Dealing With A Religious Family or Others Who Disagree With Your "Lifestyle"

  • Paradigm_Shif...

    Posts: 251

    Jul 07, 2007 1:54 AM GMT
    This is a spin off from the earlier post Religion Vs. Sexuality, but I wanted to ask the question, for those of us who are completely out, how do you deal with religious family members or other people in your life who do not approve of your “Lifestyle”?

    To give you some background on me… My father is a pastor who is devoutly evangelical Christian and most of my family holds the same views, more or less. About a year ago my father decided that he would no longer support my college education because I am a “practicing homosexual”, leaving me with a $35,000 annual tuition bill.

    Luckily I have been able to independently finance my continued education, however my relationship with my father and my family as a whole has not recovered. I would like to rebuild my relationship with my family members because overall, they are immensely loving and caring. Yet, their views of this particular issue have caused much division and its hard for me to reconcile their love on one hand, with their disapproval on the other.

    Anyway, Im sure there are others in similar situations. How have you dealt with these people and what was the outcome? Really interested in hearing what you have to say…

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    Jul 07, 2007 2:24 AM GMT
    I was surprised with my family. My grandparents are old and I was not for sure how my family would take me being gay. I have two others in my family who are but still I was nervous. I do not think that my grandparents where to excited seeing I am the favorite. They knew I was dating rusty but had never met him. ONly seen him working in the yard or something. They never really talked to him just hello that was bout it. We was going to visit a friend and my car broke down. My grandpa had to come get us and that was the first time that they actually met. My grandpa seen that rusty was not lazy and was nice. Ever since then they have fallen in love with him. My whole family loves him actually. When we go visit my aunt and uncle we get to sleep in the same bed. When we go to my grandparents my grandma will cook him special food. He can be picky. Hell even my grandpa gives him hugs and tells him he loves him. My grandma does the same thing. I guess I am lucky to have a supporting family.

    All i can say is keep up with it and talk and educate them .
  • cityguy39

    Posts: 967

    Jul 07, 2007 3:39 AM GMT
    Wow, this is like de-javu. My father was in the Nation Of Islam and was very strict in how he raised me. He died when I was eight years old. I'm sure if he were alive today, he would probably disown me. Being gay and sleeping with white men, were two big time NO NO's in his world. My mother on the other hand is very conservative in her religous beliefs she's baptist/christian. We came to an understand very early about religion. She belives in it and I don't, period. It took her awhile to understand this. She's ok with my being gay now, and she also excepts my current BF. Paradigm, give your family a chance they just might surprise you.

    Doug
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    Jul 07, 2007 2:57 PM GMT
    I'm not advocating my history as a solution, but at a certain point I told my parents that I couldn't spend time with them anymore because every conversation inevitably led to commentary about my "sinful life." So for roughly two years, I didn't show for holidays and other family occasions and probably talked/emailed with them once a month. After awhile, they began to come around--I think at first they just missed me. Then I think they saw that I was happier than they'd ever known me. And then they saw that my relationship with my husband was more stable than my brother's with his girlfriend. Now we show up to family gatherings but still avoid events at their home for which they're also hosting church friends.
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    Jul 07, 2007 3:09 PM GMT
    Somewhere within me is a made-for-TV docu-drama on this very topic. In my case, since coming out, I have been formally shunned (letters and everything) and I have pretty much lost every "friend" I ever had within the Christian community. Shunnnnnnnn the unbeliever.

    I don't fault them, really. The barrage of anti-Gay rhetoric within Christendom is much akin to groupthink and brainwashing.

