Sometimes love breaks rules

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My mom didn’t talk to me for forty days after I came out to her as gay. I’d revealed that the friend I kept bringing when I visited family was actually my boyfriend of two years. She was shocked.

Because my mom believes in a sanctified numerology, forty days was the time she needed to sort through her hurt and disappointment with God. At the end of the forty days, she concluded that I had a clean conscience, and she couldn’t argue with that. But in spite of her tolerance of me, her theology remained unchanged.

She’d once told me that gay people were “spiritually lower than animals,” so perhaps this was a progressive position for her.

What followed, though, was silence.

We talked some on the phone but never about anything important. She’d update me on family gossip and I’d tell her I was busy but doing well. I kept things brief and vague. I couldn’t talk about my favorite person with her. I’d tell her about trips, outings, concerts, all sorts of events and occasions, but I’d always leave out that I went with my boyfriend.

Before she knew he was my boyfriend, she used to ask about him all the time, how he was doing, what he was up to. She would often remind me to be more like him – a good boy. This was also her way of saying that I should go back to school. That was before she knew we were together. She didn’t bring him up after she found out. I lived across the country, so this arrangement of silence felt doable. It didn’t feel good, but it was something I could live with.

A year later I moved back east, staying with my sister and her husband. Then, six months later, my parents decided to move in as well, to help with my newborn nephew.

Things were strained and surface-level. I was hiding my life, barely explaining why I was flying to Texas every other month or why I wasn’t doing Thanksgiving with the family. My family is good at denial. Things too confusing, too difficult, too awkward, just get put away where we don’t have to look at them. This was just like all the other things we never deal with.

But then my boyfriend broke up with me. And all I could do was cry. The tears would well up without warning. I’d run to my bedroom or the backyard or go on a walk. I felt like a teenager again, hiding things from my parents. Smoking out of my windowsill became sobbing into my pillow. I’d practice looking happy in front of the mirror after hours of crying like I used to practice looking sober during parties.

But even without seeing the tears, my mom knew something was wrong. She could see the way I dragged my body. Concerned, she approached my sister. And my sister told her everything. She told her about the boy, about the breakup, about how my mom had proven she wasn’t a person I could share my life with.

My mom climbed the stairs to my room. She knocked on my door. I answered, and there she was, her eyes filled with tears. She wrapped her arms around me, held me tight, said again and again and again how sorry she was for the pain she put me through, for the pain I was living in. She promised I’d find somebody better for me, that I would be happy again, that I deserve that much.

That night my mom slept in my bed, holding me, wiping down my wet face. Only a few weeks before the break-up, she’d switched my glass of wine with Martinelli’s at dinner, thinking she was sneaky and that somehow I wouldn’t notice, but this night she kept asking if I needed a beer, if I needed to smoke. She was willing to break her rules for me. She was willing to go against her church. For me.

Sometimes love does that, at least the good kind of love. It breaks the rules – especially the religious ones – in order to embrace people in pain and to reassure them. You don’t have to be alone. Because I’m here with you. And I love you.

A Short Update

Some friends at the GCN Conference

Some friends at the GCN Conference

Hi Friends,

It’s been a busy month—from the holiday season to friends from afar (and a boyfriend) visiting, and to the Gay Christian Network (GCN) conference, where I worshiped, tabled for Friends of Jesus, and reconnected with and made many dear friends.

So there has been a lot going on.

I am sorry for writing less, especially for those friends looking for updates on my life, but the truth is I haven’t had much to say. I have much to be thankful about—really, I do—but somehow, in one of the most blessed seasons of my life, I have been eaten up by my future’s ambiguity and by my own insecurities.

The GCN conference was glorious! There were so many loving, sweet, eloquent, and brilliant speakers. Everybody glowed with peace and looked so huggable and beautiful, and I think all who attended could agree. The conference was such a profound celebration of the unity and reconciliation that is found in Christ. And really, I found a deeper faith and hope there; I came out of the conference more excited about the gospel and more hopeful for the Church.

That being said, the heaviness of this season followed me into the conference and I was a bit distracted. My mind was sidetracked by the existential crises that kept popping up. I felt like I couldn’t soak up all the blessing and love that were so present and tangible at the conference, and that makes me a bit sad. Lord knows that it would have been a ton worse if I didn’t have my partner beside me the whole time, listening to me rant about my insecurities and continually praying for me.

And perhaps, this conference was needed. Perhaps it was the perfect dose of hope and faith I could have in a season like this, and perhaps I was supposed to be confronted by my insecurities and hurts. I say ‘perhaps’, but I am pretty confident that I needed these things.

So I thank God for sustaining, refining, and leading me and the Church as a whole. And I thank God for the blessing that is QVS, the Quaker community in Portland, as well as all the friends and family that have been pushing me and revealing the love of God continually. I often sense the support of the Spirit through the intercession of others, so I thank you for holding me in the Light and praying for me. I am still processing the GCN conference, and I have a lot to discern these upcoming months, so I ask for you, Friends, to continually hold me up in prayer. Lord knows I need it.

Light & Love,
Hye Sung