Guest Post: Listen to Who I Am
A while back, I wrote a post with the title Choose Your Own Ending. I’m gonna paste a large chunk of it below that pertains to what I want to explore in this post:
If you think about it, the gay son born to a very strictly Mormon family sets up the perfect scenario for amazing transformation and opportunities for learning. They are a perfect foil for each other. In literature, a foil is a person who is a contrast to another character. I am admittedly not an English major, so if any English majors want to jump in and add anything, feel free. By providing this contrast, the foil might help the main character understand himself better, or help the reader understand the main character better. A foil gives something to be played off of. It provides some amount of tension.
A gay Mormon might help his conservative family learn to live a little bit outside the lines, in a way that expands their understanding of the gospel. The family might help the gay son not live self-destructively outside the lines. Each provides a necessary tug in different directions and as a result, they help each other live more fully.
I was recently involved in a retreat for the choir I sing in. We had a guest clinician come work with us. She had us do some exercises that helped us ignore some of the standard rules of good singing. She told us that sometimes you have to go outside your boundaries to see where they are. To add to the conversation, our director said that she sometimes has a lady come help her clean her house and she always warns her that it’s going to get messier before it gets cleaner.
This isn’t to say that I believe that we should explore everything and forget all boundaries. I do think, however, that we are sometimes way too scared to make mistakes. We cloister ourselves so far inside the lines that I think we miss out on opportunities for growth. Let your gay Mormon son be your tour guide and continue to be his. Just a warning though, his tour will probably be much flashier and might include song and dance. Just go with it. Trust me. The term foil refers to the practice of putting dark, polished metal (a foil) underneath a gemstone to make it shine more brightly.
OK, so there’s that. Now here’s a video that TGD posted recently on his blog. If you have very clearly defined lines and roles around what you think it means to be a man and what it means to be a woman, you might find this video weird, and it might make you uncomfortable. The good Lord knows that earlier in my life, parts of this video would have made me feel uncomfortable.
So here’s the challenge. Watch the video. Allow yourself to mentally slide around a bit on what you think it means to be a man or a woman. You don’t have to end up completely embracing everything he says, but at least allow yourself space to slide around and believe for a minute that what he’s saying is true and valid. Explore what that means for you and how you experience your own gender and the opposite gender. In doing so, you might end up reworking your lines and boundaries in ways that make you feel more whole and more integrated.
I believe that in order to understand our eternal natures and roles better than what we currently do, we need to engage in exercises like this that open up what is possible for each of us.
What is possible for you? How do you experience your own gender? In what ways can you explore the masculine and feminine within you that allows for a more fully integrated you?