Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“I’m Worried I’ll Be Homeless If My Mother Finds Out I’m a Lesbian”

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Lesbian

I’m recently coming out later in life as a lesbian in my 30s. My mother, whom I live with and am financially dependent on, is against my lifestyle. She reacted so negatively the first time I tried to tell her that I dropped the subject. For now, she still thinks I’m heterosexual. But if I again attempt to tell her I’m a lesbian, there is a large possibility of me being kicked out and becoming homeless.

Living a double life of pretending to be straight at home, while only being “out” when I privately go to occasional LGBT events, is beyond stressful. I have also talked to a psychiatrist. But everyone who said they would help has not followed through or has just told me to hang in there. I know my mother will probably never accept my lifestyle, and I’m not interested in waiting for her to understand. That’s okay, as I’m trying to move on with my own life.

Besides pursuing a career as a personal trainer, I’m also looking to work with the LGBT community. But I can’t move forward with my life with no job and no support from the LGBT community. I don’t know what to do from here. Things have become so stressful – pretending to be straight at home, while only being “out” when at LGBT events. I have begun self-harming again and thinking about giving up on life, as I now feel trapped as I have exhausted all other resources. Any advice would be helpful. — Closeted Lesbian

Is there any reason why you HAVE to be financially dependent on your mom? You say you are pursuing a career as a personal trainer, and that’s great, but you need a source of income in the meantime. Have you looked for a part-time job (or full-time job, if you can swing it)? Have you looked hard? I totally get that shit happens, and sometimes, even well into our 30s, 40s, and beyond, we fall on hard luck and need help. But if your dependency on your mother is more than a temporary fix, I gently suggest that the bigger problem in your relationship isn’t that she doesn’t accept your sexuality, it’s that you haven’t learned to be independent yet.

Of course, “learning to be independent,” isn’t something that just happens overnight. It isn’t a skill you simply acquire if independence has never been nurtured and you haven’t had interest in pursuing it. You need some support. Support that comes from someone other than your mother. You say you have no support from the LGBT community, but I wonder how you’ve sought support — from whom and in what regard? Have you called different hotlines? In addition to local chapters of LGBT organizations (google the name of your town + LGBT support), try this hotline:

GLBT National Help Center: 1-888-843-4564
Providing Peer-counseling, information and local resources.
“We speak with callers of all ages about coming-out issues, relationship concerns, bullying, workplace issues, HIV/AIDS anxiety and safer-sex information, and lots more!

We also maintain the largest resource database of its kind in the world, with 15,000 listings. Our database contains information on social and support groups, as well as gay-friendly religious organizations, sports leagues, student groups and more. We also have information on GLBT-friendly businesses including lawyers, doctors and various counseling professionals.”

Additionally, reach out to your friends, find a new psychiatrist, get active in your own well-being. As you said, you can’t wait for your mom to accept you. You need to live your life for yourself.

But here’s the thing about your mother: she probably already knows you aren’t truly heterosexual. Oh, she might believe you are in the way a 10-year-old still hangs on to the idea of Santa being real but knows deep down something different to be true. You tried telling her once. Do you think she’s forgotten that discussion? She hasn’t. She’s just chosen to ignore reality, and you have chosen to let her. Why? Because you depend on her financially. If you want that scenario to change, you have to change it. Quit depending on your mother. Get yourself to a position that, regardless of her financial support, you will be OK. (You will be OK). And then, rather than worry about being homeless and desolate, you can process the feelings you have around being emotionally rejected by your mother.

In a lot of ways, I think it’s probably easier to be financially rejected by someone we love than to be emotionally rejected. Maybe part of your continued dependence on your mother is a way of protecting yourself from her potential emotional rejection of you. As long as you need her in a financial way, you continue lying about who you are. And as long as you continue lying about who you are, your mother won’t reject you. But the thing is, not rejecting you isn’t the same as accepting you for who you are. And that’s what you want. And until you are honest about who you really are, you don’t give your mother — or anyone else — a chance to truly accept you.

Find your independence. Keep reaching out for support. And when you are able to move out and can afford potential financial rejection from your mother, you will be free to be yourself. You cannot put a price on that kind of freedom.

***************

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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at [email protected].

17 comments… add one
  • avatar

    Laura Hope September 23, 2014, 9:37 am

    I don’t think the issue is even about your sexuality. I think it’s about your fear of independence and making your own way in the world. I’m not surprised–mom sounds like a control freak who may be (on some level) manipulating you to stay. But it’s obviously a toxic environment and you need to get out before you do seriously hurt yourself. Take any job for now, and get a bunch of roommates if you have to. Because once you are out of her house, you will find clarity that you don’t have now.

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  • Lady_Red

    Red_Lady September 23, 2014, 10:01 am

    This made me think of a metaphor. It’s like the LW is deciding whether to go left or right, when really she should just cross the street. There are more than 2 options available here, and I hope you’re able to realize them, and make it happen.

