SL Letter of the Day: Show This Woman Some Love
by Dan Savage
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.