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Sunday, October 28, 2012

I'm DEFINITELY going to hell for this...

Why is it that I can't stop laughing about this Web site? Is there something wrong with me? lol

I just can't get over the facial expressions on these guys...hysterical!

For the full Web site, go to

Sunday, October 21, 2012

My Mormonism is ingrained...

Sometimes I forget how ingrained my Mormonism is. I haven't attended church in about 10 years, but I'm not angry at the Church, I'm just disappointed. I can't even explain why it is I stopped going. I just did. I guess I started feeling irrelevant there. I am too old to attend a singles ward (where the emphasis is on getting married), so I attended a family ward (where the emphasis was on being a good husband and father). Anyway, I just stopped.

My brother e-mailed me earlier today to tell me that he's engaged. He's the youngest of three in the family, I'm the oldest. My sister got married 18 years ago and has three kids. I'm the only one in the family who hasn't met his fiance. I think he's only mentioned her to me once or twice in the almost 2 years they've been dating. My brother has always secretive about everything, my mom says that he's afraid that I'll make fun of him. (I'm 42, he's 34...aren't we over that stage by now?) Anyhow, here's the thing...she's not LDS. <Cue dramatic music> I remember when my sister told me that he was dating her. It surprised me a little, but he took her up to Utah to meet my parents and my sister and her family sometime last year. Everyone absolutely loves her. My mom says she reminds her of my sister, she has a great sense of humor and fit in perfectly with everyone.

Here's my problem...why was my first thought "He's not getting married in the temple!"? I can't figure out why that was the first thought that came to my mind because apparently no one else in my family seems to think it's that big of a deal. Here's the other thing...I'm not from a typical LDS family. My mom joined the Church when I was 4 and we were living in Germany. My dad never joined the Church. He's never been religious in his entire life. I think his family only went to church for funerals or weddings when he was a kid. So it's not like it's some big deal to our family that someone is married to a non-member. We used to joke that we were only half-Mormon because people would look down on us because my dad never joined the Church. Apparently one time a sister in the ward complained to our bishop that my mom shouldn't be in the Young Women Presidency because she was married to a non-Member. <Eye roll>

And maybe that's my answer right there...I don't want my brother to be treated differently. If my family loves his fiance, that's good enough for me. I'm not worried about her not being LDS, though I know that it did cause quite a bit of conflict with my parents, but there were other issues that had nothing to do with the Church mixed in. I just don't want people to think my brother isn't "a good Mormon" or say things to or about his future kids because of his mother. I don't want to see them go through the Church arguments my parents went through when we were kids.

I do wonder, are they planning to raise the kids in her church (Catholic) or LDS? Will my brother take his children to church each week like my mom did? Is his wife going to take them to mass and catechism (whatever that is)? Will my brother be going to church alone? Have they talked about this stuff? I know it's his life and it's none of my business, but he's still my baby brother, so I'm concerned and worried...and happy for him.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Get your Kleenex out...

I love these two videos! They show seven couples talking about each of their relationships to their partners. They tell about the first time they met and the different situations they have been through that have proved their love and commitment for each other.

The first video introduces Susan and Brandy who have been together 13 years, Bob and John who have been together for 18 years, Susan and Judith who have been together 31 years, as well as Eliseo and Scott who have been together for 4 1/2 years.

The second video you meet three more couples and hear their stories of love. Cesar and Miguel  have been together for 2 1/2 years, Kristi and Tino have been together for 15 years, and Kevin and Dennis  have been together for over 30 years.

The videos were produced by Miracle Mile Productions for Marriage Equality USA. After watching these videos and hearing the things these say about their relationships, I can't understand how anyone could say that gay love isn't true love. 

The videos ask the question: “What if you couldn’t marry the person you loved?

Friday, October 19, 2012

YOU'RE Mormon?!?!

Last week our superintendent started what is called "Fan Fridays." That means that we can wear jeans and a t-shirt or polo shirt with a school, district, or university logo. (We have to pay $5 if we do this...the money goes to charity, so I don't mind.)

