Coming Out to Your Parents or Family
Here are some ideas gleaned from experience and observation.
- Choose some quiet, private time. This is a purposeful conversation.
- Think about who can support them and have some resources ready. Think about who can support you and have those resources ready.
- Practice: either in your head or ask a friend. Concentrate on staying focused, clear and calm.
- Let them talk and listen for the underlying issues-grief, guilt, confusion, fear, disappointment. Try not to argue with their feelings.
- Help them start building a new vision of how this life will look. You know what they value. Reassure them about the essentials.
- You may find yourself in a kind of “parenting” role for a while. Not fair but this is a bumpy part of the road.
- Be patient. It may be a relief to them as well. It may be a total surprise (the hints were being ignored). It will take time. Reassure them about your commitment to your family. Don’t be disheartened if that comes later from them. In time, let them know what you need.
Note: It is hard not to feel angry that this normal aspect of your life has to be such a complicated issue. We know it wouldn’t be if the culture were different — if every parent who holds a baby thought maybe he or she will be a ballet dancer or a Rhodes Scholar or gay. And that was okay. PFLAG is committed to creating okay-acceptance and understanding. Some families find counselors who can guide the family through this work. It is that. Good emotional work that leads to authenticity and genuine closeness. Think about whether that would be a possibility for your family.
Also check the other PFLAG websites. Please use caution when using other internet resources, however. Some of them mean well but calling late at night or catching your family off guard, may not allow everyone to be in a safe situation. We are here to help talk you through your plan.