What I’m concerned about is not her – but my mother, and possibly my father. I came out to mom as homosexual about five months ago. And actually, I didn’t come out to her. She found out because she went through my Facebook since it was left open on her laptop (I thought I logged out but apparently not).
My mother is very critical. So when she found out that I was lesbian and I have a girlfriend, she had a lot to say about it. I wouldn’t really have an issue if I was completely on my own and independent of her, but I’m not. I am 18, and she is helping pay for college.
I want to stand up for myself and not have to feel bad that my girlfriend is part of my life. But I feel very guilty when I resist her because she does so much for me as a mother.
She guilts me when I don’t spend time with her, but I don’t want to spend time with her when she constantly criticizes me. I’d rather spend it with my girlfriend. That doesn’t help the situation either. I try to avoid confrontation and I try to make it seem like I’m not spending as much time with my girlfriend as I really am, but I don’t wanna do that for much longer. My girlfriend understands but I feel powerless and it sucks.
My parents are getting used to the idea that I’m gay, but I know for a fact that my brothers had more leeway with their girlfriends at my age than I do now. Dad was all pissy and said he didn’t want to see hugging or kissing in the house. I wish I was older, you know? I want to be independent. That way I could make my mother low on my list of priorities as a result of disrespect. But I don’t feel I can do that because I need to stay on HER list of priorities. — Under House Rules
I hear what you’re saying. You want your mom to respect you and respect your lifestyle. You want the same benefits that you saw your brothers enjoy when they were your age, like showing affection for their girlfriends in front of your parents. But, unfortunately, you don’t have that right now it sounds like. And because you need financial help from your parents, you can’t risk offending them and pissing them off. And it must be very frustrating that the thing that offends them is simply you being you. That must hurt.
And here’s the thing, they may never come around to fully accepting you and your relationships. That part might not ever change (though it does sound like there’s certainly potential that it will), but what you know will change is that eventually you will be independent of them. At some point in the not-too-distant future you will no longer live with them or need their financial help. And I know that it feels like that day can’t come soon enough, but it will be here sooner than you think, and with it you will get some freedom you don’t currently have, like the luxury of kissing the person you love in the home you live in. You’ll also get some headaches you probably don’t have now, like paying rent and dealing with roommates. You’ll trade your college career for a real career and along with that will come the freedom to be independent of your parents, yes, but so with it will come bosses and co-workers and deadlines and pressure.
My point is, life is always going to have challenges. And, sadly, this probably won’t be the last time you feel marginalized because of your sexual identity, and it won’t be the last issue your mother finds to criticize you about. But if you respect yourself and don’t rely on the validation of others to feel good about yourself, then you’re ahead of the game at the tender age of 18.
While you’re still living with your parents and dependent on them financially, follow their rules. Don’t kiss and hug your girlfriend in their home if they’ve asked you not to, just as you might not have a boyfriend sleep over if you were straight and it made your parents uncomfortable. Surely, there are lots of places you can show affection until you have your own place. Spend some time with your mother even if she’s critical. Most mothers are critical, whether they have gay kids or not, and dealing with a mother who picks on you more than you’d like is a rite of passage most of us go through. It makes the freedom we feel when we no longer have to deal with their rules that much sweeter, which helps balance some of the crushing disappointment we feel when we suddenly realize just how many assholes we have to deal with in adulthood.
Hey, life isn’t always easy, and you’ll have more challenges as a lesbian who is still marginalized and often treated like a second-class citizen in this society. It sucks, but in the words of Dan Savage, it does get better. Just hang in there a few more years, keep your eyes on the prize, and remember that regardless of what anyone says — including your mother — your romantic relationships are every bit as valid as anyone else’s and if you want to hug and kiss your girlfriend, go right ahead… anywhere but in your parents’ home for now.
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If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Addie Pray December 13, 2012, 9:05 am
Sweet response! WWS.
csp December 13, 2012, 10:18 am
Addie – This reminds me of the comment you made awhile back that said that you were jealous of young people because time goes by so slowly when you are young and it flies as you get older. I feel like you blink and a year has passed. But at 18 you are like, how can you make it through the next few years.
Addie Pray December 13, 2012, 10:33 am
So true. I think time feels like it is moving so slowly at that age because so much changes so quickly – you grow and change so much in just a school year! I guarantee in just a few months/years, this LW will grow and change so much, she’ll become so much more confidant and assure of herself. When her mom makes a critical comment, she’ll smile, because she’ll remember how just two years ago that would have floored her but not anymore.
lemongrass December 13, 2012, 11:42 am
At 17 when I moved out it really hit me one day that time just seemed to be going way faster. All of a sudden a day just seemed to fly by and one day was not a long time. Five years later at 22 I had the exact same feeling- a week is not that long! My great aunt is 99 and she says that a year feels like an hour to her.
Guy Friday December 13, 2012, 1:39 pm
For some reason, all I could think about when I read this is “Time flies like an arrow. Fruit flies like a banana” 🙂
Addie Pray December 13, 2012, 3:43 pm
I wuv it!
Regina Chapman December 14, 2012, 10:43 am
No chance of a serious response now. But oh well, she has 194 already.
csp December 13, 2012, 9:10 am
Wendy, great answer! LW, realize that your parents might treat you differently just because you are a girl compared to your brothers. That happens in most families. It sounds like your parents are processing all of this. Every parent has a dream for thier child. They are seeing that dream for you fade away and a new dream will come. They just have to mourn it.
I know this isn’t the same thing. But I was in an interracial relationship for awhile. When I spoke to my parents when things got serious. They said they loved me but they were worried about me having a hard road to walk. People being ignorant and saying things and doing things. They wanted me to have a happy life and not have the world hate me just because of the surface. I am sure your parents are the same way. Try and look at the intention behind their comments and not the surface. Good luck.
SuzyQ December 13, 2012, 11:13 am
I disagree. Being afraid that your children will experience prejudice from others is not at all the same thing as saying you don’t want to see your lesbian daughter express love for her girlfriend.
csp December 13, 2012, 2:18 pm
but that is one off hand comment in many. From the parents perspective. They raised this girl and saw marriage and grandkids and big happy family dinners. All those things can still happen but many parents take time to realize that just a small part of the picture needs to change for the same dream.
As people, we can remember a criticism so quickly. And she might have brushed aside 10 positive comments to focus on this one.
Moneypenny December 13, 2012, 2:08 pm
I totally agree with your comment that parents treat daughters differently than sons. Same with older siblings vs. younger siblings (compared with my sister, I’ve gotten away with much more!)
My parents straight up told me that they would be more lenient on me if I was a boy. And this was when I was 20, living at home during college to save money, and had made my pretty straight-laced dad mad when I came home at 4am after being out drinking with my friends (thanks, fake ID!). Needless to say, it pissed me off that they would be so overbearing just because I was a girl (and also, “nothing good ever happens after midnight”). In the end though, I think I just figured, I would rather have them care than -not- care at all what I was up to, like you said, I tried to look at the intention behind the comments.
spark December 13, 2012, 5:56 pm
TOTALLY agree, CSP. Those were my thoughts, too. Plus, 5 months is not a lot of time to digest the news. And to me, it seems that her parents have already come a long way.
JK December 13, 2012, 9:21 am
kerrycontrary December 13, 2012, 9:35 am
I agree with CSP that girls are often treated differently than boys in families. I’m straight, but my siblings were allowed to do a lot more than I was. And I was the youngest child, so it’s normally the other way around. My brother could have girlfriends sleep over (even when he was in high school!), my sister could drive 3 hours to see a guy when she was in college, etc…But with me my parents tried to enforce a curfew and strict rules even when I was college (I wasn’t a troublemaker either). Thus, I never lived at home again for another summer break. Sometimes parents just treat each child differently, this would happen whether you were straight or gay. It’s infuriating, but like Wendy said, it won’t last for forever.
csp December 13, 2012, 10:15 am
Thanks for the shoutout. Yes, I totally agree. My family was so strict with me. However, I didn’t fight it when I was at home. I literally had a 10 PM curfew every summer that i came home. when I was away it was different but at home it was no nonsense. Those rules became less and less as my siblings hit the same age.
Kelly L. December 13, 2012, 10:35 am
Ha, yes. I’m the oldest and was practically cloistered. My younger sibs, both male and female, got to run around town with friends till the wee hours. I think in my case it was because my parents divorced after I went off to college, and so when the younger sibs hit the teen years, both parents were trying to out-fun-parent each other. There can be all kinds of reasons.
That said, it sounds like this LW’s mom may have some homophobia issues too (“had a lot to say about it”) and it may be compounding the problem.
ktfran December 13, 2012, 10:02 am
I too, am going to jump on the “parents treat each kid seperately” bandwagon. Now, if this were happening with an all girl family, I might read more into your parents actions. But it’s not. You have brothers and I would guess that parents, especially dad’s, are a lot more strict with daughters and dating than their sons.
Also, as I was reading your letter, I thought that maybe your mom might have been a little hurt that you didn’t tell her your sexual orientation and that you’ve been living this life she had no idea about. All of her criticism aside, she has feelings too. And from what you’ve written, it sounds like she might accept you exactly as you are. She just needs some time.
Cut your parents a little slack. Honestly, I was annoyed with my parents from Junior High through my first year of college. My father was super strict and my mom just didn’t get me. She still doesn’t. But as I grew older, I realized how right they were with a lot of things. And that they were strict with certain things and then let me be me with others. It was balanced.
And if your parents truly are unbearable and unaccepting, as Wendy said, you only have a few more years to put up with them. Or you can learn to be independent sooner.
clover December 13, 2012, 10:09 am
The difference between this teenage LW, who has very good reason to be angry at her mother but who ultimately respects her authority when under her roof and says that “she does so much for me as a mother,” and the teenage LW from yesterday who invites herself over to her boyfriend’s mother’s house and says that “the woman apparently does nothing,” is…well, I’ll just say I hope yesterday’s LW reads today’s column.
Eagle Eye December 13, 2012, 11:43 am
Yes! I was thinking the same thing, this letter provides an interesting counterpoint to yesterday, especially because I think that they’re the same age.
emmkat December 13, 2012, 10:14 am
It has only been a short time since your parents found out about your sexuality and it could take some time for them to process it. Even for people who think they’d have no problem at all if their child was gay, it’s still a bit of a shock when it actually happens. Give them some time to adjust to the news, maybe they’ll come around eventually. If not, you’re so close to being out on your own so just hang in there. If it gets really bad, to the point where you just can’t take it any more, try to make it possible for you to move into your own place–get a job, find a roommate, etc. You have control over your own future and this could give you some practice for dealing with difficult people during your adult life (they never go away). But most of all, don’t let a critical mother make you feel bad about yourself. Don’t let her criticizing get inside your head.
Lindsay December 13, 2012, 10:21 am
Don’t feel guilty about your mom. I have a friend who’s mom abused her as a child and still says really awful things about her now, and she still feels guilty when she doesn’t go home for every holiday or when her mom says she’s disappointed in her. Guilt isn’t always a sign you’re doing something wrong; often, it’s a sign that the other person is manipulating you or trying to make you feel bad.
Also, like others have said, girls are treated differently regardless of their sexual orientation, a lot of times. My parents would not have been thrilled at all if I’d been acting coupley with a guy in front of them, but I’m sure if I’d had a brother, my dad would have been high-fiving him whenever he got a girl’s number. Plus, my parents gave me a hard time when I was a teenager for hanging out with my friends a lot. You parents might just be being parents…
Anyway, if your parents are slowly coming around, then just see how things go. When you’re young and under their roof, you do sometimes have to make concessions, about a lot of things. They might not be super accepting when you’re older, but things will definitely hinge less on their input when you’re out on your own.
FireStar December 13, 2012, 10:23 am
“That way I could make my mother low on my list of priorities as a result of disrespect.”
That line wasn’t very nice, was it?
As I read this letter, I see it having less to do with orientation and more to do with your family dynamics exacerbated by your parents finding out accidentally about your relationship instead of being told. My dear, if you want to be treated with respect – you are going to need to show some yourself. Lying to your parents is not the way to go about it. I get that the timing of coming out is a personal choice but why are you still lying about your girlfriend and when you see her? Is that how an adult deserving of respect behaves?
