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» Hatrack River Forum » Archives » Landmark Threads » Well, I guess it's my turn. (Page 2)

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Author Topic: Well, I guess it's my turn.
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quote:
I cut a lot of ties (not actively, but through neglect) when I was still unsure of my beliefs out of fear of damaging fledgling testimonies that hadn't yet learned to stand on their own.
I think that that was a very considerate thing to do. [Smile]

Thanks for sharing more of your life with us [Smile]

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Ela
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I really enjoyed reading your stories, KarlEd. Thanks so much for sharing them with us. You are very special. [Smile]

**Ela**

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Toretha
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I also really enjoyed them-you're one of the people I most respect and admire on here-you're always very nice and your posts insightful, and always well worth reading. and you make jewelry [Big Grin] happy 2000, and thanks for your story
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Ryuko
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Wow. How very hard. I'd like to think I can get an inkling (a very small one, almost miniscule) of how you may have felt, battling between your sexuality and your religion. My very best friend is doing that right now. (I'm not doing the 'me-as-my-friend thing, it is my friend.) It doesn't help that her mother seems to think that churching the gay out of her is the best way to go. That woman is insane.

I'm glad you had the chance to decide on your own, and I hope my friend has that opportunity someday soon. I wish you good luck in your future endeavors, and hope to better make your acquaintance on the board. [Big Grin]

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ak
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Karl, it's my belief that the lack is in us, the people of God's church, and not in you. I believe that when our hearts and spirits are ready, we will receive the revelation that God did not make a mistake when he made you gay. Forgive us for not being ready now. I can only imagine the hurt that must have caused you growing up.

Line by line, precept by precept. When we show that we've learned what we have, we are given more. I pray that the church will become ready to receive this revelation soon.

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KarlEd
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ak, I appreciate your sentiment and the kindness in which it is intended. I wonder, though, if the church could ever embrace homosexuals without losing something integral. I know this issue is often compared by some to the exclusion of blacks from the priesthood and how that changed over time, but I personally don't think the situation is enough alike to hold faith in a similar change toward gays. That's probably a discussion that could support a thread all it's own.
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KarlEd
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Well, I'm hesitant to tell the story of my mission, at least in terms of how it relates to my disillusionment with the church, for fear of perhaps offending some of the LDS Hatrackers, not the least of which our kind host. Maybe I'll save that one until I'm sure I can do it respectfully.

So, I'll tell the other one I allude to above, instead.

Growing up I was the type of person to latch on to one friend, often to the exclusion of others, especially male friends. At this point in my life this wasn't a sexual thing at all. I'm a little different now in that I can not only appreciate a friendship, but I can also appreciate the friendships my friends have with one another, which for me was a ground-breaking discovery. (Thank you C.S. Lewis.) Anyway, as I review my early friendships, I see them as a series of very close relationships. I always hung around with my "best friend" who I thought was really cool and hoped he liked me as much. By the time I became a missionary, this translated into some very intense feelings of brotherhood (or at least what I think idealized brotherhood is). I had a couple of missionary companions I'd gladly have given my life to, if that were required. (I wonder now if they knew that.)

I've lived in many different places over the years, but at most times in my life I had a special friend I could confide in and spend time with. Luckily for me these guys were always pretty good guys, and usually made me want to be the best person I could be, though I usually felt I fell far short.

When I got to DLI in Monterrey, I met a guy named Randy. He was in the Army studying Chinese. I was in the Air Force studying Korean. I met him at church on one of my first Sundays at DLI. He had been a missionary in Japan. He had a girlfriend who was on her mission in South Africa at the time. We would hang out after classes and whenever one of us didn't have some military duty that prevented it. We went to all the young adult functions at church together. We looked enough alike that people would often mistake us for brothers. We'd meet in the mornings to go running and in the evening to go for walks around the post or down to the wharf. We'd talk about the future and what roles we saw ourselves in. We were like really close brothers. Admittedly I was probably in love with him, but I was so repressed that sex with him was not even a dark secret fantasy. I occasionally heard people comment on how Randy and I always hung out together, but I never thought anything untoward was being implied.

There was a family in the ward (local Mormon congregation) who lived in NCO housing on the base, David and Tina. They had a toddler son with some developmental problems, yet they kept their house open to all the LDS young men and women in the military who were stationed at DLI. They were generous and kind. They always cooked like they were expecting guests and usually had them. They also weren't above playing match-maker from time to time. (Though that was more Tina's hobby than David's.) They were the kind of people that made you want to do things for them and see them smile. Randy and I were always over at their house. We pooled our spending money to buy them a Christmas tree when we knew they were considering going without one year. (NCOs don't make a lot of money). We arranged to baby-sit and bought them tickets to a lecture we'd heard they were interested in. In short, they were like a dream family away from home. They inspired a poem that is one of the ones I'm most proud of artistically. (I'll share it if I can find it when I get home)

There was another young woman in our young adult group at church. Her name was Beth. She was a gregarious, loudish personality, but she was a lot of fun. She was kind and generous person. However, she had pretty low self esteem which wasn't helped by the fact that she was a bit over-weight. She was a local (not military) so she knew the area well and was always organizing beach parties and trips to San Francisco or some such thing. She fell in with Randy and I and we became pretty good friends. At one point she lost her job and was living with David and Tina as a house guest for a few months. Tina also had weight issues and shared many of the same self-esteem issues because of it. They became fast friends.

