I am 16 years old and I recently came out to my family as bisexual. My parents said they were supportive but their behavior towards me has totally changed since then. My father – who, by the way, hasn’t really been very tolerant towards gays – can’t seem to look me in the eye anymore and acts like I just want attention. My mother treats me like I’m made of glass that breaks when you even touch it. She gets oversensitive and treats me like I’m confused. My older sister makes fun of me all the time. What should I do?
I’m very sorry that your family is handling your coming out in such a ham-fisted manner. My guess is that they’re making your bisexuality all about themselves: your father is uncomfortable with the concept of queerness and now is grappling with the dissonance that someone he loves is something he, for whatever reason, considers odious. Your sister is likely uncomfortable with her own sexuality (although not necessarily her orientation). And while your mother means well, it sounds like she thinks she did something to make you bisexual but you’ll get past it as long as she doesn’t make any more mistakes.
The good news is that if your parents said they were supportive, then they mean well. They just don’t know how to conduct themselves in this new reality other than to pour the whole thing through their own filters, crusty with outdated assumptions. Suggest that they read the Bisexual Resource Center’s “For Parents” online essay (biyouth.org) so they know they’re not alone as parents of a bi kid. You might also let them know where and when the local PFLAG (https://community.pflag.org) chapter meets.
Get a minute alone with your dad and thank him for being supportive when you came out. Add that you just want him to know that you’re the same person you’ve always been. With your mom, thank her as well and tell her that anything she did or didn’t do in raising you had zero effect on your being bisexual. Mention that what would be especially helpful right now is if she told your sister to give you a break. And if you interact with your sister before your mother gets to her, there’s not much more you can do than quietly but firmly tell her to grow up.
I hope you have the support of friends and a bi-friendly community to lean on, Krissy. It will take your family a while to emotionally gather themselves, but I bet they’ll eventually come around.
Are you a bi lady in need of some good advice? Write to Tiggy Upland at tiggyupland@gmail. com. This advice column is for entertainment purposes only. The columnist reserves the right to edit the letters for any reason. Find more Ask Tiggy on www.tiggyupland.com.