You think spending time with your mother is a chore – something to be endured until she finishes paying for her adult child’s education – which she has no obligation to do. What is up with the sense of entitlement, LW? What is that saying… How sharper than a serpent’s tooth it is to have a thankless child? My advice to you isn’t to bare your mother’s presence until she is done paying for your living expenses, your education, and the food you eat – giving you way more of a head-start in life than most get. My advice is to try and repair the relationship you have with her. What is she critical about? Normally we get examples of the horrible things parents demand. But you list none. So whatever her issues are – are her points valid? Or is she frustrated about something you are doing and just lashing out? Is it just the amount of time you spend with your girlfriend or something else? You need to address it if you want to fix it. Because fixing it is not just “they should let me do whatever I want to do” or “I can’t wait until they finish paying for my education to get out”. You say you know she does so much for you – start there. The bottom line is you need to start treating your mother with the respect all but missing from your letter before demanding any yourself and be willing to spend time and energy finding some middle ground with her.
FireStar December 13, 2012, 10:51 am
Anna December 13, 2012, 12:09 pm
Spoken just like someone who has great parents who are easy to get along with. Some parents are just unbearable and that’s a fact of life. I don’t know if this is the case for the LW as there are not enough details about the parent/child relationship, but if they are anything like my parents it’s really not fair to berate her for wanting to remove them from her life. In my case, it’s impossible to have a conversation with my parents that doesn’t make me want to rip my hair out. All of my views about everything are perceived as wrong and disrespected because I’m not an extreme right wing Baptist nutjob like them. Furthermore, every time I attempt to let them into my life I regret it because all I hear is how I’m living my life wrong and they’re so sad that I’m going straight to hell. Sharing blood shouldn’t obligate you to unnecessarily stress yourself out/bring yourself down in a futile attempt to make someone else happy. Ever since I came to that conclusion and stopped talking to my parents, I’ve been much happier.
Also, not coming out to her parents right away isn’t lying. Everyone has personal things that they don’t walk around telling everyone and maybe the LW wasn’t ready to come out to her parents yet. I’m straight but if I were gay I would have no idea how to come out to my parents. It would be the scariest thing ever to do. Please cut her a little slack.
katie December 13, 2012, 12:18 pm
if anyone- people, parents, friends, family, SOs- are disrespectful terrible people, you have every right to cut them out of your life.
ktfran December 13, 2012, 12:23 pm
I agree with that as well, but you can’t have it both ways. This LW wants their monetary support. She will have learn to to deal with them until she decides that she is ready to support herself. And it is nice that they want to help her through college. Not all people are so lucky.
I think that’s where Firestar was coming from.
katie December 13, 2012, 12:29 pm
oh yes, i totally agree with that as well..
i just hate the kind of “you must repair this relationship with your parents because they are your parents and you must have a relationship with them” kind of vibe that i picked up on, and i think anna did as well..
FireStar December 13, 2012, 1:17 pm
I don’t believe that for a second. If you are going to live in your parent’s house as an adult and take their money then show them some respect. Nothing in what she wrote showed her mother – or father – to be cruel, or mean, or disrespectful. So if you admit your mom does so much for you and they are accepting of the (shocking) news regarding your orientation and are even fine with you having a girlfriend (but aren’t big on the PDAs) then what is the problem? Is it something you can fix if you get out of your ivory tower? Because why wouldn’t you then? There are so many kids that suffer and can’t have a functional relationship with a parent. If you aren’t one of those then how lucky for you that your relationship can be fixed.
bagge72 December 13, 2012, 1:54 pm
I agree, I think people are adding a whole to this situation that really isn’t there.
bagge72 December 13, 2012, 2:01 pm
Ugh a whole lot! I suck sorry
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 1:57 pm
FireStar December 13, 2012, 1:49 pm
Thanks ktfran. There is just nothing written in the letter that shows the parents being disrespectful to her at all from my perspective…but if whatever it is is enough for you to want to disregard your mother – that you admit does so much for you – then just leave. This is like a 20 year old complaining her 80 year old boyfriend wants sex. That is the deal you signed on to sweetheart. Have sex or leave. And in this case – learn to live with your parents – or get out.
QaraKoz December 13, 2012, 12:27 pm
I definitely think that is a valid point but we didn’t actually get any examples of how her parents are terrible besides that “mom is critical” and “dad is acting pissy”. I personally don’t feel that’s enough to make them completely terrible people (or enough to cut them out of her life) but we all read situations differently.
FireStar December 13, 2012, 1:06 pm
Actually, I’m estranged from some members in my family, including my father. I left home at 18, right after high school, and have supported myself and paid my own way every since.
The LW didn’t list the evils her mother had done to her – just that she was judgmental. And we don’t know about what really the mother is critical of since the LW doesn’t say – but she does say her parents are coming around to the new reality of having a gay daughter and that they pay for her schooling, and that her mother does so much for her. Maybe the mother is critical over things a mother SHOULD be critical over. Maybe she is critical over where her money is going. Maybe she is critical over poor choices – or her child lying to her face. Maybe she is critical over the LW’s haircut. We don’t know. I do know the LW essentially said I’m going to stay on her good side until I can milk everything I can from her with respect to my tuition – this mother that does so much for her – and then I’m going to take pleasure in putting her at the bottom of my priority list. So if the mother is a shrew – then leave. But if you are going to stay – then stop whining and be grateful because I saw nothing in the letter that would indicate any other response in appropriate.
I’ve cut enough family members out of my life that I’m usually the one on here to advocate walking away since sharing DNA doesn’t mean a damn thing to me. My problem is that if you are not going to go – then show some damn respect.
And I already said not coming out isn’t the lie – that is too personal a choice for anyone to make it for you – the lie is still not telling her mother about spending time with her girlfriend.
If you want to be treated like an adult – then act like one.
QaraKoz December 13, 2012, 12:17 pm
Completely agree with Firestar.
I think some of the resentment the LW is feeling might be because she’s comparing her situation to her older brothers. I know a lot of younger/youngest kids that feel entitled to their parents paying for their education, buying their first cars, etc because their parents did it for their siblings.
LW, right now you are in that in-between stage where you’re not a kid but not fully independent and it’s the perfect time to start building a better relationship with your parents. If you can’t be honest with them now about who you are spending time with and who are the people important to you then how do you expect them to understand when you’re independent and living on your own?
I think it’s really easy to get in the mentality that you just need to stick this out until you can afford to move out and be ‘independent.’ But then what? Unless you plan on cutting off contact with your parents (which it doesn’t sound like) you’re still going to have to find some way to get along with them. Better to start building a better relationship of mutual respect now- before you build up years of resentment against your parents.
CatsMeow December 13, 2012, 1:48 pm
I both agree and disagree.
I don’t think she was being disrespectful by not coming out to her mother. Of course, her mom finding out accidentally probably does play a role in her reaction, but I don’t fault the LW for not telling her sooner. Coming out (from what I know) tends to be a very personal process.
What I get from the LW is that she is caught between wanting to respect her parents, as she is aware of how much she depends on them, and wanting them to respect HER for her choices. She said she wants to stand up for herself, but fears crossing a line.
Eighteen is a difficult age for many, as it is a time of transition. I think it’s perfectly normal for the LW to want to branch out and establish independence… which includes spending less time with her mother. When I was 18/19, I was a nightmare. I fought with my mom constantly until it got to a breaking point and my dad told me that if I could put up with it for just a LITTLE bit longer, they would pay for me to go away to college and I would be living in the dorms and I wouldn’t have to deal with her on a daily basis. Yeah, I was a brat. But it was true – I went away and had more of a sense of independence (even though my parents paid for everything) and now my relationship with my mom has improved (even though she’s still superrrr critical. I feel you, LW!). I also established somewhat better boundaries and only tell her aspects about my personal life that I choose to share with her.
I guess all I’m saying is that it’s a process. This is a time of transition for both LW and her parents, and coming out and having a serious girlfriend only adds to the growing pains that probably would have been present regardless. LW said her mother has always been critical, but I feel like she wouldn’t have written in about coming out if she didn’t feel like her sexuality played a role in how her parents currently treat her. Overall, I think LW has a good head on her shoulders and has shown a lot of respect and maturity considering the circumstances.
FireStar December 13, 2012, 2:28 pm
I agree with you – I don’t consider the not coming out a lie – the lie is about the time she spends with her girlfriend.
Milla December 14, 2012, 1:23 am
I see your points, I really do, but I think perhaps a little slack is in order. It’s really, really hard to be a queer teenager— and yeah, I’m over identifying a bit, but I remember some of these feelings. You feel like you’re in danger all the time. I think it’s actually a little harder with families that you do love and want to keep contact with, because you can’t just tell them to screw themselves and head off.
The lying about spending time with the girlfriend is actually, I would say, a part of coming out— if people see you with your girlfriend, they know you’re “really” gay. Out of sight, out of mind. And while it doesn’t sound like a big deal to not be able to hug your girlfriend in your parents’ house, it really is. You know that if you hug her in public, people could get angry, stare at you, maybe even assault you. But you can’t hug her at home, either. I feel like it’s an extension of saying “keep it in the bedroom! I don’t care if you’re gay so long as you hide your relationship, your identity, the person you love most in the world. . . ” you get the idea. You hear it from everywhere, and it’s exhausting. So that could be a large part of the LW’s difficulty.
I do think the letter writer has some sorting out to do with her family, absolutely, but this is a really charged, emotional time. And sometimes all it takes is time. I would just encourage the LW to get her girlfriend involved in her family, doing things to help out. My girlfriend pitched in every time that there was a family emergency, came down for dinner, helped out where she could. Getting the family to see the girlfriend as a person (rather than The Evil Lesbian) is a huge first step.
theattack December 13, 2012, 10:27 am
I agree with everything that’s been said so far. I’d also like to add that if things get too rough for you, you always have the option of becoming financially independent from your parents. It’s tough, and I wouldn’t go down that road during college if you can keep from it, because it’s a real struggle. Plenty of people have done it successfully before you, and plenty will continue doing it, so know that it’s an option for you. It may not be about sexual orientation, but most college students have some strings attached to their parents’ financial help. Everyone has to decide whether it’s worth it to cut the strings.
Anna December 13, 2012, 12:12 pm
I agree. I was 20 when I decided I couldn’t take living with my parents anymore and as soon as I moved out they no longer cared if I graduated college or had food to eat. Working and paying bills sucks but I wouldn’t trade my independence for anything in this world.
Amanda December 13, 2012, 12:48 pm
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 10:40 am
I agree with someone above – it sounds quite possible that the LW feels guilty not because she is doing something wrong, but because her mother is over-critical.
I’m beyond grateful to my parents for everything they’ve done for me – paying for college, supporting me, now they’re paying for grad school, etc. – but they never expected to have control over my life after I turned 18 (they didn’t treat me like a child before I was 18, either). The money they gave me was a gift because they loved me, not a weapon they used to make me spend time with them or do what I wanted. And that’s part of the reason why I have always loved spending time with them. I think the LW is perfectly right to feel unhappy with the amount of control and strictness her parents are trying to display over her. She’s an adult, and accepting money from your parents doesn’t mean they have bought your autonomy.
On the other hand, she has to accept the reality of the situation that she needs them, and decide whether she needs their money more than she needs her independence — a very difficult choice, especially given what sounds like homophobia on their part. I get that people are saying it might be because she’s a girl, but I don’t think it’s okay for parents to treat their kids differently because they’re girls, any more than it’s okay for them to treat gay kids differently from straight kids. Both are wrong, and I don’t think the LW is wrong for resenting it – and it sounds like it probably IS because she’s gay, at least partly. (In my experience, fathers who are overprotective of daughters tend to be suspicious of gay people as well; sexism and homophobia all go together in one great big happy patriarchal system.)
katie December 13, 2012, 11:03 am
Fabelle December 13, 2012, 11:42 am
“She’s an adult, and accepting money from your parents doesn’t mean they have bought your autonomy.” This!!
