Telling Parents You’re Gay ... from a parent’s perspective

How to prepare yourself to come out to your parents about being gay.

Parents should love their children unconditionally and many, many parents do so. However, what if you fear, your parents may ‘freak-out’ at the news you are gay?

The first thing is to have good information yourself and be secure in who you are. Have at least one caring support person to turn to if your parents react poorly to your ‘news’

Secondly, try not to blurt it out inappropriately .... aim to choose an unstressed time (ie. not Christmas Day, their birthday, or a family party!) and have positive written information to leave with them. Offer to come back or phone later to answer questions they may have. Do not get into a verbal fight, say things which can’t be mended or slam out of the house.

Thirdly, if the atmosphere between you is already a tense one or you have been away from home, perhaps you may need to meet them half-way, explain how hard it has been for you (say sorry about past problems if necessary) and assure them that you love them.

Yes, you are the ‘child’ but you may need to be the leader until they get over the first emotional upheaval. They will need time, may be lots of time, and support. Explain being gay is not a ‘choice’ or a ‘lifestyle’ and they didn’t ‘cause’ it, but that to be happy you need to openly be yourself.

Remember when you realised you were not heterosexual and how long it took to sort out your feelings? Parents too, although truly loving you, may have really strong conditioning and decades of misinformation to rethink and overcome. This may be social, religious or a deep fear of the unknown; a feeling of lack of control and a (mistaken) but real sense of loss.

Understand they may react in many ways (or a combination) of ... fear for you; grief; anger; shock; guilt and more. These emotions are genuine because they love you ... not because they don’t!! Just as you do not fit the heterosexual expectations you learned and grew up with, you also no longer fit many of their previous ideas of what they expected and hoped for you.

Mums particularly may cry and do a ‘guilt’ trip, Dads are more likely to go quiet or be angry.

Other parents hope if they ignore the news ‘it’ will just go away; some will want to ‘fix it’ in various ways ... because that’s what parents do when their kids are seen to be ‘hurt’!

Yes, of course, you are still you, but by coming out as gay you throw them into unknown territory. In fact, it is because they are heterosexual that it takes time for their intellectual and emotional understanding to catch up, adjust, and fully understand that being gay is an entirely whole way of ‘being’ ... just as their sexuality is for them!

If there is no bridging the gap just walk away for a while and use your ‘gay family’ for love and support to be the very best person you can be ... but leave an opening for the future ... keep in touch. Life has a way of teaching all of us lessons and even five or ten years down the track your parent(s) may find they’ve gradually come to understand ... or you may visit but not force the situation ... however, never give up .... there is always hope.

  by Terry Stewart

Invisible Families written by Terry Stewart is now available via publishers Random House NZ Ltd
Random House,
Pte Bag 102950,
North Shore Mail Centre
Auckland 1310
Telephone: (09) 444 7197
Fax: (09) 444 7524

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Comments

Everybody is equal in life

I think the biggest polerbm with the gay marriage debate is forcing religious institutions to jump on board. And that's just not fair! Not only with gay marriage but all marriages, the government has what they refer to as marriage, but the Church needs to hold on to what they expect of marriages. I heard the funniest story from my priest about a heterosexual couple giving him the run down of their marriage plans expecting the church to jump on board with their time requirements, just because they could run over to the courthouse and get it done in 5 minutes. We all need to re-evaluate what our expectations of marriage are, only then will we move forward.

That's an easy answer if you ask the Church to marry you, don't epecxt for them to stay out of it! As a practicing Catholic, marriage is a sacrament that has everything to do with my religious beliefs, so I don't epecxt for my Church to stay out of it. In fact, I lean on my Church for the hardest times. Your point is well taken, but if people don't want the Church defining their definition of marriage, they can't require the Church to prescribe to their definition of marriage. As far as government goes, my marriage is deeply rooted in my faith and goes well beyond Uncle Sam.

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