06 December 2010

PE: My Story Part 8- Telling My Family

Okay... where were we. Ah yes, I bought a book about gay LDS people, their friends, families, church leaders, etc. called No More Goodbyes that was on its way to my parents. Yikes. No backing out now. I told my mom that a package was going to be coming in the mail and that no one was to open it until I said so. I'm sure she thought is was some awesome surprise or achievement or recognition of some kind. Her tone was an excited one. If she only knew...

I had a few days to come up with the plan to tell my family while the book was in the mail. I wanted that book to be available right away after I told them. I think a lot of people fear (okay, EVERY LDS gay person I know) telling their families. Sadly, their fears are not unfounded. There is a reason why 40% of homeless kids in Utah are gay. There are too many stories of rejection, families who turn their backs on their loved ones. Parents who "choose the church over their child," which I don't think is necessary. I don't think that accepting and loving your child means you have to reject the gospel at all. I know very few gay lds people who have told their parents. They are too afraid of rejection.

For me, I had decided that if I was going to choose life, I HAD to tell my family. I couldn't go back there and experience what I did the last time. I couldn't go and feel "at home" when comments were going around unknown to my family that they were talking about me. I was prepared for rejection, even for the possibility of not being involved in my family's life for awhile, but I couldn't go on pretending. So this is how I went about executing my plan:

I set a time when my parents and oldest sister could sit down together. (I didn't want my youngest there because I wanted my parents to be the ones to decide if and what they would tell her. She is still growing up and my parents have the right to teach her what they deem appropriate). Then, I would email everyone a question. The reason for this is that I had decided I better let them decide if they'd rather I disappear from their lives as opposed to hear bad news. This is the question I emailed:
Imagine that someone you loved had something to say that would hurt. It would cause you to question your beliefs, rethink your values, and kind of just pull the carpet out from under you. You would probably spend nights awake and hours wiping away tears. You might become angry with yourself, with God, with society. It might cause disagreement and tension in the family. Basically, it would be a very challenging thing to hear.

My question to you is this. Say that this person that you love had two choices. The first is to tell you. The second is to disappear from your life forever. Which one would you choose? Which one would hurt the most? I want all three of you to text me "tell" or "disappear." Do not discuss it with each other. After I have received your answers, I will begin a video chat with all of you.”
When I read this now, it is so obvious that all members of my family would text "tell," and they did. So then we got on Skype. My family on one end, me on the other. I had my friend with me for support- I was so scared. I told them about how I had been going through a really difficult time. They knew I had started taking anti-depressants and that something was up, but they didn't know the real reasons. I told them that it had gotten so bad, I had fully intended to kill myself when I left home last time. This was quite a shock to them and kind of rendered them speechless. I then gave them instructions. I told them I would send an email out to each of them explaining everything. I said that once they finished the email, I didn't want them to call me. I said they could email me any responses or questions they had, but I didn't want them to call until they had read the book that would be coming to the door later that day.

It might sound harsh, but I didn't want a knee-jerk reaction. I wanted to give them all time to think about things and work things out in their minds before we started discussing it. So that's how it went down. From the moment the first response was received to this very minute, I have been amazed by the outpouring of love from everyone in my family.


Trev said...

"I didn't want a knee-jerk reaction. I wanted to give them all time to think about things and work things out in their minds before we started discussing it." Really? In my experience, I didn't really care whether my parents had time to "think about it and work things out in their minds." My reason for telling through email* was that _I_ was not prepared to receive their reaction and _I_ wanted to think about _their reaction_ and work it out in my mind before talking to them in person. That's an interesting difference in perspective.

*Actually, now that I think about it, I didn't even tell them directly in that first email. I forwarded them a supportive email I had written to a friend who had just come out that related my experience to him.

BLB said...

Hey, that was some elaborate orchestration. Good job and I'm happy you got positive feedback.

Gay Mormon said...

@Trev- Part of it was definitely fear of how they'd react. But I just didn't want to be in a situation where we would be reacting and responding without thinking first. I am just as capable of speaking without thinking as anyone.

@BLB- Thanks, I'll talk more about their response later.

Steven Lester said...

The big difference between you and me is that you can embrace a relationship and I can not, except from a significant distance. As has always been the case in my life, I don't understand why normal people go through all of this trouble just to maintain connections. I don't understand the pull of it. I'm not judging it, I just don't understand it because none of it comes naturally to me, everything is assumed, acted out, mostly guessed at. I have always stood apart from that whole scene and watched other people, but when I have seen where it often takes them--the negative stuff, like what you just went through here--I sincerely wonder why people do it. The emotional cost seems to so greatly eclipse the benefits. Perhaps this is the autism that I possess that makes my being see things differently, but there it is. I'm simply mystified.

Please know that there is not even a hint of judgement contained within my words. I view all of you as my superiors, because you have this desire and these abilities and I do not. I simply don't understand any of it except as I've observed and wondered and assumed a few suppositions to satisfy my inner child's curiosity.

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