And to add my opinion, I really dislike when parents use money as a control tactic. The LW’s mother CHOSE to provide financial support for her daughter. Being a lesbian doesn’t change her identity as her parents’ daughter, so it makes zero sense to me why her orientation & personal relationship are somehow tied to monetary assistance.
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 11:52 am
Yeah, I agree. I think it’s awful to use money to try to control another person, especially a person that you brought into the world. And to the LW’s credit, she recognizes that her mother is being too controlling yet still shows gratefulness for everything her parents do for her — I think that shows a lot of maturity.
bagge72 December 13, 2012, 12:09 pm
I have no idea where in this letter is says that the mother is holding money over this LW’s head. I can only see that the LW maybe worried about that happening, but I don’t see where she said her mother is threatening her with this. Actually I did see where she said her mother does so much for her, and the money actually shouldn’t be brought up at all. If she feels her mother is disrespecting her, she needs to have a nice calm talk with her mother, and let her know what is really going on in her life, and it somes like it will take her mother some time to process everything, but she doesn’t sound like a mean vindictive mother who is going to take her kids chance at a higher education away. She needs to stop avoiding confrontation, and see what happens.
bagge72 December 13, 2012, 12:13 pm
sounds like not somes like
Fabelle December 13, 2012, 12:20 pm
Yeah, you’re right—it does seem like she’s actually the one making the connection between her coming out=money. If she has reason to believe her mother would withold financial support if she becomes more vocal about her identity then, okay. But it does seem very possible that she’s just letting her fears prevent her from standing up for herself.
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 12:28 pm
Yeah, good point from both of you. I think there is a tone in some other comments on this post that implies the LW should do whatever her parents say b/c they are paying for school – but it’s possible the parents in the letter have no such ideas.
katie December 13, 2012, 12:26 pm
my guess is that the LW thinks shake up from normal = pulling of moneys. so its not necessarily tied to any one thing, but she just fears that if she goes outside of the status quo they would pull funding..
ktfran December 13, 2012, 12:27 pm
From this letter, the mother doesn’t sound like a total bitch. If she were, I think the LW would have given examples.
It really sounds like growing pains to me. On botht he mother and LW’s part.
bittergaymark December 13, 2012, 1:37 pm
Eh, continuing to pay for your daughter’s college education while allowing her to live in your house — but then EXPECTING to, I don’t know, ACTUALLY SPEND SOME TIME WITH HER doesn’t truly strike me as tremendously controlling. For fuck’s sake. EVERYTHING in life comes with a trade off. Hell, if the LW were actually out working in the world and paying her own way, there would be — what? Forty or so fucking hours a week that she can’t spend time with her girlfriend? If spending time with her mother is so fucking bad, consider it part of your job, LW. To get that money, you have to work for it, and the gig is simply hanging out with your folks every now and then. Trust me, in life, especially at work you will have to spend countless of hours with people you simply can’t stand. Start getting used to it.
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 1:45 pm
Yeah, someone has pointed out that the mother hasn’t actually (as far as we know) used the money she’s giving the LW as a reason to demand to spend time with her.
On the other hand, criticizing your daughter for being a lesbian, and I think it’s pretty clear from the letter that this mother did do that, is not OK in my opinion and I can’t blame the LW for wanting to steer clear of her mom. Money or no money.
bittergaymark December 13, 2012, 2:13 pm
Then she NEEDS to move out. This is why Dan Savage says young gays and lesbians should bide their time in the closet until they actually CAN move out. You know, and don’t make clumsy stupid mistakes like leaving your facebook page up on your mother’s fucking laptop.
Moreover, I still don’t know what exactly the mom is being critical about.
What if she’s saying, “Look, young lady, you are spending FAR too much time with this girlfriend!”? Since the LW seemingly wants to spend EVERY WAKING HOUR with said girlfriend, frankly, I’d be inclined to agree with her. I mean, how IS the LW even doing in school? Probably NOT as well as she could be if she spent even just a little more time on her studies. Many parents think that their kids (gay or straight) waste far too much time on their often (in)significant others. (Again, how many 18 years old have ever truly met their life partner, I ask.) Yes, many parents think their kids are woefully overdoing it. Many parents would be right, too.
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 2:27 pm
Honestly, I guess I was just raised by really cool parents compared to a lot of other people here, but they NEVER would have done any of this to me. Maybe they’d’ve offered me friendly advice; maaaaaybe in a dire situation they would’ve stopped paying for school (in a case where I wasn’t making use of the education anyway); but trying to stop me from making my own choices once I was old enough to understand the consequences? Never. It’s a matter of respecting that your kids are autonomous beings, not pets.
On the other hand, this LW loves her parents and wants to please them from what I can see, so the relationship isn’t hopeless; maybe they just need better communication, maybe the parents just need time… Idk.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 2:43 pm
This is a strange comment to me. Maybe I’m reading it wrong. Are you saying that once a child is old enough to understand consequences (a 5 year old would learn not to touch the stove after getting burned once), parents should stop teaching them and allow them do do whatever they choose to do? I’m pretty sure that actually illegal in some cases.
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 2:46 pm
Well… a 5-year-old who knows how to be careful and safe around a stove (therefore understands consequences) is probably going to be allowed near the stove, but not allowed to drive. That would be a reasonable thing, IMO. But that’s not what I meant. I just meant that once I was a young adult (around 16 or 17) my parents treated me like a young adult. Apologies if that wasn’t clear.
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 2:47 pm
Although my mom actually WAS really crazy about fire and knives. I couldn’t light a match till I was 12!
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 2:51 pm
And I mean, I never said anything like they stopped trying to teach me or setting safe boundaries or anything like that. By “making your own choices” I meant something bigger – like choices about your life, your sexuality, your future. And I meant for people who are adults or nearly so.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 3:00 pm
lol’d at your match comment.
Thanks for clarifying.
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 3:04 pm
🙂 I’m STILL scared of fire. Thanks a lot, mom…
katie December 13, 2012, 2:51 pm
my parents were the same way- i was making all my own decisions, plans, ect from about 15…? and definitely after i started driving.
i absolutely appreciated it, i can tell you that. i dont understand why some parents feel the need to have such absolute control- its very weird to me. my mom actually put a snippet of this lovely poem in my senior yearbook page about how children are not your own, you are merely a keeper for something bigger for the world, or something. basically it was saying that keeping hold of your kids isnt productive for anyone and they are their own people and should be treated as such.
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 2:54 pm
That’s so sweet!
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 3:03 pm
So rereading your comment after you explained it, I see nothing wrong with telling your high school children that they are not spending enough time on schoolwork, or spending too much time on 1 thing (SO, or anything). I wouldn’t even label that criticism, I’d call it giving good guidance to your kids, who you owe that to as a parent until they’re 18.
I totally agree you should let your 16/17 y/o start making important choices on their own, and I think you can do that while still guiding them.
katie December 13, 2012, 3:07 pm
i guess the difference is that if you can get to where mine and EB’s parents were, you dont need to do any guidance. i knew what i needed to be doing. i didnt need my mom telling me to get my homework done on a saturday morning (which one of my friends mom’s did all through high school- so weird). my parents never questioned if my homework was getting done. if it didnt get done, that was on me and that reflected in my grades. then *I* got shitty grades. you know? like i was able to rule my life. it was nice.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 3:16 pm
If you honestly believe that a 15 y/o no longer needs guidance or advice if parent’s did a good job up until then, I’m not going to sway your opinion.
If you didn’t get to school, and got shitty grades bc of it, it actually is on your parents, ethically and in some states, legally.
A parent’s job does not end if raised a good 15 y/o.
katie December 13, 2012, 3:22 pm
see but thats the thing- that wouldnt happen. if your kid honestly wouldnt go to school at 15, yes, they need lots of control and lots of help… but for others (like me) i could just be self sufficient and make my own choices and decisions, and no one needed to “check up” on me or give me guidance- i knew what i was doing. i got it.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 3:32 pm
You’re basically saying you knew everything and no longer needed parents at the age of 15. Even if you were the most well adjusted, brightest kid in the world, you weren’t self-sufficient if you were living with your parents, and even the best teenagers in the world still have a lot to learn, likely from their parents.
Its great that you were mature enough to make your own choices and that your parents allowed you to, but that doesn’t negate the need for a teenager to still need future guidance.
katie December 13, 2012, 3:40 pm
eh, sorry to offend, but i just wanted to echo EB’s thoughts- it does happen.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 3:45 pm
I wasn’t offended.
If by “it” you mean that some teenagers are good, responsible, smart kids, I totally agree.
I still think that they aren’t self sufficient and no longer need help from anyone, that’s all.
Also, you didn’t move out at 15, right? So you weren’t self sufficient.
katie December 13, 2012, 4:00 pm
eh, no, by self sufficient i mean i planned out my days, i knew what time i had to be where, i decided when i got my hair cut, i decided if i wanted to go out, i decided where i went to college, i decided who i hung out with… you know. i wasnt paying bills, no, but i made all my own decisions.
also, i think there is a difference between “help” and “control”.. a lot of parents thing they are helping, but really they are just controlling, you know?
katie December 13, 2012, 4:54 pm
basically, i guess, i never asked for anything, and i never needed permission for anything. if i needed something, i went out and got it. if i wanted to go somewhere, i went there. ect. thats really what it boils down to
theattack December 13, 2012, 4:51 pm
Katie, you would love the parenting class I’m about to start teaching then. It’s all about teaching kids good decision-making by helping them predict the consequences of their decisions and allowing them to make the decision themselves. You let them mess up (and actually you hope that they mess up) so that they can learn from the mistake and do it right the next time.
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 3:13 pm
Agreed! Guidance is essential. Browbeating is not good.
ebstarr December 13, 2012, 3:18 pm
Also I’ve never been a parent and I’m sure I’ll be a highly flawed one, as so many are. So now I feel guilty about spouting off about my parenting philosophy, hypothetical as it is. The one thing I do know is I won’t be a homophobic one? So at least there’s that small comfort for my future offspring. 🙂
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 3:20 pm
The fact that you think you should guide your children and give them freedom to make their own choices tells me you will be better than most 🙂
Moneypenny December 13, 2012, 2:16 pm
I totally agree. Her parents are paying for her education so she doesn’t have to, but if she was out on her own, she’d be working (and probably stressing) over loans and making ends meet as a working student.
BecBoo84 December 13, 2012, 12:47 pm
One of the best DW comments I’ve seen in awhile! WES!!!
Sheryl December 13, 2012, 11:11 am
LW – you may be 18, but you still have a lot of growing up to do. Your letter wreaks of entitlement and immaturity, and frankly, I’m surprised that your parents are taking it as well as they are.
You ‘came out’ but on facebook, and didn’t even have the courtesy to tell them to their face? No wonder they aren’t looking at you like an adult! I would be hurt by this fact way more than the actually being gay part.
They just found out, through facebook, that you aren’t who they thought you were. That’s a pretty big blow for anyone to take, even if they have no problem with gay people.
Grow up, start acting like an adult, and show some respect for your parents (note: these things go hand in hand, they are not mutually exclusive), and things will start to get better.
katie December 13, 2012, 11:14 am
yes, because im *sure* the homophobic dad and maybe homophobic mom would have been just rainbows and butterflies full of support if she had told them when she herself figure it out….
Sheryl December 13, 2012, 11:38 am
I didn’t get homophobic when i read the letter… granted there are varying levels of homophobic, but I feel like if they really were, they would have kicked her out. From the description, I interpreted SHOCK as the most prominent feeling (also, because i really think that is how I would feel)
Putting rules for an 18 year old for a significant other isn’t homophobic. I avoided kissing my college boyfriend with my dad around — does that mean he thought all we did was hold hands while away at school? NO! It just meant he didn’t want to see any of that while i was still under his roof.
It could be that the parents are actually homophobic, but I still think the way they found out doesn’t really give the parents a chance to be understanding.
katie December 13, 2012, 11:51 am
well i agree with everyone else- the mom “had a lot to say about it”, it being the fact that she is a lesbian in a lesbian relationship, and the father got “all pissy and said he didn’t want to see hugging or kissing in the house.”, after finding out, again, she is in a lesbian in a lesbian relationship…. i dunno, there really isn’t a whole lot of other interpretations to go with there..
