Growing up in a family full of tradition dating back more than one hundred years is tough. My friends really didn’t understand it when I told them that I can’t be friends with them because of the way they speak or dress. Mind you, this was in middle school when my parents ruled my life.
Disclaimer: I love my parents. They are the sole reason I’m even here. With that being said, I’m going to talk about how my parents and some of the values they raised me with are something that I completely disagree with.
I’m a liberal. I believe that being gay is wonderful, that poor people should be treated the same and that women should get the same pay as men. I hold the polar opposite belief system of my parents. For me, growing up in a conservative household was confusing. You hate things too much, you judge things too harshly and you question why people are the way they are.
Two important values that shaped the relationships I have with my parents: freedom and gay rights. I grew up with my parents shedding a shaming eye on anyone who was gay. They would say, “Poor them, what kind of curse has been shed about their parents,” or “they are going to hell.” I grew up believing being gay is a sickness.
But then I went to high school and one of my best friends came out to me. He changed my whole view. How can someone I love with all my heart be so horrible? And that’s when I realized that my parents were wrong. So I fought back. I told them that what they learned and what they taught me changes with generations and I refuse to believe that someone was evil for his or her sexuality. I told them that they were wrong for judging someone for who they are. That it isn’t a sin, and it isn’t a burden to be gay. And that no matter what they said or tried to do, I would continue to support my gay best friend and the gay community till the day I die.
You would think that my parents would get the hint after I showed a little bit of myself to them. But it only got worse. It’s as if they felt like they were losing their baby girl to, in their words, “crazy Americans.” So they started to shelter me more. They became very strict and wouldn’t allow me to go out as often as before. It was simple: they wanted to shield me from the world.
While I was taught that girls aren’t as great as boys – at least that was the attitude I was getting – I eventually learned that women can do everything that men can. Being around my friends and finding out what this generation of women can accomplish is breathtaking.
I fought back. I started to dress the way I wanted to. I started to talk the way I felt necessary about topics that even my parents told me to never mention.
I started to become my own person.
Looking back, if I gave you all the details of growing up in a super-strict conservative household, the majority of you would cringe. I don’t use my conservative upbringing as an excuse. I do not blame the way I was raised for not understanding something to it’s full extent. I am thankful for my conservative upbringing because it made the world smack me in the face and wake me up to something much more real.
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