Sunday, July 03, 2011

Why I Changed My Name

It has taken quite some time to get to this point, but I am just now changing my name on facebook. I know a lot of people might have questions about why I changed my name, why now, and how it all worked. Hopefully in writing this I can answer most questions. But if you have more feel free to ask in the comments.

Let me start at the beginning. After Brandon and I got engaged and really started wedding planning, the issue of name changing came up. There are so many options for gay couples when getting married. Especially since there is less tradition to dictate the 'proper' solution. After talking about it for a while, we ruled out hyphenating our last names or choosing a brand new one because we didn't want to both change our name. We also very much want children in the future and we want them to have a simple last name - the same as both their parents. We decided to be somewhat traditional and one of us take the other's name.

But how did we decide who should keep their name? Both of us were willing to make the change, as we were more concerned with creating a family unit than with anything else. Brandon seemed a little more attached to the idea of keeping his last name and concerned about becoming Dr. Rugg in the future. I didn't have any objections to being Michael Price. My only concern was that my family would somehow think it was a negative statement towards them. In fact, it is a testament to their unconditional love and acceptance that I knew I could do it and have their full support. I volunteered to do it and Brandon agreed.

When we were legally married in Massachusetts in June of 2010 I changed my last name from Rugg to Price. But that's not the end of the story. (Read on if you want to hear the saga of changing my name and why it has taken so long.) When we returned to Utah our marriage was no longer recognized. I started the process of changing my name by taking my marriage certificate to the local social security administration office. They changed my name without any questions. After receiving my updated social security card, I went to the Utah DMV to change my driver license. This is where I hit a brick wall. They wouldn't do it. They snidely suggested I get an updated driver license in a state that recognized it and then come back and get a Utah driver license. (See, discrimination doesn't hurt! There are easy ways around it - just quit your job, move to another state long enough to establish residency, and then come back! No biggie, right?)

Brandon and I quickly realized from this experience that institutionalized discrimination had the ability to harm our family in real and tangible ways. This was about the time we decided we would not live in Utah long term. But we had to wait til he graduated and so it has taken us some time.

In the meantime, something else interesting popped up. When it came time to file my taxes I had the interesting conundrum of wondering which name I should use since I was in a sort of 'name limbo' where my social security number was under a different name than most everything else. But taxes are all done based on your SSN. So I called the IRS and explained my situation. I was put on hold for great lengths of time before finally hearing, definitively, that I needed to file under Michael Price.

Both the federal government and, ironically, the State of Utah issued me tax return checks to Michael Price. But I didn't have any bank accounts (or photo identification for that matter) with that name on it. So I applied for an updated U.S. passport. Luckily, the so-called Defense of Marriage Act is no match for an understanding State Department (thank you, Hillary) and they changed my name. Armed with positive identification I have now begun really changing my name and after I arrive in Seattle in the next month or two my driver license will probably be the last thing to change.

Friday, October 22, 2010

It Gets Better

Well folks, we did it. We tied the knot on June 19th, 2010. It came and went faster than I imagined, but was such an amazing experience (hopefully once-in-a-lifetime!). :) I don't know if I can fully articulate the joy I experienced whilst standing in front of so many family members and friends to commit my life to the man I love. The whole night was kind of surreal. I will never forget the flood of emotions that swept over me as I leaned in and kissed him after saying 'I do.' It was beautiful. It was incredible. It was good.

What a stark contrast to the lonely nights I spent at BYU tossing and turning in despair! At that time I never could have imagined where my life would take me and how the next few years would play out. I spent a lot of time feeling sorry for myself. I spent far too much time debating my own self-worth and trying to find acceptance in a community that would not allow it. I tried hopelessly to embrace any option that would allow me to find fulfillment and maintain worthiness in the church. I endured great pain and anguish - mostly self inflicted - to try and fit the mold. Finally, I opened my heart and mind to other possibilities - that maybe what God wanted for me was different than what I thought. I prayed again and again to ask God if the course I was about to embark on was not right. Not once did I feel that it was wrong. And so I took that leap of faith.

