Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Deservedly So

"A nine-year-old boy has killed himself after enduring four days of homphobic bullying at a school in Denver, Colorado."

This headline broke me in two this afternoon, and I cried like I haven't in a long while.

Look at the light in that little boy’s eyes; the world will be a darker place without Jamel living in it.

My greatest regret is the way I treated both of my brothers when they came out. Since Jared’s suicide I have been doing my best to move forward by living, loving, and laughing, but I cannot escape the guilt, shame, pain, and regret that rests so heavily on my shoulders.

Deservedly so.

I’ve spent countless moments staring into the hazy distance, wishing I could re-live, and subsequently rewrite “West of Independence.”

Were I able to do just that, I would ensure that it went something like this:

“Matthew, I’m gay,” Jared said, the heavy weight of worry in his tone.

“I’m cool with that,” I replied.

“Really?” Jared asked, his eyes wide with wonderment.

“Sure, what does it matter? It doesn’t change who you’ve been to me in the past, doesn’t change who you are to me now, and won’t change who you will be to me in the future," I said, meaning every word.

The brothers hugged, then jumped in the car and drove to the Grand Canyon. Along the way they had a thousand adventures, each one of them impossible to forget.

The End

But I can’t re-live and rewrite WOI, just like the bullies at Jamel's school can't rewrite those four days. That fact bows my back more than anyone who doesn’t carry the same weight of regretfully wishing for something so out of reach can understand.

I’ve heard it expressed many times that the loudest opponents to a specific behavior or lifestyle are often guilty of the very thing they claim to passionately loathe and vehemently oppose.

There's nothing I hate more than a bully.

Deservedly so.

Friday, June 1, 2018

Cautionary Tale

My long overdue apology to family, friends, and others that left the LDS (Mormon) Church before I did.

I am sorry:

That I never once asked you why you left.

That I assumed you left because you had been offended by someone.

That I judged you as weak, void of The Spirit, turned by temptation, and incapable of enduring to the end.

That I managed to make your leaving all about me.

That I chose to believe the judgmental, condescending, ignorant, and sometimes mocking stories and explanations about you and why you left, told by other church members and leaders.

That I invented, shared, and even reveled in the telling of the judgmental, condescending, ignorant, and sometimes mocking stories and explanations about you and why you left.

That I cleared my conscience by promising myself that after we died, I would descend from my highest-level-of-glory mansion to visit you in the lesser-glory studio apartment you chose when you left.

That I believed you had ruined our (or your) family’s hopes for becoming an eternal family.

That I was grateful I wasn’t you.

That I watched the door hit your ass on the way out and sighed in relieved good riddance, never once considering that you might have been floundering in confusion, wrestling with grief, suffering in silence, and hating yourself (just like I was).

That I (ab)used you in talks and lessons and testimonies by using your story of apostasy as a cautionary tale.

That I assumed a lot about you, imagining that your life after leaving was nothing more than a crackling husk filled with sin, regret, suffering, and spiritual rot.

That I hid from you in grocery stores, in shopping malls, and in line at the bank, because if you’d seen me, you might have tried to convince me to leave too.

That I abandoned you, went on with my life, and forgot about you.

That I hated you for escaping what I could not.

That I believed your apostasy was a decision you made easily, without a fight, and for the sole purpose of living a sinful life.

That I had anything, no matter how small, to do with your leaving.

That I chose to listen to, sustain, and obey every word, command, and opinion said about you by a small gathering of old white men dressed in dark suits, complete strangers that had never met you, rather than listen to my own heart.

That in the end, you left rather than live another day drowning in conditional love.

That I didn’t leave with you.