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Saturday, December 9, 2017

Convalescing.

I thought about making my title “This is Where I Leave You Part II” but I decided against it because I’m not leaving for a permanent period, I’m just going away for a while. I need help. I’m not afraid to share that publicly, because honestly I’m just happy I’m alive. The last few months have been some of the toughest in terms of depression. Stopping my medication really threw me for a loop and I honestly have never fantasized about suicide more frequently. At one point I started outweighing the pros and cons. I even priced out the funeral expenses. Things were getting really out of hand in my head.

With all of that being said, my drinking has gotten even further out of hand. Mostly to fill in my void of happiness. In the past I have had more of a dependency, with multiple drunken nights. However now I literally have been drinking every day. When I’m not drinking I think about when I can drink next. It always seems like the next drink is the cure. Obviously that’s not true, but that is what it feels like. I literally feel happiest when I’ve drank. In the end though all it does is lead me to being a disappointment. Or at least my choices.

Alcohol is clearly an issue, but there are underlying issues I’ve yet to move on from. If you’ve followed my blog at all you know I grew up Mormon. Up until I was 21 I went along with the idea that who I am is wrong. The church, or at least people in it may try to say differently now, but that is the teachings I grew up on. I grew up with this inner turmoil of wanting to love myself and accept myself but it was frowned upon for my people. I was so invested in this damaged way of thinking that even now that I’ve come out and legitimately left the church I still struggle with how I see myself. I also struggle with how the world sees me. Specifically my LDS friends and some of my family. Because I know a lot of them still have those viewpoints.

My family and I have found a place I’m hoping to get into. It is a minimum of two years in the program. It’s been said that it takes two years to break habits and rewire your brain from substance abuse and trauma. In order to do that though I will have no contact with most of you for the better part of two years. Our struggle in the beginning was the fact that this program is run by a guy who is LDS. We weren’t sure if that meant it was conversion therapy or what. Luckily that’s not the case. I am still stressed out because it is only men I will be around, and 1 out of the 39 are opening gay. I struggle with being around straight guys. Mostly because of how life was in elementary to high school. However, I know that there’s a decent amount of hetero men who are open minded and don’t care that I’m gay. I just need to get over this mental hump.

I have been so stuck on the past and it has caused a huge ripple effect in my life. I am hoping that working on this ranch becomes a reality. I want to use that time to get over my demons. I will never be Mormon again for very obvious reasons. However, I would like to have more of a  positive outlook on it. Otherwise it will keep controlling my life. I have subconsciously stepped away from a lot of my LDS friends because of my paranoia. I hear people say that they love and support me, but I really don’t know how far that support goes. If my rights were put on the chopping block again and needed to be voted for, I have no idea who’d show up. I know that’s probably crazy to say but that is my fear. It’s something I want to move past and over. I cannot afford to allow these fears to run my life.

Two years is a lot to ask of someone, but I need to remember I almost gave into serving an LDS mission. I also looked into Military, and the Peace Corps. I also was very close to ending everything all together, so I’m just happy to be alive. I’m happy I have this opportunity for growth. Some may struggle and believe that I should just go to a 30 day program or something like that, but most times people end up having to go back to that. I don’t want to run that risk.

Again, I am still not 100% sure if I’m getting into this program. I still need to talk to the case manager today and iron our some details, but if all goes well I could be starting this week. If I end up not getting in then we will go another route. We are really hoping for this though.

Thank you for continuing to read, and for your support.

Love,
Zac.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Clearing the Air: Gay Sin is Not a Thing

Hello my fellow people of  the inter-web. 

As most of us know June kicks of PRIDE season. This is not a protest. It is a celebration. Celebration of life, self love, self expression, and self acceptance. I have only been able to attend PRIDE once in my life, before that experience I was under the false impression that it was a sin to embrase myself for who I am. Growing up gay and Mormon, it does some damage to your self image. You are taught constantly about Gods love, and how he loves all of his children. People will even try and justify why they are so against the LGBTQ community by saying they "love the sinner, hate the sin". I have news for all of you though. That mentality is so unhealthy, inconsiderate, closed minded, and not mater how nice you seem it is hate. You may have love for some of us in the LGBTQ community but your love is full of conditions. 

