Q. I am a 45-year-old gay man who moved away from home about 20 years ago. Recently, I married my partner of 15 years. I have always visited my sister, with my partner, for a week after the new year. She told me that if I brought my "husband" this year neither of us would be welcome. She suggested that I come alone and not mention my marital status. I’m really torn. I love my partner, but my sister and her children are the only family I have. Suggestion?

Q. I am a 45-year-old gay man who moved away from home about 20 years ago. Recently, I married my partner of 15 years. I have always visited my sister, with my partner, for a week after the new year. She told me that if I brought my "husband" this year neither of us would be welcome. She suggested that I come alone and not mention my marital status. I’m really torn. I love my partner, but my sister and her children are the only family I have. Suggestion?


A. I am so sorry that you and your partner have been placed in such an untenable situation. When gay marriage became legal, it unfortunately did not end discrimination and hostility.


If you have not spoken to your sister about your feelings, you should do so. It is her right to disapprove of gay marriage, but it is equally your right to marry the person of your choice. Remind her that you are not on a nationwide crusade to promote gay marriage, but a crusade to promote "family values." You want to be a part of your family.


If she refuses to accept your partner into her home, then you should spend your holiday or vacation time elsewhere. Sometimes families disappoint us, and we find "family" with others whom we love.


Your sister may come around if you give her time. Remember, life moves forward. Belief systems change. Women were once thought to be "too emotional to vote." A Harvard professor actually said, "If women went to college their brains would grow and their uteruses would shrink." African-Americans and Caucasians could not marry each other in many states until 1968. Many of us Southerners are of the age where we remember that African-Americans could not eat at certain restaurants, could not enter a doctor’s office except through a side door and could not sit with Caucasians in a movie theatre.


You may wish to share some statistical information about changing beliefs on gay marriage with your sister. According to the Pew Research Center, 37 percent of people supported gay marriage in 2009 while 57 percent supported it immediately before it became law in 2015. Likewise, the Gallup Poll reported that 27 percent approved of gay marriage in 1996 and now that figure is at 60 percent or above. In fact, the Supreme Court decision to allow gay marriage increased the percentage of people who found it to be acceptable. The research also shows that younger people are more likely to accept gay marriage. So, even if your sister doesn’t, her children likely will.


If you love your sister, do not cut her out of your life. Stay in touch. Show her that you are happy in your relationship. You may also suggest books for her to read or websites to visit. Many times, people are frightened of what they do not understand. If her argument is religious, remind her that there are many Christian churches that now accept homosexuality, bless same-sex unions and permit marriage in the church.


Meanwhile, you and your partner spend your new year making your own memories. Do not let anyone else dictate your life or impede your pursuit of happiness.


— Nancy Ryburn holds a doctorate degree in psychology from Yeshiva University in New York City. She currently teaches psychology at Southeast Arkansas College. If you have questions, email them to nancyryburn@gmail.com