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.