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Coming Out

by GLPages.com May 4, 2023

How to "Come Out"

  1. Don't put yourself on a deadline for coming out. Some gay partners who already are out may pressure you, but wait until you are really ready.
  2. Start with your friends before your family. Your true friends will appreciate your honesty and be touched you were willing to share. Those who shun you will eventually come around and those who don't were never really your friends to begin with.
  3. Delivering the news through a third party is a bad idea. Your family will want to hear it directly from you and will resent finding out from someone else.
  4. Avoid coming out in an angry or defensive tone. That creates emotionally charged situations where no one is really listening. 
  5. Give family members a chance to absorb the news before expecting the worst. If you had good relationships with your parents prior to coming out, chances are they will accept it. It might be right away or it might be a while. Be patient.

Tips & Warnings

  • Don't bring your partner to family gatherings and introduce him or her as just a friend because later, when you do come out, everyone will feel deceived. It's best to avoid that kind of situation.
  • Don't be surprised if one of your parents, especially your mother, says she knew it all along. Mothers watch for signs and no matter how many proms you attended with the opposite sex, mothers hate to admit they were wrong about something this big in their children.
  • Keep being who you are and eventually most family and friends will realize that your choice of a partner doesn't change your real self.
  • After you come out, you will be more sensitive to homophobic comments. Better to walk away than start an argument that could lead to a fight.
  • The stress of coming out can lead to alcohol or drug abuse. Join a support group or see a therapist if you have no one to talk to about your feelings.
  • Realize that some family and friends will never accept your sexuality. This may be very painful. But you wouldn't like it if someone tried to change your beliefs, either. So live and let live.

How to Know if You are Ready to "Come Out"

  1. Find a support network or consider seeing a professional therapist who is gay-friendly. Coming out can be difficult and sometimes life changing. It is important to  have a safe place for you to share your experience.
  2. Buy a book or two about parents of gay children. Even though your parent or parents are ultimately responsible for their reaction and feelings, understanding the issues and questions parents face may help your formulate what to say and how to say it.
  3. Wait for your parents to ask. The gay adage is, "If your parents ask, they are ready for the answer." 
  4. Write a letter to your parents instead of telling them face-to-face. A letter can be edited until it says exactly what you want it to say. Once you give it to them, it also gives your parents a chance to read everything you want to tell them without interruption. They can read it in private and alone. Encourage them to talk to you once they are done.
  5. Attend a Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) meeting. You will experience how many different parents have accepted their sons and daughters. Then, when you are ready, give your parents the phone number. They may not use it right away, but at least they have it.

Tips & Warnings

  • Give a book to your parents - when you're ready. Just as it is important for us to know that we are not alone, it will be comforting to your parents to know that they are not alone.
  • As hard as it may be to believe or accept, you are not responsible to your parents for being gay. It is not your fault or theirs. Being gay is not a fault. It is no better or worse than being straight. It is part of what makes you who you are. Good luck!
  • You may not have the luxury of picking the place and time to come out to your parents. You may be "found out." Someone may tell your parents, or they may find something as harmless as a book. Turn this surprise into something positive. Once they know, they know. Move forward and enjoy the sense of relief.

How to "Come Out" to Your Parents

  1. Recruit some gay or lesbian friends who are willing to provide ongoing emotional support and feedback as you plan your coming out process. Consider their  practical suggestions about the do's and don'ts of coming out.
  2. Clarify your thoughts and feelings about what being gay or lesbian means to you. Understand that coming out is a very personal decision. There's no right or wrong way to do it.
  3. Anticipate that your parents may believe myths or misconceptions about gays or lesbians. Consider their religious beliefs, whether they may feel guilty about their parenting skills, or their concerns about what the neighbors will think.
  4. Practice an opening sentence that's comfortable for you and sets the tone for the discussion. For example, "Mom and Dad, I have a really important topic to discuss with you. I want you to know that I am gay," or "Dad and Mom, I want to be honest with you about my life. I am a lesbian. I have known this for a long time  and now I want you to know it as well."
  5. Understand that your parents may initially experience a sense of loss that will take them time to work through. Their feelings may focus on their loss of "the  perfect child," "the perfect family" or their future role as grandparents.
  6. Share relevant personal information about your process of accepting your sexual orientation. For example, "I knew I was different when I was 9; when I was 16 I learned that it was called being gay," or "I believed all of the negative things society says about gay people until I found positive gay role models who are business owners, lawyers and teachers."
  7. Focus the conversation on your feelings and your personal experiences. This is not a religious or political discussion. It's about you and your efforts to have an honest relationship with your parents. 
  8. Stop the discussion if you feel threatened or overly criticized, or if either you or your parents become emotionally overwhelmed. Coming out is a process that happens over time.
  9. Review the outcome of the discussion, regardless of how you evaluate it, with your supportive friends. Create an event where you and these friends celebrate this significant, brave accomplishment in your life.
  10. Continue the discussion and information sharing about your life with your parents. Talk about people you date, gay and lesbian social events you attend, gay and lesbian couples you meet or social causes you support.
  11. Have patience. Any number of situations may cause you to postpone this difficult discussion. If this happens, be gentle with yourself and identify when you'll try again.

Tips & Warnings

  • Coming out is difficult, especially when you're coming out to parents. Therefore, it's important that you set the stage so that as many factors as possible are in your favor. In your family it may work best to talk to your parents separately. Or you might get more support and insight by first coming out to a close sibling and then using his or her feedback before talking with your parents.
  • Provide a list of appropriate resource information to educate your parents about the positive realities of being gay or lesbian.
  • This discussion is about your identity as a gay man or lesbian and your desire for an honest relationship with your parents. Redirect your parents if they attempt to  place you in a stereotypical box that focuses on negative information. Introduce the concept that your sexual orientation is another one of your personal  characteristics, just like eye and hair color, left- or right-handedness, and the areas you excel in, such as accounting or teaching.
  • If you have any questions or concerns, contact a trained therapist before engaging in any activity related to health and diet. This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical advice or treatment.
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