Monday, October 8, 2012

Dorothy is an acquaintance

Just wanna be up front.  This is probably gonna be a long one, but for me, will you stick it out to the end?  Please?  May not be easy, but it's not gonna be easy for me either.  May be a little disjointed too, so I apologize.  And you never know, you may get a cookie out of it.

I've been debating exactly how to begin here and I think a short story will do the trick.  I was chatting with my older brother earlier this year.  He said to me something along the lines of, "How's dating going?"  I said, "Ha ha, it's not.  It's hard because there's not really anybody in my ward - in the Relief Society at least - that I'm interested in dating."  Did you catch that?  See what I did there?

For those of you that answered "no" to either of the previous two questions, let me be a tad more blunt.  I'm attracted to men.  A lot of you already know.  A lot of you have probably wondered.  Some - heaven bless you - might even being saying to yourselves, "What?!  No way!"  Well, there it is.  (Though really, if you read my list of favorite movies, this should come as no surprise)  Now I say it that way for a reason. I don't like the terms "gay" or "homosexual" because they carry baggage that doesn't really apply to me - and adding the word "celibate" to either of those terms, though applicable, is a tad depressing.  I don't like saying I "have SSA/SGA" (Same Sex Attraction/Same Gender Attraction) because to me it sounds like I have a disease - which I do not.  There's not really a term out there that I like to use.  So, we'll just leave it at that.

I think maybe this post has been a long time coming, but two things recently have finally made me sit down and write it.

Firstly: Brené Brown.  Watch her stuff.  It's amazing.  She talks about shame/vulnerability/authenticity/connection etc.  One thing she says is that in order to be fully loved by someone, they need to fully know you.  I have found that to be true.

Secondly:  Voices of Hope.  I plan to participate.  I want to be part of something good.  I want to spread love and understanding.  I want others in my situation - or a situation similar to mine - to know that it's okay.  You can be happy.  You can feel loved.  You can stay true to what you believe.  You can.

Before going on I think it's important for anyone reading this to understand a couple of things.  1 - That I have a strong, vibrant testimony of Jesus Christ.  I know He lives.  I know God lives.  I know they love me.  For now, that's all I need to know.  I don't have a lot of answers.  I just know what God has revealed.  And until that revelation changes - if it ever does -  I'm just doing the best I can, trying to live a good life with what I know to be true. 2 - This is my story.  No one else's.  Everyone's experience with this is going to be different.  I've found that my experiences are fairly atypical in many ways.  I've been lucky to essentially never have had a negative experience in sharing this part of my life with people.

That doesn't mean, however, that I have always felt 100% included.  "Gay Mormons" - for lack of a better term - occupy an interesting position.  On one hand we belong to a church that for all of its efforts to be inclusive, doesn't really know what to do with us.  That's not necessarily through any fault of anyone in the church, it's just that there's not a lot of revelation specific to this challenge.  I'm not even saying there should be - I personally think we have enough, but that's another post for another day.  People often fear what they don't understand and at the very least people in the church are unsure and uncomfortable with this issue.  On the other hand the gay community, I think, doesn't really get how we can maintain our faith.  They don't really understand - in large part - how to support those of use who choose not to live a more typically "gay" lifestyle. We are equally incomprehensible to them.  So, rather than being included, supported, and fully loved by these two generally wonderfully inclusive communities, we get left standing on the sidelines of both.

I can't speak to inclusion efforts from the gay community.  Not super involved there.  But I think the church is starting to make great strides - which is awesome for a lot of people.  There's a lot of ignorance and misunderstanding especially in a community like the church where taboo subjects tend to be covered up or ignored.  As I mentioned, I've never really had any negative experiences since I started talking to people and sharing this part of myself.  Everyone in my life that knows has been loving, supportive, and amazing.  I've never felt oppressed by the church - I think that says a lot about my parents and the church leadership when I was coming to terms with everything.  My life has been filled with positivity and I consider myself extremely lucky for that.  Perfect example - some students from BYU put out an "It Gets Better" video.  Which I think is an awesome step in the right direction, but I turned it off after about 2 minutes because it didn't really resonate with my own experience.

