“Help: I Want to Come Out to My Loving Evangelical Father”

A few days ago I received this email:

Dear John,

I hope it doesn’t seem too strange that I, a complete stranger, am writing to you, but I think you’ve probably grown sufficiently famous by now that a little bit of unsolicited mail is probably expected! I started reading you on Dan Savage’s recomendation, I stayed for the Thruway Christians, and lately I’ve been very interested in the saga of your relationship with your father. I think I feel compelled to write because I’m struggling with matters of faith and family right now, and you’re the only writer I’ve seen who has been able to identify a brand of Christianity that I can fully embrace.

I’m a 23 year old lesbian, and my parents are in no way capable of dealing with that fact. I was raised in a very conservative Southern Baptist household, and while my parents aren’t crazy fundamentalists, they’re just intolerant enough to think that being gay is the ultimate slap in the face to God. Years ago they found that I was a lesbian, and the resulting fallout was horrific. I retreated out of cowardice, and in order to regain their trust lied to them that it was “just a phase.”

The past three years have been horrible for me. I feel like I’ve stopped developing emotionally, all because I’m trying to remain in this limbo of striving for their approval without fully committing to the kind of life they want me to lead: marriage, kids, church every Sunday, etc. It’s all the more difficult for me because I truly love my parents, and can’t conceive of giving up a relationship with them. They’re kind, funny, smart people. I think being gay is the only thing I could possibly be that would absolutely devastate them.

I haven’t given up being a Christian, and I think I’m writing to you because recently I’ve been really buckling under all of this, and I wish I had a person of faith around to talk to. But the pastors in this deep southern town aren’t the progressive type. Like I said before, you seem like an ambassador for the type of Christianity that seems real, and I wanted to lay this burden down somewhere.

I don’t know what to do at this point. I just met a girl I really like, and I’d like to move on with my life, and experience a healthy relationship with her. I can’t do that in my current position, though. My father, whom I love so much, wants me to move back home and go to grad school at the university where he teaches. He thinks it would be good for me, and would him and I to grow closer. On some level I agree with him about that. But another part of me wonders if it would be best for me to practice with my parents a scorched earth policy: if I should just tell them, once and for all, that I’m gay, and then stay away from them for enough time that they can start to get over it.

I know what would happen if I moved home and tell them about who I really am: they would be so, so hurt; I would never be at peace from their efforts to save me; and I would probably lie down and submit to them out of my feelings of guilt and love for them.

I can’t believe this is what my life has turned into. How did modern Christianity get so fucked that a totally average girl like me, from an otherwise great family, has to feel this kind of pain, and cause my parents to feel it too?

Thanks for listening, John. I don’t know how coherent this letter has been, but I want you to know that it means a lot to people like me to be able to read a blog like yours. Your ‘gays and christianity’ posts are truly inspired. Thank you so much.

So. This letter’s been on my mind for days now. It just wipes me out this sweet girl has to deal with this.

I’ve got my own plans for responding to my new friend. For one, her letter has inspired me to produce, via extranormal (which I utilized to make Christian and Non-Christian: Who Gets Into Heaven? and Adam and Eve: The Day After Paradise) an animated series around exactly the kinds issues she is facing and raising. (The first episode of the series, which I’ll publish Friday, is entitled The Smith Family Chronicles: Jane Smith Comes Out to Her Conservative Christian Father [Episode 1].) I also plan to write and publish here on my blog something that I hope will be of some service to her and anyone else in a similar position. Look for that post here on Monday.

Here’s to working toward a Christianity that wouldn’t embarrass, depress, or royally anger Christ.

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is founder of Unfundamentalist Christians (on Facebook here), and executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. John is a pastor ordained by The Progressive Christian Alliance. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. And don't forget to sign up for his mucho awesome monthly newsletter.

  • http://N/A Joan Odom

    Heart-breaking. My ONLY concern, if one of my precious children (I have two) “came out” to me, would be for their safety in this intolerant climate. How “loving” can these conservative parents be, if she is willing to live a LIE and sacrifice HER happiness for THEM? Am I missing something here? I was raised in a fundamentalist family. I got past it, and have a “civil” relationship with them now. It HAS to be enough. I know it will not be a close bond. But, I MUST live my life the only way I can, as a liberal person. With their judgment of ME, they are missing out on a terrific daughter, who could really show them what love means…

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      Well, what you may be missing, Joan (and I do appreciate the loving place from which you’re coming on this), is that this girl is (I’m guessing, since you have two children) maybe half your age. She’s young. She loves her parents; and she knows they do her. This is tough stuff. As, I know, you know.

  • Grace

    This made me tear up. My heart aches for this poor, sweet girl. :( She will be in my prayers!

  • anonymous

    John-

    just read your latest post. I’m in the same boots as the girl who emailed you about coming out to her folks, except that I did last summer.

    To say it was devastating to them would be putting it mildly. My brother continues to be tolerant and loving, though he does have problems with my bisexuality sometimes. I broke up with my girlfriend of seven months a couple of weeks ago, and it was so hard not to be able to call my mom and cry to her about it.

    The thing that compounds my life is that I’m also in the military- and so was my ex-girlfriend. We are friends on facebook but can’t express ourselves publicly. I couldn’t talk to my coworkers about what was obviously bothering me. Sure, the law is changing… but not for several months, and even then there are no guarantees: “fag” is still quite acceptable slang at work.

    I guess my main point in emailing you is to say, if it’s ok with you, please pass along to this girl my email. And gaychristian.net, where I have found a great community of gays and lesbians who also love Jesus like crazy, and are in various stages of their walks and acceptance of themselves. It is a safe place.

    My mom, years before I came out to her, told me that Satan’s biggest lie is to tell us that we are alone. I have held onto that- and drawn strength from it even as I broke her heart and turned on my computer at night to receive support from gaychristian.net. I don’t think I would have been able to do it without them. I can’t do anything less than extend this on to somebody else.

    Thanks for your kind and compassionate posts on Christianity and gays, and gay Christians. We need all the advocates we can get. :)

    Peace.

    • 23 yr. old lesbian

      I will definitely check out gaychristian.net. I can use all the resources and support that’s out there.

  • Reed

    “They’re kind, funny, smart people. I think being gay is the only thing I could possibly be that would absolutely devastate them.”

    There’s a non sequitur there a mile wide. If they’re THAT kind and smart, they won’t be devastated.

    Scorch the earth. Rip off the Band-Aid all at once. It sucks, but it works.

    Been there. Done it. Tried it the other way, too. That was worse.

    • Tim

      Maybe I misunderstand your response, but it sounds as though you consider a parent’s tendency to be devastated over their child coming out as possibly tantamount to being rude and humorless. It’s not like I have this huge circle of gay friends, but my sister is gay and I’ve had a couple of other friends that came out later in life. All of them are admittedly unhappy. While some of that unhappiness can certainly be tied to adolescent taunting and the intolerance of family and friends, they just can’t seem to find gay relationships that last longer than four or five years. While I know this cycle of meeting, mating, moving in, then moving on, occurs regularly in heterosexual relationships, it’s seemingly far more prevalent in gay relationships.

      Of the few gay people in my life, all of them struggle with depression and two of them struggle with anxiety attacks. It also seems like the more stories I read written by gay contributors, depression seems to be a recurring theme. Struggling with a chronic depression myself, I know firsthand how such a condition can be devastating to a marriage or any otherwise longterm relationship.

