The problem is with my mom. She had a very religious upbringing where same-sex relationships are unacceptable. When I first told her about dating my girlfriend, I said that I understood that she would have issues with me dating a female, but I would not accept my girlfriend not being treated like any other significant other in the family. That would mean I could talk about her and she would be invited to family events where SO’s are invited, which are Easter, Thanksgiving and Christmas. This was right before last Christmas and at that time I agreed not to invite her since it was so close and I didn’t want to “ruin” the occasion for my family. It was the worst Christmas I’ve ever had. I felt like a leper who couldn’t talk about a huge part of my life and I was definitely excluded from much of the family talk. I vowed not to repeat that.
Easter dinner was canceled this year in favor of my step-brother’s wedding, which my girlfriend was not invited to. This was strictly a small wedding with immediate friends and family only so I understood and did not have a problem with it. However, my mom could not even say my girlfriend’s name, changed the subject when anything involving her came up, and just in general made me feel like she didn’t care. This pattern has been the same through all our phone and email conversations over the last four months. I called her on her behavior and now she says that because of my grandfather, who is my last living grandparent and a 93-year-old stern, depression-era man whom my mom and I don’t want to upset, that my girlfriend will not be allowed at any family event at her house as long as my grandfather is alive.
I talked it over with my girlfriend and she stated that she was willing to act as a friend as long as my grandfather was around because she understands and would have done the same for her own grandfather. My mom is afraid if we do that on a regular basis that my grandfather will suspect something. Also, since my grandpa is so old, there’s a possibility he will move in with my mom soon which would further complicate things.
So I guess my question is this: Do I stand my ground and not go to any family events my girlfriend isn’t invited to? Do I compromise further and try to find an excuse that mom will accept for my girlfriend to go and possibly compromise my right to be who I am? Going without her is not an option because I will not repeat my past misery. I would visit my grandpa at other times to replace that time I don’t get with him at those events. Right now, my girlfriend is so mad that my mom is making me this upset that she doesn’t even want to meet her or go to these events but would for my sake to help me keep a relationship with my mom. — First Time Lesbian
In your letter you state very explicitly that you won’t tolerate your girlfriend not being treated like any other family member’s significant other. And since you can’t control the actions of others — i.e. whom you mother invites and allows to her house for family functions — and can only control your own actions — i.e. whether you accept an invitation to a home where your girlfriend is not welcome — you have to let your actions speak for you. If you won’t stand for intolerance, your actions need to prove that. To not stand for something means not going along with it.
So, yeah, stand your ground, and refuse invitations that exclude your girlfriend when other significant others are welcome. And if that means hosting some family events so that you get to call the shots, do it. If that means making separate visits with individual family members outside events that your girlfriend is excluded from — and that you skip because of that exclusion — do it. And, hell, if it means confessing to your 93-year-old grandfather that the person you fell in love with happens to have a vagina instead of a penis, you might consider giving him one last exciting shock while he’s still around to absorb the news. If your grandfather were racist and you happened to have fallen in love with a man who’s a different color than you, would you make him pretend to be just your friend? Would you hide him from your grandfather? What if you got married? What if you had kids? At what point would you drop the charade and say, “You know, I don’t care how old my grandfather is, I’m not going to keep acting like I’m ashamed of the person I’m in love with out of some strange sense of respect for a man whose old-timey values are so oppressive.”
And if you want your mother to respect your choices and to maybe even one day respect your relationship, you have to demand respect. Don’t kowtow. Don’t make excuses. Don’t tolerate intolerance. Let her know that if she wants a continued relationship with you, it means accepting the person you’re in love with. And if she can’t do that, then she’ll be at the bottom of your list of priorities, well beneath the people who embrace you for who you are and not whom they wish you would be.
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