Finding the courage to vocalise what you feel inside is hard, especially if it is about something that the majority of society still deems to be taboo. Those of us that identify as LGBT may still face the struggle of “coming out”, for fear of not being accepted. Instead of hiding who you truly are, seek in the comfort of your loved ones and let yourself be heard and loved. Here are some tips on coming out to your parents:
Consider the timing.
If you do decide to come out to your parents, it would be best if you do not just blurt it out while you’re having dinner. Coming out should not be when your family is going through a rough time, physically or financially. As they might be on high levels of stress and therefore, react irrationally.
Determine whether this is the right time.
Do you still live under your parents’ roof or rely on them to cover expenses such as your education, clothes, car payments, gas money or insurance?
If you think they’ll be reasonable in their reaction to the news, then go for it, but if you think they might try to use this in some way as leverage against you (for example, restricting who you can see or even perhaps cut you off financially), then waiting until you’re no longer dependent on your parents might be a better time to come out to them.
Be in a good place in your life.
Be comfortable and confident with who you are. If you are still figuring out what drives you in life, exhausted and imbalanced. Perhaps this should not be the time you spill out your guts since they are already tied up in knots.
Showing your parents how miserable you feel at the moment is only going to reinforce their imagined fears that you’ll end up living a sad and lonely life.
Be realistic and anticipate what their reactions will be.
Parents can sometimes surprise you and may not have any issues at all. Some parents have known before their children even think of coming out. They may even embrace you for being honest with them.
But if they are socially conservative and tradition, don’t expect them to accept your sexual orientation straightaway. Yes, hope for the best, but be prepared with what you’re going to say and how you’re going to respond to their reactions.
Arm yourself with answers ahead of time.
Perhaps your parents would not even know what to say. But most of the time, parents usually blurt out all the concerns that they have.
Through dozens of articles and online blogs, you can prepare yourself before coming out and have the answers to every parent’s burning question. Having the talk with your parents should not be done by the book, you know them best. Therefore, you know best on how you can come out to them the way that they are able to understand.
Be ready for the “hellfire and damnation” argument.
If your parents are nonreligious, skip to #7. But whether they are devoted church-goers or the occasional kind, religion might play a part in your coming out.
You probably can’t win an argument that has been written in sacred writing. However, make sure you are calm and have educated yourself with sufficient answer to convince your parents that you are not going to hell.
They may not comprehend what you’re saying or even agree with you if they do, but at least they’ll know you have given this a lot of thought, and you’ll know how to respond to them in later conversations.
Stay calm, even if your parents aren’t.
You might have someone like Sally Field for a mother — her reaction to her son being gay was, “So the f*#% what?!” — but if your parents are conventional, be ready for them to get angry, melodramatic and downright cruel. Don’t join in. Keep your cool and be the rational adult in this encounter.
Their approval or permission is not required.
Don’t expect too much from your parents right away. It’s taken them a lifetime to believe what they believe, and that’s not going to change in one conversation, and maybe not even in 100 conversations, so try not to measure the success or failure of your first coming out the conversation by their initial response.
If it’s not what you had hoped for, don’t despair and don’t give up. Give them time, but do not give them the impression that you’re asking for their approval or permission. This isn’t about them. It’s about you and who you truly are. Show them that you are the same person they’ve always loved, just more honest now.
Know when and how to make your exit.
If they are just screaming and not even trying to understand where you’re coming from, it is alright to walk away. Give them some time to apprehend and just tell them that you would talk to them when they have both cooled down.
Whatever happens, try to leave the door open, even if you or your parents feel like shutting it.
In the end, know that they love you.
Your parents may come into terms and accept you for who you are, be it in minutes, weeks, or even years. Maybe they wouldn’t. But do not take this as a sign to abhor them, but be grateful for the years they spent nurturing and caring for you.
Take all the time you need to establish a better relationship with your parents, and always remember that at the end of the day, you are still their little girl or boy. No matter which gender or sexual orientation you best identify with.
Live your life with no regrets. Remind your parents that you love them even when they are not talking to you. We are all living in borrowed time, and instead of living it in denial or in recluse, coming out and being yourself will be the only way to be happy.
And I think that’s all that every parent wanted – the minute you came into this world.