      I realize sexual orientation is not a choice. I also realize that theblong-held attitudes of the church regarding homosexuality have been unloving and divisive. I love my son and daughter with every fiber of my being. If they came out to me, I would love them all the same. But what I believe is a life fraught with an increased potential for disappointment and abandonment would be….well….devastating. Not because I think they are wrong or going to hell, but because I love them and worry about their futures. Maybe that’s stupid, but that’s what parents do sometimes.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        Tim: I really have a problem with you characterizing gay and lesbian relationships as somehow inherently dysfunctional. And I really have a problem with you choosing to do it in these circumstances.

        When you find someone who doesn’t struggle with depression and unhappiness, let me know. You’ve often spoken of your own depression. And meeting, mating, moving in, and moving on is hardly a phenomenon exclusive to gays and lesbians. You’ve also often spoken of your own divorce.

        A person’s sexual orientation has virtually no relationship to their ability to form stable, long-lasting, loving relationships. You need to once and for all accept that. Okay, buddy?

        • Tim

          Sorry if I offended you or anyone else, John. It was in the wee hours of the morning when I posted, and I didn’t fairly consider the delicate tenor of the thread. I apologize.

          What I saw in Reed’s cited “mile wide non sequitur” was unfair. A loving, devoted, kind and funny parent could certainly be devastated by their child coming out to them. To characterize such a parent’s devastation as somehow being unloving, unkind, un-funny, etc. is what I was going off on. Obviously that point was lost.

          Anyhow, sorry for the poor timing and placement of my comment.

          • Mindy

            I would also add, Tim, that much of that “short-term relationship” stuff comes from the surrounding culture’s inability to accept gay or lesbian relationships as “real.” When one enters into a relationship that cultural norms don’t embrace, well, sure, that added pressure can very likely cause the relationship to self-combust. That has nothing to do with the orientation of the partners, but the rest of the world’s reaction to them.

            Much like transracial couples once (and in some places, still) had to face. Had nothing whatsoever to do with their race, but with the microscope under which they were forced to live.

          • Reed

            Parents whose reaction is about their own guilt and/or disappointment (i.e., “being devastated”) aren’t being especially loving

            .

            “Devastation” is well-nigh irreparable; my experience has been that one of my parents was completely and immediately supportive, and the other was deeply disappointed that there wouldn’t be grandchildren, and concerned about me, and worried that other family members would find out . . . and took about two years of uneasiness to settle into “acceptance/tolerance,” which moved to “embracing and welcoming and involved” within five years.

            Nice that your reaction would be “loving them and worrying about their futures.” I’d hope that your first response would be “I love you, dear. Are you seeing anyone nice?”

            And, common as depression is (and you having the condition), how does that color or inform your views of gays (based on “two of the few”)?

            As to your non-gay friends – how does the length of their relationships measure up vs. the “gays seem to max out at about four/five years” standard (my paraphrase)?

            My late other half and I were together 18-1/2 years. Like many couples, we had periods of adjustment/growing pains/problems to work out around the 5, 10, and 15 year mark.

            I’d be able to tell you about 20, but that’d be a “beyond the grave thing” sort of creepy story (and a fiction suitable for telling around the campfires).

      • 23 yr. old lesbian

        I realize that none of you know me in real life, and you might not believe this considering the circumstances under which I am here, but I am actually quite a happy person, in general. That’s part of what gets me through my struggles with my parents, I HAVE to believe that things will get better.

        I have to believe this because I’ve been in much darker places than this, actually. During my first coming out attempt and the subsequent negative reaction, I thought about killing myself. Luckily I was able to get into therapy at my college and I was diagnosed with situational depression, key word being, SITUATIONAL. I have no struggles with anxiety or depression apart from this situation with my parents that places a huge burden on my life.

        I’ve heard this from so many other people in my same position… the issue definitely isn’t the supposed toxic nature of gay relationships. It’s not even about the disapproval of society at large, although that definitely has a negative effect on a lot of people. It’s mainly about not feeling safe with your family, the people who raised you, and are supposed to love you unconditionally.

      • DR

        I understand we’re all speaking from experience here, but there’s actually quite a bit of data if one searches to learn about gay marriage that objectively provides information about GLBT relationships being both long-term as well as stable. I encourage a Google search for more information.

  • http://allegro63.wordpress.com/ sdgalloway

    I don’t doubt that you will send a beautiful response. My heart goes out to this young woman. I know she is not alone in facing that sort of situation. I just wish it didn’t have to be something so fraught with horrible potential, but simply an acknowledgement that God has created us all beautifully and individually unique.

  • Grace

    After writing my first post, I decided I wasn’t done.

    Slowly throughout my short life I have realized that I’m attracted to women.

    My parents act like we’re a good Christian family, but I have trouble with that since there is so much that goes unseen by my parents. They have created a broken home. Countless fights and nights crying give me hope that we will become a better family… but I’m losing hope everyday. Some days I think that coming out to my parents wouldn’t be that big of a deal, we all don’t even live in the same house, right? (Let me make it clear that I’m not a lesbian, but bi-sexual.) But then I think of my father’s face if I ever told. I’m confident that my father would love me NO MATTER what I told him, but I feel that it would be the ultimate disrespect to him. (and my mother, but I honestly don’t care as much about that.)

    When I was younger and felt differently about the fights I had with my mom I would fantasize about telling her I was bi and how it would hurt her… though I don’t fantasize about such things anymore, I still wonder what would happen if I told, naturally.

    I’ve told my parents so much about myself just recently that I thought I never would tell them in hopes to change our family, (it didn’t work, btw.) that I feel like I am doing wrong by hiding this from them.

    I fear that I will spend the rest of my life with this secret from them.

    (I apologize if that was confusing.)

  • Callie Sanders

    I’m struggling with the same battles as her with my family and what the Bible says about homosexuality, etc. Our stories are pretty much identical and I’m trying to kind answers and peace. Is there anyway I could get in contact with the person who wrote this? I’ve felt alone with the same burdens as her for a long time and it would be nice to connect with someone who understands what I’m going through. Thank you.

  • 23 yr. old lesbian

    Hi everybody. I’m the girl who wrote the letter.

    First of all, thank you all for your words of encouragement. Let me just say, God has interesting timing. For the past two hours I’ve been on the phone with my mother, and something that was said triggered all of our issues, and I had to listen to a spiel about how I’m breaking her heart by not being in fellowship with her on the most important things. There was crying involved. It broke my heart too.

    Oh, and just to show that parents really do know their kids- apropos of nothing, she asked me if I believed homosexuality was condoned by the Bible, and when I said I thought it was, she told me it was a disgusting, narcissitic lifestyle and my views on it just go to show how far I’ve departed from Christ.

    During all of this I saw that John had a new post up, and I read my letter, and the first few loving posts. That had to have happened for a reason, right? There are so few moments in life where I feel like God is specifically trying to tell me something, and that was one of them.

    Thank you all so much, and thank you especially, John. I don’t think you’ll ever know what this means to me.

