Saturday, December 31, 2011
Saturday, December 3, 2011
I bought Adele's 21 album as soon as I heard "Rolling in the Deep." Oddly enough, the song reminded me of the same person that this post is about. The song speaks for itself. I was angry, and it was a good angry. A controlled angry, an inner anger to never let someone do that to me again. To take control for once and be smarter with who gets my heart. The hope is that I'm not too "smart" and take some chances now and again. I have the following picture as my desktop wallpaper to remind me to push myself a little.
Friday, November 11, 2011
Sunday, September 4, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
Sunday, July 17, 2011
I played that song over and over on my cell phone’s tiny little speaker. I couldn’t fight back the tears anymore and my sons could see it. They just fell and I couldn’t stop them anymore. I wouldn’t stop them anymore. I was done. I KNEW I was a good father and couldn’t hear one more person question that. Not only just “another person” but my own mother; the person in my life that was supposed to be my biggest cheerleader; the one who should know me better than anyone else. It was the straw and I was finished. There was no need for further thought. I picked up my sons, put their shoes on we were out the door. Gone. Doing something that was technically illegal, but should never have been so. There was no “approved” supervisor at that moment; I was alone with my boys and we listened to this song over and over as I just drove. It had given me strength before and I was hoping it could work one more time.
To give some background, I separated with my wife at the end of January 2008. I had lied, I had cheated, and worst of all, I had hurt the people I loved. However, amongst all those lies I had gained truth. It was a truth I had fought against. I didn’t want it to be truth, but I could no longer deny it. There was turmoil in how to embrace that truth and not destroy lives. Unfortunately I did hurt people. I loved being a father, I wanted to be a father and I couldn’t see that existing after I told my truth: I am a gay man. My truth had finally brought me peace when I was taught that it shouldn’t. It did and I couldn’t pray that peace away. It, however, didn’t come without complications and pain.
I had made plans to tell Liz that it was over and that I would be leaving. It was going to happen. The first Wednesday in February; I couldn’t deny it any longer. I was going to go tell one of the guys that had been very present on my journey. He was out of state at that time and I was going to take off with the car for a few days and, after telling him, I would be home to tell Liz and find a new place to live. Boston was the plan as “Boston” by Augustana was an unofficial theme for me. That was the plan and I had finally accepted it. I was nervous, but I had an inkling of peace.
My plans didn’t happen. I was driving to work one morning (1 week before my first Wednesday deadline) and I got the call. The guy I had shared my journey with was on his way home to SLC and I knew it was over. I wasn’t going to be in control of my coming out. She had no details, but knew enough to know that it was over. That I wasn’t going to be around anymore. We were no longer a couple facing this together; we were now individuals backed into our corners. I said nothing to her, I didn’t need to. He would be in SLC soon enough and he would tell her everything. I was numb.
At the beginning of the week (the week of my Wednesday) she told me we could file online and it would be over. No need to fight or make this expensive. By the end of the week, I was notified she had an attorney and it was time to lawyer up. I knew I was fighting her family and I knew it was going to get ugly. I had already gotten the call from her saying that I would not have any in-person alone time with my sons. I could call or I could see them at my sister’s house, there was no other option. I was angry. I had been stripped of my natural duties as my son’s father. Then, I made the number one mistake most heterosexually married, but divorcing gay men make: I let guilt drive me. I had met with a “bulldog” attorney that was going to push fast and push hard to stop this madness. It was going to get even more ugly and he was going to make it a point to become a total annoyance to the other attorney. I felt good, but then guilt came back. I was the one who cheated, I was the one who stepped out. I was the GAY one. So, I kept looking. I met with an attorney that seemed “nice”. He appeared to have some knowledge as to what he was doing and he seemed calm. He was the guy I was looking for. One who could solve my problems, talk smoothly, and persuade the other attorney to solve this. I was wrong on so many levels. He was tree-hugging hippie that suggested I take a trip to nature to calm down ahead of the temporary orders hearing. I was still only seeing my sons if I agreed to have my sister supervise at her house. I went from Dad to visitor. April 12th rolled around and we were set to meet in court for the first time. (Ironically that was the day I proposed 5 years earlier, and the week I had first talked to Liz in 9th grade) I had grown concerned over the overly calm demeanor of my attorney and his lack of responsiveness. He assured me that he knew what he was doing. The attorneys decided to try to settle as much as possible before meeting the judge. I went into a little conference room and Liz and her gang went into theirs. Two of her brothers were there. I knew I wasn’t fighting her, I was fighting them.
