Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Colorblind II

I did a little more internet research this week, and it turns out that I am not colorblind. On the contrary, I am a deuteranomalous trichromat.

Let's start with some vsauce:



As you may know, the human eyes contains three types of cones (high, medium, and low), which are used to perceive color. Each type of cone is tuned to receive light of certain wavelengths (high, medium, and low--go figure). We do not need a separate receptor for every color that we see because 3 receptors are enough to triangulate the color of the light entering our eyes.

But what if you have only two receptors?

This is how I used to understand all colorblindness. I thought that either we (the colorblind) had only two types of cones or the third type was weak or inoperable. This does happen and it is called dichromacy.

You might be able to guess that different varieties of colorblindness result from the impairment of different types of cones.


Cone Impaired
 Colorblindness
  High
  Medium
  Low

(Note: monochromacy results from only one working cone; this is when someone truly sees in only grayscale. Guess what? There are actually three types of monochromacy, and three corresponding grayscales. I don't think much research has been done on distinguishing these.) 


If you remember the picture from the video, the medium and high sensors actually detect relatively close-to-the-same wavelengths of light. A lack of either results in the inability to distinguish RED from GREEN. That's right, two completely different defects can result in red-green colorblindness. Deuteranopia happens to be the most common.


Nevertheless, Protanopia and Deuteranopia are subtly different, as indicated by the following two images from color-blindness.com.


Protanopia Confusion Lines
Deuteranopia Confusion Lines




Here's the neat part. I (like many "colorblind" people) have three types of perfectly working cones. I am a trichromat. So why can I not see all the colors that most of you can see? Colorblind people such as I have an anomaly in the relative sensitives of our cone types.
Essentially, one or more of the bell curves on the graph up there is shifted to the left or the right. Our eyes triangulate light waves differently and as a result, we cannot distinguish all of the colors/hues that normal trichromats can.

According to a slew of tests that I found online, I have determined that I likely have a certain (common) anomaly in which I more or less have two high-frequency-sensitive cones. The sensitivities are enough different that I can distinguish more colors than a deuteranope, but I still cannot see many of the "normal" colors.

Here's the REALLY neat part. Because of the difference in cone sensitivities, I may actually see colors that normal-vision people cannot see. How cool is that?



Some other neat stuff:
TED Talks: Beau Lotto
Radiolab: Why Isn't the Sky Blue?
Describing Colors to Blind People
Vsauce: perception and qualia

Friday, August 30, 2013

Controlling Parents and Mormon History

A Common Parenting/teaching Strategy for the pious has traditionally been to control the flow of information to the children.  The basic tenet is logical: if a kid has never heard of an activity, how can he/she participate? (this refers to intellectual activity as well as physical).


For those who believe that a strict code of morality is key to fulfilling our full potential for happiness (which I do), this method may seem very attractive.

This method, however, is only effective in training a certain type of person.


The Supposed-to's:

I was once a supposed-to. Success was in doing exactly what I was supposed to do. I had a healthy respect for authority and little-to-no desire for rebellion.

The controlling-style of parenting worked on me...sort of. I always considered myself a moral person, even when I was purposefully a dishonest, salacious, and condescending person.

As it turned out, my sense of morality was so tied to what others' expected of me that I began to believe that if I did not get caught, then it did not count.

Because of people like me, the method of control may actually appear to work much more effectively than it actually does. In any case, it does not work for the most inquisitive, deep thinkers among us (see Galileo).


The Information Age:

What used to work only for many, works for even fewer now.

Information is ubiquitous (it's everywhere). You can hide yourself from it if you are careful, but you cannot hide others from it for long. If an idea exists and someone wants to find out about it, all they have to do is ask.

At best, we can control only the most submissive people into happiness.


Mormon History:

Here is an example of the intent to lead others to happiness by in part limiting their understanding.

Many of the actual events of Mormon history are a big problem (read: obstacle to faith) for those in or seeking to know about the LDS Church. Those who have been given the charge to teach the Gospel of Jesus Christ (those moral rules leading to happiness that I mentioned) and to keep the LDS Church organized know how hard the truth can be. The desire to control information is compelling, and such control may appear effective for a time.

But we can't hush it anymore. In many cases, it has become the elephant in the room. And it is becoming evident that dishonesty (even in the form of over-sheltering those we love) is not an effective tool for teaching truth.


What Now?

In the past, those who do not respond cordially to the traditional regulation approach were criticized as rebellious and unruly. Many of these people may find that they do not fit in and decide to disassociate themselves with the religion. Little saddens me more. I have come to believe that the LDS Church is suffering from a kind of genetic disease. While the core of the church (read: the Gospel of Jesus Christ) is still strong and true, many of the members are being blinded from a great potential leap in understanding and happiness. Many members are going through the motions of morality, but they still do not really understand how to be happy. Morality is not the end, but a means to the end.

