Living Two Lives

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I’m in my 30’s and I’ve always been bisexual and it’s never been a big deal to me. I live in NYC so I’ve managed to keep my girl relationships isolated to the city, and my hetero identity in Connecticut which is where I’m from. A few months ago, I started dating an older woman and I’m totally in love with her. She wants to advance our relationship, move in together and meet my family and childhood friends. The thing is, I never for a minute expected any female relationship to lead to anything serious. I’ve always expected to be a soccer mom, live in the burbs and have a husband. Now I have to decide what to do about my relationship with this woman and to be honest, I don’t know if I want the difficult lifestyle that goes with being gay. Am I a terrible person for wanting to live a lifestyle that is easy?

ANSWER

So you want to be a soccer mom… Life often interferes with our best laid plans, and my first question is, why can’t you be a soccer mom within the context of a lesbian relationship? But let me slow down – I’m getting ahead of myself.

It sounds as though you have some issues with being gay in any capacity, or I’m guessing you wouldn’t have relegated your relations with women to Manhattan. I think you need to start by exploring the reasons for your resistance to living a gay lifestyle, and I think it’s a dialogue you either have to have with people in your life who support you, or on the couch of a shrink’s office. In addition, perhaps you can try connecting with women in the lesbian community to familiarize yourself with it. People are often afraid of what they don’t fully understand and you may find that you’re hesitance abates as your gay network grows.

In terms of which lifestyle you should live, there’s no denying the hetero-privilege that straight people, often unknowingly, enjoy in our society. Nonetheless, most lesbians who I know couldn’t imagine their lives any other way. You may find the transition smoother if you move to a community with a significant gay and lesbian presence. Also, provided your profession is conducive to change you may want to look into companies/organizations that are recognized as gay-friendly. You can orchestrate your life so that being gay is, at worst, a non-issue and at best, the norm.

Not to sound like the tree-hugging social worker that I am, but I have to point out that the way to even out the playing field of hetero-privilege is to fight the fight, not to jump ship. And in terms of your personal dilemma, I think the extent to your conflict depends on how you define the term ‘easy lifestyle.’ As far as I’m concerned, there’s nothing ‘easy’ about going through life without the one you love. Sure, you may fall in love again, but at the risk of sounding like a Hallmark card, you’ll never know what could have been if you never take the risk.