20 June 2005

Coming out to parents

Hi, I’m really nervous about telling my parents I’m gay. I told some close friends and they accepted it. But one didn’t. He couldn’t accept the fact that I am gay. Will my parents react like this? Is it good to not tell them for a while and tell them when I move away from home?


Hey Josh,

I’m glad that you are asking this question, because lots of young people of your age ask themselves the same question everyday. I’m glad to hear some of your close friends accept you as you are; they are the kind of friends you want to keep.

The first thing you must take into consideration is whether or not you can pretend to be heterosexual in the eyes of others – in this case your parents or your classmates. Some young people take the “I don’t care what others think of me” approach, while many others hide their identity while they are still living with their parents or while they are still in high school. There are many reasons why it’s sometimes easier to hide who you truly are or how you really feel. At Alterheros, we believe that everyone has a place in society and that everyone has the right to live freely. But depending on your background, this is not always realistic for everyone.

Generally, society views men’s feelings as unimportant. So often when boys talk about their feelings to a friend, their parents or an adult in whom they trust, the subject of the conversation is often quickly changed to something else. Boys and men often lack that crucial feeling of support that they need, because, in the male world, deep feelings are kept hidden and not discussed.

The danger factor – physical violence and peer pressure, especially in school – is the number one reason that prevents young people from coming out , and forces them to suffer in silence by living “a big lie” by pretending to be heterosexual, . There is also always a risk when going out or expressing oneself through actions or clothing, or in being at a certain club or in a certain part of town. All well-informed queer people are well aware of this and take measures to avoid being physically or verbally attacked.

The acceptance factor – How will people react? What will my parents say? Will my dad kick me out of the house? Will my parents accept me as I am or will they try to change me? Or treat me differently because they feel I’m different?. It’s normal to have all these questions.

Having said this, it is really up to you to decide when is the right time to tell the people around you. As you can see, it depends on many factors that only you can weigh in your decision.. Ask your local health care center or teen centee if there are any GLBT youth groups that hold weekly or monthly meetings in your area. These groups are safe places where you can talk to other young people who are going through the same thing and asking themselves the same questions.

Unfortunately there is no way to predict your parents’ reaction, for there is no golden rule. You know your parents best!

As whether to tell them in person or not, that is a choice you should carefully consider. At first, it may seem easier to wait and tell them when you “move away from home”. However, take into account that it is often seen as thoughtful to announce such important news in person (when possible) than over a distance. Your parents will appreciate that you told them in person, no matter how they react. Consider also that it’s hard to gauge someone’s emotional reaction when you can’t physically see them…

How long you wait – whether you want to tell them in person or not, is your own decision and with time, you will learn to trust yourself and your feelings. Once you feel comfortable, you will when the right moment is.

You have accepted that you’re gay, and that already is a big step!

Take the time to look at the answers to other questions that were asked here on Alterheros.com. They all contain great information that can help you in the process.

Wishing you the best,

AlterHeros team