Parents

jojojo's picture

Hey, I'd like some exchange with other people (especially who are out to their parents) how they get along with their parents when it comes to their sexuality or gender identity, and maybe advice. I have been rethinking my relationship to my parents, and how I would like the relationship to be, and how my sexuality comes in. Sorry that this is rather long. I might have posted it as a journal entry. But then I would really like some advice, especially from people who are more "advanced" in being out. (but also from anyone else)

Well, this is my story in brief. At age 16, I came out to my mom and told her that my friend T., whom she knew, was not just a friend but also my girlfriend. My mom reacted like... what I told her was the worst items of niews which I could have given her. And she starteed blaming the fact that we had moved to a bigger city (which was also more progressive, and I was more likely to meet gay and lesbian people there ... who would seduce me, I guess that was her theory.) And she could not even understand that it is possible to be attracted to a woman. (I also did not feel like trying to explain to her. I actually even thought: well, maybe my mom is so much under the influence of the narrow-minded opinions of "Every woman has to find a nice boyfriend --> husband" that she does not even think in terms of attraction.) And she also suggested something like, you know, it is also normal to exchange some physical affection even if you are just friends. So I think she was trying to convince me to reconsider the status of "just friends" as a possible status for my girlfriend and me.
I think at the end of our talk we were both crying, and then she hugged me, and then I escaped to my room, and that was my coming out to her.

I did not come out to my dad in person, but my mom told him, and then she told me back that unlike her he did not have any problem with it. I might have preferred to tell them together, but it just happened that my dad was on a business trip when I eventually sensed a possible occasion to tell my mom.

When I went to see my gf, and I told my mother about it, (it was common then to always give an account of where I am and what I was doing), I always sensed some cold reaction. But things got better as time proceeded. So in the months that followed my coming out, my parents got to know my girlfriend better and also accepted her as my girlfriend. they actually established quite a nice relationship, so it seems like my mom simply got used to the idea that her daughter and that girl were having a relationship.
We had some discussions, I remember, when I went to Gay Pride. My mom found them to gaudy and she did not like the idea that her daughter woud be part of that. She used the old argument of "If gay people present themselves like that, then they must not complain if people don't accept homosexuality". But well, she would not really try to stop me from going, and we did not have too many discussions like that.

After my ex-girlfriend and I broke up, it was a bit as if I went back into the closet. I mean, I did not usually lie to people about my lesbian relationship in the past, but I did not label myself too much then, I also was very open to girls and guys, not feeling the need to "find out" which of the two I would like more. (Well, maybe to be honest I should say: I liked the idea of being bisexual, and I thought that that would be what I was, and in order to prove that, I somewhat was looking out for a guy. I had already had one lesbian experience, so now it would be time for a hetero one... that was a little bit my motivation. But I also did not actively look for a boyfriend. I just did nothing in that respect, I just waited what would happen to me.)
So I did not have an active lesbian life. Well I went to gay pride once again, but for the most part I just behaved like a straight girl. We did not talk about my maybe being a lesbian.

In the mean time I also moved out.

A few months ago now I developed a different attitude towards that lesbian part of myself which would be another huge article, so I'll not go into that now. But the result is that I now go to gay bars and parties, I actively tried to meet some lesbian people in my town, which succeeded, and I dated a girl, I planned to travel to a Gay Pride, and most significantly, I got very much involved with this LGBT student association at my university.
This entry into "gay and lesbian culture", as I think about it, was pretty much one of the best changes which could happen in my life. In addition to that I also picked some LGBT-related courses in my college, and I wrote about LGBT topics in my papers.

But then, back to the topic of this forum, all this brought up the new old issue of my lesbianism and my parents. I don't live at home any more, I even live in another town, so for the most part I just go and do what I want without worrying about explaining or justifying to my parents. But then I was talking to my mom on the phone and visiting them, and I try to be honest to them so I tell them what my papers are about, and I tell them that I got involved with an LGBT association. And what is the reaction I get from my mother? "Are you now only writing about THOSE topics?" "Are you now only meeting with THOSE people?" "Will you now only hang out with THOSE people?" I was trying to tell her that - first - she was quite exaggerating ( I also write about other topics and I still hang out with straight friends) and that - second - there is nothing wrong with being actively and out gay/lesbian, and searching for a gay social network and the like.

Another time, when I was again confronted with these questions I just got cynical and replied "Yes, I now stopped talking to my (straight) room mates, and I stopped my membership in my (straight) choir." And I mentioned another straight friend and told my mom I stopped seeing her. (I was obviously being ironic, trying to make clear to my mother that she was being stupid.) The reaction from my mom: "O don't be so easily offended./ Don't be over-sensitive." And we changed the topic.

What do you think of that relationship? What should I do about it?

When people asked me "How did your parents react when you came out?" or "How do your parents feel about your sexual orientation?" I used to say "They are okay." I mean, they did not kick me out of their house, or the like. Nothing serious. But well, now I think that even though there are other parents who react much worse, this is still not okay.

Now I sometimes thought: Okay, if I get these negative reactions whenever I mention something that has to do with being lesbian, then I'll simply stop doing it. I won't share those parts of my life with them. Then my relationship to my mom will be kind of shallow, and even a bit alienating, but well, I can live with that. It's their fault, not mine.
I also thought about writing an e-mail to my mother/parents (my issue is mostly with my mother because I have more contact with her and she is also the one who gives me negative responses to lesbian things). I thought about writing an e-mail and explaining that I am annoyed/hurt/alienated by her negative reactions and say she has the choice: Either she spends some time examining her anti-lesbian prejudices and makes an effort to get rid of them. And that includes getting rid of her awkwardness that I not only had a lesbian relationship in the past, but that I also participate in lesbian culture and that stuff. The other option she faces is that I will simply not share this part of my life with my parents.

I am a bit reluctant to write such an e-mail. It seems so dramatic, and maybe my mother gets over her problems with my lesbian life if I only give her some time. (and if I endure some more moments of telling her things and getting stupid responses.)

Maybe I also think too lightly about the possibility to have a really shallow and censored relationship with my parents. I mean I tend to think of it as my parents' just punishment for not overcoming their anti-lesbian attitude (mainly mymother actually). But well, I guess I am also hurting myself, especially on the long run, because I accept that our relationship is seriously impaired, without really fighting to mend it.

any advice?

have other people been in similar situations? Those people who consider themselves completely out (and I know that's not the majority on this site), are you also completely out to your parents, talking freely and comfortaby about everything? Are there people who have settled with a bad/shallow relationship with one or both of their parents? If yes, how do you think about that?

thanks for making it until here. thanks for your replies.