Lesbian Pop Culture and Dads

I try to stay on top of any shows on TV that have a lesbian character, because I never got to see anything like that growing up, and I’m noticing a trend.

First, I am going to run down a couple of lesbian storylines in case you haven’t seen them.

Story 1:

I’ve talked about UK Skins before, and I will again now, because I think it’s important. Emily Fitch is a lesbian on this show in seasons 3 and 4. She is a twin, and she is very sure that she is in love with Naomi from day one. There was no confusion for her character, which I think is awesome. When she comes out to her parents, she does so in a spectacular fashion. After making love to Naomi and being rejected by her when she says she wants to be open about their relationship, Emily stumbles home, crying, looking a mess. She comes in to her family having dinner. Her mother Jenna, her father Rob, her sister Katie, and her brother James are all there. The conversation goes like this:

James: Ugh. You smell.

Emily: Shut up.

Jenna: What have you been doing?

Emily: Nothing.

Jenna: You look like you’ve been fighting.

Emily: Well, I haven’t. Look, leave me alone.

Jenna: Okay.

Katie: Look mom, I don’t think she wants to talk about it.

Jenna: Well I do. You look like you’ve been roughed up. Is it a boy that’s done this to you?

Emily: It wasn’t a boy.

Katie: See? Now can you just

Emily: (interrupting) It was a girl.

Rob: You’ve been fighting with a girl? That’s not very ladylike.

Emily: No, dad. I’ve been making love to a girl. Okay? Everybody satisfied?

Katie: She’s such a liar.

Emily: Her name’s Naomi. She’s rather beautiful. So I was nailing her.

Her father blows it off as a joke, probably because of the “nailing her” line, but her mom has a glimmer of knowing it was the truth. And her sister clearly knows already, but doesn’t want Emily to say it out loud, because then it will really be true.

Her mom does the normal mom thing in this situation and is in denial about Emily’s sexuality. She tries everything to stop it, even going so far as confronting Naomi and telling her to stop putting ideas into her head. We leave them at the end of season 3 not knowing how her dad feels about it. Then something wonderful happens in season 4. When Emily finds out Naomi cheated (another whole story), she confides in her dad, and he is comforting, and even encourages her to forgive. Meanwhile, her mother is still treating her and Naomi like shit.

Story 2:

Pretty Little Liars is a show on ABC Family. One of the characters, Emily Fields (haha! Watch out Emily’s of the world with last names that begin with F! You may just be a lesbian!) Through series 1 of this show, Emily is hinted at as being gay, and then she falls for a girl named Maya, and she stumbles out of the closet. Her mother treats her like crap, tells her it’s a phase, and goes so far as to get Maya shipped off to what one can only assume is some sort of conversion therapy camp. In series 2, her mother is still a thorn in her side. But her father? The man who is in the military and rigid? He accepts his daughter. He tells her mother he doesn’t necessarily like it, but he opens his arms to Emily and tells her he still loves her.

Story 3:

I Can’t Think Straight is a little indie movie that came out a few years ago. Tala is a lesbian, but has been denying it for years. She is engaged to marry her fourth fiancee. Layla is also a lesbian, but hasn’t really admitted it to herself either and is dating a man. As the story goes on, Layla and Tala have a love affair, but break it off because Tala says they can’t live like that, and that she can’t hurt her fiancee. While away from Tala, Layla finally comes out to her parents, and her mother promptly tells her she is going to hell. Her father tells the mother that’s enough, and tells Layla it’s okay. Later, Tala comes out to her parents and again, her mother rejects her, but her father accepts her.

The story of Tea, the lesbian character on US Skins, is looking to be going in the same direction, although she hasn’t come out to her parents yet.

Can you see the pattern here? In all of these scenarios, the mother rejects and the father accepts the daughter’s sexuality. I have to say, it was the same in my life. When I came out at the age of 20, my mother cried. My father walked in, asked what was going on, we told him, and he said, “so what?”

It makes me wonder if this is true for the majority of lesbians?

I think it would also be interesting to know what happens with gay men. In Glee, Kurt is gay, and his dad accepts him, but his mother died and he’s all Kurt’s got.

If you came out and you are in touch with both of your parents, which was the first to accept you, your father (or stepfather) or your mother?




About thelesbiannextdoor

I am a 41 year old lesbian, living with her wife in a small town. I have a 23 year old step-son. Who knows, I could be your neighbor ;) (Unless you know for sure your neighbor is not a lesbian - then I'm probably not!)

Posted on March 9, 2011, in Lesbian TV and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. 10 Comments.

  1. I told my parents seperately (although they are married, don’t ask me why, I just did). My parents had verrry different reactions.