So now that we have some context, here's kind of what it all boils down to for me.  Remember that scene in The Incredibles when Incrediboy/Syndrome is talking to Mr. Incredible and he says something along the lines of "You always told people to be true to themselves, but you never told them which part of themselves to be true to."?  I feel like that.  The gay world is always telling people to be true to themselves and they make it sound like the sexual part of yourself is the only part of yourself you can possibly be true to.  I call BS on that. (That's also why I tend to steer clear of the gay community - just lots easier for me.)  Before being attracted to men, before being "gay", there are so many other parts of myself that are more important to me. I am a child of God, I am a priesthood holder, I am currently the FHE co-chair in my ward, I am a son, a brother, a cousin, an uncle, a lover of Disney and brownies, an artist, an educator, a scooter-owner, a Mac user, a political moderate, a baritone, an ex-subscriber to Lego magazine, do you see where I'm coming from with this?  The grass is greener where you water it.  It's the story of the two wolves fighting inside of us - Good vs. Evil - the one that wins is the one you feed. (And no, I'm not saying homosexuals are evil, it's just a simplified analogy.  Don't put words in my mouth...or blog...) If you choose to base your identity on your sexual attraction, that's what your life becomes about (and there's not necessarily anything wrong with that, it's just a choice one has to make).  For me I choose to base my identity on other things.  My attractions just become a small part of a big list.  That's not to say one's attractions aren't a part of one's identity - and even an important part, it's just that in my situation I have to put them aside.  Nay, I have chosen to put them aside.  Remember that whole "agency" thing?

Does that mean my life is easy?  Certainly not.  There are many nights when I climb into my bed and wish that I had - that I could have - that certain someone from the Elder's Quorum in my arms as I drift off to sleep.  It can be lonely.  It can be heart-wrenching.  It can make going to church every week hard.  It can make Elder's Quorum activities involving swimming really awkward.  It can make the 5th Sunday marriage talk all but unbearable.  But I don't lose hope.  Because there are those rare days when hope is all I have to cling to.

That also doesn't mean that my life is a dark and lonely hole filled only with despair, empty frosting cans, and reruns of Jersey Shore. Along with choosing what can be a very hard row to hoe, I also choose to be happy.  I choose to move forward.  I choose to fill my life with amazing people.  With travel, the arts, cooking, movies, acting, churros, singing, laughing, double-chocolate bread pudding souffle, church callings, shopping, throwing rocks off the top of cliffs (I do stupid man-things sometimes too), family, projects, the ukulele.  I live in one of the coolest cities in the world.  I'm pursuing my dreams and God has seen fit to let me be successful at that.  Life is good.

And now for the FAQ:

I've known since sometime between 7th and 8th grade.  I can't give an exact day, but it was sometime in there.

My parents have known since I was about 15.

I have never been depressed or suicidal.  As anyone who knows me even on a fairly limited basis will tell you, I'm a pretty happy person.  Always have been.

Not sure about the marriage question.  I go back and forth.  There was a young lady who I was pretty much ready to take to the temple and make it eternal, but she wasn't so sure (which is totally okay ladies!).  I moved to LA, she found someone else and is now married.  We are still good friends and I couldn't be happier for her.  If nothing else, she gave me hope that marriage and family are possible.  It might just take a while.  It's so rare that I'm actually that interested in a girl.  I would like to get married and have a family, but if that doesn't happen, I'll be alright.  I know I can have a happy, fulfilling, productive life on my own if that's what's in store (which also would mean I'll never have to worry about being a Bishop.)

I realize this is an incomplete post.  Reading through it I see red flags everywhere that people are going to latch onto and say, "But what about...",  "Now, you just said...", "But wait!..." Two things:

1 - That should kind of show you how complicated this can be.

