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In Honour of the GLBT+ Pride Week: A straight view in a rainbow world

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I did think of posting something like this before but decided to hold off to not detract from the other, organized topics of Pride Week.


First let me say thanks to everyone who shared their stories, and while mine is not as inspirational as some, I hope you'll indulge me with this. 


Being from a family growing up around multiple homosexuals, some which had already came out since I can remember and another who I grew up with and witnessed the journey of discovery first hand, I've always been pretty comfortable around the issue and people. However, I still sometimes say or do things unaware of potential offence, misunderstanding or hurt that it can cause. 


So this topic is bringing a 'Straight' person's view on homosexuality, bisexuality and transgender (I'm afraid I don't know much about the rest, so I can't really comment.) 


The aim here isn't to compare difficulties or make any judgements. It is a topic which is often not really considered, but I think very useful in understanding one another. We have had great stories of those who have endured difficulty or had happy stories from our lovely GLBT+ community which is awesome, but we haven't really seen the other side of the story, so-to-speak. 


So, with the rambling done, I'll get onto the topic: Experience of the people living with and around someone from the GLBT+ community. 



First of all: Family. Parents, brothers and sisters, cousins etc.. But mainly the close family. 


Having had multiple family members, their parents, brothers and sisters to talk to in regards to the issue, I've learned some things which seems to be common. The closer the family, the harder it is to make a smooth transition. 


Parents: There have been heaps of movies and literature about the issue, parent/child relationships in relation to coming out. Usually there are difficulties and high emotions on all sides. 


The parents take the news the hardest I think, more than anyone else. Particularly if they have been surprised by the news. Parents love their child more than anyone else in the world, invest so much time and love into them, it is hard NOT to be affected. 


We will put aside religious and moral objections for now, as that's a different issue. 


It's not easy for a parent to adjust to the changes in their child whom they have lived with for 13+ years. It's hard not to see them as they were previously seen in. There's no switch in your head that can turn perception on and off. This would be particularly true for the transgendered community. Having spent 13+ years thinking of their child as one gender, then suddenly being told that they are not, and need to be seen in a different light is hard, through no fault or discrimination of their own. It's just hard for people who have lived with something for a long time to accept a big change. 


Secondly, the initial response to a 'coming-out' is often met with trouble. I think it's mostly inevitable, but it is usually with good intention. 


- First instinct a parent gets considering the history of abuse and discrimination is defence of their child. They don't want them to be GLBT+. 


Not because they don't like, or can't accept them, but simply because they don't want their child to suffer, as society has told us happens. It's a natural instinct that can't really be prevented, but with better treatment, will become less significant over time. For now though, that's how it seems to be. They are reluctant to accept an admission. Of course, the person usually has spent many years struggling with their identity, but - particularly if it is kept secret, like a lot of people do from their parents - the parents aren't privy to all that, and only know what they have observed. 


- Another common theme I've found is guilt. This can often distance parents and children. The parent feels guilty that they did not 'know' and was not able to support their child. As many keep their hardships secret, parents feel guilty at not being there to help, not being a good parent. This can come out in different forms, and can sometimes end up distancing themselves from their children because of it. In different people it can become anger and all sorts of other things, directed at themselves, but usually projected and makes things difficult. 


- Grand-children: This one is pretty simple. There is a sense of loss, I guess. With new technology on the rise, I suspect this one will get less important with time, but there is that initial reaction - 'I won't get grandchildren'. That can be particularly hard for single-child families. It might be harsh and selfish, but it is something that you can't really help from occurring. Most importantly to understand though is it doesn't mean they value or love their child any less. It doesn't mean that they will refuse to accept them in time. It's just a natural reaction for a lot of parents. It just takes time. 



Basically, parents are confronted with a torrent of emotions too, and as humans, cannot help but feel them and act on them, which often causes trouble. It can take time for parents to deal with it, and sometimes it doesn't always work out, but I guess my message is that it might be rocky and seem like parents don't approve or dislike their child, when in fact they love them, and with time and understanding, will come to be fully able to support them. 


The best way I think to deal with the situation seems to be: Have a little patience, explain things as best as possible and don't get too disheartened. Parents will always love their child, change can just be difficult. 


So, that one seemed to go way longer than I thought. I'm gonna post this one, and add in others in the future depending on how it is received. If it is not a topic of interest, I'll leave it be. 

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To just kind of impress the emotional affect of transgendered individuals in a family I'd like to point out that there is a major sense of loss. Like a death in the family. The counselor we have spoken with and PFLAG organizer has been working with us on this. I don't mean to say that in the sense of 'you're dead to me' but as parents, to no longer see the little girl you raised is no longer that little girl. It's hard. You are far more articulate than I am BBM. You have pretty much just stated what I've been wanting to say the whole Pride event. We love our son very much and support him as much as we can. Just, sometimes, we still see the little girl with curls and chocolate smudged on her face. That doesn't just GO away. We take it all one day at a time.


