18 March 2009

Prayers for Myself

It happened. I can't believe it finally happened. I've been trying since I got here for my parents to sit down and watch Prayers for Bobby with me. I think it partially due to the fact that OTR is here it actually happened, otherwise they would have found more excuses or reasons not to. My dad was supposed to be doing Board of Reviews for a bunch of Scouts tonight, but he got a sub so that he could be here for this. Thanks Dad!

Before I go into tonight, I want to take a second to talk about the First time I saw Prayers for Bobby. I borrowed my Grandfather's car to drive down to Salt Lake where I met D, Scott, Sarah, and their kids. We stopped at McDonald's on the way up, and poor Sarah spilled water :( But it only made me love her more. The frantic scramble and dashing about reminded me of my own parents, and of course - being the 2nd of 7 - and loving kids, I settled right in with Lil' S to play on his Leapster. He was so super cute. It started snowing pretty hard on the way up the canyon and we got a little nervous, but Scott was an amazing driver and got us there in one piece. When we turned on our tv at the cabin we found out that our rush hadn't done us any good because it had already started! Oh no! I was devastated. But luckily, it was going to play again right after. So we played with the kids for an hour and then settled in.

Prayers for Bobby was indescribable in its impact and profundity. As mentioned last time, I cried so hard my stomach hurt. The movie was perfect in every way, and I related with Bobby as I have not to anyone since reading My Name is Asher Lev. Gut-wrenching, heart-rending complete relation. His pain was my pain. Even tissues weren't enough.

I've expressed this before, but I'm going to do it once more: Thank you Scott and Sarah so much for that night. You may never understand just how much it meant to me. Then when we went back of course the snow got worse, and I "tragically" had to stay an extra day and play with their kids. I also got invited to family dinner, which proved to be awkward and a bit discriminatory, and prompted Scott to send a letter. Nevertheless, I thoroughly enjoyed my weekend and will be eternally grateful to both Scott and Sarah for their love and assistance.

Now then. Scott gave me a copy of the movie right before I came here, and tonight we finally sat down to watch it. Tonight was the night because the kids are all gone at Scouts, Mutual, or work. But we didn't have a full 95 minutes, which is how the long the movie was. So we wanted to have it set up beforehand. The dvd player wouldn't read, but the disc worked great on my laptop. So then my lil bro set up the playstation and it loaded the play screen. We thought everything was great, but when my dad finally got home, and the kids were off, the disc would say read error anytime we clicked play. Agh. 

So we ended up watching it on my laptop. 4 people huddled around, lol. But it turned out okay. I bawled as much as last time, and OTR was right there with me - she actually cried even harder, if that's believable. 

My mom HATES HATES HATES sad movies, and I had warned her beforehand, so I'm so grateful to her for sacrificing and watching it with us. She didn't cry (that I saw) like OTR and I sobbed, but it still had some impact. When it was over she said, "You were right. That was a really sad movie." That was about all she said, then withdrew. But I didn't expect anything more from my mom. She takes a while to process and open up. I'm hoping for more conversation in the near future with her. Oh! I almost forgot. I knew she was enjoying it to some extent (my mind had only pictures of them being scathed and offended by the club scenes or the kisses) because with 20 minutes left we had to pause the movie because the kids were done at the church. There was a brief chat of who would go and who would stay, and my mom voted my dad since OTR didn't know how to get to the church. Then as soon as he got up, she said, "Okay, continue. Don't leave me hanging." 

When my dad got back with the kids, things progressed as normal until they were all in bed, then he came to my room to watch the last twenty minutes. When it was over, he said, "Powerful message." Then he just kind of sat there in silence, and I could tell he was thinking, so I bit. 

Me: "Penny for your thoughts? Here, I'll even give you a quarter." He didn't take it, but he did smile then said he didn't really have any coherent thoughts just then, but that he did take away this: 

"Sexual orientation doesn't determine a person's worth, they're still a person."

