Tuesday, August 22, 2006

Pearson, 1

"I was not being dishonest with you when we married. I loved you. You were wonderful and I really did love you. I thought that the problem would be taken care of. They told me it would be. I did everything they said to do. And I thought for a few months that everything was changed."

"But, Gerald," I interrupted, "we were--I was--happy."

"And I was too, in many, many ways. Blossom, this is not your fault. Maybe you think it is, but it has nothing to do with you, only with me. Yes, we were happy. I liked being with you. I even liked being with you physically. But to me it was like...like we were such good friends that we shared everything with each other, even sex. It was never quite like... like lovers. There is this other thing in me, Blossom, and it has never gone away and I know now that it never will. There is this thing in me that needs, that insists that my strongest feelings be for a man. It is a need that seems to be as deep in me as my need for food and breath. I tried to beat it to death, to strangle it, to smother it. And it has not died. Blossom, I know the anguish you've been through this last week. Can you understand that I have been in anguish too? And for more than a week."

"Gerald," I said, "it's wrong!"

"Wrong!" Gerald put his face into his hands and then looked up. "I have taken that word and used it like a whip on myself. I have flagellated myself with that word until I'm bloody. But it does not change things. I have fasted, I have prayed. How many thousands of prayers I have prayed! And it does not change things. If my homosexuality is wrong, then I am wrong, the fact of my being is wrong. Because that's what I am!"
Carol Lynn Pearson,
in Good-bye, I love you

I read Pearson's book about her gay husband dying of AIDS a few weeks ago. It was before I read the article about her daughter, Emily, having also married a gay man and thinking she could make it work. The book was strange to me. I kept reading it trying to assess Pearson's view of homosexuality. I tried to read it for the underlying message. It wasn't until I abandoned that approach and just appreciated that she was telling a story--a story with all the ups, downs, questions, and ambivalence left intact--that I really started enjoying it.

There were places she made me angry. There were many places she made me cry. I was in a public place and kept feeling self conscious. I recommend it to anyone interested in homosexuality and Mormonism.

As for the quote above, I have a few comments. I can agree that my wife and I are not lovers in a burning infatuation and lust sort of sense--something I miss greatly. But we are lovers in the most literal sense of the word. We "make" love of the true kind. We produce it from thin air by being what we are and what we want and what we can be for each other. Love is something I've been meaning to blog on but haven't gotten around to it (yes, I say this all the time!).

This passage brings out so many other issues--the hope for change, the futility of forcing the issue, the very real and unjustified self-hatred we experience, the confusion, the logical quandaries inherent in identity. Happiness without happiness. It makes me feel strangely close to Pearson.

Index of Pearson posts
Pearson, 1
Buried Life
Pearson, 2


Scot said...

I’ve never read her mother’s book, but Emily Pearson’s ex is a friend of friends (don’t know him personally). We were given tickets to his play, “Confessions of a Mormon Boy.” (Seen it?)

It wasn’t easy viewing, particularly the parts where he speaks of his children.

We actually left early, and blamed it on the babysitters, a 4/7th truth. It became too much for me when he began depicting his seedier life, and went from his suit to his near birthday suit. Not that we left in disgust; I just knew it’d take longer to shake my sadness at it than it was worth in free tickets, and hate to take that stuff home.

Master Fob said...

But really, where else could you read Goodbye, I Love You but in a Chinese buffet?

Foxy and I introduced ourselves to Carol Lynn a few months ago and she just sort of looked at us with sad eyes. I imagine it's hard for her to see another case of what she can only view as inevitable failure. She was nice, though, and once she realized we were pregnant with our second child, didn't go so far as to tell us we should give up now. Ask AO about his talk with her if he hasn't already told you.

Oh, and I identified with your post.

Chris (hurricane) said...

I read Goodbye, I Love You a few months before I got married. I was strangely detached from it, convinced it bore no resemblance to the life I was building for myself.

KK met Emily Pearson at Sunstone a few weeks ago and the hit it off.

scot, I saw "Confessions" here in New York a few months ago. I identified with the first half of the show, which I thought was pretty well done and easy to identify with. I found the second half to be utterly unwatchable and grotesquely self indulgent.

