Peeling Back Layers of Ugly: The Gay Reality

This was it.

The expectant tension was building in our awkward phone conversation to an almost unbearable degree.  I felt myself struggling to regulate my breath and appear nonchalant.  He struggled for words, a way to open the door, for the very first time to anyone.

His fear became so present, it felt like we may shatter when he finally found the words.

My brother is gay.

When he finally told me, a few months from graduating high school in the spring of 2004, every single bad, derogatory, judgemental comment I had ever heard about gay people played out in my memory. We did not grow up in a home where bigotry and hateful speech was ever uttered.  But we grew up mormon.  A place where they talked about the sin of homosexuality.  A place where t.v. shows like Ellen, or Will and Grace were considered immoral and inappropriate.  Where traditional marriage was considered vital in protecting society and moral character.  Where being gay was being a sexual deviant by choice.  Where in 2008, the mormon church would rally tremendous money and forces in  to support Prop 8 in California.

 It was not a safe place for my brother.

 I remembered every single off-hand remark or gesture he must have been exposed to.  The jokes that were just not funny.  The gossip that had been circulating in our ward in Colorado about a girl my age, who had “decided” to be a lesbian, cut her hair, and ran off with another girl after high school.  The head shaking and tsk-tsking and whispers of how painful that must be for the family, how disgraceful.

Shame and horror over those flashes burned in me, a small taste of how it must have burned in him for years.  I wanted to crawl through the phone and wrap my arms around him.  I wanted to look him in the eye and tell him how I loved him.  How it changed absolutely nothing about how I felt about him.  How it was going to be fine.  But I was thousands of miles away, and he was hiding in his basement bedroom in my parents house, filled with fear at being fully seen for the first time.

We went from rarely ever speaking on the phone, to talking for many hours every day for several months. If more than a day would pass, he would call, filled with fear of what I must be thinking of him, the judgement I was making, the disgust that must have been percolating for him. His vulnerability made me throb with empathy.  My mother and father called too… begging for me to tell them what was going on.  What was wrong.  Demanding that I let them in on the reasons for our daily contact.  Their fears were an endless ticker tape of threatening possibilities in their minds.  It was the only time in my life I lied consistently to my parents.

Here is the part where I have to be brutally honest. and own the course I had to take.  It’s not easy to write now, but it is real.

I had no idea what to think.  Like anything else, if it isn’t happening TO you, it is easy to dismiss.

I never considered that my brother had chosen to be gay.  That was ridiculous. I heard the pain in his voice.  I could feel his fear.  I knew that an alarming number of gay kids take their own life.  There was no issue of choice.

But the first thing I wanted to know was… why?

I did research.  I read about sexual abuse.  Or having a broken and damaged relationship with a father.  There wasn’t a lot more to read about the subject, in 2004.

I confronted Gardner, asking questions without malice, but honest innocence and a desire to understand.   He was not abused.   Nor did he blame my father.

Eventually, I realized, it simply doesn’t matter.  If he is not choosing to be gay, it matters not what the origins are.  The result is the same.

Then…  HOW?  I couldn’t wrap my mind around it.  How could he possibly be attracted to… MEN???    He was so patient, calmly explaining things to me over and over.  He asked me to tell him why I loved Rick.  Why I was attracted to him.  And when I did, he said, “me too.”  And I understood a bit more.  I never made a conscious choice to like men instead of women…  It just IS.  And the things that I loved about my husband and reasons for my attraction were all basically things that my brother was also wanting in a relationship.  I am not interested in having a romantic relationship with a female, and neither was he.

It was the first time I had ever really pondered love, attraction, relationships, sex, so comprehensively, and from such a distance.  I realized that my perception of being gay was just about the sex.  What a ridiculous, simplistic view.  Love is love.  Sexual attraction is important, but certainly not the most important part of a romantic relationship.  DUH.   It seems unnecessary to even write about this, but it was a revelation to me.  An idea that had never presented itself in my community, in my upbringing, in my religion.

Then… what can be done?  I  read and researched ways to “cure” being gay.  He could go to  terrible places that teach inauthenticity, repression, shame, and impossible expectations.  When those don’t work, they hook you up to electrodes and physically “shock” those deviant gay feelings right out of your body.

Erm, NO.

Several months in to these discussions and as my understanding unfolded, I remember telling my brother that after careful consideration, I felt that if it meant fitting into mainstream society, avoiding painful rejection and ridicule, and being able to have a traditional family, I would give it a go… and have a relationship with another woman, despite it not being my preference. So… maybe he should go try to date women first.

In that conversation,  my ability to empathize with desperate gay people who marry, have four kids, and are caught cheating on their wives with other men was born.   These horrifying, naive suggestions… this  ill-formed advice was rampant in mormon culture at the time.  Marry!  Have kids!  Find out that you were wrong about who you are all along, and we were right!  Jesus will change you!

Thank God my brother weathered these inane conversations with me.  He watched my understanding unfurl from a tightly folded, tiny piece of closed-minded ignorance into a greater understanding.  With the understanding came more real support and love.

Eventually, we made plans to tell my parents.  It was truly a scary time for me, knowing it would change my family in drastic ways. I didn’t know if my parents would be able to handle it, to be honest.  I felt fiercely protective of him… the idea of him witnessing their shock, the potential of hurtful words and tears… I could barely stand the idea of it.   If it was scary for me, it must have been a time of blinding, paralyzing terror for my brother.