Then he went on to explain it was like Mary had said about people born with no arms who get ridiculed or discriminated against. He even mentioned curly vs straight-hair people. They didn't choose that, that's just them. I almost burst smiling, because this level of acceptance was never anything I'd heard him say before. But I had to know more, so I asked: "But are all they ALL things you can accept outright?"

He didn't say yes right off, but dodged a bit. He said, "You can accept, like understand and love, but that doesn't mean you embrace." Because apparently embracing me is too much to ask...my burst of smile was quickly snuffed out. However, I refuse to give up. I still hope deeply for the day when my parents can be like Mary and be proud of my difference. 

He continued, "Accept is like being indifferent about it." He thought a second, then amended, "But at least it's not rejection."

Me: "But I think indifference is worse." (ie, more painful, hurtful, etc.)

Dad: "Yeah, I can see that. It doesn’t give you anything to fight for or against. It just is." It really doesn't. To me it's almost as effective as being ignored. I'd rather you outright reject me than keep around and just be 'meh' about it. I think that the line that still has the greatest impact on me is when Bobby's sister tells him she won't ever change and that he won't ever be welcome at Christmas or Thanksgiving with a boyfriend. That's still how I feel with my family, though I give them credit for not trying to bury me in religious healing. 

Dad: "I don't know though that I can agree with what Mary tried to say about knowing from the beginning. I didn't." My inital thought was that he just didn't want to and that's why he says that. I also called him out by saying, "So when I came out to you, it took you completely by surprise?" 

He relented that no, he knew then, but if we went back to when I was a kid he wouldn't have guessed, or expected it. Which is funny to me, because my brothers totally saw it way back then. And I definitely wasn't ever interested in sports or anything uber-macho like that. 

Me: "I knew when I was 11. It’s in my journal. I wrote about it. But I sure as hell wasn’t telling any of you, because I felt just like Bobby. You’d hate me, reject me, kick me out, call me Evil. So I buried it. Deep as it would go. Ran and ran and told myself it wasn’t true. Me? I’m not gay. Until on my mission it came back full force to slap me in the face. And then when I got home and moving on to the next 'phase of happy mormon life' wasn’t working... I decided to be honest. Completely. Get out the box and bring it forward and accept myself and that's what I did." It was neat to be able to color in just a few more of the black spaces in my life for my dad so he had a more complete picture of me. He knew about my experiences on the mission, and after, from our summer together in '06, but didn't know anything before that.

His last comment was: “Good story.”

Me: “Yes. And a true one.”

Dad: “One that’s happened probably hundreds or thousands of times.”

Me: “Almost hundreds and thousands plus one.” That kinda hit him, and he looked at me somewhat surprised.

Dad: “Well, I hope you stay with us.” I shook my head. 

Me: “There’s nothing to worry about anymore.” (Just a lot more work to be done between us).

Dad: “Good. You still have a lot of stories to write.”

Then he left. I wasn't impressed; mom and dad didn't hug me and say sorry at all, but honestly, I don't feel letdown either. I feel like after it was over we didn't really dig into the issue like I'd wished, but part of that was because I was comforting OTR. By the end of the movie she was inconsolable, and seriously cried at least a half hour after it was over. She just didn't think that it was fair so many people had to hurt so badly, and we make it worse for them by our hate and discrimination. We had a good chat about that and how it's not fair for her to say that her pain has been any more or less than ours; she's been through her share of hell too. She's taking time now to question her faith in hopes of finding the deeper faith that Reverend Whitsell spoke of. 

My response to her, my father, and Mary is this: 

I will not give up on love. I think every time before I say Amen, and definitely always listen. My dreams won’t die. I’ll carry them on for Bobby and anyone else who didn’t get the chance.

Most of all though, like people who feel the utter need to bear their testimonys for fear of being ungrateful to God, I must cry out from every fiber of my being: Thank you Mary Griffith. Thank you Bobby.

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