Thursday, January 17, 2008

113. Again?

So, I haven’t written since my mom’s visit. Her visits, as most of you know by now, are kind of overwhelming for me, and I usually need some time to recover after she goes, but that didn’t really happen for me this time. You remember the friend who picked me up from the airport when I came back from the conference? She had asked me ages ago if I would be willing to speak at her Bible Study on the subject of homosexuality. I’d said yes, but I guess it fell by the wayside. But that night she remembered and asked if I would be able to speak at her Bible Study the week after my mom left. I agreed, but it turned out that some people couldn’t make it that week, so I ended up doing it last night – 2 days after my mom left. Which meant that those 2 days were spent preparing and being nervous. Today has been my recovery day. It’s 2:30 and I’m literally just getting my day started. I don’t sleep very much when my mom’s here (tense, I guess, plus she wakes me up early every day), and then I couldn’t sleep because I was nervous, and then last night when I got home from the study I was so wired I couldn’t sleep either.

But I’ll tell you about that study later. First I thought I’d tell you about my mom’s visit. I’m pretty sure that part of the reason she insisted on coming so soon after I just spent such a significant amount of time with her in Toronto was because she didn’t have the opportunity to sit me down and lecture me over Christmas. Her house was just so full of family and friends for the entire week I was there. There was our aunt from Philadelphia, and 3 friends from Bermuda there – I joked that we were having a “Black Christmas – no white’s allowed!”. Heh, the first time I made that joke, I was talking on the phone with my mom from the house of some lovely white people and they stared at me in shock. I then went on to tell my mom to be careful, that with all those black people in her house, the property values might go down for the week. You should have seen the look on the face of my white host, she looked like she was going to choke on her tongue! Even after I told her I was, of course, joking, she sputtered a bit in shock. White guilt can fun sometimes.

Anyway, the day I left Toronto, my mom walked me down to my car, and I could see the panic growing on her face. As we got closer and closer to my car she got more and more tense, and then she grabbed my face and forced me to look at her and delivered a power lecture on my weight and diet and exercise that lasted about 10 minutes, with her holding my face still the entire time, and while I wouldn’t say she was yelling, she was quite loud. It was pretty intense.

So yeah, she probably didn’t feel she got enough lecturing time in, so she scheduled a visit to remedy that. And believe me, she did. But there was more that happened than that. She arrived on Thursday and I was working on Friday, so she was home alone. I got her bus tickets so she could get around the city by herself, but she spent the entire day in my apartment, cleaning and rearranging my furniture (I’m not entirely sure what to do with my newly designed living room, not sure whether or not to leave it as my mom left it or try and put it back). Do you remember my dining room table? The one that’s impossible to move by yourself? She tried and broke it. I came home from work and was greeted by her at the door, “Don’t freak out, I broke your table.” She offered to replace it, took me to Ikea that night and I picked out a table she didn’t particularly like, so instead she spent time fixing my dining room table, which is good, because I like the one I’ve got. Anyway, we got home from Ikea, and I sat down, exhausted. I’d been up since 6 am, remember. And this is when this my mom tells me that, as I could see, she had been cleaning my apartment (something she does every time she comes, whether I ask her not to or not, whether its clean or not), and she found ‘some books’. I stared at her, trying to figure out what she meant by that, because I’m petty sure I sanitized the place before she came, I always do… hide the Harry Potter, hide the stuff on homosexuality, hide anything that could possibly cause her to be upset… I really couldn’t figure out what she meant. She continued, “I found some books on homosexuality and the church.” Of course, I was shocked. I still have no idea where she found them, and she insists they were just lying around, which I doubt… I mean, it’s a habit with me to sanitize my home before she arrives just to avoid such confrontations. Anyway, we had a long (read: 2 hour) conversation and afterwards I went to my computer and wrote the following down (I’ve edited it a bit, mostly for readability).

We began with her question, “"What do you believe about homosexuality? What does the Bible say?"

So I went through the so-called 'clobber passages', explaining what I think about them, or what I'm not sure I think about them... trying to be sure and give both sides (because that's where I'm at.) She listened, and actually kind of agreed with me on most of them (i.e.: Sodom is irrelevant and Leviticus is sort of moot, etc).

