Dear Lulu Jeh: I’m a 30-year-old lesbian and have been living a double life for as long as I can remember. I was raised in a traditional Cantonese household that doesn’t even try to broach the topic of sexuality.
I’m pretty confident my parents know of my orientation, but they sure haven’t given any indication of their acceptance or disapproval.
I think I’m finally ready to introduce my girlfriend to the family, but am deathly afraid of putting my parents in a situation where they might lose face. — Lady in the Closet
You’re not alone, LC. Tradition and rigid Cantonese parenting can be serious obstacles for filial children, especially those who are trying to come out.
The good thing is your parents most likely already know your orientation and haven’t done anything about it, which sorta-kinda implies their approval in their own TCP way.
I would take a gentle approach: announce that you’re bringing your female “friend” to the next family dinner, and gauge their reaction.
They shouldn’t have anything to fret about if you leave out the technicalities of your relationship for the time being — and if they have something against even that, then it’s your chance for an honest conversation.
You might be surprised by the results: maybe your parents have been waiting for you to bring this up all along, or they just needed some time to warm up to the situation before you officially outed yourself.
Either way, stand strong and make it respectfully known that you are the one who gets to choose how to live your life at the end of the day — whether they like it or not.
And if they’re fine with you bringing your “friend” from the get go, well then I think you’ve already gotten the TCP nod of approval. — Lulu
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