Coming out to Parents and Family

As an LGBT individual, coming out to your parents may be one of the hardest things that you have to do. Although being LGBT is becoming more acceptable in the United Kingdom, some people still do not understand or react positively. Parents may find it difficult to take on new information about you, because they don’t fully understand what it means or they have some prejudices about LGBT people. Even if your parents are normally very progressive or liberal, they may still go through a series of emotions, including; shock, denial or guilt. However, they will often develop an understanding and acceptance if you give them time to process the news. Here is our guide to coming out to your parents.

When Should You Tell Your Parents?

Choosing the right time to talk to your parents is very important. Most parents will want to have a discussion or ask questions after they hear your news, so try not to tell them at a moment when your availability is limited. If they don’t have the opportunity to ask you to answer their questions, then they might end up jumping to their own conclusions about what your news could mean.

Choose a pleasant and comfortable environment in which to initiate the discussion. If possible, try to avoid coming out in the middle of an argument, because this can inadvertently create a negative subconscious connection. Although it is great to tell people your news in a positive environment, you should avoid coming out at someone else’s big event (e.g. birthday or wedding). You don’t want them to feel like you are taking the attention away from them.

You don’t always have to come out to your parents in person. You can do it by text, phone call, letter, email or Skype chat. In some situations, it just isn’t practical or safe to tell people in person. Writing a letter or email can give you the chance to say everything that you need to say without being interrupted. A letter can also be reread multiple times, so your parents will have the opportunity to mentally digest the things that you have written.

Answering Questions

Your parents may want to ask a lot of questions after you come out. It can help if you have prepared answers to some of the most common questions. Of course, you might not know all of the answers to all of their questions, especially if you have only just realised that you are gay. There are a lot of LGBT charities in the UK which provide support and advice to people who are part of the LGBT community, such as Stonewall. Many of these groups have actually produced leaflets which are specifically designed to help to answer a lot of the questions that parents might have.

Set Boundaries

You may find that your parents are keen to talk about your sexuality with other people. Make sure they understand that there are set boundaries if you do not want other people to know. You should be able to come out to people in your own time and your own way, so let your parents know if you do not want them to tell other members of your family just yet. They may also be keen to support the LGBT community in whatever way that they can. Talk to your parents to explain what may be helpful and what may not!

Focus On Positives

Some parents may view their child coming out as a bad thing, because they will focus on the struggles that their child may face whilst moving forwards. They may also think about things that they have “lost”. Focus on the positive opportunities which lay ahead. For example, you may want to remind them that Same-Sex marriage is now legal in the UK and that gay couples are allowed to adopt children. Talk to them about how coming out will allow you to be happier in the long run and how you will be able to be yourself rather than hiding your feelings.

Stay Safe

The most important thing to consider when you are coming out to your parents is how to stay safe. In the vast majority of cases, there will not be any risks; however some people can be put in life threatening situations due extreme homophobia. If you have any reasons to believe that a parent may react violently to your news, then you should take extra steps to keep yourself safe. In these circumstances, it might be best not to tell them in person. If the situation does escalate to become potentially violent, you should take steps to leave. If you feel threatened, you can talk to the police about the incident. Thankfully, these circumstances are becoming increasingly rare in the United Kingdom.