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Family subtly not thrilled.

Ok, I came out 5 years ago. FIVE YEARS AGO. My family still keeps dropping hints that maybe it would be nice if I found a nice young man to settle down with. Once my mother took it entirely too far and asked me if I want to be a woman. When I said yes she sighed in relief. One of my sisters keeps faux-jokingly asking me if I'm still a lesbian and has actually sighed and shaken her head at me in ernest on the few occasions where I made the mistake of talking about my sexual orientation. My other sister believes that homosexuality is a choice because she had a little experimentation phase in college and gave me a speech about how I "shouldn't limit myself to just women". Not to meantion that they keep asking me personal questions about my love life that border on offensive at worst and are intrusive at best.

I'm tired of it! How can I get them off of my back? They act offended when I imply that I don't like having those conversations or answering those questions and arguements usually follow. I realize that things could be far worse but my relationship with my family is already strained. I do not have the patience or intrest to sit them down and have a Lesbianism 101 seminar with them. I just want them to leave me alone.

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I experienced similar with some members of my family and a few not-so-close friends. It was quite a while ago, and probably a bit exacerbated in my situation because I previously identified as bisexual and did date men. (I consider men to have been my "experimentation phase.") Thus, it seems they held out "hope" that I might return to dating men, even though I'd said I was no longer interested in doing that. This was offensive on a number of levels . . . but mostly because of their lack of listening to what the *&%$ I was saying and apparent difficulty believing that if nothing else in this world, I can at least identify my very own wishes and desires. Also, the "hope" that I might return to men is insulting, implying that relationships with women are less valid or desirable. And you're saying this TO a woman? HellOOOOOOO? (wanting to knock side of cranium, hoping to dislodge something resembling a clue)

ANYWAY, five years is a long time, but apparently not long enough for the peeps you describe. You're not in charge of their cognitive development, their social sensitivity, or their levels of denial, but you can do some behavioral conditioning on them and alter their behavior in your presence. Whenever one of them says something homophobic or grossly insensitive along the lines what you described, you need to say something like this: "I am a lesbian. This is not going to change. I've told you this before, and I'm telling you again now. I'm sorry for you that this causes you distress or that you have difficulty understanding it, but I do consider that your problem, not mine. I hope you'll get over it someday, but that's up to you, not me. If you'd like to discuss other things, that's great, but whether or not I am a lesbian or shall remain such is no longer an issue I will debate with you."

(You can use your own words, obviously, but I think firmness, no equivocation, and telling them you're sorry that THEY have a problem are key points.)

You probably want to practice it ahead of time so emotionality won't cause you to be less clear the first few times. Also try hard to say it in a clear but emotionally calm and bland way, emphasizing that this homophobia problem is their hysterical response, NOT yours. If you act upset, they might take that as you being upset ABOUT homosexuality, not just THEIR REACTION to it.

And then, most importantly, you MUST be consistent. Consistency is key. If you fail to be consistent, it won't work at all. If they try to debate whether or not you're a lesbian in any of the ways you described or any new way, say the exact same thing again, again in a very bland way. And that's all you say. You must NOT allow them to provoke you into saying or doing anything else in response to their badgering. If they keep pressing you and refuse to change the subject, don't get visibly angry or upset, just leave. Take your presence away from them. Immediately.

These are the same sort of behavioral conditioning techniques you'd use on a dog, incidentally. I don't say the dog thing to insult your family, I'm just saying virtually anyone will catch on eventually. They want some sort of emotional rise or serious consideration of the stupid things they have to say from you when they say them. They want you to get upset, they want you to think there's a problem just like they do, they want you to break down and say, "OK, bring on the men!" or some combo thereof, whatever.

But I think it's highly unlikely they'll be that gratified by something like what I recommended above spoken the same bland way each time. If you refuse to provide them with any form of reinforcement for their behavior, they will eventually stop. It might take several trials, and I will also warn you it's also likely that their behavior will probably escalate before they stop entirely. The first impulse will probably be to test you, wanting to find out if they just do MORE of what they're doing, that THAT will still work. Another warning, this might mean you'll not be spending that much time with them in the meantime, until they are better "trained." (But if you're as sick of this as you say, hopefully that won't be too much of a burden for you.)

If you very consistently and without fail do NOTHING other than the above in response to the offensive questioning, they're almost guaranteed to stop. Sooner or later. Sooner if they're clever, later if they're not so much.

Try it, and maybe you can come back and say how it went?

Good luck!

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