Friday, November 27, 2009

Another Year Older (And Wiser Too?)

Brace yourselves. I am officially "in my thirties" and I'd like to relate a little story about a seemingly insignificant comment that was made during my birthday week.

At the beginning of this month, my beautiful, talented, incredible wife moved to Little Rock, Arkansas. (Yes, by herself - don't worry, I'll be joining her in a few days.) She got her first Actor's Equity job as an Assistant Stage Manager for Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat at Arkansas Repertory Theatre. I'm so proud and excited for her I'm practically bursting, so, needless to say, I've been telling everyone within earshot.

Two weeks ago I was at a party in Los Angeles, sans wife, (which was new for me as far as parties in Los Angeles were concerned) and someone asked about her. I happily offered up where she was and why and the person who asked said, rather taken aback, "Arkansas? I hope she doesn't have anything to prove. I'd really hate for her to get strung up."

Okay, now I concede that Arkansas is part of the bible belt, but for crying out loud! Something to prove? Are you serious? Of course she has something to prove. It's her first equity job. She wants to prove to herself and everyone else at Arkansas Repertory Theatre that she's the best stage manager they've ever seen. That was not, of course, what he meant, but I was so confounded by what I understood him to mean that it was difficult to process an appropriate response. The part that really blew me away was that he was genuinely alarmed, as though he thought if she didn't lock herself back in the closet immediately, there would be a lynch mob in funny white hoods waiting for her plane to land. (That didn't happen by the way - in case you had a similar concern. She arrived safely and has been having a wonderful time. The show opens December 5.)

In all fairness, I should share that the person who made this comment is not a close friend, and may be slightly off his rocker. What I really don't understand is that he'd met Becca (briefly though it may have been) and she doesn't exactly give off a "something to prove" vibe. The only reason I bring up the conversation is because the thought of Becca getting "strung up" hadn't occurred to me at all. Ever.

Should it have occurred to me? Am I just being naive? Have I just been lucky to have avoided any persecution this long? Should I knock on wood or something? Can you really live a full and happy life if you spend all your time worrying that everyone is out to get you and it's just a matter of time before fear and hate rear their ugly heads?

When I grow up, I want to be happy - not afraid of the entire state of Arkansas (or Texas, or Mississippi, or Montana, or Alaska (though, Sarah Palin...she's a little frightening) or anywhere else for that matter), which has never wronged me, to my knowledge.

And so, this Thanksgiving season, I'd like to offer the following as an abbreviated list of things I'm thankful for:
1. I'm thankful that I'm married to the most wonderful person in the world (sorry everyone else - I got her first) and that she loves me just as much as I love her.
2. I'm thankful for theater and a loving and accepting theater community which has presented me with an opportunity to experience more of America. (For all the funny faces I've made when telling people I'm moving to Arkansas, I'm actually looking forward to the adventure.)
3. I'm thankful that no one I know has been "strung up."

I hope I never have a reason to take #3 off my list.

(But I'm not going to dwell on it.)

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

My cup runneth over

Let me tell you about my best year.

The first weekend in October, 2004 - at the Unofficial Gay Days at Disneyland - I got engaged. That night (which was incredible) marked the beginning of my best year.

In December of that year, I finished all my college classes and graduation paperwork. That spring Becca (who was now my fiancé) and I moved into our own place in Salt Lake City. In May I officially graduated from college - a mere 8 years since I had started my undergraduate adventure in 1997 - and I had the honor of being selected as the Outstanding Senior in Theatre (which meant I got to perform at the graduation ceremony.) That summer, I was cast in my first "professional" acting roll at the Neil Simon Festival. The part was small, and since I was still living and working full time in Salt Lake, the four hour commute was ridiculous, but I got to spend the weekends with one of my very best friends and mentors, and the fledgling company was a hoot to work with.

A couple of weeks before we were supposed to leave for the out-of-the-country wedding we'd been planning (mostly on our own with the help of the internet), Becca came to Cedar to see my show. The better part of the weekend consisted of me and my weekend roomie explaining to Becca what a stage manager does and why she'd be so great at it. By the time we got back to Salt Lake, she had decided that she wanted to go back to school. Three weeks before the wedding, in addition to all the other last minute planning and packing, we were making phone calls and filling out paperwork to get Becca re-admitted to SUU, arranging for financial aid, and looking for a place to live in Cedar City.

