Ask Amy: Gay servicemember worries about family bond
Dear Amy: I came out as gay to my parents when I was 28. I'm living on my own, after serving in the military.
My parents (who have always been deeply conservative) did not accept my sexuality well, calling me "disgusting" and "sinful." In fact, they froze me out for two years while I was stationed overseas, unwilling to talk or discuss or to even agree to disagree with me, despite my efforts to reach out to them.
I've recently finished my time in the military and am back in the U.S. My parents have contacted me. I've spoken with them and we've reached a sort of middle ground, but they still don't seem comfortable talking to me, due to the fact that I am gay.
It took a long time, but I have tried to forgive them for the way they have treated me, and now that there is contact, I admit I don't feel the desire to keep a close relationship with them in my life.
I'm looking at marriage in the next year, and I haven't told them about it because I'm afraid how they'll react.
Is it OK to keep my distance, forgive, and walk away, or do I owe it to the familial bonds to try and keep the relationship going?
-- Trying to do Right
Dear Trying: Familial bonds stretch in two directions. Until your folks figure out how to accept, relate, and apologize to you - and learn to love you exactly as you are - a natural consequence of their behavior would be for you to keep your distance.
Keeping your distance and walking away from a relationship are radically different propositions, however.
The fact that you say you are afraid of their reaction to your choice to marry is evidence that you are still somewhat tied to them. During this time of distancing, I hope you are able to conquer this fear. It is a vestige of their control over you.