I am a lesbian, and have known that ever since I was a small child. About a year ago, I came out to my mother and after telling me of her disappointment in my lifestyle choice, she’s actually been pretty good about the whole thing. I didn’t tell my dad at her request, and seeing as he was deployed at the time, that also made the decision to keep him out of the loop a little bit easier. I’ve been wanting to tell him, but he disapproves of homosexuals to the extent where he told me “Those fags need to stay the hell away from me. They’re unnatural and they desecrate all values I hold.” I’m still in high school, and he has given me serious reason to believe that if I told him I would no longer be welcome in the house, or in his life. I don’t want to wait until I leave the house to tell him, because I have the feeling that will just make things worse. I feel torn, because, while I love my father, it’s hard to tolerate him when he holds such a narrow-minded viewpoint, though I’m sure he would feel the same way about me.
Any advice would be greatly appreciated.
Letter submitted by:
Thank you for your willingness to discuss your concerns with me. It is not always easy to come out to our family as you well know. Also, I am certain the disapproval and disappointment your parents have expressed may be challenging to manage. What a special person you are! Not only have you mustered the courage to talk with your mom, now you are considering what it would be like to share this significant part of your life with your dad.
Coming out is your decision. What’s most important is that you are safe and comfortable! In trying to figure out whether or not to come out, it can help to ask yourself some questions including: What does it feel like keeping this part of your life a secret from your dad? Does it cause you a lot of stress worrying about him finding out? Are you worried that if you told your dad, you’d be unsafe physically or emotionally? If you told your dad, are you concerned that he might kick you out of the house? If you decided to tell him and he did kick you out, it would be important to have a safety plan, meaning a safe place where you could live and continue to go to school and a way to support yourself financially. Some people decide to wait until they are living away from home and are financially independent before telling members of their family about their sexual orientation/gender identity.
Some people are fine just saying their sexuality while others find it better to ease into the discussion by first talking about a LGBT actor or character in a movie, book or television show and see how the people in their life react. You might find it helpful to write out and rehearse things you might say. You might find the Human Rights Campaign’s “Resource Guide to Coming Out” at http://www.hrc.org/documents/resourceguide_co.pdf helpful. In addition, on http://www.amplifyyourvoice.org/youthresource/comingoutquestions you’ll find an article called “Coming Out to Your Parents: Questions to Think About” which may be of help to you.
Your dad may have many questions about your sexuality/gender identity and may need time and help to become more understanding and supportive of you. Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) is a great organization, made up mostly of parents, which supports LGBTQ people and works to help parents and others to become more supportive and accepting of their loved one’s sexual orientation/gender identity. On their website at www.pflag.org click on “Get Support” then click on “For Family & Friends” where you’ll find the pamphlets “Our Daughters and Sons: Questions and Answers for Parents of Gay, Lesbian, and Bisexual People” and “Frequently Asked Questions about GLBT People,” which, if you’re comfortable, you can share with your family members to help them become more understanding and accepting of you. PFLAG also runs support groups where parents and others can discuss questions and concerns they have about a loved one’s sexual orientation and where LGBT people can discuss issues they’re having with people in their life. On their website, you can search for a chapter near you. If no chapter is near you or if your family members won’t attend, you could still contact the nearest chapter and get support and learn ways to help them become more understanding of you.
Remember we are always here for you. The Trevor Lifeline at 866-4-U-TREVOR, TrevorChat, and TrevorSpace are also available to you for further support. TrevorSpace at www.trevorspace.org is the Trevor Project’s safe, online social networking site for LGBTQ young people ages 13 to 24 their friends and allies. It’s a great supportive community where you can connect with others who might have had or are having the same questions that you have discussed here.