SL Letter of the Day: Show This Woman Some Love

Comments

402
If you're comfortable having Dan Savage post your region, he could put you in contact with scores of queer or queer-friendly families in the area, with advice on schools, and with children for your nephew to meet.
403
Your family of origin are a few dozen cowards and dominated by fearful bigots.

Your family of choice are the scores of loving people you've met and surrounded yourself with and you now have a family-of-choice-auxillary of 400 and growing. We've got your back.
404
It sounds as if you are coping with the loss of the shred of hope you clung to all these years that your family would come around, and I am so very, very sorry that you have to deal with this. The pain you feel comes through in every word. It DOES get better, but only if you let it. Many crap experiences in my life have gotten better when I got strong in my heart and mind and learned from them. I was sexually assaulted at 17 and told by my parents that it was my fault for wearing my shorts too short. Guess what? My mom became a crisis counselor because of what we learned about rape and violence. My husband walked out when I was 40 to date younger women. Guess what? It prepared me to meet and love a man so superior to him that there is no comparison. My fiance lost a son in infancy and now he counsels others in grief over the loss of children. Let your pain lead you to the light place that allows you to love others in pain and you will truly have triumphed.
What you definitely need to do is to find some support for single moms, because thats what you are now. See a lawyer about guardianship so that you can get him on your health insurance and then straight into counseling. Talk to the guidance office at school. Make him do his homework. Buy six times more food than you think you need because teenagers eat A LOT. Don't take any crap from him, because teenagers are full of crap much of the time. Love him and keep him safe. Your life will be different for a few years, but so much richer in the end. Good luck and check in with Dan so that he can let us know how you're doing.
405
Not sure if anyone linked to this already (seriously? Over 400 comments? whew!) but... a good thing to keep in mind. Maybe even send it to your sister.
http://www.danoah.com/2011/11/im-christi…
406
Sometimes there are questions with no answers. We have mysteries. Exquisite tenderness as you pick yourself up.
407
You rescued that boy from a hurtful hateful environment. You are so much better off without your family than with and I know its hard being a 'virtual orphan' especially when friends talk about going home to their families and what not. But now you have a chance to show this kid the possibilities and opportunities that await his future. Now he isnt bonded by the church, having to find a wife and raise kids, now he can discover who he is and who he wants to be. Those hateful people are not your family anymore, your family is the friends and people who youve let share your life with, those other people are foreigners from a country you escaped from long ago and they can't affect you anymore.
408
There is tremendous support for you here VABG, and I am very empathetic to the story told.

However, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld's best quote:

"There are things we know and things we don't know, and then there are things we know we don't know"

I don't know if this is a true story or not. There is nothing in your story that is not unbelievable. People can behave horribly even to their own families. However, Dan is a very public figure and this story has too many elements all adding up to someone getting "Punk'd" and not just Dan.

I'm very happy to see the unconditional support of Dan's readers pouring forth to your cause VABG. I hope the story is made up, because all of us looking foolish is a much happier world than what you and your nephew could be going through.

I just don't know though. Therefor I too, want to be supportive because your story is heartbreaking.

There is nothing lucky about what your nephew is going through, but at least he does have you, someone who has been through the same thing from the same people. You know how hard it was, and I'm confident you are giving him yourself 100% but you were older when you went through this. A 15 year old doesn't have the same coping skills as a College Graduate (I guess Liberty counts) - There is too much at stake not to use every resource you can for your nephew. Therapists are not all the same, I hope you can find one who will be helpful.
409
Your nephew is so so so lucky to have you.
410
You are such a wonderful person!

I am guessing you still have that bible. Read about the Good Samaritan again. You are it. You are the one doing what is right, and your family is flat out wrong. If you are still feeling down, grab that nephew and hug him.
And to the Nephew, you know you're a great guy and have the current holder of the World's Best Aunt title looking after you, right? Give her all the love and praise your family should have been sending her way for the past decade.
411
I wish for you and your nephew to always have people in your lives to put their arms around you and love you like you deserve.
You represent your family well by providing a heretofore missing element: Grace.

412
You are an example to everyone. If your family, the country, the world had more people like you this wouldn't be as fucked up a place as it is for most. Pat yourself on the back. Then do it again. You earned it and then some.
413
You are amazing, wonderful person! You can do it! There is a lot of hate out there, and it is awful and inexcusable that your family is so hateful. It will get better! They will come around - one by one! So far, just focus on raising your nephew - a strong, moral person! You two can do it together! I am far away, and I haven't experienced what you went through - but I am so so proud of you! People like you give me hope! This country is based on people like you - and it is being made a better place, day by day - by people like you!!!
414
I think what you are doing is wonderful. Your nephew is so lucky to have you.
415
You are a beautiful and wonderful person. Do not let them take that from you. Hold your nephew and your real family- your friends- close. They are what truly matters, not the bigots that you have the misfortune to share blood ties with.
416
VABG, I don't think I've got anything new to add. But I didn't get ANY brothers or sisters, and I'd be happy to have you as my sister. Hang in and know you're a good person.

