For Bisexual Awareness Week, I have a series of guest posts scheduled every day leading up to Monday the 23rd. Buckle up for some bi visibility!
This post, from an anonymous author, tells the story of their Catholic upbringing, and how this has impacted the relationship with their parents as they came to realize their bisexuality. (Read all posts in the series here.)
Every Sunday, my parents would come into my room and say, “we are going to be late for church!”
I was expected to dress nicely, not ask why, and get in the car to head to the small stone structure downtown. Here, we were supposed to listen while we sat, stood, knelt, sat, stood, knelt–until at least an hour had gone by and we’d go home. We rarely talked about the service unless my parents didn’t like something about it. Sometimes the Father would say something about being nice and forgiving to people who aren’t like us and my parents would grumble afterwards while I hid a small smile on my heart. Sometimes an unfamiliar Father would speak instead, and remind us of our sins and to not live as such sinners. My parents wouldn’t speak a word as I swallowed hard and clenched my jaw. Eventually, I went off to college and nearly stopped going to church all together. I had already decided, before going away, that Catholicism wasn’t for me.
I would occasionally go to a nondenominational church with my very dedicated Christian roommate. That church had a real community. People cared for each other deeply, talked extensively on their feelings about the service, and shared their own connection to God. Overall, I liked it more than the old churches I attended. This congregation often talked about helping sinners and loving those who are different from themselves. Though I wasn’t even sure of a “God” existing (and I’m still not), I thought that the way they worshiped meant more.
During my final year away before having to move back in with my parents (Spring 2019), I was home for Easter and went with my mother to an extra mass (she insisted). It was a new church, still Catholic, that I hadn’t been to yet. She said that she liked this church better now. During the service, I grew so angry that I held back tears nearly the entire time. This new church, that my dear mother preferred, outwardly condemned all sinners to be socially cast out during this Easter season. This Father talked of sinners being locked out of holy places in his metaphorical story. He especially called out the LGBTQ+ community. I tried to subtly look around at the congregation and was stricken with deep disgust to find that almost every single person was nodding along in agreement to his words. I suddenly felt, more than ever, that I was an intruder sitting in on the lessons of a twisted cult.
Only a couple years ago, I overheard my father saying something that clings to me like a parasite. It echoes in my head painfully often.
I still hear his voice saying, “I mean, I can get being gay or whatever, but bisexual? So they just want to have sex with everyone? To me, that just seems like it has nothing to do with love. They are just sinners.”
These positions that my family stood by were a constant in my life. Things had always been this way and seemingly will remain so.
I remember crying and praying to God one night around the age of 8 or 9. During school that day, I was passing by a 5th grade class in the hallway and in the middle of the line, my eyes stuck with a young girl with long curly hair and lots of freckles. I thought that she was really pretty. I felt I needed to ask for forgiveness that night or else I would face some kind of divine punishment or go to hell when I died.
I know, based off the Bible study I had to do growing up as a Catholic, that these lessons are a perversion of what God’s love is meant to be. People truly can be evil and manipulative of even the purest lessons to fit their own biases.
Along with many other experiences and conversations overheard between my parents, I have some idea of what could be in store for me should I come out soon. To put it simply, being kicked out would be best-case scenario. In reality, I fear it would mean a tighter leash, more forced church, and even subjecting me to their version of “therapy.”
“If you hate it so much, why don’t you just move out? Run away?”
I pose myself this question often. I can’t perfectly explain why. But despite it all, there are so many reasons for me to respect my parents. They are hard working people who have invested so much into me and my future. They have truly given me more than many parents could give to their children.
My mom was my number one fan at all of my sporting events growing up. Even when my physical therapist told me I had to stop running, she didn’t let me feel like less of an athlete. My dad taught me everything I know about the outdoors. From camping all over the state and taking us on country-wide road trips, to helping my brother and I excel in outdoor activities, like longbow archery, his calmness and appreciation for the power of the Earth has helped me grow to love becoming free in nature.
Both of my parents pushed me hard to not take the easy way out of things, and showed me to always give back to the community through our church. Much of my time spent with each of them also showed me ways to find stillness within my mind. Whether it’s a workout with my mom, or learning about a bizarre plant with my dad, these moments always kept me present and at ease. I love them. Truly. However, there remain certain things that are difficult to love about them. Though many have tried, the sides of my parents that I don’t wish to see at all, remain stubborn and unchanged.
On the logistical side of brainstorming why I wouldn’t leave yet, I am also severely financially entangled with them. My mother recently started helping with my overwhelming school bills despite struggling to pay her own monthly costs. My father has also done so much work on my car and paid for all the costs without hesitation. I want to do as much as I can for them when I may not be able to pay them back. In addition to that, my mother still has full access to my bank accounts. To put it simply, I am still a very broke student right now and don’t want them to hate me forever for acting ungrateful.
I feel stuck, like I’m trying to move my whole body through tar. Or perhaps I am, more accurately, frozen with fear.
Sometimes it seems easy to feel lost, or nearly impossible to find release. The best parts of my day are when I can talk to people as completely and utterly me. Most of my friends know that I am bisexual. All except the ones closest to my brother. I like to think that I know him well, and I know that he wouldn’t tell my parents, but he also wouldn’t be exactly enthused for me. It’s 2019, and I know that many people have faced far more dangerous circumstances, so I constantly feel a small pang of guilt for not being myself entirely. I know that feeling guilty for not having it as bad as others won’t promote progress within the community and doesn’t help others who may struggle with their identity, so I must continue to try and put comparisons out of my mind. As my good friends have reminded me, we all experience different pains on different levels. We cannot categorize how bad our experiences are, only learn and grow in our own directions. These friends remain supportive and unchanged since I came out to them. Some even said things like, “Duh”, “I figured as much”, and “sometimes your clothes scream bi”. Though this does kind of worry me in the way that I don’t want it to be exactly obvious, it was definitely reassuring to know that they all love me just the same.
I may have been born into a family that is quite particular about how we live our lives, but I have already experienced being apart of others’ lives who have no such biases or rules. Though some Catholics may label it as living in sin, or chaos, these friends have always been honest, wise, and selfless. I have an incredibly challenging journey ahead of me that will probably test the strength of my family’s bond. In the end, I will still be someone who wants to volunteer, to go on outdoor adventures, and to work up a sweat to clear my mind. Relationships should be built on understanding, respect, and love. I hope everyone will one day understand that the love I have to offer is pure. When I find someone I want to spend my days with, I will love them for their character and their humanity, not their gender.
You can read more of this (anonymous) author’s work on their blog here. This blog houses many lyrical, poetic pieces.
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