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Author Topic: Unaccepting Parents- need advice
13leafclovers
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I am 20 years old, living with my parents and attending university. I came out to them as a gay man about 2 months ago. It is not going well.
We are all originally Iranian, and immigrated to Canada about 10 years ago. My parents are socially conservative and traditional people. So they have reacted extremely negatively to my coming out. They think homosexuality is a mental condition and can be cured, that it's a choice, that all gays are disease-ridden and promiscuous, that gay men die young and can't ever be happy, ... the whole bit.

They have responded with threats to ostracize me, sending me to a psychoanalyst to talk me out of being gay, deeply hurtful attacks on my character, contemptuous, sarcastic comments, and attempts to manipulate me. They are trying with all their might to change me into a heterosexual person...no matter what it takes. They think this is what is best for me, and love me so much that they will go to any extreme to achieve that. In addition, our other family issues have come into play. Both my parents and my sister have stated that they don't respect me or trust me. Their identities are enmeshed with mine, and their reactions are typically excessively emotional. I don't believe they really understand me or take me seriously. I don't feel I can trust them anymore. It seems if there is ever any goodwill from them, it's based on the assumption that I can somehow be "cured".

Here are some examples of things they've sent me:

http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&pid=gmail&attid=0.1&thid=1257f4d13ff2004b&mt=application%2Fpdf&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2Fmail%2F%3Fui%3D2%26ik%3D89a9d7fbe8%26view%3Datt%2 6th%3D1257f4d13ff2004b%26attid%3D0.1%26disp%3Dattd%26realattid%3Df_g2tiaiou0%26zw&sig=AHIEtbR0h4DAWM1Y7T-sBPw2iO2zqUktSw&pli=1

http://docs.google.com/gview?a=v&pid=gmail&attid=0.1&thid=124d97a6327a2437&mt=application%2Fpdf&url=http%3A%2F%2Fmail.google.com%2Fmail%2F%3Fui%3D2%26ik%3D89a9d7fbe8%26view%3Datt%2 6th%3D124d97a6327a2437%26attid%3D0.1%26disp%3Dattd%26zw&sig=AHIEtbQKzm5TJtKV4fNj-ahy1VbERxELmQ

And stuff from NARTH's website, as well as data that says the greatest number of HIV infections in North America are from MSM.

I have tried, without success, to convince them that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, presented them with all sorts of resources and research. But I have realized that no matter what I do, it will take at least many years for my parents to accept me. Until they do, it seems they will be trying to change me. So I have decided to move out. I'm not in the best financial position to do this, but I will survive, one way or another. Their reaction to this can be summed up with my sister's words...that I am a backstabber who is prematurely running away from his problems and tearing apart the family for his own selfish desires.

Am I justified in my decision to leave home? I am having a lot of doubts about this. I know my family is in incredible pain, that it will take time for them to accept me, and I know they love me. But does that love warrant me continuing to deal with them trying to change me? I don't fully trust myself. Does it look like I am being fair to them?

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Ecofem
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[Hey 13leafclovers, I'm on my way out but I'll write more later when I get back. [Smile] I can't see your links-- it says they've expired-- but I think I know enough from what you've written to reply; however, if you'd like to cut and paste them here, I'd be glad to read them and comment on them. I'm sorry things are so tough with your parents and I absolutely think you're doing the right thing, btw.]

[ 12-13-2009, 04:04 PM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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Ecofem
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quote:
Originally posted by 13leafclovers:
I am 20 years old, living with my parents and attending university. I came out to them as a gay man about 2 months ago. It is not going well.

Congratulations for coming out! That's a huge step and I'm proud of you. I am sorry your family has not been supportive at all; in fact, while they are entitled to their believes, I find their treatment of you to be abhorrent.

