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» Scarleteen Boards: 2000 - 2014 (Archive) » SCARLETEEN CENTRAL » Relationships » Am I Being Too Hard on My Mother?

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Author Topic: Am I Being Too Hard on My Mother?
Member # 56106

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I had a long conversation with my mother a couple of nights ago, where we talked a lot about my bisexuality and gay folks, and she was saying that when she was younger, she had some gay friends, and a few times they took her out to gay bars. She said she didn't like it though, because she said that she didn't like being hit on by the lesbians... she said it was much more uncomfortable than being hit on by a guy. She said "I'll tell you something--if you're straight, it's REALLY uncomfortable being hit on by a person who's gay." She's ALWAYS said that, even before I was out.

However, to me, that statement's a bit suspect.

So, I told her that she really shouldn't feel that way, that if you're straight and you get hit on by someone that's gay, you don't really have to think of it as being any weirder or disturbing as anyone else hitting on you that you know you're not attracted to. I told her that I thought her reaction was based on some latent homophobia, which she denied, because, well.... well-meaning people don't want to be called homophobic. But, I told her that everyone has some internalized homophobia, no matter what your sexual orientation, because we live in such a heterocentrist world full of homophobia. But, I can't really think of another reason why a straight woman such as my mother would get incredibly uncomfortable when a gay woman would hit on her other than some unconscious, unintended homophobia that makes her feel like getting hit on by a gay person is MORE uncomfortable than a man hitting on her. When I told her that, she just said that maybe she feels uncomfortable because she knows she can't give the women what they want (and in this case, she meant sex), or because she grew up in an era where being gay or bi was something that was not discussed. However, not wanting to have sex with someone isn't just based on gender: it's based on a whole hell of a lot more than that, and she obviously disproves that hypothesis because there were plenty of guys back in the day she didn't want to sleep with because, well, she was attracted to them. Or they were weird. Or they were assholes. Or she just didn't find them attractive. So, what makes women hitting on here even more uncomfortable than some creeper guy hitting on her? Also, the fact that she brings up generational differences also points back to having some unconscious unintended homophobia because eras prior to this one were even more homophobic than they are nowadays (of course there are always exceptions, and certainly we are not homophobia-free in contemporary times), and so to pin the reason on the invisibility and erasure of gay and bi folk also points to systematic homophobia that caused the invisibility in the first place.

When I told her I know plenty of straight people who handle getting hit on by people of the same sex just as they would handle a person of the opposite sex, and they personally feel that it's not any different, she cited generational differences again, saying that maybe today's young people might not see it as any different. Like I said, with her saying that, she's definitely acknowledging that upbringing, and not "objective facts" that getting hit on by gay people is inherently weird for straights, is at least playing a small part in her past reactions. She said that her feelings are probably not any different than gay people feeling weirded out by people of the opposite sex hitting on them--but I've never heard a gay person think it was more disturbing for a person of the opposite sex to hit on them than a fellow gay person. But, then again, I'm bisexual, so then maybe my opinions and views are a bit more skewed on this matter than a straight or gay person's would. I just feel like there are better reasons for feeling weirded out by the gender of the person who is hitting on you--like maybe the person in question is a creeper, or just a plain awful person.

Some people I've asked out of curiosity if they thought my mother was being unconsciously homophobic told me that I am being far too hard on my mother, that I have no right to assume her reasons, nor do I have a right to make her feel ok with it. The ones who told me that said I was being too judgmental, and that it wasn't right for me to judge her feelings. Others agreed with me, and said that she was obviously exercising implied bigotry. Both types of responses came from both straight and queer folks.

I still don't think that my mother is quite right for feeling that way... my problem was more with her universal blanket statement, where she implied that OBVIOUSLY all straights must be uncomfortable with gays hitting on them, and didn't say it had to do with how these particular women hit on her; i.e. like if they were drunk and obnoxious or very aggressive. To feel uncomfortable with that would be justified. However, I feel really bad after some of the harsh criticism I got, like I'm a terrible daughter, or something like that. It's just that if I hear homophobic, racist, ableist, etc. remarks, I want to do something about it. My intentions were good.Yet I still feel like I'm a horribly judgmental person. I love my mother, and we didn't fight about this; it was more of a discussion... but, I firmly believe that it is indeed possible for someone to harbor homophobic feelings even if they're accepting of queer folks, just like a white person can be racist yet still have POC as friends.

So, what do you all think? Do you think that a straight person saying it's more uncomfortable to be hit on by a gay person than a person of the opposite sex is rooted in unconscious homophobia? Or do you think that there could be other reasons? Was I being too harsh?

Posts: 25 | From: U.S. | Registered: Feb 2011  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator
Executive Director & Founder
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It sounds to me like the way you talked with her about this was actually sensitive and kind, even though you were calling her out. I'm not hearing you having been hard on her or harsh at all here.

And, I agree with you: being hit on by someone we don't have any interest in isn't changed by their gender unless we've got issues around that gender, like homophobia. Really, reading everything you said, I was nodding all the way through.

I don't think this conversation was about you aiming to make her feel something she doesn't, but just engaging with her and observing what you're seeing. I also think it's great you two were able to have this conversation together.

Did SHE suggest she feels you were being too harsh with her? If not, then really, I'd set the opinions of others aside here, as this was really between you and your Mom, and only you two felt and experienced the dynamics going on there to have the best sense of how this went for each of you.

[ 06-05-2013, 08:41 AM: Message edited by: Heather ]

Heather Corinna, Executive Director & Founder, Scarleteen
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Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. - Margaret Mead

Posts: 68290 | From: An island near Seattle | Registered: May 2000  |  IP: Logged | Report this post to a Moderator

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