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I Told My Mom I'm Lesbian And She Didn't Take It Well

Question:

ive been dating a girl & shes taught me so much…i feel lik i love her. i decided to tell my mom that im a girl that likes other girls, in other words a lesbian. she yelled at me & took me to therapy…she thought i was crazy. should i tell her that i love the girl im with & that i plan on marrying her??..or.. marry a guy even though the thought disgusts me in every way???

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Answer:

It is a great thing for you personally if you’ve figured out that you’re a lesbian at this young age and have the moxie within you to pursue this sexual path wholeheartedly. Many lesbians do not live as lesbians until later in life, after they have pursued more conventional heterosexual paths, found them severely wanting, and only then realized what they needed to do. By recognizing how you want to live early on, you’ll hopefully avoid some of the heartache that comes from getting into and then having to break out of committed but ultimately incompatible long term relationships.

Though your sexuality may be a cause for celebration to you, recognize that it is really not that way for your mother, who is a different person than you with different needs. Your mother is having a great deal of difficulty coming to terms with your coming out to her, so much so that she is needing to treat your homosexuality as though it was a disease to be cured. Though it may be tempting to want to clash with her over this issue and demand that she accept your choices, I don’t think that is going to be the best way to handle the situation in the long term. Have some sympathy for the poor woman if you can. As hard as it was for you to tell your mother about your lesbianism, think of how hard it has been for her to hear that message. She is very likely grieving her image of who her baby would grow up to be (e.g., a happy heterosexual married woman) and this has got to be painful for her. She is also very likely struggling with the messages that her generation taught her about homosexuality; that it is a sinful, shameful hedonistic and ultimately voluntary lifestyle, and a mental disorder. Though much progress has been made, there are still many people who believe these descriptions are true. Your mother may be feeling extremely ashamed that she has failed personally as a mother, and guilty that she may have "made you gay" somehow. All in all, she is likely to be experiencing a personal crisis over your revelation, and this is not the best time you could pick to be upset or angry with her, or act like a challenging child.

A danger that can occur here is that you push for acceptance too hard and with too much anger over her non-acceptance and you end up alienating each other. Since you appear to be living with your mother and not yet emancipated and living on your own, there is less space between you and more potential for tempers to flare. Being angry with one another doesn’t serve either of you, however. For a daughter to be without her mother, and vice versa for a mother to be without her daughter is painful and difficult. Instead of letting your frustrations speak for you, try to reflect on the more positive relationship that you’d ultimately like to have with your mother and work towards making that happen. If you can empathize with your mother’s plight as well as your own, give her space to grieve, and tell her that you both love her and need her, she is more likely to ultimately come around. Your sexuality is ultimately your private business. It doesn’t serve any real purpose for you to throw yours in your mother’s face if she cannot deal with it for reasons of her own.

You want to know whether you should speak about your plans to marry a woman or if you should lie and say you want to marry a man. I think it makes no sense to lie to your mother, but it also makes no sense to say something to her that will inflame her shame and grief at this time. Your future marriage plans ought to stay unspoken about for the time being. When you get really serious and have set a date to legally wed or otherwise live together in a committed relationship, then it becomes your mother’s business, and then (assuming she still believes homosexuality is a disease) only to the point that she needs to know what you’re doing and where you are living.

Your mother is in need of education and support. Not being gay myself, my own sense of where to recommend she seek that support is limited. Certainly the group "Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays", otherwise known as PFLAG, would be a good place for her to start. Homosexuality is a normal biological variation of human sexuality. It is not a disease or anything to be ashamed about, even though thousands of years of religion and culture have worked hard to demonize and criminalize it. If your mother reaches out to PFLAG, she is likely to encounter other mothers and fathers who have gone through what she is presently going through and she may feel less alone. You might send your mother a link to the PFLAG website if she is computer literate, or print out literature you can leave for her if she is not. Good luck.

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