2 - That's not really the point.  The point is to share something about myself that is deep and meaningful.  To be a little bit vulnerable and see what happens.  To maybe help even just one person see that it's okay.  We don't get to choose the hand we're dealt (at least not entirely, but that's neither here nor there) but we do get to choose what we do with it.

I'm Mormon because when I follow what the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints teaches - love, service, faith, self-mastery etc. - I am happy.  I'm attracted to men because...well, because I am.  I'm happy because I choose to be.  That's a place every person has to come to on their own.  As hard as that is.  But know that I'm here to support you in that journey as much as I can.

If you are dealing with this issue and feel lonely, isolated, depressed ("Yes, I feel all of those things. I'm alive.") know that it's going to be okay.  It really is.  God loves and trusts you immensely.

Feel free to contact me - comment, email, text, phone, FB, hand-written letter on personalized, scented stationery - if you need to talk to someone, or have questions, or want to know more, or want to cash in on that cookie I promised back at the beginning, or need a hug, or a friend, or a Sunday night Disney movie cuddle buddy, or sordid details, or a recommendation on applicable conference talks or excellent brownie recipes, or need to get out some anger or frustration or want to call me all sorts of names a good Christian never should.  That's all okay.  Seriously, don't hesitate.

And feel free to share this with anyone who you think might need it.

There is so much more to say, but we'll leave it at that for now.

And now that that's out there and out of the way, I'm gonna throw on a comfy t-shirt and go for a walk on the beach.  I saw a tiny crab last time I was there and I think that's pretty cool.  Plus I may need some mental preparation for church this coming Sunday.  Could prove interesting.


  1. I cannot even fathom the courage it took to write this. To, essentially, open yourself up and lay out everything that's inside of you on the table for the world to see.
    I want you to know that I am proud of you. You are an amazing man who is doing amazing things. Someone, somewhere needs to read this post, so thank you for writing it.
    Love you!

  2. That's awesome Greg that you are willing to share. I have read a few stories from the men who have contributed to "Voices of Hope" and they are very inspiring. The guys who have gotten married share some really good insights into why it works. You know one reason I think that it totally could easily work for you to be happily married (and even happier than most if you wanted to be), is that marriage is not all about attraction--in fact it is such a small part really. Commitment and forgiveness are monumentally more important than whether you have the hots for your spouse. I mean obviously you should have a healthy sex life, but even heterosexual married couples have to work that out too! And married men and women always have to be on the lookout for infidelity--no matter who it is that is tempting them. Ya know? So I guess what I'm saying is even though your challenges are somewhat unique, they don't rule out the fulfillment that we all desire by any means. Thank you for sharing so that others can be inspired by you. Keep on keepin' on!

  3. I feel nothing but admiration (and compassion) for you. You are, indeed, an exemplary man and example. Nicely done.

  4. Greg--I know we only really knew each other in 7th grade (and then you moved, which half the girls in our class were so sad about), but I've enjoyed watching your career develop from afar on Facebook (or when I ask Tara how things are going for you).

    Anyway, so on the one hand it seems odd for me to comment on this post as a distant acquaintance, but on the other hand when I consider that talk from Brene Brown (which I love) I think that when people have made themselves vulnerable it can only be a good thing to respond with positive affirming words if those thoughts are in your head.

    As I have contemplated the situation of you and other friends (and strangers) in the church I have struggled with knowing what to do. i don't want to preach to people, i don't have answers, that's part of the struggle--as Mormons we are so fond of certainty and answers and on this topic there is so much unknown. But I love what you said about sticking to what you know, what brings you happiness, and what brings you peace. I think you have a great attitude/perspective on it all and I wish you luck. You are a good man. Good luck with church on Sunday, hopefully it is an even better experience than you could have hoped for.

  5. I love you. We love you. We support you and admire you and wish the very best for you in every single aspect of life. There will always be a place for you at the Peschke home and there will always be a place for you in our hearts- come as you are.

    And yeah, I'll probably share this.

