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The impact of your actions

I'm sure this will easily sound like a self-pity party, or complaining, but I really don't mean it to be that way.  My hope in writing this post is to cause those who read it to introspectively search themselves and try to understand why they do the things they do.

I also need to add that my family has not been rotten throughout this process.  What I'm about to say might make it seem like that.  On the contrary, I actually have it quite well.  Many families of gay people disown the person when he/she comes out of the closet.  Many have very bitter, angry feelings that they hold on to for years.  I have been treated very well by nearly all in my family.  As far as I know, there are only one or two who may have very bitter feelings.  I'm not even making a commentary about my family in particular, I'm only using my family as an example to illustrate in general the feelings a gay person has.

When I got engaged to Conrad, I wasn't sure exactly how or when to tell my family.  While I was in Utah this last May, I told only a few people in person, and then I posted it on Facebook.  The people I told in person responded with "Oh." or silence.  On Facebook, of my entire family (which, believe me, is rather big) two cousins congratulated me.  I got a "really?" and nothing else from family.  I had lots of congratulations from friends.  And I'm very happy to be engaged.  I definitely have no regrets there.  But, I hope you can understand how deflating it might be to have not one member of your immediate family congratulate you on something that you personally are so excited about.

Contrast that with just about any engagement announcement of a straight couple.  Or, when a married couple announces their anniversary, and are congratulated for being together for so many years.  It's very easy for a gay person to feel left out.  Imagine if you announce your engagement (to someone of the opposite sex) online or in person and all you got from your family was "Oh" or "really?".  How would you feel?  I love my family very much and how they treat me really matters to me.

I have a very sweet sister who had her children color pictures and send them to us.  Each child addressed them to "Keith and Conrad" and that meant the world to me.  My mother has emailed Conrad and spoken with him on the phone a couple times.  I'm not sure how much that meant to him, but it meant a lot to me.

Aside from that, no one else in my family has even acknowledged that I'm in a relationship.  No one has asked me what Conrad's like, how we met, what our wedding plans are, or anything that I would expect them to be asking if I were engaged to a woman.  Think how that would be for yourself.  When you're engaged to that special someone that you really love and are so excited to marry--(almost) everyone in your family pretends like nothing has happened.  For all you know, they think you're still single.

I know I'll have fun planning the wedding, and it will be a wonderful time for both of us, regardless of who's there to share it with us.  It would be very nice to have family there, to have them celebrate the day with us.  But, whether they're there or not, I will be happy that I'm marrying the man of my dreams.

I've thought about this a lot, really.  As for me personally, Conrad brings me so much happiness that it easily outweighs any sorrow I might feel over my family's non-acceptance (or at least, my perception of such).  But, the conclusion that I always arrive at is that if dogmatic obedience to your church outweighs the feelings of your loved ones--the opportunity to rejoice with them when they are happy in life--then, what is the purpose of your religion?  If you cannot share the joyous moments in life with those that matter the most to you, then what good does your religion do you?  Even if it is true, and you can be with your family forever, is it worth it if it makes you miss out on the good times in their lives?  And is it worth making your gay family members feel unworthy of your praise and congratulatory expressions?

Comments

  1. It may just be the uncomfortableness (sp?) of it all. Not quite knowing what is the etiquette for something like this-- if your family is pretty open and involved with each other it may just be something that will turn to normal once the reality of it all settles in. I have been getting Christmas cards this year and they all say: Merry Christmas to me, the babe and the kids. Of course some of this probably wouldn't have happened had I not put his name on the cards.

    What about Conrad's family? What's their reaction?

    Hugs,Miguel

    ReplyDelete
  2. See, Miguel, it's not really about my family. I'm sure all the things you've said here are correct. And, in fact, I've even said some of those very things about my family in previous posts. (I don't remember which at the moment, but I can look that up if you like.) I'm sure that my family--in particular--just needs a bit more time, and perhaps even to meet Conrad in person.

    The main point of the post is to comment on society in general--particularly on religious households. From my dealings with other gays (particularly other MoHos), the family reaction is somewhere around this norm, ranging from complete acceptance (which is very rare) all the way to complete disownment (also rare, but probably more common than acceptance). From what I have heard from other people, my family's reaction is just slightly toward the "accepting" side of the "average" response from family.

    So, the commentary is on society in general. To get the average non-gay reader to think about how they treat their gay friends and what impact those actions have on them. Straight people often take for granted things like being congratulated for getting engaged or married, so they don't appreciate how deeply that can hurt a gay person when they have no such congratulations. I merely used my own family as an example to illustrate how gays are often treated, not to criticize anyone in my family or my family as a whole.

    ReplyDelete

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