30 March 2013

Hare Krishna

I am really fond of my blog's name.

The name Page Turning actually comes from an older blog post.

"This is not the end. And it is far from it. But at that moment, I realized for once what this moment actually is. It is where I will be starting a new chapter in my life. In reality, this is a Page Turning. I'll be able to look back on my life, and this is where I will be able to separate the first part of my life from the next. 

And that is where I am today. I am writing the first few words of this chapter for me to remember. I don't know how long this particular section will be, or what will go on in it, but I do know that no matter what, I have the ability to decided what will be written in my book."

I was sitting in the Atlanta Airport having just taken a short plane ride that would take me away from North Carolina for the better part of a year. I do believe I was right at that moment--In my mind I distinctly separate one part of my life from the next at that moment. The only other comparable moment of separation I can think of was Easter Sunday when I told one of my best friends that I was gay. I think the next one in my life will either be graduation or more likely when I leave for college.

Higgin's Hall - The School of Architecture at Pratt

Speaking of college.......

I didn't get into the University of Virginia, which was a bit of a let down. But in all fairness I can't say that I was that upset, because deep in me a small part of me was really hoping that I wouldn't get in so that I could attend my second choice school: The Pratt Institute!

The Pratt Institute is a small specialized arts school located in Brooklyn, New York. It was most recently ranked at 11th in the nation in Undergraduate architecture, but in recent years was ranked as high as 8th. I won't make the announcement official until sometime after April 14th or so, after I get a few things finalized like financing stuff and a college visit. But you did hear it from me first, so you won't be all shocked and surprised when I make the announcement. 

An Unrelated picture of me and some friends at the Capitol Building  last Tuesday.
The primary source of fascination on this blog post is concerning the Holi Festival of Colors!

I don't really have a ton to tell about this event. It is celebrating a Hindu holiday, and several thousand people gather at the Lotus Temple in Spanish Fork to throw colored corn starch at each other. It is so much fun and it makes your eyes, mouth and skin very dry. 

And it is so much fun.

And I ran into some beautiful friends of mine!

29 March 2013

A Page From My Book

I try not to get offended too easily.

Having been a debater for the last two years, I meet lots of other hormonal teenagers who like to get their stress out by tearing down your arguments over and over again in debate rounds.

You shake it off and let it go.

As I'm sure all of you are aware, facebook for this past week has been full of debate on the topic of gay marriage. Comments on both sides are accusatory, some calling others "bigots" and others calling some "immoral". 

I'm a gay mormon. By all practical observations, I sit right on the fence on this issue. Since my public coming out post on January 31, I've received so many kind and considerate emails, texts and messages of love, comfort and compassion. Most had no idea what I go through on a daily basis, but in quoting Nephi they said, "I know that he loveth his children; nevertheless, I do not know the meaning of all things" (1st Nephi 11:17). And they showed loved for me. 
And as Mathew said, "And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.", I would ask that you walk with me just a moment longer into my perspective.

I love being gay. 

Which as an odd statement coming from me. For the better part of 16 years I hated knowing that I was different. Even after I started coming out, I hated it. But I began to see with a new perspective. 
Of all people in this world, I have absolutely no right to even remotely judge another person. I am a minority. When coming out of the closet, that was one of the more strange things to realize. I was among the 5-10% of individuals who identify as LGBT. Statistically speaking, I will always be a minority, no matter where I live. 

And on a weekly basis, I have to tell people that I never chose to be gay. Almost daily I have to explain to people, yes, I am a boy who likes boys who also loves his Heavenly Father. I have no right whatsoever to tell someone else what is right and wrong for their life. I feel everyday the impact of other people telling me what is right and wrong.

I hope I am not out of line here when I say that being gay, and furthermore being openly gay and mormon, has made me more compassionate, more accepting and more loving than almost any other thing in my life. Maybe it is because I have been called "faggot" or "homo". Maybe its because I get stares everyday when I'm walking through the commons. Maybe its because there are people whom I love so incredibly much at one point or another that have told me that my path in life is wrong. 

