Warning: This post may contain expletives, may trigger issues for those with coming out stories that feature psychological and physical abuse and is not for the faint hearted.
As someone who came out and was summarily kicked out, I’m sad to say that the story of coming out being received by loved ones as a negative is nothing new to me. The reality is, for many of us, because of the societal values that are in place, this is not an easy trek to make.
I’ve lost count of the emails that ask me if I know of a safe place in a certain part of the country for those that have been kicked out or are in danger if they come out in the family home. I’ve lost count of the people I have talked off the ledge because they have been called a ‘Fucking fag”, a “Sinful dyke” and various combinations of those and more.
One person I’m close to was found out by his father and had his arm broken, his shoulder wrenched out of the socket. All of those I’ve spoken to about the issues they’ve faced have talked about psychological and emotional abuse, and yes there have been others who have mentioned physical violence. One queer friend has been accused of ‘grooming’ because she’s trying to help another friend deal with the fallout of coming out.
I know of people who have been sent away to Christian Boot Camp to ‘cure’ them. I often still think about the friend I once had on another blogging site who literally got out the message “They are sending me to my aunt’s in X. She has no internet, I have will have no phone or car and she lives 50 miles away from the nearest town with an internet cafe. They are sending me out there to ‘save my soul’ I wish I could run, but I have nowhere to run to.” That message was posted about 4 years ago, maybe 5. None of us ever heard from her again. I know her father had a tendency towards violence, I know her aunt was a fundamentalist Christian living in the Bible Belt of the US and that her aunt’s husband was more violent than her father. I wonder if she made it out eventually, or if, like so many others I’ve heard about, has ended up dead.
So-called loving families wear people down bit by bit. They make comments about AIDS and HIV, they tell their children they are being brainwashed into believing they are Queer (been there done that), they drag them to Church, tell them God won’t love them, try to make them repent the ‘sin’ of homosexuality or trangender identity, and chip away at them, often months before the physical violence begins. And for those of us who do escape, who finally break free, the psychological warfare continues even after we’ve managed to leave.
I have a friend who broke ties with their birth mother years ago, yet somehow whenever they move, the birth mother finds out and manages to send a Christmas and Birthday present every year. It’s the game the mother plays that says “You’ll never be rid of me.” I have family members who tell me that I wasn’t kicked out, that I made the choice to leave and I should repair my relationship with my sperm-donor. They didn’t see the abuse behind closed doors and they certainly did not see the reaction when I came out and the hole it left in my bedroom wall. I won’t repair that relationship, I still carry a lot of the baggage it left me with, but I’d rather carry that baggage than put myself at risk of further harm.
There are those who would rather be on the street than in that environment (I have met a number of them through my work on the Kicked Out Anthology), I have met those who want so badly to believe that their families can and will change, if they are given time, only to be severely disappointed. I know others who have only been able to have that relationship tentatively rebuilt after years away from their families. Whether the families claim it’s because of religious belief or anything else, the psychological attacks often continue without hope of them stopping, and if left to continue can turn into physical violence.
If you have an out, a way to take control, then I say take it. Run to that safe place with the shirt on your back if necessary, but get out. Don’t put yourself in the situation where you can be hurt further. And if you don’t have that out, start searching for one. Do not for one second take the chance that they will change if they show no signs of changing. They may have always been loving in the past, but the chances are it will take you leaving and space between you for that to happen again. It may never happen, but I would rather hear down the grapevine that you got out than that you, like my friend, were never heard from again.