Sunday, June 15, 2014

Coming out to my parents

I finally got up the courage to talk with my parents about SSA. I've hesitated telling them because I didn't want them to worry or have to deal with the messiness of it. I have also been nervous about just the initial moment of how to bring it up and and what thoughts would go through their mind. They are currently on a full-time mission, so I couldn't tell them in person and could never find a way to start the conversation on a call. I finally sent my dad the message below this week. He shared it with my mom and they both e-mailed me to tell me they love me and will talk more about it when I'm ready. It is a relief to know that I can now have more open conversations and be completely honest with them.

Message:
Dad,
I'm sorry for being so unresponsive recently. I have been stressed and needed time to work through things before talking. I want to open a conversation about something that is hard to talk about but that is a source of a lot of my stress. I'm sorry to do this through an e-mail. After you read this, I hope that we can talk later about any questions and concerns you have.
I experience same-gender attraction. This includes deep emotional, social, and physical feelings. I did not want or choose to have these feelings and I have tried for a long time to overcome them through my own faith and effort and working with counselors and priesthood leaders. At this point, I do not expect to be free of this challenge in this life. I believe that this is a trial that I need to learn to live with. I don't know what you will feel about this this. I'm sorry to have to talk about it now and sorry for not talking about it for so long. I don't want you and Mom to have to worry about me.
I am blessed to have been born and raised in a good family, in the gospel, and in a comfortable situation. Feeling same-gender attraction has not been easy to deal with, but I’m thankful to have this trial rather than so many others I could have had.
Some of the things that have been most difficult or distressing for me include:
- Dating is frustrating and marriage seems unlikely because I am not able to have a normal romantic relationship with a woman. It is stressful to have people trying to set me up with women or wondering why I am not trying to date more.
- I have not shared my feelings and experiences with many people, which has created distance in friendships and family relationships and made me feel isolated and lonely.
- Reconciling my faith and feelings has sometimes been difficult and has forced me to critically examine my own beliefs. Especially as the church has been involved in political issues related to rights for LGBT people, I have heard intensely hurtful things from many of my friends, church members and church leaders. Some of the arguments made rely on incorrect stereotypes and characterizations and serve to stigmatize, exclude, and shame people who feel same gender-attraction or gender non-conformity. It is painful to have people I love and respect say things that I know are not true or not speak up when people are being mistreated and hurt.
I don’t know why I have these feelings. There was no event or choice in my life that caused it and nothing abnormal about our family or my upbringing.
When I was young, I hoped that my feelings were a phase that would go away naturally or that I could overcome through faithfulness. I have always tried my best to follow the commandments and be faithful and to resist and repress feelings that are not in harmony with the gospel. I have read a lot about therapeutic and spiritual responses to same-gender attraction. I have read everything the church has produced on the topic and a lot of other material from other resources. It would be nice to find a simple solution, but the reality is complex and discouraging.
I don’t know what is in store in my future. I will continue to live my life according to the gospel and the truths that I know--this will likely mean that I am single for the rest of my life, but I am open to whatever God has in store for me. As I’ve tried to do what is right and put my trust in God, things have always worked out and I have faith that will continue to be the case.
This experience has forced me from a young age to search the scriptures and to develop a personal relationship with Heavenly Father. My testimony of God and of the Atonement of Jesus Christ has grown because of the things I've experienced. My compassion and love has increased for other people who are different or hurting for whatever reason, even reasons I don't know or understand.
I hope that you and Mom will feel comfortable talking about this with me and asking questions you have. I look forward to being able to get your counsel or suggestions. I hope that you will also learn more about the issue if you feel unfamiliar with it. There are many helpful resources available. I have included some links below.
Again, I'm sorry for being distant and for not talking about this sooner. You and Mom are the best parents I can imagine and I am so thankful for your example and unconditional love.
Love,
[El Veneno]

Links:
http://ldsliving.com/story/68834-advice-to-parents-relating-to-your-son-or-daughter-experiencing-same-gender-attraction
http://ldsliving.com/story/75806-what-and-what-not-to-say-to-someone-who-experiences-same-sex-attraction
https://www.lds.org/manual/god-loveth-his-children/god-loveth-his-children?lang=eng
http://www.mormonsandgays.org/

https://www.lds.org/topics/same-gender-attraction?lang=eng
http://ldswalkwithyou.org/