Fortunately, there is a cure. As in the Book of Mormon parable of the Olive Tree (Jacob 5), the grafting in of wild branches may be enough to save the tree and bring forth good fruit. As a church community, we NEED those people that we have unintentionally pushed away. Those on whom the controlling method is least likely to work (the wild branches) are those that we in our culture need the most.

I believe that we are in possession of the process for obtaining true happiness, but we cannot TEACH the process until we understand it better ourselves.

All parents/teachers must become more capable and more knowledgeable.  We cannot avoid taboo topics anymore and hope for the best. We need to be able to ask hard questions (at home and in Sunday school), and we need to be okay if the answers do not really exist. A lack of answer is much better than a wrong answer. And if we do not involve ourselves in the discussion, then I am sure there are plenty of wrong answers out there ready to be accepted.

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Prove It

Warning: The following post is of a somewhat existential nature.

In friendly conversation, I often like to jestfully throw out a certain casual challenge to others' declarative statements. For example:


Or:


I think you get the idea.

But how can someone actually PROVE something? Can it be done? Is there any statement that all humans can agree is a true, provable idea?

Try it.

Think of an idea. Anything at all.

Is it true? Can you prove it? Even with all the evidence you could gather in a lifetime, is there a possibility that someone out there exists who will still disagree with your statement?



In mathematics, we prove things by logically building on fundamental principles that both parties choose to accept as truth; e.g., 1=1, 1+1=2, 1+2=2+1, and so forth.

But what if we cannot agree on the fundamentals? In areas such as Politics and Religion, it is often possible for equally smart, rational people to vehemently disagree. Most often, such disagreements occur because people are basing their ideas on different assumptions.

In such cases (read: in most cases), we must assess an argument based on its logical goodness. An argument can be classified as

  1. Flawed: The conclusions do not follow from the assumptions
  2. Valid: The conclusions do follow from the assumptions
  3. Cogent: The argument is valid and convincing; it induces someone to believe in the conclusions.

Again, rational people can present equally valid arguments for conflicting ideas. Whether an argument is convincing, however, depends on the person that is receiving the argument. In this way, if we disagree on fundamental assumptions it is impossible to say which of any two valid arguments are more correct.



In the end, what we believe becomes a personal choice. If we come across a compelling argument, we can choose to believe it.

In science, we never talk about proving any theories to be true. The best we can manage is to consistently fail to reject an idea, with the understanding that future revelations may completely change things down the road.

The question then becomes less about what is true and what is untrue, and more about the nature of belief. Why do we choose to believe the things that we do? Why do some assumptions resonate with us more than others? And that will have to be the topic of another post.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Mormonism and Me

Let me start by saying that I am a Mormon. I was raised by a Mormon mother and I have been Mormon all my life. As I have grown up, I have become increasingly inquisitive and developed an increasingly individual will. I am grateful for strong role models (even if they didn't always know they were influencing me) who have taught me the importance of questioning everything. I have since questioned many tenets of Mormonism, but I am still Mormon.

In recent years, the leadership of the LDS church (Mormons) have encourage members of the church to reach out about their beliefs via social media. In a world full of misunderstanding and antagonism of religion, it is easy to remain quiet about what and why we believe. It is easy for rational people to passionately disagree about what is most important and it is no wonder that politics and religion are generally two main taboo topics in polite conversation. Nevertheless, more and more we are talking.

I doubt whether the church leadership could have anticipated what opening up about our beliefs would become, but I believe a sort of movement has started within the Mormon membership. In a digital age when information about almost anything is more available than ever, certain issues that Mormons tend to ignore about their church history and beliefs have become harder to avoid (see Why People Leave the LDS Church). Now, either more people are questioning their Mormon faith or we are at least more aware of it.

Though I have had to ask myself some very hard questions, I must admit that I still wholeheartedly believe that the Mormon church--despite its flaws, which are many--is God's organization on Earth. As I have further studied what information is available, my conviction on this matter has become stronger and my desire to share the goodness of the church with others has deepened. But there is a big problem.

I have a theory that in past generations of Mormons (including my parents' generation), those people for whom it is easier to "just believe" have stayed in the Mormon church while those with a more rebellious spirit or an insatiable need-to-know attitude have chosen to become "less active" or remain out of the church. As a result, the doctrines of the church (which should be living and evolving) have become dogmatic. Many pioneer traditions have been erroneously passed down as "Eternal truths". For many within Mormonism, this seems to have gone unnoticed. Until now.

The current trend of people in and out of the LDS church to openly discuss their beliefs and their doubts has created people like me. I used to feel quite alone in my convictions, but I have started to find many others that feel the way I do. The Mormon church is true and it has the potential to improve the lives of all people across the planet, but this potential will never be realized until the people in the church understand that the current culture is grossly flawed (for example, see Chastity, Shame, and Mormonism--a youtube video by thatmormonboy).

I have decided to dedicate a portion of this blog (under the Mormon Thoughts heading) to explain my views about many of the issues facing Mormonism today. The things I want to share are extremely sacred to me, but I believe these are discussions that need to happen.

