Crohn's Disease Forum » Support Forum » Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual & Transgender » Finding LGBT Acceptance Through Crohn's


09-25-2013, 02:06 PM   #1
heyayej
 
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Finding LGBT Acceptance Through Crohn's

Hi All!

It was suggested to me that I write a post about how Crohn's may have helped me find acceptance of my sexuality. This suggestion came about from this blog post, if you're curious.

I came out to myself at age 15. I quickly came out to my friends as well. When I moved to college, away from all family, I was out to the general public as well. It wasn't until around 23-24 that I actually, officially came out to my family.

I came out to my mom first. The week before Thanksgiving. I made a special trip home on a weekday and gave her a letter. She didn't even finish it before stopping to hug me, because I was crying, and assuring me that she'll always love me, no matter what.
Later on - months - I accepted the friend requests from my entire family that had been sitting, unanswered, on Facebook for years. Facebook... where my profile was very clearly gay. This action went practically unnoticed, but for my father peering over his dinner menu to ask, "So does this mean you're out of the closet?" When I said yes, he turned to my step-mom and shared, "Amanda's out of the closet." She nodded. We ate dinner.

Obviously, my coming out process was generally pretty good. There was no screaming, no hate, no blatant disapproval, but as time progressed there was a pretty obvious lack of support.
Everyone accepted the fact, but didn't blatantly support it.

That is, until I got sick... I had always had very, very mild evidence of a GI issue, but it was so easy to ignore until I one day woke up with, what would turn out to be, severe Crohn's. Uninsured, I was in and out of the restroom 30+ times a day. I was 98 lbs, pale. Everyone was worried, but I lived at least an hour from the nearest relative. Suddenly everyone's concern involved questions of where my gf was; was she helping take care of me? Was she going with me to the doctor? Someone else need to come help?

I kept saying I was fine, but I guess my general depressed tone and fake-smiling pictures gave way to the truth. I wasn't being cared for, in fact I was being mentally abused regarding my condition.

Long story, short. Things happened. We broke up. I was depressed. I found a free clinic, got better, made new friends, met my current girlfriend.
EVERYONE noticed a difference in my personality. Finally having someone in my life who didn't make me feel guilty or ashamed made a tremendous difference. My condition improved significantly and all of sudden... there was my family, practically waving their rainbow flags.

Now, there's two factors to this obviously. 1) the illness and 2) the new, better partner.

I feel like both factors played a role in my family coming around in a more supportive way. They realized how important it was for me to be happy and how drastically more happy I am with my current partner. They realized that even though I'm the youngest and was always the healthiest, I'm not invincible.

When Crohn's came around, they realized they can't afford to not be 100% a part of my life. They expressed their support so that they could be involved in all areas of my life. No more secrets, no more hiding. They now need to know what's going on with me and they know that loving & accepting my partner is part of that. After all, if something ever went wrong, she's the person who they'll get phone calls from and she's the person who will be with them at the hospital.

This is terribly wrong, and I hope it's making sense what I'm trying to say. As much I hate having Crohn's - as often as it makes me break down in tears by just existing - I have to on some level consider it like a gift. Something that came along and gave me my family in a way that I don't know I would have been able to have them before.

09-25-2013, 04:23 PM   #2
Kev
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Hey, lots of things can come at us... that initially are.. overpoweringly (is that a word?) frightening.. dreadful.. terrifying. Crohns sure ranks up there. I don't frighten easily (I'm dense that way) but it had me on the ropes. Perspective is a funny thing. At the onset I literally thought I was losing everything... career, savings, home.. and my fiance. But, looking back now... the end of that career... yes, I miss the money, the prestige, but it came with a hefty price... stress levels I thought I could simply shrug off. I was wrong. What I do now... I enjoy. Money is nowhere near the same league as before, but I also don't dread going to work. As for the lady... my new life without her is better than when we were together. Some things just can't be fixed. My 'density' issues had me thinking you could find a solution to any problem. (I'm still working on my perpetual motion machine).. When I was young, (and even more dense, if that is conceivable) I 'thought' my parents 'liked' every girl I dated. Now that my kids are grown, I realize that... EVEN if you see issues with a loved ones relationship, partner, significant other, you HAVE to sit back.. keep out of it... UNLESS/UNTIL it falls apart of its own volition. Believe me... the biggest challenge to 'parenting' when your children are grown adults is restraining yourself from 'meddling'. Mind you, I won't lie to my children if they ask my honest opinion... and I will gladly offer advice if asked... but otherwise, they are adults. They will always be my kids... AND... as just about everyone on this site knows keeping my mouth shut is like asking a Crohnie not to use the toilet. It just isn't natural for me.. but when it comes to relationships... I bite my tongue, let them make their own decisions and hope/pray for the best. So, what was my long winded point? Just that, if I had to hazard a guess... your family ASKED about your health so often, whether you were being cared for... because they had doubts about your partner, but kept quiet. Now that the situation has changed... voila... there they are. They are there for you.

