The Most Common Question

KidRaisingHand
Oooo! Oooo! Pick me! I have a question!

For those of you who do not know this about me, the number that I’m about to throw out here is pretty impressive and staggering to most:

There are 42 first cousins on my dad’s side of the family.

Yep, that’s a lot of cousins.  My Grandma and Grandpa Strabala had 13 kids.  It was pretty easy to multiply a large number of my generation to make 42 cousins.

It was really fun growing up in my family.  Sunday dinners of pot roast and mashed potatoes with my grandma’s famous chocolate chips cookies, were like a huge party.  All the time.

One of my oldest cousins, Dan Harbit, is a thoughtful person.  He often seeks to understand me, social issues and the hearts of people by asking tough questions in respectful ways.  When I was in junior high and high school, he and his wife, Jane (and their kids) attended the same church that my family and I did.  I love them.

My Cousin Dan Harbit with his grandson at Lake McBride in Iowa
My Cousin Dan Harbit with his grandson at Lake McBride in Iowa

So, he offered the very first comment and question to this blog since I released it just yesterday.  And I’d like to honor him by answering his question in a post, not just as a comment.  Here is what he asked:

Hi Emily, I have been very busy and just had a little time to Facebook and spotted this. Very interesting. And leads me to ask a question that I’m sure many wonder about and maybe you could blog some insight to. Why does it take 10 years and 3 kids before you figure out you’re gay and decide to come out? I know several people that have experienced this situation but never understood why they couldn’t figure it out before they caused so many so much hardship. I’m not trying to be judgmental just looking for some insight and understanding. Thanks, Love Ya

Here is my response:

Dan-

First of all, Hey Cousin!  I always appreciate your well-thought out comments on Facebook and your delivery of them.  Give my love to your family from me.

Secondly, I have been asked this question in some form or another many times, but it has often been brought up in a spirit of anger from people.  Yours was not.  Thank you for asking it in a non-judgmental way.  I have had to delete comments before from others on our other blog because they are mean-spirited and hate-filled toward Devon.  The curious thing is that these questions, at times, come from other gay people, and I can only assume that they have never experienced the lengths that gay people can go through to NOT be gay and try to “change” into a heterosexual person.

So, to answer your question from MY perspective, which honestly I feel that Devon could answer even better than me since it was ultimately part of his specific journey, it boils down to the fact that he didn’t want to be gay.

This is very common for many people in the LGBT community.  I mean, think about the social stigma that was even worse 30-40 years ago.  We grew up during a different climate than today.

Here are a few things that Devon has revealed to me about his experience with this.  I will list them.

1.  Devon knew he was gay from an early age (something like 5 or 6), but didn’t understand what it really was.  Most kids don’t grasp the idea of sexuality that young.  But he knew he was different.

2.  He was bullied and teased growing up and called gay, fag and other things.  You can imagine how this could have affected him.  Essentially gay = bad.

3.  And then there’s the Church factor.  Which is a VERY big factor for many people in the LGBT community.  You know as well as I do that the preaching and teaching from the pulpit, discussions and prayer circles often centers around people changing, people needing to stop their “lifestyle” or that “same-sex” attraction is a sin that cannot be actively pursued if someone is to be an official born-again believer… all because of about 7 main verses from the Bible that discuss homosexuality in some form or another.  And honestly, it’s only been in the last century that the term “homosexuality” has even been in existence and has become a true dividing line in Christianity.  In fact, today, it has become entirely TOO focused on by “fundamentalist” Christian people and churches, in my opinion.  There is no written “gay agenda”, there isn’t a war that the LGBT community is inflicting upon our society.  That is all fear-based, straw-man tactics that the other side of the issue uses to rally the fellowship of believers into a frenzy (this is obviously my opinion, but I can honestly say I used to be JUST LIKE THAT myself, so I feel that I have a unique perspective that others don’t).  If you go to visit http://canyonwalkerconnections.com/ to my friend Kathy Baldock’s site, she gives detailed research about the topic of scripture and homosexuality.  Her new book just came out, and it is very powerful.  She is a straight, intelligent and strong Evangelical Christian herself.

4.  Devon truly loved me.  Yes, he was even attracted to me.  We had a great marriage.  It helped him to suppress who he was deep down, and while many people see that as me being used (and trust me, I had to work through that in the early stages of him coming out), it was simply more of him doing whatever he could think of to change.

5.  I don’t regret him coming out one bit.  Especially years later, knowing that we wouldn’t have had our Three Little Birds in this world if we hadn’t have married.  It was all worth it.MKTLittleAtBeach

And ultimately, it has caused me to understand how to truly love someone unconditionally, which has been my desire since I began my relationship with God so many years ago.

So it wasn’t necessarily a “one day he just decided he was gay,” though it seemed like that to me in the moment.  Did it hurt and change all of us, including extended family?  Yes.  Many relationships with others were damaged and cannot be repaired, which is not coming from us, but from people who won’t repair it because of their own beef with homosexuality.  The process of “coming out” is very unique to each individual.  It is scary.  It is especially scary when a gay person has built up walls of decisions and ideals to break through those and come clean.