Life after BYU was new and exciting, but not without difficulties. I had the opportunity to date several people and discover myself. Then, in the most unexpected way, I met Brandon. I never really believed people who said 'love will find you' or 'it just happens.' But they were right. I can't imagine someone who completes me more fully, lifts me when I am down, and pushes me to become better. He is funny, smart, attractive, ambitious, and sincere. And I love him. I am convinced now more than ever that this is the place God wanted me all along. This is where I will find more true happiness than any other path I might have chosen.

This is also the pinnacle of my cognitive dissonance with the church. Boyd K. Packer recently emphasized something that I think sums it up better than anything else, 'wickedness never was happiness.' I am happier now in my life than I have ever been before! Not that I haven't been happy before - but it's better now. Far better than I could have anticipated before. I understand the love, commitment, hard work, and rewarding life that comes with marriage to someone I am attracted to, on every level. To me, this is the purpose of life. This is what it is all about! I am challenged every day to become a better person - to improve myself, serve others, and contribute to my community. And I have a wonderful companion by my side to encourage, support, and love me along the way. I feel like together we are far greater than the sum of our parts and because of that God is pleased.

I don't have all the answers. I have a lot to learn about life and love. Each and every day I am presented with new challenges to which I have to adapt and learn from. I know the road ahead of me will be filled with plenty of ups and downs. I'll have good days and bad days. But to the struggling young BYU student who doesn't know where to go or what to do with their life I can assure you this: it gets better. Your life may or may not follow the same course mine has, but it will get better. You will mature and develop and learn what will bring you the most happiness. The best is yet to come. Don't ever give up hope or give in to despair. The world is growing more understanding and more accepting. Things are changing for the better all the time. And you really should be around to see it. It will be worth it, I promise.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Engagement

Wow, it has been forever since I have posted! I will do a very quick catch-up of the last few months.

My blog has been dormant partly due to the peace in my life since graduating and making most of the important decisions that had been plaguing me for so long. Without those difficult decisions to anguish over every single day I haven't had as much to write about. Anyway, life has been good. I'm still working at your local discount brokerage firm and living in Salt Lake.

The biggest news in my life is that I'm now engaged. A little over 6 months ago I met the most amazing man and began dating. Brandon and I went on our first date July 8th and became exclusive relatively quick. The last 6 months have been truly incredible, some days more exciting than others but every moment worthwhile. I have never felt so alive!

I won't go into too many details here, but since several people have asked for the story of how we got engaged, I decided to post it for anyone to read. Here goes.

Friday the 8th of January was our 6 month anniversary. I had been looking forward to it for a few weeks (and I'm sure he was too but not for the same reason ;) ). I went to work as usual, planning to pick him up at 5:15 for our date. To be clear, we planned on a nice date but I was in charge of planning what that date would entail.

After I got off work I texted him to tell him where he could locate a CD that I had made for him. It had several songs that were meaningful to us over the last several months. His task was to listen to it before I got there. I showed up at 5:20, roses in hand, and picked him up. First we headed to a park near the E-Center where we walked around on our very first date. July is very different than January though, so we couldn't walk around the park or sit on the grass to talk like we had done before. Instead we sat in the car to talk. I wanted to remind him of where we were when I started to develop a crush at the very beginning. (Picture to the right was taken on that first date from where we were sitting on the grass and watching the sunset. You can even see his leg.)

Next we headed to downtown Salt Lake and went to dinner at Benihana. Brandon had never been and I wanted to show him a little Japanese culture. We ate beef sashimi along with our meals, which was surprisingly good! And the food was very authentic (minus the mango lemonade).