Life was as close to paradise as I'd ever experienced it for nearly my entire stay in Monterrey, that is until Beth started falling in love with Randy. Things got a bit weird then because Beth would try to arrange time alone with Randy, and he'd always bring me along. I admit that I would probably have felt hurt or left out if he hadn't, but Randy confided in me that he wasn't interested in anything beyond friendship with Beth and didn't really want to spend time alone with her. He had a girlfriend (the one in South Africa, whom he eventually married), anyway. In retrospect he probably should have been more direct with her, but he genuinely like her, as did I, and neither of us wanted to hurt her feelings. (I can describe this "triangle" in these terms from this vantage point, but at the time I was largely ignorant of the depth of the feelings involved here).

Anyway, this went on for some time until one evening Randy and I and a couple of other military LDS got together and went to the movies or something (what exactly it was I don't remember and the place in my mind where it once was has been cauterized by subsequent events). At any rate, it was an impromptu thing that was communicated through meetings between classes and no one thought to contact Beth.

The next day I was invited to stop by the David and Tina's for lunch between classes. When I got there I felt that something was up, but didn't know what, exactly. Tina was clearly frustrated and banging the pots on the stove as she cooked, and poor David was trying to make casual conversation but looked like a man sitting on a grenade. I asked Tina if she was OK, and the rest of the next hour is, to this day, still a blur. She turned to me with a look that would freeze lava and just exploded. "How could you be so insensitive? Beth is a wonderful girl and deserves to be included in the group. Why are you always insinuating yourself between her and Randy. Why do the two of you parade yourselves around like a couple of faggots? I don't know if you've started anything sexual yet, that's between you and the bishop, but you're sinning in your hearts at the very least." This went on and on and on. She continued non-stop about how homosexuality was destroying the church. How good women couldn't find good LDS men because of it. When I started to protest, to explain that what Randy and I shared was not homosexual or evil, she would have none of it. She reiterated that it didn't have to be sexual to be improper and that "everyone" thought our friendship was too close. She wouldn't tell me whom, exactly, but she assured me the impression was widespread. She told me that I was working for the devil keeping Randy and Beth apart because Beth had prayed and been told that she should pursue a relationship with Randy. Clearly God wanted them to be together and I was corrupting him, keeping him from realizing God's will, etc.

I was stunned. I felt like I had been disowned by my family with no warning. I really loved these people, but the anger in Tina's voice was clear. I left without eating and went back to class. Clearly I couldn't talk to anyone about this, but I must have looked pretty ill because our sergeant sent me to the dispensary to be checked out. I was shaking and felt like I had gone hollow inside. The staff at the dispensary sent me back to the barracks to bed.

Later, Tina was sorry for what she said. I explained that she had the wrong impression (which at the time I was sure she had, though now I guess she was at least partially right in her estimation of my tendencies.) We tried to patch things up, but I left for my assignment 6 or 8 weeks later and our relationship never had time to really recover. I remained fast friends with Randy for a couple of years after that, and still friends to some degree with Beth, though she later confided in me that although she was mortified that Tina would say what she said, she really did believe God wanted her to pursue Randy and that things would have been different if it weren't for my friendship with him.

Tina will never know how profoundly she wounded me. Part of that hurt, I think, is because deep down inside I was insecure enough to believe she might have been right. It was because of her tirade that I began to seriously examine my relationships with other men, to question why I felt the closeness I felt to my male friends when only rarely was that kind of closeness returned. Ironically, to this day I believe that what Randy and I had was an ideal brotherhood kind of relationship rather than a budding homosexual one. I think it was good and honest for what it was even as I recognize that there may have been some deep-seated baser attraction on my part. I'm not really interested in the Freudian possibilities of it at this point. Randy is happily married with a whole passel of kids. We've talked some about Monterrey and what happened there. I still feel like we're close and I believe he feels good about our closeness then, too, though he is not gay and is still very active in the LDS church. It's strange, but I think it was my increased introspection caused by Tina's misconception of our friendship that helped me recognize and eventually come to accept myself as a gay man.

Anyway, I warned you this would be a long one.

