A Continued Thought Process

Continuing this great read—The Brain That Changes Itself.

but before I continue in my mental digest, it is important to know why Ted Haggard gave me this book. The reason why I even attempted to meet with this infamous man, is I’m afraid to become him.

I was raised in his old churchNew Life.  At the age of 12, I began looking at gay pornography, and I was terrified.

It’s the sin unspeakable, the permanent moral stain, the unforgiveable.  Scared of judgment, I rarely reached out, telling my story.  When I did, I was prayed over like a someone demon-possessed.  One such traumatic moment is very vivid in my mind.

“You struggle with what?”  The self-proclaimed small group leader responded.  “Brandon, this is demonic!  We need to pray over you right now.”

I was taken out of the house where “people wouldn’t hear us,” and told, “Now when we cast out this demon, it’s natural to need to throw up or cough.  It’s a physical manifestation of that which is happening spiritually.”

The man then proceeded to “excorcize”

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Country Roads I’m currently in West Virginia–home of the “Wild and Wonderful” Appalachians, hillbillies, moonshine and this author’s wonderful girlfriend. Wait. Hold up. This guy has a girlfriend? Yes, ladies and gentlemen, this hormonally confused guy does, in fact, have a girlfriend, and I’ll be with her and her family for a week come Thursday. This far, it’s been incredibly hard. Just because a heterosexual life is the one I choose, doesn’t mean this is easy. The days have been roller coasters, full of ups and downs, moment by moment. In one moment, I’m so glad I’m here, gazing into her lovely green eyes. In the next, I want to wake up in my own bed. In yet another, I want to be engaging in sexual acts with another dude. In still another, I want to end this relationship to date another girl I can’t stop thinking about. It’s a messy situation to say the least. In the furious longings of God by Brennan Manning, he says, “The rest of Brennan Manning is a bundle of paradoxes and contradictions… I love and I hate. I feel better about feeling good. I feel guilty if I don’t feel guilty. I’m wide open, I’m locked in. I’m trusting and suspicious. I’m honest and I still play games. Aristotle said I’m a rational animal. But I’m not. That’s some of the rest of Brennan Manning.” I’m right there with Brennan… A bundle of paradoxes and contradictions. I love God, but I flirt with sin. I’m longing for a life with a woman, yet lust for men. I’m here in West Virginia, while my heart wanders to a girl in Nashville. I’m pure in His sight, yet soiled with “sin dirt.” I’m happy; I’m discontent. I’m real, and I’m fake. …I’m confused. If there is one defining term to envelop the rest, it simply comes down to that–confusion… about life as a whole. Back when I was a young lad, I dreamed of romancing a girl, of sweeping her off of her feet and running into the sunset. You know, Disney stuff. Well, Disney lied, and I’m left reeling with feelings of devastated disillusionment. I’ve been conned… Or this is not how it should be. On the drive back from Virginia, after witnessing a wedding with my girlfriend, we sat silently, and all I could think about was how this relationship needs to end. I need to talk to her. This needs to stop. Why do I feel the need to leave? Because I’m wrestling with homosexual thoughts. Because I want to date another girl. Because I feel broken and inadequate. Because this is awkward, and we haven’t spoken for an hour! Because I feel this relationship isn’t spiritual enough. Because I simply want to run. Why do I stay? Because I’m scared. Because I actually do like her. Because of the way she laughs and the sparkle in her “bedazzled” eyes. Because of how she loves and cares for every child of God she encounters. Because I don’t want to break her heart. Because I’m uncertain. What will I do? I don’t know, and it changes minute by minute, because I’m a contradiction and a bundle of paradoxes. The song “Country Roads,” sung by John Denver sings, “Country roads, take me home to the place I belong, West Virginia, Mountain Mama take me home, country roads.” I think that’s ultimately it–I don’t feel at home with her, not yet anyway. Should I wait this out, hoping the sense of home will arise? Or should I keep searching? Country roads, leading to the place I belong, to the home of the heart, where are you? Where is that rugged asphalt, and where does it begin, that I may traverse its winding road, leading me to its unknown destination. Country roads, lead me home! … wherever that is.

Overwhelmed

I’m a bit overwhelmed right now, like emotions are bubbling over. So much so that I bailed out on going home to just be alone at a coffee shop and write. So here’s a bunch of verbal vomit. It’s probably going to go everywhere.

