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Old 04-23-2014, 01:29 PM
 
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I'm sorry too OP, that you haven't found acceptance in your own family. Your parents aren't likely to change from beliefs they have held their entire lives. That doesn't make them bad people either. Accept what they can give you, and be happy with who you are.
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Old 04-23-2014, 01:35 PM
 
Location: The Emerald City
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You have done a good job of presenting logic to those who won't ever get it. I am so happy that you have been able to live your life as you. I am sorry for them. But don't expect to change their minds or stop the preaching. The crux of evangelical belief is that you have to convert people. Best to you.
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:04 PM
 
Location: North Carolina
1,764 posts, read 2,326,258 times
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I'm sorry you are going through this. I am also from a deeply religious family. I have a gay cousin and we saw each other about six years ago. He told me that he always appreciated that I was loving and kind to him regardless of how the rest of the family treated him. To me, he is my cousin and I love him. Bottom line.

In my experience, people do not necessarily care about facts or figures or even logic. They hold steadfast to their views and ignore anything that contradicts what they want/need to believe. There is a saying I heard once and it's stuck with me all these years "Don't confuse me with the facts." I just remind myself of that when talking to intolerant people and move on to neutral subjects or distance myself from them. In this sense, there is no point in arguing with them or trying to convince them of your position. As you've come to learn, it gets nowhere but to a ton of hurt feelings. However, pretending to be something you are not leads to worse choices and more hurt feelings. I know a handful of single mothers who were abandoned by their gay husbands who grew tired of the pretense at some point. How is that fair or right toward those women and their children? I know a few people that didn't disclose their health status and infected their partners. How is that fair or right toward their partners? While I understand why some people chose to lie and pretend (it's easier, of course) it hardly ends up well for somebody caught in that web of lies. So, kudos to you for being open and honest with your family and trying to do the right thing.

With that said, you are at a crossroads in your life. You have to decide if maintaining a relationship with your family is worth the emotional and mental stress you are caused by doing so. In other words, would X behavior be tolerable or acceptable if the person/people doing it were not your parents? If the honest answer is "No" then ask yourself why it's acceptable *because* they are your parents? I'm not in the same situation, but I did grow up with judgmental, very religious and toxic parents and I ultimately had to choose between wanting to be "good enough" to be accepted by them and my own children's well-being. The day I was verbally and physically attacked in front of my two children is the last time I saw either of my parents. I refuse to allow their toxicity to harm my children and rather than risk going to jail for protecting my kids, I opted to terminate a very destructive and life-destroying connection with them. I stand by this decision each time one of my children has reached a new milestone with their self-esteem intact.

Keep in mind that choosing to not have a relationship with your family comes with developing a life and sense of self-acceptance that you can't receive from them anymore (or at all, as is my case). The holidays will look different. The memories you make in your adult life will be void in the spot where two loving, caring parents would be. Some people will judge you and blame you because they hold true to "Honor Thy Mother and Father" with no real understanding that sometimes that simply means not forcing them to be exposed to someone whose lifestyle they refuse to accept or at least not be judgmental about. Some could argue that it's not fair to force parents do to this and that might be true, but the reality is every time anyone decides to bring a child into the world they don't know who that person will grow up to be. Your parents have a responsibility to tell you what they will and will not accept and they've done that in many, many (hurtful) ways. Now, you have the responsibility to take that information and make choices that are workable for your life. Being gay can't be "fixed" as you well know. However, being self-righteous and intolerant usually can't be fixed either so somebody has to be the one to acknowledge you are all at an empasse and make decisions, accordingly.

All the best to you in whatever you decide.
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:07 PM
 
16,722 posts, read 14,629,401 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mjd07 View Post
In other words, would X behavior be tolerable or acceptable if the person/people doing it were not your parents? If the honest answer is "No" then ask yourself why it's acceptable *because* they are your parents? I'm not in the same situation, but I did grow up with judgmental, very religious and toxic parents and I ultimately had to choose between wanting to be "good enough" to be accepted by them and my own children's well-being. The day I was verbally and physically attacked in front of my two children is the last time I saw either of my parents. I refuse to allow their toxicity to harm my children and rather than risk going to jail for protecting my kids, I opted to terminate a very destructive and life-destroying connection with them. I stand by this decision each time one of my children has reached a new milestone with their self-esteem intact.
I applaud your courage.
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:17 PM
 