This was a temporary orders hearing, not an actual divorce hearing. I gave in and gave in and gave in. I was losing everything and wasn’t too surprised. Material things were not my concern. Being a father again was my concern. It finally came down to that. She had requested that I be granted minimal visitation with strict supervision. I was appalled. I had always been a great father. She had always told me how glad she was that I her children’s father. She had told me how much more involved I was than many of the other fathers she knew. This was her anger talking, this was her family’s anger talking. She had requested that I jump through all sorts of hoops and psych evaluations in order to allay her fears that I was a danger to my sons. I had lied, I had cheated, I had emotionally hurt her and others in my coming out, but I had NEVER hurt my children. My lies had brought out a greater truth. I was a gay father. I was finally at peace with myself. I had a sense of honesty and integrity that was never present before. I was a great father and needed to be in that role ASAP. I will give my attorney some credit. He at least didn’t foul up as much as he could have. He convinced me (because he really was unprepared) to go along with her request with a few modifications. I would only be allowed to see my children if one of my family members was present or one friend that I had known since I was a kid. That was it, no one else unless they were directly approved by her. I would see a therapist of my choice and she would have a chance to talk with her as well. I had to prove that I wasn’t a danger to my children. That was really the one and only night I have ever drunk alone. A bottle of 99 Bananas, some poor gay man I was chatting with, and my misery. I’m a lightweight when it comes to alcohol, but that didn’t stop me that night. My life had been stripped from me and I had no idea where to go from there. My lawyer had failed and I had failed. However, it did cure my guilt. My infidelity had nothing to do with my children and I wasn’t going to watch as she attempted to push her version of cause and effect on me.
My over-priced attorney dropped me 3 weeks later…..magically just before his license was suspended.
So as of April 12th 2008, I had been unnaturally stripped of my natural role as a father. I was a visitor in my children;s lives; a visitor that was ordered to have supervision. I was told that I was an unfit person. Those that knew me had decided that this punishment was fitting an unrelated crime. Worst of all, my sons became fatherless at the hands of an attorney that took an early weekend to go paint his house.
Flash forward about 6 months. The divorce still trudged along. My family became more and more distant and even less likely to act as supervision. I honestly stopped texting them about it. It hurt too much not only to hear the “we’re” busy, but more the overwhelming silence. No reply, no excuse, no concern. Shane’s wife (Shane being the one and only non-family adult allowed as supervision) had returned from Mexico and I had moved out of his place. It became difficult for him to be supervision anymore, but he did what he could. I saw my sons for a few hours here and there. On a rare occasion I would see them for an overnight. That was rare.
The only time I had my boys to myself was in putting them to bed. There was no one there (not that Shane really wanted to be). It was dad time. It was our time. It was time to sing “Baby Beluga” or “Twinkle, Twinkle Little Star” or “Down by the Bay” and all the other favorites. It was time to snuggle and talk about the day. It was time to laugh. It was time to be a family; no one there to look down on us or try to step in and parent. It was our time. It was always too short, but I cherished those quiet moments laying on the floor of Shane’s basement “camping out” with my sons. It was the few moments of peace I had in those ugly times.
Those that have survived some of my previous posts (a certain novel-like one comes to mind) will know that music has a very strong way of connecting with me. “Chasing Cars” by Snow Patrol is one such song that has great meaning.
I first heard this song as a heterosexually married man. Many may think of it as a romantic love song, but it never was for me. I liked the song a lot, but had no real life attachment it matched to. I didn't feel this way about being with my wife even though I did earnestly try. I tried and tried to find songs that matched us, but they never did.
So, it was a song I just loved and let it at that. No correlation to real life, just good music.
That changed in those nights of momentary peace when my sons and I would lay down for bed and have family time; time where I could look in the eyes of these amazing boys and see that they didn’t judge me or hate me. They looked up to me. They loved me.
This song came to have meaning. I would play it on my phone on occasion when they almost asleep and I was taking a few moments to myself to enjoy being a dad. They would hear me play it occasionally and began to see it as Daddy’s song. Tucker would asking me to play the “car song” over and over. It melted my heart and it was our song to us.
It may have the appearance of a romantic song, but it doesn’t have that meaning to me. To me it fits life with my sons and the love I have for them. It is a song that reminds me of the few moments we have to ourselves. (side note, finally proved supervision was ridiculous and no longer have that hurdle in my life). It reminds me of those nights just laying in bed sharing time with my sons as they fell asleep. We had the world in front of us with no limits in those fleeting moments.
