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.