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Discussion Starter #1
I've also posted this at Hoping that someone can understand and help me come out to my parents - Empty Closets - A safe online community for gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender people coming out

I just thought that it might be beneficial to post it here as well, where people know and understand my personality type and how that relates to my relationships with those close to me and all the other bits and pieces that are involved when coming out.




I've already looked and done all the obligatory Googling that happens when a person finds out that they're gay and living in the 21st century, which is what has led me to posting on this forum.
I can see that every case is different and all circumstances are different when someone's considering coming out to their parents - it depends on them and their beliefs and also the gay individual and his/her beliefs, and the relationship the individual has to their parents and the relationship the individual's beliefs have to their parents beliefs. So, really it doesn't surprise me that I was unable to find a quick easy answer. And I would be very grateful if you'll read through what I say about all these things and give me some sound advice for how to come out to my parents.




First I'm going to describe my mum, my relationship with her, her beliefs, and the relationship between our beliefs. Then I'm going to describe my dad. I imagine that I'll drop a lot of things about myself throughout, but if there's anything else I can think of at the end I'll describe that too.


Okay, my mum is my best friend in the world. I was never close to her when I was a child - I was one of those kids that whenever they're upset they become really closed off and don't want comfort, but simultaneously need a parent's recognition and care to know that IF I wanted that comfort I would be able to have it. Basically, I don't envy her job at all. I know that it really hurt her to not be able to be close to me when I was hurting, and as pains grew from a scraped knee to the pains of adolescence that pain became harder for her.
I grew up earlier than I should have done - it's a cliché, but it was almost as if I was born an adult. I expended the most minimal time to being a child - I always wanted to rush on and grow up, and this manifested in the usual way of completely alienating one's parents like they're suffering from Bubonic Plague. Again, I know this was very hard on my mum, the most caring and maternal person in the world. I grew out of the hormonal parts of being a teenager by the time I was about 12, and I believe that the mood swings I experience then onward were symptoms of my Clinical Depression, which I was diagnosed with a few years ago.
I suffer from Endogenous Depression, which means that it's totally chemical and not caused by circumstances. When I was getting treated for this depression and through recovering, I became really close to my mum. A lot of people would class our relationship as unhealthy - we share a lot of physical affection and often speak to each other in silly voices - it's almost like we're reliving that part of my childhood that I never got to share with her, but I know I'm too dependent on that loving comfort. At other times we have very deep conversations - I help her with a lot of my problems and she helps me with mine.


Now her beliefs. She would call herself liberal, but I know in reality that's not true. I know that most of it is totally generational, and that for her generation she would be considered liberal, but it's her assertions that she is liberal that upset me a little. Before I even knew that I was gay, I found myself strongly defending gay people on television and whenever homosexuality came up in conversation. She makes comments such as bemoaning people who are outrageously gay (i.e. very camp in a way that makes them seem arrogant and almost as if it's the only thing they define themselves by), but in a way which suggests that she believes it applies to all gay people. She's a General Practitioner (a doctor), and so pretty medical-geared. Anyway, one of these very camp gay men was on a television programme we were watching and my brother pointed out that he had some kind of wart or coldsore on his lip and my mum made a comment about how it was probably caused by genital warts (we make jokes about sex in our family, this is pretty perusal). And I pointed out that she would never even consider that as a cause if it was a straight girl.
She also saw a patient, a poorly young girl with two mums. She came home that day from work just surprised that the young girl seemed happy, and reluctantly agreed it as a possibility when I said that a child raised by two lesbian mums might actually benefit from its parentage.


I think that if I told my mum that I was gay, she'd first think that it was a phase or something I am mistaken on (like when I told her I was an atheist, she's not majorly religious, but she does believe in a god). I think then she'd pity me because of the difficulties I'm going to come across and the fact that I really want children some day etc.
With my mum, my greatest reservations are how it's going to change our relationship. How when she things I'm having a phase and I adamantly state the opposite we'll be arguing and she won't want to be near me (we never argue normally). But I know that will pass. Mostly I worry about how she'll just look at me differently and I know she'll be thinking about how I'm gay (not necessarily in a negative way but in a contemplative way) whenever we're together. She'll see me differently, but I'll still feel like the same person.