I feel like I don’t want to be gay. Like I don’t want to be dating Joey. First off, there’s the element that I honestly don’t see how Joey and I work out. He’s absolutely phenomenal, but I just don’t see it because we’re so fundamentally different. I think for a while that I tried to paint him as a bad guy because I felt like I was required to let him go. But now, I can’t ignore how good he really is, how well he loves me. Regardless of what happens, I can’t vilify him for the sake of justifying my actions. If I were to break up with him, I would have to know that I would still love him, that I value who he is, and that he’s not evil. He’s honestly pretty great. I just don’t see how we match at all.

Beyond that, I just honestly don’t know if I want to be with a guy. Or I’m scared to be with a guy. Or I’m scared to be with a woman.

Okay, here are the elements:

  1. Emotionally, a man has been great. I have never felt the things like I’ve felt with any of my girlfriends.
  2. It doesn’t seem fair to ask a girl to date me/potentially be my wife. All my girlfriends have said how they never felt like they were enough, that physical touch meant more from a man than them. And it’s true. I look around and I could imagine laughing with women or having a relationship. But I can’t imagine being intimate with them.
  3. I hate gay sex. There’s this uncertainty as to who will play what “position”. There’s cleanliness. There are beliefs that we were never meant to have anal sex. I feel dirty after. There are gender roles that freak me out. And, I just straight up don’t like it all that much.
  4. I want my own kids, but that’s impossible with a man.
  5. I just don’t want to be gay. Statistics show they’re more depressed, there’s the whole Bible thing, I don’t get kids, a wedding, acceptance, and a family. Instead, I get depression, damnation, and isolation. That’s what the trade feels like in my head and heart, get a boyfriend at the cost of…
  6. I truly want a woman… I think. Or all that comes with it. All that’s promised with it: kids, normalcy, acceptance, a nucleus family, the end of this emotional/moral division in my chest.

A piece of me believes that the tension will release once I dump Joey. That the skies will open, all will be well, I’ll get “back on track”, that I’ll have purpose and vision, that it’ll all work together. A piece of me believes that this is how it’s going to go down. That it was destined for this and I’ve only been living on borrowed time, that the expiration of this relationship passed long ago. A piece of me believes that gay relationships will leave me lacking. It’s like being deaf. I didn’t choose this. But I have to live this life in spite of it. So do I learn to read lips and pass as hearing? Or do I try treatment and therapy, trying to fix my deafness with a colloquial implant? Or, do I live with deafness and learn a language that only the deaf have adopted to survive in this hearing world, in this straight world.

Most days I don’t even feel gay… I don’t know what to do about that. So I’ve adopted the phrase, “I’m human” from an old friend. Because that’s what I am, ultimately… human. I’m Landon Affleck. Period. Here I am.

And then I hear Him say, “Slow down, take time. Breathe in. We don’t need to figure this out today. We don’t need answers today. We don’t need this tension resolved. Breathe in. I’m here. I’m right here. Your destiny is not destroyed. Your purpose has not ben forfeited.  I’m redeeming every breath.”

And I need to hold onto that. It’s when I don’t that I panic and freak out. I have to trust the Divine Hand, and that I’m okay. I’m safe, regardless of what happens.

Doubt

I doubt often.

It was over a year ago that I heard God say, “I will find you in this.” This, meaning, my relationship with Joey. He’s shared a lot of other similar words:

~ No matter where you go or what you choose, I’ll go with you.

~ The purpose of this season is to teach you unconditional love. You’ve never really known it.

~ I’m not scared of this.

~ I’m not too proud to demand my way. We co-labor.

~ There are bright days ahead.

Growing up in a Christian school, Christian home, Christian church (literally everything was Christian), you would hear this prayer a lot. “LORD, have your way with Jimmy.” This was normally prayed in reference to a dying Jimmy, a sick Jimmy, a lame Jimmy. It hardly ever was prayed for a healthy Jimmy. I always viewed it as the cop-out prayer. It gets you off the hook. If he dies, it’s on the LORD’s hands. Not mine. I still kind of view it as the cop-out prayer. That said, I’ve been praying it.

