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Friday, May 18, 2012

SL Letter of the Day: Show This Woman Some Love

Posted by on Fri, May 18, 2012 at 2:00 PM

So I am in a really bad place right now and maybe I just have to hear "buck up" and "it will get better."

I'm a 32-year-old lesbian who's been out for 10 years. I was raised in a very conservative Pentecostal family and I am the baby of my family of 15 kids. The day before my college graduation from Liberty University I came out to my family, as a way of explaining why I was not going to walk to get my diploma. The day before I just realized how crazy it was to be going to that school listening to those messages when I knew it was all wrong. I packed everything before telling my family that night—I wanted to make sure I had all my pictures and the bible my dad gave me for my 13th birthday—because I knew how it was going to end even though I, of course, tried to hold on to hope. My father slapped me that night and told me that I was no longer his child and I was no longer a child of God. I haven't seen my family for 10 years. I've always held out hope that they would change their minds and realize that they do love me.

I got a call from my oldest sister last month. I wasn't sure what she was going to tell me—had one of my parents died? was I going to be let back into the family?—and then she told me that she needed my help. Her son was gay and she needed me to come and get him. I didn't understand what she meant at first. I thought she wanted me to come and talk to him. But, no, she meant come and get him. She didn't want that "filth"—her own son—in her home. When I picked him up a large part of my family was there, and I swear to God I had never felt so much hate in my life. I don't understand it and I know I never will, but I swear it broke me.

He is here with me now and the family that I have made for myself over the years. In my little group he will get to meet every color of the rainbow flag. I will help him learn to love himself for who he is if it is the last thing I do in this world.

But I feel like I'm broken. I feel like everything I have made for myself over the last 10 years is nothing. How can my whole family not only not love me anymore but hate me with so much passion? I don't understand why this is affecting me so much. I already knew all of this. I've known it for a long time. But to see it on their faces was something new.

I need to know how to pick myself up. A 15-year-old boy is relying on me.

VA Broken Girl

My response after the jump...

······················

I'm sitting in a hotel room in New York City and I five minutes to toss up a SLLOTD. So I dipped into the "Savage Love" mail to find a letter that I could respond to quickly—I gotsplaces to be—and yours was the first one I opened. Now I'm sitting in a hotel room in New York City with tears running down my face. Literally. I don't have tears in my eyes. I have tears running down my face. Reading your letter made me cry.

Okay, VABG, here's the first thing that came to mind as I was reading your letter:

"With or without religion you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."—Steven Weinberg

Fuck your family of origin—seriously, fuck them, fuck all of them—and fuck any "faith" that leads parents to inflict appalling emotional, physical, and spiritual violence on their own children. Pentecostalism, like so many other religions, is a fucking poison.

The very next thing that came to mind was... thank God for you, VABG. Thank God you exist. Thank God your hateful sister called you. Thank God you were able to be there for your nephew. I know, I know—it's an awkward pivot from "for good people to do evil things, that takes religion" to "thank God for you." But those are the only words I have to express what I'm feeling right now. Thank God your nephew has you, thank fucking God. I shudder to think what might've become of him—where he might be right now—if he didn't have a wonderful, loving, sane, and kickass dyke aunt who was willing to take him in. Thank fucking God for you. And thank fucking God for the family you've created for yourself. Thank fucking God for your friends. Thank God.

But I'm not going to tell you to buck up, though, and I'm not going to tell that it'll get better. You should and it will. But I'm not going to be the one to tell you.

I'm going to step aside and let my readers tell you.

A couple of months back a teenage lesbian wrote to me—she wrote because she was pissed at me—and I wrote her back. With her permission I posted our exchange as the SLLOTD. My readers bombed her with love, support, advice, and insight. And I'm posting your letter because I know they'll do the same for you, VABG.

Gang? Show this woman some love.

 

Comments (709) RSS

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1
‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.'

I don't believe in god, but you're doing her work. Keep at it.
Posted by jlar on May 18, 2012 at 2:07 PM · Report this
2
Right fucking on. My thoughts are with you, VABG. Just being who you are is being what your nephew needs. Thanks for writing Dan.
Posted by gloomy gus on May 18, 2012 at 2:11 PM · Report this
3
You are a good person, and you will pick yourself up.
Posted by davidcon on May 18, 2012 at 2:11 PM · Report this
4
I am so sorry your family has been poisoned by hate. YOU are the one walking with Christ by helping your nephew. Sadly, they may never change but you may have very well saved you nephew's life, and that's worth so much more than their approval.
Posted by Westside forever on May 18, 2012 at 2:12 PM · Report this
BEG 5
You're not the one broken... your family -- the biological one, I mean -- is broken. I just cannot imagine throwing out two people like that.

I can't add much more to what Dan said, because he said it. I am so glad that your nephew has you. It is frightening how many kids wind up on the streets because there is no one. But I also think in some sense you are or will be lucky to have him in your life as well. I think the two of you will help each other more than you know.

Give yourself time and write back to us with how the both of you are doing.

/wipes my own face, too
Posted by BEG http://twitter.com/#!/browneyedgirl65 on May 18, 2012 at 2:14 PM · Report this
6
You're a wonderful person, VABG. It amazes me that such an ignorant family could produce someone as wise as you.
Posted by Optimal Cynic on May 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
7
Great that you've been able to create a loving family and can now include your lucky nephew in it. I know it's hard to do, but try not to give your bio family enough of your concern to allow them to hurt you -- they clearly don't deserve it.
Posted by Brashion on May 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
8
You are incredible, lady. The kind of compassion it takes to swoop in and rescue your poor nephew in that situation... I'm not sure I could do it. And what you've done in the past ten years means something. Hell, it means everything.

So, now what with this young man? He's gotta go to school, he needs clothes, he needs health insurance, yeah yeah, and you will get there! But first, he needs love. He need to feel like he is safe. He will probably act out and he needs compassion and structure and all that. He probably needs a counselor. But you can do it. You absolutely can. Good work.
Posted by niceville on May 18, 2012 at 2:16 PM · Report this
9
I'll give you another one from their own book: "If anyone say, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a liar. For anyone who does not love his brother, whom he has seen, cannot love God, whom he has not seen." (I John 4:20).

Blood does not make a family. Loving and caring do. Continue to love and to care for your nephew and for yourself. No one promises that it will be easy, but it is right and good.

Posted by RichInPA on May 18, 2012 at 2:17 PM · Report this
10
Amen. I am in awe of you, VABG, for being who you are. The irony is that your life demonstrates so much of the goodness that religious people are supposed to practice. You are a blessing to your nephew in opening your home to him and you have become a better person through your difficulties, not a hateful, judgemental one. All the best to you and your (true) family.
Posted by FeralTurnip on May 18, 2012 at 2:17 PM · Report this
11
I'm totally gobsmacked - but filled with pride and emotion knowing that this incredible woman has courageously taken her nephew under her wing.

Not just 'love' - but GALACTIC SUPERNOVA LOVE!
Posted by proud on May 18, 2012 at 2:18 PM · Report this
12
Mad love for you, VABG. Dan is right: thank fucking god your nephew has you.
Posted by jhops on May 18, 2012 at 2:19 PM · Report this
ingopixel 13
You are the "It Gets Better" in your nephew's life. You can't choose your bio family, but you have chosen a diverse amazing family of your own that can help you raise this poor kid to be as tolerant and compassionate as your bio family is hateful and misguided.

If it helps, I see nothing wrong with loving him with spite against what you and he went through before your sister so generously passed him along. Hate your family with all the love you can muster for him.
Posted by ingopixel on May 18, 2012 at 2:20 PM · Report this
JaimeNouvelles 14
I work with kids every day, and see often how much their parents actions affect them, even the kids who try to put on a brave or indifferent face. But I've also seen how much their lives can be changed by having even one adult or role model that loves them unconditionally and is always there for them. You're that person for your nephew, and his life will be so much the better for having you in it. I'm so sorry for what you've had to go through, but so thankful that there's people like you there for your nephew.
Posted by JaimeNouvelles on May 18, 2012 at 2:22 PM · Report this
15
The family you were born into has let themselves be ruled by hate and fear. But you have created/are creating a family of your own that is ruled by love and acceptance. You had to deal with the transition to adulthood (and outhood) on your own (and my God you sound so brave and smart - packing up your life like that and simply moving on), but your nephew can now have that same transition with loving support.

Of course you're grieving the loss of connection with your family. As a loving person, you can't help but feel the pain of that break. Letting your nephew see a bit of that struggle may not be a bad thing. Being strong isn't about feeling no regret or emotion. It's about feeling those things but picking up and doing the right thing anyway.

You are stronger than you know VABG, even though it hurts so much right now. My thoughts (and yes, my prayers) will be with you.
Posted by wodarol on May 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM · Report this
JensR 16
Wait, Christ is a fictive character. Hate as an entity is fictive. Your family isn't "poisoned by hate" and neither of you are doing "Gods work".

You're being a intelligent, kind and responsable human adult. They are not. What excuses do they have for deliberetly harming a child? That probably isn't relevant at this point, they have shown their incapacity to behave the way adults should by doing it - whatever excuses they may say to themselves are irrelevant.

Your doing a kick ass job. Your being what we should all strive to be the second we become adults: intelligent, kind and responsable.
Your behavior makes ME feel picked up it makes me feel better. Theres a tiny island of pathetic idiots hating you and him for what you are and your bravery not to hide it and a whole damn world of people cheering you on.
Posted by JensR http://ohyran.se on May 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM · Report this
17
Words cannot express what an incredible loving, generous person you are. Because of you your nephew is going to learn love, compassion, and understanding. And all of it will be unconditional. He is incredibly lucky to have an aunt like you. You should be proud of yourself and proud of him for coming out knowing how the family had treated you in the past. I am holding back tears but at the same time smiling knowing there are such wonderful people out there in the world who will make such a difference in the lives of others.
Posted by jwlsesq on May 18, 2012 at 2:23 PM · Report this
18
I cannot say it passionately enough, VABG you are a fantastic, beautiful, loving example for us all. Not just because you've taken in your nephew, but because you've risen above your poisonous background and made the world a better place by being out, proud, and honest. I'm not a believer, but *you* are leading a life far closer to the Jesus ideal than your sanctimonious and hypocritical birth family.

I cried earlier today over cuts to funded shelter beds for homeless teens (many of them LGBT) being proposed in NYC. While your story also got me crying, these tears are over one less young person left with no home.

Let your friends and we Strangers embrace and buoy you up. You've saved yourself and your nephew, good job all around.
Posted by St. Murse on May 18, 2012 at 2:24 PM · Report this
19
My thoughts were the same as Dan's...fuck your family, and thank God your nephew has you to show him that not everyone in this world is a hateful piece of shit.

One thing you should do is talk to a family law attorney. You may be entitled to child support from your sister. It would not be enough but a little bit of sweet sweet revenge for her to have to shell out money for the "filth" she rejected.
Posted by Dianna on May 18, 2012 at 2:24 PM · Report this
20
First of all, know that it is your family that is being poisoned by their hate. You are not being poisoned by it; it doesn't touch you. (I understand it still makes you sad, but it is not on you. It is not inside you. It doesn't change who you are, as a person.)

Second, it's pretty astonishing that your sister "gave" you your nephew, knowing that doing so would mean he gets to continue being gay (and learn and grow and accept himself as gay). Other options would have included literally attempting to beat it out of him for the next 3++ years, or sending him to "gay re-education camp", or just plain putting him out on the street.

Honestly, that's nothing short of a miracle. So, you, as your nephew's sole family now, can do what your family didn't do for you: show him so much love and acceptance he's drowning in it.
Posted by MLM on May 18, 2012 at 2:24 PM · Report this
21
I'm a mom. I can't begin to imagine what in the world it would take for me to turn my back on my kid. On my own flesh. Nothing. Nothing could. You aren't the broken one. They are. Their hatred has poisoned their hearts and made them forget the most cardinal impulses they have, and the loving message of Jesus. I don't know how people can read what Jesus said and come out with this kind of hate... but they manage. It's a perversion. They are perverse.

And to echo Dan, yeah... thank God and Science and the Sun, Moon, and Stars for you. You and the family you have built are saving that boys life.
Posted by catherine_si on May 18, 2012 at 2:24 PM · Report this
22
I'm sitting here, with tears in my eyes after reading your letter, looking at my own two children and knowing there is NOTHING that would make me turn my back on them. I just cannot understand that. I'm so sorry that happened to you and to your nephew. Neither of you deserved it. At all. You are a wonderful person and your nephew is truly lucky to have you in his life. You're both going to be fine. All the best to both of you!
Posted by Ms B on May 18, 2012 at 2:24 PM · Report this
23
I've never understood why "Christians" fester with such hatred. I thought you were supposed to love everyone, not cast stones.

I hope you and your nephew can turn to each other in a dark time, and that your love will grow and help you through this. I'm so sorry.
Posted by dolores2175 on May 18, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
Suze 24
The amount of courage it took for you to walk into that nest of hornets shows with certainty that you are not broken. Quite the opposite. It's normal to regress to your youth when dealing with your parents, regardless of your age or your relationship with them. Your present fear and pain are valid. No need to judge yourself. You are a badass.
Posted by Suze on May 18, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
25
That letter- wow tears running down ny face You are what their religion is supposed to teach them you are kind, compassionate, have a huge heart, with so much love. They are the problem, the cancer- not you. You saved your nephew. You're beautiful and have all of the traits that they should admire. Thank god for you. Keep showing your nephew what true love is by being you. Much love and good vibes your way!
Posted by Ashleynboo on May 18, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
26
The family you were born into has let themselves be ruled by hate and fear. But you have created/are creating a family of your own that is ruled by love and acceptance. You had to deal with the transition to adulthood (and outhood) on your own (and my God you sound so brave and smart - packing up your life like that and simply moving on), but your nephew can now have that same transition with loving support.

Of course you're grieving the loss of connection with your family. As a loving person, you can't help but feel the pain of that break. Letting your nephew see a bit of that struggle may not be a bad thing. Being strong isn't about feeling no regret or emotion. It's about feeling those things but picking up and doing the right thing anyway.

You are stronger than you know VABG, even though it hurts so much right now. My thoughts (and yes, my prayers) will be with you.
Posted by wodarol on May 18, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
27
On a brief practical note--it might be worth talking to a lawyer and determining if you have any right to child support from your fuckwit of a sister. You didn't mention your financial situation, and obviously the emotional trauma is a big deal, but depending on your situation child support might make the next three years or so a lot easier.

Best of luck, and thank you for being a decent human being.
Posted by wonkinakilt on May 18, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
Max Solomon 28
try to keep the communication lines open - even though their hate is repugnant & it hurts - for your nephew's sake. maybe with one of his siblings he was close to - a sister?

eventually one, or more, of your family may feel remorse & attempt amends.

you are the one walking in jesus' footsteps. they're walking in paul's.
Posted by Max Solomon on May 18, 2012 at 2:25 PM · Report this
29
Just because someone can physically produce children doesn't mean they're fit to be a parent. Your parents, sadly, are sick, twisted people who have produced at least one more sick twisted person (your sister).

But you have obviously already found that you can create other a family worthy of you, regardless of biology, and you are there to do the same for your nephew. I am sad to know that people like your parents hurt so many, but it gives me hope when people like you prove that the world doesn't have to be that way.
Posted by DeirdreS on May 18, 2012 at 2:26 PM · Report this
Lurleen 30
It makes complete sense to me that this is affecting you so much. You loved your family and probably still do, despite their hateful treatment of you, because they're your family and you have deep shared histories. It's only natural to love them and be affected by what they think.

On some level your sister must trust and respect you and, despite her words, loves her son, or she wouldn't have reached out to you to arrange a safe landing for her son. Or maybe she thinks she lobbed you a stink bomb while finding a legal way to abandon a minor. Regardless of her intentions, in actuality you and your nephew have just been handed a huge gift: each other.
Posted by Lurleen on May 18, 2012 at 2:27 PM · Report this
31
Your family sounds about the least Christian family I can imagine. I am so sorry this burden has fallen on you. Wishing you the best.
Posted by FredSlogger on May 18, 2012 at 2:27 PM · Report this
J-Haxx 32
It is often easier for us to bear abuse ourselves than to see it inflicted upon others. That is where you are now. All the anger, fear, pain, resentment, it is coming down on you tenfold - but that is not how your nephew is experiencing it.

Rely on your friends and your community - and know that you are loved and supported.
Posted by J-Haxx http://defyaugury.livejournal.com on May 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
33
One of my first thoughts when I heard our President finally accepted gays by accepting same-sex marriage was this: Jesus would be so proud of him. And I say that to you, Jesus is proud you are living an honest life, a good life and are kind enough to take your nephew in when his so-called Christian family discarded him. I doubt Jesus hates your family, but I am sure they make him very very sad. Anyone who reads the Bible with a clear mind sees what a kick-ass dude Jesus really is. Obviously, your family is too soaked in hate to see that. Don't let them soak you in their hate. It is human nature to want their approval, but you have to turn your back on them now. Your nephew is still a kid and he needs you. Be strong. Live well.
Posted by Bugnroolet on May 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
Canadian Nurse 34
VBAC: I'm so honoured to live in a world where people like you exist. You are already strong and have already made it through something that would crush others. You'll be able to pick up yourself and your nephew and guide him into becoming a kickass gay man. I'm hoping you two are in a big city in Virginia. If you need funds or practical support, send a note, because Dan's flying monkeys love to help people who are helping people.

Be well. Stay strong. If there is a one true God, they're on your side.
Posted by Canadian Nurse on May 18, 2012 at 2:28 PM · Report this
35
Your letter made me want to cry. I cannot imagine being so thoroughly rejected by my biological family and my heart hurts for you and for your nephew.

But please, please, please do your best to believe that you're not the one who is broken. That you haven't done anything to make your family hate you. And that there is nothing wrong with you. Do this both for yourself and for your nephew. He needs to see that his aunt feels she is worthy of love and respect so that he can look at himself and think the same. He's in a far more vulnerable position than you are and he needs you. He needs your love, your kindness and the family you built for yourself. (What does it say that after being rejected by your family you managed for go out and make one of your own? It says that you are worthy. Worth of others love and respect, kindness and compassion.)

My heart hurts for you and for him and the loss you're both feeling. But I have faith that you will give your nephew what his parents could not: unconditional love and support. I am glad that he has some family who see that he is worthy of it. And instead of dwelling on the family that sees you as lesser cling to the family that needs you, the family that wants you and the family that loves you. Let your nephew's presence in your life heal some of the pain of being separated from everyone you're biologically connected to and in turn sooth his pain with your love and your made family.

My best to you. May the days ahead be brighter for you and your nephew.
Posted by moosefan on May 18, 2012 at 2:29 PM · Report this
36
Hi, I was guided here by a random person on the Internet.

For every wrong committed against you, you do nothing but do right. There are no other words I can say for someone and wonderful as you, VABG.
Posted by GalFord on May 18, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
37
I think you are fucking amazing and as much as you must hurt, you should know that this is a world that is changing and that you are accepted and loved by so many people that you will never meet. Ernest Hemingway said that we are strongest in the broken places, and never more so than in your case. I pity your family, but not you. You get my admiration.
Posted by mattblissett on May 18, 2012 at 2:30 PM · Report this
38
I wish I had the courage you have, VABG. I come from a similar background, and I take the easy way out. I live far from my family, I occasionally give them stories of people I've dated with carefully selected pronouns, and I wait for the oldest ones to pass on, knowing that they are the ones who will have the hardest time accepting me. I am a coward in this regard.

You, however, are inspiring. You left tears running down my face too.

In the time since you chose to come out and step away from the lies and hate, you have made a life for yourself where you can share the joy that is in you. That, in itself, is an amazing thing, but to take that and then to bring in your nephew from that same hateful situation you left... that is a completely different level of inspiration.

I hope, one day, to be as brave as you. Your nephew is lucky to have you, even if he doesn't act like it at first. Even if he rebels, even if he fights, and even if he says hurtful things. He is incredibly lucky to have you.
Posted by Queerly Yours on May 18, 2012 at 2:32 PM · Report this
39
The sentence preceding the Weinberg quote is extremely great: "Religion is an insult to human dignity." Weinberg's other quotes on atheism are equally as great.

VABG: keep on keepin' on. If your family is so blinded by hate, then they don't deserve you in their lives. Living well is the best revenge.
Posted by Andronikus on May 18, 2012 at 2:34 PM · Report this
40
Family means more that just sharing DNA with people. It's the people that will be there in the middle of the night when you need them. It's the people that build you up and push you to me better. Who loves you on the bad days.Show and teach you nephew that. You are amazing, take the good from what you've learned and share it. You are not broken. You are perfect. Be everything to you nephew that you ever needed.
Posted by Melooza on May 18, 2012 at 2:34 PM · Report this
Fnarf 41
You are the best, dear, and they are the worst. But remember that evil like that doesn't come from outside but from inside -- the same place love comes from. They are poisoned inside, and they've poisoned you -- but you got out. You went back in to get that boy, like someone goes back into a burning house to rescue his or her child. That was incredibly strong and incredibly brave. YOU ARE A HERO. And you will live in love, and they will continue to live in hate. You'll be better off than they ever will.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on May 18, 2012 at 2:34 PM · Report this
42
A family that large probably has more than a couple of gays in it. Furthermore, more than a few of the straight ones probably know that what your sister did was wrong, but are too scared to speak out.
Posted by RDM on May 18, 2012 at 2:34 PM · Report this
43
I'm sure I'm not the only one crying here. Congratulations: you've saved a life.

I can't help thinking that, by throwing her son away, your sister has given you back some small part, maybe the best part, of your lost biological family to cherish. Maybe, as a subunit in the larger family you have made for yourself, you and your nephew will somehow heal each other. 
Posted by Prettybetsy on May 18, 2012 at 2:34 PM · Report this
TVDinner 44
Therapy. This is so much to carry, and it's more for two people to bear. VABG, find an LGBT-friendly therapist who can help you cut this pain down to size.

That it hurts is reasonable. That you hate them for their hatred and pettiness is also the only reasonable way to react to this. Unjust and stupid situations require that response. Getting good therapy can help you be in charge of the pain instead of the other way around. It can also help you parent this teenager who's now in your life and for whom you are lighting the way. Getting a handle on this yourself will help him do the same.

You have the right to a good life, and you have a right to leave these hurtful people behind you. You owe them nothing, even if they do come around. I repeat: you owe them nothing.

And we all - every last one of us in the community - love and honor you for exactly who you are: a human being, just like the rest of us, who's flawed and perfect at once.
Posted by TVDinner http:// on May 18, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
45
I am so completely angry at your birth family right now, and doubly so at your cretinous sister.

Child support? Talk to a lawyer. Your nephew has been abandoned by his parents. See if you can get a court order that they at least have to pay for his support. Fuck them.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on May 18, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
46
Nothing can change the fact that you, and your nephew (and, God help us, your parents and family and all the other bigots out there, religious and otherwise) have always been and always will be beloved Children of God.

It's a touchy point, I know, but if you haven't yet it could help to find a faith community that is supportive of you and your nephew. The classic Metropolitan Community Church comes from a Pentecostal tradition, so could feel familiar.
Posted by ssmary on May 18, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
47
I'm going to try, and sorry if this comes out weird:

There are a lot of horrible things they could have done, like tossing him out with no one. Your sister called you because, somewhere deep down there, she believes you are a good and decent person and a good role model. And somewhere deep down there, she wants her son to have a good and decent person who is a good role model guiding him. Both these emotions are buried under an incredible shitload of crap. But she wouldn't have called if they weren't there.

All you can do is move forward. Do the best job you can to help your nephew move forward. And be aware that more nieces and nephews might eventually try to contact you and open some communication, but they probably have to be old enough to be out of their parents' homes first. Just like you waited until the day you were independent.
Posted by IPJ on May 18, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
Mittens Schrodinger 48
Wow. What a crazy, horribly toxic family you have managed to escape, VABG. Congratulations on being the amazing person you are despite what you have had to endure.
I think it would be best for you NOT to just "buck up" and hide the hurt that your bio-family has caused. Be transparent with how they have hurt you both, be vulnerable and open about the pain you both feel, and then be resolute in your absolute belief and assurance that you will both heal with each other's help and support. Let him see how deeply you have been hurt so he knows it's not just him, and then teach him/help him to heal the wounds. You can do it!
Posted by Mittens Schrodinger on May 18, 2012 at 2:35 PM · Report this
49
Deep down, you probably know this to be true, but what you have made for yourself over the last 10 years is So Far from nothing. You've made a family (with love and caring, as @9 said), you've chosen LIFE for yourself!, and most importantly, as a result, you've made a safe place for your nephew to land. So, I guess as far as picking yourself up, take comfort in that, VABG. Take comfort in your ability to have rescued him. They are so unequivocally, morally in the wrong, that eventually (hopefully sooner rather than later), when the sting of that awful horrible confrontation wears off, it will feel natural to no longer allow them the power to belittle the beautiful things you have built.
Posted by two shoes on May 18, 2012 at 2:36 PM · Report this
50
I'm so sorry. I lost a friend who hid his sexuality in order to stay with church & scouting- contracted HIV in a movie house- life long scout buddies dropped him like a hot potato when dying- as did most of church. My brother came out after that- very grateful he chose to do this. His partner is not so lucky and they never visit his family together. Other relative fled my family for most of 2 decades. Returned only to be killed in accident shortly there after- I only got to see him once. I was so excited from him to be back and in my life. He was so interesting and kind and I had grown up without him. Your nephew is lucky to have you- very lucky. Find help, seek to make a bigger circle around both of you, work for a related cause- can be very therapeutic to remind yourself of why authenticity is so important along with educating others. Do totally awesome things with your nephew and make lots of happy memories together regardless of God church and being Gay.
Posted by VEAVOTE on May 18, 2012 at 2:37 PM · Report this
51
Listen to me, you awesome lady: This is a good thing. This is good for you, this is good for your nephew. Your hateful, hateful family has done both of you a favor. They've removed your nephew from a deeply harmful situation. They've given you another family member you will love and who will love you back. In their ignorance and evil, they've accidentally done something good. It is not going to be easy. It's going to be hard to have to support a kid. And it's going to be hard for him to adjust to his new life with you. But as long as there's love--and your letter is filled with love, despite the shitty circumstances--both of you will find yourselves with a life that was better than what came before it. This is (in a thoroughly non-Biblical sense) a blessing. It may not feel that way right now, but trust me, it will. I echo what Dan said. Thank God for you and thank God for others like you. It's people like you who make the world worth living in.
Posted by LimeLemminkäinen on May 18, 2012 at 2:38 PM · Report this
Afreet 52
You are not broken.

You are amazing.

Your family did a horrible, hateful, stupid thing by casting you away like that. Don't think to yourself that you are undeserving of them. *Know* that they are undeserving of you, and know that you and your nephew are better off without their hatred and bigotry. There are a lot of awesome people in this world who can show you true love and acceptance, and there's no reason to waste your time with the people who won't, regardless of the similarity of their DNA to yours.

It may also help to know that there are other people out there who have escaped from the oppression and hatred of their religious families. For instance, Nate Phelps, son of notorious hater and douchebag Fred Phelps of Westboro Baptist Church, after escaping from his family (read http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nate-phelp…) has gone on to do great work as an LGBT advocate against religious oppression - http://natephelps.com/

I hope that my note and the many others that I'm sure will show up as well will give you the boost you need at the moment. And I hope that once you and your nephew are living your amazing lives surrounded by the true family you've made, you can repay the favor to someone else who needs a little encouragement to be true to themselves, ignore the misguided hatred around them, and to live the amazing life they deserve.
Posted by Afreet http://www.artificialmusicmachine.com/ on May 18, 2012 at 2:41 PM · Report this
53
VABG, you are so brave! You are fighting the good fight, and I am so happy and grateful to live in a world where people like you exist.

I can't imagine the inner strength it must have taken to walk away from your family in the first place. To make a happy life for yourself, to be there for your nephew, to solider on in spite of that hurt -- well, damn, it's just impressive and it sets the bar that much higher for the rest of us.

I am rooting for you! I am rooting for your nephew! I hope that you are able to lean on the family you made for yourself, to ask for their help, to let them support you and listen to you and give you a boost right now. If you need more support, don't be afraid to ask - seek out a doctor, a lawyer (custody issues?), a good bartender, and let them help you too!

Know that you have a crowd of people out in the world who think you are an ass-kicker, a world-beater, and based on just the tiniest bit we know about you, we know that you are going to get take on this tough time and that it will get better.

