Friday, January 10, 2014

On being a Gay Mormon

My purpose in writing this is not to offend, instigate, or be argumentative.  I was raised Mormon and lived as such until I was 25.  I am now a happily married man, recently married to my soul mate – my husband.  I’ve been on both sides of the fence and believed in both sides of the argument.  From all the questions I’ve gotten since I came out, I know that a large portion of my friends and family know few, if any, LGBT individuals personally.  So let me be the face for the community and give some insight into why we’re fighting so hard for equal rights.  My hope is that you will all share this and it will help create tolerance, coexistence, and harmony between the warring factions of this debate.

I grew up in a small farming town in Utah not far from Salt Lake City.  My entire family, both immediate and extended, are Mormon or were at least raised as such.  In school, I can remember knowing only a handful of people that weren’t Mormon.  Being Mormon was the norm, the status quo.  Being raised Mormon, you are taught very strict principles and morals that govern your life.  I cherish all of the lessons I was taught to this day by my incredible parents, who did an excellent job in raising their children according to their beliefs.  In the Mormon church you are also taught what your life as a Mormon will entail, down to the timing and place.  Everything is basically planned out for you, like a road map to happiness; and I tried my best to follow that map every day for 25 years.  Unfortunately, it didn’t lead to happiness for me.

The first time I can remember realizing something was not normal was in 4th grade.  All I knew was that I was different and that I could never tell ANYONE.  Somehow I understood that this was going to be my lifelong shameful secret.  As I grew up, I kept it deep inside, somewhere where I never had to deal with it or acknowledge its existence.  I followed the Mormon life map the best I could – church every Sunday, church callings, attendance at activities, reading my scriptures, and planning for preparing myself for a mission and temple marriage.  When I hit puberty, I did what was expected and started to show interest in the opposite sex.  I dated girls, had girlfriends, went to school dances, and even kissed girls.  I was playing the role perfectly.  But I hadn’t dealt with my shameful secret yet, because I was just being a kid.  I didn’t have to.

When I graduated high school, I continued on the Mormon path and went to Brigham Young University, the private Mormon university.  While I was there and away from home, I began to find myself.  I didn’t like what I found.  I was preparing to serve a mission for the Mormon church and, being a planner, couldn’t help but think about what was to come next on my Mormon path – temple marriage.  The more I thought about it, the more my shameful secret started to rear its ugly head, like a terrible festering disease that was wedging its way between me and my hopes for happiness.  Through some of those dark times, I confided in a few close friends that I new wouldn’t judge me.  They know who they are and I want them to know that in those darkest of times, they truly saved my life.

I found the strength in myself to commit to serving a 2 year Mormon mission, with the misguided notion that maybe if I served faithfully and with my whole heart, God would fix me.  So I did just that – I served a full time mission in McAllen, Texas and I threw my whole heart and soul into my work.  I may have been the most annoying missionary for my companions, hoping that if I followed every rule and guideline to the T, I would be worthy of God fixing me.  After returning home from my mission, I quickly realized that this wasn’t the case, and I mourned.  Reality began to set it, and it hurt.  Not ready to give up on my dreams for happiness yet, I began to form a plan in my mind.  I was going to find a woman that I could confide in – that I could tell me secret shame and wouldn’t hate me for it.  I was going to marry that woman and she was going to be okay with it.  She was going to be okay with knowing that I wasn’t attracted to her, that she could’ve been with someone who wanted her wholly, that I was making this work for the sake of religion and social pressures,  but that I could never love her the way she deserved.

One summer while taking a break from BYU, I went to Arizona to work for the summer months.  I was having an especially difficult time reconciling my beliefs with who/what I was, so I decided to call a close friend that I had confided my secret in prior to my mission.  I asked her frankly, “If we were dating or engaged and I told you that I was gay, but that I wanted to marry you anyway, would you?”  Her answer was honest, but cutting.  She told me that although she would probably love me, she didn’t know if she would be able to go through with it.  She talked about being worried that I might one day leave her and potentially any children involved, or that I wouldn’t ever really love her.  Her words confirmed my fears – my plan wouldn’t work.

This was the beginning of my downward spiral.  I continued to try and date girls, forcing and willing it with all I had to make it work, but I began to become bitter and angry.  I was angry that God would make me this way, that he would curse me.  I was bitter that I had to be the one to endure this.  I asked the question that so many of us have asked in the face of adversity: Why me?  I considered my options in my head countless times.  To stay in the church, I either had to decide to be alone and live a life of celibacy, or live a lie with a wife that would never know.  The more I thought about them, the bleaker my options seemed.  I ran them over and over in my head, spiraling further and further into depression and self-loathing.  I hated who I was, what I was, and felt powerless to change it.  I talked to my bishops, I sought advice from other church leaders, but to no avail.