If you ever have any questions for me, feel free to leave a comment or email me or contact me in any way that seems good to you.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Most Popular Posts

Here is a look at the historically most popular 7 posts of all time (by total views). The majority of my blog posts have been viewed less than 5 times, and there are quite a few that have been viewed less than 50 times (maybe someday I will find the actual data and give you a pie chart or something--cuz I know you are dying to know the details).

Apparently some of my posts draw repeated attention, and for sometimes not-so-obvious reasons. Keeping in mind that some of these posts have been around a lot longer than others, here are the numbers of total views for the top-ten most viewed OztNz blog posts of all time:

Jan 13, 2010
Feb 8, 2011
May 29, 2010
Feb 18, 2012
Dec 28, 2010
Nov 12, 2009
Jan 15, 2011
Mar 17, 2010
Nov 9, 2009
Oct 12, 2009


I see just a view things that I want to point out.

Haircuts- My most popular post

Blogger/Google tells me that this post receives most of its traffic from Google search. Common keywords that lead people to my random bad-hair day?

  • boys haircuts
  • number 2 haircut
  • terrible buzz cut
  • Cory Matthews haircut cycle of shame

Werds-

Several of the top 10 posts are Words-of-the-Day lists that I created faithfully during my Masters program.  Keywords that lead to these posts?
  • blunderbuss
  • alidade
  • filigree
  • frieze
Apparently some people out there prefer obscure bloggers' definitions over dictionary.com.

About Me-

The posts to which I link from my About Me page are unsurprisingly more viewed than others (though still much less than the Google-fed randomness above).

Other-
  1. I am tickled that my meme contribution from February of 2012 was a hit.
  2. I am saddened that Chevrolet (notice: no link = no SEO contribution; the free ride is over Chevy!) did not pay me more for the free ads I created and the exposure these ads have apparently received.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

A Straight Mormon Comes Out (Full Article)

Alt. Title: Confessions of a Straight Mormon Boy
(Note: what follows is a work of fiction, a hypothetical look at a fake world in an attempt to cultivate empathy in the real world)



A Strange Child in a Gay World:

I have two dads. Some people have two moms. It has always been interesting to me that I can never tell when I meet someone at school if they were raised by men or women. Man-man relationships are just as likely to produce a girl child as are woman-woman, and the same goes for boy children in both cases. And whether a boy has two moms or two dads, they all tend to gravitate more toward boy things (pretty dresses, fancy hair, cute kittens, etc.); and the girls likewise all tend to enjoy getting dirty outside and competing in sports, etc. I understand that this is a generalization, but it seems to be an accurate one. I guess it doesn't really matter much. People are just so different anyway. What really tends to make the most difference--if anything--are things like income, education, religion, etc.

Although, you do have to be careful. It is okay for a guy like me to like sports and want to build things, especially as a child. But you can't go overboard or people start to think you're weird. I do boy things too; just like all the other kids I let my dads dress me up in cute dresses for church and I play with dolls with the other boys when we're together. I love music and art, too, which I guess is kind of boyish. But I really love the more girly things. I love playing in the woods with the girls, climbing trees and swimming in the creek. One of my friend's moms always tells my dads that this is okay for now but that I better grow out of it soon or else no one will ever take me seriously as a man. I don't really know what he means, but for now I just enjoy who I am.

Adolescence (Am I Straight?):

I have a problem. I don't really like boys, and I think I may like girls. I know that sounds weird--and maybe I will grow out of it soon--but it is definitely the truth. I have been Mormon all my life (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and even though I am still young I have had many spiritual experiences that lead me to believe that the LDS faith is true. I love God and Jesus Christ and I want nothing more than to serve them and make them happy. But I also know that heterosexuality is wrong. Family is the most important part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and everyone knows that men and women are incapable of making children together. Ancient civilizations that embraced heterosexuality were destroyed by God. It is not right. I know that. But I can't change the way I feel.

While most everyone around me is becoming more and more boy- or girl- crazy, I just really don't have much interest in dating. I mean, I do... sort of. I guess I should say I have no interest in dating boys. The idea of holding hands with another boy actually makes me want to throw up a little. And it's not like I can go around dating girls! You've gotta be kidding me. I'm not straight! That's weird. That's just wrong. And even if I wanted to, it's not like any of the girls I know would want to date a GUY. Though there are a few straight girls at school, they are not really the type of people I would want to hang out with. The really cool girls are the ones I know from church, but they are all taking turns dating each other. None of them would ever consider being straight. What am I talking about? I'm not straight, either! That's just weird and wrong. Isn't it?

The worst part is that I have no one to talk to about it. My dads are hardcore Mormon and I could never admit to them that this is something I am struggling with. They would never understand. Heterosexuality is wrong. They know it. I know it. But I know that if I am faithful and if I serve and work hard then this will just go away, right? Jesus Christ can make this right, I know it. So in the meantime, I just really don't date. The exceptions are only the occasional big group dates that all my friends go on, and then it's easy because it is just a big hangout. I don't have to actually "like" the guy I'm on a date with. They don't really like me either; we just go as friends, which is great. I like friends.

