Posts Tagged ‘same-sex’

After staying closeted to my family for nearly 20 years, I finally came out to them in July. I knew my parents wouldn’t take it well. Whose parents do, really? But mine are devout Catholics, both well past retirement age. The question was not if they would react badly — it was a question of how bad, and what sort of relationship we’d have afterwards.

I’d known since high school that I was bisexual. (As an aside, I maintain that bisexuality is its own orientation, and not “a stopover on the way to gay-town,” as some would have it.) Not being that close to my family, I rarely shared with them when I was dating anyone at all, regardless of gender. In my late 20s, I had a committed relationship with a woman for four years. All my friends were aware of it; only my family remained (and remains) in the dark.

Now in my mid-30s, I am once again in a committed same-sex relationship. And I probably would have kept this one a secret from my family as well, were it not for two things: 1. More than I ever have in the past, I feel quite certain that I have met my life partner; and 2. My parents told me they were coming for a visit in early July and that they expected to stay with me. I had no choice — we had been living together for months already. I couldn’t hide it. And I realized it was stupid to try. I called my mother and told her.

She didn’t yell or cry. She said she was disappointed, that she didn’t approve of my entire lifestyle, and that she was worried about my soul. I told her that was for me to worry about. I also said I would understand if they didn’t feel comfortable coming for a visit, but that they should take some time to think about it and let me know. After two weeks with no word, I finally called my older brother who was supposed to come with them on this fated visit to find out what was going on.

He said they told him my news, and that he tried to convince them to come for a visit anyway, but they outright refused. And they couldn’t bring themselves to call and let me know. In fact, even now, more than two months later, they still haven’t called me once. I did see my parents on Labour Day weekend at my brother’s annual family BBQ. At my brother’s invitation, I also brought my partner. My parents were glad to see me, and were very awkward with my partner, but at least they showed up and were polite.

They’re making an effort, but they’re clearly upset by the whole thing. I can’t help but wonder if it wouldn’t have been easier coming out to them in high school. Coming out in your mid-30s means you’re flying in the face of years and years of your family thinking of you a certain way. Coming out in your teens, when you’re discovering who you are, would perhaps be less of a shock. At the same time, I imagine it’s harder to be taken seriously. Adults usually think teenagers don’t have enough life experience to make decisions of that magnitude. But there are some things you just know, regardless of age or experience.

At least my brother has been supportive. He welcomed both me and my fabulous partner into his home. Because I’ve never been very close with my parents, this isn’t a devastating situation. My mother was 35 when I was born, my father 40. We are from entirely different eras, and have never understood each other. My style, my sense of humour, my choice of friends, my career choices were always met with disapproval. So I gave up trying. I stopped telling them about things I knew would upset them, and stuck to safe topics like the weather. Now is their chance to get to know the real me, if they’re interested.


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