Q. Homophobic in-laws and my lesbian mother: I’ve been married to my husband for four years. Not only do I have a strong relationship with my in-laws, but they get along very well with my lesbian mother, her wife, and their child. It came as a great shock last week when my mother-in-law mentioned her strong belief that LGBT folks are “abnormal” and that gay couples shouldn’t have children. She has never said anything homophobic before, but I am very upset. She apologized by saying that she didn’t intend to hurt my feelings, but now I’m concerned about family gatherings where my in-laws, my moms, and my sibling will be present. Should I tell my mom what my mother-in-law said? Should I avoid inviting them to the same events? Should I just pretend like this never happened?
A: There’s no need to pass along homophobic comments to your mother, but you and your husband absolutely need to speak with your mother-in-law. When she says gay people are abnormal, she means your mother. When she says gay people shouldn’t have children, she means you. There is no way she could have said what she did in a way that did not hurt your feelings. It is disingenuous of her to pretend that she wanted to say something offensive without offending you. Apparently knowing you and your mother for the last four years hasn’t persuaded her to rein in some of her homophobic ideas, but at the bare minimum, she should be able to control herself to keep from saying offensive things about your family in front of you.