This is an installment of the Religious Fundamentalism and Sexuality Project. You can read the full list of questions here and the posting plan here. The first six participants whose stories I’ll be posting are Melissa and Haley, Lina and V, Latebloomer and Katy-Anne.
Life Outside the Bubble
2. What strategies have you found for coping with friends or family who believe in purity, modesty, “traditional marriage,” etc.?
Melissa and Haley
I am still figuring all of that out. I try to be accepting of them and their views, because I used to believe the same way, and I know how difficult it is to encounter new ideas when you have been so powerfully brainwashed. I try to have good boundaries, such as ending phone calls that get nasty, not responding to comments or emails that are abusive, etc. I haven’t actually seen any of my family or old friends since coming out, so I am not sure how that will play out.
I just exist, and press forward in relationships I value such as family and friends of goodwill, and let the haters drift out of my life.
Lina and V
Facebook de-friending. But honestly, I really am not in a place to see and hear about that all the time without getting very upset. I want to “rescue” the younger girls I went to church with. And I don’t talk about it with the people who I am still in contact with (family members, mainly). I’m learning to be me: I will respect my family, but I also will not change who I am. I’m sure I’ve worn home shirts lower than my parents were comfortable with. I’m sure I’ve told people about my wife who really didn’t want to know or want to hear that word. It’s a fine line between respecting different beliefs and being “out and proud” – and I find that line is in constant flux.
Grin and bear it. Then rant about it later. I am not a very aggressive person, unless I can be passive-aggressive. I hate confrontation. For my family, who believes in all of that, I just limit my time around them, and try to keep it as much on my terms as possible. We refuse to go to church with my family, even though my mom has begged us to go with her. We placated her at the beginning, but when we went the last time and the pastor (who I have known since I was ten), took one look at my wife and looked away without shaking her hand after he shook the hand of my brother and his wife, that was it. In the end, that’s the best decision for us anyway. We don’t agree with that lifestyle, so why put ourselves in that position?
The main person in my life who still believes that message is my mom. Unfortunately, the only strategy that seems to work with her is to avoid discussing anything that’s controversial between us. She is not open to more information, and she is not able to contribute anything that I find valuable on those topics either. It’s better not to bring up bad feelings, because our relationship is challenging enough already.
Unfortunately, fundamentalism requires blind devotion to a set of beliefs and an immediate rejection of “deceitful” scientific facts. This is how people hold onto beliefs such as the inerrancy of the Bible and Young Earth Creationism despite all the evidence to the contrary. They are not likely to change their minds on things like gay marriage while in that mindset. In my opinion, the best approach with most conservative Christians is to try to point out that they are giving far more attention to homosexuality than the Bible does, and far less attention to simply loving others.
Does secretly “pointing and laughing” in my head count as coping? :p Ok I am kidding but still, sometimes I want to just point and laugh out loud at their beliefs. Usually I cope by trying not to talk about it at all, or sometimes as in the case of family and not being able to get out of it, I usually just listen and then excuse myself from the discussion as quickly as possible, and I’ve found that works for me because usually these people aren’t interested in what I believe anyway, they are more interested in just giving me a lecture. So it works for them and it works for me. I think they are the ones that end up disappointed when I don’t change my beliefs due to their lecture so I guess the joke is on them in the end anyway. On the times where I feel like I do need to make my beliefs clear, I am honest and just state my belief, and state it kindly, and just deal with the repurcussions of that.