My sons are my greatest teachers. Their innocence, their compassion, their resilience, and, most importantly, their unconditional love for me have kept life buoyant in an otherwise world of rough seas. Love is only the beginning of how they touch my heart.
Looking in their eyes I saw innocence. I saw the promise of letting my children keep their optimistic, unconditional love for the world in their lives. I unlearned so much prejudice as their student. I hope to be a better man and help them keep that openness to the world. Let them love who they want and see people as people, not gay, not straight, not black, not Latino, not poor, not “different.”
And, so it happened as I mentioned in the first paragraph. Those who are supposed to love me and support me didn’t. My family had walked out in a time of need. Those that didn’t walk made it a point to stand around and take their jabs. My mom’s comment to me about whether I wanted to be a good dad was enough. I didn’t need to feel their lack of understanding anymore. I didn’t need their judgment anymore.
So, as said before, I picked up the boys and we left. I broke the rules, and I didn’t care. I was their dad and I was a damn good one, or at least did everything I could to be.
Life is tossing some ugly things at me. People I want to trust (one specially) continue to break that trust. Continue to turn to the negative. Continue to hurt and bring me down. I have stood up to that, but it comes at a great price. Now I will have to fight to secure that my sons have equal access to a dad they love.
So, this song is our song. My son’s still ask me to play it on my phone or light up when it comes on the radio (partially, I’m sure, because Tucker loves cars so much). It is about us. There will always be rough seas, but I will always be their dad and they will always be my sons. When life hits hard and I feel alone or when my heart just aches to see my amazing sons I play this song. Still makes me cry, but brings me peace. I picture their love as I look into their perfect eyes. We will always have that love and bond that fathers and sons should have.
We may end up being a family always doing it all on our own. I may never find the right guy to love and add to our family. I may never be loved or accepted by my family again. I may never have riches or even a house of my very own again, but we will always have each other. We still have our nights at bedtime to sing, to laugh, to smile. We can forget the world, forget their judgment, forget the pain. We can look forward to their dreams and wishes. We can see a “garden bursting into life.”
Friday, April 29, 2011
Thursday, April 21, 2011
I used the title I have because it is something I wear proudly. Not because of the title but what it represents. A group of gay fathers reaching out and supporting each other. It creates a sense of validity in our community as we work to build bridges. Sure I like the title and do get some warm fuzzies as we all do when getting a calling, but what really excites me is that it makes the existence of such a great group of men even more real. In other words its the respect for the mantle not necessarily the person holding it (which sounds all to self-important as I write it). So here is the very personal e-mail I finally wrote this morning:
I stood over a week ago on a Tuesday at the PFLAG meeting. I stood as the representative and Director of The Utah Gay Fathers Association. I stood as your gay son. I stood as a loving and effective Father. I stood as a decent man trying to help others. You should have been there. You should see the man you raised. But you don't. You are missing it. I was surprised to feel the hurt so much that you weren't there. Shocked really. As my biological family has chosen to distance themselves from me I have found many others who love, respect, and celebrate who I am. It is sad for me that a sister who I was once close to and did anything/everything for chooses to call me disgusting and bitter. It is sad to hear bro and sis claiming to defend their gospel and protecting their children while isolating and dis owning their own brother in very un-Christ-like ways.
This was my piano recital. This was my sports game. This is what matters to me. This is my passion. You raised a great son. Coming out has allowed me to fully grasp all those lessons in honesty, integrity, love, compassion, acceptance, respect, and service that you and Dad taught me. This is who I am and you should be there to see it. You should be proud to have me as a son.
I spent 27 years hating who I was, loathing my attractions and having countless nights of heartache over what my heart was drawn to. Remember all those late weekend nights I wasn't home til 2 or 3 or later? Most of those were spent driving around crying and begging to not be a disappointment. Trying to find a cure to my orientation. Pleading with God to find me worthy enough to be blessed and cured. Spending nights in quiet desperation just wishing God would end it all one way or another. He finally did.
After 27 years, marriage, and 2 amazing sons, he did. Not how I thought he would, but he did. He made me see that I was just fine. That I was his son and he LOVED me for who I am. He was proud of me and he is there watching me at my version of a "piano recital." I know that Dad accepts me for who I am. I know that he is Proud to have a gay son. I wish he were here to tell others, but he's not. It is only in my heart that I know this.
I don't use my title to gloat. It only represents that you raised a good man who is trying to make a difference. Trying to reduce the suffering for those who are on the journey I was. Trying to stop the nights of quiet desperation. Trying to stop the Bobby's who feel they are alone and have no choice but to end it.
