Dear Jody

By Jody Valley

At face value

Q: My boyfriend and I have been fighting over this problem, so we decided to bring it to you to decide who is right. Here's our problem: The issue stems around his family. Jim, my boyfriend (not his real name) and I don't agree on my family's motives, so even though we see things the same, we don't agree on what is really going on.

Let me try to explain. His family acts very supportive of our relationship. They introduce us to all their friends, take us to parties and invite friends and neighbors over when we are visiting. They have pictures of us everywhere around their house, etc.

Well, for me it all seems so phony. First of all, they don't treat any of their other sons and their girlfriends like this. In fact, they mostly ignore them. There are no pictures around; they aren't invited to parties; and they don't even invite them over to their house much.

When Jim and I are with them, I feel like a toy on display. It seems like they are trying to make a point to everyone they know, how liberal they are by showing off that they accept their gay son and his boyfriend. I can't put my finger on it, but it just feels like I am being used.

Jim, on the other hand, just thinks they are being nice. He thinks they just like us a lot and that we should just accept what is going on, at face value, and not make it into something that it is not.

What would you do if it were you?

Accepted Son

A: I know that Jim just wants to let it go, but what are you thinking that you would want to do? Confront them, not have a relationship with them, only see them once in a while? Are you trying to get Jim to see "who his parent's really are?" In other words, what are your motives here.

My best advice for you and Jim is for each of you to try to understand where the other person is coming from, and what you are each feeling. This will take some talking and especially listening for each of you. It is easier to find solutions in a relationship if both parties know how the other person feels, and what they believe about a situation.

From my point of view, I have no idea if you are being "used" by his parents, but maybe they are just trying to let you and Jim know that they really are accepting of you; or they do have a need, for whatever reason, to feel liberal in all this. I think if I were in your place, I would try to accept what they are doing as caring and loving--give the best possible interpretation to their behavior, and not focus on motivation. Now, if you find out that his sibs are feeling bad because of all this attention to the both of you, and not to them, that would be a reason that the parents "motives" should be confronted by everyone involved.

Q: I don't have a question, I just want to tell you something that happened to me and my partner, "Jenny," last week. We were walking through a park by our house; one we walk through quite frequently. We have always felt pretty safe in the park, as we live in a neighborhood that is fairly liberal. Jenny was upset because of something that happened at work, and we were walking along holding hands, talking. We heard some shouting, looked up, and saw a car load of young men stop. Then, they got out of their car. We soon realized that they were yelling and threatening us. They were shouting things like, you f***ing lesbians. We immediately knew we wouldn't be able to get away from them.

Just then we saw another car stop and out jumped several more young men. We really thought that we had had it! But, these new young men started shouting to the first group to leave us alone, and to get out of there. Luckily, the first group didn't seem to want to fight with them, so they got in their car and left.

Our rescuers didn't stay to talk, or for us to thank them. They just got in their car and took off, waving at us.

Safe and Sound

A: Lesbians seldom dream of "Knights in Golden Armor," but apparently they can show up for us, too--at least, sometimes!

Have a problem? Send your letters to: "Dear Jody," C/O Between The Lines, 20793 Farmington Road, Suite 25, Farmington, MI 48336. Or, e-mail: (Jody Valley spent 12 years as a clinical social worker. She worked with the LGBT community both as a counselor and a workshop leader in the areas of coming out, self-esteem and relationship issues. The "Dear Jody" column appears weekly.)

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