I have a theory, not a new theory by any stretch of the imagination (after all, there is nothing new under the sun), but maybe I can express it in a new way. Our culture has idealized love in a potentially damaging way with the “happily ever afters” and “one true destined love.” I’ve fallen prey to it as much as anyone, probably more than most; I’m a hopeless romantic which I used to say with a bit of pride, but now it feels like a serious handicap. I have this idea that all my married friends have this blissful existence, wrapped up in each other’s love and, while I know life is never perfect, the pitfalls and the struggles seem so small when compared to the joy of “true love.” Recently, though, I’ve begun to wonder if love isn’t as much about the brokenness and the pain as it his about the hope and the joy. I see movies and I read books with this sacred image of romantic love and fear I’ll never experience something that great, but maybe that’s OK. Maybe love is more about the little scraps of caring and the soothing balm of a kind word or thoughtful gesture. It’s possible I’m experiencing as much love as anyone and I just need to be open to seeing it.
I’m always inspired by the stories of young gay people who come out to their Christian parents and find that, though they may be resistant at the beginning, their parents love them enough to see them through the difficult journey of figuring out how their faith and sexuality fit together. I sometimes find myself wishing that my mom’s reaction had been more in that vein, that she had told me she would stand by me no matter what. That if it came to choosing between me and her faith, that she would choose me. At the same time, it’s a tough spot to be in. I do believe that God should take the highest place in our lives and I believe I would always want her to put God’s desires above her own or my own like a modern day Abraham and Isaac, but I do wish that it was little bit of a harder decision than it seems. I wish that part of her wanted to choose me even if that wasn’t her final decision. I imagine that’s probably a selfish desire; we shouldn’t ever want to be more important than God in another person’s life, but at the same time, it would be a nice feeling.
I was reminded of this topic after listening to a podcast interview with Matt Jones where he talks about his parents’ reaction when he told them he was gay. At first, they were very upset by it and took him to a counseling to help fix him, but I was moved to tears when he describes how, after a particularly intense session, his dad went back to the counselor and said, “If I were gay, and I heard you say those things that you told my son, I would go home and put a gun to my head and that would be on you.” To me, that’s conveys such a strong desire to protect and I wish that I felt that from my parents sometimes. Maybe it’s because I waited so long to tell them and was fully an adult by then and not a child needing comfort. Maybe it’s because I didn’t cry or really show much emotion beyond some nerves. Whatever the case, I wish my mom’s primary concern at that moment hadn’t been for my eternal soul, but for her hurting fearful son sitting in front of her, even if it was just for that one night.
I do want to be clear about something, though. My parents are wonderful people. They love me and they did an awesome job raising me. They instilled me with a healthy sense of self worth and regularly made sacrifices to give me the best life they could. They raised me in the church and modeled a life of strong faith in Christ. In fact, I believe the reason that I am who I am today, the reason I’m (relatively) well adjusted while so many other gay people growing up in Christian homes commit suicide or end up on the streets, is because of the strength and love my parents showed me. They weren’t perfect, but I love my parents with all my heart and couldn’t have asked for more.
Like many people, I’ve long used fiction as a way to escape reality. I get lost in worlds filled with magic and science fiction or just get caught up in the lives of the characters to the point where I feel like I know them like intimate friends. However, recently I’ve found myself escaping reality not by reading fiction, but by writing it.
I recently began writing a story that allows me to express some of the forbidden desires I’ve long hidden away and I’ve found it surprisingly cathartic. It started a few weeks ago when I woke up from a dream that felt so real and had such honest emotion to it that I had write it down. From there, I continued the story, writing in the first person, and exploring the world and living vicariously through my character. In a way, it makes me feel immature, like the teenage girls who write bad mary sue fanfiction, but at the same time, I now understand the appeal of it.
In this story I’ve created, I can experience a shadow of the life I so desire, but that, in addition to feeling taboo, would also require a complicit party. Between these two problematic elements, it’s very unlikely I’ll ever live out this fantasy life, but by writing this down, I’m able to see what life might have been like if things had been different, if life or God or fate had led me down a different path. I’m able to escape this humdrum life I lead and see through another set of eyes into a world that, in many ways, is just like the one I live in everyday, but in other ways is wholly new and exciting and satisfying.
So, after intending to for several years now, I finally got around to writing up a list of my favorite movies. I went through everything I’ve ever watched on Netflix and my whole movie collection and listed out everything I thought could be a contender for my favorites list. I then started comparing them and adjusting them up or down the list accordingly. It probably still needs a little tweaking, but for the most part, it’s done. The resulting list is in the Google spreadsheet listed below. At some point, I should separate them out into action, comedy, and drama categories because it’s really hard to compare those genres, but that’s for another time.
Also, I’ve enabled commenting on the document so if you want to agree, disagree, recommend something not on the list, etc., feel free.
I got around to separating out the genres (action, comedy, and drama) which was harder than I was expecting (some like While You Were Sleeping and Stranger Than Fiction were really hard). I still have the main tab with the full list, then three more tabs for the individual genres. After separating them, I did a bit more sorting on the resulting lists so those should be a little more accurate. I didn’t go back and re-sort the main list so that’s still a little wonky, but it’ll have to do.