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Christine Bakke: Dreams Of A Daughter

Jim Burroway

February 17th, 2009

Ex-gay survivor Christine Bakke recently discovered a post that her mother wrote for PFOX, an ex-gay organization. While Christine has left the ex-gay life behind, her mother, quite obviously, is still clinging to the hope that Christine will someday cast aside her integrity to live in the pretend world of the ex-gay movement.

Understandably, Christine’s relationship with her mother is strained, although she points out that her living as a lesbian isn’t the only issue. While Christine doesn’t want to play out the details of their estrangement over public blogs and web sites, she nevertheless recognizes that “my parents didn’t have a choice in me going public with my story. So they’re well within their right to write about me.”

I’ve often wondered how I would respond if my own mother had spoken out publicly against me. I hope that I, too, would recognize that she has the right to do so. But it’s hard to imagine what sort of interpretations I’d put on her motivations. Rejection? Certainly. And fear, probably. But I do think I’d see a misguided love underneath all that. I don’t know whether it would make it easier to understand (she does love me, after all, no matter how misguided) or harder (sensing a love with conditions will never be easy to deal with). But mostly, I think my reaction would be anger — at those who are encouraging her on the path of estrangement, people who have neither her nor my best interests at heart

But I don’t know what my reaction would be. Fortunately, I haven’t had to deal with that situation. Perhaps that’s because I didn’t try to go through the organized ex-gay route. There wasn’t anyone there to hold out false hope to my mother that I could change.

Every family is different. And in Christine’s case, while she has left the ex-gay movement and has become an outspoken critic of it, her mother is still fully ensconced in one of the more rejecting and confrontational expressions of that anti-gay movement. She is still being encouraged to look for magic signs and snow angel wonders to show that someday Christine will forget all she knows and go back to a life of denial and misery.

I’ve known Christine for more than two years now, and I have always found her gentle heart to be filled with thoughtful consideration for other people. So I couldn’t help but be moved by how she responded to her mother’s post.

Although saying that they love me unconditionally, in the Glamour article my mom said, “When you rock your baby in your arms, you never think one day my daughter will be homosexual and want to have sex with another woman, never have children. No one holds their baby and says maybe they’ll grow up to be a rapist, or this or that. You have dreams for your children.”

Well you know what? Children have dreams for their parents, too. You don’t lay in your parent’s arms and think that you’ll have to defend yourself from them thinking you are lost and damned eternally. You don’t cuddle up and think that one day you’ll find out that they believe that who you are is synonymous with being a rapist. I certainly didn’t have those dreams for my parents. What I did dream instead was that I might be able to express my concerns and be heard. I dreamed that I would be always cherished and deemed worthy of their love and respect, no matter my beliefs. I dreamed that I would be supported in living a life that was truly authentic and truly mine, without the haunting thoughts about what a disappointment I am to them. Those dreams have had to die.

Christine is willing to meet her parents where they are. “I’ve often told people that I don’t mind if they think I’m going to hell, just treat me with respect, love and dignity and we can have a relationship regardless,” she wrote. Obviously, that’s not enough. For many ex-gay survivors, the only route to reconciliation is total capitulation. If only her parents — and the ironically dubbed “pro-family” anti-gay forces which are sustaining a key component of this estrangement — could meet her where she is. If they did, they would find an amazing daughter that any parent would be proud of.

Why must that be so hard?

Comments

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carol
February 17th, 2009 | LINK

Your support of Christine is exactly what I feel – I’m so glad you wrote about it. There is an Old Testament verse where we are told, God “puts the solitary in families.” This has always stuck with me even though I heard it a long time ago. I feel like so many of my newer GLBT friends are like family to me, and Christine is one of these.

elaygee
February 17th, 2009 | LINK

That’s why so many GLBT people make their own families out of people we meet along the way. Our blood relations are often a poor substitute for a loving family.

Timothy Kincaid
February 17th, 2009 | LINK

Jim,

You speak for me and I’m sure for many of our readers.

Emily K
February 17th, 2009 | LINK

This is the reason why there is a “LGBTQ Community.” NOT because of sharing the same “worldview” or “agenda.” Because if we weren’t a community, we wouldn’t survive.

