Coming out is one of the most difficult things I have ever done. I had been trying to do it for a very long time, but I just wasn't ready until recently. I wasn't ready for the rejection I will get, for all the bullying I will have to go through, for all the discrimination I will experience. But definitely, what I was scared of the most was losing my friends and family. Just thinking about that used to give me a panic attack. But not anymore. I realized I have been worrying about all the wrong things; the only thing that matters is my own well-being. And by pleasing others (meaning staying in the closet and doing what the society wanted me to do), I was causing harm to myself.
Unfortunately, other people don't know how stressful it is keeping such a big secret for so long, and they definitely don't know how stressful it is to come out to them. That is why I decided to write this article and create this list of things I really wish they knew and understood. I am hoping this will help other parents who have LGBT kids to understand all the struggles their kids are going through, and maybe even help them accept their kids the way they are (and let me say, they are perfect).
So, here are 20 things I wish my parents, other family members, and even friends knew when I finally came out of the closet.
20 You Never Really Knew The Real Me
First thing you need to know is that you never really knew the real me. All my life, up until coming out, I was pretending to be someone else. I was living a lie. Every parent needs to give their kid a chance to live the life they deserve to live. True, it will not be an easy life, but at least I'll be free, and I won't hide behind a mask. Trust me, that is every LGBT person's dream: to just be what they are. We deserve that.
19 Coming Out Is What I Dreaded The Most
Coming out is something all of us in the LGBT community are probably most afraid of. We are not accepted by the society, so we just stay in the closet rather than face our fears. Don't blame us, though, because that's justified. LGBT people get discriminated against on a daily basis. Not only discriminated against, but also bullied, assaulted, and worse. And lets not even talk about being rejected by friends and family, by those who we thought would always be there for us. That is why coming out is something we're so scared of.
18 No, It's Not A Phase
One of the most common things parents say to their gay kids is that they're not really gay, that they're confused, and that it's just a phase. Well, guess what - it's not a phase, that's just what some parents are hoping it will turn out to be. Look at the photo above and tell me, do you think that's a phase? Do you think these two guys, and many others like them, have been living in denial their whole life, thinking they're gay when they're really not? I don't think so.
17 I Did Not Just 'Become' Gay
One of the dumbest questions LGBT people are asked is "when did they become gay or trans"... I mean, how does a person even become gay? When you ask that question it sounds like you believe that orientation is a choice (unless you're straight, that is, because you never actually chose to be straight, that's what you are by default). The conclusion is: being gay is not something you become, you can't choose who you're attracted to; you are born that way, simple as that (shoutout to Lady Gaga and her LGBT anthem "Born This Way").
16 Don't Make It More Difficult Than It Already Is
"You're not my kid anymore," "I wish you were never born," and "get out of my house," are just some of the things kids who come out to their parents are told all over the world. And that's if they're lucky; in some parts of the world, it's far worse. That is why it is important to accept your kid no matter if he's straight, gay, bi, or trans because in the end, that is your kid and that will never change. The world is already cruel enough for them, so please don't make it more difficult for them than it already is by not accepting them.
15 It's Okay To Ask Questions
It's somewhat understandable that parents are often surprised or confused when their kids come out to them. I mean, that's a big deal, and it changes a lot of things. But changes don't always have to be bad. Embrace your kid the way they are, show interest for their new life, and know that it's okay to ask questions. In our eyes, it shows that you're okay with our identity, and trust me, will appreciate it so much.
In the end, that's all we want, to be accepted.
14 Being Trans Is Not A Choice
Parents who don't accept their LGBT kids are, dare I say, ignorant. They don't know that none of this is a choice, and they use their religious beliefs to justify their rejection. I bet the first thing trans people are told when they come out to their parents is, "You're a freakin' drag queen?" or "You love dressing up as a woman?" NO! Get your facts together, I don't love dressing up as a woman; I am a woman (same with trans men). And I didn't choose this.
13 Books About Having Gay Kids Can Help
If you as a parent are not sure how to approach your kid about this, what kind of questions to ask, or even how to accept it, then I suggest reading a few books about that first. There are many books out there written by LGBT people and parents who have experience with this (for example, "This Is a Book for Parents of Gay Kids: A Question & Answer Guide to Everyday Life" or "Always My Child: A Parent's Guide to Understanding Your Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgendered, or Questioning Son or Daughter"). Trust me, this will help you connect with your kid, and they will be grateful for that.
12 I'm Not Making It Up
A lot of us often get told by our parents, friends, or even random people, that we're just confused, too young to know what we're talking about, or that we're just making it up. For example, bisexual people are told too often that there is no such thing as bisexuality. I mean really, we live in the 21st Century and people still have prejudices about this whole thing (in this case about bisexuality). My parents still think that bisexuality doesn't exist, you're either straight or gay (and yes, I tried explaining it to them).