Maybe that's why at school when the girl next to me shows up the folowing day in class with her hair dyed bright blue that I let her know how beautiful it looks with her eyes. Maybe that's why when a guy I know decides that he is going to get gauges in his ears, I tell him that I sincerely hope his mom likes them. Maybe that's why when I meet a person who while growing up as a boy feels so strongly that his life is incompatible with the body he has been born in, I tell her that I think she is awesome.  

You don't have to believe in the same things I do. In fact, I would hope that you don't. What I believe comes from much personal prayer and scripture study and Temple visits. My personal revelation is just that--personal. I would never prescribe my path in life to anyone else, unless they have received the same personal revelation. 

I don't believe same-sex relationships are wrong. The purpose of our sojourn to earth was to have a mortal experience and to learn ultimately to serve our fellow beings and our God. We come here to love and after the proper covenants to become sealed to families, so that in heaven we might be sealed as one giant human family.

I don't believe that I was sent to this earth with one of the most basic capacities of the human experience rendered unusable. On the contrary, I have an equally capable capacity to love and form relationships, but it happens to be with those of my gender. I believe that I was sent to this earth at this time to be able to learn to love in less ideal circumstances than most other people, and with that experience be able to love even more fully in the life to come.

I don't believe that my sexual orientation will change in the next life. I spent most of my younger years imagining what life would look like if I married a girl, and started a family with her. And every time it just felt lacking. I'm not saying that our Heavenly Father lacks the capacity to change sexual orientation--on the contrary, I have no doubt that he could. But as wonderful as a straight version of Aaron would be, as wonderful and productive his life would be, his desire to learn and his capacity to love, that version of Aaron would not be me.

I want the opportunity to learn to love in this life, and I feel very strongly that I should. And I think for me, that means having a committed relationship with another man. I want to feel love, I want to feel commitment, partnership and compassion with another son of God. And if circumstances permit, maybe we will take under our roof a child in need of adoption, who under current circumstances has no favorable options. Parenthood is always a life of service. And if I have the ability, financially and emotionally, I would like to be able to give the gift of a stable and loving home to another child of God who does not have one.

I really hope I haven't offended you with anything I have written. One of the consequences of being a gay mormon is that too often I offend people by either being an openly gay member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, or I offend people because I am a tithing paying member of a church that has funded Proposition 8 and that has been more than hesitant to support anti-discrimination laws on a state level in Utah.

But being a a follower of Christ means so much more than any of that. It means to the best of your ability to love every single person you ever meet.  And so I am trying doing that in the best way I see.

So sometime in the next 10-15 years, when you receiving an announcement in the mail from me and my fiance, I hope you realize that I'm not trying to turn society on its head. I sincerely am not trying to change the bed rock morals of our society. I promise that I am not trying to desecrate religious principals or somehow take another person's rights away.

I am trying my best to love, and to show commitment in partnership, even if in the grand scheme of things it is only temporal, and only for this life. 

I love you guys more than I possibly can say. Many of the people reading this blog have helped me through hell and back in becoming the man I am today. I don't want to make you change your mind. I don't want you to feel like I am telling you that what you believe is wrong. Please, please don't take it like that. But I do hope that you do take into consideration my somewhat unique perspective. It's all I really have to offer.

 I’m trying to be like Jesus;

I’m following in his ways.

I’m trying to love as he did, in all that I do and say.

At times I am tempted to make a wrong choice,

But I try to listen as the still small voice whispers,

“Love one another as Jesus loves you.

Try to show kindness in all that you do.

Be gentle and loving in deed and in thought,

For these are the things Jesus taught.”

16 March 2013

Spring Again!

In celebration of not only my first Saturday off in months but also the 60 degree weather, Aerielle and I went out to Antelope Island to enjoy the sun and the Great Salt Lake.