I’m so unsure as to how my life should go, I started coping out with a “God, I seriously have no clue. This person says this. I thought you said that. But here I am and I love this man. What’s so wrong loving a man? Forget it! Just have your way.” I say it jokingly, but I truly do mean it. As referenced before, I truly believe morality is more about God looking out for your best interest than him waiting for you to fuck up with a switch. That said, I do want His way. But I also don’t want to just take everyone’s word for it. I want Him to decide what’s best for me.

This probably goes back to self-doubt. That’s a killer for me. I’m always doubting my decisions. Buyers remorse is present in a lot more than a store with this guy. As soon as I make a move, I wish I had a receipt. It’s easier to say, “God, have your way.” But I have also been hearing Him say, “I honor your choice. I work with it. I’m producing Good with every decision.”

So here I am, making a decision, trusting God to break it or bless it, trusting He meant it when He said He’d find me in it. But this creates a few things:

  1. It makes wonder at what point is He going to jump from behind a corner you’re about to turn in life and say, “Sike! I’m breaking this shit!” and smashes my relationship. It’s like I’m holding my breath for an explosion.
  2. If things get hard, it quickly turns from, “Oh, we’re having relationship issues” to “Well, no shit this is happening. Serves you right for trying to do this when God say ‘no’. You don’t get help. You’re doing this on your own. You made this mess now clean it up.” When issues come up in our relationship, I have no ground to stand on. It could be the hand of God. No one can stand up to that.

But isn’t this proof that I don’t know unconditional love? If anything, this solidifies that I’m on track because I desperately need to learn this. So my prayer stays the same, and I truly mean it.

“Teach me Your Agape Love. Have Your Way.”

Updates and such

It’s been a while since I chatted about being gay and Christian. Here’s an update.

It’s been a hot second since I’ve written. Not sure if anyone event reads this. But I just need to blast out my thoughts and get them outside myself, they need to be something other than me to make sense of it, externalizing and validating absurd and confusing thoughts. So if you read and this makes no sense, very possible. I like to pretend my thought process is logical, but it’s actually a sprinkler–spraying in all directions to simply return to where I began. Anyway… here we go.

So I have a boyfriend. I probably should have checked the blog post before this to see if I had said that or not yet. We’ve been dating for about a year. Long story short, he was the first guy to take me on a date. Up till that point, I imagined homosexuality as this awful thing that God requires us not to do because He’s looking out for us. So the fact that it hadn’t been satisfying and that every guy I had been with just felt like a mutual usage of each other, fit into my frame of mind. Don’t touch. It burns.

This had been my idea of God’s morality for a while. Raised a Christian, I ran across two verses that have shifted my frame of mind about morality. The first one is John 10:10. It talks about God coming to bring life and Satan trying to steal, kill, and destroy trough deception. The second one is I Corinthians 10:23. This one talks about everything is permissible under the New Testament (the time we now live in after Christ) but not everything is beneficial. So God, in his infinite wisdom and love, has concocted rules to help us benefit us and gain life, while Satan longs to deceive us, painting mirages where there is nothing but sand to rob us of life.

This was homosexuality for me. It’s bad because it’ll hurt me, and it had up until then. I went from zero to twenty-two in less than two months flat. Virgin to slut is a fine line, a fine line that left me wanting and feeling used. I came to believe that men just mutually use each other. That is until I met Joey.

Joey is an odd duck. If you were to meet him, you would not think he’s gay. That is if you were to prejudge him based upon our society’s very narrow-minded view of the stereotypical gay man. The guy loves guns, working out, and has a hard time sharing his emotions. The guy has a pretty hard and spiky exterior. Sarcasm is his native tongue and he brags about how no one ever knows if he’s not doing well.

All these “great” attributes are not the reasons I’m attracted to him. I’m attracted to him because beneath it all is a heart of gold that deeply cares. Beneath it all, there’s a man who deeply loves me and has pursued me furiously.

Pursuit. It’s a powerful thing. Dating Joey has shown me how much I’ve craved this, so much so that I’ve pulled away at times, just to be pursued. Not the healthiest of decisions. But the longing for it is deep and powerful. It made me realize that that’s the reason I hooked up with so many guys.

It felt so good to just put up a picture and bio and get messages.

Pursuit.

It felt so good to walk around naked in a bath house and have guys look at me.

Pursuit. 

