Sunday, 10 June 2012

A Story Worth Telling

It has long been a debate of ours as to whether our blog is the right place to record my, Sarah's, parents' reaction to our relationship - after all, once published on the internet it's public and not easy to take back. However, after the latest developments, we've come to the conclusion that this blog was created to share our lives and everything that happens in them and this has certainly been a big part of it.

In an earlier post (HERE) we detailed how my parents struggled to deal with me coming out - the phrase that sticks most in my mind was that 'I broke their hearts and in choosing to love Laura I am being selfish and bringing shame and disgust on the family'.

I was lucky enough to grow up with parents who have always loved one another. They met on holiday in Benidorm, my Dad from Hastings (England) out with his 'boys' and my Mum from Kilmarnock (Scotland) over with her 'girls' - they met on the 2nd to last night and spent a loved up day together before catching flights home. It took my Dad only 3 days to realise he couldn't be without my Mum and he drove (on a small motorbike) from Hastings to Kilmarnock to ask her out. He stayed for 4 days in a b&b (my Scottish family didn't take to kindly to an Englishman coming to take one of theirs) and they made the decision that they wanted to make it work. Three months later and my Mum and all her belongings were in a small car heading to Hastings - they moved in with my Great Nan and the rest is history. They made it work despite my Mum's parents' prejudice against the 'bloody English' and despite everyone's negative comments about holiday romances.

By the time I arrived, they had set up home near Reading and I was the first to join what had become a tight-knit family foursome of my parents and my Dad's sister and her husband. By the time I was 5, I was head of a band of 4 kids. We holidayed as a eightsome, we had sleepovers and parties and a great childhood full of amazing memories.

So with this background, I never thought that my parents would react in the way they did when I said I had found someone I loved. I knew my parents didn't know anyone gay and they had always made comments about flamboyant gay men, but I thought that was more because they were different to the people they knew. My Dad is a man's man and was a policeman so he had a very set idea of what he expected in my future husband.

I had moved to Australia for a year to give life with Laura a chance - in London I was never too far from home and Australia would give us space to just be us. I spoke to my parents on a weekly basis and sent emails with what I was doing but they never seemed hugely interested; I presumed it was because they felt I had 'abandoned' them or something. One of my Mum's older sisters (and the only Scottish Aunt I have anything to do with) organised to come to Bali for her 60th with the plan being that my Mum would come too and we'd all meet up there. For some time I had planned to tell my Mum about Laura, but I wanted to do it face to face so I set my mind on Bali. My coming out 'speech' was very much in line with Laura's Obama letter.

As I arrived at the hotel in Bali I met up with my Mum and Aunt and we had a great time catching up before heading to bed - I was sharing a room with my Mum and what happened next was not at all how I planned it. My Mum commented on how well I looked and that Australia must be suiting me (well, who wouldn't it suit!) and for some unknown reason I used this as my 'in'. I launched into 'I have met someone and we are so happy. I have had an amazing couple of months spending the weekends discovering Sydney and working part time. It's so nice having the time getting to know them and I am so excited for the future.' Mum asked 'What's his name?'....'Laura'..... Mum burst into tears- 'I was so scared you were going to tell me that, I can't believe you want to ruin our family. You must not tell ANYONE this - it will kill your Dad and NO-ONE can know, if ANYONE finds out I will die'.

The night continued with my Mum crying herself to sleep and the holiday continued with smiles on our faces for my Aunt and a continued bombardment of 'How can you be doing this?', 'You're so selfish.' and 'How can you want to break our hearts like this?'. The holiday ended with me getting a taxi to the airport on my own as my Mum couldn't bear to say goodbye and a comment ringing in my ears 'Don't come back from Australia until it's over'.

For the next four months I got a constant barrage of letters, emails - so many emails, and phone calls telling me to change my mind and that I have ruined their lives and the devastation is causing my Mum to get sick and that there would be no future as part of their family with Laura. It was backed up with Laura has changed me and I can't be 'their' Sarah if I loved a woman.

