Late last night, I listened to part of the most recent Mormon Stories podcasts that were uploaded yesterday, featuring BYU film producer Kendall Wilcox discussing his struggle to accept his homosexuality and the crisis that led him to decide to create a documentary about what it means to be gay and Mormon.
As I listened to me telling my story in the second of the two podcasts, my thoughts were carried back over the years to some of the many, many, many times that I have struggled with this thing called homosexuality – of how it had entered, unbidden, into my life, set up camp and had refused to leave.
I thought of some of the times that I wondered what would ever become of me. Images came into my mind of situations … of the times as a teenager when I wondered whether the time would eventually come when I would be “normal” … of times when I was a college student and young adult and wondered whether I would or could ever marry.
I thought of the many times as a convert missionary when the sickening realization settled upon me that I would never be cured of this curse, that I was fatally and horribly flawed, and that, Sisyphus-like, I was condemned to a life of struggling to push a boulder up the mountain, only to have it roll back down again … endlessly, endlessly, endlessly.
And I thought of the times, too countless to recall in isolation, when I thought that the real me would never be known, but would go to the grave in anonymity, having lived the plan of happiness, but nevertheless having never lived, never having breathed the sweet air of authenticity, of life itself.
It was then that I knew.
As I expressed in my post on Thursday, I have been struggling over whether to reveal the identity of Invictus Pilgrim. I knew what was coming down with the story in today’s Salt Lake Tribune and the Mormon Stories podcasts. I have had a raging internal debate for days over issues of coming out (as some of my friends and acquaintances will attest, having been forced to listen to my drama).
In the end, it was last night as I listened to my voice, calmly describing the tip of my gay existential iceberg, that the answer to my dilemma came to me. Perhaps appropriately enough, that answer did not come from without, but from within. It came to me as a message from the boy that I once was, from me as a teenager, a college student, a young man, a new convert, a missionary, a young father and as a somewhat tortured middle-aged man – in short, all the males in me of whom I have written over the past eight months or so and who still live within.
The message was this: Validate us. We have waited your whole life to be validated, accepted and loved for who we really were. Do it. Overcome your fears. We understand those fears. We lived them. We could not or would not allow ourselves to overcome them. But you can do it now. For us. And for yourself. For besides validating us, you have this opportunity to fully embrace this path upon which you have embarked and to unite the fragments of yourself that you have created, to own what you have written and to be whole.
And so, with more than a little trepidation, I am.*
* Out of respect for my privacy from search engines, however, I would request that people refrain from further outing me by writing my full name in any internet communications that are searchable. My decision to not be included in the Tribune piece was made, as is this request, out of concerns for my children's privacy. Though difficult - and still somewhat conflicted - I would still like to try to control this story to the extent possible. Thank you.