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GLBT Exmos

August 2010

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falloutkid in glbt_exmormons

Hella xposted

Have you ever hated the ones you loved?

Sometimes I wonder how safe it is to post things like this here. I wonder if it would be considered a betrayal to share this with others. After I read it again, I reconsider, sometimes out of spite, and I gladly post anyways. However, despite my varying attitude, I still ultimately retain warm, loving feelings towards my relatives, despite how much we argue at times. They are the road back to myself. Blood and history. Over the river and through the woods....

I post these behind cuts because they are massive, usually. I also post them because I figure it helps to know that there other people out there deal with such fucked up shit. I honestly can't believe that this is my life sometimes, that this is what I have to put up with for the rest of my days. It makes me feel so incredibly angry, like I could start screaming and never stop. In the context of the suffering in the world, I feel like complaining won't really do me any good, that it is really quite minimal, and I typically try to refrain from self-pity. However, sometimes I wish I was born with family that would really love me back. These represent my stabs in the dark.

Context: I was disinvited by my grandparents to attend fammo reunion with boyfriend in tow. I resolved to not go and seethe in bitterness instead. Bold accusations apparently ensue which I was not privvy to; not all family members were okay with this disinvitation (awww! good for them). One auntie ("J______") invited the people desiring to live in a controlled and sheltered community to live with the Amish... WTF? hahaha. First email is from an uncle, followed by my reply:

