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Entry One

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I have never tried this whole diary -- sorry, journal -- thing before. I'm not one who is much for writing about my thoughts and feelings. I'd much prefer to have a dialogue, but I suppose there is no one here right now with whom I could discuss many of these things. And RJ has asked me to give this a try before he arrives. He writes in his journal almost every night and swears it is a great way to process things - so I figure I'll give it a shot.

Much has happened over a short period of time. Sometimes I wonder how to even make sense of it. It seems like only yesterday I was headed off to my mission assignment, looking forward to completing it and returning home to my family. I knew the experience would be a life-changing one; that is all we are ever told from the time we are young boys. I just don't think I could have expected the wonderful ways in which it would enrich my life.

When I first met RJ, there wasn't anything there. I know some have accused each of us of 'preying' on the other, luring our companion 'down a sinful path'. But that isn't even close to true. I didn't expect to develop these feelings for him, and based on the way we interacted until that first time, I'm certain he was of the same mind.

Did I know I had an interest in men before I went on my mission? Of course. I think we all know more about ourselves than we're ever fully willing to admit - sometimes even in our own head. But I knew how the Church felt about it and I somehow told myself that eventually it would be something I could overcome. Somehow, I believed that if I was devout enough and if I helped to bring enough people over to the Church, I would be rewarded by becoming 'normal'.

Even writing that now, I feel terrible. I don't want to change. I honestly think I never wanted to change - I know who I am. But it's difficult when everyone around you is telling you that who you are isn't right. When you know expressing the truth about who you are might mean losing the support of both family and community - and in some cases may never speak to either ever again - you begin to wish for things that you know in your heart you don't want. But you wonder - maybe, just maybe - if you had it, everything would be okay.

RJ told me that he didn't consider the possibility of the two of us until that night in the restaurant. After that, he said, he couldn't get the idea out of his head, but he didn't dare make a move. That wasn't it for me. I actually started to develop that kind of an interest in him a few days before, but, I guess like him, I didn't dare make my feelings known. Even after he put his hand on mine, it didn't occur to me that he might feel the same way. The last thing I wanted to do was be wrong: he could easily have reported me and I would have been sent home in shame. But I guess that happened anyway, didn't it?

It's a bit strange writing this like there's some fictitious person out there who is going to be reading it. Maybe someday my writings will be unearthed by some future explore and find them to be profound. Perhaps even profound enough to start a philosophical movement. I can think of nothing more terrible than a prospect like that.

It took me some time to build up the courage to ask RJ if he wanted to kiss me that night. Every instinct I had told me that's why he hesitated to turn off the light, but I didn't respond then out of the smallest bit of uncertainty. But as I caught glimpses of the way he looked at me after that, I knew my instincts had to be correct. And confession: I engineered that trip out into the secluded woods to let him make good on that desire. And, of course, to make good on a few desires of my own.

Our mission work suffered considerably once we made our mutual attractions known. It was probably to be expected. After all, when you share a bedroom and living space with one of the most attractive and interesting men you've ever met, it can cause quite the distraction. I also believe that we were both using the Church as a way to fulfill a need or diversion from having to face the reality of what it meant to be who we are - not generally, I guess, but in the context of the Church and our local communities.

I feel terrible about the way I reacted when we were finally caught. I mean, with what we were doing, it was only a matter of time before it happened. At first, I remember being so angry that we became careless - first blaming it all on RJ, then being willing to share the blame. But the anger didn't do anything to help the situation. And even though I never would have walked out in front of the entire congregation and yelled my secret for all to hear, part of me is grateful that it's all out in the open now.

RJ wrote me to tell me about how his meeting went with the stake president. He was a bit more courageous in his response than I was. I agree with him that there is no reason we should have to stand in judgment for who God created us to be. I agree with him that the approval of the congregation is not needed for our love. And I most certainly agree that I am glad we met and that he'll continue to have me after everything that's happened.

This homecoming has been bittersweet, even though my family has been more understanding that I would have expected. It took no time at all for the rumors to circulate through town. In fact, I'm pretty much certain that everyone knew some piece of the story before I even arrived - and it's been amusing to listen to some of the varying accounts of what "really happened". I even heard a woman in the next aisle at the grocery store tell her friend a completely untrue account claiming she got the detials directly from me. Why people need to be so focused on judging the lives of others, I simply can't comprehend. Surely that's not what God wanted us to be using our time for during our life on Earth. I've felt the negative side effects and the fallout of it all, but I've gained so much at the same time. I've been liberated from the chains that were holding me back and there's a shining star waiting to guide me home.

That sounds way too metaphorical and a bit sappy, doesn't it. Well, at least I'll be the only one reading it. Right?