We knew the long road we would be going to down to redefine expectation and the story of how everything has to be.  What it means to support  and what it means to be honorable and authentic.

What it means to really LOVE someone.

It’s crazy what happens when you are willing to take a step outside of your judgement and examine what you have been standing on.  The foundation of your ideas about something that seems so foreign and threatening…. is really just irrational fear.  It is dishonorable enmity born out of ignorance.

Once armed with my newly developed understanding, and countless hours of conversation, once my brother had moved out of my parents’ home and lived a comfortable distance away, I told my parents for him, as we had planned.  Their initial reactions, their shock, their questions were first absorbed by me.

Even then, I did not support gay marriage….because what about society?  and the children?!!?! what about the children!!!  Every single message I had ever heard in my life surrounding gay marriage was about how it would destroy the very fabric of society, and children would suffer.  It sounds real.  And scary.  Who wants the fabric of society shredded?  And poor little children to suffer?

I remember a specific, terrible night when my brother and mother and I went out to dinner and my brother was left to defend himself on this issue.

I loved him.  I supported him.  I did not think he chose to be gay.  But should he be allowed to destroy traditional marriage?  Bring kids into a home without a mother?

I had two little girls at the time.  How would I explain their uncle to them?  Will I allow him and a boyfriend to come visit?  Display affection?

It all seemed so scary…. so scary because it had been presented that way to me by my culture and my religious leaders, and the politics I subscribed to.  It takes a lot of de-programming to see the underbelly of this particular bigoted beast.

Fear.

Fear unfounded.

Gay Love is simply  LOVE.

Love is love, people.

It turns out, it was really not that hard to explain to my kids.  One day, they asked me if my brother had a girlfriend.  I told them he did not, but he actually wants to date boys, so he would have a boyfriend someday.  They nodded, shrugged, and asked for a snack.

One day, my brother had a boyfriend.  I showed my kids pictures of them together.  They thought he was really cute, and their uncle looked really happy.

One day, they came for Thanksgiving.  And they held hands, and kissed after the Thanksgiving toast.  They played games and made the kids laugh and made memories.

One, big, happy family.   It was normal because it was normal.

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We are complicated beings.  Emotionally.  Sexually.  Intellectually.

Being in love can be complicated, as most of us know.

But supporting love is not complicated.

The other day, my husband and I were visiting my brother in New York.  His roommate asked how it was, when we found out my brother was gay.  And I wanted to say it was great.  I was the loving, supportive sister who made him feel totally safe and secure and loved.   While that was always my intent, that is not what happened.  Most of that journey is a great embarrassment to me now.    Peeling back layers of judgement and fear can expose some pretty ugly pieces.  Under all that, is the glorious recognition that none of the differences that  keep us separate and critical are there.

I felt the need to outline this story because I recognize there is a huge leap in understanding that must happen to help people out of their locked-in beliefs about the LGBT community.  I try to exercise patience with others as my brother did for me, while I found my way out of that trap of intolerance.  In fact, it is not a leap, but a shedding of skin, the callous layers that we keep to protect us from people that are simply wanting all the same things everyone wants.

Love.  Acceptance.  Safety. Affection.  Respect.

Surprise findings:   Giving another human being these things is not going to shred the very fabric of society, or ruin your children.

Your children will benefit from your willingness to get rid of those callouses and be open to more LOVE in the world.  They may be one of those tender souls that the anti-gay movement is so visciously attacking.   It may be your vulnerable child you are burning painful scars into with your bigoted remarks and support of anti-gay rhetoric.  It might be your child that will sit at the lunch counter and be refused service because of who they are.

Enormous, painful, angry, wrenching rejection… that is what has been happening in my family since my brother came out.

But thankfully, my brother was not the target.  My parents refused to be a part of their culture, an organization that they had previously devoted their entire lives to. My other brother and his wife refused as well.  We have all marched out of the mormon church.

We reject the notion that my parents should reject their son. We reject the ridiculous stand that suggests that my brother should live his life void of the most basic human need… the need to love and be loved.   We reject the idea that being gay is like be an alcoholic.  For holding hands with someone, feeling love and affection and connection found in romantic love is not the same as having a beer.  We reject the  preposterous suggestion that only a married mother and father can raise a healthy child.  We reject the idea that being openly bigoted toward the LGBT community is in anyway associated with being Christ-like.  We reject the theory that eliminating more judgement, bigotry and hate in our society by allowing gay people to get married and yes, buy a wedding cake, will threaten others’ ability to carry out their religious freedoms.

It is not “hate the sin, love the sinner.”  That is not love.

The fact that you watch Ellen, are friends with a gay person, tolerate them at your dinner table or let them give you a hair cut does not translate into real love and acceptance.

It is not possible to “love gay people” and stand against their ability to be a normal, everyday, respected members of the community.  That is not love.

Love thy neighbor as thyself.  Do unto others.   Magnify joy.  Celebrate love.  This will not shred us, it will make us whole.

