Is there a better or worse time to come out to parents?

  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 06, 2007 7:22 AM GMT
    I ask this question because I've finally gathered up the nerve and decided to tell my parents this weekend, since my family--minus my brother--are the last people to be left in the dark. I had chosen to do it now because I will be leaving for the Peace Corps in May. I figure that if something should happen to me while I'm serving--the gods forbid, but Peace Corps volunteers have been killed in the past--it would be devastating for my parents to end up hearing about it from other other people down the road.

    But as I've been thinking about it the last week or two I've started to wonder whether it's such a good idea to do it now, considering the stress that they're under. They'll both be retiring within the next 5-10 years and since my mom is self-employed, she's trying to find ways to ensure a steady income even after retirement. This has her working even harder than before and under even more stress. I worry that telling them now will just add to an already increased level of stress.

    And of course, the holidays are coming up, but then there will always be holidays coming up.

    I wonder, though, if there's actually a better or worse time to come out to them. Is there really going to some time in the future when they'll be in a better position to handle the news? Is this thought process anything more than equivocation?

    What are your thoughts/experiences?
  • GQjock

    Posts: 11649

    Nov 06, 2007 11:41 AM GMT
    There's no time like the present
    It sounds like you're making excuses though about telling your folks...there's always going to be stressful times
    I think you owe your parents the truth and they owe it to you to be able to still love you no matter what
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    Nov 06, 2007 11:49 AM GMT
    I dont think there is a better or worse time to tell you parnets for are gay. I mean no what when you tell them it is going to be a shock. I think you have to do it when you have a strong enough sense of self to do it.
  • HndsmKansan

    Posts: 16461

    Nov 06, 2007 1:03 PM GMT
    I kind of agree with GQ above, except....

    You know your parents and how to share this with them
    effectively (or whether to do it). Make the decision yourself, don't base your decision on what you think you should or shouldn't (or what we say). Make it yourself.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 06, 2007 2:26 PM GMT
    Right before Christmas is not a good time ... icon_lol.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 06, 2007 2:26 PM GMT
    I know a guy who came out to his father when Dad was in a coma.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 06, 2007 4:22 PM GMT

    That's gold right there.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 06, 2007 4:32 PM GMT
    First of all I commend you on joining the Peace Corps, it is nice to hear young people helping others.

    In terms of coming out to one's parents I would not recommend doing it in the holiday season when people are under a fair amount of stress. Also are you coming out in person? I told my family all at once via a personal letter to each member, I was 29 at the time. It was in February and not around any holidays. The reason I did not do it in person is that I come from a traditional WASP family where emotions are suppressed. When people lose their cool they go all the way! I did not want anybody saying anything that they would later regret.

    As it turns out my timing could have been better, my brother on his return from Thailand suffered an allergic reaction to anti-malaria meds. and spent 5 days in intensive care. Besides that it went fine (they suspected I was gay).

    If you do decide to come out, best of luck, and remember your parents love you so if they say things that hurt your feelings do not take it to personally, they will be reacting to the shock.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 06, 2007 5:09 PM GMT
    I really hadn't considered the excuse of the holidays to be all that valid, but perhaps I need to rethink that. Maybe it's unfair to make the last holiday season I'll have with them for a couple years a tense one.

    I just tend to think to myself "well what other excuses am I going to end up coming up with after the holidays?"
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 06, 2007 5:13 PM GMT
    oh, I was thinking of the presents they might reconsider giving you. ... icon_neutral.gif
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 06, 2007 6:05 PM GMT

    There is no time like the present.

    Give your family time to absorb what is going on, and give them access to you to talk about it.

    Remember that you have had a long time to get used to the idea; they may not have, and it could be difficult for them.

    Just don't put it off so you end up telling them during the holidays - very bad timing (a friend came out to his family as they all sat down to Christmas dinner - not good).

  • EricLA

    Posts: 3462

    Nov 06, 2007 6:23 PM GMT
    I say do it at Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner, like so: "I'm gay, pass the green beans please."

    I think there can be a bad time to come out to people, particularly parents, especially if you're really unsure of what their reaction might be. If you're financially dependent on them for school or life in general, it's probably better to wait until you're more financially secure and/or have a great support base of other family and friends to lean on should the worst happen.

