Family has always been vital to me; it happens when you’re Mormon. When you can’t really get into heaven without a spouse, families become paramount. As a side note, you CAN get into Mormon heaven without having kids, but you have kids once you get there. Moving on. Being Mormon was not the glue that held me to my family. Believe or not, work filled that function. We grew up on a farm and ran a butcher shop. New England families have time “out at camp.” Hoosiers were big on family reunions. Mormon families have Monday night “Family Home Evening.” My family had deer season, where relationships were forged over a pile of deer carcasses.
We could be incredibly harsh towards each other; “You lazy asshole, I tenderized last time!” and at times distant; “Just grab that tray of roasts and don’t talk to me.” Most of the memories I have though, were of me and my nine siblings laughing while griping about how much we wanted to be anywhere but there. I have fond memories of, what I later started calling, “the dark farm.” I cherish my family and even though that sentiment was born out of barrels of beef remains, I daresay we are a stronger family than many.
For me, the biggest
challenge to these ties that bind was when I came out. Family members cried, a couple yelled, others avoided it. Some were hurt, and some were hurtful. But over the past two years (I can’t believe it’s only been two years) my family and I have made some amazing strides. I recently returned to Utah for my baby sister Sierra’s wedding. When I asked if Ammon was invited, Sierra replied: “Of course he is! Who do you think I am?!” We have made it to the point where we can joke about it and everyone has accepted my relationship with Ammon as a reality and not some adolescent phase.
I know my family was worth the fight, because during this process we have been able to meet halfway. Even if I could, I would not want to change how they feel about it. I don’t care that they think it’s RIGHT, I just care that they treat me equally. I concede that I don’t know the eternal nature of the universe or everyone living in it. I could be wrong and it could actually matter significantly that I’m gay. My family has seemed
to adopt the reverse of the same principle. Maybe it’s wrong, but I can’t say for sure that you’re a bad person or that you’re going to hell for being who you are.
Not everything is quite so amicable. Being Mormon, they have some serious ideological issues with me being gay. I can’t say as I blame them. When I started to realize what I was, I myself wanted to die to escape it. How can I hold it against them for not wanting to be around it either? I can’t and I won’t. This is not to say that I don’t stand up for myself. “Can I ask about your guys’ sex life?” Sure, if I can talk about how your husband uses his penis in your marital interactions. “Can you just marry a girl?” Can you just divorce your husband? “You can’t have babies.” You’re right, maybe we should also make it illegal for infertile people to marry.
This week, after Ammon and I satirically performed interpretive dance to Kelly Clarkson in our kitchen at random, I wanted to call my sister and laugh to her about it. I didn’t, worried that rather than a laugh on the other line, there would be tense silence and a change of subject. It’s hard not to be able to share some of my happy moments with family, because they don’t find them happy. The beauty of meeting in the halfway though, is that we are slowly finding those times to share. Later this same week, when talking to Sierra about married life, I told her that Ammon and I really bond over home improvement. We love the time together and function best when we have a project to complete. Even if she was just trying to be nice, hearing “that’s cute” on the other end of the line gave me hope that one day other things will get better.
Maybe, just maybe, my parents (pictured above, it’s ok to admit they’re cute) will one day be able to tolerate seeing Ammon. Even further, maybe one day we will be welcomed together for the holidays. In striving for the destination of a middle meeting space, we have remained close. I know my family loves me and they know the same of me. Growing up in the Miner household, “the dog” as we called it (our butcher shop was Bulldog Meats), has taught me that a shared experience in the middle of two hemispheres is possible. There is a nether region where I can think they’re wrong and they can think I’m wrong, but none of us care enough to be apart. Maybe to learn this lesson all it takes its growing up in pig guts and we just got lucky in that respect. If that is the case, I will thank God every day that I was blessed enough to be part of “the dark farm.”