Today I wore my BYU t-shirt. Go Cougars!! This lady in my office saw my shirt and with the most incredulous sounding voice said: "YOU'RE Mormon?!?!" I don't think she was trying to be rude, but I couldn't believe how shocked she was! Even one of the secretaries commented on how surprised the lady seemed. That struck me because I still consider myself to be "so Mormon" even though I haven't set foot in a chapel in almost 10 years. I'm clean cut, and I don't drink, smoke, or do drugs. I don't think I've ever had someone act shocked when they hear I'm LDS. And before you roll your eyes, no...I'm not some big old queen!! OK, maybe I'm a little queeny, but I'm not in the Richard Simmons category! lol Ah, hell, who am I kidding? I assume most people think I'm gay.

I'm out to my immediate family, close friends, and some co-workers, but it's not something I advertise. To me being gay is one of the many labels that define me. It is not THE label that defines me. If someone asks, I'm honest. Otherwise I don't tell people. Sometimes I've volunteered the information because it was relevant to the conversation, but I don't think it's something that I need to tell everyone. It's funny because I know some people who have to tell EVERYONE. It's like they attach "...and I'm gay" to their name. "Hi, my name is Samuel, and I'm gay."

That reminds me of a character that Jim Carrey (who I normally can't stand) used to do on the old In Living Color show. He played this gay character who had to tell everyone he was gay, no matter the situation. It was funny, but I know people who are like this, and THEY DRIVE ME CRAZY!

Back in my first year teaching I had a student, Tiffany. She was one of those kids who was missing that filter in the brain that tells you what is and isn't appropriate. Well one day as I was getting things ready for school to start, she comes in early. There are a few kids in the room and I'm writing stuff up on the board. Here's our conversation:

Tiffany:  "Do you know what everyone says about you?"
Me: (I slowly turn around and look at her) "No, Tiffany. What do they say about me?"
Tiffany: "Everyone says you're gay."
Me: "Oh, OK." (I turn back around to write on the board)
Tiffany: "Don't you care?!?!"
Me: "Tiffany, do you know how long it's been since I've cared about what 14 year olds say about me behind my back?"
Tiffany: "No."
Me: "Well, I turn 27 in a few months, you do the math."
Tiffany: "Oh..." (Silent)

I think that now my response would be different. I should have looked at her in the eyes and said: "And?" lol

Maybe that's because I live and work in Las Vegas now instead of Utah County. Being outside of the Book of Mormon Belt has emboldened me a little more! Whenever I think of my time teaching in Utah I think that my students probably thought I was a fag, but I don't think they really thought I was gay. I mean, they all knew I was LDS and that I went on a mission. How could a Mormon returned missionary really be gay? I'm sure most of them know better by now.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

National Coming Out Day

I guess you can say that I officially came out in the summer of 1995. I had been home from my mission for two years and I was attending BYU living in off-campus housing. Earlier in the summer I started talking with a guy from AOL, and he kept inviting me to attend to these group meetings that his roommate was holding in Lehi. I was worried about attending, so I kept putting him off.

Towards the end of the summer I was some friends in one of my classes when someone brought up one of our professors that we had all had during the winter semester. I mentioned that I was taking another class from him in the fall and that I loved him. (Meaning, I loved his class. He was an excellent teacher.) Anyhow, the guy got this funny look on his face and then in a real juvenile voice asks: "Oh, you loooooove him, huh?" I rolled my eyes, and everyone in the group laughed. Then he asked: "Haven't any of you seen the Daily Herald article about him???" He explained that they had published an article about him entitled: Gay BYU professor feels at peace." ¡Qué escándolo! As soon as class was over, I RAN to the library to find the article, and there it was...My professor was gay. I couldn't believe it.

