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Getting your family to accept your Gay lifestyle

When you love someone, you want your family to accept himDuring the last few years we’ve seen society grow ever more supportive of gays and lesbians, with more vocal and legislative support for gay lifestyles and civil rights. But that might still not mean anything when it comes to the question of your family’s acceptance of your life as a gay man. Getting your family to accept your gay lifestyle can be tough. It isn’t just a question of whether they’re fair versus unfair, prejudiced versus enlightened. Rather, your family’s thoughts and expectations were tied to one pattern, one idea they had concerning you from years ago — and it had to change. The question is, were they able to change their entrenched thinking? If not, what would help?

Initial Support of Your Lifestyle

Maybe you came out long ago to your family members, and it seemed you had their support in a general way. This must have been a wonderful thing to feel, especially if you see family frequently; everyone, everywhere wants to be respected, loved and accepted by the ones we grew up with. They are our foundation, and that’s why it is worthwhile to try to do what is possible to make that relationship with family a full one, one which includes you and your gay partner.

Gay And Gay Once Again

You probably encountered the first pothole in the road when you brought a boyfriend to your family’s house to meet them. And sitting there, with your guy next to you, you felt that every movement of yours was being scrutinized as if you were an alien. You may have refrained from any physical contact with your boyfriend, but what if you didn’t? And that’s the test, isn’t it: Sure, your parents gave lip service to supporting you in your gay lifestyle, and they believed they meant it, but when they’re hit with the reality of it — namely, that yes, you are having a dating relationship and having sex with a man — that’s a whole ‘nuther thing. They can’t escape the knowledge of it, so it’s as if you just came out to them AGAIN.
In a way, you did. You were presenting them with the opportunity to see you firmly fixed in this gay man’s role. The old role was probably something along the lines of their little boy growing up, marrying a woman, having a family of his own. But now the life waiting for you will be on your own terms (and might still consist of marrying and having children, of course). You’re the same man who grew up from that small boy your parents knew well, but now they have to get familiar with once more, by revisiting their idea of you.
If your family relationship is important enough to you, you should let them do it — Let them see and hear enough about you to work it through. But of course you want them to see the most positive aspects of your life and your relationships and your friends, so controlling the flow of information about your life, to some extent, may be helpful. For instance:

Allow Your Family To Know More About You

1. Talk regularly about your life, your general interests, and your dates — before you ask your family to meet a man you’re involved with. If you go out on a date, mention it and if it was good or bad. This helps make your daily life a real thing to them. This is an important thing for every member of any family.
2. Don’t introduce just any hot date to your family; don’t bring home a man unless your relationship is growing serious. The keepers, in other words.
3. Don’t bring a boyfriend to a major celebration if they’ve never met him. Instead, plan on bringing him after you’ve introduced him in shorter, less impactful meetings. Things like family holidays make for the most intense and stressful meetings we can experience! So work up to those. Once your family members have a relationship with your boyfriend, he will have a place at the family celebration. He’ll be more comfortable, and so will your family.
4. Let your family know the nice things about your boyfriend. Mention his strengths, his interests and hobbies, especially when those interests are also those of one of your family members. Pull them in, and let them know what he knows about — whether it’s political activism, furniture refinishing, dog training, or if he makes the best hot chocolate this side of the Rockies. Give your family lots of specific things they can talk to him about.
5. Talk to your family about how your life really is. Show them that you and your boyfriend have the same problems any heterosexual couple would, because whether you’re in love with a man or a woman, you’re people with similar needs and feelings about being loved. This is the most-real talk you can have with those at home. The day you can talk about your boyfriend and your family talks about it as easily as if it were a heterosexual relationship, that’s the day you’ve reached node lambda — the most “inner,” the most central place you can reach. That’s a good day, when you’ve enfolded your family around you again.
6. Let your family know your intention is to be happy. When you are in a relationship that is good, let them see that it is integral to your happiness. They don’t know how long you’ve been looking for someone, or if you are simply happy being yourself these days.

Discretion About Your Dating Life

We haven’t talked about the right of privacy when you’re with your family. They don’t have the right to ask inappropriate questions, or make rude remarks. So to protect yourself, while you’re doing all this sharing with your family members by discussing your gay life, remind yourself to watch out for anyone trying to ask or remark on something you don’t consider up for discussion. Decide for yourself where your personal sharing ends, and with whom. Sometimes it’s one particular relative who is the problem.

Parental Discretion

What goes without saying is that we all tend to do some editing of our lives when we talk to our families. It isn’t kosher to tell your mother about going home with two guys at once, or having an encounter with someone whose name you didn’t catch. If your sister wouldn’t tell your mom about those things, either, then don’t you do it. Knowing a little too much about your intimate life can make your family uncomfortable whether you were gay OR straight. Moms and dads are sort of eternal in this respect. So don’t burden them with unnecessary details.

When It’s Not Good

Some of us were born into families who never accept that their son goes with men. It may be that you can keep a speaking relationship regardless, perhaps never bringing your partner into that circle. Some of us may not want to visit a family which doesn’t accept your partner, but that’s for each individual to say. Perhaps the challenge we face after that is to try to preserve the ideals that should have been in a family relationship. Can we love others unconditionally, as we ask our parents to do? Can we take care of another person, especially a close friend, or lover, in illness or old age? Can we forgive — accept — tolerate — love, like the good family would?

Families form when people love one another. If we cannot change our parents’ or relatives’ minds enough to respect and support us as gay men, then it is vital that we still make sure we know how to form a family, by showing love and acceptance to those whom we choose to keep close to us.