Driving a Stickshift


While I was at BYU, I became close friends with one of my professors, and their family.  I would hang out with the kids, take them to movies, watch movies at their house, I even took a couple of them to a state wrestling final one year.  They were my Provo family.  I loved them, and they me.  One of the boys would ask me every time I was there if I was going to spend the night.  I always came up with some excuse why I couldn’t.  I would have loved to say yes to him, but I didn’t know how his parents would feel about the whole thing, and I certainly didn’t want to make them the bad guys.  I usually could just claim that I needed to be up early for some sort of school thing.

When their oldest was learning to drive, he was having a tough time with driving a manual transmission.  He was letting the clutch out too quickly, and stalling the car, just like every other kid.  He was being taught by his dad, and was really nervous.  His dad was a great guy, but wasn’t the best at not letting his frustration show.  It was kind of a vicious cycle.  The car would lurch, the father would get frustrated, the child would get nervous, and the car would lurch.

I offered to teach him how to drive stick.  we went to a parking lot on BYU’s campus, just north of the Marriott center.  I told him why I thought he would be able to do better with me than with his dad.  For one, I had a less valuable car than his dad had.  The second, and more important reason, was that I wasn’t his dad.  I explained that while there was no chance that I was going to stop being his honorary big brother, regardless of what happened, including any damage to my car.  I went on to explain that even if I did stop being his honorary big brother, that he would get over that loss much easier than if he were to anger his dad, and his dad were to abandon him because of it. (again, this is not something his dad would ever do.  He has an excellent father who loves him a lot.)  There simply was not the same level of emotional investment in our relationship that there was in the relationship with his father.

After this little chat, and a couple of techniques that make it easy to learn the concept of driving a stick, he was driving across town, on the freeway, and back up the winding hills to his house.  He learned it quickly, precisely because he has less nervous than when his dad was involved.

You may be wondering what this has to do with homosexuality.

Often times people will ask me if my parents or family in general know about my situation.  The answer is no.  I haven’t told them, nor do I plan to ever tell them.  The next question is how I think they would react to me telling them about it.  Well, my brain tells me that they would love me, and that they would be supportive of my efforts to bring my life back in line with the beliefs that we share.  There is another part of my brain, however, that says, are you kidding?  This is the part of my brain that calculates relative probabilities and risk.  This is the part of the brain that keeps me from ever wanting them to find out.

My close friends know how attached I get to them.  I hug them, I tell them I love them.  They mean the world to me.  That being said, if one of those friends, upon learning of my past, decided they would not like to interact with me anymore, I would eventually get over it.  There have been friends who, simply upon suspicion, or simply because I was more affectionate with them than they preferred, have basically broken off any contact with me.  It sucked, a lot.  Yes, I cried over it.

As much as it hurt to lose a friend I loved, it would be infinitely worse for me to have a family member make that decision.  While I would put the probability of such a reaction at extremely low, it’s still a possibility that I am unwilling to chance.  Then there is the other possibility, which I think may be more probable, the possibility that my family would then look at me differently.  That they would question everything I did, and wonder why I did it.  Things that would previously seem like nothing to them could take on a different meaning in their minds.  Again, not probable, but also not something I could stand.

When it comes down to it, I can’t tell my family because they simply mean too much to me.  I love them too much, and am too emotionally invested in them believing in the version of me I’m trying to become, that I will not put that in jeopardy by telling them about the version of me that I have been.

I don’t know if others feel the same way.  I don’t think this is unique to me, or to the specific situation that I am in.  I think that we make these sorts of calculations all the time.  But then, I may be wrong.  Either way, I would like to hear your thoughts on it.  Drop me a comment.  Tell me what you think of all this.

Most of all, know that if you are one of my friends, I love you.

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3 thoughts on “Driving a Stickshift

  1. I used to be afraid to tell other people about my SGA. But now, I dont even care if they know. It’s none of their business.

    I know some of my friends know about my SGA. But they choose not to discuss that or even mention it. They still hang out with me and still love me just the way I am. It’s because they know I’m still the same person regardless they have new knowledge about me.

    So, IMHO, dont be too afraid if those straight people know who you really are. If they are really your friend, they will stick with you no matter who you are.

    Joned

    1. Joned,

      Thank you for your comment. I don’t know that I am comfortable with large amounts of people knowing about my struggle. (at least when they know who I am.) I may get there at some point, but today is not that day. For now, I am ok with not disclosing to the general public, and helping others in my same situation. Mostly, I’m just trying to help people understand what goes through my mind. It is not going to be representative of everyone who deals with SGA, but it will give an idea of at least one guy’s thoughts.

      I hope you keep reading, and commenting.

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