The Lesbian Bridesmaid

Dear Dr. Darcy:

I have 3 daughters, the middle daughter (straight) is getting married, and youngest daughter (gay) was asked to be in bridal party.  The 2 sisters are having a fight because the bride wants sister to wear a… dress (the gay daughter NEVER wears a dress), and, as a result, the gay sister is super hurt, angry, and doesn't want to be in bridal party. The bride also is in a dilemma as to 'where to place her sister in the pictures.'

As the mom, I am so sad and upset that my daughters are fighting, and that my daughter’s sexuality/gender issue is an issue at all.

We've all searched a variety of websites for answers but none that will satisfy my daughters.

Any suggestions?

Mom

ANSWER

Dear Mom:

I’m actually frustrated with both sisters. Let’s start with the straight one, because she’s the easiest to correct:  Whom does she want in her wedding party, her dyke/butch sister, or a femme version of her? The message that she’s sending to her sister is that the wedding photos are more important than with her sister’s dignity. It’s not just a little power struggle here; it’s not one sister refusing to take her nose ring out – it’s her sister’s sexual and gender identity. There are ways to compromise. She’s just not thinking outside the box and being creative.

What she could do is have her bridesmaids wear tailored, sexy, women’s tuxedos/pantsuits so that her sister would fit in and feel more like herself. And by way of personal example, my wife (who identifies as a dyke) wore a gorgeous Armani Prive women’s pantsuit at our wedding. She looked like herself, but a black-tie version thereof. Theory makes amazing pantsuits for women. And unlike EVERY bridesmaid dress that I’ve ever been forced to buy and never wore again, the pantsuit would get worn beyond the wedding. It’s a win for everyone involved. The straight daughter would look like a hero for choosing something that her sister can wear and she’d get props for having a wedding party that actually looked unique and chic. That’s my advice for the straight daughter.  

Now for the gay one: This shouldn’t even be a question in her mind. She needs to set a boundary and stick to it. There are times in our lives when we can’t expect our straight family members to understand everything that we as gay people we go through, and in those moments we need to advocate for ourselves.  This should not be a fight. It’s as unreasonable for your gay daughter to expect your straight one to get this as it is for the straight one to ask the gay one to don a dress.

Now for you, Mom: Support the gay daughter by encouraging the straight one to compromise on her bridal party’s couture. Do this one time and then stay the hell out of it. Same goes for your gay daughter. Let her know that you’ll support her if she chooses not to be in the bridal party. This is a one-time conversation. Best of luck as you navigate this terrain.

Writer’s Stats: Female

Sexual Orientation: Heterosexual

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The Perfect Day For Forgiveness

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I can't think of a better day to talk about forgiveness than today - the Jewish New Year.  I was interviewed on Saturday night for a radio talk show on the topic of forgiveness and I got very personal in the transformation forgiveness has made in my own life. You can listen to that interview here - I come in at minute 25. For those who celebrate, Shanah Tovah.  

Forgiveness Is A Choice

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Dear Dr. Darcy,

How [do] I deal with an emotionally stubborn mother who is unable to forgive and wants nothing to do with my new life? She has made it clear I have wronged her in every way and bought shame to our family and destroyed my son’s life.

How do I learn to accept this? How do I forgive her for not being sympathetic towards the [fact that I was raped and the subsequent trauma and side effects that I sustained]? In her words, 'it happened that's not my problem, it's yours.

Everyone says give it time, it’s a great healer but I know in my gut that she will never accept my life choices. Just like any child who grows into adulthood we seek some sort of praise from our parents… Forgiving my mother and moving along is the hardest. How do I forgive someone so bitter? I feel like an aids virus to my family it's highly upsetting.

ANSWER

Before you try to forgive your mother, you need to forgive yourself. You were the victim of a horrible crime. You were drugged, bound and raped for dozens of hours. Anyone who lived through such an ordeal would have sustained significant trauma which, understandably, impacted your ability to parent your son. I’m sorry your mother isn’t able to empathize with this very obvious cause and effect. She sounds like she’s emotionally constipated. Stop focusing on her and focus on yourself.

You need to do a fierce and honest inventory of the ways in which you fell short as a parent. Leave absolutely nothing out. Make a list. Include anything that could have even remotely been your responsibility. Then give explanations for every item on that list. Defend yourself. Don’t deny your responsibility – provide a context for why those shortcomings occurred. Then re-write the original list and describe how you wish you had been as a parent. Use your imagination and your years of maturity and therapy to help you create an ideal parenting story. Finally, forgive yourself. Forgive yourself because you didn’t have the years of maturity then that you have now. And you didn’t have the years of therapy under your belt that you have now. When you know better, you do better – and you only knew what you knew back then. Forgiveness is a choice. Decide to forgive yourself once and for all.

Writer’s Stats: Female, Straight.