SL Letter of the Day: Lesbian Teen Not Happy With Her Parents—Or With Dan

Comments

103
Go to Ireland, Dan! There are planes that fly there, astonshing, I know! Talk to those parents. Make a damn TV show out of it if you have to. Go to Ireland, Dan. Go! And then tell us all about it. oxo
104
@87 You rock!!!
105
Hey POD,

I think that if you end up having to go to therapy you should consider blogging the experience. I think you would end up with a very eager audience and gain the opportunity to get perspective on what's going on in those sessions. Also it would give people the opportunity to know what to expect if they are fated for a similar experience. But of course also consider that doing so could potentially also bring you a lot of unwanted attention.
106
"Well, according to Dan, it's just a phase. So I don't need therapy. Therapy might make the phase go slower because I'll be rebelling against it. If you just let me do my things for now, maybe later I will turn straight." Boom. Just bought yourself a few years and your parents will be over it by then. Just saying what I would do... :)
107
@11: The more significant point isn't whether women see two men together as being hot, it's whether MEN see two men being together as hot. Remember who is "in charge."
108
@94, I had a very similar conversation with a friend of mine recently. You'll notice that for some reason, I am impassioned by this thread, so I don't mean to have my back up, but I urge you to consider a different scenario:

There is a father who was a football star in his youth - he lived and breathed the sport, enjoyed the male camaraderie and toughness that playing it brought him, and greatly looks forward to sharing all of these moments and lessons with his son. He envisions football being his opportunity to teach masculinity to the strapping, athletic lad that is to be his heir. His son is born, and is a bit of indoor-type kid - he loves to read and excels at academics and music. Dad urges him to play ball but he isn't very good at it or any other sport. The son is dutiful, kind to people, respectful of his parents - and continues to be excellent at music and pursues that as a teenager and young adult. All the dreams of that Dad for football don't come true, and he is disappointed and perhaps mourns the death of those dreams. I think we would all understand that the Dad is having those feelings.

But were that dad to kick out his son for not playing football, or suggest that he be sent to therapy for not playing football, or generally grow distant for a while from his son - would the expectation be for everyone to just give him time to mourn? Would we not consider him cruel for laying the guilt of his lost dreams on his son who did nothing wrong and had absolutely nothing to do with the creation of those dreams? I don't think so. I think that to make an argument that it is legitimate to ask a CHILD to give their PARENT understanding and sympathy when the only thing the child has done is to be his/herself is unfair. It greatly undermines an effort to make a queer kid feel okay with (not to mention proud of) who they are. Reinforcing that the particular difference of being gay is somehow set apart, and that the reactions to it are therefore excusably different (and likely more negative, more severe, etc.) is not helping promote the inclusion of and celebration of queer youth.

I grew up as a total boi/butch in the Deep South Bible Belt. I am well-acquainted with the types of expectations that other people had of me because I was born with a vagina, though I had absolutely no hand in developing those expectations. The greatest pains and torments in my life have come from not meeting those expectations, and I work hard, every day, to overcome them and believe that I am at least a decent human being even though I wouldn't wear a dress to the father-daughter dance. Please do not ask me, or any other lesbian that is born with a lot of expectations on them rooted in a very particularly definition of females and femininity, to just give them time to mourn. It implies that we have killed something, which was only imaginations, while we stand there in the flesh needing support from our parents.
109
POD is going to to do great things in life. Just wait and see.
110
Fluidity in women's sexuality more than men? Yes, I agree. But to declare oneself a lesbian and then marry a man (assuming they have vowed to be faithful) means they've either discovered they are NOT Lesbian or Bi, they ARE Bi and are trying to ignore that, or they are struggling. Let's just be fluid about that, shall we?
111
Ah, POD, I'm amazed at how mature and together you sound. Being an underage lesbian in a non-accepting family is extremely hard, and you seem to be handling your situation with humor and self-knowledge.

I think you're in for some hard times in the next year, but given the qualities you've demonstrated so far, I know you'll come out okay on the other side. You have both grit and wit, and that combination will take you far, girl.

Lots of us here are hoping for the best for you. It really DOES get better.