Recently someone tried telling me about a General Conference talk that was about love. While that topic sounds like a great read, there is underlying hate in so many teachings in so many religions. The church even has a website ( www.mormonandgay.lds.org ). The way it is presented is so loving and full of compassion. However they leave out the truth. If you get married to the same gender they will kick you out. What kind of love is that? It is seriously so deceiving and in no way are they trying to be understanding. 
I thought of a new way to describe my frustration with the church and its teachings. Any church that is preaching love and acceptance, while also not supporting the LGBTQ community  is similar to a white supremacist racist and sexist man who chooses to adopt a female black child. Makes no sense right? Can you imagine how unhealthy that situation would be? That home would not be a safe place for that child. The father could tell her over and over again how much he loves her, but at the end of the day he still has his unhealthy prejudices that are harmful. He does not accept her. His heart is full of justifications for his bigotry and hate.  

Now, I know there are so many good people in the church. There are so many fighting for what is right and trying to make a change in the church for the greater good. I know the church will never change though because they will always see gay sex as "immoral". The church leaders don't understand that love is non-binary. It is believed by so many (even those who claim to be accepting) that when us gays die, they will no longer be gay in the next life, our so called "burden" and struggle will be lifted. 

Being gay is not a burden. Being born into a hateful organization and society was a burden that I am in the process of shedding the skin of. We can not afford to keep being blind to the hate that is out there. Hate is smart. It sneaks its way in and manifests its self as a form of love, it's a trick though. Never accept someones conditional love. It is not a valid form of love. We all deserve validation and we deserve equality. We are human and we deserve to be treated as such. It is getting sickening hearing so many religious "Jesus loving" individuals preaching double standards. This will damage your kids. I promise you. If they are lucky like I have been, you will break out of your mold and learn to love your kids no matter how they turn out. You don't fail as a parent if you have an LGBTQ child. You fail as a parent if you choose to treat them as less than everyone else. Go to their wedding, meet their significant others, talk to them about relationships. Don't be a bigot, just be a parent and love your kids without limits, without conditions. Just love. 

Until next time,

Zac 💚

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Letter to the Church Presidency




Dear Presidency,

I have been a loyal and believing member of the church my whole life up until a few years ago. I am gay, and because of that there is no place for me in this organization. I know many will try to make it work, try to justify your policies, and try to find a footing. Though if I ever found a bishop who loved and accepted me and gave me a calling like many have done (maybe without your knowledge). Who’s to say my next bishop would continue treating me like a human being?

There is a growing pandemic in your midst that you seem to be oblivious to. Gay people are real. Yes I know you think we should all just be celibate and be alone the rest of our lives. If we embrace the church as the true and living word of God then we should be set for life. Have you thought what it would be like without your spouses? What if you flipped the roles? I may be leaving the church and its patriarchy, but you can still do something to help the youth and many others who feel like the only hope they have is suicide.

People are dying and the amount of ignorance in this church and I guess religion in general is incredible. People claim to have a love for God but they can’t even love their fellow man. Instead they set rules, regulations, policies, and expectations that they themselves would never be able to accomplish. You say that the words you speak are spoken with love, but that is a strange definition of love you have. Imagine being in a church that you thought was true and those leaders said that if you married the opposite sex then you would be disciplined, add on top of that: If you had kids then they could not join the church until they have left your home and denounced your marriage to your wife.
Now I put that into a heterosexual perspective because it seems like some people still need to have the roles flipped for them to understand. 

You believe very strongly in families but in reality you created a policy that could break families apart. I am happy I understood that is not Godlike. This was quite an ungodly step in the wrong direction. I really hope that for the up and coming generations you can create a more loving and accepting environment. I know this may take 50 years but I hope it happens sooner.

Attached is a poem I wrote. It is my raw emotions that I know many people share. I know you may very well not read it. I hope you do though. This is where I leave you.

Sincerely,
Proud Apostate  

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

This is where I Leave You



You have been a part of my life for nineteen years. This is where I leave you.
It was good until it wasn't. I stayed until I felt like death would be better.
This is where I leave you.
Why do you feel the need to be so complex? You have the meaning of life,
but in the end, that meaning did not apply to me.
I cannot conform to your idea of a man.
I won't conform to the ideas of societies and organizations.
I am me, myself, and I.

