Do your parents believe God can still “change” you?
Have many of your conversations with your parents ended the same as mine, “We’re praying for you. God’s doing a work in you. He’s not finished with you yet. I believe God’s going to change you.” Although hearing this causes pain and feels like rejection, it’s important we understand it comes from a place of wanting what is best for us as their children. My response was often argumentative and the conversation was ultimately unproductive. It wasn’t until I set three boundaries that my relationship with my parents improved and our dialogue became productive.
During one of these painful conversations, I took a new approach. I decided to set the following boundaries that I hoped would improve our relationship.
1. Who I am is not up for debate.
My struggle to accept and proclaim the truth of who I am is over. Anyone who desires a relationship with me is not welcome to question this anymore than I am welcome to question any of their identities.
2. You are not allowed to tell me I can change.
No one has permission to tell me I can change. I spent the majority of my life pursuing the fairytale change some preach. The individuals who are preaching change are not the ones who have to undergo the change, therefore, they can not comprehend the impossible request. They have the choice to continue to believe the lie but there is zero space to speak with me about it any longer.
3. I will not leave my spouse behind.
If you’re like me, your parents have invalidated your LGBT identity and same-gender relationship in a variety of ways. One way is by not acknowledging the relationship between you and your significant other. Another way is by refusing to allow your significant other to participate in family gatherings. The final boundary I created was my gay identity is real and to have a healthy relationship with me, this is the reality we all must operate in. The reality is this – as a gay man in a relationship – when Christmas comes around, our families must decide if they want my partner and I present. I am no longer a one-man show, there are two of us. We’re a package deal and we can’t be sold separately.
It’s been one year since I’ve set these boundaries with my parents. Since creating these boundaries, I feel our relationship and communications have greatly improved.
I share this knowing many of you have and are experiencing the same struggle. I hope this helps you and your parents in your journey to learning to love each other in a deeper and more significant way than before.
AZARIAH SOUTHWORTH is a blogger, writer, public speaker, podcastor, and was Instinct Magazine’s Leading Man of 2008. He writes on issues of faith, sexuality and forgiveness, and lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.