Q. Family friends using my life to bludgeon their queer daughters: My mother’s two closest friends each have a daughter, “Jenny” and “Ryan” respectively. Jenny, Ryan and I are all 30, and we grew up together. They both moved out of state, we don’t see one another that often, and we’re all pretty different people. But I love them and think of them as cousins, and I usually see them at Christmas. Ryan and Jenny are both lesbians. Ryan came out a few years back, and Jenny came out six months ago. I’ve tried to offer as much support as I can from afar. Recently, Jenny told me her mother’s been complaining to her that my mother gets to have a married daughter with grandchildren (I have a toddler) and that she (Jenny’s mother) will “never get that now.” Jenny says Ryan’s mother has also said similar things to her. Apparently my mother is the “lucky one.” Neither Ryan nor my mother have said anything to me about this. My mother has never suggested that she thinks this way about either Ryan or Jenny.
Prudie, I am furious with my mother and her friends. It makes me sick to think of my marriage and son being used as a club to bludgeon my queer friends. How do I best support them? What should I say to my mother, or to Ryan and Jenny’s moms?
It’s possible your mother hasn’t been crowing to her friends about her “victory” in having a straight daughter with a grandchild but that they’ve both separately used you two as an example of what they’ve “lost” by having lesbian daughters. Before you blame your mother for her friends’ homophobic behavior, tell her what Jenny’s told you, express your anger and indignation, and ask her if she knows anything about how her friends have been demeaning their children. (You may want to give Jenny a heads-up first so she’s not taken by surprise if this leads to a fight between your mothers.) If you do learn that your mother’s been a part of this dynamic, or has encouraged her friends to bemoan their children’s “failure” to give them grandchildren on demand, you have my full permission to get very angry with her.
When it comes to supporting Jenny, you have a pretty clear road ahead: Since she’s told you exactly what’s been going on, you can just ask her outright. You’ve known Ryan a long time, so unless Jenny gives you reason to think Ryan doesn’t want to talk about it with anyone, you have grounds to get in touch and ask if she’s still getting the same harassment from her mother and, if so, whether there’s anything you can do to offer her support, solidarity, and backup.