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“Hi, I am 17 and identify as bisexual. I’m wondering if any of the parents who write for The Parents Project could give me advice on coming out to my parents. I think I would be comfortable telling my mum, but I worry that she will tell my dad. I don’t know how he will react. He has been bad at talking to me in the past and is generally very confrontational.”

-Question submitted by Anonymous

Carmella Van Vleet Says:

Wow. What a great question. I know that many young people are in your same position. I’m honored to offer what advice I can as a parent of a gay teenager.

A little background: I’m a children’s book author and sometimes I do workshops with kids in schools. When I go into schools, I typically wear my rainbow bracelet to show students I’m an LGBTQIA ally. I’ll never forget the first time someone came up to me after a workshop to share his story.

As part of my workshop that day for a group of high schoolers, I’d read the opening chapter of a story about a girl whose brother is kicked out of his home for being gay. A young man your age cautiously approached me after class. He told me he was glad I was writing about queer kids and that he’d come out as bisexual to his parents the week before.

“How did that go?” I asked him.

“Not great,” he said. “My mom took it okay but my dad is still mad. He’s not speaking to me.”

I spent the next few minutes telling him what I’m about to tell you now.

First, what you’re doing is a brave thing. It’s especially hard when you’re not sure how your parents will react. Be proud of yourself and never, ever apologize for who you are and for living honestly.

Second, here’s something young people need to know about telling their parents they’re LGBTQ: it’s a journey for them, too. Parents, even the most accepting ones, are put on this new road once their kids come out. It’s like the GPS told us to take a sharp left into a corn field. Getting our bearings takes time.

Maybe you realized a long time ago that you’re bisexual, or maybe you came to this understanding recently. The point is, you’ve had time to process your feelings. But this is likely new (and possibly unexpected) information for your parents. Perhaps they will react strongly and hurtfully at first. If they do, don’t be discouraged and decide this is their final position on the matter. MANY parents who are initially upset come around with patience and education. Just remember that your parents love you and will do they best they can – and they can evolve past whatever their first reactions might be.

So. How should you come out at home? Only you know your parents and situation best, but here are some thoughts.

If you’re worried about how your dad will react, tell your mom first. Pick a time when the two of you are alone and aren’t likely to be interrupted. The “how” part is up to you. Are you a jump-in-the-deep-end person? (“Mom, I’m bisexual.”) Or a wade-into-the-water kind of person? (“Hey Mom, I was reading an article about famous people who are bisexual.”)

After you’ve told her, let her take the lead. Answer questions as best you can. (You may not know some of the answers, and that’s okay. You’re still probably learning, too.) Remind her you’re the same person she’s always known; she just knows something more about you now. Give her time alone if she needs it and revisit the subject later on.

Now, about your father. If you believe that you could find yourself in any kind of physical danger if your father were to find out about your sexuality, then you need to carefully consider if this is the best time to come out. Or you need to create a safety plan so you can leave if necessary. For example, you might need a place to stay. Can you find a friend who’s willing to take you in? You will need to consider how you will get to and from school or work. You may also need to come up with a way to pay for your own expenses.

If you don’t think you’re ready for your dad to know, talk to your mom about this. Explain your concerns and develop a plan together for how and when to approach the situation. It’s probably not reasonable to ask your mother to keep this secret from your father forever, but you are entitled to a say in how and when you come out to him. You might be surprised that she has some good ideas about how to approach your dad. Or maybe she’d be willing (with your permission) to break the news to him so you don’t have to.

If your father confronts you once he knows, then listen and answer questions the best you can. You don’t have to take emotional abuse. If things get heated, tell him you’re going leave to give him time to process things. Don’t say something like, “We’ll discuss this after you calm down,” or “You’re being irrational/old-fashioned/prejudiced” because these will likely make him feel defensive. And don’t get pulled into the yelling. You’re trying to defuse this situation. (Yes, you’re being the mature one here. Little secret? Sometimes parents can learn from their kids.)

If he gives you the silent treatment for a while (like the dad of the young man I mentioned earlier), that’s okay. It may hurt, but give him the benefit of the doubt that he’s working on it. Try emailing or texting him some helpful articles or resources. This kind of non-confrontational communication can be useful because it gives everyone time to think before they speak.

Again, coming out is a huge step for LGBTQ young people. Try to remember that it’s a huge thing for your parents, too. With time, patience, and love, you’ll all navigate this unfamiliar territory peacefully.

Good luck!!

***

Carmella Van Vleet is a wife, former teacher, and the mother of three young people (ages 22, 20 and 18) who she thinks are pretty cool despite the fact they insisted on growing up. Carmella is also a full-time children’s author who’s committed to including LGBTQ families in her work whenever possible. You can visit her at www.carmellavanvleet.com.

