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Coming Out to Parents

Some tips

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By Kathy Belge

Before you come out to your parents, there are a few things you should think about. The first is, imagine the worst-case scenario. You may think your parents will be fine with this information, but what if they aren’t? The truth is, most parents do not react badly, but you might want to think about these things, just in case.

If you live with your parents and they decide to kick you out, do you have a place to go? Have a back-up plan. Line up a friend to stay with, in case you need it.

Are you financially dependent on your family? Are you relying on them to pay for your college? No one wants to believe that her parents will cut off their college funding for coming out as lesbian, but it has happened. If you think your parents might be the type, you might want to consider waiting until you are no longer financially dependent upon them.

Next ask yourself why you want to let your parents know? Is it because you want to let them know about an important part of yourself? Good. But if your answer is, “I think it’s time they deal with their homophobic feelings,” you might want to really consider what that means and what it might do to your relationship. Although it may seem tempting, do not come out during an argument or when you feel angry. Those feelings will outweigh the message you are trying to deliver and may make it harder for your parents to accept the news.

Consider telling another family member before you come out to your parents. An aunt, cousin or sibling can be an ally for you if your parents freak out.

Pick a Good Time

Try to schedule a chunk of uninterrupted time with your parent(s). It is usually better not to do this around some big family function, like Thanksgiving or the Winter Holidays. There is usually a lot of stress around these times of year already. However, if this is the only practical time, try to do it on a day that is less hectic.

I would recommend coming out in person, rather than over the phone or in a letter or email. There’s no replacing the face-to-face contact.

If you’re seeing someone, don’t bring her along. Although you may want her support, it will probably be easier for your parents if it’s just you. There’ll be plenty of time for introductions later. Or if your parents have already met your sweetheart and she’s dazzled them, you can let them know that she is your special one.

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