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How Do I Come Out to My Homophobic Parents?

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Apr 20, 2022

How Do I Come Out to My Homophobic Parents?
  • Coming out about your queer identity in any form can be a daunting and scary experience. Adding to the mix coming out to homophobic parents can make it seem like an almost impossible experience. With all of the uncertainty, you may still be ready to live as your authentic self, which includes telling your parents. Taking the plunge may require foregoing their approval if they’re stuck in their homophobic ways. Conversely, you may be the catalyst for them to open their minds and viewpoints toward the LGBTQ+ community. Either way, living your truth will be the most authentic feeling.

    How can you go about coming out to your homophobic parents softening the blow as much as possible?

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    Is it Safe to Come Out?

    Arguably the most important question is whether it’s safe to come out to your parents. If you’re a minor or financially dependent on your parents, it may be taking a big risk if they possibly lash out. It’s also important to know if you have a safe place to stay, or the capability to find a safe place if they threaten to kick you out.

    It’s important to have a pre-planned arrangement before taking the risk of coming out, if possible. You should have a safe home to go to and an income to support yourself. Also, if you feel that there’s any chance of violence toward you, have a safe person available and preferably present. If not present, at least have an emergency exit plan.

    In this situation, it may be helpful to hope for the best, but have a plan for the worst. It can be unpredictable to know how your parents will react in this situation and even when you think a certain reaction is possible, they can surprise you.

    It can be the best decision to wait until you’re of age and out of your parent’s house to come out to them, so they can’t take away from you as a means of control. However, this may not be possible due to the mental health toll that hiding your identity takes.

    Are You Mentally Prepared?

    It’s also important to ensure that you’re mentally prepared to come out to your parents. This can be a freeing, but scary experience. While you may be afraid, or even expecting it not to go well, you should take the time to understand what kind of mental toll it may take if you face ridicule or isolation from your parents.

    You may even have to experience a grieving process if certain family members choose to disconnect from you, whether temporarily or even forever. Many families take this news hard, and if your parents have a history of being homophobic, their anger may cloud any good judgment they have when reacting to the situation.

    Mental strength is also necessary because your parents may try to convince you that your queer identity is “just a phase” or “you’re just confused”. They may even try to gaslight you or use manipulation tactics to change your mind. Standing firm in who you are is key to combatting these issues.

    Gauge Their Reaction

    It can be helpful to try to gauge the reaction that your parents may have to the news. Of course, there’s no way to fully predict how things will go down, but some signs may indicate the route the conversation will take. 

    Asking them questions about the LGBTQ community and listening to their reactions may give some insight into their thought process. If they typically react with anger or disgust, you may expect a more challenging conversation.

    Some parents are more open to coming around to support their child, but others may stand firm in their viewpoints, so it’s something to be prepared for.

    The Day You Come Out

    When the day you’ve been anticipating comes around, it’s important to have a game plan to try to make the day run as smoothly as possible. Know what you want to say to your parents, and a clear way to say it. Be able to explain your feelings and identity, or have resources available to answer some common questions.

    If possible, finding a public place or having a trusted person present can create comfort in case of any safety risks. Avoid coming out at a big family event or a holiday gathering because it may just cause extra stress or tension.

    Be prepared for them to be confused, or for you to possibly have to explain things again. If they try to gaslight you out of your feelings, be prepared to stand firm and defend yourself and your identity (if safe to do so).

    Lastly, understand that your parents may need time to come around. They may have hurt feelings or lash out, which isn’t correct. This news may come as a shock to them and they will need time to process it. Some parents do end up coming around and loving their children for who they are with time.

    The Aftermath of Coming Out

    In a best-case scenario, the aftermath of coming out includes your parents committing to understanding and supporting you, even if it takes them some time. Many parents do value having a relationship with their child and it may inspire them to change their viewpoints, or at the least become more open-minded.

    However, if you experienced a volatile reaction from your parents, you may need to find a safe living option immediately. You can seek out organizations meant to help LGBTQ people or ask trusted friends and family.

    If you’re still living with your parents, you may want to find outlets where you can be yourself. There may be local queer organizations or groups, and there’s also a variety of online communities that you can tap into.

    Lastly, you shouldn’t neglect your mental health. Practicing forms of self-care, or seeking LGBTQ+ affirming counseling can help you with staying solid in your decision. Either way, it’s most important to realize there’s nothing wrong with your sexuality.

    Find Community with HER

    HER is a wonderful place to find a loving community of queer people to connect with. Find members of your chosen family or your special someone. No matter what, there’s someone for everyone on HER.

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    Alexandra hails from Boston, MA but is currently living in the DC Area. She's passionate about social justice, self-care, spirituality, and watching documentaries. She's no stranger to telling her story through writing and has written for a variety of freelance publications. You can find her on Instagram at @lexlexlexlexlex__.

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