My Parents Tell Me to Keep My Atheism to Myself.
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08-09-2012, 10:03 AM
RE: My Parents Tell Me to Keep My Atheism to Myself.
(07-09-2012 07:16 PM)cufflink Wrote:  
(07-09-2012 07:18 AM)Ghost Wrote:  I still think that speaking with an open homosexual is a good way to get a handle on what this decision might entail. If one does come out, there will be consequences, positvie, negative or both. One must be prepared for that.

At the end of the day though, for two reasons, I think it's important to come out fo the closet. As a student of equality movements I know that hiding doesn't lead to change. And secondly, because I try to live by one man's wise words:


Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt

Step right up, folks! Open homosexual right here! Ask away! Big Grin

But seriously . . .

Matt makes a good point. There are striking parallels between what atheists and gay people go through. Even the terminology is the same--"closeted," "coming out," . . .

No two families are the same, and experiences in these situations can be vastly different. If it helps at all, Miranda, here's what I discovered:

I came out to my parents as gay (well, actually I was outed, but that's another story) back in the '70s. Some of the consequences I could have predicted; some surprised me.

1. They weren't happy. That I could have predicted. Their world fell apart--or more accurately, the fantasy world they had been living in for so long. They had had expectations for me and my brother (he's gay too) that now would never come to pass: no daughters-in-law, no marriages, no grandchildren, no proudly talking about their kids' families in their Orthodox Jewish community. Being gay was totally outside their realm of experience. They must have thought they had raised a couple of Martians.

Mom internalized; Dad's thoughts and emotions were right there on the surface. I remember once saying to him, "Dad, it's not as if I'm a rapist or an ax murderer!" His response was, "That, at least, people could understand."

2. There were many conversations. It was hardly a one-shot deal. My parents weren't the "we will never speak of this again" type. The agony and recriminations went on for a long time. "What did we do wrong?" "Can't you get help?" "I read about this treatment . . . " You get the idea.

3. I was told to keep it to myself. This sounds like what you experienced too, Miranda. But I realized that the motivation for their saying that was not to benefit me; it was to benefit themselves. It wasn't a question of protecting me from negative reactions. They didn't want the embarrassment and loss of face that would result if their peers found out their sons were gay.

4. They were a lot more resilient than I gave them credit for. I never intended to tell them, thinking it would destroy them--that they would just curl up and die if they found out. But you know what? They didn't. It was very hard for them, but they kept going. And we eventually wound up having a good relationship--not exactly like it was before, but this time based on honesty, which was a lot better.

5. They never stopped loving me. In that I count myself very lucky; I heard stories of other religious Jewish families where a son had come out: the parents said Kaddish (the prayer for the dead) and had no further contact with their child, forever.

The bottom line is that it wasn't easy, but I'm glad it happened. Because if you want a deep, rich relationship with the people you love rather than a superficial "Hi, how are you doing?" every so often, it's got to be based on honesty.
Cufflink,
Awesome post. I just about dropped my coffee cup after reading that comment from your Dad in #1. I have experienced #3 in regard to my atheism. My Dad is very sick and bed ridden and a priest comes to their house every week to give my Mom and Dad holy communion. (I'm an adult and live in another state than them.) I was staying with them for a few days last April and my Mom didn't know what to do about the fact that I wouldn't be receiving communion with them. In her embarrassment, she all but demanded that I stay in bed until after the priest came and left the next morning. Rolleyes Apparently she has never mentioned to the priest that I'm an atheist.

By the way, I recently found out that homosexuality is widespread in the animal world. I have several friends who are homosexuals and I have defended them for years insisting on my strong belief that homosexuality is biological and not a choice. I was ecstatic to learn this about animals since, as an atheist, I believe humans are just more highly evolved animals. I think this is very strong evidence that homosexuality is biological. Maybe you already know this, but if not, maybe it can help in your discussions with your parents or other people who have a hard time accepting your homosexuality.

"Religion has caused more misery to all of mankind in every stage of human history than any other single idea." --Madalyn Murray O'Hair
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08-09-2012, 09:09 PM
RE: My Parents Tell Me to Keep My Atheism to Myself.
I have a similar issue. My grandparents know, and so do several other close relatives, but when it comes to my siblings, My parents rather I keep quiet about it. My younger sister has come to me several times asking why I'm an atheist, and every time she does so, my mom gives me the "leave it be" look and I can't do so. On top of that, my OLDER sister is just now making the switch from Catholicism to Agnosticism/Atheism, and for a while I spoke to her about it, until one day my mom found out and grew rather angry.
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08-09-2012, 09:15 PM
RE: My Parents Tell Me to Keep My Atheism to Myself.
When they mention religion, just tell them what you think on the matter, otherwise there is not really any reason to talk about it. One of my best friends in college was a catholic. Sometimes we gave him a hard time over it, but we did that to everyone about something. Its just the way it goes, and you take it in strides.