You live in a box, and if people step out of that box they are wrong.
We are raised to believe one thing.
We are raised to be closed minded.
We are raised to "love" but with conditions.
We are raised to be "Christian" but not Christian.

You are right. Everyone else is wrong, but at least you try to sound nice.
You say things with "love" but when you break your love down,
it is only conditional, gut wrenching, and distasteful.
You say God loves us the most but if your Gods love is that kind of love,
I will believe in my God. The one who understands, the one who loves me.

I spent so long believing in you, depending on you.
In the end you had nothing left for me, I was left to fend for myself.
You had no answers for me because I wasn't born the way you wanted.
I wasn't born the way your God intended. I am a mistake to you.
I am broken.

For a while I believed in you. I tried my hardest to make sense.
What was the point to my existence? I must pretend. I like Men, but in order to be in the presence of God I must marry a woman.
Let me ask you, if the roles were flipped would you marry the same gender?
Imagine being told that your love for your wife was wrong. Imagine the fear of eternal damnation because of the one you love.
Imagine the leaders you were convinced and conditioned to love and follow,
were really just 21st century men with 20th century opinions.

We are taught not to read outside of the belief system, we are taught others are wrong. They don't have the full truth.
I ventured. I read. I investigated. Things are sugar coated, things are looked over. It makes sense now.
I feel better about my decision. I am not pointless. I have a place. My place is out side of this church and that is fine by me. My religion is love. Love without conditions. Love without limits.
Today I resign, and this is where I leave you.



- Forever your apostate,
Zach. 💕



Monday, January 16, 2017

The Prodigal Son and the Father who Loved Him

The first Sunday in January I was blessed to be able to attend church with my friend Tori. I hadn't been in a while due to my past work schedule. I figured this would be a great way to ring in the new year, and it most certainly was. The Pastor that was speaking that day focused on the idea that churches gravitate towards the letter of the law and while doing that they lose the idea and concept of grace. He began to discuss the story of the adulterer. The people were so ready to stone her to death because at that time in history that was the penalty. Christ had the opportunity to follow through with the word of the law. What did he do instead? He approached her and I imagine him going down to her level, holding her and looking her in her eyes and saying "Go thy way, and sin no more." 

Some of you who are reading this may not believe in religion, God, or Jesus. That is totally fine. I get it. But I have really had a hard time with various religious individuals, churches, and organizations so I just want to take this moment to address them. Please just bare with me and try to see where I am coming from even if you may not be religious. 
"Loving is better than being right"
Growing up in the LDS church you are taught that we love everyone. People get confused with that idea for some reason though. Loving is better then trying to be right. That is something that I think should be taught more. When people are taught that they ARE right then that is where the judging and the holier than thou way of thinking comes in. Life on earth is pointless if you are perfect. Life is a test and you should focus on your own. (unless you are trying to be loving and helpful of course)

Some of you may be familiar with the story of The Prodigal Son. It is a lesson that should be taught more even if you aren't religious. There are a lot of variables that can be taken from it. 

 The Prodigal Son

There was a wealthy family. In this family there were two sons. The youngest son asked and pleaded his father if he could receive his inheritance. After the father agreed, the son went on his way and spent his fortune and became destitute. He had nowhere to live and no shelter because he had been lavish in his spending. He decided that he would journey back home and beg his father to be brought in as a hired servant. He expected his relationship to be severed with his father. He was pleasantly surprised though. Upon his return his father greeted him with open arms. His son had been lost. They had no idea where he had traveled to and he had been so worried. Instead of bringing his son in as his servant he threw a celebration for his son! He finally had his son back and he wanted him to know how loved he was no matter what happened to the inheritance

The oldest brother was not happy though. He refused to attend the celebration because he was unhappy about what his brother had done. The father made it clear to him that as the oldest he would still inherit everything. At the moment though, they were going to throw a celebration because the lost son had returned.  