Throughout all of this Laura was nothing short of amazing: supported by her family I found the strength to hold my head up and persevere. My plan was to head home at Christmas, despite my Mum's request not to, to show that I hadn't changed. This lead to the WORST Christmas - Laura and I had gone to Boise, Idaho for a ski-break and to see her family and I left a couple of days before the holiday to head home. On arrival at Heathrow after a year away there was no hug except from my sister. The journey home was quiet. It wasn't until Christmas day that the comments started again. Again my ultimatum was lose Laura or lose them. The only way I stopped all four of us ending up in separate rooms was by agreeing that no-one outside our family would know.

That was Christmas 2010, and nothing has changed.

Anyone who has become our Facebook friend through the blog will know there is no reference to Laura and I as a couple of our FB profiles - a fact that breaks my heart as I am proud to tell the world about us - but there are plenty of family members and friends that I would need to delete to be able to declare this without World War III breaking out.

It is a question I am constantly asking myself - 'Why not just do it, just be out and proud' but I truly fear my family turning their backs on me. I grew up shopping with my Mum, watching football with my Dad and a Saturday night watching TV with them was a good night. I don't hate my parents, I certainly don't want to break their hearts. I want them to be proud - it's all I have ever wanted. So how do I take the leap knowing I can never turn back?!

My 'It Gets Better' slogan should read 'I Get Stronger' or 'It Hurts Less' because things aren't getting better. I am friends with a girl who had a negative reaction when she came out and she had the courage to give her parents the ultimatum - accept my girlfriend and me or lose me - and her parents didn't want to lose her. I have also had support from fellow bloggers - for some it has gotten better, and that gives me hope. I know that if I gave my parents an ultimatum they would lose me - that doesn't scare me but I fear the pressure it'll put on Laura.

The reason this post is being written today is, those Twitter followers amongst you will know that I went home yesterday. I was feeling good - my Mum had made small steps in the last three months - we had upgraded from calling L 'the American' to actually using her name and we even had a brief meeting at my sister's - I thought it was the hope I had longed for. However, this trip put it all back in perspective. To quote:
'Laura will never be welcome in this house'
'Laura's presence in your life breaks our hearts'
'The pain you are causing us is so selfish'
'The thought of girls kissing makes me want to throw-up'
'We fear the future because if you two are invited to an event we won't be there'

It culminated in a discussion about plans for Fathers Day. I said I was more than happy to come home but he had the plan to go to Windsor Races later in June. They then said they would invite my Aunt and Uncle, my cousins and cousins' partners (one cousin has been with his partner 5 years, the other only 6 months) and my sister and I.....'and Laura?' I posed. The response was 'You and Laura together will never be invited to our family events'. My response 'Well then I won't come'. And so we left it.

I will never understand how my cousin's boyfriend of 6 months, who I have never met even though he lives less than half a mile from us, is invited over us. Nor will I understand why I have been separated slowly but surely from my family - I used to speak to my Aunt frequently but as I can't mention Laura, for fear of my Mum getting ill, it limits conversation.

I have wasted far too many tears trying to gain their acceptance, I have proved time and time again that Laura adds to my life in so many ways and makes me happier than I have ever been but it counts for nothing! With the love and acceptance of L's parents, it makes the differences all too obvious but what do I do - walk away knowing my parents won't be at my wedding or in my kids' lives?! Or keep trying, hoping that some day things really will get better?!

***Update*** See Laura's point of view HERE!!

Until next time,
Sarah xo


  1. :( So, so upsetting. This would upset me even if I had never met you both, just because its such a shame for parents not to support their kids. But the fact I know you makes it even worse, because I know how great you are as people and as a couple.
    I do not understand how parents couldn't be over the moon not only that their daughter is successful, intelligent, funny and an amazing person who has such a passion for life, but has found true love and happiness with someone who is all those things as well. I don't understand how even if those parents didn't approve of, or agree with, homosexuality, that that view would outweigh their love for their daughter.
    I really hope it does get better, and they do one day see that if they don't start seeing things differently they are going to miss out on lots, but even if they don't, rest assured that you guys will never be short of people that love you!
    S (and L, who agrees with everything here but won't write anymore as this is already a very long comment) xx
    ps sorry for long ranty comment x

