Coming out to your family can be very challenging for many LGBTQ+ people. You may feel worried about how your family will react. Will they accept you? Will your relationship with them change? Coming out is a personal decision, and it’s important that you do it in a way that feels safe for you. If you’re feeling nervous or unsure about coming out to your family, know that you’re not alone.
While it may not feel like it right now, many people have felt the same you’re feeling right now.
They were scared, doubtful of their parent’s support, and worried about their future. But, many people have gone through this experience. Regardless of their parent’s reaction, they were glad that they spoke their truth.
It might not be easy to come out to your family. But, there are a few things you can do to make it feel safer and more comfortable. We want to help make the process of coming out easier for you, which is why we’ve created this blog with our advice.
First, Give Yourself Some Credit For How Far You’ve Come!
Before we get into our advice for coming out to your family, it’s important to take some time to recognize where you’re at. I don’t know what your journey has looked like. But, regardless of your situation, you have reached this point. You may have struggled to explore and understand your identity. You may not want to accept yourself. And at times, you may have felt like you would never share this part of who you are with your family or loved ones.
So, give yourself some credit. Applaud yourself for your strength. Take a moment to recognize where you’re at in your journey. No matter how your family responds, you’ve gotten yourself to this point. And you will continue to do amazing things.
I also want to note that coming out isn’t a part of everyone’s journey. If you’re reading this blog, it may be a part of yours. But, if you don’t feel need the need to come out to others, that is perfectly okay. Though if you are considering coming out, you can keep reading for our advice.
Be Prepared For a Variety Of Reactions
When you’re getting ready to come out to your family it’s best to prepare for a variety of responses.
Some people come out to their families and are immediately met with support, love, and acceptance. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Depending on your family’s culture and values, they may not respond in the way you were hoping.
Consider your families culture
You have likely already done this to an extent. But, take some time to consider your family’s culture and values. Are they very traditional, or were they raised in a culture that may have not exposed them to the LGBTQ+ community? There is no excuse for treating LGBTQ+ people (especially your own children) as less than because of their identity. But, trying to understand where they come from can be helpful.
Ask yourself where their concerns may be coming from
If you’re struggling with this, try considering the intergenerational trauma that exists within your family or culture. Your family may have seen their friends or family members be taunted or hurt because of their identity. Because of this, they may have come to believe that all LGBTQ+ people would have a difficult life.
Their concerns about you being gay, bisexual, or transgender may come from a place of good intention. It’s possible that they’re worried about the discrimination or prejudice you may face. Keep this in mind when you’re ready to talk to them. You may want to create space for a discussion about their concerns.
Start by Coming Out as LGBTQ to a “Safer” Person in Your Family
Everyone has a unique family dynamic and relationship with their family members. And odds are you have some family members that you feel a bit more nervous about coming out to. You may feel scared about how your grandparents will react but feel hopeful about your parent’s response. Or you may be very scared about how your parents will react, though you know your siblings and cousins will be supportive.
It can be helpful to start by coming out to a family member (or multiple) that you feel safer with. This could be a sibling, a cousin, an aunt, or even a close family friend. Express your concerns to them about coming out to your family. Consider asking them to offer their support when you do.
Ask them to offer their support when you come out to other family members
Having a person stand by you and support you as you come out to your family can make it much less scary. If some family members aren’t as understanding, they may be able to help show them a new perspective. And they can act as a “buffer” or moderator if it’s an emotional conversation and you need someone to facilitate it.
Make sure to check in with them before you come out to your family though. That way they have time to prepare on an emotional level to carve out time for this conversation.
Remember That You Can Always Build Community Outside of Your Family
Depending on the culture you were raised in, and your unique family dynamics, your family may be a very big part of your life. They might even be the “biggest” part of your life. This can make it especially nerve-wracking to come out. You might feel worried about losing that relationship or changing it.
You won’t know how they’re going to respond until you give them the opportunity to. And as I’ve mentioned, they may respond in a way that you weren’t hoping for. This is why it is so important to keep in mind that you can always build a community of support outside of your family.
Creating a chosen family
In the LGBTQ+ community, we refer to this as “chosen family”. A person’s chosen family is made up of those friends and supportive people who are for some people, like a second family. There are so many people you haven’t even met yet who are excited to support you. You only have to get out there and create those connections. There are LGBTQ+ spaces, organizations, and online communities that were created in specific to foster friendship among LGBTQ+ people. You may want to start by searching for some of these spaces and resources in your area.
I know that this feels scary. But please remember that regardless of how your family responds, you are not alone. And you have an entire community of people who love and support you, waiting to meet you.
Reach out to an LGBTQ Therapist in Orange County, CA
Are you coming out as LGBTQ+ and want someone to talk to about this process? If so, you might want to consider reaching out to a therapist. Our therapists offer LGBTQ+ affirming therapy for those who need support coming out, want to explore their identity, or want to know that their counselor is not only accepting but educated too. If you’re interested in working with one of our therapists or learning more about our Orange County, CA-based practice, follow these simple steps:
- Contact Moxie Family Therapy
- Find a therapist at our practice that’s the right fit for you
- Start working with an LGBTQ+ affirming counselor
Other Services Offered at Moxie Family Therapy
Our team is happy to offer a variety of mental health services in addition to LGBTQ counseling. Our Orange County, CA-based practice is also happy to offer support for women, children, teens, young adults, and couples with a variety of services in person and online. We also offer mental health services including therapy for anxiety, trauma, clinical supervision, art therapy, counseling for adoption, therapy for therapists, and play therapy. Please learn more about us by visiting our blog or FAQ page today!