That's how my father of origin responded when I came out to him as bisexual. And this is really how a lot of conservative religious types see sexual orientation and gender identity. They think it's something you choose to do, because sex.
Content note: This post talks about sexual shame and homophobia, and contains links to discussions of rape and child solicitation.
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Before you tell us we're being too mean or harsh, when describing our experiences, ask yourself this:
Would I say this if it were something I actually thought was a big deal?
Because there's this tendency to side with the people who share your privilege over the people your group victimizes. Like when Brendan Eich resigned as CEO of Mozilla, after the outcry over his $1,000 donation to California's Proposition 8, and a lot of self-identified progressives and "allies" suddenly accused LGBTQA advocates of being bullies.
What if he'd used that money to donate to a campaign to deprive women of the vote? Or to reinstate poll taxes? What if he'd written an essay in favour of one of the many, many 2012 candidates who expressed inane views about women's reproductive biology?
If you feel that it's more important to shield bigoted hetero cismen from the consequences of their bigotry than it is to let LGBTQA persons have a safe workspace, then just say so. Just say you accept those other issues as real and valid, as things that it's Not Okay Ever to do, but that paying money to deprive LGBTQA persons of basic rights is just a mistake like eating the last donut. That you feel it's something anyone could reasonably be expected to do, that it doesn't really hurt anyone, and that it's creepy and weird for others to get all upset over it.
Likewise, if you really think that we're a foxraptor, or a plural system, or fictive, or female. Then please treat our identities as being as legitimate as your own, and defend them like you'd defend your own. Act like the laws have already been passed; failing that, act like it is a bug, and not a feature, that they haven't already.
This isn't a Take That to anyone in particular. Mostly, we wrote this one for ourself.
We just want to add that if anyone doesn't see us as real, or has their own personal headcanon or theological explanation for what we are, we would ask that they keep it to themselves. We're okay with suggestions; we're not okay with being told that our story's not real, and we really fit into your own. After growing up in the Mormon church, we've had our feelings and identities denied enough for two lifetimes.
The game store we played D&D Encounters at is feeling a little less welcoming lately. The owners are friendly, and went to a pride parade in New York and used to give us rides home so we didn't have to walk back for an hour and a half. But they've also got Chick-Fil-A as one of their sponsors for an upcoming fundraiser event.
We wrote them to just mention how we weren't sure we'd feel comfortable being reminded of what it was like, seeing the crowds in front of that restaurant on "show the gays you hate them day 2012" before going to play D&D at their store. But they kind of blew us off in several long-winded paragraphs.
We're considering buying our RPG books at Barnes and Noble now, and spending time at a different game store that's more convenient to get to and that one of our (few) local friends goes to. It helps that it's near the bus station. We'd have to stop going to Encounters ... but our apprehension about spending an hour and a half walking back since the buses don't run that late has kind of done that for us already.
Content note: Religious, physical, and arguably sexual abuse, as well as non-graphic discussion of sexuality which may be TMI for some.
This is what I was taught, growing up in the Mormon church:
Your body is the temple of God, and it belongs to him. Your "sacred parts" were given to you so that you can create new bodies for God's spirit children, and to form bonds in a marriage relationship between husband and wife. You are not allowed to use them for any other purpose. You may not have those feelings in any other situation.
Beyond that, I was taught covertly and overtly that the rest of my body belongs to God and/or to the people around me. The Word of Wisdom, the Mormon dietary code which forbids coffee and tea, was imposed on me whether I wanted it or not. My parents of origin got mad at me for trying to refuse physical affection, when it was forced on me by them or church members. And one leader I had in Boy Scouts forced himself on me, roughing up my shoulders for what seemed like a whole minute after I told him I'd just had a tetanus shot, and telling me I was a "wuss" and that I needed to "beef up!"
Beyond that, there was an expectation that I make myself bodily available for any meeting, calling, or requirement my family or church imposed on me. I was guilted for staying home sick from church, and even guilted myself for it because deep down I knew that I wanted to stay home. I was asked to help tear down a home that had been damaged in Hurricane Katrina, and was given no facial protection in rooms filled with dust and mold spores. I understood that I could get violently sick or physically harmed on a two-year proselyting mission, but that it was my responsibility to go anyway, because God owned my life and he demanded this tithe of my time.
People in "the world" think they own their bodies and lives, I was taught, but those are Satan's lies. A life lived for yourself is shallow and meaningless, filled with cheap pleasures and devoid of the love of marriage and family relationships. Only through marrying in God's temple can those relationships continue beyond the grave. Everyone needs to be taught this, and anything that could interfere with the eternal family needs to be destroyed.
Including my awful, unworthy "habit" of masturbation, and my "addiction" to "pornography." Which is what they called looking up PG-rated furry art, with scandalous things like bare shoulders in it.
