Monday, January 12, 2009

Conundrum

Being gay can really create some moral conundrums. I like to think that I am a person with a strong moral center. I know right from wrong and do my best to make good choices. That being said, most decisions aren't difficult if I can overcome my pride. Lately I've been faced with some difficult choices.

I have a very active facebook account. I check it daily and enjoy keeping up with old friends, family, and current friends. I am also "out" on facebook. My status shows me as being in a relationship and points to my boyfriend. In my notes about myself in mentions that I am a gay Mormon. It was very liberating to come out to everyone all together like that. I received a lot of messages of support and love.

I came out to my parents less than a month after I came out online. During the discussion with my parents, my mother mentioned that she wanted to just keep it in our immediate family. I respect that decision though I know it won't last for long.

So here is my problem: Today a cousin of mine sent me a friend request on facebook. She is sixteen years old. I am pretty close to her family and consider this cousin and her sisters to be my friends. To my knowledge, she and her family do not know that I am gay. I don't mind if they know, I'm open and willing to speak about it. I don't think that a sixteen year old will have a hard time understanding what homosexuality is. She and her family are smart and sensitive.

I worry about my choice taking away the decision from her parents as to when/if to have the "gay talk" with their children. I think it would be odd for her parents to learn about me from their sixteen year old daughter. She is a minor too.

So what do I do? I could ignore the request, which I think would be rude and suspicious. I could "straighten" up my profile and remove most references to my homosexuality. I don't think I would be true to myself then. I could add her as a friend and let the consequences fall as they may. Is that selfish? Or I could add her mother (I think she is on facebook) and then inform her.

Is there another option I'm missing? Which is the moral decision? Which is the right decision? Your opinions are very much appreciated!

5 comments:

Scot said...

That is a tricky one.

Firstly, I'd not alter your profile; an offended niece seems less troubling than to step that much back into a closet.

Is this just a casual agreement with your mom, not to tell family? A Promise? Blood Oath? :-) To keep peace and openness as best you can, I think I like informing your mom that you are ready to and will tell other family, and then:

"add her mother (I think she is on facebook) and then inform her."

Then reassess by the mother's reaction, due to the minor issue.

invisible said...

Scott summed it up. Add the mom first. Good luck!

Silus Grok said...

Anyone in my life who takes the time to know about my dating life — neighbors, work colleagues, family, and friends at church (including the bishopric and stake presidency) — knows that I'm gay and that I date guys. Which, I think, qualifies me as an out gay man. But on my facebook account, my sexuality is tucked into the paragraph I wrote about myself in my INFO tab. I don't post my orientation in the fill-in-the-blank because it feels like an advertisement, and that's not my style. I'll keep my ads in the personals section at Yahoo, thank you very much.

That's me. Not you … but I thought it important for you to see where I'm coming from.

So what's my advice? Well … first off, I think that an agreement with your mom is an agreement with your mom. You need to address that first. It's not something that should wait. You are out in your day-to-day life, and that life is very much connected with the life you have with your family. They'll meet, and you shouldn't have to scramble. Perhaps a version of this blog post could make it to your mom.

Second, I whole-heartedly agree with with Scot that a reasonable first step would be to friend the mother. Better yet, friend her and give her a call.

Third, after (maybe even before!) you've friended the niece, talk to her, too. There's no reason she should be forced to process this without your direct, personal input.

I personally think that being circumspect about our romantic and sexual lives is a sign of proper restraint — gay or straight — and not a "step back into [the] closet". In fact, had you not been in a committed relationship, I would have suggested taking your orientation out of the fill-in-the-blank and putting it into some context in a paragraph somewhere. But the relationship changes the game.

Anyway, bud, I wish you luck. Hope it goes well — whatever you decide. Let us know how it goes!

Scott said...

I think you've got a couple of different issues being addressed here...

First is your mother's request to keep the knowledge of your orientation in your "immediate family". The way you've phrased it in your post, your mother indicated her preference, and you've honored her wishes up to this point, but there's no indication that there's any actual commitment involved.

If that's the case, her wishes don't need to be a major consideration. (My family would prefer I kept everything to myself as well--a few of them would even rather I had never bothered to even tell them--but although I'll consider their wishes, I can't allow them to govern my decisions). On the other hand, if you've given your mother any sort of verbal agreement that you would keep the info within the immediate family, you ought to at least inform her if you will no longer be doing so.

The question of your cousin is a tough one. I was advised, when I was considering coming out to my ward in testimony meeting, that some parents might not appreciate their kids being introduced to the concept of homosexuality without the parents' permission or foreknowledge. So far (in the more than two months since my testimony) I haven't been made aware of any problems in this area, so maybe it's not as big an issue as some people worried it might be.

On the other hand, I have a sister who would be furious if she and her kids had been in that sacrament meeting. She worries about coming to visit next summer for fear that someone in the family will let something slip and her kids will find out that they have a gay uncle.

I guess it's mostly a question of what type of person your aunt is. Will your cousin finding out about you cause major problems, or will it be a non-issue? If you're not sure, then the best course is probable the one others have recommended: let the aunt know first, and let her decide how to proceed.

Thistlerose said...

silus makes a good point - it'd be good for your mom to understand your conundrum, come what may. she may have some good insight as to how to approach it with your aunt. noroc!