Okay, now my dad. We're not as close as me and my mum are, not by far. We were quite close when I was I was little, when I never saw that more adult side of him. When I was old enough to understand, I would always argue with him about how he treated my mum. He wasn't abusive or anything but he did, and still does say the most horrible things. We all know that he doesn't mean them, that he's just letting out air, but that doesn't change how horrible the comments are at the time. He also does a lot of projecting; here's and example: He's feeling overweight, so he calls my mum fat. I think what would get me into their arguments is because my mum never defends herself. Recently I've discovered that she went to see a psychologist about this all who told her to just pretend that she's in a bubble and don't listen to anything he's saying. Anyway, I don't want the focus of your responses to be about their relationship - it's dysfunctional in a number of ways, but in this instance it's only important in how it changed my relationship with my dad.
When he's out of these rages he doesn't remember what he's said and how irrational he's been during them. This led to me being angry with him and refusing to acknowledge him because of this anger, and him just believing that I was a moody teenager and not even considering taking fault.
This has diminished somewhat since I understood him from a psychological perspective (I love psychology, by the way), and realised that it's completely futile to say ANYTHING when he's in that kind of state - he doesn't take any of it in, it's like it's bouncing straight off of him.
He's not very intuitive, so though I know that our relationship isn't perfect and feels a little strained, I doubt that he does. I don't like getting close to him - as in, I don't like kissing him on the cheek goodnight and always need to be prompted, the same about hugs. This is in direct contrast to me and my mum where we're probably snuggling on the couch. I think that the innate child inside of me physically fears him because of how he gets all 'big and scary' and how I didn't understand any of it when I was younger and actually considered him to be a threat. If my homosexuality does have an environmental cause, I think I greatly attribute how I feel generally about the male sex to that innate fear of my father.


Now, his beliefs. He, again, would probably consider himself liberal, but in the same way as my mum: where they're all pro-gay rights etc. but don't actually believe that internally. When presented with homosexuality he makes homophobic comments and jokes. I remember distinctly when I was quite little and I didn't understand what homosexuality was, that my dad made a comment about it being 'wrong to be gay' and me asking 'why?' and him saying that it's the things that they do together. I think this is a good way of describing how he thinks on the subject as a whole - that he's totally fine with it as long as he doesn't have to think about it, doesn't know any details, and it doesn't directly effect HIS life.


I think what frightens me about my dad's reaction is that I'm not totally sure how he'll react. It'll be hard for him to reconcile something which he loves to death (i.e. me, despite how I feel about our relationship) with something that he deep down doesn't understand and is against. I know that his initial reaction will be anger, just because that's how he reacts to shocking news, but after that I just don't know how he'll deal with it. I'm also aware that my parents' different ways of dealing with the news will drive a wedge between them and be the cause of yet more argument, except in this case my mum will feel like she has to fight back in order to defend me, which means the argument will escalate.


There are also my beliefs, of course. Like I mentioned before, even before I knew I was gay was very pro-gay rights, and whenever either of my parents DID make a comment, I would always point it out and analyse their poor judgement. Deep down I'm a bit of a hippy - I dream about running away from it all and living off the land, connecting with nature. Even though in reality I know that I love learning too much to be satisfied with doing that.
I've also always been fiercely independent - I suppose this reflects in how I never let my mum close when I was hurting. I never wanted to be like everyone else and, I suppose it's a kind of rebellion, except instead of being a teenager, I was 7 or 10, and it was never in a self-destructive/acting out way, just more in valuing individuality - why the heck would you want to be like anyone else?
This rebellious attitude asserted itself into my gender identity as a child. I was always such a tomboy. From about the age I could speak, I would adamantly refuse to wear pink. I preferred playing with boys toys and climbing trees and making forts that doing specifically 'girl' things. Strangely, though, although I still hate pink, I still identify as a woman, though I know that I'm not a 'girly' woman. I am very maternal, I appreciate my curves etc., so my gender identity is pretty solid.
I know that it's probably just an excuse for hesitating with coming out, but I also very strongly believe that no one's sexual orientation should be assumed, and that I shouldn't HAVE to tell them or anyone else that I'm gay.




Now I've given you a taste of my situation, I would be OH SO GRATEFUL if you could give me advice on how to come out to my parents. I wrote so much up there, that I just hope that people still continued to the end. I'm totally up to answering any of the questions you have,


Many thanks,


Charlotte
 

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I have zero experience with anything like what your going through. But I will say this, I'm a dad with two daughters. I may be the opposite of your parents, where my moral conviciton is that the behavior is wrong, I have a deep apreciation for human beings however they may think or feel and hold no internal dislike for people of your orientation.