This is how I feel about myself, deep down, even today. If I am ever in a situation where I'm having sexual feelings, especially when there's the possibility of having them with someone else, I panic and either freeze up or try to escape. On two separate occasions I've bailed when people I was attracted to tried to initiate sexual encounters. When I'm alone, the easiest way to get through it is just to give in, but I try to do so as quickly as possible so I can get back to pretending I'm not the kind of person who actually wants to.
It's not "just" sex, either, as though a need at the core of my being to be intimate with someone who loves and appreciates me is a hobby I could set aside. It's everything. Going around town today, I felt like I do not belong here and any second now someone's going to call me out on that fact. It wasn't as bad as it was before antidepressants, and I did just have a depressive episode yesterday which kind of weakened me. But I live in what feels like the most whitebread American suburb ever, and every day I set foot outside the park that surrounds where I live I'm reminded that people move here to get away from people like me.
(Of course, when I go to the city it's like being hit with a wall of NOISE. Hyperacusis FTW.)
I don't know how to change the way I feel about myself. Sometimes I don't feel this way, and I have more energy and can forget that I'm not supposed to exist. But everything crashes down whenever I'm triggered, or when I encounter a situation where I'm reminded that my "sacred parts" still exist. Suddenly I am a horrible, selfish person, who's trying to take from God and from other people what is rightfully theirs.
- Deny that they exist.
- Deny that they are people.
- Deny that it's okay to be the kind of person they are.
- Deny that it would be harmful for them to try to be someone else.
- Deny that you're hurting them through your words and actions.
- Deny that they don't deserve to be hurt, and that the anger they and others feel towards you for hurting them is justified.
- Deny that anyone close to you could ever be that kind of person.
- Deny that you are that kind of person.
When we turned all those "deny"s into "accept"s, everything changed for us.
"You should seek after things with eternal significance."
Why this belief is harmful: On the surface, this sounds like Jesus' "Lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven." But rather than meaning that you should help people and seek spiritual meaning, instead of hoarding stuff for yourself, the way it was taught to me in Mormonism is that you should never trust your own judgment about pretty much anything. It doesn't matter if something seems harmless, or healthy, or even necessary to you or others. If it's not going to be around forever, or be okay to have or do or be with in God's Celestial Kingdom, then it's worthless.
This can have horrifying consequences.
(Content note: Talking about abusive religion, sexual abuse, and homophobia. Also being tired and miffed and rambling. We're feeling really out of it after the last few days.)
If you go to (or have gone to) church, how hard would it be (or have been) for you to leave it? How much would you be asked to justify yourself? Is "thanks, but this isn't for me" okay for them? Do they wish you well with wherever life takes you?
The Mormon church, which I used to be in, has a special word for people who leave it: apostate. It basically means "someone who turned their back on the truth, even though they still know that it's true." And they tell stories about people who left their church early on over what are made out to be really petty reasons, like having their name misspelled or a disagreement over how much cream they were allowed to take from a cow's milking.
The anecdotes don't bear much resemblance to these people's actual exit stories. But what's more disturbing, to me, is the fact that Mormons (and the same goes for people in other abusive religions or belief systems) don't consider these reasons good enough to leave.
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... who believe in one fewer god.
That's how aliaspseudonym summed up the discussion I had last night with someone from FFXIV, which prompted a friends-locked ragepost right afterwards. Please note that the "Christians" being compared to here are the non-pluralistic ones, who believe there's only one real god and only one right way to relate to him.
Content note: Homophobia, theophobia, being angry, and swears, all behind the cut. Click here to skip if you are reading the entry by itself.
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I think that getting angry, then thinking more calmly about it, and continuing to maintain my boundaries and not see myself as the problem, is the healthiest response I've had to being comprehensively invalidated in awhile.
At the same time, though, this whole thing was an unpleasant reminder that I don't get to pretend to be normal. I thought I could, I really hoped that I could, but I'm one of the "monsters" that avia talks about. Who can't be understood or accepted, if anyone sees what she is. Not by society at large; not even by supposedly progressive sectors of society like the LGBT-friendly Free Company I was in, in FFXIV.
(Please note that during the conversation, this person also said stuff that was blindingly offensive and ignorant, about neurodiverse people and plural systems.)
I'm not tying myself to a Free Company, or another club or guild organization, unless it's a small group of friends like the people that I know on Dreamwidth. I'm tired of being triggered every day, and not knowing how to escape except by logging out. I don't think I get to have that experience, of feeling camaraderie and acceptance with large groups of people, and I think I'm okay with that. Because I would rather hold out for people who accept me, than erase "unacceptable" parts of myself to have friends (as opposed to purely professional relationships).
I am going to ****ing platinum that game, and I am going to do it my way.