Oh yes, and child support. Get it. Your nephew's parents are responsible for his expenses, not you. And I can't think of anything better than to make them write out a check to you every month. Be sure to send back photos of all the gay stuff (whatever that might be) that you buy with their money.
417
My good friend went to Liberty, she is still dealing with the scars. She wasn't even gay, but her college boyfriend was...he just recently came out....but you- the strength it took to come out at your young age....knowing what you faced...the strength to live an honest life- so many would never dare. THIS is the strength you will draw on to hold your nephew up, and help him have a full life he may well not have the chance too had he stayed in that oppressive home. He may well have been one of the tragic losses we tread about all too often, but no. He had your example, and know he has your guidance. You can do this because you have to. And you will be magnificent. I wish I could give you a huge huge huge hug. Sending the love you deserve from afar....
418
You can't choose your biological family, but you can choose who you wish to call family. Dump those people that raised you. They are not worth your time. They are not your true family. They are the people you unfortunately got stuck with as a child. Now you have the amazing opportunity to start over with your nephew. Teach him what love and acceptance are. Teach him that there is NOTHING wrong with him (or with you). Teach him that the "family" you both grew up with is toxic. Teach him that there are more people out there that will love him for who he is (and you for who you are) and all the others don't matter. You are strong and amazing and should be so proud to be who you are. Keep growing the family and life you have built for yourself and just keep being as awesome as you have been for the last ten years of your life. Erase the past, don't even think about it. Stay strong and you will continue to thrive!
419
I'm weeping reading this. You will be fine, and your nephew will be fine - you both seem like strong, loving people - but to think how there are people out there without any form of support and without the strength to manage on their own really breaks my heart. I'm the proud mother of a soon-to-be eight month old boy. He's the light of my life, and the mere thought of myself or his father to ever turn our backs on him or love him less on account of something over which he has absolutly no power.... I'm disgusted to think that there are such parents out there.
I'm sure your sister loves her son very much, but there is no excuse for her behaviour, or indeed the behavour of the remaining members of your family. As I said, I am absolutely sure that you both will live long, happy lives, but I am also sure that your nephew will miss his parents and siblings as I'm sure you miss yours. But in the end, their loss will be unspeakable. To even imagine cutting off contact with a sister or a son because of something like sexual orientation, it goes beyong belief, and I am sure not one day goes by when they don't mourn the loss of you both. So many people's lives ruined (because yes, I am sure your sister's life is ruined as well as your own parents, no one shrugs off the loss of a child no matter how that loss should happen) by ignorance, plain ignorance.

I'm sorry for getting off track. Please rest assured you have my respect and thoughts, and all my best wishes for the future, even though you won't need them. You will have a truly wonderful life.
420
You're pretty amazing. Hang in there.

It also might not be a bad idea for you and your nephew to go to counseling if you're not already. You were both abused and it can help to have a professional help you process it.

The way your family acted actually has nothing to do with either of you. They're broken and brainwashed.

Take care and good luck.
421
Your nephew is a very lucky young man! I believe in God but not religion. You have the love of God. And now you have the love of a 15 y/o boy because he now has a true Mother. It isn't giving birth that makes someone a parent. It is love! You are blessed.
422
I'm weeping reading this. You will be fine, and your nephew will be fine - you both seem like strong, loving people - but to think how ignorance and stubbornness can cause a family to split and for parents to simply give up their child, it really breaks my heart.

I'm the proud mother of a soon-to-be eight month old boy. He's the light of my life, and the mere thought of myself or his father to ever turn our backs on him or love him less on account of something over which he has absolutly no power.... I'm disgusted to think that there are such parents out there.
I'm sure your sister loves her son very much and suffers a great deal as a result of her choice, but there is no excuse for her behaviour, or indeed the behavour of the remaining members of your family. As I said, I am absolutely sure that you both will live long, happy lives, but I am also sure that your nephew will miss his parents and siblings as I'm sure you miss yours. But in the end, their loss is unspeakable. To even imagine cutting off contact with a sister or a son because of something like sexual orientation, it goes beyong belief, and I am sure not one day goes by when they don't mourn the loss of you both. So many people's lives ruined (because yes, I am sure your sister's life is ruined as well as your own parents, no one shrugs off the loss of a child no matter how that loss should happen) by ignorance, plain ignorance.

I'm sorry for rambling on. Please rest assured you have my respect and thoughts, and all my best wishes for the future, even though you won't need them. You will have a truly wonderful life.
423
Bless you for being there for your nephew. The same situation that is bringing up your own wounds can be a healing for you both. You can parent the child inside of you as you help him. Ask for lots of love and support as you go through this. It's important. Ask your friends to be there for you. Get him counseling, get yourself counseling. Your wounds are being reopened. Hard, but an opportunity to go through another level of healing. Don't walk this path alone. Much love.
424
I don't even know you, but I love you. I love that there are people like you in the world and I hate your fucking family. They're an ignorant, worthless bunch who doesn't deserve you. Let them rot in their fucking hateful juices. You're worth so much more than them. I am thankful and grateful, that despite all the hate they tried to instill in you, you were strong -- so strong -- enough to overcome all that conditioning and break out. Do you realize how amazing and strong that makes you? So many people don't have the strength or power to do what you do and have done.

You're a goddamned superhero.
425
Dear VA,

I'm so sorry that you family has put you through this. And I can understand what you must have been going through. I know a few families that fall into the description that yours does, particularly when there is a large number of children involved. The sheer mass gives a sense of community and even at times - love- that is SO hard to break away from. I've known people that never do it - the force of all that judgement and the threat of exclusion from what they've known is just too great. You must have been an incredibly strong woman to break away and stay away. And it's entirely natural that this will still, upon occasion, hurt. Just remember in those moments that it's precisely the capacity for that hurt that separates you from the monsters of your family. Hopefully, with more time those moments of hurt will become less and less frequent. Keep cultivating that wonderful rainbow family that you have and use it to boost yourself up. Get them to help out with your nephew if they can as well. It couldn't have been easy to suddenly have a teenager in your life. Oh - and BTW - make sure you get proper guardianship of your nephew and then make sure his parents pay you support. I wish you so much luck and so much love. I believe that thought is creative ... so remember that there are hundreds, if not thousands of people out in the world that know of you, that know the goodness or your heart, that are sending you love and support and who believe in you and what you are doing for your nephew.
426
VABG, you have no idea the strength you have inside of you. Your nephew needs your strength now, and your unconditional love. He is so fortunate to have you, and I am more than sure that you and the family you have built will help to raise him to be an amazing man just as you are an amazing woman.
427
Your family is sad; they don't know it yet, and they might never, which would make it so much sadder. Your nephew is lucky, and I hope he knows that soon, even if he may not yet. Your sister has more love in her than she may be understand. And you are wonderful. You all have all the love this old straight white man can send your way.
428
Much love to you and your nephew. I'm not sure what help our thoughts and prayers can offer you two, but know that you're in ours.
429
I don't even know you, but I love you. I love that there are people like you in the world and I hate your fucking family. They're an ignorant, worthless bunch who doesn't deserve you. Let them rot in their fucking hateful juices. You're worth so much more than them. I am thankful and grateful, that despite all the hate they tried to instill in you, you were strong -- so strong -- enough to overcome all that conditioning and break out. Do you realize how amazing and strong that makes you? So many people don't have the strength or power to do what you do and have done.

