Coming out is one of the most difficult and personal things any queer person ever has to go through. Each experience is unique based on their family, their beliefs, and the cultural climate that they grew up in. What is most fascinating about coming out stories is that no two are the same no matter how similar the base facts of the story are.
I’ve spoken about this in the past, but coming out to my parents at the time seemed like the scariest thing I’d ever have to experience. Although instead of rejecting me like I had built up in my mind would be their reaction, they opened their arms to me with love and grace.
Since coming out of the closet, I’m always interested to know how people’s families reacted to their coming out. While I know I was lucky, I also know that many people are not as fortunate as I am when it comes to how their parents react to their honest sexuality. Homelessness is a major issue in the queer community, with 40% of teens at homeless shelters identifying as LGBT. I wanted to know how other families took the news of someone coming out to them, so I asked twelve of my friends on what went down after they stepped out of the proverbial closet.
1. Better Left Unsaid
“When I first came out to my parents I needed to stay with my Aunt for two weeks. Every time my mom looked at me she started to cry and talk about the grandchildren she’d never have and my dad would barely look at me. Eventually they calmed down but it’s not something we discuss.” – Marc, 24.
“I was outed to my sister by the guy I was seeing at the time. She didn’t know what gay meant so she went to my parents. They didn’t take it well and on top of that our house flooded the next week due to a hurricane. My family and I basically had to camp out in a hotel room for two weeks while our house got repaired and they refused to speak with me.” – Kyle, 28.
3. Boyfriend Finder
“My parents took it a little too well. My mom kept asking me if it was OK for her to let people know she had a gay son, she really wanted to help me find a boyfriend.” – Chris, 29.
4. Reality Check
“I still don’t speak to my parents. After I came out to them over the phone I woke up the next morning and all my credit cards had been shut off and they refused to answer my calls for six months.” – Oliver, 28.
5. Unnatural Urges
“My parents told me I was no longer welcome in their home if I planned on acting on my impulses. They also begged me to see a therapist and someone from their church for my “unnatural urges.” I moved in with a friend for the rest of high school but it was always really difficult knowing they were down the street and just didn’t want to be a part of my life unless I admitted I needed help.” – Sarah, 29.
6. Freaked Out Dad
“My dad freaked out and kept asking if he had done anything while I was growing up to “cause this.” When I explained that I’ve been this way since the first time I looked at porn he calmed down. I think once parents realize it isn’t about them they lighten up.” – Michael, 31.
7. College Escape
“My parents cried for three weeks and kept asking other family members to talk to me about it. My mom would have my grandma call me and read me bible verses for a bit. It was all odd. When I went away to college things calmed down. I think when they don’t have to experience it every single day parents are able to make peace with it.” – Jamie, 28.
8. Dinner Date
“My parents took it extremely well when I came out to them sophomore year. They took me out to dinner and just asked me all the questions that they had about the situation. When they were finished I never had to answer any uncomfortable questions again.” – Rob, 26.
9. Reading Up
“My parents were wonderful about it. My mom took it upon herself to buy her and my father a lot of literature on the subject and I think they made it their mission to make me feel better about it. Sometimes I feel like they’re more well-versed on queer issues than I am.”- Jason, 25.
10. Support System
“My mother cried a lot but only because she thought life would always be harder for me. Once she visited me in college and saw how many supportive friends I had I think she was able to calm down a little bit and realize that times had changed!” – Casey, 29.
11. Forever Etched
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen my mom or dad look that disappointed in me. It is a look I will forever have etched into my mind.”- Megan, 27.
12. 100 Years
“My dad pulled me aside and told me he experimented in college, which was weird enough to hear but what surprised me the most was that he told me he was very, very proud of how brave I was. I would never in 100 years have expected that from him.” – Paul, 23.