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Monday, April 11, 2011

Questions of the Heart

A little more than a week ago a one-man play was performed. Mr. Fob got to see it. I did not.

The play was of interest to me because the actor, Ben Abbott, who conceived it is straight, but the play is about homosexual men and women who have current or previous membership in the LDS church. The purpose was simply to represent the variety of individuals in this subgroup, not to talk about right or wrong or to make any sort of statement. From the reviews I've read, and from speaking with people who were present during the performances, I believe Ben achieved what he set out to do. I haven't spoken with Ben since the play, but I probably will in the next little while.

I contacted Ben when I heard about his project because I believed I knew a number of people who could help him. I have ties to SSA people who are currently active in the church, some who have left but feel no antagonism toward the church, and some who are adamantly opposed to it--and to religion, in general. I was intensely interested in the success of this venture because it's something I've wished for in any genre, something I wished I, myself, could do--but I recognized that because of who I am, I would be unable to achieve my goal. I am not detached enough, nor (as much as I would like to think I am) am I unbiased. This undertaking needed someone who could look at the topic, meet and interview new people, and write with clarity undisturbed by a shared past of any kind. Ben could do this.

However, in contacting Ben, I did not intend to add myself to the mix. I simply wished to help him find people whose stories would be of value to him. I did allow an interview, during which I told Ben that my story is more about recovering and learning to thrive after rape and abuse, and homosexuality is only a facet of who I am. I consider that part of my life unremarkable. Yes, I feel sexual attraction to women. Yes, my preferred mate would not be hairy, her voice would be higher, and there would definitely be breasts and no penis. However, I chose long ago to marry, instead, a person I felt I could not live without. He added to my life a depth of joy and delight I had never before found. He is definitely not feminine.

Consequently, I don't really have much to say about being homosexual. It's part of who I am. I recognize the moments when I feel drawn to someone romantically, but quite honestly, I think I would feel those feelings even if I were married to the woman of my dreams. One does not stop feeling attracted to people simply because she has fallen in love. Those feelings are continuous and are sometimes directed toward people other than our mates. It happens. We deal with it. Often, because we reject the new feelings and repeatedly return to the person we chose to spend our lives with, the bonds to our spouses become stronger and mutual trust increases.

Mr. Fob sent this email following his attendance at Ben's production:

My dear friends,

It was so great to see you all this weekend. What a coincidence that the four of us would not only be in Berkeley on the same weekend, but that we would all be there within the same body! 

Ben Abbott did a fabulous job of portraying you all. He didn't attempt to recreate your voices or mannerisms--since he doesn't know you, he just made up voices and mannerisms to distinguish each of the characters--but the essence of each of you was there in your words. It was a little surreal, actually, to see an overly effeminate man telling Tolkien Boy's stories about the Remedial Basketball League in his erudite diction; an overly masculine man in a baseball cap telling Jason's stories about losing the limp wrist and experimenting sexually (but in a PG-rated Mormon way) with his then-girlfriend, delivered via Jason's ADD-influenced going-three-ways-at-once storytelling style; and the same six-foot-plus man portraying a prim and proper woman with her head held high, boldly declaring Samantha's I-am-who-I-am-and-I-don't-care-what-you-think philosophy with a precise vocabulary that could only be Sam's. (Not to mention the eerily accurate portrayal of me, slouched back in the couch and fiddling with my wedding ring while struggling to find the right words to tell my story.) Even though Ben didn't necessarily get the superficial details right (because that wasn't his purpose), he definitely got to the core of who each of you is and I really felt like I was in the company of my friends. When the play ended (too soon), I was sad to see my friends leave. Above all, he did a great job of humanizing each of us, as well as the five other people he portrayed.

Take a look at the attached program and see if you can figure out which pseudonym belongs to you (it's not difficult), then admire the cool graphic design of the poster. And here's hoping that next time Ben puts on the show, you can be there in body as well as in spirit. 


--Mr. Fob

I didn't attach the program here, and I haven't responded to the email because I have mixed feelings about being included in the final product. I know that's weird--I interviewed, I gave permission, quite frankly, I'm not hiding any of my story because it's right here and in a now dead but still public blog. I told my story simply because I was tired of being silent, and thought of that story being of interest to anyone is a foreign one. I don't champion causes, or fight for rights, or become politically involved in anything. I have no agenda. My role is to be the faded wallpaper behind those who have something controversial or interesting to say. 

This is related, I suppose, to the feeling I have that when I am not present, I am never thought of. When I leave someone, I cease to exist for that person until they happen onto my green chat dot, or my blog post shows up in their reader, or I happen to email or call them. Then they say, "Oh! Yes! That's Sam. Sometimes she's around and we talk."

Now that the waterworks inside me have been released, I cry about pretty much everything, so naturally I've been crying about this particular nonsense since Mr. Fob sent his email. And it's stupid because I don't know why I'm crying. I don't know what to feel. I'm very confused about who I am and how I fit in the lives of other people. This inclusion in Ben's play compounded those feelings.

I see myself as an escapee, I suppose. I had horrific experiences--but I got away. And I learned to survive by running (literally and figuratively). And people became alluring but scary entities. I needed them, but I could not trust them--not even the ones I fell in love with, which is saying a lot because I fall in love with people all the time. And now there are people in my life who care about me, who tell me they think of me sometimes, who wish to spend time with me occasionally...and I don't know how to process this. 

For a long time I blamed this emotional disarray on PTSD. I know now that it's not even connected. This is all me. I don't know how to be anything but incidental. I understand being left behind. I understand being forgotten. I understand being hurt and abused. Those things make complete sense to me. These understandings are not conscious, but lurk quietly, gently reminding me of my "role" in human interaction, which is to be delightful and warm and then go away and not bother people.

But that's not how it's supposed to be, maybe. Possibly people think about me in the same way I think of them? And now I'm weeping again because my guts are all confused. I think I have emotional brain damage.


  1. As painful as it is for you, Sam, I'm glad you're being forced to deal with the fact that you are a non-incidental part of people's lives, and that you are loved. Because you are, so you might as well get used to it.

    (I totally almost forgot to call you by your blogonym. Evidence of my withdrawal from the blogosphere, I suppose.)

  2. .

    At least believe that your story provided an important balance.

  3. Dear Mr. Fob and Mr. (honestly--where has the originality in blognyms gone?),

    I have to think about what you've said before I can figure out how to feel about it.

    The end.


  4. Sam--I found your blog and I don't relate to everything in your story--there is something about how you write and your fight that resonates with me. Thanks for writing. It makes a difference for me.
    I especially smiled at the last sentence in this post--I know that feeling.

  5. Sandra--Thank you for stopping by and for taking time to talk back. It's nice to read thoughts from other people and I appreciate it.