    That said, that reaction seems to be less and less the case.

    I think your situation isn't particularly problematic and agree that there's no time like the present. Maybe your parents have already figured it out -- I think in many cases at least one of the parents already knows.

    I think you need to view it as an opportunity to get closer to your parents. The longer you put it off, the more you have to keep them at arm's length from the life you're living.

    They may have trouble with it at first. If so, give them a little room. I came out at 23. It took me 10 years to become comfortable with who I am to come out -- I couldn't expect them to be instantly at ease with the idea.

    I say go for it.
  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 06, 2007 8:42 PM GMT
    Hi Chewey_Delt, the cautiion about the holidays is a valid one and is consistent with advice on coming out that you will see on a lot of gay counselling and advice websites. The holiday season is one in which there is a significant amount of work involved especially for the mother, plus pressure for everybody in the family to get along.

    Coming out at that time will be viewed by family members as "spoiling" the fun. Since you are not going until May you will have lots of time after Christmas to tell them. Unless you have been dating women on a fairly constant basis, your news should not come as a huge shock (maybe a disappointment though).

    By the way loved your slideshow, you are lucky to live close to such beautiful natural surroundings.
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    Nov 06, 2007 9:00 PM GMT

    The worst time is anytime for the parents ! LOL ..(just kiddingicon_smile.gif)

    Well .. I told my parent at night while they were sitting outside in the fresh air (yes I couldn't sleep after thaticon_sad.gif )
    and I was about to leave the next day to visit my grandparents for few days , so it was like giving my parents time alone to make up their minds ..

    I dunno if it'll work in your case... but good luck !!
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    Nov 06, 2007 9:51 PM GMT
    I would today If I wasnt still financially dependent on my father. He pays for most everything and he is a strict southern church going man, who would probably take it badly. In fact I can see him now telling me "Son, if you want to be in my will, you're going to have to marry this young woman I've picked for you." i think I'd better wait.....icon_cry.gif
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    Nov 06, 2007 10:13 PM GMT
    You have to get past the enemy within. You're being way, way, way, to self-centered, and low esteem about it all.

    If it's important to you that your parents know, which they likely do already anyway (shit, they've been around you for years), then, just tell them and move onto the next item. Either they will, or won't, like it, but, if it's an issue, you can address it, and get on with the rest of your life. There are few rewards in being a coward. There are even fewer rewards in being deceitful.

    You need to come to like yourself, and the rest will fall into place. The fact that you are even asking the question of when tells me you have deep self-doubt. If your parents are decent folks, they'll get over it fast, or be completely accepting. If not, then it's best not having them in the forefront of your life.

    Mostly, this is just low esteem, and the enemy within. Don't empower it via deceit, and cowardness.

    There is nothing gained by putting it off.
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    Nov 07, 2007 12:17 AM GMT
    Wow, Chewey, good luck! Everyone else in the thread has already given you good advice--I'd only add that telling them now gives them the chance to process and spend time with you before you leave next May. Where are you assigned?
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    Nov 07, 2007 2:35 AM GMT
    Well, I came out to my mom twice. The first time I was 12, and she flipped out, so I took it back and said it was a fad or something. She believed it, but then a few years later (a year and half ago actually) when I was a junior in highschool I came out and finally told her strait on that I was gay. She accepted it, cus she had already been thinking about it for a number of years, my stepdad didnt like it though, and he kicked me out.
    I actually came out to my grandparents first, and they were completely understanding and didn't care at all.

    But my mom loves me and is good with it, and I would hope your parents would still love you (I don't see how they couldn't!)

    All I can say is tell them when you're ready and comfortable with it. That's not really the kind of thing you can harbor from them your whole life. But yah, theres no time like the present. Just go for it! I mean hey, your leaving to another country soon! They have all the time in the world to adjust to it.

    Good luck, with your parents and the Corps!

  • Timbales

    Posts: 13999

    Nov 07, 2007 2:50 AM GMT
    There's never a good time.

    Be honest, be sensitive and tell them why you needed to tell them.
  • DrStorm

    Posts: 185

    Nov 07, 2007 3:21 AM GMT
    Is there ever a good time to die? Well, there is never a "right" or "wrong" time to tell the folks. I was where you are now back in 1994. My father was CEO of one of South Africa's largest financial institutions and my mother was very well entrenched as a worship leader at our local church. Neither needed a GAY son.

