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My Child Just "Came Out"—Now What?

My Child Just "Came Out"—Now What?

Telling my parents I was gay wasn't easy—here are five guidelines to follow if it happens to you.
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I can remember the look of pure disgust that came across my uncle's face each time the subject of homosexuality entered a conversation. I remember hearing my cousins tell derogatory jokes about homosexuals at my grandparents' lakeside cabin, and I remember the short story one of the kids at my school wrote about how the world would be a much better place if all the gays were shipped off to a desert island and left for dead.

It was moments like these that informed my decision not to share my homosexual struggle with my parents or friends—at least not for a very long time. I was in fourth grade when I realized that my feelings for other males were abnormal, yet I didn't share my struggle with any family members until my sophomore year of high school. Each time the subject of homosexuality had been broached in conversation, I could sense their disapproval, so I feared their rejection if my struggle was made known.

"Mom, Dad, I am gay," may be the five most painful and confusing words a parent could ever hear. These words are typically followed by a litany of emotions on both ends of the conversation. While the child has likely spent years coming to terms with this information on his own, the parents have the entire weight of this news placed on them in a single moment. This can be overwhelming—here are five ways to prepare for the conversation:

1. Have respectful and thoughtful conversations about sexuality.

Parents often ask me what they should say when their child comes out to them. However, as I illustrated above, by the time a child shares this information with family, many important conversations have already taken place—conversations parents likely thought were only philosophical in nature.

Children who struggle with their sexual identity have a keen ear to their parents' attitudes about homosexuality. They are listening very carefully to the things you say when you talk, and are noticing the attitudes you have, the words that you use, and the expressions on your face when the subject of homosexuality comes up. They want to know if you are someone who's safe to talk to about this issue.

If you've been gentle and compassionate when discussing the issue prior to having knowledge of your son or daughter's struggle, there will be less anxiety on her part when she shares it with you. Many people who struggle with their sexual orientation are scared to death they'll be rejected by their friends and family if they disclose this struggle. I know I was. Therefore, if you've been calloused or disgusted when discussing the subject, your child may wait until they are much older to confide in you about his sexuality, if he chooses to at all.

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Richard Dey

July 28, 2014  12:08am

For 2542 tears, homosexuals have been demonized by Jews, then by Christians, then by Muslims, and demonizing those who are born no other way, and were judged without even asking them. When did last occur to Jew, Christian, or Muslim to simply ask? Oh, the answer might have gotten them stoned? burnt at the s take? thrown into prison? a "reformatory"? Reform to what? To a marriage failure rate of more than 50% (oh yeah, the 50% rate only applies to 1st marriages). Y'know, there's an old saying: One shouldn't throw stones if one doesn't want thrown back. Well, now homosexuals are throwing the stones back where they came from ... some from the good, forgiving Christians who didn't hesitate to hate their own children -- then to expect the children that they hated to take care of them in old age "because the Bible tells them so". Well, times, opinions, and laws change; and now, no thanks to the Levite Law, the Constitution of the United States trumps the Holy Bible every time. God bless.

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Anonymous

March 10, 2014  7:14pm

The article helped me and I am re-educating myself on sexual identity confusion. My daughter struggled while in high school, and she struggled so much I had to homeschool her. I didn't know then that it was because of identity, but afterwards while in college she met a girl and came to us and told us. It was so traumatic for me and her father was angry. My husband the next year divorced me, not because of that,but then I was left to shoulder her issue alone. I sought the Lord no support at church where they only "condemned", they were unequipped. The day I decided to above all else LOVE, was the most freeing day of my life and for our relationship. He partner is so sweet and more like me than she is. They decided to marry and her father walked her down the aisle. I just try to love them as my 2 daughters and pray continuously for them. I don't talk about their choices because I believe they did not choose this. I wonder if it's hereditary? I had a gay cousin. Any studies

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Kimberly Haltiwanger

March 03, 2014  7:52pm

Like Diana, I thank you for addressing the issue of homosexuality in your publication, BUT I find your articles one-sided and your suggested resources limited and largely outdated. The articles about Rosaria Buterfield and Christopher Yuan and this piece by Chad Thompson all point the reader toward hope in "healing" from homosexuality, which for the vast vast majority of gay folks is a false hope. Please point your readers to the Gay Christian Network (gaychristian.net) and to founder Justin Lee's 2013 book Torn. Since my son came out two years ago I have found support and encouragement and hope at GCN.

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