My LDS Mission (The Best Two Years?):

Like most 18- to 21-year-olds in the LDS church, I served a full-time mission after high school. My mission was one of the hardest times of my life. I learned a lot and many times I actually loved serving a mission, but mostly I look back on that time of my life and think of pain and sadness.

As a missionary, we are never really alone. We are always coupled to another missionary with whom we do everything--live, eat, study, teach, sleep, etc. Missionary companionships are set up in a way that would normally make the work easier and free of distractions; one guy and one girl are always put together. Every month or two, your companion changes but it is always someone of the opposite sex. I never admitted it, but for me this was often a great challenge. All of my companions were women, who were of course attracted to other women. Though we weren't really supposed to talk about it, sometimes my companion would say something like, "Dang, it was hard to focus on the lesson that time because that girl was so attractive!" I had to pretend to not agree.

But that's only the beginning. I was often paired up with some really awesome girls. We would spend all of our time together and in many cases, I shared very spiritual growing experiences with my companions and grew close in talking about these experiences. Sometimes we may have grown a little too close...at least for me. I admit that I actually started to fall in love with one of my companions.  I tried to ignore it, and I told myself that it was wrong. Unfortunately, it was not uncommon for a companion to walk around the apartment in nothing but her underwear (or less). I hated myself for liking it. Sometimes I would just lock myself in the bathroom and cry for a long time. I would lie and tell everyone that I was okay, but I was sick inside. I hated myself.

In the end, I did get through it. Most people speak about their missions as the best time of their lives. I usually pretend like I agree, but overall my mission is not a time I look back on with too much fondness.

In College (Can I Be Straight AND Mormon?):

After my mission, I had a hard time trying to figure out what to do with my life. You hear about heterosexuals in the Mormon church, but not very often and the stories are usually not happy ones. Straight men and women do not ever serve in bishoprics or any other positions of real decision-making authority. Many times, they just pretend to be gay in order to fit in with everyone else's expectations (a lifestyle I was getting pretty familiar with). I have heard many stories about straight men and women who pretended to be gay, got married in the temple, etc. until one day they just couldn't handle it anymore. They finally came out and just left their families high and dry. I did not want that to be me.

Lately, the world--and some of the church--has started to open up more and to talk more freely about heterosexuality. Many people in the church are even starting to admit that it may not be a conscious choice to be straight. Generally, I think people are starting to be more sensitive about it. But what if you are a straight man in the church? What are your options, really? You can just marry a man and try to make it work; You can stay single and celibate your entire life; you can try to let go and live a heterosexual lifestyle but try to still hold on to your faith somehow; or just forget about the church. None of these options sounds very great to me.

I focus hard on my studies and still try to be just a normal guy. I have tried to date a little more--I have had a few close guy friends who I have even tried to hold hands with--but it always just feels weird and wrong. Usually those friendships disappear pretty quickly. Many of my girl friends will often tell me about the cute guys they know that like me. I try to sound interested, or play it off that none of those guys are my type. But no one knows how I really feel about it--that no guy will ever be my type. If only those girls knew that it was THEM who I was really dreaming about.

After College (A Time of Crisis):

I stay married to my work lately, and definitely don't date much (if at all). I should feel pretty safe with that lifestyle because it is not abnormal for a professional person of my age to be too preoccupied with work for romance--except that I'm Mormon. In Mormon culture, most people are married by now and having children. I have all but missed the boat on that one. Approaching 30 now, I am no closer to wanting to marry another man than I was 10 years ago. But how desperately I crave companionship. I do want someone to share my life with, and to have a family with. But in all my fantasies about the ideal life, I always imagine myself with a woman.

Why would God make me this way? I just want to be myself! This is not fair! I have lived all my life following the commandments and building faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel and Atonement. And for what!? I'm miserable. It's not like I am obsessed with sex or anything; I just want to love a woman who loves me back. That doesn't make me a pervert, does it?! That's no different than any gay woman out there... Except that I am not a gay woman. I am straight man. I hate my life and I hate myself for feeling this way. I want to be strong and faithful, but it just doesn't seem worth it anymore...

Coming Out to Myself:

I have been on my own for years now. I have a steady job and I can take care of myself. I decided it was time to stop faking so much about myself, and if my friends and family won't accept me for who I really am then I don't want or need them anyway. If I need to, I can find new friends. I am good at making friends. I tried to hold on to the belief that I would eventually marry a man in the temple and somehow learn to be happy, but I just don't think that is possible. I have decided to come out for good.

I am a straight man!

God knows me and what I am going through. Family and love are the most important parts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Surely He will understand that I desperately need the type of loving relationship that so many people have, the type of relationship that I have always been kept so far from approaching.