Posted by caroline1234 on May 18, 2012 at 2:42 PM · Report this
54
@45 While you're at it, make sure you terminate their parental rights and get guardianship.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on May 18, 2012 at 2:43 PM · Report this
55
I'm sending you and your nephew positive energy. Think of waves of golden light washing over you and bringing you strength. What has been done in the name of God over the history of mankind is entirely crazy and inhumane. Religion has brutalized and terrorized humans e.g., the inquisition, witch burnings etc.
You are better off with your own created family, they are life-giving - your biological family is life-draining. I'm so happy that you wrote to Dan. Thank God that you were there for your nephew. Many people are thinking of you. Never give up, things will get better. When you see light know that it is for you.
Posted by gialady on May 18, 2012 at 2:44 PM · Report this
56
You're an awesome lady. Sorry I can't say it as eloquently as all these other awesome people.
Posted by jzimbert on May 18, 2012 at 2:45 PM · Report this
57
@45 and 54 I was just thinking along the same lines: court order. Just because VABG's sister is full of hatred and ignorance doesn't let her off the hook for his material support.
Posted by Prettybetsy on May 18, 2012 at 2:46 PM · Report this
58
Oh, VABG. Oh, girl. There's a quote from the movie 'Jeffrey' along the lines of: 'God is the very best in of all of us.' And sometimes that all comes down to one person. It would be vain to think that about yourself, but I'm telling you from the outside: you're the very best of us right now. You were there for your nephew.

What would his life have been like without you there? To swoop in and help him during the lonely nightmare his life had become? If you're down on your life of the last 10 years -- if you think it was for nothing, which I doubt -- if it was for NO OTHER REASON than to be there when your nephew might have had nowhere else to turn -- is that not enough?

So after you're done patting yourself on the back once for every share of Facebook stock, take of a few happy memories of your family -- and toss the rest. They know where where find you. They can't be helped right now. Fill you and your nephew's life with people who will love you as the fearless, wonderful, compassionate warrior princess you are. You've earned my unconditional gratitude and respect.
Posted by MrSniffen on May 18, 2012 at 2:48 PM · Report this
59
I don't know where you and your real, loving family live, but if it's in Central Texas, and you need help, I'm here for you VABG. You and your nephew.
Posted by CJWhite on May 18, 2012 at 2:49 PM · Report this
60
You are a hero, and not broken - you're family is. You are whole, and incredibly strong to have survived what you have, and still have such a big heart and soul. Lots of love.
Posted by SexEd on May 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM · Report this
61
"I am so sorry your family has been poisoned by hate."

Eh, no.

Her family was poisoned by religion aka institutionalized superstition aka faith.

And entirely predictably at that. Let's diagnose the problems first if we want to treat them.

Posted by Mattyx on May 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM · Report this
62
I've never commented on this or any blog that I read but something about this day and this letter is compelling me to do so. While I'm not super 'religious' anymore my faith is still a crucial part of who I am. It helped form me and my views on the world (for better or for worse). I am a 24 year old straight man who grew up in the church and grew up believing, like so many, that homosexuality was wrong. I was never bigoted but simply didn't approve (as if I had a right to judge anyone). It took meeting my (gay) best friend in college to recognize the humanity in every person and see that we're all God's children. One of the biggest parts of my faith has been believing that God has a plan for each of us. I don't necessarily think that explains all human suffering or that it justifies any tragedies but it can be helpful to remember that.

Jeremiah 29:11 says, "'For I know the plans I have for you.' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you, and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Growing up amidst some pretty difficult situations (loss of a parent, rampant family addiction, etc.), understanding that even in pain there is a plan for you, designed by a God that loves, helped me. While I can't begin to imagine the pain you felt 10 years ago and are reliving now, I imagine your nephew is in quite a bit of pain as well. It may not have been God's plan for your family to treat you cruelly and shun you, but it does seem like He might be using you now when they've decided to do it again to your nephew. 10 years ago, you somehow found a way to keep living your life and soldiered on. Now it's time to help show your nephew how to do the same.

It's impossible to predict what life has in store for us but if you can manage to focus your energies on minimizing the pain your nephew is feeling (and maybe also seek some professional counseling to help come to terms with your own feelings), you'll both emerge stronger.

Sorry for what turned out to be MUCH longer than I anticipated but I hope it helps, even if just a bit and I hope you and your new family can once again find a way to carry on.
More...
Posted by mkj7505 on May 18, 2012 at 2:50 PM · Report this
63
One more echo of what Dan said: Thank God for you, and that your nephew has you, and your family of choice, in his life. How wonderful that he has a GREAT PERSON LIKE YOU to turn to. Words fail me when I think of how dreadfully you and your nephew have been treated. Please, please know that you are loved and that you make a difference. You already have made a tremendous difference in this young man's life. And in the way that other people make a difference in our own lives, he will make a difference in yours. I speak as a stepmother who has been amazed at the difference my [step]kids have made in my life -- and I wouldn't trade them for the world. I wish you only the best. I'm so glad you wrote to Dan, and that he gave us the chance to write to you.
Posted by DairyStateMom on May 18, 2012 at 2:51 PM · Report this
Matt from Denver 64
What most everyone said above.

Sorry. Usually I keep out of these if I can't come up with my own semi-unique perspective, or if I'm late to the party (in this case, both are true). But dammit, you need to see the number of people who love you and support you right now. I can't tell you more than that. It's just important that I'm part of this crowd right now.

God, I'm so sorry you had to go through that. I hope you care for your nephew, show him the love he deserves, and that he does the same for you. I hope you two can be enough family for each other. I hope SOMEONE in that dingleberry clan you were able to extricate yourself from will wake up and embrace you two again in the future. (I don't mean to be insulting, but I'm fucking mad right now.)

Shit... even in anger, there's hope. You're a wonderful woman for doing this, even if it was forced upon you. Much love to you.
Posted by Matt from Denver on May 18, 2012 at 2:53 PM · Report this
Njoy 65
Sending love to you and your nephew, VBAC. You both deserve mountains of it. <3
Posted by Njoy on May 18, 2012 at 2:53 PM · Report this
66
Your nephew lives in a world where he could come out almost 10 years before you could, and he had someone to go to when he did. And you will live to see a time when the bigotry of your family is as reviled as the KKK. You've been able to build a family, and now you have the opportunity to have a member of your blood family join you in it. It will be a hard, long road, but it will also be amazing. Good luck.
Posted by other coast on May 18, 2012 at 2:54 PM · Report this
67
You are wonderful exactly as you are.
Posted by EJP on May 18, 2012 at 2:54 PM · Report this
68
I'm with @44 and @45. Seek a counslor and get a lawyer to make sure his parents are paying for child support as well as terminate their parental rights and file for guardianship. Of course when he's 16, he could emancipate himself from his parents due to "abuse".

On a second thought, I don't know what the parental laws are like in VA as they tend to be very homophoebic and might actually not be that beneficial to you.
Posted by apres_moi on May 18, 2012 at 2:54 PM · Report this
Dexter 69
I need to know how to pick myself up. A 15-year-old boy is relying on me.


Perhaps you can pick up one another. Your nephew found the courage to come out to your family, so something tells me he's strong enough for you to lean on a little. Besides, you're amazing. You're a lifesaver and a hero, as far as I'm concerned, and I'm sure he sees you in the same light. The burden of hate has obviously not broken you, though you may feel it has....between the two of you, I'm sure you can lift it.

Side note to Slog commenters: While VABG's letter, and Dan's response, brought me tears, it's really been the incredible outpouring of love, support, empathy, sympathy, and general encouragement that has turned on my waterworks. You give me hope.
Posted by Dexter on May 18, 2012 at 2:55 PM · Report this
70
The opposite of love is not hate but indifference. Perhaps your biological family hates you, but why do you care? You've created a loving, inclusive family that your nephew can thrive in. As far as your biological family goes, well, it is what it is. But as to your own nuclear family, it is what you have made it. Good for you and even better for your nephew!
Posted by hazak on May 18, 2012 at 2:55 PM · Report this
secretagent 71
You are so very brave. Subjecting yourself to that awful, awful mess of poison is probably the last thing anyone would want to do, but you did it, and for someone else, whom you probably hardly know. You rescued him, and it's an amazing thing. I'm so grateful that you were part of his family and there to save him. I can't even tell you what a lifeline you are - dealing with a fucked up family in the midst of crazy teenage hormones feels like the end of the world. Dealing with that on top of all the internal chaos of accepting your sexuality, on top of learning to ignore societies' negative messages, it must be truly overwhelming.

DO sue for child support if you can. DO NOT have any contact with them that is not through a lawyer. Establish your rights to him immediately, so he never has to worry about them taking him away, to do and say who knows what to him.
Posted by secretagent on May 18, 2012 at 2:57 PM · Report this
seandr 72
You're not broken, sweety, even if it feels that way. You've been badly hurt, but you will heal.

And while your 15 year old nephew is relying on you, know that a loving kid can be a tremendous source of strength and support for you as well. In a strange way, your family has given you an amazing gift.
Posted by seandr on May 18, 2012 at 2:57 PM · Report this
73
Others have said more eloquent things than I have, but like a few commenters, I just want to add my voice to show you the number of people who are out there who support you and your compassion, your strength, and your chosen family. You are amazing, and he is and will be amazing too. <3
Posted by kenna on May 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM · Report this
74
Two things --- 1. bravo for you, and 2. please do talk to a lawyer about your (and your nephew's) legal rights and remedies.
Posted by Pliggett Darcy on May 18, 2012 at 3:00 PM · Report this
thatsnotright 75
Your old family doesn't desrve you VABG. I hope that your new son can learn to overcome what can only be a devastating experience. I wish you all the best in creating a new family.
Posted by thatsnotright on May 18, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
76
Ditto to 54. If your family wants to really mess with you, they could let you get deeply attached and then yank him away from you.

And ditto to 44. Don't carry this alone. Therapy is great. But if that's not your thing, you said you had an amazing chosen family - lean on them.

Call them just to cry if you need to.

Call them to sit with you quietly for 5 minutes and send you strength.

Call them to ask them to tell you, out loud, that THEY are your family, that they will never abandon you, that they love you. Does ritual help you? If so, create a ritual to publicly acknowledge your chosen family, and bind you before whatever spiritual force speaks to you.

Do you still connect with faith at all? Ask your faith community to pray for you.

Reach out, like you did to Dan and to us. You're not alone. You are loved.
Posted by queerbrooklynjew on May 18, 2012 at 3:01 PM · Report this
77
@69, I agree. The letters made me choke up but the comments here made me cry. @VABG, make sure you read the unregistered comments on this thread. So far every one of them has been filled with love and support for you. You're wonderful and you're doing a wonderful thing for your nephew. Don't ever forget that.
Posted by moosefan on May 18, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
78
Is it hatred, or fear, that your family feels? I doubt that even they know the answer, but it sounds more like fear than hatred. As others have also said - your sister called YOU because you are still family. It took an incredible amount of bravery to do the things you have done - stand up for yourself, stand up for your nephew, keep the door open to your family despite all odds, and for such a long time in hopes of reconciliation.

It's okay if you feel broken by all of this - it's important to acknowledge your feelings, and to continue living life as your authentic self. When people are afraid, they act in ways that are incredibly irrational, and the best thing to do in the face of that is to show that there is no reason for fear, that you come out of love.
Posted by rebeccmeister on May 18, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
79
The opposite of love is not hate but indifference. While your biological family spends emotional energy hating you, you are building a nuclear family of compassion and inclusion. Life is too long to allow hateful people to consume your emotional energy. You must move on, and your nephew is so very lucky to have you.

All the very best!
Posted by hazak on May 18, 2012 at 3:02 PM · Report this
OutInBumF 80
Do not let their hatred and rejection hurt and destroy either you or your nephew. He is so lucky to have you, and you him.
Humans never fail to amaze me by their ability to be vile and loathsome to other humans. You've gotten the worst of it, but have handled your own and your nephew's situation with grace and beauty. Hang on to who you are and what you've made for yourself, be kind to the both of you right now, and know there are millions of us out here who can relate and and are holding you in our thoughts with love, warmth and care.
You are a hero in so many ways.
Posted by OutInBumF on May 18, 2012 at 3:03 PM · Report this
kristen pawling 81
I'm in a situation that is similar to yours, so automatically I felt somewhat of a connection with you. My heart breaks for you and your nephew, but I am SO happy that he has you in his life.

I might not be the right one to give you advice, I am a little lost myself, but I will let you know that you're not alone. If you'd like to talk, id love to talk to you. My email address is on my blog (link in my slog profile.)

Maybe it will help if you don't think of it as your family disowning you and your nephew, but think of it as you and your nephew disowning them. Do you really want people who are so hateful in your life?

You are such an amazing person and I hope that you're able to see that. I agree with Dan, THANK GOD FOR YOU!! Fuck your family. You, VABG, are a hero. Take care.
Posted by kristen pawling http://www.kristenfingpawling.blogspot.com on May 18, 2012 at 3:03 PM · Report this
sonyalea 82
I love your brave story. Your words have power. I hope you keep writing (like Dave Eggers did when his parents died and he raised his younger brother.) Your voice could make a beautiful book.
Posted by sonyalea http://workingwild.blogspot.com on May 18, 2012 at 3:03 PM · Report this
balderdash 83
You can't pick your family, and it sounds like you drew a pretty shitty one. But thank goodness you were around for that kid.

Listen, your family doesn't hate you - not really. What I mean by that is that it's not personal. They can't, or really just won't, understand you any further than the fact that you're not like them any more. They're crippled people, all of them, and you can't fix them and you're not responsible for them. They do hate you, in a way, but it's not about you. It's about a complete failure to understand not only you and who you are, but the entirety of the world outside their lunatic religious enclave. You don't fit in with a dangerously unstable belief structure, and so they need to hate you and cast you out or it'll start to crack.

So chin up. It's not you. It's not personal. It's their problem and their blindness and you don't need to make excuses for it or take an ounce of blame for it. You sound awesome, and you've come away from this with a great opportunity to help an innocent kid out of a world of hurt.

In a way, your family are being victimized by their culture, choked and poisoned by destructive ideologies that they're afraid to examine, and if that makes you a little sad, that's appropriate. It doesn't even remotely excuse their conduct, however, so write 'em off, close the book, and live the best life you possibly can with your new, intentional, far better family.

Good luck.
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on May 18, 2012 at 3:04 PM · Report this
biffp 84
It sounds like VBAC is in shock, and that seems like a reasonable reaction. Hopefully, she can move to acceptance and understanding. I think it's a good sign to have written the letter and reached out for help. It's unfair she needs to find a way to accept their hate, but there's no choice but to move on and live her life. Thank god she was there for that 15 year-old. Horrible situation. I don't understand how these people were led to believe this is being religious, loving individuals. It seems more like a hate crime.
Posted by biffp on May 18, 2012 at 3:05 PM · Report this
tabathalphabet 85
In so many ways, this letter is stunning. Dear lady writing it - you have some serious strength, bravery, and love. What a force you are and must be. Your nephew is incredibly lucky to have you. You're a testament to what's good in the world. Thank you.
Posted by tabathalphabet on May 18, 2012 at 3:05 PM · Report this
86
Progress is a bitch. Someone in your family had to be the first to come out, and being first is always a great burden. The history of every civil rights movement details how some generations had to step up, consequences be damned, and be strong so that the next generation wouldn't have to be.
I know the broken feeling that you are truly alone that comes with losing your family. It's hard to ever recover, but having close friends can come to replace that. And don't forget, you have this kid now. While you may not have had that much contact with him up until now, he's family, and you'll find that giving someone the love and support you missed can help you heal yourself.
Posted by niko4ever on May 18, 2012 at 3:06 PM · Report this
Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In 87
VABG: You're a SuperHero. You didn't ask for it, but that's how it is. At least, that's who you are to your nephew. He's your family, the others aren't.

Giving out hate is a negative emotional investment. Love is an investment that returns a million-fold.
Posted by Some Old Nobodaddy Logged In on May 18, 2012 at 3:07 PM · Report this
88
There are advantages in this experience, VABG.

You need not worry about your family 'coming around'. Perhaps your nephew's generation, or the subsequent generation, will have a non-gay sane member or two, and if so they might look you and their cousin up at some point. But you shouldn't waste any more emotional energy on them.

They've made their choice abundantly clear, and the hatred in their eyes and hearts only speaks to their emotional, spiritual, intellectual, and ethical impoverishment.

You and your nephew are blessed to be rid of them.

You also have an opportunity to be a parent without the hassles of diaper-changing and toddler-chasing. Your family of choice has been expanded, and if your nephew is anything like you, then he will be a blessing and a joy in your life.

The best revenge (and I know you don't want revenge VABG, but the principle applies) is to live well. Be sane and happy, and live a life filled with love and friendship--and help your nephew to do the same--and that will be the best vengeance, the best way of saying to them "fuck y'all very much."

Posted by Functional Atheist on May 18, 2012 at 3:09 PM · Report this
89
i don't know if you've left behind your faith entirely -- i would certainly understand if you have.... and even though i'm a christian, i don't know scripture nearly as well as i ought ... but remember the passage where jesus says to turn our backs on even our mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters in order to follow him? let the dead bury the dead, or something like that? (i would look it up but I'm in a rush, sorry). my point is this: whether or not you are a person of faith anymore, YOU are the christian in your family, and the rest of your biological family has been consumed by something hateful that has nothing at all to do with christ. they are the sinners, the possessed, whatever it is you want to call it. and that is awful, and shocking, and something to grieve and mourn for sure. but you are not the broken one, not in the eyes of god (if you believe in god anymore), and not in the eyes of christ (if you are a follower of christ anymore) and not in the eyes of good people of good will anywhere you will meet them. YOU ARE NOT BROKEN. you, in fact, are whole and complete and beautiful and loved by god and celebrated by christ and the world is better place because you are there for your nephew now. help him know that he, too, is not broken, but whole and beautiful, by not only talking that talk, but also by walking that walk.

i am in awe of you, and like dan, i thank god for you. i will keep you and your nephew in my prayers. and while i'm at it, i will keep the rest of your family in my prayers too, so you don't have to. really, it's time to turn your back on them, let them bury their own dead. walk in the light and the way of love as god means for you to.

god bless you. let us know how you're doing, ok?
Posted by martarose on May 18, 2012 at 3:11 PM · Report this
90
I'm sitting here crying for you and your glorious nephew. I can not even imagine how a mother could turn their back on a child like that. When my daughter came out to me when she was 13 the only thing I cared about was if she was happy. That is all I ever wanted for my children. I hope that you aceive some level of peace over this, and show your nephew the love that exists in your made family.
Posted by dharawal on May 18, 2012 at 3:12 PM · Report this
torrentprime 91
You are being a better example, a better person, a better testament, and a much-needed sense of hope to both your nephew - and yourself. Focus on that. Make that hope your message and your hope and BE your own personal "It Gets Better" video, for his sake and yours.

You know the larger community you have found for yourself will be there, for him and for you. They're your family. Grow into them.
Posted by torrentprime on May 18, 2012 at 3:13 PM · Report this
92
Like I wasn't crying enough because the little group of college students I've been mentoring for the past four years graduated today...

I don't know - and you didn't indicate, VABG, but if you are still a believer, know that you are the one behaving like a follower of Christ, not the family who supposedly wears their Christianity on their sleeves. Despite what your father told you, you ARE a child of God, and nothing can or will change that.

If you aren't a believer, thank whatever higher power you believe in, or the universe itself, that you've been able to fashion a family for yourself, because the one you were issued at birth seems pretty awful.

Finally, if you are in the position to do so, find a therapist or a support group, or something wherever you are. Sometimes hashing out all the hurt and anger and bitterness and frustration with another living human being can be a real boon and help.

Finally, I don't know you from Adam, and I don't know if you'll appreciate it, but you and your nephew will be in my prayers. I will pray that you find happiness, peace, and love, in whatever form they may take.
Posted by Sheryl on May 18, 2012 at 3:13 PM · Report this
93
I can't add to the praise - it's well deserved, but I would like to second the opinion that you should see a lawyer. I'd hate for the sister to suddenly yank the kid back into that festering hateful mess of a family. And make sure the kid is educated about the ways of the gay world. It can be very dangerous for a kid on his own.
Posted by Dan Not Savage on May 18, 2012 at 3:14 PM · Report this
94
I do believe in God. I believe in a god of love and light. I also believe that every hurt your family has caused you will now become the fire that you use to raise your very fortunate nephew.

I do not, however, believe in your birth family. No loving god created such hateful people. However, they are living the hell they created and my experience tells me that your reward is not having to be part of that hell.

I am a lesbian who is raising the last of my three children. He is an exuberant, happy and loving gay boy. So, it is with so much love that I tell you that both of you are in for an amazing ride and, rather than making me sad, this letter has made the sun shine a little brighter, the day a little more glorious. What a great gift each of you have received. What you are doing is a gift beyond price.

Much love,

Jackie
Posted by Jyg08 on May 18, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
Tizzle 95
You have mourned the loss of your family in the past, and moved on. Sometimes with the grief over loss (which clearly doesn't have to come from death), you have to mourn again, perhaps even cyclically. So mourn the loss of your family again, with your nephew this time. And then move on, again.
Posted by Tizzle on May 18, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
Alanmt 96
VABG,

I think the answer to your question can be found in an idea advanced by Eric Hoffer in his book the True Believer. He said that who we hate the most are not the people who have hurt us, but the people that we have hurt, because they make us feel guilty and break through our carefully constructed subjective opinions of our own inherent goodness and worth. Your family are very conservative Christians who try to lead a very godly - i.e. good life. They see themselves as the good people, the righteous people. But they treated you abominably and now they have treated your nephew abominably. Your own father physically and criminally assaulted you. No matter how sincere their religious beliefs, they are human beings and on a gut level they know that the way they treated you and now him is sick and wrong. And they hate you because of the way that knowing that about themselves makes them feel. Because you are an indictment of their own evil.

So, let it go. Don't allow yourself to be doubly hurt - first by their initial rejection, and now by the hatred engendered by their guilt. I know it hurts. But the fault doesn't lie with you; it lies with them.

You are conflicted because they are like werewolves. Much of the time you knew them they seemed human and nice and actually were so. But homosexuality is their full moon - they become vile vicious evil monsters in reaction to it. When things settle down, you may want to talk to your nephew about his siblings and cousins. Even in this family, I bet there are other younger generation people who are questioning their parents' view and actions. They might be worth staying in touch with.
Posted by Alanmt on May 18, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
97
I am a white straight guy married with an adopted baby girl..My only hope is for her to be happy, confident and FIERCE! I don't want her to be a passenger in the world but a DRIVER.

Same as our choice in a baby...healthy. We got the most adorable half-black baby girl, and I cannot imagine loving a biological child more than I love her.

We choose our friends, we have no choice when it comes to family....so I say, Live your life by your own rules and let your friends be your family. Because they are there because they love and support you...BY CHOICE...not because of an obligation of blood and dna.

I am glad and honored that people like you exist.. please know that you saved your nephews life...and you are FAR more important than the close minded dipshits who turned their backs on you.

All the love in the world to you!
~C
Posted by chard on May 18, 2012 at 3:15 PM · Report this
98
It is very very simple: You are NOT broken. Your nephew is NOT broken.

The rest of your family - that is where the uncertainty lies. Some of them ARE broken. Probably not all, but it's not your requirement to 'fix' anyone. In time, more of them may reach out. Or not. For now, know that you and your nephew are free to be yourselves. Be family for each other if you can. If one day you reach a stable enough, good enough place, maybe you can reach out to the others, and let them rejoin the *welcoming* healthy branch of the family.
Posted by Bob O`Bob on May 18, 2012 at 3:16 PM · Report this
99
To play on words, I'd say you don't need to pick yourself up: you're already so high up there that your biological family will never be able to catch up, closer to their professed god than they will ever be.

That, and everything else that everyone here has written.
Posted by Ricardo on May 18, 2012 at 3:17 PM · Report this
Corylea 100
What #44 said. Double.
Posted by Corylea http://corylea.com/ on May 18, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
101
If any members of your family come around, they'll prove themselves. If they don't, they don't deserve you and you're well rid of them. Either way and every day, you and your nephew win.

I've met local kids whose parents have kicked them out for being queer. We as a community need to put a stop to that.
Posted by SistaWendy on May 18, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
102
You've lived in the hope that eventually your family would come around and now it's manifestly clear they won't. That's enough to break anyone. You still got your nephew out and have given him a home.

You are beyond awesome.

It's okay to be broken. You made it this far, and this is not going to stop you. So heal up, lean on your family of choice (heavily if you need to), keep it together for your nephew but don't pretend it's all rainbows and unicorns for him. He knows better. It sucks to realize the Hollywood ending is mostly a lie. Think of the great 40th birthday/His College Graduation party with the people who love you both you're going to have in a few years.
Posted by usagi on May 18, 2012 at 3:18 PM · Report this
103
I'd say fuck your whole family, except those sort of people don't deserve to get laid.

I know some amazingly kind, talented people who have severe issues because of the fucked up things their biological 'family' did to them. I don't even talk to some members of my own family, because they are terrible, racist, sexist people. The concept of a blood-related family that one must be loyal to or love is just a way to guilt and shame people into putting up with dysfunctional narcissists. A true family is based on love and acceptance and mutual support and not on shared DNA.

It's not your fault that your bio-fam has rejected you. You're amazing and generous, and displaying more charity and open-heartedness than your whole family put together. Their disapproval doesn't matter. You have people who love you - that's what's important.

You absorbed a shit-ton of bad vibes from the people you're related to. Replace all those bad vibes with good vibes - have a 'welcome home' party for your nephew, go see a funny show, take a trip with your nephew to somewhere exciting, learn how to do something new. Re-fill your life with happiness, so it crowds out the ill feelings you got a month ago.
Posted by R.Taylor on May 18, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
104
I'm so very happy to know that someone like you is out there. You faced that bunch of wolves and saved that child's life. You are a hero.
Posted by Mr. J on May 18, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
105
To go back into the hell of your awful bio-family to rescue your nephew puts you in the pantheon of heroes of the Underground Railroad and the Holocaust. You risked your sanity and sense of self to rescue a helpless rejected child, and you didn't come out unscathed. But you have changed his life. I just erected a statue of you in my soul.
Posted by Fangdoc on May 18, 2012 at 3:19 PM · Report this
samanthaf63 106
I do believe in God. And I believe in you. And I thank God on your nephew's behalf that you're there. And I'll pray for you that you keep on being the wonderful, strong lesbian you are. Just think how significantly his world has improved since you came to get him... to go from being outcast to being embraced. May God bless and keep you both.
Posted by samanthaf63 on May 18, 2012 at 3:20 PM · Report this
108
I can't begin to express my admiration for your grace and courage and the strength it takes to face the people with whom you share a biological connection but do not have a scintilla of the humanity that you possess. That you have reached out for also speaks to your emotional health as a lot of people make the mistake of suffering in silences. Hopefully, these messages provide you with the support you need, and while you may feel wounded now, those feelings are a part of what make you human. And what a wonderful human you have demonstrated you are.
Posted by ksim43 on May 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM · Report this
107
You are amazing. And so is he, for being brave enough to try to be who he is as young as he is, and against so much hate.

Everyone else has already said most of what I would, but being a pragmatic person, I'd offer you some 'what to do' advice. You have a fifteen year old child-adult-person in your life now, someone I'm betting barely remembers you from his childhood, if at all.

Love the hell out of him. And do it by doing as many normal, loving, family things as possible. Play board games with him, find out what his favorite TV shows are and watch them and make a huge bowl of popcorn with too much butter, get him to help you fix things around the house, start a project refinishing a piece of furniture just for his room, take him to the local gym for basketball or swimming or anything he likes to do. Fill up his day! Fill it up with good memories that he will be able to look back on for the rest of his life. He should be able to have some alone or quiet time too, but don't let him dwell on what happened or waste his time trying to answer the question that has no answer, the question of 'why'. Keep both of you busy. You'll heal yourself too.
Posted by Mariel on May 18, 2012 at 3:21 PM · Report this
despicable me 109
I am so happy your nephew has you in his life, VABG. It hurts me to think you feel as if you are broken. You can take the word of hundreds of LGBT's who came before you, YOU ARE NOT BROKEN! And for the record, YOU DO GET TO CHOOSE YOUR FAMILY. Biology or not, you absolutely get to choose who you have in your life, how you choose to live and who you choose to love. Your family made their choice, please don't let them rent space in your head any longer.

