Coming Out

Coming out is a big decision! Each person’s coming out story is different and it is something only you can decide for yourself. Many people come out over time to different people, depending on when they are comfortable. You need to consider a few things first. First, decide who you want to tell; who are you most comfortable sharing with. This may be a parent, a friend, a teacher, a trusted adult, counselor, a family member. You do not need to come out to everybody all at once, and you should get to choose who, when and how.

When deciding to come out to your family, you may want to consider some things that can offer some clues on how they will react. Then decide whether you really feel ready telling them, especially if their reaction may not be 100% positive. You may want to think about your parents’ religious beliefs and views on gender and sexuality, if you know them. Oftentimes, people worry their parents won’t accept them for who they are so they avoid coming out. While sometimes this is true, it is not always the case and there are many instances of parents and families being completely accepting when you didn’t expect it. Although unfair, it is a good idea to be prepared for them to be angry or in denial – just in case so you have a plan of how you might react to that.

  • Acknowledge that your parents might be surprised or upset initially by starting the conversation with: “Mom and dad, I have something to tell you. You may be hurt surprised or disappointed, but it is important to me. Will you listen?” 
  • Don’t talk to your parent when they are busy with other things. Wait until you and your parent can spend quality time with each other. If it seems like there is no good time, ask them if they can set aside time to talk to you. 
  • Know what you want to say. It may help to practice what you want to say with a close friend or write down the main points you want to address. 
  • Provide a point in time when you began to question your sexual orientation. For example, “When I was in middle school I knew I didn’t feel the same way about boys as the other girls in my grade.” 
  • If they seem upset, show that you understand their opinions by saying something like “I know how you feel about homosexuality, but I really need your support right now.” 
  • Be prepared to give your parents some time to absorb the news. After the initial surprise wears off, many parents will come around and be more supportive.

For more information on coming out, we recommend these resources: