May 31, 1997: AS DEEP AS TWO TEENAGED GUYS CAN GET

Dear Dominic,

I am sorry I have not written or contacted you in such a long time. I have not fallen off the face of the earth. I have simply struggled with how to address an issue that I have not had to deal with in the past.

I want you to know that I have many good memories from my friendship with you that I will never forget. I value your friendship, although the lack of communication from my end may not so indicate. I hope you can forgive me for not contacting you, that you can put my actions behind you and that our friendship can continue.

I have spent almost a year and a half trying to figure out how to address something that one of our mutual friends shared with me just prior to my wife and I getting married. Rather than just calling you and telling you how I felt, I mistakenly chose to avoid it and hence the absence of communication.

You may remember me calling you about two years ago after I was contacted by that mutual friend, who was concerned that you were going through something rough. I called you and asked if everything was okay. You said that you were just a little depressed over the issues with your sister and the rest of your family. However, that call indicated that you had not told the whole truth to me, that you were struggling with the fact that you might be gay. I have no reason to doubt the source of the information, but at the same time I don’t want to assume that was the case.

Ultimately, it does not matter to me whether you are gay or were just struggling with the possibility. My frustration and difficulty was with the fact that you did not tell me of your struggle. We have always shared our various struggles openly. We got about as deep as two teenaged guys get, in talking about struggles with girls, pornography, masturbation, and other topics. When I found out that you did not tell me your struggle when I asked, I was hurt. In hindsight, I wish I would have called you right after I got the call and talked to you.

Now that I’ve expressed my feelings, I want you to know that if you are gay, Dominic, that does not change my desire to continue our friendship. We both know that we have a free will to choose how we will live our lives. I also know that if you are gay, that it drastically changes your relationship with your family, and that it has probably been very difficult for you to deal with.

Finally, again please forgive me. I hope you can understand the feelings I have expressed, that you will contact me, and that we can put this time gap behind us.

Most sincerely,

“R”

May 13, 1997: THE FEAR OF BEING ALONE

Dear Dominic,

It is with continued sadness and a deep fear for the fate of your immortal soul that I respond to your last letter.

I understand the need you must have for love and affection in your life. I know all too well what the fear of being alone can do to one’s judgment and how it can influence our choices. I believe, however, you have misinterpreted your feelings allowed hormones to take over your decision-making process. You may feel unable to relate to women in the normal way and rather than make the correct choice of chastity, you have chosen the easier route. I do hope and pray that time and the Holy Spirit can show you the error of your choice and heal the serious consequences of your actions on all levels. I am sure you know by now how totally opposed I am to your choice and I will never compromise on the issue.

Everyone makes mistakes. Our Lord is all-compassionate and merciful and awaits your return to Him. He is, however, just and there are consequences and punishments to all of our sins and mistakes. I hope that it does not lead to eternal damnation for either you or Stephanie or any of us.

Love is all-important, but obedience and honor and respect are, too, and I believe if you respect and honor God you should obey Him. All of your non-Trinitarian sources mentioned in your last letter aren’t worth a damn. Faith, if you really have it, should call you to normalcy or at least chastity.

You are my son and I will love you forever, more than any “love” you claim now, and I am sure your dad feels the same way. You asked for our support. We have always supported you and enabled you to do and learn all that you have. But we will not support you in this choice. We hope you will continue to stay in touch. But I can see no other “support” than our continued love and prayers. We wish you were with us. But it was your choice to leave your family.

Speaking of support. What about the “support” you owe us? Your father is not well (high blood pressure due to the last four years of torment). I am currently unable to work because I broke my foot. And so we have less income and no help at all. Where is the “support” we should have from our children? Support, like love and respect, needs to be reciprocal. We have had none from either of you in our distresses.

We will be here for you should you decide to reform your life and wish our help. At least we hope so, for awhile. But as we have learned in the last year—death comes like a thief in the night and so often it is too late. I entrust you to the care of the Sacred Heart of Jesus and the Immaculate Heart of Mary. I will love you forever.