I believe that our world today is much different than when you and I were young.  Our society is shifting regarding ideas of being gay.  It is much easier for people to come out early on compared to 20 years ago, which makes it harder for people to understand our generation and older generations of not wanting to be gay and the lengths many LGBT people go through to try and “change” who they are at their core.comingoutofaclosetI appreciate that you have asked the question regarding people coming out to their spouses at such a late stage in the game, where spouses, kids and friends/family get hurt along the way.  I hope that my answers to you are clarifying to some degree.

You are a good man, Dan, and I am thankful to call you family.

Live Life, Love Life, Impact Others,

Emily

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7 thoughts on “The Most Common Question

  1. That was truly eye opening and more honest than what I have read in the past. It really shared the struggles everyone deals with no matter how it ends. Thanks for sharing this gives me much better insite as to why on many levels. The honesty really makes it more real and draws you in to another way of seeing this. Thanks again, Love ya, Dan

  2. I was in a mixed orientation marriage for 23 years. I knew from an early age that I wasn’t like other girls. I tried many things to change my attractions. I got married hoping that during my marriage I would morph into a heterosexual. Two decades into my marriage I realized that nothing changed. I still was just as lesbian as I was when I got married. Today, I am divorced and I am now remarried to a beautiful woman that I am deeply in love with and love sharing life with. My ex is enjoying a relationship with a woman who is able to reciprocate his love. He now knows all that he missed out on in being married to a lesbian. I wouldn’t wish a mixed orientation on anyone. Please don’t settle….go for gold. Live to love, not to change something that was never meant to be changed.

    1. Thank you, Lynn, for your words. I am sure they will encourage someone who is dealing with the issues that surround a MOM.

      Much love to you and your wife-
      Emily

  3. I have been the kid in this situation and mine didn’t care but I lucked out in falling in love with the minority of my orientation that has been decent. I can relate as a kid and my mom went from hard line catholic to separatist feminist lesbian… the bible one day and some Andrea Dworkin movie about adult films that her group of friends said men needed to watch not to rape, We lost our friends , out of church. I was outed as bi as a kid and didn’t know what I was in trouble for but it was the schoolyard crushes being different genders. And my mom didn’t care because she was always very mom.

    I earned a masters degree and have lived in numerous places and I always associate with respectable people and whatnot but I am bisexual and I have to say I will not even think about dating one that has done a mixed orientation relationship because my 3 best friends in school were lesbians who all three were burned by one. I remember the last one this one girl did wrong because she said she was going home to her straight boyfriend to us and I said, your boyfriend hits on me all the time and I had witnesses to it… I felt disgusting. His bragging rights were having a bi girlfriend. So I think garden variety perv is part of it. Gay men that are really feminine get angry because they will flirt with bi men and get called a faggot but then those men will go pick up some abercrombie kid…

    So in the case that it is BISEXUAL, it wasn’t just coming out or being out, this has been going on for years. The social justice element in the LGBT movement is a bit much these days and I personally said I wasn’t into mixed orientation relationships and had been called a homophobic bisexual over it. Don’t buy the sudden “discovery” of bisexual. And this is to gays, lesbians and straight people. This breed of bisexual is worse and will ruin your life more and when they are older they will have some form about their issue and claim to love you… bisexual want a movement and visibility in society so planting in the middle of something that is a process needing to happen for gay people is why they have no culture.

    They could easily declare itself a 3rd outside orientation who is an ally to the cause and use the ancient greek norms of fighting to keep society afloat and use that to solve problems and they’d get the attention and respect they want and it’d work… at least the fakers would be doing something more too. Bisexuals are looked at as being both in the same. So it makes sense to me just to settle down or do something that would make them feel autonomous and they would do better than they are thinking social justice and discrimination fools. With bisexual or gay husbands it is horrible but I wanted to emphasize from the rare position of someone who is one of the few who does just fine I might add. I am so sorry for all this happens to. Those examples I showed of younger and older years are milder than many. Stay strong. And kids, don’t think it isn’t possible to still strive and earn a place of class and etiquette in society if a parent is not straight. My mom was a fringe lesbian with a mental issue and my best friends in school were lesbians who were decent. I took judo for years and a lot of my friends are straight men and I still talk to a lot of church people and looking on tumblr to find out about what that means is a bad idea too. Hang in there. I am glad to find this and add to support from even the oddest place. Life is good and keep up the fight against the ones who are up to no good. I love this and many different situations are involved in these. I hope for the best in everyone’s and I am content with mine.

  4. Matt,

    You have said quite a bit here. I will admit with honesty that bisexuality is something I don’t quite understand, though I want to. I suppose this is because I am heterosexual?

    I remember thinking that Devon must be bisexual… I mean, how could he have been with me for so long and actually be gay? I suppose I still don’t understand it, but I take his word for it. Acceptance is the best option for a tranquil heart and life.

    Sounds like you grasp as a kid of a MOM what it was like and it was nice to hear your perspective. The experience of a MOM really changes everyone involved. I have hope that my kids will be just fine (they wow me everyday with their resiliency) and your story backs that up.

    Thank you so much for sharing your story and commenting. Much love to you and yours.

    Emily

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