Dear Seema Aunty,
I am gay and my parents say they are supportive of me. They say they don’t have a problem with my orientation, but it’s clear that they have a problem with my girlfriend. How do I deal with this situation? This is my first serious relationship, and I can’t tell whether they don’t like her because they don’t like the fact that I’m in a committed relationship with a woman or if they don’t like her just because they don’t like who she is as a person. Either way, it makes me really sad and uncomfortable. I don’t know how to talk about it with them.
I’m sorry to hear you’re having this issue with your parents. This must be terribly difficult for you and for your girlfriend. Now, I first want you to put yourself into your parents’ shoes. Yes, all four of their shoes! Imagine what their feelings might be about these circumstances.
You say that you can’t tell why it is that they don’t like your girlfriend. In my opinion, it doesn’t matter why. You know what you need to know, that is, that they are uncomfortable. Also, please don’t jump to conclusions. You may know your parents very well, but you don’t know conclusively what they think, which leads me to my point.
Beta, to know what they are thinking, you must ask them directly. I suggest you ask them how they feel about your orientation first. Perhaps this is where the actual discomfort lies. Start off by telling them that you love them and care about what they think and feel. Ideally this will open up the circumstances somewhat. Later on once you have an idea of what exactly is bothering them, you can get to the topic of your girlfriend.
The most important thing is to be honest. In order to get to the truth and to improve difficult circumstances, it is vital to untangle what is involved. It’s like untangling a telephone cord. Remember those, beta? In order to untangle this cord, you must find the beginning point of the problem. Once you have found that, you are on your way.
Sometimes our parents don’t know how to talk about relationships. (If your parents are anything like mine, they don’t want to talk about anything that personal. Ever.) If you can sit down and tell them the truth, they might be able to open up and use your behavior as a model. They might decide that since you are being so courageous, they should respond in kind. I wish you luck, my dear.
A philosophy graduate of an esteemed liberal arts college for women, Seema Aunty has dedicated her career thus far in promoting causes for young women and the South Asian community. With a strong knowledge base formed from her own experiences growing up in a South Asian household, Seema Aunty advises young women on a variety of topics, ranging from family, relationships, and culture.
In her own words: “I know it is hard to reconcile the idea of rugged individualism with conservative desi values. Growing up was difficult. It isn’t easy to find a place for oneself in this world when we hear mixed messages about who and how we are supposed to be. I hope that what I have learned from my own life might be of some interest to young women who are now coping with difficult issues.”
If you would like Seema Aunty to answer your burning questions, please feel free to write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org. All submissions will be kept confidential.