The week of the wedding, we moved to Cedar City (I use the term "moved" losely as we had not yet secured housing), and Becca attended the first three days of class before we left for the first leg of our wedding trip. When we got to Vancouver, all of our carefully printed MapQuest directions turned out to be almost completely useless after our wild goose chase to secure a wedding license. We had selected an outdoor spot at the Unitarian Church in Vancouver for our ceremony, and then the day of the wedding - it rained. (However, our Lay Chaplain did recommend a lovely place for dinner after the ceremony, which ended up being perfect.) Before we left the hotel to leave for the church, Becca's mom (who had elected, with the rest of her family, not to attend the ceremony) called to appologize because she felt she had made the wrong choice. The result of the conversation was that both of them were in tears by the end. My parents and brothers were nearly late to the wedding because of delays at the border crossing into Canada. Due to unforeseen circumstances, we spent our wedding night with our best man sleeping on the floor of our hotel room.

And, ya know something? None of that mattered. No small bump in the road (like moving and starting school the same week we got married in another country) could have perturbed my euphoria. Not even the fact that when we returned to Utah our marriage "wouldn't be recognized" (whatever THAT means) gave me a moments pause.

On September 3, 2005, I was legally married to the woman I'd been in love with for years. As far as I was concerned (and still am concerned) it was the perfect ending to the perfect year and the perfect beginning to the perfect rest of my life.

Sunday, August 30, 2009

Takes one to know one

Let me tell you about my worst year.

The summer after my Freshman year of college, I got a summer job working for the Utah Shakespearean Festival. Actually, I got two summer jobs working for the Utah Shakespearean Festival. I worked from 8:00 am until 12:00 am or later, 6 days a week. Half-way through the summer, the clutch went out on my car and I spent several weeks in late July/early August walking the two or so miles too and from work. I had also been cast in a student production that was rehearsing over the summer. Rehearsals usually started after my shift ended, when they weren't on my only day off.

By the time school started, I was experiencing some burn out. I had decided to finish off my general ed classes and had mostly signed up for classes I had no interest in - and half way through the semester, I had quit attending most of them. (To this day I have a history class on my transcript that I have no memory of attending. I got a D, so I must have gone at least once.) For my 20th birthday, I drove to Vegas with a few friends and got my first tattoo. Shortly afterward, my roommate tried to take everything under our bathroom sink that looked like it might be a pill and then locked herself in the bathroom for a couple of hours.

I, who have always had a passion for learning and a love of everything to do with school, quit at the end of the semester and moved back in with my parents. I got a job doing data entry at the IRS and promptly came down with Mononucleosis. (That makes it sound like I caught Mono from the IRS, which I don't think is true - they just happened to coincide.) That fall I also got word that one of the friends who had gone on the tattoo adventure had gone missing. A few days later they found his body and a note.

But the thing that stands out in my mind - over and above the suicide, the dropping out of school, the hellish summer, and the insane sore throat that goes with Mono - was not being quite able to come to terms with my sexuality.

The only redeeming thing about that year (and the main cause of my ensuing depression) was that that was the year I entered into my first relationship with a girl. I recently happened across this article which (to sum up) indicates that depression may be an important evolutionary development that helps us cope with things - particularly big problems we're unable to tackle all at once - like coming out.

The thing is, when I finally did come out, it was like everything just fell into place. I'm happier now than I can ever remember being before. Depression? What depression? And it wasn't the actual telling people part of coming out that seemed to do the trick (though that helped - keeping a secret like that is taxing.) Mostly it was just deciding for myself that I was okay with it - and when it boiled right down to it - I was the only one that mattered. *Poof* All better.

I tried, when that relationship ended, to "be good". I repented of my sins and went back to doing all the things I'd been raised to believe were good and right. And I was miserable. For years.

It turns out, I'm not the only one who had "Straight Blues" (as I just decided to call them) before coming out. A friend of mine recently told me a story about sitting on his bed with his father's shot-gun in his lap, trying to decide if it would be better to come out or just quit. He told me that he had the same sense of peace and happiness once he finally came out.

Not to say that coming out is by any means the easier path. It's just that, for me, the more I tried to choose the alternative, the unhappier I was. I think it was George Burns that said, "I'd rather be a failure at something I enjoy than a success at something I hate."

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

The biggest of them all

Something's been bothering me.

This morning I was listening to the Stephanie Miller show (KTALK AM1150, for those of you who are Stephanie Miller virgins - as I was a short time ago) on my way to work and a gentleman called in who was just a bigot. I can't think of any other way to describe him. He ranted for several minutes (until he was mercifully cut off by Ms. Miller) about how the entire United States has no morals anymore because of the Hispanics, the blacks and the gays and lesbians. (The gentleman was unable to explain why "gays" and "lesbians" each needed their own category, which is just something I found amusing and is not at all pertinent at this moment.)

