Dealing with a girlfriend’s unaccepting mother.

Q:

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?

A:

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.

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Related Links:

Soulfource: Activism to stop spiritual violence

Association of Welcoming & Affirming Baptists

Catholic: Dignity

Episcopalian: Integrity

Evangelicals Concerned

The World Congress of GLBT Jews

Lutherans Concerned

Methodist: Reconciling Ministries Network

Metropolitan Community Churches

Mormon: Affirmation

Presbyterian: More Light

Quaker: Friends for Lesbian and Gay Concerns

Seventh-Day Adventist: Kinship International

Unitarian Universalist: Interweave

United Church of Christ: Coalition for LGBT Concerns

3 thoughts on “Dealing with a girlfriend’s unaccepting mother.”

  1. First, we recommend a booklet by Ann Thompson Cook, “And God Loves Each One,” a guide for dialog about the Church and homosexuality. It is distributed by the Reconciling Congregation Program, 3801 N. Keeler Avenue, Chicago, IL 60641.

    It can be printed off the internet from http://www.annthompsoncook.com/andgodloves/

    This booklet can be very helpful in preparing you and your friend for discussion with anyone who will listen.

    There are also a number of helpful articles to be found at http://www.pflag.org

    You don’t say where you live. Most major cities and many smaller ones have reconciling churches or accepting churches. Many have gay ministers or rabbis. If you can find one of these churches through your friends in your community, they can also help.

    Both of you and your parents will find much help at your local PFLAG (Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) chapter. Chapters are usually listed in the telephone book.

    Best wishes

    Dave & Joan
    South Atlantic Regional Coordinators
    PFLAG Transgender Network

  2. Why do you feel it is necessary for your parents to accept this choice the two of you have made. We all have free will. We all have choices to make. If I met a man other than my husband and had feelings for him would that be OK to act on those feelings? No matter who I would hurt. All because it made me feel good.When you make choices and someone doesn’t agree with you they become the bad guy. The two of you should just get on with it and lead your self absorbed little lives. You obviously didn’t care who you hurt when you started this lifestyle so why let it bother you now. Even if your parents ever see you again, it will be a show. Your parents with never look at you with the same feelings they had before. As parents they will always always love you but just cannot watch the beautiful children they raised with values to live such a disgusting and degrading lifestyle. There are consequences to all of our actions. Accept yours and go do what lesbians do.

  3. To Susie..you are the problem with America, you are the one leading a disgusting unaccepting lifestyle. We do not choose to be gay. Why would someone choose to live as a social pariah, why would someone choose to deal with intolerant comments from people like you. Parents do learn to accept and embrace children who are gay. Single minded people like you are the ones who make it difficult for people who choose different lifestyles. I feel sorry for you and I will pray for you.

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