I got to church today and the bishop wanted to talk. Three thoughts went through my head. 

1: A new calling.
2: He was prompted to meet with me. 
3: I had been outed. 

It was definitely the third.

Our meeting started well. We talked about Christmas traditions and the ward in general, and he thanked me for being a member of the ward. Then I sat back and let him explain why he wanted to meet.

"____ (guy who is subject of last Saturday's
Post - link) came to me and there is some sort of friction between you two. I've heard what he said and I just want to hear your side of the story."

I don't know my bishop very well. I hadn't decided to enlist his help yet, since I don't have any worthiness problems and I'm not sure how he can help. So I shared part of the story - talking about my desire to serve, be connected in the ward, and support and sustain my leaders.

He listened attentively, then told me, "Everything you say to me is confidential. Everything ____ said to me is confidential - I won't tell you what he told me and what you say won't leave the room. It's like they say,  'What happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas.'"

Interesting metaphor, but I love my bishop. He asked me if there was anything else.

I took a deep breath and went deeper - and talked about wanting friends and to be a friend in a new place... leaving the door open for issues like self-esteem (which no one would ever guess) and depression (similar). I knew he wouldn't get either hint, but I have a really hard time opening myself up to people. Again, he listened attentively, but wasn't hearing what he wanted to hear.

"I don't know how to bring this up," he said... paused... "I know that some subjects are ... touchy... Tell me about a website or a blog..."

I looked at this man in front of me while my mind went in a dozen directions. He knew. I had been outed. And now I was supposed to share my life with an almost stranger in a few minutes. I wondered what had pushed my friend to talk with the bishop - but I know nothing of the circumstance but my own view. I still wondered, though, what had gone through his mind... how their conversation had progressed... and what I could do better to make it so that I don't run away friends in the future.

The other part of me realized that, suddenly, I had someone here in front of me who wanted and needed to know at least a good chunk about me and my trials.

The five seconds of wait time was up, and I replied, "That will probably take more time than you have scheduled right now... Have you read it?"

He hadn't. He didn't even have the address. And he wanted to hear from me before he read the site anyway. My esteem for my bishop jumped in that moment... as I realized that, regardless of circumstance, I was grateful to be talking with him. He may not be able to help in what I need right now, but I can counsel with him... and find strength in his guidance. He's a good guy.

I decided to give him a brief synopsis before another meeting with more time. Without ever using the word gay or any of its many incarnations (I actually never used the word, or any relation to it, during the entire conversation. I had already been outed. My friend told him. I didn't need to mention it again.), I talked about my prompting to start this blog, talking with past leaders, and seeing incredible success. I shared some of the countless stories I've received - marriages saved, suicides averted, faith restored... and thousands of letters and comments of thanks.

He asked me, cautiously, if the blog shared principles that led people away from the Church. It sounded like the question was taken partially from the temple interview question. I laughed and told him no - of all the gay Mormon blogs in the blogosphere, mine probably gets the most anti-Mormon hate mail. I get a lot of well-written, well-intended stuff too... but when someone calls you stupid 10 times amid swearing in the course of a poorly written letter...yes,  I definitely support Church doctrine.

I gave him the address and asked him to read the blog from the beginning. I want him to read the whole thing, but I'm not sure if he will. Or if he has the time... I have hundreds of pages by now.

He looked at me and asked, "So, is this going to be a problem between you and ____ for a certain period of time?"

"I don't know, bishop. I'd like to talk to him about it, but I don't know if he'll talk with me."

"I'll talk to him." Then he looked at me with a look that bore into my soul. "Mormon Guy, I want you to know that I am the bishop of this ward, and I know everything that happens. Either people tell me or I get intuition. I'm the judge in Israel here... and I am talking with you because I want you and everyone here to have a spiritual experience in this ward. I don't want you and ____ to be walking down the hall towards each other and to make a u-turn. I want to make sure that doesn't happen."

Nothing else in our conversation meant more than that. If the bishop said he would make it right, it would happen... and maybe it would mean that the burned bridge could somehow be rebuilt.

"Is there anything else I can do?"

I looked at him again, and I saw him, honestly wanting to do everything he could. I told him I'd ask at our next meeting.

Since our conversation, I've thought about all my current needs... and how he could help. Here's the list.

1: Good friends. I need good guy friends who are willing to be good friends. Maybe he can help me identify who in the ward would be good candidates.

2: Help when I'm in crisis, or if I need to repent. I haven't had any major crises lately, and I don't have any worthiness issues... but real people are important. Just having his phone number and being able to call at any time will be enough.

3: Someone to counsel with when I need direction or just want to talk about my blog. Writing here is sometimes stressful. I'm never sure how to respond to letters, and I wish I had more people just to talk to... my few friends who know don't have the time to follow my blog, so I can't talk about it with anyone.

4: (very specific to me) I've felt the desire to go dumpster diving recently - to actively reach out and find people who are struggling beyond the blog. It's one of the most draining things I do... but I need to try again. And when I dumpster dive, I need a shoulder to cry on.

Outed on the 1st Day of Christmas...
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