I am a 39 year old single “straight” mother with a 12-year-old daughter. I have always had a lot of boyfriends and am a typical attractive feminine professional woman. For the past year and a half I have been in a relationship with an “openly” gay woman who is very attractive, feminine, and professional.
I do not consider myself “gay” or “bisexual” so I’m not quite sure how to explain my relationship with this woman to my daughter. I had never considered a serious relationship with a woman before, although I have “been” with a few in my past (with a lot of alcohol involved).
My girlfriend and I met through a business transaction and we fell in love immediately. Our relationship is great and getting better. We would like to move it to the next level. We are ready to share a home and start a life together but we are concerned about telling my daughter.
My daughter likes my girlfriend and enjoys it when she comes over and “hangs out” with us, has dinner, watches movies — we call it a “slumber party.” My girlfriend sleeps with me in the same bed when she’s here and my daughter thinks that’s okay because we’re “best friends.” We can’t just be “best friends” anymore.
Before we move in together, should I tell my daughter that my girlfriend is gay? How and when do I start the process of telling her? How do I help her get through it without ruining her life?
Have you ever seen a woman wearing a t-shirt that says, I’m not gay, but my girlfriend is? It’s meant to be funny.
Ask yourself why you still consider yourself straight and what it would mean to stop identifying as such. You express your fear and shame about coming out as lesbian/bi/queer by getting intimate with previous women only when you’re drunk, by presenting your good looks and femininity as evidence that you are a “typical” straight woman, and by suggesting that having a lesbian mother could “ruin” a child’s life.
Your daughter should absolutely know before you move in together. Having a mother who is lesbian will not “ruin” her life. Regardless of your resistance to labels, you need to suspend your identity politics when you come out to your daughter. You could say something like, “Since I’m in love with Jane, and Jane and I are both women, most people would say we are lesbian, or that we are in a gay relationship. If people ask if I’m lesbian, it’s OK if you say I am.” Even if you don’t refer to yourself gay/lesbian/bisexual, you owe it to your daughter to compromise a bit with labels so that she can talk about it in ways that other people understand.
I’m not one to force labels on anyone, but I don’t see any way that a woman who wants to “start a life together” with another woman is “straight.” It sounds like shame-based denial, and your shame will be projected onto your daughter. It will be difficult for her to feel proud about her family if the best way she can explain it is: “My mom’s not gay, but her girlfriend is.”