All my best wishes to both of you, take good care.
Posted by despicable me on May 18, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
110
Something is broken, but it isn't you. It sounds like you held on to hope that you still had connections with the rest of your family that would bring them around someday - and you clearly do, in your heart. And that shows that you have so much love inside you and so huge a willingness to love and forgive, if you can hold onto that in the face of everything else.

They may have further broken those particular ties from their end, and of course it hurts. How could it not? But they didn't and they can't damage the capacity for love you have inside yourself.

So let them go and shower that love on people who are interested in returning it, especially on your nephew. Create a new family - a family of choice - that loves you both and supports you both and lets you actually share that love that you have to give.

This is their loss, not yours. What you have lost is a picture of how things might have been if they were different people. Now you know they aren't.

You don't have to be anything you aren't in order to help this boy. It sounds like who you are is amazing. And knowing and seeing that they hurt you as much as they did him may help him really get that this has nothing to do with anything wrong about him.
Posted by Lymis on May 18, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
111
You aren't broken. But you are wounded. I think it is helpful to acknowledge the hurt as a step towards healing it.

It hurts like hell to have someone direct pure unadulterated Hate at you. And it hurts even more when that Hate is not only undeserved, but irrational. It makes you doubt your own sanity, your own ability to understand the world. Even more so when entire communities espouse that insane, irrational hatred, and swing it at you like a weapon, all the while proclaiming their own righteousness. The world is turned upside down. Those who are supposed to be most trustworthy cannot be trusted at all; those who are supposed to support you tear you down. And you know in your heart that they are wrong, but they still scream and yell and denounce -- but they are family, and so what they say is supposed to carry weight.

It's like walking through the ward of an insane asylum, and having a bunch of people in white coats tell you all the different syndromes that you exhibit. These are the authorities, don't you believe them? But they seem to be foaming at the mouth. What if the white coats are just dress-up time for the inmates?

Seen from the outside, it is crystal clear: your biological family is Rev. Phelps and Westboro Batshit Church redux. You aren't crazy, they are. Your estrangement from them isn't banishment, it is escape from a disease.

And providing sanctuary for your nephew is reestablishment of what family is supposed to be. You are an amazing person. You are incredibly brave to have faced that villainous onslaught, to have gone in and rescued someone who desperately needed to be protected. (From those who supposedly loved him. God, the insanity of it!) And to have taken on the hurt of it, and the hate, and the despair, and the unfairness. Because he needed you.

You ARE the "It Gets Better" in your nephew's life.
More...
Posted by avast2006 on May 18, 2012 at 3:22 PM · Report this
112
wow, i wish i could meet you... you're a wonderful person despite your family's damaging influence. and your nephew will grow up to be an awesome guy because of you :)
Posted by kendramegan on May 18, 2012 at 3:23 PM · Report this
113
VABG:

1. I'm an *atheist*, and I'll say it: you're doing God's work.

2. You MUST go to your local family court right fucking now, get legal custody of the kid, and get them formally investigated by Child Protection Services for child abuse. It's an emergency situation and hopefully the court will realize that.

If you don't get custody ASAP, his parents will still be able to hurt him and you both, and for that matter he's in danger of being taken away from you by CPS because you're not his legal guardian. Hell, they could even press charges for kidnapping if they're particularly vindictive.

Get all records you can of how they treated you and how they treated him. You'll need them for evidence.

3. Once you have custody, demand child support from them. If they refuse to provide it, go back to that court and sue them for it. You shouldn't have to bear the financial costs yourself.

I don't know what else to say that's not been amply said above. I wish your family the best.
Posted by saizai on May 18, 2012 at 3:26 PM · Report this
Tracy 114
Thank you for being you, and for being there for your nephew. Hoo boy, this ride called Life just took an unexpected turn, but you'll continue to be fantastic. I'm glad you have created such an an amazing family for yourself and sending love/support your way. *hugs*
Posted by Tracy on May 18, 2012 at 3:28 PM · Report this
115
Damn. You are a badass.
Posted by hereiswheremynamegoes on May 18, 2012 at 3:29 PM · Report this
116
So glad I have a private office w/a door I can close, cause like Dan this letter didn't leave me with tears in my eyes, but with them streaming down my face.

Oh VABG you are so awesome and I so feel for you.

Posted by gnossos on May 18, 2012 at 3:32 PM · Report this
jayman 117
I am so sorry that you have suffered such devastating rejection from your family and I am glad to know that in the years since your graduation, you have built a new life and new family for yourself with loving and supportive friends.

The recent contact with your family is the re-opening of an old and deep wound that reminds you what was lost ten years ago. It hurts - and you are not a weak or broken person by acknowledging that pain. Everything you have done since that graduation day has shown you have a great inner strength.

It is okay to mourn your loss again, but please recognize this newest act of rejection has given you a small part of your family back - someone you last saw as a five-year old boy. The act of facing your hateful family again and giving a safe space to your nephew is another beautiful act of courage and grace. The pain you feel now is a mere stumble on a long and powerful journey you started 10 years ago. You will get UP, you will feel STRONG again and you will go FORWARD, because that is what you did BEFORE and it is WHO YOU ARE. Never forget it.

I wish you all the best and I hope you keep in touch with Dan so he can let us all know how you and your nephew are doing.
Posted by jayman on May 18, 2012 at 3:36 PM · Report this
118
You win. You win at life. You are making the biggest difference in the life of a kid that you possibly could. It's an amazing and humbling thing. You have a lot of beautiful people in your life and out here in interweb land who are so proud of you. So. Proud.
Posted by Mer-Mer on May 18, 2012 at 3:36 PM · Report this
Alison Cummins 119
My sister didn’t talk to me for years, walked out of the room when I entered, the whole thing. Not because I was a lesbian, but because I — I dunno, she just really didn’t like me. I rubbed her the wrong way.

I cried many tears over her rejection, even though none of the rest of my family behaved that way. So I totally get that you feel broken and lost. The people who should know you the best — the people who created you — hate you. You must feel utterly defective. THERE’S NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU FOR FEELING THAT WAY. That’s the way human beings feel when their people hate them. It’s devastating.

Now we know you *aren’t* utterly defective. You’re smart, compassionate and brave. So feeling that way is just a feeling. It’s a strong, powerful, horrible feeling but it’s just a feeling. A therapist can help you get some distance from the feeling, but you don’t need to be fixed.

If you’re having trouble functioning — and who wouldn’t? — you could talk to your GP about whether meds could provide a temporary crutch while you work your way through all the things you need to do now. Or not, if that’s not your thing.

I suspect what’s going on with your family is more complicated than hate. As others have mentioned, your sister reached out to you. She made sure her son was safe by asking you to take him. She trusts you to keep him safe — so at some level she understands that being a lesbian doesn’t make you awful, it just means you’ve rejected the family or something. Which is different. Or something. Whatever.

Congratulations to all of you for finding the way to reach through this fraught mess and do what is best for your nephew.
Posted by Alison Cummins http://cleanmyscreen.peghole.com/ on May 18, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
120
I don't know if I can follow such a wonderful outpouring as the previous comments, but I wanted to add that it's OKAY to hate your bio family, especially if they are hate-filled wack jobs. It can seem wrong, because family is supposed to be loving and supportive, but unfortunately a lot of bio families aren't. So it's OKAY not to have anything to do with them… beyond securing legal guardianship (and possibly child support) for your nephew.

This reminded me of some books by a U.K. author named Diana Wynne Jones. Jones came from a neglectful family herself, and a lot of her books deal with child characters coming to grips with the fact that their bio families are not all that, and that their friends are much better. Her books are great fun, too, and should help cheer you guys up. I recommend "The Merlin Conspiracy" for starters, but really all her works are great. Just search Diana Wynne Jones on Amazon, and you should find a lot of her books in print and digital form.

I wish you the best, please give yourself and your nephew a hug from me.
Posted by Rondie http://agent-elrond.deviantart.com on May 18, 2012 at 3:37 PM · Report this
121
Dear VABG,

Your story made my day. I wept, of course, but tears of joy as well as grief. Knowing that there are people like you in the world makes it a better place. You have quite literally saved your nephew's life, and I have no doubt that you will both be shining lights to the world.

Thank you, and please accept my best wishes and my love as you embark on your new lives together.
Posted by BABH on May 18, 2012 at 3:38 PM · Report this
johnjacobjingleheimerschmidt 122
It's ok to be angry and sad and everything else you feel... just don't stay there. As soon as possible get yourself and your nephew to a counselor, possibly one that deals in grief.

I'm sorry for your loss.
Posted by johnjacobjingleheimerschmidt on May 18, 2012 at 3:39 PM · Report this
123
Your letter is very touching, and I am so sorry that your relatives have put you and your nephew in such a horrible position. They are NOT your family. Families are made from the love we share and how we support one another. That group of people from whom you have been brought into the world failed to create a family. You, on the other hand, have the opportunity to be family to your young nephew. And you are doing just that...
Posted by mef on May 18, 2012 at 3:39 PM · Report this
onion 124
VABG you rock. You are awesome. And you just made my day. Knowing that someone is out there doing such a great thing.
I'm sorry you are in shock and feel so terrible. I hope it passes and that you can enjoy your new life with your nephew without too much memory of your family's ill-will. You are awesome.
Posted by onion on May 18, 2012 at 3:40 PM · Report this
125
just close your eyes... no wait... that won't work. Read this first THEN close your eyes. Wrap your arm around yourself. Image my arms around yours (BTW, I'm a heterosexual 35 yr old blond European woman so how much fun is that?) and feel the tight cuddle I'm giving you. Hold it a bit longer. Hell, hold it for as long as you want. Lots of love, cuddles and respect from overseas. (note: don't thank God you're here. Thank your inner self. It's only you making all this possible!)
Posted by Charlie007 on May 18, 2012 at 3:41 PM · Report this
126
Don't carry that dark cloud around. That cloud of hate and ignorance belongs to your family. They made it, they own it and they can sit under it if they choose. Their loss. I bet in that family, hiding behind the hate, are more people like your nephew who see you as a sign of hope. Maybe they'll come forward to you someday.
You are a bright light and you have given a young man a spark for his own light to shine one day. You deserve love and admiration from those people. The fact that they can't give it to you is a sign that they are broken. Not you.
Posted by tacomagirl on May 18, 2012 at 3:44 PM · Report this
127
Thank you, VABG.
You give me hope.
Thank you for being there for your nephew. Thank you for going back and seeing your family for his sake.
Thank you for being a true child of God (while i suspend disbelief) and loving your nephew when the rest of your family can't or won't.
Your nephew is so lucky to have you. I wish every gay kid could be so lucky.
Posted by Skep on May 18, 2012 at 3:45 PM · Report this
128
Hello. I am so sorry that your relatives have put you and your nephew in this position. They are not your family. Families support and love one another, and they are clearly not worthy of the title. You, on the other hand, have the chance to show your nephew what it means to be a family, and you are doing just that. Keep strong. Show love. We are all behind you.
Posted by mef on May 18, 2012 at 3:46 PM · Report this
kim in portland 129
Dear VABG,

I am so, so sorry. Your capacity for love is your salvation in this. Your family has attempted to erase you and failed, like a phoenix you rose from their rejection. You built yourself a family you deserve and have willing walked back into the flames to save your nephew. We call those who sacrifice themselves for others a hero. That is who you are. You're a wounded hero. A strong and sad hero. It makes our hearts sick to feel hopeless. And I think a piece of your heart holds on to hope for your family of origin to change. They showed that they have not. That is your truth at the moment. You need to talk about this. You and your nephew need to grieve this.

I'm sending you a virtual hug. Treat yourself with kindness. Consider some counseling. Give thanks for the family you have built. I've no idea if you belong or even want to interact with Christians, but if you'd like a supportive online blog then try John Shore's. He's kind and understands, like many of us here, the pain of being rejected by your parents.

Take care. I'll be thinking of you.

Fondly,
kim
Posted by kim in portland http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/11/fast-paced_video_provides_a_fu.html on May 18, 2012 at 3:47 PM · Report this
130
From a legal standpoint, I would talk to a lawyer immediately. You need to make sure that everything is documented (i.e. the mother's abandonment) and you should do everything in your power to obtain legal custody of your nephew before someone in your family decides to take him back and place him in some type of "gay reparative therapy."

You need to be strong for your nephew, because no matter how hurt, rejected or discouraged you are feeling, he's probably feeling even worse. One of the benefits of being LGBT is that, as an oppressed minority, we share a special bond with each other. We have the opportunity to create wonderful, large loving families that are joined together by more than dna. So lean on your LGBT family.
Posted by mshawn on May 18, 2012 at 3:48 PM · Report this
131
You've been strong for 10 years. You can break down a bit now, but then get back back up. You clearly were made to thrive, and you will. Just give it time.
You are the best thing to happen to your nephew, just continue to be there for him and love him.
All the best, and hugs.

sapphiqueer.wordpress.com
Posted by Novia on May 18, 2012 at 3:49 PM · Report this
balderdash 132
Oh, yeah, and VABG?

If anyone in your old family ever comes to you asking for anything, anything at all, no matter how small, and they don't come groveling on their knees with an extremely convincing and abject apology, you punch 'em right in the dick. You don't owe them a damn thing, especially not the grief that would come from interacting with them.

Everything you might ever think even for a moment you owe to your family now belongs to that nephew of yours. You are a good, good person for taking him in. You two look out for one another.
Posted by balderdash http://introverse.blogspot.com on May 18, 2012 at 3:50 PM · Report this
OuterCow 133
I imagine It'll be very hard to ever really understand why your family can hate you so much, because their hate is irrational. You have to be able to put yourself in a crazy mindset to really understand it. You could study psychology, anthropology, religions and such more if you really care about actually being able to understand them, but you don't have to. The sad fact is our species didn't evolve into perfectly rational actors, and so we make mistakes of judgment and logic all the time. Your bio family is a clear example of this.

I'm sorry you had to lose the bio family lottery this way, but as many have already said, you're nephew sure as hell didn't when he wound up with you in his family. I wish I could hug and hug and hug you until you politely asked me to stop.
Posted by OuterCow on May 18, 2012 at 3:51 PM · Report this
briantrice 134
As an ex-Evangelical/Charismatic, I live with this situation (from several states away and a climate of enforced radio silence) and have totally volunteered to be "relative on point" if anyone rejects a kid. I at least don't have the difficulty of my estrangement being due to my sexual orientation itself, and I never really understood how that outclassed everything else (like mixed fabrics and shellfish).
Posted by briantrice http://www.briantrice.com on May 18, 2012 at 3:53 PM · Report this
gingersnap 135
You are an exceptional person and that you have done far more to prove yourself as an example of what a "good christian" should be than your hateful family.

And you are going to raise that kid to be an exceptional human too and give him a chance to be that exceptional person that he never would have had with his previous "family".

Please be happy, love yourself and your son. Don't hold onto hate, and don't let him hold onto it either. By hating your old family, you just let them win. What is it they say, turn the other cheek (face cheek, ass cheek, whatevs)
Posted by gingersnap on May 18, 2012 at 3:53 PM · Report this
Fortunate 136
VABG, you aren't broken, your a freaking hero. I mean that literally. You faced a wall of hatred to come in and rescue your nephew like a genuine superhero. You are amazing.

Of course you are feeling shaken up by this. You are seeing your family put your nephew through what they already put you through. How can that not shake you up.

But also I think you have probably been holding on to the hope that someday they would change, and this episode has probably shown you that they never will. It's like losing your family all over again, and I am sorry you had to experience that.

Just remember in the dark moments that you saved your nephew's life. Even if he didn't end up killing himself or making self destructive choices that lead to his demise due to the toxic environment he was living in, he certainly would have ended up majorly messed up. Now he has a chance to end up healthy and normal thanks to you. You were there when he needed you, and now you have each other.

So just remember, you really haven't lost anything you hadn't actually lost long ago, but you now have something you didn't have before. You now have a new member of your real family, and it just so happens that you are related by blood as well. Cherish each other and always be there for each other and you will find you have more than a lot of people out there.
Posted by Fortunate on May 18, 2012 at 3:53 PM · Report this
137
Dear Wonderful, I am so glad that you are there for your nephew and so sad that your family can't love you as you need to be loved. I'm also very glad that you have him. I have a 15 year old and she is far more together and worldly wise than I ever was at that age. Work stuff out together, try not to get hung up on your anger and hurt, though it is justified. You know from your ten years and more life experience than your nephew that things get better and luckily generally he is out in a world far more accepting of gay people than when you were 15. Talk to your wonderful rainbow of friends,let them help you. Life is for living, let your family wallow in their bitterness... Walk towards the sunlight with your nephew who has had the courage to come out knowing what your family did to you. You are both stronger and more wonderful than you realise. All my love from someone who came out expecting the same reaction you got but was shocked to find her very religious family didn't cut her off.
Posted by Lucythefish on May 18, 2012 at 3:55 PM · Report this
138
Hello. Your letter was very touching, and I am so sorry that your relatives have out you and your nephew is this horrible position. Those people are NOT your family. Families are based on love, support, and understanding, and those people are clearly unworthy of the title. You, on the other hand, are in a position to show your nephew what a family should be...to give him a place he can feel safe to be himself and belong. He is lucky to have you. Take heart in the fact that the world is changing, and it will be an easier place for your nephew because of what you have gone through.
Posted by mef on May 18, 2012 at 3:56 PM · Report this
139
Anyone with that much hate in their hearts has no right to ever make you feel bad. It might feel like they abandoned you, but in truth you transcended the hateful bullshit they espouse, and built a new life and a new family for yourself out of loving wonderful people. And now that family has a new member that without you would be lost and even more terrified than he is right now. You could have looked the other way, instead you chose to be a hero, not just to him but to everyone scared that rejection means the end for them. I'm not a man of faith, but if there's a heaven, you've just earned a place at the head table.

When I have children, I will be immensely proud if they are half the person you have proven yourself to be.
Posted by NickDrake on May 18, 2012 at 3:56 PM · Report this
Reverse Polarity 140
You are an amazingly wonderful person, VABG. I hear that you are in pain and it sounds like your confidence is shattered a bit, but you have done a hugely brave, difficult, and loving thing by taking in your nephew.

I worked for many years with street kids in Seattle. A huge percentage of them were LGBTQ. I could tell you hundreds of stories of utterly destroyed teens, drug use, prostitution, and suicides. (I can't begin to tell you how glad I am to hear that you saved your nephew from that fate.) Seeing that day after day can be soul crushing. The only way I could keep going was with the support of my fellow volunteers.

What you need is some support. You are obviously not going to get it from your toxic bio-family. So please, please, turn to your newfound chosen-family, your friends. Build your own support network. It is really hard to do this on your own. You'll feel so much better once you experience the love and support your friends can give you. And if you need a little extra help to sort through all this and get back on an even keel, get some help from a professional, an LGBT-friendly counselor or psychologist.

You have my greatest admiration and support.
Posted by Reverse Polarity on May 18, 2012 at 3:56 PM · Report this
141
So many wonderful responses... I just wanted to repeat something because I am so struck by it, what Fortunate @136 said:

It hurts, deeply, to have seen your family and experienced their rejection all over again, but you haven't lost anything you didn't already lose a long time ago. On the other hand, you've gained something wonderful!
Posted by MLM on May 18, 2012 at 4:01 PM · Report this
schmacky 142
VABG, you are as amazing as your bigoted clan is pathetic. Your and your nephew's departure is THEIR LOSS. Wishing you luck and self-assurance.
Posted by schmacky on May 18, 2012 at 4:02 PM · Report this
Lissa 143
You are such a hero, but that doesn't mean you don't get to feel the things you are feeling. Your bio family has hurt you and your nephew as only people you love can. It is ok to feel that loss.
I can't believe how mean people can be, but the goodness that people like you are capable of is equally astonishing.
Much love to you and your nephew.
Posted by Lissa on May 18, 2012 at 4:03 PM · Report this
144
Hi VABG,
Hopefully, if you have read through all the posts to this point, you are feeling better. You have love and support from all of us. Love your nephew, and let him know that the two of you will get through this together, with the family you have made.

If you want to get a different perspective on what Christianity should look like, there is a very good book I would recommend. Gay By God, by Michael Piazza. It may help the healing process.

In any case, you are truly inspirational, and your nephew is so, so lucky to have you in his life. Be sure to get legal custody, so you can protect him going into the future. Please write back to Dan and let everyone know how you are both doing, and if you need any help of any kind.

Blessings.
Posted by SeattleKim on May 18, 2012 at 4:03 PM · Report this
145
You inspire me. I want you to know that 10 years of leading your life not by hate but with love is AMAZING. You have a strength and light and all of us see it today. Yes, all the points above stand true -keep being true to you. You've got a new purpose in life -to show your awesome nephew how GOOD the world REALLY is. Make sure that those legal-deals are taken care of (sign, sealed, and put in the security box). And hey, IT GETS BETTER. I'm alone in another country. I'd love to have any relative take me in. But they say it'll get better for me, so damn straight it'll get better for you AND your nephew. You've got a family now, to lead, to raise, someone to dance and sing with and to share it! Yes, I'm envious of the love you get to share. I'm jealous of all the amazing people your nephew is going to meet because you sound like the kind of woman who is willing to meet anyone just because they're who they are. We all get weak, but look! Complete strangers are rooting for you. "Do unto others as you would do unto Me." So fuck the haters, love the players. You're inspiring me to take this world and give it love. Thank you. Sending you big hugs from Japan (and my hometown of Seattle)!
Posted by Nessa on May 18, 2012 at 4:04 PM · Report this
146
I second all the loving support you have received. I too have had times, because of abuse, where I felt broken. It's a shocking, terrifying feeling. But time, therapy and emotional support will help you mend.

I also strongly second all the suggestions to get legal advice to protect yourself and your nephew and to secure financial assistance. I unexpectedly became a foster parent of a teenage boy we knew, and it is complicated and difficult. It sounds great—I'll get this wonderful child away from these horrible people and we'll ride off into the sunset together. The day-to-day reality is much harder. When the glow of rescue wears off, you will have a very hurt teenager to parent. Everyone will applaud you...and you'll be the one living with him. It's going to be hard. But we can all see how tough you are. You can do it.

Gear up. Get all the financial support you can for good therapy, living expenses, lost work time, etc. I'm self-employed and have lost hundreds of hours to dealing with my new son's needs. And I'm not talking about cooking dinner and shopping for clothes, but coping with social services, advocating for therapy, etc.

Possible resources for learning about your rights: legal services organizations, especially with an LGBT focus; foster parenting groups; adoption agencies; private adoption attorneys. Expect to make lots of calls and ask lots of questions. Beware of Child Protective Services—if you must call them for information, do not give your name, say you're calling for a friend, etc.
Posted by sfgurl on May 18, 2012 at 4:05 PM · Report this
Av8rdan 147
VABG, you are amazing and you are proving it every day to those around you. You've lost nothing, you've gained a son of sorts and saved a life, maybe more. It's people like you that confirm in such a huge way everything we've all said all along: we are family, we are whole, extraordinary people, and we take care of our own. You and your family - and the boy that could have been defeated and maimed - will thrive.
Posted by Av8rdan on May 18, 2012 at 4:06 PM · Report this
gr8lakesgrrl 148
Sending love from the Great Lakes! I don't have much to add, VABG, there is some great advice here. Someone pointed out that you may be hearing from more of them, with 14 siblings, you must have dozens of nieces and nephews! If 1 in 10 of them are gay, well, maybe you better get a bigger house... :-)
Posted by gr8lakesgrrl on May 18, 2012 at 4:10 PM · Report this
debug 149
It is so hard that was the luck you drew as 'family' but that's all it is, bad luck.

Don't be dragged down by the anchor of your biological family. Feel sorry for them if you need to feel anything at all because they are so limited in capacity for love and reason.

Please, please take the advice above about talking to a lawyer. You need your horrible sister to sign over her child legally so that she can no longer have control over him.

She may try to do some future harm. Crazy people do crazy things.

Posted by debug on May 18, 2012 at 4:10 PM · Report this
150
Thank goodness that when, for whatever reason, your sister stopped being able to take care of her son, she reached out to you for help. She is a very broken and confused person, as is everyone else in your family who has ostracized you for the last ten years, but some tiny piece of her did the right thing.

Thank goodness you were there to catch your nephew and take him under your wing, give him a loving home, and show him what a wonderful world and family you have found.

You are a hero.

Do see a lawyer.
Posted by mouse on May 18, 2012 at 4:11 PM · Report this
151
As a 34 year old lesbian daughter of a fundamentalist Baptist pastor, I feel your pain. In fact, I almost went to Liberty. We could have been classmates. My family "tolerates" under a don't ask
don't tell policy, but the things they have said and done are still so hurtful. You are not alone. And the fact that you took in your nephew speaks to what an amazing woman you are in spite of it all. Take pride in who you are with all you have been through. The hurt doesn't go away, but I hope you are able to find joy and happiness in your chosen family and friends. Your story strikes so close to home.
Posted by Rsp21 on May 18, 2012 at 4:14 PM · Report this
152
My family didn't disown me for being different (not gay but WAY different). They merely spent decades trying to remake me in their image, which was never gonna happen. Leading to a lot of unhappy years none of us will ever get back. Finally I had to separate myself from them. So trust & believe me when I tell you, as you are, are better off without them, as they are. But it hasn't quit hurting yet do I can't give you that comfort. You are an amazing human being and your life will be filled with amazing things. I'm beyond glad you were able to be there for your nephew. (And that your sister called you to come get him rather than tossing him out may mean there is hope for her yet.) Good luck to you both.
MKK
Posted by MKK on May 18, 2012 at 4:16 PM · Report this
153
I am a straight female from a supportive family, so I can't pretend to know what you're going through, but I have had a few friends in really religious families who have been through some horrible stuff. In the end, it's not about gay/straight for a lot of them - it's about control. I had a friend who's insanely religious dad (Seventh Day Adventist - those folks are nuts) who almost disowned his daughter (my friend's sister) for marrying someone from a different sect of Christianity. Still a Christian, just a different sect. This guy almost disowned his own ADULT daughter because he realised he couldn't control her anymore, and he's pulling the same sh*t on his younger daughters now. My theory is, in some sick way, parents and families who do this just cannot stand the thought of being out of control, of opening their minds if it means altering their worldview or even entertaining the possibility that they don't have it all figured out. It's weakness, and deep down, they probably despise your strength.

Here's the thing though: you are strong, and your strength will get you through this. You had the strength to come out to your family before, and it's that same inner reserve of strength that will get you through this. Your nephew has that same strength, because he too has found the courage to be who he is when the people he loves most have turned their back on him. Remind him how strong he is, and show him how strong you are.

On a totally different note: a good friend of mine had a really bad year last year. She broke up with her long-term bf, several close relatives died, and she was living away from her family for the first time (among other things). At the end of the year, realising that she was holding on to so much pain, she wrote a list of everything that upset her and burned it, and told herself that once the list was gone, she was going to let it go and start over.

I don't know if this applies to you or if it would help, but it helped her a lot, so I'm writing this.

All my love and support to you. Many virtual hugs.
More...
Posted by thaber on May 18, 2012 at 4:17 PM · Report this
154
Funny thing about egos: nothing will provoke quite so violent a backlash as being presented with evidence that one's fundamental worldview is not only in error, but adhering to it makes one the villain. People do the most amazingly despicable things while screaming in their hearts, "I AM NOT A BAD PERSON!!!!"

It also seems that the more hypothetical and unprovable the particular piece of personal dogma, the more violent the reaction will be. Hence holy wars, but also hence people who physically and emotionally torture family members rather than face the possibility that what the Pastor said that God said about (insert topic here) might be a lie.

Offered up in the hope that seeing your family's misdeeds more as a pathetic, all-too-human foible will help you to come to terms with them and heal from your very real wounds.

Note I didn't say "accept" it. Don't accept it, meaning don't make it yours; though it may have been aimed at you, it does not belong to you; set it aside. More like recognize it and step out of the way (with a wry grin or an eye-roll) as it goes whooshing past, and leave it lie twitching on the ground instead of embedded in your heart.
Posted by avast2006 on May 18, 2012 at 4:19 PM · Report this
155
VABG - I am so sorry that you had to deal with rejection from your parents and your family all over again. Sometimes it seems like you can handle it if you're far enough away, and then you go home/back/see them again, and they reject you again, and it's just as bad as the first time. Maybe worse because not only are they rejecting you, they're rejecting a child. Just like they rejected you - only worse, and more troubling, because he's younger and doesn't have a support system and a diploma like you did. BUT HE HAS YOU. And you get to be his support, and you will be amazing at it.

