Coming out to your parents as lesbian, gay or bisexual naturally brings up a lot of questions. How will they react? Will it change anything? Can I say it without getting upset? How should I say it? When is the best time?
Telling your parents is much bigger than them simply knowing your orientation. It is about you owning your sexuality and having the courage to say ‘this is who I am’ and not living in secret any more.
Here are 9 Tips to help you get there:
1. First reactions are unpredictable.
When coming out to your parents whether they suspect anything or not, this is the first time they are hearing this news. You have had months or even years to come to a place of acceptance and being ready to share it. They only just found out so remember first reactions are not always lasting reactions and they will need time to process this information.
2. Determine whether this is the right time.
It is crucial that you take the time to consider your own personal circumstances when making the decision to come out to your parents. What might be the right thing for one person, may not be right for you. Your safety and wellbeing should always come first.
3. You don’t have to tell them both at the same time.
If there is one parent you are more nervous about telling, you don’t have to tell them together. Start with the parent you feel safer talking to. You’ll know if it’s best to tell them separately or together so trust your instincts.
4. Pick a good time and place.
This news deserves your parent’s full attention. So make sure you choose a time that won’t be interrupted and in a place that feels comfortable for you. You are in control of this situation and its key you feel as comfortable as possible. There may also never be “the perfect time,” and if there is one, you might lose your nerve and let the opportunity pass – that’s ok, don’t sweat it if that happens and try again.
5. Be clear about who they can tell.
This one can easily be overlooked as you will be so relieved at finally telling them, that it’s natural to forget to be clear what you want to happen next. Decide beforehand whether you are comfortable with them sharing this news with your family or if you want it kept between you for the time being – be clear about that.
6. Their approval or permission is not required.
Try not to expect too much from your parents and where ever possible, avoid measuring the success of the conversation by their initial response. If it’s not what you hoped for, don’t despair or give up. They may just need more time. 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.
7. Questions are ok.
One concern can be a barrage of questions, especially knowing the answers can sometimes be awkward and uncomfortable. Don’t stress yourself out trying to think of every answer ahead of time. Questions from your parents are natural and whether you have answers or not just be as honest as you can.
8. Help educate them.
Whatever reaction your parents have; good, bad or ugly, suggest they have a look at these organisations: FFLAG and Belong To; They are dedicated to supporting parents of lesbian, gay or bisexual sons and daughters and have a wealth of resources nationwide. It will help educate them on all things LGB and give them the opportunity to speak to other parents for advice.
9. Talk to us.
Coming out to your parents is a big deal full stop. Even parents who have the best intentions will frequently get it wrong and say something unintentionally offensive and hurtful. Everyone’s experience is different so whether you are on the brink of doing it, have done it but are struggling or just need some support with it all, join our community and talk to one of our awesome mentors who understand completely what you are going through and get your questions answered now.