By Kate Kane
I haven’t spoken to my parents for two weeks.
Not since I slammed my cell phone down, filled with despair, anger, and disgust after our last argument.
It was a stupid thing, really: a misunderstanding. But their prerequisites for reconciliation are so stringent. I must admit to malice and deceit, to hating my family, and I cannot admit to what is not true.
They view my relationships with my siblings with suspicion. I am backslidden and corrupt, prey to every whim and desire, they tell me, so when I am with my siblings, I am an open door through which evil can walk in and destroy the family.
After a few days of jumping in fear every time I hear my phone ring or see a new email notification, I realize that my feelings of grief, anger, and isolation are a preview for the probable state of my emotions after I come out to my family.
If they think I am a damaging influence while they still consider me to be straight, how much worse will it be after I tell them I’ve always liked people of all gender identities? I can hear their voices now: my father’s, strained with anger and a tinge of disgust, my mother’s, choked with fear for my eternal salvation and for the safety of the rest of the family.
I know the accusations that will fly: I am a godless pervert. The only steps below me on the sexual perversion food chain are bestiality, pedophilia, and necrophilia. I am the cause of various examples of relational dysfunction and sexual temptation in my family.
And then they will tell the rest of my extended family, and I will become a pariah. Sometimes, at the few family gatherings I am invited to, one of my cousins will come up to me with a too-bright smile and force the small talk until she feels she has done her missionary duty, and then I’ll be left alone.
But the thing that will hurt perhaps more than anything else is how my father will take this new knowledge about this part of my identity, and use it as the thread that binds everything together. With my sexual orientation, he can explain every fault of mine, every sin I’ve ever committed, every perceived instance of rebellion and disrespect.
It means he’ll never have to take responsibility for any part of our failed relationship. It means he can put all our family’s sins upon my head and cast me out into the desert, where I will wander until I die, too far away to ever corrupt my siblings again.