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Is Coming Out to My Religious Parents a Good Idea?

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Question: Is Coming Out to My Religious Parents a Good Idea?
A gay teen considers whether coming out to his religious parents is a the right move.
Answer:

A teen writes:

"So my family is super religious and I'm seen as super religious by everyone around me. I've noticed that I have had more and more fantasies turn to guys. I'm not entirely sure if I'm gay, but I have began to kind of accept that I am. I'm pretty certain that if I came out, that I would disappoint approximately five hundred or so people. I have talked to a female friend of mine about this and she is encouraging me to do what I feel best, but I want some solid advice. PLEASE HELP!!!! I am a little tired of putting on a face and want help."

This sounds like a really tough situation. Coming out at any age can be challenging, but because teens tend to live with their families, there are a few unique issues young people need to think about. Plus, if you are part of a religious community that doesn't accept being gay, that can make the situation even harder. Ask yourself:

  • If I am questioning my sexual orientation, is not the right time to come out?
  • Will coming out jeopardize my situation at home?
  • Is it safe, physically and emotionally, for me to come out to my parents?
  • Do I have resources available (both emotional and financial) if coming out changes my situation at home?
  • How will I feel if my religious community rejects me for my sexual orientation?
  • Is there anyone in my family who would support me if I came out?

Some religious groups that are opposed to being gay even support "reparative therapy" or "gay conversion therapy." This is the practice of trying to make gay people straight. Most professionals think it is ineffective and likely to be psychologically damaging. In fact, in 2009, the American Psychological Association overwhelmingly voted to adopt the position that no solid evidence exists that therapy can change sexual orientation and that research did exist indicating "that efforts to produce change could be harmful, inducing depression and suicidal tendencies."

It is imporant for you to think about whether you might be subjected to something like this if you did come out.

Whether or not you decide to come out to your family, you will probably really benefit from having someone you can talk to openly about how you are feeling. A good option is the GLBT Youth Helpline. You can call toll-free 1-800-246-PRIDE.

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