A parent's rejection, whatever the reason, can be very hard to face. TheSite talks to two people who were rejected by their parents because of their beliefs and sexuality.
Carina, 21, was brought up in a very religious family. When she lost her faith, her family turned their back on her. Here's her story:
When I was a child I believed in God. My family were close and we lived in a Jehovah's Witness community separate from others who didn't share our faith. If anyone left the religion or broke its rules, they were punished with 'disfellowshipping'; where the person is ostracised by friends and family and not allowed to associate with anyone from the religion. I knew the effect disfellowshipping had on a family as my aunt had left the religion and went on television denouncing it; when my father found out he didn't talk to her for many years.
My beliefs started to change in secondary school when I became exposed to other ideas like evolution. I left home at 18 to go to university and my Dad refused to give me any financial support, as they don't agree with higher education.
I had a boyfriend at university. Someone from the religious group saw us and I was summoned to appear at a meeting with three elders from the congregation. It felt like I was on death row. I knew they were going to disfellowship me and I felt sick about what the implications were.
After I was disfellowshipped, my parents didn't cut me off immediately but none of my friends could talk to me. When my best friend got married, I wasn't allowed to talk to her or go to the reception. I had to leave before the ceremony ended as no one was allowed to associate with me. I couldn't stay in my parents home for longer than 48 hours or the elders would remove my Dad's privileges in the congregation. My parents weren't prepared to let that happen over me.
End of contact
Eventually I moved in with my boyfriend. When I told my Mum the news, she told me she couldn't have anything more to do with me. I was broken-hearted. I'd get upset at family movies, or when I saw a mother and daughter on the bus together. I heard my brother got married last year but he doesn't want anything to do with me. They just can't accept my lifestyle.
Learning to cope
I used to be really angry about it all, over how unfair it was. But in retrospect, I'm glad it happened. It's made me stronger and more self-reliant. Fortunately I'd made good friends I could talk to when it was happening, although I think counselling could also have helped if I'd had access to it. Above all I've learned you have to be true to yourself. Real love means accepting people for who they are, not who you'd like them to be. Although my parents couldn't do that, I'm lucky to have found friends who can.
My family and I have recently got back in contact with each other. It's a difficult process and it's going to take some time for the trust to return, but we are trying to rebuild our relationship and I hope we can succeed.
"I tried calling home recently, just to let them know I'm OK. Dad answered and hung up when he realised it was me."
For Joe, 22, it was his sexuality his parents couldn't accept. This is what happened:
By the time I was in my mid teens I knew I was gay. I was worried about telling my family; they aren't religious but they are very traditional. We weren't close and I didn't have much hope they'd understand. I was expecting the worst but prayed for them to show that they at least loved me even if they disapproved.
After building myself up for it, I finally got them to sit down so I could tell them. I asked them to listen to everything I had to say before I started, but I never got to say it - my Mum just blurted out "you're gay aren't you?" and then they were arguing with each other. My Dad just stared at me, but he couldn't look me in the eye. Then Mum started blaming him for not being a good role model. I just started crying. I felt like dropping off the face of the earth. I wanted to take it back, but I couldn't. I just felt scared.
Getting kicked out
Over the next couple of weeks, they didn't know what to do with me. There were lots of outbursts, usually something like "how could you do this to us?" Then they just started to ignore me. The atmosphere in the house was agonising. Then one Thursday they kicked me out. Dad told me I couldn't live under his roof if I was going to live my life in a 'disgusting, perverted way'.
I headed for London. I wound up on the street for a short while before I managed to befriend some squatters. The place was pretty awful, there were cockroaches, but even so, it was better than home. It took a long time, but eventually I came out to the girl in the next room, and she was lovely. It was what I'd needed all along and I remember just sobbing in her arms. She worked in a pub and managed to get me a job there too. She's my best friend now.
I tried calling home recently, just to let them know I'm OK. Dad answered and hung up when he realised it was me.
I feel angry towards my parents. They should have loved me no matter what. Being gay is a big part of me - how could they ask me to deny that? All I wanted was for them to accept my being gay. It still hurts that they think so little of me but I'm better off without them.
To anyone going through this, I'd suggest taking a step back and looking at what kind of people your parents are. Are they open-minded? Even if they disapprove, will they love you anyway? If you have good friends then you'll need them to be there for you. It's a big step and you need support. If you get rejected like I did then remember that, as devastating as it may seem at first, you'll make it. Find support - it's out there. And know that you're right to want to express the fact that you're gay.
Interviewed by Marcella Carnevale