It felt good to have a friend chase me and want to be with me above anyone else.

Pursuit. 

Whether a friendship, hook up, or mentorship, there’s been this desire in me to be chased, to be pursued, and it’s been there a while… 

I’m seven-years-old. I’m playing tag… always. I’m twelve; I’m walking the fence, hoping someone will wonder why and walk with me. I’m fifteen. I’ve sat on the side of the building of my private school, hoping someone would notice I don’t sit with everyone else and sit with me. I’m twenty-seven. People ask me how I am. I always say, “okay”, hoping that people will ask, “No. How are you really?”

I love prying. I don’t know why Gary Chapman did not include it in his five love languages. Screw gifts. I feel loved when people keep asking questions, pulling back the layers, curiosity carrying them forward.

Pursuit. It’s a beautiful thing, and I crave it.

I think that’s why the idea of ending up with a woman is so hard sometimes. Growing up, I was taught that there are gender roles, and they should be followed with the strictest of care. To deviate makes you looks like the other sex, and that’s frowned upon. And you know who does the pursuing? Men. Gender roles will definitely be a blog post for later, but in short, let’s just settle with there is a lot of shame in the idea of letting a woman pursue me.

So where does that leave me? How do I satisfy this deep desire?

Men. Men pursue. I can have a man pursue me, and a man has pursued me… for one year now, and it is the most confusing, exhilarating, frustrating, addictive, abhorred thing I have ever done.

First and foremost, there’s morality. As recalled earlier in this blog, I view the morality of God as God looking out for our best interest, as God acting as a Father that knows better. So if he told me “no” to homosexuality in His book, this means that I should not do this, and because I am, I’m looking behind every corner for the demon or the con, the catch to this “happy ever after”.

And I ain’t gonna lie. I’ve found a few.

First off, I wanna give a hand to anyone that has secured a same-sex relationship that has lasted longer than a few years. Navigating a same-sex relationship has felt like a mine field. I’m not sure where to step or even if I should. Should I go left and he go right? What about when we both jump here? Will that trigger the mine? So those that have marriages and families as a same-gender couple, bravo. You guys are champs. It’s not easy, and here’s why.

  • PDA. You don’t get to do this freely. You’re always wondering how people are going to respond to this. You’re always wondering who’s watching. Kisses are snatched in the safety of shadows. Hand-holding is attempted with anxiety running down the spine. In short, you are always looking over your shoulder.
  • The closet. Both my boyfriend and I are not completely out. Not only do strangers have opinions of you and your love life (of which they have no right to), but your loved ones do too. So when you finally come out to them, if you ever have relational issues, you never feel safe talking to them. Why? Because they won’t fight with you for the relationship. You’re scared that if they’re not saying, “I told you so” and “This is why dating a guy isn’t a good idea”, they’re at least saying it in their head. You have no one in your corner, and it makes it so you have to figure out relational problems alone. All my relationships, both family and friend, feel different. They feel strained. That everyone is just tolerating this relationship. I miss how our relationships were. So much so that I often think about abandoning my boyfriend for the hopes of regaining the way the relationships uses to function.
  • Sex. Not gonna lie, if I end up with a girl, this is the main reason. I love the kissing and the intimacy with my boyfriend. But the sex? Sex is rough, and not because of Joey. He’s great. I panic all the damn time, and he’s been nothing but patient and loving. But gay sex sucks. Here’s why: in a heterosexual relationship, the roles are set. One person will always do the penetrating. The other will always be penetrated. Not the case with a versatile (where partners switch roles) gay relationships. How does this affect sex? Well, pretty intensely, actually. I’m not a huge fan of being penetrated. It hurts. So I either feel like I’m hurting my boyfriend to pleasure myself and feel like shit cause I’m selfish. Or I’m being penetrated and I’m terrified this is my lot in life–to have sex that I don’t even enjoy for the rest of my life.
  • Wedding day. Because people have opinions of same-sex relationships, the wedding will never be like I imagined it. The people I wanted there won’t be there. People will not be agreeing with our vows, they’ll be tolerating our vows.
  • Family. I will never get to make babies with the person I love. We can have surrogates. But this freaks me out because the child’s mother won’t be in their life and if we have a lot, it could become “my kids against your kids”. So we could adopt. But what about that child’s upbringing? They will be teased their entire lives, and that will be my fault. And regardless of surrogates or adopting, we will never have a child that is both of ours. It’s just not possible. Our love will never procure life.
  • Ministry. I have always wanted to spend my life as a missionary or a minister. I love talking about the Love of God and seeing miracles. Whether because of everyone else’s opinions or my own internalized condemnation, the reality of ministry while being gay seems impossible. I have to pick one or the other.

