H texted me the other day to tell me that she came out to her mother over Skype.
This needs context.
H is bisexual. I've always known she was bi. I remember the first day I met her. Evidently I didn't know she was bi then, yet I've never officially been told. I just kind of... knew it. Nevertheless, I've never considered it any form of massive secret, which is probably why I'd never considered the ramifications of telling her parents. Even though they had managed to live through 27 years without knowing.
More context needed.
H is from Australia. Her mother is British, so she has dual nationality. Her mother is also younger (not by a vast amount, but enough to seem a different generation) than her father, whose age is around the 80 mark and works as a practising surgeon in an Australian hospital somewhere. She speaks, like most people I know do, with reverence about her father, although she has some reservations at times. The main one being that he doesn't need to know she is bi. I think it's an unspoken fear that he will find out, although, as I've pointed out, there's nothig wrong with it.
I looked at the text with interest, sent something back and then continued blogging for a while - at which point my 'phone rang. As I pressed the receiver button, it dawned on me that the impact on H may have been much greater than that on her mother. Calling me was a bit of a no-brainer, though. Sexuality revelation, uncertainty: call ILB. Simples.
The key point, as I perceived it, was this. H had come out to her mother on the proviso that her mother doesn't tell anyone else (including her father). Her mother's reaction was not what she had expected; she was calm and gave the standard "oh, that's all right" response. Despite that being the best you could hope for, it must have been unnerving. A shouty disowning response may have been more of a dramatic confrontation, but not one that's likely to end particularly well. Part of my brain tinkled, "maybe she knew already." It's been 27 years, but I've never met H's mother, so I'm not sure how good she is at working stuff out. Not that this matters, as she said she was fine with it. She didn't make it a big issue either, and that's commendable.
Evidently the problem, as H saw it, was what her mother would do with this information. She's in Australia, and H is here, so that's actually pretty okay, seeing as it's THE OTHER SIDE OF THE WORLD. H was afeared that her father may find out at some point - either by her mother passing on the information by accident, a friend of her mother getting the information and passing it on, or her mother reneging on her promise to keep schtum (although I don't think she'd do that; still, you never know) - and disown H.
I reassured her that although her father may disapprove, there's not much chance of a total disowning, or even a partial one, on account of the fact that your daughter may be bisexual - very few people are that heartless (although, sadly, it happens). Plus, her father may be in denial rather than give a knee-jerk reaction if he does find out.
H also told me that she followed up her coming-out with, "but at least I'm not gay!". Seems like an odd phrase, but it softens the blow a bit. I did put forward that, if she were gay, coming out might be a little easier. Not due to any particular thing, but it may be, in her mother's mind, a more significant event. It shouldn't be, but it might.
I asked H why she came out. H told me that, at the age of 27 and with a possibility of returning to Australia at some point in the not-too-distant future, there's always the possibility of finding some sort of partner (although she's not the marrying type - something else she told her mother; she doesn't want to get married) - of any type (she's single at the moment), and if this all happens, the parents are going to want information. Her mother already wants information anyway, and asks about all her friends in very leading ways via Skype. One of those nice things that parents do. What if it's a girl? That was her reasoning. Seems fair to me.
Anyway, I listened and I talked. She felt a lot better. Job done.
Apologies for the extremely disjointed manner of this post. There was a lot of stuff to write and no discernable order to write it in. I hope it makes sense. I'm also hoping for a time when you shouldn't have to be scared of your parents' reaction to your sexual orientation, and it shouldn't actually be news to be divulged in a serious moment. But that's wishful thinking.
Might be nice though, right?