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      It’s you who mean so much to us. By allowing us to share in your difficult journey, and by showing such compassion for your parents, you ennoble us all. You’ve got a tough row to hoe; it sounds like your parents are going to do the thing so many do, and just … refuse your truth. That’s gonna be tough for you, of course. I fear it’s going to get very, very ugly for you: it sounds like your parents are going to spiritually vomit all over you. I’m not actually too keen on giving advice about such matters–being, as they are, so thoroughly informed by personalities and dynamics about which of course I can have no knowledge—but, for what it’s worth, do remember this: People tend to initially react really horribly to stuff they can later get quite relaxed around. What happens at first, in other words, isn’t necessarily, at all, the way it will stay. You’re essentially going to be asking your parents to choose between you and their God. Which is to say, between you and themselves. That’s … a tricky proposition.

      What they’re likely to do, at first, is just full-on attack you. And MUCH of that will be fueled by the anger they’ll feel toward you simply because you made them face such a difficult decision. Do you see what I mean? They’ll lash at you JUST because you’ve made them face this thing.

      Later, later, later (though of course we can all pray it’s sooner than later), all that will settle down, and your parents may end up surprising you. The gay community is full, of course, with a great many people who came out to their conservative Xtian parents, were utterly rejected and reviled by them—and later, when the smoke cleared, and their parents had time to really reflect and learn about this new thing in their lives, were embraced by them.

      So it’s like with any storm: you prepare for it; you hunker down when it happens; you wish it would stop; you wait it out. But sooner or later, the sun always shines again.

      Even if that sun is of your own device; even if your parents, in their great ignorance, choose their version of Christianity over the reality of their daughter. For you, still, the sun will shine again—and probably a lot sooner than it might seem when that storm first breaks.

      You, I know, will be all right: that you wrote this letter in the first place means that for you losing will never really be an option. For your parents’ sake, I hope they don’t prove so emotionally and intellectually incompetent that you end up having to become all right without them. What a waste all the way around.

      But your ship is strong. You’ll certainly make it.

      Keep us up, yes? You’ll see the thing I’m going to write for you here on Monday.

      • Suz

        Beautifully said, John. The reality of her sexuality already exists. It can’t change and it shouldn’t. The choice to accept it or not belongs to her parents, along with the responsibility for that choice. Sadly, there’s a good chance that the consequences of their choice will be painful for everybody.

    • girl in the South

      When my father and mother forsake me, then the Lord will take me up.

      • 23 yr. old lesbian

        I think I’m taking this as my motto… actually, owing to all of the wonderful words of wisdom I’ve received here, I think I have several new mottos.

    • DR

      Dearest girl in the South,

      To be rejected and abandoned by our parents is a blow that feels fatal. It’s like being burned, we have to grow new skin. I’m so sorry. Stay here for a while and be comforted by a family that you get to choose. It’s never the same, but I suspect you were led here.

  • girl in the South

    I am in such a similar situation – only it is just my mother who suspects, and she doesn’t know what to think so I have not pushed it with her. I KNOW my father will flip out and be angry and abusive when he knows, short of a miracle in his heart. I’m just one year younger than this girl who wrote in, and and like some of these other commenters, am bi. It hurts not to even be able to be really honest about my attraction to men – I hold it of equal value as my attraction to women, and can’t prostitute it to keep myself safe. I will fall in love with who I fall in love with, no matter their gender … and it hurts so much to think how few understand that.

    It’s so very hard for me right now – I am going to have to wait and work hard to even be on my own. It seems so long till then. But I’ve found a few people, mostly online, who do support me, some of whom are fighting for the rights of those like us. I have had so many doubts about God, but even before I met these people, it was God who talked to me about my sexuality, and helped me to love and accept myself. If it weren’t for him, I would have become a very warped, self-hating person. And something would have rotted within me … I can’t describe it. And I would have hurt others, I just know it. But now I feel a fragile flower blooming in my heart, and I am keeping it safe until it’s stronger (sorry for how corny that sounds). It could only have been God … I can’t describe how different it was from all the bigotry around me. I don’t know how I will make through each week, but if God can teach me to love myself, maybe he can do something about all the other stuff too.

    To the girl who wrote in – your parents love you, but they are still wrong, and still being very hurtful and that’s not right. Somehow you must find a way to detach. It is the most loving thing to them as well as you not to let their ignorance hurt you. Also I think God can show you how to love them (from afar maybe?). Once you’ve made yourself safe, of course. It will be so hard for us. The world isn’t supposed to be this way, and we’re bearing the cost of when people let themselves be ignorant and afraid and safe … it’s so hard. But I just keep feeling that we’re in the middle of something like birth pangs … It’s not always going to be like this.

    To the other people who also commented, in this same boat, you guys really do rock, even when you don’t see it. I can’t say anything conclusive because I am so blind to the future, but older people I have talked to who have been through this assure me that this is only a stage. And that the pain does end. I’m giving what they say a chance.

    And John, you rock too of course. :P I should have commented before. I’ve been enjoying your writings so long. You’re such an encouragement to so many people.

  • http://awonderouslife.wordpress.com mzklever

    Dear Sweet Girl, as I shall call you since I do not know your name. How incredibly sad you must feel, that you cannot talk to your parents about who you really are, and feel safe that they will love and accept you for the wonderful person they have obviously raised you to be.

    Many, many years ago, I almost lost my beloved daughter because she was in much the same place. She is bisexual, and felt that I would not love her if she told me about who she really feels that she is. Instead, she tried to take her own life, rather than live with the pain of the possible loss of my love, and her fear of disappointing me.

    I was horrified that she didn’t feel that she could talk to me, and that she didn’t feel safe and secure in my love. I felt that I had failed as a parent, not because my daughter was bisexual, but because she thought I wouldn’t love her anymore.

    I am a raging liberal, have had crushes on women, as well as a couple of one night incidences. I am not a conservative Christian. Neither is my husband. And yet, our daughter still felt much as you must. Fear of disappointing loving parents is universal, I believe, so you are not alone.

    While I normally do not like to tell stories that are not my own to tell, I feel that in this case, it is appropriate, and I don’t think that my friend will mind. In college, I had a very unhappy male friend, G. G’s parents were VERY conservative and very Christian. G eventually realized he was so unhappy because he was actually a she named J. For her, it was very much a “scorched earth” decision, but it was necessary for her to save her own life. While it took many years, her family finally accepted her. She recently married her partner of 10 years, with her father in proud attendance, smiling like a fool. Her mother adores her wife, and J. is happy, healthy, and psychologically intact. Her choice was not without casualty, however, as her brother will have nothing to do with her, but it is his loss, not hers.

    You must do what will make YOU happy. Your parents love you, and I am sure they would rather you marry another sweet girl than have you become so unhappy that you make desperate, foolish decisions. Trust that while it will be very, very hard for them, their love for you will eventually help them to come around. In other words, have faith. Make the decisions that are right for you, and have faith that God will make it right with those around you.

    • 23 yr. old lesbian

      That’s a beautiful story, both yours and your friend’s. I’m so happy your daughter is alright and ya’ll have come to a good place in your relationship. I hope my story has a similar ending.

  • http://www.youtube.com/epistomolus Dennis Dawson

    When I was around 18, I had a gay friend who worked with me at an amusement park. He lived in a trailer with another man. He was stereotypically flamboyant. If you met him, within 10 seconds you would think “this guy’s gay.”