Finally at the lowest of the low, I saw a way out.  I knew it would hurt the people I loved, but it would save them from knowing who/what I really was.  The only logical escape was to take my own life.  I contemplated it and mulled it over for a few months until I finally mustered up the guts to attempt it.  I won’t divulge the unnecessary details, but obviously I was unsuccessful.  After that terrible night, I knew that something had to change.  My Mormon path to happiness was not leading to happiness, and either I was going to be successful on my next attempt, or things were going to have to change.

I stuck out my last year at BYU and after graduating and moving to Salt Lake City to attend the University of Utah, I decided to go on my own personal quest for happiness.  I had dropped my bitterness and anger with God and was on an honest search for personal happiness.  I stopped going to church and began to allow myself to meet people I was drawn to.  I began to meet and date men – one somewhat seriously, until I finally met my now husband in October of 2011.  I still vividly remember our first date – it was amazing.  I had dated countless girls and attempted to make it work countless times.  But now something was different; it was effortless.  It was natural.  He made me laugh, he made me happy, he calmed my overbearing OCD, he brought out my creative side, he revitalized my love for music, and most importantly, he rekindled my love for life.  I thought to myself, “This must be what people talk about.  This is what everyone is looking for.”  I was blissfully happy, and it has only gotten better since.  We were married on August 14th, 2013 in Beverly Hills, California and it was the best day of my life.  Since then, life has only gotten better and better every day, in the deepest soul-fulfilling ways.

Why do I tell you my story?  Because I want you to understand where I came from.  I was once Mormon and very committed to my faith.  I believed everything that you do, and once said the exact same things that you are about homosexuals and their “agenda.”  I even remember once, right after I returned from my mission, saying in regards to gay marriage, “Gays can live their lives how they want, but don’t force me else to tell them it’s okay.  That’s why they’re pushing this agenda, they want the world to reassure them it’s okay to live in sin!”  I was once on your side of the fence.

Now that I’m on the other side of the fence, let me clear up a few things.  We (the LGBT community) are not looking for approval.  We’re not looking for a moral pass.  We’re not trying to force you to tell us that it’s okay or that you support us.  We’re not trying to force you to change your beliefs or renounce your religion.  We’re not trying to make your religion accept us or start performing gay marriages for fear of losing their right to perform legal marriages, which, by the way, will never happen.  We, most of us through a long and bumpy road, have found self-acceptance and are okay with who/what we are.  What we DO want is our rights.  We are tax-paying, law-abiding citizens of this country and state and we are entitled to the same benefits you are.

Some are angry that several laws regarding same sex marriage put in place by the popular vote of the people have been overturned by judges, and are calling it “liberals legislating from the bench.”  But consider this: if a law were put in place by the popular vote of the people in the Deep South taking away the right of African Americans to vote, would it be in the right of a judge to come along and deem said law unconstitutional?  The answer is YES!  Because by popular vote or not, citizens cannot create laws that take away the rights of other citizens.  Our rights are protected by the constitution, that’s what makes America so great.

Now let me speak for myself.  I am an educated, law-abiding, tax-paying, contributing member of this society.  I am also a man.  And I love a man.  And we are happier than we have ever been and want to have a family together.  I don’t care if you think this is wrong or immoral.  You are entitled to that opinion.  But don’t think you are justified in withholding rights from me based on that belief.  This is a question of legal human rights.  If you have the right to marry another consenting adult and have that relationship protected by law, then so do I.

Having said all that, let me tell you that I love you all.  All I want is to live in a world where we practice tolerance and coexist peacefully, despite our differences.  Try to put yourselves in our shoes.  We don’t have to agree to coexist.  But we do have to respect one another.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ode to a CNA

It’s been about a month and a half now since I quit my job as a CNA and moved on to the big, bad world of being an RN.  During my last few months as a CNA, I promised myself that I would never be “that” nurse.  The one that under-appreciates, talks down to, thinks they’re better than, has no respect for, shows complete disregard for the time of, or just plain treats their CNA like they own them.  Unfortunately, “that” nurse is more common that you’d think.  And surprisingly enough, the “that” nurses that I’ve worked with were never CNA’s before they became nurses.  Intriguing, eh?  Judge as you may.

