Monday, February 16, 2009

Dreams of a Daughter

It came to my attention the other day that my mom had a piece of writing published on the anti-gay PFOX website (PFOX=Parents and Friends of Ex-Gays). Just to be clear, PFOX may be the friend of some ex-gays (I know other ex-gays who insist that the anti-gay PFOX does not speak for them), but they are certainly no friend of GLBT individuals. Anyway, here's her article: A Mom Speaks Out.

While I don't want to play out family drama over blogs and public venues, I feel I must make some response. I've made a few public posts/statements about my parents (although I usually refuse to answer questions about them from the media) and I guess, although it seems strange and awkward to read about oneself in a public space, I don't have a problem with them speaking publicly about me. To be fair, my parents didn't have a choice in me going public with my story. So they're well within their right to write about me.

My parents and I are estranged. I can certainly appreciate that being gay, and my lack of salvation (who determines that, anyway?) are important things to them, but the truth is that we are estranged because of other equally important matters. They know what these matters are and what they could do to improve the situation, and I'm not making that public. They have thus far been unable or unwilling to do what needs to be done to restore any semblance of a relationship. And these issues have nothing to do with me being gay.

Clearly the fact that I'm gay (and unrepentantly so) and no longer a Christian is painful to my mom. It is hard to see her obviously hurting. I do love my parents and I always will. But I also refuse to accept love that is conditional upon me being straight (or ex-gay; since those aren't the same thing) or a Christian.

I've come into my own after much struggle and I reject the notion that I am lost or broken or need to be restored. There is something really disturbing about this idea that I am fundamentally flawed and need salvation in order to be a "good girl" in this world. I already am good, whole, and the only thing I've ever needed restored to me was my sanity after the years in the ex-gay movement.

I remember what it was like to be so distraught that others weren't going to heaven with me. I know all the tears I cried for people I loved. I remember all the teachings about how not telling people about Jesus was like giving them a ticket to hell. It was our responsibility to make sure people knew about Jesus. In their minds, there's nothing more tragic than eternal life without all of their children.

There's part of me that wants to make fun of all the things my mom describes in her writing. Snow White? Waiting for my True Love's kiss? Snow angels? Going through the trash to find something precious which turns out to be an object that represents me? (Hint: I am not in the trash and never was). It's some strange stuff, especially if you don't come from this fundamentalist Christian worldview.

And yet I don't want to knock all the crazy-seeming stuff. These kind of experiences, "words of knowledge" and etc, are all incredibly meaningful to my mother and lots of other people. I only take issue with it when it confronts my life and calls me "less than." I've often told people that I don't mind if they think I'm going to hell, just treat me with respect, love and dignity and we can have a relationship regardless.

Although saying that they love me unconditionally, in the Glamour article my mom said, "When you rock your baby in your arms, you never think one day my daughter will be homosexual and want to have sex with another woman, never have children. No one holds their baby and says maybe they’ll grow up to be a rapist, or this or that. You have dreams for your children.”

Well you know what? Children have dreams for their parents, too. You don't lay in your parent's arms and think that you'll have to defend yourself from them thinking you are lost and damned eternally. You don't cuddle up and think that one day you'll find out that they believe that who you are is synonymous with being a rapist. I certainly didn't have those dreams for my parents. What I did dream instead was that I might be able to express my concerns and be heard. I dreamed that I would be always cherished and deemed worthy of their love and respect, no matter my beliefs. I dreamed that I would be supported in living a life that was truly authentic and truly mine, without the haunting thoughts about what a disappointment I am to them. Those dreams have had to die.

In many ways maybe we have more in common than we realize. We all had dreams for each other, and maybe still do. More and more I'm questioning if there is hope for resolution. In my mind, what they want me to do or be is untenable. I will not go back to that life.

My mental, emotional and spiritual health depend on it.


  1. Beautiful, Bakke. So glad you are who you are -- a talented writer, artist, leader of people, and empathetic soul. Thank you for sharing your life with us.

  2. "Children have dreams for their parents, too." Christine, I love what you've said here: Sad, brave and honest. Thank you for being you.

  3. Amazing Christine, I could not be more proud of you... such courage, authenticity and courage. Remember... ever more beautiful.

  4. Christine, what a beautiful response. I love you, my dear cousin.

  5. Christine,

    What a lovely, thoughtful response. You are truly amazing.

  6. Hi Christine! My name is Kelly, and I'm new to your blog. I just finished reading your article in Glamour, and I'm amazed by your story. I'm so impressed by your strength, so proud of you! When you were talking about your hopes for your parents in this post, you touched on the part of your article when your mother said what her hopes were for her child. My jaw literally dropped to the floor when I read what she said... I'm literally in shock over that statement.

