I am having problems with my lover because when I am talking to my sister, he often wants me to say hello to her for him. I usually keep talking to her and I don’t let her know that he said hello. My family has always not liked the fact that I am gay and I don’t really confront them about that. I have told my lover that but he keeps getting pissed at me because he feels that by not doing so I am denying the existence of our relationship. I am always falling short in someway in comparison to the last man that loved my lover. He did not care who knew that he and my partner loved each other.
I don’t think I should have to choose between my family and my lover but he keeps on pushing this issue in my face and I feel angry and manipulated all at the same time. Am I wrong for feeling this way? I feel he is wanting me to make a choice between him and my family when this happens and I don’t like it. I don’t like being told to choose and when this happens I feel that is what he is asking of me.
Wow, this is the old “in-laws” don’t like the spouse thing – which is as old as relationships themselves. Parents many times are not very excited by those whom we fall in love with for lots of reasons. Did you ever see the movie “Guess who is Coming to Dinner?”
So first let’s deal with your partner. He is simply seeking affirmation of the relationship. Despite the controversy he wants you to be proud of this relationship and not ashamed of it. Further, he wants to have a real live relationship with your family. After all he is in love with you and you are a product of your family, therefore getting to know them helps him to know you in deeper and more meaningful ways.
As far as you not confronting your family with being gay and in a loving committed relationship, I would just ask this…how is being truthful and honest about who you love being confrontational on your part? If your family doesn’t like who you are in love with that is their problem not yours or your boyfriend’s. If you don’t speak of your boyfriend does that mean he doesn’t exist? Does this mean by not mentioning him you are not really in love with a man, it is just a phase and it will pass? Are you not manipulating your family by not allowing them to express their feelings and work through them? Are you cheating your family by not allowing them to see you are a good, loving man of God? What will happen if something catastrophic happens to you – will your boyfriend be left out of the loop? Not allowed to visit, inherit what is rightfully his, or lose everything you two have worked to achieve?
While I recognize you don’t want to fight or confront, there are far more important issues going on here then your comfort or your family’s. By not mentioning your boyfriend, you allow your family to pretend – and worse, you deny yourself the ability to be truly free and wonderfully fulfilled.
As for your boyfriend making you choose between you and your family, my dear child of God you made that choice yourself when you committed to the relationship between the two of you. People leave their families and set up housekeeping with the person they are in love with and choose to spend their life with. I asked you about the movie “Guess who is coming to Dinner” earlier – if your partner was a woman and black would you handle this the same way? I think not, but that really beings me to the real point of this letter.
It is you who is uncomfortable with the fact you are gay and in love with a person of the same gender. It is not about not wanting confrontation, rather it is fear on your part of not being able to give the right answers to their questions and or accusations. Fear of being cut off, the fear of losing your family.
Let me tell you a short story. This is a true story only the names are change to protect the families.
Many years ago there was a couple of men who met and fell deeply in love. They moved in together and began a life together. Joey’s family was loving and accepting of him and the fact he was gay. They were so accepting that the brothers and sisters participated in the couples’ “Holy Union.” Joey’s Mom was right there as well. Michael’s parents on the other hand hated the fact that Michael was gay and didn’t believe there was anything good that could come out of two men living together, in fact they believed God would cause it to end dramatically.
Now, Michael, had known since he was very young that he was gay and over the years had come to know that God loved him fully and unconditionally. Romans 8:31-39 was his rock of inspiration and knowledge that God loved him just the way he was.
“What then are we to say about these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not withhold his own Son, but gave him up for all of us, will he not with him also give us everything else? Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? It is Christ Jesus, who died, yes, who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will hardship, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, ‘For your sake we are being killed all day long; we are accounted as sheep to be slaughtered.’ No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
With that knowledge, he would talk about Joey with his family just like anyone would talk about their partner. When is Mother and father objected saying they didn’t want to hear about it Michael would simply end the conversation or tell them he didn’t want to hear about their partners either. Michael’s mother was so uncomfortable that when she called, if Joey answered the phone she would hang up rather than speak to him. Now Michael and Joey lived in the Midwest and Michael’s family on the West coast. The opportunities to visit his family were far and few between. When it had been a couple of years Michael’s parents wanted him to come visit. When Michael told them he would have to check with Joey about their finances and if they could afford the airline tickets for the trip, Michael’s father went ballistic. Yelling and screaming about putting Michael’s money with another man and how that was stupid, etc. Michael could not get a word in edgewise so he simply hung up the phone. Two days later, Michael’s father called back and apologized, admitting it was Michael’s money and he could handle it anyway he wished. So long story short, plans were made for the trip.
Within another couple of days Michael’s father called back to inform him that Joey would not be welcome at the house and would have to stay at a hotel. Well it was the “straw that broke the camel’s back.” Michael’s response to his father was and I quote: “When the two of you grow up, call me!” He hung the phone and they did not speak for 10 years – not a word, not a card, not a note, nor any visits. Michael prayed and prayed for God to speak to his parents and God did. What did God say or do? It was simply time which allowed Michael’s mother to figure out this was her son who by now had been in a relationship for 12 years, was doing his dream as work and being very successful. She decided she would rather have a gay son and son-in-law then no son at all. So she made the call. Today Joey and Michael have been together 22 years. Joey’s father and mother passed away a few years back and now Michael’s Mom is Joey’s Mom too.
My dear child of God, this all happen because as hard and difficult it was Michael would not deny to his family or anyone his love for Joey. He believed with all his heart, the relationship he had with Joey was indeed a gift from God. For him it was never a choice between him, his partner and his family. It was rather a choice of accepting a gift from God or rejecting that precious gift of love by being ashamed of it.
It sometimes takes time and struggle. It takes doing things we are not always comfortable with, yet standing on the truth, standing on the firm love of God is always the right and just thing to do.
I Corinthians 13 4-7 says: “Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”
Your relationship is an incredible and precious gift, from no less than Almighty God. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp, and put it under the bed, but rather on a lampstand; and it gives light to all who are in the house. Let your light shine before all in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Creator who is in heaven.” (Matthew 5:14-16)
Editor-in-Chief of Whosoever and Founding and Senior Pastor of Gentle Spirit Christian Church of Atlanta, Rev. Paul M. Turner (he/him) grew up in suburban Chicago and was ordained by the Universal Fellowship of Metropolitan Community Churches in 1989. He and his husband Bill have lived in metro Atlanta since 1994, have been in a committed partnership since the early 1980s and have been legally married since 2015.