    My mom was horrified. It probably didn’t help that she didn’t really like J, my gf at the time, so that made matters worse. It literally took her YEARS to get over it. I have come to realize through much soul searching, that it was her issue, not mine, and told her as much a while back. I told her that if she didn’t still see me as her daughter and couldn’t accept me for who I am, then that was her problem, not mine and I would gladly remove her from my life if she wanted to act like that. Needless to say, she whipped herself into shape b/c she knew I wasn’t kidding. It also helped that I told one of my friends, E, about my mom’s crappy attitude, and E proceeded to tell HER mom, J (my mom and J are very good friends). J took it upon herself to call a “meeting of the minds” with my mom, J, L and another J, who are all thick as thieves. The 3 of them basically told my mom to pull her head out of her ass, that this was 2005 and not 1955, and to stop wallowing(sp?) in what the rest of the world would think and be happy that I was in a loving relationship. And after that, the rest is history. She is now like a new person, is so thrilled to call K her daugther, and embraces our relatioship. BUT…that is now. It wasn’t always easy!

    My dad, on the other hand, was wonderful. Through a sea of tears I told him…and he put his arm around me and laid his head on top of mine and said “Oh honey, I know. I was just waiting for you to be ready to tell me”. He’s never so much as batten an eye and has no problems talking to people about me, my relationship with K, etc.

    WHEW! Sorry this is such a long comment! I probably should have emailed it to you 🙂 I think that moms have a problem with their girls coming out to them b/c they lose the vision of the whole big white wedding, etc. On the flip side, all of my gay male friends have had an easier time with their moms and a much, much harder time with their dads. I think it’s got something to do with the way it reflects on them (are moms bad mothers if their daugther ends up gay? same for dads). IDK. That’s just my 2 cents! 🙂 Interesting and thought provoking post…thanks!!! 🙂

    • Wow! Thanks for sharing all of that A! It looks like you had a similar experience to all the characters on those shows! My mom didn’t disown me, but she definitely was not happy about it at first! Now she is like PFLAG mom of the year and can’t wait to tell everyone about her lesbian daughter!

      I think you’re right about how it reflects on them as mothers (or fathers as you pointed out). That makes sense – well, it doesn’t fully make sense, but I can sort of see why they would take it that way. It may also be because they themselves have never had feelings for the same sex, and therefore cannot fully understand us.

      You came out in 2005, I came out in 1997, and all the shows I mentioned were in the last 5 years, yet still mostly the same story….change is slow coming!

      Thanks again for sharing your story with me!:)

  2. I told my father first, and in his typical Type-A, public health official way, he said he was surprised and that he didn’t know what the health concerns should be, he’d have to look it up and get back to me. Sure enough a week later I got an envelope in my shared mail box at college with “CONFIDENTIAL OPEN IN PRIVATE” written on it containing lesbian safe sex brochures.

    I’m pretty sure my mother had figured it out, but just to make sure, I told her as she was giving me a ride to the subway to attend my first gay pride parade with a gay male friend. She said “You are still planning on having children, right?” and after I answered in the affirmative she said, “Ok, have fun!” and that was that. A total non-issue for both of them, but they’re pretty big liberal hippies.

    • Thanks for sharing Nutella! That is hilarious about your dad! You are very lucky to have had the experience you did. Wouldn’t it be great if that was the “norm” for a coming out story?:)

  3. I told my mom who said all those typical I-can’t-believe-this-is-happening things like ‘It’s probably a phase’, ‘maybe you should talk to a psychologist’, ‘I don’t think you are’ etc. She cried about it, but she never made my life hell. She told me she still loved me and I knew she just needed time. I don’t know how long it took her to get over it, but she definitely, 100% did during my college years.

    I didn’t tell my father…my mother did shortly after I told her. He called me at college (I came out to my mom in senior year of high school) just to tell me he knew and he loved me no matter what.

    So maybe this is similar to the mother having a harder time with it, but I give them both props.

  4. Hey, I’m an Emily F! But the F only came after I took my wife’s name, so by that point the whole lesbian thing wasn’t really much of a surprise…

    My parents were pretty funny when I came out. My dad made a joke or two about turkey basters, reiterated that he wanted grandchildren (I’m working on it!) and then started talking about his weekend like nothing had happened. My (lesbian) mom got all overwhelmed and had to hand the phone to her wife while she collected herself from the shock. She said that no one in her family had come out to her before. I still tease her about it…

    • Oh no! You were destined to be a lesbian! LOL! BTW, I love the name Emily, and our last name starts with F too. So if I were to have a girl child in the future, Emily would hopefully be her name, and she too would probably be a lesbian!:)

      Turkey basters! I love it! Yeah, my mom was initially worried about me not having kids too, but I think she is past it now.

      So cool that your mom is also gay!

  5. Great post. I don’t really have a story to add, but I love the comments.

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