You're a goddamned superhero.
430
Seriously thank god you are there for your nephew. And seriously, call a lawyer, get child supprt; get legal custody.
431
Where do you live and HOW can we help?

I am a NLT Christian.

Please give us the opportunity to make up for those people you are biologically related to.

If you are looking for a faith community that will also support the both of you try DOC or UCC or UU churches.

Thank you for caring you are a great aunt!

Get him back into school, and be sure to get custody and financial support for him.

All my best to a great woman!
432
Hey VA Broken Girl,
You're not broken. Not at all. But you sound hurt. And you sound AWESOME. You ask why your family hates you so much? I'm not sure, because it is weird. It makes no sense. One of the weird things about that is that your sister called you to pick your nephew up. She didn't just chuck him out: she called you. Think about what would be happening to him right now if she hadn't called you. Your sister, on some level, knows you are awesome (I am pretty sure we are all pretty convinced that you are) and what now? Well, the thing is, you are going to be fine. You know it. You and your nephew and the family you have made will be fine. This is a great thing: you now actually have a member of your biological family about and you know he's going to be much better off and happier with you than closeted and unhappy with his parents. Thank God for aunts. You are absolutely fab, woman, and your nephew will be fab too. Thank God that you exist. Basically just every that Dan said. Oh, and thank God for Dan too, btw. Your family: your nephew and those you see every day, they don't have hate in their eyes in their eyes when they see you. You'll be ok, darling, you'll be ok.
433
To quote Dan... thank fucking God for you, and thank fucking God your sister called you instead of just kicking your nephew out of her house because now he has you. Stay strong and remember the people, like everyone here, that love you and will have your back.

I don't understand how people can quote the Bible out one side of their mouth, then spout hate out of the other side - hate that i'm damned sure Jesus said was wrong. Your family needs to ask themselves WWJD, and if they think Jesus would be okay with what they've done to you and to your nephew then they're coming up with the wrong answers. One day, they're going to die and find themselves in hell rather than Heaven and boy will they be surprised.
434
The strength you've found to step up and raise your nephew is from the same source that brought you out of the darkness of your bio family. Let the good people in the family you've created share their love and renew you when you're tired.
435
Dear VABG

I think I know some of the pain you feel. I grew up with emotional and physical abuse inflicted by my family members for years, and know what it feels like to live with enduring anger and hatred towards those who are supposed to nurture, love and protect you. Being rejected for who you are, for who your nephew is, takes it to another level of pain; something I too have experienced.

But you know what VABG, nothing shines through more in your letter, than your sense of compassion. I have let it guide me not towards acceptance of my own past (which will forever haunt me), but to cast off it's hold on me, on my future. You have a tremendous capacity to heal, to love. You life is proof of that. Your life is proof to your nephew that he too can survive all of this.
436
Thank goodness you are who you are and not afraid to be you. I'm a straight woman who has a brother who hates me just for being alive. My feelings about him?...Fuck you. I matter and you don't. It's been close to 10 yrs and I have never given him a thought or cared. He means nothing to me. They might have brought you into the world but they aren't your family. Your nephew is your family, the friends you make in life are your family. The "pets" (I prefer babies) are your family. Take one last look, mourn their "death" and then look away. Finally forgive yourself for being the one who was different. Forgive yourself for wanting more out of your life. Forgive yourself for wanting to be free and to be you. Then love that nephew and let him know you both are the going to be fine because you have each other.
437
You are an amazing woman. Your nephew is going to grow up OK because of you, instead of killing himself at 17. You are going to hurt like hell for a while, but hopefully having this member of your family in your life will help with that. But having people like you in the world makes it an immeasurably better place.
But, as other commentors have said, legal-ing up sounds like a good move.
From somewhere cold and wet on the other side of the Atlantic...
438
Fuck your family right in the ear. You are a wonderful, beautiful woman who is saving a young man's life. Keep up the good work and know that there are hundreds of us behind you, even though most of us will never physically cross your path. We are here - always.
439
Thanks for the update 307. Please let VABG know that our offers for help still stand should she need them in the future. I'm sure Dan would be happy to pass along the call to arms. The flying monkeys are here ready to help. I was already drafting an email to all of the lawyers, paralegals, legal assistants, and others who regularly work with lawyers I know in the DMV (the to line was over 100 members long in a few hours), and I'll just tuck that away should it be needed in the future. Offer still stands for a Chipin, too, for whatever the kiddo needs. With 300+ people on your side, so far, we could really hook anything needed up.
440
It's sad that sometimes the people who bring us into this world have not earned the right to call them our "families" - but it's their loss and really, in many ways, you and your nephew are 10,000 better off away from them. I think it's awesome that you have created your own family and have the opportunity to show your nephew how to do this, too. At the center of YOUR family is love, not hate; respect, not intolerance; support, instead of tearing each other down. Your nephew is infinitely blessed to have you acting as his mother, his advocate, his source of love and support, and his safe haven.

However, I know that sometimes, you still might feel like nothing because they have systematically worked to make you feel "less than" everyone else (and so have many people in certain circles--certain churches, certain political leaders, certain community members, etc.). The core truth of this is that they're wrong. They have to put you down in order to justify their horrible treatment of THEIR family, and to live with their own hateful behavior, they have to diminish your worth. Otherwise, they would be evil--right? They have to shift the whole view of you/the world to line up with their hate instead of seeing the world with truth and clarity. It's not anything that you did or have done, and from reading your letter it's clear that you have a wonderful and open heart, that you care fully for people and accept them for who they are (even if, like your family, they have not earned that love/care), that you strive to live a just and generous life, and that you are fucking brave, courageous, and strong. None of those "family members" can honestly look at themselves and say they embody any of those amazing traits. You can. And I bet your nephew will grow into a man who is secure and happy in who he is--100% because of you as a role model.

