Monday, March 17, 2014

The Longest Sunday Part 2: the Parents

I’ve really struggled with this post.  It’s been two weeks since I came out to my parents, and in all honesty I’m not sure how I feel about it.  Whereas my bishop was very understanding and compassionate, my parents were much more…orthodox.

Two days before “the talk” I sent both my parents a link to this blog post and this blog post and said “please read these articles; I’d like to discuss them on Sunday when I come over.”  I figured it would be better to give them a heads up about what was going on, partly because I didn’t want to deal with their knee-jerk  reaction and partly because there was a good chance I’d chicken out if I didn’t.

I had a minor panic attack when I hit “send,” and a major panic attack when my mom texted me Sunday morning.  She said that dad had wondered, she hadn’t, that they loved me no matter what, and that they would do their best to be understanding.

During our four-hour conversation they did make sure that I knew they still love me.  As for being understanding…well, they tried, sort of.

A lot of the things they said were pretty hurtful and offensive.  I know they didn’t intend to be hurtful and offensive, so I’m trying not to resent them for it, but my stomach twists every time I think about it.

As far as my mom is concerned the Church is the final authority on the subject, and it was very painful for her to see that I disagree with most of their official statements about homosexuality, especially the interview with Elder Oaks and Elder Wickman. 

It was much more difficult with my dad.  His general attitude is that since he doesn’t understand the issue it can’t be understood, and therefore isn’t a real issue.  It took me at least half an hour of explaining before he finally got the picture that I’m not attracted to women that way.  Even then, he offhandedly dismissed my spiritual confirmation that a mixed-orientation marriage is not for me, and told me I should still keep an open mind about that possibility.  Then he told me to find a lesbian and marry her.  Just thinking about it makes me want to tear my hair out and scream.

Even though I’m not angry with my parents (out of sheer force of will) I’m frustrated as hell about the whole experience.  Coming to terms with myself as a gay Mormon was a harrowing experience, and although my perspective is very unorthodox I feel it is based on personal revelation.  As far as they are concerned, however, at best I’m misinterpreting things, and at worst I’ve been deceived.  In a church based on developing personal relationships with God, why is it so easy to disregard spiritual experiences that don’t fit the mold?

I decided not to share everything with them.  They think I’m sticking with celibacy, although I made it clear that I am repulsed by the very idea.  They made it clear that they wouldn’t approve of me pursuing a same-sex relationship.  I sure as hell didn’t mention that I date guys now.

In the end I’m not sure what to think about the whole experience.  I glad to have it out of the way, I guess.  My mom texts me every couple days to show that I’m not cut off or anything like that, but the banality of the conversation is irritating.  We both see the elephant in the room, and ignoring it like this shows that she thinks it’s something shameful to be avoided.  I haven’t heard anything from my dad yet, but chances were I wouldn’t have heard anything from him anyway.

It will be interesting to see how things work out.  Maybe their thoughts on the whole issue will evolve over time, maybe not.  For now I’m content that they still love me and accept me as their son.


  1. Our experiences are very similar. What is remarkable is that we are separated by 20 years of life. I could easily be your father.

    I bring this up because it makes me realize how truly fortunate I was in my coming out experience to my parents. They reacted very much like yours. My mom actually said "if we weren't LDS we'd get your a prostitute to show you how good it was." Ha!

    The difference is they reacted that way in 1987. I have to give them credit for doing so in a day when "get out of our house" would be the more typical reaction.

    Mom is gone now, and Dad, when he bothers to pay any attention to me or my brothers at all, simply ignores the fact that I'm gay. The last adherent to "don't ask, don't tell".

    Great blog by the way. I'm going to do some reading and catch up. Welcome friend.

    1. It's interesting that all this time later people are still reacting the same way to having gay children. It does look like some parents in this generation are coming around, thank goodness. Thanks for reading!
      P.S. If it makes you feel any better, you came out the year before I was born, which greatly reduces the chance you could have been my father :).

  2. Holy moly, there is so much I want to say to you right now... One of the many things my mother said to me when I came out to her was, "I would rather you had taken a gun and shot me than tell me this." The thought of my being in a relationship with a man, even several years after I came out, was abhorrent to her. She quoted Bible verses. She quoted prophets. The Church was her authority.

    But she changed. It was slow. It was painful. We had MANY discussion and lots of tears. I was convinced that there was no way she would ever be okay with my sexuality. But she came around. She was interviewed by Daniel Parkinson for an upcoming Youtube campaign about LDS parents who embrace their LGBT child.

    I am right there with you on this journey, as are many others. (I know that my story is not singular in any way.) Be patient. Be open and understanding. Be firm in who you are. Be confident.

    Be awesome!! :)


  3. I think the real issue here is that when we come out to our parents, they make it about themselves. I don't say that to mean that they're being selfish, bad, evil, etc. They just take it personally. Their first thought is "What did we do wrong?" Just like each of us had to go through the process of coming to terms with our gayness, so that we could come out, our parents have to go through their own coming out process. They have to work in our in their minds that it isn't about them, that there isn't anything they did to make us gay, and it doesn't matter what anyone else thinks. We all reached that point in our lives where we realized that we were gay and there's nothing wrong with us. Our parents have to realize that they are the parents of a gay child, and there's nothing wrong with them. Rex is patient, open, and understanding. Forcing anyone out of the closet is never a good thing.

  4. Congrats on doing something scary and hard. I know the courage it takes, as do many other MOHO's. If I can preach here a little bit on something that has helped me deal with parents and family...

    You said "Coming to terms with myself as a gay Mormon was a harrowing experience..." I think it is important to give your parents time to come to terms with it as well. They stated they love you and that is paramount and I am glad they will love you.

    In terms of everything else they will need time to understand, grow and learn and apply all of that to how they feel. It took me 22 years to begin to comprehend what being gay and Mormon meant. So I know that I need to give my parents more than 22 seconds for them to come to understand what I have.

    Doesn't mean you can't wish for them to hurry things up, but give them time to process and develop their own understanding. Help them in that process. Correct them strongly when needed, but as the Doctrine and Convents say show them love afterwards (gotta love when the Scriptures can be used against parents huh!).

    It's a process for us, but also for parents. Good luck. You are doing good. I'm excited and anxious to hear how things progress.

  5. @Rex--Wow, that's awesome about your mom! I'd be surprised if mine ever came around that far, but it gives me hope.
    @James & Trevor--I'm trying to remember that this is almost as hard for them as it was for me. They're pretty good parents, so I think they'll soften with time, but I'll let them decide when and how they want to address it.

  6. I had a funny conversation with my mom about a year or so ago. She remembered how when I first came out to her she suggested that I might think about marrying a woman and just not having sex with her. We could buy a house and have separate rooms and then adopt kids. She even went so far as to suggest my sister (then) best friend. She says that whenever she thinks about that she cringes because it was such a dumb suggestion. Live and and learn! :)

    1. Ha! That kind of makes me want to compile a bunch of the things parents kind-heartedly yet cluelessly suggest when their kids come out.

  7. Hey, mister. Haven't heard your blog-voice in a while. I hope all is well. I'm sure I'm not the only one wondering how your'e doing. <3