After coming out, take the time to guide siblings past bogus stereotypes
I recently came out to my family, and my brother is having a hard time accepting the news. Initially, he was very hurtful, and we didn’t speak for a while. But he and his wife recently started coming around allowing me to have contact with my favorite nieces and nephews. Last time we spoke, I suggested he visit me in Dallas and meet some of my friends. I haven’t heard back from him. How much time do I give him?
Dear Black Sheep,
Good for you. Coming out to your family is an act of courage. When we come out to the ones we love, we risk rejection. But just as you needed time to embrace your sexual identity, so does your brother. Continue to communicate and spend time with your brother and his family. And keep inviting him to meet your friends.
Also, talk to him. Ask him about his thoughts and feelings toward gay people. I don’t know why he’s hesitant to meet your friends, but I’ll guess that it’s based on a stereotype.
When the two of you can talk about his beliefs, he can hear your beliefs, too. Loving a GLBT person helps break those faulty stereotypes by replacing them with realistic images. You probably were taught those same bogus messages about gay people, too. Good Luck.
We’re close friends with D and P, a couple who’ve been together more than 20 years. My partner and I are approaching our 10th anniversary and we’re thinking of ways to plan a special event. So I called D and P to ask what they did for their 20th.
Well, I felt like a bomb went off, because P told me they were breaking up and that she was moving out.
P said she was just about to call us to see if she could stay with us for a while until things stopped spinning. I’m still numb. Of course we said P was welcome to our guestroom. But how do we maintain a friendship with both of them?
We can’t help but align with P given that there’s someone new in D’s life. And we can’t help but overhear her heated phone conversations with D. P cries and mopes around a lot, and we feel like we’re walking on eggshells in our own home.
Is there a way to stay connected to both friends? Doesn’t anyone stay together for the long haul anymore?
It’s always sad and oftentimes threatening when we hear a couple has split. Romantic relationships are treasured unions. And it’s difficult to turn away a friend in need.
But have an honest conversation with P. Let her know you and your partner are ready to have your house back. Tell her you know she’ll understand because she had such a long-term relationship.
You can help her make decisions about managing a timeline to find a new place to live.
After P is no longer under your roof, decide how you will maintain your friendship with her ex. More importantly cherish, nurture and celebrate your romantic relationship. Don’t let your friend’s breakup negatively impact your 10th anniversary. Congratulations.
Candy Marcum is a licensed professional counselor in private practice in Dallas.
This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition, September 8, 2006.