[ May 14, 2003, 09:43 AM: Message edited by: KarlEd ]

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Icarus
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quote:
I wonder, though, if the church could ever embrace homosexuals without losing something integral.
Speaking not as a Mormon, but as a lapsed Catholic, I don't see why not.
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ak
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Nor do I. No more than it loses by embracing childless couples or single people. And I believe there is much for it to gain.
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Leonide
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thanks again for sharing, Karl [Smile]
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sarahdipity
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quote:
she later confided in me that although she was mortified that Tina would say what she said, she really did believe God wanted her to pursue Randy and that things would have been different if it weren't for my friendship with him.
I don't want to hijack this lovely thread. But ,I'm confused when people make statements like this. Was Beth unaware that Randy had a girlfriend? I have never thought God wanted me to pursue a relationship. I tend to think that a person is fun, nice, and interesting and want to get to know them better. And I can't imagine that God would want me to cause someone else pain to gain happiness. I just don't understand that idea at all. Can someone help me by maybe expounding on it a little?
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Sopwith
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Thanks for sharing this story of miles traveled and the journey yet to go.
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saxon75
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Karl,

I don't know if I have the words to express how I feel about your story, but thank you for sharing it.

I'm so sorry that you had to go through something like this. Although I suppose that if it helped you, however indirectly, to accept yourself then maybe it is all for the best.

I have to ask, though: have you really accepted that part of yourself? You have said several times in this thread that you have, but your stories make it seem like you have a lot of lingering guilt.

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KarlEd
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What I think I have is lingering regret more than guilt. And when I revisit the incident above I discover there is still a bit of bitterness. I don't dwell on it. I go years without ever even thinking of it. And I can intellectually accept that I may be a better person for it, ultimately. But that doesn't necessarily lessen the sense of betrayal and misdirected anger. And it doesn't excuse the the cause, either, really. Again, I don't dwell on this or actively harbor anger or bitter feelings. Part of my personality though is I have a really hard time getting over things unless I can talk them out. (This gives Douglas hell because he is exactly the opposite.) And I can't rebuild the bridges or heal the relationship because I have no idea where these people are. From time to time I do an internet search, but so far I've come up with nothing.

It's like it's the last snapshot I have of them in my memory photo album and I need a new and happier one to replace it.

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KarlEd
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Incidentally, here is the poem inspired by the kindness Dave and Tina showed to many of us at DLI. I wrote it in December and gave them a framed copy I wrote out on caligraphy parchment as a Christmas present.

God, Bless and keep the keepers of this home
For they have kept The Master's lambs from harm,
Providing pasture that they need not roam
And giving food and shelter from the storm.
God, bless them for the love they freely give
To those of us who travel through the night,
For never more in darkness need we live
When they have left Love's beacon burning bright.
And Father, in they blessing help them know
The Master Shepherd sees the work they do;
And help their faith as humble servants grow,
That one day they may see Thy face anew.
No greater work on earth could e'er be done
For they are proxy-shepherds of Thy Son.
-Karl Jennings (Dec. 1989)

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Ophelia
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quote:
And I can't rebuild the bridges or heal the relationship because I have no idea where these people are. From time to time I do an internet search, but so far I've come up with nothing.

It's like it's the last snapshot I have of them in my memory photo album and I need a new and happier one to replace it.

*indentifies*

Again, thank you for sharing your experiences. (The poem is beautiful, too.)

I'm sorry you had to go through that.

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Kayla
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That's great Karl. I love your stories. Understanding things "intellectually" and accepting them "emotionally" are two different things, aren't they? It sucks when you can do one and not the other.

Man, that poem reminded me of a line from the movie Zero Effect. [Wink]

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KarlEd
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This movie???

OK, now I've got to know what the line is.

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Kayla
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Daryl: "Did you see that poem Stark wrote in college, An Ode To Clarissa? That's the worst poetry I've read since the case of the Shrinking Gypsy Stripper's scribblings. Tell me this: How do you rhyme 'towards' and 'birds'?

'Dropping, falling, diving towards . . .
2 lovers lost, plummeting. . . birds'? They don't rhyme."

Jake: "Maybe it's not supposed to rhyme."

Daryl: "Also. . . How do you write a poem about a woman named Clarissa and never have the name in the poem? If ever there was a name that deserved and begged to be in a poem, it's Clarissa."

Man, I love that movie. I wish more people would have seen it so they would have made a sequel. That is a movie that have dozens of sequels. Oh, well, not everyone is a crazy as Daryl, therefore lack the appreciation for him. Sigh.

Not that it really has anything to do with your poem, which is lovely. (So, totally not the worst poem I've ever read by a long shot, that was just part of the line.) It was just the harm/storm thing. . . Towards/birds. . . harm/storm. [Razz] I couldn't help it! I swear. It just was what popped into my mind. [Embarrassed]

[edit: expanded the movie quote]

[ May 14, 2003, 03:33 PM: Message edited by: Kayla ]

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KarlEd
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Yeah, well, even Shakespeare had to stretch one every once in a while. [Big Grin]

<ponders> Ya know, I wonder if they still have the copy I gave them. If so, I wonder what their memories are of our time together.

[ May 14, 2003, 03:28 PM: Message edited by: KarlEd ]

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JaneX
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Thanks again for sharing that with us, Karl. *hugs* [Smile]

*wants to say more, but doesn't know how to put it into words*

~Jane~

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