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.
4. (If you are gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender) Have you “come out” to your family? How did they respond? How long have you been “out,” and has anyone you knew changed their mind about sexuality after talking with you?
5. (If you are straight) Have you discussed sexuality with your family or friends since leaving fundamentalism? (If you told them about changed beliefs) How did they respond? Have any of your family members/friends changed their minds since you left?
Melissa and Haley
I came out to several friends and sibling first, who I felt were likely to be accepting. It went pretty well, and they were willing to listen to my story and my feelings and believe me. That was an amazing experience. I have been out to everyone in my life since March of this year, and that has been more rocky. Most of those reactions were what I expected. I’ve been told that I am overreacting and trying get back at some of the fundamentalism I was raised in. I’ve been told that I am giving in to evil thoughts and letting Satan in. A lot of people have expressed disgust, and many are very angry. I am not sure if anyone has changed their mind since speaking to me about sexuality. I wrote about me and my wife’s story and I have received communication from many people who say I have made them think about it more.
I have been out to different people in a range from two years to three months. Everyone in my life knows I am transgender. [On other people’s attitudes:] This is a work in progress.
Lina and V
Short answer, yes and yes. My family has known for about two or two and a half years, though I know they suspected before then. I got off better than my wife. My dad explained that he knew I knew this was wrong, and he wasn’t sure how I was thinking it wasn’t, but he respects my thinking. It’s now just not super talked about, though she always comes home with me and is welcome in the family. My brother has been the worst; we had a conversation once where he basically called me an idiot for thinking I was okay, and said he never wanted to see my then-girlfriend again. We’ve seen him a few times since, and can carry on a conversation, but it’s awkward.
We’ve definitely changed people’s minds, which I love. Some good friends (now even better friends) have come to the place that we did awhile ago: this really is love, we can’t deny it, it’s worth acknowledging and even celebrating.
I am out to my family. I sat my mother down while I was home on Easter break my senior year of college (I have a father, too; he’s just always been more of a background character in my life. My mother wears the pants in my family). I explained to her that Lina and I were in a relationship. I never even used the phrase “gay” or “lesbian,” but of course, that’s all she heard. She told me that she could have guessed as much, and that she was sorry, but that I would go to Hell. She then told me that the demon of homosexuality has attached itself to our family. First her brother (who died of AIDS when I was about 5), then her, and now me. She told me that the devil knew she would never be tempted away from my dad by another man, so he (the devil) sent a woman. My mom never did anything explicit with her, and after a while ended the friendship and struggled through much prayer with the pastor of the IPHC church and his wife.
I did not discuss much with people even while attending Reb Bradley’s church; now that I’ve left my hometown and changed my opinions, it would be strange to start having those conversations. However, from brief conversations and facebook, I’ve seen that most of the former teens from Reb Bradley’s church no longer believe in his purity and courtship teachings; they date, dress fashionably, go dancing, and form friendships with non-Christians. However, it appears that many of them still believe that homosexuality is a sin and that gay marriage shouldn’t be legal.
I didn’t tell my family, but they did find out after the fact and they said “it made them sick”. However, I share my story these days in order to help others out.
I am very careful who I share with because I lost so many people when I left fundamentalism. Obviously they were never true friends anyway, but it still hurt. Usually now I only share and discuss my changes of beliefs if I believe it can help someone else. Some people have told me that they started questioning their beliefs because they were unhappy with how things are and then either read my blog or had a discussion with me that helped them realize they needed to leave fundamentalism too and then work out for themselves what they believe. I find that those who are seeking answers, even if their answers end up differing from mine, those who want to know, are very open to discussion, but those who have their minds made up and are not going to change their minds aren’t that open to a discussion, they just want to lecture me. Those are the people I choose not to engage.