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199 thoughts on “Peeling Back Layers of Ugly: The Gay Reality

  1. A salute to you and your honesty! Beautifully spoken! I have always felt that having a Gay Son was a gift to open up my mind and soul to what the definition of LOVE really is to me! I always knew ,but worried about the society’s view, and how that could destroy his soul! When my Mother found out, and being a very religious soul, she told me she prayed for him to change or be abstinent! I replied,”how can you say you love him, but ask him to live a lonely life with no love, and wanting to be someone he is not!” Some might say having a gay child,sibling, or friend is an obstacle, but how wrong they are! They are a light that can teach every human being the true mening of relationships and love! Thank you, Megan for your insight!😘. Suzy

    • Love your comment! Thank you Suzy for opening your heart and mind to your son so he could LIVE a life we all deserve, one filled with LOVE!

    • Thanks Suzy… it is true, how having a gay family member is a precious opportunity to become more open and available to experiencing real love. It is such a gift. I have a hard time hearing family and friends declare that they love my brother but would deny him the opportunity to love and be loved.

  2. Well said, and well done for sharing your journey of transformation. I like your reference to shedding calluses because you are so right that we are taught what to think about these issues from a very young age. School yard jokes, teachers, parents, churches and governments all offer an opinion, or rule, based upon their own specific agenda. But their prejudice is not truth, nor is it reality, which is what families are dealing with when addressing this subject. I am Gay and have been through this with my own family, and addressing the sexual identity aspect is only one of many hills to climb. Some like you will make it all the way, and some struggle or are not inclined to see the truth. Some people have to take what acceptance they can get, but I am glad for your brother that you were willing put in the hard work. It is getting better. One day we will have equality, and one day it will be better understood and accepted by more people throughout society. No one chooses to be different and no one can successfully lie about who they are attracted to, and why would any society ever want them to. Great post.

    • Thanks for the kind words… I think it is generous of you to recognize the difficulty presented to people who are trying to face their prejudices. The hard work is just that… hard work, but it begins with brave people like you who are willing to stand in the face of others’ terrible behavior until the work is done. Thank you for that.

  3. This is wonderful, Megan. Absolutely wonderful. I hope many, many people will read this and LEARN from your experiences! Thank you for sharing!

  4. Thank you for sharing this. It is a gift to tell your story whole and unvarnished, the hard parts are the parts where I lean and listen even more carefully.

  5. I want to say thank you, a million times!

    It is so exciting and wonderful to read your story, your trial and understanding for your brother.

    I am in a similar situation. I grew up in a very religious family but I have known since high school that I am gay. I am currently 27 going on 28 and am still struggling with how to tell my family that I am gay. There is so much fear in coming out to them. I fear that they will shut me out, that my oldest sister and her family won’t want me to be around their 3 children who I love with all my heart, and likewise with my older brother and his 2 little boys. Over the years I’ve had to listen to my aunts, cousins, and immediate family remark on what a shame that ‘so in so’ is gay, and it just kills me inside. It’s no wonder that so many young gay people take their own life.

    My heart yearns for acceptance and understanding from my family, and my eyes weep with the worry of their response.

    You’re story even though I just stumbled upon it has been a gift to me today. I hope that your family will be a blessing and example for many other families all over. Whatever the degree of separation I hope your story can help open the views and understanding of who gay people are inside. Just someone who is searching for love, acceptance, and understanding, like everyone else.

    Tears of joy (your story) and fear (my story) run down my face as I type this. I hope the world will someday learn what it means to be accepting.

    Thank You!
    ~Jeremy

    • Jeremy, I am so moved by your comment. My stomach clenches with anxiety over your situation. To be an active part of a family, and not be fully seen is a painful injury to endure. I also feel so deeply saddened for your family, who can not benefit from knowing who you are in the fullest and most honest sense. As a parent myself, I want nothing more than to know that I truly SEE my children and that they feel more safe in my presence than anywhere else. I send you my sincere care and appreciation for what you are going through. I hope so very much that you receive the acceptance that your heart yearns for. If this does not happen for you, I hope you will seek and find other’s that will love you for exactly what you can bring to this world. We are out here, waiting to give that to you.

    • From one Jeremy to another, I offer three words of hopeful encouragement to you. First, do not be too hard on yourself for having not told your family. I remember looking at others my age who were out and being themselves with freedom feeling like I was behind the learning curve. I also remember the fear that I felt before coming out to my parents and family. In fact, I had more fear about coming out to my sister than I did my parents. I’ve been fortunate that they have all embraced me as I am, but I also recognize that not everyone is as willing to see the beauty and truth in something different. You have to be the measurer of when is the best time. Second, in realizing you aren’t alone, you will find you have more strength to face the fear than you ever knew. That does not mean that it will be easy if rejection is the outcome, but you have to truly know and believe that you are not alone and lean on those who are there to support you every step of the way. Did I mention that you are not alone? 🙂 Last, be patient with them regardless of their reaction. The thing I had to keep reminding myself through my process was that it was in fact a process. It took a few years to figure things out for myself. And even once I had found reconciliation in myself, it was another five years before I was educated to understand by the Book why that reconciliation of self was possible. Every individual has to come to the choice to either hear the truth in it’s entirety or to simply disregard the message to love unconditionally. We have to tear down the walls that we build around ourselves and let something great than us (for me, it is God) build them back up to support a life full of love and acceptance and greater knowledge. BTW, in case you’ve already forgotten, you seriously aren’t alone. You can email me anytime you just need to vent or want some extra wisdom or to hear more of my personal experience. kychristianman20@yahoo.com.