Is your nephew in a public school? Because his parents also did a really shitty thing taking him out right before (or in the middle of) finals. If he's moved in with you, he's probably at a different school system - after you contact a lawyer (which you should do ASAP), contact his old school system and your current school system. He's not the first kid to deal with parents kicking him out of the house, and the schools will have resources for both you and him - so he can make it through his freshman (sophomore?) year (as well as help with things like following up with him at the new school as well). They'll often do things like waive finals or final projects, or give extended time, or allow him to finish up the course online.

You may feel broken, but I am convinced it's your back growing an even stronger spine than you already had. Many blessings to you and your nephew.
Posted by Eugenie on May 18, 2012 at 4:21 PM · Report this
Vince 156
You are the lucky one. They will steep in their hate and you'll be free. You need to train your mind to think positive thoughts and little by little it'll get better. They had a hold on your brain and that will take time to change but it will. I've been there. Trust me.
Posted by Vince on May 18, 2012 at 4:23 PM · Report this
157
Wow, you are so amazing. And I suspect you have built an amazing non-bio family around you. Showing your nephew all of that is exactly the best thing you can do. I imagine that taking on a 15 year old kid is also a pretty huge deal for you, and that this is hard in a lot of ways. Here's the thing though: you are so strong for going through what you have. You deserve all the support in the world and so does he. You've got a bit of a bio family back, and that's a neat thing.

The rest of that "family" of yours is scared. I can't imagine any other reason for so much hate. They are terrified that everything they know is wrong. But now the best thing you can do is be strong and support your nephew, and be the kind of example that is everything they are afraid of. And if they change in 20 or 30 years (which they may not, don't hope for that) then they'll have to beg for forgiveness for the love you've shown. And hell, you don't have to give it. But know that you are such a powerful person for all you've done and all you have made for yourself.
Lots of love,
Posted by ash_thorn on May 18, 2012 at 4:24 PM · Report this
158
What your parents did was wrong.
What your sister did was wrong.

As a mother, stories like this fill me with incredible rage and even greater sadness. Really, I do not understand HOW someone could do that to their child.

I hope you can find some hope in the fact that for every family like yours, there are more and more like mine, who would no more kick a family member out for being gay than for not liking broccoli.
Posted by lamb on May 18, 2012 at 4:25 PM · Report this
bleedingheartlibertarian 159
I can't remember the last time I moved through such intense sadness, rage, and gratitude, all in the space of about a minute.

We're cheering for you, and your nephew, VABG.
Posted by bleedingheartlibertarian on May 18, 2012 at 4:33 PM · Report this
Sachi 160
All I can say, Broken, is that you are a gem. You've learned to make your own family, and now you are going to add a precious life to it. Well done!
Posted by Sachi http://web.me.com/thorw/Claire_and_Sachi on May 18, 2012 at 4:36 PM · Report this
161
THERAPY! For you and your nephew right now! Find a good, sane doctor who can help you find the truth that you are a loving, giving person who just rescued her nephew from the abyss.

Those people may have your blood, but they are NOT your family. A therapist will also give you the strength to cut them off for good. Forever. So they can never hurt you or your nephew again.
Posted by weatherwax on May 18, 2012 at 4:36 PM · Report this
162
Don't have time to register or read the other emails, but more than just thank god for the sake of your nephew, I would be willing to bet good hard cash that with 15 siblings and who knows how many other nieces and other nephews there are others who need you also. Being the first is hard, honey, really hard. Don't just be there for him, be the example for the others who are crying themselves to sleep every night too afraid to do what you have done and what your brave nephew have done. My god (whatever and whomever that looks and feels like for you now) bless you.
Posted by Kel on May 18, 2012 at 4:37 PM · Report this
163
God loves you I love you you are a child of God made in the image of God, holy and perfect you are beautiful in God's sight you are kind, strong, courageous you are love standing up to hate, you are grace standing up to meanness You are Christ's broken body, you are his rising in glory You are God's dream made real. Thank you.
Posted by Kate L on May 18, 2012 at 4:37 PM · Report this
164
Fuck your sister, your parents and every other heartless bastard in your so-called family, although I almost feel sorry for shitheads so narrow-minded that they truly can't see that they are living a grotesque perversion of Christian morals. Good luck to you and the kid; you're the only ones in your clan who AREN'T broken.
Posted by chicago girl on May 18, 2012 at 4:39 PM · Report this
165
When I came out to my mom, 20 years ago, my mother told me I was disgusting. She asked me if I was a whore and said I was mentally ill. She told me not to come home again until I wasn't a lesbian anymore. I had never seen her so angry. I had cancer as a child, stage IV, from ages 4 to 6 yrs old. I wondered why my mother had taken care of me then, willed me to live, I had fought to live, just so she could reject me decades later. I wanted to die. I thought about killing myself every day for about 3 years. I got into a bad relationship and stayed because I couldn't imagine that someone could love me, so why not be with someone who hurt me.

She loves me now. She accepts me now. My father is dead, but he loved me again before he died. But I didn't wait for that to happen. I moved 3000 miles away and created a queer family. We lived together and had kids together and did activism together and tried to make the world a little safer for queers. And I love those folks like my own blood and always will. Now I have two families.

I don't think your family will ever come around to be honest. I do know that it's not worth changing yourself or hating yourself or hurting yourself over. Don't do their work for them. Love yourself. Love your nephew. Love your friends. And let them all love you. Don't forget that part - let your queer family love you! That's very important.
Posted by specialtramp on May 18, 2012 at 4:39 PM · Report this
166
I don't have much in the way of good advice, but I'm sending my love and support your way. You went and got your nephew when the rest of your family was throwing him out. Like they threw you out. But you didn't have anyone to come and get you. And he did--and that is you. And my heart is breaking for you because you didn't have a "you" to rescue you. But I am so impressed by you because you did it yourself. Do you realize how amazing that is? I can understand why you are falling apart right now because seeing what was done to your nephew reveals anew what happened to you. I guess what I would add is, it's ok to fall apart. You'll get through it. I have every confidence that you will. Blessings and much love, sweetheart. There's a whole huge family that loves you and is prouder than anything about who you are and what you've done.
Posted by Auntie L on May 18, 2012 at 4:44 PM · Report this
167
VABG - I echo all the above posters - you are amazing, a hero and most definately not broken. You may, however, be grieving. It sounds from your letter that you made up your mind and left your familiy without a backwards glance - and good for you for doing so. That you were able to build a new life is amazing. But rescuing your nephew forced you to take that backwards glance and now you are forced to do the grieving that you didn't have the time for when you first came out. I know it is horrible and you feel like you can't cope, but you CAN. You have in the past and you will in the future, you just have to deal with the now. Feel your feelings, be open about them with your new 'family' and your nephew (he is probably dealing with the same grief). It is a horrible thing to learn that your parents don't have your best interests at heart, and it is worse when they try to push their adgenda on you.

If you feelings of brokeness linger than definately seek out a good therapist - one who is gay friendly and has dealt with this sort of issue before. But it should run its course over the next six months or year, changing from stunned horror to anger then sadness. Don't repress those feelings, express them! The harder you try to bury them the longer they will linger, believe me.

And contact the new school your nephew will be attending, make sure it has a gay-straight-alliance and some activities that will interest him. It sounds as if one of the reasons you feel overwhelmed is that your life isn't exactly brimming with teenagers and you aren't sure what to do with him. Surely your friends will be able to help you with that - they must have friends with kids, or accepting family members with kids or know some one who knows someone who has kids. Don't be affraid to ask them for help.

Love you, love your story, love your lucky, lucky nephew who has you to care for him. I wish I could give you a big hug, because you certainly deserve one.
More...
Posted by Schweighsr on May 18, 2012 at 4:48 PM · Report this
168
The universe didn't give me a kid (for no apperant reason) but I would take one any way I could get it. You and your nephew deserve love and I'm sending you a bunch right now xoxox
Posted by TCP on May 18, 2012 at 4:49 PM · Report this
STS 169
What 166 said.
Posted by STS on May 18, 2012 at 4:56 PM · Report this
170
I feel sad for your family of origin to have lost you and your nephew due to thier ignorance. You and he have a better chance of picking yourselves up than they do. How can you shut out people you love because of who they love? I'll never understand it.
Posted by ld on May 18, 2012 at 5:00 PM · Report this
171
This may not be the most original thought, but I think it bears repeating: The beautiful thing about your situation is this: You know how you wish your family had been more loving and accepting and good? YOU GET TO CREATE THAT FAMILY RIGHT NOW, and it will save two people at once.

By the way, I just had a crazy idea: even if you don't believe in God, I think you should join whatever gay-friendly church exists in your area. You'd find yourself instantly surrounded by a community of kind people, and they'll love the SHIT out of you, no matter what you believe. I bet you could use that.
Posted by GreetingCardEmergency on May 18, 2012 at 5:02 PM · Report this
jezbian 172
Thank heavens for you, VABG. Your nephew is lucky to have you in his life. You are a bigger person than any of your deluded family members ever could hope to be. What you are doing is nothing short of angelic, and you are to be commended for it.

More important than your blood family is your CHOSEN family. Many of us who have come out know that our chosen families are our true community and support network. There are many reasons we have chosen to share our lives with them and they know best how to respond to both the good and the bad times we experience. They will be a good lifeline for yourself and your nephew. They will aid you in gaining strength, courage, and conviction, and give you the love and compassion that your blood family will not.

Keep strong, you amazon. You are a good person. And if you and your nephew ever come to visit Seattle I would love to buy yall a meal and show you around.

Much love to you!
Posted by jezbian on May 18, 2012 at 5:04 PM · Report this
173
I dont know what to say besides thankyou. Thank you so much for taking that young boy away from your sick family. He wouldnt last long among them, nobody would. Life is hard. In fact, today I, for the first time in my life, suffered a massive anxiety attack. Something I never knew could happen to me. But I had my friends, who drove me to the doctor, who was able to help me. THere is ALWAYS support out there. Your loved ones will help you. Goodluck!
Posted by Simyoldsime on May 18, 2012 at 5:05 PM · Report this
snoozn 174
I attended a speech by a guy named Jonathan Mooney who talks about kids with special needs and learning disabilities. But one thing he said, I think could equally apply to kids with ANY kind of extra challenge:

He said that studies have found one factor over and above all others makes a difference in whether or not kids with learning challenges succeed. That one factor is to have at least one adult in their life who advocates for them, who stands up for them, who they know is on their side.

It sounds like you may not have had a person like that, which makes it even more impressive that you've come so far. But now YOU ARE THAT PERSON FOR YOUR NEPHEW! Which as Dan and pretty much everyone has said is so wonderful. Remember that the difference you make in his life is real and important.

I think you should choose whichever route works best in dealing with your family of origin: ignore them as pathetic idiots, be angry at them and use that anger positively, pretend they don't even exist. Whatever you do, don't let them affect the way you value yourself. They have fallen for a sad, sick scam -- you got away.
Posted by snoozn on May 18, 2012 at 5:05 PM · Report this
175
You can't choose your orientation. You can't choose your blood relatives. But you can, oh you most certainly can, choose your true family and true friends and to be true to yourself in so choosing, as you have been since the day you walked away from that poisonous, emotionally crippled gang that calls itself a family. Thank you for bringing your nephew that same choice. He's lucky to have you.
Posted by Susan on May 18, 2012 at 5:05 PM · Report this
176
In the most sincere manner, God bless you.
Posted by mjh on May 18, 2012 at 5:06 PM · Report this
177
As Christ said to his mother and his friend from the cross, "Son, behold your mother. Mother, behold your son."

I'm so glad the two of you have each other, so glad you were there to catch this boy. You are a good person, a loving person, a person who lives in a community of choice that deeply loves and cares for you, a person who heard and is living out Christ's message and example. You are the seed that fell on fertile ground. You can do this.

Please let us know how you're doing. I send you every good wish.
Posted by MN on May 18, 2012 at 5:07 PM · Report this
178
I am so sorry for how your family's religion has poisoned them against you and your nephew, but I know that it is their loss to miss the gift of being a part of your lives. He is so lucky to have you, as is the family you have made for yourself. I hope that you come out of this down period strong and happy and able to realize that there is nothing wrong with you and never has been, and that you bear no responsibility for how hateful and broken your family is. I can't imagine ever not loving one of my children, and I am so incredibly sorry for what you and your nephew have gone and are going through. I don't know how much it matters to you to have a stranger over the internet's support and love, but I am feeling such profound love and sorrow for you right now, and SO MUCH gratitude that you exist to make a difference in the life of your nephew and the people fortunate enough to know you and smart enough to love you.
Posted by d2churchill on May 18, 2012 at 5:08 PM · Report this
179
Is there any good reason we can't stage a flash mob of gay people kissing on your family's front lawn? Pretty please? And post their address on Facebook?

But I know you're way too classy and kind for that. We're with you, sister, just know that. You deserve a purple heart, my dear.
Posted by Tracybelle2 on May 18, 2012 at 5:09 PM · Report this
180
I pray that your sister actually loves her son and saw this as the best way to protect him from the family.

I also pray that, if that is the case, she rapidly gains the courage to reject them and their evil.

As for you, you rock!
Posted by EclecticEel on May 18, 2012 at 5:13 PM · Report this
181
Dear VABG:

I've been reading Dan's Column since the olden days when he was on real newspaper, and you had to write a real letter with pen and paper and address him by the F word which I refuse to say. I read every single post, and every single comment, even when I'm out of the country.

This is the first time I have EVER posted a comment. You wanna know why? Becuz I have to tell you that you are a freaking rokstar!!!

I also want to tell you that your deep grief is a totally normal and understandable response to what happened to you in the past with your dumb-ass family, and what is happening again---and the way this situation is making you relive your grief and anger.

I won't bore you with my story of a crazy fanatically religious family (yet emotionally and physically abuse family) that continues to judge me and hate me for my sins of 1. leaving the church, 2. getting divorced, and 3. going back to graduate school when my two terrific kids were teenagers. (I don't dare tell them that I drink alcohol and sometimes sleep with women, becuz I know I can't survive any more abuse from them.)

But I will tell you what helped me get through it, and (eventually) get back to a happy and successful place:

1. Therapy!!! There have been 3 seasons of grief and anger during the 25 years since I stood up to my family and lived my own life. Each time I found a good therapist who understood my conservative religious and horribly abusive background and helped me work through the unique sorrow and rage that comes from being rejected and hurt by "Christians". When I couldn't afford a "real" therapist, I saw a grad student therapist in training for $5 a session. Best $5 I've ever spent. Sometimes I wouldn't say a word, but would weep through the entire hour. And, boy, was that a great release.

2. I read some great books. A few that come to mind: "Motherless daughters, The legacy of Loss". and, "How could you do this to me? Learning to trust after betrayal."

3. Building my own loving family with my kids, a great ex-husband, my good friends, and 2 awesome sisters who also left the church, has been very healing.

4. Recognizing that being rejected by family might never be something that I feel good about, but that time, and therapy, and other loving people, experiences, and events will help to reduce the intensity of the pain of the loss. And being okay with that. Just knowing that sometimes I'm gonna be sad that I got such a shitty mother and father.
More...
Posted by Been through a similar Hell on May 18, 2012 at 5:16 PM · Report this
182
All I can do is send you love.

Your new cousin Jali Cook in Atlanta. I'm on facebook and I'm here.
Posted by jalicook on May 18, 2012 at 5:16 PM · Report this
183
I'm sorry, VAGB. Sorry that you had to deal with this hate ten years ago. Sorry that you have to face it now. Sorry that your nephew has to feel rejected. I am sorry that people use the name of my God and the church I love to do so much damage. I am sorry more Christians don't speak up against the hate.

And yes, Thank God! Thank God you found your way out. Thank God you are there for your nephew. Thank God the two of you are beginning to break the cycle. The life you created and now welcome your nephew into is not lost, not for nothing. You heard the call to your true self and you followed it. You met others doing the same. You found a new way of being, one that supports and builds up, one where people care for each other.

If you were raised in a Bible-reading family, you know what Jesus tells us to do in times like these. Leave your mother and your father. Shake the dust off your feet. Let the dead bury the dead. You are not broken, they are. Leave them behind. Their hate and fear is stronger than their love of God. Claim the Divine and human love that is yours. No one can take that from you.

I wish you the best of luck, but I doubt you will need it. You are a brave and strong person. You will survive. You will thrive. It gets better.
Posted by redbabs on May 18, 2012 at 5:19 PM · Report this
184
The one point I'd like to make is that your awesome nephew has incredible strength to come out to his family, probably knowing this would be the result (I assume he knew there was a black sheep aunt who had been shunned). Please tell him how awesome and brave HE IS!

I'm straight but I come from a fucked up family so I understand the sadness, even now that I have a wonderful husband, great children and am part of a very healthy and accepting community of people. I have tried to create a life that does not involve my family of origin. But whenever I am forced to deal with them I feel overwhelming sadness that lasts for weeks. It's hard to escape that and you never overcome it, even after creating a new life. Take care of yourself and bravo for your kindness to your nephew.
Posted by tofudog on May 18, 2012 at 5:22 PM · Report this
185
Love bombs from Snohomish, WA - you're an amazing person for being there for your nephew. You'll look back on your life and know you did the right thing and built a life of love around you.
Posted by stcrispy on May 18, 2012 at 5:25 PM · Report this
186
"so I am in a really bad place right now"... Darlin you're right where God intended you to be! You are a beacon of light for that boy, and it will outshine all the hate from your "family". I think that you both coming from that family is not a coincidence, you were meant to be a safe haven for your nephew, and by loving and embracing your nephew you are truly doing God's work. I know you are feeling low but please know you are a beautiful soul and your letter made my (and many many others!) heart smile.
Posted by Mem cee on May 18, 2012 at 5:30 PM · Report this
Geni 187
Your letter made me sob. I hurt for you, I hurt for your nephew, and it makes me angrier than I can begin to express at the people who have embraced hatred rather than love, fear rather than understanding. Their lives will be the poorer for it.

Your nephew is hurting now; what a dreadful thing to go through - but he will learn the power of love and acceptance and, I pray, joy from you and your chosen family. I wish you strength and peace and the comfort that comes from community, a community of those who accept you for who you are.

Love.

Posted by Geni on May 18, 2012 at 5:35 PM · Report this
188
Ditto to everything that's been said. I've never commented on a blog post before, but your story is too enraging & heart-breaking & inspiring for me not to add my voice. Good luck! You have my sincere and deep admiration, and very best wishes.
Posted by Kennc on May 18, 2012 at 5:35 PM · Report this
189
First, sending every ounce of positive energy and love I have to you. You have really touched my heart.

And of course you are feeling broken. While you effectively escaped from your family and created something wonderful for yourself, you never fully processed and dealt with the incredible hurt you must have felt when you had to leave home as a very young woman. Going back there open all of those wounds.

I do recommend any type of therapy that will work for you and your nephew. He is hurting too, no matter how much better it is for him now. Someday in the future, he will experience this same broken feeling that you feel unless the wounds heal.

As for your family, leave them be. Someday they may realize that they were hurtful and hateful. But for now, you and your nephew are better off without them.
Posted by GarySFBCN on May 18, 2012 at 5:43 PM · Report this
190
My family didn't come to my college graduation last year because I'd left their (uber-conservative) religion. I left home at 16 after escaping said religion, and this year, moved across the atlantic for grad school and haven't talked to most of them in 3+ years.

But recently my 10th nephew (strangely, yeah, lots of boys) was born. One of my goals in life is to be financially stable enough by 30 to be able to take in any of my nephews if their parents try to pull the same shit my parents did.

You are inspiring. And awesome. doing great things. How I wish someone had been there to take me in. How I wish I'll never need to help any of my nephews, but hope that I can be as brave as you if called upon.
He's 15. His siblings and cousins will miss him. They won't [all] be convinced there's something wrong with him. Slowly, things will change toward his, and your, favour. Please stay courageous and remember that there's a whole world of people out here cheering you on.
Posted by Crimson41 http://naturaldissenter.tumblr.com on May 18, 2012 at 5:43 PM · Report this
this guy I know in Spokane 191
You are a wonderful wonderful person, VABG. Your nephew will make it with your help, and you'll make it with his. The universe is so very proud of you.
Posted by this guy I know in Spokane on May 18, 2012 at 5:45 PM · Report this
192
Sear VAGB,
Ditto to all the good above. Lean on your new, true family. They've accepted you, you just have to ask and accept their help.

Get counseling for both of you. So much of your burden is theirs, not yours. Find a nice safe ear to take that off your shoulders.

You can say a lot of things about your family, but they gave the world you and your nephew. You can make of it what you will.
Posted by Large Hardon Colluder on May 18, 2012 at 5:46 PM · Report this
193
What everyone else said. Also, you're sister is a coward, but she must love her son at least a little bit, or she would not have called for you to take him away. In her heart, she knows he needs guidance and support and obviously believes that you are someone who can provide it.

Perhaps some day, maybe after your parents are dead, she will have the strength to own her cowardice, find some bravery, apologize to you and re-enter the life of both you and your nephew. At that moment, she will have to live with the weight of her misdeeds for the rest of her life. She will have a lot of atoning to do. I hope at that moment you and your nephew can find the grace to be better people than she has been to you.

In the mean time. it's clear you have the strength to do whatever it takes to help out this 15 year old boy. Sure, it will be a burden for you. But it's also a gift. Love him like he was your own son. He will love you back twice as much. That will be your gain and the loss of his parents, whose lives will always be diminished in ways they clearly can't begin to comprehend at this point.

Living well is the best revenge. Both you and your nephew should focus on that. It's amazing what love and support can do for someone. As you give your love to this boy and get it back in return, I expect you both will appreciate the reality of this more and more with each passing day.

Good luck.

Posted by j-lon on May 18, 2012 at 5:47 PM · Report this
scary tyler moore 194
To do Checklist:

LBT Organizations in Virginia:
http://everyoneisgay.com/us/virginia.htm…

Family Law attorney:

http://www.themchughlawfirm.com/

PFLAG:

http://community.pflag.org/page.aspx?pid…

Therapy:

http://therapists.psychologytoday.com/rm…

i'm remembering a quote from schindler's list: "He who saves one life has saved the world entire." and you have.
Posted by scary tyler moore http://pushymcshove.blogspot.com/ on May 18, 2012 at 5:47 PM · Report this
195
I love you, we love you, you are loved, and you are Love. You write to Dan asking to understand hate, but hate can't always be understood. Let your own love heal you. Give it time.
Posted by longtime reader on May 18, 2012 at 5:57 PM · Report this
196
It's going to sound trite, but this is my advice: You have to silently thank your family for giving you the gift of insight and let them go. You can't let yourself be ruled by others--especially not those who are unwilling to meet you as you are. They're part of your and your nephew's past now, and the best thing you can do with your past is learn to be a better person from it. That's it. Turn their hatred toward you into your empathy toward others. For every person they hate, you love twice as much. Starting with your nephew.
Posted by stating the obvious on May 18, 2012 at 6:01 PM · Report this
197
Believe it or not, one of the best ways to recover from a bad family experience is to be a good parent. You have one of the best forms of therapy available to you: A 15-year-old nephew that you can treat the way you wish your parents had treated you.

It's gonna feel great. :)
Posted by Catavar on May 18, 2012 at 6:02 PM · Report this
198
Bless you, you are an angel -- and always have been.

And you can do this!!! You can be that pillar of love and support for your young nephew. But I suggest you reach out to an organization -- such as the YWCA, PFLAG -- and find a mentor for yourself, to help guide and support both of you. Dan would very likely be a great resource to help point you in the direction of those near where you live, so do ask him. (Right, Dan? Thank you!)

Your nephew is a gift. So hold onto each other while you surround yourselves with a loving community of your own choosing. I don't think you'll have any problem finding some amazing friends to be there for you, for always.

Peace and love to you both.

Posted by Fire Chief on May 18, 2012 at 6:03 PM · Report this
199
VABG, you are wonderful. You have a beautiful soul. Your nephew is very lucky that you are in his life. We should all be so lucky as to have as caring and as wonderful a relative as he has in Aunt VABC.

But make sure you get a lawyer. For your protection and for your nephew's. Your sister may have thrown him out, but unless there is some legal process to protect you and him, they can make your lives miserable. Neither of you deserve that.
Posted by SolM on May 18, 2012 at 6:05 PM · Report this
200
Good point, 171. And speaking of churches, Unitarians are not only gay-friendly, they're atheist-friendly. MCC is great if you're Christian, but it might also be good for your nephew to be part of an LGBTQ-friendly community that contains both gay and straight people together. Also, a UU church is likely to have a great group of gay-friendly teens as well.
Posted by danfan on May 18, 2012 at 6:07 PM · Report this
201
Sometimes the best therapy for a shitty childhood or family is to give someone a great childhood and family. Taking care of your 15-year-old nephew is, coincidentally, exactly what you need right now. You won't believe how good it feels treating him the way you wish you had been treated.
Posted by Catavar on May 18, 2012 at 6:08 PM · Report this
202
Does someone know how to set up a trust fund for this kid, so people could donate for his education, or living expenses, or something? I know things like that have been posted on Slog before...
Posted by EricaP on May 18, 2012 at 6:09 PM · Report this
203
I can only add that your nephew is one lucky kid, who has been blessed with a second chance that you are gracing him with. I can't begin to sort this out for you, but one thing I know is that as you create your life with him, the wounds and bruises do heal. And Babe, you are changing both his past and his future. You will be all the family he'll ever need, and funny enough, now you have a family again. Those assholes did you both a favor. You make me so proud.
Posted by nelson on May 18, 2012 at 6:14 PM · Report this
204
It's rare to see genuine pathos.

I'm sorry that I have nothing terribly supportive to say. Detail oriented.

Don't give up. Don't let them win.
Posted by Central Scrutinizer on May 18, 2012 at 6:15 PM · Report this
gg_mikey 205
I too took in my nephew. I was a challenge in ways I wasn't expecting, but it was the right thing to do. Kudos to you and good luck to both of you on this new adventure.
Posted by gg_mikey http://gaygamer.net on May 18, 2012 at 6:20 PM · Report this
BrotherBob 206
Do you wonder why you were smart enough to be prepared to leave? Do you wonder why you were able to survive and be healthy? Do you wonder what moved your sister to have your number, let alone call you? Maybe God is using you. Do you feel like Samuel or Eli? Micah 6:8.
Posted by BrotherBob on May 18, 2012 at 6:22 PM · Report this
207
First time commenter here. You are a hero, oh writer-of-letter. A total hero. You're hero to your nephew, a hero to everyone decent who has read about your experience, and a hero to me. I know its dreadful how your family has treated you but, you know, the truth is they don't deserve to have a wonderful person like you in their lives. You're with better people and I love you so much, even though you're a complete stranger, for what you've done for your nephew.
Posted by Joey Michaels on May 18, 2012 at 6:28 PM · Report this
208
What a blessing for you to now have one blood relative to love and care for the rest of your lives. And, what Dan said - fuck the rest of them!
Posted by Texas mom on May 18, 2012 at 6:29 PM · Report this
209
You are a good person -- whole where your parents and siblings are broken. You are true to yourself, as you proved when you rejected a diploma from an institution that preaches hatred and exclusion. You are true to your heritage, proved when you chose to pack family photos and a gift from your father as your most precious possessions. You are true to the message of the founder of your birth religion, which is at the core and despite centuries of twisting about turning the other cheek. And you are true to your family, whether they reject you or whether one of them needs your help.

That 15-year-old boy may be relying on you, but you're allowed to lean on him for support, too. He's family, after all, and you've reclaimed him from a morass of hateful superstition. Treat him well and he'll do the same, because that's what love is about.
Posted by TGXXI on May 18, 2012 at 6:29 PM · Report this
210
You are amazing. I wish you and your nephew a lifetime of (much deserved) happiness.
Posted by MN_girl on May 18, 2012 at 6:30 PM · Report this
211
1) It's been said, but I'm going to say it again: You are an incredible human being. That nephew of yours is SO lucky to have you in his life.
2)I'm with 202....how can we as a big, gay-loving community help you help this kid be what the rest of his worthless family will never be: kind, loving, successful and open-minded?
3) Keep your head up and remember: TO everyone who reads this, to your new(er) family and especially to your nephew, YOU ARE A HERO.
4) In a couple days, print this page out with all the comments. Put it somewhere safe. When things get hard, when you're feeling down, if your shithead family members decide to intrude into your life again, pull out these pages and remind yourself that you have hard evidence that you are so amazing that people you don't even know love and admire you for who you are.
Posted by Chantelle on May 18, 2012 at 6:32 PM · Report this
212
You are a good person -- whole where your parents and siblings are broken. You are true to yourself, as you proved when you rejected a diploma from an institution that preaches hatred and exclusion. You are true to your heritage, proved when you chose to pack family photos and a gift from your father as your most precious possessions. You are true to the message of the founder of your birth religion, which is at the core and despite centuries of twisting about turning the other cheek. And you are true to your family, whether they reject you or whether one of them needs your help.

