I was in Utah again for Christmas this year, just like 2007 and 2008. My son and I spent the holiday with one of my sisters and her family. My boyfriend Tobi had to stay in New York City because of work. Otherwise, he would have been there, too.
My sister and I are in an odd situation. She is a conservative, by-the-book kind of Mormon while I am a secular or cultural Mormon. Since our parents have passed away, we don't have them to mediate our relationship. Although we try to avoid it, the difference in our religious views remains something we have to tiptoe around. I'm close to my sister's kids, who are now in their mid-twenties and early thirties, and it's really important to me that my son have the opportunity to stay close to his cousins.
Everything was going just fine during our visit until the Tuesday night before Christmas. I don't know how it started, but Prop. 8 became the topic of conversation. I could not believe how offended I became when my own family (to be fair, the worst offenders were in-laws and not blood relatives) repeated some of the absurd false statements of the Prop. 8 campaign. After a few minutes I stood up and said, "I ask for very little from this family, but out of respect for me I want you stop this conversation now." And then I left the room. They stopped the discussion.
Scene, with aria.
A number of people in the house that night did not get much sleep. I went to bed and shook with adrenaline for several hours. My son and one of his (gay friendly) cousins stayed up most of the night talking about it. His cousin was deeply embarrassed by some of the attitudes in his family. My brother-in-law went to bed sulking because everyone always thinks he's the bad guy. Etc.
In the end, I don't really care what my relatives think about the issue. I just want them not to discuss it when I'm in the house. I have my limits, and that's one of them.
I don't know what the resolution will be. My sister said that we'll have to "agree to disagree." Even though this keeps the peace, it does not promote strong family bonds. Another year of stasis. Prop. 8 in my family is like a wound that won't heal. It's not getting any better, and it's not life threatening in any way, but every now and then it oozes pus.
(On Christmas day, we all opened presents and then I left for the airport so that I can spend the week between Christmas and New Year's in New York with Tobi. There will be more on this in a subsequent post.)