And after listening to him for a minute I thought, "man, I'm sure glad I've never actually met anyone like that."

After that wave of relief washed over me, I got to thinking. I really do genuinely believe that I haven't met anyone like that, but I certainly have walked into situations expecting people to behave like him. I don't mean to say that every person I know is totally accepting of everyone and their differences. (The song from Avenue Q has it about right, I think: Everyone's a little bit racist.) I admit that I find (some) racist jokes amusing, and, quite frankly, many gays often make easy targets for humor. The point is, I think that most (if not all) of the people I've met/consider friends judge individuals and not stereotypes. Let me rephrase that. They probably judge stereotypes up the yin yang (because, after all, that's what stereotypes are for), but they aren't very likely to say, "oh! You're black. We can't be friends." They'd rather get to know you and then think, "oh! You're an asshat. We can't be friends." (Which I find much more civil.)

Here's the problem I've been having (and how this particular topic relates to the general subject of this blog): every time I come out to someone, I immediately assume they're a homophobic bigot.

I was terrified to come out, and didn't for a long time. Even once I'd come to terms with and accepted the feelings I was having, I was still petrified to tell anyone. Even the thought of telling people I knew would be OK with it (e.g. my gay friends) was horrifying. The reason for my fear? I didn't know how they would react, and I was afraid they'd react badly (i.e. I assumed they were all bigots.)

I am quite certain that I am not the only one who's ever felt this way. I was so worried about it that I didn't actually tell the first person I came out to - he guessed and I didn't deny it. It was possibly the most passive aggressive coming out ever, and if I hadn't been locked in a car with him with 2 1/2 more hours of driving to go, I probably would have found a way to avoid the question and let him go on wondering. As I recall the conversation went something like this:

"So, are you two...together?"


"If you don't answer, I'm going to assume you are."

Longer silence.

"Well, that answers that question. I'm very excited for you two!" (Or something gushy like that. He was one of the gay friends I was telling you about. Wouldn't you think it would be easy to come out to someone you already knew was gay? Huh. Go figure.)

After that, it got easier. Very slowly. Every time I was presented with the opportunity to tell someone, I turned chicken and hoped that my girlfriend would take the lead and out me so I didn't have to say the words. The words were scary. I was convinced that if I said the words to people, they would flip out. It would be easier if they heard it from her. Of course, I made like I was the brave one and she needed the practice, but that was a load of hooey. I was mortified.

And I was scared because I was sure that every single person I knew was a bigot. I mean, I knew, with certainty, that they weren't, but I convinced myself that this was going to be their "bigot trigger," and even though they'd had no problem before, they were suddenly going to hate gays because of me. That's rational, right? How do you know you're racist if you've never met an African American? How do you know you're anti-Semitic if you've never met a Jew? How do you know you hate the gays if you don't know anyone who's gay? How do you know you don't like chocolate ice-cream if you've never tasted chocolate ice-cream?

So, every time I came out (directly or indirectly) I would steel myself for the hate that was about to be flung at me. Wanna know something? It never came. Not once. Not even my mother (who was clearly upset) had anything hateful to say. She was confused. Sure. Even a little disappointed (remember - in her mind I was no longer going to heaven with the rest of the family. Disappointment was to be expected.) But she didn't hate me. She didn't disown me. She still gave me "Santa Presents" for Christmas. She wasn't even ever mad at my girlfriend (that I could tell). She was, for a while, mad at Cedar City, partly because I think she was convinced that if I'd never moved there I wouldn't have "caught gay" and would have found a nice guy to marry, but that's neither here nor there.

Now, as I've said, it gets easier, but even though I came out over five years ago (which I know makes me a baby compared to some), I still feel a twinge of anxiety when I can tell the conversation is headed in a direction that is going to lead to the mention of my wife. I don't find in necessary to walk into a room and announce that I'm a lesbian (which I think would be over-doing it just a bit, don't you?) but I also have no intention of hiding who I am. The fact that I'm a married lesbian is no more a secret than the fact that I'm a woman (I wear my wedding ring with pride, after all.) It's just that, at some point, when meeting new people, they're bound to start asking innocuous personal questions ("Where are you from?" "How long have you been married?" "What's your husband's name?") at which point I feel my throat tighten and my body start into "fight or flight" mode before I can convince it that everything is going to be just fine if I'll relax and stop assuming that, by default, everyone hates the gays. The scariest thing I've done in a long time was attend my 10 year high school reunion because I was sure that all of my Mormon high school friends were all going to either a) leave or b) stone me when I showed up with my wife in tow. (Neither of which happened. What did happen was exactly what you would expect: A perfectly pleasant afternoon with some old friends who were just as gracious and friendly towards my wife as they were to all of the other non-Weber High spouses they were meeting for the first time.)