      And Megan, thank you for being an example of willingness to hear a message that goes against what we incredibly fallible humans misunderstand to be truth. I know that it was as much a growing process for you as it was your brother, and although you may argue he had it worse, I’d argue that you did. As someone who had a fight within himself, finding that reconciliation was a matter of survival. It made it easier to search for the truth and God’s acceptance easier, because I had to do it to live a life with His love and approval. You on the other hand had to make a willing choice to see beyond the surface. That took more courage and discipline than many would give you credit for. So I say with a genuine heart, you are an amazing child of God. Thank you for living up to His expectations of you, and for sharing a testimony that won’t soon be forgotten.

    • Jeremy don’t be afraid to tell your family. I know it seems like the most terrifying thing u can imagine. But once you tell them, & u no longer have to hide the biggest part of you, it feels soooo good:) & the burden u Carry is lightened significantly. Maybe it won’t be all smooth sailing, but you can do it. Sending u love & strength

  6. Thank you for writing this beautiful piece. I have never met you, but truly know your parents and have known Gardner since he was in Elementary school. I will ALWAYS love him! He must be proud to call you his sister, and to be part of such a beautiful family!

  7. I very much enjoyed reading this. Thank you for sharing! It gives me hope to know that among the Mormon church, there are people like you who have the ability to change. Sometimes it just takes a little walk on the other side. So happy to hear your family now supports and loves your brother.. Continue sharing your story and your love! This world needs more of it.

    • Thanks Alex… I think when looking at the LDS church, especially because they are so actively fighting as an organization against gay rights, it is easy to feel like it is impossible that people can change. Even after my family’s experience, I have felt this discouragement about my extended family. But I am greatly encouraged by the support groups and opinions that are being voiced all over the internet by active LDS people. There are so many that are offended by their church’s stance on the issue. The LDS church is not a safe place to voice dissent, but with online anonymity, it is great to see some people that are not just absorbing these anti-gay messages without feeling twinges of regret and the stirrings of a more empathetic and loving stance. There is hope!

      • Is this article about the LDS church or supporting your gay brother? If organized religion is part of your agenda please be sure to include Islam, Hinduism, all Christianity / Catholicism that subscribe to te teachings of the bible. Tolerance means to be tolerant as well, not just be tolerated. Was your belief in God your belief or did you just subscribe to someone else’s ideas and hadn’t had original thoughts or experiences prior to this experience? Interesting article, more interesting view points and even more interesting conviction, or lack of it, depending on personal circumstance

      • My only agenda is in supporting love. There is much to be opposed to in the world, but one person loving another should not be one of them. I speak of my personal experience in the mormon church, which is why I did not mention other religions. I have plenty of tolerance for religion. My brother being gay has no bearing on another’s religious belief. His ability to marry should not be feared or denied, as his love for another man is not a show of intolerance, or a threat to anyone. It is simply love.

      • The most important thing to remember here is that God created all of us and he loves all his children no matter what!!!! I know that if someone is feeling empty or lost because of who they are they need to look for God because once they see him they will know everything will be okay. If all the churches (not mentioning any denominations) would stop rejecting the people that are gay maybe we would have a better understanding as to why they are the way they are and be able to accept them no matter what. I think Meg what you did for your brother was priceless but also the hardest road to take, you will be blessed because your brother now lives a happy life with the family that he loves in it.

  8. Thank you for sharing your experience of you and your brother’s coming to terms with his authentic self. It is always refreshing to hear one of these stories – as there are so many of us – that never access their authentic selves. They continue to play parts. They don’t have to be straight or gay or short or tall or black or white or asian…it is just the matter of trusting one’s own uniqueness has a place in the world – and if it were not so – they would not be here to share it. It is the courage to trust the self, knowing it is the only truth.

  9. Brilliantly written, I can feel your pain and your struggle, then the joy of awakening to truth. I was your brother, and I wish I had a sister like you.

  10. thank you for posting this. Just one observation though. Did you realize that you wrote the following sentence? I think it is very telling that this sentence comes early in your post and it certainly underlines your thought process and progress, but it is still a disturbing message in an otherwise great, supportive post.

    The gossip that had been circulating in our ward in Colorado about a girl my age, who had ‘decided’ to be a lesbian, cut her hair, and ran off with another girl after high school.

    • Thanks for pointing it out.. I purposely wrote the word “decided” because that was the gossip being whispered by the people in my church. She was viewed as a sad, mixed up teenager that was making poor choices. These were the types of stories that were floating around my brother at a time when he was terrified to tell anyone about who he was. That whole “scandal” was something I felt great anxiety about as I recalled after he came out to me. Knowing he was a middle school boy at the time, hearing these whispers, knowing he was also gay. Thanks for asking for clarification.. I would not want anyone to think that was not intentionally placed to emphasize my point.

