Monday, May 3, 2010

From The Chapter: Fighting Against The Knife

Today we've got a new treat! A friend of ours, Steven H. Lee, recently wrote the book, Falling Into Life: A Gay Exmormon's Journey and agreed to let us post an excerpt. One thing I think about very often is how, despite much good done in the world, organized religion has terribly slowed the progress of equal rights. I can't imagine being a young homosexual, knowing I could never be myself because even my omniscient God disapproved of me. Not just knowing I could never be myself, but knowing my self was inherently wrong. I can't stand it. This chapter touched me. It made me want to act. It made me want to call my Senators and the White House and anyone else who runs for public office and tell them it's time for ENDA, it's time to repeal Don't Ask, Don't Tell, and do anything else to make us all actually equal. Oooh, and it also made me want to read the rest of the book!!

From the chapter: Fighting Against the Knife
I use this analogy to describe my own growing homosexuality experience; I call it the “knife”. It was like all the prophets, all the speakers, my lifetime of every religious discussion, all the words, the scriptures, the counsel, and the doctrine became a terrible jagged knife that was being pushed right into my heart. And everyone I knew, my leaders, my family, all my close relationships, they were all pushing that knife into my heart, and I was the only one holding it back. All their hands on that knife handle pushing it in, and I could feel my hands on theirs trying to stop the pain.
The creation of the knife starts early. It is a curious thing that happens to a young innocent child, that moment when you realize that you are the enemy. For me it happened when I was quite young, probably twelve years of age. I saw myself as all the rest, in line for God’s love expecting great things, and feeling as loved and as impervious as the rest of my comrades. The moment was confusing to me, and I wasn’t sure if it was directed at me, but there it was, these scriptures in the bible that said that homosexuals were the enemy. An abomination. A horror in God’s eyes.
It was part of a Sunday School lesson and we were taught two scriptures in Leviticus 18:22 and 20:13: "You shall not lie with a male as with a woman; both of them have committed an abomination," and "If a man lies with a man as with a woman, both of them have committed an abomination; they shall be put to death; their blood is upon them." Then it was followed with a handful of Prophetic teaching mirroring the same concept: Homosexual sin is next to murder.

The knife slowly sharpening.

I had already become aware that Mormonism had clear rules and regulations for salvation, beginning as a young child in primary learning to give everything to God and to worship the prophet via cute songs. I was already collecting dimes and nickels for my tithing, and I knew that Satan was waiting in the wings for me, with his legions of demons tempting me to fall out of grace and into hell. I also knew that something was askew inside of me, although I was unable to put my finger on it...

...After we consummated our marriage, I knew I was doomed. The spark was not there. I was lost. I had been counseled that marriage would make me straight, and in that one moment, in my first thrust, I knew it was a lie. I wanted my heart to pound, I wanted this so bad, and it was not happening. It was not going to save me, it was not going to happen. She was a virgin who was saving herself for marriage, only to marry a gay man. I knew it was a tragedy of epic proportions.
I didn’t give up. Maybe God could still save me somehow. It was a sin, I was hell-bound, and she was going to be my salvation. Sixteen years later, after confessing to my wife I was gay in year four of our marriage, after twelve years in "conversion therapy", years of heart ache, cheating, bargaining with God, three kids and absolute mental devastation, I felt suicidal.
I had remained active through it all, and it had not saved me. I had done everything God asked me to do, and I was still gay. So many hands were on the knife handle now, and now her hands were on the knife handle with everyone else’s. I couldn't imagine myself making one of my own children suffer this way, and yet my Heavenly Father had stayed silent for twenty-six years through all of it, not once offering me any help. How could he be so terribly uncaring toward one of his own suffering children? I felt more isolated than at any time of my life, and I was doing everything right that I knew to do. I was being hung out to dry.
It felt as if I was fighting for my life. I was in such tremendous agony, and everyone had the words, “We love you…” falling from their lips as they pushed the knife harder and harder into my heart. I became so distraught that I was willing to let my spiritual life end to never feel that awful again. I became so emotionally detached and wounded, and something deep inside me snapped. I decided that I would stand up and face it! No matter how much push back I received, I would not back down. I owed myself a genuine life, and if the angels came to kill me, then so be it. I was done feeling shitty. No longer would I passively let my heart be threatened with violent ideas of destruction. I would turn that knife around and I would wield it at them. I would fight!
The visceral pain was so threatening to me that I began having severe panic attacks. I was already experiencing panic attacks due to my relationship with my parents, but when I decided to leave, the whole weight of the experience, the fear of all the years that had been programmed into my brain came rushing out. I dreamed angels came down from heaven and slashed my throat. I dreamed that I was lost forever, hell bound, never to be rescued. I felt valueless, adrift and alone even though I was surrounded by people.
I began an eighteen month journey of feeling as if I was falling. I literally felt as if I were freefalling helplessly to my doom while doing anything, sitting, walking, working, and sleeping. Although I stayed on my new course, my domestication was so great that it took over my ability to reason. My mental state put my physical state into absolute alarm.
I was able to fight this, but many men cannot fight this, and they commit suicide. And it is not their fault; they are sensitive men following the poisonous counsel of ignorant straight male leaders to their destruction. In my opinion, it is the fault of the Mormon Church and its untrained leadership. This happens in the Mormon Church to gay Mormon men and apostate family members. But they are whisked away to proper Mormon funerals by embarrassed Mormon families, never to be heard from again, their stories buried with them, the embarrassed families silenced by their belief. This is real, this is a terrible mental abuse.
All men in my situation are given a choice: You let the knife stop your own heart, or you take that knife, and you force it out of the hands threatening you, and you wield it against them. You save yourself. You begin your metamorphosis. You transcend.

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