Then we went ice skating at the Gallivan Center. With the music playing, snow on the ground, and Christmas lights still up it was actually quite romantic. I thought I would freeze but it turns out that skating is a bit of a workout. I warmed right up! Except for my nose and fingers, but that's what boyfriends are for... ;)

From there it was getting late, so we drove up behind the state capitol building to see the view. We went up by Ensign Peak and parked the car. After a minute or two of steep climbing, we turned around to take in the view. It was beautiful! At that point I knelt down and pulled out the ring. There is nothing I could ever want more than to spend the rest of my life with the one I love! I asked him to marry me (after a few words to tell him how much I love him, of course). He said yes!

Here's looking forward to The Best Part.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

The Best Part

Life moves fast. Over the past 3 months so much has happened, and yet it has all passed by so quickly.

Coming out on facebook was a fantastic experience. Almost all of the comments and messages I received were unconditionally supportive and encouraging. There were only a few private messages which weren't. I realize that trying to explain my decisions to people that don't understand homosexuality (or my life over the last 3 years) is near futile. In the end, I am just grateful that 92% of everyone I know and care about does not think less of me. My family supports me, and that's all I really care about anyway.

I moved into a new apartment a few days after my birthday. Michael Wiltbank and I spent the following two weeks decorating and getting our new lives sorted out. There was a lot to do, but it all came together nicely. We had a very fun housewarming party. I'm so thankful for an awesome roommate who can decorate, photograph, cook, and clean. I really do love my living situation. It's by far the most comfortable environment I've been in since I lived at home before my mission.

Not everything in my life is perfect though. I'm kind of frustrated with my job right now. My love life has stalled. I don't feel spiritual enough. Both of the preceding items are due to a church which I have a love/hate relationship with. I'm not a very good investor, despite my supposed 'expertise.' I got my first ever ticket for an 'improper left turn' and had to pay $112.

Overall though, life is definitely good. I have a long road ahead of me and so much of it is unknown. But when it comes to my sexuality and future goals I am no longer conflicted like I was when I started this blog. The dearth of recent blog posts stems mostly from the plethora of peace in my life. There just isn't the same conflict and inner turmoil that once existed. My blog is different because I don't agonize over those things I once did. I recognize that the path before me is going to be full of ups and downs, and I know that I have a lot to learn about life. I'm just thankful to be past the tumultuous period of self-discovery known as coming out.

I've finally arrived at the best part.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

A Birthday Present to Myself

I decided to finally do it. I came out on facebook. The following was just posted on my wall:

This note has been a long time coming. Coming out has been a long process (which started essentially when I was 13). It took me almost 9 years to finally whisper a simple phrase even to myself in the secrecy of my own bedroom: I am gay.

Since that day in the spring of 2006, I have been more and more open about my sexuality. Although I didn't tell my parents and family until the following year, I have since been willing to tell anyone who asked me. And now, after several long years of learning to be comfortable in my own skin, I am ready to be 100% honest with myself, my friends, and so many of you who I have not been able to keep up with as much as I'd like.

I will not dwell on the countless hours I spent agonizing over the choices I had to make. Or the time spent on my knees waiting, pleading, for God to give me an answer - demanding something I could rely on. Or the tear-filled phone calls with friends and family who listened to my anguish. I just don't think there is any way to adequately describe the process I went through to get to where I am today. But it has shaped me as a person in so many ways.

I hope that through this note you will be able to better know me and understand who I am. This does not change the person I am though. While I have made significant changes in my life recently, I'd like to think I'm the same nerdy, organized, and thoughtful kid you've always known. And while some of the context has changed, most of my life goals are still the same (or very similar).

I want to be a successful businessman. I don't want fame or riches, but a good lifestyle with enough of the things that really matter. I want to be well traveled, and to explore new places. I hope to be an example to those around me and inspire others. I hope to someday marry a man who will be a loving father to our children, just as I want to be. And most of all I hope to be able to look back someday and realize that it was all worth it - the trials and the struggles, learning to love and be loved, and accepting myself were all worth it and made me a better person.

