Coming Out / SpillSesh Interviews

#SpillSesh: Anti-LGBTQ Families – Pt. 2, Outed by Siblings, Kicked Out, and the Black Church

This has been a #SpillSesh I have been meaning to do for a very long time. Ever since creating my page and blog, I regularly receive a stream of private messages, particularly from young and international followers, struggling with anti-LGBTQ families. They often ask me how to deal with the fear of retribution for coming out, or for those who already have, how to pick up the pieces and (quite literally) survive. While I can offer my best advice, I think it is crucial to hear from members of the community who have gone through these exact circumstances and how they are dealing. In Part 2, we hear from an anonymous, but loyal follower…

  1. How old are you and where are you from? I am 29, turning 30. I grew up in NY, but I was born in Oklahoma. I am currently living in Colorado.
  2. Are you currently out as LGBTQ+?  If so, for how long and to whom? I am out and proud. I came out at the age of 16 to my mother and brother…so I’ve been out for nearly 14 years.
  3. Are you currently out to your family as LGBTQ+?  If so, to what extent? I am fully out to my entire family.
  4. How did you come out to your family, and if not, why are you avoiding it? I came out twice. My brother that was living with my mother and I came home from college, went through my computer files and found gay porn. He then deleted everything and proceeded to angrily out me to my mother. The next year I confided in another sibling that asked me if I was gay. He told me it would remain between the two of us and that I could trust him. He instead told my entire family. Later, I was taken to a room with my family and extended family standing around me crying, talking down to me, threatening me, as well as physically abusing me.
  5. If you did come out to your family, how did they react? My mother forced me to move across the country immediately before my senior year of high school.  She wanted me to live with my grandfather, for a masculine influence. I was too gay for him and was in-between three family homes that school year. I was physically and mentally abused, including but not limited to being punched, chocked and starved to the point where I considered suicide. My grandfather found out about my suicidal thoughts and told me that the family would easily have a funeral, a nice meal and move on if I were to die. He also shared that he would rather have cancer than have me as a grandson.
  6. What do you think your family’s main issue is with your sexuality? Religion…Christianity…particularly, the Black Church.
  7. Do you think anything will ever change how they feel about your sexuality? I do not. It was made very clear, even just a few months ago that I am an embarrassment to my mother. Whenever I think times are progressing, a member in my family is very clear to inform me that my sexuality is the culprit for a lack of unity in the family and that my lifestyle will cause me to burn for eternity.
  8. Do you have any pro-LGBTQ+ allies in your family that can help the situation?  If so, did you try to use them and what happened? Unfortunately, no. I have quite a large family and they all hold the same beliefs. There are a couple of family members I can confide in for life issues other than about my sexuality. It’s not incredibly helpful, but it’s more than having absolutely no support in my family.
  9. How does your family’s perception of your sexuality impact you day to day? Much of my 20’s was consumed with anxiety that I would not have a home if some unfortunate circumstance overcame me. There was a time I was homeless and a college friend saved me from living on the streets. I am far better today, but I must admit that I am envious of fellow queer people when they are embraced by their families or society. I swear being gay and black in America leaves one with very few support options. What does one do when their family does not want them, when the LGBT community is harsh and not inclusive and when academia does not value one’s intelligence because of race? Don’t get me started on unhelpful therapists…The constant spiral of being an outcast is enough to make someone lose faith in humanity.
  10. Has your family’s reaction to your sexuality resulted in you creating an alternate family for support? I have an alternate family that I’ve built over the years. Because college takes me all over the country, I am very far away from every one of them at this current point in time. They are my life and I would not be alive without them today.
  11. Do you care anymore about how your family feels about your sexuality? No, and yes. No, because I am very comfortable with my sexuality, but it does still hurt to not have a family in my corner simply because I love men.
  12. What advice would you give yourself on how to deal with this situation based on what you know now? My advice to myself would have been to consider moving away from home before my life was uprooted and moved across the country. There’s great power and growth in making large life decisions on our own. I would also want to tell myself over and again, “it won’t be easy, but love your sexuality and skin color even if no one else will. What causes adversity now will eventually teach inclusion and love.”
  13. What advice would you give another LGBTQ+ person struggling with an unaccepting family? I’ve dealt with this issue many times. I tell other LGBTQ+ people that they have a loving family in me. I mean that in every way. If they need a place to stay, food or anything that I can provide, I will do my best to show them that they are loved and accepted.
  14. Any coping advice, particularly, for young readers who still rely on their families for financial support and have no option? My advice is to come out ONLY when and if you feel comfortable. We have our entire lives ahead of us and we deserve to have the choice of when to come out. I was outed and never got that chance. If you need financial assistance from your family and know they are not  particularly supportive of LGBTQ+ people, I would withhold from coming out. There is no badge of honor from coming out, so make sure you will be safe and supported when you come out. Also, if you are not able to come out, please respect other openly LGBTQ+ people. Love them, do not hate them for living their truth openly.

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