Monday, May 28, 2007

Conversation with the parents about homosexuality

Here's the conversation I had with my parents (mostly with my dad) during lunch today. I didn't out myself but if they are smart they might see one step towards it. I think it was a brave-making conversation, the kind that stretches me for future ones I'll have to have. What you need to understand below is that Mel White was a pastor in my particular denomination and his ordination was revoked because he was gay. I didn't even know my dad was there at that meeting. I didn't even know my parents were aware of Mel White at all. Mel White founded Soulforce and wrote a book. (I'm pretty sure) This is a long post because I wrote our whole conversation below.

Dad: We watched the service for Jerry Falwell's funeral on the Sky Angel Network (Christian satellite TV). One of his sons runs the University and the other pastors the church. One was joking that that was the first time he had seen his brother in real shoes. He usually wears Crocks.

Me: O. (quiet for a bit) Hey have you guy's heard of Mel White?

Both Parents: Yes.

Me: What do you know him from?

Dad: He was excommunicated (which isn't what our denomination does so I guess he meant his pastoral ordination was taken way) because he was a homosexual.

Me: Did you know he ghost wrote Falwell's autobiography?

Mom: Yes. And Billy Grahams. But that was before.

Me: When did all this happen?

Dad: I think the denominational meeting the year you were born. Or the year right before.

Me: What happened? (I actually don't know what I asked here... this is when the world started to feel fussy, but it was something about why).

Dad: They (the church leaders) would work with someone if they would turn from their ways but he wouldn't. (something else here that I blanked on). God can help people overcome alcoholism, drugs, homosexual behavior...

Me: (While feeling a little sick) Alcoholism and drugs are addictions. Homosexuality isn't an addiction.

Dad: Mel White didn't choose to change. They have to choose to change. A person may fall sometimes but as long as they are working on it.... [Something about how God/Holy Spirit can heal anything. Something about choice.]

Me: It's not usually a choice. (Feeling nauseous.)

Dad & Mom: Total silence.

(Lots of awkward silence) I could sense their tension. My dad in particular, I think, was afraid I was going to get all argumentative like I have been sometimes about politics. I didn't. I just felt sad.

Me: So what are you guys doing with the rest of your week....
Thinking afterwards I realized that everything I've done in the whole process of figuring me out I've done with them, this type of conversation with them, in my head. The questions I'll have to anwser when I do tell them will be about choice, no damn-it I didn't choose it. Why the hell would I choose this? They will also be about change/healing - yes I prayed. Yes I did go to counseling to try and heal. Yes I read books. Yes I went to conferences. And finally the conversation will be about scripture and sin. Which for me means being a virgin when I tell them is a pretty big deal because otherwise I doubt there is any hope of them hearing me. They equate homosexuality with sex only, and therefore they equate it with sin. Having them see orientation or attraction apart from sex would be revolutionary. Having them see someone who is gay and who also is a virgin takes they whole sin question out of the running and then they just have to deal with identity, and ultimately me.

How ironic that Mel White was defrocked sometime near when I was born and my parents were there. And now I'm going to cope by driving away from here as fast as my car can take me while listening to the loudest secular music I can find!


Brian said...

I just saw your blog for the first time today (I have a Google Alert setup for Soulforce and Equality Ride and it found this post today...).

I'm encouraged to read of your steps towards openness towards your parents. It seems as if you are laying a foundation for them to stand on when you finally do let it all out... so to speak.

I just wanted to chime in and say hello. I'll keep following your journey from afar. Best of luck. And with all my support and encouragement,


just me said...

Thanks much Brian for the encouragement!

jen lemen said...

hang in there! i think you're doing the right thing to skirt around the issue like this and let the idea out there in conversations like this before you tell them. ideally, they will already know before you have the conversation. hold on, i have a great website for you just in case:

it's written by a christian family that came around on this point and was a great help to a friend who was freaking out when her son told her he was gay.

just me said...

jen - thanks for the website you recommended and the cheerleading. I do love your art btw.

If anyone is reading this and hasn't seen Jen's blog/art do. It's great.