And so, as you have probably come here to wish me well on my birthday, I hope that this has been worthwhile. My hope is that instead of just leaving a simple message on my wall you took this chance to get to know me better. I hope that you will put some thought into this issue and reach out to others who may have walked this particular path in life. Mine has been relatively easy, but for so many others it is not. And it is for them that I will continue to reach out, to help, and hopefully to inspire so that their burdens may be light. I want them to know that there is hope, that it gets better, and that there is reason to live and reason to love.

As with others, my journey to this point has been difficult. But, so far at least, I can say it has been worth it. Thank you to all who have helped me so much and supported me unconditionally. It is because of you that I am here today: a happy, healthy, 25 year old gay guy.

Friday, March 20, 2009

The Best Part of Believe is the 'lie'

I had a conversation last night with a friend about the church. We are at very different places, spiritually. Nevertheless, we still get along well and (for the most part) understand and respect each other. Something he said got me thinking though.

We were discussing a mutual friend who we believe has made some seemingly detrimental lifestyle choices. Then we began talking generally about all the people who have decided to leave the church over this issue. He said, as he has to me many times before, 'How can we trust their decision when they began living a gay lifestyle before they left the church?' His point, essentially, was that most people who leave the church experiment with gay 'activities' before doing so. Obviously, according to my friend, their decision is not objective and therefore unreliable.

I think I understand his point, but I disagree with it. When I asked him over a year ago why I had not been given a clear answer to my prayers about the church, he responded that it was because I was not 100% worthy or living the gospel enough to receive that confirmation. Oh the irony! On the one hand, he believes that you must live the (LDS) lifestyle completely in order to gain a testimony that it is right. Yet on the other hand, one cannot live the (gay) lifestyle and gain a testimony that it is right. Apparently, one must gain a testimony that the gay lifestyle is right while living the LDS lifestyle in order for it to be 'reliable.'

Since finally getting off the fence about my sexuality and future I can honestly say that I am much more content in life. I don't blog nearly as much as I once did - mostly because I have so much less to blog about. My life is not conflicted like it once was. I hope and believe that I will find someone I'm attracted to and have a deep connection with. I believe that I will be a father with my husband and that our relationship will be enduring. I believe that I will find lasting happiness with my future family and that we will support each other through all of the ups and downs of life. I believe that it can work. I believe more joy awaits me in my future than I can even imagine right now.

I believe.

Random fact about me you may not know: I love flowers. I can't even explain why, I just do. They make me happy.

Sunday, March 01, 2009

The Loneliness Factor

I HATE being alone! The most horrible thing for me is coming home from work to my empty room with nothing to do for the rest of the night. I just can't stand it, for so many reasons.

First, I am generally unproductive when I'm alone. I don't know why, but I rarely get much done. (At least nothing of substance to show for it.) Or I do get things done but it takes me way longer than it needs to. I work much better under pressure - when I'm busy and only have a limited amount of time to finish. I also work better in a public place or with people around. I don't know why, but when I'm by myself I tend to just sit and ponder a lot. I'll think for long periods of time about the most random things.

Second, it makes me depressed. Yes, time spent alone for me has this 'black hole' quality about it that sucks my energy, willpower, and motivation. When I'm alone I become demotivated to do anything and even quite cynical about my very existence. In short, it's depressing.

Third, it's just not as fun. I don't ever feel like being alone is as much fun as spending time with friends, family, or others. Some people really enjoy time alone and are quite happy and productive during it - I am just not one of them.

I would like to think I am a people person. I think of the quality of my life in terms of how much I gain from my relationships with others. I usually think of the people I want to hang out with before I think of things I want to do. Don't be surprised if I suggest that we hang out but then struggle to figure out what to do. The purpose is to spend time with you - and so the activity is completely secondary and somewhat irrelevant to me.

I judge my success in life by the strength of the relationships I've developed and the people I've influenced. I don't care about the degrees I have, the grades I got, the books I've read, or the movies I've seen. I care about the time I spend with people. That's what makes me the most happy, optimistic, and fulfilled.

This is basically the reason why I believe being single my whole life is just not a plausible option for me.