Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I'm Afraid to Invite my Gay Non-LDS Friends to Church



I'm gay, so naturally I've made some gay friends since moving down here to Arizona last month. These friends all know I'm a devout Latter-day Saint and some of them have become interested in knowing more about the Church. I happily share with them my testimony about the gospel, and strongly emphasize the eternal perspective we Mormons have and the blessings that can last forever. One of my gay friends asked me if he could come to Church with me on Sunday and I'll admit, I'm afraid to bring him. I don't think my ward is ready for an openly gay investigator.

I often hear less-than-inviting comments being said regarding gay people at church, but I'm also aware that ignorance is a major reason for such things being said (I'm always trying to raise awareness.) But what about gay investigators? Are we going to tell them to simply not take offense to such remarks? They'll just make this visit to the church their last.

Moving out here into a ward that doesn't already have openly gay members in it [other than me] has reminded me how homophobic members of the Church can be (though I know there are so many who truly care about us and I appreciate that so much.) When hearing something that's hurtful I do my best to hold my tongue until I could speak to an individual in private and let them know that something(s) they said were hurtful. But now I see that such behavior among some of my fellow Mormons is directly affecting missionary work in a very negative way, and I am not OK with this.

In the past few weeks I've already heard several gay jokes said by both members and leaders of my new ward. I've been the butt of a joke far too many times already. I would have been very embarrassed if a gay non-LDS friend of mine would have present during any of these taking place. Also, the nature of some of the activities have been specifically boy-girl based, which is fine and all (it IS a singles ward), but I'm glad I didn't invite one of my gay friends to attend any of these nonetheless.

So what's the big fix? I think awareness is all we can do, so here I am writing a blog post about it. I want my gay friends to have a positive experience when they attend church with us. But until we rid ourselves of these apathetic overtones, gay people aren't going to feel invited into our congregations.

When taking part in any sort of church activity, please know that there are gay people around you. I know they're (we're) there and that there are a lot more than you realize. When am I going to be able to confidently invite my gay friends to church and to other church related activities? Soon, I hope.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

It's Been a Month Away from Happy Valley

I've been here a month? Already? Time has flown by! I love adventure, and even though I've lived abroad for three years of my life (my LDS mission in Australia & studying/interning in China) the fact that I've moved here permanently makes things a bit more exciting.

Things I've Learned by Being On My Own:
  • Vacuums are expensive and I don't want to buy one.
  • I need puppies. Seriously though, coming home to two little cute doggies sounds amazing.
  • I LOVE having my own place. I can record and mix music whenever I want. Not to mention the clothes I don't have to wear while lounging around.
  • Ambition plays a huge part in how exciting one's life is.
  • Mail is not exciting.
  • Quiznos Delivers.

Things I Love About Arizona:
  • The heat! Cruising around at night with the windows/top down with friends is amazing because it's warm! AAAHHHHHHHH!!!! I'm a little bitter at all the years I've spent freezing my butt off. Here, most ward activities are water related but don't start until after the sun goes down. It's beautiful.
  • Geckos are cool and really fast. They like to run across my path while I'm running and sometimes they startle me.
  • Bahama Bucks. I can't describe this place properly. Some might say it's a snow cone place, but I don't like snow cones, but I love this place. If you come down this way you'll have to go there and find out how amazing the place is yourself. I will take you.
  • Every restaurant you can imagine is here.
  • My sister and bro-in-law and my dog. It's fun doing stuff with them. I hope my brother joins us after his mission.
  • Huge outdoor shopping malls! Not to mention the live bands that often play outside of them. The warm weather is very inviting and encourages people to be outside at night, which I love.
  • Not being surrounded by Mormons. It makes missionary work easier. Don't get me wrong, I love Mormons.
  • The monsoons. They're really cool looking and very powerful. During my first experience in a monsoon a tree fell on my truck.
  • Crossfit! I know Crossfit isn't just in Arizona, but I didn't start doing it until I moved here. Man, it kicks my butt and I'm crazy sore all the time. I went four times that past week, so I'm pretty beat. My coach is a huge dude who's name is Bear.
  • Being free after work! I cannot express, in words, how utterly fantastic it is not having homework. The work I do actually counts for something! This gives me a feeling of accomplishment and removes the stresses homework brings brought.
  • Setting the thermostat somewhere between 80°F - 85°F. Being constantly cold while indoors is the best way to hinder my mood and productivity. I'm always colder than the average person, but now I get to control the temperature mwahahahaha!
  • Sundays. I'm at a place where it's abnormal to keep the Sabbath day holy. Setting everything aside and focusing on what really matters, my very reason for existence, is refreshing and motivating.
  • Palm trees, even though they're totally imported. I also like the cacti here.

