Then I wrote The Disease Called “Perfection”, and while my current sexual struggle wasn’t the biggest thing on my mind when I wrote it, there is no question that it was haunting the background motives of that post.
After I published it, I had quite the transitory burst of internal strength. The pressures from others didn’t seem to matter at all for the moment, and I suddenly stopped caring what anybody thought about me. In any light. In any way.
Suddenly the thought of being gay, and admitting that I was gay, and announcing that I was gay… didn’t scare me at all. And for the first time, I was able to actually let myself ask myself the hard questions. The trick now was how. Jumping in the sack with some random dude certainly didn’t seem like the way to go.
Instead, I joined a dating website. I started perusing the women looking for men on the site. And I also <gulp> started perusing the men looking for men.
And you know what? I was physically and sexually attracted to many of the women. And I wasn’t physically or sexually attracted to any of the men. I was a little surprised by this as I had more or less convinced myself that the opposite would happen, and as if it disappointed me somewhat, I tried even harder, sure that I was deceiving myself.
I sent some emails to both women and men. <gulp> And every time I’d get a reply from a pretty girl, I’d get all excited. Yet every time I got a reply from a guy (no matter how attractive he was), it felt unnatural and uncomfortable to me. At one point, one of the guys wrote back and said something about loving to kiss and snuggle; and that felt so intrusive to my core sexuality that I couldn’t even permit myself to mentally go there. That’s when I realized… Dan… you’re as straight as a balance beam.
And so the only thing I ever ended up doing was setting up dates with women. And I found myself to be very attracted to some of them when we met up. And it took no time at all to have no doubt about who I was or what my sexual orientation was.
I had once again become confident in being the straight man I had previously known myself to be, before all the recent external pressures. Looking back, I really think the only way I could get there was to question it honestly and to be okay with it if I did turn out to be gay. Indeed, it was when I couldn’t be honest about it or okay with it that I was so confused about it.
It was the pressure around me that made it impossible for me to be honest about it at all. It was the pressure that comes from many members of the religion I grew up in and from the teachings of the church itself. The backwards pressure that, in an attempt to force me to be one way, was almost coercing me to somehow be the opposite.
Now, as I have mentioned, I am not anti-Mormon. In fact, I am very pro-Mormon in a lot of aspects. But beliefs about homosexuality is one area that I am in colossal disagreement with the church. In my opinion, it is the number one most odious dogma that the church (and many other churches) preach, and it is one that left me, in some strange way, unable to be true to my heterosexuality so long as I subscribed to it.
My entire life, I was made to attend the various church meetings, and I cannot count how many times homosexuality was brought into the discussion.
As it often would, the lesson would focus on the downfall of society and how Satan was really doing his thing with the people on Earth nowadays. Without fail, someone would raise their hand and use homosexuality as a prime example of the devil’s trickery. It didn’t matter whether it was being taught to small groups or to the world through the church’s bigger conferences, Satan was often blamed for the rampant spreading of homosexuality and the ever-increasing acceptance of homosexuality. It was a horrible disease being spread throughout the world by the dark one, and we as God’s only true church had an obligation to help people “choose the right,” or in other words, “choose to be straight.”
But something never sat right with me. There was something that always seemed to contradict itself within the church, and that was the teaching that homosexuality itself wasn’t a sin. Homosexuality, we were taught, was only the temptation. The sin was giving into it. The church made it clear repeatedly that they didn’t condemn people for being gay. They condemned people for being immoral and having sexual relationships outside of marriage. In other words, “it’s okay if you’re gay, as long as you live a married heterosexual life or a celibate life.”
To me, such doctrine was open admittance that people had no control over their sexual orientation. Some people were just unlucky, and it was God’s test to see if they could withstand the temptation to give into it.
But it didn’t make sense to me. I mean, if people were born with it, and weren’t to be blamed for their same-sex desires, how did this fit with the teachings that they could overcome those feelings and choose to be straight?
In the end, the two teachings didn’t fit together at all for me, but instead left me feeling burdened and outcast if I ever were to question my own sexuality at all. Something I really needed to do.