That 15-year-old boy may be relying on you, but you're allowed to lean on him for support, too. He's family, after all. As often happens, a morass of blind hateful superstition inadvertantly tosses out a gift of love. And that's how love wins.
Posted by TGXXI on May 18, 2012 at 6:35 PM · Report this
rob! 213
Another virtual hug--I'm sure anything else I might say to the LW has already been said better by others.

But I want to say this: she doesn't give details, but with 15 siblings, it's likely that LW's family belongs to one of the most virulent christianist cults, the "quiverfull" movement, which wants to outbreed everyone else and believes in the absolute authority of the patriarch and in corporal punishment and obedience by virtually any means necessary.

It shouldn't take such an extreme example, but to all the trolls out there, who the FUCK would "choose to be gay" in such a completely crushing and isolating environment? That so many gays survive and hold themselves together long enough to gain freedom is testament to the human spirit, yet all too many slip beneath the waves forever.

On a positive note, Dr. Robert Spitzer, a psychiatrist who was actually one of the leaders of the movement to remove homosexuality from the list of disorders in the DSM, just apologized for the 2001 release of a misconceived study that was one of the few shaken from podiums by bigots to rationalize "reparative therapy." Dr. Spitzer affirmed that both methods and conclusions were deeply flawed, and expressed his deep remorse to the gay community.

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/05/19/health…
Posted by rob! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QZBdUceCL5U on May 18, 2012 at 6:42 PM · Report this
214
In a weird and twisted way, your sister did the best possible thing for your nephew under the circumstances: she got him out of that hateful environment, and straight into the arms of a loving aunt. Can you imagine what it would be like for him if he stayed there? It was hard and painful getting to this point for you, VABG, but now you can both heal and flourish together.
Posted by Kairon on May 18, 2012 at 6:44 PM · Report this
215
Following up on @19, while the number one most important thing to do right now is love and accept that kid until he says "gross" and pushes you away, you need to do some hard thinking about your circumstances. Are you financially stable with a job that will provide health insurance for any kids you have? Would your sister and her (I assume) husband consent to you adopting your nephew? If the answer to both of these is yes, consider adopting him so that you may give him the things he needs (you'll also get assistance and tax breaks for adopting a child, so if you're borderline on being able to afford it, look into what your ultimate situation would be). If the answer to either is no, then you'll need to secure a family law attorney to get child support and health insurance for your nephew from your sister and (I assume) brother-in-law. I mean, if I thought they would do it, you could just ask them for an insurance card, a legal agreement that you'll be the child's caregiver, and some off-the-books support, but somehow I don't think that will happen. You're not being vindictive or punishing them by seeking the assistance you need to raise *their* child. What I wouldn't do is push for an adoption if they won't consent. In such a case, the courts will drag your nephew in and make him tell them over and over again how he was abandoned. I can't imagine that would be good for him right now. You can get caregiver's rights without formally adopting him, if need be.

The timing on this really sucks. The second thing he'll need is school, but that's probably going to be too hard to get done before the end of the current school year in a few weeks. You have a couple of options here. If you live close enough to where he was going to school to get him to that school, make sure he finishes the year out there (lean on your real family - the friends and supporters around you - for help with this). If not, then look into summer school as an option to get him the credits he needs to keep himself on track. That option is not ideal, but you sound like the kind of person who could explain to your nephew that, yeah, it sucks that he's going to school in the summer, but you're just trying to make sure that this tragedy doesn't harm any part of his life. A family law attorney can also help with the paperwork needed to get him into the local school district.

Finally, I would say, have a real grown up talk with your nephew. He's 15, he's old enough for you to tell him that you never expected this and aren't entirely sure what you're doing as a parental figure. Tell him you love and accept him, that he's welcome in your home and you want him there, but that there's going to be a learning curve and you just need to keep talking to each other to make it work. Tell him that, while unlike your family, you accept him and want him in your life, you are now the equivalent of his parent, and he needs to respect you in that role. Tell him you'll be fair, and listen to him, but that this is going to be a traditional home situation for a kid, with rules, boundaries, and expectations. If he was self-confident, brave, and smart enough to come out to a family he knew would reject him, he'll understand this and understand that you just want the best for him. Make sure you make those rules crystal-clear quickly, to mitigate the acting out that is sure to be a result of this situation.

I truly wish you all the best. Hopefully we can be of whatever help you need and can't find closer to home. You're a brave and loving woman for taking your nephew in. When things get bad or hard (and they will), just remember that you're giving this kiddo the chance you never had, and there are a whole lot of people out there who are moved and impressed by your courage and commitment. Even strangers on the internets.
More...
Posted by Ms. D on May 18, 2012 at 6:45 PM · Report this
216
In the fullness of time, VABG, your self-knowledge and compassion--love for self, love for others--will be all that matters.
Posted by catilinarian on May 18, 2012 at 6:45 PM · Report this
217
Dear VABG and Nephew,
My God, I'm so sorry for the hate and ugliness you have experienced.

Your nephew is a very lucky young man, because he has you to love and support him!! If not for you, he might have been subjected to that terrible conversion therapy bullshit, and definitely would have been bombarded with Bible-hatred. If you hadn't come out years ago, your nephew might very well have been put out on the street (which would have been kinder than the conversion therapy and bible-hatred). He is better off with you. And you will be better off for having this precious child in your life.

You will be the one cheering him on at his graduation. You will be the one helping him decide his future. You will be the one helping him to learn to manage money and fill out job applications and learn to drive. You will be the one smiling and supporting his first new relationship, and the one to hold his hand through a breakup. You will be the one he comes to in good times and bad; you will share sorrow and joy. You will share many meals and conversations and leaky faucets and rock concerts and all the other great and small events that make up our lives.

I know you both feel broken now; but your love for your nephew will heal both of you.

Along with the love and support that you and your nephew will give to each other, please try to remember that you and your nephew have not lost anything - it's your blood family who have lost.

"Family" is about love, not blood. It's about respect for each other, and unconditional support and acceptance.

I hope that both of you are able to get to a place where, when you think of your blood family, you can wish for them the good things that you want for yourselves. That doesn't mean forgiveness (I can't imagine being able to forgive the abandonment of children), it just means accepting that they are who they are, and being strong enough to wish the best for them even when they so look down on you. That is healthy, and healthy people show kindness and tolerance. Even for the people who are intolerant. Even when those intolerant people have harmed you so greatly.

I hope you and your nephew have the best life brings - love, hope, and happiness. You have each other - you are EVERYTHING to each other now, and that is powerful. It's much more powerful than the hate and intolerance that you have been shown.

I'm sending you both a psychic jolt of love tonight. I hope and pray that you both come away from this terrible experience strong and happy in your lives.

I will go to gratefulness.org and light a candle for the two of you - it will have the tag VABG, from CA Mom. Here is the link for those inclined to do the same:
http://www.gratefulness.org/candles/ente…

Take a deep breath, and do the next right thing. A lot of people are sending love and support to you - breathe that in.

Peace and blessings on both of you!
More...
Posted by CA Mom on May 18, 2012 at 6:47 PM · Report this
218
Everyone is saying wonderful things! I hope this brings your spirits up! The first thing I though when I read your letter is "What can *I* do personally to help this situation?" I feel helpless as a distant stranger. You are a strong person. I am sending you every good thought I have.

One thing I think everyone is forgetting- you are allowed to feel sad. You have experienced a great loss, a death in a way, and you should allow yourself to mourn. Don't beat yourself up about being sad. Have a funeral, a wake, or just a nice long hike to say goodbye to your family and find some closure. I would even recommend some grief counseling. Your family does not deserve any of your grief, but you DO. You are allowed to be sad. As you let go of this relationship, and help your nephew to do the same, you will heal, much like anyone else who suffers from loss.
Posted by rebeccalavelle on May 18, 2012 at 6:48 PM · Report this
219
@202, if the LW sees this and is willing, we could do a Chipin. I'd be on board.
Posted by Ms. D on May 18, 2012 at 6:50 PM · Report this
persimmon 220
Yikes, this is why I steer clear of Lynchburg. Bring him into Charlottesville if you're still in central VA--this city trips over itself rushing to be tolerant of others. There's even a pro-gay church with a big rainbow banner hanging over the front!
Posted by persimmon on May 18, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
221
I'm so sorry to hear about this. I makes me angry, it makes me upset, but it also makes me hopeful. Because things will get better, they are already getting better because you have rescued your nephew. You know how toxic your family's influence is, they've already hurt you and had years to do it. He was able to get out earlier and can receive support from someone who will love as he deserves to be loved.
I'm sorry for your family, I'm sorry they haven't learned the lessons of Christ and learned to love and forgive and to not judge. These are values you can help nurture in your nephew and show him there are others in the world who do try to hold to those values.
I know it must be hard, harder than I can imagine. Like Dan said above, thank God for you. Thank God for you being there for your nephew.
Posted by GeekLewis on May 18, 2012 at 6:55 PM · Report this
gregok 222
If you get this far along the list - I hope my support can give you strength.
YOU showed strength by going there and facing them, they showed weakness by shunning you and your nephew.
YOU are the example of loving family, they are only misers with love, a mafia of obedience.
YOU are awesome!
I have a friend whose nephew also just came out last month and he was sent by his father from the USA to australia to live with his gay uncle. I am so glad he did. Fuck him. He'll miss out on seeing a truly beautiful loving man bloom.
Posted by gregok on May 18, 2012 at 6:56 PM · Report this
223
Last summer, I had a fight with my parents that was strong enough to force me out of my home. I thank God every day that I had a friend who was willing to take me in and help me get through it. Your nephew is probably heart broken that his own mother discarded him like a shit-stained t-shirt, but he's probably just as grateful that there was someone who's going to be there for love and support.

Live strong, for the lord loves you and takes care of you via the people who also love and care for you.
Posted by Isc on May 18, 2012 at 6:58 PM · Report this
224
I've also experienced parental rejection. It is unreasonably hurtful, even when you are an adult and have built a fulfilling and productive life for yourself.

It will always hurt, but it will not always hurt this badly. You are wounded, not broken, and you will come back to a better place sooner than you think.

It's not you. It's them. Take care of your nephew and turn to the people who love you. Take comfort. You are not alone, and neither is he.

I'm sending you some love from San Francisco, in fact. Just hang in there and let the healing process work.
Posted by Your friend in SF on May 18, 2012 at 6:59 PM · Report this
225
Note to self: read more carefully. LW, if you're reading this, and you need help with a family law attorney, just say so. I'm in DC and happen to know more lawyers than I care to, in the entirety of the DMV. With a little networking, I'm sure I could find you the right person to help you out (say so in the comments and I'll ask around and email Dan directly). Also, bring your nephew to DC Pride. It'll be good for both of you.
Posted by Ms. D on May 18, 2012 at 6:59 PM · Report this
226
You deserve a medal for the bravery it took to come out to your family, and a second one for going back and rescuing your nephew. It sucks to be estranged from your family. I know - been there, done that. Yes, there will be times when you feel really, really down. But those pass. You just have to pick yourself up and dust yourself off and keep going. Remember that for every one of us who has left a comment here, there are 100 more who didn't write, but we are all rooting for you! I do have one request. Please drop Dan a line every now and then so that he can let us all know how you and the young man are doing. You are an awesome young woman and the world is a much better place because of your being here.
Posted by PaulBarwick on May 18, 2012 at 7:01 PM · Report this
227
My suggestion would be that you seek out a caregivers support group and also get some therapy for yourself and/or your nephew if you can afford it. Maybe ask that your nephew get a part-time job as well if the financial strain is a burden. My gut reaction as someone who has 10 years of caregiving experience, was that you may be unfamiliar with the emotional burnout that can happen b/c of caregiving. It can sneak up on you- everything seems to be going fine and then you realize that you've neglected yourself and you haven't been on a date or been to the gym or bought yourself new clothes in way too long. You may find yourself feeling irritable, depressed, angry, sad or upset for no reason, b/c you're simply too tired to take good care of yourself. Caregiving of any form often takes a huge emotional toll. Make it a point to check in with yourself to manage your own emotions. Try to stay in the present moment and meditate if you need to (there are some great meditations on youtube that I really enjoy). Go for a long walk and clear your mind. Avoid caffiene, alcohol or food as coping mechanisms if you can. Unlike most moms, you became a mom overnight. You've probably given up a lot of time, money and energy to give your nephew the care he deserves. Give yourself a break b/c it's hard to take care of yourself and someone else. It's not easy to balance it all. God bless for caring so much and stepping up to be there for your nephew when he needed you most.
Posted by auntie angel on May 18, 2012 at 7:04 PM · Report this
228
Hey there.
I hear you.
It's going to be fine with your nephew, that's clear, but it seems to me that the reason your wrote is because of how seeing your family again made you feel?
I'm estranged from my family too. It's not nearly such a horrible situation as yours, in fact it was partly my choice. That was about ten years ago too. I have had contact now and then, and every time its horrible. It's a horrible horrible incredibly emotionally charged situation. I don't think i can imagine anything worse than to be confronted with evidence that the people who are supposed to love you don't. They brought you into the world, it's encumbant upon them to love you. And they don't. There is nothing worse.

You've had a completely correct reaction to a hideous event. If it ever happens again it'll be just as awful. There's nothing you can do to deal with it except accept it, acknowledge the very legitimate pain and be glad that you can react the way a human being should.

You are denied your parents unconditional love. But you *are* beloved.

Hugs.

Posted by gingerpett on May 18, 2012 at 7:06 PM · Report this
229
I have two nephews whose parents are stupidly religious, just like most of my family, who I left on the other side of the country.

I hope hope hope if either of them is gay and needs an escape, I can be the kind of aunt you are, LW.

You went back to the dragon's den to rescue you nephew from God only knows what. Suicide doesn't seem unlikely, when his own mother calls him "filth".

You saved his life, that's for damn sure. And I hope if something similar happens, I can be the same kind of aunt.
Posted by blah on May 18, 2012 at 7:09 PM · Report this
230
You are a good person and amazingly strong. There are not a lot of people who could handle the situation that life has dealt you. You are a saving grace to your nephew, because I can't (or rather don't want) to imagine now where he would be if he didn't have you. I'm sorry, and frankly angry, that your (bio) family can not see that as well, but family doesn't have to be the people you are related to. Family is the people you choose to include in your life. This is also a lot for one person to take on and so I hope that you and your nephew an LGBT positive therapist to help you deal with this new situation.
Posted by Buffy on May 18, 2012 at 7:11 PM · Report this
231
You are both so lucky to have each other. I think one of the many blessings is that now you DO have some blood family back in your life. And he needs you. And you need him. And like Dan said, thank fucking God for you. You've probably saved his life. Have definitely saved his heart.
Posted by JackieAR on May 18, 2012 at 7:13 PM · Report this
232
Just to reiterate what a previous commenter said - read the anonymous comments, please. I read up to 228 and every single one is supportive. Not a single troll in sight. There's a lot of "you moved me to comment for the first time" that you need to read, because it will confirm just how great what you're doing is.

Oh, and inspiring more than 200 comments on the Internet with not one anything less than supportive? Is there some kind of medal for that? The haters and the trolls are too ashamed to be compared to you, even anonymously.
Posted by Optimal Cynic on May 18, 2012 at 7:13 PM · Report this
233
Hey there. I hear you. It's going to be fine with your nephew, that's clear, but it seems to me that the reason your wrote is because of how seeing your family again made you feel?I'm estranged from my family too. It's not nearly such a horrible situation as yours, in fact it was partly my choice. That was about ten years ago too. I have had contact now and then,and every time its horrible. It's a horrible horrible incredibly emotionally charged situation.I don't think i can imagine anything worse than to be confronted with evidence that the people who are supposed to love you don't. They brought you into the world, it's encumbant upon themto love you. And they don't. There is nothing worse.

You've had a completely correct reaction to a hideous event. If it ever happens again it'll be just as awful. There's nothing you can do to deal with it except accept it, acknowledge the very legitimate pain and be glad that you can react the way a human being should.

You are denied your parents unconditional love. But you *are* beloved.
Posted by gingerpett on May 18, 2012 at 7:13 PM · Report this
234
You are all class and you're going to save that kid's life. We need about 29289393 more of you in this world.
Posted by jennylee on May 18, 2012 at 7:23 PM · Report this
marymc 235
Can't add anything to what's already been said, except for my support, and admiration, and belief that you can do this--for you and for your nephew and for a future, someday, with fewer miserable human beings like the ones who rejected you both. Think about that: as bad as it's been for you both to be on the receiving end of their ignorance and hate, it could be worse. You could BE them.
Posted by marymc on May 18, 2012 at 7:23 PM · Report this
Noadi 236
Your family are the ones who are fucked up and broken, not you. They have been poisoned in ways I can't comprehend, nothing short of a serious crime like murder would make me turn my back on anyone in my family no matter how much some of them frustrate me and make decision I don't like. Your nephew is really lucky to have you be there to be the sane person he needs when his parents are unwilling to do it. Good luck to the both of you.
Posted by Noadi http://noadi.net on May 18, 2012 at 7:30 PM · Report this
237
Nice work - such a good thing you had the presence of mind to get out of there with the kid in tow -
Posted by Polecat on May 18, 2012 at 7:31 PM · Report this
238
If a sister of mine came out as gay, I probably wouldn't love it, but I would never reject her and would treat her respectfully, as before. If I were to turn against her, that would mean there was something wrong with me.
Posted by AM on May 18, 2012 at 7:31 PM · Report this
239
Stick with the family you created. Make sure your nephew knows he is loved. You are a beautiful human being.
Posted by erom_reven on May 18, 2012 at 7:33 PM · Report this
240
VABG: you're my hero of the day.
Posted by drdzoe on May 18, 2012 at 7:34 PM · Report this
pastanaut 241
VBAG: You are an incredible person. Since your family of origin has abandoned your nephew, you have (with no warning) become a mother overnight without the benefit of the lead time that people who give birth or adopt usually have. And as devastating as it was to revisit the hate, I know that the kind of person you are — the kind who would drop everything to visit her nephew in that den of ignorance and bring him into her home without any forewarning — is the kind of person who will find the strength from her community, family (the one you've made), and her own heart to push through just like you did all of those years ago. You are going to be an awesome mom. Good luck. Take care of yourself.
Posted by pastanaut on May 18, 2012 at 7:35 PM · Report this
242
if you or your nephew are looking for support from a church, the united church of christ is very progressive. my church, old first reformed ucc in philadelphia, is an historic, majority-straight congregation with a super super progressive gay man as our pastor. if you need that sort of support, google us and email or Facebook michael. he's great.
Posted by martarose on May 18, 2012 at 7:36 PM · Report this
243
I'm 29 years old and just came out to my Christian family this year. I'm not invited to birthdays, Mother's Day celebrations, or family get-togethers. I found out my sister had cancer in a mass email my mother sent. It's hard. It hurts. You feel shame but you don't know what you've done to deserve that feeling. You feel anger because even how loving you act back towards them, the love is not shown in return.
As I read Dan's response I was cheering when he said fuck them! fuck all of them! Fuck the bigotry, the ignorance, the hatred, the abandonment. All of it. Rid that evil from your life and concentrate on the family of your choice and the love joins you. I'm so grateful you reached out for advice. I hope you find solace here.
Posted by tberry82 on May 18, 2012 at 7:36 PM · Report this
244
You're going to make that boy's life about a million percent happier.
Good job.
Posted by Park on May 18, 2012 at 7:38 PM · Report this
Zebes 245
VABG:

I'm willing to bet that in the eyes of your nephew, your act of kindness and acceptance will outshine all of the ugliness of your extended family combined. Good luck- although I doubt you'll need much of it, since you've got the right idea and you know how to take care of your own.
Posted by Zebes http://www.badrap.org/rescue/index.html on May 18, 2012 at 7:38 PM · Report this
246
It is because of loving people like you that this world has changed. Do we still have a long way to go? Fuck yeah we do. Have we gone a long way already? Fuck yeah we have. And it is all because of people like you who are courageous enough to stand up for yourself and loving enough to help those who can't help themselves.

Your nephew now has a new mom. Love him as if you had birthed him and he will be ok
Posted by pegsylvania on May 18, 2012 at 7:39 PM · Report this
247
It is because of loving people like you that this world has changed. Do we still have a long way to go? Fuck yeah we do. Have we gone a long way already? Fuck yeah we have. And it is all because of people like you who are courageous enough to stand up for yourself and loving enough to help those who can't help themselves.

Your nephew now has a new mom. Love him as if you had birthed him and he will be ok
Posted by pegsylvania on May 18, 2012 at 7:41 PM · Report this
248
The greatest familial relationships are the ones we choose not the ones that happened upon us accidentally. Some accidents leave painful scars. Some, like your relationship with your nephew, lead to higher ground. I have so much personal gratitude for you, for the work you are doing, for staying who you are and for making the world a better place for our children but I’m so very sorry for the hurt you’re taking on to pave the way. Remember, it isn’t about you. They are brainwashed and they may die that way. But the family you choose will treasure you every moment of every day for the rest of your life. Be well.
Posted by verticaltwo on May 18, 2012 at 7:43 PM · Report this
249
I haven't seen nor spoken to my family in almost 4 years. Being gay is only the tip of the iceberg. My chosen family is INFINITELY more important to me than the family I grew up with. (SIDE NOTE: I am lucky in that they are my adopted family and I'm FORTUNATELY not biologically related to them! Oh, and I found my bio family and they are amazing and love me unconditionally. NEVER SETTLE FOR LESS!!).

I received help from a therapist who specialized in Religious Trauma Syndrome. I was not a severe case since I had left fundy religion in my youth, but it helped me tremendously by understanding its impact on me, even into my early 40s. Whether you believe in god or not is unimportant. Believing in yourself is INFINITELY more important. Check out http://marlenewinell.net/recovery-religi….

Thank yourself for rescuing your nephew. He will be eternally grateful.
Posted by Sweet&Salty on May 18, 2012 at 7:47 PM · Report this
250
The greatest familial relationships are the ones we choose not the ones that happened upon us accidentally. Some accidents leave painful scars. Some, like your relationship with your nephew, lead to higher ground. I have so much personal gratitude for you, for the work you are doing, for staying who you are and for making the world a better place for our children but I’m so very sorry for the hurt you’re taking on to pave the way. Remember, it isn’t about you. They are brainwashed and they may die that way. But the family you choose will treasure you every moment of every day for the rest of your life. Be well.
Posted by verticaltwo on May 18, 2012 at 7:48 PM · Report this
kristen pawling 251
I'd also be willing to chip in money to help out her and her nephew.
Posted by kristen pawling http://www.kristenfingpawling.blogspot.com on May 18, 2012 at 7:54 PM · Report this
252
You are a truly beautiful human being, inside and out. And we can't of course choose family, sadly enough. My own family is full of conservative Christians, who have lost all respect for me since I am living my own lifestyle, unhinged of that cancerous and despicable thing called religion - it truly poisons people.
Posted by shivaboyd on May 18, 2012 at 8:01 PM · Report this
253
Their hate knocked you on your ass - of course it did. What you experienced hurt you badly - how could it not? But being hurt, being wounded, is not the same as being broken. A little time with people who love you and you'll be good as new, because there's nothing wrong with you.
Posted by agony on May 18, 2012 at 8:02 PM · Report this
254
The sorry-assed excuse for the "family" you were born into SUCKS. But you, VABG? YOU ROCK!

Please DO get your legal house in order - get guardianship of your nephew so you can enroll him in school, get him on your insurance, can consent to medical care for him. And in the in-between? Just know that there are people out here who are so grateful that you have taken him in, so grateful that this child so callously discarded by his worthless sperm donor and incubator, will know real love. It may hurt now, and will probably vaguely hurt forever, but in the long run, this boy will be able to stand proudly and say that he got where he did because someone really loved him.
Posted by MissySedai on May 18, 2012 at 8:07 PM · Report this
255
You are phenomenal, and I wish you all the best. But aside from best wishes; you need lawyers and therapists.

You will need guardianship papers, school records, medical records, etc. That's what lawyers are for. If you cannot afford one, or don't know where to begin looking; contact the bar association for your state, and they will give you the names of attorneys in that field of law, as well as in many cases, providing you with a pro-bono (free to you) consultation with an attorney. Strike while the iron is hot, and get guardianship, before his biological parents get sold on one of those "pray away the gay" boot camps or something worse. At his age, they can legally force him into a program like that. Get control and do it now, while they want to give it to you.

Therapists: you and your nephew would both benefit from therapy, either together or separately, or both. What has happened to you both is a massive system shock; it's devastating and horrible and believe it or not, some day it won't hurt as much as it does right now. Please let trained counselors help you and him find a healthy way to heal.

I am so sorry that this has happened to you and to him. I'm glad that he had someone like you to rescue him. As tough as 15 year olds like to pretend to be, this is some world-shattering stuff. I hope that both of you find the services, friends and peace you so richly deserve.
Posted by Deva on May 18, 2012 at 8:13 PM · Report this
256
Sitting here crying after I read this. Your nephew is unbelievably blessed to have you. Strength to you.
Posted by Good Luck on May 18, 2012 at 8:14 PM · Report this
257
Oh my god. I read this letter, and it almost broke my heart. I read Dan's reply, and it put it most of the way back together. Then I saw, at the bottom of this less-than-6-hour-old post, "COMMENTS (242)" and I very nearly cried. In the time it took me to read the post and click the link for comments, it was up to 250. I know a lot of words, but I'm having trouble right now putting together any that fully encompass how happy I am to be a part of such an incredible community.

VABG, you're not broken. By some miracle, you are somehow fixed, when everyone and everything that you came from is broken. You are the diamond in the rough. You are the beginning of something new and beautiful; the happier you are, and the better your life is, the stronger the pull you'll have on whatever latent goodness is too scared to show itself in the rest of your family.

That you were hurt by their hate only shows how whole you are. If you had any hate in you, you'd just hate them back. You wouldn't care. But you don't hate, you love. You can't help loving them, and so you feel broken. Know this: they don't hate you because you're broken. They hate you because they are.

So ignore their hate. They will come around, or they won't. If they do, fantastic. More love for everyone. If they do not, no matter. You have found love without them. You are whole. The rest is on them.
Posted by Ben on May 18, 2012 at 8:15 PM · Report this
258
You are amazing, VAGB, and I do thank God/Divine/Source/etc. for your existence on this earth.

I lost most of my family over the last year myself, including my beloved mother to cancer, but I have good friends and two really great counselors to help me along the way. Also, I had Emotional Freeing Technique. Go to www.eftuniverse.com and read up on it. It's an energy technique that seems totally implausible but it's just been accepted by the American Psychological Association as a real, working therapy. It is free to learn and you can do it yourself in the privacy of your own home.

I've been using EFT since about 2005 and it has healed more things than I can list here but I'll give you three biggies: PTSD due to childhood sexual abuse by my Dad, paralyzing stage fright (I'm a professional musician) and a sudden onset of fear of heights. All gone. Cured. Finis. EFT works for war veterans' PTSD, too. Just imagine what it can do for you and your nephew. All that pain and angst and fury and misery can be very, very gently laid to rest. You can be free of the effects of that terrible abuse you both have suffered, be free of any power they might try to have over you... and even better, show others just how happy, contented and beautiful life can be! You are already a tremendous example of tenacity and strength and I am in awe of you and your survival. I doubt I could ever have overcome that kind of abuse on my own as you have. I only suggest EFT to give you yet another tool to use.

I wish you all the very best that life has to offer. You are an extraordinarily brave woman and the world is a better place for you being in it.
Posted by Felicia D. on May 18, 2012 at 8:17 PM · Report this
Jaymz 259
So proud of the SLOGers who have posted here, especially the Christians like me who are ashamed of VABG's family.

But to VABG: you are the protector of your nephew and he is your blood. That will be your focus and will keep you strong.