Things I (don't) Love About Arizona:
  • Cockroaches. My very first night in Arizona I went to sleep and woke up the next morning because there was a cockroach on my leg. Um, no. A few days later I saw another one in my kitchen, only this time I had bug spray. I haven't seen any since. Beginners luck perhaps?
  • The tap water is distinguishing. I avoid drinking it at all costs.
  • Haboobs. This is a giant sand storm which looks really cool, but makes everything covered in sand. I noticed sand in my apartment even. Not to mention the haboob that shut down the airport and delayed my flight to Utah for my sister's wedding. It was scheduled to leave at 8:00 pm. We took off at 2:00 am. I arrived at my mom's place at 6:00 am. The wedding was at 10:00 am. I was very tired.

Here are a few pictures of some of my adventures I've mentioned above:

Me at work.

The tree that fell on my car during my first monsoon. Luckily the tree wasn't too big.

Family Home Evening after the sun went down.

Me at work playing around with the new technology stuff. It's a brand new building.

Taken just before the haboob hit me. Luckily airport security came out and picked me up just as the haboob began enveloping me. It was pretty scary actually. I got out of my car, looked up, and saw this ginormous red cloud coming at me very fast. I began running, but soon enough they picked me up right when it was hitting me.
 Here are some pictures of the same haboob. I got these from a news website. The news headline reads,
On the edge of the abyss: Enormous dust storm 2,000 feet tall covers Phoenix cutting power to 9,000 homes



I bought a doormat.

This was my first day of Crossfit! Here I am with my sister, bro-in-law, and friend from work, Jesus.

Eating dinner at the Scottsdale Quarter with Christy and Ben. We just got done seeing Guardians of the Galaxy, which I really liked. It stars Chris Pratt who is my ultimate Hollywood crush.
Chris Pratt.


A candid picture of Christy and Ben. They are seriously the coolest.

My buddy Tyrell came to visit me for a few days. He's from Utah.

Lunch time at work. I LOVE palm trees!

Inside of Scorpion Crossfit in Chandler, AZ.
Out with some fellas.
 I've been liking my fortune cookies as of late.



That's it for now. Getting my studio up and running has been a bit difficult. I need to buy a 7-pin XLR cable for my Avantone CV-12 mic but can't find one anywhere. Soon though! Soon!

Stay close to God and be happy. :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

I Moved to Arizona!

Goodness. This past week was intense. Packing. Moving. Unpacking Shopping. Assembling. Prepping. Meeting new people-ing.

It all began as I packed up my stuff back in Provo, Utah. Select people of Provo were a little unkind to me that last day and wouldn't let me park my truck and trailer in order to allow me to load my stuff into them. I was initially planning to leave Friday night around midnight (night of July 4th), but because I was sooo done with Provo, I left around 7:00 pm just to hasten my escape from the doldrums.

A small fraction of the many farewells that were said.
It wasn't until my room was completely cleared out did things really sink it. It was then I became excited, and even more anxious to leave. Though I didn't have any concrete travel plans, I still just wanted to get on my way. I guess all of my solo traveling in China has taught me to "just go" and enjoy the adventure ahead, whatever it may be.
Standing in my empty room at Timpanogos Gateway apartments, the last of my college apartments.
As a result of time complexities and parking difficulties, my stuff sat in my front room for a day or two. Luckily my roommates were pretty cool with everything.
Finally, after 5 1/2 years of BYU I was finally leaving Provo, for good! I spent a fair amount of time during the previous two weeks driving around, reflecting of all the things that had happened while attending BYU. I could write a book about it all. Oh wait, I am.
After two hours of driving, I stopped for dinner at Fillmore. That Carl's Jr. Closed at 9:00, so after I took this picture I ate at a nearby Burger King. While ordering my food everybody stared at me like I was some kind of exotic outsider.
Taken in Fillmore at 9:00 p.m. #nofilter
At around midnight I was pretty tired. I pulled over in Cedar City and checked into a Hotel 6. The lady at the front desk was very nice. I got into my room, set my alarm for 2:00 a.m., and took a nap. At 2:00 a.m. I was awake and back on the road. I listened to Linkin Park over half of my total drive.

