Basically, I was still in the closet when I met my boyfriend, meaning only some friends knew and that was about it. (My family did not know I’m gay). Well, within the month of meeting my boyfriend, I grew some balls and I told my mom and then later my brother and sister. My mom isn’t too keen about it; she grew up old-fashioned and she said it would take time for her to get used to it, but that she still loves me and wants me to be happy. My brother accepts me but doesn’t really want anything to do with that area of my life, and my sister accepts me and knows about my boyfriend but doesn’t really want to meet him at this moment. My dad does not know (or at least I think he doesn’t) and I don’t plan on telling him anytime soon.
Anyway, after hanging out with my boyfriend’s friends and before we went our separate ways, my boyfriend was being cold and not talkative. I asked him what was wrong, and he told me that it’s already been over a year and he hasn’t met my parents–I have met all my boyfriend’s friends and family except his dad, by the way–and he also asked me if I wanted a long-term relationship, which shocked me.
I know it’s been over a year since I told my brother and sister and mom that I’m gay, but I don’t think they’re ready to meet my boyfriend. I don’t know how to handle the situation since my boyfriend is reasonable for feeling the way he does. But I’m upset because he knows that it takes time for my family to be comfortable with my being gay and it’s only been a year since I told them. He, on the other hand, has been out to most of his family for years and they are all comfortable with it. Plus, his parents are younger than mine and he also has a gay brother.
I’m also upset that he brought up the long-term thing. I understand that it’s customary to bring someone around after a certain amount of time has elapsed. But, honestly, I don’t know how to talk about it with my family or bring up the idea with my mom up that I have a boyfriend. Eventually, I would like to invite him over for dinner with my family, but I don’t know how to navigate this situation. I love my boyfriend and he is amazing to me, but I don’t want issues like this to affect our relationship. Please help. — Lonely Gay
You may not want this issue to affect your relationship, but it already has. And it will continue to affect it. I’m not sure what your problem is with the “long-term thing” — if you are avoiding the discussion because commitment scares you and you aren’t ready to have that discussion with your boyfriend yet, or because you feel like it’s already been established that this is a long-term relationship and you’re offended that your boyfriend doesn’t seem to trust your intention. Either way, as long as you continue keeping your boyfriend in the closet, at least in regards to your family, he will continue to feel confused about your intentions. And the “When are you going to tell them?” question will hang in the air like the proverbial other shoe waiting to drop.
I’ve never been in your situation and I can’t pretend to understand exactly what it feels like, the delicate position of trying to honor your family’s needs as well as your boyfriend’s needs, especially when the mere existence of one is at odds with the other. But you know you have to tell your family eventually, and it’s been a year, and your boyfriend is growing weary. You may think your family isn’t ready to meet your boyfriend — or to even know he exists — but your relationship is ready. And the fact is, your family may never be. What do you think is going to change in the next six months or year? As long as you keep them in the dark about your love life, they can stay happily put in pseudo ignorance. They may know you’re gay, but as long as they don’t have to actually think about you with another man, then they don’t have to confront what your being gay means.
And what DOES your being gay mean? That’s the question only you can answer when you begin living out and proud. You have the power to show your family — and any other ignorant person — that your loving a man is no different than anyone else loving someone of the opposite sex. Unfortunately, you still have to face bigotry, discrimination, and unconstitutional laws, but YOU have the power to help reduce that bigotry and to change the laws by coming all the way out of the closet and showing people — people like your family, whose minds clearly stand to be opened some more — that your relationship is every bit as real and genuine and legitimate and deserving of the same respect, regard, and rights as a relationship between two straight people.
I’m not saying it’s going to be easy. Your family may not react well. You may feel rejected and lonely. But by hiding part of your life for fear of these things, don’t you already feel rejected and lonely? At least if you come totally out to your family and share your relationship with them, there’s a chance you’ll be accepted, if not immediately, then hopefully eventually. And beyond that, you’ll no longer be waiting for the proverbial shoe to drop — for your family finding out without you telling them, or your boyfriend getting fed up by remaining a secret and leaving you. Telling the truth will set you free. And that freedom may not be enough to offset what could potentially be an unwelcome reception of your news, but it can certainly help. And you know what else will help? The love and pride and gratitude of your boyfriend. And of your friends who love you.
Do it. Tell your family about your boyfriend. Tell them about what makes him special and how happy you are with him and also how much you love them and want them to know this person who has become such a big part of your life. And tell your boyfriend you’re going to do it, not just because he wants you to, but because it’s important to you to live your life authentically and fully and proudly (and to share him with all the important people in your life). I bet the support you get from him will be enough to counter most of fear you have. Do it. It’s time.
If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.