Also, you have the power to forgive your family - not for them but for YOU. It will liberate you and let you move on. We all love you, and God loves you, just as you are. Bask.
Posted by Jaymz on May 18, 2012 at 8:23 PM · Report this
260
Is it not illegal to kick a 15 year old out of the house? Can you get his parents to pay you child support or something? Obviously you shouldn't send him back to them, but maybe they can help financially since you will be raising their kid.
Posted by always wondered this on May 18, 2012 at 8:23 PM · Report this
261
You are amazing and always will be. Cast off the past and those who hurt you and let them sink to the bottom of the sea. Your nephew has won the lottery with you. :)
Posted by fgarcia on May 18, 2012 at 8:26 PM · Report this
262
The nature of real trauma is that we humans deal with it in bits. If all goes well, after a traumatic event we process enough of it to cope and move on with our lives, but it remerges throughout life and must be addressed again - where and when you are now, as opposed to where you were then.

You've just witnessed the ugly abuse you once suffered being dished-out on a kid who is not yet able to defend himself. I should think this would give anyone occasion to view her past abuse though a different lens. Coupled with the difficulty of seeing your nephew's pain, your plate looks pretty full. For me, it would be far easier to take a literal beating than to wacht a defenseless kid take that same beating. My preference would not change were the violence the emotional beatings your family dishes out. They seem to have a real tast for it, in fact (why else show up for the show?).

So first, realize you've been the victim of a violent attack. Second Realize you've witnessed a violent attack on a member of your family. Third, realize that you've been thrown into the shitstorm of suddenly being responsible for your nephew's wellbeing and care. Again, that's a full plate.

Next, get you and your nephew to a GLBTQ-friendly shrink forthwith. The healthiest person in the world would benefit from some counsel given what you two have been thrown into.

While it may sound harsh, you need to figure out if you want and are able to step in as your nephew's guardian and caretaker. Is that in his best interest (certainly being away from his nuclear family is at this point)? And yours? Finally, once you've had a chance to digest a bit of the trauma through this new lens and figure out how you and your nephew are going to deal with this situation, you may indeed want to talk to a lawyer about sorting out custody, support, and that sort of thing.
More...
Posted by beatteylaw http://www.beatteylaw.com on May 18, 2012 at 8:28 PM · Report this
263
Seems to me that you, m'dear, are MUCH more a child of God than any of your family is. That kind of hate has no place in ANY family, much less one whose members profess to be religious people.
As Ben just said, ignore their hate. I know it's difficult- but take heart in the fact that you have support, from all over the world, and WE are more of a family to you than they have ever been. I do hope they come around, but I ain't holdin' me breath.
Posted by drhydro on May 18, 2012 at 8:31 PM · Report this
264
Seems to me that you, m'dear, are MUCH more a child of God than any of your family is. That kind of hate has no place in ANY family, much less one whose members profess to be religious people.
As Ben just said, ignore their hate. I know it's difficult- but take heart in the fact that you have support, from all over the world, and WE are more of a family to you than they have ever been. I do hope they come around, but I ain't holdin' me breath.
Posted by drhydro on May 18, 2012 at 8:34 PM · Report this
265
Listen to my brother and do the best for your nephew. You are the solution to so many problems.
Posted by Chicago Fan on May 18, 2012 at 8:42 PM · Report this
266
That your first thought was that your family needed help, or that your nephew needed help, means you're more complete than anyone in your entire goddamn family. Kudos to you for surviving the indoctrination of Pentecostalism, 15-kidism, and Liberty Bullshit-ass University. Seriously, you rock my socks. The finest muffins and bagels in all the land shall be yours.
Posted by intr1gue on May 18, 2012 at 8:44 PM · Report this
267
I'm crying too, such a pain in my heart for you right now.
So, you did an amazing thing 10 years ago - you saved a life: your own. How many people get to save a life? Not many.
Now you get the chance to do a mitzvah, you get to save another life - the life of your nephew. What an honor for you.
Loving you from afar, for what it's worth. Can this community/family help you in some way? Please let us know.
Posted by fnpdavid on May 18, 2012 at 8:46 PM · Report this
268
@251, I would be damn well glad to as well

As for VABG, I too have seen families torn asunder by villainous, hate-filled immorality of those who profess to have god in their hearts. My great nephew, my great nephew who is black, native, and gay living in a Mormon household, would have been down a dark path had it not been for my brother, his step grandfather, and his grandmother keeping a leg in the door to his life. Had they not been able to tell him he was perfect the way he is, had they not instilled the great, terrible liberal bias, he wouldn't have been the kid he is today. And that kid is open and happy with his sexuality, completely comfortable in his skin despite his other, Mormon, grandmother because he knows he has grandparents who love him. That's all it takes, showing love, to allow your nephew to be comfortable in his own skin and be a free, happy person.
Posted by Bloated Jesus is Bloated on May 18, 2012 at 8:53 PM · Report this
Alcharisi 269
Apologies if someone has mentioned this before--but, if you're in central VA (Charlottesville or Richmond), ROSMY (Richmond Organization for Sexual Minority Youth) runs really valuable support groups for kids exactly his age--my girlfriend volunteers for the Charlottesville group. After he has some time to take in what's happened, that might help him out a lot.
Posted by Alcharisi on May 18, 2012 at 8:54 PM · Report this
amyl 270
We're all pulling for you. What everyone else said, sending good thoughts your way.
Posted by amyl on May 18, 2012 at 8:56 PM · Report this
271
What a beautiful human being you are! You amaze me. You are truly walking the walk that your "Christian" family members can't seem to do. Please. Please. Don't lose faith in yourself and this world. We need you. We need your love and compassion.

For what it's worth, I belong to a Christian community that loves us gays. And THIS community will be praying for you/sending you good vibes/whatever we can do from afar.

You inspire me, and I'm sure the rest of us, to do the good work - love our neighbor. Thank you for showing us what that looks like.
Posted by YoSoyComoSoy on May 18, 2012 at 8:57 PM · Report this
Griffin 272
Late to the party, but: you have done as Christ commands. You aren't broken. You are strong.

That said, lean on your chosen family--someone will know someone with clothing, furniture, and so on if you need it. Give your nephew a hug. And then call a lawyer in the morning to start getting your rights and his child support in place.

Short term? Listen to I Will Survive and/or Fuck You if you think it'll help. Eat some ice cream, and share with your nephew. Make sure that both your and his social networks are still in place (with as many siblings and cousins as you seem to have, as well as school friends, someone will want to know where he is and how he's doing). And breathe. Good luck.
Posted by Griffin on May 18, 2012 at 8:58 PM · Report this
273
Just echoing all the thoughts above. Brave heart.

@202: I'd join a ChipIn or similar.
Posted by cawti on May 18, 2012 at 8:58 PM · Report this
274
You're going to be fine. You've suffered a trauma, and you'll want to talk to your chosen family and perhaps a qualified pro (my oncologist referred me to a therapist who works with young adults with cancer who calls herself "the boo hoo doctor"; get yourself a boo hoo doctor who works with trauma of this kind).

Most important: Talk to a lawyer referred by an LGBT friendly org, stat. Now. Right away. In VA, many of the suggestions offered by well intentioned residents of the Peoples Republics of the Pacific will just cause you problems.

For the sake of your boy's future (he's yours now, sweetie) you ought to formalize the power his parents gave you when they threw you the keys. You're both going to be fine.
Posted by Phoenix rising on May 18, 2012 at 9:01 PM · Report this
275
You will get through their hate. You have already risen above. Your nephew, too.

In the meanwhile, I also am going to nag about the same things already brought up in several comments above, especially #113 and scarytylermoore's at I think #164:

Family Court
Custody
Child Support
Adoption
AND

DO YOU HAVE A WILL? Rewrite it now. If you don't have one, write it now. Get an in-state lawyer or go to nolo.com. This is necessary. Shit can happen any time. Be prepared.

In the state I live, for money to go to a minor, there has to be a trustee. See if you need a trustee. You would need to name a guardian. Make sure that is SET. Make sure it will STICK in probate/surrogates' court.

And, I'd suggest term life insurance on you for the length of time he'll be a minor or whatever date you think is best. It is cheaper than regular life insurance and if you don't have a lot of savings, it is a way to hedge bets.

Also, Durable Power of Atty, usually for medical things for you, but it can also help smooth other legal stuff if you are temporarily incapacitated or disabled.

Build as much of a legal wall around the two of you with your real, built family. They are your rock. And you are his rock.

Also, forgive yourself...that history is a lot to carry. You are doing great. If there is a Pride march or event in your area, get both of you to it. June 24th is a beautiful day.
Posted by LaSargenta on May 18, 2012 at 9:03 PM · Report this
276
You are a child of God, made in her perfect image. No person on earth is above you or stands between you and God.

Your family are lost and miserable creatures who've turned their backs on God by rejecting yourself and your nephew and have only the pain of this rejection to share. You and your precious nephew were entrusted to them that they might emulate God's unconditional love for them and you, and they failed.

Bless you and your nephew, you will be in my prayers.
Posted by Whitey's Conspiracy on May 18, 2012 at 9:10 PM · Report this
277
Someone else may have said this but:

1. Get to a family attorney and get legal custody of your nephew so they can't drag him back into a violent/abusive situation.

2. Get your nephew into counseling or at least reading some JohnShore.com.

3. Set up a paypal donation account to pay for the above 2 expenses. There are many of us out here who can kick in a few bucks and that will help.

4. You rock. I would have given anything to have had a family member take me in when my parents booted my queer ass out in high school. You are saving a life.
Posted by Mr. Bleeto on May 18, 2012 at 9:10 PM · Report this
278
VABG, you've demonstrated a level of bravery and compassion that I've never had to demonstrate myself, and that I doubt I could pull off if the occasion for it ever arose. It's entirely possible that you've saved your nephew's life. Words are cheap, I know, but when times feel rocky (and they will for a while yet), console yourself in the knowledge that you're not "broken": you're an inspiration, and there's at least family here in Omaha that would be proud to count you one of us.
Posted by Ipsifendus on May 18, 2012 at 9:13 PM · Report this
279
Do you want a new older sister? I'll volunteer. The rest of the family sounds great, too. This way you and your nephew will have relatives to visit in San Francisco.
Posted by Tyche on May 18, 2012 at 9:18 PM · Report this
280
Thank you. You are not broken, your family is. I wish I'd had an Auntie like you 19 years ago. Give that wonderful nephew of yours a great big hug. I'd be proud to have you in my family.
Posted by ZT Goddess on May 18, 2012 at 9:20 PM · Report this
281
VABG, I think that the hatred you saw on the faces of your bio-relatives was rage that you have not, in fact, been struck down by their deity. Instead, you are flourishing enough that you are prepared to take on a new burden. This threatens their worldview.
Take as much care of yourself as you can; even seeing a counselor once a month for a status check can be helpful, if you can manage it.
Posted by on_the_spectrum on May 18, 2012 at 9:23 PM · Report this
282
Steven W. is wrong. It isn't RELIGION per se that makes people do bad things. Any set of us/them identities or arbitrary value systems can do that.

No, getting rid of religion will NOT solve society's problems. Doing stupid stuff like this is the uglier part of human nature. VABG's family didn't treat her like crud because they're Pentecostal; they treated her like crud because they ascribe to a value system that detests homosexuality. Military value systems have done the same. Secular value systems have done the same.

This is like just before Prohibition when people thought that alcohol caused crime and domestic violence. It didn't help, but it wasn't the underlying cause.
Posted by DRF on May 18, 2012 at 9:28 PM · Report this
283
Poster @1 is right. VABG is the one who's acting like a real Christian, though I don't claim to know if she considers herself one.

Lots of Christians do good things like this. It's only that one cannot say "I'm doing this because I'm a Christian" without sounding like a dick or a nut, so no one says it.
Posted by DRF on May 18, 2012 at 9:31 PM · Report this
284
Maybe it sucks for you, and no doubt it does, but your sister called you, and you came. And you rescued that boy. And the next gay kid to come out in your family or even their church will be met with (disgustingly and unfortunately) hate, but also a precedent of being immediately rescued. And hopefully, one fag at a time, one dyke at a time, they will all be rescued. Not shipped off to ex-gay camp, not guilted and hated into suicide, but rescued. You were strong enough to rescue yourself, and hopefully no one in your family after you will have to go it alone. I don't know your current religious leanings but if you believe in a god, maybe (s)he put you there, first in line to catch the hate and start the tradition, to save the rest. Maybe you're the martyr who made it, the one who got away, the light the next kid to come out sees at the end of the tunnel. For your nephew, you and your new self-made family are the proof that "It gets better", and it got better pretty quick thanks to you and your sister. Yes, your awful hideous sister. She threw him away, but she threw him to his salvation. She did him a very big favor, and maybe she knew it while she did it? I mean, she picked a loving and supportive home to kick him out into, not the streets or some Michelle Bachman camp, or a religious psych ward. She did make a choice to call you. If I were an optimist I'd say she's more on your side than she's likely to admit.
Posted by charlie on May 18, 2012 at 9:35 PM · Report this
285
I'm gonna have to go back to read comments because it's bringing up so much pain. I have been there. I was rejected by my conservative Christian family, not for being gay, but for "putting the crown on my own head" in other ways. It hurts like hell, even when you know they're wrong, even when you know you had to get out. I was out of touch for years before we made an uneasy peace, and if I *had* been a lesbian, I don't know if that would even have happened.

Now, I bite my tongue when I have to, do my careful argumentation when I can (we're talkers in this family) and I love them immensely because I can't help it, even though they are so wrong and misguided and ignorant about so many things, even while being otherwise awesome. And I'm actually making a difference with certain individuals. And when one of my gazillion nieces and nephews turns out to be gay, they'll know that *I* am the one who will have their back. You never know how your example of selfless love of your nephew is affecting other family members going forward. You are doing something crucial for the future of your entire family. They look with hatred now because of what they've been taught about what it means. But the world is changing and you are changing your family by your existence and your care for this child who has been given to you.

I am so sorry. I know how it hurts. But you are making it better.
Posted by CLDG on May 18, 2012 at 9:36 PM · Report this
286
You are an incredibly amazingly wonderful person, VABG.

Your nephew is very lucky to have you, and this world is a much better place in having you a part of it.

Your birth family are damaged goods. Ignore them, and keep the love you have inside you going with your gathered family - they are the ones who are worth thinking about.

Love surrounds you; bask in it. And know that there are many people out here who are sending you, your gathered family, and your nephew all the love we can, also.
Posted by KanaW on May 18, 2012 at 9:38 PM · Report this
287
Someone wise once said that "Children most broken by the world become the adults most likely to change it."

You certainly exemplified that. Thank you for being you.
Posted by clearbluewater33 on May 18, 2012 at 9:38 PM · Report this
288
Man. The "brokenness" you describe - the pain, disbelief and confusion - feels so viscerally familiar to me.

You and I are just about the same age. (I'm a 31-year-old gay man.) For me, the coming-out-and-rejection happened about five years ago, not ten. At the time, I wrote a similar letter in a different online forum, asking any fellow-travelers to help me find perspective. Give me a poem or a speech or a song or something, I said. I couldn't understand the emotional violence of my family's reaction; it was as though they had become different people.

The loneliness and disappointment I felt, I said, was wrenching. I stood on the front porch of my own house and listened to a woman who had once been my tender and loving mother spit a word at me, into the open air, loud enough for all my neighbors to hear - "Pervert." How could she hate me with so much passion? When I think about it, that's pretty much exactly the question that tormented me.

My story has a different ending, though. After that night, I didn't see my mother again for three years. But when I did, she cried and begged for my forgiveness. These days, we talk every Sunday. She asks about my boyfriend and our cats; sends gifts for him. We don't really talk about the woman on the porch that night, but I've had to find a way of explaining to myself where that woman came from.

After that night, I found myself really trying to put myself in my family's shoes, trying to figure out what they might be feeling, and what might prompt them to such a distressing, hateful reaction. Like you, I had an evangelical Christian education - first through twelfth grade. (I went to a secular college, which made accepting my own sexuality a bit easier.) As I turned over my family's reaction in my mind, I kept coming back to the stories of Christ and the demons in the New Testament. I think my family felt that they had more-or-less discovered a demon inhabiting the son they thought they knew. They were able to express that hatred because in their minds, it wasn't hatred for me, it was hatred for the demon.

It was the mirror image of how I was reacting to them. Just the way I no longer recognized the woman shouting slurs at me on my front porch, they no longer recognized me. It was that feeling - the sense I had that in their minds the real me had been kidnapped and replaced with something vile and self-destructive - that was so discomfiting and painful to me. Believe me, I knew that I was perfectly fine with myself and in control of myself. But they didn't know that, and they genuinely hated what they thought I had become.

I [oddly] began to feel better when I realized that it wasn't just the hatred they expressed that was so messed up. It was that, in their minds, that hatred was actually love. They thought they were expressing love for me and hatred for the thing consuming me.

Anyone who's ever been in a serious relationship that went sour knows how thin the line between love and hate can actually be. I think it's facile to say that true love never looks like hatred. But I do believe that true empathy and support never looks like hatred. I love my family deeply. And when I thought I saw something vile and ruinous in them, I took a higher road than they did - I tried to understand it. And I have no idea if this will help you the way it helped me, but it really did become a source of comfort. I could reconcile the hateful woman on my porch with the loving person I'd known all my life; I could accept that these two beings were one and the same, and I could forgive her.

I've always loved the Prayer of St. Francis, which says, "Lord, make me an instrument of your peace. Where there is hatred, let me sow love. Where there is injury, pardon. Where there is doubt, faith. Where there is despair, hope. Where there is darkness, light. Where there is sadness, joy. O divine master, grant that I may not so much seek to be consoled as to console. To be understood as to understand. To be loved as to love."

I love this prayer because even if you don't believe in any god at all, you can recognize the prayer as actually being an exhortation to oneself - a reminder that the best of us don't return hatred with hatred, but that we strive for a better path. Which brings me to the other way your story differs from mine.

I was pretty happy with myself for having the strength and character not to one-up my family's hatred. But I cannot imagine the fortitude you must have to not only deal with their vitriol, but to provide a foundation of love and assurance and protection for someone much more vulnerable. That is amazing. The love you have shown your nephew is the best possible example there can be of a person meeting St. Francis' ideal, turning hatred into love, darkness into light, sadness into joy.

If any piece of this resonates with you, this might help to salve that brokenness just a bit: you are no demon. You are an angel.

You are an angel.

You are an angel.

You are loved.
More...
Posted by grrarrgh on May 18, 2012 at 9:49 PM · Report this
289
So I want you to know is this: what you've done already has already made everything, potentially, infinitely better than it was before. And I know that maybe you feel a huge pressure or a responsibility or a sense that you're not up to this. And maybe there's a bit of all these hundreds of messages that is making that feeling *even worse* (or might do, some day further down the line, when the buzz of all of this has worn off and maybe you or the kid fucked up a little, and you're feeling like it's all doomed doooomed, and you think, even though you don't mean to, omg I let all those other people down too).

So I just wanted to say, what you've done so far is good, and everything else is gravy. You don't have to prove anything to anyone. You just have to keep going, and hold onto the light. Stuff like this goes on every day, sadly, and we all just have to keep on, and do the best we can. And you're doing the best you can, and that's enough. It's all okay.

(save this comment for that time of wavering faith, if you like)
Posted by dob on May 18, 2012 at 9:51 PM · Report this
290
So I want you to know is this: what you've done already has already made everything, potentially, infinitely better than it was before. And I know that maybe you feel a huge pressure or a responsibility or a sense that you're not up to this. And maybe there's a bit of all these hundreds of messages that is making that feeling *even worse* (or might do, some day further down the line, when the buzz of all of this has worn off and maybe you or the kid fucked up a little, and you're feeling like it's all doomed doooomed, and you think, even though you don't mean to, omg I let all those other people down too).

So I just wanted to say, what you've done so far is good, and everything else is gravy. You don't have to prove anything to anyone. You just have to keep going, and hold onto the light. Stuff like this goes on every day, sadly, and we all just have to keep on, and do the best we can. And you're doing the best you can, and that's enough. It's all okay.

(save this comment for that time of wavering faith, if you like)
Posted by dob on May 18, 2012 at 9:55 PM · Report this
kim in portland 291
@243,

tbarry82,

I'm so sorry. Here is a virtual hug. Stay strong. May the family you create bless you.

Fondly,
kim
Posted by kim in portland http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2010/11/fast-paced_video_provides_a_fu.html on May 18, 2012 at 9:56 PM · Report this
292
I'm not sure if internet love is worth 1% of real person love, but imagine it is: 300 comments full of love here adds up to the equivalent of another three people who love you and your nephew. There's enough love in this world to overwhelm even that powerful hate that you felt, and you're already tapping into it. VABG, you're winning just by living your life: nephew, you may feel lost, but a weight has been taken off you. You can fly now, and buoy up your aunt as you go.
Posted by Phil H on May 18, 2012 at 9:56 PM · Report this
Vera74 293
Dear VABG,
We both won the nephew lottery. I'm straight, but a liberal from a very conservative Midwest family. When I went home for my brother's wedding two years ago, the uncle who lambasted me for refusing to acknowledge that Blacks were animals and joined the rest of my family in ridiculing me for going to college and getting "liberal ideas" that all were equal took me aside--"I think my kid's a fag, can he come live with you in (West Coast city)?" I said yes. What a gift we have in being able to rescue young people from shitty environments where they would be beaten down! You've done the hard part--making a new life with found family. Now, enjoy that family, and integrate your nephew. You are doing the best work one can do. Focus on that. And thank you.
Vera
Posted by Vera74 on May 18, 2012 at 9:57 PM · Report this
294
Dan is right, as usual. You need to understand that your family's hate and anger is all about them and in no way reflects you. Lemma say that again, IT HAS NOTHING TO DO YOU AS A PERSON! They may never come around, or they may. I would recommend some therapy for you so you can deal with this and for your nephew who was just tossed out of the house just to help you both deal with this mess your family made.

You did a wonderful thing taking in your nephew and giving him the opportunity to understand there is nothing wrong with him. Just remember that there is nothing wrong with you either.
Posted by gwendolyn24 on May 18, 2012 at 10:05 PM · Report this
nocutename 295
I don't know what I can add to these comments. VBAG, you drew a short straw when it comes to supportive families, and I'm so, so sorry for that. You deserve better. I know things look bleak right now, being confronted face to face with your family's inability to accept you or your nephew. But you've done a wonderful thing.
You're going to show your nephew that family isn't necessarily just biology. You've made a good one, and you'll help him to find one, too. You have one more member of your chosen family--someone who brings youth and promise with him, who is actually your biological family.

Right now, you have one more member of your biological family than you had before. You've been given a gift.

Keep doing what you've been doing, creating a life for yourself with a family of choice who loves, cherishes, nourishes, nurtures, and protects you.
It will get better.

And please know that there are many, many people who think you're heroic and brave and compassionate, loving, and giving.

Posted by nocutename on May 18, 2012 at 10:12 PM · Report this
296
Sweetie, you are deserving of love. You are deserving of respect. That you don't get it is not -your- fault. You know the path you are on is right and you have enough in you to take care of someone else in your family. Dig deep, you know you are right.
Posted by jet_silver on May 18, 2012 at 10:13 PM · Report this
297
Well, you've saved him from them. He's your real family. Smile and be strong because despite the fact that those fools may hate you, you're surely a hero(ine) to him. That is where you can put your hope and your heart- in helping this young man in a difficult time, you are there for him. Show him that you made it without them and that he can succeed as well. Oh, and give the guy a hug for me.
Posted by Heart on May 18, 2012 at 10:16 PM · Report this
298
You are AMAZING. This is one of the hardest times in your life, but I'm picturing you at some moment in the future, looking at your nephew and realizing that this was also the exact moment at which life started to get better, for BOTH of you. Forgive the awkward comparison, but maybe the pain you're going through right now is like the pain of childbirth-- worth it, for what it will bring you in the end. I hope that you and your nephew will grow close, he'll thrive, and in time, the JOY of that will be even bigger than your current pain. No matter what happens, you will always know that you did the right thing. You were incredibly brave to go back into that situation. Also, excruciatingly painful as it is, maybe it will ultimately be freeing to stop wishing you'll be reunited with your family of origin. You HAVE been reunited with your nephew, and maybe he's the best of the bunch! I know it doesn't erase the pain of being rejected by your parents and siblings, but at least you have a biological family member now who can relate to you in ways you probably never expected from within that family. That's a gift.

Please do...

1. Get legal protections are in place so that no one from your family can take your nephew back, make him go reparative therapy, or anything like that.

2. Consider seeking child support. Maybe this could be accomplished without any direct contact with the family.

3. Find a counselor who will help you heal in the least painful way possible, and move forward in a positive way. (I suggest this just because of my own experiences in therapy, where sometimes delving too deeply into past pain was overwhelming and I left sessions feeling *more* emotionally wrecked. I finally found a counselor who helped me pace myself and acknowledge the pain but also take positive steps so I felt BETTER after my sessions with her-- that's my hope for you and your nephew. I hope you can both get joint as well as individual counseling.

4. Get help from your friends and chosen family (maybe show them this thread?), and maybe from some new people, too. A church community (Unitarian?), LGBT organizations like P-FLAG, etc.

5. There is financial help available. Just the emotional and practical aspects of this are plenty to deal with. I hope that money wasn't tight for you before, but if so, it's an added stress for it to be even tighter, now, and that's a stress you don't have to face alone. Like EricaP said, a fund could probably be created for you here on SLOG. I don't know if it would amount to much, but heck, if each of 300 people gave $5 each, that would be $1500! If you're someone for whom that would make a big difference, ASK. Keep asking. You might be eligible for other helpful things, too, like food stamps, family leave from work, etc.

Last but not least, KNOW that your family is completely wrong about you. That's very painful, I know, but not so much as doubting for a moment that you are a wonderful person; worthy of love; living an honest, authentic, hard-earned, meaningful, beautiful life. You need to live well, to show your nephew that he made the right choice in coming out, and that there's a great life ahead for him, too.

Do things (deep breaths, funny movies, hot baths, cups of tea, inspiring sayings, uplifting music, flowers in the house, walks in nature-- whatever works for you) to lift your spirits, like you've lifted all of ours with your inspiring story. You deserve peace, love, and happiness!

You're gonna make it through this and be stronger and happier than ever, I just know it. Meanwhile...

"Ring the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
It's how the light gets in." -Leonard Cohen

Sending oodles of love and gratitude your way.
More...
Posted by OregonAmber on May 18, 2012 at 10:22 PM · Report this
299
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CAV0XrbEw…
Just change the lyrics a little.
You bio family needs a fuck you and fuck off.
Posted by DavidNoSpam on May 18, 2012 at 10:22 PM · Report this
300
I am a Christian, and I hope you will accept this when I say I am praying for you and your nephew. Thank you for your goodness and selflessness and taking him. And I will pray for your family, too. Who knows, anyone can change...
Posted by clematis88 on May 18, 2012 at 10:27 PM · Report this
301
+what 290 said!
Posted by Yes. on May 18, 2012 at 10:29 PM · Report this
302
Holy crap! I've been following the comments since Dan first posted this and right now we're @ 299. Like others have said, some of the comments here are as heartbreaking and simultaneously uplifting as VAGB's letter.

I don't know whether Stranger staff are working overtime to spike any trollishness as soon as it happens, but I've been on SLOG since it started and I've never seen a thread like this go this long without some hater jumping in. Or maybe they're just shamed by the incredible grace shown by VAGB and every single poster here.

And someone asked if you wanted an older sister and someone else called you cousin. Proud to join the crowd as your uncle in Seattle if you need one.

Posted by gnossos on May 18, 2012 at 10:32 PM · Report this
303
YOU are the true Christian and the true child of God. Your family are just haters. Shame on them.

Hold your "true family" to yourself, take care of your nephew and don't look back.
Posted by LSophia on May 18, 2012 at 10:34 PM · Report this
304
I can but share my own experience, and hope it can connect with your own on some level. After I came out to my family (on the same evening when I told them I was "dropping out" of college - to pick it up again after a gap year, and some level of drama ensued), my family and I silently agreed to a safe emotional distance, even though we continued communication. Things stayed in this limbo for a long time. Then, after 11 years, I moved back to the city where my family is, with the announcement of a life partner. Suddenly the aversion, the sadness, the pain all surfaced again - the rejection - all the emotions that I thought were being worked through all this time, each by ourselves. And I reacted as angrily and vulnerably as I did 11 years ago. The 11 years might as well not have passed - and in fact on the emotional realm, time had stood still, the broken 20 year-old me was still there at 31. But the 31 year-old was stronger, and realized that the brokenness can now be released after keeping him in cryogenics for all these years. It will indeed get better. Love and strength to you.
Posted by ravished on May 18, 2012 at 10:35 PM · Report this
305
The greatest compliment an old queen like me can bestow: You are not broken - You are very much Auntie Mame (and so much, much more). Teach your nephew to live.
Posted by yerbamatty on May 18, 2012 at 10:39 PM · Report this
306
Dear VA Broken Girl - you are what is good in the world! I can't imagine the pain you've gone through but hopefully it helps even a bit to know that there are a whole lot of people out here rooting for you and your family.
Posted by pffft on May 18, 2012 at 10:46 PM · Report this
307
I am a friend of vabg and we just wanted to say thank you for all the love and support that you have shown. She is really overwhelmed by all of this. She just needed to "vent" is what she told me and never expected anything to come of it.

