Real Life Stories and letters shared with us by our community, including emails that users have given us permission to post.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Looking for advice in dealing with parental homophobia

The full, unedited email:


I found you on facebook earlier. Firstly can I mention how good the charity song is, its the first time i've heard it and I love it :) I just wondered if your able to give out any advice?

My story:

I've liked girls all my life, but I only really realised a few years back. Last year I told my aunty I was gay and see encouraged me to tell my parents. I was scared but was slowly mentally preparing myself to tell them. It was my mum who I was mainly concerned about. One day my parents were arguing and my aunty was messaging me telling me I needed to tell them the truth. The arguing got really bad so I walked out and rang my aunty hoping that she would pick me up and take me back to her house. She did the opposite. She drove me home, locked me in the car and ran into my house, into the middle of a full blown argument and announced my sexuality.

My dad ran out to me, I was histerical. He took me for a drive and I calmed down. I then went back home later that night after my aunty had told me, my mum was fine, shes calmed down, upset but not as bad as I thought. To me this was unusual and I was right. I walked into my living room and my mum didnt even look at me for days she ignored me or made nasty comments at me. 4 days past and I asked if I could speak to her. I had started to put myself in denial because I felt I had lost my mum, let her down and lost my best friend. After my dad encouraged her to come and talk to me, I told her it wasnt true.

One year later and I'm still in the 'closet'. I have had one ex girlfreind and I am now seeing a beautiful girl who I adore. However I have moved away to uni now and so things are a lot better for me and I am more open. When I come visit my parents though, its like I live a separate world. My mum keeps asking if I have a boyfriend or if I'm lesbian. However she is very homophobic. She tells me that if I dare turn out to be gay I will be written out of the family will, I wont be a part of the family and I will be no daughter of hers. My cousins are gay and so its very common in my family however she feels its disgusting, not right and she looks out more for the familys reputation.

I dont no what to do, I know I need to tell her but i'm scared. She is my best friend but she puts me down all the time because of all the comments regarding my sexuality. People say she knows deep down but i'm not sure.

I hope you can help, a little advice, anything?


Our big sister response:

 Hi *****,

Thanks for emailing us here. We do try to respond to all emails as soon as possible, but it does sometimes take time!

It's great that you have your uni environment as a safe place where you can be yourself, and where your relationship can flourish. Having that is good because you know how it feels not to hide who you are, or feel ashamed of it. And then of course coming home to the separate life with the relationship you now have with your mother is compounded by that fact.

Losing the close relationships you have in life merely because of who you are is something a lot of people go through. You are certainly not alone in your current journey whereby you have this separation. And your denial to your mother is through fear of losing her. I understand that; losing a mother is one of the hardest things anyone can go through, but to lose her over something like this - well, it has to be not only heartbreaking, but incredibly frustrating too.

It seems obvious to me that there are two courses of action for you to choose between. You can continue to be in denial around your mother, who clearly doesn't believe you anyway if she's always asking you about it, or you can take the very brave step, being aware of the consequences she has outlined (which are very real, and which she *may* act upon) and be honest.

Your continued denial is unlikely to ever repair your relationship with your mother. It sounds from your description as though she won't believe you even if you did get a boyfriend. And I don't advise you ever doing that unless the fluidity of your sexuality genuinely does change. Even then, it will not change the fact that you do and have liked girls in a romantic way.

There are plenty of people who go well into adulthood continuing to live two lives. Often moving far away from their families to live their real life openly, and then pretending when they come home. They do it for many reasons, fear, protection... But what kind of relationship, based on that lie, would you have with your family? Your dad, your aunt, they all know the truth anyway.

Long term I think you know that your relationship with your mother will never be the same, and I think the only possibility for it being repaired is with honesty. That of course runs the risk of losing her forever, and I'm not going to tell you otherwise. That fear is very real. But there is hope.

Your mother is bound to you, both biologically, and by the years she has spent bringing you up. She is programmed to protect you. The conflict within her is probably incredibly great. Tied up with the disappointment of your actually being gay is not just the stigma, but her loss of hopes and dreams that she may have had for you. For many people, adjusting those dreams is very difficult, even after they have accepted the truth.

The very best thing you can do is be strong. If/when you eventually decide to tell her for real, be strong, for her as well as you. Show her you understand she is ashamed and upset and angry, but that you are not ashamed of who you are, that you are a good person and a good daughter and she should be very proud of you, because she has played a big role in making you who you are. But she didn't make you gay. When homophobic people discover their own child is gay, they think it's their fault.

As you know, fault implies something is wrong, which it isn't (and is therefore insulting), but even if it were, she didn't 'make you gay' -- that's the first thing I'd tell her. "You didn't make me gay, but you did make me an incredible person brave enough to stand here despite your obvious hatred of me, and want to fight for a relationship based on truth."

Your mother's bigotry could very well be the worst you have to deal with when it comes to acceptance. Make sure you surround yourself with accepting people. Make sure you have back up. Make sure you're ready for the ride before you set off. Many people don't have that luxury.

I hope anything of what I've said has helped. And I'd really like to post your letter to us anonymously on our blog. Because I think you'll discover that a LOT of people have gone through exactly what you're going through, and their advice could be just what you need to hear. Let me know if you'd be open to that.


Disclaimer: We must stress that we are just human beings trying to help, we are not counselors, therapists, psychologists or psychiatrists. But we do have some pearls of wisdom on occasion, and we also have an incredibly supportive home here. If you feel you have advice to offer, feel free to comment below, as always. It's important no-one feels alone, that's what this project is all about after all.

Note: All correspondence is reproduced here without editing, except to protect the users identity. Please excuse all typos and other faults you may find. When emotion is high, grammar is a low priority.

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