“My mother is gay, but she does not know I know.”

Q:

My mother is gay, but she does not know I know. About two years ago at Christmas I found a card from her “roommate”, stating she has a hard time when the kids are around because she cannot express her feelings towards my mother.

This letter did not come as a big shock to me, since they have been living together for seven years. I guess my question is, should I just leave well enough alone? Or would it be better to get this out in the open?

I feel my mother is afraid we will not love her anymore. This is not true. I am just glad to see her finally happy in life, but she avoids her family.

I know the best thing to do is to let her know we are OK with this, but I just can’t get up enough nerve to do this. I am so afraid of the initial confrontation.

A:

Your question seems to be more about how to talk to your mother about this rather than if you should at all. You said yourself that your mom is avoiding her family — that’s what closeted people have to do to avoid getting “caught.” If you and your mom and her “roommate” continue to not acknowledge their relationship, she will become more of a stranger to you as years pass.

While it should be the parent’s role to come out to a child, sometimes the child is put in the difficult position of coaxing the parent to come out.

I hear from lots of parents who don’t officially come out to their children. The most frequent reasons they give are:

1) My kids would reject me if they knew.

2) It’s so obvious, it doesn’t need to be said. (This is most commonly said by semi-closeted parents who have a long-term “roommate.”)

3) If my kids wanted to know, they would ask.

Starting the conversation is the hardest part. It might be awkward and uncomfortable for a while, but once you get going, you’ll be glad you did. That’s not to say that everything will go smoothly; even though neither of you will have no more information than before, there will mostly likely still be an adjustment period.

It can be helpful to talk about a similar situation that does not directly affect your family — like a gay-themed movie, or a current gay-rights issue in the newspaper — so that you can express your supportive views first, rather than feeling like you are confronting her. Then you could try something like, “I understand that sometimes lesbian parents keep their life a secret from their children because they are afraid their kids will reject them. Does that resonate with you?”

Or maybe you could give her a link to this page with a subject line that says, “Mom, I love you. Let’s talk.”

6 thoughts on ““My mother is gay, but she does not know I know.””

  1. Your mother may not KNOW you know, but she probably THINKS you know. Both of you will have a stronger, better relationship if you bring this out in the open. And, you may develop a better relationship with her partner as well.

    Hiding just keeps both parties in the closet — where they hide a part of themselves, estrange themselves from the relationship, and suffer from the stress of hiding.

    If you don’t acknowledge your understanding to your mother you may lose her. She must, eventually, accept herself. Won’t it be easier for her if she knows you accept her?

  2. My biggest fear as a mother was the possibility of rejection from my children if I came out to my children. I did alot of reading and was prepared when I made the decision to come out to my kids. They were 10 and 3 at the time which made for outing myself at two different age appropriate levels.

    Silly as it seems now, I feared that if I waited till my kids were adults they would never let me see my grandchildren. I also wanted the boys to see me happy in life with someone I love. They are now 10 and 17 and are very well adjusted. I have friends who have chosen not to share their lives with their kids. And it’s like they lead a secret life behind closed doors.

    I’m sure that your mom has wanted to tell you but has just found the right time or the courage to share this part of her life with you. If I were your mom I would welcome the opportunity for you to open the door to the conversation.

  3. My younger brother and i no longer live with my mother. She has been living with my younger brother and her ‘partner’ for over a year. She told us this woman was her friend. We had reason to believe otherwise particularly since my younger brother overheard them both having sex in the middle of the afternoon while both boys were at home. I have been wanting to raise it with my mother for over a year. She has pretended that there is nothing wrong. Her partner acts defensive when ever we return back to the family home we once lived. Angry at my mother for not telling the truth and constantly accusing us of keeping things from her i messaged her yesterday telling her i knew. I received a message from her this morning denying nothing but saying she never had the intention to hurt any of us.

    I would generally consider myself to be an intelligent, capable young woman, but i hate my mother. I hate her so much. I wish her partner would die. I want them both to piss off out of the country. I hate her for the pain she has caused my father and my younger brother, and for her inability to be strong and honest.
    Whilst i have many gay friends I hate and currently cannot accept my mother for being gay and ruining our family.

    I think it is important that people understand that not all children are able to respond with measured understanding and compassion, and it is not reasonable to expect this. Dishonest gay parents have reason to worry. Believe it or not, their children have the right to feel cheated, hurt, angry and hateful, and their feelings are no more worthy of judgement then sexuality of their gay parent.

  4. my girlfriend has a teenage daughter who refuses to allow her mother to have a girlfriend. Her mom gives in to the teenager constantly and did with this too, telling me that how her daughter felt was more important than what she wants. But what about who I want?

  5. My mom is gay I know she knows and my life sucks keeping it from all my friends I don’t have friends over and our family friends act really awkward when we see each other I’ve known about it for a little less than a year I still get really depressed and I’m only 12 I went to a shrink, but know one knows how I feel I cry myself to sleep almost every night my mom gets really agitated with me for no reason it litteraly brightens my day when I here there’s someone out there like me

  6. My mom and my step dad were together for about 12 years since I was 3. But it was a very bad relationship and I’m glad they are now divorced
    There is this girl ‘friend’ that my mom talks to a lot. And I don’t like her. I always ask my mom why they are always on the phone and texting. I asked my mom a few times in a joking way if she’s a lesbian but she always thinks I’m joking when I ask. Well I read her text messages to this girl. And it turns out I was right. At first I was angry. I started crying. And now I’m just confused and I just don’t know how to feel.

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