I had a bit of shocking experience with our son coming out. I was so afraid of how he would be received by our families. There are some old minded stubborn individuals in our families. The fear really held me back from addressing things with them. See, our son came out bold as you bloody well please about 2 years ago. He was 13. lol We had no idea what was going on and then BAM! Guess what e'erybody! I have such an incredible respect for his brazenness. But, for me, I lacked that. To quote 'The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas' I did a little side step. I am not proud. The duplicity that was inside me of wanting to support and love him to the best of my ability and not follow up on that with action and talking to my family was terrible.  The guilt I feel for that will never go away. The conversation did happen eventually, and not instigated by me sadly, and the result was...........not what I had expected. There was support all around. There was a lot of misunderstanding and questions, but not in a malicious sense. Our son almost became the elected trans ambassador of the family. It also helped me to understand something. There's no place to hide with love. If you;re hiding something you're avoiding love and family. When everything is out in the light the ones who matter will stay and the ones who don't won't be there. There can be a lot of hurt and disappointment, sure, but you are not doing anything for yourself and your happiness if you keep that negativity around you. When everything is out there you know where you stand and who cares. That helped us out a lot. 

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Thanks guys, I'm glad that it can be of some use. And I'll just note again that obviously this isn't a rule for everyone, and not everything always turns out good. Just some possible misunderstandings or reasons why there is tension from the 'Straight' perspective. It's not as simple as 'be accepting or you're a bigot' (not that anyone has said that.). 


Mills, cheers for sharing your thoughts. As someone who has directly experienced it as a parent, your opinion gives a great insight into how matters get complicated and humans don't always respond how they want to. That goes for both the person coming out and the other. Communication is a big part of understanding, I have found. The more I understand about the matter, the easier it gets. 


I'll continue with siblings/close family who grow up with them. 


- Similar to parents, particularly if they are older siblings, they might be over-protective and unwilling to accept the fact at first. Again stems from a sense of 'I don't want my sibling to have to suffer through this'. Family are more likely to pass it off at first as a 'phase' because they know you best. They have seen all the times you did stupid, impulsive things as well as the good. Remember that the big thing with this is - if you don't make it clear, parents/siblings/friends do not know how long you have suffered and how long you have deliberated and agonized over it. Unfortunately there exists a portion of people who DO go through a 'phase'. People know what it's like being a teenager, when experimentation of all kinds is what humans do. You do reckless things as a teenager, are moody, obstinate and often times just plain silly. (well, at least I was :P). So in a parent or siblings mind, those who have seen and know that, they don't know. It could be teenage foolishness, it could be sincere. The initial reaction as discussed above is denial, instinctive protection. 


- Younger siblings - It can also be applied to older siblings, but in my experience, it is mostly younger ones that suffer. If they look up to their elder siblings as a kind of role-model, it can be hard to find out they are not what they seem. This isn't anyone's fault, and in time, the sibiling has to accept, but it's reason why they might be distant at first. Some people see it as a betrayal of their trust. Like parents, their siblings are supposed to be people they completely trust in. Right or wrong, people can feel betrayed, particularly when, as is the case sometimes, they are one of the last people to know. The point being, it's not about who or what you are, it's the trust factor. Again, communication I think is the best way. Be as open and honest as possible and it usually makes things much easier. The longer the secret is kept from them and the amount of friends etc... that know before them mak+es it harder. Again with trust, they might feel that you don't trust them enough if you tell friends before them etc... I wouldn't expect things to go so smoothly and say "tell your family first in all cases" it's harder than that I know. All I'm saying is that is a reaction, and explaining that these things were never the intention and in general clear up misunderstandings as soon as possible is good. The longer things are left to fester, the harder it becomes for both people, and it doesn't do anyone any good. (Again, not saying it is a foolproof method.) 





This one I have more personal experience with, as I have several friends with different orientations. While it was certainly a much easier process because I grew up around this type of thing, it isn't perfect. 


- First of all, most important: Many people aren't familiar with the movement, terminology and GLBT+ in general. It's getting better now, with more information easily accessed and more interest from heterosexuals, but on a personal level, many people probably haven't had to deal with the issue. They are just as confused as the person themselves. So while a GLBT+ might have been researching the subject and been curious for a long time, friends might not have. So it's gonna be awkward.


"Treat me the same as you did before" and "Nothing's changed", unfortunately, that's not true. Of course, the person in themselves hasn't changed, they always have been who they were, however, from the outside, the perspective of someone DOES change. They say sexuality doesn't matter, which is true to an extent. I don't care that my friend is gay, straight, transgender or whatever, I like them all the same. HOWEVER, sexuality is a big part of a friendship, if you are good friends. Just the simple "hey, look at that cute girl" when you pass by someone in the shops. Friends want to know about their friend's lives, interests, which includes sexuality. It is a big part of who you are, as relationships play a big part in life. So perspectives change, and what was once familiar is unfamiliar. Now, the information on that part of their friends' life is reset. 