11 And No, I Won't Burn In The Afterlife Because Of Who I Am
A lot of people who are anti-LGBT, including parents who have LGBT kids, use their religious beliefs as an excuse for their actions and opinions. But come on... First of all, there are many LGBT people who are very religious, you can be both. Second, there are also many religious people who accept LGBT people, and if they can do it, so can everyone else. And third, even Pope Francis told a gay man that 'God had made him gay and loved him.'
10 Not Everyone Will Accept Me (And That's Okay)
One of the first things that cross parents' minds is about what the others will think of their kid now, will they have a normal life, and will they be able to navigate the world like everybody else. Unfortunately, not everyone will accept your kid now that they're out of the closet, but your kid probably already knows that. What's important in this period is to give your kids some space (but I don't mean completely isolate them and show no interest); I mean don't make assumptions about this period of their life and what they're going through.
9 I Am Still Your Kid
Honestly, I have never understood those parents who told their gay kids that they're not their kids anymore now that they are gay. Why does that have to change anything? I am still the same person, I still have the same beliefs, I still love and respect other people. The only thing that has changed now that I am out is who I sleep with or who I love. And come on, that is something that doesn't really affect anyone else but me. That's something that should be private either way, regardless of whether I am straight, gay, or bi.
8 And You Will Always Be My Parents
Regardless of whether you decide to accept me or not, now that I am out, I will always love you. You are my parents, and nothing will ever change that. Of course, I would love if you accepted me, that would be a dream come true basically, to have a family who supports you no matter what. Of course, our relationship will not be the same if you don't accept me, but regardless, I would still love you and respect you. So, it's up to you how you want this to be.
7 I Don't Want To Live A Lie
LGBT people wait a long time (too long, if you ask me) to come out of the closet and start living the life they have always dreamt of. This is why coming out is so important to us. We don't need to live a lie anymore; trans people can finally get their identity changed, and gay people can finally start holding hands with people of the same gender. There's no more need of hiding in the closet or pretending to be something we're not.
6 I Understand If You Need Some Time
Look, we understand it's a lot to take in at once, and we understand that some parents might need some time to think about the fact that their kid is lesbian/gay/bisexual/trans. We respect that and we will give you all the time you need. But you need to know that whether you accept that fact or not, we will not go back to the closet, we will not stop being what we are because you think you can't handle that (not like there's much to handle, everything can be the same as it was, it's up to the parents).
5 Don't Worry, I Will Find Someone Who Will Love Me
Some parents are concerned that their kids will stay single forever and never find love now that they are out of the closet. That might have been the reality for LGBT people back in the days when LGBT community didn't have any rights, and everyone was afraid to come out. But it's not like that anymore. I mean, there are more than 11 million adults in the United States only who identify as LGBT. So don't worry, there's somebody for us out there.
4 You Can Still Have Grandkids
Don't worry, parents — not only will we find someone to love and who will love us, but we can also have kids as well (and I know how important that is to every parent, having a grandkid is something special). With so many babies and small children who are without parents, or who live in extreme poverty, adoption is always a possibility. And for those who would prefer the baby share the same genetics as them, don't worry, surrogacy can take care of that. But then again, that's something LGBT couples should decide on, not their parents.
3 I'm Not Coming Out Because I Dislike You
Look, one of the things parents need to know is that we do not come out to them because we dislike them and we want to hurt them; that's ridiculous and doesn't really make sense. In fact, this might sound selfish though, but we do not come out to our parents because of them... We do it for ourselves because it will make our lives easier. So, if your kid comes out to you, remember that it has nothing to do with you, they were the ones who were unhappy with keeping that a secret, and telling you will make them feel better.
2 Coming Out Now Saves Me Many Years Of Living With Depression
As I've mentioned several times already, many parents do not accept their kids as gay, lesbian, bisexual, or trans. Some of them wish their kids never came out at all. But, there's a reason we come out to our parents: we don't want to live with depression any longer, and keeping that secret from parents and living unhappy certainly does contribute to that. And, as you probably know, depression can lead to self-harming, and even worse... That is why we come out to you, dear parents.
1 Life Will Be Easier With You By My Side
Acceptance is the key to be truly free. Even if the whole world turns against me, I will still be happy knowing that I have my parents by my side and that they accept me the way I am. And I know every other LGBT person thinks this way. So, to every parent reading this, please accept your children as gay or trans, be there for them, and most importantly, love them unconditionally. Knowing they have their parents by their side will make your kids' life much better and way easier.
References: seventeen.com, news.gallup.com, Guardian