I still love God and Jesus Christ and the LDS Church, but it just doesn't make sense anymore to keep going every week. No one in the church will understand or accept me; it will just make things more difficult for everyone if I try...and secretly, I am still kind of ashamed of the whole thing. I am becoming more comfortable with my new straight lifestyle, but the last thing I am ready to do is boldly show off my new self in front of my old church acquaintances. I will just have to keep my faith in my heart for now.

Happily Ever After?:

I am happier now than I ever have been! I am still working at my regular job, which I love even more now that I can go to work everyday and not lie to everyone about who I really am. And I actually have a steady girlfriend. We met through a friend of a friend that knew we were both straight. At first I was nervous about how to approach the whole straight dating thing, but once I met her and we started talking it was just so natural and easy.

She is smart, funny, and WAY attractive. She is caring and patient and she makes me want to be a better person. She makes me laugh, and helps me to truly appreciate all of the good things in life. She loves all the things that are important to me: being with and helping other people, enjoying music, working hard, etc. We are a perfect match for each other: what one of us lacks, the other makes up for. I am no longer sad and bitter inside. I am free. I am happy.

My girlfriend and I make each other happy. But we are a straight couple. Sometimes people still look at us weird when we go out together in public (sometimes with outright disgust). It really doesn't bother us though, because we are in love. We want to share the rest of our lives together and have the kinds of things I always dreamed of having. We want a family. Marriage and adoption by heterosexual couples is still not easy--and it is actually still not legal in most states--but it is getting easier and we have hope for the future.

The best part of our relationship is that she loves God and Jesus Christ as much as I do. She makes me want to be a better disciple of Jesus Christ, and helps me to become the kind of person that I am trying to be. Maybe someday we will be completely accepted for who we are, maybe not. For today, I know that we are doing the best that we can to follow Christ and be happy. We know it and we know that God knows it, and we can't ask for anything more than that.




   This is the full-article version of a seven-part blog series. I would guess that it is hard for a heterosexual person to imagine what life would be like if they were gay. I have written this in an attempt to put myself in the shoes of someone who has grown up gay and Mormon, and I have likely revealed a lot more about myself than I intended. I chose to set this story in the Mormon culture because it is one that is the most familiar to me--but I would think that many of the principles involved above are common for people in other faith-based cultures as well.

Comments are welcome.


(Note: This series in in response to A Gay Mormon Coming Out (live)Gays and MormonsMormon Couple With A Gay Husband And Straight Wife, and other similar stories/videos)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Could This Be Happily Ever After?

Confessions of a Straight Mormon Boy, Part VII
(Note: what follows is a work of fiction, a hypothetical look at a fake world in an attempt to cultivate empathy in the real world)

Today:

I am happier now than I ever have been! I am still working at my regular job, which I love even more now that I can go to work everyday and not lie to everyone about who I really am. And I actually have a steady girlfriend. We met through a friend of a friend that knew we were both straight. At first I was nervous about how to approach the whole straight dating thing, but once I met her and we started talking it was just so natural and easy.

She is smart, funny, and WAY attractive. She is caring and patient and she makes me want to be a better person. She makes me laugh, and helps me to truly appreciate all of the good things in life. She loves all the things that are important to me: being with and helping other people, enjoying music, working hard, etc. We are a perfect match for each other: what one of us lacks, the other makes up for. I am no longer sad and bitter inside. I am free. I am happy.

My girlfriend and I make each other happy. But we are a straight couple. Sometimes people still look at us weird when we go out together in public (sometimes with outright disgust). It really doesn't bother us though, because we are in love. We want to share the rest of our lives together and have the kinds of things I always dreamed of having. We want a family. Marriage and adoption by heterosexual couples is still not easy--and it is actually still not legal in most states--but it is getting easier and we have hope for the future.

The best part of our relationship is that she loves God and Jesus Christ as much as I do. She makes me want to be a better disciple of Jesus Christ, and helps me to become the kind of person that I am trying to be. Maybe someday we will be completely accepted for who we are, maybe not. For today, I know that we are doing the best that we can to follow Christ and be happy. We know it and we know that God knows it, and we can't ask for anything more than that.



This is the conclusion of a seven-part blog series. To read the full article, go to A Straight Mormon Comes Out

I would guess that it is hard for a heterosexual person to imagine what life would be like if they were gay. I have written this in an attempt to put myself in the shoes of someone who has grown up gay and Mormon, and I have likely revealed a lot more about myself than I intended. I chose to set this story in the Mormon culture because it is one that is the most familiar to me--but I would think that many of the principles involved above are common for people in other faith-based cultures as well.
Comments are welcome.