Stefano A
February 17th, 2009 | LINK

One of my favorite Charles Dickens quotes (Nicholas Nickleby):

Although a man may lose a sense of his own importance when he is a mere unit among a busy throng, all utterly regardless of him, it by no means follows that he can dispossess himself, with equal facility, of a very strong sense of the importance and magnitude of his cares. . .

Thus, cases of injustice, and oppression, and tyranny, and the most extravagant bigotry, are in constant occurrence among us every day. It is the custom to trumpet forth much wonder and astonishment at the chief actors therein setting at defiance so completely the opinion of the world; but there is no greater fallacy; it is precisely because they do consult the opinion of their own little world that such things take place at all, and strike the great world dumb with amazement. . .

They cried their tears, but then they did the vital thing: They built a new family, person by person. They came to see that family need not be defined merely as those with whom they share blood but as those for whom they would give their blood.

Regan DuCasse
February 17th, 2009 | LINK

And THAT is why I love Dickens so much!

I’m sure I’ve said this again. What parent can bear the birth of their own, witness how they grow up, and have the familiar to the family in their faces and personalities?
Yet, parents learn eventually that they don’t own their children’s souls, dreams or abilities.
Their children are NOT empty vessels, but are something still apart and unique to themselves.
Yet, for as long as homosexuality is a part of human life and for always, there is the term ‘lifestyle’ that misnames a universal attribute.
And the assumption that one’s child WON’T carry that attribute.
And if they do…oh woe, woe, woe.

It’s the latter with which you want to say, well, who do YOU think you are?
Who do you think THEY are?

And why don’t you let your gay CHILD inform you, instead of a contingent of people who don’t know your child and wouldn’t care to except to reframe them in an image that doesn’t exist.

Why does the simplest logic require Herculean effort to inform them?
Christine is a lovely woman. Her mother should recognize THAT. Nothing KEEPS Christine from her loveliness, practicality and essentially, how she knows herself.

Knowing oneself is confidence. Openness and honesty is moral. A parent learns over and over again who their child is, and when they are no longer a child.

But why the attribute of being gay, so turns this bond away, puzzles.
The church ISN’T an can NEVER have the status of being above one’s blood.
And no church should demand that the parent take away the happiness of their child for their own expense.

That achieves two things. Less guilt for the parent’s rejection, more division over something that isn’t a ‘lifestyle’ but an attribute.
Placing a wall between educating each other, being fully honest and in range of reason and logic, is not the church’s role.
Christine and her mother are not the church’s children, but God’s.
Meddlesome middle men, invasive tattling, isn’t the church’s job either.
Truth be told, this mother and daughter need each other more than the church needs them.

PFOX cares little for what they demand, expect and the price required and often paid. Especially in busted relationships, not healed ones.
So why would Christine’s mother ever think she’s better off with PFOX and not her own daughter?

Dave
February 17th, 2009 | LINK

If only her parents — and the ironically dubbed “pro-family” anti-gay forces which are sustaining a key component of this estrangement — could meet her where she is.

Why must that be so hard?

Here, Jim, you encounter the nature of dogmatism.

grantdale
February 18th, 2009 | LINK

We honestly feel sick.

(We know you will read this Christine, so don’t take it as anything more than a spew up of our heart-felt horror at everything).

There is no way any of our family would talk or behave that way. Regardless. Ever. If they did, the rest of the family would come down on them like a ton of bricks.

OUR parents COULD only stop contact with us if we were some sort of real physical threat. I doubt Christine is any sort of threat to anyone except, it seems, to the mind-bent parallel-World that her Mum is living in. Blimey… I read that PFOX(sic) exchange and can see nothing but tweety-birds going around people’s heads.

Even the mothers of rapists visit their sons in prison. Ya know. Yep.

(Why is there no story in the Bible about a prodigal parent???)

Maurice Lacunza
February 18th, 2009 | LINK

“You don’t cuddle up and think, …”

That was an excellent response to her mother’s comment )comparing her gay baby to a rapist.)

Very Insightful and well stated.

Sallyjerts
February 18th, 2009 | LINK

Well, we LGBT always stand in one line. “We do support each other to get more rights just as equal as others..” said on the forum of BiMingle dotcom Anyway, we will get and learn more from it. Hope the world is beautiful for LGBT too.

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