Sunday, October 28, 2007

The BIG conversation with the folks about being gay

First off it's really impossible to tell this experience well, because it feels epic. But, here's the short summery. Before that though, thanks for the prayers, wishes, good lucks, and warm hearted vibes from phone, texts, this blog, facebook.... I made it through much better than I might of. If I had done this even one year ago I would have probably come home and at the minimum "cut". But I have not... although my fantasy life about cutting has been REALLY strong in the last two days. I am doing everything I know to care about myself including a lot of laughing last night at a comedy club with my friends L, J, and S. :) (I recommend it - comedy with friends after something this hard).

I awoke at 6:30 a.m., got ready, picked up Jessica at 7:30 a.m. drove two hours to this city were we were meeting. We met at a hotel. I was so anxious and so tense that I can still feel that tension in my body today. My mom said "Tel us your story."

I kept it pretty simple saying some of the typical things like: "I've always felt different." As well as explaining that I said in my letter regarding how I've tried to change and how it helped with self hate to be in counseling and to accept myself. My parents affirmed they don't want me to self hate. I used phrases like "I imagine you fear ___________ " eg. fear promiscuity, or that I won't be christian or or or... I said many of your fears are unfounded but whatever I decide to do in the future will be something I decide. It's uncomfortable to talk about these things with them. I also said that I won't debate scripture with them and that I understand these things differently.

And then it started to get a bit more provocative, specific, and my mom started crying more. In retrospect I started to feel angry, but I was very calm and clear in the moment and used "I statements." The general tone of the conversation was polite, calm, and dialogical which was good. Still, they define temptation as any attraction towards someone of the same sex. My dad kept trying to ask me about attraction. This attraction he tried to put in very male terms that grossed me out. And he put it in the same category as porn. (yuck). I kept saying, "I see this differently." And about five times I said "attraction is a biological phenomenon." Which they don't get at all.

They asked me about church, I said "I've been attending a different one in a different denomination." To which my mom said "I don't like that". She talked about how those denominations are too liberal. I tried to talk about the civil war in the church. They just think I have been led astray. My mom said "Do you think if you hadn't been involved in the gay community in your city..." (GRRRRRRR) I said "There is not one gay community just like there is not one straight community. I also said I am not connected to or associated with any "gay community" I know some other gay people.

There was more, but I'll stop there. The worst part of it and what is currently making me the most angry is that even after I explained healing stuff they still gave me the phone number of a christian counselor and gave me a "Focus on the Family" (christian org.) book called "Restoring sexual Identity, hope for women who struggle with same sex attraction" by Anne Paulk. Which I won't even link to because I am so pissed about it. The first line on the back says "Can a Lesbian Change? Yes!" I don't think I was clear enough about the connection between self hate and my trying to change. I am also angry that they insulted the church that is feeling helpful for me right now. They didn't say "You should change" or "You must not have gone to see the right counselor" or "You did not try hard enough", or "You are stupid or otherwise you would have been able to fix this"... But, their giving the book and phone number and my mom judging the denomination of my new church makes it feel like it.

All will be OK in the end, and in a while I can step back from all this and the anger will get less strong. I'm going to go for a long walk today outside, I will watch movies, talk with friends, and generally be nice to myself.

I feel so sad that because my dad is a pastor they feel they have no one to talk to. I strongly encouraged them to find counseling of any sort anywhere. I am the first person they've known who is gay (that they know of). It is not healthy for them to be so isolated and it makes our relationship harder because I can't care for them very well when it comes to this.

Also I gave my parents this Tony Campolo sermon which is a bit more conservative than I am but it's a really great step and he says some amazing things I hope christians and the church can hear!


~Dawn said...

First, Let me say that you have faced the fear and become courageous.

I fully understand where you are coming from, you experience is very similar to my own. My parents didn't know any gay people and they also didn't understand how attraction works.

They and I still have a decent relationship, but there are certain things we don't talk about since we don't agree on them. And they still don't like to talk to my partner.

However, it there is always hope. When my partner had back surgery, my mom came out to 'help' on her own and it was more to get an idea of how our relationship worked.

They haven't booted me out of the family, I still keep in touch with them so that they know I still care about them.

Though they don't like my same-sex attraction, they are slowly understanding that I am more than who I sleep with.

I keep my expectations low - that is how I am - and as long as the line of communication is still open, I'm happy. For now, I just pray for the rest.

Sorry this was so long

just me - titration said...

Thanks Dawn. Only time will tell and all this is so new...

Anonymous said...

Hi, this is 26 year old anonymous again. I just wanted to let you know that I came out to my parents on Oct. 19. It was actually during an argument (worst way, I know) because they said some bigoted things about gay people and it ticked me off. The only way to get them to listen was to tell them I was gay. It did work out alright. I've had a lot of fantasies about cutting in the past week too. But haven't done it.

I know your frustration. My dad also described same-sex attraction in the most disgusting terms. My mother did come out and say she felt I had a traumatic experience which turned me gay. She wants me to see a good Christian counselor and get checked for a hormonal imbalance(??) GRRRRRR!! She thinks being gay (simply being attracted) is a sin and I need to change my attractions. She also thinks that Satan is telling me I'm a lesbian, so therefore, I will be attracted to women. She also believes that I am not truly saved because if I was, God would have changed me and I wouldn't be attracted to women anymore. (oh boy!)

They will not listen to a word I say because they think I've been lead astray. So I understand your anger. We'll see how it goes. I would consider a counselor but more to help them since I'm no longer struggling with my sexuality.

Well, take care. It really is such a new experience. Yet even with as bad as it's going, I'm still relieved.

26 year old anonymous.

just me - titration said...