*HUG*
112
I want to point out a mental leap that POD's parents make that, if you think about it, isn't logically sound. The evidence, "Dan Savage knows lesbian-identified women who later identified as bi or straight," leads them to the conclusion, "You should go into therapy to become straight." I'm pretty sure none of Dan's fluid-lesbian friends got straightened out by ex-gay therapy. Either they changed simply because people sometimes change, or they realized that they had been bi all along. Neither one suggests that therapy can "cure" a lesbian.
113
@108
So well put, that is such a strong and greatly overlooked observation you have made...no one should be made to feel guilty about shattering expectations that they did nothing to form or humor. To feel like you need to take it easy on someone who is mourning a fake idea of who you could have been is ridiculous; people wouldn't have their dreams shattered if they understood the importance of being open-minded with their children and realizing that they could grow up to be anything, no matter what they push onto them. So your kid doesn't want to be a doctor, so they don't go to college, so they go to a college you didn't want them to go to, so they're gay... what would you rather have, the fictional kid in your head or your flesh and blood human feeling living child?

114
On fluidity, whether social or genetic: I could of course say that my personal experience tends to confirm Dan's, but what good would it be, since I, like Dan, also only had/have a handful of Lesbian friends and acquaintances, so it's all anecdotal anyway?

I'll wait for the statistical studies and the researchers' consensus opinion once it's reached. What little I've read thus far tends to confirm the idea that women are in average, on the whole (meaning there are lots of exceptions, etc... stats aren't to be read as if they were the ten commandments) more flexible/fluid than men, more so than cultural tendencies would jusitify. But, who knows? Maybe further studies will debunk that.

As long as we understand that statistical claims and tendencies are only that: statistics, not guidelines about how to live one's life and whether or not one is "normal" (in any of the several senses of this word) or "has a problem"... As long as we treat each others as individuals... there's no problem with the stats. No matter what men and women are statistically more likely to be (an interesting fact in itself, but...), I am still myself, you are still yourself, and that's it.
115
I'm with @103. GO TO IRELAND, DAN! What are you waiting for?! GO GO GO!
116
Make your folks watch "But I'm a Cheerleader"! It's fictional, but it's funny and heartwarming. The Gay Conversion Camp just pushed the questioning girl right into full-fledged lesbian relationship. And nearly everyone associated with the camp was really gay. RuPaul in boy drag!
117
Props to you POD, for coming out to your parents. You're braver than me. Stay strong-- you're seventeen and don't have long to go!
118
To POD, for what it's worth, my highschool friends who were lesbians (or who came out as lesbian later) were always, 100% lesbian. Although it is awesome to have so many people from around the world in your corner (and in the corner of all the other kids in Dublin, or any other city, who are in your shoes!), that doesn't take away the frustration of having to deal with parents who aren't being supportive. I really like what Dan said about treating them like the toddlers throwing a tantrum, and viewing yourself as the more mature adult in this situation. Toddlers do need patience, and often they do change, even if it's very hard for them. But even if they don't change, eventually it will not be your responsibility to attend to their needs anymore. Eventually they will have to accept you on your own terms. It may not feel like it at 17, but the time flies by and you're so close to having wonderful independence and freedom! I pray that your parents will learn to understand and love you exactly for who you are.
119
@ 44 Heh. I didn't really know a good way to show my daughter my support when she came out to me, so I bought her a VHS of "But I'm a Cheerleader". It's really a pretty dumb movie, but it holds a place in our hearts, anyway.
120
Hi POD,
I live in Dublin too. Born and raised. Am 18 years older than you, so I went through very similar stuff, but in the pre-internet days. Used to pretend to be browsing the books in 'Books Upstairs' beside Trinity until I could work up the courage to take a free copy of G.C.N. in my clammy hand, half-expecting everyone in the shop to turn around and go 'oh you're one of them!'. Makes me smile to think of it now. Would have loved to have been bombarded with all these wonderful, supportive comments at the time! But I found the support of the groups mentioned above (or earlier incarnations of them) to be very good. You sound like you have your head together though. Didn't think 'conversion therapists' existed anymore. My therapist friends tell me that even if a practitioner had a personal view of homosexuality as a disfunction, they probably wouldn't show it because it's just not supported by the evidence and is not a mainstream view anymore. Remember that. Wondering if I should give you any advice here...what keeps coming to mind is PATIENCE. Be patient with your parents and the steep learning curve they are on and keep being your lovely, dignified self. Being patient doesn't mean giving in to their ignorance of course. It just means understanding that they were taught different things and had different experiences and are scared of 'new' ideas and are probably scared for you. I suspect they just want you, deep down, to be happy, but are convinced that you won't be if you follow this 'alternative lifestyle'. I get that now with my parents. Patience worked for us. They are not and never will be champions of gay rights and they still don't quite get it, but they are genuinely caring towards my partner (female!) of 11 years and our 1 year old daughter. And that gives me a happy feeling inside.
121
Comment #112:

Thanks---a similar comment I made seems to have been et. I also mentioned that in my limited experience those who showed fluidity of sexual behaviour were not women who had been forced to undergo reparative therapy, but who instead had been let the fuck alone, and someone should tell her parents this.

