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Between a rock and a gay place

Between a rock and a gay place


Her sister came out to her, and that was cool--except to their fundamentalist parents, who have since begun a relentless war to "cure" their daughter. What's a supportive sister to do?

My sister came out to me on a family trip to Florida. It wasn't a surprise, I admit. I immediately offered her my support and told her that no matter what, I still loved her.Our parents suspected, but it would be another couple of years--when my mother sat Kate down on the living room couch and asked directly if she was gay--before our family tug-of-war would begin.In the wake of Kate's coming out I discovered that there are all kinds of support groups for GLBT people, the parents of GLBT people, and the partners of GLBT people. I'm still trying to find a place for the mediator sisters of GLBT people and their conservative parents.I have to say, it really isn't my father who has the problem. He tends to be the peacekeeper who goes along with my mother, who has become alarmingly more conservative over the last few years. I feel it is the influence of her church. Instead of attending the Catholic church I grew up in (and we'll just leave all the Catholic stuff for another essay), she and my father now attend one of those megachurches everybody's talking about. This is the kind of church that insists on being Everything You Need...And More! (Babysitter, entertainment, gym membership, ticket to heaven...) Around here, many refer to it as "Fort God." This church is known for its loud anti- sentiments (gay, liberal, feminist, what have you).You know this kind of place, I'm sure.In the beginning, after my parents outed my sister, about once a month I would get a call from my sister, and another from my mother. Example: Kate would call to say my mother has been harping on her to go to Fort God's Family and Friends Support Group. (Kate and I dubbed it the "Let's Help the Homos" class.) This class teaches you how to "lovingly respond" to homosexuality and help the gay people to not be gay anymore. (Really. I'm not making that up.) Later, my mother would call to say that Kate will not even give her church a chance and ask me how I feel about it.I got off the phone as soon as possible.I did eventually get my parents to go to a PFLAG meeting. Once. The first thing they heard at that meeting was a 15-minute tirade bashing their church for various reasons. I have never wanted out of a room like I wanted out of that one. And when our small groups broke up at the end of the meeting (my parents and I all ended up in different groups), I found my mother standing and listening to a six-foot transvestite in full drag. She looked a little startled. (My mother, not the transvestite.)In the car I nervously asked if they'd go back. They said they wouldn't go back until I went to a "Let's Help the Homos" class.That's my mother--Madame Quid Pro Quo.Lately Mom has been trying to work on my sister and me. Recently I invited my parents to my house for dinner. We had a nice evening...until she pulled out The Brochure. She wanted me to attend an all-day workshop titled "Love Won Out." For $50, I could hear ex-gays and other speakers discuss homosexuality as a preventable, treatable disease.
That went over with me like a screen door on a submarine. I lost control. I angrily told her I wasn't interested in hearing Fort God's gay-bashing propaganda and that Kate is my sister and I support her. Period. The night ended with me sending them home and fuming at my husband, who, instead of sticking by me, slunk into the kitchen to "clean up the dishes."
My problem is that I don't have a support system of my own. I'm caught in limbo here. There's nobody telling me they know how I feel, nobody giving me advice about how to navigate these waters. Kate has legions of friends to talk to and find comfort with. My parents have their support group and their antigay friends, however skewed their opinions. PFLAG seems to be full of well-intentioned people, but they're parents of gay people mostly, and my perspective is just different enough that I have trouble finding much there for me.My friends, including my husband, just don't get what all the fuss is about. They don't have gay siblings, they don't think there's anything wrong with homosexuality, and they don't think their parents would have a problem if they were gay. They don't know why my parents have such a problem.I love my parents very much and I try not to be disrespectful of them and their beliefs. They're from a different era; it's how they were raised. I get that. (I don't agree with them, but I understand.) My friends and I are part of a new generation that is very accepting of gays. My husband tries, but he just doesn't get it.So I've decided to start a group called Siblings of Gays-Children of Conservatives, or SOGCOC. This group is about supporting people like me who find themselves asked to ally themselves both with and against people they love.So far, I am the only member.

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