FireStar December 13, 2012, 1:29 pm
I think you are reading homophobic into it. Many fathers don’t want to see their daughters kissing or hugging up on ANY partner. And a mother having a lot to say about finding out her daughter was gay from Facebook – I would guess that would be most moms. The LW herself says her parents are being accepting of her orientation. Why all the vitriol? We have nothing to substantiate it.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 1:42 pm
Having a lot to say about something doesn’t mean any of its negative though. And it certainly doesn’t mean someone’s homophobic.
FireStar December 13, 2012, 1:56 pm
THANK YOU. I don’t know why everyone is reading homophobia into the parents when so far the only dictate is no PDA with your girlfriend in the house…which I guess also means your girlfriend is welcome to come over…
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 2:00 pm
I’ve loved all your comments on this letter. Glad to see them.
bagge72 December 13, 2012, 2:08 pm
Right! Maybe the mother just has a lot of questions, and is trying to learn as much as she can?
katie December 13, 2012, 2:28 pm
i dunno, i honestly dont know how anyone could think that there isnt some homophobic criticism going on here… i mean, no, they might not be kicking her out and calling her a fag who is going to hell, but that doesnt mean that they are accepting of it either. there are many shades of grey of homophobia, as someone else mentioned, so just because they arent screaming their hatred of the gays from their rooftops doesnt mean they are off the hook..
bethany December 13, 2012, 2:38 pm
There’s a big difference between the parental shock that comes along with discovering your child is a lesbian (on FB, nonetheless) and being homophobic. HUGE difference. My parents are very tollerant, loving people, and I know they will love me with all their hearts as long as they are alive, but I imagine if they out of the blue accidentally found out I was gay AND had a girlfriend, it would be a weird few weeks while they adjusted to it all. That in no way makes them homophobes.
katie December 13, 2012, 2:42 pm
no, i agree with that, and the LW should definitely give her parents time to adjust to the new normal- after all, people who are coming are always told that anyway. they have had years to come to terms with the new normal, they need to give other people time as well, ect..
but thats not what i got from this letter at all.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 2:47 pm
If all you can point to to back your stance up is the fact that the LW said mom had a lot t say, then I don’t really see your point holding any water. There’s no proof here of either parent being homophobic.
kerrycontrary December 13, 2012, 11:17 am
I think this is a little harsh. I think that the LW is very appreciative of the financial help her parents are giving her, and is trying to come to terms with how to respect them while living under their roof and how to be true to herself at the same time. This doesn’t lead one to believe that she is “entitled”–which is a term I think people like to throw around a lot these days without giving it much thought. As to her coming out, a gay person has every right to come out to their friends publicly on Facebook if they choose to before coming out to their parents. It’s not like she announced her engagement on Facebook before telling her parents. Coming out is a very personal experience, and people can do it at whatever pace they choose.
Sheryl December 13, 2012, 11:27 am
maybe I was a little harsh with the entitlement comment, but I maintain that she shouldn’t have done it on Facebook (which is not nearly the same as telling a few of your nearest and dearest in person first) before telling her parents. you agree announcing an engagement shouldn’t be done on facebook– isn’t that a personal choice, too?
If I was her parent, I’d be very, very hurt, just as hurt as if there was an engagement announcement, or a pregnancy announcement on facebook, and I hadn’t been told yet.
Fabelle December 13, 2012, 11:33 am
I’m guessing it wasn’t so much an “announcement”, but a so-and-so is “in a relationship with” so-and-so. That’s how I’m picturing it, anyway. (“Honey, your FB page says you’re in a relationship with a woman. Are you a lesbian?”)
Mandy S December 13, 2012, 11:42 am
It could just as easily have been a private Facebook message or chat between the two women that was left open. She may not have told anyone prior, on Facebook or otherwise. Hard to say, since Facebook offers many different means of communication.
CatsMeow December 13, 2012, 2:35 pm
Yeah, I’m guessing she left a chat window up or something.
katie December 13, 2012, 11:55 am
i think you need to understand the huge personal ramifications people endure after coming out vs. the huge celebrations that come with an engagement or a baby… to compare the two is ridiculous.
you should read this story:
coming out as gay and engagements are just so not the same thing…
also, there are TONS of people who come out to their friends and who will wait years and years to tell their families. i think that if anything, the fact that this LW *didnt* tell her parents speaks volumes. if her parents were kind, loving, supportive people, she probably would have already told them.
Eve Harrison December 13, 2012, 12:04 pm
I disagree. Coming out isn’t about the person an lgbt member is coming out to. It’s about the lgbt member in question. The LW has her sexuality and is aware of herself, and she’s also aware of the possibility of being attacked because of her sexuality. As a result it’s important she take the steps necessary to address her own sexuality; ie, take control over who knows what. It’s about taking a disenfranchising social issue [homophobia], and using it to speak, and empower herself through her voice.
Honestly, I think when we set standards for how other people live their lives, all we succeed in doing is establishing an exclusionary boundary that sets people like the LW up for judgement. We don’t know anything about her FB Friends list. Maybe she has a small network of friends who know and support her. Maybe she posted it on facebook because she has a huge network of friends and she didn’t want to seem like she had anything to hide. But regardless, She has a right to choose how she sends out knowledge.
KKZ December 13, 2012, 12:37 pm
Wow, Talk about reeking of entitlement. You as a mother feel entitled to know about your 18-year-old daughter’s sex life even if she’s not comfortable telling you about it, and are hurt when she keeps that information to herself.
I’m out to most of my friends. I’m not out to my parents. And I don’t feel like I’m being dishonest with them by not explicitly telling them, “Hey, you know, I married a dude but I am ALSO attracted to teh womenz, just wanted to make sure you’re aware of that!”
I can see how the LW’s mom might be a little hurt about the way she found out, but that’s not the LW’s fault. She was under zero obligation to tell her mother she was in a relationship with another woman. ZERO.
Nadine December 13, 2012, 1:36 pm
Yup. Coming out is a personal choice, to do when and if that person chooses.
6napkinburger December 13, 2012, 3:12 pm
Could not disagree with your last paragraph more.
You say below that coming out is about trusting the person that you are coming out to. I don’t disagree that many people feel the most comfortable around their peer group and choose to tell them first/reveal feelings they are having, nor do i disagree that they should do that first. Of course, some people may never feel comfortable teling their parents (clearly, you have not). And, in some situations, there is nothing wrong with that.
But to say all that does not mean that someone does not have a responsibility to share certain pieces of information with their parents or that their parents won’t be justifiably hurt from their children’s hiding of important information. A lot of people believe that children owe their parents nothing — i disagree with this. (In happy, healthy relationships). In return for the feeding, and the bathing, and the loving, and the comforting, and the disciplining, and the ice cream, and the math tutoring, etc. that parents do for their children, a child has a responsibility to respect and reasonably and for the most part obey (such a loaded word!) their parents, they have a responsibility to reciprocate love and affection, and if they do not feel it, then not to out right reject such love and affection. And as they get older, they have the responsiblity to reciprocate the loving, comforting, and sharing that their parents gave them. This includes including parents in important aspects of your life. KKZ, you got married — did you invite your parents? Would they have been justifiably hurt if you didn’t?
Most of this is a no-brainer — no one who loves their parents thinks of loving your parents as a “Responsibility” but that doesn’t mean it isn’t one — its just an easy one! I understand that coming out is about the person who is doing the coming out and that they can and should do so in whatever manner they want to. They have this responsibility to themselves. But sometimes this conflicts with the responsibility to their parents– and if that is so, then so be it, they make a choice becaue they weigh their priorities. But that doesn’t mean the responsibility to their parents vanishes — its still there, it just isn’t being met, and the person decided it was ok that they aren’t meeting it.
But back to the trust thing, parents have a right to feel hurt that their child didn’t trust them enough to tell them, EVEN IF the child had the right not to trust them enough to tell them.
And for what its worth, Dan Savage, everyone agrees that parents finding out a child is gay, when they had no idea, is a psychological event, as it upends years of expectations, and one which takes time to adjust to. It has nothing to do with homophobia and everything to do with reconciling a reality with an expectation of the future. (Ex. mother who had always really really hoped her son’s wife would wear her mother’s wedding dress finds out son is gay — must deal with the fact that son probably will not have a wife and no one will wear the wedding dress. This is a blow, no matter how much she might have only positive opinions about her son being gay.)
csp December 13, 2012, 4:52 pm
I think that another hard thing about the coming out conversation is that sex is at the root of it. I know that when I was 18, I was not talking about my sex life. This might be a double standard, but when kids start “dating at 12ish.” there is an innocence about it that the culture accepts. So parents get leaned into the idea and it can be separated from sex itself. When you come out as gay, you are telling your parents the type of sex you like. which is wierd. I think that is a huge jarring conversation to have with your parents when they aren’t thinking about your sex life at all.
Eagle Eye December 13, 2012, 11:42 am
I mean, as far as the coming out process goes, I’m straight but when friends from high school were in the process of coming out (and it was usually a process), they usually went to their friends first. I think that given the situation, its really all about what makes the person most comfortable and I think that by the time you reach high school, you’re probably closer to your friends than your parents/ family. So, I think that it was unfortunate that the parents found out the way that they did, but I don’t blame that on the LW.
Sheryl December 13, 2012, 11:54 am
OK, OK, if it wasn’t “announced”, and it was private message, fine, I take it back.
If it was in any public forum that her entire facebook universe can see, like a relationship status, or a formal announcement, then my opinions still apply.
I have no problem with sharing information with trusted friends first… the issue I have is if it was public knowledge on facebook before the parents.
Eagle Eye December 13, 2012, 12:02 pm
I don’t know, what if her parents are causally homophobic at home, i.e. make alot of ‘gay jokes’ and such. She might have actually just felt uncomfortable coming out to them until she felt as though she was safely far away from them and at college or something.
It might have been public to everyone at school but she simply wasn’t ready to tell her parents until she was ready.
Sheryl December 13, 2012, 12:36 pm
I’m going to have to agree to disagree on this one. I stand by my opinion, but it seems like i’m in the minority.
If it were my child, and they told facebook universe (I’m VERY skeptical its only 10 or so completely trustworthy friends, but if so, fine) that they were gay, and I didn’t know first, I would be very HURT. And my parents would be HURT if i did that to them. Regardless of anyone’s feelings of homosexuality.
I completely get that ‘coming out’ is not the same as engagement, baby, etc. It’s bigger. Which to me, makes it even more important to tell people you really care about, and care about you (which I would hope would be your parents) before it becomes “public” facebook knowledge, EVEN if they disagree with whatever it is. (like i said before… ignore if this really wasn’t ‘public’). I can’t imagine anyone who truly cares about their child, even if they are homophobic, that would rather find out from a random person on the street (which could happen if this was presented in public forum), instead of their own child.
KKZ December 13, 2012, 12:43 pm
It’s not about how the parent prefers to find out, it’s about how the LGBT person prefers to announce. That’s entirely their prerogative.
It also isn’t about “caring” about the person you come out to, but *trusting* them. People who are 18 tend to trust their friends and social peers more than they trust their parents. That is, they trust that they can be out to their friends and not receive judgement, but feel that telling their parents would be opening a very uncomfortable and possibly heartbreaking can of worms. They can love their parents, appreciate their parents, be grateful and caring, and still not think it’s a good idea to come out to them just yet.
BecBoo84 December 13, 2012, 12:50 pm
GatorGirl December 13, 2012, 12:52 pm
Unfortunately we live in a world where there are a sizable number of parents would not accept or continue a relationship with their child if they came out. It’s easy to say you would accept a child even if you disagree with a characteristic they have but it doesn’t play out like that. Homophobia is real and sadly quite common in our society.