This may seem a little craven, as it does not confront their bad reasons, but I believe they will be more receptive to understanding that they've a problem with their means. That is to say, it might be the wrong thing to do, but it has the advantage of having a decent chance of of working.

(I was once, mysteriously, asked for counsel by the father of a young man involved in a [straight] relationship of which he disapproved and which seemed innocuous to me. His reasons weren't that good, in my mind, but they obviously were in his, and I doubted that I could change his mind...so I merely pointed out to him that this was a relationship between two people in college, and that most of those don't last more than a few years at most---and that pressure from him would be more likely to convict his son in his intended course, the son being about as stubborn of the father. Perhaps it would have shown him more respect to try to 'get his mind right', but I thought my primary obligation was helping his son, not saving the man's soul.)
122
I am glad she reached out to Dan... and Dan, I am glad you were there to answer... Loved the line, "since your parents are hanging on my every word, tell them fuck you" lmoa
123
Lovely, Dan. You DO rock. How do we nominate you for the Nobel Peace Prize? I'm serious.

Sent POD an email, too, to let her know we all care. Being 17 sucks no matter who you want to have sex with.
124
I just read about a service for gay youth called Anonymouse. The article bout it is here: http://venturebeat.com/2012/02/04/anonym…

The service is at http://anonymou.se/
125
Probably a huge number of the Nuns in your Catholic school are closeted Lesbians; probably that's exactly why they became Nuns in the first place. To avoid questions of "Why aren't you interested in dating?" way back when.
Statistically, it is extremely likely that your Parish Priest is Gay, too. For exactly the same reasons. To avoid the almost universal pressure, back then, to "Get married and provide grandchildren".

The Church has ALWAYS, historically, been a place of refuge for Gay people. Some have managed to be quite open about it, also. At least among themselves, if not with the Laity.
In the U.S., recently, a Priest died of a heart attack in a Gay sauna; there were two other Priests there to give him the Last Rites.
The HYPOCRISY, and the way that they pull the wool over the eyes of the Public, over believers such as your parents, is stunning -- and infuriating.
Fortunately, memoirs by ex-Priests and ex-Nuns are now revealing many new truths.

In the U.S. it has been shown time and again, that those MOST homophobic, publicly and politically and in churches, turn out to be closeted Gays themselves....
So, probably, those people involved in "pray away the gay" therapy, should you be so unlucky as to have to deal with them, MIGHT VERY WELL BE CLOSETED HYPOCRITES..... all the more rigid and vehement because, deep down, they KNOW they are blatantly lying!

Your parents, like mine, have grown up entirely in an atmosphere of Lies and Dis-information. It will take them awhile to come round, if they can be brought to recognize Truth, historically, socially, politically, statistically.....
You, brave you, may be the Opening Wedge for them; but they will need to be exposed to many other sources, books, videos, etc..... It is encouraging that they at least know of Dan Savage, even tho they mis-use him -- that can be built on!

All The Best, I know you'll make of your life what you want it to be..... You have the POWER.
126
At 17 she should be saying Fuck You to her parents and moving out on her own. They either will come to terms with who she is or she'll stand on her own.
POD should find a local pride organization and see if anyone there would help her get a job, apartment, and possibly roommates.
Dan, you really dropped the ball on this one telling her to go into therapy.
127
It is frustrating that this experience continues, and that the solution feels so "one at a time." But that's what it is, and great job Dan in providing the ear, the support. POD, hang in there. I've seen parents come around to a better place, but your are great to never give up on who you really are - be it around being a lesbian or being whatever else you are.
128
@14, it's less common among lesbian but it still happens. One of my dearest relationships was with a woman who was infected with HIV in the 1980s (either neonatally or via breastmilk, the doctors aren't sure). We chose to partake in low- and no-risk sexual activity together, and she took her meds, but there's always a chance.

