Reading the life stories any of us write about ourselves, whether gay or ex-gay, family or friend, it’s not always easy to get a sense of context and nuance. Having perceptions and memories of others can help fill in the blanks.
I was 9 years old and in my heart I hated my Dad’s new same-sex partner. I didn’t want to be with him. I didn’t want him in my home or in my father’s life. When I told my dad how I felt, his response was that I was the one who was wrong, that I was being unloving and I needed to accept his partner.
It certainly isn’t unusual for children of divorce to feel their loyalties are being betrayed when their parents enter new relationships. Cook later mentions deficits she perceived in her relationship with her dad:
…my dad was unable to fulfill the need I had for safe nonsexual affection as a little girl. In a healthy father/daughter relationship, a young girl learns the subtleties of getting a man’s attention which develop over time without sexual overtones.
Cook does not define the “safe nonsexual affection” that she needed or how that differed from the affection she got. Did her father respond differently to his young daughter because he didn’t feel erotically attracted to adult women? She leaves that possibility open, but it’s impossible to know for sure.
Family dynamics are often tricky, many threads intricately woven into the fabric of overlapping relationships. The complexities are certainly there between me and my teenagers, who live in a conservative Christian environment that supports ex-gays. No doubt, Cook’s father would describe things differently than she does. The more complex they get, the more difficult it is to understand our family experiences based on the perception of one person only.
The Ex-Gay Watch would like to serve as a conduit for folks who wish to talk about their experiences as friends and family members of public ex-gays and their supporters. We know first-hand that ex-gay folks are generally decent, ordinary people whose lives don’t boil down to simple stereotypes. We’re especially interested in illuminating the human side of folks — vignettes that help us understand each other — more than obsessing over cultural or doctrinal disagreements.
Are you a gay or lesbian parent whose adult son or daughter now works for an ex-gay group? A high school or college friend of an ex-gay ministry leader? An ex-partner of someone who now works for an anti-gay group? We’d love to hear from you at Ex-Gay Watch.
(Family members and friends have contacted us in that past and shared their stories, but asked that we not share them publicly. At Ex-Gay Watch we publish private information only to the extent we receive permission to do so.)