Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Updates and a Reply

Well, it's all pretty much finalized in my mind. I will apply to begin at the University of Washington beginning in March, and my time left in Utah grows short. It was a tough and very multi-faceted decision. In the end I guess the final straw was realizing that attending a university that brings conditions into my life that make me feel like killing myself is not worth it no matter what. So I am getting out.

Also, I haven't been posting much, so I figured I would let you all in on an email I recieved from my aunt the other week. The circumstances were brought about by facebook and a group I joined but then promptly left. She saw it and was offending which resulted in:

Dear Tommy,

27 October 2008

I'm worried about you. I figured all of the stress and hype about proposition 8 might be unpleasant for you, and I've tried to keep in touch to make sure that you were handling it okay.

When your post on email said that you had joined the Nazis for CA's Prop.8, I checked it out. Like so many other No on 8 places, it seemed to be lacking in tolerance, at least.

I understand that you were being facetious and that you probably weren't trying to hurt my feelings, or anyone else's.

My concern is with the intensity of some of your comments. We've discussed the importance in your situation, in everyone's situation, of following the Spirit in our lives. An earmark of someone who is filled with the Spirit is the abundance of genuine love for other people. You expressed that to me in a phone call a while ago.

Since then it seems like your life has taken a terrible turn for the worse. Honestly, I don't think someone who is filled with the Spirit would choose to associate himself with such a hateful post. It is a manifestation of the harsh turmoil and confusion that seems to surround you these days.

I am concerned that, instead of trying to align yourself with the Lord's will for you and His plan for your life, you are trying to make Him (and His Church) bend to your will or be ridiculed for not doing so. This is a clear earmark of pride, and, pride, if allowed to remain unchecked, always leads to unhappiness.

I really want you to have a satisfying, happy life. I know that you have had a testimony of the gospel. I know that your spirit is strong enough and has been close enough to the Lord that you will never be content with partial closeness to the Lord, or to His Spirit.

As one who loves you, I beg you to humbly pray to Heavenly Father, with a willingness to follow His will no matter how hard it is, until you are again filled with love and peace. I know that this is the only path to happiness in this life and the next.

I have no desire to hurt or offend you. If I have misspoken or given any offense, I hope you can temper it with the understanding that no matter what you do, there will always be a unique place in my heart for only you, and that that place is filled with love and affection.

Sincerely and with love"

To which I (eventually) replied:

Hi! Sorry it has taken me so long to get back to you. I planned on waiting a week before replying, but with me spending 10+ hours every day on campus alone it has dragged beyond that.

Also, I have written about 3 different drafts of this email (all of which were fairly long and were brilliant writings...), but in the end I think it best to keep it short.

I understand your concerns and appreciate your concern. I have a quite a few thoughts in response, but will only share these: Firstly, if you are trying to track/determine the condition of another's soul and character, Facebook is not the best source for that. I might equate it with getting news from the tabloids. Secondly, I knew how I would be received from the beginning. I knew emails like this would come, and that this is how I would be viewed. I am actually suprised at how long it has taken for that to occur. (Although intellectual preperation doesn't make the misunderstanding any more easy to deal with when it comes.) In the first few months of this year I realized that my own self respect and dignity are perhaps two of the best gifts I can give the world, and I reject the notion that I owe one person an apology/explanation for my choices.

Just know that I have left no stone unturned and I have extensively, deeply, methodically, and prayerfully considered every aspect of this issue. I am fully aware of the potential repurcussions on all sides and of every choice. You might think this naive of me, and while I dont know and cannot predict what the future holds, I know what my heart holds and am prepared for all that I will face. Of course I will make mistakes along the way, but that is just the human condition and I apologize if one of these mistakes has offended you or hurt your feelings.

Additionally, the Lord (and the Lord alone) understands my heart and if I were to face him today, I would not be embarassed. He knows and understands. Just realize that as you are indeed on "the outside looking in," there is so much that you cannot understand, and therefore I accept your views and will take the heat.

With deepest love,

Friday, November 7, 2008

Pros and Cons

Yes, yes I did. I actually made a pro and con list, and perhaps for the first time. Here are the ups and downs of transferring to the University of Washington. I might add more as I think of them.

Transferring to UW, Pros and Cons

• I would be free from Big Brother (the Honor Code) constantly breathing down my neck.
• I would be in Seattle. I LOVE Seattle…
• I would be able to be truly open and authentic.
• I would be reunited with many of my best friends.
• I would be close to my hometown and family.
• I love the energy/vibes the Northwest seems to have.
• I have a lot more fun with my Washingtonian friends… not that I don’t like my friends here, but somehow its different
• I would be free from mandated religion and would be able to choose the role the Church plays in my life.
• I would have a circle of straight friends, which I long for. At BYU its hard to find straight people I can truly be open around without risking honor code discipline.
• Because of that, I can only be open in gay circles, and therefore I spend most of my time with gay people and all they seem to be able to talk about is being gay which is annoying.
• The gay circle I hang out with now will all graduate at least 3 semesters before me, if not more, so I would have to find all new friends

• My roots are already set in Provo. My systems are up. I am settled in.
• I have just finished breaking all the way into a social circle and would have to do it all over.
• I wouldn’t have as strong of a gay mormon support group.
• Potentially lesser chances of a finding a decent guy.
• I wouldn’t be able to do as much to promote understanding and build bridges between the gay and straight worlds. I could make more of a difference here.
• I would miss all the wonderful friends I have made.
• I like the academics at BYU.
• BYU is so inexpensive!
• I would have to figure out how to get all my stuff back from provo to seattle
• Would I just be running from my problems? Or is it that BYU is the source of my problems?
• Would I still be forced to think and analyze my personal life and truly figure things out? In an environment like BYU, one has to know exactly what they believe and why they believe that.