For Parents & Allies

Ignorance is taught.

Coming Out:
Coming out can be an extremely challenging experience for a child.  No matter how old they are.  If you suspect your child is gay or if you suspect a friend or loved one’s child is gay, you should take every opportunity possible to make the process easier.  NEVER corner someone regarding this topic. People need to come out in their own time.
Some tips for parents or allies.

  1. If you suspect someone is gay make sure you make it clear (casually) that you support the GLBT community.  If you are a household with two parents, both parents MUST be supportive.  That means no hiding from one parent.  Hiding this from anyone sends a message that there is something to hide.   The fact is, there is nothing to hide and this should be a non-issue.  Obviously it is not that easy.  Little hints go a long way.
    *Watch a TV show that has gay characters.  A great recent example is Modern Family (US).  Stay away from any show or movie with a negative depiction of the GLBT community.
    *Bring up a gay celebrity.  Again, focus on the positive.  Fortunately, this is getting easier and easier as more celebrities/athletes come of the closet.  My two favorites in the US are Ellen DeGeneres and Neil Patrick Harris.   I should also say that I adore RuPaul and think he is one of the most under-rated icons of my time.  RuPaul may be a bit of a stretch for most…at least at the beginning so stick with Ellen 🙂
    *If you are around your child and hear anti-gay comments, be sure to quickly let your child know the comments are wrong.   This is extremely important.  This may include sources like family, friends or (sadly) religious organizations.  Remember, any anti-gay propaganda is just that.  Propaganda.  Brainwashing in it’s finest form.  Stay clear of this toxic energy.  By the way, the same thing can be said for any type of bigoted comments.  Remember, your job as a parent is to protect *and love* your child unconditionally.  The hell with anyone who does not support the love you have for your child.
  2. Keep calm and carry on.  Even if you think it is the end of the world, do not let your child sense that.  Your job is as a parent is to listen, support and love.   I do not advocate straight up lying to your child but let him/her know that you are proud of them and support them.  Be extremely sensitive in this situation.  Thank your child for coming to you and for being so brave.   Show support.  it is quite simple.  This is not the end of the world and being gay will define your child as much as having blond hair or brown eyes will.  It’s that simple.
  3. Get a support system.  Similar advise to the kids that are coming out.  Get multiple sources of support if you can.  The only rule is to be sure the sources are pro GLTB and not anti.  This is critical.  You will NEVER get the support you need from someone or people with a twisted view of reality.
    *Friends or co-workers.  There is no doubt someone in your life that has either gone through this very same thing or knows someone who has.  Don’t be ashamed.  Ask around.  There is noting to be ashamed of.  Let go of any shame you have regarding this topic.  If you can’t do it for yourself, do it for your child.
    *Therapists or groups.  There are plenty of professionals that are trained to talk to a parent or family throughout this process.  Do some simple research online and see what you can find.  I have some great sources below.
  4. Take a step forward and learn.  There are so many great resources out there.  Your child may be one of the best ones.  Take the step and learn about the GLBT community.  You don’t have to march in the parade the first year but it sure would be nice if you did!
    *PFLAG is one of the best organizations out there for a parent.  www.pflag.org
    *Learn about the laws that affect your child.  Unfortunately, GLBT individuals do not have equal rights in many different countries/cities.  Take some time to familiarize yourself with the facts.  A great resource is HRC (Human Rights Campaign) at www.hrc.org or www.hrc.org/resources/entry/maps-of-state-laws-policies
  5. Come out together.  Let your child know that you are ready to come out to family/friends.  But the timing is up to your child.  A supportive nudge is fine but that’s all.  When telling friends and family, be sure to stay calm and remember it is not a negative thing.  If needed, you can have a private conversation with the friend or family member before to ‘prep’ them.  Of course, that is after you get the permission from your child.  The key here is to be supportive and show your child that they are loved.  Remember, there is absolutely nothing to be ashamed of and there is nothing to hide.  Do not allow any negative energy to enter the situation.  Squash it as soon as it comes your way.  No matter where the source.

Great Resources:

Check out this book.  It will give you extremely valuable insights into the gay community.  The Velvet Rage 

PFLAGSupport For Family And Friends Of LGBT Individuals

PFLAGSupport For Straight Spouses

PFLAGGuide To Being A Straight Ally

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1 Comment

  1. Really funny (and true): Things not to say to someone when they come out | That's So Gay

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