Coming Out to Your Parents
If you're lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or questioning (LGBTQ), you may struggle with the decision of whether to come out to your parents. Telling your parents can definitely have its rewards — sharing such important, personal information about yourself can strengthen your relationship with your parents, and may even deepen their trust in you.
But while some parents will welcome the news, others may react poorly. Tina, 17, says she doesn't think she'll ever tell her mom or dad she's a lesbian. "My parents raised a girl, and they just wouldn't understand that I like other girls," she says. On the flipside, even if your parents are LGBTQ themselves, they may understand and support your decision, but worry about the homophobia and heterosexism you may have to face.
Thinking It Over
If you're thinking of coming out to your parents, it's important to know if one or both of them will understand and support you. If coming out means that you risk losing your family's support, you may need to wait until you can find a way to support yourself, both emotionally and financially. Think carefully about your answers to these questions before making your final decision:
* Are you sure about your sexual orientation? Do you definitely want to declare it at this point in your life?
* Are you comfortable with your sexuality?
* Do you have the support of friends and family?
* Are you knowledgeable about the challenges that LGBTQ people face?
* What's the emotional climate at home?
* What's your motive for coming out now?
* Do you have available resources to care for yourself if your parents decide not to because of your sexual identity?
* Are you financially dependent on your parents?
* What is your general relationship with your parents?
* What are their views about sexual orientation?
* Is coming out your own decision?
If you don't think you can count on either of your parents to be supportive, consider talking to a teacher, counselor, sibling, or another adult you trust. That person may also be able to help you talk to your parents about your sexual orientation.
Having the Talk
If you decide that coming out to your parents is definitely the right move, then consider when, where, and how you'd like to tell them. Would you feel more comfortable talking to one parent, or would you rather tell them both together? If your parents are busy people, schedule a time to have the talk. If you feel a little nervous, it's OK to say so — your parents might be too! And don't be surprised if your parents already know what's on your mind — sometimes parents know a lot more than they let on, and they're just waiting for you to let it out!
"My parents said they had always known there was something a little different about me," says Sarah, 16. "I think it helped them be more prepared for when I came out as bisexual. They didn't freak out at all!"
If you go through with it, congratulate yourself on sharing the big news! And congratulate your parents for listening and being there for you. Talking to your parents about your sexual orientation — and your sexuality in general — is a big step toward fully embracing your identity and becoming a sexually healthy person.