    I asked him one time what his parents thought of his lifestyle. “Oh, I never told them.” Mind you, the parents had been to his trailer, he had taken his boyfriend to their home for holidays, etc. But it was Bobby and his friend Chester, they always hung out together, ha ha ha.

    He knew his parents knew he was gay. He had never denied it. If they had asked, he would have told them on the spot. But while he was quite open in general, he maintained a “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy with his parents, and that was fine for all concerned.

    I’m not advocating this. I just want to point out that for a long time gay people did not come out to their parents if they felt their parents couldn’t handle it. If it feels like “living a lie” and it’s “eating you up inside,” I can understand the need to have the conversation. But if the current situation is tolerable, and there’s no life-changing decision that must be made immediately, there’s no harm in waiting.

    Truth is, our sexual activities and proclivities are our own business. My parents didn’t need to hear about my adventures with the ladies (amusing and humiliating as they were). I don’t think it’s necessarily a good thing to make it other people’s business, if the timing isn’t right.

    Unmarried women move in together for a variety of reasons. There’s no reason not to have a roommate for say, 50-odd years, and just say that “the right fella never came along.” In the next few years, attitudes will continue to change, and maybe it won’t be such a big deal.

    ~D

    • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

      There’s real wisdom here.

      • Debbie

        I do agree.

        • Jo

          At 53 years old, divorced with two children and a wonderful partner of 6 years, I can state I’ve never been happier. But it was along road of coming out at 19, then out of family and social pressure, getting married, having children and then a ugly divorce….indirectly because of my sexual orientation. I have this wonderful partner and she has a wonderful family that include me in everything. My family also includes her in everything. My children finally know of our relationship because their dad tried to use it as a weapon againest me but it back fired. They don’t care and love me even more I think. My siblings know and love my partner…in fact I think they like her more! My parents…they know but we don’t talk about it. Yes a don’t ask don’t tell situation. If they needed to have more information, they will ask.

          They see me as a Christian(I’d rather call myself a believer)…and Mom espcially can’t reconcile that to being a lesbian…so rather than try to figure it out it’s just there..no biggie.

          Maybe she has grown in her old age and I love her immensely and do not want to her to hurt on my behalf. I have nothing to prove to her or anyone else so that’s where I am. It’s a good place to be. There is a huge peace inside when you know you have nothing to stand up for because Jesus already did the standing up.

    • lucy

      I think that the DADT policy can be a good idea for some situations, but what about if you want to get married and have children with your partner? This is my situation, and I don’t see any other way to deal with it than tell my parents, who I know are going to have horrible reactions (horrible may be an understatement). I definitely would rather maintain the DADT policy, but I just don’t think it’s fair to everyone involved – my girlfriend, my parents, myself and, in the future, our children. I don’t want years to pass, and then one day surprise them with the fact that I’m gay, married, and have secret children.

      • Debbie

        Yes, it is a good idea for some Lucy because life is not a one size fits all deal. Each individual deals with other unique individuals and situations and each persons will be living out life according to the specifics of their journey.

        You can tell your parents the truth about yourself and at the same time you are not responsible for their reactions if they are ‘horrible’. Yes it will hurt you to not have their acceptance yet it is not your responsibility to ‘change’ them just as much as it is not their responsibility to change you.

        Before your parents could change an ‘unloving response’ they must own their behaviour and you will need to exercise patience until they come to that place or acceptance if they never do. Much like an addict will not change until they own their issue, until then family members and friends can try everything to get them to change to no avail. I guess it applies to all of us in anything that we cling to that is detrimental to love and life…we must own it before we can begin to change.

        God has your heart in His so ultimately He will be the One who loves and comforts, guides and instructs you through the whole process. he will be the one who loves you with an amazing love when it feels like everything is being blown apart, He will keep you together.

        Live your life with love and laughter in the family you create, remembering that every child must leave their parents and cleave to the partner they love.

        Blessing for your future path Lucy.

        • DR

          What a beautiful comment.

  • A’isha

    I remember being in a similar situation many years ago. I knew my mom would reject me if I came out. I had to though because, like the young woman who wrote in, it was eating me alive to be living what I thought was a lie. I came out and my mom did reject me. In actuality it was more of a mutual rejection because there were other issues as well. Several years later we had reconciled. For a brief period in time I tried to be straight (Epic Fail!) At that time my mom told me she was shocked and asked if I was doing it just to please her. I wasn’t and told her so. The point was, she eventually came around and actually realized how unnatural it was for me to pretend to be straight! Amazing coming from the woman who “knew” I was going to hell just a few years earlier.

    I really have no advice for you, but I hope shared stories can help you as you make your own decision in this. My prayers will be with you.

  • Kathleen

    Hi mystery woman:

    I’ve not had to go through this, but I do know that Dan Savage himself had to come out to his conservative parents – his dad was a Chicago cop and his mom was a devout Catholic. My own mom is a devout Catholic but somehow manages to focus more on the “love one another” part that Jesus actually said than the “judge one another” part that too many of us infer.

    So how to do it? I would suggest doing what feels most right to you. You can’t make it 100% ok, but is it more right to just go live your life (i.e., what some have suggested about moving on, moving in with a girl at some point but not actually pushing the point with mom and dad) or is it more right to have the hard conversation and then stand back and give them the power to accept or deny? That question really is one only you can answer. Which feels more like the “right” answer to you.

    And keep in mind, there is no final answer. You may opt to go live your life and not push a confrontation now, but find that is unacceptable when you want to make a formal committment to a some-day-spouse or when you might have children at some point. Likewise, you may opt for the confrontation in the short term and your parents may very well freak out, disavow you, curse you, throw down prayers for your salvation, etc., etc., but they may also change their minds as time goes on, as they realize what love they are giving up to stick to their misguided view of scripture, etc. Mom may come around before dad, or dad might find it impossible to live without his little girl in his life. They have their own growth trajectory ahead of themselves.

    Whatever you do, please don’t feel like what you decide is “the final” answer or whatever they say in response is the last word. It’s not. God’s love brings a whole lot of healing into the world, we just need to give him a chance to do that.

    And as for going to school where your dad teaches – that could be a brilliant way to stay close even as you come out in either word or deed or it could be emotional suicide if this is a conservative school where he might have too many resources at his disposal to solidify any negative position or create a real bullying situation for you. Be sure you are in a safe place, that’s all I’m saying.

    • 23 yr. old lesbian

      Thanks for the advice, I really appreciate it. I don’t know if I’ll push a confrontation now, I’m not sure what the point of that would be, since I know I’m in this for the long haul anyway. However, part of what makes this seem like such an urgent issue at the moment is the fact that I have just started dating someone, which naturally forces me to consider where this relationship might take me in respect to my relationship with my parents. Also, I’ve noticed an uptick recently in the volume of lectures and questioning regarding my spiritual health, which I swear happens every single time I even THINK to myself, “oh crap, I’m gay, what am I going to do about it?” Seriously, they always seem to know… so I guess the time and place of a confrontation might not even be up to me.

  • Megan

    There’s not much I could say that has not already been beautifully said by others, but I wanted to chime in one extra voice of love and support. That love and support are out there, all around you — you are beautiful and cherished just as you are.

