faith is my story, and is the causality of what I call my life today.

"I became immersed in the opposite of tolerance, intolerance."

“I became immersed in the opposite of tolerance, intolerance.”

I grew up in the majestic rain forest wonders of Western Oregon and Washington, where the giant fir trees, huge lakes fed by aquifers and runoff from glaciers hidden in mountains that I hope to one day climb and cities neighbored by small towns that mostly respected personal choice and diversity. All of this made me into the reality I am today. It was here that seeing two men kiss in public was part of my normal day. While at church it was common to see gay men sit in sacrament, partaking of sacrament, and passing the sacrament. Then I moved to South West Idaho, where the barren desert landscape mimics that of the conservative insanity which seems to harbor homophobia and racism. I moved from a culture that did not care, but loved, and into a culture where not caring was no longer an option. I became immersed in the opposite of tolerance, intolerance. I soon learned that I was required by my peers to be either a
farm raised gay bashing hick, or an all-loving assumed to be “you-are-obviously-a-sinner” liberal who was socially ostracized and constantly judged by those who make up his very religion and social group. I took the second path, and began a God guided journey that ended after four long hard college years and then renewed itself in messages of action, with an inspired group called Mormons Building Bridges.

Through my experiences as an exploring college student I learned that not caring is one of the most important lessons a person can understand. By not caring about another person’s life I was able to rid the judgmental attitude that I gained from those who made me think it was a requirement of being Mormon. Along with this I was able to be honest with myself about who I am!

As a teenager I was too busy to date, but I kind of knew that I liked guys over girls. In college I learned more about the Gospel and as I progressed through my religious studies program at the wonderful College of Idaho I soon learned that I was a phenomenon in the LDS Church. I was chivalrous, I dressed well, I knew how to make my hair look good, I shaped my eyebrows, and I had a successful and meaningful future planned. As I became more engrossed in the emotionally harmful social group of my singles branch I hid who I was and I started dating LDS women who were more conservative then a straight line. After a year of this social pressure induced trauma I decided to back away and out of this group. I then sent myself into a promise, two years of no dating so I could answer one question. How can I be gay and Mormon? I also found solace in a group of ‘liberal’ Mormons, who could care less if someone was gay.

"I learned that I did not need to "pray away" the gay, I did not need to "fast the gay gone," these practices are not religious belief in action this is self inflicted torture engrained by social bias and prejudice."

“I learned that I did not need to “pray away” the gay, I did not need to “fast the gay gone,” these practices are not religious belief in action this is self inflicted torture engrained by social bias and prejudice.”

The next two years were easily the hardest of my life, so far… I read the scriptures more than a bookworm could in its lifetime. Soon my scriptures contained no margins; they were overly filled with notes about personal revelations, questions and thoughts that begged the question, “is being gay ok?” I prayed, I Prayed, I PRAYED. AND I PRAYED. I also fasted, often. These two years made me realize that I am who I am for a specific reason. I have my experiences and gifts so that the future could benefit from them. I learned that I did not need to “pray away” the gay, I did not need to “fast the gay gone,” these practices are not religious belief in action this is self inflicted torture engrained by social bias and prejudice. I also learned that it is ok to like guys over girls, and I also learned that my beliefs, my faith and my eternal purpose were just as needed as honestly acknowledging who I am. Once I did this, once I said I am gay, my life changed and God took over. For the first time in my life I was in balance with both my spiritual and personal selves.

To my surprise, about six months after this self exploration ended, I went on a date with a gal who I am now planning to marry. Somehow the gay man inside of me fell in love with a wonderful woman who is my yin and I her yang.

Some of you who are reading this may be thinking that a gay man gone straightish is a Mormon excuse to fit into the norm, for me this is not the case. I promised myself that I would not marry a girl unless I knew I loved her and that my attraction to men would not harm our relationship. I take this VERY seriously! Not only is this the case, but our relationship is not the “Mormon norm,” Anna is Unitarian. We are very open about my sexuality with each other and for some reason I am more attracted to her then I have ever been to ANY man. Now that you know that I fell head over heels for on our first date, let me share how I got involved with Mormons Building Bridges.