But since I think that the majority of people don’t know what a CNA really does, I decided that I would soon write a blog post about the truth.  “The Truth about being a CNA – Secrets uncovered!”  What a glorious title it was!  But it sounded too dramatic, so I scrapped it.

During my last few weeks of being a CNA, during the wee hours of the morning on night shifts when I was most disgruntled and exhausted, I came up with a few slogans that should be used on posters or advertisements to draw people in to the exciting field of CNA-ery, whilst correctly informing.  They are as follows:

  • If you want ALL of your coworkers to think they’re your boss, become a CNA!
  • If you want to be the absolute bottom of the totem pole, be a CNA!
  • Do you want to work the hardest you’ve ever worked in your life for the littlest money you’ve ever earned?  Then be a CNA!
  • Don’t you want to be wildly under-appreciated by everyone you work with, then you should become a CNA!
  • If you love bodily functions, you should consider becoming a CNA!
  • If you think you can see the parts of people that no one wants to/should ever have to see without vomiting your brains out, being a CNA might be right for you!  (Don’t these sound like ITT Tech or Steven's Henager commercials?)

(p.s. That picture is nothing like what CNA classes are like.  My program was in the back of an old building in old Midvale, run by a husband and wife, and my instructor was a 65 year old LPN that smoked and was named Esther.  I was one of the only people who spoke English in the class.)

This all sounds all kinds of negative, doesn’t it?  I would like to be very clear here: I absolutely adored my job as a CNA.  I was able to work with the sickest of the sick in a Level 1 Trauma Center Surgical ICU, and with old people in two different sub-acute rehab centers.  I did it during both bachelor’s degrees over 3 years total.  I worked days, nights, weekends, holidays, and back to back with school and class all the time.  There was one instance where I didn’t sleep for 3 days and 2 nights straight because I had school during the day and work during the night.  So I think it’s fair to say that I’ve earned my right to make credible statements about what it’s like to be a CNA.

Being a CNA is the absolute hardest job I’ve ever had.  You work long hours, you’re on your feet the entire time, and depending on where you work, it can be extremely stressful.  Sure, being a nurse is hard too, and you’re on your feet constantly too.  But now that I’ve been both, there’s a reason why very few people are what we call “career CNA’s.”

Career CNA’s are a rare breed.  They are the people who are CNA’s as a career and don’t intend on moving on to a different position.  You see, the majority of people you run into that are CNA’s are planning on doing to nursing school, medical school, or something related to the medical field and are using the CNA position to get their foot in the door and get experience.  But there’s a reason why they move on – because being a CNA is rrrrrough!  That’s why I have even more respect for the career CNA’s; because in some instances, they are the best CNA’s I know and could work a 18-22 year old in their prime into the ground.

Since I feel like it’s my duty to pass along the knowledge I’ve gained, I would like to give a few points of advice both to people considering becoming CNA’s and to people considering becoming RN’s.  They are as follows:

  • Should you become a CNA if you’re considering/trying to go to Nursing school?  A resounding YES!  I didn’t learn how to be a nurse from nursing school.  I learned how to become a nurse from my job as a CNA and from my on-hands internship (capstone) my last semester.  Working as a CNA also let me see what being a nurse was like and cemented the decision to become a nurse in my mind.
  • Why should you become a CNA first?  Because there is no doubt that CNA’s make the best RN’s.  If you already know the basics, you’re that far ahead of the competition.  I pretty much didn’t have to study the first few months of nursing school because I had been a CNA.  Plus, nursing schools are more likely to accept you if you were a CNA first.
  • Should you continue to work as a CNA through nursing school?  Everyone is different, but I would say yes.  The reason why is because you get to see the things you’re learning about first hand, and if you’re a visual learner like me, reading about it in a book or hearing someone talk about it isn’t near as good as seeing and doing it yourself.  Also, many places will hire their CNA’s when they graduate nursing school, so you have a foot in the door and a guaranteed job!
So now that I’ve talked about the many different facets of being a CNA and gone off on little side tangents, let me summarize.  Being a CNA is hard, but it’s rewarding.  You’re under-appreciated, underpaid, and play in poop all day, but you’re also the person your patient sees the most and you get to interact with them more than anyone else.  So here’s to the CNA’s!  You’ll never be under-appreciated to me!  Without you, nurses could never do their jobs.  They’d crash and burn.  You’re the sturdy foundation that has allowed nurses to elevate the profession and take it to the level it is today.  This has been my ode to CNA’s.  Bless them.

Monday, August 27, 2012

This Just In:

Adele and Ingrid Michaelson have a love child!