    1. I know we have followed this up off line but I just wanted to say THANK YOU again for your support and wise words. I agree my struggle is more about how they can't see that it's still me, and I always thought their love and support would be unconditional. But it's their loss and they are the ones missing out - I just need to remember that. Thanks again Sarah xx

  2. Reading this breaks my heart. I entirely empathise with you Sarah - I was so petrified of telling my mum about Stacey, and whilst she has been good generally, I too was told not to tell my extended family. Because of this I often find myself lying by omission - telling people about things I have done or am doing, but saying I'm just with 'friends' or 'my flatmate'. It's ridiculous because my grandparents (who my mum specifically doesn't want me to tell) sent Stacey a birthday present this year, and Stace often answers the home phone to my grandad, and they get on well!

    I don't know what will happen with my family; but knowing me, I will break and tell them all in a rage at some point. At the moment it's not too difficult for my family to 'not know' about Stacey - I live 400 miles away from them all - but I am fed up of having to lie or change the subject when someone asks me if I have a boyfriend or whether I have a date to a family occasion. I am lucky - my mum accepts Stace, and will talk to me about our relationship - but I struggle to see why she doesn't want me to tell the rest of our (very close) family. (Don't even ask about my father.)

    Anyway, I just wanted to let you know what whilst I don't know what it's like to have family who are SO unaccepting, I can empathise, and will hold out hope for both of our families to become more focused on LOVE and not what's in the pants of our other half... And remember, whatever your family says, you are beautiful, talented, interesting and most of all, loved.

    Carley xx

    1. Hey Carley, thank you so much for your comment and sharing your experience. I know what you mean about lying by omission - it's something L says I do a lot- not always intentionally. We also find ourselves never knowing if people know but we can't out rightly ask - this is even the case with L's family, not because she doesn't want to tell them but just because we don't walk into family occasions saying 'we're together'. The last Christmas I was included in ALL of the Xmas cards from L's family - Grandparents, aunts, uncles cousins etc but L wasn't included in any of my families - awful!
      It is so frustrating that families are such a challenge - life is challenging enough! Hope everything else is good with you and Stace!
      Thanks for taking the time to comment! Sarah xx

  3. We saw this post and after seeing your twitter post from the other day, we wasted no time waiting to read this. This had us in tears. It's very heartbreaking to hear about families not supporting their children because of sexual orientation. Cori and I have been extremely lucky; although, it took Cori's family a bit of time to warm up to the idea and she still struggles with many extended family members. You two, as S and L previously said, are such amazing people and a great couple. We hope it does get better and we hope, if nothing else, you continue to grow stronger. xox <3

    1. Hey girlies - thank you commenting - I didn't mean to cause the tears! It's nice to know their are families out there who are ready to accept their children regardless of sexual orientation. It may just be that my family have been sheltered and don't know gay people so their instant reaction is negative because they don't understand it. In which case I hold hope that the more they see and read about gay people the more it will normalise it- but thats more of a long term hope. I hope that is the situation rather than 'being gays OK for other people just not for my family' - that is a view that is a lot harder to change - but I fear that is closer to the truth! In the short term my focus is on making sure L & I are happy! Thanks for your kind words Sarah xx

  4. I'm truly sorry to hear that your mother won't accept you. I wish nothing but the best for you and Laura. You two sound like you have a beautiful life together. Just remember that your family is missing out on being a part of your life, and you can't do anything to change their minds. You've done nothing wrong and you and I both can only hope that one day they come to their senses and realize what they are missing.

    1. Thank you Anon. Your kind words mean a lot and are very true. Hard as it is to step away sometimes and see it from that perspective I know it makes sense. Together L&I have created a life I wouldn't swap for anything and we aren't short of photos if my parents if my parents ever want to catch up :)

  5. This flies in the face of all that I believe a family should be: a soft place to fall. So, even if they think you are 'falling' (which of course you are not) by being with a woman, by definition, they should still support you and your decisions and the adult that you are.

    It turns out that I was lucky because I was such a rebellious teen so when I cam out to my parents in my mid 20's they weren't at all happy but when put in perspective of the "choices" that I could be making they were glad that I was a self-sufficient, successful, healthy adult (not doing drugs as I had in my youth). Ultimately, I still keep some distance (across the continent) because they are critical of many things in my life but my orientation luckily isn't one of them (at least not very much).