She wants everyone to know all of the legal stuff is being taken care of, and that he is here to stay. He is already in therapy, and we have found him a local church here so he can be happy.

Also the talk about money is what threw her for the biggest loop, but to out everyone's minds to rest money is not an issue, its all good.

If you knew her you would know how hard that letter was for her to write. She tries to live her life in joy and happiness, and is a success the majority of the time. As you can tell from her letter she is strong and she will better than ever.

Thank you again everyone, you will never know how much this means to her and him.
Posted by VABG Friend on May 18, 2012 at 10:49 PM · Report this
308
Maybe Dan can help you to set up a fund: to help with expenses and college for your nephew if he wants to attend. I'd be the first to donate.

You rock Lady!
Posted by fotoeve on May 18, 2012 at 10:52 PM · Report this
309
Perhaps what broke was whatever part of you that was waiting those ten years to be "let back into" the family. While it's okay to be sad that your genetic relations as a group didn't miss you or realize they loved you, they have spared you considerable agony in the form of the conditional acceptance dance in which so many of us find themselves. You can with a perfectly clear conscience have dealings with them only if they come to you and manifest good faith. If there is ever to be even a partial reunion, any of them who desire it must be the one(s) to petition to reenter your life and your nephew's.

You and your nephew have both demonstrated considerable courage and have providentially been thrust together outside of that little version of the Bermuda Triangle. Perhaps your first order of business should be to make sure that they can't get him back once the first shock of the situation wears off and they might begin to realize the potential queer-positive outcome of the situation from the other side. It is absolutely phenomenal that, however malicious the motivation and the execution, they've actually done the best thing they could have done for your nephew, while you now have a genetically related person in your life to become part of your real family.

It's terribly sad you were both in such a toxic environment for so long, but you made it out and built a good life, and now you'll be able to help your nephew do the same. You will both make it better, and are already doing so. Through all the difficulties that lie ahead, you already have your affirmation: "I will help him learn to love himself for who he is if it is the last thing I do in this world."

What they were doing during the ten years was standing still and strengthening their hatred. What you were doing was laying the foundation for what you're now able to do for someone who needs and deserves to heal from living with people who considered him filth.

Good on you both. And please send updates!
More...
Posted by vennominon on May 18, 2012 at 10:54 PM · Report this
310
Yay 307! Thank you!! And for those not reading unregistered comments, it's from a friend of VABG.
Posted by gnossos on May 18, 2012 at 10:56 PM · Report this
311
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8)

Your actions are worthy of praise in a big way.

You have done an amazing thing, not just in taking in your nephew, but in how you have chosen to live your life. Your father gave you a Bible -- well, ideas are dangerous things. You seem to have read it and learned what Jesus was really about in terms of love and sacrifice. [see Matthew 25]

Your sister at least trusted you enough to ask you for help, although she didn't phrase it quite that way, and it was brave of her to let your nephew have a chance at a good life, though it will be awhile before you two can see it that way.

May you have the grace to come to see these things as gifts and not only as sources of pain.

Of course you are hurt, and your nephew surely is as well -- grieve for your loss, then focus on making your new life together. While it is your birth family who have lost amazing people through their misguided beliefs, you are entitled to be sad, and to grieve, and to know that you may feel hurt for a long time -- but you are strong enough to work through it.

You are amazingly strong. Be proud of that.

I agree with the people who said:

*Get a lawyer
*Get a therapist
*Find a church
*Ask your friends for help

Just because you are doing the right thing and truly walking in the way of the cross, doesn't mean it will be easy, and you and your nephew need to surround yourselves with help, support, and love. It's hard to ask for help, and sometimes hard to accept love and help. That may be especially hard for your nephew. Do it anyway.

Print out all the comments to read on bad days. Know that lots and lots of people are thinking of you or praying for you.

For a completely different look at religion and single parenthood, you might want to read Annie Lamott's Plan B. http://www.worldcat.org/oclc/56615739 It might not offer practical advice, but much of it is funny, and her ideas are interesting.

God bless you, and your nephew, and keep you strong.
More...
Posted by 8808 on May 18, 2012 at 11:31 PM · Report this
doloresdaphne 312
VABG You sound like a very kind and remarkably generous person, to take your nephew in without a second thought .

"I feel like I'm broken. I feel like everything I have made for myself over the last 10 years is nothing. How can my whole family not only not love me anymore but hate me with so much passion?"

To me it sounds like you were too soft on your family, and this is why you allowed yourself to be "broken" when you returned and were confronted with the same hatred you faced when you first came out to them. You gave them the benefit of the doubt, and in doing that you gave them too much power over you, the power to crush you when you saw them again.

Like Dan said, fuck them. Let them rot.

Very few of us get through life without becoming damaged by it. And maybe us damaged people can't be the impeccable role models, and beacons of light that we imagine we'd be if we weren't broken, but without the tragedy of a broken life, what incentive is there to stop on our climb toward personal greatness and help others younger than ourselves.

Self knowledge and good intentions can help make up for a lot of that damage. I wish you all the very best.

And like Leonard Cohen said; "It's the ones who've cracked that the light shines through."
Posted by doloresdaphne on May 18, 2012 at 11:40 PM · Report this
seatackled 313
Next time one of these family members calls you to "get" another gay child, you show up with all the friends you've made at their doorstep for support, especially the really queer friends.
Posted by seatackled on May 18, 2012 at 11:57 PM · Report this
Sandiai 314
God bless you VAGB.

"I don't understand why this is affecting me so much." Argh!, because they're your family and they are supposed to love you unconditionally. The fact that they don't seems like a special kind of evil. An unnatural, psychopathic evil. Maybe you cannot drum up the anger that your family deserves (because you're nice that way), but I'll be angry at them for you. I'm furious at them for abusing you and your nephew. Make sure when you go to court for the custody hearings and child-support hearings that you make the judge understand how abusive their behavior is. If it's not child abuse to abandon a child for being gay, it sure as hell should be.
Your story got me all riled up, Aunty VAGB.

I wish I could meet you and your nephew. I'd give you both a hug. Also, if you can, get your asses to Northern Virginia or DC. Things are way cooler up here than in Southern VA.
Posted by Sandiai on May 19, 2012 at 12:17 AM · Report this
315
Let's imagine for a minute that you ARE broken, VAGB. In Japan, when a bowl is broken, it isn't just fixed with glue to try to make the broken part invisible. The broken lines are filled with GOLD, to let the lines add beauty to the original bowl. The combination of your horrible experiences with the bio family AND the wild, loving new family you have created for yourself, which now includes your dear nephew, is your GOLD. And I never thought I'd see the day when over 300 other broken, smart, messed up, quarrelsome, highly opinionated sloggers would unite and stand up to support someone. But we do. ALL of us do. And the people we are here to stand up for are YOU and YOUR NEPHEW. You can do this, and we want to hear how you are from time to time. Please.
Posted by Sarah in Olympia on May 19, 2012 at 12:21 AM · Report this
316
I too had a similar reaction to dan's- it's amazing that you've been able to go forth and create a life for yourself, and your nephew is incredibly lucky to have an aunt like you that he can turn to. i can't imagine how painful it must be feel to be cast out so strongly from your family, and I don't think saying "fuck your family" makes it any easier, but i just hope you realize how amazing and incredible you are, to be able to carry on and be there for your nephew, like no one else in your family was for you. keep your chin up!
Posted by merghly on May 19, 2012 at 12:30 AM · Report this
317
So much love for you and your nephew. so many blessings and light and love and piles of tissues and tea and warm hugs because damn you deserve all of the support you can get. Hang in there. We love you.
Posted by Wynkat on May 19, 2012 at 12:51 AM · Report this
318
VAGB, I'd have called you an incredibly strong person for being able to go forth and make a life for yourself. A lot of people would've been broken, having been on the receiving end of your family's spew of filth. You weren't broken -- you went out and made a life for yourself.

And then you dropped everything, and went and rescued your nephew, brought him into your home, and are giving him the chance you never had.

You're not broken. You're completely fucking awesome.
Posted by bentrafford on May 19, 2012 at 12:53 AM · Report this
Sandiai 319
That's it. I've teared-up several times already over this. I want to help.
Really, like EricaP first said (@202), some of us would be willing to do something tangible for these two people. Dan, or somebody, could we possibly find a way to contribute to some fund while keeping our LW anonymous (if that's what she wants)?
Posted by Sandiai on May 19, 2012 at 12:54 AM · Report this
320
That family gave you an amazing gift, your nephew! We people, we're like jagged rocks thrown into a polisher. Abrasives wear down our sharp edges eventually. That part of your family = abrasives...."With or without religion you would have good people doing good things and evil people doing evil things. But for good people to do evil things, that takes religion."—Steven Weinberg That abrasiveness has / will wear away so many of your sharp edges, which will lead to you and your nephew are walking away with an even bigger gift...compassion and empathy. Each of you will have more of these precious qualities than all of that part of your family combined. And that is an amazing gift as well.
Posted by 6friend on May 19, 2012 at 12:54 AM · Report this
321
What would Jesus do? He would do exactly what you're doing. You say you are a "broken" person, and you're taking in someone who is being shunned from his society for being who he is. Together you are building a loving family, and you will heal each other. God loves you for it. Jesus loves you for it. Without religion, you are doing the lord's work. Too bad your family does not and cannot see that.

I echo Dan's words. Forget your family. You have your own family now. You are better off. Thank god your nephew has your. Thank god you have your nephew. Look to the future. You all have a bright one.
Posted by Xian-Qi on May 19, 2012 at 1:13 AM · Report this
322
Some days it'll take a deep breath and a fake smile at first. Be practical, pragmatic and loving as you are, concentrate on settling in your new life together. This kid will need help adjusting, relearning how to live, building new relationships, healing, and being a teenager.

I recognize the grief and the mourning. Your family got it all wrong, but they're your family and you were still hoping and now you feel like something died. It was your hopes of them coming around, your hopes of a healthy relationship with your family. It was a good hope to have and now they snatched it away from you unceremoniously. I know how that feels.

It's okay to mourn. It's okay to go through all the extreme emotions, to feel like you officially bury them away, it's okay to be angry, to hate, to cry, to scream, to despair. There'll be nights like that and all you can do is see them for what they are, accept the emotions, grieve. It's all okay for a while, you don't have to pretend you're not in pain, let your chosen family lend you a shoulder to cry on so that you don't have to always be strong. Then wake up in the morning, love your nephew and go on. You'll see that after a while, because you're a decent, responsible, loving human being, you may come to terms with it all and still be open to hope.

And do remember that your nephew will be grieving too. Mourn together, but also have fun together, show him love and life and fun and what it's all about. And consider therapy if either of you could use it. This isn't a small thing you two are going through.

All my love and wishes. You two will be fine. You'll be just fine.
Posted by Dolce on May 19, 2012 at 1:26 AM · Report this
323
It's easy to say fuck them, ignore them, you're well rid of them. And it's correct in this case: real human beings don't throw people away.

Still, nobody gets under your skin like family does. No matter how rational you are and how much time goes by, they can still make you crazy. Knowing that is the first step toward coping with it.

I'm sorry you're hurting right now but I'm astonished by your strength and bravery. You've faced those crackpots and you've taken on an awesome responsibility. You've given that kid a chance, and I'm so happy you're in the world. Thank you.
Posted by Kristen on May 19, 2012 at 2:02 AM · Report this
324
Good job taking care of Family...one of whom apparently is suddenly "immediate" Family by a spin of fate...while the only healthy way to deal with the others seems to be letting go.
Please reach out for help from sane queer-friendly family counselors or some comparable resources...you ought to have extra-lush and robust support in this time of suddenly taking on so much at a time when the same circumstance involved you being subjected to the radioactive madness you had been living beyond. Best luck and massive ENCOURAGEMENT to Nephew also, VBag...he deserves tons of encouragement...though in a supportive environment without the 24/7 negative signals...he may rebound surprisingly well. Yay New Family ! Yay Team Love!
Posted by Petroglyph on May 19, 2012 at 2:03 AM · Report this
325
We are the same you and I, in one way. We love our families unconditionally. The most significant difference between us is that you know depths of strength and motivation that I never will. I am profoundly impressed by and in awe of you. Anyone who has emerged from your experience with the dignity and self-respect that you have has all the tools they need to give your nephew the family and support he deserves.
Posted by nullbull on May 19, 2012 at 2:04 AM · Report this
326
So, I'm not a religious person, nor am I a homosexual. That being said, this article/letter actually made ME feel good. I know how it feels to be raked over the coals, maybe not the way the writer did, but I know how it feels. Even though your blood family has given up on you and your nephew, a whole different family is there for you and your nephew. Never let anyone get you down for who you really are. In fact, embrace it as you mentioned.

I am close friends with many people who are gay/lesbian and I know when we first met, they thought that I agreed with their life style just to be their friends. It was half true...I agreed with their life style because I personally don't care how someone lives their life. If you wanna be gay, then by all means do your thing. It was with that that we became even closer friends.

I bet you probably won't read this comment coming from someone who is annonomous (pardon my spelling), but know that...(*sigh* insert Randy Newman) You Got a Friend in me! I hope one day you Dan tells eveyone that you are doing better than you expected...that your family welcomes you back with open arms, accepting for who you and your nephew are...I hope that one day (doubt it), we meet and we share a few laughs, some drinks, and maybe even shed a few tears (of joy of course) to what has made you and your nephew a better person. Religion should never affect anyone...so if you still are a religious person, then go to church. It may not be the same congregation you used to attend, but if your God helps you get through your everyday life, then let him/her in!

I hope for your and nephew's well-being...and may you two live a happy and healthy life

~Mizzle
Posted by mizzle608 http://Twitter.com/Mizzle608 on May 19, 2012 at 2:07 AM · Report this
327
I'm sorry you and your nephew were born into such a broken family. You both deserved better. There is so much love for both of you in this world and you will get through this and shine.
Posted by PenguinGirl on May 19, 2012 at 2:11 AM · Report this
328
I also liked the suggestion of getting a lawyer to help protect the youth from a potentially traumatic recall...and some strong healthy mentorship (he just said a good talk.......)for nephew's safety from the yucky and predatory aspect of the larger subculture...that character who posted those suggestions could be your team's security officer!
Posted by Petroglyph on May 19, 2012 at 2:17 AM · Report this
329
I also liked the suggestion of getting a lawyer to help protect the youth from a potentially traumatic recall...and some strong healthy mentorship (he just said a good talk.......)for nephew's safety from the yucky and predatory element/aspect of the larger subculture...an aspect which is real but not as real as the majority of LGBT folks...like other folks...who really mostly just want to get along! That character who posted those suggestions could be your team's security officer...
Posted by Petroglyph on May 19, 2012 at 2:24 AM · Report this
330
You´re not broken, you´re awesome!
You rescued your nephew and gave me hope!
Posted by meeeeee on May 19, 2012 at 2:30 AM · Report this
331
Your are such a Hero! A real live Hero! I wish I had a poster of you on my wall, that I could look at when I feel depressed by the world and the masses of ignorant and uncaring people in it, because you give me hope. If there are people like you in the world then the world can still be saved, just as you saved your nephew, and he is so incredibly lucky to have you.

I totally agree with whatever person it was previously in this massive thread of love and support that said that you should write a book. Because you definitely should. I know I would read it, and recommend it to everyone I know.
Posted by Friendstastegood on May 19, 2012 at 2:37 AM · Report this
332
Dear Broken Girl,

I'm a straight father of two, atheist now but of Anglican upbringing, and I wish you all the strength and love you need and deserve. Your nephew is lucky to have a resource in you that you never had - both family and friend.

The rest of your family are, tragically, in the grip of a philosophy of hate which they mistake for piety. You can think of it as an addiction to philosophy. To the rational outsider their behaviour is illogical and, frankly, disgusting. The problem is, their addiction is actively supported by a wider Pentecostal community, making it very hard for them to change.

I suspect you will always love your family, because you know that despite the hate-programming they've been subjected to, they are essentially good people who think they are doing the right thing. This doesn't in any way detract from the awfulness of what they have done to you and your nephew, but maybe it can help you put it into a different perspective.

You may have to work hard for years to help your family recover, and I can't tell you where to turn for help because right now they probably don't even realize they have a problem. Perhaps, with time and through example, you can educate them, and maybe one at a time at first. Who do you think is the most able to resist their programming? Your parents? One of your siblings? Are there treatment programs they can participate in? Perhaps led by more tolerant Christian denominations? Because not everyone holds the Pentecostal view, as you probably know.

I write all of this because I assume that you not only still love your afflicted family, but you may also still value the parts of your faith which are consistent with Jesus' teachings of love and inclusion. As I said, I'm atheist myself but the disease afflicting your family has less to do with faith, and more to do with powerful cult-like power structures defining their identity in terms of "evil outsiders" who are threatening, for whatever reason. Dictators all over the world control entire nations this way, and there's no guarantee your family will be strong enough to resist, but you can and should always hold out hope and love for them if you can.

Good luck, be strong and proud, and try to forgive. You have done a brilliant job of finding your way, and your nephew will learn from your example :)

More...
Posted by JohnWillDoNicely on May 19, 2012 at 3:09 AM · Report this
333
Dear Broken Girl,

I'm a straight father of two, atheist now but of Anglican upbringing, and I wish you all the strength and love you need and deserve. Your nephew is lucky to have a resource in you that you never had - both family and friend.

The rest of your family are, tragically, in the grip of a philosophy of hate which they mistake for piety. You can think of it as an addiction to philosophy. To the rational outsider their behaviour is illogical and, frankly, disgusting. The problem is, their addiction is actively supported by a wider Pentecostal community, making it very hard for them to change.

I suspect you will always love your family, because you know that despite the hate-programming they've been subjected to, they are essentially good people who think they are doing the right thing. This doesn't in any way detract from the awfulness of what they have done to you and your nephew, but maybe it can help you put it into a different perspective.

You may have to work hard for years to help your family recover, and I can't tell you where to turn for help because right now they probably don't even realize they have a problem. Perhaps, with time and through example, you can educate them, and maybe one at a time at first. Who do you think is the most able to resist their programming? Your parents? One of your siblings? Are there treatment programs they can participate in? Perhaps led by more tolerant Christian denominations? Because not everyone holds the Pentecostal view, as you probably know.

I write all of this because I assume that you not only still love your afflicted family, but you may also still value the parts of your faith which are consistent with Jesus' teachings of love and inclusion. As I said, I'm atheist myself but the disease afflicting your family has less to do with faith, and more to do with powerful cult-like power structures defining their identity in terms of "evil outsiders" who are threatening, for whatever reason. Dictators all over the world control entire nations this way, and there's no guarantee your family will be strong enough to resist, but you can and should always hold out hope and love for them if you can.

Good luck, be strong and proud, and try to forgive. You have done a brilliant job of finding your way, and your nephew will learn from your example :)

More...
Posted by JohnWillDoNicely on May 19, 2012 at 3:13 AM · Report this
334
I agree with everyone who said to see an attorney - you are entitled to child support and guardianship, which entails important benefits such as hospital visitation rights, power of attorney, and tax deductions. In theory, your sister should be reported for child abuse as well to the child protection services of whatever state she's in.
Posted by Donald1 on May 19, 2012 at 3:36 AM · Report this
335
I've been reading Dan for years, but have never posted before now. I can't add to the discussion other than to repeat that you represent the very best of the human spirit, and thank god you were there for that boy of yours.

You family is beyond awful. If you're taking applications for replacements, sign me up as your new aunt in Massachusetts.
Posted by DMS in MA on May 19, 2012 at 3:43 AM · Report this
336
There's an old adage that love and hate are two sides of the same coin. I don't have any clue about you or your family, obviously, I could still imagine a scenario in which there's a lot of pressure, fear, frustration, and generally *ambivalence* within certain members of your family over this incident. Likely you're a convenient target to transfer the grief of sacrificing another family member.

Obvs this is just a guess on my part. But as to your questions about how they could possibly hate you as much as they seem to... I can't help thinking that the level of wrath you describe is borne of some deep conflict within (and possibly between) some family members that you're not currently (and may never be) privy to.

If that's the case.. all I can do is hope & pray that one day other members of your family will find the strength to stand up for what they know in their hearts to be right & just, against the abhorrent belief structure your parents and the church have enforced on them.

Mainly I wish I could give you and your nephew a big hug. I wish only the best good fortune for the two of you. Kia kaha.
Posted by truant on May 19, 2012 at 3:48 AM · Report this
337
This post made me cry too, but not when I read what your family did. I cried when Dan said "Thank God for you." Because he's right. Your very existence is a blessing for your nephew. I hope knowing that helps to heal the wounds of your estrangement from your family.

Christians say that the Lord moves in mysterious ways. I don't worship their Lord, but I can absolutely look at this situation and think: how would his life be if you didn't exist? If you hadn't ever come out, or hadn't survived. You did survive and you are what he needs. Thank you, for being there for him.
Posted by reptile93 on May 19, 2012 at 3:59 AM · Report this
338
I'm late to this party, so I'm sure this is very repetitive but here goes anyway..

First massive, gigantic, monumental kudos to you for stepping up for your nephew. Have no doubt in your mind; you have saved his life. Though this is a terrible trauma for your nephew, he will no doubt be better off in your accepting and loving family than he was in the hateful clan he comes from. I dearly would like to ask your sister what she thinks Jesus would say about a mother abandoning her child and calling him filth. I'm an atheist, but even I think the original man who became the Jesus character would have harsh words, and not for your nephew.

Beyond that I think you should get to an LGBT advocacy organization. Though he has a wonderful loving aunt, he has grown up in a fundamentalist cultre that has taught him to hate himself and he has gone through the ripping pain of abandonment by his family. The kid needs therapy, and an LGBT organization can help you find understanding professionals. Consider the possibility of going to one yourself as well, since this has re-opened your wounds. They can also advise you as to your legal standing. Ideally you would get guardianship of your nephew or he could get emqancipation to prevent him being taken back and put through some sort of conversion torture or merely abused within the home. Of course, there's the risk that merely by attempting to assert such guardianship you could provoke them into hauling him back in retaliation, so you should probably talk to someone with strong legal credentials about the situation.

You have a buttload of work ahead of you. You suddenly have a teenage son, who needs love and support and also to study and get into a nice liberal college. I wish I had half the strength you've already shown. A broken person doesn't step up the way you did. You may be hurt, but you are whole on the inside. The broke ones are the hate-filled individuals with Bibles where their hearts should be that you left behind. You get to live your life with love and integrity and a now with a new member of your growing family. They get to live with themselves and each other and their collective hatred and fear, which strikes me as more terrible a punishment than any one person can mete out (urges to punch them collectively in the throat nonwithstanding). In my book, you've already one, and so has your nephew.
More...
Posted by Lynx on May 19, 2012 at 4:00 AM · Report this
litlnemo 339
Everyone else has said everything already. I just want to add to the chorus -- you are strong, and you are a hero. And it is a gift that your nephew will be with you instead of some of the alternative situations his family could have created for him. You will both come out of this even stronger.
Posted by litlnemo http://slumberland.org/ on May 19, 2012 at 4:03 AM · Report this
340
Dan, you are a little intolerant, and I'm saying it that way because I want to get your attention. You are intolerant of VAGB, of her love for her family, even though they hate her. Losing your family is like getting your arm cut off, even if they hate you. Jesus wasn't a god, but he understood people, he really did. VAGB still loves her family, she just doesn't have a family anymore. Friends, spouses, community, it's not the same.

We love our families, just like VAGB. After something like this you will continue to love your family for a long time, you will love your memories of them and then you will love them after you have almost forgotten them. They won't change, they won't accept you, they won't welcome you back, they won't stop saying horrible things about you. You will love them anyway.

Religion doesn't make people good or bad, it helps them express themselves. VAGB's family isn't evil, they are crazy. How crazy would any of us have to be to banish a child? It's not helpful to hate anyone and VAGB doesn't want to hate anyone. VAGB wants to grieve, to help her nephew grieve, and all while she does the sensible things like talk to a lawyer, buy groceries, get the kid to the dentist, make sure she has a savings account and a will, get the kid through college, teach him to drive, hell, be a parent.

Forgiveness and acceptance, not because Jesus was a god, but because all the other options totally suck.
Posted by ewkp on May 19, 2012 at 4:04 AM · Report this
341
Chances are your life and your nephew's future life are way better than your crap family who rejected you
Posted by Doot on May 19, 2012 at 4:14 AM · Report this
Tetchy Brit 342
Ma'am, there are not words in the english language to express what a truly beautiful person you are.
Posted by Tetchy Brit on May 19, 2012 at 4:17 AM · Report this
343
All power to you VA (Broken Girl), you deserve every happiness and success with your attitude of love, honesty, compassion and sincerity. Your family's attitude is purely a reflection on them and their sad acceptance of mindless, inhuman religious dogma. Love and hugs to you and your cousin.
Posted by mtg on May 19, 2012 at 4:28 AM · Report this
344
You truly are a gift from god to your nephew.

Which is the least he can do, since he gave your nephew an innate attraction to males but didn't give him or his fellow homosexuals any good holes to express that attraction in.

what a jokester that guy god is....
Posted by your god must be a real asshole on May 19, 2012 at 5:05 AM · Report this
345
oh you slavish fanboys and faghags have barely plumbed the depths of Dan's great humanity and tolerance and homowisdom....

just wait till The Kid converts to Mormonism and asked Danny to fund his two year mission.
Posted by Anything You Want, Boy! Gimme' a Big Hug.... on May 19, 2012 at 5:09 AM · Report this
346
I am not gay, but I do have a LOT of experience of a *kind* of coming out to my family. I do not for a second compare what I went through to the bald and naked violence you experience (and make no mistake, what you went through was an emotionally violent experience.) But I am beyond words and full of awe, seriously, that in the environment that you were in, you knew what would happen and you did it anyway so that you could leave a place of death to find life. And find it you have, and you and your nephew will be in this lifeboat you created - God, he needs that. And you need him.

My own brother did his own kind of coming out (it feels weird to call it that, because it's not the same circumstance, but it is the same process) and was immediately rejected by everybody as well. Now he and I can talk to each other without the weird bullshit that was ALWAYS there before either one of us moved on from it.

I'm fumbling here, but you are not broken. You are the least broken person in this scenario. Your family is spectacularly broken. Your soul at least had its shit together to realize if it didn't leave it was gonna BE broken, as did your nephew. I think it's possible that your nephew came out (instead of, maybe, leaving this world?) because he held on to the fact that ahead of him, you had left and had not come back, which is exactly what he wanted to do.

Best of luck - you know, I feel like if we knew where you lived all of us'd just drive there right now and have the party of our lives, all of us who have decided to live in the light and simply exist as who we are.
Posted by skyweaver on May 19, 2012 at 5:22 AM · Report this
347
@307 I'm so glad that these messages have reached VABG! Godspeed and Love to her, the kid, and all of your homemade family!

Very glad to hear that the aunt doesn't need financial assistance, but I thought that while they might be able to get by without it, getting an award of child support from the abandoning parents might serve as an official rebuke from a court, and a monthly reminder of what they have done. But, I know nothing of Virginia law, or what the percentage of troglodytes is on the family court bench. I was just expressing my anger at the parents and a small desire for a measure of, well... not so much revenge, as justice.

Please forgive me for the unsolicited advice, and take my love and thanks for being awesome people in its place.
Posted by Brooklyn Reader on May 19, 2012 at 5:30 AM · Report this
348
I can't imagine the pain that you go through having had your family cut you off, and as you so generously guide someone else through life after being cast out from the same family, navigating his anger and despair, I imagine it brings up all of yours. But your nephew is so lucky to have you, to show him what real love is, to show him what not living a life out of toxic fear and hate is. I envision you as this fierce warrior, fighting each and every day through the pain. If there is a day you don't win, that's okay, back to the fight when you're ready. Fighting as, slowly, it gets better. And it will get better.
Posted by J Wallflower on May 19, 2012 at 5:31 AM · Report this
349
This brought tears to my eyes, and i am thankful that my religious family does not exile me for being atheist. You are strong and have a far better chance of making it into a positive afterlife than any of those hateful bigots.
Posted by d20dad on May 19, 2012 at 5:44 AM · Report this
350
I bet you a dime there are others in that clan that are in the closet because of fear. I bet they think there is nowhere to go and nobody that will love them if they come out. You 2 can't be the only ones. I'd hope you could put the word out that you would accept any of them who were tired of the hiding and the lies and the hate to come to you and be a family. A real family based on love and mutual acceptance.

