How To Come Out To Your Homophobic Parents
Coming out can be a big deal, especially if you have hidden your true self for a long period of time.
In this day and age, there is a lot less stigma behind being a part of the LGBTQ+ community. In fact, it is becoming more and more normalized and accepted with each passing year, depending on where you live.
With more places legalizing gay marriage, it’s easier than ever before to come out as gay, lesbian, bisexual, transgender, etc. (LGBTQ+).
Some people are lucky enough that they do not need to ‘come out’, as those closest to them already know, and accept their sexuality without having to say anything. However, this is not the case for everyone.
Many people find themselves in situations where they must make an important decision about whom they want to share their identity with.
Revealing your sexual identity to those you love should be a positive experience. After all, you would expect your friends and family to accept you, and love you, for who you are.
Why should it matter who you are attracted to, and who you are not attracted to?
For some people, coming out is the first step toward a new life.
For others, it means facing rejection.
While you are growing up, you gain a pretty good indication of your family’s views on homosexuality.
If you are aware that your family – specifically, your parents – are not accepting of same-sex relationships, then you may be terrified to tell them the truth.
This is a situation that no person should have to face, but unfortunately, many LGBTQ+ individuals struggle with these feelings every single day.
They fear telling their families because they think they will be rejected, ridiculed, beaten, or worse. This makes it difficult for them to come out to their loved ones.
So, how do you safely come out to your homophobic parents?
In this article, we will help you work out the best way to come out to your parents. We’ll cover everything from what to talk about, when to start talking about it, and even how to handle any awkward moments.
We hope that by following our advice, you’ll feel comfortable enough to finally reveal your true identity to those you care most about.
Let’s get into it.
1. Find The Right Time To Tell Them
The first thing you will need to decide is when you’re going to tell them.
There is nothing stopping you from announcing your sexuality at any point during your lifetime, but if you believe your parents are homophobic, you may want to pick your moment carefully.
Unfortunately, there have been cases of parents throwing their children out of the house after finding out about their sexuality.
This is something that no child should ever have to deal with, but regrettably, it is something that an individual will need to consider before coming out to their parents, especially if their parents have shown signs of homophobia.
If you are under 18, or struggling financially, you may be worried about one of the worst case scenarios playing out, resulting in you being kicked out of the house.
Yes, you have the option to wait until you are old enough/stable enough to move out to make your announcement, but why should you? If you feel that now is the right time to come out, you should follow your heart.
This is completely your decision, and if you feel that you have been hiding your true self for too long, there is nothing stopping you from doing so.
However, your safest option is to make plans ahead of time.
Do you have relatives or friends who would take you in if you needed to leave home? Would you be able to live with someone else while you figured things out?
If you have already come out to others before your parents, you may want to ask if you can stay with those people for a while if your parents react badly.
We sincerely hope that this scenario will not play out. If it does, however, you will need to plan accordingly for your own safety and well-being.
2. Plan Out What To Say To Your Parents While Coming Out
When you come out to your parents, you may want to choose your words wisely.
The thought of outright saying the words, ‘Mom, Dad, I’m gay/lesbian/trans/etc.’ out loud may be terrifying.
You are going to be overthinking their reaction, and this may cause you to beat around the bush instead of just getting straight to the point.
Instead of thinking about all the possible ways your parents could react, try to focus on what you really want to say.
Some people, if they are 100% gay/lesbian, may think it would be easier to ease their parents into the idea, announcing that they are bisexual. However, we recommend against this approach.
If you are only into the same sex, bite the bullet and tell them so: otherwise, you will end up having to have this exact same conversation again in time. Except, next time, you will have to tell them the full truth.
It is always going to be difficult, and you are better off getting it out of the way during this moment.
If you think this is the right time, don’t go into the situation by announcing something that is not true: tell them the whole truth. This way, they have more time to process everything, and you won’t have to repeat yourself later.
3. Prepare Yourself For Their Reactions
While you don’t want to overthink the situation, it may be beneficial to prepare yourself for what may happen when you officially come out to your parents.
The best case scenario? They accept you without question, and welcome you with open arms. This has happened to many people, and there is a chance this could happen to you.
However, it may be best that you don’t count on it happening: having high expectations may cause you to feel a lot worse if they react badly to the news.
We are not telling you to assume the worst, but you should, at least, prepare for it. If your parents are highly homophobic, they may react badly. In preparation for this, you may want to think about how you would handle such an event.
As we mentioned previously, your best bet is to secure a safe space to move to if things go south. Perhaps you have friends you can stay with, a family member, or even a teacher.
This way, you will have a clear, intricate plan to follow if things go badly.
4. Give Them Time To Think
No one is born homophobic. When we are born, we do not understand the difference between someone who is gay, and someone who is straight, and why one is ‘normal’ and the other is ‘wrong’.
It is our upbringings, and our surroundings, that influence our beliefs. Perhaps your parents are religious, and have been taught from a young age that homosexuality is unnatural.
Or, perhaps they were raised in a household where being homosexual was seen as shameful, which was way more common in previous generations.
While there is no excuse for being homophobic, sometimes we need to be the understanding ones, and try to understand why they feel the way that they do.
We shouldn’t have to do this, granted, but this can make the situation a little easier.
Whatever the reason, your parents may need time to process this new information. While they may react badly at first, they may eventually come around once they have had time to really think about it.
If they truly love you unconditionally, as a parent should love their child, they may try to educate themselves.
This may take days, weeks, months, or even years.
If a particularly long period of time has passed prior to this realization, it will be your decision whether you forgive them or not.
It is completely understandable if you choose not to, as you will most likely feel betrayed and devastated by their initial reaction.
At the end of the day, you will all make your own decisions based on your beliefs. Unfortunately, you cannot make someone change their mind: this is something they will need to do on their own.
All you can do is do what you can to take care of yourself, stay safe, and be happy.
5. Accept Yourself, Even If They Don’t
The absolute worst case scenario is that your parents refuse to accept you.
They may try to guilt you into changing, or they may lash out verbally. They may call you names, or throw insults at you. This is going to be their way of trying to change your mind: hurting you, and making you feel that you are the problem.
Never, ever forget that you are not the issue.
Finding out that your parents, the very people who brought you into this world, do not accept the person that you truly are can be devastating. You may feel like you’re losing everything.
In reality, you’re gaining so much more than you could’ve imagined.
You’ll gain an entire community of people who support you, and want nothing more than to see you succeed. Depending on your support system, you may have people around you who cherish you. At some point – if you haven’t already – you will find someone who loves you, and wants to be with you forever.
This will not make up for the loss of your parents at first, but in time, you will find that you are in a much better situation than you were previously.
We’re not going to sugarcoat it: coming out to your homophobic parents will be one of the hardest things you’ll ever go through. There is no denying that fact.
It is so, so important that you focus on the good that will arise from this situation.
Coming out means that you can finally live your life, openly, without having to hide your true identity.
You will grow as a person, truly discovering who you are, and becoming the greatest version of yourself that you can be. There is nothing more rewarding than that.
We honestly hope that your parents are understanding and accepting, even if they do not seem so right away.
Regardless, we hope that you realize your worth, and that you find happiness in whichever scenario you find yourself in, in the future. Coming out will be a fresh start, and a wonderful opportunity to begin anew.
We wish you the best of luck.
Author: Michelle Landeros, LMFT
Michelle Landeros is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist (LMFT). She is passionate about helping individuals, couples and families thrive.
Last updated: September 24, 2023