    I am very lucky to have parents that support me (I'm a lesbian, out and proud!) but this story was very touching, and I'll be sharing it with a friend who is struggling. Thank you so much for sharing your life story! I'll be following your blog.


  7. Thanks for sharing Christine. Replace 'lesbian' with 'gay' and I'm very much in the same situation (though I never personally went the ex-gay route). The most optimism I can muster is that we might be able to have a strained relationship up until I have a (as a friend is fond of saying) 'husbpartnerspouse.' But it's good to know one is not alone in these experiences.

  8. Wow. Your response is a great example of compassion. I hope your mother will put more effort in restoring her relationship with you than PFOX.

  9. You are loved by so many and you do so much for so many. I know that can't replace the love and crushed dreams ... but I hope the fact comforts.

    *hugs* and support, always.

  10. I congratulate you, Christine, for your find and charitable response to your mother's religious fanaticism.

    I hope your parents "see the light."

  11. Christine,
    Thank you for sharing this part of your life and story with us. You are an amazing person! I never before thought of the dreams I too had for my parents that have had to die. It is as you have said. Your story has encouraged me. I agree with David above who said "it's good to know one is not alone in these experiences." Thank you so much for sharing.
    Justin E.

  12. "Well you know what? Children have dreams for their parents, too."

    Wow...beautiful. Thanks for the mind shift.

    You seem like a pretty amazing person to me, intelligent, compassionate and ethical. I pity your folks (if I may be so bold) for letting outside influences come between family.

  13. I identify with you Christine. My parents and sister attend Rick Warren's Saddleback Church and obviously, are still fundamentalists at heart. Your mother's blog could have been written by my mother. Since my family members voted yes on Prop 8 in Ca. (to eliminate same-sex marriage), our relationship is much more strained and I may not have contact with them anymore. I married my partner on the first day it was legal here in Ca. and my family voted to have that right taken away from me and others. Too heartbreaking. Your compassion expressed towards your mother is unbelievable. Your mother has lost a lot by not having you in her life. Unfortunately, she is one of many brainwashed people in the church. They may mean well but their actions are very hurtful. My best wishes to you and thank you for sharing your beautiful writing.

  14. I have found people if the Pentecostal, fundamentalist back ground to be of the most unstable group of Christians and or of people I have ever met. The sadness this sets before us is the fact that when connected to others by parental / child relationship it is tough to overcome the desire for a restored accepting companionship.
    When you have people hearing voices and having prophetic visions, (that always agree with their own theology) and choose to believe it over common sense, science even the voice of the child you say you love, what hope is there for any kind of restoration?
    Still we want to have a parents love, acceptance and approval.
    If there is a God, his love to us and approval of us is not to be earned by conformity or religious rites. He /She must love us because we are his/hers. Accepting Gods love is much the same as learning to accept ourselves.
    Serving others is Gods way of expressing himself to the world, and you do that well Christine.
    Being called a Christian is not much of an honor these days; being called a servant is not only an honor, it is the evidence of knowing God.

  15. I can relate to much of your story and much of your pain here. I have a slightly different story as I am bi and fell in love with and married a man, but I spent years in the ex-gay movement trying to "heal" my lesbian side only to discover very inconveniently and painfully years later that my attractions to women are, if anything, even stronger! I've been spending a lot of time lately grieving all I lost during my time in the ex-gay movement. I really appreciate you sharing your story!

  16. Oh, and your mom's article. painful and sad and creepy. I'm so sorry.

  17. big hug, honey. i hate to sound unoriginal here but the "children have dreams for their parents" idea hit home with me although in a different way.

    now, go treat yourself to a blue cheese hawaiian pizza.

  18. When I first read of your "dreams" Christine, my first thought was your Mom cuts you and then prays over your wounds. Not a picture of your Mother enfolding you compassionately in her arms, in her love.

    It is clear, through the words of your Mom, that her religion has more value than her child, you.

    Nevertheless... you are WHOLE, you are authentically you. Thank you for your example of love, honor, beauty and dignity in the face of undeserved hurt.

  19. Christine, What a sad story. But, you are so generous! What a good heart you have.

  20. Hi, Christine,

    I am moved and touched and saddened by your post. I felt I had to comment, because I am also not unfamiliar with all the strange stuff of "words of knowledge" and so forth, because much of that goes on in my own Church.