A few days later I was talking with my AOL friend, and once again he tried to get me to come to the group meetings at his house. (They were Reconciliation meetings.) He explained that the next meeting was just going to be a BBQ, no pressure. I told him I would go, but I asked him if he happened to know my professor. He said that he did because he came to the meetings sometimes. I immediately decided that I WOULD NOT go. I couldn't have one of my professors know I'm gay!! (This sounds so ridiculous now...) He told me that my professor didn't always come, and that I shouldn't worry about it. I thought about it all week, and the next week I gathered my nerves and made the drive up to Lehi. I found the house and saw a bunch of people in the back yard, but I was still worried about running into my professor. I drove up and down the street a few times, but didn't see his truck. (I forget how I know what he drove, but it was a red truck.) Finally I decided I would drive around the block once more, and if I didn't see his truck, I'd park and go to the BBQ. Well as I finished my last circle, guess what I see coming down the street...that little red truck!!! I drove home right away! I think I made it back to Provo in five minutes! HAHA

The next day I got a call from my professor. He said that he thought he had seen me in Lehi the night before. At first I wanted to die...I was so embarrassed that someone I knew was privy to my big secret. We talked for a while, and he convinced me that I had nothing to worry about, so I started attending the Reconciliation meetings. It was actually great. I got to meet several other students who were going through the same things that I was. As crazy as it sounds, at the time I thought I was the only gay Mormon in the world. I'm sure I'm the only person who ever felt like that, right?

Through those meetings I made a group of friends and we remained close throughout our BYU experience. My last semester a bunch of us moved in together (not together together, just as roommates...those of you with dirty minds! lol). We were one of the "gay houses" at BYU. It was a great period of time. I learned to accept myself and realize that I was not evil and terrible because my "feelings" didn't go away. We hung out together, went clubbing together (before the Lord destroyed The Sun with the SLC tornado of '99), we attended our first Pride parade together, memorized all of the lines from the movie Jeffrey together, all while helping each other crawl out of the closet.

Sadly, as time went on, we all either graduated or left BYU for one reason or another. We ended up drifting apart and going our separate ways. There are a few of those friends that I keep up with via Facebook, but none of us really maintain constant contact that I know of.

So...Doug, Natalie, Tyler, Ted, Wil, Jared, Irish Mike, Kevin, Bob, Nathan, April, Darrin, Sam, Dave, as well as those of you whose names I've forgotten, If you're out there, I thank you for helping me through my coming out period. I couldn't have done it without you. :)

Happy National Coming Out Day!
-- James

Monday, October 8, 2012

It's Fall in Las Vegas!

That means it's only 87 degrees today. Living in Las Vegas is so funny sometimes. Why am I always surprised at how hot it gets here? You would think that after 10 years it wouldn't phase me. The worst part is the power bill. I can't stand being sweaty or hot, so I keep it cold in my house and I almost always have the ceiling fans running, even in the winter. My power bill in July was almost $300! Yes, I'm enemy #1 on Al Gore's list of people who are adding to global warming. At least I don't have my SUV any more... :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Negative People and their Nasty Energy

Maybe this is just confirmation that I'm a terrible person, but I'm never afraid to cut people out of my life. I don't think I do it for trivial reasons, but I reach a point with people that I just can't spend my time or energy being around them.

In the past several years I've found that I have made friends with people who are extremely negative in one way or another. I'm not one who has lots of friends, at least not the type of friends that I hang out with. I am friendly with lots of people, but once I go home, I'm a homebody and I don't have much contact with people outside of work. I've always been like that, even as a kid. I had friends at school, but I didn't always spend lots of time with them outside of school. Anyhow, several years ago while I was living in Utah I had a friend that I worked with named Stacy. The thing was, Stacy always seemed to feel that I was competing with her. The fact is, I wasn't. She also was one of those people who has to go around correcting everyone because she thinks it's cute. She especially loves to do this with grammar. You'll be in the middle of saying something and she'll correct you. Yeah, real cute. Basically she is incredibly self-conscious and has low self-esteem. She also was one of those people who would be confrontational, but in a passive aggressive way. For example, whenever she would accuse me of competing with her, she never came right out and said it. She would say that "other people" had mentioned that I was competing with her. Anyhow, long story short...I finally reached a point with her that I got fed up. Her negativity began to affect me. I decided to just cut her off, and that's what I've done. I haven't spoken to her in almost four years.

