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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

SL Letter of the Day: Sitting On a Secret

Posted by Dan Savage on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 10:29 AM

I've got a moral dilemma on my hands. I'm a 20-year old lesbian is a great two-and-a-half-year relationship with a beautiful woman of the same age. We were friends before we started going out and generally come off as friends depending on the situation/how handsy we feel.

I'm also part of a large blended family. My stepmother recently reminded me that I should probably tell my 11-year old stepsister that I'm actually dating the girl that seems to be my best friend. The rest of my family has known for a long time, and the fact that my stepsister doesn't know is because I've felt awkward about telling her. Other than this fact my stepsister and I, as well as my girlfriend get along wonderfully. My stepsister is really smart and fun and she really likes my girlfriend.

My girlfriend and I have watched her a couple of times overnight when my dad and stepmom have been away. My dad and my stepmom also invited my girlfriend to join me. Since we all get along so well this babysitting was more like a sleepover—we made brownies, watched movies, etc. For sleeping, we pulled a mattress out to the living room and all fell asleep on that. My girlfriend and I were perfectly innocent, though there was a kiss goodnight and some snuggling.

My question is this: Did I do something wrong? I'm sure no one would advise me to do this again, but should I feel ashamed of cuddling with my girlfriend right next to my stepsister while she was sleeping? And, is it in my stepsister's best interest that I apologize to her when I come out to her?

A Little Guidance Is Needed

My response after the jump...

•••••••••••••••••

So long as the cuddling didn't escalate to groping, ALGIN, and the kiss didn't involve tongues, then you didn't do anything wrong. So there's nothing to be ashamed of and nothing to apologize for. (But drag out two mattresses for the next sleepover, though, for the sake of appearances, boundaries, comfort, etc.)

Actually, ALGIN, there is one thing you should be ashamed of: your inexplicable cowardice.

What are you afraid of? You've come out to all the adults in your family and enjoy the love and support of your dad and your stepmom and other family members. Are you seriously afraid of being judged by your tween stepsister? It seems to me that hiding your lesbianism from your stepsister is creating more "awkwardness" than coming out to her ever could. And if there is any coming-out-related awkwardness, ALGIS, it will be fleeting. Eleven-year-old girls know what the hell lesbians are and your stepsister, even if she is shocked, will bounce back.

And here's why your stepmom is all but begging you to finally come out to your stepsister: because she's tired, ALGIN. Your stepmom is a well-intentioned and supportive straight person who wants to respect your right to come out at your own pace, and on your own terms, and only to the people you're ready to come out to, and blah blah PFLAG blah. But watching what she says about you around her kid is doubtless getting to be a grind—self-censorship always is—and is this really how you want to repay her for her love and support? By forcing her to work at keeping secrets for you?

When we come out to some family members but not others, ALGIN, we're not really coming out at all. We're dragging select family members into our closets with us. And while it's nice to have some company in the closet, our straight family members don't like the closet any more than we do. Come out already, kiddo. It's time.

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