Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Choosing what to blog about

I have been blogging for a long time.

At one point  in my history of  blogging I maintained two different blogs - one for my family and extended family to read and one for "me". I tried to keep anything related to my sexuality off the blog which was for my family because I didn't want to offend anyone and I saw it as a place for them to come and catch up on life events and not have homosexuality "shoved down their throats". My family - for the most part - is very religious and my homosexuality has been an issue of contention.

It got to be too much of a hassle for me to maintain two blogs, especially when we no longer had a functioning computer at home so now I basically only maintain one blog on a consistent basis.
At one point I know there were two (maybe three?) of my family members who stopped in and read  my blog on occasion but whether they still do I don't know. Which recently has made me wonder why I still come to this blog and edit what I write.

You may ask, what do you edit?

1. I make a concerted effort not to ever post anything about work, although I have done on one or two occasions without posting anything too negative or incriminating. I will continue to avoid posts about work because - well - it's work.

2. I edit things I write about my coming out process. I was trying to protect those people in my life who were around me at the time - but WHY? They did nothing to support me OR to stay in my life and so why was I trying to protect them, or more importantly why do I continue to try and protect them?

While I was in university I was going through the process of discovering and accepting that I was a lesbian. I was a late bloomer! A girl I worked with in student government had recently come out. At a retreat for student leaders I was hanging out with my "straight" friends and they were talking about how no-one wanted to share a room with her on retreats because of her newly claimed sexual "preference".  I wasn't surprised by this, but considered how this information would impact my own coming out. I roomed with the same person at every retreat and although I was fairly certain she would not have a problem to continue to stay with me in the future I worried that her STAYING with me would have implications for her. I decided then I was not coming out while I was still involved in student government. This formed some of the basis for my choices later not to talk about my coming out process.

Many years after this experience in college, I was out, married and as at my sisters house with Shel. My sister had never asked about my coming out process but in a conversation she brought up a name as being the person with whom I shared my first lesbian encounter. It was COMPLETELY wrong! This was a direct result of the fact that  I had never shared my experience and by not sharing  it was left up to others to "fill in the gaps" and come to conclusions as to what had happened. No-one ever asked me, I never offered and the story that was constructed in the absence of all information was completely wrong.

Coming out is scary. I was terrified that I would hurt people but I believed that part of the process automatically meant that I would be hurt by others. I was. People I considered to be lifelong friends wanted nothing to do with me and walked out of my life. I disappointed my family. I EXPECTED that I would be hurt, but did whatever I could to protect others from being hurt. WHY? I can understand why I did what I did back when this whole thing was new to me. It isn't new anymore. I have been out of the closet for 14 years. I have no reason any more to try and protect anyone but myself and my family.

3. Although I do post things about my family, which in it's very nature has content related to homosexuality because we are two women parenting, I try not to be "in your face about gay issues... Having thought about this I really have to question "why" I do this? Who am I protecting? Who is it that I don't want to offend? And what does it mean to be "in your face" about my sexuality?

I have always felt in the back of my mind as though I was an "apologetic" gay person. What do I mean by that? I suppose that many people who know me would find this a bit surprising, because we live our lives very "out". I am out at work and in our community. We are "out" at the elementary school and to the parents of the kids who are in Maxies class. So I guess what it means for me to feel like an apologetic gay is that I feel as though in many ways I have to "protect" my parents and my grandparents and other people in my life who are offended by my sexuality. I try to ever hold hands or show public affection to Shel when we are with my family. I try not to write anything in a letter or post on a blog that would make my family uncomfortable. I HONESTLY do not know why I do this.


Let me give a "for instance"...

I am friends on facebook with some of my cousins and aunts and uncles. In 2008 there was a proposition in California known as Prop 8 that would eliminate the rights of same sex couples to marry.  Some of my relatives, living in California, were in support of Prop 8 passing and posted links on their facebook pages to support Prop 8. You know, I honestly believe that everyone has a right to believe what they will. I understand why my family believe this way, but I disagree with them. I disagree that human rights should be legislated against. I avoided saying anything, posting anything or commenting at all either publicly or on my own blog. Why? Because I didn't want to "rock the boat" with my family. But now I sit here and I wonder why? Why can I accept that they can post their beliefs, but not give myself the same acceptance? Why can I accept that  they are uncomfortable with me and then make it MY place to make them feel more comfortable? You know, at the end of the day as I reflect on this I think that the way I act could lead my family to believe that I am SORRY that I am gay. I'm not.

I'm sorry that my family can't accept me unconditionally. I am sorry that I had to deal with the things I did in my coming out process. However I am NOT sorry that I discovered who I was, that I came out, that I found a loving life partner and was able to MARRY her (YAY CANADA!), or that I am rasing two beautiful children. Right now I am sorry that I have tried to "hide" who I am when it has not been in my own best interest.

