Sunday, July 8, 2012

Gay People Do Exist! Coming Out to My Grandparents
My grandparents were/are committed Christians. They've taught 3rd and 4th grade Sunday school for as long as I can remember. On the infrequent occasions when I attended their church, from kindergarten until I was about 12, I always pulled up a chair and sat between them while we were going over the lesson as a class and eat doughnuts my grandma faithfully bought every Sunday. They taught me about God, prayed with me, and told me of God's grace. We sang songs such as:

               "Jesus loves me, this I know, for the Bible tells me so…."

I had a girlfriend of three years before I came out in April of 2008. I was dealt the harsh truth: Jesus loves you unless you're gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgendered, intersex, or queer. Jesus couldn't love gay people, because gay people didn’t exist!

 My first nephew was born nearly a year and a half ago; my grandparents are now great-grandparents! They bask in their new role with zeal and eagerness along with awe and wonder as they babysit him three days a week. They revel the time they spend with him as they play their newest silly game of peek-a-boo.

He giggles with delight as he covers his eyes. At his young age when his eyes are covered, it doesn’t matter if his head, shoulders, knees, and toes (eyes, ears, mouth, and nose) are showing --- he is invisible to you and you are invisible to him. This is how he understands visibility: seeing = mutually engaged. My grandparents, however, should know that covering their eyes doesn’t mean that another person doesn’t exist!

Not unlike my nephew, my grandparents cover their eyes and gay people go away; they cease to exist! By association, I ceased to exist.  Me coming out as (non-existantly) gay meant that I had succumbed to "the world's view"! I was defying what God had revealed in the Scriptures.

I am not gay because there are no gay people! Get it? Got it? Good! I am a straight person dabbling in homosexuality. Describing myself as gay belied my lack of faith in what God had told them (sic)! The only thing they failed to do was question my faith in God completely because I, a heterosexual mind you, loves and advocates for the equality of gay people. Completely un-Christ like, I know!

The kicker is this: While my grandma never got so far as to tell me this in this heart-to-heart, fuzzy spirit-filled conversation, she has said she believes THERE ARE ex-homosexuals!?!? So, there are ex-homosexuals, but not homosexuals? It is a logic nightmare!

From this, I learned the simple, unvarnished truth: My grandparents are bigots. While progressive in a couple of ways, their racist views that have since long passed and their current views towards homosexuality are representative (reminiscent??) of many people in their generation who view the Bible as the infallible Word of God and the Scriptures inerrant.

Our three hour talk had somehow strayed into a series of invectives about my character and crescendo'd when it's affect on familial affairs were brought up: I was told that if my girlfriend of nearly three years and I ever got married (never mind that this conversation took place in 2008, and the fact that I lived in California and she in Virginia - at the time it wasn't even a logical possibility) I would no longer be allowed at family gatherings. My grandma said, "Homosexuals are fine as long as it's not in 'this' (meaning her) house."
At this point I knew: I knew that it would only be a matter of time before, as a lesbian, I would be forced to choose between fidelity to my sexual identity and acceptance and approval from my fellow Christian grandparents (and, by extension, the rest of my family). I knew it spiked a fear of further mistrust and oppression. I knew from the intense intuitive emotional reaction I had that the homophobic bigoted view of my grandparents were irrational and unjust.

And unfortunately, I learned the hard way that the divide between the gay and straight Christian community that I grew up in was large and all-pervasive. I was told that gays and lesbians are more depressed, aren’t normal, and that I definitely was not one. Believing that God allowed me to born with such desires while condemning me to hell/annihilation lead me to a year of suicidal ideations. My grandparents were able to shove me back in the closest, rationalize away my existence and effectively ignore an entire class of people with their childish thinking of peek-a-boo, I don't see you.

Up until then, I figured my grandparents would always love me. At that moment however, I learned the harsh truth that love is not unconditional. My grandparents claimed to love me, but she only loved the person they thought I was and the person they hoped I would be. My grandparents certainly don’t accept who I am, let alone tolerate the possibility of it even being mentioned. I haven't given up the hope that my grandparents may someday move past their homophobia, but my existence no longer hinges on their acceptance either.

I just wish they would have been more willing to remain a part of this grandchild's whole life - not just they part that they can accept. I wish they would uncover their eyes and see me, their grandchild, and the injustices I've suffered. I want them to know that I do, indeed exist!



~ SoACTing


  1. Loved the comparison to peek-a-boo. Really perfect.

    All of my grandparents died in my teens... I've wondered what their reactions would be from time to time. I suspect like many people from their generation it would not be something they would love much.

    Mostly I'm a bit sad that they never get to meet my awesome girlfriend...

  2. Kiley,

    Thanks for visiting and commenting on my blog. I'm glad you enjoyed the comparison. Other then the fact that my grandparents had the most profound (not to mention, devastating) impact on me identifying as a lesbian, it seems the "coming out to grandparents" story is almost an anomaly on the internet. I really hate using such heated rhetoric directed at people I love, but, unfortunately, couching it in pleasantries will never alter reality either.

    On the other hand, every morning I wake up I feel nothing but overwhelming gratefulness for the times and memories I've been able share with my grandparents. Additionally, I also have THREE (!!) GREAT GRANDPARENTS!! I am very glad I learned at a young age how quickly life can slip for every occasion that my large family gets to celebrate, I am acutely aware that the next celebration could be altered forever if nd when a grandparent or great grandparent passes.

    With that said, I still don't regret telling my grandparents I'm gay. I'm one of those people that wants the truth even when it hurts or destroys me, because the "not knowing" is far worse!

    And last but not least, I'm so happy that you found such an amazing girlfriend...hold her tight and don't ever let her go!

    ~ SoACTing

  3. I made my main comments on your other post. I just wanted to add that it is always amazing to me that even if grandparents may have initially stronger reactions, that their ability to get beyond it, and accept the parts of us they have always loved, has been much faster than I thought they would. My siblings, on the other hand seem to be stuck in the denial and blame, showing no signs of moving towards acceptance.

  4. Julia,

    You make an interesting point here to which I'm inclined to agree with! Why do you suppose this is the case???

    I would think the reason for this is because for your siblings to admit the reality of incest in your family (and for my siblings to accept the molestation in my family) hits to the core of their very being. For grandparents it wouldn't necessarily be the case because they're one step removed from the situation.

    Another way to look at it (for which I will likely do a post about)is how it's easier to forgive grandparents for their wrongdoings then it is to forgive parents when they mess up. A grandparents mistakes don't have as near as a direct impact on a child as a parent's mistakes would.

    Does that make sense?

    ~ SoACTing

  5. Yes, it does make sense. I think the other part of contemporaries not wanting to deal with emotionally challenging issues, comes from a misplaced desire to be safe. If they push away the chance that something could impact them, then they never have to admit they were in danger. It is much easier to accuse me of doing something to put myself in danger. (Or better yet, maybe I made it all up, and then the danger never existed.)