Lauren's sister Melanie* came out in college. "It was kind of weird. My family is really conservative and I knew my mom would not take it well. I told Melanie that I though she might just be going through a phase, and that she shouldn't tell mom until she was sure."
Hearing this upset Melanie, who was certain that she was a lesbian, and it temporarily caused a rift between the sisters. She ignored Lauren's advice, and came out to her parents. They were shocked, and told her that they too though this was just a phase.
These days, Melanie and Lauren have patched things up and are as close as ever. Their parents however are having a harder time with a gay daughter. They have yet to meet any of Melanie's girlfriends and have asked her not to tell the extended family. Lauren and Melanie are both hopeful that their parents will eventually come around.
Now, Melanie's family situation isn't perfect, but it is pretty common. Hearing that a family member is gay can bring up a lot of emotions. It is common to be shocked, scared, or confused. People might not believe what they are hearing. Some wonder if they did anything to cause this.
One of the best things for people with gay family members to do is to contact an organization like Parents and Friends of Lesbians and Gays (PFLAG). They have support groups for family members, and can give you a lot of information on healthy ways to integrate this new information.
*Names have been changed.