I'm trying to remember points here, so I'm being kind of scattered. She asked me about the sexual abuse that happened to me and if I thought that was relevant (I don't).

She expressed extreme concern about my telling people, she really wants me to keep this under my hat. She thinks it's 'extremely personal and private' and kept asking me 'Why would you tell anyone that? Why do you feel like you should do that?'

We talked about the 'revelation' I had when I suddenly realized I could be both gay and Christian, how I had been convinced for so long that I was doomed to hell because I was taught that the two things were antonymous. She asked me if I'd been "set free from that wrong belief" and I told her about when I stopped listening to the voices of the church that said that, it suddenly became clear to me that there was no way that simply being gay could stop me from being a Christian.

Oh, and I asked her (through tears) what would happen if I did enter into a relationship with a woman and she first of all said that she believed 'there would be a separation of a sort but not a loss of love'. I asked her for clarification and she went back and said that she had had a feeling many times that I was in a relationship (she actually kept asking me if I had ever had a relationship, I'm still not sure if she believes me that I haven't), and then went on to say that she would still want to come over and 'enjoy helping you out with your house and encouraging you about your weight (!!?! I can't believe she managed to work that in!)', and would always be 'for' me, but she wouldn't condone what I was doing.

She also told me that I should do a study on marriage and see what God says about that. Oh, and this may not seem like much, but it's a HUGE step for her, she said 'maybe God has called you to celibacy, the Bible says some people are so... maybe"

Of course, she followed that up with how much she wanted me to experience romance at least once, and then prayed to that effect.

And now she's out in my living room watching “The Day the Earth Stood Still”.

And I'm still exhausted.

(written 12:26 AM January 12)

So that’s what happened the first night. I gave her one of the books by Tony Campolo, mostly just to let her know that I’m thinking about both sides of this, and she read it. She asked me afterwards if I was considering a “homosexual union” – the celibate partnerships that Tony talks about in his writings, and I said no, there’s no one in my life at the moment to consider that with. I’m just trying to figure things out. She asked me if I really no longer wanted to be married – referencing things I’d said when I was 5 (“I want 3 babies”) and 12 years old (“I think I’ll get married some day”) as proof that this can’t always have been true for me. She completely back-pedalled on the celibacy issue, saying that she didn’t think I was called to celibacy at all. She asked me if I was sure I didn’t want to marry a man and I said yes, that I wouldn’t want to get married to a guy just because that was what I thought I was supposed to do, I would want to be married because I loved the person I was marrying. She understood that. Then she suggested that the problem was that I hadn’t found the ‘right guy’ (oy, how cliché!), and that perhaps I need to just date some guys for a while and see what happens. Maybe I would feel those sexual feelings blossoming then. It was frustrating, but not devastating. We’ll see how long this one lasts… maybe she won’t forget this time.

The lesson I learned here, of course, is that I should never “tell” my mom I’m gay… the two times I did that, it went horribly, lots of yelling, lots of crying, accusations, etc… the two times she found out on her own (by snooping through my stuff, of course) she reacted fairly calmly. I don’t know if that’s a good lesson, but it’s the one I learned.


titration said...

Wow. Um. Wow. I think this is worthy of a trip to a spa, or the beach, or Korea, or.... :)

Good update! And you are so brave and (said in a cheesy voice) wonderful just the way you are. (grin)

The Blogger said...

JJ -

It's interesting how you said that you learned a lesson, and you're not sure it's the right one, but the lesson you learned.

I just want you to remember the feelings of the conference. Parents can express their love in a "self-protective" way (ie. "don't tell anyone...keep it private!")

But I want you to remember the love and acceptance that is free in Christ and that we felt at the conference.

You are a shining light. I didn't see your weight, or eating habits or anything else. But I did see your grace, I felt your love and I was blessed by your spirit.

Be encouraged that you are God's perfection, created in Him before time began. And I love you!


Anonymous said...

jj, I want to thank you for this post and this site. My daughter who loves the Lord came out to me this last Christmas, and I am so desperately trying to do well in all of this. She's not ready to tell her dad, so I am kind of alone. I really value your thoughtful post, and I will be earnestly re-reading it. Thanks.

Michael said...

That's really intense. I think I might divorce my mother if she was that domineering.