I have no wish to feel like "that" brother anymore at family events. I do not wish to fill my life with that negativity and attitude of "disgust" toward me. I have "family" in my community who care for me and love me. I will be involved where I feel loved and uplifted, not merely tolerated.
This was your chance to be proud. To see that the boy you raised is a strong, confident, and loving man. You weren't there and you have missed seeing it. I wish you wouldn't miss anymore, but I won't beg. I know and love who I am. I intend to celebrate my life and the amazing lives around me. Wish you were here.
I do love you and appreciate the many examples Dad and you gave me. I am a man you should be proud to call your son. Thank you for giving me life and providing for me in my younger years. That has given me a chance to be who I am.
Your Gay Son
Sunday, March 13, 2011
The pounds haven't been falling off, despite my best efforts. I have hit the gym 4-5 days a week for over a moth now but the scale doesn't show it. My belt does and my pants do. That part is awesome. However, this is a mental game and seeing numbers drop on the scale is a huge rush. One that I haven't really had the chance to feel yet. It became even more complicated this week.
I have always dreamed of being on the TV show "The Biggest Loser." Sure, it is narcissistic in a way. I won't deny that. The other side of me sees that exposing myself and embarrassing my self and sharing myself on national TV could help others. There would be no way to avoid the "gay" issue and part of me hopes that it could shed a more positive light on it. I wanted to get on with my ex-wife. I think we have an important story to share on living life and being happy with the unexpected wrenches thrown your way.
Liz and I went to a Biggest Loser casting call here in West Valley yesterday morning. It was a weird group of emotions. The first one was, I'm not big enough to be here and that feels kind of nice. The second was, I'm not big enough to be here and I'm embarrassed because I don't fit in by not being big enough. (odd reversal of the same emoti0n, but opposite of the ususal reason) And then there was the third emotion, I'm still worth being heard and I'm going to fight for this.
We were #56 and 57 in line. We were in and out relatively quickly once the doors finally opened at 8AM. We had been there since 4:30 AM. We were the second group of interviews to go in. It was a group interview with 12 people sitting around one casting call director. The whole interview was under 10 minutes and consisted of 3 questions. I'm sure there is some method to the madness in that process, but I have no idea what it could be. There is no way to really show who you are in under 1 minute of total speaking. I have no idea how they can pick up anything from anybody in that small time.
Liz and I left feeling happy we went and a little determined to send in a video to really have our voices heard. But reality set in. Taping starts in May and in all likelihood we wouldn't know for sure until about a week before. That would mean I would have to stop losing weight and working out for 2 months and possibly gain a little. I tried that this week. I gave up on my diet on Friday and it has been Hell. I feel like I am giving up, even if it could possibly get me on the show. Its a strange set of emotions.
I've spent since Friday going back and forth on what to do. Liz seemed more bought into the idea than she has been for a while. I didn't want to crush that by saying that I didn't want to go further. But I don't. I want to be heard. I think Liz and I should be heard. TBL isn't the only way though. I want to keep momentum. I want to go to the gym. I can't hit the pause button.
After talking to Liz today I think we have decided together to not go further in TBL endeavor and making a video. We ARE going to move forward in losing weight and hopefully we can be on the same health bandwagon to change our lives and make the lives of our sons better.
I have eaten whatever I wanted the last few days, and the first day was kind of nice, but honestly that ended quickly. Liz and I went to breakfast after because I still wasn't sure I should lose anymore weight until we made the video and either were called back for an interview or we knew we wouldn't make the cut. I was quickly reminded as to why I don't eat that way. Honestly the food wasn't great and feeling sluggish after was horrible.
I've honestly been embarrassed by myself and have just stayed home. Its totally mental because I don't anyone could really tell about my stumble....yet. It won't continue though. I'm headed back to the gym today. Biggest Loser or not, I'm moving forward and losing weight. I'll keep you posted. Liz seems on board still too. I'm excited for where this will be going.
Thursday, March 10, 2011
My response to a posting on a blog I follow. A response to "enduring" to the end in a hetero marriage as a gay man
I find topics like these philosophically interesting. I'm most comfortable fitting in the Agnostic box. While I sometimes contemplate and can relate to spiritual ideas, my life doesn't revolve around having anywhere near a perfect understanding. There are times I feel like God could exist and other times that it really doesn't add up. Either way, it doesn't matter. God or no God doesn't change who I am and what makes me happy. It doesn't make me someone "devil-ish" or without any sense of what is right and wrong. In fact, I find it liberating to know that what I believe and how I choose to live my life is all based on what I feel is good and right. It is no longer based on what is supposed to be right and wrong as written in books. With that background here are some thoughts:
I love Jeff's response. I share a very similar belief. If we delve into some of the most commonly accepted beliefs in Christianity we will see that the greatest commandment is love. Notice that it isn't "strict obedience" it is "love."
