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When Coming Out Hurts Family Relationships

Help and Hope for GLBT Youth Who Don't Have Support at Home

By

lonely sad gay teen

A parent's homophobia is one of the worst things to deal with.

Image (c) Marius Dollinger

A young gay man writes:

"I've told a number of people now that I'm gay. It was mostly my friends and people online. It's a week away from my 19th birthday, so I decided to tell my mom the other night. I still live at home, so she basically still tells me what I can do. I swear she knew I was gay. She just pretends.

So I have a boyfriend now and I was just tired of keeping it a secret. So we were having dinner and she always sits to the left of me and we were having our normal conversation, "How was school? how was work?" and I just said it. "Mom I'm gay." And you know what she did? She just kept talking about her day and completely ignored what I had just said, which is just so blatantly rude and freakin dumb.

So I thought maybe she hadn't heard so I interrupted her and said it again louder this time "Mom I'm gay!" and then she was like how about I go make some cake...really.

I never felt so mad in my entire life. So I slammed my fist onto the table and screamed for her to look at me. She slapped me! She slapped me so hard in the face I almost fell out of my chair. I just started to cry and she said she will not accept a homosexual son and left. That was that. My mom is disgusted with me. I thought she'd be disappointed, but she hates me. Now she doesn't ask how my day was. She doesn't even look at me."

What a terrible situation!

I am sure it is little comfort right now, but know that many of parents actually "grow out" of their homophobia over time. How much time this takes and if it will actually occur is going to be different in every family. It is common for parents to go through a range 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.

Nevertheless, just because your mom's reaction is sadly common, that by no means excuses her behavior.

It might help you to know that at least one study found that people who know someone who gay are less likely to be homophobic, finding that:

"People who have a close gay friend or family member are more likely to support gay marriage and they are also significantly less likely to favor allowing schools to fire gay teachers than are those with little or no personal contact" with someone who is GLBT."

So let's hope that over time your mom will come around. Until then, it would be great if you could find someone to talk to about everything you are going through. If you don't have someone in your immediate circle, consider finding a GLBT-friendly therapist.

It might be also helpful to try to find another adult to talk to your mom. Can you think of anyone who she respects who would also be willing to speak to her on your behalf? Maybe a relative or religious leader? Often parents will respond to their peers better than they will respond to their own children. You might also want to know about PFLAG, Parents and Friends of Lesbianas and Gays, a great support group. You mom probably isn't ready to be in touch with them now, but keep them in mind for the future.

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