Coming Out: Parents

The hip and teenage-savvy parents one might find in a novel or an after school special are a nice reminder that not all people lose their souls, minds and stability once they leave the realm of teenagedom, but, sadly enough, they are not nearly as common as they are in the world of entertainment. As much as we would all like to think that our parents would love us unconditionally, homosexual or not, it rarely happens that way. It's not their fault, so always try not to hold their prejudices against them, since they grew up in a different time than we did. Homosexuality is viewed as many things in society's eye, and, for them, it is rarely a good thing.

You shouldn't be afraid to come out, though. It's a terrible thing to fear the opinion of your parents. What you should do, though, is to analyze your parents. Don't do it obviously (it might get you into some trouble), but try to observe them and their many opinions. If your parent says something along the lines of, "I don't care what you are, honey, you'll always be my little girl (boy)," then you really shouldn't worry about what you tell them. If they say something like, "I can't believe those people let their son back into their house after he came out," then you might want to reconsider.

This all depends on your relationship with your parent, however.

Say you are very close to your parents (or maybe just one). That's a moment where your honesty with them is vital, and you should let them know how you are feeling (because a lot weighs on the mind when you're harboring a deep secret). Relationships like that require honesty, and you need to tell them the truth. Things might be hard, even awkward, at first, but it'll be worth it in the end. When your parents accept your homosexuality, everything gets a whole lot easier.

But what if you're not close to your parents? What if you often fight with them, and you never seem to get along with them? Well, sad as that is, it does happen with some teenagers. If your parents are liberal and completely for the homosexual way, I say, "Go for it!" But if they are conservative and old-fashioned, your safest bet is to keep your secret as long as you are depending on them. As soon as you move out, or as soon as you graduate college, tell them the truth. That way, if they decide to cut off the funds, you are at least stable and steady and you won't be left stranded.

It is also best to wait to tell your parents. If you are thirteen years old, and you've just realized that you're homosexual, it might not be great for you or your parents to come out. Why? Because the fact of the matter is that you're still very young, and, like it or not, no one really believes that you can have a complete understanding of yourself. They usually won't believe you, and they'll mistake it for rebellion, confusion or hormones.

If you're sixteen, you're a lot safer when it comes to breaking the news. Parents are more willing to believe someone who's gone through puberty for so many years. It's not a guarantee, however. Even at that age, they're going to doubt what you know about yourself. If they recognize you as a mature and levelheaded person, you have a greater chance. If you're the type to slam your bedroom door after screaming, "You don't understand me!" however, you're going to have a tough time in convincing them that this isn't a phase.

(And I can go into more detail about the difference between a phase and a fact of life later.)

It's important to remember—because you will encounter this problem throughout your life—that many parents are uncomfortable with homosexuality. Most people are, even if they aren't phobic. It's not because they are bad people or because they don't care for you. It's because they have lived most of their lives hearing the social propaganda that stigmatizes homosexuals for being diseased, immoral and rebellious people.

What I'm talking about is a situation like this:

Say you come out to your parents. It, at first, shocks them, but they accept you in the end. They ask you, however, not to mention it all the time, and not to bring who you are seeing into the house.

Anyone would see this situation as a little hostile, I'm sure. After all, it sounds like your parents don't want anything to do with your world. How are you supposed to live under the same roof as someone who can't even handle your girlfriend or boyfriend? Well, try your very best not to take it to heart. Many people are willing to hold onto their family and friends even if they don't agree with their lifestyles (this would be an example of unconditional love), but that doesn't mean they have an easy time of it.

The thing you have to remember here is that you shouldn't make homosexuality your identity. Heterosexuality is not the identity of a heterosexual, so it shouldn't be for you either. It is simply your romantic and sexual preference. It is who you are, yes, but being homosexual does not require that you wear a rainbow something-or-other and tell everyone you meet.

Basically, don't force your homosexuality onto your parents if it means it will damage your relationship. If they don't want to hear about it—don't tell them about it. If they ask you, "Hey, how is your boyfriend/girlfriend doing?" let them know. That's how you have to go about it because that's how your parents are, and you cannot change them, just as they cannot change you.

If all else fails, remember this:

Being homosexual is not wrong.