Well, I've had a similar issue with another co-worker/friend. I've realized that he is a major drama queen. He gets into these hissy fits and gets upset and starts arguing over the stupidest things! He's one of those people who thrives off of arguments. I have been in conversations with him and had him argue with me about things when I KNOW that he agrees with what I'm saying. He just likes to argue. I remember our boss one time talking about how she loves American Idol, and he goes into this tirade about how it's such a fake show, it's stupid. It's a waste of time, it's contrived, blah, blah, blah. Oh, but what didn't he mention...HE WATCHES EVERY SINGLE EPISODE BECAUSE IT'S HIS FAVORITE SHOW! Yes, he's one of THOSE people. Honestly, he just argues so that he can argue. Well, last week I reached my limit. I went it to tell him about something funny I saw online, and he blows up and starts yelling at me about it. I finally just walked out of his office, and I haven't spoken to him since. I'm done with him and his negativity. It is just too draining to spend time with him wondering when he's going to blow up into one of his temper tantrums. Once he gets going, he won't stop. So I've taken this weekend to decide that I'm going to limit my contact with him.

I think the problem I have is that I am one of those people who relives negative moments over and over in my mind. I become obsessed with them. When I spend time around these people, their negativity feeds into my own personal negativity and I dwell on it. On a certain level it bothers me that I do this, mainly because it's something I've seen happen in my own family far too often. (Not my immediate family.) Is cutting people out of your life hereditary? Did I learn this from them? Does it make me an awful person? I just feel like I'd rather have no friends than spend time with negative friends. If that makes me a bitch, so be it.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

A Beginning...

Well, I've been reading lots of blogs lately, and I've been intrigued. I'm a pretty big tech geek, so I'm surprised that I've never gotten into blogging before, but I think part of it is that I haven't felt like I have lots to say. That's surprising because, if you know me, I ALWAYS have something to say. So I figured, why not give it a go?

Anyhow, I'm James. I live in Las Vegas, Nevada. I've lived here for ten years now. The longest that I've ever lived anywhere in my entire life. I'm an Air Force dad was in the Air Force when I was growing up, so we moved all over the place. It's funny because even after living here in Las Vegas for this long, I don't consider it "home." My father retired in 1994 and he and my mom moved to Utah. I lived in Utah for nine years before coming here, and I don't even consider Utah my home. It's a complicated thing being a military brat...something I'll cover in a future post.

While I'm throwing out labels, let me add everything else that makes me who I am:
  • Mormon
  • BYU Graduate (Class of 1997!)
  • Returned missionary
  • Son
  • Brother (oldest of three kids--one brother and one sister)
  • Uncle (one niece, two nephews)
  • Moderate Conservative (Yes, I'm voting for Brother Romney.)
  • Single (I just realized, the last time I went on a date was August 25, 2002. Pitiful!!)
  • Gay

Yep, a gay Mormon Republican. Holy hell! Yeah, it makes my life much more complicated than it should be, but that's how it goes.

Like I said earlier, my dad was in the Air Force. My mom grew up Catholic, and my dad's family was not religious. When we were stationed in Germany my mom joined the LDS church. My dad never joined, and for the most part he tolerated us going. We lived in many different places: North Carolina, Hawaii, Germany, Alabama (twice), Mississippi, Japan (twice), Illinois (twice), and California. By the time we returned from Japan the second time, I was 16 years old and had lived outside of the USA for nine years. My brother was eight and had only lived in the US for two years. No, I don't speak Japanese. I know some words and phrases, but not enough to hold a conversation or anything. I actually speak Spanish, thanks to my two years as a Spanish-speaking missionary in Washington state. People always think it's weird to have been a Spanish-speaking missionary in Washington, but I always remind them: "Who picks Washington state apples? Migrant farm workers!"  :)

After my mission my sister and I moved to Utah to attend Salt Lake Community College. After a year of that I moved down to Provo and attended BYU. That's where I came out. It's a long story that I'll tell later, but it was an interesting time in my life. Following my graduation I worked in Utah County for six years, and then in 2002 I got tired of it all and at the spur of the moment accepted a job here in Las Vegas. I bought a house a year later and here I am.

Well, we'll see how this blogging thing goes. I've set a goal to blog at least once a week. Maybe no one will end up reading this, but I think it'll be good for me to put things in writing. I keep a lot of stuff bottled up inside. It makes me anxious, or as I call it, crazy, sometimes, so hopefully blogging will serve as a release valve of sorts.