Friday, 10 August 2012

My mother's attitude to my bisexuality

Catch up on other things I've said about my mother in:

Yesterday was a doozy.

It started when I was looking up churches. I'm flying to Virginia in a few days, and I wanted to research beforehand where I would go to church on the Sunday that I'm out there. Obviously it's a big issue for me when finding a church to know whether they are gay-friendly, and while that was on my mind, it got me thinking, and the thought-path led me to text my dad.

"Just had a worrying thought. Do you know if the family in Virginia are liberal or conservative?"

When he got home, we sat in the living room, and he basically said it was best not to even bring it up, and use ambiguous language (eg when asked if I have a boyfriend) to avoid having to deal with a bad reaction, of which there was a chance.

It normally doesn't bother me when meeting new people and I never hide anything, but family is different, especially when I've never met them before and I'm flying 4000 miles to accept their very generous hospitality. If they do have a problem with LGBT, I'm only there for 12 days and I don't want to cause a family rift, or something equally dramatic, nor have to excuse myself from their home and come back early.

But I fought with him about it, saying that if felt like lying by omission, and not true to myself.

Anyway, besides that situation, the conversation turned into my longed-for confrontation of my dad about my impressions of my mother's attitude (see other blog post). He was shocked at what I thought, and promised me to talk to her. [I also learnt that it is not general knowledge throughout the family, because my dad sees as purely my business, and not somewhere to declare. I suppose I understand that, but isn't it usual that when someone comes out to their parents, relatives are made aware of it? I surprised my parents haven't wanted to discuss it with their siblings, my aunts and uncles.]

So later that day my mother sits me down and says she was also shocked when my father revealed all to her. She had felt she was a great example of an accepting parent, because ultimately she does not care who I choose to be with, as long as they make me happy. We discussed it, and really her silence on the matter and her moments of being odd when girls were mentioned is all down to it being new; she doesn't know a thing about the LGBT world, and so she is only very slowly learning how to be mother to a bisexual.

Well, you can imagine my relief! My mother is perfectly fine with my sexuality, and that is so much of a weight off my shoulders. Great big cheers all round.

It still feels weird to talk to my mother about being bi, but then it feels weird to discuss anything to do with my love life, so I'm not worried about that. The only difference is, when we talk about LGBT things, our relationship roles reverse, because I'm the one in the know, wiser about the whole thing, than she is, when she's had two whole decades as a mother being the one with the upper hand.

I'm sure there's a lot of psychoanalysis that could be done, lots of deep set things about our relationship, but I don't care. I am much happier knowing what my mother thinks, and that it's positive.


  1. I love your blog; I just read the whole thing in one sitting, and it made me feel a lot better about myself. I am a 16 year old bisexual girl, and I'm relieved to find something I could relate to. I'm out to my friends and parents, who were all pretty much accepting, although my Dad see's it as 'my business' and doesn't get the point of coming out. My real problem is my grandparents, especially on my Dad's side. They are old fashioned and (just my luck) Catholic. I don't want to make a big deal of it, especially being my age - they might not take me seriously if I do - but I have no idea what their reaction would be, and it scares me. I really have no idea how to start a conversation in order to judge their opinions without giving too much away or appearing confrontational. I don't want to pressure you into playing 'Agony Aunt' for a complete stranger, but I don't know anyone who's going through what I am.

    1. Hey, Silverbee! Just wanted to let you know I understand where you're at. I'm 16 and a bi girl as well. I'm out to my parents and friends, but I get uncomfortable around extended family because of the ever-present assumption "we're all heterosexuals here, right?" To add to that, most of my extended family is Catholic as well, and at least one of my aunts is openly anti-queer. I'm not close at all with my aunts or uncle, but when I'm spending time with them, it feels like I'm lying by omission.

  2. Hey Silverbee, I'm glad you felt you could relate and that you decided to ask about your problem. Good for you, it takes a lot of courage to admit worrying about big scary stuff like family reactions, and I am thrilled that this blog has helped. I started it because I couldn't find anything to relate to myself when I was working everything out.
    Let's jump right in.
    First, even seemingly old fashioned grandparents can be surprising. My traditional Nana loves my female cousin's girlfriend, because they make each other happy. Second, same thing with Catholics, they can surprise you. I know a transvestite Catholic! He loves God, incense, and A-line skirts. Third, it is true that your age acts against you with people who aren't 100% no-problem-with-the-gays; most people come out at 18 or older because of this. You might wanna consider delaying - if you're out to friends and parents, those are the most important to know. Fourth, it is a good idea to look for opportunities to expand discussion of LGB without having to discuss yourself if you wanna gage an opinion. However, don't worry yourself about making that happen.
    Overall, you need to consider whether your grandparents need to know at all. If they are a part of your everyday life, play a big role, then yes, they do. But if you see them for visits every once in a while, or less than that, it may not be necessary until you get long-term with a girlfriend, when it does become necessary.
    If you come to the conclusion that it's best that they know, then I'm sorry to say, it's a case of ploughing through and seeing where it takes you. If they react badly, then you'll have to deal with it, like all shit in life that you can't avoid. It might be painful, it might have far-reaching consequences (and do consider that when you are deciding whether they need to know, don’t do it if it’s likely to hurt a lot of people) but I feel that you need to be true to yourself, and if you want them to be part of your life, then they need to know you for yourself, and celebrate it.
    If they don't like it, if they have a problem with who you are, then leave them behind, leave them to their issues. If they can’t deal with it, you have no obligation to. They’ll have let you down at a fundamental level so you have not duty to them any longer.
    And if it’s a positive reaction, you can experience the truly satisfying feeling of no longer living a lie. You might grow closer once you can share your whole life with them. That bond, that relationship of honesty, is what you’d be risking it all for.
    I can't give much advice without knowing the specifics, but those are my thoughts for the moment. And feel free to ignore me if you want, it’s your life, live it in the way you think is right and good. But I hope I’ve helped.

  3. Thanks, it really helped just to tell someone who actually understood. I have taken your advise and brought up the subject casually, and so far they have't seemed too disgusted/upset by it, which is a good sign. I am quite close to them, but I don't think I need to tell them right away. There have been hints, and I have been sporting a rainbow badge for a while now (it's sort of a good luck charm). I think it might help if I had a reason to mention it, such as a serious girlfriend, because the physical 'proof' will mean less uncertainty on their part, and I now whatever their opinion that they want me to be happy, so If I say I am in love with anyone that will hopefully please them enough not to mind the gender of the person. Fingers crossed!

  4. Oh yes, I remember having that plan! If life takes you down the path of getting together with a girl, that is a good option. Just make sure they don't think it's a one time thing for one girl. Don't want to be a downer, just covering bases, it should be fine.

    I hope everything turns out well. Would love to hear any updates :) And I hope you're following me on Twitter! :P