Dear Family,

     At the risk of saying too much (if I haven't already), I thought I would chime in. Not with answers, but with a lot of questions.
     As I read R____ and J______'s comments, I have to wonder about the various interpretations of what it means to "accept others" and to "judge". And I would really like to ask those in the family who feel judged or unaccepted how I can do better.
     You see, I sometimes feel judged and unaccepted as well.
Specifically, I wonder how I can hold true to my beliefs, and still make others feel accepted and not judged. These are very real issues for me, so I hope everyone will take them seriously (and accept me without judging me for expressing them).
     I believe, in the deepest part of my heart and consciousness, that there is a God, and that He requires a certain standard of behavior from us and for us. But immediately, that belief threatens others around me who have adopted different values and lifestyles. They think that if I believe their behavior is inherently offensive to God, how can I also love them and accept them for who they are? Therefore, they see me as judging and unaccepting of them. Regardless of how I truly feel. To some degree, this is a natural human reaction. From my perspective, especially if I truly do love them and accept them, I feel like they have judged me and rejected me personally for my beliefs. They won't let me hold true to what I really believe and stand accepted in their eyes! Crazy how it goes full circle, huh?
     I was raised to love the sinner and hate the sin. Sometimes, I think people who have chosen different values suspect that this is not truly possible, that it can't be done. If you reject my lifestyle, you must reject me as well. (There's that pressure again for me to reject my beliefs or stand judged of being holier than thou and unaccepting of everyone...) But I know it can be done, IS done easily and frequently, by those with love in their hearts. I was taught these principles by eight older siblings, many of their spouses, and above all by my parents.
     Like J______ said, my Mom and Dad were famous for taking in others, MOST particularly those with different standards and values. I remember thieves, drug addicts, homeless persons and more living with us. Did Mom and Dad love these people? Certainly more than the rest of society! Did they have to adjust their values to love and accept these others? Not one little bit. I remember quite vividly two specific instances that taught me how completely and tenaciously they could love the sinner, but reject the sin.
     In one case, a drug addict had been living with us and attending church, including mutual nights. He had committed to Dad that he would not do drugs in our home or in church, and not come to either if he was high. When he violated both rules, Dad was so angry he kicked him out. The reason I remember is that I was in the car when he kicked him out, literally, right in the middle of 123 in downtown Vienna, in traffic! (He later let him come home and claim his belongings, but he was gone!)
     In another case, Dad's niece (my cousin), came to live with us for awhile. Her family had lost control of her and she had become very promiscuous. Again, Mom and Dad's rules were quite clear. The moment she violated them (and I mean within minutes!) I was sleeping at a friends house, and she was on her way back home the next day. I believe I was 14 at the time. Was I in any real danger? I don't think so. Had I been exposed to sex? Enough, certainly. But they were protecting their children from dangers they saw as real and grave. But by today's standards, would they too be percieved as judging and unaccepting of others? No one could say truthfully that such was their hearts!
     Many years later, while living in Utah, I became friends with a man who in many ways was my exact opposite. Particularly, we held extremely, and passionately opposing views on the church and religion, morality, and politics. In these three areas we shared no common ground. The normal response for me would have been to simply avoid these topics when we were together. I think he would have said the same. But somehow, our friendship developed along different lines. Lately, I have been pondering how that occurred, but I really don't know how or what caused it to happen.
     These touchy topics seemed to be all we talked about, or debated I should say. As soon as he came in my door, he had a new argument to make, a new point to pick at. But I found myself looking forward to our visits, and even called him from time to time. You see, we had come to accept each other for what we were. He could sense that from me, and I from him. We were completely at home and comfortable with each other. We liked each other. And for the first time, I had found someone with opposing views that it was "safe" to talk with! I could tell him exactly what I thought of Clinton, as he would with me on Bush. And there was never any danger of feeling judged or rejected by the other. This experience stands alone in my life for feeling so loved and completely accepted by someone who had chosen very different values and lifestyle. I will love Rob forever for our years of friendship! He gave me the chance to see and understand others quite different from me without requiring me to change or adopt his beliefs! That was a rare gift. And he would say the same of me.
However, I have rarely if ever achieved this with anyone else. So this finally brings me to the questions I have been pondering. I ask my family members who have chosen different values and lifestyles than mine: How can I maintain my beliefs without making you feel like I reject you? If I choose to restrict certain influences on my children until ages of my choosing, am I perceived as judging and unaccepting? And if you invite me to live with the Amish, that certainly makes me feel like you do not accept me, and judge me in ways I find offensive. How do I then NOT feel like you are as judging and unaccepting as you accuse me of being?
     Some of these very questions are offensive. I truly do not mean to offend anyone. These are merely the questions rattling around in my mind as I read these letters. I believe I can love others who have chosen very different values and lifestyles. My beliefs do not make me judgemental or holier than thou. I know this because I have experienced it. I have also witnessed it done to perfection over a lifetime made habit by my parents.
So what in my behavior needs to change to make others still feel accepted and loved, even and especially those who have made different choices? I will not lay down my beliefs, but if I do not, can you not believe I can still love you? Is my disapproval of your choices necessarily interpreted as disapproval of you? Will you not accept me for who I am, along with my beliefs, just as you desire to be accepted as who you are along with yours? Will you boycott me and my family (that thought saddens me to tears) because you think my beliefs cannot coexist with love and acceptance of others? Will you judge me so?
     If not, teach me what I can do better! Help me understand what words and actions of mine make you feel unloved or unaccepted by me! Don't cut me off because of what I believe.
     (J______, don't you send me to live with the Amish :-) You better accept me as I am just like I accept you! You better, because I love you, and I am better for having you in my life and not out of it!)
And that's what families are all about!


