I write as a hobby. One would think that coming up with words would be easy all the time, but it’s not especially talking about a subject that is both personal and painful. Earlier this month, on the commercial day of love declaration, my father came by to give me money. It has been a nice but unnecessary gesture he’s been doing for the past few years because living on disability makes funds very tight. I have done my best to appear to be someone he can love while around him because I have long learned that what he is tolerant of is very small.
For example when I was 19, I learned that I was Pagan. I won’t say I was converted to a specific religion because I already had the belief system, just not the name for it. I was on the phone with my father and some how the conversation moved from martial arts lessons to spirituality, probably because I was very interested in the spiritual aspect of martial arts and how it connected the mind and body to the world for the ancient people who developed it. I told my father I was Pagan. He called me stupid more times than I could count. Told me I was ashamed that I was not Christian. Eventually I hug up. I was so hurt and angry that I was going to write him off. But I wasn’t willing to write off the possibility of having a relationship with my half brother and sister. So I didn’t shut him out of my life.
Many years later, all I remember is that I worked for the security company Wackenhut at the Georgia Pacific plant (which doesn’t exist now) and it was in the month of March. I wanted to get my brother and sister on a Saturday for Pizza and movie at my house to spend some sibling time together, not to mention it was close to my brother’s birthday, which is two weeks before mine. I should have expected that my father would think I was this evil person who was out to corrupt all the children of the world in the name of Satan. He told me no and I told him I would talk to my siblings when they turned 18 and he would never hear from me again and hung up on him. He found out where I lived and came over to apologize. I accepted, not that it brought us closer together or gave us an understanding of each other. It just meant that I would continue to visit every major holiday.
I have intentionally avoided the topic of religion with my father since that conversation long ago. It is not a subject upon which he can have a rational discussion (not that many people can.) You either agree with him or you are wrong. But on this day of love, Tuesday, Feburary 14th 2017 my father asked me to go to church with him. I politely declined, hoping that he would leave it there but no… we had to have a theology discussion of which I was both wrong and not listening. While I wasn’t called stupid I hadn’t gotten smarter as he had hoped and yet again I was ‘ashamed’ that I wasn’t Christian. I don’t know how long we ‘argued’ before he drove off because I wasn’t listening and he wasn’t having a one sided conversation.
I tried calling him twice the next day to smooth things over. He never answered his phone. The second time I left a message stating that i hoped we could agree not to talk about it again. 8 days later and he still hadn’t called me back. So I called him. He answered. I tried again to bring our relationship back to where we were both comfortable. I already felt uncomfortable enough at his house. I didn’t want the threat of a lecture to loom over me every time I tried to spend time with them. But no, that wasn’t acceptable to him. My religion being anything other than Christianity wasn’t acceptable to him. So he chose not having a relationship with me at all. I won’t way it doesn’t hurt because it does but what I do want to say, even if it can’t be to his face…
I am NOT ashamed of who I am and what I believe. I am a good person with a wonderful soul. I am tolerant of many things but the one thing I will not tolerate is disrespect. I am an adult and no one will treat me like a disobedient child who can’t think for themselves, not even my own parents. I am not ashamed of being Pagan. I am not ashamed of being pansexual and I am not ashamed of being transgender (gender neutral, any pronoun accepted). The only reasons I may hide any of these aspects of my being is respect for those whom would be uncomfortable but more to the fact that I don’t need to fly my Pride flag every minute of every day. But I am and never will be ashamed of who I am.