  11. Thank you so much for posting this. It touched my heart. I am a straight, former Mormon, and a supporter of LGBT rights of love, safety, and happiness. It was so encouraging to read your post. I’ve been a bit discouraged lately trying to patiently educate others about real truths of LGBTs. So it is wonderful to hear that more people like your brother are finding safety, love, and happiness. And that there is one more family who have changed their views, who are supportive and who are fighting a good fight.
    Holly Parson Nielsen

  12. Thank you for your honestly. In 2003 I came out to my Mormon Family. My mother and I have struggled for 11 years to maintain a relationship. Sometimes it has been very brutal. It has been a very slow process or a non existent process with some members of my family. You thought remind me that it is a process and some handle it faster and better than others.

    • I’m sorry to hear it’s been such a struggle. I can respect how stubborn and unwilling some family members can be in really stepping into empathy and understanding. It’s so loving of you to continue to weather the storm. Best wishes to you, and I hope you have a strong group of people in your life that do love you and see you… even if that can not be your own family right now.

  13. Simply beautiful. Thank you.

    It took time for me to understand and de-program myself. So it was only fair that I be patient with my family to understand and de-program as well. What is seldom said, is that coming out is a journey that is shared with the loved ones of LGBT. From that journey forges stronger bonds of true love and strength. Like the love and strength to proclaim this amazing post to the rest of the world, despite the naive and scared reservations of those who can only dream of possessing such family relationships.

    I applaud you, Megan. Your brother is truly blessed to have a family, like yours.

    Again, thank you.

  14. Such a beautiful post that perfectly encapsulates so many of the struggles that people go through. Reading this made me recall the day I came out to my mom, how I say on the edge of her bed, shaking like a leaf, terrified that she would hate me. It makes me wonder now how things would have gone if our conversation had been one of attempted empathy rather than “This is a temptation that you can fight.” Your beautiful brother is lucky to have a sister (also beautiful) like you. There is really nothing better than a loving family to support us in our trials. 🙂

    • Justin, I am sorry your experience was not one of empathy and healing. Obviously, being gay is not a temptation. It’s going to take brave people like you stepping into authenticity and standing tall to melt away these misconceptions… one person at a time. But it’s happening!

  15. You ARE a true Christian! Your words and reflections truly dive into the core of this issue and I wish you could go around the country speaking these words to those who are blind and cannot see. I am a lesbian. Just the word feels alien, a label, a stamp mark, a foreign concept. “Lesbian”… I have no connection even remotely to Lesbos or any part of that particular Greek mythology! I am me! I am not masculine, I don’t look like a “dyke” as they call it, I don’t hate men, I am not a hard core feminist, I have not been abused or beaten by men! I was 4 years old the first time I realized that I liked girls! It was innocent as 4 year olds usually are. At 4 years of age I felt guilty for being me!! Is THAT normal?? So I pushed it under the rug! By age 11 the guilt consumed me so I dated any boy that was willing to call me his girlfriend. We held hands and kissed. By age 13 I told my parents who were very supportive but still stated it was probably “a phase”! By age 16 I kissed a girl for the first time hoping that I would be disgusted and it all would go away and I would become “normal”! But the opposite happened, it was the absolute confirmation that I was indeed gay and that there was no turning back! I have lived with the feeling of “being less than” since I was 4 years old and I cannot fandom how a Christian-like society would do that to people like me for what spans almost 40 years of my life. I am a Christian in my heart and soul but I have heard my whole life that I cannot be a “true” Christian if I’m gay. I avoid going to church because I refuse to be part of bigotry and hate. Most of all, I refuse to be told that “it’s a choice”! The ignorance of that statement is still overwhelming to me! That any gay person would choose to disappoint their loved ones and to live life feeling “less than” by “choice”! I am a responsible citizen, a loving Christian, and a nurse! I help others for a living! I have been happily married to the love of my life for 8 years! And I refuse to be told that it’s not “normal” to be me! What is “not normal” is for discrimination, prejudice, hate and bigotry to be disguised as righteousness and to be spoken in the name if a Christ who taught the opposite if that!

    • Thanks for sharing your story here, Alexandra. I am so glad that you were able to be honest about who you are with your parents, at a young age, and that you have found love! Feeling as sense of shame about who you are throughout your formative years is a difficult thing to overcome… I have great hope that someday, this will be needless pain that other children will be spared from experiencing. I wish you well!

    • I was FB chatting with a woman in WA last week who said, “If I’d known one pastor like you, Billie, as I was growing up, life would not have been so difficult for me.” As a pastor, Alexandra, let me say, gently, firmly, and with love that, of course, YOU are a true Christian (no quotation marks needed). You know that. I know that just from the words you’ve written on the screen I’m reading. Thank you for being who you are!

  16. Painfully honest and truly appreciated. I wish your brother and all your family joy and comfort in our, hopefully, evolving world. YASAYAL-You are safe and you are loved

  17. Awesome. So many people I wish would read this, or that I pray will find themselves on the same journey to understanding as you. Thanks!

  18. Megan, what a beautiful article. The love that you showed your brother and the amazing end result of such a loving family. My biggest fear when I came out as an older adult male was the possible loss of my family….I was fortunate…their acceptance was wonderful but they never fully understood Your words go a long way showing people what true love is. Love to you and your family!!

