When I was a kid, my parents (especially my mother) taught me that certain things were bad. These things included lying, being gay, murder, stealing, being trans, reading other religions’ holy books, learning about other religions, magic, witches, New Age stuff, acupuncture, dressing up as a witch on Halloween, playing Dungeons and Dragons, reading books with magic in them (oddly, “The Black Cauldron” made it on the banned list but “The Lord of the Rings” did not), reading books with sex in them, watching movies with naked people in them, porn, sleeping with anyone you aren’t married to, polygamy, same-sex marriage, same-sex sex, non-vanilla sex, rape, assault, fighting, dressing provocatively (almost exclusively applies to females), gambling, smoking, drinking, doing drugs, swearing, skipping class, skipping homework, cheating, plagiarism, evolution, abortion, not being Christian enough, having too many (religious) doubts, not forgiving people, being angry, hating anyone (ironic when compared to the rest of the list), listening to music of other religions, listening to “Satanic” music (nevermind that most bands only use Satanic lyrics/symbols for shock value), being Pagan, being atheist, being Muslim, being Mormon, etc. etc.
I spent my entire childhood and most of my teenage years trying to be “good”. I was the good child in the family, the well-behaved one that gets good grades and stays out of trouble. I never broke the rules or even went through the rebellious teenager phase (unless you count playing Dungeons and Dragons and Magic: The Gathering, after convincing my parents that those games aren’t eeeevil).
That’s a damn silly list of “bad” things. I don’t think of my parents as fundies or as unusually religious, but after writing that list, I think I might have a difficult time defending that view. There are lots of things on that list that are not bad in any objective sort of way, and yet I still can’t do most of these things without feeling at least a little uncomfortable. I’m tired of feeling guilty over things I shouldn’t feel guilty about. So I am going to go out of my way to do these things (the ones that aren’t actually bad and that I have any desire to do, anyway) until I stop feeling guilty or uncomfortable with them. I’m going to learn about evolution. I’m going to read the Qur’an and the Bhagavad Gita and the book of Mormon and any other holy books/writings of other religions I can get my hands on (it’s good to learn about other religions in a culturally and religiously diverse world). I’m going to read “The Black Cauldron”. I’m also going to reread “His Dark Materials” by Philip Pullman (my mom didn’t ban that one, per se, but I bet she would have if she knew how it ends). I’m going to resist the urge to turn the volume down when I listen to songs like Blutengel’s “Lucifer” or Faun’s “Hymn to Pan”. Why should I step softly around only non-Christian religious-ish songs? So what if my roommate doesn’t like that I listen to one whole song about Lucifer. If she wants to complain about it, she needs to stop blasting her Christian worship music or she hasn’t got a leg to stand on. And the fact that I am even worrying about this just reflects on that stupid internalized warped sense of “bad” things I inherited from my parents, because my roommate has not given me a single sign that such things would bother her aside from mentioning that she happens to be Christian.
And here I haven’t even mentioned things like how it is to find out I’m trans after being taught to have a visceral rejection of transgenderness. That one’s going to take more than reading a couple of books to deal with, I think. Thank FSM my brother is accepting, at least. That helps a lot, and he was raised hearing these messages, too. I think he had an easier time rejecting the ones that were stupid, though. He was always the less well-behaved, rebellious one in the family. Maybe that’s why?