How can I help my friend who isn’t out about having two mothers?

Q:

My best friend of 15 years who is the daughter of a lesbian couple. She is 20 years old and was born by artificial insemination. She lies to people and says that her father left her mother when she was young and that her mother’s “friend” moved in to help out with raising her.

Her parents have been together for almost 20 years, they are the kindest people I know. But when it comes to “Sarah” understanding and accepting their sexuality, I don’t think they have ever really talked to her about it. Can you suggest anything that I can do to help her out?

A:

Children of LGBT parents need to know that they are not the only ones, and they need help to find the words to talk about their families. It’s possible that Sarah’s mothers assume it’s not necessary to talk about her family. This is a point of view I’ve heard from many same-sex couples who are raising children, because they think it would be redundant to point out what seems so obvious to them.

Sarah knows she has two moms. So in that respect, they don’t have to talk to her about it. What they do need to talk about however, is how “out” they are as a family. Has she heard her parents refer to themselves as “lesbian” or “gay” or “same-gender loving?” If Sarah’s parents are not very out in their community, she might be taking a cue that she should not be “out” about them either. What might seem to you as Sarah’s discomfort with her parents’ sexuality could actually be behavior that she believes her parents prefer in order to maintain their privacy.

Sarah and her parents need to talk. They need to agree on when to come out and to whom, and what words they are going to use to describe their family when other people ask.

As a friend, getting a family to open up is not something you can control. What you can do for your friend is let her know that you are there to listen whenever she want to talk. She could also benefit from learning about other people from similar families, which she could explore through face-to-face gatherings, on-line resources and books.

3 thoughts on “How can I help my friend who isn’t out about having two mothers?”

  1. Does Sarah want to come out? If not, you should respect her wishes.

    If she does, then asking to discuss this with her family (and Sarah) privately may open all their eyes to the stress the situation is causing. No mention is made about whether her moms are out in their community — or if they care to be.

    Since you know about Sarah’s two moms, it is probable others do too. If a number of your and Sarah’s friends already know (very probable), then a group of you may wish to discuss this with Sarah and her moms.

  2. While I think the advice is fine as far as it goes, there’s nothing here to help the girl if she’s “lying” in response to questions about her father in order to “feel less like an alien” as the ‘grown son of a gay dad’ so eloquently put it.

    However “out” the family is, I think there’s bound to be some difficulty for adolescents especially who are conceived differently than most of their peers, and pretending their feelings aren’t there or aren’t ‘valid’ is not treating them with the respect everyone deserves.

  3. I couldn’t agree more.

    I so think that it would be helpful for your friend to talk to other people from similar backgrounds. It has helped me a great deal and made me feel like less of an alien.

    Whatever happens there are obviously problems there. The first thing that is required is for your friend to speak to her parents about the problems. Maybe you could have a word with them. Although I’d be wary of pushing too much, as it is there business in the end. Just be a friend to your friend.

    I do have one question. Does she have any thoughts about who her donar father was? If so is there anyway of finding out?

    I do hope that you can sort things out as peacefully as possible.

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