If you are not a Utahn, this might not seem very odd to you, but here in Utah the Great Salt Lake isn't exactly the most popular of destinations. Because the only things that can survive the saltiness of the water are brine shrimp and brine flies, the dead shrimp gather up at the shoreline and the brine flies..... flock there. So it isn't exactly the most ideal place. 

Luckily for us, it is early enough in the year where the flies aren't out yet and the weather was glorious! So there wasn't much of a bad smell and no flies! After parking, we walked down a short path to the shore line and then hopped from rock to rock until we reached this particular rock where we had our picnic. We named it Aeriellon Island, and it was fantastic.

In other news, the weather has been so favorable this week that we have gone on several short walks around Centerville to enjoy the spring tempratures,

This is a cute little bridge up closer to the base of the Wasatch, over looking a creek. Note the snow still lingering in the background despite the 60 degree temperatures. (Left over from January where this monster rolled through).

And just to make me hate myself even more than I already do, I've been carrying my University of Virginia booklet around with me every where I go for the past week. In other news, admission decisions are released April 1st. In other other news, I am about to spontaneously combust from apprehension.

Also, a shout out to James Miller on his birthday! Happy Birthday and may your 19th year be the best one yet!

Love you guys. Seriously, you are the best.

04 March 2013

For Better or for Worst

Minus the color enhancements and the paragon of cloud formations, this is what my first view of New York City looked like. After taking the sky train from JFK to Jamaica to catch the E Subway train, we emerged out of the 50th street station, facing south along 8th avenue. 

The first thing I remember thinking was how impossibly tall the buildings were.
I remember from about the age of 10 that I thought I was a city boy, and by all accounts, that still has held true through adolescence. In fact, I spent most of my afternoon and evening in downtown Salt Lake City today. My love of the city stems from my earlier childhood memories of going to the symphony with my family on week nights. If you want to read that account, it is located here

My first impressions of what a downtown looked like was from the corner of 4th and Cherry street, in downtown Winston-Salem.

Looking back, it is almost humorous to think that this is what I thought a downtown was for the first portion of my life. Although, after visiting cities like Charlotte, Raleigh and Greensboro, it quickly was apparent to me that downtowns were often much more. Later, I got to visit larger cities such as Atlanta and Philadelphia and my affinity for the city only grew. 

But I still lived in suburbia. The more open spaces of North Carolina were equally appealing to me. Although after I turned 16 when my family moved to Utah, I discovered that I really love the downtown atmosphere.

This is from the corner of Main Street and 300 south. 
Coming back from New York City reminded me how quiet downtown Salt Lake City is. Relatively speaking of course, it is almost placid compared to the initial blast of life that I experienced after emerging from the subway station. Walking almost 7 blocks south to enter Times Square from its south side made the city feel impossibly big that first half hour. My first view of the Center of the western world looked something like this.

I'm not entirely sure why I went on this little tour of my experience with urban centers, but I like where I am going. This certainly wasn't what I was expecting to write. 

I'm really happy with city living. I love having everything so efficiently close, I love the ever vibrant air and the constant movement of life. I love the energy and the sheer human determination to thrive. But I also love having a little time for quiet now and again, which is one reason I think I'm so fond of downtown Salt Lake City. 

It's my kind of city. 

If anything aside from family and friends, I think this is what I will miss the most about Utah if I end up going east for college. Although of my 4 college choices, the University of Utah is just adjacent to this downtown, Philadelphia is 15 minutes by train ride, and Pratt Institute is just a few minutes away from downtown Brooklyn and not too long away form Manhattan. 
Ironically enough, my front running choice, the University of Virginia, isn't at all close to a traditional city center. It has it's down town mall which I'd love to show you.

Oddly enough, I think I like imagining myself going to school here best of all. Maybe it is the southern boy in me calling for home, but gosh darn it, it is just cute. And I can most certainly picture myself here.