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.