01 August 2010

Dear Blog Readers:

I'd like to ask a favor. Those of you who've read my blog for a while know the story of how I came out to my family. You know that it's not followed the pattern we usually hope to see, and that it's been increasingly difficult, not less difficult. When I came out to each of them individually, most of them were initially startled and hesitant, I could tell, but they tried to say what the Church said they should, namely, "we still love you" or some variant of that. However, without exception they also said some variant of "this (or this behavior) is wrong and will always be wrong, we will never accept it, we don't want to hear anything more about it, or read anything about it, we don't want to hear you try to defend it, we don't want to talk about it anymore and we don't want you to either, and if you try, we won't listen."

This puts me in a very difficult position. They are asking me to go back in the closet and pretend I never came out, and to live the rest of my life like I did before. This is something I can never do. That said, they are my family and I love them. I don't want this issue to sunder our relationships permanently. I want to help them overcome their hurt and confusion and fear, and I'm still thinking through how best to do that.

But this morning, something occurred to me. The LDS Church believes in what's sometimes called "the law of witnesses." Joseph Smith relied on witnesses to try to convince a hostile world that the gold plates really did exist. The Bible says "in the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established" (2 Co. 13:1). In my business we use witness testimony to establish the truth of something, or rebut contradictory evidence and show that it is not true, or is invalid, or untrustworthy, or should be discarded.

So here's the favor I'd like to ask. I'm only one, but I'm a lot stronger with all of you. Would you be willing to help me try to persuade them to open their hearts and minds and really listen to what I have to say? Not just sit through hearing me talk so they can repeat what they've said before, but really truly listen and give full consideration, be willing to re-examine their own beliefs and consider the possibility that I may be right about some things.

Those of you who are so inclined, would you mind writing a letter to my family, keeping in mind what you've read here about them and my experience with them? Short or long, doesn't matter, anything would be helpful. Send it to me by e-mail or as a comment to this post, either way. I'll post your letters on the blog. Say whatever you think would help get them to that point of really listening and seeing this issue more positively. Your own experiences, your own families, what you know of me, our relationships, whatever. Anything you can think of that might help them see this whole issue from a broader and more positive perspective, that might help them overcome their fear.

Because that's really what it is. Fear. They fear that I've suddenly bolted away from the true path, they fear having to deal with the shame they believe I have brought on our family, and worst of all (especially for my dad) they fear that I am deliberately choosing to break apart family unity and that I will be "the empty chair in heaven". This is a classic Mormon response, of course. I cry for them, I sincerely do, just as I'm sure they've cried for me. Because just as they fear for me, I fear they are putting themselves through totally unnecessary anguish and that their fear is a horrible, stressful, tragic waste of time and tears. And until we figure out some way to really talk to each other--which so far they've said they're not willing to do--that's where we'll all stay stuck.

I don't want that. Can you help? Thanks.


TGD said...

Wouldn't that second or third witness be more effective if it where someone whom they trusted and respected already. Someone who wouldn't appear to them as having any sort of "gay agenda"?

John Gustav-Wrathall said...

Rob - I empathize with the sense of desperation you must feel right now. Though I still think you're wanting your family to move too fast. Trust me, things will get better. It may take 2-3 years before you start to see any sort of a thaw.

What I did -- what most gay folks do -- is they move on with their lives. They date, they find a soul mate, they join supportive communities... They build a life for themselves. Then the family gets to decide whether they want to be a part of that life or not. You keep the door open. They get to decide (because you've already decided, you want them to be a part of your life).

If they choose fear or prejudice over you, it's their loss. But trust me, 9 times out of 10, they'll realize they'd rather have you in their lives.

The idea of additional witnesses sounds intriguing... But life is so much more complex than that! They could doubtless muster witnesses of their own against you. (That's pretty much the raison d'être of "ex-gay" ministries...) I'd write your parents a letter, but I'm afraid sending them a pile of letters is more likely to irritate them than persuade them...

I think you're better off letting life (and time) take it's toll... The truth will out.

Quiet Song said...

Well, Rob ya gotta stuff the lawyer in the closet . . . leave that nice gay human out . . . and things will go better.

Give it some time. It's true time heals nearly everything. Throw in a little prayer or two for inner peace and the ability to love unconditionally regardless of where your family is at with this.

Mister Curie said...

The book, "No More Goodbyes" might be helpful for your family, if you can get them to read it. There are lots of stories there from a largely faithful LDS perspective that illustrate the important point of loving and accepting homosexuals.

Steven B said...

Get a facebook account and convince your family members to join and participate. Then simply let them see what your "lifestyle" is all about.

GeckoMan said...

Rob, here are my thoughts:

You and your family may not agree on the issues encompassing your self-proclaimed 'gay' identity, yet regardless, all grieve. I am sorry you feel left on the fringes of your family, regarded now as fallen, an outsider, and wondering if there will ever be reconciliation for or acceptance of your true self and the choices you freely make. However, you know they grieve as well, afraid for your eternal salvation and their eternal association with you.

I have few words of advice for you and your family, other than to follow the Savior's directive to love God and to love one another. Let time and the Holy Ghost heal the wounds of cultural and spiritual misunderstanding. Have supreme faith in the great words revealed by the Lord in D&C 76:5-10, knowing that there is much we do not know, but that the Lord promises to reveal His mysteries and secrets unto those who love and serve Him in righteousness and truth. Defining those two conditions requires great love and great faith in the Lord. I trust you and your family are equal to the task.

Peace, my brother.