                         Side note: Depending on how close you are, there can also be a 'betrayal' factor involved. The human mind is a funny thing. People might think "If they kept this a                              secret, what else don't I know? Are they telling the truth about X or Y? Why didn't they feel they could tell me earlier? All that type of thing. 


Of course, anyone can say "my sexual life is nobody's business" and that's cool if the friends are cool with that. However, undeniably a big part of friendship is sharing hopes, fears, regrets, stories of romance. It's gonna change, but that doesn't mean it's a bad thing. Things often start off awkwardly while everyone adjusts; in most cases, if you have good friends, this'll smooth other with time and 'practise'. Just like anything else, more experience makes things easier. 



- Overcompensation: A part of that awkwardness is wanting to make you feel included. As history shows us, it's often the case GLBT+ are excluded and feel like they are. So friends want to make sure you know they are cool with things. However, often people don't have experience in HOW to do this, so there could be awkward conversations like "Hey Jake, look at that guy over there, looks like your type!" 


It's mostly good intentions with a little too much effort. But that just shows that the friend cares about you. I understand it can feel awkward, but again, it'll smooth over in time most of the time and everyone will likely laugh about it 10 years later. 


Edit; Part 2: 



- Alternately, a friend might act differently based on experience they DO have. They might be good friends or family with someone who has suffered badly, for example, and thus they might seem over-protective. Similar, they might also have a friend completely opposite. For example, a friend who is homosexual, but doesn't particularly care about 'gay marriage' and is really blasé about it and jokes at his own expense.


If the two examples were treated in the same way as the other, things could be awkward. It really is a basic human thing. A friend has to find out how you react to situations and your disposition. It gets a little rocky when something like this comes up, when people are getting used to change.



So, to round everything off, my opinion, for whatever it may be worth, is : Be open, patient through initial difficulty and tolerant of mistakes made. If you do that, the good friends/family will do the same, and in time you'll find out who is a friend and who isn't. Nobody can help clashing ideologies or morality. However, we can all do our part in fostering understanding, so friends and family aren't estranged because of misunderstandings. 

Edited by Barid Bel Medar
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My younger sister came out as lesbian about ten years ago. Her last boyfriend at the time cheated on her and then beat her when she stumbled upon him in bed with his fling. She had a dryspell for a year and then came home with a young lady one weekend and we had The Talk. The older three siblings (myself, my sister and my brother while the youngest two weren't old enough to 'get it') all instinctively took her side and protected her from our parents and their difficult questions.


This isn't unusual by any means. Siblings naturally grow up learning to nurture each other and are often the first people we turn to with difficulties and dilemmas. Ten years on, we still look put for my sister and defend her from mom's assumptions because, ten years on, our parents still believe her sexuality is a phase.


Siblings are often difficult to bring over, yes. But they can become your staunchest allies. This same sister pretty much knew what I have been hiding and I think we're growing closer as we share similar struggles.

Edited by Wren of the Brown
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Siblings are often difficult to bring over, yes. But they can become your staunchest allies. This same sister pretty much knew what I have been hiding and I think we're growing closer as we share similar struggles.


That's great to hear! 


Bold is definitely one of the reasons why I chose to write this. 

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I'll admit that I kind of skimmed over a lot of what was said above, because it is a difficult thing for me, but... I feel the need to put my perspective of this out there.


*Chuckles* and now I'm having trouble even knowing where to begin. 


My little sister is a wonderful and talented person. She's had short stories and poems published. She takes beautiful pictures and is very artistic. She's taught herself a bit of guitar and piano. She's one of the most loyal people I know, and can also be very sweet and sappy. When we were young, she was never afraid to be herself, and who she was was a bit of a tomboy who normally hung out with boys her age rather than girls. 


In junior high and high school, she went through a lot of difficulties. She was in some really nasty relationships, both friendship and romantic. We saw her start to sink into this hole where none of us could reach her. An around this same time I got into my nasty relationship and started sinking into a hole myself, so I couldn't help her, but... Somewhere in the midst of that she started basically living on tumblr and finding some good things, and a few things that weren't so good. She became more of a person who would be defined as "emo" and... She wouldn't let any of us in anymore. Our relationship became very broken because... With some decisions I made, I let her down. I wasn't the sturdy older sister I always had been anymore. That was so hard because... For as long as I can remember, she'd been mine to protect. I can't imagine life without her, and I've done so much throughout my life to try to look out for her. I've failed many times, but I'd tried and this time... The break seemed unhealable. 