Does any of that make sense? I think it is pretty universal amongst us parents...
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09-26-2013, 09:28 AM   #3
heyayej
 
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It does make sense. Thanks for your post, which was nice not only in discussing family support, but in the mention of finances as well. That's a whole 'nother struggle for me! I've lost more than 1 job thanks to Crohn's and have just now been able to get back to the income level I was at 5 years ago (which is still very minimal). It's been such a struggle and some days I really battle a feeling of worthlessness, but all I do is try my best and keep my head up.
09-26-2013, 10:51 AM   #4
nogutsnoglory
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I'm happy that you have found acceptance of your identity and that you now have a supportive partner and a family that's involved with caring for you during tough times of your illness. It's amazing how life works, sometimes through hardship we find joy after. I suppose its apropos to say that the rainbow came out after the storm

I knew I was different from as early as 5 years old but having no concept of sexuality, I only knew this thing I felt meant that I was gay at age 12 when puberty kicked in. It was very tough for me to accept being gay and it took me years of denial, self loathing, prayer, and dating women and trying to play it straight. I gave up on lying to myself and everyone else and trying to be someone I'm not. I accepted being gay before crohn's really came into play for me.

I think crohn's did and does help me realize that there are bigger things to worry about in life than what other people think about me. In this sense crohn's has given me increased confidence to live my authentic self when I'm healthy enough to do so. Life is short and full of suffering when you have IBD, I intend to fully utilize my free healthy time to live life to the fullest.

The main thing crohn's teaches me is that the petty nonsense in life is meaningless and that things like whether you get invited to a party or get a new phone or anything materialistic is meaningless in the scope of life. What matters is health and love from family, friends, a spouse/partner etc.

Crohn's teaches me what illness is like and has enabled me to grow further as an individual and to feel a greater sense of compassion for others suffering from debilitating illness.
09-26-2013, 05:48 PM   #5
Kev
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You are welcome. Thanks really isn't necessary. As for finances... money comes, and it goes. I once worked for a very large company... multinational, with sites throughout the world. Business was great, and in my management role I not only enjoyed (and used) stock options, but there was also a profit sharing plan as well. Went on like that for years... This one quarter, the company had 'net' (not gross) profits of just over 17%. As a result, we got a bonus of 20% (they rounded up) of our salaries for the quarter. At the end of the fiscal year, profits were again soaring, and everyone was expecting an envelope with another big check.. We got envelopes at a company function. Everyone tore them open, big grins on their faces... until they read that, effective Jan 1st of the next year... all North American manufacturing was being relocated to Asia. We all were thanked for our years of service, and wished the very best. We all received severance packages... but a year after that letter, I found myself so broke that I didn't know what was going to happen. I won't bore you with the details... (as if I haven't already).. but it was a dismal time. 3 months after hitting a personal all time low, I found another job. It paid OK, the hours were great, I enjoyed the work and the people I worked with, and life was good. Then a big company recruited me.. or tried to.. I kept refusing their offers, they kept sweetening the pot. Finally, they made me an offer I couldn't refuse. I wish I had... life may have turned out very differently. The job with the supersized pay cheque... well, it was with a company that was really a nightmare to work for. Absolutely the worst. How bad? So bad, that whenever I told anyone who I worked for, they would console me. Their reputation (deservedly earned) was known locally by everyone. Maybe that is why they recruited me from a distance. If only I had known. But, it didn't take long to discover. Problem was... once you get accustomed to being paid that much, it can be pretty addictive. Perhaps my biggest mistake in life was taking the job... No, actually it was keeping it. Mind you, I've made some beauts in my life. I can't prove it conclusively... perhaps my Crohns was pre-ordained.. but I wonder.. if I had bit the bullet and got out early... if maybe Crohns wouldn't have shown up. I guess my long winded story boils down to this... in the overall scheme of things, all money can do is make your doctor rich. Before I got ill.. to 'force' myself to go into work every day in a place that was emotionally putrid.. I would plan on retiring at age 55. My plan involved a Carribean condo, and 'vacations' to Canada to retain citizenship and health benefits. I came within less than a handfull of years to obtaining that 'dream'. But life had other plans... I got ill... and before I knew it, I had to start all over again.

Yet that is the great thing about life... we get 2nd chances, we get do-overs, as long as we don't give up. My retirement plans are far more modest now, but they're doable. And I've only a few more than a handful of years to go to achieve it. Not bad, when you consider 6 years ago I was wiped out, and didn't think I had a future to worry about.
10-02-2013, 11:49 AM   #6
Mountaingem
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Your story made me think of my husband's cousin. When he came out, it was really no big surprise to the family, and I think he expected everyone to be more surprised than they were. But he misconstrued the family's disapproval of the way his partner treated him as disapproval of him personally. None of us saw that side of it, and I am glad you shared your story because it made me rethink how we handled it. I should have made it clear that we loved him but his partner was being disrespectful and abusive and that was why we didn't want him around. He eventually saw it for himself and broke up with him but it just makes me sad that I could have avoided hard feelings if I had just been more open about it. Thank you for opening my eyes. *hugs* Glad you are in a better place both with your family and your girlfriend
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