Ask Angelo - Angelo Pezzote
Is your family overrated? Plus, should you be meeting guys online?
By Angelo Pezzote, MA
Five years ago I moved back to my home State trying to fill a gap in my life by being closer to my family. These past five years have been hell for me because they treated me horribly because I am "the fag?" Ive tried everything. Do I cut them off or try harder for their love?
Signed, Families Are Overrated
Dear Families Are Overrated,
When you come out you rightfully live your truth. When you live your truth you illuminate all those around you. As you shine brightly, others are called to their truth. Sometimes this honesty is too much for them. It is very painful when "them" is your family. Families are idealized to be nurturing and affirming. When family mistreats you, it is deeply hurtful. You can get "split." A part of you continues to love them while another part of you may hate them. This dichotomy can be confusing and stressful but is not unusual in such situations. You are not alone.
There are families that are incapable of rational change, that ignore healthy boundaries and that can continuously re-injure you. There may come a point where you have to take a stand against their mistreatment to protect yourself. This is a good thing. But doing so does not mean that you do not love your family anymore or that you stop wanting your familys love.
At some point you may decide to give up your longing for what they cannot ever give you. You may need to accept what you cannot change, knowing you tried your best. This is hard. The pain of your loss may be something you carry lifelong. But it can get easier to bear as your relationship to it and the intensity of it changes over time. This takes great strength and resiliency. Meanwhile, you can get support from a new chosen family. This will never replace your family of origin but it can stand in very well. There can be hope too. Families can come around. They too can be resilient.
I have seen challenged families turn 360 degrees to do amazing healing work. I recall a lesbian friends mom, Jill, who was a ex-nun. Jill disowned her lesbian daughter for many years on religious grounds. But the daughter challenged her ideology and never gave up. Jill eventually renounced her Church and renewed her relationship with her daughter. Jill later made her transition from cancer peacefully because her daughter was by her side until the end.
It comes down to finding your delicate balance point between you and your family.
I have come to rely on the internet as a really important way to meet other gay men. Does that make me a loser?
Signed, Wondering in Cyberspace
Dear Wondering In Cyberspace,
Gay men probably access the internet at a high frequency and proportion relative to almost any other group. How do I know this? Not only because we are fabulous, but because the more disenfranchised the interest, the more the internet has to offer. Therefore gay men will likely use the internet to meet some of their social and sexual needs. I am here to tell you that meeting on the internet in moderation can be a normal part of gay men's social lives, even a healthy expression for part of their sexuality. So do not be ashamed, think you are weird, that you are the only one, or that you have a problem, if you use the internet for a piece of your well rounded social and sexual life.
The internet is a wonderful way to bring gay men together who already have a lot of barriers to being together. It can add a wonderful dimension to an already healthy, well rounded matrix of social interaction in our life. The internet has tremendous advantages.
It is convenient and easy to manage. We can instantly connect to other gay men in the comfort of our own spaces. We can even tailor the encounter exactly to our liking. It's like picking what we want from the menu at dinner or choosing all of our favorite dishes from the buffet. For example, in just under a minute you can be webcam to webcam with a 22 year old soccer player in Eastern Europe. And if things do not go your way with him you can just "click off" at any moment - goodbye. This can bring a tremendous amount of control and be a fun way to enjoy variety.
Control can be quite a useful tool for many men. Not only for control queens, but also for men who are: shy, quiet, married, experimenting, curious, questioning, bisexual and men who are just coming out - to name only a few. The internet protects our anonymity and therefore allows us to explore more of ourselves in a way that is safe where no one will find out. We can even pretend we are a different person in the privacy of our own homes. This allows us to express parts of ourselves that we usually hold back. We can practice things we have always wanted to try with little if any negative consequences to our lives or the people we share our lives with. This is a very desirable set up for many.
The Net can be healthy when it enriches our personal growth in these ways.
For more information, visit www.askangelo.com.