Teenagers often go to their friends before their parents about anything and everything. It is more comfortable and easier to have conversations about difficult subjects (sex, sexuality, drugs, etc etc) with people who relate to your situation. Being 18 in 2012 is something a parent of the 18 year old will never be able to relate to. I mean my sister is 8 years younger than me I often can’t relate or truely understand situations in her life becuase the world in 2003 (when I was 18) was a very different place then it is today.
katie December 13, 2012, 1:35 pm
the problem is that you are still thinking along the lines of this just being a great personal discovery that a person is dying to share with everyone close to them- you arent thinking about it in the terms of a person telling others something deeply person and accepting that *every* person that they tell might disown them. in that story i linked above, a straight man pretended to be gay for a year to figure out what it truly felt like- and his own mother wrote in her journal that she would have rather been diagnosed with terminal cancer then to have a gay son. THAT is the kind of shit that people who come out have to deal with.
if this LWs parents are terrible homophobic jerks, they absolutely would not be hurt that the information was kept from them, they would be hurt by the fact that their child existed as a gay person in the first place- thats the difference.
Milla December 14, 2012, 1:29 am
Until you can be fired for being engaged, get evicted for being pregnant, be assaulted in a bar for flashing your engagement ring, then no. It’s really offensive, actually, to compare coming out to being engaged / pregnant AT ALL. It’s not just bigger, but it’s a question of safety. And a lot of the time, you have no idea how people might react. A friend of mine got a Bible thrown at his head. My parents shrugged and invited my girlfriend over for dinner.
And honestly, I am so tired of straight people telling queer people how and when to come out of the closet. Someone else’s “right” to information about my sexuality never trumps my emotional and physical safety. And the only person who can decide that it’s a safe situation to come out in is me.
lemongrass December 13, 2012, 11:55 am
You can’t have your cake and eat it too. Yes, it sucks that your parents aren’t fully accepting (although they may just need time and will come around.) and it sucks that your mom is overly critical (I get that- mine is too!) and it sucks that your parents treat you differently than your brothers (which is pretty common even in all straight households.) None of that would happen in a perfect world. The thing is- life isn’t perfect. We don’t get exactly what we want. We make choices and decisions about what we want most and then we have to live with them. You are making the choice (it is a choice!) to remain financially dependant on your parents and that comes with with the strings you are now dealing with. You can either move out and have your freedom and bills or you can stay and live with your parent’s rules and give them respect. It’s your choice and both come with ups and downs. Good luck!
Anonymous December 13, 2012, 11:56 am
My mother physically and emotionally abused me as a child. She also enacted partner abuse against my father and older sister. I understand what it’s like to be made to feel small, and it has seriously affected my relationship with her. I am a 20 year old undergrad and I no longer take her phone calls; I am a Resident Assistant with enough financial aid so they don’t have to pay a dime this year, and my father supported me financially the other 2 years. Obviously we’re coming from polar backgrounds.
As you reevaluate your placement in this world, coming to terms with all of the issues that challenge you [not related to sexuality], you’re going to want to think about how you’d like your relationship with your parents to be. Do you want to have a close mutually satisfying relationship? Do you want to keep it cordial and visit a few times a year? Answering these questions should help you frame out how you’d like to conduct yourself with your mother [and father].
I completely understand where you are coming from; especially with my experiences of child abuse. It’s incredibly frustrating to be in a situation where you can’t afford your own apartment as a full-time student, because you’re already using money to pay for books and other expenses. Even though I am only two years older than you, I can honestly say it will get better. You will gain a better sense of self confidence, and there will be a time when you can recline in the privacy of a home enjoying peace and tranquility.
If you really want to the space, I would highly recommend you focus on academics and resume-builders. (I am 20 years old and after extensive volunteering [3 non profits], student leadership positions, and 1 internship I finally received my first stip-end supported internship.) The reality is that what you do want costs money, and getting a job requires professional experience with well-to-do grades. It also helps to keep busy, as the time goes by much faster.
I do apologize if this sounds dramatic; coming from my experience this can be an extremely important issue.
Moneypenny December 13, 2012, 2:21 pm
Very well said. Glad things are working out for you!
Anonymous December 13, 2012, 8:56 pm
Thank you! 🙂
Older and (hopefully) wiser December 13, 2012, 12:30 pm
I don’t think PDA is appropriate in front of your parents whether you’re gay or straight. I never kissed or hugged my boyfriends in front of my parents or his.
JK December 13, 2012, 12:32 pm
I´ve been with my husband for 10 years, and we still don´t do PDA in front of family, I just feel weird about it!
lemongrass December 13, 2012, 2:04 pm
I’m the same way. I just don’t feel the urge to kiss my husband in front of my parents. Even hugging- I’d rather it be a private moment in the kitchen. Last Christmas we were hugging in the kitchen when my uncle walked in and I got embarrassed. He said not to, that it’s nice to see we are so in love and that him and my aunt still have moments like that. But to me- hugging my husband is a way of showing my love for him and it is an intense feeling that isn’t anything to be ashamed of, I just don’t want to share that moment with my parents!
Eagle Eye December 13, 2012, 2:10 pm
It must be about how you grew up, I simple grew up in a touchy-feely household so my parents regularly kissed and hugged in front of us (they didn’t make out, but my dad would always give my mom a peck on the lips after returning home from a long business trip or something) Idk, it was nice to see their affection for one another.
I’ll hold my boyfriend’s hand or touch his arm or give him a hug in front of my parents, maybe a quick kiss. Not unlike the same sort of affection my parents showed one another while I was growing up.
lemongrass December 13, 2012, 3:25 pm
Nope, it’s not about how I grew up. Every morning my mom would get up and come sit on my dad’s lap and give him a peck. My parents would always hug and peck hello and goodbye in front of me. They gave me plenty of hugs, too. I’ll sit close to my husband and sometimes rest my hand on his knee in front of them. I also don’t plan to stop hugging and kissing my husband when this baby comes, I think it is nice to model a good marriage for your children.
I still don’t want to hug my husband in front of my parents though. Maybe I just wouldn’t be able to fully put those walls down in front of them to truly enjoy it. We hug for a few good minutes and it would just be awkward in front of my parents, therefore defeating the purpose.
Eagle Eye December 13, 2012, 4:13 pm
Then that’s just really your personal preference, then, which is fair.
katie December 13, 2012, 12:33 pm
well, there is a difference between not wanting to see your kids kiss and hug partners (which i think is stupid anyway and just a continuation of the sex-negative culture we all live in), and saying that **because** your kid is gay you dont want to see them hugging and kissing their partners. very different.
JK December 13, 2012, 12:37 pm
But did the father actually say that?
katie December 13, 2012, 1:14 pm
oh i have no idea. only the LW would know for sure what his thoughts are, and even then he could just lie to her to keep a good persona about him and not be labeled as homophobic…
FireStar December 13, 2012, 2:16 pm
The answer is no…not from what the LW wrote. I think it is doing a disservice to this girl to fan the flames of anger and disrespect between her and her family without knowing for sure the vitriol everyone is ascribing to her parents is actually the truth.
CatsMeow December 13, 2012, 2:23 pm
Yeah, we don’t know by the letter what the father actually said. But the LW seems to believe that the way her parents are treating her has to do with their new knowledge of her sexuality. Yes, she said her mother has always been critical, but I think that the dynamic must have changed between LW and her parents or she wouldn’t have written the letter. She didn’t just say, “GAWD I’m 18 and my mom wants to spend too much time with me and my dad is pissy. I need their money but I want them to butt out!” That would have been entirely different. Instead she said, “Hey my mom found this out about me on accident and now I’m having trouble balancing showing respect for my parents and standing up for who I am.” I’m guessing that neither LW nor her mother were prepared to deal with this, which is why LW hadn’t told her yet.
katie December 13, 2012, 2:34 pm
CatsMeow December 13, 2012, 2:37 pm
Aw, that gave me warm fuzzies.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 1:46 pm
I think preferring privacy isn’t a “continuation of the sex-negative culture.” Its simply a personal preference.
katie December 13, 2012, 2:17 pm
i think it is. not wanting to see your children kiss or hug partners means you want to pretend that the fact that they are/will be having sex isnt real. same goes for kids not wanting to see their parents hug or kiss- guess how you came into the world? lol
if you as the person doing the hugging or kissing wants or doesnt want people to see them, that is different and that is personal preference. im not really big on pda myself, actually… but i would never restrict my kids from doing it just because i think its “gross” that they will eventually or are having sex… pretty much everyone has sex, it just shouldnt be a big deal to see
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 2:55 pm
Frankly, respecting other people’s boundaries says a lot more about behaving like an adult than ignoring those boundaries and doing whatever you want because you want to declare yourself sex-positive. If my mom said it made her uncomfortable, I’d respect that.
Saying ‘guess how you came into this world’ seems like a weak argument to me. I’m not going to bang my boyfriend in front of my kid to back that up.
You’re basically claiming that you’d be cool with your kids having sex in front of you and I don’t buy it. Just because people have sex, doesn’t mean everyone has to be subjected to hearing about it/watching it in order to be sex-positive. You can be both respectful and sex positive.
katie December 13, 2012, 3:01 pm
oh come on, of course i didnt mean to just go off having sex in front of everyone- were talking about pda, which to most people means kissing, hugging, holding of hands, holding each other’s waists… and there isnt much more i can think of that would be put in the pda category without going into the inappropriate in public catagory.
kissing, holding hands, hugs… those things just really arent a big deal.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 3:07 pm
To you they aren’t, but if they are to your parents, I think that should be respected. If Grandma doesn’t want to see it, I’ll respect that while remaining sex positive myself.
katie December 13, 2012, 3:16 pm
but why exactly does grandma not want to see it? because we have all been brought up to believe that sex is disgusting, gross and to only be practiced in any capacity behind closed doors. people arent even allowed to *talk* about it most of the time.
if no one is willing to change, no change will happen, you know?
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 3:18 pm
No, because Grandma likely believes that should be done in private. There’s nothing wrong with that.
Addie Pray December 13, 2012, 6:31 pm
I just had this thought that vaginas might sag in your old age. Do you think that’s true? But no one ever talks about that, so maybe not.
Addie Pray December 13, 2012, 6:32 pm
(Sorry, your comment about grandmas and sex got me thinking about grandmas’ lady parts)
lemongrass December 13, 2012, 3:36 pm
Not everything that makes a person uncomfortable is because the perceive it as “gross” or wrong. I’m uncomfortable talking on the phone to strangers, when I make eye contact with someone in the car next to me at a red light, and when my husband uses his electric pepper grinder. This doesn’t make me a bad person, it makes me have preferences.
I think that parents have a right to say “this makes me uncomfortable so please don’t do it in my house.” It’s not like the dad is coming to HER house and telling her not to kiss or hug, that would not be okay. But I strongly believe that people have the right to be comfortable in their own homes. This girl is 18- old enough to get a job and pay her own bills and if she wants to kiss her girlfriend in her own home, she can go get her own home.
My mom doesn’t believe in premarital sex. She never said I couldn’t sleep with my husband (pre-marriage) in our house. She could say that we had to sleep in separate bedrooms at their house. My husband didn’t like it- but tough shit! If he wanted a free warm bed to sleep in, he had to deal. Totally fair, IMO.
GatorGirl December 13, 2012, 4:04 pm
My fiance and I live together but stay in seperate bedrooms when we visit their house. I’m not a big fan of it, but out of respect for them and since it is their home, we follow the seperate bedroom rule. Their house, their rules.
katie December 13, 2012, 4:07 pm
i guess so guys, but in the big picture of things, its a much more complex issue… the whole climate regarding sex, especially regarding women and sex, is a terrible one at the present time all over the world, really no matter the culture. and all im sayin is that if no one is willing to change, the change wont happen.
lemongrass December 13, 2012, 4:20 pm
It is, Katie, but thing have been changing. We have birth control, legal abortion and we aren’t stoned to death for being raped in our parts of the world. I’d like to think that the rest of the world is slowly changing as well. These aren’t changes that are going to happen quickly. I also don’t think that going overboard and saying that everybody should just all of a sudden be comfortable with whatever display of sexuality is going to work, either. It’s just not realistic and how the world works. Small victories are the way that world changes work.
Diablo December 13, 2012, 4:29 pm
@Katie – it’s odd that one the one hand you talk about anyone expressing their discomfort as “sex-negative,” but in the next breath, you say some things are no problem, but others are in the inappropriate in public category. So you are drawing a line, but you are also saying that anyone who disagrees with your sense of where the line should be is sex-negative. You are saying some things are inappropriate in public – others may say, yes, like goo-goo eyes, or handholding, or smooching, or tongue-kissing, or oral sex, or brutal bloodletting bondage play. We all have our lines. When I see people groping each other in bars, I’m not offended, I just think, “You want to do that with me and everyone else watching you? Ok, suit yourself.”