Hey ms26, seems bold moves are going around. I'm proud of both of us for not cutting! I wonder what your parents would think of that tony Campolo sermon??? Hmmm. Your parents seem to have even more harsh words to say about you being gay than mine! Sad.... Thanks for sharing! We are not alone in this. Hoping you have some good community around you as well! Take care of yourself.

just me - titration said...

O and by saying "take care of yourself" I don't mean it as one of those passing phrases. I mean it in terms of you hoping for all the resources of care in the world to come to your (and my) disposal! Thanks so much for sharing!

M said...

Things lately have been crazy for me and I apologize for my silence. But I check back on you often and just want to say a) congrats on your bravery and b) you are in my prayers.

Liadan said...

Oh geez, my mom bought me that same damn book (and "Coming Out Straight" as well, which was even worse). It's exactly what you'd expect-- "OMG, I didn't want to be a woman because I felt ugly / weak! And I hated men because one raped / molested / abused me! So I decided to act like a man, to osmose Teh Femininity from my lovers, who like me were all emotional leeches!" and so on. It's a veritable stereotype frappe. I think I threw it across the room in disgust at more than one point. Eventually I tossed it in a recycling bin, so it could have a shot at being useful.

Strangely, it was my mom who was doing the porntastic characterization of my sexuality. She also insisted I must have some kind of hormonal imbalance, to the point where they actually tested mine when they were doing the initial blood tests for my antidepressants. Strangely enough, I'm endocrinologically normal. *eyeroll*

My dad was less strident, and he held off on the "you must be physically ill somehow" (since he's a doctor, and thus more well-informed about biology in general), but he did keep pushing the "don't go into That Lifestyle" kind of thing.

My two outings were more screaming / crying matches overall, though. Dialogue would have been nice.

Anonymous said...

Yea, I took a look at those Tony Campolo tapes. They could be helpful. I like that you post some good resources. Unfortunately, my mother isn't accepting too much information from me at this point because apparently anyone that I have been listening to is "evil". Maybe she'll make an exception for those tapes. I'm sure she will buy me a book or two and probably latch onto the ex-gay stuff pretty hard when she discovers it.

I love my mother's suspicions about a hormonal imbalance. That's just laughable (except that she's serious). But it's good to know I'm not the only one who's mother thinks I'm "physically ill somehow".

My family has some Southern Baptist roots. So there is a lot of prejudice and bigotry going around. It is sad. But I know my existence will challenge it. I do have a good community of loving/supportive straight friends and I like reading a few blogs. It's all been helpful.

Well, thank you for sharing your story on this blog. Things will get better in time (I hope) and take care of yourself too.

ms26 (I'll think of a name someday)

Zuzu said...

I'm really proud of you. I think you're perfect the way you are. The whole family got home late and when we were having dinner realized it was after midnight your time. Mom and I didn't think we should call but our thoughts were with you. They're off hiking on the mountain right now - a beautiful hike but one that's a bit too strenuous for me given the current circumstances!

Much love and strength to you!


just me - titration said...

m - I could imagine that things have been crazy for you. Hope you are taking care of yourself! Thanks for the hello and all! :)

liadan - Glad I am not the only one given books like this. I've had a re-occurring fantasy of doing a youtube video where i burn them all (after saying and showing what they are and why I don't like them. And WOH I never heard about this testing hormones and levels people go through! Crazy. Yeah dialog is nice, but...not easy either.

ms26 - maybe you should plant information on some Christian friend of hers...That might be a bit too tricky. Southern baptist eh! Wow. Glad you have some good straight friends... Get thee some lesbian friends as well though, (I think it helps to have people who get the coming out process). You can consider me your blog friend...actually you all can. :)

Cheryl said...

I read your blog Sunday night when I got back from being out of town visiting with my folks. I wanted to write right after I read it, but my own hard discussion with my dad made my nerves feel too raw about this particular issue. He brought up "what the Bible says" again, and it turned into another "you believe this/I believe that" session, and it just wore me out.

I'm so glad that you didn't resort to cutting. I'm sure the temptation must have been terribly powerful. I don't suffer from that need myself, but knowing the intense emotions that came up from my own argument with my dad (and I've been out to my folks for 13 years!), I can only imagine what you must have felt.

I know you've questioned in past posts about whether or not your being vulnerable and exposed about your journey on this blog is a good thing or not. I think the responses to this post is a good indicator that there are others who are with you in the struggle—with your being both supporter as well as the supported. I believe your blog is serving a very good purpose all around.

Hang in there!

just me - titration said...

cheryl: Wow. This post seemed to have brought out everyone's memories of pain! Sad you also were in a raw place at least we both have company and yes it's tough. Thank you for the encouragement that my vulnerability here is helpful for others! Hmmm. Hearing your 13 years story is really sad! Glad you have resources of hope and care thought... (from what I can tell!)

Cheryl said...

Yeah, I'm good. My dad is VERY slow to change, very slow to admit HE might be wrong (or even unsure) about something, very "concrete" in his thinking... black/white, right/wrong... so we will probably have the same discussions over and over until one of us kicks the bucket. Some are just more emotional than others.

However, my mom and I have made amazing strides in our relationship of honesty over those same 13 years. She still doesn't approve, but she's grown in her understanding of the issue, and I'm very grateful for that.

So I'm hoping that every reader's journey will be more reflective of my mom's than my dad's. You just never know. :)

Kate said...

After reading this post, my first reaction was admiration for your ability to respond to your parents with so much compassion. It really says something that you are able to worry about their emotional well-being and how they will process this information when they don't seem able to worry about the potential negative emotional consequences of their reactions on you. I'm very sorry they weren't able to hear more of what you were trying to say to them. Hopefully, time and love will allow them to be more supportive of you in the future. Until then, keep doing such a good job of taking care of yourself and feel free to reach out when you need a hand. (-: Kate