I have been an out and proud gay woman for almost 15 years. Count them….15. I told my parents that I was gay as a teenager almost as soon as I knew myself. A few years after that my mom and dad divorced but have always stayed friendly. My dad remarried to a decent, if domineering, woman. My mom never did. I’ve always urged her to date or to at least get out of the house but to no avail. Last week, we were having dinner to celebrate her 55th birthday and she drops this bombshell on me. My mom is gay. She has been in a relationship with the same woman for over five years and she is in love with her. I was so shocked I didn’t know what to say. She told me she never told me before because she could never find the right time and she was worried how I might react. I’m a lesbian for God’s sake. I’m her only daughter and I always thought we had a close relationship. Who better to tell!? Now I’m left wondering what to think. Were we really as close as I thought we were? Does she think I’m too immature to handle the news? Has she always been a lesbian? I mean, what is going on here?
Signed, Daughter Drama
Dear Daughter Drama,
You need to take a deep breath and think about this situation for a minute. Think good and hard. Remember back to the time you came out to your parents and how hard it might have been for you. Remember the time and energy that went into planning how and when to tell them. Remember their reaction, good or bad, and how you felt about it. Now think about how hard it must have been for your mother to come to you with this news. Keep these respectful feelings on the forefront as you begin to deal with this news.
Having a gay parent, although not terribly uncommon, can be quite a shock. As children, we tend to marginalize our parents into images that we remember of them. However, just like us, our parents change and evolve as individuals over time. When our parents were our age, coming out as a gay person was not as viable of an option as it is today. Today there is widespread support to “be who you are” and “true to yourself”. Back then, the message was to conform as much as you possible could to the norm. Being gay back then was renegade status. Now, thankfully or not, it’s just part of the landscape of our humanity.
I know your question centers around wondering why she didn’t tell you sooner as you are a gay woman as well. My advice is to begin a dialogue with her. Find out as much as you can. This is your chance to find out another side of your mother. It is a side that, from my perspective, seems rich and complex. What a wonderful opportunity for you to get to know your mother on a whole different level. My wish for you would be that you will get beyond your shock and settle into this new knowledge with an open mind and heart.
I have a coworker I know is gay. I just know it. He has all the signs of a gay man. He dresses well. He’s good looking, sweet, not into sports but works out religiously at the gym. I don’t know if I should say something to him like “Hey, I’m gay too so it’s cool” or if that would be too forward. He seems a little depressed some of the time and my guess is that it might be that he’s struggling with his sexuality. I could be a great friend to him if he would only let me in.
Jim in Tamarac
Hold on there little buddy. It seems like maybe you might want to take a step or two back and assess the situation a bit more before you make any moves. If this guy really is gay and is having a hard time with it, a little subtlety may be in order. Casually befriend him and, over time, find out more about him. Maybe you could “out” yourself in some low key fashion and see how he responds. Whatever you do, don’t back him into a corner and force him to tell you or tell other co-workers that you think he is gay. Nothing will make him run from you quicker than if he thinks he can’t trust you.
Also, consider your motives on this one. Do you just want to know or do you want more from this guy? You didn’t say so, but it seems as if you may have a crush on him. Is this true? If so, my advice is to be even more cautious. My advice would be to try and put the crush on the back burner and see what kind of friendship develops. You never know, he could be one of those “Metrosexuals”. Straight guys who dress gay and have gay sensibilities and like the company of gay men but like to sleep with women. So look at the whole situation first before you make any move.