When my wife and I were not yet married or engaged (4 year stretch), like GG, we slept in separate bedrooms in her parents’ house, even though they knew we were living together, and I hope, had to presume we wuz doin’ it. The first time we visited my folks, who at the time lived too far to see often, my Dad quietly took me aside and said, “Uh, you ARE sleeping with this girl, right? Because we didn’t want to have to make up another bedroom.” This stands out as one of the funniest contrasts in my life. My dad just wanted to confirm MY comfort level with sleeping with my gf in his house. (PS – It was no problem.)
Re PDA – I think we are all too hung up on what other people do. I kiss my wife whenever i feel like it, not to show anyone anything, but because I love her. Anyone who can’t handle that has very little business knowing me or being in my life. We never do anything more “intimate” in front of anyone because we have no need to prove our love to anyone, and none of that is intended for anyone but us. Does that make me “sex negative”? If you think that, you have NO idea who I am. But my intimacy is private, not out of shame, but because I share it only with her, because it is ONLY for her. To me that is sex positive – it’s too meaningful, too important to squander on people who are not a part of it. As always, only my two cents.
katie December 13, 2012, 4:40 pm
“I kiss my wife whenever i feel like it, not to show anyone anything, but because I love her. Anyone who can’t handle that has very little business knowing me or being in my life.”
that is actually exactly what i said- you shouldnt have people telling you when and where you can express the love for your wife, and if people do, they are shitty for doing that. you, as the person doing the kissing/whatever pda, should be the ones doing what you are comfortable with.
regarding where the line is drawn: i just went with what i assume is normal for our society. like i said, im not big on pda, but i dont begrudge other people who do it, because i dont really care how/when/where people do their pda, amd i would never try to restrict that, whether it be my parents or my children or strangers in a grocery store. its the 100% hands off no touching lets pretend like you dont even know each other approach that i have a problem with…
CatsMeow December 13, 2012, 6:48 pm
What? Who said anything about having sex in front of family members? I thought we were talking about hugging, kissing, holding hands, cuddling, or you know – showing affection for your significant other.
I personally don’t get why anyone would be offended by that, in moderation.
And bring it back to the LW, she said her mom/dad won’t let her do it with her girlfriend, but they didn’t seem to mind when her brothers did it with their GFs. I would be pissed about the double standard. I wouldn’t care if it was because I was a girl, or a girl with a girlfriend; I think both reasons are shitty.
FireStar December 13, 2012, 3:17 pm
kissing, holding hands, hugs… those things just really arent a big deal.
It is for some people. Maybe this is a cultural thing. Each family has their own culture (as well a belonging to a larger one). For me all of that was verboten…
Fabelle December 13, 2012, 2:59 pm
I totally agree.
Kelly L. December 13, 2012, 12:51 pm
There’s PDA and there’s PDA. I think a hug is perfectly appropriate for in-front-of-parents and a full-on XXX show is not…and there’s a whole spectrum in between.
GatorGirl December 13, 2012, 12:58 pm
You never hugged a boyfriend in front of your parents or his? Really? Unless you are from an ultra conservative religion I don’t buy it.
And, FWIW, I have no problem with ultra conservative religions but they are not the norm in American culture.
KKZ December 13, 2012, 1:13 pm
My parents were kinda touchy about PDA (and admittedly, as a teen I was never more than an arm’s length from my BF). I remember once they took us to a concert and my mom freaked the f*ck out about me leaning on my BF’s shoulder as we sat next to each other. Not kissing or nuzzling or anything, just resting my head on his shoulder. There were times I was reprimanded for PDA that I totally understood, but that freakout stood out to me as particularly WTF. Of course, my mom is the type that when she’s having a bad time, everyone else has to have a bad time too. She really disliked being at that concert (it was Lynard Skynard and .38 Special, and I think the LOUDNESS of it all was aggravating her – clearly not used to rock concerts!) and so she was already grumpy; leaning on the BF sent her over the edge.
GatorGirl December 13, 2012, 1:32 pm
My soon to be grandmother in law didn’t like me for like two years because I put my hand on my fiance’s knee cap the first time I met her. I was so confused about what I had done wrong! And I have pretty conservative standards in regards to PDA.
Fabelle December 13, 2012, 2:44 pm
My current boyfriend’s FATHER said something to us once while we were cuddling on the couch. I must’ve been touchy (emotionally) that day, because I remember I started crying! (the comment, though I don’t recall the exact wording, was pretty out-of-line)
Otherwise though, I’ve never had a problem. Even as a teen, I was always alllll over my boyfriend in front of my family. Not making out or anything, but sharing the same chair, rubbing his back, etc. I guess it’s annoying & borderline inappropriate, but PDAs never bothered my family (not even my dad) so I don’t understand the whole toning-it-down-in-front-of-family thing.
FireStar December 13, 2012, 2:01 pm
The first time my mother saw me kiss ANYONE was when the minister said “and you may now kiss the bride” at my wedding. And I’m not from a “super conservative” religion or culture (I’m West Indian and Catholic) but culturally you just don’t “carry on” in front of your parents.
My best friend actually pulled away from her husband when he went to kiss her at the wedding ceremony because her dad was RIGHT THERE in the front row. Everyone in the church giggled. It was included in all the speeches at the reception from his side too – poor guy.
GatorGirl December 13, 2012, 4:12 pm
So a kiss is “carrying on”? I would definitely consider what you are describing to be very conservative and different from what is accepted in main stream American culture. I would definitely say the Catholic church takes a very conservative stance on just about everything.
Iwannatalktosampson December 13, 2012, 5:11 pm
Eh I don’t kiss in front of my parents. Icky. I mean there’s occasionally hand holding arms around each other while standing and stuff but that’s about it.
clover December 13, 2012, 5:15 pm
A lot of people assume that, but I really don’t think it’s true. I was raised Catholic myself and I don’t think it was a more conservative upbringing than average in my part of the country, quite possibly less so. Actually it did me a lot of good in several ways, which is why sometimes I get a little bothered when people act like raising a kid Catholic is dooming her to a life of repression and neuroticism.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 5:21 pm
Yes, I have to agree. Like I’ve said a million times, there are extremists in every group. I was raised Catholic and never was exposed to any of the extreme or “super conservative” things people often talk about.
lemongrass December 13, 2012, 6:08 pm
I was raised Catholic. My mother was definitely much more conservative than other parents and I’m sure some would say extreme but I don’t think THAT extreme. Such as- she told me masturbation was wrong but then never did anything about it and just walked away when my response was “well, I do it.” But my dad isn’t Catholic (and they’re still married! and pretty happy too) and he evened things out. Plus I had a lot of outside influences too. I think I ended up pretty normal. I also would have rather had my childhood than some of my friends on the opposite end of the spectrum- one had her mom give her FLAVOURED condoms at age 12 (because if you’re going to be sexually active, make sure you’re pleasing the guy!) and another whose divorced mom treated her like a bestie and told her all about her relationship problems and sex life.
theattack December 13, 2012, 5:07 pm
I’ve gotta say, I’m really freaked out about kissing my future husband during the wedding ceremony too. We’ve held hands in front of our parents, and that’s it. Kissing in front of them will be nerve-racking.
Addie Pray December 13, 2012, 5:14 pm
I used to worry about that. When I was a kid I thought the most embarassing thing in the whole wide world would be to have to stand up in front of everyone you know and kiss a boy – grossss! But I’ve learned, at least with this new relationship I’m in, that I’m pretty PDAy, in front of strangers and my family. I mean, nothing gross. But handholding and crotch grabbing, sure. Geez, I’m kidding.
theattack December 13, 2012, 5:22 pm
haha! Some light crotch grabbing is no big deal. I think everyone universally accepts that. Kissing though? What a nightmare!
I’m also freaked that everyone’s going to KNOW we’re having sex that night. Most people know we have sex already, but people expect newlyweds to do it on their wedding night. I’m not ashamed of having sex at all, but it is weird for someone to know exactly when you’re doing it.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 5:25 pm
EVERYBODY: THEATTACK IS DOOOOOIIIIINNNNNNN IT
theattack December 13, 2012, 6:51 pm
hahaha, you’re a stinker!
Addie Pray December 13, 2012, 5:37 pm
Sometimes you see your boyfriend’s package bulging from his pants, all bundled up nicely and just minding it’s own business and you get the urge to just give it a firm cupping, you know? Like, it’s just begging to be grabbed. “Hey, look at us, all nicely bundled up in here in your boyfriend’s crotch, just waiting for a tight squeeze.” No? Maybe only I can hear them.
Diablo December 13, 2012, 5:54 pm
Sometimes on this site, i get the feeling that maybe I shouldn’t be reading things that seem “girls only.” DW definitely has a voyeuristic aspect to it. As I am often included in “girl talk” in my personal life, I often hear things that the speakers later regret saying in front of me. It’s like peeping through a secret window of honesty. (Confession: yesterday, during the fundraiser on behalf of theattack’s agency, I used the clues available to figure out who she is in real life. Couldn’t resist. If anyone ever wanted to, there is enough info on this site to find me as well. Not sure about anyone else.)
Last weekend, my wife and I were playing Scrabble with a couple of her girlfriends (which shows you all what a couple of dorks we are), and in the context of a conversation I don’t have time to relate, one friend says, “You know, i really enjoy giving a blow job.” About half a heartbeat later, she realized I was a man, and decided to be taken aback and embarrassed. Now i actually really enjoy hearing stuff like that, and not for naughty reasons, but just to know the gurls are comfy enough with me to be that direct and honest.
Well, Addie, i’m glad to know you are this giddy with crotch-grabbing-feelings, as long as you are OK with the whole internet knowing that i am glad to know it. DW creates lots of slightly weird intimacies, doesn’t it? Life is so short, people. Let’s all grab a little crotch tonight! Yeah!!
theattack December 13, 2012, 6:45 pm
Diablo, I’m betting you didn’t find out who I am in real life, because our website hasn’t been updated in years. The name that’s attached to my position is the person from a long time ago. Unless you found my facebook page, you probably didn’t get it. haha But if you did find my facebook page, you should add me and be my frannnnnnnnnnnnnnd.
theattack December 13, 2012, 6:55 pm
I did actually consider the trail there before I gave out so much information. I am concerned that my employer will somehow get interested and find the site and read all of my secrets though. haha
Diablo December 13, 2012, 8:09 pm
So much for amateur sleuthing. I didn’t think the pics matched (her on FB), but it’s hard to tell with your tiny avatar.
I’d be glad to friend you, but I sorta quit FB. Too much friend drama, ironically.
CatsMeow December 13, 2012, 7:04 pm
I tend to prefer an ass-grab (or pinch), but sometimes the crotch does just beg to be cupped.
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 5:22 pm
I f’in love you.
When I was a kid, I used to think my parents were having sex when they were lying next to each other in bed under the blankets. Didn’t realize anything had to go in anywhere else. So now every time my SO tries to go under the blanket when the kiddo’s awake, I tell him he’s gotta stay above it or she’ll think we’re doing it.
lemongrass December 13, 2012, 6:13 pm
I worried about the kiss too, considered practicing and then promptly forgot to. I saw later on video that we did have a good looking kiss! When I got to the front of the aisle I realized that I hadn’t given a thought about how I would have to TALK in front of this crowd of people. That slightly freaked me out but I thought “loudly and clearly!” I also spaced out when the commissioner was saying his speech on love and thought “I should probably be paying attention right now.”
On the wedding night sex thing- most people are actually too drunk/tired to have sex on their wedding night! We have a poll going with our friends. We did! It was actually one of the top 10 times, so if you can, do it!
j2 December 13, 2012, 12:55 pm
The comments seem to give the LW’s mother a free pass over her snooping into her 18-year old daughter’s laptop.
I give her no such free pass. I consider that a first class privacy violation resulting in a forfeiture of trust.