(Note: This series in in response to A Gay Mormon Coming Out (live)Gays and MormonsMormon Couple With A Gay Husband And Straight Wife, and other similar stories/videos)

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Coming Out to Myself

Confessions of a Straight Mormon Boy, Part VI
(Note: what follows is a work of fiction, a hypothetical look at a fake world in an attempt to cultivate empathy in the real world)

Later:

I have been on my own for years now. I have a steady job and I can take care of myself. I decided it was time to stop faking so much about myself, and if my friends and family won't accept me for who I really am then I don't want or need them anyway. If I need to, I can find new friends. I am good at making friends. I tried to hold on to the belief that I would eventually marry a man in the temple and somehow learn to be happy, but I just don't think that is possible. I have decided to come out for good.


I am a straight man!

God knows me and what I am going through. Family and love are the most important parts of the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Surely He will understand that I desperately need the type of loving relationship that so many people have, the type of relationship that I have always been kept so far from approaching.

I still love God and Jesus Christ and the LDS Church, but it just doesn't make sense anymore to keep going every week. No one in the church will understand or accept me; it will just make things more difficult for everyone if I try...and secretly, I am still kind of ashamed of the whole thing. I am becoming more comfortable with my new straight lifestyle, but the last thing I am ready to do is boldly show off my new self in front of my old church acquaintances. I will just have to keep my faith in my heart for now.



This is Part Six of a seven-part blog series. For the next part, go to Part 7: Could This Be Happily Ever After

For the full article, go to A Straight Mormon Comes Out (Full Article)


(Note: This series in in response to A Gay Mormon Coming Out (live)Gays and MormonsMormon Couple With A Gay Husband And Straight Wife, and other similar stories/videos)

Friday, June 7, 2013

A Time of Crisis

Confessions of a Straight Mormon Boy, Part V
(Note: what follows is a work of fiction, a hypothetical look at a fake world in an attempt to cultivate empathy in the real world)

After College:

I stay married to my work lately, and definitely don't date much (if at all). I should feel pretty safe with that lifestyle because it is not abnormal for a professional person of my age to be too preoccupied with work for romance--except that I'm Mormon. In Mormon culture, most people are married by now and having children. I have all but missed the boat on that one. Approaching 30 now, I am no closer to wanting to marry another man than I was 10 years ago. But how desperately I crave companionship. I do want someone to share my life with, and to have a family with. But in all my fantasies about the ideal life, I always imagine myself with a woman.

Why would God make me this way? I just want to be myself! This is not fair! I have lived all my life following the commandments and building faith in Jesus Christ and His Gospel and Atonement. And for what!? I'm miserable. It's not like I am obsessed with sex or anything; I just want to love a woman who loves me back. That doesn't make me a pervert, does it?! That's no different than any gay woman out there... Except that I am not a gay woman. I am straight man. I hate my life and I hate myself for feeling this way. I want to be strong and faithful, but it just doesn't seem worth it anymore...



This is Part Five of a seven-part blog series. Check in tomorrow for Part Six: Coming Out to Myself

To see the full article, go to Full Article.


(Note: This series in in response to A Gay Mormon Coming Out (live)Gays and MormonsMormon Couple With A Gay Husband And Straight Wife, and other similar stories/videos)

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Can't I be Mormon AND Straight?

Confessions of a Straight Mormon Boy, Part IV
(Note: what follows is a work of fiction, a hypothetical look at a fake world in an attempt to cultivate empathy in the real world)

In College:

After my mission, I had a hard time trying to figure out what to do with my life. You hear about heterosexuals in the Mormon church, but not very often and the stories are usually not happy ones. Straight men and women do not ever serve in bishoprics or any other positions of real decision-making authority. Many times, they just pretend to be gay in order to fit in with everyone else's expectations (a lifestyle I was getting pretty familiar with). I have heard many stories about straight men and/or women who pretended to be gay, got married in the temple, etc. until one day they just couldn't handle it anymore. They finally came out and just left their families high and dry. I did not want that to be me.

Lately, the world--and some of the church--has started to open up more and to talk more freely about heterosexuality. Many people in the church are even starting to admit that it may not be a conscious choice to be straight. Generally, I think people are starting to be more sensitive about it. But what if you are a straight man in the church? What are your options, really? You can just marry a man and try to make it work; You can stay single and celibate your entire life; you can try to let go and live a heterosexual lifestyle but try to still hold on to your faith somehow; or just forget about the church. None of these options sounds very great to me.

I focus hard on my studies and still try to be just a normal guy. I have tried to date a little more--I have had a few close guy friends who I have even tried to hold hands with--but it always just feels weird and wrong. Usually those friendships disappear pretty quickly. Many of my girl friends will often tell me about the cute guys they know that like me. I try to sound interested, or play it off that none of those guys are my type. But no one knows how I really feel about it--that no guy will ever be my type. If only those girls knew that it was THEM who I was really dreaming about.



This is Part Four of a seven-part blog series. Check in tomorrow for Part Five: A Time of Crisis.

You can also read the full article at A Straight Mormon Comes Out.