    We can never know for certain what will come of our choices, or whether people will react as we expect them to. For some, a loving relationship grows in time; for others, peace comes only from full detachment. Anytime we face such extreme possibilities, all of us strive to figure out which will be the case, and how to avoid the pain that might come from whatever we choose. But the one thing I KNOW for certain is that there is no way through difficult times but THROUGH them. Trying to avoid them or deny them only prolongs the chronic pain that we’re in already in until it breaks us.

    If you take nothing else on faith, trust this: things WILL come right in the end, and you will have the relationship with your parents that is best for you — whatever that may be — when you embrace your truth fully and don’t compromise it for the sake of protecting a situation that is A) hurting you, and B) ultimately doomed to collapse. You can take a firm stance with compassion and without bitterness, and I encourage you to do so.

    Be who you are, exactly who you are, and give your parents the opportunity to love that person rather than who they believe or wish you to be. They either will or they won’t, and that’s not up to you. But until you give them the chance, they’ll go on happily loving someone who’s not quite you… and you will go on miserably feeling not-truly-loved by the people who matter to you most.

    All the best,

    Megan

    • 23 yr. old lesbian

      This made me cry a little. Thank you so much.

      • Megan

        You’re very welcome. I hope it was a “good” cry. . .

  • Gin

    I wish there was something significant I can tell you to help ease the pain of what you are going through, and perhaps sharing my story will go a very small way towards that. I came out to my very conservative mother as bisexual when i was 25. The next few months were extremely painful for me as i suffered through snide comments, and lectures on how my lifestyle was an abomination. As time passed however, and as I simply grew into the person I knew I was, my mum was slowly able to come to terms with my sexuality. I was fortunate in that she made sure I knew she loved me, even though she didn’t agree with me (The fact that my brother has passed away a number of years ago I’m sure helped with her knowing that she didn’t want to lose another child). I am 29 now, and happier than i have ever been. The last few years have been difficult on a number of occassions, but my mother is now in a position where she only cares for my happiness. Recently conversations have evolved from “Oh isn’t he cute”, to include, “Oh, isn’t she cute”!

    I suppose what I am trying to say, is that personal growth always involves a little pain. I was terrified for years before I came out, and had even resorted to self harm. Don’t shy away from the pain and fear of coming out to your parents, it WILL be difficult, there will be hard times ahead in your relationship with them, but if they truely love you as they say they do, then they will learn to accept you, not as the you they want you to be, but as the you that you truely are. There is no greater freedom, or joy in this world then being honest with yourself and the people you love. We aren’t meant to live in the shadows; be true to yourself and let the world see just how beautiful a person you are. And know that, through it all, you will always have a compassionate ear and the support of those of us who read this blog!

    • 23 yr. old lesbian

      “We aren’t meant to live in the shadows”… thanks so much for that. That reminds me of something my father said, years ago, during the horribly failed coming out attempt that I referred to in my letter. It was something about the necessity of living in truth, and while I can’t remember exactly how he put it, I know he meant it to mean that my “choice” to be gay must be wrong, since it required me to be ashamed and dishonest to people about my life (I had just finished assuring them that nobody knew, not even my friends). I took it to mean something else, though… my life HAS gotten better as I’ve come out to my friends and gotten support from people who love me. That’s partly what makes being dishonest with my parents so intolerable.

  • http://nineof12.wordpress.com/ September

    Maybe this will help move the discussion with your parents forward:

    http://www.homosexualeunuchsandthebible.com/

    There is other evidence from scholars of ancient language that the words used in the whole “abomination” passages actually specifically referred to temple prostitutes, NOT homosexuality, (per Man lying with Man…where the second ‘man’ was a different word, in meaning, entirely)

    It’s a bit intellectual….some folks will never believe anything but what their pastor has preached; but your parents love you. The very fact that your mother was discussing it with you and trying to change you, ironically, is evidence of how much.

    It’s a lot to wrap their brain around, to move their world view toward a reality they don’t understand…but it is possible, it does happen….and sometimes it doesn’t no matter how much you wish for it.

    The true thing about love is that it is boundless. It contains so much compassion that one is capable of caring more for another than for one sself-most especially as a parent. This can manifest in strange ways, but rising above it will heal your own wounds in time, and hopefully but not necessarily theirs.

    My Dad, well, he’s an equal opportunity bigot. I first told him I’d had girlfriends when we got drunk together one time. His reaction was…well, exaggerated to Redd Foxx proportions!!! (again, irony rearing it’s head) Hand over his heart, arm to the ceiling…”OH MY GAWD, SHE’S AC/DC!!!” (blink, blink. Took me a second to even recognize the slang!!!)

    The next day, he apologized if he’d been offensive, but pretended he had had too much to drink with his medication and didn’t remember anything. Why? not sure…this is the same guy who once told me to get that *n-word* off his porch when a friend came to pick me up years before, perfectly sober.

    MY tolerance and understanding for him is what has been the most healing thing in our relationship. When he was a kid, black folks moved in and it really was, from what he saw and was told “There goes the neighborhood”. Explaining the attitudes of businesspeople and local government were really what caused that phenomena are beyond his understanding (or willingness to?).

    A couple years ago, I was elected an Obama delegate. My dad….folded up a $50 really small and “snuck” it to me. He whispered “not that I approve of what you’re doing, electing that *n-word*, but I’m proud anyway”. I wanted to rip it up, or shove it up his nose, or tell him to go to hell…..but one deep breath helped me remind myself that this was the best he could do, this was as far across the bridge between us that his reality could build.

    I happened to marry a man. If I’d married a woman, I’d never present her as anything but my wife, and my dad would probably crack offensive jokes and then we’d butt heads and I’d not speak to him for a long time; but then I’d show up at his house or something to meet with my sister or some such…and he’d cry and tell me he loved me (I know because of a whole OTHER issue I won’t even begin to address that we conflicted on).

    He’s a good guy, which was hard for me to understand. His simple views have their own merits. That man is a hunter who won’t waste a single part, and gives props to how “them indians did it right”….to the point of refusing to hunt again with some jerks who were gonna let some deer go to waste and just stay and hunt more because they had more permits. The man put all their kills in his truck and drove home and butchered them himself.

    Be true to yourself. I know it’s frightening. It does GET BETTER. I saw Oprah reiterate something she’d heard a couple weeks ago (ugh, I’m getting old…..I just started watching Oprah LOL)…but it was a profound thing about forgiveness. “Forgiveness does not mean you will have let someone in your life again. It means accepting that things could not have been any different. ” I’m passing that on because you may have need of it someday.

    There are pastors, even down south here., that are with it. I hope you can find one if that is what you need . We have a great one here in Statesville, NC-he’s started a great “theology on tap” night where folks of all faiths are welcomed to discuss things from a spiritual point of view…and held great public discussions on homosexuality and religion, and even a panel to help folks try and understand Islam. Maybe you could find a group like that and start going with your parents, and in a room of their peers their minds might open just a bit.

    In case you’re wondering…my mom was never homophobic or bigoted (my parents are divorced, she raised me…catholic)…but when I first told her of having a girlfriend I had to field “So, you’re a lesbian now?” and when I was upset and my gf and I had broken up, her response was “So, what, you’re NON-sexual now?”. Sigh….this was the ‘open minded” parent. There are very reactionary things that go on when the coming out process happens. They can’t understand your nature. They only have this world in which they believe its not ‘natural’, and therefore their ‘nurture’ caused what they think of as a problem. If they get angry, it’s probably a manifestation of fear. If they feel disappointed in you, it’s being misdirected, it’s of themselves (though again, wrongly).

