Rebecca Walsh had an article in the tribune yesterday about being gay in Utah, here.
In it she writes about Gary and Millie Watts and their family. I know the Watts, just barely well enough to say that. They are some of the nicest people you could meet, though, the sort that give Utah its good reputation for character and friendliness (It's not just my imagination. We do have that reputation, right?).
Gary and Millie are parents to a couple gay children, among others (a big Utah family) and were once a very active LDS family. They went to bat for their kids with their church for many years, thinking it could be resolved and they could keep their faith and their acceptance of their children and their children's families. But I read now, and to my surprise, they have all--parents, gay siblings, and straight--left the LDS church over the issues of how same-sex unions are treated.
I'm kind of sad to learn that. I'm sure everyone involved has their reasons; it just all seems so... so much like wasted conflict, an unnecessary cut. Of course, I guess, if you think same-sex unions are sin, it could seem like some families, those who support the families of their gay children, should best go.
What really hit home though was that, my mom, after reading this, called me up and said she wanted to send the article to all of my siblings, in the hope they'd follow their example. My parents, a sister and a brother have already left the LDS church, but some are very much involved. I think I successfully discouraged her from it. There's no point to that, here, in a family. Is there? Is it okay to just keep from fighting in your family on issues like this? Was it okay for interracial couples to just swallow relatives' bigotry to get along, to keep those bonds? I'm not sure, but we just keep away from politics with some family and they do the same and we most all get along great.
Nevertheless, they'll bring religion up with my dad. My brother, he's a bishop. He is vocal about his hope to convert our dad back, which upsets me. My dad was always there for me as a kid, he's become one of my best friends in my adult life, and one of the most important persons to our children. My brother hopes to make him into a man who sees my family as sinful, something to be "tolerated". Can you see how threatening that comes off? It's tough for me to not be angry at my brother for such aims, no matter how prone to failure they are, for both the hoped for consequences to my family and my relationship with our dad, and my brother's apparent obliviousness to them, as he'll do it right in front of Rob and me.
But all this seems to have stepped up even more with the Proposition 8 fight. Just two days ago my dad and my sister got in a fight over us, when she told him she doesn't "agree with our choices", something she'd never say to us directly. These are the choices that brought his grandchildren and Rob into this family and so he got heated. He's a very smart man and, as she was using religion in her reasoning, came back at the weak spots in her ideas of the supernatural. I've never seen my dad phased by such confrontation--a quality I'd hope to learn still--but I'm told it wasn't pleasant for her. I'm sure she regrets bringing it up, and I wonder if it will be uncomfortable the next time we get together.
Simply, I too can feel the politics and religion tearing at my family, not just at the rights of the four of us in our home, at our extended family. Often, I find myself trying to make excuses for my siblings to my parents. As long as my siblings can keep from undermining our family in the open, where our children can be harmed by it, I want our children to have their cousins. And my siblings have been good about that so far. Should I, instead, be as ardent as my folks? I'm not sure. I love my huge family and want to be able to keep going to reunions without a fog of mistrust and things said in anger hanging over the funeral potatoes and games of kick the can. Is that sacrificing ideals for pleasantries? Is that pointless? There's already a fog there knowing they are most all paying for the church to put on a political campaign against my marriage.
I want to hold it together, but on some days it's not easy, regardless of want. By November and the vote on Prop 8, I'm afraid it will only get worse. I don't think we have the same end in the works for us that the Watts had, where the family acts together. I'm afraid we must keep on balancing a delicate truce, or it would tip and each would go their separate ways.