Lesbianing With AE! Should I Out My Closeted Sister?

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Dear Lindsey,

I am a 28-year old lesbian who has been out for half her life – thanks to being accidentally outed as a teenager. I was stunned to find out through friends that my younger sister (she’s 26) is dating a woman. Apparently my friends ran into my sister with a woman at one of the gay bars. I’m having trouble processing this. My sister has been an ally to me since I was a teenager but she never mentioned she liked women. She never really dated anyone for more than 1-2 dates, so I had sort of assumed she was asexual. My parents are supportive of me now (it was another story when I was younger)…. I don’t know if I should tell her what I know, tell Mom and Dad (who have asked me if she is seeing anyone), or wait for her to come to me. I didn’t like being outed but honestly, it saved me a lot of headaches and time in the closet. I don’t see why in this day and age my sister is hiding who she is.

-Torn

Hey Torn,

Let’s play devil’s advocate and think about why your sister might be in the closet. She may be in a new relationship — possibly a first relationship.

If she is new to romance, she’s probably just trying to keep pace with her feelings, in which case coming out to your parents may be the last thing on her mind. First love may have been a while ago for you, but it’s intense – and it sounds like your late-blooming sister could be in the midst of it.

First love may have been a while ago for you, but it’s intense – and it sounds like your late-blooming sister could be in the midst of it.

She may be unsure of her identity. Perhaps she’s bisexual, perhaps she’s always been straight-identified until this woman, perhaps she is polyamorous, and coming out to Mom and Dad isn’t as simple as saying she’s a lesbian, the way it was for you. If she has to tell Mom and Dad she has a girlfriend and a boyfriend,  it’s not quite the same parallel as you being outed as a teen.

Conversely, over 50 percent of bisexuals don’t feel like sexuality is an important part of their identity, according to Pew Research Center, so it is possible that she hasn’t made a coming-out announcement because she doesn’t feel her sexuality is relevant, the way you do.

Over 50 percent of bisexuals don’t feel like sexuality is an important part of their identity, according to Pew Research Center, so it is possible that she hasn’t made a coming-out announcement because she doesn’t feel her sexuality is relevant, the way you do.

Point being – there are several valid reasons why your sister is keeping silent. And you might be a bit too hard on her in wanting her to come out the way you have.

You were outed against your will, and in the 14 years since it sounds like you’ve had some problems with your parents and worked through them. You may have rose-colored glasses on now when you look back at your baby gay struggles, whereas your sister — who was on the sidelines for your coming-out process — may have hung onto some trauma from that time. It’s possible your parents lectured her not to turn out gay like her big sister, or it’s possible she overhead them fighting about your sexuality or felt pressured to be the straight one so they could have grandkids someday. You really can’t know her side of that story unless you ask her.

It’s possible your parents lectured her not to turn out gay like her big sister, or it’s possible she overhead them fighting about your sexuality or felt pressured to be the straight one so they could have grandkids someday.

For whatever reason, your sister is private about her sex life and so she hasn’t told her family about this side of her – to the point where you’ve all assumed she might be asexual. Why not celebrate the fact that she appears to be happy (no matter how she identifies) and wait for her to let you (or your folks) know when she settles on an identity that feels true for her?

I wouldn’t invade her privacy by outing her the way you were outed. It could cause a rift between you two.

It’s your call if you want to tell your sister what your friends saw at the club. She may not react the way you’d hope (i.e. by opening up and telling you all about her new gal pal), but your support could help her become more comfortable with her identity – whatever that is.

Have a question for Lindsey? Send it in! Write to the editor: [email protected] with “Q for Lindsey” in the subject line.

 

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