    My immediate family, however, has been quite unexpectedly gracious. Even my macho jock brother is supportive.
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    Jul 07, 2007 3:26 PM GMT
    as always religion which ever form of it
    does interfere with being gay and or coming out
    however i found out that by being thru to myself being gay that is my fam has changed their attitude towards gays and not just my person only
    i grew up in the west indies where being gay is a deff no no
    i then moved to holland where its normal if you could call it that
    my sisters have no problem with it
    my mom well she claimed if thats the way it was , so be it
    not that she had to like it
    my biggest problem would have been my dad
    a misionary
    he was truly shocked by the fact that a son of his could actually be gay and he was wondering if he could cure me
    well as things stand i,m still gay (intend to stay that way)
    and he has come to terms that no its not a disease we have
    and that i,m happy with my live and hes accepted me now for who i am
    sos give your fam time as they not only have to get used to you being gay
    but they have to break all the stigma surrounding gays and their lifestyle
    you can only be you
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    Jul 07, 2007 5:31 PM GMT
    It's been 11 years since my coming-out and my family has still problems to adjust to the real "me" and my real life.

    I come from a catholic family and being gay was not an option.

    They hate my husband (we're together since 1999) and to give you an example; they invite me for Christmas but not him. But I refuse to go. I decided to stay away because they still don't get it.

    I think it's sad really but I AM WHAT I AM and I'm happy that way. Otherwise I would be dead because I was heading toward suicide.
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    Jul 07, 2007 8:14 PM GMT
    Oh, jeeze. Get over it.

    Folks with a false belief system are dingy to begin with. THINK.

    And, if they don't accept someone, fuck 'em. There's 6.6 BILLION folks in the world. No one needs folks with false belief systems and that are bigots. Give 'em a dose of their own medicine.

    First things first: Like yourself, and the rest will follow. Stop it with all the pity pot shit, it's pathetic.
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    Jul 07, 2007 9:29 PM GMT
    give them some time I have a friend who is in the same situation with a preacher dad and a crazy mother who leaves bibles on his doorstep. After a while they got over it. Just be understanding to their situation and maybe they'll come around. Also look into the Point Foundation's scholarship specifically for GLBT college students if you need more money.
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    Jul 07, 2007 10:51 PM GMT
    I've never had to deal with this problem so you can decide to take or leave my advice.
    It sounds like you are doing the right thing. You are establishing your independence and leaving it to them to fight that battle. It is no longer yours. Their minds have been poisoned by dogma but I’m sure as you say they are loving people. Use it to help strengthen you on philosophy of life.

    I feel it was a bit manipulative of your father to withhold you college finances but you are definitely better off financing your education yourself. I have a closer relationship with my dad but he can be a dick at times. When I was in my early 20s we were all out for dinner and he was making the dinner a miserable experience. When I told him to lay off, he pulled the “I’m paying for dinner don’t lecture me” bullshit. I called the waitress over and gave her my credit card and then told him to stop being a dick. That shut him up for good.

    You’re doing the right thing. Your parents may or may not come around. Just don’t let that in anyway damage your self-esteem.
  • NCRugger

    Posts: 2

    Jul 07, 2007 11:14 PM GMT
    Hey man I know what you are going through, it can be very though. My parents divorced at an early age. So my Dad wasn’t around most of my child hood. My dad was a perfectionist and very unbearable to be around. Even thou I was living with him he still didn’t show us love that most dads would show. He was an alcoholic and it consumed everything he did. But in my early twenties my dad had turned his life over to Christ and was healed from the dreadful problems of alcoholism. But I had since moved on with my life. I came out to my self when I was 26 and met a guy four years later and was in a relationship with him for almost 12 years. My mom and brothers were ok with me being gay. They didn’t judge me and my mom was coolest with it. I took my partner to all of the family functions and also hosted my family in our home. It was hard on me having a split family. My siblings still had contact and fellowship with my dad. But I haven’t talked or seen him in almost 18 years. A year ago I found out that my dad had cancer and was in bad health. But I still couldn’t bring myself to go see him. Things were said about me and me being gay. It was said if I moved back to my home state that he would kill me because I as gay. Man I had a lot of hate in my heart towards him. Then about 2 weeks ago my oldest brother called me and said that my dad wanted to see me. I could not bring myself to it, until my brother told that he really changed. I put my pride aside and made the trip home to see him. Man it was hard for me to walk into that hospital room and face all the fears and hate that I had toward my dad. But he looked at me and said” I have been waiting to see you”. My soul welled up and cried like I have never done in my entire life on this earth. My dad and I reconciled, and man did it feel good to have that weight off my shoulders. I had to forgive him for all the hurt in my life. My dad never liked to be a loser and he fought tooth and nail to win in life. But when he told me that he was tired of fighting and was ready to go home and be with his savior Christ Jesus. I looked at him and said” Dad its ok, I will not keep you here any longer and then 3 hours later he made his journey home. I would have given any thing to have had a closer relationship with my dad. But who has the right to judge us on this earth? All I know it’s a personal conviction that I have had to deal with since the meeting with my dad. It started a healing process for me. I hope that this event in my life will help you in the events that you are dealing with. I am there for you man, if you need to talk. Just email me.
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    Jul 08, 2007 12:55 AM GMT
    @chunkystud: you're right about liking, nay LOVING, oneself first. I just happen to share a place with a str8 women who's behaviour is all whiny and angst ridden and self pity and insecure because - and I've told her this - she doesn't love herself... But I think you're a bit harsh here, unless you're addressing some post in particular that I missed. Coping with family and their hang-ups, is hard for those of us who fear loosing them - while you can't choose your relatives, for most of us flesh and blood do matter.