179 posts, read 186,974 times
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I don't want to excuse your parents' intolerance but if it's really that important for you to have a relationship with them going forward then this might be a topic you'll just have to skate around when you interact with them. At least they weren't ignorant and blinded enough by their faith to completely cast you out from the family. From what you wrote they still seem to care for you and want you around even if it's in their own warped way, this might be as good as it gets unfortunately .
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:17 PM
 
Location: The Greater Houston Metro Area
8,985 posts, read 14,636,676 times
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You might make a last ditch effort to have a talk with them and let them know that if they continue to preach at you, you will have to limit your exposure to them in a very drastic way. It will be up to them to decide to love their child - or hold fast to the idea that they should "convert" you, ensuring your absence. Let them know that if they decide to cease the constant harping, the first time the God Talk starts - you are out of there and won't be back.
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Old 04-23-2014, 02:58 PM
 
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You don't have to leave and never come back. You do, however, need to draw boundaries. You tell them 'Mom and Dad, I feel we have discussed this issue enough. I'm not changing your minds and you certainly can't change me. From now on, if you start on this subject, I'm going to leave. I'll come back another time."

Then comes the hard part. They're not going to believe you. So as soon as they start with the preaching, you grab your coat, tell 'em you told them that you can't listen to this any more, say 'love you' and you leave. Don't get angry, don't be rude...just say your piece and walk out. After two or three times, they will get the message that this subject is off limits.

It's just like training a child. You state your expectations, then you create consequences for not fulfilling those expectations.
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Old 04-23-2014, 03:43 PM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
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As bitter a pill it is to swallow, if you want peace with the situation you are going to have to drastically change your level of relationship with your parents, to a level of no contact with them. I think time of not hearing from you is the only thing that is going to cause them to respect your wishes.
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:02 PM
 
Location: Denver, Colorado U.S.A.
14,174 posts, read 23,231,943 times
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Originally Posted by downtownnola View Post
My parents, while very good and decent people, are literally obsessed with religion, and it is starting to negatively affect our relationship.

A little background. I grew up in the church from the time I was born. We attended Evangelical churches, which taught that us about a loving God that would have no problem sending one to Hell if they did not repent of their sins. As a child, I lived in near constant anxiety that I would go to hell if I sinned and did not confess. On the bright side, I was promised an eternal life if I did. I also had near constant anxiety that the rapture would occur and I would get left behind. We lived in a somewhat insular world... most of our family friends were also Christians. We were taught that the "unsaved" were inherently lost and unhappy people, so we did not associate very much with them. Don't get me wrong, I grew up in a very loving home, but looking back, I see how extreme some of these beliefs were.

Fast forward a few years to High School. I started realizing that I was attracted to other guys. In my family, we were also taught that homosexuals were some kind of perverted people who did awful, wicked things. I was even taught that AIDS was God's punishment of gay peoples' sins. Due to these extreme teachings, I was in denial about my attraction for many years. I pretended that I liked girls so that I would fit in with the other kids at church, and even went on "dates" with girls to keep up the appearance of being straight.

During my freshman year of college, I finally realized that I had the ability to think for myself. I begun to question my own religious views and finally had the strength to accept the fact that I was gay. I will never forget how liberated I felt to finally be myself. A few months later while visiting my parents, I sat them down and had "the talk." I told them that I was gay, told them how much they meant to me, and asked them to do their best to understand. Rather than trying to see where I was coming from, I was met with much hurt and anger on their part. I'll never forget that my Dad told me, "How could you choose a 'lifestyle' that will kill you [AIDS] when you're typically so into health and nutrition?" My mom told me, "If you choose this 'lifestyle', it will destroy our relationship." It was hard to hear these things when I really needed their support, but I thought to myself, "They are just shocked and upset. They will come around."

A few months later, I went back to visit my parents again. We had a serious talk and my parents told me that although they did not "approve of my lifestyle," they still wanted to be a part of my life. It seemed like a fair enough compromise. With this however, came what became an endless parade of "sermons." My parents assured me that I could become straight if I would simply "turn my lusts over to the Lord." They tried to convince me to go to "repairative therapy." They mailed me books about people that had "come out of that lifestyle." When they would call, they would drop references to asking God for forgiveness.

Rather than soliciting me for my opinions or feelings on what it means to be gay, they instead went to groups like Focus on the Family and the American Family Association. They read book after book that made it sounds as though I had some kind of mental illness that was caused by an overbearing mother, distant father, blah, blah, blah. They also became increasingly convinced that I could be "set free" of my homosexuality. They finally admitted that they believed that I did not choose to be gay, but that I could still be "cured."

