In a perfect world, gay teens wouldn’t have to feel scared or ashamed about their sexuality, and “coming out” wouldn’t be fraught with tension and fear. But, until we live in a perfect world, consider this handy coming-out guide:
Don’t expect coming out to validate you. People often think that coming out is going to validate their lifestyle or give them the approval and support they need. While you definitely deserve support, approval, and unconditional love, the truth is that you are the only one who can validate your life. Other people will never be able to make you feel good about yourself if you don’t already, and that’s why you shouldn’t have unrealistic expectations about coming out. Whether you are met with applause, tears, or something in between, understand that your true identity is not based upon other people’s feelings, and that no matter what, you will always be okay as long as you respect yourself and honor your spirit.
Choose your words wisely. Once you are ready to talk to your parents about coming out, make sure you choose your words wisely. Don’t preface your announcement with “I hope you are sitting down” or “This is going to shock you.” Have more faith in them than that, and don’t act like you are telling them some awful news. Clearly state the situation and allow them to take it in. Save the explanations and rigmarole. They shouldn’t need it, and even if they do, there is really nothing you can say or do to make them feel better if they don’t want to accept it. Be cool, calm, and collected, and don’t resort to yelling or name-calling and the like. You did your part — now it’s their job to digest it.
Pick the right time. Some might say that there is no “right” time when coming out to parents who aren’t understanding, yet there are some times that are better than others. Don’t do it at times that are already tense and hectic, such as holidays or family reunions. Don’t do it when you have company and aren’t somewhere private. Don’t do it when alcohol is involved, even if it’s just a few beers. You might go to a secluded park or you might break it over breakfast when the house is quiet. Only you will know when the time is right.
Don’t assume it isn’t necessary. Like I said earlier, in a perfect world “coming out” wouldn’t be the arduous process that it is now. In fact, in a perfect world, coming out wouldn’t even be necessary! Parents would just be open and accepting of their child’s sexuality, no matter what it was, no explanation necessary. Yet that isn’t the case. We live in a world where sexuality is still a shameful thing, whether it’s heterosexual or homosexual — especially when it comes to homosexuality. It’s not your job to educate people or even to support your parents on their path to accepting you, but doing so can make their lives easier and help them to better understand where you are coming from. Even if you think “it’s obvious I’m gay,” sometimes parents just need to hear it because they hate to be left in the dark when it comes to their own flesh and blood.
Have a support system. Have a friend call you after you come out, or speak to someone who has come out successfully to their parents in the past. We all need support, especially when it comes to stressful situations like this. Good luck!
It is always hard to be honest about our most private and secretive thoughts and desires, especially when it involves your parents. But you deserve to stand up for who you are and tell your truth.