Date: October 02, 2016 09:54PM
My eldest sister..... She is the oldest child in my family. 7 years older than me. She was like a rock star in my eyes. She is beautiful, stylish, over the top talented, fun, and interesting. One of those sparkling personalities that everyone wants to be around. She was always the star of the dance team. Everything she touched seemed to turn to gold. And she always had time for me, little, invisible, inconsequential, me. She would let me hang out in her room. She never told me to get lost when she had friends around. When I had important projects in high school, I knew she would help me with them, and because of her, they would turn out amazing. The most incredibly kind and thoughtful person you’ve ever met. She was always willing to stand up for anyone being picked on. She would tell me stories about when she was in grade school. Stories about the fat smelly boy on the bus that the other kids would make fun of, except for her. She would make sure to sit by him on the bus every day. She would get after the other kids when they weren’t being kind. She was always the one to stand up for others. Sister absolutely hated bullies. I very much idolized her. I was the luckiest kid to have her as my sister. I knew she always had my back, and I would always have hers. So why don’t I talk to her at all anymore? Why are things so strained between us now? Why does it feel like she has become my own personal bully? After all she has done for me? Which is a lot. She practically single handedly planned and executed my wedding. And it was glorious. Ironically, it was one of the best days of my life. But relationships are complicated. People are complicated. Life is complicated. She has become the Hilly Holbrook to my Skeeter. See, Sister has a huge distain for gay people. And maybe it just feels this way to me, but she especially seems to distain lesbians.
As a child, I was the lovable little tom boy. As I got older, instead of smiles and validation for my boyish ways, I started receiving forms of disapproval for it. Not just from Sister, but from my family and society in general. It was the 90’s and coming to terms with the fact that I was gay, was beyond terrifying for me. But like I said, It was the 90’s, and that meant that gay people were starting to be more open. People, who before you just wondered about, were coming out and being proud. And the overall disgust and disapproval from within my own family and especially my church, was clear. That gym teacher we all wondered about in Jr High? Oh yeah, turns out she was a total lesbian. So when I was in high school, and someone told me and Sister about how this teacher had recently passed away from cancer, Sister’s response was, “Good. I don’t doubt for a second that God took her because she was gay.” That shocked me. I knew that the general consensus was that AIDS was Gods punishment for those living the ungodly homosexual lifestyle. But this wasn’t some random drug addicted, promiscuous gay person who died of aids. This was Ms Adams. My jr high P.E. teacher, and track coach. I couldn’t believe God would kill her because she was gay. I was already frightened by the fact that I might be gay. Comments like this left me feeling a need to prove that I wasn’t. I would NOT be one of the sick perverted freaks that EVERYONE in my life was disgusted by. I would prove that I was a good normal person...... that I was one of them! Yet every time I heard anything about gay people it felt oddly directed at me. Like some sort of covert message/warning that gay people were NOT accepted, so I better not even think about it. And the comments from Sister seemed especially so. She seemed to have a special loathing for lesbians. The venom that seemed to spew forth whenever she said the word d*ke, never failed to terrify me. But as I became a young adult, I couldn’t deny it to myself anymore. As I worked to make sense of myself, and sense of my own beliefs, part of me wanted to be able to be a lesbian. I wanted it to be ok. I wondered and hoped that the world was working towards a better understanding and acceptance of homosexuality, and that God was getting ready to clear things up in the church and let his followers know that it was ok with him….. That, some day, I would be able to have a girlfriend, and it would just be normal. I studied and read everything about homosexuality that I could. Especially anything within a Mormon context. During this time I found a series of fictional mysteries that had a lesbian as the main character. I knew I could never be caught dead reading these books, but I never planned on getting caught. I didn’t feel like there was anything wrong with reading them, but part of me knew that if anyone found out, it would be like getting caught looking at p*rn*graphy, maybe even worse. I read a lot, so seeing me with my nose in a book was the norm. There really wasn’t anything telling about the book, and I knew if anyone asked, I could just say that it was a mystery novel. That is why I was dumb enough to think that it would be fine to sit and read it in the bath tub.
