17 January 2011

PE: Blood thicker than water

Last night I went to a family dinner with extended family living in the area. If you recall, I just came out to my extended family with a newsletter I sent. It is always scary to face people after they know. You wonder if they are going to look at you different or treat you different. You wonder if they will simply avoid the "elephant in the room" sorta speak and pretend nothing new is known, or if they will ask questions. You wonder if they feel like they are walking on eggshells, suddenly very aware of what they say as to not offend you. A little awkwardness is unavoidable.

I have an amazing family, through and through. All the responses and replies, phone calls, and facebook messages have been full of love and support and free of judgment. Something that has happened as a result of my coming out to family kind of threw me off guard. It happened when I told my immediate family, and it seems to be happening with my extended family as well. Coming out and sharing this part of me seems to result in more openness and togetherness. It has caused my family to grow closer. I'm not exactly sure why... perhaps it is only my family's relationship with me that grows closer.

After sending out my newsletter I had cousins adding me on facebook, family members just telling me they love me, uncles and aunts telling me how proud they are of me, everyone making sure I knew I could always talk to them if I ever needed an ear... the list goes on. I also am able to hear the testimonies of family members and know their unconditional love for family. It is almost as if letting them into this very personal aspect of my life is rewarded with a deeper personal relationship. I think perhaps it is because it is refreshing when a person shows you they are vulnerable.

We are so used to putting on our game face. So used to acting on our stage. But when someone takes off their mask and reveals that they are not exactly as they seem, all of a sudden others start to want to take their masks off. The act is hard to keep up. How are we to bare one another's burdens and mourn with those that mourn if we never let anyone see that we hurt? When we stop pretending "all is well" and realize that we are all a little broken and hurt, that is when we can rise together in love and support.

I am so grateful to have a family who really does love unconditionally. You really can't say that your love is unconditional until it is tested. Many of my friends have learned that their family's talk of unconditional love was only talk. As soon as family knew they were gay, they were treated different... as if they were dangerous. Dangerous to what? Their reputation? Their dream of what a perfect life looks like? It makes me so sad that the majority of Mormon families that I know of react this way.

I know that some of my family doesn't agree with my choice to live as a gay individual. I know that some of them view this as a trial that should be overcome. But guess what?? They respect me and my life and my choices. They love me because I am family. They welcome me into their homes and support me. They do not judge me or take it upon themselves to tell me I am wrong or weak or evil, even if that's what they believe about homosexuality. Instead they have reached out to me to make sure that, above all else, that I know they love me and want me to continue to be a part of their lives.


Steven Lester said...

There aren't too many more people to reveal your true self to, are there? Isn't it all done now?

I can't tell, though, which of the family lives in Utah and which live in California. Californians are literally different people than Utahans are. California is so crowded with so many different kinds of people that you practically HAVE to liberally minded or else you'd go crazy. I also suspect that your extended family have been Mormon for at least several generations, because those that have been tend to fudge the commandments and traditions of a Church based hundreds of miles away. They don't have as much to prove, so to speak. I suspect that were you a gay relative of folks who had just become converts, and had made this announcement, you might have had a much harder time of it.

But now is now and your relatives are who they are, probably mostly upper-middle class and, therefore, mostly sophisticated and aware. Now the knowledge can sink in and move to the background and everything will be as cool as it was before.


Steven Lester said...

Oh, I did mean to ask: the photo of you in the sunglasses by the frozen duck pond; what is its history and how old were you when it was taken?

J G-W said...

You're very fortunate... Not everyone is so lucky with their family.

I feel I was one of the lucky ones too. My immediate family has become extremely supportive (though there was a little bit of struggle initially). Most of my extended family has been great too...

Jonathan Adamson said...

@Steven- Their are two more groups of people I haven't told. Friends that are not immediately close to me and my life, but whom I still consider good friends who have been influential in my life. The second group is church leaders. That will be my last wave of "coming out."

My family actually is pretty diverse. Blood relatives originated in California, but many have lived here most my life. In-laws are from different places. Some are converts, very few aren't members. Some are adopted.

The converts have actually been the most supportive and unafraid to ask questions and express support. My family on both sides has been in the church a long time. Both came out of Utah somewhere down the line.

The family I got together with was planning a family temple trip, so they are faithful, recommend holding members. Some have college education, but many do not. Some are better off than others. Some live pay check to pay check, job to job.

But all of them have shown amazing love and support towards me. I will detail some of the things they said in a video.

About the picture: That was taken last winter on Utah lake, so I was 24. I was shooting a scene for a short film for a project at BYU.

Steven Lester said...

In time, when you trust us a little more, you should share some of your projects with us. I'm sure they would be received quite positively, and they are reflections of yourself that would touch us to glimpse, to use the word.

You can see how much I lump people together without considering that they are all individuals with unique personas, each and every one of them. Sorry about that.

Anonymous said...

I am happy for you, Jonathan, that your experiences coming out to your family and extended family has been so well received. The fact that they accept you lovingly shows in the kind of man you are. Without them, you would not be who are today.

I have shared with several in my family (my twin sister, her two daughters and their families, and two nephews) that I am gay. I have shared with those whom I know will love me despite anything they may find out about me. The others? Well, I have come close to telling a couple more of them, but have held back because I did not want to cause more stress and withdrawal from people I love. It is tough. Perhaps in time.

I have another question or two for you, if they are not too personal:

1. when it comes down to you choosing someone with whom you want to spend your life, will he have a background with Mormonism, as you do?

2. Will you choose to marry in a state where it is legal to marry, will you have a commitment ceremony, or do you even wish to have a life partner?

Hope you have had a good Martin Luther King Day.

Love and respect, always.

Bravone said...

I'm really happy your family has reacted the way they have. I agree with Duck that it is a reflection on the man that you are. It also is a reflection on their understanding of agency.

bradcarmack said...

Thumbs UP for authenticity.

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