Probably one of the greatest anxiety-inducing, emotionally intense and even frightening act that gay people face is coming out to parents and family. Sometimes individuals suffer with this issue for many years, while now a healthy attitude of tolerance and acceptance is slowly growing in culture and society’s around he world. This article consist of a letter written to ElderWisdomCircle.org a free advice site recommended by House of Gar, by a young person struggling with the prospect of coming out to her parents.
Our elder has some suggestions for laying the groundwork.
I was planning on coming out to my parents sometime in sophomore or junior year of high school. I’ve known I was gay since 7th grade, and it took me a while to accept myself and find a girlfriend that I loved, and I was hoping that by 10th or 11th grade I’d finally have the courage to come out to my parents. It was already going to be difficult, because they’ve been divorced since I was two. Then a couple months ago it got even more difficult to come out to them. My mother moved out of state with her husband. My dad, brother, and I all live in another state. My mother and I haven’t been in contact since she moved halfway across the country, and I’m not sure that I’d be completely comfortable coming out to her anymore. Her moving threw a wrench in all of my plans. I don’t want to come out to my dad when he’s alone, because he has more conservative views and I’m not entirely sure how he’d react to knowing I was gay, but I also don’t want to come out to a stranger, which is what my mother will be to me in a few years.
I understand how difficult it must be to live with this secret burdening you. This does take a great deal of courage and I admire you for making plans. Perhaps you would feel more comfortable coming out to another adult first, such as your girlfriend’s parents (if they are aware of your relationship.) Possibly a school counselor would be a safe person because they are trained to help students with issues like this and will keep your information confidential. Of course, you should choose a person wisely by checking out their opinions first.
How about your brother? Are you close enough to tell him? Maybe that would be the first step and he could help you by being there when you tell one of your parents. Maybe you could visit your mom in the near future and tell her then before you become more estranged. The fact that you don’t see her much anymore will make it easier if she doesn’t approve. And you never know, she may be accepting and it might draw you closer to her.
As far as your dad goes, you can start preparing him for this big reveal by educating him. Tell him about TV shows featuring gay characters, show him magazines with stories of gay relationships, mention gay people you know, and generally get the subject out in the open. Test the waters to see how he reacts. Even the most homophobic people have been known to change their attitudes after some exposure.
You could even invite your dad to school to meet with you and your counselor when you tell him. You won’t have to bear the brunt of his reaction all alone.
It’s been my experience (what little I have) that most people tend not to be surprised at a coming out announcement, because, if they have been at all attentive, they will have noticed your inclinations by now. When my granddaughter came out her junior year in high school, everyone in the family reacted with love despite being a little uncomfortable. I hope you will have the same experience. If you get put down or rejected, don’t let it get to you personally. This will tell more about the other person than about you. I’ll be thinking about you and hope it goes well. Good luck.