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  • avatar

    jbk80 September 23, 2014, 10:34 am

    I think you’ll start to feel a lot better about your situation once you come up with an exit plan. You may not be able to move out next week, but if you know that you will be able to support yourself and live the way you want in 3 months, it will be easier to get through the time in-between. Make a plan, save some money, look at postings for apartments/roommates.

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  • something random

    something random September 23, 2014, 10:43 am

    “I have begun self-harming again and thinking about giving up on life, as I now feel trapped as I have exhausted all other resources.”

    Wendy’s advice and link is great. Please use it. I know it can be hard to muster up energy if you are battling depression. Is there any kind of community college around where you live? This can be a great place to find various support groups and counseling. It can also be a great place to find potential roommates. You mention you would like to be a personal trainer. Cleaning houses and babysitting can be great ways to earn money and use your physical momentum to your advantage. There are various websites where you can post ads and availability. Good luck.

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  • avatar

    Wendy (not Wendy) September 23, 2014, 10:55 am

    What would it mean to you to be “out” at home? What would that look like? How often would your sexuality really come up with your mother? While sexual identity is an integrated part of life, in reality the majority of lesbian homelife is exactly like straight homelife. As it happens I’m on a long visit with my parents right now. For all I know they may think I’m a lesbian (I was married to a woman in the past), or I guess bisexual because they know my last serious relationship was with a man… I don’t know because it just doesn’t really come up. I suppose it would if I started dating someone and decided to tell them about it. If I wasn’t out to them and didn’t want to be and started dating a woman, I would tell them I was going out with “my friend” and might even bring “my friend” home to meet them. My siblings might even invite “my friend” over for family parties and everyone would say “oh isn’t it nice that Wendy (not Wendy) has such a good friend”. My parents would know it was my girlfriend but they would choose to ignore it. This arrangement has happened in many, many households that are uncomfortable with teh gays for decades if not longer.

    Stop thinking about how stressful it is not being “out” at home and just live your life as a lesbian. Cut your hair or bring home books about it or whatever it is you want to do and don’t worry about whether your mother’s going to see them. I think if she wanted to kick you out she already would have. She just wants to ignore the “problem”.

    What is this “everyone who has said they would help hasn’t followed through” business? What kind of help are you looking for? I thought at first that you might be disabled, but that doesn’t match with being a personal trainer, so I’m puzzled. (Maybe I’m naive or ignorant about different kinds of people who become personal trainers.) At any rate, I’ve known all kinds of differently-abled LGBT people, many from conservative homes, so even if there is a reason that you need to depend a lot on others there are resources available.

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    • redessa

      redessa September 23, 2014, 2:51 pm

      This is kind of what I was wondering but didn’t know how to say it. Unless mom is constantly pressuring LW about getting a boyfriend or getting married and having grandkids, or if LW has a girlfriend she’s hiding from her mother, I don’t see why it’s so very important – to the point of self harming – for mom to know anything about who she’s attracted to.

      LW, I guess I don’t understand what you mean by “pretending to be straight at home.” I’m curious in what way are you having to change your behavior in order to pretend to be straight? Why can’t all discussion of dating and sexuality simply be off the table. Lots of people, gay, straight and everywhere in between choose to keep their dating/sex life private from their parents. If mom pushes the topic, tell her your dating life is not open for discussion.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo September 23, 2014, 11:41 am

    Self-harm – that’s indicative of serious issues. I don’t think the problem is your sexuality. I think it is just the issue around which you’ve organized your conflict with your mother. It helps to make this seem as though it’s some big political thing, like she’s oppressing you or something. I got out of my parents house quite young and never went back. Not because of any big social issue, just the usual “I’m the boss of me” stuff that goes with coming of age. How did i do it? i lived dirt poor and took any job I could find in a recession to get some food on the table. You really have to work your way into any career, and almost anyone has to take some jerk jobs along the way. So what? I worked a number of minimum wage hard labour jobs after I had my Master’s degree. You are either prepared to accept that, or you live under your parents roof by their rules. Not fair at 30? Do something about it. If you are really self-harming, that’s a separate thing. Get help for that. But the rest is under the category “Suck it up, princess.” Don’t manufacture drama to avoid taking responsibility. Tell your mom who you are. Do you really think she’ll put you on the street? If that is true, then how can you live with such a bigot anyway?
    .
    One other point about the politics of oppression. i don’t usually take any serious issue with Wendy, but in this case, she has offended my core beliefs in a way that I cannot allow to stand. I’m sorry Wendy, i guess you have some petty personal agenda here that I can’t fathom, but: SANTA IS REAL!!! If he wasn’t, how could I still be getting presents from him? Presents that PROVE I am a good boy! I never want to hear this hatespeech again!

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  • avatar

    ktfran September 23, 2014, 12:07 pm

    It sounds like you’re being passive in your own life, LW. 1. You’re completely dependent on your mom. 2. “Everyone who said they would help hasn’t followed through.” 3. “I can’t move forward with my life with no job and no support from the LGBT community.”
    .
    All of these statements are placing the blame on someone else. You’re not taking any responsibility for your own actions. I think you need a new psychiatrist, stat. I also agree with jbk in that you need an exit plan. But that’s the thing, YOU need to work this out. Wendy’s suggestion of part time work is a great start towards independence.