  19. It boils down to whether God has forbidden homosexual activity or not. I didn’t see Him mentioned above. When a family member is gay the family can decide Joseph Smith didn’t see God and Jesus, and there aren’t living prophets, so that they can embrace that family member’s adoption of a homosexual lifestyle or they can decide that what they’ve always believed about God has not changed because a member is now homosexual. Obviously this post is an example of the former. I’ve seen examples of the latter where the family shows equal amounts of love, while preaching celibacy. It’s tough, no doubt about it.

    • It does not have to boil down to the truth of the mormon church, Clark. It boils down to LOVE. This was the point. Yes, my family chose to leave the mormon church. I do not think that has to be the case for every family. People can believe what they will about homosexuality and sin, but the true Christ-like behavior would be to allow others to love and be loved and leave the judgement part to God. It’s been a while since I have been in church, but I do believe that we are not supposed to judge other’s, that is not our job. In fact, that is a major tenet of christianity that is being blatantly overlooked by many. There is so much to be concerned about in the world, and one person loving another should be crossed off the list of “problems” to be solved. In addition, there is a huge, vast difference between celibacy and being gay, Clark. Deciding to not have sex is not the same thing as feeling shame over basic desire for love and affection. Being gay is not all about a sex act, just as being heterosexual is not all about a sex act. We are talking about LOVE. The same love I hope you share or will share in your life with another person. Suggesting homosexuals should be celibate reveals a serious lack of empathy and understanding of one’s own human need to find love and connection.

    • “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

      So tell us, which commandment does prohibitions on homosexuality hang on?

  20. As A mother of a gay son I appreciate your openness and honesty. Hopefully the more we can talk about these”real people” the more others will begin to truly love and understand.

  21. I have not been so moved upon reading a blog as I was today as I read yours! Devouring it and so completely amazed at the beauty and grace and utter honesty with which you shared your story and your brothers story. I bawled like crazy once finished because I have always said this is how it should be! This is where we all need to get to and I am so incredibly grateful your brother stood vigilantly by as you continued to question your beliefs! Love is love after all! I thank you from the bottom of my big HAPPY heart! Many blessings to you and yours! I am sharing this blog with EVERYONE I know, it needs to be out there! Peace. Sincerely Beth

      • You bet! They are easy to write when I feel a kindred spirit 🙂 I have been busy sharing this blog wildly with everyone I know and on FB and twitter! Everyone in the world needs to read these words and begin to question their beliefs as you did. Big love to you!

  22. Thank you, Megan, for writing this. After I came out, I told my daughter, who was about 10 at the time, in much the same way as you told your children about your brother. One day, we were traveling to visit my nephew and his wife who had just had a new baby. My new BF was with us. My daughter had been unusually quiet — turns out she was worried how we were going to “explain” my BF. Once she realized the explanation was a simple as what I had told her, she relaxed and was fine. We all had a great time celebrating the new baby.

    What Megan has said here — it really is that simple, folks.

    Anybody that says it isn’t, doesn’t know better, or is afraid, or most commonly (in my experience) try reduce our relationships to a single physical act that can’t really be explained to children.

    • So true! Adults are making it so much more complicated than it needs to be… kids are the true examples of how simple love and acceptance can be. A question… a clarification… a hug… and onward.

  23. This is so so very true….I would hope that every family including my own including friends read this so they to gain an understanding of how someone feels not being accepted because they are different from others in loving someone they truly love.
    I have one sister who ever since I came out to my family has never once treated me as if I were different and has accepted my marriage to my husband 100%. I know some of my family tends to try to accept me but I feel in my heart they truly don’t.
    For so long I have wanted to be able to walk into my LDS ward holding my husband’s hand like other families do. I have known I was gay from as long as I can remember. I gained a testimony of my faith when I was 14 years old after having tried committing suicide and because of the love of a total stranger placing my name on the temple prayer roll because she saw my Mother crying in the elevator of the hospital when I was being prepped for surgery due to a blood clot on my lungs. Needless to say, within a matter of a few hours my surgery was cancelled because I no longer needed the surgery. I wish I knew who this lady was because I would give her a hug and thank her from the bottom of my heart for her act of kindness to a total stranger.

    • Jimmy, thanks for sharing. I am so sorry you felt such pain, you tried to end your life. I know that many, many others do the same thing. Rejection and shame are such dark and heavy burdens. I am relieved to hear that you are married and happy! It’s tough that your relationship will not be accepted in LDS culture. But there are so many safe places where you will be loved and accepted and welcomed! I am not sure if the LDS church will ever fully evolve to that degree… But I do hope they will at least stop actively fighting against the LBGT community and become more protective of their youth… who are in great danger of turning to suicide as a means of ending their pain. Good luck to you and your husband!

  24. There are so many people who need to read this. Thank you, thank you, thank you for sharing. My hope is that one day every person will come to the same realization you have. What a beautiful discovery. It seems as though this whole experience actually brought you closer to God. Amen to that.

  25. I grew up gay and Southern Baptist (still recovering from that) and saw your article shared on facebook. I’ve shared it and it’s already been shared off my wall. 🙂

    Words can convey my thanks to you. You will save lives, and families with your words. My mom and step dad accepted me and thats all that mattered. Sadly I’ve lost my brother because of his bigoted wife, but life goes on and maybe some day that will change.

    Thank you.

    • Ray, thanks for sharing! I am so glad to hear that your mom and step dad have been loving and accepting. Sorry that your brother is not in that same space right now. Good luck on your healing journey!