I'm not saying that you have to be perfect, but we don't learn from holding perfect ideals. We learn from the struggle. We grow from struggle. We grow from letting go and moving towards who and what we really are.

I used to work with kids whose "families" (mom, dad, sisters and brothers, grandparents, etc.) sent them away, or even worse, abused them in every imaginable way and they were taken away or incarcerated for lashing out at these family members. The truth is, many of those kids were still struggling to gain love and acceptance from these people each and every day. As the responsible, consistent, caring adult in their lives, I tried to remind them that they already had family and at the center of it was real love and respect. Once a few of my students were able to accept that their families by birth had not proven to be "real family," I encouraged them to move on. To let go. To build their own communities. To find their place in the world. Those students still struggled (and still do), but they realized that they had to love themselves more than anyone else.

My advice to pick yourself up is first to accept and love yourself. Lady--you are a miracle. You are strong. Do things and think things that affirm what is already true. I don't know if that's a yoga class or going to a concert with friends or cooking or whatever, but whatever makes you feel strong and beautiful--do it! You have overcome more than most people do in their entire life and you are prepared to handle this. 100%. Make time for yourself and the things that bring some balance to your life. Have a little grown up time, too.

Once you accept this, rely on the strength of those around you. You mentioned the diverse community to which you belong. Have some family dinners together. Involve people who want to go to soccer games, bake a cake your nephew's birthday, help him learn how to drive and celebrate those milestones and moments that family celebrate and face together. You don't have to do it alone and you won't.

Finally, and I'm sure someone has mentioned this... maybe (there are so many comments and I didn't have time to read all of them) look into joining a PFLAG chapter or similar organization that offers support to parents. There, you will encounter people who are willing to talk and learn from your experiences and you may learn valuable things from them, too. You became the parent of a teenager overnight. I'm sure there's a learning curve and man, parenting is tough anyhow. Add in that he's a teen, has gone through some trauma and is coming to understand his sexual identity and I'm sure there are going to be challenges. But talking to other parents going through (or who have gone through) the same parenting challenges--it will help.

Anyhow, I know that's a lot, and there are probably tons of other things that might help in this situation--but you have the support and YOU ARE WORTHY of all the love and support in the world. I wish that you were a part of my family. I would be honored to call you a daughter, an aunt, a sister, or a mom, or a "framly" (what me and my friends call our "friend-family").
441
Ingopixel said "You are the 'It Gets Better' in your nephew's life." And, yes. This. THIS THIS THIS THIS.

VABG, I am sorry that you didn't have an uncle to do for you what you're doing for your nephew. I'm sorry everything is hard. My heart goes out to you that not only do you have to deal with your own issues with your family's poisoned hearts, but now you have a sudden teenager bomb dropped into your life.

BUT. You... are making it... better. You. You have SO FREAKING MUCH to be proud of right now. Because of you, your nephew won't HAVE to do this alone the way you did. And that might not make things any easier right now... but it's at least something to be incredibly proud of. You're a pioneer, VABG, and it might not be easy, but it's also something not many people get to be. Walk tall, walk strong, walk proud. And good luck.
442
I am sitting here crying, as a straight atheist woman, and I can only add my voice to those who are saying THANK FUCKING GOD FOR YOU.
443
I'm a straight women with a brother who hates me for just being alive. It's been close to 10 yrs since I have spoken to him and my thought is fuck you. You don't matter to me. They aren't your family. They may have brought you into this world but they aren't your family. Your family is your nephew, the friends you make, the pets(I prefer babies) you have. Take one last look, mourn their "death", then walk away. When you are done with that forgive yourself for being the one who wanted a full life. Forgive yourself for being different. Forgive yourself for wishing for something that is never going to happen. Love that nephew of yours and begin your life with the ties that have been holding you both down. In between all of this.....love yourself and say a quiet thank you they sent him to you instead of making his life a living Hell.
444
I don't have any advice for you, but you inspire me. It's people like you who make life worth living for everyone.
445
My teen child is gender queer. I can't imagine not having her and her wonderful intelligence and energy and beauty in my life. How awful for your family that have missed out on the opportunity to have an amazing person like you in their lives. And what a great opportunity for you to welcome another amazing person into your life. Pity your family of origin. They don't understand what they are missing.
446
Your biological family won't stand up for you or support you or be there when you're scared or alone. And that hurts. But you grew up with this and you know it: the mental contortions that they must go through to keep up a system of thinking that makes it ok to disown a child must take a lot of energy and effort and confusion. They're lost. There's nothing we can give people who are that lost other than compassion. The worth of your life isn't decided by their acceptance of you. Your life is your own. And there are people who clearly love you. Pass it on should anyone in your family ever wander out of those woods.
447
Know that your family of origin (emphasis on origin, like, where you start out) doesn't hate you. While their anger may be directed at you and your nephew, know that it is not personal. They are not even feeling anger, they are just expressing it. What they are actually feeling is fear, a deep seeded terror. It goes back a long time - like I mean really long - and is embedded in incredibly powerful social constructs, dogmas and belief systems. It literally has nothing to do with you. Can you imagine what living with the belief that the Devil will punish you for eternity and all that? These people are scared shitless -- what suffering!! The best way to pick yourself up is to recognize what is really going on. That way you won't have to waste a lot of oppositional energy resisting the way things are and can move forward creating a beautiful life for your true family. Your anger towards your family is understandable it will wipe you out. It takes a lot of juice. Hold compassion in your heart for their experience. That's how you really pick yourself up because that is true self compassion. And love can be one way, too. You don't need to subject yourself to their toxic drama. As for your nephew, he must be feeling confused and hurt. But something deep inside him wanted out of that place of judgment, condemnation and fear. And you literally liberated him from a lifetime of all of that. What grace to be able to offer that service to another! Take strength in him; he is a brave soul. Know also that right in the middle of the worst personal crisis lies a portal to Love. It is immovable, sacred and open to those who have the courage to surrender to it. I seriously doubt your birth family has the courage to take advantage of this precious opportunity to move beyond lifetimes of fear. But you do -- go for it!! What do you have to lose? Maybe your nephew showed up so that you can do it together. If you do, it will create more love and grace for everybody (if you hadn't noticed from the 400 comments :-) Love prevails, always. Peace, paul.
448
You're not broken, VABG, you're in pain. You're stronger than many - you're making a new version of your birth family, a loving, accepting version. Making a new way is painful, and I applaud you for it.
449
I've read so many of the commentaries left and VABG, it sounds like you have a lot of support, so I say: 1) get child support! (A little reminder to your sister that you can't sweep people under the rug and pretend they're not their, plus you'll need all the help you can get- it gets expensive! Don't be too proud to ask for child support)!! 2) Let your nephew see your struggle you are having dealing with your absentee family- it's okay to mourn! 3) Get yourselves counseling. You both are stepping into a new phase in your lives, full of adversity. 4) Stay on the Red Road.
450
@397/Jackie: Me too! I bet lots of us would like to help financially.
451
I was thrown out and rejected by my religious Republican family, too. Catholic, not Pentecostal. And not for being gay (though they probably think I am because I was weird enough to hang out with "those people" in college). Three months later I landed a job near NYC (after 3 1/2 years of looking--that's why they threw me out, they didn't think I was trying hard enough) and I have never looked back. Whether you realize it or not, it already HAS gotten better for you because you are no longer subjected to their daily poison. Try to remember that the fact that you can't please them does not stem from your inability to be pleasing. Rather, it stems from their inability to be pleased. I hope that you can create a patchwork family of friends and neighbors and of course your nephew. I'm still working on that. Good luck to you.
452
I feel that your sister, at least, hopes that her son will find the strength, support, and love that she wasn't able to give to her son through you. I don't think she would have called you if she didn't at least hope that. Often times, our demeanor says more about what we think is expected of us and less about how or what we really feel. As a mother of 2 adult children, I can't imagine that deep down, your sister feels that sort of profound hate that you saw on their faces for either of you. Her hate is a learned behavior born of fear of alienation by her family; something you were strong enough to overcome.