    After my month-long trip to the US in 1994, I realized that when I got back to South Africa that I really had to tell my parents ASAP. Without going into the details of how I told them I will tell you the consequences.

    Essentially I put my parents in the closet (gay men tend to forget this). NEVER EVER underestimate the power of denial when it comes to your parents. The harder they deny it, the harder it is for them to accept it.

    My poor father literally cried for a month, while my mother was not surprised and took it better than expected. My father and I spent an entire day going through every cliche of why I am gay from blaming my friends to blaming himself. Remember, it's really like a death - the death of your "straightness" to your parents and the rebirth of your (fabulous) "gayness" and it takes time (Really, didn't they watch QUEER EYE, dammit?)

    Here we are 13 years later and my father and I are closer than ever while my mother loves me conditionally and believes I will go to hell since she has judged me and found me guilty of a sin. I told her I'd see her in hell... but then again that's a whole new story for a whole new topic someday..(don't get me started now! icon_evil.gif )

    The bottom line is I love both my parents and I HATED being a hypocrite and leading a double life right under their eyes. The most liberating thing I EVER did was to tell my parents, since once they know, it really doesn't matter who the hell else knows IMHO. I have no regrets and never will have regrets that I told them.

    My brother really shocked my parents this year when he asked me to be the godfather of their firstborn, my wonderful nephew James, whom I will see in Australia at the end of the year. It will also be the first time I have seen my parents since 2003. Making me the godfather really opened my parents eyes to the fact that love really overcomes everything, even fear, if we let it (my mother still is working on that one, lol).

    I wholeheartedly agree with CD that you DO NOT want your parents to hear it from someone else. Also, once you tell you parents you will never regret NOT having told them should something happen to them unexpectedly.

    CD - I wish you well, be honest and be understanding of their fears, wishes, whatever, but don't ever deny who or what you are. Your parents will respect you for that ...maybe not today, but down the road!


  • Posted by a hidden member.
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    Nov 07, 2007 5:43 AM GMT
    Thanks, all, for the advice. I think this thread has just reaffirmed my desire to go forward with it.

    Chucky: As always, your "kick in the ass" advice hits the mark, for the most part. Appreciated.

    Thecure: I don't have final placement yet, but my initial placement is in either Albania or Macedonia. I'll hear more back this or next month concerning final placement. I'm excited!
  • liftordie

    Posts: 823

    Nov 07, 2007 5:56 AM GMT
    there really is no good time to come out. or rather as i like to put it....admitting the truth. most parents already know if there child is gay or not. hearing the words officially may come as not so much a shock but as a jolt of reality so to speak. parents know. whether they want to accept the fact before during or after the admittance is other subject all together. my youner brother actually 'outed' me to my parents years and i mean YEARS before i owned up to the fact.
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    Nov 08, 2007 1:08 AM GMT
    Either place sounds terrific--safe travels, and keep in touch with the group as you can. And, of course, let us know how this weekend goes ...
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    Nov 08, 2007 2:51 PM GMT
    I never understand the reason one would be so desperate to tell their parents about this issue. maybe because i don't have that close of relationship with them to begin with. if you are so close to them that you feel bad not telling them, then go ahead.

    But don't do it if your parents are not in good health. I didnt' break the news to my parents, but my sibling did it for me, and my dad had an heartache. He has not being doing well ever since.
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    Nov 11, 2007 3:31 AM GMT
    Lessons learned from this weekend:

    1. Stop being a pussy.
    2. Things are rarely as bad as you imagine them.
    3. Don't underestimate the love of your parents.
    4. No one ever expects the Spanish Inquisition.

    Alright, so that last one might not actually have been a lesson from this weekend.

    I came out to my parents tonight, and I could not have imagined things going better. The first thing my dad said to me was "that doesn't change anything; you're still my son." Quite honestly, I never even suspected that would be the reaction. I clearly underestimated my parents. They even told me they had suspected it for a while, which I'm not terribly surprised by; I don't know how they couldn't have since I haven't had a girlfriend since I was 13.

    Thank you, everyone, for all the advice. As I noted earlier, things are rarely as bad as you imagine them.