I've had gallbladder issues lately and pulled over a few times to vomit (I tried to hold it back because throwing up kills my voice.) I puked while passing through Las Vegas, but other than that I kept it down. Pleasant, I know.

Hours of sun flower seeds, Linkin Park, driving, beautiful scenery, and a very slow mph.

I pulled up to my Arizona apartment just after noon on Saturday, the 5th of July. I was beat. Time to unload the trailer! My sister Christy and bro-in-law Ben came and helped me unload everything in my apartment (They live in Phoenix.) It was hot, and I loved it. Both my mom and dad gave me some of their older/unused furniture for my place, so I actually had a chair to sit on and a bed to sleep on. I am very grateful to have them (both my parents and the furniture.)
My sister Christy is in her third trimester. I'm going to be an uncle!
Ben & Christy took me to a place called Bahama Buck's. I can't describe it. Other's might say "It's a snow cone place that's really good! The ice they use is the best!" But even that doesn't do it justice. You simply have to try it yourself to find out how amazing it is. I don't like snow cones, but I absolutely loved what I had there.
Eating snow cones at Bahama Buck's!
Saturday morning, after my first night's sleep in Arizona, I woke up because there was a cockroach on my leg. Goooooooodness.

Moved in. Now what? I had an entire week until I started my new job. Well, I had a lot to do, so I got to work. Though I didn't get internet until Wednesday. It was seriously the most horrible thing ever.

I went to church, but was on the verge of puking, so I kept to myself. I was a bit bummed about that. Though I went to FHE and Institute later in the week where I made some new friends.

 I went to IKEA! I really enjoyed going there. It was fun to dream and look at all of the really nice expensive stuff. I am still on a student budget, so I only purchased necessities, and cheap ones at that. Regardless, it was a very expensive week for me. Assembling all of it took all week. But at least it gave me something to do.
I brought all this home and set it up, all by myself. :)
I finally live in a warm/hot place that has palm trees! I love them! My mom still says she misses palm trees (she lives in Utah but grew up in L.A.). There are so many shops and places to eat here. Freeways run all over the place and the giant malls are filled with people. I live by a really big mall that has a lot of really cool stores in it.

I got a haircut and the girl cutting my hair was like, "So, do you go to a singles ward?" I immediately thought, 'I thought I put Provo behind me...' Anyways, there are still TONS of Mormons around here, which I like.

The warm weather invites people to be outside at night. The night life here seems to be the busiest time of day. Walking down the sidewalk you pass groups and groups of people eating outside on a patios of restaurants. I absolutely love it.
Palm trees!!!!
One night I went to a park with some new friends. We climbed up into a tree and chilled there for a while. There must have been 8+ people in the tree at one point.
Chillin in a tree with Taylor, Robby, and some others.
Then I asked a girl to get cheesecake with me late one night. She's really cool. By this time we were already Facebook friends, and since all of my public Facebook posts are generally somehow related to me being a gay Mormon, I assumed she already knew I was gay. She didn't. Oops. I came out to her while eating cheesecake and goodness, I forgot how much I hate doing that! She's totally chill with it, just like everyone else.

I love coming out to groups of people at a time, but coming out to an individual is so much different. It was a good reminder for me.
Two cheesecakes and Taylor.
Then I went and did lazer tag with a group of friends. I totally sucked at it. Like what?! In fact, the group I went with tended to be at the bottom of the rankings. It only brought us closer together, or something like that.

Getting ready to go shoot some people! Or, get shot by people rather.
A lot has happened in a week, but it's been a great week. I am extremely excited for my new life down here and can't wait to get more settled. I plan on joining Cross Fit. My new job starts on Monday which I am very excited for. I have no idea what's in store there, which is pretty exciting per se.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

I've Graduated!!!


Observe, my victory pose:

I walked out of the testing center after taking my last final, ever! During my victory march when leaving the testing center, I decided to walk along the beautiful vegetated trail on the south side of campus. I took this photo there, despite the small group of people standing nearby staring at me. (June 18, 2014)
I have officially graduated from Brigham Young University with a B.S. in Computer Science and an Associates in Management. My first semester was Winter, 2009, totaling about 5 1/2 years of studying.