As the years went by, they said less and less about it and I honestly felt as though they were slowly coming to terms with their feelings and accepting me. It was nice. I felt like our relationship was slowly starting to heal. A couple years ago, I was home for the holidays and we were watching the show "House Hunters," which features couples searching for homes to buy. We watched about 3 or 4 episodes, until a lesbian couple was featured. Within approx. 10 seconds, my Mom switched the channel. Needless to say, it seemed very strange that the sight of a gay couple was so alarming to them. The next day, I pulled my parents aside and asked them why they never asked questions about my dating life (they have always been open with my brother... asking him if he's dating, how his are, etc). Essentially, they had several answers, but the most obvious is that they don't want to "encourage my homosexuality." I explained (yet again) that my being gay is not a choice, and that I did not believe that the Bible actually condemns homosexuality. They were shocked and asked me to back up my claims. I pointed out how every verse in the Bible that has been used to condemn homosexuality has either been mistranslated or has not been considered in the original cultural context (I won't go into all of that here). They refused to listen to the evidence that I presented. They are so deeply entrenched in their beliefs that they won't even consider another viewpoint.

During this whole process, I asked them for their respect. I told them that I realize that their religious convictions were deep, but explained that I no longer subscribe to their worldview, and explained my questioning and skepticism of religion in general. Yet, they still take every opportunity possible to "preach" to me. When I visit, you can barely go 15 minutes without hearing some type of mini sermon. Often, it's just a casual conversation that they have amongst themselves in front of me, "If we make God our priority in life, we will be happy, but if not, surely life will be a disappointment." I get occasional texts from them telling me that they are praying for me. When I speak to them on the phone, the conversation often ends with something along the lines of, "We all need God's grace to survive in this world." It's all just so exhausting sometimes.

My primary frustration in the whole situation is the stance that my parents have taken. Their religious and political views ultimately transcend a desire to see their son live a happy, fulfilled life. They say that they want a relationship with me (I also want one with them), but they refuse to accept the core of who I am. A relationship with someone means that you accept all of them. You can't pick and choose. I didn't choose my sexual orientation, but they did choose their religion, yet they expect me to the be the one to change. That doesn't seem right. My parents have known that I am gay for almost 10 years. I am turning 30 years old this year, but I still feel like my parents have this grip on me.

There is a deep emotional fallout that occurs when your parents treat you as though your life has been a disappointment to them. Although I am financially independent and successful in my career, and a decent and good human being that contributes positively to society, I still feel like this one thing distorts their view of me. I love life and am very happy with where my life is, but sometimes I feel like my parents assume that I must be one of those "miserable gay people" that they heard about at church. Ugh.

Sorry this post is so long, I just needed to vent. I'd love advice from others who have been in similar situations. Thanks for listening.
Sorry to hear this story... partly because it's so similar to mine. Similar upbringing, similar parents. I told them I'm gay at age 23, and gave them the option to never see me again. They chose to have me remain in their lives, but I really didn't. I moved away to another city and have never lived near them since. They have never contacted me unless they wanted something specific from me.

I think on the positive side, I was never really that close to my parents. That made it easier for me to just go off and live my own life. Sure, it hurt that they never called, never had any advice, never asked what was going on in my life. But over the years, I just grew further apart from them. I found my partner in my 20s and we've been together for 18 years now. We got legally married last year, and I changed my last name to his, because we have children (through surrogacy) and I wanted the last name of my kids, not the family that turned its back on me.

When I told my parents that we were having twins, they told me it was "a sign of the end times". No baby shower gift from them lol! Oddly, they started coming to visit their grandkids a few years ago and accepted them, and my partner. They don't preach at me when they visit, but they've also never apologized for the hurtful things they've said to me. They'll never understand, so I'm still not close to them.

My only advise is to live your life for yourself and build your own family, whether that's through friends, a partner, or having kids through adoption or surrogacy. Focus on finding the love you deserve and don't let your parents be a scar on your life.
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Old 04-23-2014, 04:29 PM
 
Location: Southwestern, USA
15,235 posts, read 12,036,638 times
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I thought that at first but went with...go see them and love them, when they
start in...leave with a hug...I thought they would get the message better
than just never going over.
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Dissenter View Post
As bitter a pill it is to swallow, if you want
peace with the situation you are going to have to drastically change your level
of relationship with your parents, to a level of no contact with them.
I think time of not hearing from you is the only thing that is going to cause them to respect your wishes.
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