SL Letter of the Day: Lesbian Teen Not Happy With Her Parents—Or With Dan
by Dan Savage
on Thu, Feb 2, 2012 at 2:29 PM
Yeah, so I'm a 17-year-old lesbian and decided to be big and brave and come out to my parents. I did the whole "born this way," "please accept me," etc., that I'm sure everyone tries.
Things got pretty damn quiet, which was actually a good reaction in my books because my parents are kind of religious and the words "conversion therapy" were once-upon-a-time raised at the table as a good thing to have available to gay kids, so... I thought things went kind of well considering.
And then, guess what? My parents decided to have a nice sit down with me tonight and beside them is my Dad's laptop and on it is one of your videos on YouTube, which I though was pretty darn weird considering my parents usual tastes in entertainment. What played then was your video on women's sexuality with that lovely quote about your five lesbian friends—three of whom are now married to men. Bravo Dan, way to throw a sister under the bus. Because now my parents are taking your word as a fellow homosexual that there is no such thing as a woman being totally gay and that with a bit of therapy I can drag myself back to "straight."
Newsflash, Dan: I've never been into dudes. Like, ever. Always known it, from back when I prayed to God when playing spin the bottle it would land on my girl friends and not one of the guys. So some girls might like to swap and change, but others don't.
Not that I think you'll ever read this, but on the small off chance that you do, well, YOU SUCK. Like, so much. Think about what you say before you say it next time! I get that it obviously wasn't what you were trying to say. You saying that lesbians can change what gender they like is just made of fail.
Pissed Off Dyke
My response—and an epic email exchange with POD—after the jump.
I'm so sorry—I drew the short straw on lesbian friends, it seems, but that's the truth of my experience, and the sexual journeys/trajectories of my friends. But my having known three bi woman who identified as lesbians in the 1990s—the three with male partners now are most definitely NOT straight—doesn't make you any less of a lesbian, POD. or prove that no one is a lesbian, or that everyone can change, or that anyone should have to change.
First, tell your parents, who hang on my every word, that I said "fuck you," by the way.
But the fact is, however, that female sexuality is more fluid than male sexuality. That isn't to erase anyone's lesbianism, and it doesn't prove that there are not lesbian women out there who are solids, not fluids, who were "born this way" and always will be this way. There most certainly are. None, however, were among my five friends back in the day.
And my five friends and their particular sexual journeys don't excuse your parents from loving and accepting you, POD, however you identify. And the harm they can do to you by rejecting you, or forcing you into some quack therapy program, is real and you should share this stat with them: LGBT youth whose families reject them or are hostile are eight times likelier to attempt suicide. And every reputable shink org on earth rejects "conversion therapy" and considers it harmful and psychologically damaging.
And as your parents are in video-watching mode, send them to www.itgetsbetter.org, where they can watch thousands of videos made by women who came out as lesbians when they were teenagers and decades later are still—and always will be—lesbians, POD, just like you.
I'm sorry my video complicated this time in your life. Really, I am. That certainly wasn't my intention. The fluidity of female sexuality is much more commonly expressed in journeys like Cynthia Nixon's—that is, in straight-identified women who later come out as bi or lesbian. You can tell your parents I said so. And that means your mom is likelier to "change" than you are.
Also, ask your parents to watch Lead With Love. And if you want to keep talking with me on email, i'm game.—Dan
Wow. I wasn't actually expecting a response, and I'm kind of embarressed now. I was mostly just venting at what I kinda thought would be thin air. Sorry. Not your fault. If it wasn't that video they used as their proof it would've been another one.
Trust me, I had a pretty big screaming match with them about thirty seconds before I was banished to my room. Yeah at 17, I know—sad. I tried to do the whole explaining about the "it gets better" thing, which rocks btw. I'm not, like, getting kicked out of the house or anything. But they want me to give the therapy thing a try at least and I really don't fucking want to and I know it sounds weird that a 17 year old is freaking out because her parents want her to do something she doesn't want to do, but I live at home and I'm still in school and I don't really know how to get them off their high horse. And if they insist they'll probably bring in someone from the church, which is a side order of guilt from the priest who baptised, communed, and confirmationed me and has known me since BIRTH.
I'm sorry anyway. I didn't mean the guilt trip. I feel bad now. As I said, thought I was ranting at thing air. Sorry.—POD
Please don't apologize for your anger, POD. It was justified.
I wish to God I could remember which IGB video it was, but there was a guy who talked about going to reparative therapy, at the insistence of his parents, and smiling and nodding and not really talking and treating the whole thing like a top-secret mission—basically, he kept his own counsel and bided his time as he ran out the living-at-home/gotta-do-what-mom-and-dad-say clock.
I think you should... maybe... give in to your parents, if they insist, or threaten to throw you out or cut you off. Roll your eyes and let them make an appointment. Go talk with the stupid therapist. But stand your ground in those sessions. And remind your parents that not everyone clicks with every therapist and if you're going to talk with someone the person can't be crazy or disrespectful or insulting. Even if you just don't feel a good connection with a therapist you'll need to meet with someone else until you find someone you can work with—even if that person isn't necessarily pro-gay, tell your parents, then keep playing therapist roulette until you find someone who isn't too rabidly anti-gay or is, with any luck, neutral or pro.