If one of my daughter ever becomes gay and comes out I'll have nothing but love for her still. I'd appreciate it if she was just straight forward with me and said "dad, there's something I feel you should know." I'd tell her that she knows what I believe, but she will always be my daughter, always welcome in my home and if she ever needs anything I'll be there for her just as I always have been.

It's hard to take it this way, but if your parents will hate or even dislike you for who you are that is really their problem not yours. I don't know anything about yours except for what you posted, but if they truely love you they won't change.

On a similar note my grand parents had always said their weren't really racist. We're white and live in the upper midwest. Where they lived there lives the only minorities were a few scattered native americans. One of my cousins, who is one of their favorite grand daughters got pregnent from a black man in college and decided it would be best to marry him.

At first they were pretty ugly. It was shocking and even revolting to them. Now, 12 years later, her husband is a very loved and respected member of the family and over time my grandparents had to work through their feelings not with some nameless person but with a member of their family. It changed their hearts for the better. I hope things will turn out well for you too.
 

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The wall-o-text slays me!

Anyway, the actual coming out is not usually as gut churning as the fear of what may happen. You are who you are, your parents will accept you or they will not. Neither of those things are within your control, you will have to trust that they will be there for you like any parent should, or if the worst case scenario happens, deal with the rejection if they allow bigotry to blind them and then set about creating a new family of your own choosing.

You cannot expect your parents to be educated on a topic that doesn't affect them at the moment, your mother in particular sounds as though she would make an effort to understand, the personal connection of you being the one coming out as gay will make a massive difference, so speak to her first. You clearly know they love you, and they are not anti-gay so you're in a pretty good position to be starting from. Comments they make can cut you but ask yourself why they would they make an effort now to be PC about what they say, it's a theoretical topic that doesn't touch them, and would they feel horrified to know their comments were inadvertently directed at you. You're the one who knows your parents, so only you can hazard a guess on that one.

I have an INFJ sister who is gay who came out to our parents before me and because she had a crush or two on random guys when she was young my mother was sure it was a phase for quite a few years, like you fear yours may. Anecdotally, as a baby boomer she grew up in an era when gay meant paedophile and something sick to be dammed, she was not "liberal" like your parents claim to be, religion was a factor, and I can't imagine it was an easy thing for mum to reconcile, now she is explicitly embracing of anything queer coloured. Without that personal connection I imagine she would still consider it wrong. My dad has a harder time with it, he simply doesn't say anything on the topic yet doesn't reject partners because he loves his children.

The initial coming out doesn't have to be perfect, don't stress too much about it or work yourself up too much, so long as they remain engaged you will have many conversations over a longer period where you can explain everything. If you get it wrong the first time around you can correct it, all that matters is that you can be open with them.



The only proviso I add (which doesn't sound like a factor for you) is if you are fearful of violence or ending up without a place to live then try to speak to someone else you trust first and do not put yourself in jeopardy.

Good luck.
 

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I think that you are right - your parents will initially think your being gay is you acting out a phase or just expressing your uniqueness. I think you will need to introduce them to the idea slowly, with lots of reading material to support your position. I have a feeling that, once your parents accept that this isn't a phase, they will find they are not that surprised. They probably already know it, deep down.

Also, what an amazing opportunity for growth for both of them. See if there are any support groups in your area that you can reach out to for strategies for coming out. Best of luck!
 
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Discussion Starter #5
Just to say, you've all been EXCEPTIONALLY helpful. More helpful than the other forum that I joined that's all ABOUT coming out, but maybe that's because they get so many people asking similar questions that they couldn't really face the
wall-o-text
<-- Lols :D

I apologise for that, by the way, I think it's because I can type really fast, so it's almost like a string of consciousness as I think. I did it in Word and it actually said that it was 2,000 words, haha. If only I could have done it for my coursework!

On a similar note my grand parents had always said their weren't really racist. We're white and live in the upper midwest. Where they lived there lives the only minorities were a few scattered native americans. One of my cousins, who is one of their favorite grand daughters got pregnant from a black man in college and decided it would be best to marry him.
It's really amazing how the two situations are so alike considering that they're so different - one's about who you're attracted to and the other is about a person's origins/appearance. Racism just completely boggles my mind, though. With homophobia I can slightly understand because being surrounded by people who are gay might cause someone to question their own sexuality and realise things about themselves that seem frightening, but you don't even have that excuse with racism! It's hilarious in its insanity.

The wall-o-text slays me!

Anyway, the actual coming out is not usually as gut churning as the fear of what may happen. You are who you are, your parents will accept you or they will not. Neither of those things are within your control, you will have to trust that they will be there for you like any parent should, or if the worst case scenario happens, deal with the rejection if they allow bigotry to blind them and then set about creating a new family of your own choosing.

