Wedding Woes

Goodness, this is fraught

Dear Prudence,

I’m 22 years old and came out to my parents as a lesbian at 15. They are devoutly Catholic and conservative and have struggled deeply with it. For years, they let me know that they prayed every day for God to fix me and forbade me from telling anyone else in the family. Seven years and many fights later, they have definitely progressed. They say they have accepted that this is something that will likely not change and say they are no longer praying to fix it. They have let me tell my relatives and even told some of them on their own. They also ask me questions about my relationships, and my father even had dinner with me and my girlfriend when he visited me in school. They say that just because they believe men and women are fundamentally different and made to complete each other in marriage doesn’t mean they are homophobic—they just have religious views about what true marriage is, and I will never have that. We’ve spent hours going back and forth, and it has all been really painful for me. I also don’t know what I can expect from them. It’s been so many years and while they have improved, I know I’m not going to fundamentally change their beliefs about my sexuality. My girlfriend’s family is very accepting, and my girlfriend thinks I’m too easy on my parents.

My girlfriend will be in my hometown this Christmas break visiting extended family of her own. She’s met my 18-year-old brother, who loved her. I’d like her to meet my younger brother, who is 11, but my parents told me they are not OK with him knowing about my sexuality yet and want to tell him on their own terms when he’s older. I know he’s their child so if they want to teach him that, I guess they have the right. They say they’re OK with him meeting Hannah, but only if I introduce her as a friend. He’s met my 18-year-old brother’s girlfriend and was introduced to her as such. Is he at an age where I’m allowed to be mad about this and demand the right to tell him? He’s not a baby anymore, and I’m worried that the more years he’s indoctrinated into these homophobic beliefs, the less likely it is I’ll be able to shake him out of it when he’s older.

—Relationship With Homophobic Parents

Re: Goodness, this is fraught

  • edited November 2017
    This reminds me of that question about the family BBQ where the lesbian cousin (aunt? sister? don't really recall) was asked not to tell the kids about her sexuality. 

    I would present things honestly and answer questions honestly. If the parents are Catholic, they can surely understand the concept of honesty and truth. If they have a problem with honesty and truth because it doesn't fit their agenda, well that's their problem.

    Out of respect for the parents not wanting LW to be outright with it, I would say "This is Jane." I would not lie and say "This is my friend Jane." But if LW's brother says "is Jane your friend?" I wouldn't lie...I'd say "Jane is my girlfriend." And then answer subsequent questions in an age appropriate way. If brother's girlfriend can be known as a girlfriend, LW's girlfriend can be known as a girlfriend. Period.

  • CharmedPamCharmedPam Chicagoburbs
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary First Answer
    VarunaTT said:
    Fuck.  That.  Shit.

    He's 11.  This isn't a toddler, this is a pre-teen who is supposed to be learning how to be a fucking adult.  And it's her brother.  HE has the right to know about his sister and decide what he wants to do with that.  His parents don't have the right at this age to decide that anymore. 

    ALSO.  It's fucking 2017.

    ALSO.  I'm done with the "we love you, but don't accept this [super fucking personal identifier about you b/c it makes me uncomfortable].


  • For me, I think this would be a line in the sand.  Like, "Well, you can choose to tell or not tell little bro.  But, my partner and I aren't going to lie about our relationship.  If that's not acceptable, then we won't visit you all while we are in town."
    This is where I'm at. 

    But also, it's not that they don't want little bro knowing about saying relationships, it's that they don't when him knowing about LW's relationship. This would be a dealbreaker for me. Treating one child differently (worse) than the other is not okay. 
  • This is where I'm at. 

    But also, it's not that they don't want little bro knowing about saying relationships, it's that they don't when him knowing about LW's relationship. This would be a dealbreaker for me. Treating one child differently (worse) than the other is not okay. 
    Yes!  If it was the same rule for the brother, I'd still think it was dumb and silly, but would have found it more acceptable.
    Wedding Countdown Ticker
  • kimmiinthemittenkimmiinthemitten Detroit, MI
    2500 Comments 500 Love Its Third Anniversary 5 Answers
    Good to know lying is an accepted Jesus-sin in their Catholic World, but love is not.

    You either accept me as who I am and don't force to lie, or I don't come back around until you do.
  • LW’s parents suck.  People like them make me embarrassed to be Catholic.  11 isn’t too young to know that some women love men and some love women.  Heck, my toddlers are already aware.  I’m glad LW feels as though her parents have made progress...they’ve got a long way to go though.
  • What @VarunaTT said. 

    Seriously, fuck that. OP should be honest with her brother. "This is my girlfriend Hannah. She's an amazing person, and I care about [love, she's important to me, etc. whatever] her a lot." Hopefully that will help to offset the shitty example that their parents are setting. 

    I'm one of the steering team members for the LGBT/Ally network in my office, and we just held one of our annual events today. We brought in a speaker from one of the local support groups that works with LGBT youth. (They provide counseling, resources, medical care/testing, substance abuse treatement, suicide prevention, fun programs like an annual free prom, etc.) Some of the stories were heartwrenching (e.g. helping a 14yo to come out to his parents *and* tell his parents that he's HIV+) - but it's clear that they've done and amazing job - in ~30 years of existence, they've never lost one of the kids to suicide. The speaker painted a very clear picture - "if you're a 16 yo kid, and your parents reject you, you don't have many friends, your church doesn't accept you, you're being bullied at school, you can't be out at your job and "trusted adults" like teachers and guidance counselors are unwilling to help - where can you turn?" 

    I think it's awful the way that this girl's parents are treating her.
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