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Thursday, December 2, 2010

SL Letter of the Day: How Do I Get Mom To Come Out?

Posted by Dan Savage on Thu, Dec 2, 2010 at 9:57 AM

After 40+ years of marriage, my parents dropped the bombshell announcement that they're divorcing. My mom's the driver in this—she's always had a bit of an anger streak, has progressively withdrawn from various activities to the point now where she stays home all day reading and checking the internet and not much else. My dad, thankfully, has an active life—work, exercise, religion, etc.—and they both have consistently done couples things with friends and spent a lot of time together, and he's been as attentive to her throughout their marriage as possible.

The twist: I'm 99% convinced that my mom is a lesbian. She has a masculine-ish demeanor, she loves mowing the lawn and fixing things, she taught me how to punch (I'm a guy), she hates cooking—there are tons of signs and one of my siblings agrees. However, my big concern is that even if I'm right, she won't come to terms with it on her own. So how do I get her to come to terms with herself? She's the type of person who, if I directly ask, will simply shut down, raise her guard up, and vehemently deny it til she's blue in the face. She refuses therapy so that's not an option. I've seriously thought I might need to sneak a hit of ecstacy into her dinner some night to enable her to have the kind of mental breakthrough she clearly needs. (The rational part of me recognizes this is as a bad/illegal idea, but I've read about the therapeutic potential of e).

Am Sure Mom's A Dyke

P.S. While they live in the midwest, and run in a conservative circles, my parents know I'm gay and are fine with it.

My response after the jump...

••••••••••••••

There's nothing to stop you from saying, "Mom, I've always thought you might be a dyke." Even if she instantly shuts down, even if she raises her guard, even if she demonstrates her right hook for old's time sake, you'll have planted a seed. She'll know you know—if your suspicions are accurate—and she'll know you're there for her, ready to talk about it, on her side, etc.

And really, ASMAD, how angry could she possibly be? You're gay, and she knows it, so she can't possibly think that you're trying to insult her by suggesting she's gay.

Of course she could react violently to the implication/accusation that she's been living a lie for 40+ years—assuming your hunch is correct—deceiving her husband, her children, and the conservative circles she's been running in for all this time. And being forced to contemplate and/or account for certain choices she's made in her life—choices she made under duress more than a half a century ago, choices that lead to the conception of the person standing in front of her saying, "Mom, I've always thought you were a dyke." And she might be humiliated and angered to learn that the front she worked so hard to put up—wife, mother, conservative circle runner—was so transparently see through (transparently transparent?), a huge waste of time and effort and ovum.

Yeah, you could piss her right off.

But I still think you should speak to her—speak to her, ASMAD, don't dose her—because even if she hauls off and decks you, she'll know that you know, and that you support her, and that there's someone out there she can talk to about this stuff, if and when she's ready.

And she may very well be ready: leaving your father after all these years, a move that's sure to shock her conservative circle jerks, may be her first step out of the closet.

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