How to Come Out to Your Parents (XXL Guide 2021)
If you've landed on this page it's probably not by accident, but because you want to know how best to come out to your mom or dad. Most of us have gone through exactly what you are facing now: Coming out to your own parents.
You're not alone in this, we're here for you, ok? 🙂
In this guide, we share with you everything you need to know for your successful coming out. Don't take this text as a set of rules, but rather as inspiration - ultimately, it's your decision alone if, when and how you come out.
Why Do I Have to Come Out to My Parents at All?
Situations in Which You Should NOT Come Out to Your Parents!
Preparations For Your Coming Out
Tips For Coming Out to Your Parents
Writing a Coming Out Letter to Your Parents (With Instructions)
Help, My Parents are Super Conservative!
1. Why Do I Have to Come Out to My Parents at All?
In a society where heterosexual cisgender (identifying with the gender assigned at birth) people are still seen by most as the norm, many of us unfortunately still can't get around a coming out.
- However, you don't HAVE to do anything!
It is important to know that you do not HAVE to come out to your parents. This decision is yours alone and if you decide against it for any reason, then that's totally okay!
- No more stress of hiding
Keeping your identity a secret can be stressful as hell (trust us, we know!). By coming out to your own family, you won't have to constantly watch what you say at home, who you bring home, or deal with what-if scenarios in your head.
- Get support from your parents
After you've come out to your parents - and everything went well - they can support you and stand by your side as you move forward.
2. Situations in Which You Should NOT Come Out to Your Parents!
The highest priority is always your physical and mental health. There are some situations in which you should consider whether coming out makes sense or will only bring you more problems. If you find yourself in one of the situations below, here is a list of places to go for advice and support in coming out.
- Frequent LGBTQ+ hostile statements
One indication that you should reconsider coming out is if your parents frequently make negative comments about queer people. This could include derogatory comments about marriage for queer people or other issues that are important to LGBTQ+ people.
- Threats of violence
If your parents have ever threatened you with consequences should you be gay, lesbian, bisexual, or whatever - be sure to take it seriously. Some parents try to "force" their children to become straight this way.
- Dependence on parents
You are financially or otherwise very dependent on your parents? And the chance that you will be kicked out after coming out is very high? Then you should reconsider your decision and whether it would not be better to wait until you stand on your own two feet.
Ultimately, of course, it is your decision whether, how and when you come out. With these points we just want to show you that sometimes it actually makes sense not to come out "at any price".
3. Preparations For Your Coming Out
There are some things you can do in advance to prepare yourself for coming out to your parents. Especially if you are very nervous, tense or anxious, it definitely makes sense to think about some things in advance to feel more confident.
- What would be the worst-case scenario?
What do you think would be the worst thing that could happen? How might your parents react? What consequences might follow? Make contingency plans for how you would handle these situations. Of course, don't drive yourself crazy and focus only on the negative. Often, most concerns turn out to be completely unfounded in retrospect.
- Build a support network
Maybe you already have friends, family members or teachers you have come out to. If not, think about which friends, teachers or contact points could give you support. Confide in them, tell them what you are doing and that you may need their help - for a while as a shelter, as listening ear or emotional support.
- How can you support your parents?
Your parents will probably need some time to process the news. How can you support them? For example, think about getting them informational materials or giving them some time away. You know your parents best, so think about what would be most helpful to THEM.
- Prepare yourself for some questions
Especially if your parents are more conservative, there might be some counter-questions about your outing. If you think about some of the issues in advance, it can help you a lot during your coming out. You know your parents best, of course, but we've made a little collection of questions that might come up:
"Are you sure?"
"How do you know you're gay/bi/trans/etc.?"
"Isn't it unnatural to be gay/bi/trans/etc.?"
"Will you be able to live a happy life with that?"
"Are you different now?"
"How can we support you?"
4. Tips For Coming Out to Your Parents
The time has come! You want to confide in your parents and tell them the Big News. We've put together some tips for you on how to make coming out go as smoothly as possible for you and your parents. Not every tip will be appropriate for your individual situation - so just see what works for you and what you find helpful.