(Note: This series in in response to A Gay Mormon Coming Out (live)Gays and MormonsMormon Couple With A Gay Husband And Straight Wife, and other similar stories/videos)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

The Best Two Years? Maybe Not For Everyone

Confessions of a Straight Mormon Boy, Part III
(Note: what follows is a work of fiction, a hypothetical look at a fake world in an attempt to cultivate empathy in the real world)

My LDS Mission:

Like most 18- to 21-year-olds in the LDS church, I served a full-time mission after high school. My mission was one of the hardest times of my life. I learned a lot and many times I actually loved serving a mission, but mostly I look back on that time of my life and think of pain and sadness.

As a missionary, we are never really alone. We are always coupled to another missionary with whom we do everything--live, eat, study, teach, sleep, etc. Missionary companionships are set up in a way that would normally make the work easier and free of distractions; one guy and one girl are always put together. Every month or two, your companion changes but it is always someone of the opposite sex. I never admitted it, but for me this was often a great challenge. All of my companions were women, who were of course attracted to other women. Though we weren't really supposed to talk about it, sometimes my companion would say something like, "Dang, it was hard to focus on the lesson that time because that girl was so attractive!" I had to pretend to not agree.

But that's only the beginning. I was often paired up with some really awesome girls. We would spend all of our time together and in many cases, I shared very spiritual growing experiences with my companions and grew close in talking about these experiences. Sometimes we may have grown a little too close...at least for me. I admit that I actually started to fall in love with one of my companions.  I tried to ignore it, and I told myself that it was wrong. Unfortunately, it was not uncommon for a companion to walk around the apartment in nothing but her underwear (or less). I hated myself for liking it. Sometimes I would just lock myself in the bathroom and cry for a long time. I would lie and tell everyone that I was okay, but I was sick inside. I hated myself.

In the end, I did get through it. Most people speak about their missions as the best time of their lives. I usually pretend like I agree, but overall my mission is not a time I look back on with too much fondness.



This is Part Three of a seven-part blog series. Continue to Part Four: Can't I be Mormon AND Straight?

Or you can read the full article at A Straight Mormon Comes Out.

(Note: This series in in response to A Gay Mormon Coming Out (live)Gays and MormonsMormon Couple With A Gay Husband And Straight Wife, and other similar stories/videos)

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Am I Straight?

Confessions of a Straight Mormon Boy, Part II
(Note: what follows is a work of fiction, a hypothetical look at a fake world in an attempt to cultivate empathy in the real world)

Adolescence:

I have a problem. I don't really like boys, and I think I may like girls. I know that sounds weird--and maybe I will grow out of it soon--but it is definitely the truth. I have been Mormon all my life (a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints), and even though I am still young I have had many spiritual experiences that lead me to believe that the LDS faith is true. I love God and Jesus Christ and I want nothing more than to serve them and make them happy. But I also know that heterosexuality is wrong. Family is the most important part of the Gospel of Jesus Christ, and everyone knows that men and women are incapable of making children together. Ancient civilizations that embraced heterosexuality were destroyed by God. It is not right. I know that. But I can't change the way I feel.

While most everyone around me is becoming more and more boy- or girl- crazy, I just really don't have much interest in dating. I mean, I do... sort of. I guess I should say I have no interest in dating boys. The idea of holding hands with another boy actually makes me want to throw up a little. And it's not like I can go around dating girls! You've gotta be kidding me. I'm not straight! That's weird. That's just wrong. And even if I wanted to, it's not like any of the girls I know would want to date a GUY. Though there are a few straight girls at school, they are not really the type of people I would want to hang out with. The really cool girls are the ones I know from church, but they are all taking turns dating each other. None of them would ever consider being straight. What am I talking about? I'm not straight, either! That's just weird and wrong. Isn't it?

The worst part is that I have no one to talk to about it. My dads are hardcore Mormon and I could never admit to them that this is something I am struggling with. They would never understand. Heterosexuality is wrong. They know it. I know it. But I know that if I am faithful and if I serve and work hard then this will just go away, right? Jesus Christ can make this right, I know it. So in the meantime, I just really don't date. The exceptions are only the occasional big group dates that all my friends go on, and then it's easy because it is just a big hangout. I don't have to actually "like" the guy I'm on a date with. They don't really like me either; we just go as friends, which is great. I like friends.



This is Part Two of a seven-part blog series. Check in tomorrow for Part Three: The Best Two Years? Maybe Not For Everyone.

If you want the whole thing, you can also read the Full Article.


(Note: This series in in response to A Gay Mormon Coming Out (live)Gays and MormonsMormon Couple With A Gay Husband And Straight Wife, and other similar stories/videos)

Monday, June 3, 2013

A Strange Child in a Gay World

Confessions of a Straight Mormon Boy, Part I
(Note: what follows is a work of fiction, a hypothetical look at a fake world in an attempt to cultivate empathy in the real world)

As a Child:

I have two dads. Some people have two moms. It has always been interesting to me that I can never tell when I meet someone at school if they were raised by men or women. Man-man relationships are just as likely to produce a girl child as are woman-woman, and the same goes for boy children in both cases. And whether a boy has two moms or two dads, they all tend to gravitate more toward boy things (pretty dresses, fancy hair, cute kittens, etc.); and the girls likewise all tend to enjoy getting dirty outside and competing in sports, etc. I understand that this is a generalization, but it seems to be an accurate one. I guess it doesn't really matter much. People are just so different anyway. What really tends to make the most difference--if anything--are things like income, education, religion, etc.