    Although it will never replace your family's acceptance, please know that you are supported by this community.

    I'm still a bit confused though - if your parents are already acting so ridiculous why not fully come out to the rest of the family? Maybe they all won't care as much and it will make your parents feel self conscious of their reaction.

    1. Thank you Tracey- your comment meant a lot. The first line really hit home - throughout every other challenge i'd had growing up home was my go to place and to not have that is not a comforting thought. Laura's Mum has very much become an adviser to us both now though, which i'm forever grateful for.
      And all the support I(we)have received via the blog has meant so much- it was therapeutic to vent to someone other than each other. Without a doubt the friends, comments etc from other LGBT peeps have helped, it's just a shame that so many have had negative experiences but I never fail to smile when I read that it all works out OK.
      In answer to your question, it is something L and I have spoken about a lot - I know she definitely wants me to take that action. I don't have much to do with the Scottish part of my family (and also the majority - I only have 8 English relatives) so by publicly coming out I don't know if it will be causing a reaction for no real benefit as they aren't involved in any part of my life. We have agreed between us that we will make a public announcement when we get engaged so there is a reason for making it public. At the moment I think it will just cause more aggro as people will probably question why I decided not to tell them when L and I got together. Looking back that would have been a far better time to do it. Thanks for taking the time to comment, it's much appreciated. Sarah xx

  6. This is sad, I am a mom and I love my two daughters no matter who they love. It is not for me to tell either one of them who to love, I really hope your parents realize this some day. It is not for me or anyone else to judge another, we need only to love each other.

    1. Hi Launna, and welcome to our blog! Thank you for taking the time to read and comment - it's great to know that there are people like you who are ready and willing to support their kids. If I came across such a statement from my Mum I would be so proud! It's amazing how a parents reaction can make such a difference to the whole process of coming out.
      Thanks again Sarah xx

  7. Gosh, my heart is breaking for the two of you. I am very lucky to be surrounded by family and friends who are very accepting, so despite the comments I sometimes read and the whispers I hear, it's easy for me to somehow forget that there are a lot of people left in this world who cannot seem to accept same sex relationships.

    It is unreal that something rooted in love can be met with so much disgust and hatred.

    It's a hard road to follow when you have to choose between the one person who completes you and the family that raised you. The majority of my family, from what I've noticed, either accept my relationship or ignore it. Ignoring it is bad enough. People act like it's not a "real" relationship just because it happens to be between two females. I've noticed the same thing about the cousin who hasn't been with her boyfriend for very long. There are people in my family who get all giddy and excited when a family member brings a brand new partner to a family occasion. But I've been with Melissa for a year and a half, and though we haven't crossed the bridge of meeting extended families yet since we live across the country from each other, I fear that we will be met with averted eyes, or worse. My 16 year old sister can kiss her boyfriend in front of our family, but will I even feel accepted enough to hold my girlfriend's hand?

    This is all very jumbled- I guess my thoughts are everywhere at the moment! The bottom line is, you have to follow your heart. And your heart knows what is right. Your heart has accepted this love for exactly what it is, and it's a shame that your family can't do the same. I wish you the very best and hope that someday, I'll be reading a follow-up that includes much happier reactions or, at the very least, acceptance, from your family.


    1. Hey Kayla, thank you for the comment and your wishes. It's nice to hear that your family have been accepting. Like you say it is a hard road otherwise. My frustration with the whole family situation is that I have no idea what they would expect L&I to be doing that would be so awful - I mean we have social etiquette it's not like we'd be kissing and making anyone uncomfortable. And before we came out as a couple they were more than happy to invite L to events so I think they are probably creating awkward as I didn't even live with L back then and people at least know we are now 'flatmates'- so that would surely be more of a reason to invite us both!
      I'm with you in wishing and hoping there is an update to follow that contains a very different outcome that the one I currently foresee.
      Don't worry about the jumbled thoughts - I struggle to articulate and then form passages that make any sense whatsoever. Once I start on this subject it just seems to pour out :)
      Thank you again for stopping by the blog - Sarah xx

  8. When I decided to come out to my parents (16 years ago :P I'm OLD!!), I first secured a job and a place to live. I was so sure that I was going to be disowned, but it was something I had to do. I had to live my Truth and I was prepared to lose my family over it. Because it's THAT important.