 If any of you know me at all, I have probably raved to you about either Ingrid Michaelson, Adele, both simultaneously, or some other singer/songwriter that makes me hot and gets my undercarriage all sweaty.  Why it is that music has that effect on me is a topic for a whole other post entirely, which I'm sure will come one day.  But on to the subject of this post: I am obsessed with a 16 year old girl!

Now before you get all weirded out on me, that's not how I roll.  Calmin' it down, calmin' it down... The reason why that notion is absolutely preposterous is also the topic for another post, another day.  Nay, I am obsessed with this new girl that I stumbled upon on YouTube a fortnight ago, and she is just so darn talented!  Here's the sitch:

- Name: Birdy
- Age: 16!!  (are you kidding me?  Yup.  She's really only 16.)
- Nationality: British (so of course she's automatically super hip)
- Style: Adele's soul meets Ingrid's acoustic heavenlyness.  It really is like they had a love child and hid her in an old converted mill in the UK.
- Why's she so good?  See for yourself.

Want some more?  Liked that feeling of your soul squirming and sailing and weeping all at once?  I bet you did.  Sicko.

More!  More!  It's like Music Crack!  Mrack!

Granted, all of these songs are covers of songs written by other people, but that's not what is so amazing.  It's her talent mixed with the sincerity and genuineness that reaches somewhere inside your soul and makes your gut twist and a tear come to your eye.  Needless to say, watch out for this chica because in 10 years when her voice fills out even more, Imma lose it in mah pants.

Summary: I love her.  Also, I'm not a pedophile.

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Books to read after I graduate

School has been my life for literally the last 8 years.  Minus the two years that I took to serve a mission from '05-'07, I have been in school almost every semester, including summers, since I graduated high school.  I know, I just threw up in my mouth too.  So needless to say, I haven't had a whole lot of free time to read books for pleasure.  Hence why I've been compiling lists of things to do, see, etc. when I graduate, and one of those lists is "Books to Read."  This list is made up almost entirely of books that have been recommended to me throughout the years of student-dom/academic servitude/hell:

  1. Catcher in the Rye
  2. My Name is Asher Lev
  3. Hunger Game Series (Trendy?  Too late?  We'll see)
  4. Ender's Game (I know, I may be the only Utahn of mormon descent to NOT have read this book)
  5. To Kill a Mockingbird (don't ask me how I graduated high school w/out reading this book.  Whatever, I'm from Herriman, UT.  Don't judge)
  6. Jane Eyre
  7. Kite Runner
  8. Brave New World
  9. 100 aƱos de soledad (Jess, eets een Espaneech)
  10. A Time to Kill
  11. The Witch of Blackbird Pond
  12. The Sookie Stackhouse Series (Which I just found out the series True Blood is based on)
  13. The Uglies
  14. Dracula
  15. The Name of the Wind (courtesy of my barber)

This is the extent of my list as of right now - I would like to cordially invite any and all to make suggestions to add to my list.  Since I'm going to be working three 12 hours shifts a week once I graduate, I expect to have some free time to catch up on living.  Readysetgo.

Friday, July 27, 2012

A Beginning and an Ending

I'm doing it!  Right here, right now, I'm joining the ranks of bloggers.  I'm becoming one of the masses of people that have so much to say to so few.  I'm going to send my words out into the interwebs and it's going to make me feel fulfilled.  I love lists, so here's a list of the reasons why I'm starting a blog:

1) I want a place to talk about my opinion on difficult/complicated issues.  Facebook just doesn't cut it.
2) Somewhere to mention the music that makes my soul go boom-badoom-boom-boom-badoom-boom-hey.
3) Keep up/improve my writing skills, since Imma be done wit da nursin' skool in a week.
4) Update the world on my life, because Facebook will probably become trashy and turn into the next MySpace any day now.
5) Honestly, I want somewhere to grumble and bellyache a little.  (I would like to make a note that I looked up synonyms for "bitch" in my thesaurus just now and got "bellyache" and "grumble."  I didn't want to be that person that says the word "bitch" in their blog and turns people off, ya know?  Not on my first post.  Besides, I'm sure some family members are going to read this and I can't let them know that I cuss sometimes.  But look, I'm already improving my writing skills by expanding my vocabulary!)

Please stay tuned for more posts, because I'm about to have much more time coming up here soon.  I'm in the last leg of my program - the final sprint!  I'm almost done!  But obviously I'm super motivated to do my homework and study because instead I'm starting a blog at 2 a.m.  Bless me.