“Coming out” by telling people about your sexuality can be a liberating and pleasurable experience. It can also be confusing, emotionally draining, and frightening in some cases, especially if you are coming out to your parents.

No one should feel compelled to come out, but if you feel safe and secure, we’ve included a guide to “come-out” to your parents or caregiver at any age and anytime.

Tell people around you before telling the world

Try to make an effort to tell your family and close friends about your gender and sexuality before telling it to the public through social media. Some parents may feel offended when their child does not confide in them about their issues. Although it may seem like parents are the one of hardest people to come out to, you may not know that they might be your biggest supporter. Thus, they may give you a better response if the news comes from you rather than someone else. 

Ensure your safety and welfare

If you believe that your parents will not respond well to you, that they will not tolerate your life as a LGBTQ+ child based on previous statements or attitudes toward the LGBTQ+ community, we recommend that you wait until you are independent of your family.

If you can’t wait to get out, make sure that you have a support system as your backup after you get out with your parents.

Be clear about your parents’ choices or what they can say

We’ve heard many stories about teenagers who are upset with their parents for “leaking” information about their sexuality or gender. When you go out with family and close friends, especially if you are just starting out, it is important to let anyone you know confide in you regardless of whether they can tell others or not.

Focus on the original

If you tell your parents you’re homosexual, make sure it’s out of love, not anger or frustration. This is not the time to express your doubts or concerns about being homosexual because it will likely increase your parents’ concerns and make you feel like you are unsure of your issues.

Empathize with your parents

Your parents may struggle to know how to be the best parent for a homosexual child because they may have little (if any) knowledge of homosexual people in general. Even well-intentioned parents can often say “they overlook their position” and say something hurtful and unintentionally. When this occurs, instead of responding to the winning player, try to engage in a calm conversation in which you explain your behavior.

Pour out your thoughts and feelings to your parents

After the first conversation in which you share your stories, you can share with them the steps you took (which frequently include denial, guilt, fear, anger, shame, loss, and, finally, acceptance) and give them advice on how you managed to deal with some of these difficult feelings.

Provide some knowledge to your parents

If your parents do not have homosexual friends or family members, it may be a good option to provide them with resources to help them to have better understand on your situation and support them during this difficult time. There are various platforms and organizations available out there to educate the parents of LGBTQ+ children. One of the organizations where your parents may find more information on LGBTQ+ community is PFLAG and Strong Family Alliance, where they can find information for family, friends and allies.

Acknowledge your parents (first response may not be what you expected) 

Remember that you can accept your sexuality the whole time of your life, however, your parents may need time to understand and do not have much idea on it before you discuss it with them. They may want to say something supportive but they have yet to process the news. Sometimes no response from them is not necessarily a bad thing. Thus, it is important for you to be patient and give them some time to digest the information.

“The only queer people are those who don’t love anybody.”–Rita Mae Brown.

Coming out is about you and your identity. And remember that there is no “correct” way to come out. This guide is intended to assist you in preparing for and processing your; it is not a doctor’s note that you should follow! Get a way out that makes you feel safe and comfortable. 

References

Brito, J. (2021). How to Come Out to Your Parents at Any Age. Healthline. https://www.healthline.com/health/how-to-come-out-to-your-parents 

Davidson, W. C. & Tobkes, J. L. (2016). 10 Things You Need to Know Before You Come Out to Your Parents. Teen Vogue. https://www.teenvogue.com/story/how-to-come-out-to-parents-tips 

PFLAG. PFLAG. (2022). https://pflag.org/ 

Support for parents of LGBTQ – Strong Family Alliance. Strong Family Alliance. (2022). https://www.strongfamilyalliance.org/