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11th Jan 2019

#AgonyCant My mam pretends I’m straight and acts like my girlfriend doesn’t exist

Jade Hayden

mam pretends i'm straight

agony can't

“My mam pretends I’m straight and won’t ever mention my girlfriend.

“I’m 30 now. I’ve come out to my family and a few friends and I’m happier than I’ve ever been. I’ve just bought a house with my beautiful, lovely girlfriend and my mother pretends she doesn’t exist.

“She can go days without speaking to me if I even mention my girlfriend. I don’t know what to do. I end up taking it out on my girlfriend by not speaking much because I’m annoyed.

“I really don’t want to lose either of them from my life. Best friends say step away from mam, sisters say it’ll take time and to suck it up. My girlfriend says she wants me to be happy. I love my girlfriend and she’s the best person. But obviously I love my mam too.”

Of course you love her, she’s your mam.

It would take a lot of years of rejection to undo that love, but unfortunately for many LGBT children who don’t get the acceptance they want and need from their parents, that is what happens.

I don’t know how much of yourself you’ve shared with your mam over the years. I don’t know whether your coming out meant a quick chat to say that you had a girlfriend or a more in-depth conversation about your sexuality.

A lot of people whose parents don’t accept them decide they’re going to do the exact same back – they stop going home, they cut them out, they decide that they’re better off without them and the pain that they’re causing.

But you still love your mam, so you still have hope.

It’s not entirely uncommon for the parents of LGBT people to have some sort of trouble understanding what their child is telling them, or accepting their identity for what it is.

This is, unfortunately, even more common for older generations of parents – those who grew up during a time when it was illegal to be gay, where coming out wasn’t an option, and ‘pretending to be straight’ was oftentimes the norm.

But we don’t live during that time anymore and there is little excuse for your mam’s behaviour.

Rejecting somebody’s sexuality can lead to long term damage, and while this is more likely to happen when a person is a child or teenager, it’s still worth noting that what might make the situation easier for your mam to deal with is really hurting you.

Also this isn’t something that you’ve sprung on her suddenly.

You’re 30-years-old, you’ve got a house (fair play, btw), you’re in a long term relationship. You’re settled down. Your life and your relationship hasn’t come as a surprise to her – and more importantly, it’s not something that you need to justify. But maybe she does need you to explain it to her a bit.

LGBT charity BelongTo have a great online advice centre for parents and guardians who might be finding out that their child is gay, lesbian, bisexual, or transgender for the first time.

It covers everything from the worry that this might all be a ‘phase’ to understanding why it’s so important to be accepted.

And while the above is very much focused on young adults and children, a lot of the points can still be incredibly helpful for parents of older children who might not have taken the time to listen in the past – but are willing and ready to now.

Your friends seem like smart people. Taking a step back from your mam doesn’t have to mean cutting her out entirely. You still love her and that’s important, because as long as you have those feelings, you’re going to continue to want her in your life.

But it could mean not going home as much, not letting her in like you used to, making sure that she knows that she is actively pushing you away with her behaviour.

These things combined with letting her know exactly how you feel – and who you are – could be enough to make her see that how she’s acting is unacceptable, that you are her daughter, and that who you love doesn’t change that.

Give her time, sure – you want to. But make sure that you don’t give her too much. This isn’t up to you to fix, you’ve done nothing wrong.

Lay it all out in front of her, give as much time as you see fit, and then see what the outcome is. If she’s willing to work on this, then great, she gets to keep you in her life. And if not, you’ll need to reevaluate and figure out what’s best for you.

Your girlfriend seems like an incredible person. It takes a lot of courage to be able to have that kind of patience – especially when somebody is literally pretending that you don’t exist.

If you find yourself struggling with your mam more and more as time goes on, talk to your girlfriend. Let her know exactly what you’re feeling, when you’re feeling it, and how it’s affecting you.

It’s OK to still want your mam in your life, to love her, and to crave her acceptance. It’s normal, and your girlfriend won’t judge you for that.

She’ll be the one who’ll be there for you regardless, irrespective of what happens with anybody else.

If you have been affected by any of the issues raised in this article or need some support, you can contact the LGBT helpline on 1890 929 539. 

Worried about going on a first date with someone new? Got some lad onto you who won’t take the hint? Are you being ghosted, breadcrumbed, or some other new form of dating trend? Just need somewhere to vent about everything that’s wrong with your love life? Same, to be honest.

Don’t worry though because at Her we’ve been there, we are still there, and we can maybe even give you some decent advice. At the end of the day, #ShiftHappens to all of us. 

Send all questions here or email [email protected]. All submissions will be published anonymously.