10

I come from India, where the culture is a little more conservative than in the West. I am a woman dating a woman (Let's call her D), currently in the US. My girlfriend's roommate's parents recently came to visit her in the US, and I was over at her place. Since I knew they were coming, I pitched in to help with the cooking/cleaning activities and hung out with them too, since I often hang out at my GF's house and her roommates (Let's call them A).

While her parents were very nice to me and conversing, they wanted to know how I knew D. In Indian society, dating is still a little new, and one would not generally introduce one's significant other to a friend's parents even in a heterosexual relationship. I was introduced as her friend. Her parents, however, were confused as to how we met and ended up being good friends, since we both go to different schools here in the US. I brushed it off by saying that we had common friends and had attended a few science events.

They returned the next weekend, and I hung out with my girlfriend again, as I do over weekends. We all had breakfast/lunch at home. They all wanted to go shopping after, and I was planning to head home, not wanting to intrude on their activity. However, my girlfriend wasn't feeling very well, so I decided to stay at her house with her while they (roommates and parents) all went out.

D's roommate told us when they came back, that the parents had a lot of questions about how exactly I know D, why I spend so much time at home with her, whether I come everyday when I live far away, and whether D has a boyfriend. This made both of us a little uncomfortable, especially when D's roommate asked us to come up with names and some story for how we know each other.

How do I gracefully indicate that while I respect them, they are not our parents and really have no business having to know the details of where and how we met and how we know each other, or have a problem with how much time I spend with D? In general as well, when I don't want to go into the whole 'D is my girlfriend' and have to deal with potential homophobia or shocked faces, how do I get people to be satisfied with 'I'm a friend of D's' and not have to answer detailed questions of how and why?

  • 1
    Are you and your girlfriend "out" generally speaking? – apaul May 21 '18 at 20:19
  • 1
    @apaul , we are out to our friends and me to me family, but don't want to go through the whole thing every time we meet a casual acquaintance, especially when it involves friends' parents who come from a conservative setting. – Samyukta Ramnath May 21 '18 at 20:25
  • You don't say so explicitly I think, but I assume A's parents are also from India? – AllTheKingsHorses May 23 '18 at 15:16
  • Yes, A's parents are also Indian. – Samyukta Ramnath May 23 '18 at 19:58
6

As I'm sure you probably already suspect, it sounds like the roommate's parents are already suspicious... The boyfriend question sounds like a pretty strong indicator.

How do I gracefully indicate that while I respect them, they are not our parents and really have no business having to know the details of where and how we met and how we know each other, or have a problem with how much time I spend with D?

This kinda depends on how "out" you are, or want to be, and how important this roommate situation is to your girlfriend. If you're the out and proud type "D is my girlfriend" would be a completely appropriate response... But guessing from your other questions, you may want to handle it more delicately. If you're willing, or wanting, to tiptoe you can just stick to your story.

Here, giving rather short, dry, boring answers will tend to help. When asked how you met, or why you spend so much time together, or anything along those lines just keep it short and uninteresting.

Q: How did you all meet?
A: Friend of a friend.

Q: Why do you all spend so much time together? A: Just have the weekend off, and not much else to do.

The key with this approach is to sound neutral and boring. Basically a "move along nothing to see here". No need to lie outright, unless they work up the nerve to ask more outright questions. It also helps to have a plausible exit strategy.

Q: Why do you all spend so much time together? A: We like to study together. Speaking of, we should probably get started with that.

One thing to keep in mind is that the roommate's parents may be poking around to see if their daughter has a "suitable roommate" this is obviously uncomfortable and problematic for you and your girlfriend, and a full disclosure may mean needing to find a new roommate. That's a pretty awful situation to be in, but weigh any action against how important this living arrangement is for your girlfriend.

Any rebuffing like a "this is none of your business" will probably just raise more suspicion, so probably better to avoid that.

In general as well, when I don't want to go into the whole 'D is my girlfriend' and have to deal with potential homophobia or shocked faces, how do I get people to be satisfied with 'I'm a friend of D's' and not have to answer detailed questions of how and why?

This is a little more tricky. People are often curious, and sometimes completely nosy. But again, short, dry, boring answers will usually do the trick. People tend to be less curious when the answers to their questions are boring. If needed giving them a quizical look when answering probing follow up questions can also help. It seems to give the impression that you're not sure why they would want to know, or you're not sure why they would bother to ask.


I can definitely relate to your situation, and I'd guess that many, if not most LGBT+ folks can remember times that they've had to stay in the closet, or times they've had to tiptoe around the issue with people. We've probably all done it at some point... But it's awful. And we shouldn't have to.

This kind of thing is a large part of the reason that I prefer being more of an "out and proud" type. Granted I have to deal with the occasional homophobe, but for me, it's easier to make the occasional homophobe uncomfortable, than to deal with the discomfort of going back in the closet. Then again... I'm usually not the type to be overly concerned about being well liked, nor am I afraid to step on toes when people get nosy, so that helps too.

I guess what I'm trying to say is, tiptoe if you absolutely have to, or if it's easier for you personally, but it's really really nice not to have to do that so much anymore. And I hope that you don't have to deal with this situation for long.

  • 1
    I have been giving boring or practical answers (my roommates/friends are out of town and I would get bored alone at home). I am out to most people, I just don't feel like I should have to explain myself to people who are just acquaintances. D's roommate (female) just told her parents that's she's dating someone - it's generally a bit of a high tension situation. I don't want to have to come out and deal with the their discomfort for no reason. I'd like to keep things pleasant and help out at home when required, and also spend time with D and not have to feel weird about it. – Samyukta Ramnath May 21 '18 at 23:55
  • @SamyuktaRamnath I get that. It tends to be one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't kind of things. – apaul May 22 '18 at 0:01
  • @SamyuktaRamnath I'm sorry if this isn't helpful, but when I get the no sounds to me like you are in a circumstance where you're being forced to explain SOMETHING - either how you are not queer, how you are queer or how you do not owe any answers (which is kind of an answer). No matter what, it seems like you're going to have to respond in a way that will make these cishets uncomfortable w/you. The question might be, "What's discomfort to live with - in yourself&with these people" cuz you have a girlfriend, cuz you have a friendship that is off, or cuz you told them to leave you alone. – R K Jul 17 '18 at 16:18

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.