You're in a tough spot. You may have to do what your parents demand to keep the peace—at least while you're living at home. Think of yourself as the grownup in this situation and your parents as the tantrum-throwing toddlers. Be patient, be loving, be kind... and tell yourself... as they did when you were a tantrum-throwing toddler... that this stage of their development will pass. They'll get over it, or you'll finish school and start your adult life and move out and they can go fuck themselves, but either way... this is only temporary. It's only for now, as they sing in Avenue Q. Only for now.
I wish I could come to your house and speak to your parents in person. If you wanted me to, if you would let me, POD, I would show up at your house in person and speak to your parents. I feel I have a right to speak to them, seeing as they're misusing my YouTube talks to badger you into a potentially damaging therapy program. I travel a lot. I'm traveling right now. If you live close to one of the places i'm visiting, even if it means another day on the road, I'll drop by your house and knock on your door.
I'm in Ireland, actually, kind of out of your area.
Ah shit, I'm really sorry if I ruined your day there. My parents are assholes. They would have found something to use against me one way or another, and like, most of your stuff's great like, the its gets better thing really inspired me and made me feel better. Don't worry about what I said. It's fine!—POD
Ireland's kinda far! Where in ireland?—Dan
I live in Dublin! It's not too bad to live here, as far as being gay in a v. catholic country goes. It's not like America were thousands of people protest against pretty much anything that's in anyway gay-related, but I got unlucky I guess.
I guess you're right: it doesn't hurt to just go and wait it out. I mean, it's not like I dont know that they're just talking shite. I didn't even know they allowed conversion therapy over here but apparently they do. The thought of it is making me sick, though, and my parents looking at me like I admitted to being addicted to crack or something and selling myself to pay for it also makes me ill. And I had to be a fucking idiot when they asked how did I even know since I had never had sex or met any other lesbians and me, the biggest fool that ever lived, turned around and said I have had sex and that I've gone out to some of the very few gay bars in Dublin—underage too, genius is what I am—and things just went mad here.
I suppose if I give them this then I can say I "tried" and they can't have hold that over my head but it's kind of terrifying. I've read some awful stories about these "pray the gay away" camps in America and that they're basically brainwashing and worse. And most of the time it's just people who got shipped off by parents with good intentions as well. I'm hoping they just have a one-to-one thing planned and not some camp but even then, I'm pretty scared about it. I don't think I can get away with not going and expect life at home to not be a nightmare.
But thanks for talking to me, especially after I was a bit of an asshole. I don't really have anyone I can talk to about these things. The few friends who do know are pretty cool and try hard but, it's kind of like "this is my lesbian friend [POD]," instead of "this is [POD]!" the way it was before.
Thanks for offering to come if I lived in America though, I appreciate it. :) But it would probably make them angrier that I was airing their dirty laundrey in public though!—POD
No, no: your parents have it all wrong: it's gay boys like me who are addicted to crack.
So... how would you like a world of support and a world of supporters? I can't come over there, POD, but i could post our exchange online, if you're okay with it, along with your email address (or another one, if you want to create one), and you'll have so many people emailing you, talking to you, supporting you, and strategizing with you that you won't know what to do.
Also: look around. The friends you're out to: are they your age? Do they have parents who are more liberal and humane than your parents are capable of being at the moment? (Don't lose hope for your parents—they usually come around!) Make a backup plan, POD, make it now, so you have a place to go if things get really hairy ugly with your parents, or if you decide you just can't to talk to some quack therapist. Just talking to some supportive adults about being able to crash with them for a week or two would be a relief.
Are there social service orgs in Dublin for queer youth? There must be. Have you Googled around?—Dan
I wouldn't mind if you posted this online. I mean, I do feel a bit better, even just from venting like. But would it be okay if I gave you a different email? On the offchance that my Dad goes rogue and decides to figure out the Internet outside of YouTube? I'm not too worried because it's not likely they'll find out about this email address as they havent found out about all the porn I've been defiling their computer with over the years—ha!
I just set it up now. Because it really is too late to be awake. It's like 2 in the morning but theres no way in hell I'm sleeping tonight.
Sadly I don't think any of my friends' parents would over step mine. Unless my parents completley kicked me out, which is whole new set of nightmares. But I don't my friends' parents they would take me in otherwise. I haven't really looked around but I'm sure there are a few orgs here that could help. I didn't really think they'd react this badly, you know?
Thanks again, Dan, I really appreciate you taking the time to talk to me after I vented on you!—POD
You know that I'm irish Catholic myself, right? So I read "toolateforawake" and read it as "too late for a WAKE."
Pretty morbid, huh?
Okay, I'm shutting down my computer. I'm on your side, POD, and you're not in this alone. If I publish our conversation along with your email address you might get emails from a few haters—can you handle that? Can you delete the hateful emails and ignore the haters and focus on the people offering you good advice and moral support instead of obsessing on the haters?—Dan
Fun times, being gay and Irish Catholic, isn't it? I go to a nice convent school run by nuns too, oh joy.
Jesus, actually, yeah that email address does sound morbid! My brain is like, completely off line.
If you do post our emails and my email address, that's fine. I'm a big girl. It's really only my parents that are a problem because I share the same breathing space as them. I'm not going to let a few haters bother me. And I've read the comments section on your YouTube videos. Ha! If you can read through them without having no self esteem left than I can handle a few dicks taking a jab at me.
Thanks again. I'm gonna try and shut off my brain and get some sleep. Thoughts of school tomorrow are heartbreaking. Cheers!—POD