Reminds me of my childhood, when it was expected that me and my sister and cousins intuit that our straightlaced, buttoned-up, dutiful civil service worker aunt (my Dad's older sister) was lesbian and silently tolerate it (not accept it), without anyone ever breathing a word about it or allowing discussion or questions on the matter, and without my aunt ever openly dating or talking about her partners (except as 'good friends' or 'travel/hiking companions').
Granted, it was the 1980s-90s and a conservative smalltown, but looking back it's still so ridiculous and sad that my aunt & family felt she had to be so closeted, conscientious and careful around kids and with her lifestyle in general, when her messy siblings (my other aunts & uncles) were leaving kids all over town, working through multiple spouses and getting divorced, getting arrested, falling down in the alleys with alcohol problems, etc. Even my parents, though better behaved and more law abiding, still got to kiss and show intimacy in front of us or the world. I never saw my aunt even hold hands with her girlfriends (that I knew of, she had three main serious ones in her adult life), let alone anything more, and that must have been so isolating and lonely especially in our tiny rural community. It's heartbreaking and a really sad waste. My open-minded more well-traveled Mom was really close friends with her at one point, as well as being sisters-in-law, and my Mom let her essentially help raise us on a daily basis, so it's also strange that she never thought to tell us kids that our dear aunt is gay and that it's ok.
That aunt and the rest of my aunts & uncles & cousins estranged from me & my parents & siblings when I was a preteen, over a will dispute that erupted over my grandmother's big farm. Once the dust cleared, my aunt left the family and the town (but not the county/region, I'm told, which is..odd), cut off almost all contact, and neither me nor my folks ever saw her again. I haven't set eyes on her or spoken to her in 14 years, and the last time I tried to approach and say hi (with my sis--we went to her work to try and catch her for a "hey jsyk we graduated/it's been a while/how are you/sorry for all the legal shit" chat.. probably ill-advised and rude on our part, but we were kids then) she chewed me out and told me to get lost and not talk to her or come around, presumably hurt over my parents' part in both the will dispute and her closeting. She made my poor little sister fucking cry. So I figured I'd respect her vehement wishes and let her close the chapter if she wanted. The weirdest part though is that she still kept sending me and my siblings birthday cards til we were like 25, and that was all the communication we got.
It's too bad, because I think she might like to know that her beloved niece grew up to be gay, too, as well as a feminist. I think it's really too late to reconcile and mend fences now, though. Too much has happened, has changed, and been missed on both sides. We could have tried earlier to get in touch, perhaps, and she could certainly have been more open to it, and not scapegoated little kids over an issue she had with her brother. Her estrangement felt like losing another mother for little me at age 13. A miserable situation overall.
In response, I now make a point to stress to my young boy cousins (aged 8 & 12) that when they're old enough it's perfectly fine if they want a boyfriend or if they want to be single rather than cave to pressure to get a girlfriend, and that it's acceptable to like theatre/fashion/'girls' toys and cartoons' etc.. Their dad is an insecure straight jock and Mama's boy who keeps trying to push them to do super masc/hetero activities, so I like to challenge that where I can (he hates me lol).