My older sister (18, freshman in college) was basically outed to our parents when she got her hair cut short. They were angry, upset, disappointed – and the worst of it, my mom doesn’t believe that people can actually be homosexual, she thinks they get “sucked into that trap”and start identifying with that group because they don’t feel accepted by “mainstream people.” So, it’s been hell. I’ve told my sister I support her all along, but it’s hard because I have to be two-faced and agree with my parents’ view when I’m with them because if I sided with my sister to their face they would just think I was brainwashed, too, and I would lose all my influence on them.
They’ve been tracking who she texts on her phone and figured out she’s always texting this girl in her class, and when they looked up the girls’ picture in the yearbook she had a short haircut- well, it basically suggested gay. They forbid my sister from communicating with that girl because they said my sister was following her and being led into the “gay lifestyle” because she wanted a friend. My sister didn’t know how they knew she was friends with the girl and kept texting her even when my parents made her promise she wasn’t communicating with her. The dishonesty with everyone involved compounded the situation.
So, she’s home on winter break now and I emailed her and told her how they knew. Because they basically said they wouldn’t pay her tuition unless she stopped communication with this girl and stopped, basically, acting gay. (Wearing a hat to hide her short haircut, changing to a less gay-friendly dorm, looking for a boyfriend, etc.) She was scared about not being able to go back so she agreed to stop all of that and not communicate with the girl anymore.
But I know the scary depths she’s been in from hiding her sexuality all these years. She needs a companion more than anyone. So I told her that’s how they knew, because I don’t want the deceit to begin again and I don’t want them to take her out of school and I don’t want her to lose her friend.
Did I do the wrong thing? I promised my parents not to breathe a word of their tracking her cell phone.
And how can I help her now? How to be supportive? I can’t help being a little angry because of all the deceit on everyone’s part.
Letter submitted by:
First of all, it is amazing to hear that you support your sister even when your parents may not. Just as it takes courage for LGBT individuals to be open and honest about who they are, it takes incredible courage to support your LGBT loved ones through adversity. It is important to realize that your sister is going through a very difficult time in her life and being supportive of her and being willing to listen to her can be one the greatest things you can do especially when it seems she may not have a lot of others to confide in. I recommend having a long talk with your sister to express your support and see how she is feeling about this situation and you can express how you are feeling as well. Encourage her that she is perfect the way she is and who she is friends with should not be dictated by someone else.
It’s completely normal to feel anger over a situation like this, but what you did by telling your sister about what your parents were doing in order for her to keep a friend was a very brave thing to do. What your parents did was wrong and shouldn’t happen no matter what a person’s orientation is. Your parents should never deny your sister the love and happiness she deserves whether it be with a guy or a girl and in friendships or relationships.
It’s important to remember that people who identify with the LGBT community or those that may still be trying to figure out who they are should be treated the same as every other individual. Sadly, there are other people like your parents that believe that homosexuality is wrong or that they are just “sucked into a trap” and this is just not correct. Your parents may not have the knowledge about what being a part of the LGBT community really means. There are several sites and organizations that offer support for parents as well as brothers and sisters to learn more about having a LGBT loved one. PFLAG is one of these organizations and more information can be found at http://community.pflag.org/page.aspx?pid=539. This site will provide you with more information about how to be supportive of your sister, and if you’re comfortable you might share this site with your parents as well and having a talk about what it means. If you don’t feel comfortable doing this or feel like you or your sister’s well being is being threatened by your parents please talk to a trusted adult whether it be another relative, a teacher, or a counselor who can offer different perspectives of this situation and get help when necessary.
Please remember that we at The Trevor Project are always here for you and your family as you all go through this difficult time. There are several opportunities for your sister as well as yourself to get support through the Trevor Project. You can try TrevorChat or TrevorSpace which allows you or your sister to talk with peers who might be going through the same things you are going though. If your parents continue to threaten to take your sister out of school please call the Trevor Lifeline at 866-488-7386 to speak with trained counselors directly and get immediate support.
We at The Trevor Project are here to support you every step of the way so do not be afraid to reach out for additional help.
All the best,