We both started rebuilding ourselves I was the first person in our immediate family who she told. She had a girlfriend online. She was terrified of telling our parents or our brothers. I think I was "safer" because I was in college at this point and was visiting home for the summer. 

I'm not sure what my dad's reaction was. I know that it was, and still is, hard for my mom. My brothers all seem ok with it. 

The difficulty for me lied not in that she was homosexual, but rather the way she responded to it. Her first couple of girlfriends were manipulative, and she made the same mistake I've seen many others make (including myself) in becoming far too obsessed in a relationship and not participating in the rest of her life. Another example is how much... She defined herself by it, which I think was tied into the obsessive relationship aspect in her case. Being a sister or daughter or artist or softball player... Idk none of that seemed to jump to her mind when she would describe herself anymore. Now let's also note that she was in that high school phase of trying to define herself and needing to stand out and all of that, so that probably was part of the intensity. She was also not able to TALK about it very much with me. She knew that I was really growing in my faith and she automatically assumed that meant I hated her and wanted to make her change her sexuality and wouldn't tell me her point of views or listen when I wanted to share something with her regarding this whole thing. 


Nowadays, she's in college, away from a lot of the junk that hung over her in high school. She's still a lesbian, but she's actually interacting with people besides her girlfriend now, and while she still does quite define herself by her sexuality, she's more... Balanced and stable about it I think. The way I've seen this the most is in that... She's starting to be able to talk to me about it now.


A lot of you know that I'm very religious. For me, it's not something I can just compartmentalize away; my faith is very much a part of how I saw and continue to see my sister's sexual preferences, and it really affected our relationship for a bit there because it was something she WOULD NOT talk to me about because of my faith (which she still claimed to share, but didn't practice in many ways).

The feeling of love is never wrong.

My sister loving other girls is not something I hold against her. If she finds someone who makes her better, and teaches her about herself, and brings her closer to God, and does all of those things in that special romantic way and it happens to be a girl, ok. To love is never wrong. 

However, in all "love," there is the possibility that it will be acted on in incorrect ways. I've experienced that first hand (remember the nasty relationship I mentioned?).

In the Catholic faith, marriage and sex are not about human love, they're about God. They are a physical manifestation of God's love. I'm not going to go into the rest of the theology stuff right now, but, basically, there are a lot of ways that marriage and sexual actions can miss the mark when it comes to that, and homosexual marriage and sex are among them. 


I love my sister, and will still put my life down for her and staunchly defend her against anything. If she finds a wonderful woman, great. I don't believe that marriage is for her.  It's not because I don't want her to be happy; quite the opposite. I don't want her experiencing something that falls short of pointing to God.

I know that, because of her sexuality, her journey is going to be a tough one. I would do nearly anything to save her from more hardship, because she has already been through enough, but I'm getting better about trusting her to God and also trusting in her ability to take care of herself. I really do believe that God is going to do great things for her, and she's going to do amazing things for the world. I just... Want her to go about it in the way that would most fulfill her... The way that points to Heaven.

I love her so much... And I try to show her but I doubt she fully understands. I think our relationship isn't fully healed from high school yet, and it's always going to continue to need to grow and develop anyway. I just... Need to keep loving her through it, grow better at loving her, and be patient for a time when she's able to fully receive it. 



I also want to note that one of my favorite people on this planet and a huge role model of mine is also a lesbian. My aunt is the most selfless, loving, and courageous woman I know. She has battled health problems for years and has not let it stop her from volunteering or teaching or spending time with her family. When I was growing up, she always seemed so alive and indestructible. My aunt is also one of the strongest Catholics I know, and she practices it fully. 

I actually didn't realize she was a lesbian for a very long time. She lives with her partner, but they are celibate. They treat each other with so much respect and so much love, but they don't act like they're married because they're not. Her partner adopted a boy from Guatemala about eleven years ago, and her partner is the mom. He calls my aunt "Thema" which is Guatemalan for "aunt" (albeit a live-in aunt who is very active in his life). She is such a wonderful person, and I admire her all the more because of the way that she lives out her sexuality. 

Funnily enough, celibacy is just not something that people easily accept these days. It's considered weird and "unnatural."

Does this sound familiar to anyone else? 

But anyway, yeah. Love her a ton. 



Oh, and I know two of my best DM friends have spoken in this event. Love them to pieces too, and didn't love them any less after they "came out" to me. Shout out to them as well! :P <3

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Interesting observation: I feel so much better having all of that out. It's like a weight has been lifted off. It's not just the people who are LGBT+ that feel the impulse to hide regarding these issues... Hmm. 


Also note: I know people won't agree with some of that, and I know that my perspective of my sister's actions in particular are from my perspective and may or may not be directly related to her sexuality. Was just... Putting in the whole picture as I saw it. 

Edited by Aiel Heart
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