"I am a Mormon gay man who is marrying a beautiful woman"

“I am a Mormon gay man who is marrying a beautiful woman”

A year and a half ago I began to gather information from interviews and online sources and was soon SHOCKED at how many people in the LGBT community had been negatively harmed both emotionally and/or physically due to the negative social occurrences that have come from LDS social groups. This was my motivator; this information was what triggered an earthquake in my life. I began doing silent activism and helped those men who I could, I told my leaders about what I was doing and offered my time. I did the Mormon thing and prayed for opportunities, and I received many. Day after day I met LDS LGBT members. I heard story after story about how social pressure(s) had caused depression, feelings of being ostracized, and humiliation. When the word got around that I was doing this research and I was an openly gay member of the LDS Church the backlash began towards me, and I soon experienced the homophobia and hate that is common here in Idaho and Utah LDS social groups. These experiences shocked me and forced me into a meditative deep prayer.

From this prayer I emerged a new being with new motivation. Personal Revelation taught me to be prepared for an opportunity to change the homophobic behavior that had taken over much of the LDS social culture. I prepared myself through reading literature and creating presentations that I could use for action. I also wrote a monthly column called ‘Ask a Mormon’ for the College of Idaho’s newspaper where, along with other religious issues, I discussed Mormonism and homosexuality. It was in these college newspaper articles that I “officially” came out. I also worked within my singles branch in showing that yes, it is possible for someone to be Mormon and gay! I kept myself in this circle of initiatives until Mormons Building Bridges came into the spot light, what I had been waiting to happen finally happened! I took this opportunity to build a Mormons Building Bridges group here in Boise, Idaho, the first group to branch itself off of the main MBB one in Utah. We are still young and in the planning stages, but we will and have been creating opportunities for the LDS social mindset on issues of LGBT to change in Idaho. I am also involved in Mormon Allies.

To end I would like to share a scripture with you all which helped me along the way: 3rd Nephi 27:9 “Ask and Ye Shall Receive, knock and it shall be opened unto you.” I would not have been able to help others as I have if it were not for the advice this scripture gives. This scripture has been the teaching factor to me that without God, nothing can be done.

-thatboyleroy

A Promise and a Rainbow: a promise of love

OMG LOVE

Over the past several weeks I have been having an internal struggle.

Marriage feels wrong.

In August the social idea of marriage made me happy, but now it makes me sad. Marriage feels wrong because it is not equal. I want to make sure you know that I do not regret that I will soon be married to Anna, I did after all ask for it. What I do regret are the harmful decisions against marriage equality that have been made by those whose symbology of love and of the protecting promise of the rainbow and of God. These decisions strike and hurt the hearts of those who want and deserve what marriage gives and promises, happiness and forever.

Being a gay man who is getting married to a woman I feel and fully understand the pain that lies in the hearts of those whose love is not recognized as a basic human and civil right. I feel this pain and am torn that I have the right to marry, when all of the wonderful gay and lesbian friends I have do not. Love is love, and nothing more. Why do I now deserve to be married when if I had fallen in love with a man I would be denied the right to even attempt it. Marriage is for everyone, so everyone could love. Just as God created love so we could love all he created the love that bonds so all could love one.

This blog post is a poem that was inspired by a picture Anna and I took today, you saw it above.

OMG, LOVE!

I feel your hand in mine,
I feel your lips and your hair.
I feel your breath.
I Feel You
thinking about me.

I say I love you, and you say
“I love you to.” We gaze
into each others eyes and think
about love. We can love,
we can feel
each other.
We see and we hear
each other.
We can get on one knee and profess
to each other
our love,
the rainbow of colors that others
do not seem to understand.

They understand romance.
The romance that is based off of
a rainbow, of protection,
of God, and of His love.

The rainbow protects us
from God’s wrath
of destruction.
A rainbows is the promise
of protection
that we are not
protected from.

The wrath of an unfair law
rains a flood of torment and death
on our souls,
upon our rainbow
Our rainbow justifies two fingers
as it justifies the life of many souls.
Our rainbow justifies two rings
and two hearts
as it justifies a promise that lasts
forever.
Two promises to each other,
forever.

Justification
leaves us wanting more
crying more
praying more
hurting more
and loving more,
and more.

We want to be seen
loving more open
for all to witness what we are
only in love.
Human, and children
of God.
We are protected
in the promise of a double rainbow.

Much love all! Lets keep fighting for the love that our rainbow promises to us, and to all!

-thatboyleroy