I consider myself a "glass is half-full" person, for the most part. It bugs the hell out of me that in this situation, I always assume the worst.

Why should I? Why should I be looking for any sign of disapproval, or watching for that quick eye widening indicating surprise? First of all, it shouldn't matter. I'm not ashamed of who I am and I'm certainly not ashamed of my wonderful, beautiful, brilliant wife. Second of all, the judgmental disapproval has never (as far as I can remember) been there. I've never said, "my wife and I," and had someone turn away in disgust. It has just never happened to me. Even people who've admitted to me to being homophobic have never behaved as though they were anything more than curious. I do occasionally hear, "you two are married? Good for you!" which I think is an odd reaction. I don't think it's something that would occur to anyone to say to a straight couple. (Note to everyone: we didn't get married to "stick it to the man." We got married because we were in love and wanted to spend the rest of our lives together. Just saying.)

So, I'd like to formally apologize to everyone I've ever met. I don't actually believe you're all homophobic bigots, it's just that my own insecurity gets the better of me. I truly do appreciate your friendships. Thank you, all of you, for continually proving to me that my cynicism is unfounded and misplaced. Thank you for judging me less harshly than I may have judged you in that fraction of a second. I'm sorry if I made you feel uncomfortable with the way I threw the words "my wife" at you when my delivery could have been more casual and less accusatory. I will try to be better. I will try not to assume. I will try not to put words, or even just thoughts or ideas, into your mouths before you've had a chance to prove what a loving, accepting, benevolent person you are.

I guess, all along, it's been me who's been judgmental.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

In the Beginning...

By no means do I consider myself a "blogger". I expect that this will be updated infrequently (at best) and will probably trail off in a few months when I get distracted by some other shiny thing.

There are two very basic reasons why I've decided to blog my thoughts on this particular subject (rather than writing them in, say, a journal) and they are a) I'm much faster at typing (not to mention more legible) than writing long-hand, and can therefore put more thoughts down more quickly and b) some vain part of me hopes that whoever might stumble across what I've written might find it useful (or, at the very least, thought provoking.)

I fully intend to dedicate this blog to the adventure known in gay circles as "Coming Out," (or, more loosely, what it means to be "gay" (ie. queer, lesbian, lgbt, light in the loafers, play for the other team, homosexual... you get the idea)) so, if that subject makes you uncomfortable, you might want to find some other light reading. If it's something you're curious about, or going through, or have been through, please know that it is not by any means my intention to offend (though I probably will) and this is certainly not meant to shall I say...a gay bible. The thoughts contained herein are my own and come from my own (admittedly limited) experiences, and second hand from the experiences of those around me. By way of a disclaimer, I will do my best to maintain the anonymity of those whose stories or conversations I share, but should I include certain personal details I find pertinent to the story and someone "figures it out on their own" I hereby absolve myself of "outing" anyone.

I should also point out (if you haven't already noticed) that I tend to abuse parenthetical phrases. If you are on a crusade to prevent parenthesis abuse, I'm sure allows some way to contact me (eg. is that my email address listed in my profile?) so please don't hesitate to let me have it. That also goes for if I write something you find abusive. However, please don't attack me for talking about sex. I find that this topic and the subject of sex are sometimes difficult to detach from one another. I'll do my best to not be too graphic. (There - you've been warned.)

And now, on to the "good" stuff. The whole thing (today) that got me going in the first place.

