Originally printed August 24, 2006:
My 34-year-old sister—call her "Carrie"—came out to the family a week ago and is looking for us all to support the decisions she's making surrounding her coming out.
Background: My sister has been somewhat happily married for 14 years and has four children all under the age of 12. She wants to move her kids 3,000 miles away to be with the woman she has fallen in love with—call her "Louise." Louise is also married with kids. Both are stay-at-home moms. Carrie and Louise have met in person three times over three months. The first time was through a mothers' support group. The second time they met they got drunk and hooked up. About a month after this, they spent a long weekend together with their kids. They are now in love, speak on the phone several times a day, and have both told their husbands and families.
Louise has told Carrie that she won't move, as she wants her kids to be able to see their father on a regular basis and doesn't think she could win custody. She has asked my sister to move with her kids to be with her and her kids. My sister's husband wants to be able to see his children and plans to ask that she be required to stay in the state as part of their custody agreement. My sister is willing to fight this tooth and nail so that she can be with Louise. My sister has no money of her own.
My question is this: How do I support my sister but still make sure that she doesn't back herself into a legal and financial quagmire over a person she has met only three times?
My response after the jump...
Why would you even consider supporting your sister?
Backing up for a moment: Your sister has made two separate and distinct decisions, CS, and your family needs to keep them separate. First, your sister has decided to come out as a lesbian. You can support the hell out of that—shit, throw her dyke ass a coming-out party. Second, your sister has decided to do something so colossally stupid, so selfish and cruel, that you would be guilty of supportive-sibling malpractice if you, out of loyalty or guilt or cowardice, offered her even your tepid support.
So your sister's a lesbian—fabulous. But that doesn't give her the right to interfere with her soon-to-be ex-husband's right to have a relationship with his children. And what of her children's right to have a relationship with their father? In this instance, CS, your familial allegiance to your nieces and nephews and, yes, to your brother-in-law, outweighs whatever allegiance you owe your sister. She's selfishly fucking over her husband—a human being and a member of your family, too—as well as their kids, not only taking them from their father, but from the rest of their family, their friends, and their schools. And all for what? Because she's a lesbian now? No, because she's a selfish, love-struck dumbfuck planning to run off with someone she barely knows.
Don't let your sister manipulate you into supporting her selfish, stupid decision by presenting it to you as some intrinsic aspect of her lesbianism. (Bad haircuts, well-trimmed fingernails, and cunnilingus? Intrinsic aspects of lesbianism. Fucking over your whole family? Not so much.) You can't allow your fear of being accused of homophobia prevent you from telling your sister to her pussy-chompin' face that she's in the wrong. When she plays the homophobia card, tell her you would feel exactly the same way if she were leaving her husband for a man she barely knew.
Finally, tell your sister from me that if she wants to have her family's support, then she and her new love have to earn it. For the sake of her kids, for the sake of her soon-to-be ex, she needs to stay put. She'll have plenty of opportunity to fly out to see her new love on the weekends when her ex has the kids. If she whines about how hard long-distance relationships are, tell her that being left for another person is hard, too, to say nothing of watching your parents' marriage fall apart. Her husband is suffering, her kids are suffering—why the fuck shouldn't she?