18 December 2007

I came out as bisexual to my parents last summer and am still having trouble with it

Hello. I came out as bisexual to my parents last summer and am still having trouble with it. My mom (who is very conservative) actually said: “I still love you as my daughter, but I don’t accept this” when I recently asked her about it. She also keeps threatening to tell my sister and if she does I’ll be in for some REAL abuse, because my sister’s very homophobic and believes most stereotypes about GLBT people, no matter what I say to try and teach her. I asked my dad for help since he’s pretty accepting of my sexuality, but he hasn’t been too successful. Any ideas?

Evelyn Kuang

Hi Lana,

Thank you for your question. I understand that you are in a very difficult situation with your family. Although family members are usually supportive, understanding and have your best interests at heart, conflicts inevitably arise because of their definition of what is best for you, which doesn’t always match what you think is best for you. Someone like your mother, who has been raised conservatively all her life, learned to believe that a conservative upbringing will bring the best to her children. Acknowledging her child is growing up and becoming an adult, and respecting her child’s decisions is something she might still be grappling with.

There are a few important things in this situation. It will take some time for people like your mother and your sister, people who love you and who presume to know you very well, to overcome these views- as they have yet to realize that to love and accept you as their daughter/sister, they must love and accept this part of you. I would suggest sitting down with your father and discussing a productive way to approach your mother about this. If you feel you are ready, I would then voice your concerns to your mother in your father’s presence. It is more constructive to make non-accusatory statements such as “This makes me feel uncomfortable” rather than ” You are making me feel uncomfortable.” In particular, I would strongly recommend that you express how her threats to tell your sister without your permission make you feel, as it causes you great discomfort, and puts your relationship with her and your sister in jeopardy. Why would anyone want to tear their own family apart?

However, first and foremost, do not feel pressured to do anything you are uncomfortable with. If you are not ready to talk to your mother, then just talk to your father first about ways to eventually approach your mother. Also, if you are uncomfortable with the idea of sitting down with your mother and father, family counselling is an option. Meanwhile, it is very important to surround yourself with supportive and positive people i.e. friends, other relatives, community groups. Along with your father, their presence and input will help you maintain a positive and healthy attitude towards yourself, and provide further outlets to discuss these issues.

If you have further questions, please don’t hesitate to ask.

Evelyn, for Alterheros