Gay Teens: Coming Out to Family and Friends
Revealing one's homosexuality is never easy — for young or old — but the process can be particularly difficult for teens, who are dependent on their families and have not yet established their own private lives with their own place to live and a job to provide financial support. In fact, the rates of suicide for young homosexuals are much higher than for heterosexuals of the same age, in great part because many can't cope when faced with rejection from their families.
No two families react the same way when a son or a daughter comes out of the closet.
- Some parents may have suspected their child's homosexual orientation for a while and learned to accept it, so they have a general sense of relief that the subject is out in the open.
- Other parents react very negatively, upset that many of their expectations for their child — the traditional heterosexual marriage followed by grandchildren — have suddenly disappeared. They may also react negatively, in part because they feel that their child's homosexuality reflects badly on them (and the way they raised that child) in the eyes of the rest of the family as well as friends and neighbors.
- In some families, the reaction is split, with one parent accepting the son or daughter's announcement and the other going so far as to cut off all contact.
Teens should understand that being a parent isn't easy, and because the expectations of most parents are turned topsy-turvy by the announcement that their child is gay, it's normal for them to have some mixed emotions in the beginning. Getting past those feelings and working with your parents, and perhaps a counselor, to rebuild family unity is the key — and to do that, you need to be prepared. If you're forewarned about how your family may react, and have been told ways to handle these reactions, you're much more likely to end up being accepted by your family.
If you're gay and haven't revealed your sexual identity to your family, immediately find a counselor who has worked with other gay teens facing this problem to give you guidance. The counselor's experience in this area can be invaluable to you in obtaining the best possible results from your circumstances.