There's so many ways this could have and still can turn out for you. You could have become a bitter and jaded person who learned how to hate in response to the hate you were shown; but judging from your letter, you don't sound like that person. Be happy that you have a nephew, a part of the family that you have been missing, there with you now. Be happy your sister reached out to you (because when she called you, she was looking for a safe place for her son). Journal your feelings expressing all your hopes, fears, pain, confusion and everything else you might be feeling, as well as about how your life with your nephew progresses and then make a copy of each entry and mail it to your sister. I have a suspicion that if she wouldn't admit to appreciating it now, she will some time in the future.

Most importantly, learn not to take the response of your family personal. The minds of some people are so closed, their reactions are nothing more than learned responses that they can't manage to see past. As much as it hurts to be without them, you have to remember that you are part of a growing momentum that is rewriting behavior from so many centuries of misinformation and bias to one of understanding, love and tolerance. Your world is so much richer and you have the opportunity to share that with your nephew. You are a teacher in that your experiences will be shared with him, and he can learn them without at least some of the pain associated with those lessons.

As hard as it is living a lie, sometimes it is so much harder letting it go. You were brave enough to do that.

I'm not gay, but I have experienced what some cultures call the dark night of the soul. It can be a lonely and very dark place. But somewhere within, you find the faith in either yourself or a divine presence to carry on until one day you find yourself in light again, and you learn to love and trust again. You already have. Don't let the pain of the past prevent you from enjoying the happiness you already know exists. And then just forgive your family.

A true measure of forgiveness is the thickening of the skin without the hardening of the heart.
453
Wow! That's pretty much it. VABG it's something to hear about the amazing people out there (read 'you'). And 'thank god' used to be the first thing that popped into my mind too whenever I heard about amazing people doing amazing things even when god was really the problem in the first place. So I've started saying 'thank goodness!' because that's really what it comes down to VABG, you are an amazingly good person and that's all there is to it. so thank goodness for you!

And a little disclaimer.. thank goodness is actually a phrase ripped form another Dan, Dan Dennett.
454
You are awesome. Keep it up.
455
A true hero is someone who when thrown into a tough, unexpected situation, steps up and does the right thing. You are amazing.
456
You are not alone. You have family. You have your nephew now facing the same hatred from those you deserve unconditional love of family. You are a great person doing a very noble and uplifting thing. You are giving a home to family. Even after the emotional rape you have both been put through, you are doing a wonderful thing. You are the better person. You are love. You are a joy. You make me proud to call myself gay.
457
You are incredible!!!
458
Dear VA Broken Girl: You are a saint. You are a paragon of grace and love. Taking in your 15-year-old nephew like that, no questions asked? Few people have that much love and acceptance in their hearts. He is lucky to have you. Everyone should be so fortunate as to have someone like you as a member of their family. The two of you (not to mention your 'rainbow' of GLBTQ and allied friends) are a more complete, more loving family than the 'family' who disowned you ten years ago. The zeitgeist will keep advancing, and maybe someday your family will see that they were wrong and come groveling for forgiveness. Until then, don't see them. Don't see the hatred in their faces, in their hearts. Write to them, tell them how you're doing, keep them updated on events in your life -- but don't give them power over you. You're the one who chose to leave them, and they don't get the privilege of seeing you until *they* come around to a place of love and acceptance. You've made it ten years without them; I believe you are strong enough to go decades more without them if you have to. Chin up!
459
Your family of origin may never get it. But one day some of them might. And regardless of whether or not they did, YOU did the right thing by taking in a beautiful 15 year old young man who needs you and who needs you to be strong. Not everyone gets a chance to make such a bold and loving difference in a young person's life but you have that chance and it will get better for you and for him. It's already gotten better for him if he's with YOU. xoxo Debby
460
Im a hetero woman in S-Cali, have been a huge fan of Dan Savage Columns for 16 years and I have never felt compelled to comment until now. I cried too when I read this.