quote:
We are all originally Iranian, and immigrated to Canada about 10 years ago. My parents are socially conservative and traditional people. So they have reacted extremely negatively to my coming out. They think homosexuality is a mental condition and can be cured, that it's a choice, that all gays are disease-ridden and promiscuous, that gay men die young and can't ever be happy, ... the whole bit.
I know that homosexuality is persecuted in Iran to the point where it is a crime punishable by death. I'm not sure if your parents would agree with that rule or if they are opposed to homosexuality for other reasons; they are certainly misinformed but it sounds like they aren't willing to hear anything else. Either way, they are wrong: we believe it's the way you are born, that it's perfectly normal and healthy, and what have you. Of course you know that the disease-ridden, dying young and promiscuous part are untrue. LGBT people are *not* unhappier by human nature but when they have to go up against people like your parents, it's pretty hard to be happy about that horrible mistreatment. Unfortunately, your parents don't seem to see that connection. Likewise, sexual orientation is about way more than "just" sex, it's about love, too... and your parents aren't showing you any love, tolerance or acceptance right now. They may be doing what they think is right, protecting you, but they are just hurting you so much and that is really devastating to see.

quote:
They have responded with threats to ostracize me, sending me to a psychoanalyst to talk me out of being gay, deeply hurtful attacks on my character, contemptuous, sarcastic comments, and attempts to manipulate me. They are trying with all their might to change me into a heterosexual person...no matter what it takes. They think this is what is best for me, and love me so much that they will go to any extreme to achieve that. In addition, our other family issues have come into play. Both my parents and my sister have stated that they don't respect me or trust me. Their identities are enmeshed with mine, and their reactions are typically excessively emotional. I don't believe they really understand me or take me seriously. I don't feel I can trust them anymore. It seems if there is ever any goodwill from them, it's based on the assumption that I can somehow be "cured".
As I said before, I realize they're trying to do their best to help you but what they're doing is wrong and uncruel. It's not because of their background, for being Iranian because there are a lot of positives and certainly Iranian people who *do* accept LGBT people-- or who are themselves, but their beliefs. Culturally, I understand the pressure as well, the family-child connection and how you're considering an extension of them, etc. Still, that doesn't excuse their mistreatment of you... it really actually sounds abusive to me. I would not trust them either.

quote:
Here are some examples of things they've sent me:[link not working] And stuff from NARTH's website, as well as data that says the greatest number of HIV infections in North America are from MSM.
I cannot read those emails but I can imagine what venom they are spouting. NARTH is total bunk to us. The data about HIV? It's not about your sexual orientation but things like practicing safer sex. They unfortunately cannot see that true connection in their hysteria.

quote:
I have tried, without success, to convince them that there is nothing wrong with homosexuality, presented them with all sorts of resources and research. But I have realized that no matter what I do, it will take at least many years for my parents to accept me. Until they do, it seems they will be trying to change me. So I have decided to move out. I'm not in the best financial position to do this, but I will survive, one way or another. Their reaction to this can be summed up with my sister's words...that I am a backstabber who is prematurely running away from his problems and tearing apart the family for his own selfish desires.
I'm very happy to hear you are moving out, although I know that is a scary feeling, too. You sound *so* incredibly down-to-earth and smart about this, it's really impressive. You are certainly not a backstabber and you're not guilty of doing anything other than being yourself; your family may feel this way but we feel you are doing the right thing by being yourself.

In a practical way, are there some local GLBT organizations you can get in touch with? Do you have friends you can live with or can you contact your university about mid-year housing and/or financial aid?

Are there any family members who are queer-friendly whom you can go to? Who could also try to talk to your parents? If not, I think time and distance will be the right step. Some families come around, some don't; I do hope yours does one day but also want to suggest that you can make your own family, too, with friends and others. I know it's not quite the same but you can be surrounding by loving people who completely accept you for you. But I agree that leaving is the first step.

quote:
Am I justified in my decision to leave home? I am having a lot of doubts about this. I know my family is in incredible pain, that it will take time for them to accept me, and I know they love me. But does that love warrant me continuing to deal with them trying to change me? I don't fully trust myself. Does it look like I am being fair to them?
You are certainly justified in leaving home. First, you are old enough to do so legally. Second, it's good to get out an abusive situation, no matter what the reason is, and your family has created an abusive place for you to be right now. I realize your family may be hurting, but you are hurting, too, and because of them. I say that please work on taking care of yourself, first. That space will help both of you heal. I don't know what will happen long-term between you all but I believe that leaving is the solution for everyone in both the long-term and short-term.

I trust you 100%.