    My mom responded with all the right words, but for the next 5 or so years we never talked about it and she definitely didn't want to hear about my gfs. She has come around a lot since then, especially since she has two granddaughters who she adores.

    It mostly does get better. And if it doesn't with your family, it can with your relationship with Lara. Because if you decide to live openly and proudly, there's nothing that can stop the two of you. :)

    Good luck!!

    1. Hi Stacey,thank you for sharing your story. I admire you completely! As I didn't come out until I had left home my fear was not being able to go back and that was bad enough, I can't imagine preparing to move out before having that conversation, it must have been such a tough time.
      Looking at your family though is an inspiration - it shows that it's always worth following your heart. In the end whatever happens with my parents it won't change the fact L and I will have an incredible future to look forward to - that's my focus right now!
      Your comment was much appreciated- Sarah xx

  9. Hi there, sorry to hear about the family drama in your life. When I finally came out to my family - my dad took it really badly and proceeded to have a big fight with my partner in public (inevitable meeting, long story). Now we don't mention the supposed elephant in the room and I am not to mention this to any of my extended family. He simply expects me to show up on family occasions and I get to lead my life as I wish as long as I do my duty. It's not ideal but it's a compromise that we have sort of come to.

    I don't regret coming out to my family however awkward things have become as the guilt was really eating away at me. I do sincerely hope that your family eases up on you. Life is tough enough without unnecessary obstacles - they need to realise that you are still their daughter and the same little girl they brought up. My thoughts are with you.

    1. Thank you for your comment. I can't believe your Dad felt the need to fight your partner, that must be quite a story! The way you explain your family's expectations is exactly the same as mine so I feel for you. Its almost creating a double life, the challenge I have is that I don't see it continuing this way forever- the main challenge is the wedding - it's not something my parents can ignore and I don't want to not invite them. It will be the biggest obstacle we've faced. But I am hoping, by some miracle, that they realise it will be their little girl getting married (like you say) and that they don't want to miss that! Here's to hoping :)
      Thanks again for commenting - Sarah xx

  10. It’s amazing how similar your story is to my own. I came out to my mom nearly 7 years ago and when I did she didn’t completely freak out, but made it very clear that she thought it was a phase and was to be kept between just us. 4 months later my brother got married in Las Vegas and while my little sister was asked to bring her boyfriend whom she had only been dating a few months, my girlfriend (now wife) stayed behind. This hypocrisy infuriated me and with the support and resources I found on the HRC website and a few friends, I decided to “come out”, completely. I decided to write a long letter about who I was, who I was with, and why she made me so happy. I then mailed the letter to my ENTIRE family. I’m talking aunts, uncles, cousins, my Godfather… the whole bunch. It was easily the scariest thing I’ve ever done but I’m so glad I did it.

    This brings about the reason for my super long message to you. While your parents may not find it in their hearts to accept you right now that does not mean that other family members feel the same way. I was shocked by the supportive and loving emails and phone calls I received after sending my letter. I know this isn’t the outcome that everyone experiences but I also know that until you take the leap, you’ll never know. I love reading your blog and you both seem like such a loving couple. With this in mind, my feeling is that your family may surprise you and accept you for exactly who you are.

    I’m sending supportive vibes your way!

    ~ Kristin

    1. Hey Kristin - thank you so much for your comment - WOW what a story - writing that letter must have been so hard, and I'm glad getting it all out there worked. I wrote a letter just to my Mum after getting back from Bali - I thought that I hadn't explained myself enough after the tears started so I wanted the opportunity to get it all out there, I can't say the response was positive though. And as my Mum is the only one of two people in her family who have left the Scottish town where she grew up I can only see her family being even more small-minded. Turns out that their view of 'normal' is very set. It's part of my hesitance in coming-out publicly. It's also why I want to wait until we get engaged - that way it won't be demeaned by them saying 'it's a phase' - I want to come-out and make sure they know it's for real, forever and I am committing to the most amazing women till death do us part!
      We are glad you enjoy the blog- we love yours too - we can't believe how quick Gracie is growing - the pride photo is soooo cute! These last couple of weeks we feel like we've been focused on us and getting L set up in her new job so it's always nice seeing other peoples updates on blogs, it's almost replaced tv watching :) - Sarah xx

    2. I totally agree! I spend the majority of my free time following fellow bloggers more so than watching TV. :)

      At the end of the day, no one knows your family like you do. I think you are approaching this in the best way possible. You're taking your time and thinking things through. You gals are very fortunate to have each other. Stay strong!