I didnt read all comments so please excuse if I repeat something that has already been said. I say this as an agnostic - but I do not wish your family hell because I believe they are already living it although they are not aware. This is their loss beyond above all. I completely and absolutely empathize with your pain. I am sorry you and your nephew were born into a group of assholes, but the good news is you get to create your own family as you already have. I agree with DS - your nephew is beyond lucky to have you in his life. In my opinion I think it is important to consider this not as a personal rejection of you and him, but a clear sign that your family is simply incapable of true love. And that is beyond sad for them.
461
I am so sorry that your family is so blinded by their twisted version of faith that they can't see the evil that they've done to you and your nephew. God bless and keep you both, and give you the strength to endure such cruelty.

Peace,

Ellid
462
I just want to lead with YOU ARE AMAZING!!!!
Seriously!! Awesome. You are beyond awesome. Waay beyond awesome.
I'm a 28 year old lesbian from a Mormon family, so I have some experience with what you are going through. Having your family reject you for who you are is something no one on earth should have to go through. Fuck those people who are genetically related to you. FUCK THEM!!! They don't deserve to have you in their lives. You deserve better than that. Even as I type the words I know how hard it is to really feel that in your heart, but I hope if I say it enough to myself and you say it enough to yourself and your nephew says it enough to himself that someday we will all believe it. Your nephew is so fortunate to have you. Thank God for you! (I'm an atheist, but I still mean it-- Thank God for you) Your nephew could be in such an awful situation, but he has you and that is amazing. It must be really overwhelming to suddenly be in charge of a teenager. But you can do it. He will be so much better off with you in a house of love than a house of hate.

You are so brave. Never let anyone make you think that you are not brave, because you are so brave. So awesome. It takes such courage to do what you've done. Coming out to a hostile family. Leaving and building a life for yourself. Returning to a hostile situation to get your nephew the FUCK OUT OF THERE!! I know how great it must be for him to know that in the midst of all this pain and bullshit that he has you. And i'm thinking how great it is for him to have an awesome role model like you around.
I also have nephews. They are little, but I can't help but think about how things would go down if one of them came out. I hope that by that time the world will be a more friendly place. And it will become a more friendly place because of kickass people like you. "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed people can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has." -- Margaret Mead
You are amazing. Never forget that. Never let anyone make you feel less than the awesome person you are.
463
A very sad letter, but it looks like your bio-family is improving - very gradually. Your nephew had the courage to come out earlier; your sister didn't just toss her son out but sent him to a relative. You nephew's generation may mend fences, or may not. If they don't, then you'll know you've rescued the best of them.

Many people here have said you aren't broken, but I'm sure your heart feels that way. I've literally felt like I was having a heart attack from losing good friends, and even losing a crush (not that that matches what you're feeling.) I think that hopefully you just need time - and "Breathe - just breathe." (As I'm not from the U.S., I have no idea what the odds are on you being able to afford a temporary shrink.) Immersing yourself & your nephew in your circle of friends is the way to go, I suspect.

Best of luck to someone who really deserves it.
464
You. Are. Amazing. If everyone had an ounce of your courage and kindness this world would be infinitely better. I don't believe in God, but religion isn't even the point. You're a wonderful human being, and your nephew is so lucky to have you.

Fuck your family, fuck the hate and disease and poison. Stay as you are, and make each other happy. And thank you for being you!
465
You are amazing to actually do that and go get your nephew on a moment's notice and be ready to finish raising him and be his family for the rest of his life. I agree with the sentiment from others that you should (if your nephew is in agreement) get a lawyer and get legal custody over him and pursue child support.
466
You are an inspiration to us all, VABG. Thank you for being an amazing person, despite the hardships you have had to overcome in your life. Thank you for being a role model to your nephew, your family (even if they can't see that), your friends, and all of us. Thank you, thank you, thank you. I'm so sorry that you have such despicable family members, and they have caused you so much pain, but please try and keep your head up high and know that in spirit we are here for you and we always will be. You truly are an inspiration and a wonderful person.
467
((hugs))
468
Rock on, lady. Help your nephew send a letter to his family - his brothers and sisters - and to his friends at school. Explain to them what happened, that he loves them, and that he'll always be there for them. Just as you've been there for him.

If your biological family did this to you, they'll to do somebody else.

Please tell your nephew, not all believers are like this. I'll be praying for him to heal from the hurt, and praying for the success of the real family you've made, and the one he'll be making, too.
469
Broken? You're the furthest thing from it. You survived a cruel, potentially crippling, and completely unjustified rejection by your entire family and built a life for yourself. Others in your shoes have caved to the pressure by staying in the closet, run away without giving their families the chance to come around, or lost hope and killed themselves. You did the hard thing, the right thing, the courageous thing.

And now you're saving your nephew's life. I know 32-year-olds who can't even support themselves, and you're doing the best thing anyone has ever done for this kid, I promise you. You're not broken, VABG, you're a heroine.

It may be that your family's abuse was so traumatic you can't simply "buck up" and recover on your own. It's OK to ask for help. Your friends should reassure you, of course, but there's nothing wrong with getting some counseling, whether individual or through a support group, if you find the hurt is too great for you to bear alone. Some people have found that a short-term course of antidepressants can ease the grieving process, too. Others find solace in meditation/prayer. Whatever you find suits you best, please love and respect yourself enough to tend to your needs. In time, the pain will lessen, and you will find peace and joy again.

We're rooting for you.
470
@299, I think this song is better: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nULKw8s06…