  6. Greg, I know that took so much courage to put your self out there. I am so proud of you. It was so eloquently put. I love you, you are my son, and am so grateful that Heavenly Father sent you to us. You have brightened my life since the minute you were born. And you continue to bring love and joy to my life.

  7. Greg, I adore you just the way you are. Always have, always will. And I admire the hell out of your abilities both onstage and as a writer. Well done expressing this in a way that so many others bungle (not for lack of trying, but for lack of clarity.) You have my support and respect, friend.

  8. You're awesome.

  9. When you came home from your mission, I told your Dad that I would be proud to have you as a son. I still feel that way. Thanks for being part of my journey, I have learned so much from you. I love you Captain Banana, always have, always will! Aunt Sibby

  10. Found this blog linked to elsewhere, and I can totally relate to being where you were about 12 years ago. You are totally right when you say that everyone is on their own path where this scenario is concerned. I, too, felt for a long time that *I* wasn't really ... THAT way... I hesitated to even use the word "gay" because it was so foreign to who I was and how I saw myself.

    I wish you well on your path. I have a bunch of other stuff I'd probably say, but I'll leave it at that.

  11. Im really proud of you Greg. That took some courage. Your a really strong person.

  12. i love you, jiggy g. you're awesome. :)

  13. An interesting perspective. I don't fully understand it. I don't get it how someone can equate a volunteer position in a church (FHE co-chair) with one's sexual orientation.

    But I appreciate your perspective. One I do not share as a 54 year old gay man who left the Mormon church after my mission and being kicked out of BYU for coming out of the closet.

    My life journey is much different from yours, based on generational and other demographics.

    I wish you well on the journey. I hope it all works out in a fashion that you leaves you happy and fulfilled.

  14. Gregory.... You are amazing! Truly. I have so enjoyed reading about your acting and teaching over the years. You have always had a way with words. I'm so glad I know you. What courage that takes to say what you did. You are such a brave man. I wish you nothing less than every happiness hun! You deserve it!! Thank you for sharing something so deep and important. HUGS!!!

  15. I have no idea who you are, but I have nothing but admiration and respect for the way you just explained a subject that polarizes too many people. It gives people that have a myopic understanding of the subject a glimpse into the reality of the situation--you are not anymore different than any other heterosexual person. Thank you!

  16. Dear friend,

    Things I love about you:
    1) Your courage
    2) Your happy (and contagious) attitude
    3) Your penchant for eating brownies out of the EXACT MIDDLE of the pan
    4) The fact that you quoted The Incredibles :-)

    I'm so glad to know you. Can we please meet up at Disneyland sometime?

    Sincerely and with lots of love,
    Ashley Green

  17. You always were so happy and I remember everyone in our neighborhood loved you from the minute you moved in! I'm proud of you and yes it will be tough but so worth it because one day this will all work out however it is supposed to and those that love you will always love you!!

  18. Thanks for sharing Greg. Your positive attitude is remarkable. It is one of the reasons I love you so much. You always see the silver lining. Thanks for sharing your life and friends with our family. We were the ones who benefitted. Aunt Mare

  19. Mr. B, Aurora and I admire and respect you in a huge way. Thank you for giving of yourself so altruistically and whole-heartedly. Those are long adverbs, but they seem to fit best.

    I hope we get to hang out, and even work together, again soon.

    Much love,

  20. Thank you so much for this. Though I do not fall into the Gay Mormon category, I feel truth and inspiration in this blog post. Rock on Greg! I will be sharing this.

  21. A friend of mine (actually the girl just above me. . . ) shared this so I read it. I'm so impressed. The funny thing is that it totally resonated with me. I'm not gay, but I am a happy single woman in the church and they don't really know what to do with me either. It's: "pursue and education but don't get too settled JUST IN CASE" which drives me nuts. I want to be happy NOW, thank you very much.

    But I digress. Really, I admire your courage to hold fast to a faith that sometimes isn't quite sure what to do with you. And I love that you quoted The Incredibles. And you're a teacher/actor too? Fantastic. Life is good. I'm glad I read this.

