Coming Out: How to Come Out to Your Parents

Written by: Janine Mack – B Sc
(Psychology)

Last updated date : April 05, 2022

Table of Contents

Coming Out: How to Come Out to Your Parents

  1. Deciding on Coming Out
  2. Reminders before You Come Out to Your Parents
  3. Final Note

If you’re part of the LGBTQ+ community you are probably familiar with the process of coming out. You might even have had to do it yourself or thought about it. Quite often, queer folk have to come out many times in their life. This article is to help out those who want to come out to a certain group of people in their lives: their parents. Telling one’s parents about being gay can be challenging. The article intends to assist with that.

Chapter 1:

Deciding on Coming Out

For a lot of people living in the closet can feel stifling. It’s often difficult to live your life pretending to be something you’re not. Some queer folk wish to let different people in their lives, whether it’s their friends or their colleagues or their parents and other family members, know about their sexual or gender orientations. Coming out can feel liberating. However, it also has its risks and other unwelcome things accompanying it. For various reasons, some people also choose not to disclose this information to certain groups.

The bottom line is that everything about you coming out is completely your choice: when, how, and who you want to come out to. It’s all up to you.

The current reality is that coming out of the closet has been made into a sort of milestone event in every queer person’s life. And yes, in a world where heterosexual and cisgender identities are still seen as the norm, it is important to say you don’t belong to such categories. However, this has happened to the point that queer people feel they need to come out for their identities to be real or valid. It puts pressure on them to come out for example before they feel ready to. Ultimately this can do them more harm than good.

There’s no rule saying you should come out to everyone unless you want to. Furthermore, your identity is still valid even if you don’t come out or take time to. Some people are open about certain aspects of their identity and some are private about it. It’s fine. Do what feels right by you. Come out because you want to do it and you feel ready and safe to do so. Not because of other factors making you feel you must. 

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Chapter 2:

Reminders before You Come Out to Your Parents

If you’ve decided to speak to your parents about this, here are some things to remember that can help you:

• There is no proper way to come out

What’s important to remember is that you should do it in a way that feels comfortable to you. There are no rules or steps you have to follow when coming out. Do it in the way that feels right to you

• It doesn’t have to always be in person

Coming out is a difficult thing to do for many. It puts people in a very vulnerable position and they can be full of emotions and anxiety for example. This can sometimes be intensified by having this conversation in person. People may feel much better and secure with options such as calling or writing about it. Think about which method makes you most comfortable and try to go with that.

• Ensure your safety

If you’re still living with your parents and are dependent on them you might want to be careful. You may come out and things may be okay but think of the opposite outcome as well. Coming out doesn’t always go smoothly. In fact, it’s sometimes one of the hardest things many people have to do. Especially coming out to parents. Not many people can be sure of their parent’s reactions after telling them they’re gay or queer. So it’s best to prepare in case things go negatively. For example, some people get sent away from home for being queer so take into consideration consequences like this and see if you have somewhere to go or people to help you.

Another solution could be waiting until you’re more independent and not living with them anymore. Then at this point, you can get down to telling your parents you’re gay.

• Try to gauge your parents reactions

Doing this before telling your parents that you’re gay can help you understand what their reaction might be like. This can help you prepare and know what you might expect. You can do this by bringing up queer subjects in conversations or watching media with these themes and see how your parents react. Some people who have negative attitudes towards it may have very apparent reactions. Examples are becoming angry or disgusted about the topic and wanting to talk about something else or not wanting to be exposed to the media.

• Accepting can take time

We live in a world that’s still predominantly considered a cisgender and heterosexual one. Things are changing and society is gradually moving towards being more inclusive. However, a lot of parents grew up in a much different time. Back then queer identities were not normalised and as visible as they are now. For reasons like this parents may not have always seen their children as anything other than what society normalised for them. So it can be hard for them to come to terms when their child doesn’t fall under those norms. Because of this, parents’ first reactions may not be what their children wish for. It may come as a shock to them and they may have strong reactions as a result. Remember to give them some time to come around. Try to be patient and empathetic and not to get affected by their initial reactions.

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Chapter 3:

Final Note

Coming out isn’t the easiest thing. So if you’ve decided about telling your parents or anyone else that you’re gay, well done to you! Different people have different life situations and no one has to feel pressured to do anything they don’t want to in terms of coming out. If they want to they can and if they don’t want to that’s fine too. It’s all about what makes you comfortable and doesn’t inconvenience your life.

If you don’t come out your identity is still valid and does not mean that it’s not important to you nor does it mean you’re ashamed of who you are. If you do come out and those you came out to don’t accept it, just know that it’s not on you and that there are others out there who will accept you. It may not be the same as coming from that person, but try not to let how they feel about it bring you down. Your orientation is important to you and if someone can’t accept it’s on them and you don’t need that negativity in your life. There are many, many people waiting to accept you for who you are. Good luck on your journey!