@307, Thanks for letting us know that things are going to be okay for vabg and her nephew. I'm glad that they can both see there's a huge network of love and support out there.
471
@307 So glad to hear!
472
People that turn their family out are NOT real Christians, IMHO. You are doing more good, in your own way, than they ever will, and as much as it hurts, you will be better off for getting those poisonous people out of your life. Keep up the good work. Your nephew will thank you for it. :) *hugs*
473
I feel so sorry for your family of origin. It must suck so bad to be them. I know it's heartbreaking to lose them, but please be grateful you and your nephew got out alive. I realize that I am picturing your family members as zombies; maybe you should try to see them that way, too. They're infected - it's tragic, but what can you do but run away or kill them? Anyway, I'm in Virginia, NOVA specifically, let me know if you need anything. I am regentterrace on Twitter.
474
sending you my love
475
I agree with some previous readers--it's pretty amazing that your sister called you like that. Maybe it's more complicated than it looks on the surface. Maybe what she did was not *just* because of the reasons she gave but also because underneath she also knew that you would do a better job of raising her son than she could. You are so brave! Best wishes.
476
Hey, VABG. Thanks for existing. It's getting better because people like you are making it better for the new generation of LGBTQ youth all over the world. You're so brave and wonderful and I know that you and your nephew are going to have a blast in your little army of two. You don't need anyone who doesn't appreciate you, because you're obviously wonderful. Be brave, be happy, and keep fighting the good fight, girlfriend. <3
477
I haven't checked Slog in a few days and I'm sitting here with my (gay) husband who's making dinner and I read your letter out loud to him and then I read every single one of the comments, some of them out loud to him, and we're both overwhelmed by the awesomeness of VABG and all of the Slog commenters. It does get better, but reading this letter and thread makes me realize how damn good it is right now.
478
People that turn out family members are NOT real Christians, in my opinion, or good people. You are doing much more good with your life than they ever will. And although it hurts, in the end both of your lives will be better by not associating with such poisonous people. Kudos to you for all you are doing, and keep up the good work! Your nephew will thank you for it. *hugs*
479
I wish that I could apologize for the hurt and pain that has been unnecessarily caused to you by the people that you trusted the most. I, myself, am a Christian. I have a close, loving relationship with God, and know that God loves you, no matter what anyone else has said to you. He loves you just as you are! That's the beauty of God's unconditional love. It is unfortunate that your family has chosen to not show you and your nephew that unconditional love. It is a lifetime of love that they will be missing out on, not to mention the hurt and rejection they are causing the two of you. I simply pray that you will have peace in knowing that you are loved, and that your family will come to understand how to love the two of you without condition.
480
VABG, you are amazing. Amazing. What your family has done to you and your nephew is appalling. Awful, terrible, no good. But YOU are amazing. You are seriously the best thing that could happen to your nephew and you will both be better for this. Sending you love from Spokane.
481
You are a hero. Period. for what you have done for this boy, and for yourself I could not be more proud. You have made his life and the world a better place.

Thank you.
482
It is true they say that religion is for people avoiding hell and spirituality is for people who have already been there.
You don't understand how someone can have so much hate in their heart because you don't have that hate in your heart.
Your heart has what some of us might say, God in it.
Don't give up on your spiritual quest. It is yours to determine how, when, where and what it means to you. That would be a gift to both yourself AND your nephew.
This tragedy is not a loss, I promise that. Use it to help others and be a beacon of light in the darkness, as you already have.
Taking in your nephew was an act of God. You two keep on loving eachother and NEVER give up on love. LOVE WINS EVERY TIME...EVERY TIME!
483
Just fixing @405's link:

http://www.danoah.com/2011/11/im-christi…

And from any page on that blog, plug the string "i'm christian" into the search box for a bunch of follow-up posts.
484
What an immoral, evil, mean sister for abandoning her child in his time of need. I'm so glad she had the tiniest bit of sense to send him to you and not to an internment, re-education camp.

It's been said in the bible that "whatever you do unto the least of these" or whatever bullshit it says--you're NOT. THE. "LEAST." You are the best. Think of your family as "the least." Eventually you might be able to look upon them with compassion for the pain they are causing themselves. Hopefully each one of them will live to regret their cruelty. I wish I knew how to show you the love you deserve. A decent person opens his arms to the rejected, who I am sure was never worthy of rejection. Make sure he knows he is not "the least," but "the best."
485
Sounds to me like you and your nephew are the lucky ones. All the rest of the family that you left behind, they're boiling in that stew of hate and stupidity... I wonder how much of their animosity comes from wishing they could have been lucky, too.
486
There is tremendous support for you here VABG, and I am very empathetic to the story told.

However, to paraphrase Donald Rumsfeld's best quote:

"There are things we know and things we don't know, and then there are things we know we don't know"

I don't know if this is a true story or not. There is nothing in your story that is not unbelievable. People can behave horribly even to their own families. However, Dan is a very public figure and this story has too many elements all adding up to someone getting "Punk'd" and not just Dan.

I'm very happy to see the unconditional support of Dan's readers pouring forth to your cause VABG. I hope the story is made up, because all of us looking foolish is a much happier world than what you and your nephew could be going through.

I just don't know though. Therefor I too, want to be supportive because your story is heartbreaking.

There is nothing lucky about what your nephew is going through, but at least he does have you, someone who has been through the same thing from the same people. You know how hard it was, and I'm confident you are giving him yourself 100% but you were older when you went through this. A 15 year old doesn't have the same coping skills as a College Graduate (I guess Liberty counts) - There is too much at stake not to use every resource you can for your nephew. Therapists are not all the same, I hope you can find one who will be helpful.
487
I'm sorry for THEIR loss. There are many of us in the world who welcome you and your nephew with open arms and open heart.
Of course you're going to feel the way you feel now: you just re-lived the horrid rejection of your family.
Hang in there. This pain WILL fade.
If anything, you have just saved a life!
PS- I don't know how many members of your family of origin there are, but I believe I'm one of 400 people who care about you even if we don't know you personally... that's gotta count for something.
488
Dear VABG.

I can only echo what Dan said. Thank (The Universe) for you. Thank the fucked up impersonal dice-throwing forces that make us who we are spun the wheel and came up with you.

Your letter made me cry---I lost the bond with my family recently---but your existence gives me hope. Thank you.

