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Coming Out Concerns

Part 1: Will my parents treat me differently after I come out?

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Teens often have really valid coming out concerns. A big one for many is, "Will my parents treat me differently after I come out?" The fact of the matter is, some parents will and others won't. However, the period when you first come out is usually the hardest. Many families who react negatively at first, become more comfortable with the idea that a child is GLBT over time.

Here are some ideas to help you with your coming out concerns.

Before You Come Out:

  • Educate yourself on being GLBT. That way if your parents start saying things that are inaccurate you can correct them (for example, that all gay people are promiscuous or lonely, or that being GLBT is a mental illness that can be "cured").
  • Make sure you have a support system in place. It is important to have a friend, teacher or older relative who can be there for you if your parents react badly.
  • Look into GLBT organizations to learn more, meet other GLBT kids, and find support. Community centers, GSAs and Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG) will all be good places to start.

When You Come Out:

  • Try to stay calm.
  • Realize this might be a big surprise for your family and something that might contradict long-standing beliefs they have.
  • Don't expect them to understand exactly how you are feeling.
  • Give them credit if they make an effort, even if their effort seems rather weak.
  • If you have a support person who you know your parents respect and trust, you might want to have them there.
  • Offer to share information with them. You might want to bring pamphlets from a group like PFLAG.

After You've Come Out

  • If they are not reacting as you had hoped, keep in mind that they might still be letting the news sink in.
  • Ask if they have any questions.
  • Some families benefit from family therapy, however, this can be detrimental if the therapist takes a homophobic stance.
  • Consider getting individual counseling.
  • Talk to supportive friends and family members.
  • Join online support communities.
  • Try to show your parents that you are the same multi-dimensional person you always were, by participating in family activities and sharing aspects of your life with them.

It is common for parents to go through plenty of emotions when a child comes out. Many feel shock, disbelief, denial, anger, hurt, and confusion. But even if your parents express these emotions, they very well might come to a place of acceptance over time.

If you think that coming out might jeopardize your safety or your ability to live at home, it might not be a good idea to come out to your parents right now.

Check out Part 2: Will my friends treat me differently if I come out?

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