Saturday, July 9, 2011

Who I Am

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. 

It’s time. 

Do it.” 

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.  


  1. Wow!

    Brad and I spent yesterday with his parents and sister at Lagoon. I am not one to be overly excited about some of the heart-stopping rides: Wicked, being my greatest . . . I’ll call it nemesis. I (we) started with the least, uh, wicked, more docile rides. With each “thrill level” I was able to emotionally and mentally increment to the next.

    We planned for Wicked to be the last ride of the day. The line was long and the trepidation had more than sufficient build-time. But there was another emotion I was experiencing: the thrill of pushing my boundaries, of expanding my experience, of testing and breaking out of my self-decreed limits. If you have ever ridden Wicked, you know it starts fast, shoots straight up, tops, then shoots straight down and the twisting and turning continues for several seconds before coming to a rest.

    It was thrilling! It was liberating! And, I not only survived, I enjoyed it! It was wonderful and I have now pushed to a new emotional, experiential high and my inner personal strength and resilience were strengthened. Heck, maybe I’ll try the Sky Coaster next time!

    Anyway, as I read your post it seemed my Wicked experience was analogous to your decision to reveal your identity: the trepidation, the sharp in-take of breath, the initial doubt, the thrill of achieving the next level. But you know you wanna. I say if it’s time, go for it.

    My best,

  2. Hey, congratulations! This is a big step.

    I loved the podcast (all 3 hours of it). I'm so glad that you are willing to share your story in public. It's really helpful for others.

    You da man.

  3. I haven't been following you long, but I am happy and excited for you. This is a big thing. I can relate. I came out to my parents today, not by plan, but because it just felt right in the moment. And it went great.

    I hope this goes as well for you, as my experience went for me.

  4. It's now 2 a.m. and I just finished listening to the podcast. It's fantastic to hear the voice behind the word's I've been reading since early November last year. Thanks for your courageous example. I find strength in your words and they also provide a lifting of the film of loneliness that I find myself enveloped in too often.

  5. Brad - Thanks. And good luck with the bar!

    Clive and Trey - Thank you, good friends. Trey, I loved your description/analogy of Wicked! I'll have to try that out, perhaps on Gay Day in August. :)

    Allen - Congrats on coming out! I hope things continue to go well for you.

    Without Qualm - Thank you for commenting. I'm amazed that you've been following my blog since way back then. It seems almost years now, so much water has passed under the proverbial bridge. My blog started out as a way of letting out years and years of repressed thoughts and feelings (which at least partially explains the, um, illustrations that I've used), but it also evolved into a conversation with others like me. It's been such a wonderful journey, which in some ways has only just begun. Thanks for commenting and I hope to see more of your thoughts and comments in the future.

  6. IP,

    Your final two words reminded me of something I wrote a few years ago, musing on an e.e. cummings poems and the statement "I am." Below is a bit:

    I like to believe that the reason we, as human beings, are living life is to learn to be divinely confident...and be at peace with the Selves inside ourselves and also with the goings-on of all that exists outside our own, singular experiences. We achieve godliness, Eternal Life, Nirvana or whatever name you choose to call the perfection of the Best Self when we can confidently and honestly say, "I belong here, in this beautiful, creative, eternal place, because I am beautiful, creative and eternal."

    I sometimes reflect on the name God used when He was a burning bush and talked with Moses :

    "I am that I am."

    The Charleston Heston version of God kind of mumbles it, "Ayummh tha dayummh," but that's not how I envision it; perhaps it was said "I am THAT I am;" with an emphatic that, directing Moses' attention to the beauty and creativity and eternity of God, to that statement of "I AM [all good things]." Whatever God is knows that He is all good things, and my hope guides me to believe that He is trying to show us that we, too, are all good things.

    Whatever God Is wants to take us for a ride in his balloon, full of pretty people, where we ride "up higher and higher", than all steeples and churches and creeds and He shows us that we are flowers, and that we can pick ourselves.

    You are picking your self! Good for you!

  7. Favoritenic - Thanks so much for sharing these beautiful insights!

  8. way to "do it!"

    I am happy to witness you breathing "the sweet air of authenticity."

    much love and respect

  9. Thanks, KPW. Part of the joy of breathing the sweet air of authenticity is sharing it with people like you.