- Choose a good place and the right moment
The "perfect time" will probably never exist, but you should make sure to choose a quiet environment where you have your parents' undivided attention. Avoid already tense situations - like discussions - or important events, like weddings or funerals. For example, you could ask your parents to sit down with you in the evening because you want to talk to them about something important.
- How do you want to start the conversation?
The first step is usually the most difficult. Here are some ideas for you on how to start coming out to your parents:
"I would like to share something with you that I have long felt I had to keep a secret. But I feel ready to talk about it now."
"I've had a topic on my mind for a long time that I'm finding very difficult to bring up in front of you."
"I would like to talk about something that means a lot to me. It's very important to me, to be honest with you."
- Educate your parents
The spectrum of sexualities, orientations, and identities in the queer world will likely be unfamiliar to your parents. Explain to them how exactly you feel and what that means. If you're not sure yet or don't want to give yourself a label, you can tell your parents the same way.
- Explain your point of view
Try to explain your current situation and how you feel to your parents. This will help them understand you better. For example, a description might look like this:
"It feels totally normal to me, just like it feels normal for you to be straight. I didn't choose this, it's just who I am."
"I'm still the same person I've been all along. I just decided to tell you guys openly about it now because it's been clear to me for so long and it feels normal to me."
- Why are you only coming out now?
This point can also help your parents to understand you better. Here you can also openly talk about your fears, so your parents know how they can best support you.
"I was incredibly afraid that you wouldn't love me anymore."
"Queer people are still often discriminated against and that just made me afraid to stand by myself."
"Our religion says it's a sin to be gay/lesbian/bi/etc. and it took me a long time to come to terms with that myself first."
- Give them time to process the news
Keep in mind that for your parents, the queer world may be completely new territory and they will need some time to process your coming out. It probably took you some time to accept yourself for who you are, so it's only fair to give your parents some time as well.
5. Writing a Coming Out Letter to Your Parents (With Instructions)
Yes, we all know it: the famous coming out letter. In fact, it's not that uncommon for queer people to come out to their parents with a letter. Two big advantages of this are that you can really think carefully about what you write and how you want to phrase it, and the fact that sometimes you just can't "make it" to tell your parents in a face-to-face conversation.
Here we tell you how to write your own coming out letter.
- Make it as long as you want
Your coming-out letter can be as long - or short - as you want it to be. A letter is the perfect way to express your emotions freely, so you can just write it out and then sort it all out logically and write it down again. It doesn't matter if you end up with one page or 10 - if you're happy with it, it's perfect!
- Forget the rules
The purpose of your letter is to tell your parents something, not to win a grammar prize. Just let your thoughts flow freely and don't let any sentence structure rules or complicated grammar slow you down.
- Write about past, present & future
This little tip will help you make your letter deeper. Write about how you felt about yourself in the past, what it means to you now to finally share it with your parents, and what wishes/plans you have for your future.
- Get rid of prejudices
If your parents aren't very familiar with the queer world, a letter is a perfect way to change that. Address myths, stereotypes, or common misconceptions your parents may have.
6. Help, My Parents are Super Conservative!
One topic that should definitely be addressed in our experience: conservative parents! Of course, conservative is not the same as homophobic - nevertheless, in our experience, there are always problems when coming out to parents who are very attached to old values. If you also have very conservative parents, here are some tips for your coming out.
- Think about their experiences
Everyone has reasons for the way they behave and what they believe in. Try to have a conversation with your parents and find out their attitudes towards queer people (if you don't already know). Understanding why your parents think and act the way they do can help you in your coming out. For example, you could start a conversation with them by telling them that someone you know or a celebrity has come out.
- The first time will probably be difficult
Even though we all want to come out to our parents without any problems, it can be more difficult, especially with very conservative parents. Prepare yourself mentally for the fact that your relationship with your parents will probably be a bit more complicated for some time. But also be aware that the first reaction is almost never the final one (especially if the first reaction to your coming out is a negative one).
- Do not let yourself be belittled
If your parents say something like "Why are you doing this to us?" or "But think about what other people are thinking now", realize that you are not to blame for anything. It is your parents' job to deal with this situation, not yours to adapt or even hide.
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