I recently (in the last hour) had a conversation with a friend that was clearly ended too quickly as I feel the need to blog about it to find closure. This story may require some background, so I take back what I said about getting to the good stuff and please allow me to interject a brief personal history:

My full name is Kathryn Emma Wecker Fischer. I was born in Southfield, MI on November 11, 1978. I'm not going to include my social security number, but I wanted to establish that I'm not trying to hide behind any pseudonym. I'm a real person. That's my real name. I was "born" into the LDS church. (That's the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, for those of you who find "LDS" too brief, and Mormon, for those of you who find "LDS" too cryptic.) Both of my parents are members. All of my brothers went on prosceliting missions. I earned my Young Women's Medallion. I was on Seminary council and graduated from Seminary when I graduated from high school. I attended Institute when I got to college. (I realize that for some of you, I started speaking Greek for a moment, but this blog isn't exclusively about being Mormon or coming out as a Mormon, so for more info, go ask a Mormon.) To be concise, (I know, "too late!") I was very involved with my religion and considered myself very religous. I was born in Michigan, but I grew up in Pleasant View, Utah (as close to the heart of Mormon country as you could be without actually living in Provo.)

I didn't "come out" until I was well into my 20's. The exact date isn't burned into my memory. I came out to my mother over Christmas break (but I couldn't tell you which Christmas - though she might be able to). I married the most wonderful woman (and the second girl I ever really dated) on September 3, 2005 in Vancouver, BC, Canada in a Unitarian church (though I don't really consider myself Unitarian. I would consider myself "agnostic," but I digress...)

I grew up Mormon. I was surrounded by Mormons. I was raised with Mormon values. I understand explicitly what it is to be Mormon and what that entails. (Though, I never went through the temple, so I will admit that my Mormon experience does have what some would consider a gaping hole. On the other hand, I did do baptisms for the dead, so though I never took out my endowments, I did hold a temple recommend and I have been inside the temple.) I didn't know anyone who was openly gay until I went away to college (I was a theatre major, do with that information what you will) and at that point I had a very primitive "live and let live" philosophy, but I was pretty sure the gays were going to hell. Well, not "hell" per se, just not the "Celestial Kingdom." And not because they were gay, but because they were having pre-marital sex and not repenting. Also, I had been taught that the only way to achieve the highest level of heavenly glory was to be married in the temple, and gay marriage just wasn't allowed in the temple. Actually, in my mind at the time, aside from the fact that all gays were probably going to get AIDS and die a horrible death, as long as they weren't having sex, there wasn't actually anything wrong with being gay. (How's that for logic?)

What I didn't have were lesbian role models. I didn't have any lesbian friends. I didn't even know any lesbians. (I had suspicions about my second-cousin's aunt, but I never asked (as that would have been impolite) so I allowed myself to accept that my suspicions were unfounded.) I didn't even know anyone that had had a "lesbian experience". I mean, as far as I knew, my girlfriend and I were the only two lesbians in all of Cedar City, Utah and she and I weren't even admitting that we were lesbians. (It's possible for a girl to be sexually active with another girl and for them to not be lesbians, right? To me that somehow made sense at the time.)

I don't know what it was about saying I was a "lesbian" that was so terrifying. It doesn't scare me now. It just wasn't an idea that I allowed myself to entertain. My girlfriend (who I certainly didn't consider my "girlfriend." She was my best friend. My very best friend. My every-kind-of-friend-you-could-think-of-but-never-my-girlfriend best friend) and I were not out. Though, for anyone who thought in those terms, I'm sure we were blatantly obvious. There were rumors. They were not unfounded.

The thing was, "lesbian" was a foreign concept. I'm sure if I'd known someone who was openly gay before I got to college, my own coming out would have been less...I don't know how to describe it. Like walking into a dark room in a building you've never seen before. Scary and unknown. I felt like I had a pretty good handle on who I was. I was a singer and an actress. My friends were important to me. I was slowly growing out of my "rebellious teenager" phase, though I still hadn't figured out my relationship with my mother. I enjoyed performing in front of an audience. I was cute, but not gorgeous. I was slightly overweight. I liked to learn and I was loving college. I prefered blue jeans to dresses. But there was this girl where there "should" have been a guy, and I didn't know how to embrace that part of myself. I didn't even see it as a part of myself.

This has become almost ridiculously self-indulgent, (in my defense, what blog isn't at least a little self-indulgent?) but you now, hopefully, have enough background info to understand my reaction to the conversation I started to tell you about earlier.

It began with a text message with the infamous last words, "can I ask you a personal question?" at which point I called the sender. (For the record, my answer to that question is almost always, "yes, of course," but I prefer to answer personal questions personally - not via text or instant message.)

The question asker (who is female - I find being gender non-specific just exhausting), I feel it pertinent to tell you, is someone with whom I share some history. She's known me since before I came out, and is, at this time, slowly deciding if being "out" will ever be as safe and comfy as being "not out" or "in," as it were, (which doesn't have the same ring to it.) She prefaced her question by telling me that she'd been watching the L-Word and had also seen a documentary on the very topic of this young blog. One of the subjects in the documentary, a young gay man, told his mother that being gay, for him, was more than just being attracted to other men.

