I am 22 and four years ago I came out as lesbian to my parents. Let’s just say it didn’t go as planned. I had always been extremely close to my family, but when I told them I was gay, everything changed. I had to get a job to support myself and pay for college. It was a very tough time for me.
Seven months ago I met this really nice girl at work. We started going out as friends. She confessed she liked me as more than friends and by then I was having strong feeling for her as well. We started a relationship and it’s been so great, I just can’t explain it.
A few weeks ago my girlfriend went to visit her mom to tell her about me and our relationship. Her mom flipped and told her she needed to go to church because that was a sin in God’s eyes. Her mom’s comment has brought a lot of stress to our relationship. I know she loves me and wants to be with me but she’s so afraid of losing her family because of her sexual orientation. What can I do about this matter?
There are two major issues your girlfriend is facing, and each profoundly shape a person’s coming out experience: God and family. An affirming God and an accepting family can help smooth the process; a damning God and a flipped-out family can make coming out much more difficult than it needs to be.
Her mother needs time. Your girlfriend’s process of coming out to herself and to you was gradual, so it’s not fair to expect her mother to accept the news immediately. It has only been a few weeks, and it will take more time before she is willing to reconsider certain beliefs that she has held for her entire life. I recommend the PFLAG publication, Faith in Our Families as a starting point. Also, links in the green section on the left side of this page provide additional information and support for people of specific faiths.
Of course, you can understand the situation your girlfriend is in. You have been there yourself, and as you said, it was tough for you. How you handle this situation depends on what you need from a relationship right now.
Can you hang in there for a while, despite the stress this is putting on your relationship? If you feel like it is too much for you right now, that’s okay. It’s not your job to compensate for her mother’s lack of acceptance.
If you want to stay with your girlfriend, however, you will need to support her as she struggles through this conflict with her mother. It will be easier on both of you if she also has a counselor who specializes in coming out. Make sure it is a gay-supportive counselor who does not want to “help” her “change.” Many counselors offer sliding-scale fees if she does not have health insurance.
Soulfource: Activism to stop spiritual violence
Methodist: Reconciling Ministries Network
Presbyterian: More Light
Seventh-Day Adventist: Kinship International
Unitarian Universalist: Interweave
United Church of Christ: Coalition for LGBT Concerns