In the meantime you and your nephew have more of a family than they do - revel in it.
Posted by frankdawg on May 19, 2012 at 6:11 AM · Report this
351
Support and Blessings to you for your Courage, your Heart, your Creation of REAL FAMILY of choice, and of your Truth! You have my admiration!!
Posted by morningsong on May 19, 2012 at 6:24 AM · Report this
352
Wow. A deeply sad story told by an obviously strong and beautiful woman.

I echo the words of @340. What your family did was clearly beyond awful. Inhumane even. But the vitriol in a lot of comments here is not helpful. Hating your own family is NOT FUN! And hating them harder doesn't make you heal quicker.

Acknowledge the wrongness of their actions. And make sure you're not carrying around any guilt. But then try to find a way to stop carrying around the hate too. They've gone to great lengths to make that a pretty big task! But it's possible.

You spent 10 years building walls around those feelings of rejection. They were useful walls, and they helped you to cope. But as you saw, they were not unshakeable. If you find a good psychologist, they will be able to help you deal with those feelings so you can move on; but without tearing down those walls completely and leaving you in a quivering mess. So get recommendations, shop around, and find the best psych you can afford.

Or just buy a big chest freezer and stock it full of amazing gourmet icecream.
Posted by pablo_oldaq on May 19, 2012 at 6:32 AM · Report this
353
Add me to the list of people left in tears by your letter. I'm so glad your nephew has you, and that you have formed a new family of your own. Sending lots and lots of love from this corner of the country.
Posted by SS from PA on May 19, 2012 at 6:37 AM · Report this
354
Your family is an awful hateful one. And hate breeds depression, so of course it broke you. But it can only break you for so long, so let it and show your nephew because a part of him is broken too. And tell him how much you love him and would never do that to him. Tell him that you are his family now. Tell him that you will mend together and it will get better.
Posted by Chelsea Roman on May 19, 2012 at 6:38 AM · Report this
Griffin 355
@344-5, fuck off. And calling Seattleblues, where are the Christians in this story? Because they aren't in the churches in this story. You know, the whole "the greatest commandment is love" and so on that Jesus actually said (not Paul).

@307, I'm glad to hear that VABG is doing well, as is her nephew. Just let her know that "overwhelmed" is a wholly appropriate response to the situation of a sudden family expansion, and if she's not doing it already, she should get herself some counseling too. She's the Good Samaritan to her family's robbers, priest, and Levite rolled into one.
Posted by Griffin on May 19, 2012 at 6:38 AM · Report this
356
If anyone is reading this at a public library and you also notice your reference librarian is crying...
Posted by Shanthrax on May 19, 2012 at 6:49 AM · Report this
357
Although I have not walked in your shoes, I left the Baptist church over their intolerance of LGBTQI people. I know--I *know*--that the message of God is one of unwavering love, and you are truly walking in the footsteps of Christ with your acceptance and love of your nephew. I hope you don't mind if I pray for you, Sister VABG and Brother Nephew.

Lord, please share with these people how special they are. Please warm them with the light of your love, and the love of all of us, strangers in the world but family in spirit. When times get difficult for them, as they always do eventually, please wrap them in your loving arms and let them feel warm and safe there. Please help them to make their new family strong, and allow them to be forgiving of one another in this time of transition. Please help them to set all of the pain and hatred and self-doubt on the wind. And Lord, please bless the sister; although she may seem to have acted out of hate, we do not know her heart and she seems to be following the words of Matthew 19:14: Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Most of all, Lord, please let them know how special they both are, and that they have places waiting in the kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Posted by funsalmon on May 19, 2012 at 6:50 AM · Report this
358
Although I have not walked in your shoes, I left the Baptist church over their intolerance of LGBTQI people. I know--I *know*--that the message of God is one of unwavering love, and you are truly walking in the footsteps of Christ with your acceptance and love of your nephew. I hope you don't mind if I pray for you, Sister VABG and Brother Nephew.

Lord, please share with these people how special they are. Please warm them with the light of your love, and the love of all of us, strangers in the world but family in spirit. When times get difficult for them, as they always do eventually, please wrap them in your loving arms and let them feel warm and safe there. Please help them to make their new family strong, and allow them to be forgiving of one another in this time of transition. Please help them to set all of the pain and hatred and self-doubt on the wind. And Lord, please bless the sister; although she may seem to have acted out of hate, we do not know her heart and she seems to be following the words of Matthew 19:14: Jesus said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to such as these." Most of all, Lord, please let them know how special they both are, and that they have places waiting in the kingdom. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Posted by funsalmon on May 19, 2012 at 6:51 AM · Report this
wingedkat 359
You are not alone, and you are loved.

Find someplace warm and safe for yourself in your own heart and those of others, and heal.
Posted by wingedkat on May 19, 2012 at 7:01 AM · Report this
Sketch 360
YOU ARE AMAZING!!!

You did everything right. You did it under horrible circumstances, but you did it RIGHT. (And, honestly? I think on some level your sister knows this--because she *called you* to come get your nephew. She could have thrown him out the way your parents did you, but she didn't. She called on you to "come get him." And as vile and hateful as that is, I think it shows an admission, if maybe subconscious, that you are strong and independent and dealing with stuff just fine.)

The people who are genetically related to you (I will not use the term "family" to describe them, except, of course, your nephew) are toxic people who will live unhappy lives and die bitter. That's not what you want for them, I know, but that's what they chose for themselves.

You can do this. Your nephew can do this. You're both so, so much better off without those whimpering bags of hate dragging you down.

It's already gotten better for both of you.
Posted by Sketch on May 19, 2012 at 7:03 AM · Report this
Helenka (also a Canuck) 361
I can imagine how much you've been hurting lately, VABG, because I know what it's like to feel orphaned, even when there were still biological links. Those ten years of separation melted away during which you'd been hoping, wistfully, to be accepted. Instead you were reminded once again of the rejection. Children are admonished to honour their fathers and mothers, but there's no adjoining corollary for parents to honour their children. You were rejected for not being an unthinking slave to your family's (your elders') belief system.

I'm so glad that your friend wrote a comment here. Though your nephew is in therapy, I would suggest it would be good for you, too, to realize that you are not broken; instead, you have emerged from a painfully restrictive cocoon, transformed into a loving, compassionate, brilliantly-hued butterfly! It would be a very good thing for you to be able to forgive your family – not because they are the ones who deserve it, as they should be pitied for being so intellectually blind and deaf that they can only love and accept clones of themselves – but because you deserve to be free of the (child within you) need to be accepted by them. Who knows, they may come around but they may not. So it doesn't help to be constantly shackled to that desire.

I would also echo the suggestion that you and your nephew find a GSA. Right now, he has lots of non-straight support within your chosen family structure, but it would boost his self-esteem tremendously to realize that not all straight people are bigots and that there are people his own age who accept him unconditionally.

Finally, if you'd like to add someone else to your virtual family, just call me your Canadian aunt! Who's also so amazingly proud of (and tearful from) all of the loving and supportive SLOGgers above.
More...
Posted by Helenka (also a Canuck) on May 19, 2012 at 7:04 AM · Report this
362
You go, girl! You are amazing. I can't imagine what you've been through, but am so grateful that you found the strength to escape and are showing your nephew that the world isn't only filled with darkness. You are not alone. Love from Detroit.
Posted by Sukie Beschemel-Reed on May 19, 2012 at 7:10 AM · Report this
363
You are an inspiration and someone I admire with great respect. It is quite sad families such as yours result to such hatred and show such xenophobia. But for what you are doing it truly is an act of selfless kindness. It is too bad we cant see the works of our labor. In a century when gay marriage/rights has been accepted, what you have done will be looked at with great admiration. Your family sadly is on the wrong side of history. Too bad they wont be able to see their ignorant mistakes.
Posted by pbrown61 on May 19, 2012 at 7:19 AM · Report this
364
I wish you were my aunt. That boy is privileged to have you. <3<3<3
Posted by HuginNMunin on May 19, 2012 at 7:30 AM · Report this
365
You are ... a hero.
You will help your nephew heal from the horror of being abandoned/rejected/cast out by his *own mother.* Not everyone gets the mother they deserve -- and it is truly a blessing that even in the shadow of that terrible horrible loss there is a caring adult to help him make a home/new life/better future.

Everything you have made for yourself is *not* nothing. It is great and powerful and healing. Somehow, deep in their hearts which are a few sizes to small (with apologies to Dr. Seuss and The Grinch) your original family respects you enough to know you'll make a home for the man-child (child! baby!!!!) they've cast out.

I do hope your intentional family is providing you lots of support in person. Reach out to them, see if you can find good counseling/therapy for both of you. PFLAG might be a good place to investigate -- meet families who have been willing/able to hold their children close -- which you and your nephew so rightly deserved.

I would definitely go to court to petition for guardianship. His parents are legally responsible for him financially, and they need to be held accountable, at least in that small way.

Much love from San Francisco (by way of NY....)
Posted by mdsvc89 on May 19, 2012 at 7:35 AM · Report this
Matt the Engineer 366
When family fails, the lucky ones have friends. The really lucky ones have a whole community. I think the number of comments says a lot. Of you ever need a shoulder, I think you just found hundreds to choose from.
Posted by Matt the Engineer on May 19, 2012 at 7:46 AM · Report this
Luluisme 367
Oh, VABG, I'm so sorry your family hurt you. Give yourself the space to grieve. Its like you lost them all over again. Some days you'll want a bit of judicious wallowing. Other days, dust off your hands and go do something distracting and fun (with the nephew too?). The ratio of good days and bad days will shift. It will.

and +1 on the get yourself a lawyer.
Posted by Luluisme on May 19, 2012 at 7:52 AM · Report this
Mischa Vainburg 368
I'm about to become a foster parent in a rural, very conservative community. Some of the kids who end up in my care could very well be gay. You are an inspiration and a role model!

There is so much love for you and appreciation for what you are doing, who you are, and the grace, compassion and strength you will pass along to your nephew. Stay strong, sister - we've got your back!
Posted by Mischa Vainburg http://squidbasedink.wordpress.com on May 19, 2012 at 8:01 AM · Report this
369
VABG, just think: You now have some of your blood family back. You and your nephew are connected so deeply, having been wronged in the worst possible way by the rest of your kin. You have each other. You both have the small family you've built for yourself over the years. Don't let the hate enter your hearts--just love yourselves, love each other, and let go of the ones who've tried to infect you with their sickness. I don't pretend this is easy, but I feel it might be less difficult now that you and your nephew are together and understand each other's hurt. He will need so much healing. You have already been on that path for ten years and can light the way for him, as he, in turn, can bring light to you.
Posted by lilyannie on May 19, 2012 at 8:28 AM · Report this
370
@105 said: "I just erected a statue of you in my soul."

That is exactly how I've been feeling as I've read through this post and all its following comments (only 1 trollish--wow!).

And you know what, I am thankful for the intertubes today because without them I would never have known such a person as you existed, would not have taken courage from your courage, strength from your strength, or hope from the hope you gave to your nephew.

I am so glad that you are in the world, bringing more light to it. I am so glad to know that a boy somewhere was saved from darkness and now has a clearer path to live in light. It brings a little more light to all of us.

So you may have just "needed to vent" but you've given a gift to everybody who's read your story. I have my own story of trauma and hurt (like most of us) that doesn't bear any surface resemblance at all to yours. Yet on some level, wounds are wounds. And your love, strength, and bravery have helped me heal a bit just through the generosity of your sharing it.

A friend once made a comment to me about family patterns never changing until at least one person was willing to make the sacrifice to change it. I'd never thought of the work I was doing as a "sacrifice" - it didn't seem like a choice, it felt like something I was compelled to do. But it was an interesting perspective to me. It seems so clear in your story. While it may have felt like you couldn't do otherwise, you could have rejected the sacrifice of coming out and maintained relationships with your family and not opened up that "crack" in your family structure that others have mentioned. You could have just hunkered down, not rocked the boat and lived your life in the dark. A lot of people do. But you chose the better part, even though it was painful.

Already change in your family patterns has come about - without you even being on the ground. Your nephew came out and he had a place to land because of you. Even your sister has benefitted from your sacrifice, whether she consciously admits that to herself or not. Why else would she send the boy to you? Don't be surprised as time goes on when things open up even more, whether fast or slow, short or long term.

You have done something with your life that will bear fruit over GENERATIONS. It sucks right now, but when you can, take the long view. In the longest view possible, you will have an effect far, far into the future, long after you, your nephew, and your whole benighted clan have passed from this world. Really. I don't think it's too much to say that people who are yet unborn will have much better lives because of you. Because you made the sacrifice and wrenched your family's flow even just a little bit out of its course.

Thank you for sharing your story. I am so glad I know it.
More...
Posted by Bel on May 19, 2012 at 8:47 AM · Report this
371
@VAGB: "I don't understand why this is affecting me so much. I already knew all of this. I've known it for a long time. But to see it on their faces was something new."

While you've known it and processed it, you are having to experience it all over again. You are being forced to watch up close and have to re-experience the trauma, through your nephew's pain. Now you are seeing it with the wisdom and strength of your years so the rational part of your mind can see clearly how foolish they are and how unnecessary it all is, and yet the emotional part is going to hurt all the stronger, we love our parents even if they are evil and to be hurt by ones you love is a double suffering.

Perhaps you feel broken because, as you said, you "held out hope that they would change their minds" -- your hope was a good one, not foolish, shame on your family for not having lived up to your hope. Your hope shows you are a better person by far than they. Your hope is quite reasonable that they might eventually have learned something by your courageous life, or at least learned from the changing world around us all, which you have helped bring about.

I have not experienced your situation and have no religion so I cannot pray for you, but your letter and your journey to rise above the poison of your family of origin and to be there for your nephew is an inspiration of the goodness that religion supposedly is about. I hope you find strength anew in your nephew's growth and that you do not abandon hope that if not your family and his, then perhaps others will in time change.

PS Having worked in custody situations professionally, I would urge you to consult a lawyer with expertise in both your state and the state in which your nephew's parents live (if they are divorced, state(s) of both biological parents), so that a formal transfer of custody can be arranged. For now your sister wants nothing to do with her son and may agree to this easily, but after she calms down she may decide to send him off to an ex-gay camp and legally be able to do so unless you've formalized other arrangements. In some states at 16 he can become emancipated -- but this is a complex technical process requiring legal expertise in the field and he has several years left before he is 18 and legally entirely beyond their control. If you and she/they live in different states, this may require consulting attorneys in both locations, as there is no 100% assurance as to which state would have jurisdiction if she did fight.
More...
Posted by delta35 on May 19, 2012 at 8:53 AM · Report this
372
@VABG Since my previous comment was so long you might not click on the More... and might not get to the most important bit, the PS where I suggest it's extremely important that you consult an attorney and attempt to secure custodial rights, not fighting your sister but in a way that gets her to agree to give up what she doesn't want while she doesn't want it -- so you can protect your nephew from being forced to go to ex-gay camps if sister changes her mind. Avoid attorneys who want to fight, try to find one who wants to do this amicably.
Posted by delta35 on May 19, 2012 at 8:57 AM · Report this
373
VABG, I just wanted to send you my love. Thank you for being there for your nephew. Thank you for being you. You are an amazing person. It's too bad that your family of origin has been blinded by their ignorance and hate, because they've lost out on not just one, but two wonderful people who have so much to offer this world. Keep your chin up, and know that you have so many people rooting for you.
Posted by SuperSteph on May 19, 2012 at 9:05 AM · Report this
GlamB0t 374
It is miraculous you made it out, now you've provided a loving environment for a young man. A young man that you only share blood with, nothing else. You faced your hateful family to accept him into your life.

You grab onto that boy's hand, hold on tight, and keep on moving forward honey. You will be fine. Your family will have a lifetime of holidays, vacations, laughter, and love to share. It has just begun. With time will come normality and your family will feel like any other. You'll squabble over dishes, go school shopping, cry over bastards who don't deserve your tears, and take his picture before prom. It gets better. It already has gotten better because you are not alone and will never be alone again. You have a son! Mazel! It's a boy!

The world is better place because you're here. Thank you. A thousand times, thank you.
Posted by GlamB0t on May 19, 2012 at 9:10 AM · Report this
GlamB0t 375
@243 I would like to be your sister. Where do I apply?
Posted by GlamB0t on May 19, 2012 at 9:17 AM · Report this
376
VABG - I know how hard it is to let go of the fantasy of eventual acceptance. It's been two years since I realized that I would never be "good enough." There was no concrete reason you could point to and it took decades of rejection for me to get there. It still hurts, but it is getting less sharp. Recognize that you have suffered a loss that can in some ways be more painful than a death. Allow yourself to mourn.
Posted by knitpicker on May 19, 2012 at 9:20 AM · Report this
377
Dear VABG,

You wrote, "But I feel like I'm broken. I feel like everything I have made for myself over the last 10 years is nothing." I know this feeling, and your birth family has been just awful to you.

But please let me point out that you also wrote, "I will help him learn to love himself for who he is if it is the last thing I do in this world."

What you have made for yourself is not nothing -- it's the polar opposite. You are compassionate, courageous and willing to take action. It's not nothing -- it's everything.

You are a success as a human being. Seriously. Please hear me, and Dan, and the hundreds of commenters. And please try to be gentle with yourself. You're a good person. :)

Posted by SpaceGiant on May 19, 2012 at 9:22 AM · Report this
ArtBasketSara 378
@everyone So much love! Good show.

@307 very glad to hear that.

I can only add my love and support. to all that's been said.
Posted by ArtBasketSara on May 19, 2012 at 9:31 AM · Report this
379
VABG, you are a treasure. I can't begin to imagine what you're going through--I'm the only child of a single mom who is a reasonable human being--but the grief and sense of loss you've re-opened as a result of this awful ordeal is painful and understandable. I echo the above comments about counseling for you and your nephew (separately and together) as well as taking some legal action--guardianship, wills, child support, etc. However, and obviously YOU are the one who wrote the letter, not your nephew, but there are things to consider with him as well. For example, I'm not sure pushing adoption quite yet is a good idea; he is still reeling, I'm sure, and, just like most kids of abusive parents, loves them and wants them despite all evidence we adults might have to the contrary. I'm not sure you specified how far apart you live from your eldest sister, but schooling issues are relevant here. If he had to change enrollment, you need to have an in person (and then also in writing) conversation with guidance counselors, teachers, principal, and any other support your school district offers. In this technological age, he is hopefully keeping in touch with friends, maybe even less-vile cousins, etc. encourage that--let them come visit and whatever. While your wounds are re-opened, his are new and fresh and he's at risk for lots of self-destructive behavior. I'm sure you will, but love him through it. We're all thinking of you.
an Aunt in Ohio (by way of PA and NY)
Posted by HB on May 19, 2012 at 9:39 AM · Report this
emma's bee 380
VABG, you are strong, girl, not broken. Not by a long shot. Thank you for being there in support and love for a nephew you probably hadn't seen since he was a toddler.
Posted by emma's bee on May 19, 2012 at 9:44 AM · Report this
381
I was actually surprised by the way the family handled this. It was pretty horrible, yes, but not as horrible as it could've been. They didn't shove their kid into some sort of "conversion therapy", or just toss him out on the street. One might go so far as to say that they recognized that the loving aunt represented a different culture that their child could join. Obviously, people whose love isn't so twisted would want them to embrace their own child within their own culture, but I guess this was the best they could manage. I hope VABG has the resources she'll need to finish raising her nephew.
Posted by treeowl on May 19, 2012 at 9:55 AM · Report this
Giselle 382
Oh honey, your letter is so moving. I'm so glad I got to read it, and all the comments too. I must admit I cried as well. I think it is completely amazing that you managed to get yourself away from this environment at a young age and that you did it all alone, that takes serious guts. I cannot understand that kind of hate either and I can only guess at how you must feel when you got confronted with the proof that they are still living with this kind of hate. I easily understand that you are heart-broken. I hope that you won't feel broken for long - that the goodness in your life and all the wonderful people in it will provide healing.

I am completely amazed that you went and rescued your nephew. It sounds like you didn't hesitate and just went and did what is right. I cannot even begin to tell you how impressed I am that you are able to do something so wonderful. I am just awestruck. You are wonderful.

What was up with a large part of your family being there when you collected him? I am very dismayed at that. Did they want to make sure that you would both go, want to emphasise the strength of their religious doctrine, or perhaps make sure that your nephew's parents wouldn't change their mind? It sounds very alarming and claustrophobic to me. It sounds as if they banded together to enforce and reinforce their cult-like behaviour. I can understand why you are so shocked and feeling broken when I try and imagine what this situation must have been like. I am so sorry that all this happened to you and your nephew. I don't know if you can forgive your relatives but I think you are someone who is capable of love and have such integrity, and all that seems to be in very short supply back there. Thank goodness your nephew is out of there.

But he must be heart-broken to be abandoned by his parents, his family. I was trying to think of words to support him and I am finding that very difficult. I don't know the circumstances of his coming out to them, whether he told them or was outed. This must all be so awful for him (and for you, the re-opened wounds, I am so sorry) but I am glad he is with you.

I'm sure you've already done so but if it got lost in everything that needed doing: would you please have a sit-down conversation with him to reassure him that you didn't take him in because you got lumbered with him, because your sister told you to, nor because you couldn't say no. Please make sure he knows that you are taking him in because you made an active decision (if you feel this way), that this is your active choice, that you want him to live with you, that you're glad he's there and that you love him (and that you'll fiercely protect him, if this is how you feel). I'm sure you already said words like this to him but it never hurts to say them again. Please also assure him that he is not to blame for how his family acted. He is also not to blame for being gay. We all know this but he may not realise it and it never hurts to say the obvious, just in case it wasn't obvious.

I am so glad your nephew is with you instead of in this toxic, hateful misery back there. I'm glad you both got free. You will be able to show him that his life opens up now, he gets to grow into himself and who he is meant to be. You also show him that he can have a life where he gets to chose who he shares it with (by your example) and that he gets to chose his future family (including the one he has in you and you in him). I think things are looking up.

Do please give him a hug from me! And please accept a warm hug from me yourself. My very best wishes.

PS: I would love it if you were to write to Dan again in a couple months or so to let us know how you are all getting on. An update would be so brilliant. In fact I think that your letter provides the 'it's gets better' proof to everyone who read it and everyone who commented. I think we are in your debt.
I don't suppose you would want to vent some more? I think it would be absolutely terrific if you wanted to start a blog about all this (anonymous for your and your nephew's privacy of course) - personal stories are so powerful. I think there are loads of people out there who would benefit from reading more about your story - both those who are like your birth family and those who suffer from them; oh and actually everyone else too! I for one would love to hear more. Sorry for being greedy.
More...
Posted by Giselle on May 19, 2012 at 9:57 AM · Report this
383
I will never understand how it is that people can't love their own children enough to question their beliefs.

Who knows? Maybe if you'd said, once upon a time, "Mom, Dad, I'm struggling with same-sex attraction and I need you to help me get right with God," things would have been fine. In fact, I'm guessing they probably would have. Because that would have sent the message that you were willing to do whatever you had to do to remain a loyal subject of the religion. That you were willing to lop off your legs to fit in that box, just like everyone else in your family has to do, each in their own way.

See, I don't think it's *being* gay that really causes the hate and the anger to happen; it's being OUT. It's defying the oppression and saying, "I have a right to my truth and my happiness." You are doing what none of them feel they can do, but all desperately WANT and NEED to do in some deep, secret place they're too scared to acknowledge. They're angry at you for tasting the freedom they don't know how to find, for shedding the shame and control they all still live with.

I know it hurts. I know it feels like there's something wrong with you, but really, there's something RIGHT with you, something so right and wonderful that they can't bear to look at it and see what they all know they have no means of attaining for themselves.
Posted by laurelgardner http://www.etsy.com/shop.php?user_id=5877570 on May 19, 2012 at 9:59 AM · Report this
384
I'm so sorry your family is acting so reprehensibly. It is not your fault. Their hate is not your responsibility nor should it be your burden. Please don't carry that for them. They are unworthy and will answer for it to the Christ they claim to love. You are magnificent! You are glorious. You are the true child of God and may he heap blessings upon you. Your nephew is so lucky to have you and I'm glad your sister felt enough of a mother's love to call on you, even if she can't admit it and they had to show extra hate to deal with their guilt.

That said, you are a super awesome rainbow pixie of light so let's get some practical advice rolling. See if you can get your sister and her husband to sign a legal doc granting you sole custody of their child while they are still in the middle of stroking themselves for doing "right". Be both quick and sneaky about it. Tell her the truth-ish: that you need the doc to be able to take him to a doctor and to put him in school. You need it for that, and to prevent him being ripped away and "fixed". Get on the lesbian wire and find a good lawyer who will do a pro bono paperwork and do it quick. You might not think regret will set in but it will and might cause them to act worse. Once you have that and actually before you can apply for aid, add him to benefits, travel with him legally, etc. And maybe even get child support but don't tell them that. Kids are expensive. :). So are psych apts. By the way happy belated Mother's Day and welcome to the wonderful and difficult world of motherhood. Wish that all with the spirit and ability to do so could take a child under wing. God bless you.
Posted by SueDonym on May 19, 2012 at 9:59 AM · Report this
385
thanks @307 for letting us know they're all ok!
Posted by martarose on May 19, 2012 at 10:00 AM · Report this
386
Please tap into those public agencies and support groups that exist near you to help with your situation. There are so many stresses ahead of you. Don't bear the burden alone. You are very strong, and it shows through the weight you are able to carry, but share that load with others. They are there to help.
Posted by Gamebird on May 19, 2012 at 10:08 AM · Report this
387
I have a similar, though not quite as awful, family story. In my case, though, my sister did not join my parents in their rejection, though she did ask me to maintain distance as she raised her children, since my father threatened not just me, but anyone who maintained contact with me. My mother, I believe, long ago softened in her attitude, but my father remains (30 years later) just has hardened of heart as ever. But here's the good news: rather than isolating me as he wished, in the long run, my father isolated himself and my mother. I have wonderful relationships now with my sister and ALL of my nieces and nephews and ALL of their spouses. I can't say whether that could be your family's story, too, but I can say this: If you ever asked God, "Why me? Why am I a lesbian?" now you know. God needed you to be there for you dear nephew when nobody else would or could. You'll know what I mean when I say that this will be a star in your crown. Peace, my dear sister...
Posted by Pigliacci on May 19, 2012 at 10:39 AM · Report this
388
VABG, I am overjoyed at what you have just done! Think about it for a moment...You have just likely saved this boy from a LIFETIME of suffering. I imagine a life where he would have grown up hating himself and his sexuality. Maybe he wouldn't have lived to see 21, because he took his life due to the immense depression he experienced over his lack of self-worth. Perhaps he would grown up, married someone of the opposite sex, had kids, all while suppressing his true nature. He may have had years of closeted, unsafe, anonymous sexual encounters, putting himself and his wife at risk. He may have lived an entire life this way, destroyed as a soul. But now, you have changed the trajectory of his life! He can grow up eventually learning that he is perfect just the way he is! He can discover who he really is, develop a support system of friends and family like you. He can even get MARRIED to someone that he is attracted to and loves deeply! AND he can still raise a family of his own, if he chooses. This is all because of you. NO amount of evil or hate from your biological family will ever overcome the good you just put into this boy's life, and consequently, the world. Congratulations to you and your family. Well done my sister!
Posted by dbwhite78 on May 19, 2012 at 10:42 AM · Report this
389
Sorry! Missed 307's comment! I'm soooo glad everything's being taken care of and that you'll be okay. Bless you again for what you have done and continue to do!
Posted by SueDonym on May 19, 2012 at 10:47 AM · Report this
390
@RichinPA - true words.

I have nothing unique or new to add, just sending you much love. My dearest Uncle faced much disapproval from our family and even left the Franciscan Brotherhood because of his sexual orientation. He is the absolute best, goodest ( i know that's not a word), most loving person I know. I wish to God I could be like him. Out of a family o