    Now with uptight co-workers and friends - well fuck them if they don't approve! Besides, how much does everyone really need to know anyways?

    Aside: is it me, or are str8 women with kids spectacularly nosy about co-worker's personal lives... Always those cagy questions and asumptions designed to test who you are, whether you're married, do you have kids, what church do you go to, and gossiping behind your back if you don't fit... Oh gawd, pass me a bucket! Maybe it's a small town stereotype, because I rarely had to put up with that shit in a big city.
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Jul 08, 2007 8:27 AM GMT
    You have to come to the eventual realization and it seems thru your original post that you have - that the real problem is within these family members themselves
    ..be it ignorance or out and out blatant prejudice all of it is unacceptable
    no one should have the power to rule over someone else's life

    I have had no problem with my family bur my good friend has not spoken to his parents for 10 yrs
    in the beginning he tried contacting them he's been to psychiatrists over it but now he knows that he's done absolutely nothing wrong ... if anyone's perpetuated a sin it's these family members and not you
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    Jul 08, 2007 10:59 AM GMT
    Gentlemen;

    July 18 will be three years ago that my partner of 12 years past away. We have all seen it on TV.. where gay one of the partners is in the hosiptal and the family keeps the other partner from visiting. Well, that actually happened to me. His Dad is a deacon for a Church of God church. His parents did not allow me in the hospital the last two days he was on life support. His Mother said they were only allowing immediate family members. I was his immediate family. I had been for 12 years.

    Well, then my Mother died last August. Two months prior to her death, we had not seen each other in 4 years. By the way, my Mother past away and had never stepped one foot into my home. Trust me, I did everything I could to have a good relationship with her. However, when she would cast judgment upon me ( I quote "You are an abomination in the sight of God, and you are going to burn in a lake of fire forever")is when I drawed the line.

    My ability to love someone is not wrong nor is it a disgrace to God. God created us all and God loves us all. Now I will get off my soap box, or should I say pity pot shit.. hehe
  • Delivis

    Posts: 2332

    Jul 08, 2007 7:09 PM GMT
    Well i am glad that at least in many cases some sort of reconciliation did happen. It is sad and sometimes even infuriating when religious beliefs lead to this kind of strife and division.

    Although i totally understand the impetus for it, what i wonder is how much one should stay away from the family in this case. I would expect the most powerful thing to turn them around would be to see you as much as possible - to see that you are a totally normal, healthy, sane person, the same person they have always known, that you have not 'changed', and so on. I find somtimes what turns families around is the realisation that their son's gay relationship is more stable (or just as stable) as other relationships they know, it puts things into context nicely. It is harder to believe that what you do is wrong, vile, evil, corrupting and so on when proof against that belief is constantly in sight, walking around. Much easier to maintain that belief from a distance, i would think.