I'm a 27yo queer woman. When I was 17, and my first girlfriend had broken up with me, I came out to my Irish Catholic mother--simply by saying, "Mom, I'm bisexual." Her response was, "No, you're not!" She never really got over it--but there's a peace, in that we don't talk about my dating life. I figure I'm lucky because she doesn't pry, criticize, or "suggest" at all; she doesn't get it so she's backed off. You may never get the warm loving family reception you've heard about and dreamed of--but it still gets better.
129
POD, if you read this, get a beard. You're probably not the only kid with homophobic parents in your area. Find some gay boy whose parents are trying to get him to like girls, and pretend to be a couple just to get the folks off your back. You can date people you actually like under the cover of being "cured", you'll have someone to talk to about having shitty parents with, and you might even make a new good friend.

Then, when you're no longer in a position when your parents have power over you, come out to them if you want to, and stop bearding.

It's not an ideal solution, but I was in a similar place, and that's what I wish I'd done.
130
POD, if you read this, get a beard. You're probably not the only kid with homophobic parents in your area. Find some gay boy whose parents are trying to get him to like girls, and pretend to be a couple just to get the folks off your back. You can date people you actually like under the cover of being "cured", you'll have someone to talk to about having shitty parents with, and you might even make a new good friend.

Then, when you're no longer in a position when your parents have power over you, come out to them if you want to, and stop bearding.

It's not an ideal solution, but I was in a similar place, and that's what I wish I'd done.
131
I would like to see the raw data and the peer-reviewed literature on this so-called "fact" than women are essentially more fluid.
132
I think your answer to your question about "your family" chose you? You are now here to show that younger person what it is like to be understood, that they are not alone, and someone to understand you just as much in return....
133
I understand that journalists don't admit their mistakes unless it can be hidden in the "corrections and clarifications" category, which is about as lame as all the idiot "poets" who never make excuses or never explain their publicly published drivel about something they couldn't muster up the courage to say,

regardless, it is still pretty irresponsible to not make clear how important it is for a person to have the courage to be themselves

So it kind of pisses me off when people want to cite "research" or want "research" to be done in order to justify something that NOBODY should ever feel they need to justify

Who you choose as your chosen family is UP TO YOU, and POD shouldn't be afraid of any person she honestly believes she loves or has fallen in love with. So long as she honestly knows who she is, then even a parents bad habits in regards to picking partners will dictate who a knowing child chooses for a family

If this were Heaven, you needn't worry about what some fuckin idiot says about how everyone else lives their life or who they choose to participate as their chosen family.

They are NOT YOU

Stupid fucking psychologists or worse, psychiatrists should quit pretending certain psychological "diseases" exist when is doesn't have anything to do with medicine or science. They are talking about social psychology and as for the medical field most psychiatrists are full of shit so who gives a fuck what any study says.

the bottom line is;

anyone who lets a community tell them that who they are is wrong, bad, evil or unacceptable is going to have major psychological problems until they are allowed to live honestly and honestly be who they are

they will either have to learn not to care (which can be very troublesome, especially if they tend to care a lot) or learn to surround themselves with those who allow them to be themselves.

I hope next time, Dan, you tell the youngster that if she honestly knows who she is, that she is light years ahead of the game, far ahead of anybody who would be so fucking brain dead as to think that who you love is acceptable based on some stupid study of human behavior. Statistical or not, no research should ever be convincing enough to phase an honest human being who knows themselves, not to mention that any of those "studies" is only based on the opinion and interpretation of answers given by a bunch of lying idiots.

POD,

Who you love is not up to society, is up to you and only YOU, and the quicker you learn that the most important thing to know, is not letting anybody influence your decisions as to who you choose to share your life with, As only yourself and those who accept your offer to share lives, ultimately matter, and so are the only ones who get any say

To all others you rather should learn how to say "Go fuck yourself" and tell them not to worry about who you choose to love, and for Christ's sake don't just become another bigot against personal freedoms like so many of Dan's readers, it is possible to value freedom and practice tolerance, only placing blame where it should be, which is on the shoulders of stupid assholes, not Lesbians, not Gays, not Christians, not anybody unless they are stupid assholes, and yes POD there are many of them, as being stupid and an asshole is a disease that affects millions if not billions of men, and some women, every single goddamned day
134
Her email address doesn't exist anymore!!
I tried to send her an email and it didn't go through.

I hope everything's okay over there.