When I spoke to my parents a few days ago we discussed a lot of random things, but the SCOTUS ruling was a big one. They were thrilled by it and understood my excitement both for myself and for the people I care about. Unfortunately, it also led to an interesting discussion about one of my aunts that left me feeling apprehensive. According to my dad, one of my aunts was quite upset about the marriage equality ruling.
This aunt is my dad’s older sister. She’s in her 70’s and not in great health, although I am hopeful she’ll be around for a number of years. She’s also basically the only aunt I have left. The ones on my mom’s side of the family no longer speak to us (there was a huge, family-destroying fight after my grandma died) although one still occasionally exchanges cards with me. My dad’s two other sisters are dead, so this one aunt is more or less all I have left in that generation of family.
Her views on homosexuality never come up in any discussion I’ve had with her, but apparently she’s very against gay marriage. My dad thinks my aunt’s feelings tie into her Catholic upbringing. Both my parents are practicing Catholics as well, but basically they ignore all of the social teachings about birth control, abortion, women as priests, priests being allowed to marry, gay rights, etc. I don’t understand it, but I respect that attending church has meaning for them. My aunt, however, seems to follow the church’s teachings much more strictly.
The situation with her puts me in a weird spot. She doesn’t know I’m bi or that I write m/m romance. It’s not because I’ve intentionally tried to hide it, but it’s honestly never come up in conversation. I think she has a vague idea that I write, but we’ve never actually discussed it in any depth and she’s never asked about the subject matter. Every conversation we have in the future will be tinged by the knowledge that she most likely wouldn’t support me if she knew. I don’t like hiding who I am or what I do. It feels like a cop out to not tell her, simply because I have the privilege of choosing to keep silent because I happen to be married to a man.
In comparison to many people’s experiences, the potential to lose the support of a single family member is pretty mild, but it doesn’t make it any easier. She’s the aunt who counted my fingers on one hand and somehow always came up with six even though I could never figure out where the extra one came from. She’s the one who did crafty painting projects with me as a kid. She’s the aunt who introduced me to vintage glassware and made me fall in love with it. The aunt who made sure I ended up with some of the beautiful costume jewelry that belonged to my grandmother because she knew I’d appreciate it. She’s the last aunt I have left and she’s not getting any younger.
I know for a fact that if she made homophobic comments in front of me, I’d speak up. I don’t think there’s any way I could hear it and NOT speak up. It just isn’t in my nature. Chances are it would lead to a discussion where I’d be honest about my identity and profession.
But the thought of bringing it up out of the blue leaves me with a very uneasy feeling. Creating drama (even for a good reason) isn’t something I like. I know my parents will support me either way, which I am intensely grateful for, but I honestly have no idea what will happen if I tell her.
There’s a chance that by getting to know me, she could change her mind. That’s what makes me lean toward wanting to tell her. But that’s a pretty big gamble. The thought of losing her love and support makes me hurt, but deliberately hiding who I am in order to keep it does too and I have no idea which choice is the right one.