I haven't been here for a while… Many things have changed since I was here last, not all of them good but I can see the trajectory is positive. That's how life is, I guess. I'm out to everyone except my family of origin and I've found a church where I'm starting to feel safe again. I thought this was enough – I still think maybe it is. I don't know.
My son is 20 years old. He currently lives with my parents because he’s going to uni in Sydney. I live in Melbourne for work reasons. This has been our arrangement for the last year and a half.
He called me last week, really upset about an argument he’d had with my father about marriage equality. My father is a retired Anglican minister, with all that that typically brings. As I said, I've never come out to him or my mother. I tell myself that’s because I hardly ever see them so it’s not important but it’s also very much because I know it would upset him. (Less so, my mother. She'd come around with time I think).
Until recently I didn’t realise just how strongly he felt though. In this one particular conversation, my son talked to him for an hour – and relayed the whole conversation to me afterwards because he was so upset. Son wasn’t trying to argue with father's religious belief – just to show him that marriage equality is a legal issue, and that there is no rational , let alone compassionate, reason to prevent people who want to marry from doing so. Skipping over the details, my father refused to acknowledge this… and ended up telling my son he would rather he marry a 12 year old girl than another man! (My son is straight but they were talking hypothetically)
He said so many offensive things that I don’t want to list here. My son was so shocked by how hateful he was…. And emotional, like it was a personal affront to him.
Hearing this really shook me. I’m so proud of my son for speaking up for what he believes to be right He kind of puts me to shame. I know it’s not as personal for him as it is for me. But it is personal for him also because he cares for me and my father was expressing views that run up against his sense of what’s right and just, hence his being so upset afterwards.
I now know beyond a shade of doubt, what I had always known intuitively – that if I told him I am not straight, he would – I don’t think he would disown me per se but emotionally and psychologically he would. There would be no 'talking him round'. The things he said to my son are completely irrational, and he's an educated person, this is the one thing that for some reason he just can't emotionally stand to be near him. I don’t really understand why but he finds the existence of LGBTI people to be personally threatening to him and his place in the world. He would react to my disclosure in that light and our relationship would never recover.
He says all of this stems from his reading of Genesis. I’m not sure how honest that is. From the tone of the conversation it seems more plausible to me that he’s recruiting Genesis to rationalise his personal/emotional response but I’m not sure that that’s better. It means he has this response of emotional disgust towards people like me.
The question I now have to grapple with is how I can continue to be a daughter to him with this in between us. He doesn't know it's there but I do. I feel like, on the one hand, he's 70 odd years old and would far prefer that I let him live his retirement years in peace without rocking the boat. And maybe I owe him that – or maybe that's just me being fearful of the conflict and having to finally face what he thinks of me.
I know there are probably no answers but thanks for the space 🙂