“After a year of coming to terms with my sexuality, i unexpectedly told my parents over the phone. I am at college and my parents are far away. They are really struggling but getting this off my chest has been so good for me. I know that coming out is a process, but what are some ways to show my parents this isn’t just a phase??”
Question submitted Anonymously
Answered by Audrey Benedetto
I came out to my parents over the phone while at college too. It definitely wasn’t how I would’ve liked to do it, but I was at the point where I needed to tell them or I felt like I’d explode. I applaud you for having the courage to come out to your parents, even if you didn’t plan to. I’m so glad that you were at least able to feel a sense of relief in telling them, even if they are still struggling with it. I remember thinking that it would have been so much easier if I had come out because I started dating someone, instead of being single throughout the whole process. It would’ve been so much easier to convince everyone I really was gay if I had been able to bring home a girl to the family Christmas Party. It would’ve been like, “Look guys, here’s my girlfriend! See? Not a phase!” But I didn’t have that option, and in some ways I’m glad I didn’t. It meant that my coming out was solely focused on me, not my relationship, not my girlfriend, just me. Coming out is a deeply personal thing, and while it can be painful, it is also really amazing. It is an opportunity for you to take a good hard look at yourself, be brutally honest, and allow yourself to be who you are. Of course you want your parents to be involved and on board, but the bottom line is that this experience is about you getting to know the real you for the first time.
If you want to make this process a little easier for them to accept, I think you already took the first step in telling them. Open communication is important in any relationship, can it can only help in this situation. Keep in mind that your parents have had a lot of time to envision what they think your life will look like. They may feel a sense of loss when they realize that you have chosen a different path (and you might too – I know I did). They may seem resistant at first, but (hopefully) that’s only because they want what’s best for you, and they know that being gay in the world today comes with its challenges. Let them know that it also comes with awesome stuff, like love and acceptance and pride parades. Keep them in the loop. Even if you aren’t having a big dramatic discussion about it, work it into the conversation. If you go to a gay-straight alliance meeting, mention it to them. If you’re feeling down/stressed/worried/happy/excited about coming out and figuring out your identity, talk to them about it. If you do find you have a crush on a girl, tell them about her. By talking to your parents and keeping them updated, they’ll begin to see that this is a part of who you are and they will hopefully grow to accept that part of you. Of course, this all depends on how receptive they are to hearing about your coming out process. If they shut you down, then they might just need a little more time to process. At the end of the day though, you don’t need to convince anyone of something you know is true. Just live your life, be happy and open, and the rest will follow.
Audrey Benedetto is a writer, artist, and human being who currently lives in Manhattan. Her passion for gender, sex, and race issues began in college and influences how she sees and moves through the world. She enjoys karaoke, long walks, and french bulldogs. Audrey is constantly learning and would like to share some of what she’s picked up along the way.
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