10.12.2010

Coming Out

I suppose the appropriate thing to do on Coming Out Day is write a blog post about how you came out.... yes? Either that, or actually come out to someone who doesn't already know, but I don't want to do that.

My story is not spectacular, but that one moment continues to affect me and my relationships with my family in ways that are sometimes painful. I haven't lived near my family for a very long time. At the time I came out, I was living in a different province and only saw my family maybe twice a year, generally Christmas and some time in summer, possibly an additional visit if circumstances allowed. So I had a hard time figuring out what would be the right thing to do. I couldn't "ruin christmas," but really I visited so seldom that I didn't want to "ruin" any visit. I say ruin because my family are evangelical christians. That's not entirely true. My parents are divorced and both remarried. So my father and his wife are not evangelical christians, but my mom, her husband, my three sisters and all their husbands are.

What I didn't want was to find myself in a room with eight adults jumping down my throat and making demands that I somehow explain, repent, and change my ways. I didn't want to be put on the defensive, I didn't want to fight, and I didn't want to be exorcised. Some people say it's the sort of thing you need to say in person, out of consideration for the people you're telling. I decided to try to be considerate of them, but to protect myself first, and so I wrote them a letter. I wrote the gentlest letter I could write, and I tried to explain that I had always known or suspected that I might be gay. I tried not to apologize for being gay. I wrote a little about what it had been like to be so afraid of what they would think, and how lonely it had been growing up.

They respected my wishes and waited a week or so after receiving the letter to call me. Initially, things seemed to have turned out okay. My mom cried, of course, they wanted to know about the boys I'd dated. They wanted me to know that they still loved me. It seemed like a best case scenario.

Until they started suggesting reparative therapy. They wanted me to talk to someone who was ex-gay. They wanted to know.... do I WANT to be gay? They sent me CD's about how I'm gay because of my home life, and if my psyche was only healed, I could move towards a healthy hetero life again.

This began to drive a wedge between us. Their doctrine tells them that our relationship has to have a disclaimer. "We love you..... even though you're gay." Love the sinner, hate the sin. It's an incredibly condescending and divisive tagline, and they don't seem to realize it.

When I finally told my stepmother the Christmas after I'd moved in with Astasia, she stated that she knew, her and my dad had discussed their suspicions about me, and it wasn't a big deal. She said she wanted me to be happy and she was glad I found someone, and that she'd tell my dad. He and I haven't discussed it since then, but then we haven't been speaking at all. That's a different story.

These days I enjoy being a part of Astasia's family. They include and accept me without disclaimers. Being with my own family feels strained and exhausting, but luckily I'm far away enough now that I only see them once a year.

So that's my story. I hope that one day my family can let go of their prejudice, accept that Astasia's an integral part of my life. I hope that when we get married they can be happy for me. I hope it gets better, with them.

Since then I've been trying to tell people as though it was no big deal. I've mentioned it to a few cousins, in the hopes that the gossip would spread. I've decided not to tell my grandparents at all. Partially because they're not my actually grandparents, but my stepsister's grandparents, but also because they're on the brink of death and I was thinking of waiting them out.

It shouldn't be a big deal. I shouldn't have to worry about how anyone's going to react. I should have to plan how I'm going to tell them. I shouldn't worry that they'll cry when I tell them I'm engaged. It's completely unfair, but I try not to dwell on it. Their religious prejudice may make them miserable, but it doesn't have to make me miserable. After all, gay means happy.

4 comments:

  1. Gay certainly means happy when I'm with you. ;)

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  2. Thank you for writing your story. It is very relevant to me at this particular point, because I will be going to my country, and all my relatives are evangelical freaks.

    So, yeah, I don't want to ruin the family get-together by coming out as atheist. Yet they will notice that something is different. And probably heard gossip about my no longer going to church anyway.

    It sucks, really, because deep down inside, we know it would be nice to have a relationship with our families. But...we differ at a deep level. Frankly, I feel as if they're from another planet.

    ** Lorena

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  3. I feel the same about my family. Sometimes I'm not sure what they thought was worse, me being gay or me not being a christian, and I feel like I have nothing in common with them anymore. It's interesting to me that atheists should need to "come out" a lot like gays do. It's the "invisible minority" dynamic.

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  4. Actually, I think for my relatives, my being an atheist means that any minute they will find out that I drink, do drugs, or even tell them that I am gay. In their minds, I would now be committing all the sins they consider worse of all.

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