Friday, August 15, 2008

Luke 14:26

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.

7 comments:

Kengo Biddles said...

Scot, I'll say this--I hope your family (you and Rob, and you, your siblings and parents) all weather this storm and come out no worse for wear on the other side.

Edgy said...

I admire you for wanting to maintain the balance of the truce with your family.

I tend toward a seemingly more hardline stance in that I don't believe that just because you were born as a family you have to stay together as one. Granted, I know that this is a difficult position, particularly for parents. So, in some regards, I've forced my mum into the position of maintaining the truce because it's important to her. And because it's important to her, I behave. Left to our own devices, my brother and I would have parted ways long ago. Interestingly enough, in recent years it has been my sister-in-law who has kept my brother in check and who makes sure that her children spend time with both me and Dec.

Now, Dec's family is a whole other ball of twine.

Beck said...

I'm torn apart by your story. This saddens me to the core. I've recently posted something similar... the idea that religious beliefs are higher and more important than family, that families are to be united for eternity and if you don't see it our way, you are lost forever and cast aside.

Where did such views of eternity come from? They aren't in the gospel and church I believe in... so why are such ideas so strongly held?

Please just keep doing what you're doing! For all our sakes...

Hidden said...

Cog,

You aren't alone in this battle. My family is in the thick of this as well. Here I stand on one side trying to get my parents to understand me and who I am. I have friends standing with me speaking out against Prop 8.

Yet I also have an uncle who lives about 150 miles to the south and he happens to be in a stake presidency and, it turns out, leading the grassroots effort down there for Prop 8.

I try and tell myself this doesn't matter, that it won't affect us, that it won't come between us, but it already is. And has.

I have my sword, he has his, and we are preparing for war against one another. When did we here? How has this happened? What happened to peace? The strengthening of our family? When your uncle is leading the campaign against you, what do you do? The very thing he is fighting so desperately for is the thing that is piercing my heart and leaving me to bleed alone...

I fear the next few months will be world shattering for us all.

~Hidden
mormonsformarriage.com

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

I somewhat agree with Edgy here. I do love my family, but I don't see the point in associating with someone who ridicules so much of what makes me me. While my siblings are pretty supportive, it's my parents, and even more so my uncles who are the ones I have little contact with, because of how they disrespect me openly.

What is so incredibly ironic about this whole thing, is that it is the church that is really causing all this harm and strife within families while at the same time claiming to be "protecting" and "strengthening" families, when in actuality all they're doing is assisting in tearing them apart. If they just let the issue alone, families would be stronger, close, more loving and understanding

Scot said...

Thank you kengo and Beck. I will keep on and hope we do make it through together.

Edgy, Craig: I can certainly see your point. If there was open demeaning of our home, in front of our boys particularly, that'd be a clear violation of the unspoken truce. Maybe I should fight the border skirmishes, though, when they try to get at us through our parents, but my heart is just not in it, even if it should be.

Hidden, wow. That has got to hurt a good deal. I'm sorry and wish I knew of any good advice.

And I'm so glad to see http://mormonsformarriage.com/. I'll have to spend some time reading over the material there.

[kɹeɪ̯g̊] said...

Scot,

I'm not sure that there is anything you should or shouldn't do with regards to your family. I think we all just have to make the best of the situation we're in, and do what we individually feel is best in our situations. It's hard on my sometimes dealing with my family, but I can't imagine how it would be if I were married and had children.

Good luck in all of this.