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An Open Letter To My Biological Family

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Dear Family,

First let me say, I love you – unconditionally — more than you’ll ever know.  We have our own unique history and are forever bound together by the miracle of life.  We are all alike and at the same time, quite different in many ways.

I unfriended you all on Facebook for one simple reason: I didn’t like seeing some of the posts you made that I found false, hurtful and unfeeling. I’m not saying you had any intention for that to happen — but it has, repeatedly, especially over the past three months.

We can still view each other’s pages—I did not block you – but I now feel freer to post my thoughts and opinions and you can do the same. If I choose to view your page, it will be a risk I’ll take but I promise I won’t comment on it. I unfriended the kids as well, not that we communicate that often—but out of respect for you as parents and any concerns you might have that I am too controversial or influential.

I have never suggested that you not share your feelings or beliefs—even if they hurt me deeply. I have tried to get you to understand, to verify, and to support (through sources and links) any of your stated ‘facts’ that I have questioned. Instead of defending your comments, you’ve chosen to ignore or delete mine—completely invalidating my concerns.

I’m sorry if I embarrass you—and I only say that because Dad told me in an email recently, that I was “too gay” – I believe intending to mean that he thought I was too publicly open about it.

I cannot help who I am. I know you can’t fully believe that because you think that God would ‘change’ me if I let him, or at the very least, I should abstain from any semblance of what, for me, is a normal life.  I tried that. I hated myself for years because I wasn’t what I was taught God wanted or what you wanted me to be.

For nearly half my life, I lived in a hell on earth trying to be different. I stopped and won’t do it anymore. I am a proud, happy, gay man. The only two things that make us different are that I don’t have children and I share my life with another man—who has loved me unconditionally for over 19 years. (Yes, I know I’m a handful!)

You’ve accused me of being completely blinded by ‘the Obama agenda’ and think that is why I have been upset with all of you. You’ve also accused me of smearing the family name because I have spoken out against what I see as hateful talk. I have been upset because you say you accept me, then vote for a man and a political agenda that will do anything to make sure that I am nothing more than a second-class citizen and not afforded the same rights as you.  I don’t want special rights — just equal rights.

Actions speak louder than words. You have publicly posted and declared your support for businesses and political candidates that oppose my civil rights. I realize there is more to your decisions and probably little has anything to do with human rights issues. When your posts have offended me, I have tried to open up a dialogue with limited success.  I hear your words to me personally… but your actions speak differently.

Why is this so important to me? You brought me up to believe in unconditional love. Doesn’t that also mean you would want to support my equality? This goes beyond me personally—when as many as 1 in 3 LGBT youth attempt suicide and many bullied youth take their own lives as well. The message of love and acceptance couldn’t be more important today. These are young lives that I would think as Christians, you would want to save. Ignoring it, or voting against it, doesn’t make it go away.

I turn 50 next month — maybe that’s why I feel the need to speak out now. Maybe it’s time to communicate after nearly 30 years of silence on the subject. Or, maybe it’s just the right thing to do.

I just ask that you look in your hearts, find the compassion you profess and share that love with others, as you brought me up to believe was right.

I love you,

Jeff

PS– I am posting this publicly, not to embarrass you– but in hopes that it might help someone else going through the same experiences.


2 Comments

  1. rmpahl says:

    Dear Jeff,
    I want to take this moment to tell you how much I admire you and value your friendship.
    When you were involved in the local theatre community, you were a visionary leader, a creative force, a supporter of young and old, a mover and a shaker. I imagine you now function in much the same way in your school environment. Those are some fortunate students.
    You and Michael have take a property and transformed it into a jewel on Elgin’s east side. On a national scale you find the time to educate yourself about candidates and issues and share that information with the rest of us. You are a credit to your community.
    I know you to be kind, generous and thoughtful with me as well as others in your vast circle of friends. I only wish we were able to spend more time together.
    Thank you for being a part of my life, and for leading an exemplary life to which I and others can aspire. I’m sorry to know you are finding your way through this troubling time. Please don’t forget that this world holds much love for you.

    Like

  2. Laura says:

    Dear Jeff,

    I was reading your Christmas entry and found this posting. Wow. Inspiring to say the least. You are an amazing person. And I celebrate you claiming your voice and standing up for yourself and others as we seek our equal rights.

    You are changing the world by affecting the person you can…yourself. In doing so you are inspiring so many. If everyone focused on learning to love and accept themselves there would be no hatred in this world. It starts with each us. It seems to me you are living Gahndi’s words “be the change you want to see in the world.” Thank you for sharing your journey and for inspiring me. Merry Christmas to you and Michael!

    Like

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