I have work tomorrow but I will be back tomorrow evening. Hang in there! Do you want to talk about your plan for leaving or have us help you get in touch with some more in-person resources? We're sending much love and caring to you tonight, 13leafclovers. xo

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eryn_smiles
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13leafclovers,

I think you have done an incredibly brave thing in coming out to your family at this time and I hope for you that things can only get better from here. You've been so strong to continue living with them up till now in this difficult environment. Despite what your sister says, I also agree that moving out is compeletely fair on everyone and may also give them time to cool down and realise how much they value you as a son and brother.

In addition to Lena's wonderful support and advice here, I'll touch on a few other points.

Do you have a partner at the moment? If so, how is he and his family in terms of support for you?
Are you and/or your parents Muslims? How much does their religion play a part in these views?
I was also wondering how you felt about your own sexuality. Do you feel accepting of your sexual orientation and happy with who you are? (From what you've written, it sounds like you are, but just wanted to check with you).

I understand that you have lived in Canada for a long time now, but thought I might pass on a couple of links about gay rights in Iran, in case you were not aware of them. The Iranian railroad for queer refugees is based in Canada and you may find some solidarity there, although your situation is somewhat different.
http://www.irqr.net/
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FAzMuHyg8Eg&NR

Take care.

--------------------
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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13leafclovers
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Thank you so much for your time, support and advice.

quote:
In a practical way, are there some local GLBT organizations you can get in touch with? Do you have friends you can live with or can you contact your university about mid-year housing and/or financial aid?
I am starting to get involved with the Rainbow Centre at my university, which is wonderful. I am also looking at student loans and part-time job opportunities. Two of my friends have also offered to let me stay with them until I figure things out. I have found a place to rent for a while though, and may very well be signing a lease tomorrow... It is definitely financially uncertain, but I'm confident that I will figure something out to at least get me through the school-year. As well, while my closest friends are out of town, we are still in touch and they support me and love me for who I am. And I’m seeing a counselor.
So, many good things are happening too [Smile]
quote:
Are there any family members who are queer-friendly whom you can go to? Who could also try to talk to your parents?
Unfortunately, my extended family is spread out all around the world and I doubt any of them are queer-friendly. One of my uncles may possibly understand, as his wife has a very close gay friend, but it's hard to tell...I used to think my sister was queer-friendly, but she ended up hurting me, just like my parents. My goal really is to make some sort of peace with my family before leaving; agree to disagree, or something like it. If I can do that, they may even financially support me. But for now, I can't know for certain.

quote:
Do you want to talk about your plan for leaving or have us help you get in touch with some more in-person resources?[/QB]
Thank you for the offer, but things on that front are moving well enough for me, I feel. My main issue nowadays has been my relationship with my parents. It's just... sad that the old version of our family has to die this way. Sad that I’ll probably be mostly cut off from my relatives if they ever find out, that our house will be cold and empty once my sister and I leave (she is heading off to grad school away from home in a few months) and that the four of us will probably never live together under one roof again. This is the source of my doubts.

quote:
Do you have a partner at the moment? If so, how is he and his family in terms of support for you? Are you and/or your parents Muslims? How much does their religion play a part in these views?
I am single at the moment. It's kind of lonely sometimes, but there are too many things going on right now to try to actively try to build a new relationship. Once things settle down a bit, I'm going to start looking at dating and meeting some guys...
My family and I are not religious at all, so it would seem my parents' views are under more of a cultural influence.
quote:
I was also wondering how you felt about your own sexuality. Do you feel accepting of your sexual orientation and happy with who you are? (From what you've written, it sounds like you are, but just wanted to check with you).
I think I'm pretty well adjusted. It took me a long time to overcome my own homophobia and completely accept my own sexuality. And recently, my parents' actions have caused me to doubt myself… I have, once in my life, felt a true emotional attraction to a girl(not a physical one though), and I'm curious about girls in that way. However, at the end of the day, I am still a gay man. The overwhelming majority of my physical/emotional attractions, crushes, and fantasies have always involved men. I know there is nothing wrong with that now, and I don’t think it’s unfair for me to want genuine, romantic love in my life.
In terms of the cultural thing, I am really more Canadian than I’ll ever be Iranian. It is tragic and disgusting the way things are run in Iran…not just their treatment of homosexuals but their treatment of human rights in general. One day when I have a stable income, perhaps I will be able to support the IRQR.

Thank you so much again. Your words have helped me stay strong.