    • Hey Ray, as a Recovering Southern Baptist myself, and as a person who avoided any religion for thirty years as a result, I learned that the American Baptist Churches USA – Evergreen Chapter are gay affirming. Not just “tolerant” but actively affirming. Indeed, the pastor of First Baptist Church in Seattle IS gay! And as I said on another post on here, when the BAPTISTS start to get it that love is love, perhaps there is hope that the rest of the world will follow suit!

  26. You had me up to the walking out of the Mormon faith. I am LDS, I have family members and friends who belong to the LGBTQ community. I love and support them fully. I have never felt the need to cure them or pray for their soul. Neither have I ever been taught in church to love anyone less than with all I have for any reason. In fact, I have been shown by stake presidents to love and fellowship all (even LGBTQ). I am sorry you had that experience. I am glad you and your family are happy. I just wish that you hadn’t experienced that with your ward. I am actually a sinner and my branch loves and accepts me.

    • Amiee, I am glad that you took the time to read my post… I do not doubt that your branch and stake presidents talk of love and acceptance. I heard the same messages when I was an active member. I am writing of my experience to point out some of the discrepancies that exist between pledging love and support, and allowing them legal right to marry. I hope in your declaration that you love and accept the LBGTQ community, you also supporting their right to marry and have children, and encourage relationships rather than celibacy. If this is the kind of support you are offering, it is born of real love and acceptance and genuine empathetic understanding, and I applaud you and hope that there will be more LDS people like you, willing to stand up for the rights of others.

  27. This is a great article. Unfortunately, at the end, you show you still have a way to go before you have worked on all of your prejudices. You write “We reject the idea that being gay is like be an alcoholic.” I would argue, as would any person in the treatment community, that alcoholism and drug addictions are not a choice, either. They are as much defined by physical predispositions as homosexuality is.

    I am not Mormon, nor am I affiliated with any religious community. I have never felt it was unnatural to be homo-sexual. I would also like to point out the Mormons are far from being unique in their view of homosexuality, and not all Mormons believe it the churches stance is correct.

    I am glad you came to accept your brother, and that your family followed suit.

    • Hi Cheri… thanks for reading. I would agree that I am far from being perfectly free from prejudice or misconception. Life is constantly challenging me to open more and be more loving. I would also agree that alcoholism is not a choice. I used that as an example because it is a common argument used in the christian community… the idea that like an alcoholic must abstain from alcohol, a gay person must abstain from sex.

      I recognize that mormons are far from unique… I am well aware that prejudice is everywhere, and I acknowledge that there are individual mormons that do not agree with the official LDS church’s stand against gay marriage. I am writing with the hope that information will move and shift those people who still need help in understanding that there is nothing to fear in love… by sharing the steps I went through in shifting my own perspective.

    • Just a (hopefully helpful) note. I am both gay and a recovering addict. Addiction isn’t a choice, but it is a pathology. Recovery is a choice an addict can make to heal, and it is a lifelong commitment. There is no pathology inherent in homosexuality, and it is not a choice.

  28. Amazing! Thank you so much. My boyfriend and I were almost crying. We wish everyone could understand like you do- especially my boyfriends parents. What you have expressed is love. It is. Not the shallow love members of any faith think they are giving to us. We truly felt it. We send you all our love, light and happiness in your direction! Thank you again! 🙂

  29. Suzy,
    I came out to my family over 23 years ago and we are just now having full on open conversations.
    I would like to share this poem.

    You See Mee
    You do not see me
    because you choose
    not to deal with the truth.
    It is better that I live
    with telling a constant lie,
    So, that you will not have
    to face the truth.
    You see my pain but
    because you choose
    not to deal with the truth,
    I will continue to live a lie.
    You hear the rumors and
    you know you could make
    my life burden easier,
    but because you choose
    not to deal with the truth
    I will continue to live a lie.
    You know I am different,
    but because you choose
    not to deal with the truth
    I will continue to live a lie.
    It embarrasses you
    because you really do
    see me for who
    I am.
    I am your son or daughter.
    Please help me to stop the lie.
    Don’t let me die
    a senseless death.
    I want to be loved for who
    GOD created me to be.
    I am me and
    You see me.

    Thank you,
    Tish Correa

  30. It is not possible to love someone and at the same time not care whether or not they are choosing to engage in a destructive lifestyle. That is not love.

    • It is very important to recognize that human sexuality is not a lifestyle. If you are a heterosexual person, you do not label your attraction to the opposite sex as a “lifestyle.” There is no difference in how they experience their sexuality. The easiest way to think about this is to look back on your own life, and pin point the moments where you chose the lifestyle of a heterosexual… you will recognize that it was not a conscious choice, but a natural part of your human development. There is nothing destructive about love. A homosexual relationship has all the potential to be incredible, giving and powerfully positive… as well as dangerous, unhealthy, or destructive. This holds true for ALL relationships. When two people find love, it is a winning situation for everyone. Please challenge yourself to define what it is you believe is inherently destructive about a loving relationship. It’s so important to go beyond these phrases that are harmful and meaningless.

  31. Thank you, so much, for sharing your struggle, and your brother’s, and your family’s. And for sharing your joy too. Because these are all our struggles, to remove whatever keeps us from sharing that big good love that is our birthright, from partaking of that joy. Blessings to you and yours. Thank you.

