Having loving Christian friends who disagree with my sexuality
I noticed that I use to discriminate against people who disagreed with my sexuality. I would try to avoid them and would often judge them for not agreeing with me. But now I realize I can't do that. Its just really hard to be friends with good, loving Christian friends who don't accept a big part of who I am. I often find myself trying to change their minds. I know they care and love me but why can't I rid of these feelings. Even though I'm getting better I still need help. I feel like I can;t be myself around them but I so desperately want to. The thing is some of them don't know about me and even the ones that do I still feel like i can't be me.
My feeling is if you are not fully integrated within your self and completely authentic your friends and family have never met you at all.
I know I can't change someone else's mind. That is not wisdom, it's experience. (You may have heard this somewhere before.)
For males I would recommend a couple of books:
"The Velvet Rage" Alan Downs, PH.D.
"Gay Warrior 'Transforming Betrayal into Wisdom'" F. Jim Fickey PH.D & Gary S. Grimm, MA
Ladies may have different issues. Perhaps someone could suggest something for women.
What you are feeling does not come out of nothing. You are not being treated properly. Internalizing homophobia is not good for you. Speak your Truth.
Im not sure I understand
There was a time when I desperately wanted to be accepted by religious conservatives- and this would include my family. However, I came to see that, not only was this a fools errand, it was also not healthy. I would have had to be something I am not to get that affirmation- that is- I would have had to be straight. But I'm not. I'm gay.
When other people don't accept us, it's their problem, not ours. And as has been said, when a gay person comes out, another person goes into the closet. Sure. Conservatives may say that they accept you with that plastered smile they put on their faces. But if you look closely, you will often see a tenseness around the eyes. What does that say? They are trying to be Ok with things, when in fact, they aren't Ok. The reality is that they have to do much the same sorting out that you did before you came out. The only difference is that they don't have to sort out being gay: they have to sort out all the negative thinking they have inculcated along the way. It's not a easy process for anyone who's grown up religiously conservative. There is a lot to cast off!
The people with heart don't give a rat's ass if you are gay. Their warmth and love speaks for itself even if they can't reason the scripture stuff out. This may indicate that they haven't been paying much attention to all that garbage in the first place. It may also indicate that they have some common sense. Doesn't matter: stick with these people. They will teach you to love yourself.
When you can fill up your own shoes - stand in them fully - you will start to be more concerned about having compassion and love for others rather than being concerned with what they think of you.
Do you feel like there is a big hole in your relationship with your conservative friends? I felt like that. Anything even remotely gay related they didn't want to hear. It was like walking on eggshells. There was no way that you couldn't talk about such a big part of your life. There are very few safe subjects left so you talk about the weather or something equally trivial.
It's nearly impossible to change their minds because after all; God is on their side. Once in a while you will find someone open-minded enough to consider that they could be wrong. That would be the exception to the rule. You can try to keep a few friends from your closeted life. In the long run they will probably grow distant on their own.
The violence of heterosexist oppression
The problem is that either knowingly or unkowingly your "good, loving, Christian" friends are committing upon you the Violence of Spiritual Heterosexist Oppression.
Make them aware that Oppression is a form of Violence and that this particular form of violence leads to the suffering and death of folks who are gifted the capacity for intimacy with their own gender.
The violence of heterosexist oppression of anything different is where the suffering comes from. Queers, faggots, trannies are the labels intended to harm. Each us of have expreienced this violence each of us have reacted in a number of different ways with fear cowardice humiliation, self injury, self loathing, rage, violence, hate, contraction, sedation and intoxication.
For a time some of these may seem to be a solution or a sanctuary from the grave pain and angst that has become unbearable. And maybe for some, meth or alcohol or crack or the Ex-gay movement or the closet may have been the strategy or sedative or intoxicant necessary to temporarily prevent death by suicide for a time.
So when a meth user, an alcoholic, or a self-hating anti-gay evangelist is told that thy sanctuary from angst is evil,...... it is seem as another attack and a threat to that sanctuary. This provokes a defensive posture, naturally.
But the degenerating effects of meth, self-hate, alcohol, etc... are cumulative and ultimately overwhelming to the spirit, body and brain's ability to compensate for in the long term. Substance use and mental emotional self-injury in this brave new world has entered a new quantum leap in damaging toxicity.
The sufferiing caused by the violence of heterosexist oppression can lead to surrogation. (( I'm made to feel a worthless deviant so I'm going to make another weaker being feel more worthless than me for my gratification. Now I am no longer the worst in the order))
This suffering can also lead to collateralization. (Pain felt in the people around me who are watching me suffer)
Non violence (not pacifism) is another and one that I finally dissipated my inner violence into my comapssion and awareness through daily Vipassana (mindful awareness meditation) in the Buddhist tradtion.
I have suffered the violence of oppression and sustained its injuries. But I have also learned from this suffering in a way that I could not have if I had not endured it, because I had to focus on mindfullnes or my survival would end. Only by being forced to practice this inrense daily focus would I have done so. For this I am appreciative.
You might start by telling your friends of the violence of oppression they are rendering upon you. This will undoubtedlly make them uncomfortable because they have relied on you to bear all of the discomfort of their spiritual flaw. Fear will appear, embarassment and even outrage. This is normal. All negative emotions and suffering are the product of unskillful words, action, and thought.
Focus deeply on you own feelings. Name them. Write them down. Organize them. Wrap you head around them. Summon compassion for the pain, humiliation, fear and suffocation your heart has endured as a result. Acknowledge these to yourself and to some who you can trust with these feelings. Your Christian friends may be too frightened of their guilt to be this trustworthy. "The greatest coward can hurt the most ferociously."
--Annie Lennox, Eurythmics
This will also afford them the opportunity to grow and learn. If they are aware they will appreciate the value of your gift of this opportunity.
If they bow to their fear, they will contract back to their biblical verses and pretend that their violence to you (by saying you are forgiven) is justified or deny that it is violence at all and go on pretending that they are following the teaching of Christ hoping no one else will see their deviation.
Most importantly Honor you heart and feelings by not betraying it
Your response is so well said. I agree with you, entirely.
I've known of Soulforce, for several years now, after having read Stranger at the Gate around 2003. I came out to my Evangelical family in 2000.
It's been a long time, and for years I've remained very distant from all dialogue relating to faith and spirituality. But about a year ago, I began an art project called Queer as Folk: Unbuckled Art from the Bible-Belt. It has become a therapy, or of sorts. Encouraged by (and relating to) Jennifer Knapp's recent coming out, I'm continuing the project with a corresponding blog. I discuss all things relating to my own coming out, evangelical upbringing, and how I've dealt with (and continue to deal with) it all.
I look forward to discussions here, and likewise invite anyone to take a look at my blog and join in on the conversation:
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