Would others here react similarly to her mother finding her diary and reading it?
As to where matters stand now, WWS.
Rachel December 13, 2012, 1:17 pm
It was mom’s laptop. Not that snooping on facebook was necessarily right, but it was her own property.
j2 December 13, 2012, 1:58 pm
JK December 13, 2012, 1:18 pm
It was the mother´s laptop, app. LW logged on to FB on it, then forgot to log out.
Rachel December 13, 2012, 1:19 pm
GatorGirl December 13, 2012, 1:04 pm
If you live in their house and are financially supported by your parents, you have to follow their rules. End of story.
If you don’t want to follow their rules move out and figure out a way to be financially independent. It sucks they are treating you differently then your siblings and seem to take issue with your homosexuality. But I don’t see that changing. You either need to put your big girl pants on and start fully supporting yourself or suck it up and live by their rules.
Older and (hopefully) wiser December 13, 2012, 1:13 pm
Ok. A quick peck or hug is fine but anything more in front of your parents…? It’s about respect, appropriateness and yes, modesty.
bittergaymark December 13, 2012, 1:24 pm
Okay, there are accidents and then there are accidents… The Facebook blunder was pretty damn stupid. So much so, it seems subconsciously deliberate to me. Not sure that was a wise move.
Dan Savage discusses this sort of dilemma at length in both his column and podcast. Go listen to him. Basically he says that parents become like toddlers when you first come out to them and they throw tantrums that you have to just weather for a year or so.
The only thing I really take issue with your letter is your whining about disrespect. I fucking hate this whole disrespect bullshit that has somehow become the buzzword of the day for the past couple of years. Frankly, it sounds like you disrespect your mother constantly. The Facebook stupidity would be a great example of what I am talking about. Moreover, it appears you have yet to have a REAL conversation about this. It’s all just I’M GAY FUCKING DEAL WITH IT. That is often a stupid tactic to take — but especially so when you are NOT financially independent.
Your parents are probably confused. It’s actually very confusing. And they might well be in denial. They might deludedly thing you will change. A factor that might be only strengthened if they’ve ever actually known any lesbians. But that’s another story.
And about this girlfriend. You curiously say NOTHING about her. Nothing. So I can’t really tell if your parents object to her for any reason other than her being your girlfriend. They could very well have other other issues with her. How old is she? Is she polite to your parents? Is she age appropriate? Is she all tatted up? The list of reasons they may not like her very well could have nothing to do with being a lesbian. Hell, its a stretch, but for all you know your mother could simply think you could do better and wishes you would find yourself another woman.
Then again, it could just be that you are forcing her down their throat. PDA in front of the parents is just something I don’t get. Neither did my sister. Neither of us ever felt the need to watch a movie with the folks and passionately make out on the next couch with our boyfriends. Hell, that would so NOT have gone over well with my parents — even with my sister.
You have to remember that you’ve had several years or so to accept your homosexuality. You also have to give your parents the courtesy of the same.
Kelly L. December 13, 2012, 1:30 pm
I hope your “if they’ve ever actually known any lesbians” is actually a typo for “if they’ve never actually known any lesbians,” or else you’ve just said that lesbians are likely to “change their minds.”
As for the PDA, where is everyone getting the idea they’re passionately making out? The words in the letter are “kissing and hugging.” I don’t see anything wrong with a hug in front of parents, and “kiss” could mean anything from a peck to tonsil hockey, so why are we all jumping to the least charitable conclusion?
bittergaymark December 13, 2012, 1:44 pm
Actually, no. It wasn’t a typo. Sadly, the most shocking thing about the rise of Myspace (Hey, remember Myspace?) was discovering how many of the loud and proud lesbians I knew in college had suddenly miraculously straightened out and gotten married. Not all of them. But um, yeah, it was just slightly more than half.
It’s an interesting phenomenon. And one that has been discussed by Dan Savage as well. So I don’t think that my experience with this sort of thing has been exactly unique. There is a fluidness to female sexuality that you simply don’t find in men.
Conversely, how many of the gay dudes I met in college married women? Nobody. Not a single one. And the amount of gay guys I knew in college out numbered lesbians 8 to 1. It wasn’t deliberate, but I just met way more gay men then women, especially out at the clubs…
katie December 13, 2012, 1:56 pm
yep, ill agree with this, and only because you know how its “cool” for two women to kiss but its “gay” for two men to kiss?
once a guy comes out as gay, he has drawn his line in the sand very, very deeply. for whatever reason, the line for women is light and erasable.
and this isnt to say that its bad that some women end up marrying men and some dont -i dont really care about who you marry- but it is something that happens.
bittergaymark December 13, 2012, 2:22 pm
It’s more than just a social construct. I don’t believe its tragic that women’s sexuality can shift so, it just is what it is. I very much doubt any of the women from MY past did so out of social pressure. They just shifted in their wants and desires. Men seem to be much more hardwired so to speak.
KKZ December 13, 2012, 2:21 pm
Yeah, because everyone knows exactly what their sexuality is when they’re in college…and because sexual orientation never shifts an iota over time…
This is why I hate the labels sometimes. A woman who dated only women in college but went on and married a man… what is she? Is she a has-bian? Was she simply bi-curious but hetero the whole time? What’s more – WHO CARES? Why the need to pin a person down to a permanent sexual orientation. This I do not understand. All of our other tastes in life morph over time – I loved pancakes as a kid, not so much anymore – so why wouldn’t our sexual orientations undergo similar shifts?
FireStar December 13, 2012, 2:37 pm
I remember a show Oprah did on this years ago. And the take-away was to think about sexuality on a spectrum instead of boxes you check. Some people move along the spectrum at different times or in different circumstances, some people stay put and don’t move a muscle. After that show it was super easy for me to accept whatever anyone wanted to identify as because it didn’t mean that they “weren’t” what they said they were before – that there wasn’t some epiphany that they had to have – or that they were confused in their youth…it just meant they were just on the same spectrum they have always been on…. just at a slightly different place.
katie December 13, 2012, 2:45 pm
yea, i dont think there is anything wrong with it, and i dont think that BGM was saying that there is anything wrong with it, either… but, i do think that certain people will use that as a dismissive means towards sexuality ie. oh, you just *think* your a lesbian now. you will grow out of it.
KKZ December 13, 2012, 3:16 pm
That was my mom’s reaction when I tried to come out to her as a teen. “You’re too young to know what you are.” Hurtful.
BGM has spoken in somewhat bi-phobic terms before (more in regards to men than women usually) and has shown distaste for people who professed to be one way, then ended up another. That’s mostly what I was reacting to. I got the impression (and this could be me projecting my opinion of BGM on his words) that he *does* disapprove of or sneer at people whose orientations don’t stay constant.
bittergaymark December 13, 2012, 5:51 pm
KKZ, you can’t have it both ways. On one hand, I’m apparently a bi-phobic asshole because I innocently expected these extremely loud and proud lesbians to actually remain lesbians because, hey, silly bittergaymark, who REALLY knows their sexuality in college? On the other hand, your mom was hurtful by saying to you that you were to young to know what you are — implying that your sexuality wasn’t exactly set in stone as you were only in highschool. Um, okay… so which is it?
No wonder parents are confused.
Hell, God knows I am.
CatsMeow December 13, 2012, 7:11 pm
How about we just let people identify however they want and take them at their word?
FireStar December 13, 2012, 2:08 pm
How shocking….I agree with everything BGM said! I might have to go lie down now….
lets_be_honest December 13, 2012, 2:56 pm
bagge72 December 13, 2012, 2:17 pm
Moneypenny December 13, 2012, 2:27 pm
I second the WBGMS!
kris_ December 13, 2012, 2:24 pm
LW, it sounds like your parents are a bit like mine in that this seems to stem more from their expectations for you being changed and the way they found out. If, however, I am reading your letter wrong and these things stem more from homophobia, then skip to the end.
So my sister in her senior year of high school decided that she was going to lie to my parents about her boyfriend, where she was, and many other things. None of it was actually necessary. My parents didn’t care where she were as long as it was safe and they knew about it and they also didn’t have a problem with my sister spending time with her boyfriend. It was part rebellion, part trusting people she shouldn’t, etc. My dad eventually caught my sister because he called the friend’s house that she was supposedly at and she wasn’t there. As a result, they lost their trust in my sister.
My parents were pretty critical of her and her boyfriend (since they thought he was contributing to her deliquency) at that time and my sister felt trapped. My parents were going to pay for college. So my sister felt that she needed to lie to my parents even more to please them. It just made things spiral out of control as she lied, they criticized, and so on.
What stopped it? Time and distance for the most part. She felt more confident in herself being away at school, she started to abide by my parents requests when she was home for the summer (including limited PDA and having the boyfriend over to spend more time with my parents so they got to know him), and eventually feelings mollified enough on both sides that my sister went through college with funding from my parents (and stopped having to worry about whether or not they would pay) and her boyfriend is now her husband and accepted in the family.
So my advice to you, LW, which my sister did not take, is figure out where the criticism is coming from. Is it from being a lesbian? well, that’s homophobic and unfortunately there’s not much you can do except give it time and hope they come around or eventually try to gain your independence and leave. Is it from not telling them about being a lesbian? Try talking to your mother more and opening up a bit. I know this is the last thing a teenager wants (been there) but trust me, it does help. Is it from you not being home enough, helping out enough, etc.? Help out a bit more. Is it because they’re uncomfortable with something? If they have simple enough requests like less PDA, comply with the requests. I know it doesn’t seem fair if your siblings had a freedom you had but unfortunately that’s a part of multiple child households. Accept it, comply with it, and move on. It will help your relationship with your parents.
I spent years watching my parents and sister battle (and on the phone with both…). If my parents had backed off a bit or my sister had made more of an effort to include them, things would have gotten better much faster. You can’t control your parent’s actions but you can control yours.
KKZ December 13, 2012, 3:18 pm
WK_S! Love this advice.
kris_ December 13, 2012, 3:47 pm
yay! My first WK_S!
The One Who Wrote this Letter December 17, 2012, 9:12 am
Firestar, I don’t think I’m up in any kind of “ivory tower”. It seems like you think I’m being completely unreasonable. But I don’t think that I deserve to feel like a lesser part of the family. I can’t talk about my girlfriend with my mother. She just there with this look of disapproval on her face every time I mention her. Why should I deal with that? Do I really need to spend all of my time pleasing her? I’ll give more examples if that is what you want: So last night, I was out to dinner with her and another mom and daughter. Me and the two others were on our phones. And until mom saw who I was talking to, she was cool with it. But not once she found out I was texting my girlfriend. Then she said it was rude even though the others were doing it and even though I’d been for a bit already. My dad doesn’t want to see any display of affection, in OR out of the house. They don’t want my relationship status on Facebook. I’d rather not have to hide it. Now, I’d spend time with my mother. But when I do, here is what I get- you look sloppy, why are you walking like that, comb your hair, you’re a slob, stop eating you’re too heavy, why are you wearing that, don’t do that- constantly knit picking on me, and also critical of any story I try to tell her about Courtney or frankly anything else. Not one thing I do is ever really enough either. If I do spend time with her and just try to ignore the criticism, it’s never enough time. Then I have to feel guilty and it’s crap. Don’t tell my I’m indebted to my mother, because whether or not a really am, I feel guilty constantly for not giving her what she wants. It is absolutely about the dynamic of the relationship and the orientation doesn’t help. My brother and my father see the apart compulsive criticism issue as well and experience it. Like when my dad does a chore he didn’t do it well enough or fast enough. Ever.
So no. I’m not in an ivory tower. Never claimed to be. I just want to be able to be who I am without having to feel guilty for it. And if you don’t think that’s reasonable, then I really don’t know what to say.
bittergaymark December 17, 2012, 12:00 pm
Then MOVE out already.
Look, your parents are FREAKING out that your gay. It happens. It sucks. It’s annoying. (I’ve been there…) It’s the fault of TWO THOUSAND years of hopelessly, and needlessly fucked up christianity sanctioned brainwashing that has WRECKED the lives of ten times more gays and lesbians than all the fucking orphans they supposedly ever bothered to save (oh, when not raping them — I mean.) Yes, I loathe, hate, and DESPISE the Catholic church… It’s an vile, evil organization that I would so gladly wipe from the face of the earth in one swift stroke.