  32. Thank you, so much, for sharing your struggle, and your brother’s, and your family’s. And for sharing your joy too. Because these are all our struggles, to remove whatever keeps us from sharing that big good love that is our birthright, from partaking of that joy. Blessings to you and yours. Thank you.

  33. Just loved your piece that you wrote. I want to tell you and your family Hooray! Hooray for seeing that love is love! I live in Utah and my pastor was that guy with the rainbow stole and the gigantic grin who was marrying gay people right and left at the Salt Lake County Marriage License Office for those few days that gay marriage was allowed in Utah. I cannot imagine what it would be like to grow up in a church that rejects so much, all the while positing love. And btw, that pastor? He’s Curtis Price, pastor of First Baptist Church, Salt Lake City. So, if even the BAPTISTS get it – well, it’s it about time for the rest of the world? Bless you for your honesty and the phrase “peeling away layers” – it’s a good one. You have created more empathy in me for those who are struggling to accept love in all forms today. Thank you.

  34. Megan, this is an excellent piece and I really connect with your brother’s struggle. I love that you wrote this because many people may benefit from understanding that young gay lives are often SAVED because of one sympathetic [straight] family member – just one: a sister, an uncle, a cousin. (The basketball player Jason Collins testifies to this when talking about his aunt.) i’m thrilled your brother is happy and alive and oh my so beautiful. If he’s single we should talk 😉

  35. So, you used to be bigoted towards gays, and now you are bigoted towards Mormons. Well done? I guess your love doesn’t encompass those you don’t agree with, which is the problem you seem to have with the Mormons. I am not religious, but it can’t stand bigotry of any kind and your words are very hateful.

    • Millie,
      It is clear you totally completely missed the point of the entire posting by Megan. I guess I could repeat your sarcastic comment of “Well done?” What, in her words were hateful Millie? I don’t see any hatred on her part. What I did see was her calling out the Mormon church for how they’ve treated her brother and other gay people by extension. That is all, nothing more. Not unlike at all what Jesus did in calling out the Pharisees and Saducees of his time. And unfortunately most of the loudest,angriest, most strident Christian voices out there sound more like Pharisees and Saducees than anything else.

  36. Thank you Meg so much for sharing your story. So many of the negative messages that we’re told about gay people would lead us to believe that they’re some kind of aliens spawned from some hatchery in San Francisco with the evil intent of destroying society and the world.

    In reality, they’re human. They’re just like everyone else, with hopes, dreams, fears, needs, and the same capability to love and commit as anyone else. It is merely our desires to push them outside of the bounds of society, that maybe we shouldn’t be surprised when they (or any human being in that situation) acts outside of the bounds of society.

    You realize that your brother is just like you. He is no different from the man you grew up with, that you came to know and love.

    When I hear of biblical prohibitions of homosexuality, it’s important to remember that the bible has hundreds of prohibitions on acts of -heterosexuality- as well. It doesn’t mean all heterosexuality is wrong. But Christ tells us, “’‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.”

    Clearly, acts such as rape or coercion are clearly a sin. But to love and to commit to each other, these acts are never a sin. The advice for a nomadic tribe trying to keep up their numbers, the prohibitions on pork, shellfish, homosexuality (considered at the time a form of idol worship), etc., they are not advice for a planet bursting with 7 billion people. Christ died to give us a new covenant: Love God. Love your fellow man. Our understanding of the human experience tells us that is the way God created each and every one of us with that capability, and that includes you and your brother.

    Thank you for taking the time to walk a mile in your brother’s shoes. He is all the more enriched because of it!

    • I should add that my own coming out to my sister and family was emotional, and I experienced the same paralyzing fears your brother did, only 10 years earlier. Being truthful with myself lead to agnosticism, but not quite towards being an atheist. 12 years of Catholic catechism will never truly leave you. 🙂 But in a good way. I took with me the positive teachings of the church, but to be honest – my parents taught me good from bad and right from wrong and that is all anyone really needs to understand true love and empathy, as you so eloquently put it. All the best to you and your family.

  37. What a beautifully written article! As the mother of a gay son, and a transgender MtoF child, I found the story of your journey very moving. I was raised Mormon as well, but chose to not raise my children in any religion long before my son’s came out to who they are. My gay son is married to the most amazing partner, and has been out to us for at least 10 years. My Trans child, it’s only been 10 months, and we totally accept and respect her feelings and life journey. At 24 though, I just wish we’d have known sooner. I had a personal experience with Christ many years ago, and it was overwhelmingly full of acceptance, non judgement, and love, and that is my measure for truth. You exude that spirit of love, and I have tried to do the same with all my children as well, and simply accept them for who they are, and came into the world to be. I have 5, and all are unique and different, and much loved and accepted. I have shared this on Facebook, and may lose friends over it, which is OK. The type of friends I want are the type that love unconditionally, and don’t judge what they may not understand.

    • Amazing Annie! I love hearing how safe and loved your kids are in your family. I know that my mother also regrets not knowing sooner about my brother… I think that as the world changes and opens, children will be more and more free to simply BE who they are. What a wonderful thing to be a part of it all. Much love to you!

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