Christine Bakke: Dreams Of A Daughter
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?