Yours,

Mom

April 30, 1997: MAGICAL POTIONS

Dear Mom,

Our last conversation wasn’t very civil and I apologize for my angry, hurtful words. All they could do was trouble me and further disturb your already fragile, angry, hurt state. I was so angered, confused, sad. That’s why I insisted that you answer the phone a second time; I knew you felt the same way. (I hope our not speaking for a few weeks has allowed us to cool and that it is not, instead, a sign that we will never speak again. Even if you can’t believe it, I suffer with you.) I can not, though, apologize for my adamant certainty that I am living rightly. Regarding that certainty, I have been realizing several things lately:

Our waging theological, psychological warfare will get us nowhere. It’s gotten us nowhere so far. You’ve sent me ample literature. I’ve read a good deal of it. You are sure that it hasn’t done a bit of good, but only since they weren’t the magical potions you hoped they’d be. They have done good, though, in adding to my understanding about myself and about others who would try to know about me. I’ve also learned a great deal about who you are. I haven’t sent you any yet, because the sources of my guidance and instruction are more often immaterial: prayer and thinking. Others could only garner ridicule from you: Thomas Merton’s spirituality, Tennessee Williams’ short stories, Shelley and Keats’ visions of God and truth, Aldous Huxley’s investigations, World War I poetry, Whitman’s concept of adhesiveness and robust love, Paramhansa Yogananda’s teachings, friends’ support and criticism. And let’s not forget the Scriptures and the promise of resurrection. From each I’ve gained insight into human complexities, nuances, realities, and unreality, or maya. In short, into big-L life and my life. I like the way I’m becoming. At the moment, you’re the only thing missing. But I know that you throwing Fr. So-and-So at me and me throwing Whitman back at you isn’t going to work. The priest and the poet might get hurt. There has to be a better way (and that’s not me changing).

I believe that I should no longer ask myself “What if? What if?” as if “if” were something better, righter, more happy or fulfilling. All my “What if?” questions remain potentialities unactualized. They are not what has happened to me, what has knocked on my door, what has flipped my switch. Not what I’ve chosen. I did not plan to fall in love with Scott, but I did. And I do. I never expected to be where I am today. Instead of “What if?” I choose to say, “I did love “F”, but now I don’t and she loves someone else and is getting married soon. Yes, I could’ve fallen in love with “J”, and I sure as heck always wanted to, you know, have sex with her. I’m living with Scott now, so dating “Q” is out of the question, no matter how hard I think she’s trying. I’m not the biomechanical engineer I went to school to become. I am, however, a writing consultant, a teacher, a book seller. I enjoy what I do.” My point is is that the more we plan, the more we have to be prepared to be let down. The life of the cosmos and our lives are unexpected, surprising, every-changing, quantum. As the Buddhists say, “No expectations.”

The major problem you seem to have with what I’ve chosen is that I love Scott physically. I believe that we are essentially spirit, but that we are also comprised of bodies that are temples of that spirit. We must nourish, love, take care of, and share that body and temple. Not deny our bodies like anathema. I’m not advocating promiscuity or orgiastic craziness or sexual domination or other carnal excesses. But neither is Jesus denying the body when he says, “Whoever loves me will deny himself.” We (Christianity especially) have connected the concept of denial with denial of the body in such an unhealthy—and misinterpreted—way for so long. We’ve connected “himself” with “body,” rather than with, as it should be properly connected, the “ego.” I believe in trying to realize and nurture one’s true Self (which is not one’s illusory ego) and also in trying to realize and nurture one’s body (even though, in the end, it is corruptible). Corruptible, yes. Evil, no.

I am still the same Dominic, but not the boy you once knew. He’s gone. That’s to be expected—sorry. But the same person still stands before you and will, God willing, be able to stand before you, beside you, forever, no matter who thinks they’re right.

The same,

Dominic

March 2, 1997: PLEASE DON’T CHOP OFF YOUR EAR

Dominic,

Thank you for your long and personal and thoughtful letter. That was the heaviest letter I think I’ve ever gotten (I’d say about 12 ounces). It’s flattering to feel like someone is thinking of me, and it’s important once in awhile, when I feel as though I’m in Honduras, thousands of miles away from all my loved ones (which I am, of course).

