We have two teenagers - our daughter is at university and our son is in his last year at school. Our daughter came home recently looking very different - her long hair replaced with short and her clothing less girly. She sat us down and announced that she is a lesbian. My husband and I do not have an issue as we’ve always supported our children and we can see she is happy. However we’re struggling with how to help our son who has taken it badly. He’s not speaking to his sister and says she’s not the same person. We tried explaining that you have to accept people for who they are but he got quite upset and said he wished she’d leave home. My husband then got angry. Our kids have always been quite close but this has driven them apart. Our daughter is really hurt and we are sad that our son is being so unaccepting. How can we help him get over this?
Mary and Keith, Dorset
I can assure you that you are not alone. It is painful when siblings who have got on so well in the past suddenly become distant and uncommunicative. You and your husband’s patience is a great tool for dealing with your son’s current lack of care for his sister. I suggest speaking to him in a completely non-confrontational way. Say you too have been taken aback by your daughter coming out and that her new appearance took you by surprise.
Your son could be afraid of repercussions with his close friends if they find out his sister in now out. Maybe your son’s school has a counsellor he could speak to confidentially – somebody he can trust to express his personal feelings. We find at Families Together London that the ability to talk to people disconnected with family helps people open up without creating unwanted distress to nearest and dearest.
Your daughter is still the same person within and her sexuality is only part of who she is. Without realising it he has loved her as a lesbian and now she is out. She is fundamentally the same sister he had before she went to university. Both your children at this time need support and even if you and your husband are finding it difficult to accept your son’s behaviour, he is on a journey himself, which can take time. With patience and understanding you will hopefully find unity again.
Consulting Room Expert: Jackie Briggs
Jackie is a member of the steering committee of Families Together London, a volunteer support group who meet twice a month. She is the mother of two grown-up children. Her son came out when he was approaching his teens and her daughter came out in her mid-20s. FTL is attended by people of different faiths and ethnic groups. The Steering Committee are not professional counsellors but all have a child/children who are LGBT and therefore have experienced their own difficulties in coming to terms with their child’s sexuality.