I grew up in one of those families where there was no such thing as privacy. Someone’s in the tub having a bath? Sweet, let’s all go in and visit them. There was literally no lock on our bathroom door. So when I was laying there in the tub, and I heard that newly married oldest Sister had come over, I admit I got pretty nervous about it. But here I was neked in the tub. There was nowhere to hide the book, and I knew her first stop after entering the house would be to come in and chat with me in the tub. My best hope was to just hold on to the book, and if she asked about it at all, to just give the least amount of info possible. “oh it’s just a mystery series….. not that great….. no, I don’t really recommend it.” So when she walked in and snatched it right out of my hands, I almost sh!% myself. I can not begin to express the amount of fear and panic that I was experiencing in that moment. Any gay person that has lived deeply in the closet, knows the somewhat irrational fear of being outed. It was what I feared more than anything! She innocently grabbed the book out of curiousity, so she could read the back cover while she went to the bathroom. I lay there in the tub hardly able to breath. I knew it the second she realized the main character was a lesbian. I could feel it in the energy in the room. She didn’t say anything. She sat the book down and finished her business and left. My body literally broke out in hives. I finished my bath as fast as I could and retreated downstairs to my bedroom. I had no idea what to expect. What was going to happen now? Was she up there telling my mom? Were they planning some kind of confrontation? I needed to get a hold of myself, but all I could do was bawl. I needed to come up with a plan. I would tell her that I checked the book out before I realized it was about a lesbian, and I wasn’t even going to finish it anyway. I would reassure her that, NO way, I was NOT a lesbian. It’s not like I had ever done anything gay with a girl anyway. I would assure her that I knew it was wrong, and had NO intentions of ever being gay!..... but I had to get a hold of myself. If anyone saw how upset I was, they would know! The clock ticked away, and nothing happened. I could tell my mom was up in her room, and that Sister was up in the kitchen. I just stayed down in my room. Maybe Sister would just ignore it and move on? Then there she was, at the top of the stairs, yelling down to me. “Sister, I’m making sandwiches for lunch. Do you want one?” OK, she was being normal, but somehow I could still sense it hanging in the air. I couldn’t let her see how emotional I was. With as much composure as I could, I called back, “no thanks, I already ate.” (which was a lie, I was starving) Oh please, please let this be the end of it……. Just as that thought went through my head, she called out, “Are you sure you don’t want a TUNA SANDWICH?”I did not imagine the taunting, sarcastic tone, in which she said, tuna sandwich! And then she started to laugh hysterically. Sh!%, sh!%, sh!%! What was I going to do? I wanted to die. I needed to die! I couldn’t become this fu@%ed up, confused, misguided, troubled person that I was obviously about to become, in the eyes of everyone I knew! No! That wasn’t who I was. I was the faithful little molly Mormon girl that read her scriptures and prayed every day, so sincerely. I was going to school studying child development, so that I could go into something that would be flexible for being a stay at home wife and mother! I was trying to decide if I should go on a mission! What would happen when people found out that part of me wanted to be a lesbian!?! So what happened then, you ask? Well nothing really happened. I stayed hunkered down in my room for the rest of the day. At least until Sister left.
I really have no idea if she ever mentioned it to anyone. Knowing my sister, I’m betting she did. Perhaps not right away, but it would have come out at a time, with my mom or other sister, for sure her husband, when she had a beef with me for any reason. She would pull it out of her arsenal, as some kind of past character witness against me. But for the time, life just continued. I never brought it up, and made sure never to disagree with her whenever she made any demeaning comments about D*kes. Which now she seemed to really make a point of doing in front of me, making sure I received regular unspoken warnings.
As time went on, I really dug into the church. I served my mission, and was proving myself to her and others, including God. She had her family. My beloved nieces and nephews, who I felt were part mine. My family was my life. My mom and sisters were the main extent of my social life. I’m the type of person that only needs a few close people, and these were my people. I followed the script I was given, and I believed in it. The church made people’s lives better, and I knew it was better for me to live the Gospel, and follow Jesus. It definitely made my relationship with my mom and sisters better.
As a gay believing Mormon, you don’t talk about gay related issues. You feel like you are the only one who ever existed, and as you look around at all the members at church, you know they would all be shocked if they suspected at all that you were gay. Only passive aggressive tactics were ever employed by Sister, when it came to the gay issue. So I’m not positive of where exactly she stands, although it’s with the church. But weather that means she thinks that gay people choose to be gay, or that they just have “tendencies” that God forbids them to act on, I can’t really say for sure. But one thing is for sure, she sure seemed to attract gay people in her life. From the sweet little neighbor boy who latched on to her and her family, to the mullet wearing loner lady that thoughtful Sister made a point to befriend and sit with every Sunday, to one of her husband’s old random high school friends that decided she was his new best friend. She was always kind to them. But it always seemed contingent. As long as they never acknowledged their s*xuality, as long as they followed her unspoken rules of what she deemed acceptable. And it didn’t stop her from talking behind their backs. Yes sister is kind and thoughtful. She is the nicest lady you’ve ever met. Treats people as if they are the best friend she has ever had. But let’s be honest. Sister loves to talk. As nice and kind as she is to peoples faces, she does not hold back when it comes to her opinions about them behind their backs.
