21 April 2011


In talking with some of my gay friends, I've noticed a trend.  Perhaps this isn't always the case, perhaps you have a different experience, but I just thought I'd point it out.

When you have a Mormon family and you are also blessed with being gay, coming out is a huge deal.  It can be traumatizing and messy and there are tears and sleepless nights.  In the aftermath, there is often a period of time where the one who is blessed with being gay will "disappear."

Where do we go?

I can tell you where I don't go.  I don't go to events where the extended family will be.  It's awkward and often it's difficult to tell who knows and who doesn't.  For the ones who do know, I don't want to chance a confrontation in front of those who are still blissfully ignorant.  That has a way of ruining family functions.

But not being there also means that they don't get to see how happy I am.

I'm not terribly miserable, which doesn't fit the "living in sin" model.  I should be unhappy and addicted to drugs and spiraling out of control.  That's what happens when you're gay, after all.  We party like rockstars and give each other diseases and threaten all that is good and wholesome about families and stuff.  Or something like that. *sarcasm*

I just don't know if I'm strong enough to stand up to them if they come at me.  I'm not saying they would, but I find that if I'm prepared for the worst, I can face anything that happens.  I would be overjoyed if there was no hint of confrontation or judgment or disapproving scorn.  But that's not a guarantee.  So I gotta get my emergency preparedness on.

In the beginning, that emergency preparedness mandates that self-preservation comes first.  That's why you won't see me.  I'm no martyr.  I know that I've got to toughen up my skin, find my footing, and know that there is a peaceful center within me that no one can touch with ugly words.  I've got to find a way to stop apologizing for being who I am, because there is nothing wrong with me.  I have to believe that, because there are people out there who won't, and who will try to tell me differently.

The people that I know have gone years without seeing their families because the LDS Church acts as a barrier between them.  I'm still in my disappearance phase, but I don't want that to happen to me.  I'm glad that my immediate family has not shunned me completely.  I wish that I didn't feel anxious and afraid to see my extended family.  But I do.

They're having potato salad and ham, laughing and having a good time.  I'm not there, but that doesn't mean I'm not also laughing and enjoying my life. 

You don't see me, because I don't trust you yet to see me, but I hope that one day I will.  I'm not sure what it will take.  All I know is that I hope we can both have the understanding pieces of ourselves present when that day comes.


El Genio said...

Yeah, this is exactly what my recent post was about. Right now it's just easier for me to find an excuse if a lot of extended family are there. I'm sure at some point I'll have to find a way to deal with it, but I'm not there yet.

jen said...

Although I have never come out as gay... I have had come out as leaving the church, uninterested in being a wife or a mother, and generally deciding to show who I am instead of who I think others want me to be.

I also went (and still going) through a disappearance phase. This sentence:
"You don't see me, because I don't trust you yet to see me, but I hope that one day I will. I'm not sure what it will take."
was exactly how I have felt. As I slowly let the people I care about get to know ME, it feels good to trust that I know when and what to share with whom.

Thanks for writing this!
(I have also found that people think I've disappeared because I feel guilty, but that isn't the case.)

Anonymous said...

Everyone on the Booth side knows your situation. You don't have to dissapear, so come to our parties and showers etc..

Kiley said...

This was an important post! Thank you for talking about it. I have family members that I have not seen for years because I have not wanted to deal with it. Every event I have attended since coming out and leaving the church has been anxiety filled...

The church is a barrier and since the church is "true" we are always wrong or defective in some way... (Sorry. I know that is NOT how all members act, but it certainly feels that way often.)

Rob said...

Wow, thanks for this post. It really made me realize that I'm going through kinda the same thing. When family comes to town to visit, one on one, I'm happy to see them. But some of them haven't spoken to me in over a year since I came out, and I really don't want to go to any larger family gatherings. And your post really crystallized for me some of the reasons why. I spent too many years dealing with all that negative energy privately and silently, I do NOT want to go back there again. I have my kids, I have my friends, I have a wonderful new life to enjoy. Why volunteer to go backward.