Just be honest, otherwise you might find yourself at a christian cult gathering or something...
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09-09-2012, 12:24 AM
RE: My Parents Tell Me to Keep My Atheism to Myself.
(05-09-2012 05:55 PM)Miranda Paige Wrote:  I never truly believed in god, but I did not identify as an atheist until I was 15. Now, my parents, brothers, and close friends know I am an atheist. However, my parents tell me not to tell others. I know they trying to protect me, but at the same time I feel like they do not understand me or my choices. I just started college last week and I am wondering how, if I should, bring it up to the friends I am making here.

Also, my parents and brothers(one of which is an atheist while the other is an agnostic) are the only family members who know that I am an atheist. My parents do not want my grandparents to know at all. And I, personally, hate the secrecy.

Any suggestions? Thoughts? Comments?
Well my parents now know that I'm atheist as well.

What's important for your parents and any other theist to understand is, that it's not OK to be a hypocrite and have double standards.

If they feel they need to evangelize and share their knowledge, fine, then don't stop them. But it's not OK for them to tell you to hold your viewpoints in.

My parents tell me to hold my viewpoints too. And get this. They are Jehovahs witnesses. I tell them, "Mom, Dad..I'm not the one knocking on peoples doors."

I may be on my own on this when it comes to telling your grandparents, I see no reason to tell them. Religion is a coping mechanism for death for many and if they are near the end of their life then ignorance is bliss. No need to take away or challenge what they've believed all their life now.

Forget Jesus. Stars died so you could live.-Lawrence Krauss

For god loved the world so much he tortured his only begotten son, gave him a 3 day nap only to wake up in ultimate awesomeness and called it a sacrifice.
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10-09-2012, 03:48 PM (This post was last modified: 10-09-2012 03:53 PM by Logica Humano.)
RE: My Parents Tell Me to Keep My Atheism to Myself.
(08-09-2012 09:09 PM)pppgggr Wrote:  I have a similar issue. My grandparents know, and so do several other close relatives, but when it comes to my siblings, My parents rather I keep quiet about it. My younger sister has come to me several times asking why I'm an atheist, and every time she does so, my mom gives me the "leave it be" look and I can't do so. On top of that, my OLDER sister is just now making the switch from Catholicism to Agnosticism/Atheism, and for a while I spoke to her about it, until one day my mom found out and grew rather angry.

I can help you insight a revolution.
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10-09-2012, 04:07 PM
RE: My Parents Tell Me to Keep My Atheism to Myself.
(08-09-2012 09:09 PM)pppgggr Wrote:  I have a similar issue. My grandparents know, and so do several other close relatives, but when it comes to my siblings, My parents rather I keep quiet about it. My younger sister has come to me several times asking why I'm an atheist, and every time she does so, my mom gives me the "leave it be" look and I can't do so. On top of that, my OLDER sister is just now making the switch from Catholicism to Agnosticism/Atheism, and for a while I spoke to her about it, until one day my mom found out and grew rather angry.

Parenting fail!
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10-09-2012, 05:56 PM
RE: My Parents Tell Me to Keep My Atheism to Myself.
Hey, Cufflink.

Nice post, brother.

It's such a crap shoot. I had a Francophone friend who grew up in the East End of Montreal (total Francophone stronghold) and at 16 he told his parents he wanted to learn English. They kicked his ass out of the house right then and there and never spoke to him again. Some people is fucked.

At the end of the day, it's really a tough balance. You can't live your life for someone else and at the same time, you don't want to fuck up someone's day. I think, and correct me if I'm wrong, that the majority of homosexuals are glad that they came out of the closet, regardless of the consequences and that they encourage other closeted homosexuals to do the same. My impression has always been that when a high number of people come out, it normalises that group. If there are no openly gay people, they're totally stigmatised. When there's a ton, it's San Francisco Cool No, but for cereal, I've always felt that people are more ready to accept what they've been exposed to.





Peace and Love and Empathy,

Matt
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