    Although in the most extreme cases the religious belief is so strong and so closed to any reason, logic or evidence, that the only option is to get out with whatever sanity you have left. I only hope it is not that bad!
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    Jul 10, 2007 7:16 AM GMT
    My mother was a wierd one. She had been married 4 times, but she would quote the bible frequently. She was never a real bible thumper, but I was afraid she might become one at any moment.
    When she noticed my Air Force dog tags said "No Religious Preference," she ask about my burial preference. She later told me that my answer of cremation caused her 6 months of councling with her minister.

    At any rate, I never "came out" to the familiy. I did buy a house, live with the same "roommate" for 12 years, sleep in "his" bedroom so mother could use "mine" when she came to visit, and told mother not to rearrange things in Jim's kitchen.
    She still took ten years to stop asking me "When are you going to get married and have children?"

    Some might call me a coward, but if they couldn't guess they must be dumb. And if they really thought it was any of their business they could ask, but they didn't. I didn't think it was any of their business
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    Jul 10, 2007 7:50 AM GMT
    For those in places without "domestic partnerships" etc, you can exchange "Medical Powers of Attorney." ( In case of sickness or accident, I hereby grant ------ my power of attorney to make medical decisions for me, to consult with doctors in my behalf, to view medical records, and to visit me to verify my condition and consult with me.) A book on motorcycle riding recommended this sort of thing.

    Have a lawyer in your state draw it up, and get it notarized if necessary.

    That and having Wills can ilimanate a lot of problems. It did for me.
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    Jul 10, 2007 8:03 AM GMT
    eliminate - darn it.
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    Jul 10, 2007 1:16 PM GMT
    To respond to Delivis :

    I did try to make myself and my spouse (we are not married yet but we can now in Canada (Quebec)), more present to them, to talk to them about us. But to no avail. I have put a lot of energy to try to build a bridge between us and them... no result.

    So, I've decided to go my own way. But my door is always open... if they choose to walk in, they are welcome.
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    Jul 11, 2007 2:07 PM GMT
    I'd sue them. especially if a college fund was initiated on my behalf at a young age.
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    Jul 11, 2007 5:50 PM GMT
    I grew up a Campbellite (Church of Christ - Disciples), then, like a lot of Campbellites, I converted to the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (Mormons).

    I'm 51, and will be 52 in less than a month. I'm married with 2 children and 3 step-children, all grown and gone.

    I am in the process of coming out. I've told some of the children so that they can be a support to their mother when I tell her. I've told my two older sisters, and all seemed to take it well, and said that they wanted to be supportive.

    After they all told me that, one sister, the oldest, also a Mormon, changed her tune and has begun laying guilt trips on me and telling me every bad thing that can possibly happen to me, and then, she had the audacity to say (in an email), "laying our own religion aside, the bible talks about homosexuality." (paraphrased)

    I just wrote her an email back and told her that I was under a great deal of stress, and while I was deeply grateful to the church for all that it made of me, and while I loved her very much, if she couldn't be supportive in this painful process, she needed to leave me alone and not communicate with me.

    I have accepted that there are things that I am going to have to suffer while going through this process AND after I have gone through it, but my wife gave me a ring for Christmas, one year, that had inscribed on it "To thine own self be true." Those words reverberate in my mind, and ironically, it is that ring and what the Mormons made of me that has given me the strength to come out.

    Be grateful for your parents and the man they made of you, who has the courage to come out at a young age. Though they may not communicate back, send them emails and letters and cards filled with newsy items, and an expression of profound love for them. One of the things that I've learned from being a Christian (yes, Mormons worship God the Father and Jesus Christ - he being MY saviour), is that we need to return love for hate. It may be that they never come around, but you will have the satisfaction of knowing that you loved them, and they knew it.

    Hatred and "attitude" (like what Chuckystud preaches) will never change the Christian mindset toward us. Only unconditional love in the face of hatred, and service to all, and kindness and truth will help us to overcome the stigma of being sinful monsters.

    Good luck to you, chin up and love yourself, and be true to yourself.