 

Often times people in the Christian realm forget this lesson. This is the most basic lesson of unconditional love. The love of a parent. It is heart breaking when parents are so thick headed that they forget the whole point of being a parent in the first place and that is to have unconditional love. Your kids wont have the same beliefs, feelings, thoughts, actions, or sexual orientation that you have 100% of the time and it is ignorant to think they will. None of those are reasons for you to lose your parental love. None of those are reasons to kick them out. Love your kids. Love the fact that they are alive. Love the fact that you can still hold them in your arms and see into their beautiful soul. You should take full advantage of the fact that they are breathing. Don't be the reason they aren't around anymore. 

Now, enough about parents. Onto the people in the church congregation. Stop calling people names. Stop throwing your stones. Stop acting like the older brother in this parable. Raise your kids to be accepting and loving of those around them. We make it so hard for people to belong. You should always be able to belong before you believe. 

At church our Pastor asked us to make two commitments. The first one: Let's always err on the side of grace while withstanding the temptation to compromise on truth. Jesus always erred on the side of grace. 

The second commitment was to always be more concerned with who we are reaching then who we are keeping. Like I said before, we all deserve to belong before we ever believe. We should prioritize God's grace for those who are nothing like Jesus. Let's stop making things difficult and complicated for those who are trying to have Christ in their life. The spirit of the law and God's grace is always better than focusing on the letter of the law. 

I really hope and pray that Christianity begins to mirror what is actually preached. There are a few places I have been who do just that, and they focus on love. Let's just love one another and focus on our own issues. There have been way too many people who have died because they were not welcomed or loved by family, parents, church peers, and leaders. Why can't people figure it out that if we actually practiced what we preached and actually loved like Christ loved, there would be so much good to come of that.

I challenge you all to step out of your religious norms and just think for yourself. Ask yourself if it is worth it to kick you child out on the street because they love differently than you. Ask yourself if it makes sense to call people freaks or any derogatory names just because you feel uncomfortable or you think that only Men and Women should love eachother. Showing love, and being accepting should not be so difficult, but it still is for some people and I hope that changes.  After all, what would Jesus do?

Until next time,

Zac
 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

God is Not Mormon

Dear church members, and leaders

A year ago today I didn't want to go home. A year ago today I showed up to my best friends house in a drunken stupor. A year ago I stayed the night with my best friend Lindsay. A year ago today I learned that when I get married, my kids will have no place, no purpose in a church I believed to be true. A year ago I was defined as an apostate by men who don't know me one bit. A year ago today I wanted so badly to end my life because I had no idea what direction to go. What was the point? A year ago I lost whatever respect I had left for the leaders of the church. A year ago I began the journey of finding myself for the very first time. I had grown up believing what I was told was true, what I was told to believe. I was so sheltered. So naive.

In a way, I'm thankful the leaders excluded me. I'm thankful to have distanced from my old belief system. My mind has been opened so much to the world. I am so blessed to be able to be a free thinker. Sometimes my thoughts are a little ahead of our time because there is still so much closed mindedness, hatred, ignorance, and bigotry in the world. I think it will improve with time though. I have found myself among the people that Christ would have been with if he was on the earth. He walked with the unwanted. He comforted those who were shunned and pushed away. He was with the black sheep, the ugly ducklings. I have been so blessed to be with these people. Be one of these people. I may not mean very much to the church or the leaders of the church but I know where I stand with MY God. They will never take that away from me or anyone else.

As extremely odd as it sounds, I am very thankful for this policy now more than ever. It has forced me to think for myself and not rely on the thoughts, words, and opinions of men with 20th century mindsets. Thank you church leadership for showing me there is more to life. I may be an apostate to you and your church, but I'm not an apostate to God.

Sincerely,
Proud Apostate of the Church <3

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

The Suicides They Forgot & My Plea to Those Contemplating

Let me first start off by saying how heartbroken the last several months have left me. It started out with my reaction to the Mormon church's exclusion policy. That was the last push I needed. It left me with so many negative feelings about everything. I hated the church, I hated the leaders, and most of all I hated myself.

A good amount of you have been made aware of the growing number of youth/young adult suicides within the LDS church the last several months. I, like many others wish I could have done something to help. I wish I could have offered some sort of message of hope, or even just held them. I never even met them... I can hardly imagine how hard its been for their loved ones. Why are we losing so many precious souls to suicide within the LDS church?

