Q: My sister is attracted to women. She hasn’t told me or our parents about it but I have seen her with a girlfriend. I want to be supportive of her but she has been stand offish and denies it every time I try to approach her. What should I do?
Ans: At this stage, the only way to be supportive to your sister is to accept the fact that she doesn’t want to talk to you about it. She has the right to navigate her coming out experience in a way that feels true to her. The process is very personal and can occur in different ways. Maybe she is still unsure and has a lot of shame around the way she feels. It is difficult to understand and accept a non-conforming sexual orientation or identity even in today’s world.
Remember that heteronormativity has been the dominant state of affairs for hundreds of years and that we are still surrounded by a society that frowns upon difference of any form. Give her time and space to do that but make yourself available to connect for emotional support nevertheless.
Ultimately if your bond becomes stronger, she will reach out for support. Telling her about your feelings, fears and what you are going through in life will bring her closer. When we are vulnerable with someone, we invite them to our inner world. We become open to deeper connections and less threatening to the other.
Create a safe space for her because she will need one whether she comes out or not. Other things you can do to strengthen the bond with her are appreciating her regularly and spending time together, not just to talk about serious things, but also to play and laugh. Acts of kindness and checking on her needs will also play a huge role in building respect and connection.
The writer is an Intimacy & Relationship Coach, Founder of The Intimacy Curator, an organisation promoting self-discovery through emotional and sexual wellbeing (www.theintimacycurator.com). (Have a query? Send it on firstname.lastname@example.org)