Sister also hates being disagreed with. It is not fun when you are the one who is caught in her crossfire! And I remember vividly when her beloved neighbor boy did just that. He was Sisters little side kick. Always with her, helping her clean and decorate her house, and helping her take care of her little growing family. He spent more time with Sister at her house, than he did at his own house, or with friends his own age. He was a handy little side kick. He was even welcome on family trips down to the cabin. One such trip, I guess sister accidently came across the fact that her sidekick masterbated. This is a delicate subject for Mormons. Let’s be honest, ANYTHING at all to do with sex or sexuality is a delicate subject for Mormons. The fact that people have libido's, (especially men), seemed to really anger my Sister. People that acknowledged their sexuality were akin to cereal killers, in her eyes. As nice, and fun, and kind as my sister was, there was always that part of her that was scary. That part you knew never to cross, because she would turn on you in a heartbeat. And in a way, that had just happened with her sidekick. She didn’t waste any time confiding this very personal and private information with me, my Mom, and our other Sister. She desired solidarity in her disgust and condemnation of him. It was obvious to anyone, that this kid was most likely gay. However that was never ever mentioned, or brought up with us. Yet he had just done something that put him on my Sisters naughty list, and whatever loyalties or bonds he had with my sister seemed to mean nothing as she callously talked about him as if he was a dangerous stranger. She blurted out, “do you think he is gay?” to me, as if deciding how deep the levels of his wickedness lay. As if the priority at hand here was figuring out exactly how much of her condemnation he warranted. I understood what it meant to have Sister turn on you. This wasn’t the first time I’d seen it. But when she blurted out that question, “do you think he is gay?”. I knew that she had that same question about me, ready and loaded, for when I crossed her in a way she disapproved of.
I always believed in the church though. I had my shelf, like most people, but ultimately I just trusted…… Until I read about the Book of Abraham issue. Down the rabbit hole I went, and there was simply no going back. I don’t feel like I lost my faith. I feel like I had my faith ripped out from under me. It was devastating. Sister made it even more so. This was a very lonely and difficult time for me. I’m a very private person in general. I understood the disappointment, disagreement, and disapproval that my believing loved ones would have towards me. I simply could not, in good conscious, wear my garments anymore. To me, they symbolized things that I knew were not true. I could no longer bring myself to put them on my body, but I continued to wear clothes that wouldn’t give it away. That meant shorts that went over my knees, and shirts that covered my shoulders. How did Sister react? It was like watching a blood hound pick up a scent. Unwilling to let it go. Sister got wind that I was no longer wearing my garments, and also that I had been reading “anti mormon” books. This was simply too much for her to mind her own business over. Immediately she started trying to prod me. And it happened in very passive aggressive ways. She first noticed my lack of garments on a trip down to our family cabin. She also noticed that I was reading a big thick book about church history. (Rough Stone Rolling) She immediately started grilling me about the book. Who wrote it? Were they members? And she started snooping through my stuff as if trying to catch me in the act of reading something "anti". Later that trip we were watching, Downton Abbey. A guilty pleasure my mom and sisters, and I shared. That's when she shared with me how glad she was that the Writers made Thomas such an unlikable character, since he was gay and all. It was like she could sense that my devotion to the church was weakening, and.... and... what am I trying to say here?.... that she felt the need to make sure that I knew that she knew that the reason I wasn't a lesbian was because of my faith in the church, and that I better be careful?....It was definitely one of her cloaked warnings.
A few weeks later, we were at a 4th of July parade with our families. It was super hot and we were trying to find some relief in the shade of a parked RV. It felt planned. Sister suddenly starts in on people who are Democrats. How they could not be good believing members of the church, and also vote Democrat. “Mark my word’s, It won’t be long until Bishops have to deny people their temple recommends for supporting gay marriage. The way the world is going, the Lord is really going to have to crack down on this one.” Although there were hearty agreements from my husband, and mom, I knew that this was all meant for me. I could only bring myself to walk away. She was trying to have this conversation with me. She was trying to give me one of her warnings. She kept trying to get me alone. It was killing her not to be in the know about what was going on with me, and so she was purposely trying to stir things up and try and draw me out. That, or else trying to scare me back in line.
About a week later we were having lunch at her house with my mom and all the kids. She followed me into the kitchen and confronted me. I refused to take the bait with all of her passive aggressive attempts, and she wasn’t going to beat around the bush anymore. I should have expected it, but it still caught me off guard. It turned into a huge argument about me being led astray by Satan. I gathered my kids and left. Things have never been the same between us. Her oldest son, (a closet atheist) texted me soon after, telling me how his mom was on a week long rant about how I had been led astray because of sin. I’m not sure what sin she was referring to. But I do have a feeling that she thinks that I had been doing “gay” things, and that is why satan got to me, and I no longer believed in Mormonism.
And of course there was the incredulous law passed legalizing gay marriage. I got to spend all of the holidays listening about it. She could not agree hard enough with my dad, about the absurdity of letting gay people get legally married.
So now after being led astray by Satan, into leaving the church, I have come out as a lesbian to my family, announcing that my husband and I are separated and planning on getting divorced. See kids…. These are the dangers of leaving the church. I simply can’t bring myself to be around my Sister or my family right now. And to be honest, I’m not sure I ever will. There is too much baggage, and too much hurt for me right now. I know the gossip that has gone on behind my back, and showing up to family functions and playing politely along, just to be discussed behind my back later isn’t something I can handle. It's hard to let go. I spent my life trying to prove that I could do it. That I could follow God. Trying to reassure everyone that no, I wasn't gay, or at least I never would be. I was a good little Mormon girl. I don't enjoy knowing that most everyone I've ever known thinks that I have been led astray.But the church isn't true. And I know it. My fears of being outed have all been realized. And now the lesson I have to learn, is to just let all that go. ( cue the Frozen theme song)