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Mo's Journal
July 20th, 2007
06:54 pm


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A few more stories about my father

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[User Picture]
Date:July 21st, 2007 07:08 pm (UTC)
Reading your posts about this has been so - well, sad and touching, mostly, but also educational for me. I've learned that I apparently believed, in an unexamined, totally unconsidered way, that families that ostracized members for something as minor as sexual preference weren't close to start with, or the ostracizers were just basically bad people.

I never had the slightest fear of coming out to my family (it was, um, probably the lowest-stress, lowest-interest coming out on record); I just couldn't picture them taking it badly, or treating me badly because of it. They loved me! I loved them! They were basically good people! So of course it would all work out.

And yet you were so close to your father, and from your stories he sounds like such an interesting, intelligent person - I mean, I'm sure he had flaws, but he doesn't sound evil, which is what I suppose I secretly believed a person had to be to start or go along with a family ostracism. He loved you, you loved him, you were all basically good people - and yet it didn't all work out.

Like I said, sad. And educational. Thank you for making me examine my assumptions.

I'm sorry for your losses - your loss of your father when turned his back on you, and your loss of the hope for reunion now.

[User Picture]
Date:July 21st, 2007 09:55 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the hugs.

People are complex. Although homophobia was certainly the presenting issue, I've always felt the estrangement was more about control than it was about that. And also a kind of tenacity and inability to admit error, even implicitly. After all if one stops ostracizing then it's almost like saying one was wrong to ostracize in the first place.

I know many people - people I admire - who participate in family estrangement, often for absurdly trivial reasons. Their justifications, when they try to justify their actions, sound bizarre to me, but presumably they make sense to them. Maybe I'm more likely to hear these stories, since I've been ostracized?

[User Picture]
Date:July 22nd, 2007 12:13 am (UTC)
I'll just add that I think this kind of thing persists because people go along with it - both extended family and friends. They don't challenge the ostracism of an individual in a family, even if they think it's unjustified. They will not say, "but that's crazy! Why are you doing that? Don't expect me to shun him/her just because you are." On one level it's astounding to me that I was not invited to my younger brother's wedding - astounding because I wouldn't expect that his fiance's family to go along with ostracising his sister. But they did, and they have all along since.

And I've seen that in other families, as well, people who seem perfectly reasonable in most of their lives just going along with shunning someone in their spouse's family even though the reasonable individual doesn't think the shunning justified, or even sane. They say that it's not their family and they have to go along because "that's how they do things" among the inlaws.

Where I'd previously expected that not growing up among such craziness would cause someone to balk at participating in something like this, I've seen a number of people who feel that that's exactly what justifies their (to me) unjustifiable behavior - not having grown up with it, they can't pass judgment so they just go along. And they don't see it as their doing at all - it's the husband's family who's doing it and "of course" they have to comply. I don't know that I'll ever understand that but I've seen it enough that I'm not surprised by it anymore.
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