Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Family and friends

In addition, Matthew told us that as he thought about all his friends who struggle because of same-gender attraction, he quickly realized that the friends who seem to have the most peace in their lives are the friends who have told their parents about their challenge. We have encouraged the young men who have met with us to be as patient and as understanding with their parents as they want their parents to be with them. The parents will have to go through a learning curve, and, in most cases, the parents are trying very hard to understand their child's challenge.
Marilyn Matis in In Quiet Desperation

My parents do not know I'm gay. And if they've suspected, I've given them plenty of reason to suppress any concerns they may have had by providing them with such empiric data as a wife and child. And, given their zealous conservative adherence (and over-adherence) to perceived doctrine, I don't imagine them being the most comfortable with the idea. I mean, they would be, after a while... if I could manage the patience Marilyn is asking for, but I don't really want to go through the in-between time. I'd rather just skip to the part where they're as accepting and comfortable with it as I am. But it took me decades to get here.

When I think about the folks I've met through their blogs, there seems to be a definite pattern (not without exceptions) that family knowledge and support of the issue makes one better able to accept and deal with being gay. I'd say parents are the most important for a single guy, and wife is most important for a married one. Those intimate partners (parents and spouse) are invested in every part of one's happiness and life.

There are, of course, some folks who have too many issues of their own to be able to help deal with a child or spouse's sexuality concerns. Sharing with such folks might make the road harder rather than easier. But I think they are few and far between. At least, that's my optimistic hope.

I've had a lot of support from friends who know I'm gay though. For me, these friends have been bloggers, for others they are real-life face-to-face people. The in-person kind of friends have benefits and drawbacks though. For example, contacts in the gay world can offer perspective and insight family can't approach on some topics, but they also bring a package deal of potential temptation and, well, sometimes betrayal.

Family is pretty loyal. At least, mine is.

At some point (I don't know when), I'll share this burden with my parents. Perhaps I'll link to this blog in an e-mail. Ha! Wouldn't that be the chicken way to get it all out on the table! They could research my story to their hearts' content. Of course, they'd also find out what a potty-mouth I am and that I occasionally have watched R rated movies, and that would probably weigh on them more than my being gay (what with being gay not being a sin and cussing being a perfectly volitional thing)!

Oh, dear family, if you read this, don't worry! I'll repent when I'm good and damn ready.


Attempting said...

If my mom let's out a swear I'll cuss along with her to embarass her.

Oh, I felt like I should tell my parents about my experience with SSA, but I was thoroughly against it. Then I went to FHE at the Matis house in May, and they basically gave me a drop kick in the face and told me to tell my parents. Two days later I finally did it!

It's been SO difficult, but it was a step in the right direction for them to resolve some feelings about my brother, and to help repair our communication issues.

It would've also been so difficult for me to try to tell them why I was rejected from Missionary service if they didn't know I'm gay.

Anonymous said...

Hey I understand u.. I mean I haven't told my parents about me being gay.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
santorio said...

the next question is, do you tell your children, if so when?

Scot said...

Great and important post, L.

I’ve seen it go bad enough time to worry, but, in my experience it almost always works itself out; blood being as thick as it is. I think the key with family for the gay man is patience and civility, even if he thinks it’s underserved. They need time, just as the gay man did. His family may hurt him and even try to, but in the end they’re still family and typically they’ll get used to him being gay, as long as he doesn’t help the bridges burn.

Unusual said...

I'm curious, -L-, why you want to tell your parents. I'm not being at all critical of your desire to tell them, just curious, because I still don't see any advantage I'd gain in telling mine. I know you mentioned that others have and it's worked out just fine, but what has anyone gained from it? How does it make dealing with SGA any easier? I don't talk with my parents about sex frequently in the first place - not that it's taboo, it's just not what I talk about with them all the time, so I don't see the advantage.

listening intently said...

Excuses, excuses. In fact ... the exact same excuses I used to convince myself I shouldn't tell my parents. Then one day after reflecting on just how much my parents love me (something I often refused to admit) and how many sacrifices my parents made for me, I told them.

Sure, there were months of tears and frustration.

But now, over a year later, my relationship with my parents has gone to a place I never could have imagined before. It's incredible - I'm flabbergasted by the the new level of openness, spirituality, honesty, and love in our relationship. I actually look forward to going home now! Their continuing support and compassion is inspiring.

Just think - if you're gay and still Mormon, chances are that you find the idea of "family" to be quite inspiring. Why not explore and nurture the love (true love, honesty, and forgiveness) within your family first, before you go ahead and add more members to it?