    Steve
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    Jul 11, 2007 6:31 PM GMT
    First of all, the advice you are receiving here is good. Ultimately, you are going to have to walk this path. My family wasn't thrilled when I came out and pretty much the Church (I was raised LDS/Mormon) kicked me to the curb. I love my family very much, however I love myself above all else. My siblings and parents do not acknowledge my relationship with my partner of almost 12 years. The way I look at it is that this is their loss. My friends have become my family and my family like distant friends. Sad, but oh well, that is MY path.

    To answer your implied question of how to deal with a religious family or others who disagree. My answer is simply "don't". You have absolutely nothing to be ashamed of by being gay. They, on the other hand should be very ashamed of any mistreatment you might receive. My question to my family, back when I still had some sort of relationship was this. "If Christ were here, would he stand with the righteous or would he defend the persecuted?" If you want my opinion on that question please email me and we can discuss this further. Additionally, my family as well as the religion I was raised in do not even acknowledge being "gay" as a lifestyle but rather an illness that can be overcome. If they knew any gay people or would take the time to ask someone rather than making assumptions and reaching conclusions based on their comfort level. Further, I asked my mom once "when she decided to be straight?" - she was stumped and replied, I didn't. I said nothing further and just let her sit with that thought.

    You are proving what I have known all along. We as a community (as well as individuals) are stronger for the b.s. our families and ultimately society put us through.

    Be true to yourself, by setting this example you can show them by being a good human being. That happens to be their gay son, brother, cousin etc.

    Best of luck my friend,
    t.
  • Laurence

    Posts: 942

    Jul 12, 2007 9:22 AM GMT
    Well done Paradigm for moving on with your life and sorting your own education out.

    Some of the above posters offer great advice.

    Mine is to let things go for now, you can't change minds quickly that don't want to be changed.

    Live your life with Pride and honesty, keep up the channels of communication with things like birthday cards and gifts (as someone suggested above) and hopefully people will come round to the fact that you're still a great guy no matter your sexual orientation.

    Sometimes stepping away from the heat of a situation will solve things easier than confrontation.

    Good Luck

    Loz
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    Oct 10, 2007 9:04 AM GMT
    Well Chatboi,I feel for you,but you seem strong, and keep moving forward. As far as religion and family goes, I think its just another way of the straights keeping us from being happy. Everyone of us have had enough with making our family,freinds, comfortable..so lets stop, and just be happy for who we are. I think in mycase, if my partners mother is still thinking its a sin to be gay, well I have had nothing to do with her. My family is supportive enough, to where my mom let us sleep in her bed this past visit.(ofcourse she wasn;t home anyway) but still there is no reason for these crazy people banging their bibles screaming "Die Fags Die"..it is not Christian at all, I thought to judge as they spread that notion. Thanks for letting me vent,just so tired of the bullshit we have had to deal with already.icon_razz.gif
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    Oct 10, 2007 10:03 AM GMT
    Todd wrote: "My friends have become my family and my family like distant friends."

    This is true for my spouse and I.

    When I went away to college and I learned to think, I stopped believing in myths, like the myths of god(s) and Christianity.

    My family on the other hand, has gone the other way, completely discarding reason and logic in favor of false myths and religious zealotry.

    My father is okay with my spouse, but my mother doesn't like him and both place no importance on our relationship, even though we've been together for almost a decade and married in 2004. No members of our familites attended our ceremony and none offered congratulations. In contrast, endless fuss was and is made about all other nuptials.

    I am simply at a point in my life now where I WILL NOT accept anyone's religious beliefs. One has a right to believe in god(s), but I also think that believers are completely misguided and in doing so are simply not thinking and unwilling to accept facts about life.

    With that said, as I have said many times and will continue to repeat, wherever religion is, trouble is sure to follow and more importantly, one must make the best of life as it is now (and not get bogged down in guilts and worries about life after death), for life is short and fleeting!

    I have to edit this post because I want to end it on a more positive note.

    Strengthen the relationships between yourself and those that support you because the positive ones are the most important ones.