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26 thoughts on “How Do I Come Out to My Parents?

  1. This is great advice. My young daughter just told me she spent the whole school year very confused and feels comfortable telling me now she is bi-sexual. She is only in 7th grade, but after talking to her and reading online, I’m understanding and believing her. We are not sure when we should tell dad, as we know he will have a hard time with it.

    1. I’m only 11 and think that I am pan sexual. I am too scared too tell my dad but comfortable telling my mom, how did you react to your daughter. What should I be expecting from my parents

  2. Hi my names jay I’m currently 15 I’ve been gay for a while now, I think my mom knows cause my brother told her and she asked me was I and I told her yes. She seems to be fine with it, but I don’t know if she really think I’m gay or if I’m just playing. She always says this when I go to ask if I can go to my friends house to hang she’ll always joke around and be like “is she gay too” I’ll be like lol no mom, but I really need help on telling my mom that I’m seriously gay and that this isn’t a joke

      1. I believe she knows and believes you but she can’t wrap her head around it so she jokes, so you should have her sit down and talk to her but don’t say,” mom I’m not kidding I’m gay.” Just be calm and help her (remember she’s new to this) “mom I know it’s hard to believe but I’m gay it may seem like a joke or it may not but this is me and I love who I love.” Now don’t get mad just think her worlds been flipped around.

  3. I just came out my mother and stepfather as bisexual last week. My stepdad took it very well, but my mother took a day or two to get used to it. I haven’t told my dad yet though…I’m kind of scared to. He seems to be slightly homophobic, I don’t know. Luckily, he lives a couple of states away, and we call eachother maybe once a week, so if he stopped talking to me, it’d probably feel like normal. But I’m still scared to do it.

  4. Hi my name is Nikki I’m 14 and I’ve known in bi for less than a year. I’ve been considering coming out because a lot of friends know already and I don’t want my parents to find out through accidentally hearing something. They have had some issues in the past with me not telling them things even though we are not very close. They have expressed some support previously for the LGBTQ+ community but I don’t know how they would react to their own daughter… Do you have any advice on whether or not it is necessary to come out now or whether I should wait until I’m less dependent on them? thank you for the article btw!

    1. Hello there and sorry for the late reply. I’m 14 and bi as well, and I have these fears sometimes too. I came out to my Mom and 2 close friends and thankfully they were okay with it, however I haven’t with my Dad and other friends. You will know when you’re comfortable to come out to them whether it is next month or within the next few years. If you feel rushed at all, or feel prepared straight away, I’d say go for it. You know your parents best. :) Well wishes! Xx

  5. Hi my name is Chris, i’m 16, and i’ve known im bi for 2 years. I’ve been considering coming out because my boyfriend wants to have interactions with my family being known as my boyfriend instead of just a friend, Hes the love of my life and id do anything for him, but the problem is my dad is strongly homophobic and i feel like if i told him he would react really angry about it. Im mainly afraid about being kicked out of the house. My step sister is lesbian but idk if she told anyone yet besides me.

  6. I’m Saskia and I’ve known I was gay for a little while now. Suspected at 10, knew at 11 and came out at 12 (yesterday, actually). It was dead easy for me cuz my parents just read my diary, and came and sat on my bed and told me they loved me. The only thing they were concerned about was wether i was being teased at school. Love you, parents!!

  7. Hey, so I’m Aaron and I’ve know I’m bi for a few years now. I’m 13 and my parents are STRONGLY homophobic. I’m scared to tell my parents because I’m 100% sure that I’ll get kicked out of the house. My boyfriend has said he wants to have a relationship with my parents, but knows that if they find out he’s my boyfriend, and that I’m bi, I’ll most likely be treated like Dobby from Harry Potter. (Like vermin). Please help. I don’t want to lie to them any longer.

    1. Hey there Aaron! I’m bi as well and I can understand your fears. Homophobic parents can cause quite a scare for those of us wanting to come out, but that doesn’t restrict us to. If you are already in a relationship I’d think your parents would find out one way or another. I’d talk to your boyfriend and get some advice from him (if he’s come out already), and if not, Google it! I hope everything goes well for you. Xx

  8. Hi, Im Truman and im 11. Im bisexual pretty much. My parents think im as straight as a line though. I have a aunt that is lesbian, and everyone in my family is very accepting, I just cant find a “right time” to tell them. Also, my dad has said that he has nothing against the LGBTQ+ , he just believes men and women were made to be together, Although he doesnt think its bad to like the same sex. I feel that maybe I should just wait. I have no idea how my mom thinks on the LGBTQ+ community though. Also, My dad thinks being Bi isnt a thing. Its, Quote: “Just being gay and not gay.” Yeah Dad, Yeah, Thats called being Bi.
    So, Any Suggestions?