    I’m glad you are here and can find love and understanding among us. I hope it gives you the strength you need to get through these obstacles upon your path. My wish for you is that you can build a new relationship with your parents, as they learn to accept you as an adult, and who you are-rather than something they feel they have created.

    • 23 yr. old lesbian

      Thank you. It’s hard for me to believe sometimes that it will get better, but the words of everbody here are helping me think that it will. I’m so glad I wrote in.

  • Kim

    My mother is Southern Baptist and when I finally came out to her at age 31, her response was, “Oh I knew that.” I’m not saying that this will be her parent’s response, but wouldn’t that be nice? I have a decent relationship with my mom now, but it took some years. I’ll be praying for your mystery girl.

  • Alan

    One of the things that helped me get through the rather long process of coming out to my parents was recognizing the fact that I’d had years to deal with being gay, and they’d had minutes. Fortunately I lived some distance away, so we had no choice but to give each other some time to process. In the end, I think that helped, probably more than anything else.

  • Deana

    My heart goes out to this young lady. What a tender age to have to deal with this. I can appreciate her love for her parents and her desire not to hurt them. What I read in her letter is a sincere love that moves her to want to protect them from the pain of it all. However, maybe her coming out will be a “refiners fire” of sorts for her parents.

    Gay Christians in this predicament need to gain a grasp of why being gay is NOT a sin. There is such freedom found in looking at the Bible and learning that we CAN be Christians and gay. We do not have to go through life as a human dichotomy. This is not a plug. but for FREE, the author of this letter and any other person going through this can go to http://shawministries.org/Home_Page.html and order a free dvd that will explain in detail why Scripture does not truly expose homosexuality as a sin. Knowing how to answer certain questions Scripturally especially to parents who are well studied in the Bible is very helpful in laying the groundwork for acceptance. It could take years, but planting the seeds that help those staunched in the traditional interpretations of Scripture could change the face of the church as we know it today and save future gay Christians from the pains we go through to combine our faith and sexuality.

    My heart goes out to the author of this letter. She should be able to have it all – the girl, the loving parents, and the peace of mind that comes from being honest. Thank you John for seeing this issue as worthy of your time and efforts!!! The Christian world needs more straight people like you!!!!!

    • 23 yr. old lesbian

      Thank you for the resource. Part of what I’m committed to do is slowly but firmly debate my parents on this issue and hopefully, over time, make inroads into their fear that I’m going to hell. I’ve seen the “For the Bible Tells Me So” documentary and it was very powerful, I think that anything I can do to tackle this issue from a spiritual basis will help. Maybe I’m just an optimist because I have to be, but I don’t think it’s completely out of the realm of possibility that I can change their minds…

      • Matthew Tweedell

        I’m sure you can. Perhaps the reason they feel as they do about this “disgusting, narcissistic lifestyle” is due to projecting of a demon in their own souls lurking. I’m sure their love will smoke it out in the end, for it is largely confused, misguided love itself (unless they happen to make of habit of actively targeting GLBT folk with “conversion” efforts) that’s currently holding them back: they worry that you’ll not be able to receive the blessings they’d wish for you in this life.

        But they must see that this sort of thinking is not the way of the future—in time you might well find yourself leading just the “kind of life they want [you] to lead”, regardless of your sexuality: marriage to the woman God’s intended for you; kids, perhaps adopted out of some miserable life they might otherwise get stuck with; Sunday mornings with a church community that truly nourishes your soul, that you look forward to each weak.

        They must come to understand that this is how you are, which means that this is how God made you to be, and God makes no mistakes. As they surely already know but must come to truly understand, God is love, and nothing really matters except in light of Him. Certainly love, then—true love—cannot be wrong. Whatever our apparent differences—gay, straight, bisexual, black, white, yellow, red, brown, old, young, male, female, ???—that truth remains, and they must come to see this truth in you: surely they themselves have been in love—they will be eventually unable to deny the true love you’re destined share with another, who happens to be a girl.

  • RoeDylanda

    Nothing pithy to add, just that my love goes out to all of you young folks dealing with this. You have to be stronger sooner than most, and even though I don’t know you (most likely!) I care what happens and I’ll be holding you and your folks in the light. Things are changing, slowly, but it’s happening. I believe that love will win out.

  • Steven

    If she is honest with them and her parents do not accept her, then they are neither loving nor Christian. Better she finds that out now than wasting more years of her life worrying about it. I speak from experience.

    • Mindy

      Steven, in theory, I agree with you – but read her letter again. She LOVES these people. And my guess is that they are practicing the only brand of Christianity they know – the kind they’ve grown up with, been surrounded by and thus had every fiber of their being imbued with fear of this “abomination.” Being hurt and trying to change her, “save” her, will come, initially, from a place of love, from a true belief that the daughter they love has excluded herself from the bounties of their version of the hereafter.

      I don’t agree with them, AT ALL – but I do understand how the knowing of only one framework of beliefs leaves a person unable to wrap his brain around something entirely different. It is fear. Fear drives bigotry and bigotry is how this version of Christianity plays out in the real world.

      I am another middle-aged, straight mom, with two daughters, one of whom is straight and one of whom is too young to know yet. She is a hater of all things girly, but that doesn’t necessarily mean anything. I won’t be surprised either way, and I’ll love her and support her with all my heart – but that is because I am surrounded by openness and acceptance, not repressive fundamentalism.

      Those are hard chains of which to break free. As easy as it is to say “Come out to them and let the chips fall where they may,” I don’t believe the process will be that easy for her, based on her heartfelt letter and love for her parents.

      But – come out, you must, Letter-writer. You must – to be true to God, by being true to the beautiful version of you he created. You have a lot to consider – but I’m not sure that going home is the right choice right now. You have to tell them the truth – and if they love you as they say they do, as you believe they do, they will eventually come to understand that you are not lost to God because you are a lesbian. If you live there, though, it will be a daily battle – them trying to “fix” you and you combatting that by trying to open their minds. You won’t be able to bring your girlfriend home, not for a long time. You will alienate their community. This would be a huge battle to take on.

      I don’t know you, so I don’t know if you are up to that battle, or how you would survive it, emotionally intact. I can only suggest what I would suggest to my own neice, say – her parents are fundamentalists – loving, smart, wonderful people who believe in a Christianity I can’t grasp. She’s straight, but if she weren’t, I’d say:

      Come out to them, via a heartfelt letter much like the one you wrote John here. Tell them how much you love them, how you don’t want to hurt them, but that you have to be the person God created you to be. Share with them that you are still the very same girl they’ve always loved, because you’ve always been who you are. Tell them you are not sorry for who you are, only that it took you so long to gain the strength to be honest with them, that the “phase” was never a phase at all, but that you tried to pretend to be someone else, simply to make them happy.

      Then, let it go. Surround yourself with people who understand you, find support groups like others have noted here. Use their strength to help you let the inevitable “help” your parents try to provide roll off your back. Use their strength to keep you from taking on the burden of your parents’ hurt. That will be theirs to bear – NOT yours. And that will likely be the hardest thing for you to handle – because you love them. You have to remember, every single hour of every single day, that their hurt comes not from who you are but from who THEY are – and they can choose to examine that and grow, or they can choose to close you out. But they love you, so eventually, they will find closing you out too painful to endure. You will need the patience of saints to wait them out, but you can do it.