489
I'm so sorry, love. For the both of you. Alright, first the tedious practical things: I feel I need to point out that you should definitively talk to a lawyer and find out about how to transfer custody, alimony etc. Also, you should probably look into arranging counseling for your nephew. There will almost definitively be lawyers and therapists in your city who will gladly accept you as a pro bono case. There were in mine.
Look, there really isn't much I can say. But there is the fundamental truth that in the history of your family there were frightened men and women surrounded by bigots before you, there was hate and fear and misery and having to hide from your relatives and after you there's going to be acceptance and love and bringing crushes home for dinner on warm summer evenings.
I wish you way more than luck
490
I am sure you feel very alone. I believe there is a reason things happen. Sometimes we just never get to know what it is. No one deserves hate. Especially for being what they truly are. I really wish you all the best and I am happy you are strong enough to ask for support when you need it. Asking for help is a huge strength. I believe in a higher power and I will send prayers out for you and for your family. People have literally killed themselves because their families have shunned them. If that doesn't convince Christians, as well as other people, that this is not a choice, it is the way you are, I don't know what will. I pray that you and your nephew will have love, happiness, and true friendship, and of course each other. I wish I knew you so I could hug you. All the best to you!
491
"You are a a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars. You have a right to be here." (from Desiderata)

If God made the universe, then didn't God make you? And your nephew?
If God made you, then aren't you homosexual because God made you that way?
If God made you that way, then aren't you just the way He wants you?
If God made you that way, how can it be wrong? Does God make mistakes?
492
Your nephew is so fortunate to have you. It's a blessing for both of you that you have each other in your lives, and moreover that both of you aren't in theirs. Those other people are not your family. You, and now he, have the chance to be a real family. Thank goodness for people like you.
493
You have so much love from the family you've made for yourself and should be so proud to be giving that to your nephew, especially when your own family could not do that for you. You are one amazing lady! Sending lots of positive vibes your way!
494
I'm crying with Dan. I know, intellectually, that there are people out there who do the kind of things that you write about, but it's a blow to my faith in humanity every time I hear about it for real. Please, stay with us and raise your nephew... your Son, because he is yours now, to be the healthiest, happiest man you can. You both deserve more than the world can give you right now, and i only hope that our responses are enough to make you believe, in your heart, that you are someone who is loved, who is worth it, and that it is worth carrying on. Gods bless.
495
I read the whole comment thread before commenting, so I know you have the legal and financial and therapy stuff covered (see, you're doing so much better than you think.) One other practical suggestion: get up to speed very soon on issues surrounding adoption and foster care of teenagers. Biggest warning: do not expect him to be grateful. Ever. He may or may not be grateful, but expecting or requiring it will destroy your relationship. You are doing a vital and wonderful thing, but from his perspective most likely he just wants his birth parents to love him the way they were supposed to. And while you didn't have to do this (though I'm very glad you did!) he does both need and deserve someone to do it. Sorry, hot button. You didn't say or do anything to prompt that, I've just heard too many stories of people taking in abandoned teens, then expecting what they couldn't give. That said, you'll do fine. I have faith in you.
496
VABG,
I am very sorry about your situation. It must feel very lonely. My Great-uncle was the pastor of a church in Kentucky and his son came out to him. It forced my great uncle to question things he believed in his entire life. Of course, he said and did some regrettable things that hurt my uncle, initially shunned my uncle. But eventually walked away from the church and re-examined his beliefs. Now he has his son back and he still has God. Just not the hateful, judgmental, jealous God he had before. Why would you want that, anyway? Above all else, LOVE, eh? Anyway. I am sure you unknowingly saved the life of your nephew. Imagine if it was just him; a fifteen-year-old KID. Alone, outcast from his family. I once heard an interview that brought me to tears; a gay-rights activist imploring people to be tolerant because she lost her son to suicide. He killed himself because she-the gay-rights activist, his mother, was not always so tolerant. She initially did not accept her son as gay. Now he is dead because he felt that loneliness. I hope you know that you are so brave for asking for help. I believe that is a huge strength. I will pray for your family because it is sad that they are in such a bad place, that they can throw their daughter, their baby, to the wind. I wish I knew you so I could hug you.
My uncle is happy now and that was just a dark time in his life that he got through and it changed him, definitely. I certainly hope that you always have love and friendship and a feeling of belonging in your life. I wish that for you so much. And I hope that one day your father begs for your forgiveness and you can give him that. All the best to you and your nephew!
~Jill
497
I don't know if my little drop in the bucket of responses here will help. But.

I'm here in my apartment in Philly listening to Jesus Christ Superstar and thinking about the life I want to lead. In a few month's I'm moving to Chicago and starting a PhD. I'm so blessed to be able to begin to do what I love for a living--study literature--but, unlike so many of my fellow grad student, I'm not becoming a doctor in order to fight, decades down the road, for tenure and a 401k. Really, what I want to do, is teach LGBT kids to love Shakespeare.

Crazy, stupid, silly, I know, but dammit, it's what I want. I want a space and a place open to kids who don't feel welcome elsewhere. I want to be a mentor, a provider, and a friend. I want to teach them to love what I love, to act and direct and design and to help us all figure out why the hell we're still performing this dead queer white English guy's plays 400 years after he died.

Your nephew is why I fight. Your nephew is why I want to be who I want to be. He is a gift. He is a diamond in the middle of the stinking pile of filth and hatred he was brought up in. He is in your life now for a reason. You are in his life now for a reason. All the hate you felt--all the pain--all the lies--you can sweep that all away. Help to make a place for him in this world.

I wish I could meet your nephew. I wish I could see the two of you and tell you how brave you both are. And maybe give you a copy of the Complete Works and ask you to come to my workshops for teens. VA's not that far, right? ;)

Thank you for sharing. Thank you for making me weep. Because knowing that there's someone like you--someone who loves and who carves out a space in their life for another in pain--make me want to keep going with my silly life plans.

Love him. Love him love him love him because he's never known real love before.
498
Find an awesome, gay or gay-affirmative therapist for yourself and your nephew now. Do not pass "GO," do not collect $200 or any more negative bullshit about yourself. Find a support to help you work through the pain of losing your families and to help you become each other's family.

And hold your head high for being compassionate and loving and brave.
499
Find an awesome, gay or gay-affirmative therapist for yourself and your nephew now. Do not pass "GO," do not collect $200 or any more negative bullshit about yourself. Find a support to help you work through the pain of losing your families and to help you become each other's family.

And hold your head high for being compassionate and loving and brave.
500
You are an inspiration. Know that your troubles and chaos will now not go in vain as they helped u be a stronger person for your nephew. You can't change your family's mind but u are the light in their dark world. Thank you
501
VABG - I just want to say that you inspire me. Your strength and love will keep your nephew safe. I'm so grateful that this world has people like you in it. Much love.