My answer is this;

There is no message of hope or love given within the church for our LGBTQ youth. They have even said that we aren't defined by our sexuality in the church... yet the church is favored towards heterosexual men and women. I'd say we are all defined. Especially when they title us "Apostates". There are plenty of resources given by various members of the church and people have started so many wonderful groups and organizations, but they are not valid in the churches eyes. The church will not even acknowledge that the suicides could possibly have anything to do with the hurtful words they have shared. Why? because apparently it is out of love. I have come to the realization that messages of "love" like this are really just a wolf dressed in sheep's clothing. It's a statement that people who are afraid to have their own beliefs say. They like to say that they see us as equal, we just cant have our kids baptized, and if my future kids want to get baptized they need to do so once they have disavowed their parents marriage. I have heard people try to back it up and I am so done with all of the ignorance, all the hate, all of the excuses. Something needs to be done and it should not have to be spelled out. People are dying, and that's got to end.

Dear LGBTQ Mormon youth and young adults,

We are here, We see you. I, and so many other allies see you and know you exist. We know that you are worth so much. The church and the teachings can make you feel worthless and when you feel like you can't get cut down any shorter, another swing of the axe is taken to you from the pulpit. I commend you for sticking it out. Being in the church was hard enough for me as a kid. I can't imagine the pain you may have when attending Seminary or Institute. Other people just don't get it. They were born into a church that works for them. We on the other hand are seen as a problem to most. We are a pest it seems like at times. Some of us are lucky enough to have family members who come around and become the most supportive people in our lives. I have been lucky enough to have that, and I feel so guilty at times. I feel guilty that my parents love me and see me as their son, I feel guilty that I am welcome at family gatherings, I feel guilty that young members of my family are able to comprehend what gay is and that its okay to love your significant other. life was not always like this for me though. I know what the self hate feels like, I know what the feeling is like of constantly wanting to take your own life. I know what the relief of the blade feels like. You are taught your whole life that the church is everything, and then you wake up one day and realize that to the church, you are nothing. The church has literally nothing to offer me. I have come to that conclusion for myself. You guys may be on a different journey though and maybe the church is something you want to stick with for a little while longer. I just plea with you that you do not let the church leadership define you. You have WORTH, you have BEAUTY, you can have a wonderful life with whoever you LOVE. Do not let the church define your worth. Your worth is already in you. You just need to find it, nourish it, and have faith. After all, faith is like a little seed right? Have faith in yourself and in God, or whomever you believe in.

I am just now finding and discovering my worth. I have spent so long feeling like a victim of this Ungodly policy. I have decided though that it shouldn't effect me since I no longer "claim" the church. It does effect me in a sense though, because I know there is an 8 year old somewhere sitting in church somewhere not knowing what these feelings are that he may be feeling and he is scared to mention anything to anybody. There is a Teachers Quorum president, a Laurel president or Secretary out there somewhere who is getting home from school after having that lesson in Seminary about marriage and eternal families. They just want life to end right then. I HAVE BEEN THERE, please take it from me. Life gets better. The shit eventually washes away. Please ENJOY your youth. Be who you want to be. Wear whatever the hell you want to wear to school (within the dresscode). Be you and don't let anyone tell you to be anything or anyone else. Make people uncomfortable, get out of the status quo. These are all of the things I wish I did when I was younger. I would not change any of the hate, bullying, or rumors that were spread. I am telling you now that no matter what is going on it will get better. Just BE-YOU-tiful. I wish I could somehow see you when you are reading this. Drop the razor, drop the pills, stop bruising yourself, and stop digging your nails into your skin. Maybe I don't know you, but I LOVE YOU. I can't tell you enough how much I love you. So many people love you and we are routing for you to come out stronger than ever! Please know that there are people who are more than willing to be your family, a shoulder to cry on, an ear to hear. There are so many trustworthy people who will keep it confidential because we know how hard it is. We wish we had someone when we were in your shoes who we could talk to. Come to us please. We have the resources that the church doesn't have or isn't willing to use. You don't need counseling to get rid of the "gay". You don't need to "pray it away" because believe me, if that worked at all I would have been straight when I was in 7th grade. We are here and we love you for who you are. Please remember that.

Sincerely,

Your brother

Zachary Lorin Jones