      In the meantime, date this girl you like and build a relationship, if that’s where it leads. Continue to correspond with your parents – let them know, every time, that you love them dearly but have to be honest and strong. Tell them you have not in any way abandoned your faith, but have found a version of that faith that feels truer to Jesus than anything you’ve ever known. And every time you write to them, send them one of John’s articles, or the name of a good book. or an “It Gets Better” video. Share with them the everyday minutae of your relationship so that they see it is not so different from any other relationship – that she loves your cooking, that you both love baseball, that you finally found someone you can beat at Scrabble – whatever it is that makes her special to you and makes your life with her normal – a version of “normal” to which they can relate.

      It will take time, maybe years, for them to understand. Send them videos – the amazing college student who spoke to the Iowa Congress about being raised by a lesbian couple, etc. You can find lots of those things at Giveadamn.org. There’s a great video of an Iowa grandmother talking about her gay son. She has three grown children, one is gay, and she discusses how much she loves him, how hard it was at first, and how much she loves both him and his partner.

      Just keep sending them positive stories while you model your own positive life as a gay woman. Don’t denigrate them for their discrimination – because they don’t know any better. It will be up to you to teach them. A difficult job, to be sure, but not impossible, because underneath it all, you are a loving family. And if you are surrounded with support from your place at a distance, you will not buckled under their pressure to admit you’ve just gone through another phase.

      Make them watch Ellen every day. :)

      Stay strong, young one. You are obviously a thoughtful, loving girl, and I’d be proud to call someone like you my daughter – any day. Hang in there, and know that you are oh-so-NOT alone!

      • Steven

        She does love these people. But if they would cast her out for being herself, then as I said, they are neither loving nor Christian. In that case, she loves the IDEA of who her parents are, not who they really are. Then if she examines that fact, she might realize that she doesn’t really care what they think, because they are not who she thought they were.

        • Mindy

          Agreed, Steven – but I got the feeling she was less worried about them casting her out as she is about them incessantly trying to “save” her. You are right, however. If they choose to abandon her, they are lost.

        • melissa

          We can argue the definition of Christian all day long and find that it is sort of like trying to nail jello to a tree. The problem is that she loves her parents, and they love her, and because of who she loves, all of this love is going to be tested. That is frightening. This is huge, and I really do desire to follow this courageous young woman in her journey. Thank you John for posting this.

      • Mike L

        Mindy – This is an incredible and loving note that rings with truth in every sentence. Most parents do their best to raise children in the way they beleive is right, and sometimes those ways don’t align with the reality of their children’s lives. I hope that 23 YOL takes your thoughts to heart. Peace and love.

        Mike

  • Laurie

    To the girl in the south — I’m a middle-aged heterosexual married mom, but I related to your story because I’ve walked with it since my best friend came out to me and then to her family a decade or so ago. Much happened in that 10 years and I did not always act as a Christian towards my friend. But grace abounded; a while back I was blessed to serve as her maid of honor, as her family and a multitude of friends — including a surprising number of conservative southern Christian laity and non-laity — celebrated her marriage to her partner.

    I’d give you the advice my friend would: ultimately, what will matter most is your integrity as a Christian in your relationships, in your singleness, in wherever life takes you. Know and claim the assurance that God is just as deeply emotionally invested in the health of your relationships as God is in mine. Do this not because it’s the way to win over your parents; do it because it’s the path to the life worth living.

    It might be healthiest if you do it not in your parents’ hometown right now. But you may find that the witness of your life (and perhaps the witness of your girlfriend/wife’s life, down the road) does more to convince your parents than any arguments about Bible passages you might have now. And that’s scriptural :)

  • Misty Irons

    Hi 23 yr. old lesbian,

    I’m sorry to hear about your situation. It sounds like your parents have been good, loving parents to you and nothing sucks more than feeling like you now have to do something to mess up that relationship. I think it’s almost easier to get rejected by parents who have acted like jerks to you rather than ones you have been close to. It will be difficult to shake the guilt of it, and it will also be difficult knowing how everyone else will characterize the situation: godly Christian parents vs. ungodly lesbian daughter. That is a lot to go up against and my heart goes out to you.

    I echo what John wrote and have nothing more to add along those lines. But I do want to add that getting yourself anchored in a supportive group of gay Christians or gay-friendly Christians can really help you through the coming out process. Because it won’t just be your parents but all their friends and the church circle you grew up in that will be rejecting you, and you will need people you can run to like a family when things get really bad. I’m straight but I had a simulated “coming out” experience when I came out in support of gay civil marriage while my husband was pastoring in our former denomination. Without getting into all the gory details, I was fortunate to have a small group of gay Christian friends to help me through the two years of hell…losing friends, getting hate mail, being threatened with church discipline and so forth. These gay Christians prayed for me and smiled at me when I came to their Bible study meetings. Just knowing there’s a place you can go where people will SMILE at you instead of scowl or glare is a relief to the soul when you’re going through something like that.

    I know that GCN (gaychristian.net) has support groups around the country. I hope you will pursue that recommendation made by a reader earlier. I just went to a GCN gathering this past Saturday and had a wonderful time of worship and Bible study with a group of serious and mature Christians (I was the only straight person, but that’s okay). I’m hoping to get out to their meetings more often. But whatever groups you decide to check out, I will be praying that you find one that can be your rock when the storm hits.

    Oh, and if you want to write to me, you can find me through my blog. I’ll leave my address below. Good luck and God bless.

    Misty

    moremusingson.blogspot.com

  • Kara K

    The only advice I can add is for you to be happy. I married a man my parents were totally against (with good reason) and after some time seeing that he made me happy they accepted him. Ultimately their concern was for my well-being, not whether or not I was following the rules correctly. It’s a little difficult for parents to tell the difference in the beginning, but loving parents do come around eventually because they do figure out that it isn’t about them.

  • http://ricbooth.wordpress.com/ Ric Booth

    Dear 23 yr old lesbian,

    Your love for your parents is simply amazing. Christlike. Really.

    If your parents love you half as much, I have to believe they will (one day… soon?) see you for the beautiful person you’ve shown us here.

    When the time is right, and you can take your time … there is no schedule here, I posted a little of what I’ve discovered about disparate translations of the Bible (wrt homosexuality): Cultural Fears Influence Translation.

    I will pray for you and your family today.

  • http://farfromthisshore.wordpress.com Don Whitt

    Dear 23 YOL,

    Some of the biggest mistakes I’ve made – or not made for myself – were because I didn’t want to disappoint or disobey my parents. I didn’t say “enough” or “no” or “I’m going to do this whether you support me or not.”. I was too immature or weak or stupid to do it at the time.

    But it’s obligatory – it simply HAS to happen. Do it now and get it over with so you can live your life. YOUR life. get it? It’s YOURS – not THEIRS.

    This will be gut-wrenching, heart-breaking, Gen’l Anxiety Disorder difficult stuff.

    But do it. Love yourself enough and trust enough in your own nature to make the move.

    Good luck!

  • http://kenreads.wordpress.com wken

    Well, obviously I’m late to the party, as usual.