  11. Awww girls I am so sorry :( :( :( I was excited with your hat Sarah's mum was making some progress. It's hard on both of you for the same and different reasons. It well and truly SUCKS. I just don't get it either- Laura is clearly a lovely and amazing girl and you've been together 4 years so REALLY it's time they just accepted it is what it is. I feel so bad that Laura is left out of family functions :( I know it's very hard for you as well Sarah with you wanting to obviously not give them an ultimatum, but really I don't know how you do it!!

    Rest assured you have all our support & love!!

    M (& W) xxxxx

    1. Hey lovelies - I think you sum up our feelings- it's sucks!! I know we've shared most of this with you privately but thanks for taking the time to read it! Your love & support is always appreciated and I know we aren't alone in family struggles! As you say I am still incredibly lucky - for better or worse I have Laura in my life and with her family and our friends our life will be incredible no matter what. The fairytale is what you make it - right?!! Sarah xx

  12. Monica (Miss_EmJ)16 June 2012 at 01:26

    Your unfortunate story of what occurred recently is all too familiar to us. My girlfriend and I were sitting and waiting for our cars to be washed last Sunday afternoon, reading your blog together on our cell phones. Angel told me in the middle of reading, “That sounds exactly like your family!” I had already come to that realization and disappointedly agreed with her.

    I especially like when you stated, “My 'It Gets Better' slogan should read 'I Get Stronger' or 'It Hurts Less' because things aren't getting better.” Typically, I am an extreme optimist; with the exception of the whole ‘It Gets Better’ campaign. You will certainly get stronger, stick up for yourself more often, and cry less. However, making sacrifices and compromises to make others comfortable - and losing loved ones who you’ll always have a place in your heart for - never really makes anything better.

    Initially, this was going to be a long, drawn out email to tell you our story and give you something to relate to. But, you don’t need another version of someone else’s story. You just need each other, your closest friends, supporting co-workers, and other things to look forward to right now. You’re in our thoughts, we hope things work out entirely in your favor, and you gals have a couple of friends here in the States if you ever need anything!

    -Monica & Angel

    1. Hey girls - thank you so much for your comment. It was lovely to wake up to this morning. The fact that it is familiar I guess is the saddest part for me - knowing how much it has caused us pain I don't like to think that others have to deal with the same. I know it's all too common though.
      I would be really interested to read your story if you ever want to share- I have found through doing the blog that writing about it has helped, and has saved L from hearing it over and over again. It's amazing how many situations you think to include your parents in only to realise it's just another opportunity to be disappointed. With my birthday coming up I know it will another situation of dividing my time - and that is NOT something I want to be faced with at every occasions.
      You're right though I have everything I need, and more, so even though this issue isn't going away I refuse to let it ruin every day. It may not get better but life is what you make right, and we plan to make it amazing!! With support like yours we can't fail :) Thanks again for the comment- Sarah xx

  13. Yo - so i eventually got to read the blog and it made me cry! I hope that one day your parents understand that you and Laura will be together forever and that you are still the person you always have been - i can send them a reference if it helps - you are still the person you always have been! It might be tough for a longtime yet - but when it comes to crunch they will i hope get over it. Keep trying Nutters thats all you can do.

    Love always

    1. Hey Champ, thank you sooooo much for taking the time to find and comment on the blog. I didn't mean to make you cry - as you know this is an on-going situation that snot getting much easier. I'm just glad to have people around who do care and do support me! You included- geez it seems ages ago that I came back from Oz and told you about me & L! Love you - and hope to see you soon! Sarah xx

  14. This is such a sad thing to read & I am hoping that it has gotten better for you Sarah.


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