As I browse around on the blogosphere I come across all kinds of people who have no qualms about sharing what they believe. Why should I ? If people do not want to come and read what I have to say then by all means they can stay away! I should feel "free" to blog what I want to - especially as it relates to my own life!

And lastly - because I really segued there...

4. I edit my blogs about my children. Certainly there are some things about our lives that are mot for public consumption, but  specifically I edit myself when it comes to writing about the challenges of raising two children with disabilities and brain damage. I got thinking about this when a friend recently went through a phase of not knowing whether to blog or not. She has blogged about her families journey to adoption and she has laid it all bare. She has blogged the good, the bad, the ugly. I admire her for it SO much, so why don't I do the same?

Am I worried that people with think I suck as a parent because of the difficulties we face in raising our boys? Will people judge our boys? I know that I want to have the most positive outlook that I can as we face the challenges we do, and so perhaps I think that if I blog about the challenges it will negate the "positive" things we encounter? Does it make me blind to the challenges? To be honest I don't think it makes me blind to the challenges. I think it makes me feel like I am in an isolated bubble. Just me and my spouse all alone and without any support or recourse or even validation that what we are undertaking is INSANELY difficult.

I have had two interesting interactions that have fed my "fear" about blogging about the trials of parenting. One interaction happened prior to the adoption of our oldest. When he came to us he had incredible medical difficulties and we knew he faced a life of challenges. Someone made the comment to us that we were sure lucky we were just fostering and didn't HAVE TO adopt this child who we knew would have troubles throughout his life. The comment was made that "thank goodness he wasn't our problem!"
Well whose "problem" should he be? I decided at that moment that I would never tell this person if we encountered a challenge because it would only validate her opinion. Thankfully she moved away and I have no interaction with her and so it is a non issue now - but the comment stuck with me.

The second interaction was a comment on facebook when I posted something about Max being argumentative. The comment was " a child can only be as argumentative as a parent allows."
I never commented again on the topic and just moved forward but I WANTED to say - "You know, being argumentative when you are four and you have a severe brain injury has very little to do with parenting style..... etc. etc."  But I didn't, and I am deciding now that I need to change.

I need to change my blogging style. I need to change my reaction (or NON-reaction) to people when I disagree. I don't need to be argumentative, but I need to stand up for what I believe. If it chases some people away and they are uncomfortable with who I am or what I say then I will need to deal with that. I am certain that I will meet or find that people I already know ARE supportive, there will be people out there who like me for who I am and less people in my life that I spend trying to "protect", who really don't support me, or believe in what I am doing, and are judgemental about how I am living my life. Are these the people I WANT around me?

HELL NO

Hopefully moving forward I will feel more freedom in blogging. Let's see where it takes us!

8 comments:

Anonymous said...

AMEN!!!

Sulli said...

I really relate to this one. I go through phases where I post my blog link openly on Facebook so that all family and friends can see and other phases where I get paranoid and take it off or filter who can see it. Like you I am tired of compartmentalizing and filtering...

I think the sense of not wanting to offend family and friends often comes because they never knew "me". I was hiding. By coming out of the closet I feel responsible for changing the terms of our relationship... I'm the one who pulled of the "straight mask" one day and said "HA! Here I really am!" At least for me this is why I still try not to offend family.

I love the question that you ask at the end: "Are these the people I want around me?" (I have been asking this question of myself a lot lately too!)

Good luck throwing out the filters and blogging more freely!

Dancin' Momma said...

Go girl! :)

Teena in Toronto said...

Good post!

You should be true to yourself, not others.

Kendra said...

I totally understand your concerns about blogging about family situations and circumstances. I currently have some personal battles that have limited my blogging as well. I have found however in the past that the adoptive community has been really supportive and helpful. I don't comment here often but enjoy reading about your family and those fantastic boys.

jehara said...

I truly don't understand the extreme hate that some people exhibit towards gay people. I just don't. How can you love someone and then decide they aren't worth your love because of who they love? It makes no sense to me. I don't understand families that shun gay family members, parents that choose to disown their kids when they come out. And I certainly don't understand this intense desire to keep away the right of marriage if you don't love who certain members of society deem 'inappropriate.'

Um, sorry to hijack your comments. This topic really gets me going. I'm sorry that you have had to deal with this from your family. I'm sorry you have had to feel that you need to hide parts of yourself. I'm sorry that you have felt that you had to make those people in your life who are unaccepting more comfortable.

Hugs and love and sunshine to you, lady. I think you are awesome and deserve all the love and support in the world.

boltupright said...

Oh man. I am constantly trying to remember who knows about the blog and who reads the blog and worrying about what/how much I write on the blog. Now you are making me re-think why I do that, and for whose benefit...

Julie said...

Thank-you to everyone for your kind and thoughtful posts. I have a great group of online friends! I appreciate you :)