I think the metaphor you found for your mother being a stone is pretty apt. But you know that you are not the Gorgon, correct? You are the mirror. Think of what it has been like for her to hear you, her magnum opus, her second chance to do things right, sound this discordant note. Where could this note have come from? You’re a pretty damn frustrating square peg, Dominic. A living, paradoxical contradiction between orthodoxy and love (also orthodoxy). When your mom looks at you, she sees a leak sprung in the internal logic of her Church, and I think this really paralyzes her. The Gorgon is the agonizing choice between two covenants. She’s gone with Moses’ tablets, but perhaps in time their fiercesomeness will be worn away and forgotten in the vastness of love that is the other Rock. That’s my hope.

Dominic, you remind me of that Don MacLean song “Vincent.” I get sad when I think perhaps you may be too beautiful for this world. Please don’t chop off your ear when the world isn’t up to understanding you. In between that extreme and the other unpleasant option of gloating in martyrdom, there lies the liberating possibility of communing with the beauty of the world. It sounds like you have been following this route, which gladdens me. As individual egos, it seems the vast majority of us are doomed to ignorance of our beauty and that of all of God’s lustrous creation. But beneath all of it is a humming, vibrant consciousness that is always there for us to bring our joy to, to share in it. I know of a deep and aching loneliness that rises up to drown me at times when I feel separated from everything and everyone. But when I’m paying attention to myself and to God, I begin to feel with surety my connections with something great and joyous. Our triumphs, challenges, and wonder are not lost upon the universe. They do not go unnoticed, unrecorded. When we begin to engage the entire Universe as our constant companion, we can be certain we’re attracting diving attention.

What a great joy it is when we find a fellow soul who hears the same Divine Song, or is at least eager to listen for it with us. Though I am not gay, I know what it is like to love someone so much (a man or a woman) that my heart aches with loneliness even while I am with them, because of the separateness of our identities. I think this aching of the soul is caused by our egos’ poor communication with Spirit, and our conscious selves’ resultant nostalgic pining for something that is certainly already ours, if we only knew it. When our egos distract us from what our Spirit knows (this is what happens when we think our faith has failed us), it is especially comforting to have a reminder in the form of a relationship with another person.

Dominic, there have been times in the past couple years when I’ve caught myself wishing I were gay so I could pursue that kind of life-affirming relationship with you or with my good friend “T” (“T” is not gay either, so that one would be even trickier). For some reason, I still haven’t found that kind of deep rapport with a woman who was also willing to recognize it. I’ve thought a lot of joining the Self-Realization Fellowship monastery; the camaraderie is a big factor. But so far, I’ve found myself put into situations that call for my physical separation from others with whom I share a spiritual affinity. This has required me to marshal my resources and come to the realization that the world around us is really talking to us, if we’ll only listen.

Well, what do you think of all that philosophizing bullshit? Write back soon.

Your friend,

“D”

February 11, 1997: OF MICE & MEN

Dear Dominic,

Thank you for the letter. I’m sorry you’ve been so sad and so cut-off. Unfortunately, you are the cause of your own sorrow as well as the cause of our sorrow. What an incredible turn of events! The “home that once was,” as you put it, is gone forever for all of us. I pray every day for healing and reunification for all of us, but, still, nothing that was will be again and all that could have been will never be. “The best laid plans of mice and men.” Oh, well!

As for the “details” of your “affection” for your roommate, you’ll have to understand that I find it hard to believe. Frankly, I may never believe any of you again. Forgive, yes, because my salvation depends on it. Forget, never. Trust, highly improbably. Accept anything other than a normal or celibate lifestyle from you—never. I have read enough about the homosexual’s disordered mentality to know that any attempts you make to play on my emotions or love for you (which will always remain) will never get me to accept the lifestyle.

We love you and want you back in Seattle. We will support you totally if you give up your obsessive disorder. It is totally possible for you to live a celibate lifestyle if you do not wish to marry a woman. Many men have successfully done so. Nothing else is acceptable. Painful as it may be, you need to decide soon.

Terrible things are beginning to happen and this country is going to have serious problems very soon. Neither you or your sister will make it on your own and your “partners” will desert you both because there is no real love there, only self-interest. I’ll be right here.

Love,

Mom