  9. Hi im 24 years oldand i want to tell my family that i am bi and i already told my mom and shes okay with it but im afraid to tell the rest of my family because the rest of the family makes rude comments and jokes about people like me and i am afraid they wont accept me that way. So my question for everyone is, is there a right time to tell my family about it? And what is the way should i tell them?

  10. Im currently in 7th grade and i identify myself as bisexual and i am not sure of my parents’ views on the LGBTQ community because it is not really brought up. Any tips on how to figure it out?

    1. Hey, My idea is to say you heard something on the news the other day about the LGBT community, Then ask something that maybe you already know such as “whats being bi about?” or maybe something along those lines and see if they react negatively or positively. I hope that I may have assisted you and my punctuation isn’t too bad.

  11. I’m 14 years old and I have come out as bi to my friends who are rlly accepting however my family doesn’t know and my mam and eldest sister don’t think bisexuality is a thing and they think it’s normal and I’ve tried to talk to them about the LGBT community but my mam just went on about how it wasn’t normal and she went ” I wouldn’t want to marry a women would you” and I said I didn’t know so she she than said ” exactly your just a hormonal teenager who doesn’t know anything” and I don’t know what to do or if I should come out to them at all

    I’m 14 years old and I have come out as bi to my friends who are rlly accepting however my family doesn’t know and my mam and eldest sister don’t think bisexuality is a thing and they think it’s normal and I’ve tried to talk to them about the LGBT community but my mam just went on about how it wasn’t normal and she went ” I wouldn’t want to marry a women would you” and I said I didn’t know so she she than said ” exactly your just a hormonal teenager who doesn’t know anything” and I don’t know what to do or if I should come out to them at all

  12. Hi I’m Bella and I’m 14. I’ve known for the past year or so that I am Bisexual and have learned to accept myself, but I’m really scared to tell my parents. My mum thinks that everyone these days are just saying that they are Bi for the hell of it, she also said she would wish it on any of her children because it’s hard. My dad wouldn’t care, but I’m sacred for my mum to know. So nay tips on courage or just how to get out and do it?

    Please and thank you! Article was great by the way!

  13. Hey I’m jarrod im 14 and I’m gay and I’ve known for about 1-2years now and I just can’t find a way to come out to my parents every time I go to they end up blocking the situation one way or another and I’ve attempted to come out to my brother but he just said I’m confused
    Any ideas?

  14. I think im ready to come out to my mom but im so afraid. My parents are religious they would think im a disgrace to the family and im only 14.They would think it’s wrong and that it’s just a phase. I’m Bi and i can’t change. It’s not my fault. I found out about a year and a half ago and I want to be excepted for me but how can anyone except me if the don’t know the real me. This secret is hurting me so bad. I don’t get much sleep because when im alone its all i can think about, i have depression but my parents don’t know, and this secret makes me more depressed because i cant be myself, i cant express my love for another. My parents make me go to church but when i do i feel more guilty about who i am because all i ever hear is being an LGBTQ is a sin and i’ll be punished. I cant tell no one because word will get around in my small town and my parents will find out. I can’t look at another female without being questioned by another person. Any advice?

  15. Hi, i am james i am 14 years old and i am gay. I want to come out to my parents but i dont know what to say or when to say it. I don’t know what they will say and what all my friends will say after, i have been gay now over a years i have had some sexual relationships with another boy but he aswell does not know how or when to come out. We don’t see each other much but when we do we do do it. I just need some help and advice one if i should come out and how i should.

  16. hi, my name is heather. I ama 13 year old girl.i have a truly amazing girlfriend amd want to come out to my parents. my mumis alright withit I think, I think she has started thinking I am lesbian. also I don’t know how my dad will react. also, idon’t want themto freak out as my girlfriend is in the year above me, ai think she is slightly depressed so I don’t want things if my parents upset me to upset her. my mum knows we are quite close friends. she is also helping me get over a breakup still, with an qbsolute player she has made me more confident with being myself. and if my parents react badly, I can become quite aggressive, I will freak out. also I rely on them alotfor a lot of stuff as I am only 13, what shall I do?

  17. Hi! I am Bi and 11 and my ENTIRE SCHOOL KNOWS!!! I and getting teased for it. Yes, I do have a girlfriend. Worse part? My parents don’t know and I’m scared if tell them they’ll thank difrintle of me. Only BFF knows. Help… please I’m desperate here.

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