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Auntie SparkNotes: Should I Tell My Parents About My Same-Sex Romance?

Auntie SparkNotes: Should I Tell My Parents About My Same-Sex Romance?

By kat_rosenfield

Hello Auntie,

My problem is probably one that many teens face every day. I recently began a relationship with a beautiful, wonderful, and extremely talented girl. I feel really comfortable with her and she's completely accepting of the fact that I'm less then sane. The only problem with this is that I'm also a girl. I know, that shouldn't be a problem, but it is. I don't mind it because I know that I'm attracted to girls, but my family will.

I've tried to come out to my mother before, and the only thing that she did was scream at me and tell me that I'm "disgusting" and that "no parent wants a gay child". She then proceeded to ban me from seeing any of my female friends because I could very well be having sex with them if I wasn't supervised 24/7. She refused to look at me, so I left and went to work. She only looked at me again when I texted her and apologized, saying that it was simply confusion, and that I liked boys. (It wasn't a total lie. I did feel sorry and I'm actually bisexual, so I do like boys).

At this point I wasn't really close with my girlfriend yet, so I just let it go and focused on boys. I took a boy to prom, but at the same time, I developed a crush on my girlfriend. Eventually I just stopped trying to find a boy and started really paying attention to my girlfriend and we started dating.

When she told her parents they simply joked about it and basically said "okay". I have to hide it from my parents. I'm so anxious about it that I'm getting physically sick, because I know that if they find out then my life and my relationship is over. I feel so guilty because I'm lying to them. I know that it's necessary because I'm falling in love with my girlfriend and I don't want the relationship to end. I was just wondering if I should tell my parents, and if so how should I tell them? If I shouldn't tell them, then how do I keep my anxiety under control?

Oh, Sparkler. As if there were anyone out there who could be in this position and not be anxious about it? You're being forced to make a choice between concealing and repressing your identity, or being honest and being punished for it: of course you're going crazy with fear and frustration. But like every other LGBT kid who's ever kept that secret for the sake of her health, safety, and happiness, you need to make peace with it as an imperfect but temporary solution to a horrible, impossible problem. Your parents' inability to handle the truth about who you are doesn't make the truth bad. Not telling the truth for the sake of your safety doesn't make you a liar. And when you choose secrecy—particularly when you know, having tried, that honesty is not an option—you're doing the right thing.

Which, by the way, you really need to give yourself credit for. You worked up the courage and nerve to tell your mom the truth about your sexual orientation—a hard, brave thing to do—and she responded by making it abundantly clear that she doesn't want to hear it.

That's unfortunate, but it's on her, not you. And in the meantime, her reaction speaks for itself: when you told your mom you liked girls, she flipped out and banned you from having any contact with girls. But! When you backtracked, she didn't hand down a new, similar rule about spending time with dudes—even though you could just as easily be having sex with them if not supervised at all times. And that's because your mother doesn't care about you having romantic or sexual relationships; she just doesn't want you to have romantic or sexual relationships with people of the same sex.

Basically, Sparkler, your parents' bad reaction isn't about what you're doing; it's about who you are, how you feel, and who you love.

Which, of course, are things your parents don't get to determine—and, furthermore, things they don't need to know about. Even kids who don't have a compelling reason to hide their sexuality from their parents are still entitled to their privacy, to their feelings, and to the right to fall in love without having to report it.

And while there are some parents who won't agree with that statement... well, they're wrong. Just not ethically, but empirically, about the basic workings of human nature. One of the inevitabilities—and purported joys—of parenthood is that kids aren't little made-to-order automatons who grow up according to the exact specifications of whoever brought them into the world. They're people, and people will feel their own feelings, think their own thoughts, develop their own value systems, and follow their own judgment—especially when it comes to who, and how, they love.

In your case, that judgment might lead you to consider your mom's reasons for objecting to you having a same-sex relationship—namely, that she's disgusted by gay people and doesn't want one for a child—and reject them as undeserving of respect. And it might also lead you to realize that, as long as you live under the same roof as a homophobic tyrant, it only makes sense that keep your relationship a secret, just like every other iota of evidence that you're not totally straight. All that's left now is to be careful, be safe, and be glad for the gift of being in love—and look forward to the not-too-far-off future where, unlike now, you can be who you are without fear.

Got something to say? Tell us in the comments! (And be kind, you guys; our letter-writer is scared and unhappy enough already.) And to get advice from Auntie, email her at advice@sparknotes.com.

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Topics: Advice
Tags: parents, auntie sparknotes, relationships, dating, coming out, bisexuality, secrets, privacy, bigotry, homophobia, lgbt

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About the Author
kat_rosenfield

Kat Rosenfield is a writer, illustrator, advice columnist, YA author, and enthusiastic licker of that plastic liner that comes inside a box of Cheez-Its. She loves zombies and cats. She hates zombie cats. Follow her on Twitter or Tumblr @katrosenfield.

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