She wanted to know what that meant.

She wanted to know what "being gay" meant, if it was more than being attracted to the same sex.

And she wanted me to explain it to her.

At this point in the conversation, Me = Stumped.

Everything I know about what it means to "be gay" I've had to piece together primarily from my own experience. "Gay" is a term that has been assigned to me by those who are "straight" to indicate the way in which I'm different from them. "Gay" is not who I am. I am still a singer. I am a wife and a damn good friend and a woman who just hit 30 and doesn't know what she wants to be when she grows up. I don't wake up in the morning and think, "yep, I'm still gay." (I usually think, "do I have time to hit snooze, or should I shower before I go to work?") Thinking about being gay doesn't consume my day.

And it wasn't me who said that liking the same sex wasn't all there was to it.

How am I supposed to answer for that guy what he meant when he said that to his mother?

So, I floundered. I explained that the "gay community" was large, and rather all-encompassing, as communities go, and included folks who were not only attracted to their same sex, but those who felt they were born the wrong sex, and those who liked all the sexes and pretty much everthing that didn't fit neatly into the category of "straight". We're a mish-mash, rag-tag band of left-overs. We're different. We're unique. I cannot possibly explain what being "gay" means to someone I've never seen, let alone met. I can only tell you what it means to me.

And what it means to me is that I, as a woman, am attracted sexually to women. I can't think of anything else that I am that could be considered "gay" (whatever that means).

However, I'm not the end-all be-all of gay experience. I understand that my experience accepting myself as gay is unique to me. For that guy, maybe it meant that, in addition to liking men, he wasn't comfortable with his pre-assigned gender roll. Maybe he meant that he liked to dress in drag. Maybe he meant that he wanted to be an interior decorator and he didn't want it to be a cliche. I just don't have any idea what he was talking about, because I'm not him.

I am not unsympathetic to my friend's current position, however. She is every bit as "Mormon" now as I ever was. Unlike me, she has been through the temple and taken out her endowments. She still attends church regularly. She lives in a community with a lot of other Mormons and the majority of her close friends are Mormon. To her, "Mormon" is what she is. She is trying to figure out if "gay" is also what she is and if those two pieces of her identity can live together happily ever after.

The problem is, as every elementary school child is taught, you can't compare apples to oranges.

From our discussions, I've gathered that she has determined that if she decides to "come out" (all the way out - not just to her parents and a few close friends - but to really come all the way out of the closet) that she will no longer be able to maintain her current standing in the Mormon community. I don't think she is wrong. The bit that doesn't make sense to me is that she has decided that if she loses that community, something else must be taking its place, and, by default, that must be the gay community. So she's trying to figure out how to get in.

Except, being gay doesn't mean becoming a full "card carrying" member of the nearest gay club. That's not what being gay is. There is no club. There is only a label. You can't replace your sense of community with a label. You can't replace your religion with who you are. They're not the same thing. They're apples and oranges.

I left the church (for more reasons than the "gay issue") and I found community in my friends. The majority of my friends aren't gay. Even fewer of them are lesbian. I can count on one hand the number of lesbian friends I have, and on one finger the number (not counting my wife) I've had contact with in the last six months. I didn't leave the LDS church to run off and join the gays. I suppose, on some level, being gay makes me one of "the gays," but in the way that being born white makes me caucasian - not because I went out and signed up.

That having been said, I understand the need to "belong". I joined the Human Rights Campaign. I volunteered at Utah Pride. I attend Gay Day at Disneyland religously. (First weekend in October. You're all invited. Wear a red shirt.) I once had a membership to one of the lesbian bars in Salt Lake City. But participating doesn't define me. It's nice to feel like you belong somewhere, and I get that. I also understand how all consuming being an active member of the LDS church can be. Most folks go to church on Sunday and try to be good for the rest of the week. The Mormons fill their week with church and pretend that Sunday is the day of rest. Being actively Mormon is at least a part-time job. And I understand that to suddenly have all that free time can be frightening.

So, this was longer than I intended. I hope it wasn't too preachy. I also hope that I didn't make a distracting number of grammar and spelling errors. I don't pretend to have all the answers, but the way I see it, figuring it out is half the fun. (Maybe I should have been a philosophy major......nah. I'm probably better suited to debate than philosophy anyway.)