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Question
I have a huge problem. My girlfriend and I have been dating for about three years now, and just a few hours ago she said she wants to become a lesbian. What should I do? I mean, I still like her, don't get me wrong. But she has only had two boyfriends in her entire life, me included. She claims she is a Christian and it says flat out in 1 Corinthians 6 : 9-10 that homosexuals will not be granted the Kingdom of Heaven.

What should I do about this? My personal convictions are telling me to dump her, but I can't find the strength to do it. And she comes from a family where word gets out fast and her aunt is a respected Christian missionary. She'll get kicked out of her house sooner than you can say "Adios" and I just can't muster up the courage to do anything. I've grown close to her family and I feel so shameful for not telling them first.

Answer
Thanks for your sharing your question Brad,

There is a lot here to think about: your relationship, her disclosure about her sexual orientation, religion and potential family reactions.

First and foremost, know that her disclosing to you that she is a lesbian is about her being honest and authentic to who she truly is. This isn't a choice, nor a reaction to you as her boyfriend. Have you asked her how she now feels about your relationship? She may be attracted to you as well as women. Does she want to continue the relationship with you?

Regarding her religion, she may have to have a discussion with herself and her own religious convictions. There are many Christians who are not heterosexual and have a close relationship with their God and have evolved in their understandings and convictions related to their sexual orientation and attractions.

As to what to do, I can advise the following:
- Because this just happened, you may want to have a discussion with her about your relationship; what does it mean for the both of you, how you want to move ahead, how you want to make some changes... perhaps do nothing now and not rush into a decision
- If you both talk about disclosure, you may want to advise her to think about the potential challenges that may happen. Perhaps she may want to tell very selective people that she trusts first, then slowly tell other people as she builds her confidence as well as allies
- The both of you, or independently, may want to go see a counselor to help sort out the situation. That way, you can go into depth with all the issues that you shared with me. I encourage you to explore whether your city has a local gay and lesbian resource or support center.

Know that it's NOT your responsibility nor right to share personal information about her to her family or anyone else without her explicit permission. By doing so, you are not only violating her trust, but it may create tension, conflicts and broken relationships between her and her family. This is her family, not yours and she has to live with the outcomes, not you. If by chance you are feeling a sense of betrayal, know that it's understandable and natural to feel that way but try to recognize that she had the courage to be upfront and honest with you. That certainly says something positive about how she feels towards you.

You as someone she trusts, can help support her during this time. Ask her what she needs from you? At the same time, it's important to take care of your needs and feelings as well and you have every right to ask for time, space, whatever will help you to make healthy decisions. Again, talking to a neutral third party such as a counselor, or someone else that may have the professional experience can help. It is natural to feel hurt with this kind of disclosure. Again, without having more discussions and processing what has just happened, you may want to wait and not jump the gun on any decision until the both of you talk out your feelings with one another more. Be gentle with yourself and each other at this time.

Hope this information helps.

All the best and kind regards,

Dr. Reece Malone  

Gay/Lesbian Issues

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Reece Malone

Expertise

I can answer questions on sexual orientation, gender identity, gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender and transsexual sexuality (youth and adult), coming out and disclosure, transgender and gender-non conformity including transition process, how to support a partner of someone GLBT, sexuality and faith/spirituality/religion, safer sex and harm reduction, comprehensive sexuality education, and questions from service providers working with LGBT individuals and families.

Experience

I'm currently a full time sexuality educator and facilitator specializing in sexual orientation and gender identity. I hold the positions of the Education Program Coordinator at the Rainbow Resource Centre (supporting LGBTTQ individuals, families and allies) as well as clinical sexologist at Four Rivers Medical Clinic in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. My roles include: sexuality education, counseling/therapy, media spokesperson and consultant. I have sat on several non-profit sexuality organizations as well as been a consultant to the World Health Organization/Pan American Health Organization as well as the Public Health Agency of Canada. For more information visit: http://www.reecemalone.com

Organizations
American Association of Sexuality Educators Counselors and Therapists, The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality, The American College of Sexologists, The Canadian AIDS Information Treatment Exchange, The Canadian Professional Association for Transgender Health, The Sexual Health Educator's Network (Manitoba), The International Society for Sexual Medicine.

Publications
Malone, R. (2010). "ShoutOut Against Homophobia, Biphobia, Transphobia and Heterosexism." Rainbow Resource Centre. Winnipeg, Canada. Malone, R. et al (2010). "Your Questions Answered. Gender Identity in Schools." Public Health Agency of Canada. Ottawa, Canada.

Education/Credentials
Undergradate degree in sociology - specialized focus on human sexuality Masters of Public Health (Sexology) Doctorate of Human Sexuality

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