You cannot expect your parents to be educated on a topic that doesn't affect them at the moment, your mother in particular sounds as though she would make an effort to understand, the personal connection of you being the one coming out as gay will make a massive difference, so speak to her first. You clearly know they love you, and they are not anti-gay so you're in a pretty good position to be starting from. Comments they make can cut you but ask yourself why they would they make an effort now to be PC about what they say, it's a theoretical topic that doesn't touch them, and would they feel horrified to know their comments were inadvertently directed at you. You're the one who knows your parents, so only you can hazard a guess on that one.

I have an INFJ sister who is gay who came out to our parents before me and because she had a crush or two on random guys when she was young my mother was sure it was a phase for quite a few years, like you fear yours may. Anecdotally, as a baby boomer she grew up in an era when gay meant paedophile and something sick to be dammed, she was not "liberal" like your parents claim to be, religion was a factor, and I can't imagine it was an easy thing for mum to reconcile, now she is explicitly embracing of anything queer coloured. Without that personal connection I imagine she would still consider it wrong. My dad has a harder time with it, he simply doesn't say anything on the topic yet doesn't reject partners because he loves his children.

The initial coming out doesn't have to be perfect, don't stress too much about it or work yourself up too much, so long as they remain engaged you will have many conversations over a longer period where you can explain everything. If you get it wrong the first time around you can correct it, all that matters is that you can be open with them.



The only proviso I add (which doesn't sound like a factor for you) is if you are fearful of violence or ending up without a place to live then try to speak to someone else you trust first and do not put yourself in jeopardy.

Good luck.
You're totally right, of course, and some part of me knows that it's totally on their shoulders how they're going to react. I suppose I shouldn't be so preoccupied with THEIR reactions and THEIR feelings (but I'm an INFJ!) because it's ultimately something fundamental about me and shouldn't effect them to such a great extent. I think I just worry because there opinion matters a lot to me, even though no one's opinion has ever really mattered when I've been determined about something. Though, the personal aspect of it makes me feel vulnerable.

What you said about their little comments makes a lot of sense to me as well - I definitely shouldn't look so deeply into it. Maybe it's just because they think differently to me, where I'm very pro- all human rights, and wouldn't say anything like that on principle, maybe they're not and just don't have qualms about making comments. But I still wouldn't want them to hold back from saying those kind of things when they DO know that I'm gay just because I'm around, because that changes their behaviour, makes it seem forced, if you get what I mean?

Also, no need to worry about me being chucked out - I'm way too stubborn to ever let that happen. I think I'd just refuse to leave the house because of their 'bigoted nonsense' and stay put until they're forced to come around!

I think that you are right - your parents will initially think your being gay is you acting out a phase or just expressing your uniqueness. I think you will need to introduce them to the idea slowly, with lots of reading material to support your position. I have a feeling that, once your parents accept that this isn't a phase, they will find they are not that surprised. They probably already know it, deep down.

Also, what an amazing opportunity for growth for both of them. See if there are any support groups in your area that you can reach out to for strategies for coming out. Best of luck!
What's hilarious is that it shouldn't be all that deep down because I'm pretty obvious about it. My brother pointed it out a while ago when I remarked on this surprisingly good looking bloke on the television that I never comment about men being attractive, only women, which I didn't even realise I did. That's partially, though, because I don't want their teasing going 'ooh, you fancy him,' because that aggravates me like nothing else. I think after the initial shock they'll probably see that it makes sense.

Support groups?! Lols :D I live in the UK. We probably only have one LGBT support group... and it'll be 3 hours away... and only have 3 members. We're not good at sharing out problems, have more of a 'go it alone' attitude. I think the only thing we do have support groups for it losing weight, I never see any signs for AA even, ha.


YOU'VE ALL BEEN AMAZING, THANK YOU SO MUCH!!
 

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I think that you are right - your parents will initially think your being gay is you acting out a phase or just expressing your uniqueness. I think you will need to introduce them to the idea slowly, with lots of reading material to support your position. I have a feeling that, once your parents accept that this isn't a phase, they will find they are not that surprised. They probably already know it, deep down.

Also, what an amazing opportunity for growth for both of them. See if there are any support groups in your area that you can reach out to for strategies for coming out. Best of luck!
I agree with this.

They've known you all their lives and they know your qualities as a person. Even if they react ignorantly, you will help them grow.
 
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