Letter to the Editor – Parents and Other Problems

Woman

A Frustrated Lesbian

Ed. Note: A reader recently wrote in with the following letter. A common theme among internal discussions within our Facebook groups and other organizational activities is the relationship issues that arise with parents and siblings for LGBT fundamentalists and former fundamentalists. We asked if we could share her letter.

Dear lgbt-BJU.org

Sometimes being out of the IFB feels a bit like recovering from a serious addiction. My “addictions” are guilt, shame, worry, perfectionism, and the like. These surface in all areas of my life, even though I know it’s outdated.

I sometimes find myself minimizing, calling myself “silly for caring so much,” but the fact is it’s not “silly” at all. It is a serious and sometimes dangerous byproduct of having been raised in such a restrictive and controlling and manipulative environment.

One of the most difficult areas I’ve seen in myself is my relationship with my parents. I love them so much, and in so many ways just wanted them to love me unconditionally. I feel as if I’ve never had that security. “Honor your father and mother” was drilled into me to the point that if I got detention in school, I felt like a failure as a child because my parents were paying money for me to get a quality education. Having an argument, getting anything lower than a B on a test, sticking up for myself, being depressed, etc. – my parents would always be able to turn around to how I was hurting my family. Much of it was my perception – I have been overly sensitive since birth.

Since my coming out to my parents, my dependence upon their perception of me had been thrown into sharp relief. They try every tactic they can think of to make sure that I become “straight and narrow” again – not that I ever was in favor of it. Even as a fervent Christian in years past, I’d never bought the idea that homosexuality was the evil thing it was purported to be. Most of the pressure comes from my mother. She will cry, tell me about single men she’s met, ask me if I’m going to get a boyfriend yet, etc.; all while knowing that I am in a very happy, very fulfilling relationship.

Things came to a head in the last couple days. Just about two weeks ago, my mother informed me that when she and my father come to visit (which will be soon), that she wants me to go to an ex-gay seminar in Arkansas. Then last night, she and my dad made a reference to how my younger sister’s anxiety is due to my sexuality.

Now, in the context of recent events, that comment is actually valid. However, this is not the first time that I’ve been made to feel like dirt over the problems of my family members which existed years before I came out as a lesbian.

And quite frankly, I’m sick of it.

I experienced a surge of empowerment tonight when I opened a piece of mail from my mother – an Exodus International brochure with a note that said, “Don’t get mad at me for sending this to you, just read it.”

This is the message I want to get across to people struggling with their own family issues: It IS NOT OK for people’s families to actively persecute them for their sexuality.

I’ve been told, both by my parents and others, that I should consider myself lucky that my family didn’t disown me. I’ve been told, “At least they/we still love you and want the best for you.” However, all the “well-meaning” advice and conversations and manipulation and standards are in fact quite inappropriate.

To be told that my girlfriend will never be allowed in my parents’ house. To have my parents tell my girlfriend that “our daughter is not a lesbian, she’s just a backslidden Christian, and let us tell you about all the boys she used to chase in high school,” (an actual event when I came out). To be sent literature on how God can change my mind about sexuality–none of that is OK! It sends the very clear message that I AM NOT GOOD ENOUGH.

But that’s bogus. I am good enough. And I finally got to the point, TONIGHT, where I am ready to tell them, “Hey! I am an adult. This needs to stop, and it needs to stop NOW. No longer are you allowed to proselytize me because it would make you more comfortable if I had a husband and two children. This is the end of it. You accept me, or you don’t. No more in-between and hiding behind the name of God, no matter how strongly you believe I’m wrong.”

I fervently wish that this message would have resonated inside me much sooner than now. But I do not want to live in regret with that, either. The important thing is, I’m ready now. And with myself on my own side, along with this amazing community of friends here, it can only get better.

Signed,
A Frustrated Lesbian


5 comments

  1. Jan Long says:

    Dear Frustrated,
    My heart goes out to you! I am the Gramma of 15, so even though I am a straight 64 year old, I too was a very frustrated young person. I could never be good enough either. It was a hard road! I did however, finally get my parents’ blessing before they died. My hope for you is that you have the courage to stand up for yourself and speak your mind in love to them with no hesitation. They are misinformed and ignorant and not understanding. I am so sorry for that, and that it causes you pain. It seems that you will have to make a decision to either take it one day at a time, educating them—and I mean with scriptures on love, on the fact that the towns of Sodom and Gomorrah were burned because of inhospitable people, not homosexuality—or tell them you can’t be around people who don’t accept you for who you are. I can’t imagine not seeing any of my four children and their families! But you certainly have no reason to be ashamed! Life is precious, and there is nothing that is worth letting bitterness, shame or hardness of heart dwell inside of us.
    God bless you, as you journey through this life. And may the peace of God be with you and guide you in all you do and say. I wish you the very best!
    Jan

  2. abetterstory says:

    I’m a frustrated lesbian, too, with the same exact problem. Your line “Since my coming out to my parents, my dependence upon their perception of me had been thrown into sharp relief” could have been written from the thoughts in my heart. I’ve also been told that it’s good they didn’t disown me (my dad always says…we’re not /trying/ to hurt you….which makes my partner furious), but sometimes I wonder if it’s somewhat easier for those who have been completely disowned because at least they can move on.

    The warring pieces inside of me say that I should be thankful, that I should be a good example of the fact that God hasn’t deserted me or left me but is richly blessing me, that I should continue to set good boundaries and be myself, and, also, that I’m angry, tired of being hurt, and have an incredibly deep sense of loss over all of this and would rather just distance myself from them. I can’t ever seem to sort these two sides out yet though.

    I’m thankful for your post; the timing is perfect. Tomorrow my partner and I are leaving to “spend time” with my family for the first time since coming out to them (a year and a half ago). It’s good to remember that I’m not alone in this struggle and to remember how justified I am in setting boundaries and speaking up instead of just letting them hurt me. I hope someday all our hard work will pay off in major ways. :) I believe that God is faithful to carry out the good work He started!

  3. Nancy M says:

    Big step! You have people that love you and are behind you in moving forward in your relationship wiht your parents. It is indeed a tough place to be be. Learning how to deal with this place in your life can be a challenging mine field, and it sounds like you have determined how to deactivate the continuous bombs thrown at you.
    Finding our voice is a growing process for many of us! Touche!

  4. Toothelist says:

    I wish you love, joy, confidence, and peace moving forward. I pray that your parents will be open to God’s love, real love, not just their own agenda. YOU know the truth about you – who you are, what you want, etc. Please know that others weep with you for your pain – you ARE loved, just as you are. Blessings and hugs to you!

  5. Brian says:

    Good for you! I am proud of your strength and courage to force your parents to either accept you or not accept you. I pray for you and your parents. You all need strength. I graduated from a conservative Christian college in Pennsylvania and I came out right after college and was soon in the same situation you describe. My parents DID after some time of not speaking or communicating with me come around to accepting me to the best tof their abilitites. I’m no longer a second class family member and my partner is welcome in their home. They did and are doing the best they can. You may have to compromise a bit as it’s a huge leap for them and if you feel they are real in their acceptance then don’t pick on the little things that they may say or do that bother you as this is new to them and they are frightened. Peace to you and your parents and your life partner.