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Ecofem
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Hi 13leafclovers,

It sounds like you have a lot of really great stuff going on in your life right now, despite the challenges your family presents. I cannot say enough how incredibly sane, smart and considerate you sound here. I can't write much tonight but I wanted to let you know that I've read your replies and am thinking of you. Eryn_smiles has really excellent advice and insights, and I'm so glad she's part of this thread, too! It's a really busy time for me but I will try to post again tomorrow or the next day. You're welcome. [Smile]

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Jill2000Plus
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I agree with everyone else that you would be better off leaving, you need to take care of yourself, your family's treatment of you is horrible, you seem like you've thought things through very carefully and I hope things work out for you. I am bi, though my situation is different than yours, my parents and sister were accepting of my orientation, and everyone should have that (minus the occasional ignorant comments they made, though they handled it well overall), you are absolutely right to want love and acceptance and autonomy in your life and there's always a chance that your family will come to accept your homosexuality, all you can do is take care of yourself and remain open to allowing them back in your life if they change their views. It does seem like you have a lot of good stuff going on in your life too, and I'm sure you'll find someone awesome to date in time (ok I'm not psychic but there are lots of nice people out there).

--------------------
Always knock before entering my room when I am in there alone, as I may be doing all sorts of wonderfully thrilling things that I'd rather you didn't see.

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eryn_smiles
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13leafclovers,

I wanted to thank you as well for sharing your story and to let you know that reading it has given me some strength. Because when it comes to moving out and coming out, I'm not at your stage yet. And its really good right now to see someone who accepts themselves and is starting to thrive [Smile] . Keep up the great work and let us know how you're doing!

--------------------
"Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation and that is an act of political warfare."

Audre Lorde

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Ecofem
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Hey 13leafclovers, I just wanted to stop by and say hi and see how you're doing. [Smile]

[ 12-22-2009, 07:19 AM: Message edited by: Ecofem ]

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13leafclovers
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Hi Ecofem [Smile]
Things are... I don't know. I thought I was ready to move out, and I went ahead and signed a lease agreement. But then I panicked. Maybe I wasn't so ready. I am still living at home.

A good thing happened. My parents apologized for being so hurtful and asked me to stay at home at least a couple more months, to give this family a proper chance, more than just two months. Maybe they just want more time to try and talk me out of being gay. I don't know. They do realize, however, that they were being hurtful, even if they don't understand why or how. They affirmed that in other ways, I'm a decent, respectable human being. Mom said she hates to see me sad and wants me to be happy. She said our parent-child relationship is over, but that now she wants to be my friend, wants a chance to hear me speak. Dad kind of said the same things. Those are positive developments.


Things have generally calmed down, and due to a combination of visiting family and other issues, my "Issue" has not been discussed for a while now. The conflict is basically on hold, so it's given me a chance to recuperate. And I think at least my mom deserves more time, because when I first came out she had a lot of pressure from school, and now that it's the holidays, she is actually reading the books I got her that advise parents on how to deal with LGBTQ kids.

I guess as a compromise I agreed to go to the psychoanalyst one last time. He wants to see just once more. I don't know, maybe this is the only reason why my parents have calmed down?

It's far from over. Sometimes I still feel really anxious and vulnerable when around my parents. Perhaps it's a better idea to stay with friends for a few nights if things get really ugly at home, rather than completely moving out. They are my family after all.

I guess we'll see how it goes in the next couple of weeks...

eryn_smiles, you are welcome [Smile] When your situation does progress to a place like mine, I really hope that your family will be more supportive, and that you won't have to move out... I am crossing my fingers for you, and will be here to listen if you ever want to share your story [Smile]

[ 12-27-2009, 11:41 PM: Message edited by: 13leafclovers ]

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Ecofem
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Hi 13leafclovers, it's good to hear from you! [Smile]

quote:
Originally posted by 13leafclovers:
Things are... I don't know. I thought I was ready to move out, and I went ahead and signed a lease agreement. But then I panicked. Maybe I wasn't so ready. I am still living at home.