Me just before going in to take my last final.
After leaving the testing center one last time, I decided I would walk around in order to reflect the countless emotions I've felt at various parts of campus. While doing so, I walked through my favorite part of campus, the trail on the south part of campus which is filled with beautiful vegetation (see victory pose photo).

There are very few people on this trail at any given time. I used to spend a lot of time walking here during school. Whether I just needed time to unwind, time to see the sun, a moment to prepare for a test, a quick stroll to relax after a test, or just a casual walk to celebrate turning in a big project, this trail was always there for me.

So what's next? I have a job and start pretty soon. I'm pretty excited about this next chapter of my life.

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Free Time

I'm taking one class this term. My last class of my undergrad career. Music 202. Beethoven was the man.

My class is held but twice a week and I have little to no homework. Thus I have a lot of free time. What do I do with that free time? I shall tell you.

Music
    I've been writing, transcribing, arranging, covering, recording, mixing, and mastering.

    I'm trying to get better at arranging music, so what better than a super short primary song to arrange? While I'm not a fan a belting out names of deity, this clip shows kind of my style when arranging strictly four voices.

    Now here's a short song some friends and I made on the spot. We were just goofing around and having fun. Each of us only did one take in front of the mic, hence its random lyrics, harmonies, and rhythms.
    Now here is the song I released this past week on my YouTube channel. It's a song I've loved since high school. I wrote a brief blog about it here.

Play
    I've been hanging out with my awesome mom!


    I've been going to Seven Peaks water park a bit.





    Google Plus has been making these videos automatically when my phone automatically uploads its pictures and videos. They're kind of fun.
video


    And then I went to an art museum with my friend. It was edifying.

This statue was scalding hot.
    I've been trying to make DDR cool again.
      I've been putting forth effort to get more involved in my ward. It's been a lot of fun and very rewarding. Here I am with my Elders Quorum President, who is also my home teaching companion. I also home teach one of the girls. 


I love this picture. What's on the screen and our facial expressions say it all hahaha!!!

    Here is another video Google Plus made for me.
video

    I've been making a Mormon themed game for Android with my best buddy Nozomi.

    We got trapped in an elevator.
video
    We made a camp fire in Provo Canyon.
    After we took the bottom picture you see here, a raccoon came and took the entire bag of hot dog buns we had on our table. My phone/camera was still propped up on the table at the time, but I really wanted to video the little dude! I slowly crept towards the table/raccoon to get my phone, but it quickly grabbed what it wanted and ran away. It would have been a hilarious video.

Tyrells face is black for some reason hehe.
    I escorted my friend Tyrell as he purchased a new car.





That's pretty much all that's been going on. Things are pretty dang chill at the moment. I'm trying to make the best of these last moments here in Utah and I'm definitely going to be missing a lot of people, but I'm extremely excited for what's to come. :)

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Will I? (song/video) -- Another Song That's Helped Me Through

I remember the first time I heard this song. One day during my high school years I was sitting on a couch at my mom's house watching a movie that featured this song. My buddy Colten was on the couch next to me. After the song finished I said out loud, "That was amazing." To which Colten responded, "Yeah it was."

I've loved the song ever since.



As I was living in my confused state of not being consciously gay, love songs never spoke to me. Instead, only music that held particularly beautiful harmonies, obscure dissonance, or a special personal meaning to me made it onto my playlist. This song was one of them.

Even though I'm now in a very good place, I still hold strong to the music that helped me through the years. The music I've been writing, recording, and covering still has a bit of a downcast feel to it despite me having moved on from those rougher times. I've discovered that expressing to you such deep parts of my life through the songs that gave me strength has had a liberating effect of me. Each song is a journal entry and I need to write them down, or rather, sing them for you.


Monday, May 12, 2014

Blooper Reel (video)

Here are some behind-the-scenes of some of my video making joys. For those of you who don't know me in person, this will definitely show you more of who I really am hehe.





I've been pretty sick these past 3 weeks with a strange flu. At times I feel great, so I'll do something active, but the day after I'll feel horrible. It's been making me tired and it kills my already small appetite. I guess I'll just keep on resting until I get better. I'm going crazy sitting in my apartment with such limited social interaction. All well. It could be worse :)

But I got to Skype my little bro (and family) for Mother's Day, which was really fun.

That's all for now :)