  22. Greg- I feel like we should be friends. I think you are great! I appreciate your candor and positive outlook! Sharing your story is so important- so thank you.

  23. "That also doesn't mean that my life is a dark and lonely hole filled only with despair, empty frosting cans, and reruns of Jersey Shore."

    Oh, Greg, even your most serious posts make me laugh out loud (no, I still won't stoop to using the acronym). I'll brainstorm a list of terms and send them to you to see if any are satisfactory.

    The best thing I can say to you is the same thing I said to a dear friend, whose 6th grade son is also embarking on this wild journey: "I will beat the crap out of anyone that messes with him."

    On a side note, I'm surprised the expression "heart of hearts" was not in this post. ???

  24. Greg! You are such a talented writer! You are an amazing person and a wonderful example!

  25. Nice post. Ha ha, I love how you launch into the "FAQ" right when you do, made me chuckle because OF COURSE that's totally natural to put right there and answer what it does.

    "If you choose to base your identity on your sexual attraction, that's what your life becomes about..." Like those people who are fathers, mothers, spouses... Calling it "sexual attraction" simplifies it to an extent. As a gay Mormon myself (I use gay though I've never "acted" on it--though I have acted on my Mormonness--because current usage indicates attraction and not explicitly behavior), I feel like the situation makes me realize that, sure, I'm not defined by my "sexuality," but at the same time, it's a BIG part of life that many straight people may not even realize how big it is in their lives because it blends seamlessly into other aspects of their lives such that they can't tell where it begins or ends.

  26. Greg, I've been sitting here for the past 5 minutes trying to think of the proper way to convey my feelings about this post. I'm not sure I'll ever be able to articulate how moved I am by these words but I'll give it a shot. Your words are so eloquently communicated and relatable and honest, the makings of a magnificent writer. What I am most impressed by is your honesty, your honesty with yourself and others. You are so brave and courageous and I just know your post helped so many people in multiple ways.

    I related to the line, "As anyone who knows me even on a fairly limited basis will tell you, I'm a pretty happy person." I am that person who knows you on a limited basis and I can totally agree that's exactly how you come off and who you are: happy! I think you're awesome! THANK YOU for sharing!

  27. Greg, I admire your bravery with sharing this! You and I seem to belong to the same 'demographic'. I really like how you very clearly stated how complicated and lonely it can be. Personally, I have struggled with depression, and I know that talking about it and getting help is very helpful.

    Thanks once again.

  28. Your openness and your testimony are both so refreshing and sincere. You WILL be an inspiration to many.

    I agree with you about using the terms gay or homosexual. I I don't "have" SSA. I hear people say they "struggle" with SSA. That still doesn't work, because it's just a part of me. I say "I experience SSA. I'm going to do a "Voices of Hope" statement too, and I just edited my " . . . and I'm a Mormon" profile on the church's website to include my SGA.

    You're a good man.

  29. Greg, I always knew you were a talented and witty guy, now I know you are a wise and spiritual one as well! I loved this. Thank you for taking the risk. May the Lord continue to bless you, and through you, so many others. (As I believe this post is doing for many, like myself!)

  30. I beyond doubt appreciate your articles and blogs

  31. Confession, I haven't read your blog in quite a while, well actually I did once I just didn't see this. I noticed your tweet yesterday and decided to do some research on your blog. Anyway....

    I love this. I love the faith and hope you continue to have. I love that this part of you is not affecting your knowledge of who you really are and what you know to be true. I love your optimism. I love that it is not creating a stumbling block between you and the church. I am also loving the fact you are part of Voices of Hope. I've perused the website and was deeply touched by one man's story and realized that I have more in common with gays than I originally thought...meaning my life hasn't turned out the way I thought it would, I know just having sex won't make me happy (I should bring the Chastity Celebration to AZ) but I am happy and I have hope and faith for the future.

    You're awesome!