    The first thing I’m going to say is by way of passing along some advice that a dear mentor of mine passed along when I was dealing with a personal problem: You have more than one family in life. There’s the one that you’re born with, and there’s the one that you make.

    You love your parents, which is good. No matter how they treat you, it’s to your credit that you love them unconditionally. I hope and pray that that leads them to do the same.

    But know that it’s okay to be around other people, and to take comfort in that.

    Also, it’s worth knowing that most people who hate one group or another have never known anyone in that group. While they might have an immediate reaction of intolerance to you, let’s hope that they come to realize that you are their daughter and that they have loved a lesbian daughter for years, just not knowing that.

    Are you really a different person than you were yesterday? I don’t think so.

    My own aversion to homosexuals couldn’t overpower my friendship with a gay guy in high school. Let’s hope that parental affection wins out here, too.

  • http://motheringbythefield.blogspot.com Hazel

    Not much to add but I think your’re doing so well already to be facing up to who you are, and what you’re going to do about it whilst attempting to protect your relationship with your parents. That takes guts, a lot of folk would be running, either physically or mentally.

    I’ll be praying for you, let us know how you get on xxxx

  • http://donrogers.org Don Rogers

    My son came out to his conservative, evangelical father. It only took his Dad two years to realize that this revelation did not effect their relationship in the slightest. He still fully loves his Dad and Dad loves his son as much if not more than before. Dad has been apologizing profusely and periodically since. It is my hope that your Dad doesn’t take as long as ME.

    • DR

      You writing this reminds me of how many wonderful, loving and humble conservative (evangelical) Christians are out there and I need that reminder. Thank you, your son is fortunate to have you. That must have been so difficult for you both.

  • Robert

    John… thank you for publishing this letter… I like your animations….

    To the young lesbian… get ready for some rough seas…

    I am smiling remembering all this… the beginning of what has been an amazing journey of self discovery, love, intimacy, discord and resilency. When I came out to my parents… 28 yrs ago… (I was 21)… I thought they took it relatively well. And they did… for about 36 hours… then my mother to cry and my dad went into a state of denial. Then my Mom began to rant, yell, cry, lament, threaten, manipulate, do almost anything in her power to make me being gay just go away…. my dad stayed in denial. I don’t regret a day of it… it was not the ending of my relationship with my parents. It was the beginning of me being able to have intimate, loving, honest, kind, generous, funny, joyful and yes, painful, relationships with my parents… and my siblings… and my friends… and my lovers. My life did not end that day… it began when I stopped lying.

    Was it easy… no.

    Is climbing Mount Everest easy… no.

    But is worth it…. YES.

    (not that I have ever actually climbed Mt. Everest, but I hear it is amazing)

    Have fun. Your parents raised a loving, caring, decent young person in you… so something tells me that they will eventually come around. But it won’t be easy.

    Also remember, they will have to mourn the loss of the daughter they have imagined you to be. It is normal for loving parents to imagine their children’s futures… Your parents likely have built a wonderful dream for you. Your mother has imagined your wedding a hundred times over, planning it, the dress, the babies, the baby shower, the grandkids, holiday feasts…. Your Dad has thought about walking you down the aisle, bonding with his “son-in-law” and bouncing his grandkids on his knee. It will take them some time to mourn this fantasy.

    I made the mistake of thinking my parents were rejecting me… when they were trying to hold on to something of this fantasy. Once I began to understand and could reassure them that my life was going to be ok… they slowly began to re-imagine my future… it is what parents do…

    Good luck…

    Life is an amazing journey… enjoy it.

  • Katie

    to the 23 year old lesbian: I am also a 23 year old lesbian, and I just want to say that you are not alone. I was forced out over thanksgiving, to my conservative pastor father and my stay at home mom/conservative pastors wife. It wasn’t easy, my mom told me that this is of the devil and I am not following God’s way for my life. A close friend of mine also recently told her parents. It was a bad reaction at first, but, her parents invited both her, and her partner for Christmas this year. It won’t be easy for them, but you need to be honest with them. Its ok, your NOT alone. There are many conservative Christian’s kids who are gay, and we all eventually have to tell mom and dad. Our prayers and thoughts go with you.

  • Rob Smith

    Thank you and God Bless! Thank you for spilling your heart and speaking truth to all of our brokenness. As a confession, because I believe this is important, I am so sorry for all of those that have tried to take away light. We are asked to be light in a world of darkness, and yet those that are supposed to provide work so hard to take it away. We as the church have become so famous for what we are against. May God Bless you and your family, and may they continue to love you as they struggle to accept you for how God made you, and that God said you are beautiful…as you are.

  • RP

    Just wanted to post a note here in case the girl in the letter reads these comments. If you follow Dan Savage…I’d like to be a bit cliche’ and tell you that “It Gets Better”….not perfect and probably not the support you desire or would get from your family if you weren’t gay….but better. I’m a 33 year old lesbian….and a Baptist pastor’s kid who grew up in a VERY conservative, fundamentalist home. My dad is a good man. I love him very much and I know he loves me too, but coming out to him and my conservative/evangelical stay at home mom was the hardest thing I have ever done. Forget me going to hell for being gay, they put me through hell when I finally told them. I wish I could say it was easy and we all hugged and a rainbow appeared, but you know that if your family is that religious that truly may not ever be the case. I DO have to tell you though that coming out was worth it. I finally came out to them in my late 20′s after years of half-truths, outright lying, and emotionally destroying myself about it all. I DID emotionally stunt myself for way too long and I spent years depressed and kind of wandering around trying to figure out my life because I just couldn’t come to terms with my relationship with my family and my sexuality. I stayed away from them more than I wanted to avoid dealing with it. It wasn’t until I finally came out that I was able to start the process of being an emotionally and mentally healthy, happy adult. My relationship with my parents is not perfect, but I do hope that it will continue to improve over time and things aren’t really all that bad now. I knew it would be bad at first…and it was….but over time it has gotten better. They’re never going to be PFLAG parents and they still refuse to discuss the fact that I am gay, but when we are together, they are civil and normal to me (as long as we don’t discuss “that”). Like I said…I wish it would be better than it is, but, I AM glad that I came out. I do suggest that you live on your own and have a good support system around you when you do come out because you will need to be able to get away and you will need support. All that to say….it IS hard…but it IS worth it. A lot of us have been down this road before you.

  • staceys.grrl

    It’s funny, isn’t it, home many of us come from conservative Christian homes? My father is a retired Lutheran minister who hasn’t spoken to me since I came out two years ago. Not only am I a lesbian, but I’m also transgender.

    I would encourage you to join Thruway Christians, if for no other reason than the love, acceptance and support you’ll find there.

    You’re not alone, and you don’t have to go through this alone, either.

    Robyn

  • Christina

    Homosexuality is a sin. A child struggling with sin has his own choice. Sometimes, they are prodigals. Other times, they are lauded by the world but the cause of mourning for the parents. It is painful for all who are in this situation.

    • Lymis

      No, homosexuality is not a sin. Please keep up.

      • http://www.patheos.com/blogs/johnshore/ John Shore

        “Please keep up.” LOVE IT!

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  • MARY

    I’m so sorry you’re going through. God love is bigger than any sin! Know that he loves always. Check out Genies and Exodus programs,they can help you come out. God bless!

    With love!


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