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Coming Out on Thanksgiving: Kristin’s Story

Hey gaybeans.

In lieu of advice today, we thought it would be appropriate to share Kristin’s Coming Out story. Why, you ask? Well, mostly because she came out to her parents over Thanksgiving dinner - a moment that may be in your immediate future (knowingly or not). So, as many of you ready yourselves for a family holiday, here is how Kristin spent hers one million years ago.

Kristin Says:

Mashed potatoes, over-cooked stuffing, and an antibiotic-infused, Butterball turkey: these are the markers of the American holiday known as Thanksgiving. Unless, of course, you were at my house on November 26, 1998. If that were the case, you would have also found a slightly tipsy, wine-drinking mom, a smiling, story-telling dad, a sullen, pre-pubescent little sister, and me at the age of eighteen, clad in Salvation Army sourced clothing, about to tell my parents that I was a big homo.

First, some background. Up until my senior year in high school, I identified as a straight girl with very close girl friends and a deep adoration for Liv Tyler. My very observant mother, however, had asked me countless times if I was a lesbian. My answer was always the same: “No, Mom, calm down and stop asking me!” Then, in the fall of 1997, I met a girl. We became friends. We hung out. We kissed. We liked kissing. We did some other stuff. This happened a few times, and then that thing happened. That oh-dear-god-my-stomach-is-squeezed-and-my-heart-is-in-my-throat thing. I liked this girl.

In addition to my oh-my-god-I’m-gay panic, I was horrified that my mother had been right all along. As most of you know, telling your parents that they are right about anything is almost impossible between the ages of eleven and twenty-four. I didn’t breathe a word of my gayness to anyone but my close friends for almost a year…which brings us back to the Thanksgiving Day surprise.

Once my sister had left the table to go doodle in her Lisa Frank notebook, I began to complain about an awful translation of the Bible that had been given to me by a relative. I said something like, “Mo-OM. They make it sound like God hates gay people, but that is a load of bullshit.” My mom looked up from her stuffing, her eyes troubled by my angry tone, and asked, for the hundredth time, “Kristin, is there something you want to tell us?” Then…it just happened. I dug my fingers into my palm, mustered up as much teenage-courage as I could, and answered, “Yes. I want to tell you both that I’m gay.”


The first thing that my parents said to me, and the thing I will always remember, was that I was their daughter and they would always love me. For that I was, and still am, very thankful. After this initial reaction, however, my mother began what would be a very long journey in reconciling her love for her child with her deeply-instilled religious beliefs. The first few years were very hard. My mother and I fought a lot. She cried a lot and I yelled even more. Through all of it, though, we never stopped loving each other.

Over time, the yelling calmed into a dialogue. She allowed herself to meet some of my girlfriends. Our dialogue progressed, and she began to ask me questions. Slowly, my girlfriends were invited over for dinner, and my mother and I found common ground amidst differing beliefs.

The thing about ‘coming-out,’ is that it isn’t one moment at a Thanksgiving dinner table. It is a process that takes patience, understanding, and compassion. It is different for everyone. All we can do is share as much of ourselves as we feel comfortable with, and work diligently at accepting who we are, with or without the understanding of those around us.




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