Love is a beautiful thing and when you discover it for the first time yourself, the excitement can barely be contained. It is a lovely journey, but unfortunately, in most parts of the world, members of the LGBTQ+ community never share the story of their love with their parents. Now, coming out to them might be extremely difficult for you, especially if they’ve perceived you a certain way their entire lives and you’re not certain if they can handle this news.
Hence, naturally this brings up a plethora of questions. How will they react? Will they accept me? Shall this news upset them? How should I say it?
Tellingg your parents is a fairly big deal, not just because they shall now know your orientation. This also lets you own your sexuality, have the courage to be yourself and not live in secret anymore.
We love to see love bloom in society, so here are some of our tips to ensure that coming out to your families is a lot easier and smoother than you’re imagining it might be!
1. Remember that first reactions are unpredictable.
Think back and try to recollect how long it took you to get used to the idea that you were gay or lesbian. It’s impossible to expect our parents to adjust to this news straight-away with lightning speed. They need time to process the news, perhaps deal with their worrying. However, this doesn’t mean that these first reactions are lasting reactions. In most cases, they just need time to process this information. When you come out to them, whether they suspect anything or not, this is the first time that they’re hearing it from you. Keep this in mind and try to give them at least a quarter of the time to let the news sink in, that it took you to get used to your sexual identity.
2. Take your time to decide whether this is the right time.
First and foremost, it is important to understand that there is no fixed age or time when you discover your sexual identity. It’s a constant lifetime process of finding yourself. Hence, there is no particular time or moment by when you have to tell your parents. You need to understand based on your personal circumstances, whether this is the ideal time for you to broach this topic with your parents. What might work for someone else, might not work for you and you shouldn’t feel pressured into opening up if you aren’t quite comfortable yet.
3. You don’t necessarily have to break the news to both your parents at the same time.
There’s no guidebook that tells us the best way to tell our parents whether we’re gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender. If you feel like there’s one parent you feel safer talking to, talk to them about this first. They might help you bring it up with the other parent and make the situation easier for everyone. No one knows your parents quite like you do, so trust your instincts and decide whether you want to tell them separately or together.
4. Pick the best possible time and place.
You can’t predict that things will definitely go your way when you come out to your parents, but it will make things easier for you if you choose a place and time that feels comfortable to you. There’s no such thing as ‘the perfect moment’, and if there’s one and you lose your nerve and let the opportunity pass, don’t sweat it. Just make sure that you’re in control of the situation and try again. Try to avoid telling your parents during the midst of an argument or crisis, because you’re not doing this to hurt them. Also, don’t steal someone’s thunder by coming out during an important family occasion like a wedding, funeral or holiday celebration. This deserves your parent’s full attention and is an important milestone in your life, so give it the attention it deserves.
6. Are you scared of the barrage of questions that are invariably going to come your way?
It’s okay. Questions are normal.Don’t stress yourself out by thinking of the answers ahead of time. Just try to be as honest as possible with your parents, despite however uncomfortable and awkward it can be and even if you don’t have all the answers. Reassure them that you are happy and healthy and don’t argue them into accepting you as it rarely works. Just remember that their curiosity is healthy. It shows their concern and wish to understand where you’re coming from.
7. Help them get educated on the subject.
Your parents might have asked you a barrage of questions themselves if they’re curious, but regardless of their first reaction, try to convince them to look at these organisations: PFLAG (Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays) and BeLongTo. They are dedicated to supporting parents of members of the LGBTQ+ community and can help your parents make a smooth transition to accepting this news. They have a wealth of resources and also allow your parents to speak to other parents, who are going through similar circumstances for advice.
And most importantly..
Hang in there! Your parents love you and will slowly come to terms with the news of your coming out. Stay optimistic and keep yourself relaxed because there’s no better feeling than being honest with yourself.