Hey, we're going to support you with whatever you choose. Were you able to break the lease? I think that it's good to go with whatever you're comfortable with; however, I will mention that I think you don't need to necessarily look at this as the binary you may be seeing now. In other words, you could still move out and regularly visit or even stay with your parents... but it's really up to you and it sounds like you made the right choice for you right now. [Smile]

quote:
A good thing happened. My parents apologized for being so hurtful and asked me to stay at home at least a couple more months, to give this family a proper chance, more than just two months. Maybe they just want more time to try and talk me out of being gay. I don't know.
I'm *so* glad to hear this! As an older gay activist once said in a speech to college-aged queer students and allies, while we *want* our families to be immediately accepting -- and they technically really *should* be, we've had our whole lifetimes to live with our sexualities and choose our sexual orientation whereas our parents often must deal with it very suddenly for the first time. And it can take a lot of time for some parents but it does sound like yours are making progress. [Smile] I'm not sure what your parents ulterior motives are-- and chances are that they're not entirely sure themselves-- but that's something that time and experience will reveal. In the meantime, you can be there to see and talk it out while also having great, supportive friends you can turn to or even stay with if you need to get away for a short or longer amount of time.

quote:
They do realize, however, that they were being hurtful, even if they don't understand why or how. They affirmed that in other ways, I'm a decent, respectable human being.
I'm so happy to hear this and it's so spot-on. Our sexualities/sexual orientations are just one of many aspects of ourselves and it's how we treat others-- and I don't mean in terms of sexual identity-- that really determines what type of people we are.

quote:
Mom said she hates to see me sad and wants me to be happy. She said our parent-child relationship is over, but that now she wants to be my friend, wants a chance to hear me speak. Dad kind of said the same things. Those are positive developments.
Yes, I'm glad to see that they recognize your happiness as coming first. I think that's what most parents want for their children even if they disagree with how to live our lives in the best way for us. I don't quite get her parent-child versus friend dichotomy, because you're always going to be her son and she's always going to be your mother. However, how we define and act out those roles changes over time regardless of one's sexual orientation, I think age and experience are greater factors. However, the bottom line is that it seems to be working for all of you better!

quote:
Things have generally calmed down, and due to a combination of visiting family and other issues, my "Issue" has not been discussed for a while now. The conflict is basically on hold, so it's given me a chance to recuperate. And I think at least my mom deserves more time, because when I first came out she had a lot of pressure from school, and now that it's the holidays, she is actually reading the books I got her that advise parents on how to deal with LGBTQ kids.
Giving each other time and space to process things is really good, as is her being able to see that you're still who you've always been and that you still can share the family time. I agree that she needs more time and I'm glad that you two can take it. I think it's really awesome that she's been reading those books, that's really, really great and I hope that it helps even if she doesn't agree with all of it.

quote:
I guess as a compromise I agreed to go to the psychoanalyst one last time. He wants to see just once more. I don't know, maybe this is the only reason why my parents have calmed down?
That's a good question that I can only speculate on. I personally would not want to be around him and consider him to be a pretty horrible "professional" with an agenda based on what you've said BUT that isn't to say that you shouldn't go if you feel ok with it. It sounds like a compromise you can live with. Just remember that you don't have to agree with anything he says or answer any questions he may ask: you're really the one with the power there and you can always walk out if it feels like too much. You can also come with your own list of questions and resources for HIM if you desire; he doesn't have to answer them necessarily but, hey, neither do you!

quote:
It's far from over. Sometimes I still feel really anxious and vulnerable when around my parents. Perhaps it's a better idea to stay with friends for a few nights if things get really ugly at home, rather than completely moving out. They are my family after all.
Well, it's definitely an ongoing process: it sounds like the worst is over but that isn't to say it's suddenly going to become easy or be free of some huge new hurdles. It's really up to you if and when you want to move out but if on the whole living at home and then staying with friends if and when the need arises works for you, it sounds like a very good approach. [Smile]

quote:
I guess we'll see how it goes in the next couple of weeks...
My fingers are crossed for you! Again, I'm so happy to hear about all the positive developments and hope things stay on the up. Please do stay in touch-- I'm really impressed by how well you're dealing with all of this, in a way that is true to yourself but also very respectful and kind towards your family. Might you be interested in writing an [url=http://www.scarleteen.com/article/words/in_your_own_words_how_to_speak_up]In Your Own Words[/quote] piece on your experiences, either now or in the future? I think it'd be very interesting and helpful to others... but no pressure! Have a good day and a Happy New Year. [Smile]
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