Scot said...

“utterly unwatchable and grotesquely self indulgent”


Very glad my spidey sense told us to leave then.

(Watch, the guy probably lurks around these blogs ;-).)

Unusual Dude said...

I haven't read the book, either. I think I'd like to, even though the reading I've done lately seems so heavy on the doom that MOM's will "inevitably" experience. My eyes have been opened, statistically speaking, to how unlikely it is that my marriage will survive. However, in spite of the likelihood, I truly feel to know in my heart that it will survive.

Wow, though - do I identify with your post. Much to think about.

-L- said...

I have not seen Confessions. But contemplating him in his "near birthday suit" has me tempted. ;-) I had assumed when I heard about that play that it would not make me happy about myself or my situation. I thought it would be sad and vilify the church, but I'm often drawn to such things regardless. I'm surprised to hear you and Chris disliked it so much. I guess I needn't waste my time.

Wish I had been at Sunstone. Sounds like all the cool kids were there. Or Evergreen in a couple weeks. That would be interesting. I'm so isolated.

After getting a few comments from Jason Parks last week (whose book I criticized and complimented), I woudln't be at all surprised if Emily, her ex (who I feel sorry for not knowing his name, but don't feel like finding it), or Carol Lynn herself might come upon my critique or the comments here. I'm trying to behave myself with the present series of posts (for a change!).

UDude, don't let the statistics become a self-fulfilling prophecy. If you've had a good thing going for so many years, I don't see any reason that should change.

And FOB, you will be blessed for the charitable service you do.

Loyalist With Defects said...

I just couldn't hurt my wife like that despite my baggage of being gay. I'd rather live with my pain than give pain/anguish to someone else.

I just realized that I've become my mother - the martyr.

Chris (hurricane) said...

I'm surprised to hear you and Chris disliked it so much.

To clarify--there were parts of the show that I really liked and I thought much of it was well done. It was part two that was just too much for me--his drugs and prostitution phase--and that colored my overall impression.

mark said...

I read the book (well, okay, I skimmed through it) back in the early 90s in a Toronto bookstore (meaning, I was there for several hours). Anyway, as I was pretty TBM I found some of the more New Age aspects of Gerald's evolving views a bit hard to take (and I think if I were to read it again I would probably still react to those parts that way).

Anyway, I have listened to a few interviews of Carol Lynn and Emily and have read a version of Steve Fales' play that was published in Sunstone and was available on-line (a version that I believe cuts out most of the parts you guys hated in the live play). Carol Lynn and Emily were recently interviewed on KRCL radio (here is the link: http://www.publicbroadcasting.net/krcl/news.newsmain?action=article&ARTICLE_ID=955109). Both of them are in the process of writing books, and I believe both books will be out this Fall or Winter.

On another note, though perhaps it fits with this general discussion, I watched a video clip of an interview of Gary Horlacher, who is a professional genealogist who I take it teaches part-time at the Y, who identifies as being gay, but who lives a celibate life but with close friendships with other LDS gay guys who I take it are involved in Reconciliation. I found it very interesting; here is the link: http://www.ldsresources.info/videos/. Anyway, he comes at things in a way that seems somewhat like your views, L, but different in other ways. I'd be interested to hear what you guys think of it.

santorio said...

i read the book soon after it came out--devoured it might be a better description since it was the first thing i had read about this subject and there were so many parallels with my own life. i was left with three lessons:
1. the grass is not greener on the other side
2. infidelity is infidelity is infidelity
3. if you're on a diet don't look for a job in a bakery; if you're trying to make a mixed marriage work, don't move to the bay area [and especially don't work in a san francisco restaurant--what were they thinking... but then, what was i thinking when i ...]

The Ugly Swan said...

I never revealed this to Master Fob, but when we heard Ms. Pearson read her play, I was having a hard time not reacting violently to what I percieved as unhealthy sentimentality in her portrayal.

Of course, no one I've loved has died of AIDS as of yet, so perhaps she's allowed. It's not my cup of tea, though.

Master Fob said...

I think you've expressed that opinion to me before, Ugly. I tend to be blind to sentimentality until someone points it out to me, at which point I enjoy mocking it.