Posted by: Tina M | 29 November , 2009

A letter to my sister re: Make up your mind!

Dear ——–,
It’s so strange to sit down and write you a letter. I guess it’s because it requires a certain amount of pre-meditation that is so unlike the rest of our relationship.  It always seems accidental when we actually get in contact, and I’m not sure when that started happening.

I guess that’s the larger issue about our relationship. We’ve always been apart in age and geography but as we’ve gotten older it seems like we’ve also grown apart in values and politics.  This is where the issue comes up, because I guess at the bottom of it, we base most of our relationships off the common ground of values and beliefs.

Since I’ve come out to you as being queer, the amount of times we’ve discussed my sexuality or gender have been few but intense. They’ve left a strong impression on my heart about how you think of me.  I still remember clearly when you asked me to read the book about “Restoring my Sexuality”  and the ensuing letters discussing the scripture and psychology of the ex-gay theory.  At that time I was concerned that you and ——– wouldn’t want me to be around the kids out of fear of my “corrupting” them. Perhaps this was an injustice, but you had already confessed that  you’d rather “Chew on glass” than have sex with a woman; so I wouldn’t have been surprised by the severity of the decision.

From that time, the most the topic has been explored has been the few moments when the kids asked if I had a boyfriend, or when meeting Andy they had questions. In most of those situations I don’t hear much from you guys as an explanation (which speaks loudly by being omitted).

I’ve been trying to test the waters with you about how you feel about the topic now, to see if perhaps your mind has changed. That’s why I asked you to watch For The Bible Tells me So. I wanted to hear what you thought about the overall theory, not if you agreed that their scriptural knowledge. I was very disappointed when you sent such a brief response.

The real push to write you happened more recently when I called you to let you know that Andy and I got engaged. “That’s Cool” is not an appropriate response to the news that I’m engaged. Ever. It’s especially not ok when you’ve also shown discomfort surrounding my queerness. It made me feel like a science fair project, as if you were placing some stamp of approval on the plan instead of offering love and support. You are supposed to be happy for me. Offer me some sort of congratulations. The fact that it didn’t even cross your mind means something, and while I might be misreading this omission I think that the sad part is that there’s no opportunity to talk about it. If the “That’s Cool” was masking some sort of discomfort with the idea that we’re getting married, I would have been happier hearing that directly so that I know how you’d like to be included in my life from this point on. If it was caused more by questions that you had, I would’ve loved to answer them. Right now, the only message that I’m getting is that you’re interested in doing the bare minimum to stay on good terms with me. No extra effort to understand or seek to be understood.

I know it might be unfair, but I have a hard time maintaining relationships with people that are apathetic to me. Dad has made me walk that line for most of my life, and I’m investing less and less into that relationship until I imagine, one day very soon, we will go years without speaking for no reason other than he didn’t think to email and I’ve silently given up.

This is my not silently giving up. He is going to be receiving a letter very similar to this because he had the same response to the news that you did. “That’s cool.”

I’m writing because I’d like to know what type of relationship you’re interested in having with me. More immediately, would you like to be included in my relationship and wedding? More generally, would you be interested in visiting sometime/staying in closer contact?

I love you ——– and I’m sure I’ll understand no matter what your response is. I just wanted to talk about it before making assumptions.

 


Responses

  1. I can completely relate to this, on so many levels. Several years ago, I announced on Christmas Even that me and my partner had just gotten engaged earlier that day. Everyone stood around looking confused and uninterested, and their responses were just as lackluster. Then when my (straight) cousin arrived and told everyone she was finally engaged to her boyfriend, everyone squealed and expressed their intense excitement for her. If that’s not a striking example of homophobia, I don’t know what is.

    Like you, my brother has not told his kids (now aged 7, 5, and 3) that I prefer girls over boys. I bring my partner to family events, but everyone calls her my “friend” and tries to ignore when we sit close together or when I touch her lovingly. When I asked my nephew, aged 6 at the time, what he thought of two girls getting married, he said it was silly and against the law. I thought it was such a shame that at such a young age, he already thought it was okay to stifle someone’s choices in life based on who they love. That was heartbreaking to me.

    Anyway thanks for posting this letter, I think you’re awesome and quite brave. 🙂

    • Thanks for reading! and thanks for responding. It’s so difficult when people’s privilege keep them from confronting the very real consequences of their homophobia. The bottom line is that I am a health educator that does a lot of anti-homophobia workshops, and if I have patience to have those conversations with young people in public schools, I think that I can commit to having some difficult conversations with my sister. I just want to clearly know where she wants me in her life because I don’t have time or energy for people that cause this sort of drama in my life.

      Thanks again for reading! I’ll be sure to check out your blog!


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