Dear Family,

      The Amish? Surely, I must have missed something. I do not believe that I have seen or heard any of the recent debates surrounding this. However, I think I can understand how the flavor of these discussions may have evolved.
     It has become politically inexpedient to discuss much of my life in great detail with many recipients of this email. Whatever secret controversy exists does so perhaps more in exaggeration, myth, and indirectness than in (pardon the pun) straightforward detail and fact. Let us put an end to it. I do not have the stomach for stoic silence on the issue and also appetite for a treatise on the importance of acceptance in the ranks of family, no matter how well intentioned those fine words are.
     Even the vaguest points of reference I may make towards specific information has been hushed in the past. On Valentine's Day, I am dissuaded from publicly naming the object of my affection. I may not either name my everyday habits, which begin and end in that most ridiculously condemned behavior, sharing a bed --and indeed, a life-- with a person of the same sex. Any innocuous detail of my life that has been condemned as sinful seems to be classified as "too much information", and I am certain even the frankness displayed here riles contempt. But why? You may bring Christ to the table and I must leave my life behind?
      Family, it is not to be this way.
     This is not the nature of the legends you embrace. From the stories, I recall that the man not only accepted those considered as sinners into his own company, he embraced them to the point of entering their home and sharing their food and wine. You would not even set a place to sit in the safety and confines of your own home for the likes of us, lest we befoul the pious and upright atmosphere or exert some unsavory influence.
I live a life where the most mundane and everyday detail of my life is rendered an unmentionable for this audience.... I hope you can appreciate the farcical absurdity I contend with. If not now, perhaps we'll laugh later, but I assure you, I will be the last one laughing. For I am happier than I could have ever expected. This has been the greatest year of my life. I would love to show you why, to hold your hand, and to look you in the eyes as I explain the peace and serenity amidst the modern chaos I have found. I have faced terrible despair in this life and I have grown from it. I have worked hard to build a new life as various attempts before become rendered to ash and memory. Now, a rose grows through the cracked concrete, and it smells just as sweet. This epic return of good faith and yes, virtuous living oriented towards service and betterment of humanity may fill spirits with comfort, fresh wind for old sails. No surprise that my heart swells with pride and gratitude, and as I count the names of those that have helped make it possible, there is one name that I write whose owner you may never meet: Owen W____. Truly a tragedy for you, indeed. You should mourn that your own bitter and inflexible nature makes such a meeting impossible, for despite everything, there is no other barrier.
      Nevertheless, this divide still exists. I understand why you may feel this way, but you must never ask me to accept it. You may ask how to be righteous and firm, and not have it as a stone placed between us? I have approached this at a similar philosophy with my own nuclear family: I do not expect them to view my human relationship with the same reverence they reserve for their own couplings, which they revere as sacred and sanctioned by God. I would not ask them to. However, there is not one among my siblings or parental figures that could deny my happiness, or that would ask to not be exposed to its source. We reserve distance from each others respective and divergent philosophies, but never from each others' hearts. I am blessed to have them, for I have seen many in the world that face estrangement from their immediate families, whether from anti-religious considerations or sexual orientation. As to my knowledge, all of my immediate family are all temple worthy Mormons, those that are age eligible. They risk nothing in their association with me or Owen; while I may be thought of as a sinner, I have not had any recent reason to believe I, or even Owen, for that matter, was less loved by them. Their behavior gives me a new hope in their rationality and humanity, despite the handicap of their religious adherence.
      You may not have their experiences, but you do have their example. If your guilty conscience plagues you, then follow them, for they do not carry any doubt in regards of how to treat their own brother.
      Perhaps more serious is if your guilt is not piqued at all: to speak ill behind one's back, or speak nothing in the presence of these ill words. However, that which raises my ire the most is to defer on someone else to speak to me, instead of confiding your reservations against me and mine directly. It is no challenge for me to listen to such ignorance, for I will face a lifetime of it. You are incapable of contributing more than the smallest fraction of what I have already endured. But to consign this pettiness to the duty of someone else is twice the insult. You should not make someone else your proxy, especially not your parents. Defend your beliefs, however unpopular, if they are indeed truly yours.
      "Wickedness was never happiness". Does this maxim ring true for my case or not? Perhaps the presence of genuine happiness in my life and the simultaneous practice of homosexuality is difficult for you to reconcile? Perhaps these old standards of "wickedness" are as equally incorrect and outdated as prejudice based on racial lines? You cannot safely compare my sexuality to drug addiction anymore than I could ascribe your prayers as talking to invisible people as evidence of schizophrenia.
      I am not seeking to convert you, and I assure you, I am incapable of conversion. We generally know each others' stance on basic issues. But we must not shrink away from the ultimate truth. Despite scorn, separate disciplines, or passion, we are universally the same: we are beings that were born, will live, will suffer, and will die. This commonality assures that we have more in common than whatever trivialities separate us.
Recognition of this is how we meet in the middle. It is real sometimes, but I assure you, it will be worth it.


Doug Taylor