There’s a lot of angst in heterosexual relationships about “meeting the parents”. I can tell you from experience there is the same if not more angst in lesbian relationships. Not only are you meeting the parents, but you are meeting their judgements. Are they okay with their daughter dating a woman? What are their expectations? If their daughter is more femme are they expecting some one more butch? Are you letting them down? Are they going to ask you about grandchildren and how the heck that is supposed to work? Are they going to ask you about your parents and their beliefs?
The answer to most of that is yes. They will have preconceptions and inappropriate questions. Now, I was lucky. Sort of. My wife’s family disowned her due to their religious beliefs when she came out to them at the age of twenty. They gave her two hours to pack a bag, leave her keys, and get out. They kept her phone and her car, and just about everything else. Obviously she was devastated, and still is in some ways, but that’s not my story to tell. What is my story is the one time I did meet her mom. It was in Starbucks. She found out we were getting married. She asked to meet. I didn’t know what to expect, I thought they were evil because I saw my wife’s hurt and suffering through the years when she had to cope with being separated from them. I was wrong. They are not evil. Her Mom was clearly a warm, caring, and kind person. It made the refusal for them to be part of my wife’s life even more painful for me. Why couldn’t she be evil? Then it would be easy to separate from them.
She pulled out a bible. In Starbucks, while I was sipping my lemonade. She read a few passages. I’m familiar with the bible. I was raised hard core Christian. I went to a Catholic college. I took religious courses throughout college. I interrupted her and told her how familiar I was with the bible. She said, “You must hate me,” I said, “No, I pity you. I pity you because this woman is so worthwhile I have agreed to be her wife. To spend the rest of my life with her. And I pity you because you have chosen to not be a part of her life. You have chosen to miss out on the life of one of the best women in the world. For that I truly pity you.”
My statement didn’t go over well. The rest went downhill. She basically told us if we got married we were going to Hell. That was truly the one meeting I had with my wife’s Mom. Her Dad I met very briefly another time, and there was really no discussion about anything. As you can imagine this meeting was very painful for my wife. And now that we have children, knowing that her parents are good people, just close-minded due to their own set of beliefs, it is painful knowing they will not meet our sons. Our sons are amazing. I mean what parent doesn’t think their kid is the best kid in the world? We are no different. And again when I think of her parents, I feel such pity because they are missing out. This divide between us because of religious beliefs is so great, such a chasm, that it has broken the bond between mother and daughter, father and daughter, grandparents and grandchildren. That is what lesbians have to deal with when we meet our “in-laws”. That is one of the reasons I started this blog. Because people want to hear the happy, fun side to being lesbians/gay/queer. Well there is a dark side. It’s icky and painful, but I’m not scared to rip off that band-aid. Light needs to shine into the dark.
I said I was lucky in the beginning of this. I’m getting there. I am lucky that my wife is so kind and compassionate like her own parents. Because in her handling of being disowned I learned so much. She handled it in a way I would never have been able to. My respect and love for her grew tremendously as she navigated something so painful with such grace. I am lucky that I only had to meet her parents once. I am lucky that my wife faced a choice- her parents or her sexual orientation and she had the courage and strength to choose her true self. She chooses me and our sons every day. There are heterosexual couples who have those same devastating choices, but not as frequently as lesbians. And it adds a layer of depth to our marriage because of everything she had to sacrifice to be with me. It made the growing of our family with our sons even more profound for her because we are all she has now. Except for my family too…but I’ll get to them later on! Meeting the parents is usually awkward for any one but for me, as a lesbian, it was so painful for all parties involved. It was filled with intolerance, discrimination, and judgement. And not just on her parents end. I am guilty of judging them as well. I absolutely judge them for not being a part of her life- I’m working on it. I try and respect them and their beliefs, but it’s hard because I disagree so completely. I post this with the hope that people reading will understand meeting Mom and Dad (or Mom & Mom or Dad & Dad) when in a same-sex relationship is fraught with emotions and different scenarios then heterosexual couples may face. Be supportive, be accepting, and be kind.