But I have no such power.
Such is life. Look, sadly, you have rather unrealistic expectations for coming out. It is often NOT smooth sailing and takes time. For the time being, stop talking about your girlfriend to your mother. She simply is NOT ready to hear about it. And babbling on and on about her isn’t going to make that happen any faster. You need to listen to Dan Savage about coming out, because frankly, you are going about it all wrong… You really, truly are.
Oh, and for the record, it doesn’t matter that everybody else was on their dumb phone. It IS rude. It’s rude as hell.
Guy Friday December 17, 2012, 12:17 pm
To reiterate BGM’s comment:
The only thing I really take issue with your letter is your whining about disrespect. I fucking hate this whole disrespect bullshit that has somehow become the buzzword of the day for the past couple of years. Frankly, it sounds like you disrespect your mother constantly. The Facebook stupidity would be a great example of what I am talking about. Moreover, it appears you have yet to have a REAL conversation about this. It’s all just I’M GAY FUCKING DEAL WITH IT. That is often a stupid tactic to take — but especially so when you are NOT financially independent.
Your added comments here don’t exactly do anything to make BGM’s point less accurate, you know, and I’d add to his comment that it seems like another buzzword is “fair.” You seem to think that we’re all calling you out on your attitude toward your parents because you’re a lesbian, but I know personally that I would say the exact same thing to you if you were dating a guy, a girl, or a Japanese body pillow: the inequality in treatment sucks, but you either have to move out and then live how you want or not move out and deal with their rules. Life isn’t fair, and when you’re older you’ll understand that better, but things aren’t equal. Life isn’t kind, or fair, or just, and while at the end of your life the sweet usually equals the bitter you could go long stretches where that isn’t the case. But it’s your life, so you need to live it.
I mean, honestly, if this treatment upsets you so much, move out. Find a way. People have gone into debt for worse reasons than this, and people can eke out survival when it is necessary. But if you don’t choose to leave, know that you’re putting your finances before your relationship. That isn’t to say that’s the wrong choice to make if you make it, but it’s YOUR choice.
FireStar December 17, 2012, 12:39 pm
The first thing I said was “I see it having less to do with orientation and more to do with your family dynamics”. If your mother is overly critical of you – as it seems she is – then your orientation is just one more thing for her to be critical over. You should, of course, be the person you want to be…in all aspects of your life – in a perfect world. There is nothing about this world perfect. So all that you – or any of us is left with – is choice. So given the reality of your situation – what is it you choose to do? Because all I see are choices you want others to make. You choose to say your mother should change. That she should allow you to text your girlfriend at dinner and spend all your time with her and never to be critical again. That isn’t helpful. And that will change nothing. So what do YOU choose to do about your behaviour – since that is the only thing you CAN control?
The reality is you live under your mother’s roof and she supports you. When I said figure out a way to meet her half-way, I was talking about taking steps to go about establishing/creating a new type of relationship with your mother. You are the one who said your mom does so much for you in addition to paying for your schooling and that your parents were coming around to the unexpected news of your orientation. That is why I said there was maybe a way to improve your relationship with her. Maybe therapy can help you do that. But if that is not an option – and your mother is just too critical of you – and everyone else – and you can’t take it – then move out, my dear. Ultimately we can’t control other people. We can’t control their reactions or their thoughts or their behaviour. You can gradually try and win them over, you can try and educate them, you can try and influences them through YOUR actions and words but ultimately you can’t control someone. And if your actions are things like texting at dinner or lying to your parents then chances are you aren’t going to influence them in a positive way (FYI – WHO CARES if other people were texting too? Did your mother not have a conversation with you about jumping off of cliffs and what that has to do with YOU?) YOU conduct yourself above reproach and if your mother is still the type of person to find fault – because there are absolutely people like that – and if your mother is not someone you CAN find middle ground with – then leave. If you choose to stay because you value her pocket book and what it can do for you – then my question is – what do you want? You are choosing to sell your right to self-determination for the cost of a tuition. That, dear letter writer, is YOUR choice. Maybe it is the best choice for you. Maybe not. What is more important to you? Because it seems like you can’t have both. Wanting to be yourself – and being accepted for yourself – under your parent’s roof just might not be in the cards for you…. regardless of your orientation.
I speak to you in your ivory tower because you don’t have your boots on the ground making plans and deciding things. If you choose to milk your mother for all she is worth in order to get an education – then – that is your choice and embrace the consequences of it – which means you will be subject to constant critique. If you want to assert your independence and free will – then off you go into the world with blessing of good luck to you. But just being upset you can’t have your way – and have a supportive, loving mother who pays for your life and lets you date/text/see/kiss whoever you want whenever you want to because that is the reality for some other people? I’m sorry, my dear, but as someone who left home at 18 to make my way in the world by myself – on my own steam and on my own coin – I’m afraid I don’t have much patience for that.
The One Who Wrote This Letter December 17, 2012, 12:42 pm
Yeah I’m done. I’m just gonna deal with it until I’m out and independent. I guess what I wanted was advice on how to deal with that whole I need to. Unfortunately I was accused of being dispute spectrum to my mom, stupid, naive. This isn’t what I came here for really. I definitely so support the people that say they understand. That’s helpful. But not the non- constructive criticism. I’m done with people talking down to me. I’ve dealt with it for too long and I’ve been unheard for too long. Thanks for the people that were understanding, but for those who decided to accuse me of this or that, spend your time in a place that is asking for accusations. I deserve to be myself. Everyone does. I should not have to feel guilty for it and I shouldn’t have to be berated for not wanting that in my life. I’m not sure if I’m going to return to this. And if you’re going to criticize this comment, just think about what you’re about to do. All I wanted was a little helpful advice- not someone who gives me the opposite of the benefit of the doubt.
And I know texting at the table is rude. That was NOT the point.
lemongrass December 17, 2012, 1:21 pm
It’s unfortunate that you can’t see the real advice here and are simply fighting what you don’t want to see in yourself. The criticism here is constructive you are just not taking it as so. Here’s your helpful advice: if you don’t like the treatment you are getting at home- move out and pay your own way. If the money is so important to you then put up with the treatment, be thankful for it.
I’ve been in your shoes, my mother behaved the exact same way. I moved out at 17, a week after I graduated and it was the best decision I ever made.
Guy Friday December 17, 2012, 1:23 pm
All I wanted was a little helpful advice- not someone who gives me the opposite of the benefit of the doubt.
No, what you wanted is for people to give you hugs and make you feel better, which is a pretty crappy reason to write in to an advice column. You have real-life friends and a girlfriend who can do that; use them. And, for the love of all that is holy, STOP MAKING EVERYTHING ABOUT BEING A LESBIAN . It has nothing to do with that, no matter how much you want it to be so. It has everything to do with you being under your parent’s roof and under their rules. It wouldn’t matter if you were a girl dating a girl, or a girl dating a guy, or a guy dating a guy, or whatever. My father never allowed me PDA with my girlfriends growing up, though my sister could hang out in her room with her boyfriend with the door closed and my dad didn’t say a word. Again, life isn’t fair; siblings are not treated equally, and that’s how it is.
The bottom line, as many people have been pointing out, is that you have two choices:
1.) Move out and live your own life
2.) Suck it up and deal with their rules until you can do (1).
If you want to call it “non-constructive”, then, fine, call it that. But it’s reality. And here’s another reality: you need to grow up a bit. You’re acting like a spoiled child when you come on this site asking for your letter to be posted and then whine about how you didn’t get the answer you wanted and how everyone’s so mean to you. Please feel free to write us back in 5 years or so and let us know if you still think we were mean and non-constructive and wrong in our analyses.
KKZ December 17, 2012, 1:25 pm
LW, “How do I deal with this?” is not really a question we can answer.
Your options are simple:
Endure the situation (recommended)
React against the situation (not recommended)
Remove yourself from the situation. (best option, but not always possible)
That’s pretty much it. There are no secret tricks to ‘dealing’ with something. You might start a journal where you can write down all the angry rants that build up in your mind as you endure your situation; you might have revenge fantasies; you might rehearse some neutral, non-inflammatory lines you can use when people make an issue of your sexuality; you might even try to combat your negative feelings by committing to saying a positive thing or doing something positive every time someone makes you feel negative. Little things like these do not change your situation, but might make it more endurable.
However, it doesn’t seem like you’re looking for tips on enduring, but ways to make things change. In your letters and comments, some of us saw ways that you could change your behavior/attitudes to make things better, but you interpret these as accusations. We can’t change your parents. YOU can’t change your parents. The earlier in life you learn that you cannot change other people, the better. So you’re left with one option, to change yourself.
I say this as a former LW who wrote in asking how to “deal” with her bigoted father-in-law when all I really wanted to do was rant about his behavior and get sympathy – and the DW community had no trouble pointing this out to me.
bittergaymark December 17, 2012, 1:37 pm
Sigh… Actually, the fact that texting at the table is rude IS the fucking point. Why? Because that’s what your mother stated was FUCKING rude. And it WAS fucking rude. You alone decided make it (once again!) all about you being a lesbian. Your mother didn’t. Stop making your ENTIRE life about being a fucking lesbian.
It’s fucking boring. It’s obnoxious. It makes you seem very immature. And trust me — and others for fuck’s sake who have ACTUALLY been there — it certainly won’t improve your relationship with your parents anytime soon either. Try to be a little more three dimensional. And again, if your mother doesn’t want to hear about your girlfriend — well, then for Pete’s sake, stop talking about her.
Rachel December 17, 2012, 2:14 pm
“I deserve to be myself. Everyone does. I should not have to feel guilty for it and I shouldn’t have to be berated for not wanting that in my life”
I don’t think anyone has told you that you shouldn’t be yourself. Maybe you just don’t have experience with this yet, but throughout your life you will find yourself in *many* situations where you are expected to act a certain way. I act slightly differently around my family, my friends, coworkers, elders, strangers. It’s a part of life. You can “be yourself” without talking about your girlfriend in front of your mom if it makes her uncomfortable. I agree that it sucks that you would have to do that, but it’s a small concession to make to help your life be a little smoother.
The_Girlfriend December 21, 2012, 1:18 am
I’ve actually never heard of this site until just now and I’m pleased my girlfriend has brought up this question because it has been an issue for her ever since I came into the picture.
I wanted to respond to a few comments I saw, just to clear things up so she can perhaps receive more advice. Thank-you all for your input.
I’ll start off by saying I don’t quite think it’s appropriate to treat an advice column as a free-for-all. An advice column is constructive criticism, just a helpful reminder.
She most certainly is not denying reality, she faces it everyday and so do I. Also, what some of these comments hint at as the truth is actually not reality at all.
Let’s put this into perspective. It is 2012.
“Live with your parents or get out” is not really the best advice in this economy. Yes, anyone can do it. But is it worth it to make such a decision and end up in debt? Not really. Especially when life is just beginning. Everything must have a smart approach.
Also, she does not want to move out. This issue is with her mother only. She has a mostly fantastic relationship with her father and brother and does not wish to part ways.
She also is not “mooching” off of her mother. They pushed her into doing these things, without her request. She is their child. She appreciates the help, but the fact that she has lack of financial gain does not mean she should sacrifice herself.
She has plenty of respect and does want to better her relationship with her mother, but is unsure of how to do it and how to open her up to a new idea, hence her appearance on this site.
And if she is to meet middle grounds with her mother, it takes two people to do that! She spends time with her mother, fulfills every assignment her mother gives her and shows signs of affection. It should not be one-sided, ladies and gentlemen.
Also, this is about being a lesbian. Yes, it includes the relationship between her and her mother, but this problem is what really set things on fire. Pretending that her orientation or me, thank-you very much, does not exist, really isn’t a realistic or respectful option.
Hopefully I have provided some insights into the problem.
Jeremy October 3, 2022, 6:24 pm
My mom is a lesbian I would like her to find another lady to be in a relationship with.
Jeremy January 6, 2023, 7:31 pm
My mom she needs to be in a relationship with another lady right now she’s a lesbian.