So overall, gay love seems pretty sucky for me. Then I research. Maybe this is just me. But when I look around, it seems like gay love is riddled with pain. So many gay men commit suicide or are plagued with anxiety or have tons of partners. If you were to watch a gay and lesbian romance film on Netflix, you’d find a story of heartache, not hope. Does this mean that gay love isn’t supposed to work? I truly wonder this sometimes. When I pray, like I have been for over a year now, “God have your way,” I almost always imagine God destroying my relationship with Joey and “getting me back on track”. I rarely see Joey and I living in a cabin with our three kids smiling as the sun sets behind the mountains, a whiskey in my hand and a lemonade in his. I see me meeting a woman, wondering the globe with her, and Joey and I securing a friendship. That’s the best case scenario that is the easiest to envision. But all that

Does this mean that gay love isn’t supposed to work? I truly wonder this sometimes. When I pray, like I have been for over a year now, “God have your way,” I almost always imagine God destroying my relationship with Joey and “getting me back on track”. I rarely see Joey and I living in a cabin with our three kids smiling as the sun sets behind the mountains, a whiskey in my hand and a lemonade in his. I see me meeting a woman, wondering the globe with her, and Joey and I securing a friendship. That’s the best case scenario that is the easiest to envision. But all that said, when I pray, “God, have Your way”, I don’t hear God saying that that is the ending. I feel like He’s not giving me the ending. I feel like He says, “What if my way is stripping you of condemnation and shame to walk wholly and holy before me? What if the story is better than any version you can conjure up? What if I am walking with you no matter what and that I will turn it all for the good like I said I would? What if?”

I’ve begun releasing what “His will” should look like. But does that mean that I’ll end up with Joey? I have no clue. Religion aside, I really don’t know if this is what I want. But the idea breaking up with Joey sounds terrible. I don’t want to break his heart, and I’m not sure that this is not what I want. Joey is an amazing man. Do I think that we work well together (probably another blog post)? No. And I think that’s where I’m at. Religion and what other people think pushed to the side is this what I want. I genuinely don’t know. You’ll probably hear a lot of that coming up here over the next few posts. Ps, I’m not good at consistently. So I have no clue when you’ll get the next post. Blogging is not so much for other people. It’s for me, getting my words out there and simply validating them, saying they matter to make sense of them. Back before modern medicine, bleeding out was a way of purifying the body, of getting out the bad. That’s how writing feels for me–bleeding out. But not for some sadistic cause, but cathardic.

Anyways, there’s your first one since a hot second.

Just Thinking Out Loud

What will become of us…

I just masterbated with another dude via a chatroulette-like site.

What will become of us? What is this really all about? Is the life in Christ at a snail’s pace, or am I missing something?

Am I supposed to care so much about my failings? Should I view these moments even like that? 

Once upon a time I had a thought that God actually celebrates with us when we fail? Why? Because He sees the end game; He sees your victory further down the road, and now you’re just X amount of falls away from success. But it doesn’t feel that way. 

Should I feel shame? Should I have regret or remorse? But wait, isn’t Satan the accuser of the brethren? Am I not agreeing with him as I contemplate these wonderings?

Once upon another time, I told a group of kids in a youth group to look to Christ always. Stop looking at what you did and start looking to what Jesus did.

How should we respond to sin? I think that’s what I’m ultimately asking.

My greatest aim is to get past this, but how? I did, once upon yet another time, but I’m not over this hurtle at present. But maybe that’s the problem–maybe my attention shouldn’t be here. Or should it?

You see what I mean? I don’t know the proper response to this. I don’t, and it’s an endless dog-chasing-tale circumstance–a catch 22, as they say. (Why is it called that?) I want to understand why I keep falling and how to move on, but then I’m not sure if I should be wondering about this to begin with. So I’m no steps forward and two steps back.

Sins a bitch. I’m confused.