    You might think it nutty of me to say, but I believe my own decision to take a pro-Gay stance was also as a result of a word of knowledge & I'd like at least to share what happened. One evening in my church there was open prayer, and people were encouraged to give "prophecies" or pictures they felt God was saying to them. I'm always a bit diffident about this kind of thing as I think people can get swept up in the emotion of it, rather than have a genuine spiritual experience. But I can't dismiss the fact that I have at times had inklings of things that turned out to be correct, and to deny that these were from God, and just a coincidence would be something I couldn't do.

    This particular evening, I did get a "picture". It wasn't like some vision or voice was in my head; more a thought coming into my mind that seemed relevant. The image was rather a disturbing one of a man wrapped in a cocoon, but it wasn't protecting him; he was trapped inside it, and desperate to get out. The sense was very strong that the wrappings of the cocoon should be removed, and the man set free.

    It seemed clear to me, having met many homosexuals who had desperately fought against it, that this was what it was about - perhaps the cocoon represented homophobia, and repression.

    I didn't "share" it with the church! I think it might have shocked quite a few people if I did.

    But I did resolve to look more carefully into the whole gay issue, and particularly the testimonies of Gay Christians, and settle for myself the issue of whether you could be gay and remain a Christian. I truly believe you can.

    I've probably said way too much and probably appear to be some fundamentalist nutcase from this! But I just thought I ought to share this with you, and hope you have a great Easter, though I understand and respect that it no longer means the same to you as it does to me.

  21. I wanted to send this to you as just another Christian's perspective. I just know how people can take God's words and make them fit their agenda and beliefs. Essentially I guess you could say that is what I am doing as well. I just have this thought that the God I am personally familiar with would never want you to be loved conditionally. I do believe that God has made me a lesbian and that I am suppose to love and show His love as He has personally shown me.  Just that simple.

    You mothers word from directly from God being...

    “Your daughter is Mine – I bring My children home. I have called her by name. She was chosen from the foundation of the world.” 

    God knows and loves your mom as much as He loves you or me.  I know he knows her heart is good at the core and her goal, like ours in the GLBT community is that of preservation and protection (or salvation in this case).  If she is like most I know I often become bitter wondering how much is out of self righteousness and attitudes/motives that are less than loving.  But, then I leave that for God to deal with them on as it is too much for me too deal with.   I am saying this all because I feel God is looking at her and feeling her pain (even if it is the cause of yours) and trying to tell her, "hey Jeanette, I have it and not only that, Cristine is EXACTLY who and where I want her to be!" He is reassuring her that you will be "home" with Him one day (like the rest of us)  so maybe she would just find peace.   I believe in His word to her He is saying He created you as you are for His purpose and that you are lovely in just that.  That her assumption that you need to be changed, nevertheless, is just that and I can only imagine God shaking His head at the fact that her and most of the Christians like her are so busy trying to change God's creations.  As if we can do it better!!!  That is the sin of pride, taking on the role of God.

    As for the other "word", her friend was arguing with God?  Ok, maybe that was the first clue!  I don't doubt that actually. I think there was a possible struggle with what God was trying to convey.  Yes, you have been/are being restored.  God is raising you from the pain and destruction you went through for you to walk as the woman and in the identity He gave you. Christine I have heard you describe how you felt coming out of the ex-gay movement and she was right in saying you were laying there lifeless. God has been lifting you up from that place . They just chose to see it as being  lifting from being a lesbian. And yes lady, we will all be "Snow White" one day and I wonder how shocked we will ALL be at the "apples" (lies we believe) that are laid before us?  It has nothing to do with you being a lesbian even if that is what they make it out to be. This is God once more trying to tell them He has it in His hands and they should be at PEACE with that. I am sure that your relationship with your mother and love for you is what matters to Christ most.

     As for the earring, once again God saying to her, "stop doing this, it is in vain." She looked for the earring in the very location it was but never saw it. Your mother has lost her heart that is you, and it is sad that as hard as she is trying to regain you she will never find it in the places she is looking.  Amazing how that little prophecy worked out ;)

      I believe that is His whole message to them.  He just wants them to relax and focus on HIM and not their own issues or those that they have created to be their responsibility that are fruitless and futile.

    Kristine, ironically  I believe that you can take what was meant for evil and make it good..  This message is to you and in the correct context is a wonderful thing.  Ha, and they had no clue because they were as blind as they accuse you/us of!  

    This is just how I saw it the first time I read it.  It was as clear as crystal to me. But then I am just a Christian Lesbian after all ;)

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  23. All I can say is, I praise God for my lesbianism because it brought me out of the counterfeit Christian movement and to the truth of the Bible.

    The truth sets us free!