Although, you do have to be careful. It is okay for a guy like me to like sports and want to build things, especially as a child. But you can't go overboard or people start to think you're weird. I do boy things too; just like all the other kids I let my dads dress me up in cute dresses for church and I play with dolls with the other boys when we're together. I love music and art, too, which I guess is kind of boyish. But I really love the more girly things. I love playing in the woods with the girls, climbing trees and swimming in the creek. One of my friend's moms always tells my dads that this is okay for now but that I better grow out of it soon or else no one will ever take me seriously as a man. I don't really know what he means, but for now I just enjoy who I am.



This is Part One of a seven-part blog series. Continue to Part Two: Am I Straight?

Or you can just go to the Full Article.

    I would guess that it is hard for a heterosexual person to imagine what life would be like if they were gay. I have written this in an attempt to put myself in the shoes of someone who has grown up gay and Mormon. I chose to set this story in the Mormon culture because it is one that is the most familiar to me--but I would think that many of the principles involved above are common for people in other faith-based cultures as well. 

 
(Note: This series in in response to A Gay Mormon Coming Out (live)For Gay MormonsMormon Couple With A Gay Husband And Straight Wife, and other similar stories/videos)

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Butter Side Up

Trouble creates a capacity to handle it....meet it as a friend, for you'll see a lot of it and had better be on speaking terms with it.
~Oliver Wendell Holmes

I have been accused almost religiously by some of being supremely lucky. My toast always lands "butter side up", they say. I wish for a moment to dissect this phenomenon.
  1. Toast falls
Everyone who eats toast on a regular basis knows that sometimes events occur that cause bad things to happen. We don't get the job we apply for. We choose to wear sandals on the day the freak blizzard hits. Our VCR (read DVR) stops recording the big game in the 4th quarter. Our breakfast becomes a wasted mess of food on the floor.
  1. Sometimes it lands butter side down
It is possible for seemingly/potentially bad things to be not so bad in the end. When something unexpected (like a sudden gust of gravity) begins to take hold of our well laid (or lack of) plans, our instinct is likely something akin to panic.

How lucky do we feel when the dust settles only to reveal that we are probably better off for the trouble than we would have been had our own plans succeeded. How well do we take notice of the silver linings in our rain clouds?

Regardless of occasional good fortune, sometimes the toast will land butter side down. In fact, sometimes the toast will fall in the fire and the engulfing flame will ignite the curtains and burn down the entire house. The real difference between the two proverbial glass-half- persons may be that the happier sort watch their house burn down and somehow--admittedly after shock and the entire grieving process--find a way to be truly okay with it.

My life is perfect because imperfections are a necessary part of a perfect life.
  1. What do you do when your toast falls?
My father always told me that it is good to have fast reflexes when you're as clumsy as he is. When I first see/feel that a hiccup has encroached on my life, I immediately begin to act (assuming I have had enough sleep lately). The bread is halfway to the floor when I swat it from below, sending it spinning toward the sink; I lunge for the falling toast again and again until at last I have either caught it or it has finally landed--mind it sometimes still lands butter side down

I don't know who of us is more likely to drop our toast, but I do know that I rarely see my dad get overly worked up or depressed when unfortunate things happen in his life--just a terse, whispered profanity and life goes on.

What do you do when your toast falls?

Monday, May 27, 2013

The Graduate Student's Dilemma

Talent hits a target no one else can hit; Genius hits a target no one else can see.
-Arthur Schopenhauer

The targets I hit may be hit by many, but not all--and likely still only by a small minority. I fear, however, that I am too afraid to aim for targets no one else can see. Experience has trained me that even if I believe I am the only one who can see it, it has likely already been hit by someone else (likely over 50 years ago); and I quickly shy away from the risk of being "that guy" who perpetually aims at nothing.

Conclusion: I am no genius, and I accept that. What then do I expect to prove by getting this degree? Nothing. But all this school has given me time to finally learn what it takes to make a successful scientist: a little bit of talent and a lot of public relations. 

Good thing I got that communications minor back in 2010.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

RSA Outrospection and Empathy

I think you've had enough thinking about yourself; time to start thinking about others.



Note: some of those who already think more about others than about themselves need not think more about others. You may actually make us all better off by thinking more about yourself. This post is not for you.


Unexpected Joys

Things I never thought would be as fun to say as they actually turned out to be:
  • "...my oldest..."
  • "...our kids..."
  • "...the boys..."