I learned from a Facebook entry that my brother’s family attended “Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day” and I wondered what my response should be. Ultimately, I decided to leave well enough alone. I would not be able to enlighten them and my mother, caught in between, would be the one to internalize the family rift. Not worth it.I thought blogging about the matter would help me move on. How naïve. I let things fester. Ignoring the issue was not the answer.
I logged back into Facebook. Foolish move. Like peeking under a Bandaid to be icked out all over again. My chest tightened again. My sister-in-law’s previous entry was a call out for chair donations for her church. I thought of writing, “Ask Chick-fil-A.” It made me smile, but I refrained. I returned to the inciting entry: “only too happy to support them again today!”
Enough! I thought. I have put up with this for twenty-four years since my brother met this woman and he became an extreme Baptist. My family has quietly tiptoed around my brother and sister-in-law all this time. My mother gets mad when I count the “God” references in their annual Christmas newsletter. (I am not exaggerating when I say God makes dozens of appearances.) We all felt homeschooling their children would create a sense of isolation and deny the kids chances for social interaction, exposure to diversity and opportunities in sports. (My niece knits. My nephew plays piano. They both participated in State Bible Drill competitions.)
I once tried to bond with my sister-in-law, striking up a conversation after seeing her reading a book. “Christian mysteries are my favorite,” she said. Yes, apparently it is a genre. I suppressed a wave of sarcastic thoughts and poured myself a rum and Coke as my mother frowned at me. We’re not supposed to drink in front of them. Don’t let them think of our Episcopalian family as heathens.
But, the thing is, we are heathens in their eyes. I am, for sure. Any recitation of my good deeds would be pointless. Hell awaits.
Why is it that they can live so openly as they believe and I, to spare the family, must shield them from a basic part of who I am? Family harmony is a complete sham. I have avoided contact with my brother and his family. Maybe I am being unfair. I have made my own assumptions. I have withheld the truth.
I typed a Facebook reply: “This hurts so much.” I stared at the screen, hands shaking. Yes, I can be very melodramatic. I erased the words. Why make a public statement on my sister-in-law’s account? Instead, I emailed my brother. The text follows:
Sometimes I think things were much better before the days of Facebook. I do not need to know certain things and I didn't feel you needed to either. After reading the comment, however, I cannot let you pretend that you do not have a gay brother. So sorry that I do not fit within your "family values", but I am who I am. I do not need your prayers or any talk of loving the sinner, hating the sin. I got enough of that living in Texas and that's a big reason why I left.
The rest of the family knows I am gay. You should, too. However you choose to regard that is your own decision.
The message was sent Friday afternoon. More than forty-eight hours later, I have received no reply. I don’t expect one. Still, I am glad I spoke up. I am tired of assumptions and censoring myself.
I did not attend Pride celebrations in Vancouver today. I don’t need to. A stronger sense of pride lives within me.