You hear on talk radio shows and other therapeutic geared media that you can't truly love others until you learn to love yourself. How can you love yourself when you feel that "enduring" and "burying" your feelings is the only way to be accepted by God? Where is there love in unacceptance?
The part of me that accepts that there could be a God sees a being that isn't entirely foreign to the LDS faith. Through refining my thoughts and relating to my own life I sift away many of the "Hellfire and damnation" views of a vengeful God. I am a gay father. My marriage ended 3 years ago. I have two amazing boys that have taught me more about what a God should be than anything else I ever learned.
I have felt many ranges of emotions as a father. I have felt fear, anger, embarrassment (of my lack of ability), heartache, worry, contentment, and joy. Most of all I have felt love.
We have this strange concept in life of what is wrong and what is right. Everything has to be black or white. We somehow picture this book in heaven that judges each move in life as either sin or its righteousness. We either get a check in the naughty or nice column. Our hope is that we get enough "nice" checks to get into heaven. I don't know many Earthly fathers that live that way in everyday life. How many of us have watched our children make mistakes? Do we judge everything they do as right or wrong and worthy of praise or punishment. How many of us have watched our kids build something with legos or blocks knowing that the laws of nature will never allow it to stand on its own. Do we have to rush in and command that they alter their course and do things "right" or do we just make a mental note for punishment later? I don't and believe that most fathers don't as well.
Being gay is no different than being straight in that we all will have our own opportunities to learn and grow. These may be strictly my own morals, but I don't see "sowing my wild oats" as inherently sinful or something that God has noted for later punishment. Just like the legos, its a life experience for me. It is my chance to see what will stand on its own and what will not. While I have greatly slowed my sowing, I can't deny what I have learned and the value that came from such supposedly damning behavior. I have found contentment in being single, but there is always that part looking for love. In my sowing I have found a greater understanding for what love is.
Back on track with fatherhood. My love for my sons is not contingent on them making all the choices I want them to make. I know we are taught that God loves us all no matter what. There is a HUGE BUT (no pun intended) in LDS teachings though. He loves us BUT if we don't heed everything he COMMANDS of us, we have no place in his house. Really?? I can not fathom the day that I would bar my own children from everything I have. I cannot imagine not allowing them to stand in my presence, let alone not always feeling the desire to hold them and show them all the love I have for them. If that is true with me, why not a more perfect Father in Heaven?
The only expectation I really have for my sons is that they not willingly injury another either emotionally or physically. Even then, they would never be banned from my presence. I may want them to be a doctor, or lawyer, or great politician, but if they find joy in working at McDonald's so be it. I may have things I'd like them to do in life, but all I really want is for them to find happiness, joy, and love (in one form or another). If I feel this way about my children, why can't God?
I can't imagine the sorrow I would feel if I found out that my son endured years and years of Medical school "enduring" to be a doctor, because he thought it would make me happy, only to find that he didn't enjoy it and would rather have been a garbage man. I don't have those expectations of my sons and I would never want them to put their happiness on "hold" in order to live up to some ideal they think I have for them. As Jeff stated above, what if our "test" wasn't to endure? What if it was to love? Why deny the amazing man (who loves other men) that God created? Why not be authentic, real, and happy in this life? How can that translate into damnation in the next?
I feel that I have more to contribute to society as an openly gay, authentic, self-loving man than I ever did as a closet case "enduring."
I can't believe such a God exists that expects us to deny the greatest commandment of love and replace it with enduring. Enduring is not fair for me as a gay man in a hetero marriage, and it is not fair for the woman that has to endure as well. Would any one of us want to be in a marriage to someone who was "enduring" rather than "loving" us?
If love is the greatest commandment, we should live it.
Saturday, February 12, 2011
There has been a lot I have wanted to write, but just haven't. Unfortunately I'm the kind of person that feels like I have to follow step-by-step in everything. This translates into me feeling like I couldn't blog until I addresses all the blogs I've wanted to write. At this point, I'm throwing that notion out. If I get to the previously intended writings, great. If not, oh well. So here I am after a LONG pause. I'd ask that you read this entirely before coming to conclusions. Reading half-way will leave you with the wrong impression. I do realize I can't control your thoughts and am aware that some will walk away completely misinterpreting my feelings. I guess thats the risk I take. This is more cathartic than anything, but hopefully there is an ounce in value in my ramblings.