One of my friends recently told his parents that he is gay and has been in a same-sex relationship for the past year. His parents are very conservative and were less than thrilled to learn this information about their son. At first, there was a big fight and my friend stormed out of his parents house. However, he recently had another discussion with his family and things went much more smoothly.
Coming out to family and friends is a really important step for homosexuals, but it can also be very difficult. Things usually go one of two ways: your friends and family react positively and accept you, or they react the way my friend’s parents did. Of course you hope that the important people in your life will accept you, no matter what, but that is not always the case. However, there are some steps teens and young adults can take to ensuring that when they do come out to their parents, it will go smoothly and not end up causing World War III.
1. Pick a good time. It’s not a good idea to come out to your friends or family when either you or they are stressed, frustrated, or upset about something else. For example, you should never come out during an argument or in order to hurt the person you are telling. Instead, wait for a time when you can sit down together and calmly discuss the matter. You might even want to tell them ahead of time that you have something important that you need to tell them and ask that they prepare themselves for the conversation.
2. Tell them in the right way. This is a tricky conversation to have, especially if your parents do not understand or share your views on homosexuality. Start off by telling them that you love them and know they love you, and that this new information will not change that fact. You should stress to them that you are happy and that you hope they can be happy for you. By starting the conversation like this, you will be starting it in a positive manner and hopefully can help them ease into accepting you as a homosexual instead of a heterosexual human being.
3. Give them time to process the news. Many parents do not know that their children are homosexual until their children come out, so do not be surprised if the information is shocking or surprising to your parents. It might take them a while to become comfortable with the idea. Remember that you have had more time to become comfortable with the fact that you are homosexual, and try to understand that they will need time to absorb and adjust to this information too.
4. Explain to them how you feel about them sharing this information with other family members or friends. If you are comfortable with everyone knowing, encourage them to seek support from other people. If not, tell them you would rather they keep it to themselves for the time being.
5. Be prepared for a bad reaction. Hopefully, you will not experience a bad reaction, but if you do, you should be prepared for it. Sometimes parents site religious fears as a reason for not accepting a gay or lesbian child. They might suggest therapy, insult you, or ask you to just “pretend to be straight.” Try to imagine the worst case scenario, and think of ways you could handle their reactions in this scenario before you tell them.
6. Do not force a significant other on them at first. My friend has been in a happy relationship for over a year, but his parents were not ready to accept that information at first. After some time, his parents were more willing to meet his boyfriend, but at first, they just needed to accept their son and not another person. In the end, all parents want for you is to be in a happy, healthy relationship with someone who loves you and treats you well. It might take them some time to accept that this person is the same gender as you are, but hopefully they will accept it.
7. Have a back-up and a support plan. If your parents are not at all accepting of your sexuality, then make sure you have a back-up plan. If you live at home and think they might kick you out of the house, make sure you have an alternative living situation lined up before you tell them. If you are financially dependent on them and think they might cut you off, then maybe you should wait to tell them until you are more financially independent. Even if things go fantastically, you will want to have some sort of support plan. This could be another family member, such as a sibling, or a friend, who you can talk to about the experience. This person will be a source of comfort for you if things do not go as you hope when you come out to your parents.
Coming out to the people you care about can be very difficult and the rejection gay teens can experience can be devastating. If you do come out to your family and they act negatively towards you, do not turn to drugs or alcohol to help you feel better. Instead, find a support group who can help you through this difficult time. Remember, you are not alone.