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    • avatar

      RedroverRedrover September 23, 2014, 12:47 pm

      Exactly what I thought when I read it. I’m pretty sure she does get support from the LGBT community, emotionally at least. I mean, what else is she expecting from them? Does she want them to pay for her to live somewhere other than her mom’s house? Does she expect them to give her a job just because she’s gay? Because that’s kind of what it sounds like.
      .
      LW, what have YOU done? You’re “trying” to start a career as a personal trainer? Well, most people have a plan to support themselves while they’re trying to launch a career or business. How long have you been trying to start this career? What jobs have you had before and can you go back to something similar while you try to get your business off the ground?
      .
      I don’t mean to sound mean, but no one’s going to help you if all you do is blame everyone else for your problems. You’re 30 years old, you’re an adult. Find some kind of work, and based on that income, build a plan for how your next 5 years will go. And include moving out of your mom’s house in that plan. Then you’ll be free to come out to her whenever you like.

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      • avatar

        ktfran September 23, 2014, 1:04 pm

        Yeah. I would love to know what kind of help she’s expecting.

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      • bittergaymark

        Bittergaymark September 23, 2014, 4:02 pm

        Yeah. I’m not exactly sure that THAT many lesbians hire personal trainers… Now if you were a hot young gay guy? CHA-CHING!!! The money would be pouring in…

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark September 23, 2014, 12:09 pm

    Forget being a closet lesbian… Still living at home? Broke? In your 30s? WTF? Not being out to your mommy is the LEAST of your problems. Get it fucking together, women. Start making some money. Move the fuck out. Then — and only then — can you safely come out.
    .
    The gay and lesbian community can be supportive in many ways. But NEWSFLASH! They ain’t gonna pay your bills…

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  • mylaray

    mylaray September 23, 2014, 2:04 pm

    You’re either in or you’re out. And I mean that in many ways. I remember when I was a teen and had SO much anxiety about coming out to my parents. I thought they must know, it’s so obvious, but I also figured they were in so much denial that they really had no clue. When I was having all this anxiety about coming out, I mean it was seriously taking over my life, I was simply going through a crisis overall. The fear of coming out to my parents paralyzed me so much that I kept coming up with excuses for being financially dependent on them and still living with them because it was more comfortable. And I think it’s a little different here because you’re in your 30s. You have to get it together. Financially and otherwise. It’s not about changing your mom so that she won’t kick you out. That’s the “comfortable” way and it likely won’t work anyways. It’s about you changing you. Do whatever it takes to get a job and move out to pay bills. Then live how you want to live and your mom can either accept it or not, but she then has no power over you. You’re an adult. It’s your choice.
    .
    It’s a lot easier to live authentically on your own terms. Also I think it’s a good idea to get a LGBT-trained therapist (and I don’t mean LGBT friendly) to help you in the process, but ultimately it’s up to you.
    .
    (Also today happens to be Bisexual Visibility day so yay).

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    • Diablo

      Diablo September 23, 2014, 4:21 pm

      What is Bisexual Visibility Day? Visibility is usually a word that describes driving conditions in my part of the world, so Bisexual Visibility could describe a situation where there were too many bisexuals on the highway for safe driving. But the roads are clear, so what gives?

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      • Miel

        Miel September 24, 2014, 9:10 am

        Bisexuality visibility as in opposition to bisexuality erasure…
        Basically some people do not think bisexuality is a real thing. They think a bisexual woman married to a man is actually straight. They think a man in a relationship with another man is actually gay and just doesn’t want to admit it when he says he’s bisexual. Bisexual people will sometimes have problems where the gay-lesbian community thinks they are too straight, and the heterosexual community thinks they are too gay, so they fall in the middle.
        We need bisexual visibility because right now, a lot of people do not believe in the existence of that sexual orientation, or they don’t realize what it means. But I’m glad to hear there are no bisexual blocking the highway right now. 🙂

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  • avatar

    Lili September 23, 2014, 5:37 pm

    what did LW want her friends to do in support of her? they probably are doing as much as they know how, I think we’ve all had a friend at some point who we’ve sincerely wanted to help but things have just reached a point where that person has to do something for themselves. LW you are definitely at that point, take Wendy’s advice, find some specialized support but don’t discount the friends you have, they are there to support you but it isn’t their job to set you up with a job and your own place, or deal with your mother, those are things that you have to do for yourself or not at all.

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  • avatar

    Lesbian September 24, 2014, 5:26 am

    Hi, I’m the LESBIAN that wrote this! Reading Wendy’s response and others, I needed this tough advice. To clarify, I’m not looking for handouts or waiting for other people to take care of me. I’m currently making plans to get a job and move out.

    I realize now that I have been procrastinating in getting my life together. The real problem is not fearing rejection or acceptance from my mother —- because she might never accept my lifestyle. The real issue is me taking responsibility for my own life. Being financially independent as an adult. Getting a job as an adult. Making connections with people in the LGBT community. Living my own life on my terms as an adult —- regardless of what family or friends think or if my mother ever accepts me.

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